Entries in Rhode Island (9)


Sunil Tripathi: Search for Missing Ivy League Student Expands Across Northeast

Courtesy Tripathi Family(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) -- The search for a Brown University student who left home without his wallet and cellphone has expanded across the Northeast after authorities found no signs of him in the Providence, R.I., area.

Sunil Tripathi, a 22-year-old philosophy major, was last seen by his housemate on the morning of March 16.

His sister, Sangeeta Tripathi, said her brother had "no exceptional plans" that weekend and that it was "completely atypical" of him to disappear without contacting anyone.

"Between family and friends, we are in constant contact with him," Tripathi, 30, said. "We became worried when he didn't respond to many missed calls."

Tripathi's bicycle, which he used as his main form of transportation, was also at the apartment he shared with several other Brown University students, his sister said.

The search has focused in the past week on hospitals, stores, parks and other public spaces where Tripathi could be, but authorities have found no signs of him.

The search, which has been spearheaded by the Providence Police Department and the Brown University Department of Public Safety, has now expanded to Boston, Connecticut, New York and Philadelphia, according to a statement from the school.

The FBI has joined the search.

"[It's] on the small hope he just decided to go somewhere and is OK. People have been posting fliers and visiting places a young person without an ID or money would go," Tripathi said.

Sunil Tripathi grew up in Radnor, Pa., as the youngest of three siblings, who have all attended Brown University, his sister said.

"He's just a really quiet smart kid. All three of us went to Brown and he outscored us in all of our grades," Sangeeta Tripathi said.

"We're a very, very close family and when we heard [he was missing], we were trying to frantically look for photos. We had trouble finding a photo [where] we all weren't so physically close in the image," she said.

Sunil Tripathi was last seen wearing a pair of blue jeans, a black Eastern Mountain Sports ski jacket, glasses and a Philadelphia Eagles wool hat. He is 6-feet tall and weighs 130 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Providence Police Department.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Rhode Island Cops Under Investigation for Ordering Roadside Pushups

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Cops who allegedly told some mischievous teens to drop down and give them ten might have to go through their own painful exercise.

In North Providence, R.I., Mayor Charles Lombardi is said to be livid over learning that four members of his police force supposedly ordered five teenage boys to do push-ups after picking them up last Friday for damaging a mailbox.

What the cops didn't realize at the time was that someone in the neighborhood recorded the entire thing on video, which Lombardi got to watch.

Now, the police involved in the alleged incident are under investigation as the mayor describes what he's seen on tape as nauseating and unacceptable.

Lombardi is considering suspending the officers involved although one of the boys' mothers actually agreed with cops' push-up regimen.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Plants Gun, Ammo in Boy's Toys to Set Up Ex at Airport

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(WARWICK, R.I.) -- Transportation Security Administration officers made a dangerous find Monday afternoon when a man and his child were attempting to fly from Rhode Island’s T.F. Green Airport.

A disassembled .40 caliber pistol and a magazine with a pair of bullets were found hidden inside stuffed animals in the 4-year-old boy's carry-on bag.  The pistol could have been made operational in moments by anyone familiar with it.

TSA agents confiscated the "artfully concealed" weapon -- but let the flyer and his son board a Pinnacle Airlines flight to Detroit, because they figured out the situation was a set-up, according to ABC News affiliate WCVB-TV in Boston. 

Officials say the man's wife apparently stuffed the contraband into the toys to get her former husband busted. The couple has been tangled in a bitter custody dispute.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Winning $336 Million Powerball Ticket Sold in Newport, RI

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEWPORT, R.I.) -- Lottery officials announced Monday morning that the winning Powerball ticket worth $336.4 million was sold at a Stop & Shop in the tiny enclave of Newport, R.I., though the winner has not yet come forward.

The supermarket is located at 250 Bellevue Ave., lottery officials said during a press conference Monday.

Over the weekend, it was announced that the winner of the Saturday night drawing was from Rhode Island, but the location of the ticket sale had not yet been disclosed.

If the winner chooses the cash option, the lump sum payment will be a record $210 million -- the highest cash jackpot ever for the Powerball game.

The winner made a $9 wager and has one year to claim the ticket before it expires, a spokeswoman for the lottery said.

The winning jackpot numbers drawn Saturday were 1-10-37-52-57, with a Powerball of 11.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Winning Powerball Ticket Sold in Rhode Island

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(URBANDALE, Iowa) -- Lottery officials say there is a winning Powerball ticket and it's going to make one person in Rhode Island very rich.

Officials say the winning ticket, which was confirmed by officials Sunday to have been purchased in Rhode Island, is worth $336,400,000 million. It was originally estimated to be $325 million.

The winning numbers drawn were 1-10-37-52-57, with a Powerball of 11.

The identity of the winner was not immediately released.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


R.I. Mayor Says Battle Against Prayer Banner Has Gone 'Too Far'

Comstock/Thinkstock(CRANSTON, R.I.) -- A controversy initiated by a teenage girl over a prayer banner in a Rhode Island public school has gone "too far," according to the town's mayor.

The teen, who is 16 and says she's an atheist, has received threats and the city is paying hefty amounts of money in legal fees.

A Rhode Island judge ruled last week that a prayer mural at Cranston High School West needs to be removed "immediately," but members of the community are fighting back by pursuing an appeal that would cost the city more money in a legal battle that has already racked up tens of thousands of dollars in fees.

"I think it's gone too far," Cranston Mayor Allan Fung told ABC News. "Our country was built upon civil discourse, not hate for one person exercising their constitutional rights."

Fung said, however, that if it were up to him, "I would say, respect the judge's decision and not take the appeal because, unfortunately, we could not afford these costs in these tight budgetary times."

The teenager at the center of the controversy is junior Jessica Ahlquist, who has thousands of supporters on a number of Facebook pages, Twitter and her own website.

"I would definitely say that being an atheist is a big part of my identity, mostly because I'm an activist," Ahlquist said in a YouTube video that answered questions from supporters. "I wouldn't say that I go shoving atheism down anyone else's throat. I just feel passionate about activism and specifically activism for atheism."

The battle began in July 2010 when Ahlquist informed her local ACLU chapter of the mural addressed to "Our Heavenly Father" that is displayed in the auditorium of her school. Ahlquist said in her ACLU suit that the banner made her feel "ostracized and out of place."

The mural has been in the school since 1963 and a school committee said it was "historical" and "artistic."

The matter went before U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux, who decided on Jan. 12, "No amount of debate can make the School Prayer anything other than a prayer." He ordered that it be taken down, but the mural is currently still up but covered with a tarp.

On Tuesday night, nearly 300 members of the school community attended a school committee meeting and the majority of those in attendance were calling for an appeal to the decision so that the banner could stay up. Some carried signs that said, "Appeal or we'll vote them out," according to ABC News' Providence affiliate WLNE.

No decision on whether or not to appeal was reached at the meeting as the item was not on the pre-determined agenda.

Ahlquist was at the meeting and said she would "definitely" do what she did again, even if she has been getting frightening threats.

A few extra police officers were on hand in case anything was to get out of control, but nothing happened. The school board said it is not ready to make a decision yet on whether to appeal the decision.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Irene Makes Landfall in North Carolina 

ABC News(CAPE LOOKOUT, N.C.) -- The center of Hurricane Irene has now hit the coast of North Carolina near Cape Lookout with 85 mph-winds.

Hurricane warnings for the next 48 hours have been issued for North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

So far, eastern North Carolina has already seen three tornadoes in the past few days, and the majority of the state and areas of Maryland and Virginia are under tornado watches through Sunday.

Stacy township, on the coast of North Carolina, is seeing 93 mph wind gusts this morning.

Over 24,000 flights have been grounded across the nation. All airports in the New York area will stop accepting arrivals at noon today. The airports expected to be impacted the most are in New York (Newark, JFK and LaGuardia), Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C.

Evacuations began Friday in New York City with the sick and the elderly.

NYU Langone Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Manhattan, two campuses of Staten Island University Hospital, and Coney Island Hospital have moved hundreds of patients to higher ground.

Today, around 370,000 people in zones the city has labeled A (closest to the water) and B (at sea level). It is the first time New York has ever evacuated its residents because of a hurricane. "It is better to take precautions and get out of the storm. Mother nature is much stronger than all of us," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a press conference Friday.

The storm is expected to be strong enough to flood heavily populated areas of the city. The storm surge is expected to reach above 5 feet, which would put Battery Park in southern Manhattan underwater.

The rest of the city may not have to evacuate, but they will be virtually stranded. At noon today, all subways, buses and trains around New York City—the world's largest transit system—will shut down.

Once winds reach 60 miles per hour, the beaches, bridges in and out of Manhattan and major highways will be closed. In New Jersey, Atlantic City is closing its casinos, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie emphatically ordered everyone off the beach.

"Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. You're done. You've maximized your tan. Get off the beach," said Christie.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


A Rhode Island City Turns to Pensioners to Avoid Bankruptcy

Comstock/Thinkstock(CENTRAL FALLS, R.I.) -- Central Falls, R.I.'s motto is "city with a bright future," but now its tomorrows are not only bleak, they could be nonexistent.

The densely packed community of 19,000, comprising an area a little larger than a square mile, faces bankruptcy and is calling on its bravest and finest for help.

The city's 141 retired firefighters and police officers were asked at a meeting Tuesday night to voluntarily give up as much as half of their pensions. It's called the "big ask," and with the library and community center already shut down, the city is running out of options to fix its dire financial prospects.

"It came as a shock yesterday [Tuesday] when it was presented to the pensioners," said William Zachary Malinowski, who has reported for the Providence Journal for 26 years. "If they don't give up a good chunk, they may end up with nothing."

The city faces $80 million in unfunded pensions and benefit programs, and a $5 million to $6 million deficit that shows no sign of decreasing in the coming years.

Under the proposed pension plan, anyone who retired at age 55 after 30 years on the job would see their pension cut in half from about $40,000 to about $20,000 a year.

Col. Joseph Moran served 27 years on the police force, contributing seven percent of his salary each month. Now retired, he stands to lose $1,000 a month. Making matters worse, workers here didn't participate in Social Security, so there are no other benefits to fall back on.

If retirees refuse the "big ask," Central Falls will likely have to declare bankruptcy, jeopardizing the entire pension system.

"I would advise a haircut looks better than a beheading," said a state-appointed receiver, Robert G. Flanders Jr.

Flanders would like a decision from the pensioners in the next seven days, Malinowski told ABC News.

"I could be wrong, but I don't see them taking it," Malinowski said. "I think this ends in bankruptcy."

Central Falls is not the first city to run out of the money needed to pay its retirees. In 2009, Prichard, Ala., stopped sending out pension checks to its 150 retired workers.

With the economy still sputtering and city budgets collapsing, similar "big asks" and broken promises could be coming to more towns.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rhode Island Town, Father Braces for Prison Release of Child Killer

Darrin Klimek/Thinkstock(KINGSTON, R.I.) -- A small town in Rhode Island is bracing for the release of a high-profile child killer this summer who is leaving prison after serving 28 years of a 40-year sentence for a grisly murder of a neighbor's child.

It's been 36 years since John Foreman last saw his five-year old son, Jason.  The boy was abducted from in front of their family home in Kingston, Rhode Island.  The boy's disappearance was a mystery for seven years until it was discovered that their teenage neighbor, Michael Woodmansee, had killed him.

But the truth behind what Woodmansee did to Jason Foreman shocked the community.

Police found Jason's body inside Woodmansee's filthy home after he confessed.  Several of the boy's small bones had been shellacked and stored in the killer's bedroom.

A plea bargain spared his father and the rest of the Foreman family from learning the rest of the gruesome details of what happened to young Jason.

As part of the plea deal, Woodmansee was sentenced to 40 years.  Now, after 28 years of good behavior, he is leaving prison 12 years early.  His release is now set for August, and John Foreman can barely hold back.

"Initial feelings were I wanted to kill him the same way he killed my son.  I wanted to hurt him bad," Foreman told ABC News.  "I wanted him to suffer…And those feelings are still in my head every day, that's the problem.  I can't get 'em out of my mind."

And Foreman is not the only one who opposed to Woodmansee's early release.  The town of Kingston has rallied around the grieving father, demanding the state somehow block Woodmansee's release.

Two psychiatrists will now interview the killer in prison and read his graphic journal, which has been locked under seal for decades.  What they discover could help decide if Woodmansee will instead be released to a mental hospital.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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