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Exonerated Prisoner Dies After Nearly 30 Years in Solitary Confinement

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A man who was exonerated after spending nearly 30 years on death row in Louisiana died just over a year after his release.

Glenn Ford died Monday after a battle with lung cancer. He was 65.

Ford was convicted of first-degree murder in 1984 but was exonerated in March 2014.

Ford would have still been on death row if not for a confidential informant who told police in 2013 that someone else confessed to him about the murder that Ford was accused of committing.

Lawyer and friend William Most told ABC News Ford was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer several months after being released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Most said that it quickly progressed to stage 4 and spread to his bones.

“He was a really inspirational person and … I’d even heard that he inspired people that had no connection to him,” Most told ABC News.

Ford was featured on ABC News’ Nightline in April and agreed to meet with the prosecutor who put him behind bars, who wrote an open apology letter after Ford was exonerated. But Ford said at the time that he was unable to forgive him.

When he left prison in 2014, Most said Ford, then 64, only had $20 to his name. He had been living in a home provided by Resurrection after Exoneration, a group dedicated to helping prison exonerees.

Ford was involved in three lawsuits at the time of his death, two federal suits for which Most was representing him and one state suit. The federal suits were for compensation for his wrongful imprisonment and inadequate health treatment, and the state suit was a separate compensation suit.

Though he never married, the suit will continue and his children could stand to benefit from any rewards from the court, Most said.

Ford had several children, many of whom live in California, and more than 10 grandchildren at the time of his death. Most said Ford was able to visit California since being released from prison and one of his sons came to Louisiana to see him before he died.

Though they were located in the same prison and overlapped by several decades, Ford was not a member of the Angola Three, a group of three prisoners who were put in solitary confinement ranging from 29 to 43 years.

Ford spent 29 years, three months and five days in solitary confinement in the prison, Most said in a news release confirming Ford’s death.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

Fly Boy: Kid Starts Up Unattended Chopper at Air Show

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(MANKATO, Minn.) — A boy around six years of age hopped into a medevac helicopter that was on display at a Minnesota air show on Monday, and managed to get it started, causing a panic and two minor injuries.  

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the enthusiastic attendee of the Minnesota Air Spectacular at the Mankato Regional Airport jumped into the Mayo Clinic’s unoccupied Eurocopter EC145, and accidentally started the helo’s rotors.

The resulting prop wash toppled a fabric sun shade into spectators, leading to two minor injuries, as a crew member jumped into the craft to shut it down and get the child out.

Eyewitness Agro Gushwa, a ticket taker at the show, shot the scene with his cellphone. He told the paper that once the pint-sized pilot was taken out of the helicopter, he was, “crying really bad,” and, “ran to his father, who gave him a hug and told him it was OK…”

Air show Director Mark Knoff tell the paper that a Federal Aviation Administration official who was on hand to monitor the air show was informed about the “unfortunate incident,” and a federal investigation is underway as to how the potentially deadly situation could have happened.  

ABC US News | World News

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Whitey Bulger Writes Contrite Letter to Teens, Says His Life Was ‘Spent Foolishly’

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Three Apponequet Regional High School students, Mollykate Rodenbush, Brittany Tainsh, and Michaela Arguin (from left), received a handwritten reply from Whitey Bulger after writing to him for a history contest on leadership. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)(BOSTON) — When three Massachusetts high school students wrote to notorious Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, they didn’t expect a response, let alone an in-depth letter in which he told them his life “was wasted.”

Mollykate Rodenbush, Brittany Tainsh and Michaela Arguin, now rising seniors at Apponequet Regional High School in Lakeville, Massachusetts, selected Bulger as the topic of their website for the National History Day competition earlier this year.

The theme was leadership and legacy, and the group wanted to “choose a theme that’s going to stand out and stick with the judges,” Mollykate, 17, told ABC News Monday. A few teachers recommended they look at a local figure, like Bulger, who has a decades-long criminal history in Massachusetts.

Bulger was convicted of murdering 11 people, extortion, money laundering and weapons charges in 2013, after a trial that came nearly twenty years after he went on the run after being tipped off to a pending federal indictment by a corrupt FBI agent. Police found cash secreted in the walls of Bulger’s Santa Monica hideout, where he and his longtime companion spent 14 years living a life on the lam.

Bulger was second only to Osama Bin Laden on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

He’s now in federal prison in Florida.

