Monday, February 28, 2011
By Rick Rousos
Published: Sunday, February 27, 2011 at 10:44 p.m.
DUNDEE | Agueda Maldonado, found dead in a Dundee motel room, was stabbed at least 20 times, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Sunday.
He said Sunday night that detectives are seeking a first-degree murder warrant for Jesus Flores, 33, who was Maldonado's boyfriend and has not yet been found.
Maldonado, whose last known address was 149 Oak Hollow Drive in Haines City, was found Saturday morning in a room at the Monticello Motel on U.S. 27 in Dundee.
Maldonado checked into the motel on Feb. 15. She had been dead for several days when she was found.
An autopsy showed more than 20 stab wounds and a fatal wound to the heart, sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Eleazer said in a press release.
Maldonado's vehicle, a white 1993 four-door Buick LeSabre, was found Tuesday in the back yard of a home on Winsor Avenue. in Haines City.
Judd said the people living in the home got up early for work, and the car was in the yard abandoned.
He said detectives are unsure of a motive for the slaying.
They have been unable to locate Flores.
Judd said investigators think Maldonado had been dead since her car disappeared. That's because of the state of her body when it was found, he said.
Eleazer said jail records show Flores was arrested by Haines City police on Dec. 9 on a charge of disorderly intoxication and released on Jan. 27. While he was in jail he was also charged with second-degree arson, but sheriff's officials said Sunday they could not provide any details on the disposition of that case.
Sheriff's officials asked anyone with information about Maldonado's death or how her car arrived at Winsor Avenue to contact Detective Steve Parker at 863-899-2833 or 863-298-6200.
To remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward, call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800-226-8477.
[ Rick Rousos can be reached at email@example.com or 863-401-6968. ]
This story appeared in print on page B1
Sunday, February 27, 2011
UPDATED: 5:56 pm EST February 25, 2011
BOSTON -- A man died Friday in what police are calling a domestic incident in Dorchester.
The victim was stabbed at 80 Ames Way shortly after 10 a.m. Police said he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Cherry Clinton, 28, of Dorchester, was arrested in connection with the incident. Police said she is the girlfriend of the victim, whose name has not been released.
NewsCenter 5 and TheBostonChannel.com will have more information when it becomes available.
DUMONT — Authorities in northern New Jersey say a man fatally shot his girlfriend, then went to a movie theater and called police so they could arrest him.
Bail was set Saturday at $1 million for 24-year-old Jordan Turner, who faces murder and weapons charges.
Bergen County prosecutors say Turner called Bergenfield policed just after midnight and said he had shot Heather Reyes several times with a rifle at a home in Dumont, where he had recently rented a room.
Turner couldn't remember the address, but Dumont officers found the home after he provided a description. They found Reyes' body on a floor inside the room, along with the rifle.
Turner was later taken into custody outside the theater in Paramus after he told authorities what clothes he was wearing.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Investigators believe a husband shot and killed his wife, then killed himself at a residence in Jefferson County Thursday night.
It happened about 5:40 p.m. CT in the 1700 block of Annendale Drive.
Deputies were called to a house, after neighbors heard gunshots.
When deputies arrived, they found a man and woman dead.
The preliminary investigation shows the female victim was shot with a 9mm handgun after she got out of her car in the garage of the home.
The couple's 4 year old child was playing outside.
After shooting, the male asked a neighbor to come get the child.
He then returned to the garage and shot himself.
The child did not witness the shootings, and was placed in protective custody.
The couple was going through a divorce and the female had moved in with her mother at another location.
The victims are identified as Jekesha Wills, 26, and Hugh Wills, 36.
The Kansas City Star
Neighbors told police that loud fights were not uncommon in the Kansas City apartment that Rodney A. Russell Jr., shared with his girlfriend.
In fact, when officers arrived at the apartment in the 8600 block of Newton Avenue a week ago on a disturbance call, they heard yelling and screaming, police said.
The incident ended with Russell, 29, allegedly pulling a knife on two officers. One officer fired four times and killed Russell, police said Friday in their first detailed account of the shooting.
The girlfriend had called her mother after a disturbance erupted Feb. 19. The mother then called police. Officers went upstairs to the apartment about 10 a.m., saw the front door open and found the girlfriend inside. They asked her whether she was having a problem and she invited them in.
About this time, police said, Russell emerged from another room “acting belligerent.” He wanted the officers to leave and tried to shut the door on them.
One officer extended his foot and blocked the door from closing. As the officers tried to ask more questions, Russell allegedly pulled the knife from his clothing and threatened the officers.
According to police, the officers repeatedly told Russell to drop the knife, but he ignored their commands. When Russell “came at the officers,” one officer fired.
Police said the officer feared for his own safety and that of the woman, who was nearby.
Russell moved to Kansas City from Arizona to live with his girlfriend, police said. His relatives live out of state and could not be reached. His body was shipped to Tennessee for his funeral, which is scheduled for today.
James William House Jr. called the Regional Dispatch Center at 3:49 a.m. Friday from a pay phone to say that he had shot her early Thursday in his third-floor apartment at 220 Park Manor Drive.
Dispatchers kept him on the line until police arrived at the pay phone, which was on East Third Street.
He told police he had grown tired of Regina Susan Crum nagging him.
In the apartment, other officers found the body of Crum, 54, and a .38-caliber revolver.
When interviewed by detectives at police headquarters, House “claimed he was tired of her nagging. He was very forthcoming with detectives and spilled out his plan,” Dayton Lt. Mark Varvel said.
Homicide Sgt. Dan Mauch said House, 51, and Crum had been a couple for about a year.
“He made a complete confession. They had been arguing for several days, and he just got tired of it,” Mauch said. “He showed little remorse, but he owned up to what he did.
“He took 24 hours to decide what to do, then called us,” Mauch said.
House told detectives he waited for Crum to go to bed, got the revolver and shot her in the stomach.
When Crum rose up, House said he shot her several more times, Varvel said.
House, a temporary employee with a local garbage collection company, is in the Montgomery County Jail on charges of murder and weapons possession.
Mauch said House has done prison time in Georgia and has had minor scrapes with the law in Dayton, but nothing since 2003. None of his offenses involved violence.
TRUMAN, Minn. -- Police say two people were found dead in a southern Minnesota home of an apparent murder suicide Tuesday evening.
Police in Truman say they went to check on 73-year-old Carl Sorgatz and 75-year-old Rondy Sorgatz after a concerned family member contacted them.
When officers arrived at the house located at 513 E. First Street S. at 6 p.m. Tuesday, they located two bodies inside the residence. Police say they had both sustained a single gunshot wound.
Authorities are ruling their deaths a murder suicide but a motive has yet to be determined.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner will perform a forensic examination.
This incident is still under investigation by the Truman Police Department with assistance from the Martin County Sheriff's Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Police said the teen used the weapon to kill his 16-year-old girlfriend.
The victim's mother said the charges are appropriate.
"A lot of people get mad, but unless you put something in their hand, they can't go do it," Julianna Martinez told Channel 2’s Tom Jones. "I would be responsible if I had handed someone the means to do it."
Robert Bethune lives next door to 15-year-old Kevin Kosturi in Ellenwood.
According to police records, Kosturi told Bethune he needed a gun because someone was threatening him.
Court records indicate that Kosturi used that weapon to shoot Angel, a girl he once dated, in the chest. Bethune now faces several charges, including furnishing a weapon to a person under 18, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Bethune’s pregnant girlfriend cried in court as a judge said denied him bond because of the seriousness of the charges and the additional injury or death the weapon could have caused.
Jones also learned Kosturi will be tried as an adult. He faces murder, tampering with evidence, possession of a weapon by a person under 18 and making false statements charges.
Court records indicate he shot Angel as the two sat at a makeshift fort built in a wooded area near his home. The records indicate that Angel told Kevin he wouldn't shoot her and that’s when he did.
According to the records, Kevin first told police a stranger shot her. He then said she accidentally shot herself. Officers said the teen later confessed his role and showed police where he threw the .38 revolver in a nearby creek.
Angel's mother said Kevin and her daughter no longer dated. Martinez said Kevin had threatened her daughter before.
"If somebody tells you they're going to shoot you, run. Run and tell somebody. It's not the kind of thing that you hide and deal with it on your own," she said outside of court in hopes of helping other teens who may be in violent relationships.
"Tell your mother. Tell somebody," said Martinez.
Martinez said her daughter was fun-loving and beautiful, on the inside and out. "She was kind and she was loving, and it just hurts that she's not here to live out her life."
Seneca Turner cried in Fresno County Superior Court as her lawyer asked a jury in opening statements to "set her free" because she didn't intend to kill Sendy Thomas, 48.
Drunk and high on cocaine, Thomas jumped in front of her car and tried to attack her on the morning of Jan. 9 at Mariposa and A streets, said attorney Michael Mitchell, who is defending Turner.
Prosecutor Michael Frye, however, said Turner also was drunk and had cocaine and marijuana in her system. She intended to run over Thomas because he was either sitting on a curb or lying on grassy strip next the sidewalk when Turner ran him down and dragged his body under her 2000 Buick LeSabre.
