FBI Increases Reward in DC Military Shootings

FBI Washington Field Office. Photo Courtesy - FBI dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation Monday announced an increased reward of up to $20,000 for anyone who can provide information that will lead investigators to the "identification, arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for shootings at five military-related installations in Northern Virginia."

All five shootings, which occurred at military facilities during the late night or early morning hours of Oct. 16 to Oct. 17, Oct. 19, Oct. 25 to 26, Oct. 28 to 29 and Nov. 1 to 2, have been linked to a single weapon.

"We are following every lead that comes in and continue to call for the assistance of the public in helping us identify the person or persons responsible," said John G. Perren, acting assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office.

Prince William County posted the initial reward at just $1,000.  Now, the Justice Department has signed off on the recent increase "in support of the joint investigation" by the FBI, Fairfax County Police, Pentagon Force Protection Agency and Prince William County Police.

"We are confident that someone out there has additional information that will be helpful to this investigation,"  Perren added.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


Court Docs: Zahra Baker Was Dismembered, Stepmom Said

Photo Courtesy - CatawbaCountyNC dot gov(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Ten-year-old North Carolina girl Zahra Baker was dismembered after her death and her remains were scattered in several locations, the girl's stepmother told investigators, according to court documents filed Monday.

Lawyers for Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, filed the documents as part of a bond reduction request as evidence Baker had been aiding the search for the disabled girl's remains, according to ABC affiliate WSOC-TV in Charlotte, N.C. The attorneys also claim Baker led searchers to Zahra's prosthetic leg. Elisa Baker is in jail, being held on charges she allegedly wrote a fake ransom note after Zahra disappeared.

The leg, a bone fragment and the girl's remains were discovered in different locations.

In jailhouse letters, Elisa Baker said her husband, Adam, did something "horrifying" to Zahra after she was dead. Adam Baker's attorney told ABC News Monday those claims were nothing more than a "desperate" attempt at distraction.

Two weeks before police announced they had discovered Zahra Baker's remains, Elisa Baker indicated in a jailhouse letter that the child was dead, but expressed no remorse or guilt -- only self-pity and vague accusations against her husband.

"I was trying to save us both, but why should I? He is letting everyone destroy me," Elisa Baker wrote, referring to Adam Baker.

In an earlier letter Baker wrote, "We really didn't kill her, but what he [Adam Baker] did after the fact is kinda horrifying."

In the latest letter, obtained exclusively by ABC News, Baker said she "ain't the monster people are saying."

She also said she was frustrated by her lawyer's refusal to allow her to do TV interview requests. "I want a chance to be heard damn it. This is my life and everyone is playing with and I have no control over what is said or done," she wrote.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Is TSA Security Patdown Sexual Molestation?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- Just as Americans prepare to head home for Thanksgiving, the government is coming under fire for a new airport security patdown procedure that includes the touching of passengers' inner thighs and women's breasts.

From pilots' unions to viral online protests, Americans are telling the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that the government has gone too far in the name of security, equating the new searches to "sexual molestation" or "sexual assault."

Over the weekend, a 31-year-old software programmer was thrown out of San Diego International Airport after he got into an argument with a TSA screener about the new, more aggressive patdown.

"If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested," John Tyner told the male screener. Tyner recorded audio of the whole 30-minute incident with the TSA on his cell phone's video camera, a video now with hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.

"It was probably not the most artful way of expressing my point but I was trying to keep it lighthearted; I did not want a big situation. I said it with a half-smile on my face," Tyner told ABC News.

A supervisor comes over, explains the groin check and tells Tyner, according to the cell phone recording: "If you're not comfortable with that, we can escort you back out and you don't have to fly today."

Tyner responded "OK, I don't understand how a sexual assault can be made a condition of my flying."

"This is not considered a sexual assault," replied the female supervisor.

"It would be if you were not the government," Tyner said. He then adds, "I'd like only my wife and maybe my doctor to touch me there."

So will he fly again soon?

"I'm not planning on it. You know, I've had some people suggest that I'm probably on a no-fly list now," Tyner said. "But until these machines go away, I wasn't really planning on flying anywhere again anyway."

