Entries in Oklahoma (45)


Triplets Mom Missing, Husband Is 'Person of Interest'

Jacque Waller is seen in this undated file photo with her triplets at the zoo. Waller has been missing for several weeks. (Courtesy of the Rawson Family)(CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.) -- The estranged husband of Jacque Waller, the Missouri mom of triplets who has been missing for seven weeks, is proclaiming his innocence despite reports of blood evidence being found in his home.

Jackson police have labeled Clay Waller, who is a former cop, a person of interest in his wife's disappearance. The couple was in the midst of a separation when Jacque Waller disappeared on June 1. Her husband was the last person to see her alive.

"I want her to come home alive," Clay Waller said.

The family of the 39-year-old missing mom says the woman is afraid of her husband.

"I know the threats that he's made against her and I know the diaries that she kept outlining those threats. He did it, there's no doubt in my mind," said Stan Rawson, Jacque Waller's father.

Rawson told the Southeast Missourian that police have found blood evidence in the Jackson, Mo., home where Clay Waller was staying when his wife disappeared. The couple has been married for 15 years and has 5-year-old triplets. Jacque Waller had gone to her husband's home to pick up her son when she vanished. Before going to the home where her husband was staying, Jacque Waller had met with her husband and her attorney to finalize paperwork for their divorce.

Since she went missing, the triplets have been in the custody of Jacque Waller's sister.

On Tuesday, a judge in a Cape Girardeau, Mo., courtroom continued to deny Clay Waller visitation rights for his triplets. Clay Waller said that he's being hunted by the Jackson Police Department despite his innocence.

Another extensive search for his wife is planned for this weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Man Poses as Autistic, Cons Women into Changing His Diaper

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- An Oklahoma man was sentenced to three years in prison after he posed as an autistic, diaper wearing teen and conned babysitters into caring for him and repeatedly changing his diaper.

Mark Anthony Richardson II, 21, pleaded guilty to felony sexual battery and seven counts of outraging public decency. He grabbed the breast of one of his babysitters. The seven counts of outraging public decency refer to the seven times one babysitter changed his diaper.

He is accused of conning at least two babysitters into caring for him while he used a pacifier, wore a diaper and drank baby formula.

In October of last year, a woman alerted Oklahoma City police after Richardson spent several days at her home and stayed overnight at least five times. The unidentified woman's daughter had posted on Craigslist advertising her babysitting services, according to a police report.

Richardson responded to the advertisement posing as the father of an autistic, 19-year-old son, according to a police report. He then showed up at the woman's home posing as a helpless teen who needed to be fed and changed.

Richardson, who was previously convicted of arson, demanded that the women change his diaper. He later grabbed the 18-year-old babysitter's breast while she was sleeping.

During his sentencing, Richardson apologized. After serving his sentence, he must also serve five years of probation and register as a sex offender.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Heat Wave Continues to Scorch the Nation

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Excessive summer heat and humidity are taking their toll on millions of Americans.

Some 20 states issued heat advisories or warnings Monday, with health officials in Texas advising people to drink at least two bottles of water per hour to avoid heat stroke.

Dr. Michael Halbert, an emergency room physician in Madison, Wisconsin, says the heat has triggered an increase in ER cases and he expects even more as the hot weather continues this week.

And if you were thinking of jumping into a lake to cool off, think again.  The heat is causing many lakes to evaporate even faster, and as a result, blue-green algae and bacteria are exploding in the stagnant waters.

In Oklahoma, health officials have closed access to several contaminated lakes.  Tony Clyde of the Army corps of Engineers says spring floods carried a lot of ground fertilizer into the lakes and that has turned many lakes and reservoirs into “pea soup.”

Temperatures across Minnesota rose to 97 degrees Monday with a heat index that reached 112 degrees.  At a Minnesota Twins doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians in Minneapolis, a woman had to be treated for what appeared to be heat exhaustion.  Ironically, one of the games was a make-up for a game that had been canceled on April 22 on account of snow.

Elsewhere, the heat index was 126 in Newton, Iowa and 120 in Mitchell, South Dakota Monday.

Folks in Phoenix, Arizona are used to the heat, but they're getting tired of a recent rash of dust storms.

