Entries in Mother (43)


Mom Arrested for Hacking School Computers, Changing Kids' Grades

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW TRIPOLI, Pa.) -- A Pennsylvania mom faces six felony charges for allegedly hacking into her children's school computer to change their grades and read school officials' emails.

Catherine Venusto, 45, of New Tripoli, worked for the Northwestern Lehigh School District from 2008 through April 2011 and has at least two children in the district, according to the District Attorney's office.

She has been accused of changing her daughter's failing grade from an F to an M for "medical" in June 2010, and then changing her son's 98 to a 99 in February 2012, nearly a year after she quit her job as an administrative office secretary to work at another school district.

Venusto was arraigned Wednesday in Lehigh County Magisterial Court on three counts of unlawful use of a computer and three counts of computer trespassing and altering data. All six charges are third degree felonies.

When ABC News attempted to contact Venusto at her current job as an event coordinator at Lehigh University, a school employee said her employment ended Wednesday.

Venusto's lawyer, Thomas Carroll, declined to comment.

State police discovered Venusto used Superintendent Mary Ann Wright's username and password 110 times to access the district's online grading system, according to the District Attorney's office. Venusto also allegedly accessed nine other faculty members' email accounts without permission, and accessed the human resources "H-drive" to view, "thousands of files associated with district policy, contract information, employee reports and personnel issues."

Wright released a statement on Wednesday in anticipation of Venusto's arraignment.

"We deeply regret this incident and that this unauthorized access occurred, and we sincerely regret any inconvenience this may cause," Wright wrote. "We are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again, and new security procedures are in place to better assure that our systems are protected from such attempts."

Holman said the district's news release and email purposefully left Venusto's name out to protect her children, but the District Attorney's press release revealed the name.

"It's not their fault," Holman said of Venusto's children. "If the students continue to go to school here, which I assume they will, we need to do our best to support them in whatever way they need."

The court set bail at $30,000, but Venusto will not have to pay it unless she does not appear in court for her preliminary hearing on July 26, according a District Attorney's office spokeswoman. If convicted, Venusto could face fines, jail time and restitution payments.

Venusto could face a maximum of 42 years in prison or a $90,000 fine, according to District Attorney's office spokeswoman Debbie Garlicki, who said the maximum penalty on each count is seven years or a $15,000 fine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Missing Ohio Mom Never Returned from Vacation

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NAGS HEAD, N.C.) -- Police in North Carolina are searching for the body of an Ohio mom after her ex-boyfriend confessed to his brother that he strangled her during a vacation trip.

So far police have been unable to find any sign of Lynn Jackenheimer, 33, or her ex-boyfriend Nathan Summerfield.

Summerfield, 27, has been called a "person of interest" in Jackenheimer's disappearance.

The former couple spent the week vacationing in Nags Head, N.C., with their 3-year-old son and Jackenheimer's 13-year-old daughter.

On Sunday, Summerfield returned to Ohio and dropped the two children off with family, when he reportedly confessed to his brother that he killed his ex-girlfriend.

Police in Ohio, along with the Dare County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina, began coordinating an investigation and a search of the Nags Head area.

"I don't believe she is in Ashland County. I don't believe she ever came back from Nags Head," Carl Richert, a captain with the Ashland County Sheriff's Department, told ABC News' affiliate WVEC.

Summerfield was last seen on Sunday driving a silver Honda Civic. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Ashland County Sheriff's Department at 419- 289-3911.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Florida Mom Murders Her Four Children, Kills Herself

Brevard County Sheriff's Office(PORT ST. JOHN, Fla.) -- A Florida mom went on a murderous rampage early Tuesday, killing her four children before turning the gun on herself.

The murders happened around 4:30 a.m. in Port St. John, Fla.  Lt. Tod Goodyear of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office identified the mother as Tonya Thomas, 33.

The children were identified as Joel Johnson, 12, Jazzlyn Johnson, 13, Jaxs Johnson, 15, and Pebbles Johnson, 17.

"This is a little bit different because they were older kids," Goodyear said.  "To kill all four, I can't remember the last time a mom killed this many of her children."