Both lawyers said the couple had a stormy relationship, and that Turner had a prior domestic dispute with another boyfriend and Thomas was a convicted bank robber who had spent a lot of time in prison.
Hours before Thomas was killed, Frye said, a neighbor heard the couple arguing, with Turner saying twice: "I'm going to kill you."
But Mitchell said Turner was a battered woman who feared Thomas. He told jurors that people who know Thomas will testify that "he used fear, intimidation and violence" to get what he wanted.
A state law signed last year by then-Gov. Ted Strickland and sponsored by former state Rep. Sandra Stabile Harwood of Niles mandated that public schools begin to teach students in grades seven-12 about teen-dating violence starting this school year.
Implementation of the law, known as The Tina Croucher Act, hasn’t gone perfectly, said Cheryl Tarantino, executive director of the Warren domestic-violence shelter Someplace Safe.
Because the Legislature didn’t provide any funding to carry it out and because the law didn’t specify what kind of education is required, some schools are doing almost nothing, Tarantino said.
On Thursday, Someplace Safe and the 13 other Northeast Ohio organizations concerned about dating violence brought three of Ohio’s best-known teen-violence experts to the YWCA on North Park Avenue to train local counselors, teachers and teens on the subject.
Johanna Orozco of Cleveland may be the best living example of the consequences of teen-dating violence.
When Orozco, 22, first stepped to the microphone, it was apparent why people listen to her.
Not only is her face disfigured from a shotgun blast she suffered in 2007 when her ex-boyfriend shot her at close range, but she speaks in a dynamic way and relates to teens.
Orozco’s story, which has been told numerous times on national television and in a seven-day series in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, was that she was the victim of a tall, dark, handsome, intelligent and violent teen named Juan Ruiz Jr., Orozco’s boyfriend of two years.
Orozco had known Ruiz since the second grade. They started dating in early 2005, when Orozco was a sophomore in high school. Ruiz shot Orozco in March 2007.
The court sentenced Ruiz to 27 years in prison in September 2007 after he pleaded guilty to raping and attempting to kill Orozco. Ruiz was 17 at the time.
But during her talk Thursday, Orozco pointed out that her relationship with Ruiz was anything but violent in the beginning.
Four to five months into the relationship, Ruiz became jealous and started to tell Orozco what she could wear and who she could talk to. He accused her of cheating and began to call her every three to five minutes on the phone.
Her friends and family noticed that she had changed — becoming isolated from them. She lied about the reasons why.
A year into the relationship, Ruiz hit her for the first time, so she broke up with him, only to change her mind a short time later.
The relationship got worse over the following year — slapping, squeezing and hitting her in places where others wouldn’t notice. She continued to lie to friends and family about the source of the injuries because “I loved him. I cared about him,” she said. Eventually, she also feared him.
About a month before Ruiz shot her, she left him, but Ruiz found her and raped her at knifepoint, which she reported to someone at school, which led to juvenile charges being filed against Ruiz.
Ruiz was let out of juvenile custody on house arrest and stalked Orozco for two weeks before shooting her as she sat in her car.
The blast removed half of her lower face. Bone from her leg was used to rebuild her jaw.
The other speakers were Elsa and Jim Croucher of Monroe, near Cincinnati, the parents of Tina Croucher, who was killed by an ex-boyfriend in 1992.
Elsa Croucher said her daughter’s boyfriend was a good-looking football player who regularly hit her daughter, leaving bruises.
Tina Croucher lied about how she got the bruises, but eventually her family found out, and Tina stopped seeing him.
“Then he really caused problems,” Elsa said, describing “horrible messages” that he left on voice mails, and times he went to the family’s church and to Elsa’s workplace.
“Four days before Christmas, he shot her in the head and killed himself in her room,” Elsa said.
The Crouchers were instrumental in getting the Legislature to pass The Tina Croucher Act.
Spartanburg, SC: Police blotter: Woman says ex-boyfriend stole her gun, broke her TV, killed her dog
Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office
A Spartanburg man accused of breaking into and vandalizing his ex-girlfriend's home has been arrested.
Jeffrey Nathaniel Hall, 40, 114 Falling Creek Road, was charged with first-degree burglary, malicious injury to property and petit larceny.
According to an incident report, a woman told deputies that she found her home burglarized and her dog dead after her ex-boyfriend told her she needed to “call the cops because he had done something really bad” on Tuesday.
The woman found three bottles of wine broken near the door, the screen on her 50-inch TV broken, DVD player destroyed and several items of clothing had been urinated on, the report said.
The woman's Bersa .380-caliber pistol had been stolen, and there was a broken window in the kitchen. She found her 6-year-old labrador/poodle mix dead across the street, the report said.
When deputies arrived, they found Hall's truck in the yard and the woman's pistol on the front seat.
Hall remained at the Spartanburg County Detention Center on Thursday. Bond has not been set.
Detectives allege the 41-year-old shot and killed his estranged wife, Valerie Marabante, 23, and Bernabe Villamar, 26, around 3 a.m. Sunday. Neighbors heard gunshots around that time, but patrol units did not find anything suspicious when they investigated. A friend discovered the victims about 8:20 a.m.
Marabante is charged with "special circumstances" in this murder, because he allegedly waited and watched the two victims before shooting them.
The prosecutor says the two victims were not romantically involved and were just friends.
Tera Chavez's family has always suspected her husband killed her and staged the scene to look like a suicide.
The city agreed to pay Tera Chavez's estate $230,000, but in the settlement the city does not admit any guilt.
"We don't like cutting a check like this, but there are times when you make an economic decision, and that is what we did in this case," Deputy City Attorney Katherine Levy said.
The wrongful death lawsuit against Levi Chavez, the city of Albuquerque, APD, Police Chief Ray Schultz and several officers claimed Chavez killed his wife and made it look like a suicide. The suit also alleged several APD officers destroyed evidence at the scene, which was out of their jurisdiction in the first place. The suit also claimed APD failed to properly train and supervise Chavez, which contributed to his wife's death.
Chavez claims he came home on Oct. 21, 2007, to find Tera had killed herself. While her death was initially declared a suicide by the Office of the Medical Investigator, it was later changed to "undetermined" because of the suspicious circumstances. Those circumstances included Levi Chavez changing his wife's life insurance policy to include a payout for suicide a few weeks before she died.
While the city's part of this lawsuit is over, Levi Chavez is not yet in the clear. The settlement only covers his actions as a police officer. A wrongful death lawsuit against him still stands and is scheduled for trial in May. Attorney Brad Hall, who represents Tera Chavez's family, said the family is anxious for the trial. He says there is a lot to this case that will be revealed during this trial, information the family wants the public to hear.
This case has never been about money for the family, he added.
"Justice plain and simple," said Hall. "There is no friend or relative of Tera's that believes this is a suicide." Hall says the family is also hopeful the criminal justice system will work in this case. To this point no criminal charges have been filed against Levi Chavez. The district attorney says he hopes to take the case to a grand jury in the next few months.
Levi Chavez is still on APD's payroll but has been assigned to work in the city's Animal Welfare Department.
LONDON, KY. (AP) - A deputy called to a domestic disturbance in southern Kentucky has fatally shot a man.
Kentucky State Police in London say Pulaski County deputies were asked to assist with an emergency call involving a domestic dispute in Wayne County.
The statement says when two deputies arrived, they were confronted by 38-year-old James M. Lane of Jabez, who was armed with a handgun.
Police say Lane refused to comply with commands from the deputies and was shot. Wayne County Coroner Forest Hicks pronounced him dead at the scene.
The names of the deputies were not released. State police are investigating.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Coroner Gary W. Bright said authorities were called to a possible shooting at a residence in Bible Grove shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday. Clay County sheriff's deputies discovered the bodies of Thomas E. Holste, 58 and his wife, Mary A. Holste, 53. Both died of apparent gunshot wounds, the coroner said.
"At this time, evidence indicates the manner of death to be a homicide-suicide," Bright said.
Officials with the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Services joined the coroner and sheriff's police in the investigation. Autopsies are scheduled for today.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. (AP) --
Hours after reading a newspaper report that he is a suspect in his wife's disappearance and likely homicide, a 47-year-old man leapt off a Southern California cliff.
David Viens was in critical condition Wednesday and will be charged with murder if he lives, sheriff's Lt. Dave Coleman said.
Viens, whose wife has been missing for 16 months and presumed dead, evaded deputies and plunged 80 feet down an embankment in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Wednesday's edition of the Daily Breeze reported investigators found blood spatter on the walls inside the couple's former home in Lomita.
Dawn Viens hasn't been seen since Oct. 18, 2009. Investigators said her husband never reported her missing.
Sheriff's deputies went looking for David Viens after he was identified as a suspect, though Coleman said they did not plan to arrest him. When deputies found Viens in his sport utility vehicle, he led them on a chase that ended when he pulled into a parking area near the edge of the cliff.