“We were trying to think out of the box. Take an unconventional route and do something no one else does,” Mollykate said, citing George Washington and President Obama as popular choices. Instead, they wanted to “showcase someone that’s a terrible person, she said, and “show that his heinous crimes … his infamous and notorious reputation has impacted our society and the legal system.”

“We tied Whitey Bulger into the leadership and legacy theme by showing him as the leader of organized crime,” Mollykate said.

So the students decided to go right to the source. Mollykate said they were all on the same page about reaching out to Bulger himself for comment on his legacy.

“We didn’t think there would be a consequence,” she said. “The worst thing would be [if] he wouldn’t reply. … [I] definitely wasn’t expecting a return from him at all.”

The students contacted Bulger in February, Mollykate said, and within days, Bulger wrote a response.

The letter reads:

“I’m sorry but I can’t help you with your school project — There are many people more deserving of your time and interests. I’m a myth created by the media to help them generate Revenue and to hurt a relation because they didn’t appreciate his independence and daring to support an agenda they opposed.

May I suggest you and Molly create a website about the heroic service men of Mass. that are patients in, for instance, Walter Reed Veteran Hospital — good men isolated from society due to war wounds — life for some in pain and loneliness — hearing from school girls that care would do wonders for their morale + recovery.

Don’t waste your time on such as I — we are society’s lower, best forgotten, not looked to for advice on ‘Leadership’. I’m a 9th grade dropout from school and took the wrong road — my brother 5 years younger applied himself in school and worked hard and spent 40 years in Mass State House and retired and was the President of Mass Senate in State House for second term and President of U. Mass after Retirement. Had 9 children all college graduates + 4 lawyers among them. A Better Man than I.

My life was wasted and spent foolishly, brought shame + suffering on my parents and siblings and will end soon — Advice is a cheap commodity some seek it from me about crime — I know only one thing for sure — If you want to make crime pay — ‘Go to Law School.'”

The letter was “very shocking,” Michaela, 17, told ABC News Monday, and “a lot different than what we expected it to be.”

“We were expecting a lot more arrogance,” said Brittany, 17. “And not really [him] acknowledging his wrongdoings throughout his life.”

Brittany said she was surprised to “hear him almost say sorry about hurting his family.”

Michaela added, “We just wanted to find out what he thought his legacy and voice was. And even though he didn’t answer that directly, he helped us more than we could ever imagine.”

While the girls did not place at the state competition, they won two special awards for best use of primary sources and best project on Massachusetts history, Mollykate said.

ABC US News | World News

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Loyal Listeners Club

Dramatic Scenes from Washington State Wildfire

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ruig/iStock/Thinkstock(WENATCHEE, Wash.) — A fast-moving wildfire in Washington state has left nearly 3,000 acres scorched and forced thousands of residents from their homes.

The grass fire started Sunday on a remote hillside outside of Wenatchee, Washington. Fueled by triple-digit temperatures — Wenatchee had a record high of 109 Sunday — as well as strong winds, the blaze made its way quickly into residential and commercial areas outpacing firefighting teams.

So far, more than 24 homes have been destroyed.

“We’ve got hundreds of homes under evacuation notices,” Rich Magnussen of the Chelan County Emergency Management Office told ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV.

Fire officials overnight declared a Level 3 evacuation, going door-to-door telling residents to leave.

“I thought I’d get there and it’d be like, smoky,” resident Christie Adams said. “Our backyard was on fire.”

In Wenatchee, burning embers from the so-called Sleepy Hollow Fire helped set local downtown businesses ablaze. At one wholesale plant, flames mixed with propane tanks creating dangerous explosions.

Fire officials said the combination of rain on Monday morning with dying winds had helped tame the fires in the hills. The fires in the downtown and residential areas remained active. An industrial fire in downtown Wenatchee continued to shoot thick, black smoke as officials issued an ammonia leak, warning residents to shelter in place.

A red-flag warning remained in effect till 8 p.m. today, though the fires on the hills appeared to be out.

Two firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and another two, for heat-related issues. One firefighter had to be sent to a hospital.

The cause of the fire was still unknown.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ATF Announces Warrant for Man Suspected of Burning Down Baltimore CVS During Unrest

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Baltimore Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Monday announced that they had obtained an arrest warrant for the individual accused of burning down a CVS Pharmacy during April protests following the death of Freddie Gray.