It's not just passengers who are upset with the searches, however. Pilots are speaking out about the searches, with one going so far as to say he felt sexually molested and that he vomited in his own driveway while contemplating going back to work, then being subjected to another patdown.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


Sarah Maynard's Missing Family Members Likely Killed, Police Say

Photo Courtesy - WSYX Columbus(MOUNT VERNON, Ohio) -- Divers searching a park near the home where an Ohio teenager was found bound and gagged came up empty-handed Monday after locating a car underwater they had briefly hoped would lead them to the girl's still-missing family members.

A police dive team retrieved a sedan from a pond at Foundation Park, located steps away from the home of suspected kidnapper Matthew Hoffman. After towing the car from the water, however, they quickly determined that it had been there for months, dashing the hopes of investigators who say it is decreasingly likely that Sarah Maynard's family will be found alive.

Sarah, 13, was rescued by a police SWAT team Sunday. Police found the girl alone. Hoffman, 31 and a convicted arsonist, was arrested and charged with kidnapping.

Despite the girl's efforts to help police in their investigation, they fear Sarah's little brother, mother and a family friend who disappeared at the same time may be dead.

"We still would like to retain a hopeful attitude, but we have to be realistic," Knox County Sheriff David Barber said.

Sarah was released from the hospital and has been reunited with family members. "Physically, she is fine," Barber said. "Obviously she has been through a lot."

"She's a very brave little girl," said Barber. "Not only is she assisting in the investigation, under the circumstance, a 13-year-old being held captive for [five] days, I'd call her the epitome of bravery."

He said Sarah was taken from her home in Howard, Ohio, along with her 10-year-old brother Kody, her mother Tina Herrmann, 32, and family friend Stephanie Sprang, 41, last Wednesday. Police reported that beer cans littered the blood splattered house. Barber said DNA tests are ongoing and would not speculate whose blood it was.

"Four people left that house, not under their own power," said the sheriff.

On Monday evening, a car was pulled out of a pond when a dive team's sonar indicated there was a vehicle underwater. Police removed the car from the park, but determined it had likely been there for months and was unrelated to the investigation.

The sheriff said the investigation was quickly moving from a missing persons case to a murder investigation.

"Four people are missing not quite a week. There has been no contact with them, with the exception of Sarah. Based on evidence, based on the fact we haven't seen them, there is a possibility that Stephanie, Tina and Kody are dead, that they've been killed," he said.

The sheriff used the word "realistic" repeatedly in stating "what the ultimate possibility is in a case like this."

Barber said investigators were trying to determine the family's relationship to Hofmann. "At this time, whether he's connected to the family or whether he connected himself to the family...a lot of that remains to be seen as the investigation continues," Barber said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


Congratulations, Sarah Palin: 'Refudiate' Named Word of the Year

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sarah Palin has officially changed the modern lexicon, one tweet at a time. While one might expect the New Oxford American Dictionary to refudiate the former Alaska governor’s favorite verb, they embraced it on Monday, announcing “refudiate” as the official 2010 word of the year.

"From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used 'refudiate,' we have concluded that neither 'refute' nor 'repudiate' seems consistently precise, and that 'refudiate' more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of 'reject.'" the New Oxford American Dictionary said Monday.

Palin’s use of “refudiate” launched critics into a frenzy when she first posted the made-up verb on her Twitter page over the summer.

“Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate,” the 2008 vice presidential nominee tweeted in July, launching a string of harsh responses from the media. Some called Palin’s linguistic mash-up egregious, while others said she would never hear the end of it.

While Palin may have made “refudiate” famous, she is by no means the first person to coin the term. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the Fort Worth Gazette was the first to publish the word in 1891.

"Refudiate" beat out other tough competitors for the top spot in 2010, including “gleek,” “vuvuzela,” “retweet,” and “tea party.”

It’s been a big week for Sarah Palin so far. The debut of her new reality show Sunday night was the number-one program launch in TLC’s history.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Mom Allegedly Sent Lewd Pics to Son's Teen Friend

Photo Courtesy - Houston County Sheriff's Office(HOUSTON) -- Lori Darling David, 37, is facing accusations of e-mailing nude photos of herself to her son's 16-year-old friend.

According to ABC News affiliate KTRK, authorities say the Katy, Texas, woman sent the teen sexually explicit text messages and e-mails, as well as lewd photographs of herself.

She is charged with two counts of online solicitation of a minor.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


New Jersey Holds Hearings to Toughen Up Anti-Bullying Laws

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TRENTON, N.J.) -- Lawmakers in New Jersey will hold hearings Monday on a bill to toughen the state's anti-bullying laws.