Viens got out of the vehicle along with his passenger, girlfriend Kathy Galvin, Coleman said. The two struggled, and the deputies ordered the pair to separate. Coleman said Viens then broke away, hopped a chain-link fence and jumped off the cliff.
Viens was still alive when rescuers reached him. He was airlifted to a hospital.
"Although he is in the hospital, he will be arrested for murder," Coleman told the Daily Breeze. "Suicide shows some consciousness of guilt."
David Viens told friends 16 months ago that his wife took a Louis Vuitton bag and walked away when he demanded she go to drug rehabilitation.
She did not take her car or money she had stashed with a friend.
The Dorchester County Sheriff's Office says that at around 7 p.m., a deputy responded to 5521 Aireys Road in the Linkwood area to investigate a suspicious vehicle report. When the deputy arrived on the scene, he located the vehicle and discovered two bodies inside.
According to police, evidence indicates the incident was a murder-suicide.
Police say their investigation revealed that 38-year-old Michael Matson Brittingham of 3429 Beaver Neck Road in Linkwood, shot and killed his wife, 35-year old Jennifer Dove Brittingham of the same address, before fatally shooting himself. Each sustained a single gunshot wound, according to investigators.
The couple was pronounced dead at the scene by a medical examiner and their bodies have been taken to Baltimore for autopsies. The investigation into the shooting and what led up to it is continuing.
The couple leaves behind three teenage children, according to police.
COLUMBUS — A former Fletcher police officer married to a woman found shot to death last weekend faces first-degree murder charges.
Travis Lee McGraw, 44, of Hendersonville, is accused of killing Vanessa Yvonne Mintz in a Saluda hotel that Mintz owned. Polk County Sheriff Donald Hill declined to disclose evidence that linked McGraw to the crime, citing the ongoing investigation.
McGraw is a former Fletcher Police Department officer, where he worked from 2007-10. Police Chief Erik Summey declined to discuss McGraw's employment and reason for leaving.
“We are 100 percent confident that I have the man responsible in custody now,” Hill said.
Mintz was a prominent member of the Henderson County business community and worked at the Re/Max office in Hendersonville, according to her Facebook page. She is a former member of the board of directors at the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce, and her family has lived in Henderson County for nine generations, according to her personal website.
Hill would not give any specifics of the crime but said an autopsy of the body had been completed.
“It was a gunshot wound,” Hill said.
Police had originally said the crime was possibly a robbery. Hill did not know if there was a history of domestic violence involving the couple.
Hill met with Mintz's family after the arrest and informed them of the situation. Mintz family members released a statement Wednesday saying they would not make a public statement on the arrest.
Mintz has two daughters from a previous marriage and two grandchildren. Mintz and McGraw were married in 2009, according to her Facebook page.
“They are holding up good, obviously it is a tragic situation,” Hill said.
McGraw was arrested about noon in Henderson County.
He was transported to Polk County and made a first appearance in court. He is being held without bond.
McGraw is being housed in a state prison in Raleigh, partially because of his background in law enforcement, Hill said.
“There are a lot of issues, obviously,” Hill said. “That is one reason. There are some others.”
McGraw has been cooperative but has not spoken with law enforcement.
“He has been very quiet,” Hill said. “He has not made a comment. He has not made a statement. He has not said anything.”
McGraw's next court date is March 9.
Police identified the couple late Wednesday afternoon as Michael F. Amr and Yolanda C. Amr.
Both were 49, police said.
Officers found the bodies in the home at 3809 Bent Brook Dr. after responding to a 911 call at around 5 a.m. Wednesday.
A weapon was found at the scene.
Further details weren't released Wednesday.
Montgomery County police are investigating an apparent domestic dispute that left a man dead and woman injured at a Gaithersburg apartment.
Police said officers received a report of a domestic violence incident in the Cider Mill apartment complex, located in the 18300 block of Lost Knife Circle, at about 11 p.m. Tuesday. A man in the apartment was pronounced dead at the scene and a woman was taken to a hospital.
Police would not elaborate on their injuries. The state medical examiner in Baltimore will conduct an autopsy on the man.
Both people were adults, police said. Their names were not released because their families have not been notified.
Police did not say how the man and woman are related. A motive is under investigation.
Trotter was struck by the vehicle at the Cherry Hill Mobile Home Park, 4800 South Elwood. Police say Trotter and an unidentified man were in separate vehicles when they stopped at that location, and Trotter walked up to the window of the truck.
She and the male driver of the truck argued, and when the man drove away Trotter was hit by the rear wheels of the dually pickup.
Tulsa police took the man in for questioning, and he was later released. They are investigating the incident, but no charges have been filed.
Washington, NV: Mother and son shot dead, husband critically injured in domestic dispute in Washington
WASHINGTON, Washington County — A woman and her son were shot and killed Friday, and her husband was taken to a Las Vegas hospital with a gunshot wound after a domestic dispute, police said.
Washington City police responded to 126 Wagon Wheel Drive shortly before 9 p.m. on a report of shots fired in an altercation between the three, said Washington City Police Chief Jim Keith.
Officers heard one gunshot when they arrived and found bodies in the driveway, garage and in a bedroom.
"They're very good people and Chris was a great kid." - Shelley Blackham
Michelle Jones, 42, and Owen Christopher Ellis, 19, died at the scene. Richard Jones, 46, was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Keith said. He remained in critical but stable condition Saturday afternoon.
"We don't know for sure what took place at the residence," Keith said.Michelle Jones was the director of training and coaching at ContactPoint, a sales training company. Jeremiah Wilson, who founded the company, said, "Without a doubt she had problems with her husband. She left him for about a year and lived with parents in Reno. ... She returned late last year to work things out. Life was good for a time."
He said she took Friday off from work to "spend some time collecting her thoughts."
Michelle Jones had worked with Wilson since 2004 and said she was an "inspiration" to those she came into contact. He said he hoped to emphasize the woman's positive influence, including her work providing skills classes to battered women.
"She was a great asset to my company and to our customers whom she served," he said. "Our customers appreciated her inviting approach and ability to capture attention and ignite change within the organizations for whom she was responsible."
He said memorials are being planned in both Reno, Nev. and St. George.
"This is a great tragedy that should not have happened," Wilson said.
Washington County Administrator Dean Cox confirmed that Richard Jones worked in the county's building maintenance department. He was primarily assigned to the buildings used by the sheriff's office.
"There was no evidence of any significant problems with either his work product or personal life," Cox said in an e-mail. "I was shocked when I heard the news."
A neighbor, Shelley Blackham, said she heard popping outside and thought it was Ellis setting off fireworks. She said her sons were good friends of Ellis and played basketball with him every day at a nearby recreation center.
"It's hard to believe this can happen just a few houses away," she said. "They're very good people and Chris was a great kid."
Blackham said Michelle Jones was a "wonderful lady" who had been a single mom for a long time before meeting her current husband. She said Richard Jones was not as friendly but she did not know him well.
Another friend, Jake Kasner, said Ellis was talented at everything he tried, especially basketball and baseball.
"He was going to do great things one day," Kasner said. "It's just a shame that happened just because of someone's selfishness."
A man apparently shot himself to death following a domestic dispute early Thursday, police said.
Officers were summoned to the 400 block of Calhoun Street at 1:50 a.m. in response to a domestic disturbance call, police spokesman Matt Porter said.
Once there, they found a man identified by the Bexar County Medical Examiner's office as Luis Hinojosa, 29, dead inside the small, wood frame East Side home.
“The victim made a threat that he would shoot himself if the girlfriend left, and he followed through on his threat,” Porter said.
A woman said to be the man's girlfriend was in the home, as were two children, Porter said. They were uninjured.
“While en route to the scene, officers were notified that the victim had shot himself in the head,” Porter said. “EMS pronounced him dead at the scene.”
Investigators said Hinojosa arrived home late and apparently had been drinking. Neighbors told police they heard arguing from inside the residence, followed by what sounded like a struggle shortly before a single gunshot..
Police were listing the death as an apparent suicide pending completion of the autopsy.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Eighteen months later, Taylor is dead -- killed along with her mother after someone forced their way into the women's west Shreveport home and shot both of them.
Her boyfriend, Keith Martin Sr. -- the man named in the protective order -- was questioned by police over the weekend and released with no charges filed. Police are continuing to investigate but will not identify Martin as a suspect in the slayings.
In her August 2009 petition for a protective order, Taylor wrote that Martin, with whom she was living, was extremely jealous and controlling, restricting where she could go. She also alleged she was slapped, choked and pushed down. Without elaborating on what prompted it, Taylor said she had been told that her life "was fixing to become a living hell."
Martin challenged the allegations.
Caddo District Court records show Taylor got a temporary restraining order against Martin right after she filed the complaint. A month later, the matter was dismissed when Taylor didn't come to court to pursue the protective order. Martin had obtained a lawyer to contest the allegations, court records show.
His attorney, Erica Hyde, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Rashonda Taylor, 33, and her mother, Linda, 58, were found shot to death Saturday afternoon at their home in the 4100 block of Baxter Street.
The 10- and 12-year-old children Taylor and Martin had together were missing from the home when police arrived. Police said they found the children with Martin.
Cherokee County, Alabama officials are ruling two deaths over the weekend a murder/suicide. Police said that Jessica Arnell Sharp, 25 of Cedar Bluff, was found dead beside her car at Cornwall Furance Park. Police later received a call from 39 year-old Michael Joseph Snider of Gaylesville, saying that he has inflicted knife wounds on himself as well as information about Arnell.
Authorities found Snider in the woods and was later rushed to Cherokee Medical Center where he died a short time later.
According to Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver the incident remains under investigation.
Glenn William Solomon, who shot his wife during the region's largest snowstorm in years, then sat drinking near her body, was sentenced today to serve 24 years in prison. Solomon, 47, pleaded guilty in November to first-degree murder in an agreement that capped his active prison sentence at 31 years. Today Roanoke Circuit Court Judge William Broadhurst sentenced Solomon to 60 years behind bars, to be suspended after he serves 24 years.
Testimony at today's hearing indicated that Solomon and his wife, Heather Solomon, had long histories of heavy drinking, and that Heather Solomon would often chide her husband for having lost his job about a year and a half before her December 2009 death. She also sometimes hit her husband, he later told investigators. Broadhurst said none of this excused Glenn Solomon's actions. "A lot of people face these ordinary human circumstances" without resorting to deadly violence, the judge said. Physical evidence and Glenn Solomon's statements to investigators indicated that he and his wife spent the Friday night of her death drinking and watching television, and that Heather Solomon began to berate her husband, following him into his bedroom and hitting him in the face. Heather Solomon then went to her own bedroom, where her husband confronted her with a pistol and shot her eight times, including three times in the head.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Alice Ekirch said that later, Glenn Solomon told a jail inmate that his wife died from "lead poisoning" because she "was mouthing off." After her death, Glenn Solomon remained in the couple's home in the 4200 block of Tennessee Avenue Northwest, drinking his wife's vodka. He planned to kill himself, public defender John Varney said, but first wanted to get money from the bank for his daughter-in-law. Before he could do that, the daughter-in-law, who lived with the Solomons, came home. Glenn Solomon showed her his wife's body and she called police.
A man accused of killing his 31-year-old wife in 2008 appeared in court Tuesday for the first day of his first-degree murder trial.
Jury members selected to hear the facts in the Suzanne Vance murder case listened to opening arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys for Michael Vance, who is accused of shooting and killing his wife at their 1737 Cozumel Court home Feb. 28, 2008.
Prosecutors introduced testimony from a Rutherford County Sheriff's dispatcher, who received a phone call from Michael Vance on the day of his wife's murder. Vance claimed she had fallen and hit her head and was "bleeding badly."
The state contends that Michael Vance killed his wife as she was seeking to finalize a divorce from him. Court records have previously shown that Suzanne Vance applied for and received a restraining order against her husband Jan. 31, 2007, and the application for that order detailed her fears that he would retaliate against her violently for attempting to leave their relationship.
"He has told me that if I left, he would kill me," she wrote in requesting the restraining order.
The Vances' daughter, whose name is not being released to protect her identity because of her juvenile status, testified Tuesday that her mother and father argued a lot and "played games" with one another around the time of the murder. She tried not to take sides, she testified.
She also recounted how her school, Blackman High, was placed on lockdown on the morning of her mother's death, adding she didn't know at the time why it happened. It wasn't until after the lockdown order at the school was lifted that she learned her mother was dead and that the reason for the lockdown was because her father had threatened to go to two area schools to pick up her and another child.
"I was in shock," she testified.
Defense attorneys did not cross-examine her or the RCSO dispatcher during court Tuesday.
Testimony in the case was halted around 5 p.m. and is expected to resume at 9 a.m. today at the Rutherford County Judicial Building.
A trial has been postponed for the elderly Georgia widow accused of his brother's 1986 gunshot death, and Gentry says his health is failing. He blames it on the stress of tracking down Betty Neumar, who left a trail of five dead husbands in five states.
"I can't do it much longer," Gentry, 65, of Rockwell, said in a recent interview. "But I know I have to stay strong and speak for my brother. He doesn't have a voice."
North Carolina authorities have charged Neumar, 79, of Augusta, Ga., with three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. They say she tried three times to hire someone to kill Harold Gentry in the six weeks before his bullet-riddled body was found in his home in July 1986.
Neumar, who was arrested in 2008, was released early the next year after posting a $300,000 bond and is living in Augusta.
Her trial was supposed to have started Feb. 7, but was postponed to give newly elected prosecutor Reece Saunders more time to prepare. Telephone messages left for Saunders and for Neumar's attorney, Charles Parnell, were not returned.
For two decades, Al Gentry had pressed investigators in vain to re-examine his brother's death. The case was finally reopened in January, 2008, after he asked then-newly elected Stanly County, N.C., Sheriff Rick Burris to look into it.
Authorities discovered that Neumar had been married five times since the 1950s, and each union ended with her husband's death. Investigators in three states reopened several of the cases, but have since closed them. Neumar has been charged only in the death of her fourth husband, Harold Gentry, a retired soldier who lived in Norwood, N.C.
Al Gentry, one of eight siblings who grew up in rural North Carolina, says he's reminded of his dead brother every day.
"This has taken too long. It shouldn't have taken this long," Al Gentry said. "She's hurt my family. ... Everything she told us was lies. And then after my brother died, she just left. Took his insurance money and disappeared."
He stopped for a moment to collect his thoughts.
"What bothers me is she's out there, at her home, taking it easy. And my brother's dead. I'm still living this and fighting to make sure no one forgets what happened," he said.
In the last year, Al Gentry has been hospitalized several times for kidney failure, congestive heart failure and pneumonia. He has lost 60 pounds. His wife, Diane, says she tries to keep his mind off the case.
Friends and family have helped him through the ordeal.
Among them is Michael Sills, whose father, Richard Sills, was husband No. 3. He has been urging police to reopen his father's 1967 death, which was ruled a suicide.
Sills says he knew nothing about how his father died until he was contacted in 2009 by The Associated Press about Neumar's past. Since then, he has been drilling into the records.
"I know what Al is going through," Sills said.
Neumar was working as a beautician in Jacksonville, Fla., in the mid-1960s when she met Richard Sills, who was serving in the Navy.
On April 18, 1967, police found his body in the bedroom of the couple's mobile home in Big Coppitt Key, Fla. Neumar told police they were alone and arguing, when he pulled out a gun and shot himself.
After Neumar was charged in North Carolina, the Monroe County Sheriff's Department in Florida took another look at the death.
They uncovered Navy medical examiner documents revealing that Richard Sills may have been shot twice - not once, as Neumar told police. One bullet from the .22-caliber pistol pierced his heart, while a second may have sliced his liver.
The Navy medical examiner at the time said that without an autopsy, he would be unable to determine if Richard Sills was shot once or twice. No autopsy was performed when he died. And without knowing the number of gunshot wounds, there's no way to know if his death was a suicide or homicide.
County investigators planned in 2009 to exhume Richard Sills' body from an Ocala, Fla., cemetery for an autopsy, but then determined that a statute of limitations applied to the case, the records said. Investigators have said Florida law sets a time limit on prosecution of some categories of homicide, including involuntary manslaughter, but not on premeditated - or first-degree - murder.
Michael Sills then turned to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) cold case squad. The unit is studying the evidence and could decide to investigate.
Georgia authorities two years ago closed their re-examination of the death of Neumar's fifth husband, John Neumar, saying they have no evidence she was involved. His family has criticized the conclusion.
Authorities in Ohio have also closed their investigation of the 1970 shooting death of Neumar's first husband, Clarence Malone.
Details about her second husband, James A. Flynn, are sketchy. She told investigators he "died on a pier" somewhere in New York in the mid-1950s.
Gentry says he hopes lingering questions about Neumar's past are answered at the trial. But he says the main thing is that he stays healthy enough to attend.
"I want her to know I'm there for Harold," he said. "I'm not going away."
The Hattiesburg murder suspect ended up in the Island View Casino parking lot 6 hours after Brittany Morgan was killed.
Those who knew her said she was a wonderful young woman in a bad relationship.
Those who knew and loved Brittany Morgan said the 20 year old spread a lot of joy with her beautiful smile.
Brian Dace, her cousin, said she was "A very spirited person, loved to have fun, very social person, no matter what or when or where you saw her, she always had a smile on her face."
Dace got the terrible news just hours after Brittany's murder. Police say they believe her boyfriend, 35-year-old Anthony Rico Gipson, beat and stabbed her to death.
According to Dace, "It wasn't hard to see that he was a very controlling person."
Brittany's cousin never met Gipson, but said the boyfriend's controlling nature became apparent during a phone call he had with Brittany one day.
Dace explains, "I remember him being in the background, being very aggressive, making her get off the phone and that sort of thing, so I knew that there was some kind of aggression in their relationship."
But no one knows what led to the brutal attack. Hattiesburg police said Rico Gipson was their suspect immediately. So they called U.S. Marshals in Gulfport, after learning he has ties to the Coast. By 3 am, U.S. Marshal's spotted the 6 foot 7 inch tall suspect with 2 friends in the parking lot of Gulfport's Island View Casino. Marshals said when they yelled out his name, Gipson put a gun to his head.
Justin Vickers of the U.S. Marshal's Service in Gulfport said, "It's a great concern. The guy is wanted for murder and he's holding a gun in his hand, so he's obviously a danger to us as well as to himself. So it is very tense and stressful, so fortunately, this one resolved peacefully."
The standoff lasted just 30 minutes. But the pain of this crime, for those who loved Brittany, will last a lifetime. Dace said one of the things he'll miss most is her contagious laugh.
"It was unique, it was Brittany. It was Brittany, a very nice girl."
Brian Dace and his production company set up a memorial site. Go to dacepromotions.vpweb.com
There you can leave condolences for Brittany Morgan's family. Also in Brittany's memory, Dace set up a free "help" line for abused women through his church Trinity Baptist. That number is 228-574-8236.
The couple had been staying here for days.St. Louis County police have identified the husband and wife found slain yesterday at a Motel 6 on South Lindbergh Avenue just north of Interstate 55. The couple was Ronald, 47, and Melissa McRoy, 30, of the 6900 block of Field Avenue near Carondelet Park in St. Louis. A motel employee discovered the victims around noon yesterday at the motel after they failed to leave by checkout time. County police believe the McRoys were shot inside the room and that no one else was involved in the incident, which seems to suggest it was a possible murder suicide. Motel records indicate that the couple had been staying at the motel for several days and did not register a vehicle with the front desk.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Posted: 02/21/2011 10:54:09 PM EST
An investigation continues into Sunday's murder-suicide in Fulton County as investigators try to piece together the reasons behind Ricky Hann's attack on his former girlfriend and his subsequent suicide.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David McGarvey said autopsies are scheduled todayon the bodies of Hann, 51, and his victim, Tina Souders, 39.
Meanwhile, investigators are trying to determine where Hann got the shotgun he used in the murder-suicide.
They are also examining both Hann's and Souders' cell phone records to try to determine if Hann made his intentions known to anyone before he showed back up at Souders mobile home in Ayr Township and kidnapped her a second time Sunday morning.
McGarvey said Hann and Souders had been in a long-running relationship in the past, but she had gotten a protection from abuse order from him last year. He had violated that order and was facing court action in connection with that violation, the trooper said.
McGarvey said he did not know if charges filed against Hann for making terroristic threats in September 2010 were related to that PFA violation or not.
Hann's most recent brush with the law came Saturday after Souders showed up at the McConnellsburg barracks to report that Hann had come to her home early in the morning Friday, woke her up and asked her to go for a ride with him.
When she refused, he held her captive at gunpoint for about 24 hours. Saturday morning he left Souders' home, and Souders immediately went to police. Hann was taken into custody by troopers at 2 p.m. Saturday. He was charged with kidnapping, making terroristic threats, burglary, unlawful restraint, recklessly endangering another person and simple assault.
Magisterial District Judge Carol Jean Johnson set his bail at $100,000 and he was taken to Franklin County Jail.
On Sunday morning the bail was posted and Hann was released. McGarvey said he believed the bail was posted through a bail bonds firm.
He returned to Fulton County and was back at Souders home before noon, with a shotgun that he used to again kidnap Souders. This time he fled taking her with him.
Relatives of Souders were at the house with her at the time. They immediately called police, who were at the home within minutes. As they arrived, they heard shots coming from the nearby woods, McGarvey said.
The troopers, not sure if Hann was shooting at them or not, took cover and called for backup, including a state police helicopter and a Special Emergency Team along with a hostage negotiator. When the helicopter arrived and circled the wooded area where the shots had originated, officers in the helicopter saw two bodies on the ground. Police found Souders and Hann both dead in the woods just a few hundred feet from her mobile home on Cito Road.
Hann's past criminal record includes a summary harassment charge for following (someone) in a public place on June 26, 2003, and the September charges.
He was found not guilty of the harassment charge in a summary trial before Magisterial District Judge Wendy Mellott in September 2003.
Hann was also charged with making terroristic threats, harassment and simple assault in connection with an incident against Souders last year. He waived his arraignment in December and was scheduled for the trial call in Fulton County in April.
About the time the charges were filed, Souders filed a request for a protection from abuse order. Hann would later violate that order and was fined for that violation.
He was awaiting trial on the September charges when he went to Souders home and held her hostage then finally killed her over the weekend. He had been released on $15,000 unsecured bail after being charged in September.
Judges in Pennsylvania use a variety of criteria to determine if a person is to be released on bail, including the seriousness of the offense, whether the defendant has a job, family and ties to the community and whether the defendant would be a danger to the community.
Judicial guidelines outlined in Rule 523 of the PA Rules of Criminal Procedure are used to determine bail amounts.
Hann's $100,000 bail order required that some type of security be posted before he could be released.
A family member found 71-year-old Colonel Riley and 60-year-old Corine Riley dead Friday night in the garage of their home on Rueben Odum Road in Ideal.
GBI agents believe Corine Riley shot her husband before turning the gun on herself.
The Riley's were separated.
The suspect is identified as Lawrence Ervin Schnagl, 56. Coos County authorities suspect Schnagl killed Brenda Gayle Gammelgaard, 48.
Authorities do not plan to say how Gammelgaard was killed until an autopsy can be conducted.
Police went to the couple’s mobile home on North Eighth Street just after 6 p.m. Sunday, and found Gammelgaard dead there, Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said in a news release.
Schnagl is being held on a murder charge in the Coos County Jail.
Lakeside is about seven miles south of Winchester Bay.
By Elizabeth Owens-Schiele and Andrea L. Brown, Special to the Tribune
What police said started as a quarrel over a family pet ended in an apparent murder-suicide when a Palatine man shot and killed his daughter's boyfriend and then himself.
Palatine police responded to a disturbance call Sunday night in the 1500 block of East Reynolds Drive to find the body of Edward Kuemper, 49, in the front yard and that of Bradley Morrison, 21, on the front porch.
Police said Kuemper and his wife, Christine, were estranged, and she had been staying elsewhere. When she showed up to retrieve the family's dog, later to be joined by their daughter and Morrison, "Mr. Kuemper refused to give up the pet, and the incident escalated," with shooting Morrison twice with a .40-caliber handgun and then turning it on himself, police said in a statement.
Friends of Morrison and neighbors at the Arlington Heights-area apartment complex where he lived, and where both his girlfriend and her mother were often seen, said he was a young man whose future was starting to take shape.
Shawn Anderson, who met Morrison more than a year ago when both lived in the same Palatine apartment building, said Morrison was working as a pizza deliveryman and had grown close to his teenage girlfriend and her mother.
"He basically had a new family with them," Anderson said. "His future was going to be with them. … He was a real nice guy trying to get his life together."
Tavio Dunlap, a neighbor of Morrison's, called him "a hardworking, good kid."
Dunlap described how Morrison once delivered food to him and told him he could pay Morrison later. When Dunlap later reminded Morrison that he owned Morrison money for the food, Morrison told him not to worry about it.
Neighbors in the Palatine neighborhood where the shooting occurred expressed shock over the turn of events and said the Kuempers were loving and protective parents, though some neighbors said they were aware of tensions between Edward Kuemper and Morrison.
The Cook County medical examiner's office ruled Monday that Morrison died of multiple gunshot wounds, and Kuemper died of a single gunshot in the head.
Posted February 21, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.
ROCKFORD — Blount County authorities are investigating the deaths of a couple killed in an apparent murder-suicide Sunday night.
Deputies discovered two shooting victims on the floor — Uriel Degado, 38, and Erma Juarez, 31 — at their Rockford residence on Crystal Lane shortly before 9 p.m., according to Marian O’Briant, Blount County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.
Degado was pronounced dead at the scene. Juarez died during surgery a short time later at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, O’Briant said.
Preliminary autopsy results indicate both died from their gunshot wounds, she added.
The investigation is ongoing.
More details as they develop online and Tuesday’s News Sentinel.
Monday, February 21, 2011
To her parents, crying over her loss in the Ecuadorian countryside, she was a beloved daughter.
To her sister living in Brockton, she was a hard-working mother and, quite simply, a good person.
“She was good. She was good,” the victim’s sister, Maria Emilia Palaguachi, repeated softly, when asked to describe her sister, Maria Avelina Palaguachi-Cela.
“She was humble, calm,” said Manuel Tenezaca, Palaguachi’s husband and brother-in-law of the victim.
To neighbors, she was a hard-working mother who came and went in a pickup truck with her 2-year-old child, occasionally asking for help translating mail written in English.
They learned her name only later, when her body and that of her toddler son were found in a trash bin behind the green multi-family home on Warren Avenue where they lived.
Friends knew Maria Avelina Palaguachi-Cela, 25, as a kind woman who never quarreled with anyone, and whose death – she was beaten and suffered fatal head and brain injuries – made no sense. The death of her son, Brian Palaguachi, 2, was an even greater shock. Authorities say he died as his mother did – of blows to the head.
“She’s a nice, funny girl. I never see her fight. I never see her drunk. I never see her (use) drugs,” said Aurelio Guaman, who said he was a friend of the victim. He is no relation to Luis Guaman, who is wanted for questioning in connection with the deaths but has not been charged with any crime.
To area domestic violence groups, Maria Palaguachi-Cela could be a tragic example of an immigrant woman who felt too isolated to seek help.
Undocumented people may live invisible lives in the United States, with little paperwork attached to their names, unable to access food stamps, work opportunities and other benefits, said Marcia Szymanski, director of Family Health Services at Health Imperatives in Brockton. Palaguachi-Cela’s immigration status is unknown.
The bodies of Palaguachi-Cela and her toddler son were found on Feb. 13 by an anonymous female caller. On Friday, authorities in Ecuador apprehended Luis Guaman, a roommate of the victims and the last to see them alive. He is charged there with forgery and fraudulent use of a passport. Authorities say he flew to his native country about two and a half hours after the bodies were discovered.
He was captured by Palaguachi-Cela’s family, who had reached out to one of his ex-girlfriends and told her to phone him and offer money. When he came to pick it up, Palaguachi-Cela’s family apprehended him and dragged him to a police station.
Prosecutors say a roommate told police that in the days before the homicides, he heard the victim argue with Guaman and tell him she did not love him. Prosecutors have charged that roommate with misleading police, saying he saw Guaman’s plane ticket but failed to mention it to police.
Palaguachi-Cela is survived in Ecuador by two daughters who are about 4 and 6 years old, according to Manuel Jesus Caguana, her live-in boyfriend and Brian’s father.
On Thursday, the family’s tragedy was compounded by the death of Palaguachi-Cela’s 25-year-old nephew. Luis Gilberto Tenezaca Palaguachi fell to his death from the roof of a home he was working on in New Bedford.
He had traveled north about three months ago to work and send money home to his wife and two young children, according to his father, Manuel Tenezaca.
Tenezaca is also the brother-in-law of Palaguachi-Cela.
“I told him, ‘Don’t come here, son. I’m here and I want to send you money,’” he said.
But his son insisted, Tenezaca said.
“‘I am still very young. I want to work with my own hands to give something to my children’,” his father remembered him saying.
Tenezaca said the difficulty of life in his home country has driven his son and other parents to come to the United States.
“It’s very difficult over there,” Tenezaca said Thursday. “That’s why the boys come here, putting their lives at risk.”
The young man’s widow, speaking through sobs from Ecuador, said she desperately wanted to bring her husband’s body back home.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen now, because he was working there to help us,” said Maria Isabel Quispe Zumba, speaking in Spanish during a phone interview.
Zumba said her two children are 6 years old and 2 years, 4 months.
“(He was) too good,” Zumba said of her husband. “That’s why he left here.”
Cordova and his parents exchanged sad, sympathetic words with the victims’ parents in the hallway after the verdicts that came after four hours of deliberation.
Assistant State’s Attorney Karle Koritz acknowledged the sadness left by the death and the verdict.
“I think justice was done but it doesn’t change the fact that there are two hurting families right now,” said Koritz.
Cordova, 25, testified Thursday that he thought Robinson would give up and go to bed if he tired him out by holding him in a choke hold. Cordova said he knew there was a chance that the maneuver could cause Robinson to pass out.
“I didn’t know how but I knew he might,” said Cordova, during his hourlong testimony as the only defense witness.
Robinson was found unresponsive by another student who attended a party on Sept. 26, 2009, at an apartment at 406 Broadway in Normal. According to forensic pathologist Dr. Scott Denton, the 26-year-old victim died of strangulation likely caused by having his brain deprived of oxygen for several minutes.
Cordova told the jury that he and another person made several unsuccessful attempts to put Robinson to bed after a night of partying and drinking.
He said he held Robinson in the choke hold for about five minutes, an estimate that differed from the 10 to 20 minutes he told police hours after the incident.
Cordova claimed that low blood sugar related to his diabetes affected his memory.
In his closing remarks, defense lawyer Richard Dickinson said questions remain as to exactly how Robinson died. Some of Robinson’s 30 head and neck injuries outlined in Denton’s testimony may have been result of wrestling games Robinson engaged in the day before, said Dickinson.
“We know these injuries were sustained — the question is when,” the defense lawyer argued.
Koritz said Cordova’s actions were reckless and unintentional but led to the victim’s death.
“This was no accident,” Koritz told the jury.
Sentencing will be May 6.
Posted: 02.20.2011 at 11:02 AM
ALBANY, GA -- Police are investigating the shooting death of a 23-year-old woman early Sunday morning.
Officers were called to a home in the 2200 block of West Gordon Avenue, just after 1:30 a.m. Sunday. When they got there they found Natalie Eppler with a gunshot wound to the head. She was taken to the hospital, but was pronounced dead about an hour later.
Her husband 25-year-old James M. Eppler was arrested and charged with murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Officers say James Eppler is an active duty marine.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - What Springfield Police describe as a domestic dispute turned deadly overnight. It was shortly after midnight when 45 year old Joel Echols was stabbed to death in his home at 26 Vinton Street. Springfield Police captain Peter Dillon told 22News, 41 year old Beverly Caldwell has been charged with the murder.
Captain Dillon noted that Caldwell lived with Echols. She allegedly stabbed him in the chest and Echols later died at the hospital. Neighbors on Vinton Street told 22News they were shocked to hear this happened on their street.
We spoke with Sujei Rivera, a longtime neighbor, who told 22News that the house is normally quiet.” It’s a quiet neighborhood," she said. "We really don't see this kind of stuff out here, so I'm surprised."
Detectives don't know for certain yet what caused the violence that ended with the death of Loel Echols.
This is the 4th homicide of the year in Springfield.
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- There's a break in the case where a 16-year-old girl was shot and killed. Police say her teenage boyfriend is set to face charges in the case.
New details are being revealed, and officers are close to making an arrest. It's a different story than investigators had just after the shooting.
Ironesha Williams says she lost her companion.
"I not only call her my best friend, I call her my sister because we've been together so long," Williams said.
Yonnie Griffin was shot and killed around 1am Saturday. She was found near the front door of a home on Alvin and Chain and transported to the hospital where she later died.
"She a good person," Williams said.
But witnesses told police a very different story when they first responded to the scene. They initially told investigators she was struck by a bullet from a drive-by shooting.
"Things are going to happen no matter how much you try to protect them," neighbor Claude Harper said. "You just try to make them aware of their surroundings."
But new developments were made after witness stories just weren't matching up and evidence began pointing to the boyfriend of the girl. Investigators say that 16-year-old boyfriend confessed he accidentally shot her while playing with a gun.
"She didn't deserve to die. She was only 16. She didn't even get a chance to see her life yet," said Terrence Pierre, Griffin's uncle.
Even though loved ones have more answers, it doesn't take away the pain of their loss.
"I love her. She was real," Williams said.
Investigators plan to charge the teen with negligent homicide. The case will be referred to the Juvenile Probation Department.
An altercation between a woman's current boyfriend and ex-boyfriend resulted in the Sunday morning fatal shooting of a Jackson man, police said.
Aaron Yates, 28, of Jackson was found dead around 6:30 a.m. in the driveway of his ex-girlfriend's home at 1146 Robinson St. in west Jackson, authorities said.
Police arrested Dillard Harvey Sr., 46, at the scene and charged him with murder and being a convicted felon with a firearm.
Witnesses told police that Yates went to his ex-girlfriend's house and began banging on the door, Jackson police spokesman Colendula Green said.
"Her current boyfriend happened to be over there spending the night," Green said.
Harvey came outside the house, and the two men got into an physical altercation, at which point a gun was drawn, Green said.
She said it is unknown at this time who pulled out the weapon. Harvey was interviewed by officers, but Green did not know details of the discussion.
"Detectives are running a trace on the gun to see who it belonged to," Green said.
Yates was shot once in the upper left shoulder, Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart said.
There also were signs of a head injury, but she could not confirm how it happened. She said it did not appear consistent with a fall.
Yates' death is the fourth homicide in the city this year.
Harvey is being held at the Hinds County Detention Center without bond. An initial appearance is scheduled today in Jackson Municipal Court.
NORTH PHILADELPHIA - February 20, 2011 (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police say a 52-year-old woman is dead after an argument with her boyfriend got out of control in Philadelphia Saturday afternoon.
The woman, Cynthia Adams, 52, was killed inside a home along the 2300 block of North 17th Street. She died at 12:30 p.m. inside the home.
Police say her boyfriend, Henry Slatter, 52, stabbed her repeatedly in the chest after an argument. Police arrested Slatter at the scene and he is charged with murder and other criminal offenses.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
By ANDREW GANT, Staff writer
February 20, 2011 12:05 AM
A Port Orange man whose ex-girlfriend was found slain in her home is an ex-convict who stabbed and killed a younger man after a late-night argument 30 years ago.
Joseph B. Matassa, 59, has not been charged in Pamela Corte's death. He was in police custody Saturday after a chase through Jacksonville in which the car he was driving lurched through a ditch, crashed through a fence and landed on its side in a mangled wreck.
Police did not name any suspects in the death of the 55-year-old Corte, who was found dead Friday in her home when a state trooper came to tell her about the crash.
But friends of Corte's said they knew about Matassa's past because Corte mentioned it in the weeks before she died. "She just told us that he did it before, and he'd do it again," said Gina D'Alessio, the manager at Mario's Restaurant in Ormond Beach, where Corte waited tables for three years. "That's all she said, and then she never spoke about it."
D'Alessio and others said Corte filed a report about Matassa with Port Orange police, but police did not confirm that Saturday. Many of Corte's friends at the restaurant offered her a place to stay away from him, but she declined. The exact nature of the relationship between Corte and Matassa was unclear -- neighbors said they had lived together for about 20 years -- but friends said Corte recently started dating someone else, and Matassa was angry.
His 1983 manslaughter conviction was reported in a story in The Hartford (Conn.) Courant, obtained Saturday by The News-Journal. Matassa, initially charged with murder in the December 1981 stabbing of Gary Bryda, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter shortly after his trial started. Matassa, then 30, stabbed the 22-year-old Bryda in the chest after a late-Saturday-night argument in nearby New Britain, the Courant reported.
At the time, Matassa already had a criminal record. Newspaper accounts show that at 16, he spent time in reform school after police said he stole a car and struggled with officers who stopped him. At 18, he was charged with breaking and entering and theft. At 22, he was charged with threatening to kill a man in a restaurant parking lot in Portland, Conn. When he was arrested in the Bryda stabbing, police said Matassa had a gun and a knife sitting on the front seat of his car.
Port Orange police remained tight-lipped Saturday about their investigation into Corte's death, which Assistant Chief Wayne Miller said appeared suspicious and "was not a random act." Miller referred all questions to Capt. Frank Surmaczewicz, who did not return multiple messages Saturday.
Matassa, meanwhile, was in Jacksonville Sheriff's Office custody at a "non-jail facility" on a Florida Highway Patrol charge of leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, according to jail records. Authorities did not release a photo of Matassa or specify where he was being held.
Matassa, who neighbors said has only one leg and uses a motorized scooter for transport, initially was airlifted to Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center in critical condition after the crash Friday morning. By that evening, he was no longer listed as a patient there. The Sheriff's Office said he was charged with the felony just after 10:30 p.m.
FHP Lt. Bill Leeper told the Jacksonville-based Florida Times Union that Corte's purse was in the wrecked car, and a trooper discovered her stabbed to death upon visiting her Nixon Lane home to notify her of the crash. Police did not specify Corte's official cause of death, and investigators were working with the medical examiner's office on the case.
Posted: February 20, 2011 - 12:15am
Shots rang out in a Central Lubbock neighborhood, leaving one man dead and a woman with serious injuries and sending a panic through a 3-year-old girl’s birthday party. Police arrived within three minutes of Saturday's4:50 p.m.call of shots fired in a Lubbock house, said Lubbock Police Capt. Greg Stevens.
“We’re looking at this as an attempted murder/suicide situation — the suicide being successful,” he said.
Toni Lusk, 29, had called 911 reporting she’d been shot multiple times by her boyfriend in a house in the 2200 block of 25th Street. Forty-six-year-old Mack Jenkins, she told 911, fatally shot himself with a handgun after using the weapon on her. Police arrived to find the man dead inside the house.
Lusk, who was seriously injured with multiple gunshot wounds, was taken by ambulance to University Medical Center. She was in serious but stable condition late Saturday, according to a hospital supervisor.
A 4-year-old girl, likely Lusk’s daughter, was just outside the house when the shots were fired, Stevens said.
In a lawn just across the street, a group of girls celebrating a 3-year-old's birthday were jumping and bouncing in an inflatable playhouse filled with pink balloons just before the shots were fired, said 14-year-old Deondre Washington, who was in his front yard about four houses down the street during the attack. Washington said he saw a woman running back and forth between the two homes and yelling. “She ran back (to the party house) and then I heard a pow and people were screaming,” he said. The girls at the party were taken inside the house hosting the party.
Residents of that house said they could not answer media questions about the shooting, citing police had told them not to.
By 5:15 p.m., police homicide investigators had taped off the yard around the house and were taking photos, collecting evidence and talking with neighbors. Stevens said police recovered a handgun from the house and were continuing to investigate the shooting.
It was not clear late Saturday if the 4-year-old girl was Jenkins’ daughter, he said.
The child, who was not injured, was with family after the shooting and Child Protective Services was expected to respond.
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y., Feb. 19 (UPI) -- A veteran Poughkeepsie, N.Y., police officer and a man who had just fatally shot his wife were mortally wounded in a shootout at a train station, police said.
All three died Friday at area hospitals, The Poughkeepsie Journal reported.
Mike Archer, a witness to the gunfight, told WCBS-TV, New York, the slain officer, John Falcone, 44, was the first to arrive on the scene and grabbed a 3-year-old child away from the gunman, identified Saturday as Lee Welch, 27, shortly after Welch had shot his estranged wife Jessica Poughkeepsie's Main Street. The child was not physically injured during the incident.
"This officer is not just a hero for giving up his life but also for saving this child, for getting him away from this madman and into the arms of a civilian who got him to safety," Archer said.
Police Chief Ronald Knapp said Falcone, an 18-year member of the force, had responded to a report of a shooting in a parking lot at the Metro-North train station in Poughkeepsie. Other officers arrived soon after.
"It is our belief that the suspect killed himself after firing at least two shots at the officers, one of them hitting Officer Falcone," Knapp said at a news conference Saturday.
WCBS-TV reported the estranged couple had arranged to meet at the train station so the wife could pick up her car. Her body was found in the car. He said the couple, who reportedly had three children and a history of domestic violence, were not from Poughkeepsie.
"Today is perhaps the worst day our city has seen in perhaps our history," Mayor John Tkazyik told WCBS.
When 27-year old Lee Welsh arrived in Poughkeepsie, his estranged wife Jessica, 28, was expecting to pick up her car from him. Authorities say Welsh shot his wife dead, then shot and killed a responding city police officer, 18 year veteran John Falcone, 44, and finally turned the gun on himself.
The violence that erupted outside that train station lasted only a few short minutes but the series of events that led up to it, according to relatives, had been festering for years. The deadly violence that wound up being exported to Dutchess County had its roots in Greene County, inside a tiny house on the outskirts of Catskill, where Lee and Jessica Welsh were raising their four children.
"This has been ten years," Lisa Nieves, Jessica's mother said as she showed up to pick things up at her daughter's empty home. "Lee had sort of calmed down for a while and she decided he was straightening out and they were going to get married and once they got married it (domestic violence) started up again."
Lisa says her daughter had been choked and beaten in recent months but even after being arrested and jailed, Lee violated an order of protection only to strike again.
"Sometimes you get sick and tired of being sick and tired," Jessica Williams, Lee's mother says of her son's pent up anger. "Lee is a person who can take so much. He just has a very bad temper. He didn't like nobody telling him what to do or how to do it. He just wanted to be the boss."
"Everybody wants to be "gansta", she continued. "Nobody's going to tell me what to do either."
Williams acknowledges her son has a violent past. She says her husband used to beat her and Lee often witnessed the attacks. She believes Lee had struck her daughter-in-law on many occasions.
When asked if she ever told her son point blank, "Don't hit your wife," She responded, "No," but says she advised him to "Stop the nonsense, go to counseling, and think about your children."
Lisa Nieves calls it an issue of control. "I told my daughter, "I don't even think he loves you." It's just that he needs to control you and when he can't do that he'll do anything to make it so he can control you."
Jessica Williams says she suspected something would happen after her son dropped off furniture, food, and photographs to her earlier in the week, as if he knew he wouldn't be needing them. She says she put it all together too late.
Nieves says, "For guys like this, it's just a vicious cycle. It happens over and over again and this is what happens."
She says she wishes judges who are letting guys out of jail who have committed acts of domestic violence would wake up and keep them in jail if they continue to violate orders of protection.
Nieves tells NewsChannel 13 she doesn't think her daughter knew Lee had a gun otherwise she never would have gone to Poughkeepsie.
Jessica Williams says Lee told her he was planning to convince his wife to come away with him some place down South to start their lives all over again.
Now the only plans in the works are funeral plans.
Bullhead City, AZ (KTNV) – A 24 year old Bullhead City man is under arrest after police say he killed a 39 year old man who was having an affair with his underage girlfriend.
According to the Bullhead City Police Department, 39 year old Daniel Lopez was found dead in a driveway on Coronel and Coronado Drive on Thursday, February 17th. He was shot multiple times after returning from a run.
Police say their investigation revealed a 24 year old man named Carlos Gomez had made several comments that he was going to kill Lopez after he found out Lopez was having an affair with his 15 year old girlfriend.
It was this information that lead to Lopez being arrested at his place of employment on Friday evening. He was booked into the Mohave County Jail in Kingman and is being held on no bond.
STROUDSBURG – Police are holding a Stroudsburg man without bail for allegedly killing a pregnant woman. Ruben Velazquez Jr., 39, was arrested Friday on charges of criminal homicide and criminal homicide of an unborn child.
Police say the found Krystle Vasquez, reportedly eight months pregnant, stabbed to death, in a Broad Street apartment. Police also say Velazquez called police, saying he had killed the woman.
According to some media reports, Velazquez may not be the father of the child.
Police have not determined a motive.
Chattanooga, TN: Chattanooga Police: Mother charged with homicide after shooting daughter's boyfriend
By: Beth Burger
A 37-year-old mother is in jail this morning facing a criminal homicide charge after she allegedly shot and killed her daughter's boyfriend after an argument, according to Chattanooga Police Department investigators.
Margaret Harris fled the scene of the shooting Friday night after she fired a pistol and shot the 17-year-old in the abdomen as she was leaving in a vehicle from 1308 N. Orchard Knob.
The 17-year-old, whose name has not been released by authorities pending notification of family members, died from his injuries sometime after midnight.
Detectives learned the shooting took place after a large fight between several women earlier Friday in the 1700 block of Wilson St. The fight later continued at the house at North Orchard Knob. Harris was arrested at her home after the shooting.
Anyone with any additional information can Chattanooga Police Department by calling Crime Stoppers at 698-3333.
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said what they originally thought was the city's second homicide of the year, was actually a suicide Saturday in east Charlotte near Matthews.
Officers were called to 2843 Longspur Drive shortly after 11:00 a.m. after an assault with a deadly weapon call.
Investigators said they found a man dead in the street in front of a home on Longspur Drive. Officers discovered the man was an ex-boyfriend of one of the women in the home. He showed up and got into a fight with the woman's current boyfriend. Officers said he shot at the new boyfriend and missed, then went outside and killed himself.
Officers said the other man had a wound, but it's not clear how he was hurt. He's expected to be OK and will not face charges because police believe he was defending himself in the argument.
No names have been released.
Anyone with additional information concerning this case should contact lead investigator Susan Manassah at 704-432-TIPS. The public may also phone in anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 704-334-1600.
By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel
2:50 a.m. EST, February 20, 2011
A 23-year-old woman who was reported missing Saturday has been found dead, St. Cloud police said early Sunday.
A 25-year-old man described by police as her ex-boyfriend has also been found dead.
Police have released few details. The investigation, which is ongoing, began about 4:30 p.m. Saturday when officers responded to a report of a suspicious incident at a house on Crossing Creek Boulevard in the Cross Creek subdivision.Police later announced they were searching for a possible missing person: Jessica Muller, 23. Officers also said they were looking for her ex-boyfriend, Theodore William Johnson, 25, described at the time as "person of interest in the case."A little after 9:30 p.m., police said, officers found Johnson's 2002 Ford Mustang in the area of 5500 Canoe Creek Road. Inside were the bodies of Muller and Johnson.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Attorney Nick Kessler said Harris County sheriff's detectives told him, "It'll go easier on her," if Norma Jean Clark, 62, agreed to come to Texas and stand trial in Harris County for the April 22, 1987, shooting death of Edmund Hugh Clark.
"Just go down to Texas and face a murder charge," Kessler said. "We do protect our citizens here in the state of Tennessee."
Kessler is representing Clark only for the extradition issues and said his intention, at least for now, is that she not return to Texas without a full hearing and a court order.
Sheriff's detectives said the accused woman had been married to Edmund Clark at the time of his death.
Clark was taken into custody Wednesday at her home in Tennessee where she had been living for several years.
Kessler said he briefly spoke to his client at the jail in Franklin County, where she is being held on a fugitive from justice warrant with bail set at $1 million.
Citing attorney-client confidentiality, Kessler declined to comment on the details of the case or his client's demeanor behind bars.
According to the criminal complaint, Norma Jean Clark said she had been sleeping in another room but was awakened by the sound of gunfire. She ran to the home of a neighbor, who notified authorities about what happened.
The criminal complaint said the murder weapon, a .38- caliber revolver, was found on a dresser near where Edmund Clark's body was found with two gunshot wounds.
Deputies at the time said there were no signs of forced entry or signs of disarray, suggesting that the shooting might have been part of a botched burglary. The home's alarm system had not been activated or tampered with, according to the criminal complaint.
The case remained unsolved until last year when Harris County cold case detectives took another look and eventually sought the murder charge against Norma Jean Clark.
Kessler said he doesn't know why a suspect was not charged immediately after Edmund Clark was fatally shot.
"Were there some problems with the evidence initially, 25 years ago? What's different now?" Kessler said.
Sheriff's officials plan to release additional information about the case Monday after their detectives return from Tennessee.
Kessler said an initial hearing about his client is scheduled for Thursday.
On November 26 Thomas Scala came home from the hospital (he apparently has a history of health issues) furious that his wife, Blanche Scala, not only had not visited him but also that she had not paid for him to watch premium cable during his stay. It was not the first time they had fought and investigators believe that the physical altercation between the two may have caused a hematoma in Blanche's brain (which they think Thomas caused in a separate November 19 fight) to burst.
After their fight on the 26th Blanche reportedly packed up her belongings into a cart and tried to leave her husband, but was stopped when Thomas poured rubbing alcohol and hair spray on the clothes and set them on fire. While she was able to put the fire out, she suffered minor burns in the mess which she had checked out at Staten Island University Hospital before heading to a friend's house for the night. She never woke up.
Police had been called to the Scala's home after both of the couple's most recent fights to take domestic incident reports, but both times Blanche refused to press charges. Thomas Scala is scheduled to be arraigned today in Staten Island Criminal Court and further charges against him in the case seem likely.
Fri 10:13 AM 02/18/2011
Deputies arrested 40-year-old Steven Couch Jr. in connection with the shooting. He was booked into jail on charges that could include 1st Degree Murder.
A Saline County man is in jail, accused of killing his live-in girlfriend.
Saline County Sheriff Glen Kochanowski says that deputies were called at around 10:15 Thursday night to the report of a gunshot at a home at 203 East 1st Street in New Cambria.
The first deputy on the scene found 39-year-old Carol Williams critically wounded, with a gunshot wound to the head.
Williams was transported to Salina Regional Health Center, where she died.
Kochanowski says that deputies arrested 40-year-old Steven Couch Jr. at the scene, in connection with the shooting. He was booked into jail on charges that could include 1st Degree Murder, Criminal Possession of a Firearm, and Criminal Damage to Property.
According to the Sheriff, Couch, Williams, and Couch's father all lived together in the home. The father was in a back bedroom, heard the gunshot, and called for help.
A handgun was recovered at the scene.
The sheriff says that it appears the shooting is the result of a domestic incident.
According to the Kansas Department of Corrections, Steven Couch served prison time from 1994 through 2002 for crimes committed in Saline County which include burglary, theft, and multiple DUI and driving violations.
Derrick A. Wade will serve 29 years in prison for shooting a woman who had ended their relationship, a judge ruled Friday.
Angela Y. Hoskie, a 37-year-old mother, was shot multiple times April 8 in her apartment on Azalea Garden Road. Police found her there after they were asked to go to her apartment to see if she was all right.
Wade, 43, pleaded guilty Nov. 4 to first-degree murder and use of a firearm.
Asha Pandya, the prosecutor, said Wade had stalked the victim and obtained a gun about two weeks before Hoskie was killed. He was not going to let Hoskie go, the prosecutor said.
Mark S. Utecht, Wade's lawyer, told the judge that his client had accepted responsibility for what he did and argued that he be sentenced to 24 years, the low-end of sentencing guidelines.
Utecht said Wade had been involved in a "long and difficult relationship" and that when it was over, " it was a shock to him," the lawyer said.
Given the chance to speak, Wade apologized to the victim's family, saying they had always been good to him.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, Wade's sentence was capped at 32 years. Circuit Judge Everett A. Martin Jr. gave Wade 30 years for the murder and three for the weapons charge, but suspended four years.
A Green Cove Springs man who initially reported a home invasion now is in custody in the death of his 25-year-old girlfriend.
The two had gotten into a fight late Thursday into Friday morning in their Arthur More Drive garage apartment in the Lake Asbury neighborhood, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
After the argument became physical, Keisha Danielle Short was killed, the Sheriff's Office said. Kyle Ray Helms, 22, then went to a neighbor's house to have 911 called about a home invasion. Helms, who had apparent injuries to his right hand and his left eye was bruised, later changed his story and was charged with second-degree murder.
The couple had lived there about six months with no record or past incidents, the Sheriff's Office said. However, they were arrested last May in Hickory, N.C., on attempted breaking and entering charges.