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Friday
Jun102011

Twitter User Who Broke Anthony Weiner Story Remains a Mystery

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rep. Anthony Weiner's errant public tweet of a lewd photo of himself two weeks ago may have easily gone unnoticed if it hadn't been for a single Twitter user who spotted and documented the gaffe, and shared it with the world.

Now, a week after the photo helped lead to Weiner's dramatic mea culpa, the man whom some conservatives have hailed as a harbinger and a hero remains silent.

Records show Dan Wolfe, using the Twitter alias PatriotUSA76, was the ringleader of an informal posse of conservative Twitter users known as the #bornfreecrew who, annoyed by Weiner's politics and bombastic style, scrutinized his online behavior.

"We didn't like the fact that he [Weiner] was so arrogant and that he'd come down to the floor of Congress and waste our time with his huge sandwich boards and just ripped the Republicans apart," said Mike Stack, a 39-year-old member of the #bornfreecrew who lives in New Jersey.

"As the months went by, I noticed Wolfe was very, very fixated on Weiner's followers, and a few times he said to me, 'Oh, he added this one and added this one,'" he said. "And we all noticed some of the girls were getting younger and younger, like high school age."

For months, Twitter records show, members of the group messaged some of the girls and Weiner, at times harassing them publicly for their electronic ties as they tried to ferret out any inappropriate behavior, Stack said..

On the evening of May 27, Wolfe happened to be monitoring Weiner's Twitter profile page just as the photo of bulging gray boxer briefs appeared. He excitedly messaged his group about the post and forwarded a screen grab to conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart of Biggovernment.com before Weiner quickly took it down.

"I was shocked," Wolfe told the website in a message shortly after the story broke. "I capped [screen captured] it. Capped the tweet, everything. That's all. Then I RT [retweeted]."

But as Weiner then began to insist he was a victim of a "hack" and "prank," his online supporters made Wolfe their top suspect, casting him as a political operative who acted nefariously to bring the congressman down.

Amid the intense scrutiny, Wolfe deleted his Twitter profile and Yahoo email account last week, and has stayed mostly silent and out of the spotlight since.

"I have A LOT of personal problems," Wolfe wrote to a friend on May 30 in an email chain obtained by ABC News. "If all this comes out along with everything I'm dealing with here -- I don't know what to do," he said, referring to the accusations against him.

But now, even as Weiner's admission of guilt has "vindicated" Wolfe and the #bornfreecrew of any alleged hack, they have still been subjected to threats.

"I got death threats. I got people use Google skyview to print pictures of my house, my address," Stack said. "These people say I set up Rep. Weiner, I framed him. Mediaite says I was harassing these girls."

As for Wolfe, Stack said he's gone into hiding. "I haven't heard from him since Weiner confessed," he said. "And now some of us are speculating who this guy really is. No one has ever met him in person or spoken on the phone."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun102011

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

Friday
Jun102011

5-Year-Old Could Face Murder Charge in Drowning Death of Crying Toddler

Burke/Triolo Productions/Comstock/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) Kansas City police are trying to determine whether to charge a 5-year-old girl with murder after she admitted that she dragged a crying toddler into a bathtub and held him under water until he stopped crying.

"I've been in law enforcement for 20 years and it's the youngest suspect I can remember," police spokesman Darin Snapp said. "It's extremely rare."

The girl, who is not being identified because of her age, was left with 18-month-old Jermane Johnson Jr. on June 3 along with two other children and a 16-year-old girl who was supposed to be looking after them. The teenager had fallen asleep, police said.

Police originally ruled the death an accident, but it turned into a potential homicide investigation after the 5-year-old told social workers that she held 18-month-old Johnson under water to stop his crying.

She told social workers that she dragged Johnson into the tub, still full of water from when the children took baths earlier that evening, police said.

Police were called to the drowning just before midnight Friday, when the adults returned home and found the boy dead.

"As of right now yes, from her statement, she is a possible suspect," Snapp said.
        
Snapp said a final decision on how to handle the case will be made by prosecutors after the medical examiner's report is released, a process that could take up to eight weeks.

The victim's family has taken to Facebook to express its grief and issue a plea for donations in the infant's honor.

The highly unusual case was referred to the Jackson County's family courts division and the girl has not been arrested, but she remains a person of interest to police.

Officials are also looking into the welfare of other children in the home and the decision to leave the children alone Friday, according to Snapp. The 16-year-old left in charge of the children reportedly had mental disabilities.

An adult left the children in the care of the teenager in order to travel to a bus station to pick up a relative.

The ABC News affiliate in Kansas City, KMBC-9, spoke to neighbors near the red-brick home where the drowning occurred, one of whom said the family was nice, but that she had experienced troubles with the young girl prior to the drowning.

"She would throw rocks and sticks at them," neighbor Patricia Lewis told KMBC, referring to her small dogs. "They'd get real upset with her."

Others expressed sadness that the death occurred, and horror that a 5-year-old may now face charges.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun102011

Aggressive Fungal Infection Striking Joplin Victims

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- At least eight victims of the tornado in Joplin have become ill with suspected fungal infections, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Three of those people died, although the Jasper County coroner said so far, only one victim is believed to have died directly as a result of the fungal infection. The other two victims, who died in a neighboring county, endured other injuries or had other medical conditions that could have contributed to their deaths.

Dr. Uwe Schmidt, a specialist in infectious diseases at Freeman Health System in Joplin, said he has treated five patients with an invasive fungal infection known as zygomycosis, which they likely contracted from contact with decaying soil or debris.

This diagnosis has not yet been confirmed, however. Samples were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for testing.

Schmidt said the patients were admitted on May 23, and the staff started noticing mold growing out of their wounds one week later.

"These people had multiple severe lacerations and wound infections," Schmidt said. "Biopsies indicated tissue invasion by a fungus." In some cases, damage to the tissues is severe.

The fungi that cause zygomycosis, also known as mucormycosis, are found in soil almost everywhere.

"Under normal circumstances, they very rarely cause human disease," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "The only people who usually get infected with these fungi are people who are immunocompromised."

"People with normal immune systems are only at risk with overwhelming exposure or with significant trauma," said Dr. Michele Morris, clinical chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The tornado that ripped through Joplin provided the perfect opportunity for the fungi to enter the body through open wounds, Schaffner said.

In some cases, the fungus can spread into the blood and cut off blood supply and then invade the internal organs, but that hasn't happened to any of Schmidt's patients yet.

Mucormycosis is also often seen in patients with very severe, uncontrolled diabetes. It can cause infection of the sinuses and brain.

The infection doesn't spread from person to person and does not invade normal, intact skin.

Morris said treatment generally includes antifungal medications and surgical removal of dead tissue. Keeping wounds very clean is another key component of treatment.

Doctors say it's very important for people who do have wounds to keep a close eye on them.

"If they have wounds which they suffered during the tornado that aren't healing and are getting worse with increasing redness, swelling or tissue necrosis, they should be evaluated by a physician and should be biopsied," said Schmidt.

They also stress there isn't a need to panic.

"This is not an infection likely to spread through any population," said Morris.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun102011

Missing Student's Boyfriend a Person of Interest

Courtesy Blair Wallach(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) -- Police have no suspects in the disappearance of missing Indiana University student Lauren Spierer, but said Friday that her long time boyfriend is one of 10 persons of interest.

"We continue to speak with him. He's cooperative," said Bloomington Police Lt. Bill Parker at a press conference.

Spierer, 20, has been missing for a week. She disappeared after partying with friends at a sports bar.

Spierer's friends say that the missing student and her boyfriend have a loving relationship. The unidentified young man, also a student at Indiana University, was one of the first to become alarmed when Spierer didn't return his text messages on June 3.

"He really cares about her. Lauren was his life, his number one priority. He would never do anything to hurt her," said Hadar Tamir, Spierer's roommate.

Bloomington police are continuing their search efforts which so far have turned up no trace of the fashion student. Divers are searching nearby Lake Monroe and a reservoir. Police are using dogs and setting up traffic check points to search for clues. They are also conducting polygraph exams of possible witnesses and pore through surveillance tapes.

"We're not losing hope. We're concentrating on this case completely and finding Lauren. We certainly want to find her alive and we hope that's the case," said Parker.

America's Most Wanted is slated to run a story about Lauren Spierer on Saturday. Police hope it will generate more tips in the case.

The search for the missing Indiana University student has encountered an unusual hurdle. One of the last people to see her alive claims he is suffering from memory loss.

Two hours before Spierer vanished, surveillance cameras captured her coming from Kilroy Sports Bar back to her apartment building with a friend, Corey Rossman. The cameras captured a scuffle between Rossman and another young man at the Smallwood Plaza apartment building complex.

"He was punched in the face. We don't know who, why or what was said, but that punch or punches caused him a temporary memory loss," said Carl Satzmann, Rossman's attorney.

Spierer and Rossman left the apartment building and she escorted Rossman back to his apartment. She was there for about an hour with Rossman and another young man.

Rossman doesn't remember Spierer walking him back to his apartment and the first thing he remembers is waking up the next morning, his attorney said. Police have searched Rossman's car and cell phone.

After returning Rossman to his apartment, Spierer left for another friend's apartment. That friend saw her walk towards her own apartment at about 4:30 a.m. last Friday. The pint-sized student, who weighs less than 100 pounds and is 4-foot-11, was last seen three blocks from her apartment.

Surveillance video also shows Lauren in an alley walking with an acquaintance on the morning she disappeared. The alley is the same place where her keys and coin purse were found by authorities.

The parents of Spierer are offering a $100,000 reward for the safe return of their daughter.

Making time even more crucial is Spierer's dangerous heart condition. She has Long QT Syndrome, an irregular heartbeat, and takes medication to treat the condition.

The apparel and merchandising major is originally from New York. She had just finished her sophomore year at the university. She was taking a summer class before heading back to New York to intern with retailer Anthropologie.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun102011

Senators Levin and Corker Support Gates' Critique of NATO

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Senators on the Hill Friday echoed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates blunt farewell remarks to the NATO alliance where he criticized some in the alliance who have not devoted "necessary resources" to the campaign in Libya.

"There are some countries in NATO that haven't come through with commitments," Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Friday, agreeing with Gates' comments when asked. "And those countries need to have the pressure put on them and to be reminded of those commitments and what NATO is all about.  I am glad Secretary Gates did that."

Levin made his comments after leaving a closed-door briefing for the Armed Services Committee -- of which only one other senator showed up for the meeting Friday on Libya.

"The key here is what Secretary Gates said which is that this be sustained," Levin added. "That this momentum continues and that's going to require NATO countries including those have not participated the way they said they would to come through with greater participation."

Levin said he would not single out any countries specifically, but said there are some countries that have "not come though as committed."

Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that he also agrees with the Defense Secretary's remarks.

"I commend Secretary Gates for stating the view shared by many Americans: our NATO allies are not carrying their weight, forcing American service members and taxpayers to bear nearly all of the burden in NATO-led missions," Corker says. "This current arrangement where only five of the 28 nations pay their full commitment to support the alliance cannot continue."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun102011

Jack Kevorkian Remembered At Michigan Memorial

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO(TROY, Mich.) -- A memorial service was held in Troy, Mich., Friday for Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who died last week at the age of 83.

Kevorkian began advertising in Detroit's newspapers for physician assisted suicides in 1987. Kevorkian claimed to have helped 130 people end their lives and was charged with murder four times. Those charges were dismissed, before Michigan had an assisted suicide law.

Patient 130 was Thomas Youk, so stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease that he couldn't hit the "kill" button. A video of Kevorkian administering the lethal dose of drugs was broadcast on national TV. Jack Kevorkian was convicted of second degree murder and spent eight years in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun102011

John Edwards Seeks to Delay Deposition in Case Over Sex Tape

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorneys for John Edwards are asking a North Carolina court to delay a deposition he is scheduled to give later this month in the civil case brought by Rielle Hunter against former Edwards-aide Andrew Young. The case centers on a videotape depicting Hunter and Edwards in a sexual encounter.