Raymon Carter, 24, is wanted in connection with the arson, the ATF said. The bureau is offering up to a $10,000 reward for information leading to his capture and apprehension.

Carter is described as being about 5-feet-5 inches tall and 180 pounds.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Song of The Day

How Escaped NY Prisoners Survived Three Weeks on the Run

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(NEW YORK) — During escaped prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat’s three weeks on the run in upstate New York, Matt spent some time in a previously unknown camper in Franklin County, an official confirmed.

While the dark, rusty camper is hidden in the woods by deep brush, it’s also right off a main road, Route 30.

Jon Chodat, who lives just down the road, told ABC News the camper that sheltered Matt, 48, from the elements has probably been there since 1997, and has likely been abandoned for many years.

“He was the only one that was here,” Chodat said of Matt. “Because Sweat took off the other way.”

Chodat added, “It’s amazing he found it though; he must have just stumbled [onto it] because that’s what happens in these woods; there’s all these little camps and things that are remote and not used.”

Chodat said he believes Matt was shot just down the hill from the camper.

“There’s sort of a staging area that’s all trampled down and it looks like quite a few people were down there,” he explained.

“The helicopter landed just over here to pick up his body on the other side of my site, actually,” Chodat added.

Police have collected a lot of evidence from the camper, Chodat said.

As well as evidence from the camper, investigators are getting information from captured inmate Sweat, 34, as they learn more about how the men survived over the course of the manhunt. Here are a few items the prisoners were believed to be in possession of during their escape:


Bob Willett, a cabin owner in the search area, called authorities after noticing a bottle of rum missing from his cabin. Willett also noticed a bottle of gin had been spilled, he told ABC News.


Two pairs of boots and binoculars were also among the missing items from Willett’s cabin.

“All we knew is that somebody was in the camp and we didn’t know who it was, so we decided we better call [police] and they came right up,” Willett said.


When Matt was shot and killed by authorities Friday afternoon, he was armed with a 20-gauge shotgun, police said.


Matt and Sweat may have been using picnic-style pepper shakers to throw their scent off the dogs tracking them, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico told reporters Sunday evening.

If Matt and Sweat used pepper shakers, they worked, because dogs did have a hard time tracking them, D’Amico said.


Sweat may have been subsisting on Pop-Tarts during his three weeks as a fugitive. When authorities shot and apprehended Sweat Sunday afternoon, he was found with a backpack of supplies, including the toaster pastries, maps, bug repellent, wipes and tools, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Cuomo did not specify what tools Sweat had.

It’s unknown whether Sweat took the supplies from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, from which he and Matt escaped on June 6, or during his time on the run.

On Friday, Matt was shot and killed in Elephant’s Head, New York, police said.

Sweat was spotted by an officer Sunday on a road near Route 30. When he tried to flee, an officer shot him twice in the torso. He is in a hospital Monday in Albany, New York.

More than 1,000 corrections officers and law enforcement officers were involved in the three-week search for the prisoners.

Cuomo called the escape “an extraordinary situation in many ways.”

“If you were writing a movie plot, they would say this was overdone,” he said to reporters Sunday evening.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Woman Knocked Out by Drone at Seattle Pride Parade, City Says

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Boy Scouts troops make an apperance in the 40th annual Seattle Pride Parade on June 29, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic)(SEATTLE) — A woman was knocked out when a drone struck her in the head during the pride parade in Seattle Sunday, officials said.

The 25-year-old woman was standing in the parade route when she was hit by the 18 square inch drone, according to the city’s website.

An off-duty firefighter helped treat the woman, whose boyfriend caught her when she fell, at the scene, the statement said.

The extent of her injuries from the drone, which weighed about 2 pounds and was estimated to cost $1,200, was not immediately known.

Police were looking to speak to an unshaven man in his 20s wearing sunglasses a baseball cap and cut-off pants. The information was based on photographs provided by the victim’s friends.

According to the city, he also had a tattoo of a woman.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nugget of Knowldege

NJ Man Arrested, Charged with Conspiracy to Support ISIS

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

DanHenson1/iStock/Thinkstock(WEST NEW YORK, N.J.) — A New Jersey man was charged with conspiring to provide material aid to ISIS on Monday, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey said.

According to a press release, Alaa Saadeh, 23, allegedly planned, with others, to aid and abet an attempt to provide services and personnel to ISIS. He is also accused of trying to persuade a witness to lie to the FBI.

A group of individuals, including Saadeh, have been under investigation since early May, when the U.S. Attorney says a conspirator living in Rutherford, N.J., left to join ISIS. A second conspirator was arrested in New York on June 13, and a third, Samuel Rahamin Topaz, was arrested earlier this month, as was Fareed Mumuni, who allegedly attacked an agent with a large kitchen knife.

Each of those men were linked to Munther Saleh, a Queens College student charged with preparing an explosive device for detonation in the New York City area.

The first conspirator was apparently arrested in Jordan on suspicion of attempting to aid ISIS.

Saadeh allegedly told an individual not to tell the FBI about the first conspirator’s attempt to support ISIS, adding that they should “play dumb” and be “honest up to a point.”

Each count in the complaint against Saadeh carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

String of Fires at Six Predominantly Black Churches Scrutinized

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Monkey Business/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A string of churches with predominantly black congregations — from Florida to Tennessee — has reported fires in the past week, officials say.

The circumstances surrounding the six fires differ in each case, but their occurring in the past eight days has prompted closer scrutiny.

So far only two of the six cases are being investigated as arson, and federal authorities have not launched any official hate crime investigations.

Arson was a notable problem for black churches in the mid-1990s and prompted then-President Bill Clinton to push for the creation of the Church Arson Prevention Act in 1996, though a related U.S. Department of Justice task force was suspended at the end of his second term.

This week’s fires come amid a tense time in some Southern cities after a shooting by an alleged racist at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, left nine dead. The result has been a push for the removal of the Confederate flag from several state Capitols amid reignited debates over the region’s racial history.

The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not immediately return ABC News’ calls for comment about whether they are involved in the investigations.

The first fire was reported at the College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Sunday, June 21. Stacks of hay and soil were placed against the church’s metal doors and set on fire, according to ABC News affiliate WATE-TV.

“I see this and I think of an intention to try to destroy this entire church,” Pastor Cleveland Hobdy III told WATE.

Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk told WATE that it has been deemed an incident of vandalism and not a hate crime because, in most hate crime cases, the suspect leaves a message or indication of the reason behind the attack and no such mention was found in this case.

The second church was in Georgia two days later, and Macon Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins told station WMAZ that it was suspicious and is being investigated as an arson.

Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee, was also set on fire that same day and officials have not released any updates about the investigation, nor did they immediately return ABC News’ calls. Fire Chief Bryan Cathey told ABC affiliate WBBJ-TV that there were some questions about whether it was an accidental fire because residents recalled there being several lightning strikes in the area around the time of the fire.

The fourth fire burned down a portion of the Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in east Charlotte, North Carolina, in the early morning hours of June 24, and investigators immediately classified it as arson.

The investigations into the final two churches that reported fires on Friday, June 26, are still underway and their respective cause has not yet been determined.

No injuries were reported at any of the fires.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pet of the Week

NY Prison Escapees Were Originally Headed to Mexico

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

New York State Police(NEW YORK) — Prison escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat had originally planned to flee to Mexico before the two split up last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview Monday.

Investigators have already started getting important information from captured inmate Sweat, who is now undergoing treatment at Albany Medical Center, Cuomo said.

“The plan was to head to Mexico, which would have been aided by Joyce Mitchell’s vehicle,” Cuomo said. “They would get the car and then drive to Mexico.”

Two employees at the prison, including Mitchell, a tailor shop employee, have been charged in connection with the escape.

“When Mitchell doesn’t show up, the Mexico plan gets foiled and they head north to Canada,” Cuomo said.

The governor also said Sweat split up from Matt five days ago because he felt like “Matt was slowing him down.”

Mitchell was charged with providing hacksaw blades and tools to the men through frozen hamburger meat. She pleaded not guilty to the felony and misdemeanor charges.

Mitchell’s lawyer, Steve Johnston, said in a statement Monday, “I just spoke with Joyce and she is ecstatic both that the manhunt has ended and also that it appears no harm came to any other person.”

New York State Police said Monday that the shooting of David Sweat was under review. While Sweat was unarmed at the time, he was fleeing in violation of an officer’s order.

It was not clear when the review would be completed.

An official briefed on the search for Sweat and Matt told ABC News on Monday that the prison escape exposed possible heroin trafficking within the Clinton Correctional Facility. That is now part of the overall investigation by both state and federal authorities.

The official also said that the drug dealing may have involved both inmates and corrections officers.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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