The shootings are the worst homicides to take place in Brevard County since 1987.

Goodyear says Thomas sent a text message around 3 a.m. to a male coworker saying, "Tell my mom what happened, I want to be cremated with my children."

The text is an indication that it was premeditated, Goodyear said.

"A bad part of the investigation is that we may not get the why.  Unless she left a note somewhere or told somebody, she may have taken it to the grave," he said.

According to Goodyear, a neighbor heard gun shots.  Minutes later, two of the children arrived on the neighbor's doorstep.  One of the boys -- police believe it was Joel -- was covered in blood and told the neighbor his mom had shot them.  The oldest child, Pebbles, could be seen walking back towards the family home, Goodyear said.

The children's mother came outside and lured the kids back into the house.

"She was very calm, called them in," Goodyear said.  "She didn't seem to be stressed or mad, just stepped out.  She walked out and said 'come home.'"

The neighbors say they called out to the children, begging them not to go back to the house.  They then called police, who heard gunshots upon arrival.

"We set up a perimeter, found the oldest girl lying in the yard and took her out to an ambulance," Goodyear said.

EMTs pronounced Pebbles dead in the ambulance and a SWAT team was called for further investigation.  Officers found the other three kids and Thomas all dead in the back of the house.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Hampshire Man Writes Letter a Day to Mom for 30 Years

Eileen Bach/Thinkstock(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- There’s no doubt that Mike Geraci loves his mother. He’s been showing her how much by writing her a letter a day — and sending it by snail mail — for the last 30 years.

Eleven thousand letters later, the software engineer from Portsmouth, N.H., has no plans to slow down.

“You should appreciate the ones you love and show your appreciation because you never know. One day they might not be there,” Geraci said in an interview with ABC’s New Hampshire affiliate, WMUR.

His mother, Gloria Britt, is appreciative, but says, “I could never do that, sit down and write every day. He’s lucky to get a letter from me once a year.”

Geraci told WMUR that he started the practice in 1981. He was 19-years-old, and was just starting out in his career in California when he got word that his mother had been in a horrible car accident. He couldn’t be by her side, so he wrote to her every day through her recovery and rehabilitation and just never stopped.

Every 1,000th letter is either framed or in the form of a plaque. Geraci said he once considered writing his mom on email, but decided to continue his daily communication the old-fashioned way.

“I have no plans of stopping, ever. I’m here to stay. The letter-writing will continue on,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wis. Mother and Son Killed in Different Auto Accidents

Thinkstock/Getty Images(WEST ALLIS, Wis.) -- Two unrelated car accidents claimed the lives of a mother and her son early Sunday morning in West Allis, Wis.

Mary Moore, 45, was struck by a car, while lying in the street at approximately 1 a.m. Sunday morning. According to a report by the medical examiner, a witness behind the car that struck Moore initially thought the first car had gone over a speed bump.   But when the witness got closer, they realized that a woman was lying in the roadway. Moore was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, authorities said. The driver who struck her was arrested a few hours later, according to police. The driver had left the scene.

Approximately four hours after Moore was struck, her son, Thomas Olson, 22, was killed as he was being driven to the hospital. Olson was riding as a passenger in his girlfriend’s SUV, when the driver lost control of the vehicle, hit three parked cars and flipped over, according to a report by the medical examiner.  Olsen was ejected from the vehicle and later succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. His fellow passengers suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Police say alcohol may have been a factor in both of the fatal crashes. The person driving Olson to the hospital was arrested for a DUI after the accident.

West Allis Police Department Deputy Chief Charles Padgett told ABC News that although Moore had been drinking, it was unclear how much alcohol she had consumed. The driver who allegedly struck her was also seen at a local tavern prior to the accident, but Padgett said police are not pursuing alcohol-related charges in that case at this time, he said.

The two fatal accidents happened within just two miles of each other under circumstances Padgett called “unusual and rare.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nurse Who Snatched Baby Keegan, Killed Mom, Seeks Bail

ABC News(MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas) -- A Texas nurse who admitted to killing a 28-year-old mother and stealing her infant son from a parking lot in broad daylight appeared before a judge Thursday asking to be released on bond.

Verna McClain, 30, was shaky and soft-spoken as she appeared in court on charges of capital murder for the brazen daylight shooting of Kayla Golden, a mother of three, that occurred Tuesday afternoon.

McClain told cops that she killed Golden and kidnapped Golden’s 3-day-old son, Keegan Schuchardt, because she had recently miscarried and was going to try and pass the baby off as her own to her fiancé. Police said that despite the baby being white and McClain and her fiancé both being black, McClain intended to lie and say the baby was her own.

“There were statements that were made by Ms. McClain that led us to believe this was an intentional act on her part, not that Ms. Golden was targeted specifically, but that this was part of a plan to kidnap a child,” Brett Ligon, the Montgomery County district attorney, said Wednesday.

McClain’s state-appointed attorneys said Thursday that their client was “shaken and very upset” and on suicide watch in jail, where she is being held without the option of bond. Attorneys said they would ask for McClain to be released on bond because she has three children and would not pose a threat to the community.

They called the murder an “isolated incident,” and said they plan to enter a plea of not guilty, despite McClain’s confession to police that she committed the murder. The attorneys said the confession may have been coerced.

Bruce Zenor, of the Montgomery County sheriff’s office, said that McClain’s choice of Golden as a target was random.

McClain told a Montgomery County judge Thursday that she had no assets, did not own a home or car and had no savings.

The Montgomery County District Attorney said they would continue to press for McClain to be held without bond. Investigators told ABC News that they expected McClain’s defense to plead insanity.

The next bond hearing will be held Monday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Guilty Plea From Mom Whose Son Died After She Left Him in Minivan

Commonwealth of Va Dept of Corrections(PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va.) -- Karen Murphy, the Virginia mother who inadvertently left her two-year-old son in her minivan and found him dead hours later, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of misdemeanor child neglect and will not go to prison, ABC affiliate WJLA reported.

Murphy sobbed as she left the courthouse, WJLA said.

“She’s devastated by the loss of her son, she’s going to have to deal with that, and she is dealing with that,” said Edward MacMahon, Murphy’s attorney.

According to press reports and court documents, on June 17 Murphy, a veterinarian, left her son, Ryan, strapped in his car seat while she worked at an animal hospital. When she parked in the driveway of her home in nearby Bristow seven hours later, she saw the boy and tried unsuccessfully to revive him. He had died of heatstroke.

According to court documents, Murphy had previously left Ryan in the car while she worked at an animal hospital, back in January. Twenty minutes later, an employee of Ryan’s day care center called Murphy, who realized her mistake.

This pattern led prosecutors to charge Murphy with felony murder along with the two misdemeanors. The maximum sentence for all three charges could have been 40 years in prison.

On Monday, Murphy received a sentence of two years in prison, which was suspended, WJLA reported, adding she also got six years of probation and was ordered to do 400 hours of community service, to be served at an animal shelter.

The owner of a Facebook page titled “Supporters of Dr Karen Murphy, DVM” posted the following statement: “Today Karen received the compassion she’s shown & given to all of us through the years. The horrendous charges against her were greatly reduced and settled … Our prayers have been answered!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mom Loses Legs Saving Kids From Indiana Twister

Decker Family/Handout(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Faced with having her house blown away by a tornado that struck her town last week, Indiana resident Stephanie Decker's motherly instincts kicked in as she used her body to shield her two young kids from the storm.  But her heroic efforts came at a price: she lost both her legs in the process.

"I knew my leg was barely attached or it was severed.  I didn't know which but I knew it was bad.  If I didn't get help soon, I was going to bleed out," Decker told ABC News, which interviewed her Monday night from her hospital bed in Louisville, Ky.

Decker, 37, and her family were smack dab in the middle of a tornado outbreak Friday that included 140 reported twisters, 76 confirmed landings and 39 deaths.

"It was nothing I expected," she said.  "I never, ever thought in a million years my house would be blown away."

Decker was determined to keep her kids safe, and her actions saved them, but at a steep cost.  Not only was her home lost, but both of her legs had to be amputated late Friday -- one just below the knee, the other just above it.

"I assumed I was safe and I heard the roar like a train, and I heard it behind me, and I knew it was coming," she recalled on Monday.  "And it was so loud that I knew that I needed to do something different.  I knew staying put wasn't going to work."

So Decker acted.  She dashed down into her home's basement with son Dominic, 8, and daughter Reese, 5.  As the house began to disintegrate she tried to shield them with a comforter.

"I remember the whole thing," Decker said.  "I stayed conscious the whole time.  I couldn't afford [to pass out].  They needed me.  They had to have me, so I had to figure out what to do.  And my son is a hero.  He went to get help."

Both Decker's legs were smashed.  She also suffered a punctured lung.  Her children, however, were unscathed.

Next, it was her son's turn for heroism.  He knew his mother was hurt and he crawled out from under his mother and dashed over to a neighbor's house.

Help soon came and Decker was evacuated to the hospital.

Overnight, her husband, Joe Decker, tearfully said that the flattened house on Henryville Road had been their dream house.  Stephanie Decker had told her husband she always wanted to have the children's handprints imprinted in the foundation's cement, because "we were never gonna leave here."

And there they are today.  Small prints, with "Reese," and "D" for Dominic scrawled in the concrete, an indelible testimony to a family still intact.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mom Faces Jail for Making Son Walk to School

Kevin Horan/Stone(JONESBORO, Ark.) -- An Arkansas mother is being charged with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a minor after she made her son walk 4.6 miles to school in order to “teach him a lesson.”

Valerie Borders, 34, told police her 10-year-old son had been suspended from the bus for a week and she was making him walk to school as punishment.

A bank security guard spotted the boy walking alone in 30-degree weather on Monday and called police.

When the boy spoke to the responding officer, he told him:  “Please don’t take me home. Mother will beat me,” the police report said.

The officer took the boy to his mother’s workplace, only to be told she was on vacation. They found her at home, where she was cited for child endangerment.

“There were a number of things that could have happened to the child,” said Lyle Waterworth, a spokesman for the Jonesboro Police Department. “The child could have been injured, abducted.”

ABC News affiliate KAIT spoke with the boy, who made an impassioned plea on camera to keep his mother out of jail.

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The boy’s mother did not speak on camera.

If convicted, she faces up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Child Abuse Charges for Mom Who Forced Son to Walk Alongside Car

Hemera/Thinkstock(WOODS CROSS, Utah) -- A Utah mother, who allegedly forced her son to walk alongside a moving car she was driving after he had missed his school bus, has been charged with child abuse and reckless driving, ABC News has learned.

Stacie Johnson, 37, reportedly was angry that her 9-year-old son had missed the bus to school one too many times, and was again refusing to walk. But what Johnson may have thought was teaching her son a lesson turned into criminal charges Monday, 11 days after she was arrested in connection with the incident.

“He had missed the bus repeatedly...he refused to go to school,” Johnson, who said she is a graduate student with an internship, wrote in an email to ABC News. “The reason I did not walk with him is that I was already late for work.”

Police responded to a call on Jan. 26 reporting that a boy was being pulled alongside a moving car by his belt, which was being held by the female driver, as it headed down a Woods Cross neighborhood street.

Woods Cross Police Chief Greg Butler told ABC News that Johnson was driving at a slow enough speed that the boy could keep pace with the vehicle, but that he could have been hit by traffic driving in the opposite direction.

Police turned the case over to the Davis County District Attorney’s office and Johnson was charged Monday with child abuse, a class A misdemeanor, and a class B misdemeanor of reckless driving.

While the story has been making its way around the Internet, Johnson’s identity was not known until after she was charged Monday.

Johnson told ABC News that contrary to other media reports, she did not “drag her son through the car window in the middle of the road,” but rather that the door was “ajar” as she drove slowly to the side of the two-lane road.

She retains custody of her 9-year-old son and another son, age 12. Johnson said that her younger son has struggled emotionally ever since she and his father divorced about four years ago.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio