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Thursday
Dec132018

Texas man arrested for allegedly trying to kidnap 15-year-old jogger

gaspr13/iStock(ALVIN, Texas) -- Authorities are saying a teen girl out for a jog "did everything right" as she managed to escape an alleged kidnapper.

The 15-year-old was out for a run in Alvin, Texas, an idyllic suburb south of Houston on the Gulf Coast, at 9:20 p.m. on Dec. 2 when a man repeatedly drove his truck past the teen, according to the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office. The man eventually pulled over and approached the girl and wrapped his arms around her.

"The victim reports that she began to scream for help and was able to fight the suspect off when they fell to the ground," according to the sheriff's office.

Three days after the attempted abduction, sheriff's investigators were in the area conducting interviews when they found a Chevrolet truck matching the description given by the girl, authorities said. The driver fled before being cut off by the sheriffs.

Steven Salazar, 22, was identified as the driver and arrested on a charge of reckless driving.

"Salazar fit the description given of the attempted abductor, however, he denied having any contact with the victim or any involvement with the incident," the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

He was booked on the reckless driving charge on Dec. 6, but was released from custody.

After Salazar "gave several inconsistent stories about the incident," he was arrested for attempted kidnapping on Tuesday. Salazar has also been charged with evading arrest, according to jail records.

He is being held on $45,000 bond for the two charges.

"She did everything right to survive this," Brazoria County Sheriff's Lt. Varon Snelgrove told Houston ABC station KTRK.

The Brazoria County Sheriff's Office is still asking anyone who may have been approached in a similar manner to contact them at 1-800-460-2222.

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Thursday
Dec132018

Survivors detail 'life-changing experience' trapped in abandoned coal mine

ABC News(CLEAR CREEK, W.Va.) -- After being trapped in an abandoned West Virginia coal mine for days, a pair of young explorers said they learned the biggest lesson of their lives.

"Everyone who was involved in searching for us, I just wanna thank you, with everything inside of me -- this is the biggest lesson I've ever learned in my life," Cody Beverly, 21, told ABC News on Wednesday. "This is a life-changing experience for me."

Beverly and two friends -- Kayla Williams, 25, Erica Treadway, 31 -- were discovered and rescued from the Rock House Powellton mine in Clear Creek, about 30 miles southeast of Charleston, West Virginia, on Wednesday night. They entered the inactive coal mine around 3 a.m. on Saturday looking for copper, officials said.

"All the effort that everybody put in to get us out, we really appreciate it, and we thank God," Williams told ABC News on Wednesday. "We have great families. We knew they was going to find us."

Beverly and Williams spoke with reporters outside of Charleston General Hospital, where they were taken for an evaluation after being rescued.

All three were released from the hospital early Thursday. Treadway declined to comment.

"I'm just glad to be home with my family, my friends, my brothers, that I see around me right now, my family," Beverly said.

When asked how they managed to survive, Beverly said, "We drank mine water."

"We had no food," he said. "We just found a stream in the mine and started drinking it and hoping and praying to God it wasn't contaminated."

Williams said they "panicked sometimes," but the pair said prayer, determination and God is what got them though.

"We just want to thank God, that's the main person we're thanking," Beverly said. "We stayed together and we prayed to God. ... We pulled together as much as we could."

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Thursday
Dec132018

Family friend of missing Colorado mom pleads for help in search

Woodland Park Police Department(WOODLAND PARK, Colo.) -- It's been nearly three weeks since Kelsey Berreth, a young mother from Colorado, went missing, but her family and friends said they refuse to give up hope.

"There's gotta be somebody that saw something go on there, and if they would get in contact with the police department, so they can get to the bottom ... that would be the greatest thing," Jim Morgan, a close friend of the Berreth family, told ABC News' Good Morning America on Thursday. "God is powerful and he answers prayers, and I'm just encouraging everybody to lift the family up, lift Kelsey up in prayer."

Berreth, a 29-year-old pilot, was last seen entering a Safeway near her home in Woodland Park, Colorado, on Nov. 22, according to surveillance footage from the store, but her fiancé, Patrick Frazee, said he saw her later that day.

Berreth's mother reported her missing on Dec. 2, police said. The FBI confirmed on Tuesday it's assisting local authorities in the search.

"Three weeks is a long time to be missing," Morgan said. "We still have hope that she'll be back and God will bring her back to us, but we certainly can't guarantee that."

Morgan said he's known the Berreth family for almost two decades.

"In this world, good things don't always happen, miracles don't always happen, but fortunately God is with us through it anyway," he added.

Morgan described Berreth as a loving, caring, kind woman -- someone who would do anything for her loved ones.

"She was my son's first babysitter, and he really liked her. That speaks highly to her character," Morgan added. "Her dad is one of my best friends at this point, and we are talking regular trying to help him through a really tough time."

Neighbors and friends are scheduled to hold a candlelight vigil at Memorial Park in Woodland Park Thursday night, according to the Woodland Park Police Department.

The footage of Berreth at the Safeway, released by police Tuesday night, showed her entering with her baby in a car seat and getting a shopping cart. It's the last confirmed sighting of her.

There were no leads or suspects as of early Thursday.

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Thursday
Dec132018

Pilot rescued after 1950s-era fighter plane crashes in waters off Honolulu

Manakin/iStock(HONOLULU) -- A pilot flying a 1950s-era fighter jet as part of a military exercise has been rescued in the waters off of Honolulu after his aircraft crashed into the ocean Wednesday.

The airplane's crash and the pilot's rescue were captured on photos and videos posted on social media.

"Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is confirming a Hawker-Hunter aircraft operated by a civilian contractor has crashed into the ocean five miles south of Sand Island at approximately 2:28 p.m., today," said a statement from the military base located in Honolulu, Hawaii.

"The contractor ejected safely, and was initially rescued by a private sailboat then transferred to a U.S. Coast Guard vessel," said the statement.

"Federal Fire responded and City and County EMS was dispatched to Sand Island to treat and transport the patient to a hospital," it continued. "Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam does not have further details of the pilot's condition at this time."

Sand Island is located east of the Honolulu airport and west of downtown Honolulu.

The pilot was flying the 1950s-era British-made fighter jet as part of the Sentry Aloha exercises being hosted by the Hawaii Air National Guard at the base.

That exercise has been temporarily suspended in the wake of the accident.

Images posted on social media show the pilot parachuting from the aircraft at a low altitude before it crashed into the water.

The Hawker Hunter aircraft was likely participating in the exercise as an enemy aircraft in simulated fighter exercises.

That role used to be handled by military pilots, but increasingly the U.S. military is contracting out that role to private companies that operate dated military aircraft.

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Thursday
Dec132018

US Navy: Three nuclear-powered attack submarines 'not certified to dive today'

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeffrey M. Richardson/Released(WASHINGTON) -- Three nuclear-powered attack submarines are currently not operational, according to U.S. Navy officials, proving the service is still working to reduce its backlog of submarines that require maintenance.

The spotlight has been on the USS Boise, which has now been out of service for four years. Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran told senators during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday that the Boise would enter a private shipyard in January, but two other submarines "are not certified to dive today."

The Navy has been working for years to get more submarines into dry dock for maintenance, which now includes the use of private sector shipyards in addition to public ones. As many as 15 subs awaited maintenance in Oct. 2017, keeping a significant chunk of the service's 71-submarine fleet potentially out of service.

"We want no more Boise's," Moran told senators, adding that the other two submarines will enter dry dock in February and late spring.

"The numbers are coming down significantly. The standing in line has come down significantly," he added. "We still have a ways to go. We're not out of the woods yet, but I think as capacity opens up in the private yards, and we do a better job in the public yards, getting our carriers out on time, we'll be there."

During the hearing, Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, told the military officials that Americans need to understand the seriousness of this problem, especially if the government were to come under mandatory budget cuts, called sequestration, which last occurred in 2013.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer urged patience, saying that the money Congress allocated to optimize the Navy's shipyards is at least a two-year project and "to kill it now with any sort of sequestration would be a crime."

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Wednesday
Dec122018

Authorities rescue three trapped in a West Virginia coal mine since Saturday

andresr/iStock(CLEAR CREEK, W.V.) -- Three people who were trapped in an abandoned coal mine in West Virginia since Saturday have been found, according to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training.

After getting all three people out of the mine safely, they were brought to their family and friends. After the reunion they were taken to the hospital to be checked out.

"It's a Christmas blessing, that's all there is to it," West Virginia Governor Jim Justice told reporters.

The first person was found at around 6 p.m. Wednesday, according to a representative from the Office of Miners Health Safety and Training. About 30 minutes later, the other two were rescued about 1,000 ft. away from the first, officials said.

"We go into these events not to recover, we go to rescue," said Eugene White, director for the Office of Miners Health Safety and Training.

White said his concern now is for the rescue team who found the three stuck in the mine. "I'd love to be up there hugging them," he said.

A total of four people were reported missing Saturday after their abandoned ATV was found near the entrance to the Rock House Powelltown coal mine, in Clear Creek, according to West Virginia governor Jim Justice.

The fourth person from the group -- Eddie Williams, 43 -- was able to escape from the mine on Monday evening. Williams told authorities Kayla Williams, 25, Erica Treadway, 31, and Cody Beverly, 21, were still inside, according to a statement from the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office.

Rescue teams from the Office of Miners' Health and Safety and numerous other state and local agencies had been searching for the missing trio since the weekend.

On Tuesday evening, MHS&T and other authorities were able to enter through the Rock Creek portal of the mine and add large fans to move fresh air, and to install water pumps to help clear the standing water in the cave.

Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office Lt. M.A. McCray told ABC News that the individuals did not enter at the main entrance, but rather used what’s called a “punch out hole” – a small shaft either accidentally punched out of the side of a mountain or created for ventilation.

Officials have said that the group went into the cave in search of copper wire -- a lucrative commodity in a financially-depressed region of the state.

No coal has been extracted from the mine for two years, officials said.

The rescue teams were unable to locate the three people on Monday and expanded their search on Tuesday, progressing more than 4,000 ft. into the mine before locating the missing three on Wednesday evening, officials said.

There is a pending criminal investigation into the group's activities upon entering the mine, officials said.

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Wednesday
Dec122018

Chaff from military plane likely caused mysterious blip in weather radar: Reports

richardcalver/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Meteorologists may have discovered what caused a mysterious blip in the weather radar in Illinois and Kentucky earlier this week.

On Monday afternoon, large blips that would usually indicate stormy weather flashed across the radar maps showing southern Illinois and western Kentucky, but there was neither a storm system nor a raindrop in sight, according to the National Weather Service, which described the radar at the time as "interesting."

The NWS later determined that "the leading theory" for the cause of the blip was chaff from an aircraft, which is a stream or cloud of radar-jamming material such as thin aluminum that is often used as a countermeasure during combat.

Wayne Hart, meteorologist for ABC Evansville, Indiana, affiliate WEHT-TV, tweeted that the chaff came from a military C-130 northwest of Evansville, citing an unnamed pilot who was given the information from the Evansville air traffic control.

The two military bases nearest to where the blip occurred denied that the C-130 came from their premises.

Major Martin Meiners, public affairs officer for the 101st Airborne Division for Fort Campbell in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, told ABC News that there are no units at that base that fly C-130s.

A spokesman for Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County told the Evansville Courier & Press that the plane did not come from that base, either.

A representative for the Air Force did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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Wednesday
Dec122018

'This hurts': Officials failed to follow up on 2016 DNA hit on man accused of killing North Carolina girl: DA

FBI Charlotte(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- The man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing 13-year-old Hania Aguilar was connected through DNA to a rape from 2016 -- but investigators never followed up on that DNA evidence, and if they did, that likely would have saved the girl's life, prosecutors said Wednesday.

"This hurts," Robeson County, North Carolina, District Attorney Johnson Britt told reporters. "This is like taking a punch to the gut and not being prepared to get it."

Michael McLellan, 34, is accused of abducting and killing the teen in November. Her disappearance sparked a massive manhunt and her body was found in Robeson County weeks later.

Britt said he met with Hania’s mother and stepfather "to explain to them what had happened to express my regret, and our regret, that this had been missed. And that in all likelihood had this gone forward and we established a case against him at that time, Hania would not have died."

The missed opportunity came in 2016 when a victim's rape kit -- for a case in which there was no suspect -- was sent for analysis, Britt said.

The kit was analyzed in 2017, and Britt said the district attorney's office was told there was a hit from the Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS, meaning that DNA found from the 2016 victim’s rape kit possibly matched DNA of someone already in the system.

CODIS contains DNA samples of known offenders convicted of felonies. McLellan had been convicted of first-degree burglary in January 2007, a class D felony, according to the North Carolina Department of Corrections' website.

Britt said an email including that information was sent to the sheriff’s office, copying the district attorney's office

At that point, Britt said that information should have given the sheriff's office probable cause to seek a search warrant, obtain a DNA sample from McLellan and compare that sample to the 2016 rape kit.

As Britt held the CODIS report in his hand Wednesday, a reporter asked him if the information on that paper could have saved Hania's life.

"Potentially yes, and probably yes," Britt responded.

Britt said his office and the sheriff’s office are trying to determine how this evidence was overlooked.

Hania was abducted outside her home at the Rosewood Mobile Home in Lumberton on the morning of Nov. 5.

She had taken the keys to her aunt's SUV to start the car when a man dressed in all black with a yellow bandanna over his face forced her in the car and drove away, police said. The stolen SUV was found three days later in Lumberton.

Britt said Wednesday that, through the recovered car, McLellan became a suspect in Hania's kidnapping one week after she vanished, though he was not officially named a suspect until weeks later. By that time McLellan was in custody for a different crime, prosecutors said.

Evidence from Hania's recovered body also linked McLellan to the crime, Britt said.

McLellan is charged with 10 felonies in Hania's case including first-degree murder, first-degree forcible rape, statutory rape, abduction of a child and first-degree kidnapping, the FBI said.

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Wednesday
Dec122018

Stolen gun, dozens of rounds of ammunition found in arsenal at public park: 'He would've had access to hundreds of rounds'

Santa Ana Police Department(SANTA ANA, Calif.) -- As girls gathered to play softball nearby, a man allegedly built an arsenal inside a shed at a Southern California public park, where he stored a loaded gun, a vest and over a dozen magazines of ammunition, according to police.

The dangerous stash was uncovered after a softball coach called the police Monday night and reported seeing a man forcing his way into the small storage room at Carl Thornton Park, the Santa Ana Police Department said.

The softball coach and softball league president confronted the suspect, later identified as Ruben Perez.

Perez allegedly threatened them, saying he had a "strap," Cpl. Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department told ABC News.

After that threat, "they were smart enough to back away," Bertagna said. "Then their focus became getting the children off the field."

Responding officers searched the shed, which police said Perez, 37, made into a living area.

Inside, police said they found: a stolen and loaded 45-caliber handgun; 18 magazines loaded with a variety of calibers of ammunition, including an extended magazine, which holds 31 rounds; and "a weight vest with the weights removed and replaced with loaded magazines, which had been placed in the weight pockets for easy access."

"Had he elected to get in a confrontation with us or the public, he would've had access to hundreds of rounds," Bertagna said of the suspect. "Everything fell into place where nobody got hurt. We're lucky."

The members of the girls' softball team are about 12 to 14 years old, Bertagna said.

Perez was booked at the Santa Ana Detention Facility on various weapons charges, police said.

He is due to appear in court Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

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Wednesday
Dec122018

Warrant dismissed against mother seen in video having baby yanked from her arms by NYC police

tzahiV/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A New Jersey judge dismissed a warrant on Wednesday against Jazmine Headley, the mother seen in a viral video having her baby yanked from her arms by police and security guards at a New York social services office.

Headley, 23, appeared at a hearing in Mercer County, New Jersey, Superior Court, and pleaded not guilty to charges of credit card theft stemming from a 2016 arrest.

"Today is a great day for Jazmine, her mom and her little boy," said Headley's attorney, Brian Neary.

Neary said a judge allowed Headley to enter a program for first-time offenders to resolve the old case.

"This is a not guilty plea and after the passages of time, the case will be dismissed and ultimately her criminal record will be expunged," Neary said.

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