Another giant wall of dust, this one some 3,000 feet high, rolled through the Phoenix area Monday, causing poor visibility and some delays for flights at the city’s Sky Harbor International Airport, where visibility was less than a quarter mile.  The dust storm generated winds with gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

Earlier this month, a monster dust storm a mile high pounded Arizona, halting airline traffic and knocking out power to many residents.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Heat Index Rises: Hot Weather Hits Midwest, South

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- This weekend's raging heat wave across parts of the U.S. will linger into the upcoming week, threatening to set existing high temperature records ablaze.

Seventeen states have heat warnings in effect for the upcoming week and 36 states were expected to see temperatures at or above 90 degrees on Sunday.

A high pressure system anchored over the Great Plains will produce sizzling temperature in the 90s and 100s from Texas through the Upper Midwest.  Accuweather predicts that the plains and Mississippi Valley will feel the brunt of the blazing temperatures.

Luckily for residents of the Northeast and Southeast, temperatures in those areas are expected to stay around the high 80s, perhaps sliding into the 90s.

Minnesota was under an excessive heat warning again on Sunday that will be in effect until late Wednesday.  The combined heat and humidity readings for the Minneapolis area were around 110 degrees for Sunday afternoon, shattering the previous record high on this date of 99 degrees, which was set in 1936.

In many areas across the country, the heat is not just uncomfortable; it's unprofitable.  In Texas, 95 percent of the state is suffering from extreme, severe or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.  The parched land and arid skies have contributed to almost $3 billion in wheat crop losses, the Texas Farm Bureau estimates.

In Oklahoma, fields are barren, with no water to feed thirsty herds.

"We're selling 1,800 to 2,000 cows and it's just strictly due to drought," Bob Rodenberger, an auction owner in Oklahoma, told ABC News.

Oklahoma City felt like a blazing 114 degrees on Sunday.

From Arizona east across the southern part of the United States, there is also another concern.  Scorching temperatures and already scorched land are creating a recipe for possible wildfires.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nearly five million acres have already been burned from Arizona to Florida.

In Chicago, these temperatures could prove deadly.  As if the high heat and humidity, paired with the poor air quality alert, was not enough, many residents have been experiencing power outages, a dangerous combination for a city that saw hundreds die over two days in 1995 due to heat.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, a low pressure system is keeping temperatures unseasonably cool for another day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Heat Wave: Soaring Temperatures Spread Across US

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The death toll from the heat wave stretching across the U.S. rose to 39 Wednesday as scorching temperatures have affected nearly half of the country's population.

Some 150 million people are being seared by the relentless heat that has shattered records and led the National Weather Service to issue heat warnings for 24 states. Record temperatures across the country were either matched or broken at least 670 different times since the beginning of July.

In Wisconsin, 15 runners were hospitalized after collapsing during a half marathon.

"Your brain cannot function at temperature extremes, and so if you get too hot, you can have problems and you can have long-term damage," Dr. David Messerly of Rex Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina told ABC News.

This week, Oklahoma City saw its hottest temperatures in 20 years, at 111 degrees.  Tuesday was the city's 14th straight day above 100 degrees.

In Union County, South Carolina, fans were being handed out to the public, but the supply ran out.

"It concerns me because there are people out there who are suffering, when something as small as a $15 fan can make a difference in their lives," Lynn Smosky of the Council for Aging in Union City, told ABC News.

Phoenix has seen at least 33 consecutive days of temperatures at or above 100 degrees, while Dallas has seen at least 11 consecutive days with temperatures at or topping 100.  Dallas city inspectors are going door-to-door to ensure that air conditioners are working.

Medical experts say drinking plenty of water is the best line of defense.

"When the heat goes up at this level, you could be going through a liter every hour.  If you don't replace that, it could be very dangerous," ABC News' chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser said.

On another note, drought is now gripping farms and ranch lands in the South and Southwest, with parts of Texas breaking drought records set in 1917.  The federal government has declared the entire state a disaster area, with an estimated $3 billion in agricultural losses.

Ranchers in Tulsa, Oklahoma were selling what they would normally keep, and with no rain there is no hay to feed the cattle -- meaning beef prices will be on the rise.

"We can expect higher prices in the future, on top of what are already record retail prices for consumers," David Anderson, livestock economist from the Texas Agri-Life Extension Service, told ABC News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tulsa Man Pushed Out Window, Dies, in Alleged Spousal Abuse Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(TULSA, Okla.) -- Josh Hilberling, a 6-foot, 5-inch, 220-pound former football player, died after he plunged 17 stories from his Oklahoma apartment building, an alleged victim of spousal abuse.

Tulsa police say Hilberling, 23, was pushed out of his 25th floor apartment window at the University Club Tower on Tuesday by his wife, Amber Michelle Hilberling, 19, who is being charged with first-degree murder.

"We taught him to never hit a woman, but what we didn't think to teach him was to get away," his mother, Jeanne Hilberling, told ABC's affiliate KTUL. "We just will never forget him. He's one of a kind."

The couple had been married only a year, according to his parents, but just last month their son went to Domestic Violence Intervention Services looking for help. It had been hard, they said, for him to admit he was a victim.

They said Josh, who was in the Air Force, didn't leave because Amber was eight months pregnant with their first child.  "Most of the time you have a homicide similar to this and typically the woman is the victim," said Officer Jason Willingham, spokesman for the Tulsa Police. "I don't recall any situation that is similar in recent history, for sure."

Police received a call Tuesday afternoon from witnesses who reported a suicide at the apartment tower, according to Willingham. Hilberling had fallen from the 25th floor to an eighth floor parking garage.

When paramedics arrived, police questioned witnesses and those who knew the couple, determining that Josh had been "pushed out the window, breaking the window and causing his death," said Willingham. "It was a heck of a fall."

At first Amber Hilberling was arrested on second-degree murder, but later police changed it to first-degree when they looked at the evidence.

So far, no charges have been filed, according to Susan Witt of the Tulsa District Attorney's office.

"Tulsa police are still investigating," said Witt. "When their investigation is complete, reports will be forwarded to the district attorney's office for review and a decision about charges."

Willingham said the couple had a history of domestic violence and there had been protective orders "on both sides."

Tulsa police said that investigators found a protective order that that Josh Hilberling requested in May because he said he wife hit him on the head with a lamp and he needed 21 stitches.

The order was dismissed when the couple did not show up in court.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Self-Defense or Murder?: Oklahoma Case Sparks Debate

Comstock/Thinkstock(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- A story of crime and punishment that is dividing an Oklahoma community has now entered the online world, raising questions about what is self-defense and first-degree murder.

The debate stems from the life sentence an Oklahoma City, Okla., jury handed down to pharmacist Jerome Ersland on May 26 for a first-degree murder conviction in the killing of 16-year-old Antwun Parker.

Ersland's attorneys told jurors throughout the murder trial that their client had acted in self-defense when he shot Parker six times during an attempted robbery at his Oklahoma City pharmacy. Prosecutors, meanwhile, argued Ersland went too far.

Defense attorney Irven Box asked jurors to close their eyes and imagine what they would do in the same situation.

After 3.5 hours of deliberation, the jury -- eight women and four men -- recommended a life sentence.

In the days since the verdict, an outpouring of support erupted in Ersland's hometown of Oklahoma City, with calls for Oklahama Gov. Mary Fallin to commute the local man's sentence.

"I'm gonna spend the rest of my career, however long it may be, trying to right this wrong," one prominent supporter, Oklahoma State Sen. Ralph Shortey (R), told ABC News.

Ersland, 59, had been hailed as a hero for protecting two co-workers during the May 19, 2009, robbery attempt at the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City.

Dramatic surveillance video of the attempted burglary shows Parker and an accomplice running into the pharmacy in the crime-ridden neighborhood and pointing a gun directly at Ersland. The video then shows Ersland, a former Air Force lieutenant colonel, firing a pistol at the two men, hitting Parker with one shot that knocked him to the ground. After chasing Parker's accomplice out of the store, Ersland retrieved a second gun and returned to shoot Parker five more times, 46 seconds after firing the first shot.

Ersland's lawyer told ABC News that the pharmacist saw Parker moving and thought he was still alive, and still a threat.

Now the debate over his sentencing has taken to Facebook, with pages both for and against Ersland's punishment, and Twitter, where posts and tweets have been just as divided. One Facebook page supporting Ersland has more than 2,000 followers, while other groups say his punishment is deserved. Facebook pages such as "Free Jerome Ersland" and "Pardon for Jerome Ersland" have also sparked petition sites with goals of sending more than 5,000 signatures to Gov. Fallin.

But any action by the governor on the case will not be soon. First, Ersland must go before the judge in the case, Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott, on July 11, for sentencing. The judge could suspend part or all of the life term. If he chooses to uphold the jury's full suggestion, Ersland will not be eligible for parole for another 38 years and three months.

Jurors had the option of finding Ersland guilty of first-degree manslaughter instead of murder, or of acquitting him.

Ersland's attorneys have vowed to appeal the murder conviction of their client, and have also asked that the formal sentencing be rescheduled for as soon as possible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Heavy Storms and Tornadoes Pound Texas, Oklahoma

Ablestock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Storm systems hit North Texas hard Tuesday evening reportedly generating tornadoes moving east, according to the Forth Worth Star Telegram.

With several counties under tornado warnings through the evening, fans in attendance at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington had to evacuate to the stadium's service level.  They were permitted to return to their seats about 15 minutes after clearance was given, the Star Telegram reports.

Witnesses also reported hail the size of gulf balls and baseballs as well as significant damage to homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  

Hundreds of flights were cancelled Tuesday night as well.  ABC News' Alan Scaia reports, "I don't think a flight has left Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport in several hours."

Meanwhile, at least five Oklahoma residents are dead after tornadoes pummeled the state, according to The New York Times.

The town of El Reno, just 25 miles west of Oklahoma City was one of the towns hit hardest by Tuesday's storms.  El Reno, Oklahoma spokesman Terry Floyd says it's hard to be ready for storms on this scale.

"We've kinda been watching the weather pattern and knew this day was coming, so we started preparing for it, but I don't know that you can fully prepare for something like this," Floyd said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tornadoes Dismantle Midwest, One Person Killed

Comstock/Thinkstock (File)(READING, Kan.) -- Midwest residents are cleaning up this morning after several tornadoes Saturday left one man dead and one Kansas town nearly destroyed.

At least 20 tornadoes were reported across three states: 14 in Kansas, 5 in Oklahoma, and 1 in Missouri.

In the small town of Reading, Kansas twisters ripped through the area and left more than 20 homes destroyed and 200 more damaged.

"Lots of damage all over town, the farther south in town the more damage there is. Lots of trees down, large trees, there's buildings that have been totally devastated," said Coffee County Emergency Coordinator Russel Stukey.

One fatality and several injuries were reported in connection with the twisters, according to authorities.

"Everything is destroyed. We're going to have to stay strong for the community," one resident told Kansas City ABC News affiliate KMBC.

Power was knocked out Saturday and roads in and out of area were closed, KMBC reported.

According to Sharon Watson with the Kansas State Division of Emergency Management there was also baseball-size hail reported throughout the northeast part of the state.

"We've been fortunate so far to not have as much damage as we have seen in the past, such as the year 2007 when the town of Greensburg was basically destroyed, a town of 1,500," Watson said.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency for at least 16 counties.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


States Get Creative with Official Symbols

Photos[dot]com/Jupiterimages(NEW YORK) -- States seem to be getting increasingly creative with their official symbols.

New York legislators last week introduced a bill that would make the rescue dog the state's official dog. But those in the know say states have considered even quirkier symbols in the past.

Benjamin F. Shearer, who co-authored State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols with his wife Barbara S. Shearer, said the practice of designating official state symbols really took off in the 1920s and 1930s.

"Garden clubs wanted to have state flowers, and they would suggest state flowers and a lot of these minor symbols used for citizenship purposes," he said. For example, "They'd let school children vote on whether they wanted the robin or the bluejay to be the state bird."

More recently, however, the motivation for adopting state symbols has shifted. "Lots of states were adopting the symbols as ads for the state," he said.

For example, to highlight its bounty of tomatoes, Ohio made tomato juice its official state beverage in 1965.

In some cases, state designations promote tourism, he said.

Hawaii likes to tell its visitors that if they snorkel in the islands they might encounter the humuhumunukunukuapua`a, the state's official fish known for its long name and prominence in the region's coral reefs. Travelers to New Hampshire quickly learn that the state's official sport is skiing.

Some states adopt official symbols for protective reasons, Shearer said, for example, to protect fossils or precious gems.

Symbols may show how the state's residents have a good time. Several states, like Oklahoma and Utah, for example, have an official folk dance (for both states, it's the square dance).

"I think these were all meant to say something about what resource a state has or what sports they have," Shearer said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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