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Police ID Likely Homicide Victim Without Finding a Body

Saturday, August 30th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(AUBURN, Wash.) — Police have identified the victim of a likely homicide that has puzzled them for two weeks since a federal agent stumbled on a pile of ripped up flooring covered in blood by the side of a road in Auburn, Wash.

Commander Mike Hirman of the Auburn Police Department said authorities have confirmed that blood on the material is from 30-year-old Brandon Zomalt.

Hirman said police believe it is likely that Zomalt was killed in a homicide, although without a body or further evidence they cannot confirm anything.

“Obviously it’s difficult to know, we have to go based on some assumptions,” Hirman said. “[Due to] the amount of blood and some bone fragments, we’re investigating it as a homicide.

The case started on Aug. 13, when an off-duty federal agent driving home saw a small fire about 20 feet from the road. After the agent pulled over to stop the fire, another man nearby got into a dark SUV and fled the area.

The agent was unable to catch up or identify the subject. When the agent returned to the scene he found ripped up flooring, carpet and clothing in the pile. All of the debris was covered in blood.

Since then, police have been searching for clues about who the victim or perpetrator could be. Hirman said police were able to identify Zomalt from the State Combined DNA Index System. Zomalt appeared to be from Puyallup, Wash., which is south of Auburn, Hirman said.

According to police, Zomalt had a lengthy criminal history including arrests on suspicion of first-degree assault, harassment and domestic abuse. Police said Zomalt did not have a steady address and had been living with family and friends.

He has not been seen since before Aug. 13. Police are asking anyone with information to call a tip line at 253-288-7403. The suspect is described as being a possible mixed-race male with a slender build and short dark hair and approximately 5′ 8″ to 5′ 10″ tall. He was driving a dark SUV, when last seen.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Double Your Dollars

Teacher Accused of ‘Wanna Stab Some Kids’ Tweet Back to School

Saturday, August 30th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(NEWARK, Calif.) — A high school teacher in Newark, Calif. is back for the new school year despite allegedly posting a series of social media messages in which she vented this summer about wanting to stab her students, once complaining they “make my trigger finger itchy.”

“I already wanna stab some kids. Is that bad? 19 more days,” reads another August tweet from the account reportedly belonging to Krista Arata Hodges, a history teacher at Newark Memorial High School.

The school issued Hodges, 39, a written reprimand, ABC station KGO-TV reported, but some parents believe that’s insufficient.

“As a teacher, I think that she should be held to a higher accountability than other people,” Lisa Roubineau told KGO.

“I’m a nurse, and I can’t vent about my patients on Facebook, so she shouldn’t be able to vent about her students either.”

Grandparent Wanda Williams said that while she doesn’t think Hodges would act on her words, she also shouldn’t be allowed to teach there anymore.

It’s unclear whether further action will be taken, and the Newark Unified School District, where classes started Monday, declined to provide details when contacted by ABC News. In a statement, the district said it is aware of “comments posted online” by a teacher and has taken action, but declined to identify the teacher or specify what action has been taken.

Hodges has not responded to ABC News’ requests for comment.

The tweets were posted on a Twitter account with the name “Mrs. Hodges” and the handle @kree49. It has since been deleted, but screenshots of the messages have gone viral.

Students told KGO-TV that Hodges is a popular teacher and has apologized for the alarming messages.

“She told me that she’s very apologetic about it and she’s told me she regrets it and she definitely wasn’t serious about it,” senior Tristian Mosier said.

Another student said Hodges was probably just venting, and didn’t mean to threaten her students.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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Human Skull Donated to Texas Goodwill Store

Saturday, August 30th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

(iStock Editorial) Credit: dbdurden(AUSTIN, Texas) — Police in Austin, Texas, are investigating an unusual donation to a local Goodwill store: a human skull.

While odd, police do not believe the skull was the result of a crime. Instead, they told ABC News affiliate KVUE-TV that they believe the skull may have been part of someone’s private collection.

“We think it was probably something that belonged to the person who donated it, to a relative of the person who donated it and it was part of a collection or an anatomical model,” said Austin police detective Derek Israel. “It could have been something that was kept by someone who was a student of anthropology, a student of medicine, dentistry, any of those things.”

Police are looking to talk to whoever donated the item last month. Similar skulls are often used in medical settings or medical schools.

The Travis County Medical Examiner’s office has determined the skull is from an adult who likely died two years ago, according to KVUE-TV. Other information about the skull, including sex or race, wasn’t released.

Although unusual, the donation has not fazed everyone at the Goodwill store.

“We have gotten prosthetic limbs. We have gotten Rolex watches. We have gotten Krugerrands,” Traci Berry, who works at the store, told KVUE. “Our donations run the gamut.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

Lego Fingerprints Helped Solve Cold Case Murder

Saturday, August 30th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) — Fingerprints found on Lego building blocks helped police crack a 23-year-old cold case murder mystery in Utah, authorities said.

The gruesome murder of 78-year-old Lucille Johnson in Salt Lake City left police puzzled in 1991.

The grandmother was strangled and beaten in her home and police found Legos in the entryway of her living room and driveway the floor, but were unable to discern who killed her, the Salt Lake Sheriff’s Office said.

When the case was reopened last year, investigators tested the residue found under Johnson’s fingernails for DNA and found that it matched that of 47-year-old John Sansing, a convicted murderer serving a prison sentence in Arizona for an unrelated case, Lt. Justin Hoyal of the Sheriff’s Office said on Friday.

They also tested the fingerprints on the Legos found at the scene and found that the prints matched that of Sansing’s son.

Police said Johnson and Sansing did not know each other and were investigating whether Sansing used the child to gain entry to the house.

“We know there’s no relationship between the two of them,” Hoyal said. “It’s speculative as to whether the child was a ruse that was used, but it’s certainly a possibility.”

Police don’t know have a motive for the crime but said that Johnson’s ring and necklace were missing, Hoyal said. They also said that Sansing is believed to have brought his son to the Arizona murder scene as well.

Sheriff Jim Winder announced at a press conference Thursday that Sansing had been charged with capital murder in Utah for the crime, according to ABC News affiliate KTVX.

“Occasionally we encounter people who are evil,” Winder said. “The individual who perpetrated this is nothing short of that.”

“It was very important that it be solved,” Jerry Johnson, Lucille Johnnson’s son, told KTVX. “I wasn’t sure it would ever be solved.”

“I am so grateful, so very grateful to the police department for the work that they’ve done,” Johnson’s daughter, Shirley England, told KXTV. “I don’t think closure is the right word because you never close something like this. It’s been a terrible thing in our life.”

The Sheriff’s Office had no information on if or when Sansing would be extradited, when Sansing would appear in court, or who his lawyer would be. The District Attorney has not yet responded to calls for comment.


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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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Girl Dies When Large Hole Collapsed on Oregon Beach

Friday, August 29th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Monkey Business Images/Thinkstock(LINCOLN CITY, Ore.) — A girl playing on an Oregon beach died Friday when a large hole she was playing in collapsed and buried her, officials told ABC News.

Frantic efforts by others on the beach were unable to rescue the 9-year-old girl.

“When we arrived on the scene with some of our officers, people were trying to dig the girl out of a fairly large hole, but the thing kept collapsing back in on them,” Lt. Jerry Palmer of the Lincoln City police department said.

“When they finally got her out she was unconscious and not breathing,” Palmer said.

Fire Rescue Capt. Jim Kusz said the girl was under the sand for about five minutes.

Palmer said his officers performed CPR on the girl until medics arrived, but when she was taken to the hospital “she was not breathing.” She was later pronounced dead.

The lieutenant said he did not know whether the girl, who was not immediately identified, had dug the hole or was playing in a hole that she had found on the beach.





Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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USC Football Player Advised by Lawyer to Stop Talking to Police

Friday, August 29th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — The lawyer for Josh Shaw, the USC football captain suspended for lying about how he injured himself, has advised Shaw to stop talking to police investigators, he told ABC News Friday.

The football player spoke twice with Los Angeles Police, lawyer Donald Etra told ABC News, but he has advised Shaw to not do any more interviews with the cops.

“It is now time to move on,” Etra said.

Shaw originally claimed that he sprained both his ankles last Saturday leaping from a second floor balcony to save his young nephew who was floundering in a swimming pool. He later admitted the story was bogus as police reports surfaced that they were called to a Los Angeles address that same night after receiving calls about a woman screaming.

Police initially investigated whether the apartment of Shaw’s girlfriend had been burglarized, but police spokeswoman Nuria Vanegas told ABC News that they are now trying to determine whether Shaw and his girlfriend were involved in a domestic dispute.

Detectives from the LAPD said they would like to speak to Shaw regarding the possible domestic dispute.

Vanegas pointed out that a domestic dispute is different from domestic violence, which is a crime. A domestic dispute is not a crime.

Shaw is not a suspect or considered a person of interest in the burglary investigation, she said.

USC has suspended Shaw indefinitely.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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Tony Stewart Says Return to Racetrack Will Help Him Heal

Friday, August 29th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Jamie Squire/Getty Images(ATLANTA) — NASCAR driver Tony Stewart made an emotional return into the spotlight Friday as he explained that he sees his return to the race track nearly three weeks after fatally hitting another driver as a necessary part of the healing process.

“This has been one of the toughest tragedies that I’ve ever had to deal with… both professional and personally, and this is something that will definitely affect my life forever,” Stewart said at a news conference.

Stewart hit fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. when Ward got out of his car during a race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York earlier this month. Footage of the incident appears to show that Ward may have been trying to confront Stewart and he was seen gesturing at Stewart’s car just moments before it ran into him.

“This is a sadness and a pain I hope no one has to experience in their life,” Stewart said. “That being said, I know that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and his friends are experiencing, is something I can’t possibly imagine.”

“I’ve taken the last couple of weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family and to cope with the accident my own way. It’s given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted.”

The news conference came ahead of Stewart’s return to the racetrack this Sunday as he is scheduled to compete in the ORAL-B USA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“I miss my team, my teammates, and I miss being back in the race car. And I think being back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time,” he said.

Stewart refused to take questions, saying that he was not emotionally ready at this time, but gave his condolences to each member of Ward’s family, listing the 20-year-old’s relatives by name in his statement.

In spite of that personal connection, it was confirmed later that Stewart has not spoken to any of Ward’s relatives directly. Brett Frood, the executive vice president of Stewart-Haas racing, said after Stewart left the press conference that the driver had sent flowers and a note to Ward’s relatives around the time of the memorial services but had not spoken with them.

The investigation into the fatal August 9 incident remains open, though no charges have been filed. Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said earlier this month that they did not find any evidence of criminal behavior in their initial investigation.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Song of The Day

911 Tapes Reveal Drama of Parking Lot Birth

Friday, August 29th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A Utah father helped his wife deliver their baby boy in a parking lot, with the guidance of a 911 dispatcher, after the couple realized they weren’t going to make it to the hospital in time.

Mike Anderson and his wife, Kelly, tried to make it to the hospital Monday, but didn’t make it very far and called 911.

“I don’t know what to do,” Mike Anderson said, in audio released Wednesday. “Should I just keep going to the hospital?”

“That’s up to you,” the dispatcher responded. “If you see any part of the baby, I can help you deliver the baby.”

So Mike Anderson pulled their van over in a gas station parking lot and the dispatcher, identified as Julie Merrell, gave step-by-step instructions.

The Andersons’ two young children were still in the back seat.

The couple worried about so many things that could have gone wrong, but the guidance helped to keep them calm.

Working with a ShamWow towel and a shoelace to tie the baby’s umbilical cord, Anderson delivered 7 pound, 8 ounce Benjamin Norman Anderson as the paramedics pulled up.

Dispatcher Merrell later met the Andersons.

“You did great, by the way,” she told Mike Anderson.

“That was terrible…I’m so glad you talked me through that, because it was the worst thing ever,” he said.

It’s not the first time Merrell gave delivery instructions as a 911 operator, but it’s the first time she has met someone she helped.

“That was amazing,” she said. “Everything went as planned, everyone is happy and healthy.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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Weather to Expect This Labor Day Weekend

Friday, August 29th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(NEW YORK) — It’s a weekend we all knew would come too quickly. Labor Day marks the final “unofficial” weekend of summer.

Dangerous weather is expected in the center of the country this weekend. From the Dakotas to the Great Lakes and into the Plains — damaging winds, large hail and a few tornadoes are possible. Cities that will see these conditions are Bismarck, N.D.; Minneapolis; Des Moines; Iowa; Omaha, Neb.; Kansas City and Wichita, Kan.

In addition, these storms could bring rainfall, producing flash flooding on the interstates from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast.

In addition, two tropical systems, Marie in the Pacific and Cristobal in the Atlantic, have been stirring up high waves and strong rip currents on both coasts this week. Luckily, the beach conditions improve just in time for the holiday weekend, on both the east and west, as the storms weaken and move away.

The heat and humidity is on the rise for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. After what’s been a rather mild summer, a burst of above normal temperatures takes over much of the area over the weekend and into next week. Temperatures will generally be in the upper 80s, with some spots in the 90s further south. It looks to be an unsettled weekend for the east coast, but not a washout. Some days will be better than others, with the best chance for storms falling on Labor Day for areas like Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston.

The place to be for abundant sunshine will be the Southwest, and most of the west coast, where a stretch of dry weather dominates the region.

The Southwest stays hot with temperatures in the 80s and 90s, but much cooler air will filter into the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures could struggle to even reach the 70s. Seattle is looking at highs in the 60s with the chance of showers each day.

According to the American Automobile Association, some 35 million people will be on the roads and at airports starting Saturday.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Nugget of Knowldege

California Attorney Faces New Trial in Drug-Planting Case

Friday, August 29th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(IRVINE, Calif.) — A retrial is underway for a California attorney accused of trying to frame a PTA volunteer by planting drugs in her car, allegedly in retaliation for the way she treated his son.

Kelli Peters broke down in tears in court Thursday after coming face to face with Kent Easter, the man accused of framing her.

Easter remains free on bail, facing charges of false imprisonment by fraud or deceit. A previous trial ended in November in a deadlock, 11-1, in favor of convicting Easter.

Prosecutors say Easter called 9-1-1 Feb. 16, 2011, accusing Peters of being under the influence of drugs. Easter has never denied making that phone call.

After authorities found the drugs in Peters’ car, they detained her for two hours and searched her home, but didn’t find any other drugs, leading investigators to shift their attention to Easter.

Prosecutors say the Easters accused Peters of not properly supervising their son, a student at the elementary school where Peters volunteered.

In opening statements, Easter’s lawyer said it was the man’s wife, Jill, who planted the drugs. “Jill was the operator behind the incident,” the lawyer said.

Jill Easter pleaded guilty last year to false imprisonment and was sentenced to 120 days in jail, a term she completed.

If convicted, Kent Easter faces three years in prison.

The trial continues next week with Peters back on the stand.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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