New Jersey has had an anti-bullying law on the books for years, but state politicians say it hasn't really helped.  They want teachers to be trained on how to recognize and prevent harassment, and they want them to report bullying even if it happens off school grounds.

The proposed legislation follows the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman who threw himself off the George Washington Bridge after a video of himself and a male involved in a sexual encounter was streamed online by his roommate and another student.

It is estimated that a third of all students between the ages of 12 and 18 have been bullied at school.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Thanksgiving Turkey Shortage for Recession-Hit Families

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DENVER) -- From California to Connecticut, food banks and charities nationwide report that donations of frozen turkeys -- the cornerstone of a traditional Thanksgiving meal -- have fallen dramatically this holiday season.

"This year has been really tough," said Denver Rescue Mission's Greta Walker. "We started the turkey drive on November 1 and about ten days into it, we had zero turkeys. And I started to get really worried."

As of late Sunday, the mission was still 2,000 turkeys short of its goal.

"We know that people have been struggling with the economy," said Walker. "We can tell with our numbers every day."

Walker says the turkey shortage ripples out to smaller charities around the Denver area. That's because each year, the Denver Rescue Mission provides 5,000 turkeys to about 80 other charities and organizations including Volunteers of America.

Last year the Colorado branch of Volunteers of America asked the Denver Rescue Mission for 200 turkeys. Due to a growing need this year, they're now asking for 1,000 frozen birds.

"Across the board, need is going up and people are tightening their wallets," said Allison Kuthy of Volunteers of America. "It gets tough to do our jobs."

The fall in turkey donations this year is also compounded by a rise in turkey prices.

"Retail prices will be up, on average, about 20 percent this year," said Thomas Elam of Indiana-based FarmEcon, an agricultural industry consulting firm.

Elam blames rising costs on a reduction in turkey supply and production this year along with a steep jump in the price of corn and soybeans farmers feed growing birds. Now, higher prices at the supermarket may be causing fewer people to buy an extra turkey to donate.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Search for Kyron Horman: Dive Teams Scour Sauvie Island Waters

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Authorities have returned to the waters near an Oregon island hoping to find new evidence that would lead them to the missing eight-year-old boy Kyron Horman.

About 50 paid workers, divers and volunteers scoured Sauvie Island, not far from the little boy's home, in search of new evidence that may have turned up in the wake of changing weather patterns.

"When you have water levels that are changing, there's some idea if Kyron or some other evidence has been lurking on the bottom of that muddy flat all summer, it might actually get dislodged," said retired Multnomah County Sheriff's Captain Bruce McCain.

So far, authorities say, they have found nothing of note.

Kyron, who would be 8 years old by now, has been missing for nearly six months.  His father, biological mother and the police have all pointed fingers at the boy's stepmother, Terri Horman, but she has not been charged or even named a person of interest.

Authorities said this weekend that the new Sauvie Island search, which has been thoroughly combed in the last several months, was based on an ongoing investigation, not any new leads.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Can Fido Find Bedbugs? Some Question Dogs' Accuracy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the fight against bedbugs, dogs have been called man's best friend. But are they really the champions of the quarter-billion dollar bed bug extermination business?

"You just feel like you're ripe to be taken advantage of… by people out there that are marketing these dogs as the be all, end all," said Eric Silver, who with his wife Jessica, spent more than $3,500 to treat their Brooklyn, New York home after a canine detected bedbugs.  But when the bedbugs kept biting, they called in another exterminator.

It turns out the couple never had bedbugs, but something else entirely -- rodent mites.  The dog's finding was a false positive, something that's reportedly on the increase.

"Ninety-five percent of the time I go behind a canine, there's no bed bugs," said John Furman of Boot-A-Pest, a West Hempstead, New York, pest control company.

In the pandemonium over these parasites, some wonder if dog handlers are cashing in on fear without properly training themselves, or the animals.

“[Properly trained dogs] are really the most accurate tool the industry has for detecting low level infestations," said Jennifer Erdogan of Bell Environmental Services' bedbug division.

Animal experts say there could be many reasons for the incorrect readings, including that some dogs are eager to please their human partners -- so much so that they will sometimes behave in a manner that results in a positive response from that human.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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