Citing the criminal indictment issued against Edwards last week, his attorney argues in a motion that Edwards is entitled to a stay of his deposition until the conclusion of the criminal case -- in order to protect his constitutional rights to a fair trial and against self-incrimination.

The deposition is currently scheduled for June 20 and, if it proceeds, will be subject to the direct supervision of a superior court judge.  Edwards has already been deposed once in the case -- but attorneys for Young successfully argued for a second deposition after Edwards declined to answer a number of questions Young's team considered relevant to the case.

In their motion, Edwards' team argues that Young, who is a material witness in the criminal case, is proposing to have his attorney examine Edwards under oath about the subject matter of the indictment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun102011

Casey Anthony Trial: Witness Says Caylee's Bones Chewed by Animals

Orange County Government, Florida(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- A frail looking Casey Anthony began sobbing inconsolably in court Friday as a witness told the court that her daughter Caylee's bones were chewed on by animals.

The description of the gnawing on Caylee's bones triggered a near breakdown by Casey Anthony. She sobbed and her body shook. One of her lawyers, Dorothy Simms, held Anthony and tried to comfort her. She continued to weep and wipe her face with tissues during a long sidebar among the judge and lawyers.

Friday morning's testimony centered on the photos of Caylee's remains that were first seen by jurors and Anthony on Thursday. Anthony became ill after seeing pictures of her daughter's skull, forcing Judge Belvin Perry to call an early recess on Thursday.

Anthony, 25, is accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Forensic anthropologist John Schultz testified that Caylee's vertebrae were found all in the same place, a sign that the body was intact when it was brought there.

"We collected all but one tooth. We have most of the spine, many of the ribs, all of the long bones, the tiny bones, hand, feet, left foot and we did recover one bone of the right foot. The only reason we have one bone of the right foot is because we had carnivore activity on that part of the skeleton," Schultz said.

Caylee's remains were found on Dec. 11, 2008 in a wooded area near the Anthony family home. The toddler was reported missing July 15, 2008, 31 days after she was last seen alive.

The remains were found by meter reader, Roy Kronk. Legal experts believe the defense will attempt to villify Kronk. In opening statements, defense attorney Jose Baez claimed that Kronk tampered with the crime scene and wanted to profit off of finding Caylee's remains.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun102011

Missing Indiana Student's Friend Claims Memory Loss

Courtesy Blair Wallach(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) -- The search for missing Indiana University student Lauren Spierer is hitting an odd roadblock because one of the last people to see her alive claims he is suffering from memory loss.

Spierer, 20, has been missing for a week. She disappeared after partying with friends at a sports bar.

Two hours before Spierer vanished, surveillance cameras captured her coming from Kilroy Sports Bar back to her apartment building with a friend, Corey Rossman.  The cameras captured a scuffle between Rossman and another young man at the Smallwood Plaza apartment building complex.

"He was punched in the face.  We don't know who, why or what was said, but that punch or punches caused him a temporary memory loss," said Carl Satzmann, Rossman's attorney.

Spierer and Rossman left the apartment building and she escorted Rossman back to his apartment.  She was there for about an hour with Rossman and another young man.

Rossman doesn't remember Spierer walking him back to his apartment and the first thing he remembers is waking up the next morning, his attorney said.  Police have searched Rossman's car and cell phone.

After returning Rossman to his apartment, Spierer left for another friend's apartment.  That friend saw her walk towards her own apartment at about 4:30 a.m. last Friday.  The pint-sized student who weighs less than 100 pounds and is 4-foot-11 was last seen three blocks from her apartment.

Spierer's long time boyfriend was one of the first people to become concerned about her after she stopped responding to his text messages.  Police have also questioned him.

The parents of Spierer, Robert and Charlene Spierer, have traveled from New York to aid in the search.  They are offering a $100,000 reward for the safe return of their daughter.

On Thursday, police conducted a water search of Lake Monroe and searched the city's reservoir.  They have no suspects but continue conducting polygraph exams.

The only trace of Spierer that has been found is her keys.  They were found a block away from where she was last seen.  She left her cell phone and shoes at the sports bar that she'd visited earlier in the night.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio