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Delphi murders: What the unsealed documents reveal and the questions that remain

Alex Perez/ABC News

(DELPHI, Ind.) -- Evidence in the Delphi, Indiana, double murder case was unsealed by a county court on Tuesday, revealing key new details, including that suspect Richard Allen's gun was linked to the crime scene.

But many questions still remain around the murders of Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14.

Here's what we've learned and what remains unclear:

Allen places himself at the scene

Abby and Libby, best friends in the eighth grade, were on a hiking trail in rural Delphi when they were killed in February 2017.

Allen, a 50-year-old Delphi man, was arrested last month. He's charged with two counts of murder and has entered a not guilty plea.

When interviewed by police in 2017, Allen said he was on the trail on the afternoon of the murders, according to the probable cause affidavit.

In an Oct. 13, 2022, interview, Allen told police he saw juvenile girls on the trails east of Freedom Bridge and said he went onto the Monon High Bridge, near where the girls were killed.

This year, Allen "again admitted" to police "that he was on the trail but denied knowing Victim 1 or Victim 2 and denied any involvement in their murders," according to the probable cause affidavit.

Allen "has been consistent" in police interviews over the years, former FBI agent and ABC News contributor Brad Garrett said. "He put himself at the scene, on the bridge."

But Garrett said he doesn't understand how it took so long for an arrest.

"In a small town, in a place where there's a small amount of traffic on this abandoned railroad bridge ... your suspect pool is fairly small," Garrett said, so police likely concentrated their investigation on Delphi and the surrounding communities.

Allen's gun linked to crime scene

According to video recovered from one of the victim's phones, Abby or Libby mentioned "gun" as a man approached them, the probable cause affidavit said.

A .40-caliber unspent round was found less than 2 feet away from one of the girls' bodies, and that unspent round went through a gun that Allen owns, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Garrett explained that an "unspent bullet is one that has the casing and the projectile still together." To get that, he said one of two things happens: 1.) Someone tries to fire the gun but it's a faulty bullet and it doesn't fire, or 2.) The gun jammed, which Garrett said is common.

During a search of Allen's home on Oct. 13, 2022, officers found knives and guns, including a "Sig Sauer, Model P226, .40-caliber pistol," the probable cause affidavit said.

Indiana State Police's analysis of Allen's gun "determined the unspent round located within two feet" of one of the victims "had been cycled through Richard M. Allen's Sig Sauer Model P226," the probable cause affidavit said.

"When asked about the unspent bullet, [Allen] did not have an explanation of why the bullet was found between" the girls' bodies, the probable cause affidavit said.

When Allen voluntarily spoke to police on Oct. 26, 2022, he said he never allowed anyone to borrow that gun, which he said he owned since 2001, the document added.

Garrett said he doesn't understand why it took police so many years to match an unspent round from the crime scene to a gun owned by a man who lives in Delphi.

Garrett said he hopes investigators went to all of the local gun stores to see their records of sales of .40-caliber-type weapons. Garrett said he's solved homicide cases that way, because typically a perpetrator buys a gun legally near his or her home, he said.

While it's unclear if police did go to gun stores, Garrett think it's unlikely because there was no mention of a gun in the case until the probable cause document was released Tuesday.

How did the girls die?

Despite mention of a gun, it's not clear if Abby or Libby died from gunshot wounds. Police still have not released their causes of death.

The probable cause affidavit did reveal that clothes belonging to the girls were found in a creek south of where their bodies were discovered.

"I've always been concerned about how these two youngsters died. The police have put a .40-caliber weapon into the case," Garrett said. "You have this unspent shell casing near the victims' bodies, but you also have things that are really troubling to me: [The girls] are in one place and their clothes are in another. ... Unless he made them undress -- which I guess is possible -- was there some other weapon used?"

Investigators also cite a witness who saw Allen walking with "clothes that were muddy and bloody," according to the probable cause affidavit.

According to Garrett, it's unlikely Allen would be bloody if a gun was the only murder weapon, unless Allen handled the bodies in some manner.

Garrett said it's possible that the gun jammed and the killer turned to another weapon.

Knives were also found at Allen's home, according to the affidavit.

"Why would the police withhold [the cause of death]? The only thing I can think of is it was too gruesome, in their mind, to release," Garrett said. "It seems like there is something more to it than just a gun."

Police believe Allen is the man in suspect photo

Video from one of the victim's phones shows a man on the trail wearing a dark jacket and jeans. An image taken from the video was released years ago as police asked for information to help them find the unknown suspect.

Investigators said in the probable cause affidavit that they believe Allen is the man seen on the video.

Allen told investigators on Oct. 13, 2022, that he wore jeans and a blue or black Carhartt jacket that day, according to the probable cause affidavit. Allen's wife confirmed to police that he owns a blue Carhartt jacket, the document said.

Investigators also claim Allen forced Abby and Libby down the hill to the spot where they were killed, according to the document.

Allen's lead defense attorney Brad Rozzi did not respond to a request for comment and fellow attorney Andrew Baldwin declined to comment.

Indiana State Police told ABC News on Tuesday: "Out of respect for the prosecutorial process, which is being led by the Carroll County prosecutor, we are refraining from making any public statements and are going to allow the probable cause affidavit to stand on its own. As this continues to be an active and ongoing investigation, the Indiana State Police will continue to provide any and all resources available to assist in the prosecution of this case."

Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby said the information in the probable cause affidavit is "self-explanatory" and declined to comment further.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Indiana's attorney general files complaint against doctor who gave child an abortion

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(NEW YORK)-- Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita asked the state's medical licensing board to subject abortion provider Dr. Caitlin Bernard to disciplinary sanctions as the two battle over abortion in the state.

Rokita submitted an administrative complaint Wednesday to the state's medical licensing board claiming Bernard violated federal and state law relating to patent privacy and reporting child abuse, according to a copy of the complaint published online by Rokita.

In June, Bernard publicly disclosed that she had provided abortion care for a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled from Ohio to Indiana for care. At the time, there was a six-week abortion ban in place in Ohio.

The move by the attorney general comes after Bernard and her colleague, Dr. Amy Caldwell, filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Rokita and Scott Barnhart, the director of the consumer protection division of the attorney general's office, asking the court to prevent the office from accessing patients' medical records and investigating abortion providers.

But, Rokita claimed he is not reporting Bernard to the medical board for performing an abortion, saying his office is not trying to expose anyone's medical file.

In a statement released Wednesday, Rokita alleges that Bernard "failed to uphold legal and Hippocratic responsibilities by exploiting a 10-year-old little girl's traumatic medical story to the press for her own interests." Rokita also accused Bernard of failing to properly report her patient's abuse per Indiana law.

Rokita claimed that Bernard's testimony before a judge as part of the ongoing lawsuit last week, provided sufficient evidence that she violated her professional obligations as a licensed physician and that she "failed to obtain written authorization to release the minor's medical information."

"Dr. Bernard violated the law, her patient’s trust, and the standards for the medical profession when she disclosed her patient’s abuse, medical issues, and medical treatment to a reporter at an abortion rights rally to further her political agenda. Simply concealing the patient’s name falls far short of her legal and ethical duties here," Rokita said in the statement.

Rokita claimed "only Indiana authorities could have possibly stopped this little girl from being sent home to endure possible future harm by her alleged rapist," according to a statement.

Testifying under oath, Bernard said she complied with legal requirements, and her lawyer, Kathleen DeLaney told ABC News in a statement that the doctor reported possible child abuse to social workers and state authorities.

DeLaney also said there is documented communication between hospital social workers and law enforcement.

An Ohio man was charged with raping and impregnating a 10-year-old girl who police say then traveled out of state to receive abortion care.

However, Rokita's complaint also accuses Bernard of not reporting the child's alleged abuse to law enforcement. Bernard's lawyer pushed back against that accusation, claiming that Katharine Melnick, a Marion County deputy prosecutor, testified under oath last week that "in the hospital setting it is social workers, not doctors, who make child abuse reports to law enforcement."

DeLaney claimed Rokita is attempting to intimidate abortion providers, despite abortion remaining legal in the state.

"The Administrative Action filed today by Mr. Rokita is clearly a last-ditch effort to intimidate Dr. Bernard and other providers of abortion care. The evidence and testimony from last week’s hearing confirmed that Dr. Bernard complied with all reporting requirements, cooperated with law enforcement officials, and discussed a case example only in a de-identified way, within the bounds of applicable privacy laws," DeLaney said.

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Closing statements on tap in Trump Organization tax fraud trial

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(NEW YORK) -- Closing statements are beginning Thursday in the criminal tax fraud trial of former President Donald Trump's family business, the outcome of which could turn on the vagaries and nuances of a part of New York criminal law that even the presiding judge has called "confusing."

The Trump Organization is accused of partially compensating certain executives by paying their rent, covering their car lease payments, and providing other under-the-table perks never declared on their income taxes.

Prosecutors plan to remind the jury about the August guilty plea of Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's former chief financial officer who testified that he arranged the illegal compensation scheme for his own benefit, concealed it from the company's outside accountant, and ended it only when Trump's ascendance to the presidency invited fresh scrutiny of the company's business practices.

In a closing statement he estimated could run four or five hours, prosecutor Josh Steinglass said he will tell the jury that Weisselberg qualifies as a "high managerial agent" of the company and committed his crimes while in his official capacity.

But that alone may not be enough for a conviction. Judge Juan Merchan said he will allow defense attorneys to argue in their closing statements that prosecutors failed to show Weisselberg acted "in behalf of" the company.

"The people will need to demonstrate to some degree, to some extent, there was an intent to benefit the corporation," Merchan said during a conference Tuesday in which he mulled how he will instruct the jury on the law.

The confusing part, the judge said, is that the New York state legislators who drafted the relevant statute did not define exactly what "in behalf of" means in that context.

The judge said he would not allow the defense to "overstate what that intent was."

Weisselberg testified that he paid the Trump Organization back for the free perks by reducing his reported annual salary by the total value of the perks he received -- but prosecutors pointed out that the move saved the company money by reducing its payroll taxes.

"It was understood that by having less payroll you'd have less payroll taxes," Weisselberg acknowledged on the stand.

The longtime CFO, who agreed to testify as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, said his primary goal in arranging the perks was to "save pretax dollars."

On cross-examination, defense attorney Susan Necheles accused Weisselberg of "desperately trying to help prosecutors come up with a benefit" to the company, so he could fulfill a requirement of his plea agreement that he testify to the satisfaction of the district attorney's office.

"That's not in my mind," Weisselberg said.

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Mom and four kids run over at school bus stop by driver trying to escape police

ABC News / WABC-TV

(NEW YORK) -- A mother and her four children have been run over as her kids were getting off of a school bus by a driver trying to escape the police.

The incident occurred just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City when police say they tried to stop a white Mercedes-Benz traveling along Flatbush Avenue. Instead of stopping, the female driver took off on Avenue J and went straight through several bus stops before hitting the family with her car, according to ABC News’ New York City station WABC-TV.

The mother had been waiting -- along with two of her children -- for the school bus to arrive carrying her other two kids when the accident transpired, according to WABC.

"When the Mercedes hit the woman, the woman flies and hit the ground and the kid was shivering," one unnamed male witness told WABC.

“[The mother] was under the bus, actually,” another female witness who witnessed the collision told WABC. “I was praying for her. It is just so terrible. It is definitely terrible.”

The 41-year-old mother along with her four children -- three daughters aged 8, 5 and 1 and one son aged 3 -- were immediately taken to a nearby hospital where they were all listed in stable condition. The family is expected to survive, according to WABC.

Police investigating the accident found the car involved in the crash a short distance away at E 24th St and Glenwood Road but police sources told WABC that the female driver abandoned the car there and walked away.

The suspect involved in the incident is still at large and police have yet to make any arrests.

Anyone with information regarding the crash should contact the New York Police Department.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Barbershop owner gunned down and murdered in his own shop while cutting 8-year-old child’s hair

Facebook / Puyallup Police Departmen

(PUYALLUP, Wash.) -- A barbershop owner has been gunned down and murdered in his own shop while he was in the middle of cutting an 8-year-old child’s hair.

The incident occurred at approximately 5:09 p.m. Wednesday in Puyallup, Washington -- about 30 miles south of Seattle -- when the Puyallup Police Department were dispatched to at JQ’s Barbershop after receiving reports that an employee at the store had been shot multiple times, according to a statement from the Puyallup Police Department.

“The business was occupied at the time of the incident by several individuals who are cooperating with the investigation,” authorities said. “These individuals informed responding officers that the suspect entered the business and went directly to the booth where the victim was cutting an eight-year-old child’s hair. Per the witnesses, the suspect entered the booth and shot the victim multiple times.”

The suspect -- described as 5’8” tall and wearing “wearing black pants, a black jacket, and possibly a mask” -- then fled the area on foot, police said.

While the child was not harmed in the shooting, the victim -- identified as the 43-year-old owner of JQ’s Barbershop who lived in Tacoma, Washington -- was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Upon their arrival, officers immediately requested the assistance of Central Pierce Fire and Rescue. Central Pierce Fire and Rescue arrived at the scene within moments of the request and determined that the individual was deceased,” the Puyallup Police Department said, confirming the fatality.

Officers immediately began conducting an extensive search of the area for the suspect aided by at least one police canine unit but were unable to locate him. The suspect is still at large.

The investigation is now being led by the Puyallup Police Department’s Investigative Services Unit and authorities are asking anybody who works or resides in the area of the shooting to check their security cameras for anyone matching the description of the suspect and to contact the Puyallup Police Department with any information regarding this case.

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Idaho murders: Victims' families speak at vigil, vow to 'get our justice'

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(MOSCOW, Idaho) -- University of Idaho students, back on campus following Thanksgiving break, gathered Wednesday night for a vigil for their four classmates who were mysteriously stabbed to death this month.

Kaylee Goncalves, 21, her lifelong best friend, Madison Mogen, 21, another roommate Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kernodle's boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, were killed in the girls' off-campus house in the early hours of Nov. 13.

"You can't imagine sending your girl to college and they come back ... in an urn," Goncalves' father, Steve Goncalves, told ABC News this week. "You're numb ... you can't absorb that amount of pain and agony."

During the vigil Wednesday night, Goncalves spoke about his daughter and her best friend Maddie, calling the girls "absolutely beautiful." They became friends in the sixth grade when they "just found each other," he said.

"And every day they did homework together, they came to our house together, they shared everything," he said, explaining how the girls "made a proposal" to go to a regular high school together, rather than their charter school. "Then they started looking at colleges, they came here together. They eventually get into the same apartment together. And in the end ... they died together in the same room, in the same bed."

"But the beauty of the two always being together," he continued, was that they were "with their best friends in the whole world."

"It's like a book, it's like some kind of terrible chapter but there's beauty in it. And we're gonna get our justice, we're gonna figure this stuff out. This community deserves that," he said.

Ben Mogen, Maddie's father, spoke of his and his wife Karen's only daughter, who he described as "smart and funny and beautiful. She was just nice to everybody."

He also spoke about Maddie's boyfriend, Jake, "who is such a great guy and I'm so glad that she got to just have at least a little taste of what it's like to be in love with someone. And he's just a really great guy. They treated each other the way you're supposed to."

"And yeah, I was really proud to just call him my daughter's boyfriend, and maybe some day they would have gotten married," he said.

Stacy Chapin, Ethan's mom, said it's important that their family "share Ethan's legacy and talk about the impact that he made in his young 20 years -- or his short 20 years. So this is where we choose to focus our energy because we are now Ethan's voice."

"We are eternally grateful that we spent so much time with him. And I want to remind you, that that's the most important message that we have for you and your families, is to make sure that you spend as much time as possible with those people because time is precious, and it's something you can't get back," she added.

No suspects have been identified. Two other roommates in the house at the time survived the attacks, according to police. The surviving roommates are not considered suspects, police said.

Moscow Police Chief James Fry told ABC News on Wednesday that police still "believe this is a targeted attack," but he won't reveal why they think that. Fry would not say if a person or the house was a target.

"Everyone wants answers... We want to give those answers as soon as we can," Fry said, adding that some details must be withheld.

Police initially said they believed there was "no imminent threat to the community," but later walked that back. Fry told ABC News, "I own the messaging problem at the very beginning. We should've done a little better than that. ... we needed to correct that."

Goncalves said the only thing worse than losing his child is knowing that her killer is "having a great life out there -- and you're just left in shambles."

He said the families deserve justice.

"We just have to come together as a community," Goncalves said. "Submit all those pieces of evidence ... and get this guy off the streets."

Police urge anyone with information to upload digital media to fbi.gov/moscowidaho or contact the tip line at tipline@ci.moscow.id.us or 208-883-7180.

"Detectives are looking for context to the events and people involved in these murders," Moscow police said. "Any odd or out-of-the-ordinary events that took place should be reported. Our focus is the investigation, not the activities. Your information, whether you believe it is significant or not, might be a piece of the puzzle."

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Timeline: Wisconsin man accused of financially preying on women he met on dating apps

Racine Police Department

(FRANKLIN, Wisc.) -- The arrest of a man accused of financially preying on women he meets through dating apps followed weeks of warnings from Wisconsin police to be on the lookout for the alleged perpetrator.

It also came as the man -- 52-year-old Timothy Olson -- was being sought for questioning in the recent death of a woman he was with at a South Milwaukee bar when she fell unconscious, dying days later, according to police. She was the third woman to have fallen unconscious while in his presence, according to police. Her death is under investigation and it is not known at this time if any crime has been committed, police said.

Olson was arrested in Franklin, Wisconsin, on Tuesday after allegedly committing three burglaries in the city, including one involving a 79-year-old woman who rebuffed him in a bar. A warrant was also out for his arrest on personal identity theft charges after he allegedly withdrew hundreds of dollars from a date's bank account in September.

"We're glad he's off the street," Franklin Police Chief Rick Oliva told reporters Tuesday. "There's no doubt this person would continue to do what he did until caught."

As multiple investigations involving Olson are underway, here's what we know so far.

Sept. 2

A woman who resides in Mount Pleasant, a village in Racine County, goes on a date with Olson that allegedly ends with him stealing her debit card and withdrawing $800 from her account, according to a criminal complaint. The woman was only identified by her initials in the complaint.

The victim connected with Olson on Match.com, where he reportedly went by the name "Tim Wilson," according to the complaint. She had met him in person once or twice before this date, during which they visit several establishments in Racine, Zion, Mount Pleasant and Caledonia, according to the complaint. At around 10 p.m. she asks him to drive because she is tired and "she soon blacked out," according to the complaint. The woman doesn't remember anything else from that night and believes she might have been drugged, according to the complaint.

When she wakes up, she discovers Olson had taken her car, according to the complaint. When she contacts him about it, he claims he can't remember anything from the night and suggests she drugged him, according to the complaint. He allegedly tells her he left the car at an Applebee's and she is able to retrieve it there.

At some point the victim also discovered four unauthorized withdrawals on her debit card totaling $800 from two gas stations, prompting her to contact law enforcement, according to the complaint. She initially thought her card was stolen from a bar that night, though surveillance footage allegedly captured Olson withdrawing the funds from ATMs at both locations -- on Sept. 2 at around 10 p.m. and Sept. 3 at around 6 a.m., according to the complaint.

Detectives with the Mount Pleasant Police Department were unable to locate Olson's Match.com profile and believe he deactivated the account, the complaint stated.

Nov. 9

A warrant is issued for Olson's arrest in connection with the Sept. 2 incident, court records show. He faces multiple counts of felony personal ID theft for financial gain, according to the criminal complaint. The complaint notes that Olson goes by several aliases, including Timothy Wilson.

The Racine Police Department issues a safety alert regarding Olson to "caution the women in Racine County and get the public's help in locating a male subject who has met women on dating apps and victimizes them, resulting in financial loss."

"The Racine Police Department is looking to speak to Olson regarding a similar incident out of our jurisdiction," the department said. A spokesperson later confirmed to ABC News they are unable to share any further details due to the ongoing investigation.

Nov. 17

Olson is with 55-year-old Kim Mikulance when she loses consciousness at Powers on 10th, a South Milwaukee bar, according to local police. Mikulance suffers an "unknown medical emergency" at the bar and is transported to a local hospital, police said.

Surveillance video shows Olson and Mikulance, a Cudahy resident who was a regular at Powers on 10th, sitting together at the bar before she loses consciousness, police said.

"I saw the look on her face and I saw she was holding a drink and she kind of started leaning back," Sam Anderson, who was bartending at the time, told ABC Milwaukee affiliate WISN. "She was in here for maybe five minutes until she hit the ground."

Nov. 21

The Racine Police Department updates its initial safety alert to say that Olson has been linked to "another woman in a bar who fell unconscious while in his presence" on Nov. 17 -- the incident at Powers on 10th, a spokesperson for the department confirms.

This marks the third woman Racine police are aware of from other jurisdictions who "ended up unconscious while being in Timothy Olson's presence," the department said.

Nov. 22

Mikulance dies at the hospital, according to police. Her death is under investigation by the South Milwaukee Police Department, which is awaiting autopsy results. Olson is a person of interest in the investigation and is being sought for questioning, police say.

"At this time, the investigation is ongoing and it is not known if any crime has occurred, or if this incident is related to any other investigations by other jurisdictions," the department said.

Nov. 23

Olson allegedly finds his next victim at a bar in Franklin, a city in Milwaukee County. He approaches a 79-year-old woman at an unidentified establishment and offers to buy her a drink, though she declines, according to Oliva. When she leaves, he allegedly approaches her in the parking lot with a gun, forces her into her car and holds her "for a number of hours," Oliva said. They drive to at least one ATM and he allegedly takes her cards and withdraws cash, according to Oliva.

Nov. 28

Olson is spotted in Franklin at a business on South 27th Street at night, according to local police.

Nov. 29

Officers spot a man believed to be Olson pushing a bicycle on the 7000 block of South 35th Street in Franklin at around 10:15 a.m. local time, according to Oliva. As officers approach, he flees into a nearby condominium complex and after a "brief struggle" is tased and taken into custody, according to Oliva.

He faces charges of kidnapping, burglary and identity theft stemming from the Nov. 23 incident in Franklin, Oliva says. Prior to his arrest, Olson was allegedly involved in at least two burglaries in Franklin, according to Oliva.

While in custody of the Franklin Police Department, Olson is interviewed by detectives from the police departments in Franklin, Racine and South Milwaukee, according to Oliva.

Olson is being held by the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, online records show. It is unclear if he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

Police across the jurisdictions are continuing to work through evidence.

"These are active investigations," Oliva said. "There's a lot of evidence to be processed."

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Judge declares mistrial in Danny Masterson rape case

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(LOS ANGELES) -- A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in the Danny Masterson rape case after the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

The "That '70s Show" star had pleaded not guilty to three counts of felony rape following accusations by three different women. The alleged attacks took place between 2001 and 2003.

On count 1, two jurors voted for guilty and 10 voted for not guilty. On count 2, four voted for guilty and eight for not guilty. Five voted for guilty and seven for not guilty on count 3.

The three alleged victims were members of the Church of Scientology, as was Masterson. All three women said they were initially hesitant to speak to law enforcement because they said church teachings discouraged reporting to police. The women eventually left the church.

Masterson, who was arrested in 2020, said each of the encounters was consensual. "That '70s Show" was still on the air at the time of all three alleged rapes.

The Church of Scientology told ABC News in October that there's "no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of Scientologists, or of anyone, to law enforcement. ... Church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land."

Masterson was facing 45 years to life in prison if convicted on all charges.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said it will now consider its "next steps as it relates to prosecuting this case."

"While we are disappointed with the outcome in this trial, we thank the jurors for their service," the office said in a statement. "We also want to give our heartfelt appreciation to the victims for bravely stepping forward and recounting their harrowing experiences."

Two of the alleged victims are also involved in an ongoing civil case against Masterson and the Church of Scientology over the allegations.

"We are obviously disappointed that, at least for the time being, Daniel Masterson has evaded criminal accountability for his deplorable acts," they said in a joint statement, adding that they are "collectively resolved to continue our fight for justice, including in civil court."

Alison Anderson, their attorney in the civil case, said her clients "remain hopeful that Mr. Masterson will experience some criminal consequences for his vile conduct."

"Our clients showed tremendous courage in testifying about such personal and horrendous acts in a very public forum and despite persistent harassment and intimidation," Anderson said in a statement.

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Severe weather updates: Mother, son killed after dozens of tornadoes rip through South

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A mother and her 8-year-old son have died in central Alabama after a tornado with winds of up to 115 mph struck overnight, officials said.

At least reported 34 tornadoes have touched down in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, according to the National Weather Service.

On Wednesday, 11 tornadoes were confirmed near New Orleans, Shreveport, Jackson and Birmingham.

Montgomery Fire Rescue saved one person and extracted two bodies from a home in Montgomery County, Alabama, where winds measured up to 115 mph from a confirmed EF-1 tornado. The victims were identified as Chiquita Broadnax, 39, and her 8-year-old son, Cedarrius Te. The child's father, Cedric Lamar Tell, was injured and taken to the hospital, family members told ABC News.

The deadly tornado struck Montgomery County just after 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Montgomery County officials said first responders saved the lives of many others.

The EF-1 tornado in Montgomery County wreaked havoc in the Flatwood community, according to the National Weather Service.

EF-1 and EF-2 tornadoes have been confirmed elsewhere in the region, including in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana, and Magnolia, Mississippi. Another EF-1 in Eutaw, Alabama, caused severe damage to the Sagewood Apartment Complex, according to the National Weather Service.

Tornadoes were also reported near Bakers and Steens, Mississippi. In Vernon, Mississippi, hail the size of a quarter and Ping-Pong ball was reported. There were also reports of structural damage across several locations in Mississippi.

Texas and Kentucky got hail the size of golf balls.

Images from the affected areas show entire homes reduced to rubble by the tornadoes.

As the storm system moves east, more severe weather is possible for Florida’s Panhandle, southern Alabama and Georgia. The tornado threat will be low on Wednesday; the major threat now is damaging winds.

High-wind alerts have been issued for most of the Northeast, where winds could gust 40 to 60 mph. Behind this storm system, colder air will produce lake-effect snow from just south of Buffalo to Watertown, New York, where seven to 15 inches of snow is possible.

Strong thunderstorms are possible from the Florida Panhandle to the Carolinas. In addition, heavy rain and gusty winds are expected from Washington, D.C., to Boston.

ABC News' Alexandra Faul and Melissa Griffin contributed to this report.

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Funeral held for UVA football player, Lavel Davis Jr, killed in mass shooting

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(NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- Family and friends gathered to say their goodbyes to one of the University of Virginia football players who was killed in a mass shooting earlier this month.

The funeral service for Lavel Davis Jr., 20, was held on Wednesday at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in North Charleston, weeks after Davis and two other UVA football players were killed on Nov. 13.

At the funeral, a family member of Davis remembered him, recalling Davis' relationship with God.

House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., attended and spoke at Wednesday's service.

"His athletic and academic accomplishments were enviable. His service to his church and community were admirable and his relationships with his family and friends were legendary," Clyburn said.

Davis had a big smile that "lights up the room," UVA football's head coach Tony Elliott said at a news conference earlier this month. "He's got a gentleness about him. But he's passionate about what he believes in."

The shooting took place on a bus full of students returning home from a class field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C., university officials said.

Authorities arrested UVA student Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. for allegedly killing Davis, Devin Chandler and D'Sean Perry.

Jones has been charged with several criminal counts, including three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony.

Davis was a wide receiver from Ridgeville, South Carolina, and was in his third year, university President Jim Ryan said at a Nov. 14 news conference.

University of Virginia sophomore Ryan Lynchtold ABC News that she was on the bus at the time of the shooting and was close with Davis, Chandler and Perry, who were also her classmates.

Lynch said she wanted Davis Jr.'s family to know he wasn't alone in his final moments.

"One of us was with them after they were shot and we loved them so much," she told ABC News earlier this month.

ABC News' Ivan Pereira, Emily Shapiro and Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

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How the forced hospitalization of 'mentally ill' people will work in NYC

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- New York City Mayor Eric Adams has directed the NYPD and peace officers to take individuals who appear "to be mentally ill" into custody involuntarily for psychiatric evaluations, even if they are not considered to be an imminent threat to the public.

"Without that intervention, they remain lost and isolated from society, tormented by delusions and disordered thinking," said Adams in a Tuesday press conference. "They cycle in and out of hospitals and jails, but New Yorkers rightly expect our city to help them and help them we will."

The directive has stoked outrage, controversy and debate about homelessness and mental illness, and how to tackle both issues.

What exactly is the initiative?

Throughout his time in office, Adams has touted efforts to move unhoused New Yorkers off city streets and subways through sweeps of homeless encampments and the removal of unhoused riders from subway trains. His administration has conveyed itself to be tough on crime, targeting homeless and mentally ill populations under the guise of public safety.

The city's standards currently authorize "a peace officer or police officer to take into custody, for the purpose of a psychiatric evaluation, an individual who appears to be mentally ill and is conducting themselves in a manner likely to result in serious harm to self or others," according to a Feb. 18 Office of Mental Health memorandum.

The directive to city agencies from Adams is intended to enforce the preexisting authorization.

Adams told reporters in a press conference on the initiative Tuesday that police will receive training in order to feel confident in determining who might be classified as "in need" under the current legal language. A hotline will be launched with clinicians from city hospitals to provide guidance to officers encountering individuals in crisis.

The directive states that "case law does not provide extensive guidance regarding removals for mental health evaluations based on short interactions in the field." However the directive says it does provide examples that indicate whether someone is unable to support their basic needs, including a serious untreated physical injury, unawareness of surroundings and others.

City officials argued Tuesday that a proper psychological evaluation cannot be made in public, and therefore will need to occur in a medical/hospital setting.

Though Adams pitched the move as an effort to get unhoused and mentally ill people off the streets, he added that the services could extend to anyone seemingly experiencing a mental health crisis.

When asked about how many psychiatric beds would be available for this, Adams claimed the city is "going to find a bed" for everyone who needs one. It is unclear how many unhoused people in the city would be affected by this, according to Adams.

Why is this controversial?

The NYPD has long been accused of mistreatment and criminalization of citizens experiencing mental illness or in a crisis, according to past reports from the Urban Justice Center, New York University and more.

With police on the frontlines of the effort to get unhoused citizens off the streets, the initiative has been criticized by civil rights, mental health and disability rights advocates.

People experiencing homelessness and mental illness are more likely to be incarcerated, with one study from the Vera Institute of Justice saying "this crisis is perpetuated by a legal system that criminalizes survival behaviors associated with homelessness, fails to account for the ways in which people who are homeless face impossible odds within the legal process, and then releases them back into the community with even more obstacles than they faced before."

Advocates say that involuntary hospitalization is a violation of civil rights and is a form of incarceration for innocent unhoused and mentally ill citizens of New York City.

"Forcing people into treatment is a failed strategy for connecting people to long-term treatment and care," said the New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "The decades-old practice of sweeping deep-seated problems out of public view may play well for the politicians, but the problems will persist – for vulnerable people in desperate need of government services and for New Yorkers."

In 2019, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams investigated how the city responds to and treats individuals experiencing acute mental distress. In that report, he found that the city had cut mental health access for many New Yorkers, and "in many cases, rather than realizing these recommendations and reforming public safety systems, city and state governments have repeatedly prioritized law enforcement in these interactions, often without proper training and sometimes with deadly consequences," said Williams in a statement published several weeks before Adams announcement.

Three years later, Williams said he found little improvement in a review of issues of mental health and public safety throughout the city.

"We still haven't decoupled getting medical attention with law enforcement," Williams said in an interview with ABC News. "That is problematic and it seems that we're now widening the scope in which someone can be brought off the street and pulled in involuntarily."

However, city officials claim this effort balances "prevention and intervention," by reducing "the number of people we see in need on our streets and in our subways to begin with," Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said on Twitter.

What else is the city doing about homelessness?

However, the city is piloting a separate program that provides 80 homeless people with supportive housing, food and health support and financial literacy support. This program is modeled after initiatives in other cities across the country, and has proven to produce positive impacts on homelessness in Texas, Utah and others.

In Houston, homelessness decreased by 54% in several counties where the program was piloted and more than 21,000 people were housed with a 90% success rate, according to The Coalition for the Homeless which runs the program.

A 2021 report from Utah's office of the legislative auditor general found that 95% of people placed in program housing remained housed.

"Data show that Utah programs, which are based on the primary goal of helping homeless individuals get into housing, have been successful, the report read. "Once homeless individuals are provided with housing, they tend to remain housed."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Catfish murders: 'Please know your child's online activity,' grieving family pleads

KABC-TV

(RIVERSIDE, Calif.) -- A grieving family is pleading with parents to monitor their children's online activity after a former Virginia police officer "catfished" a 15-year-old girl online and then traveled to her Riverside, California, home, where he allegedly killed her mother and grandparents.

"Nobody could imagine this crime happening ... especially it just being one day after Thanksgiving," Mychelle Blandin, the sister and daughter of the three victims, said at a news conference Wednesday.

She recalled the family debate they had on Thanksgiving about her mom's brownies.

"Little did I know ... that would be the last time my husband and I would see my parents and my sister again," she said. "The next day, when we were out buying Christmas lights for our home, I received a phone call from my parents neighbor of 22 years. They were best friends. They looked out for each other. She called to tell us that we needed to get there as soon as we could because my parents' house was on fire."

She pleaded, "Parents: Please, please know your child's online activity. Ask questions about what they are doing and whom they are talking to. Anybody can say they're someone else. And you could be in this situation."

"Catfishing led to the deaths of the three most important people in my life: my dad, my mom and my sister," she said through tears. "Tell our story to help your parenting. Not out of fear, but out of example of something that did happen."

Riverside police said the suspect, 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards, met the 15-year-old Riverside girl online through "catfishing," where someone pretends to be a different person than they actually are. Police believe Edwards was pretending to be a 17-year-old.

Police said they believe Edwards drove from Virginia to California, parked in a neighbor's driveway on Friday, went to the teen's home and killed her mother and grandparents. Edwards then allegedly took the teen and drove away, according to police.

The girl has since been rescued and is not hurt, police said.

The murders were discovered on Friday after authorities received a report of a girl "who appeared distressed" while getting into a car with a man, police said. As officers responded to that report, they received calls of a fire at a nearby house.

Three relatives were found dead in the house from apparent homicides: 69-year-old Mark Winek; his wife, 65-year-old Sharie Winek; and their daughter, 38-year-old Brooke Winek.

Authorities believe the fire was intentionally set after the murders, police said.

The relatives were found with their hands bound behind their backs with duct tape, Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez told ABC News.

The victims' cause of death has not been released but police don't believe they were shot.

"It could be either suffocation or maybe some smoke inhalation ... but it’s really too early to tell until the coroner comes out with that," the chief said.

Blandin said Sharie Winek was the "matriarch" of the family "with the biggest giving heart imaginable."

Mark Winek, a high school softball and baseball coach, "was a man with a big and caring heart who unselfishly gave to his student athletes," Blandin said.

Brooke Winek was a "loving single mom who did her best to raise her two teenage daughters in a loving way," she said.

Several hours after the three bodies were found, authorities said they spotted Edwards driving with the teenager.

Edwards allegedly led deputies on a chase and fired shots, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office said. Edwards then lost control of his car and drove off the road, pointing a gun at a sheriff's helicopter, according to the sheriff's office. Deputies then fired at Edwards and he was declared dead at the scene, the sheriff's office said.

On Wednesday, the San Bernardino County Coroner said an autopsy determined that the cause of death was suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the sheriff's office.

Police said they believe the teen was not involved in the murders.

Edwards was hired by the Virginia State Police in July 2021 and quit on Oct. 28, 2022, the agency said. He was hired by Virginia's Washington County Sheriff's Office on Nov. 16, 2022, and had started orientation, the department said.

The investigation is ongoing and includes learning "some of the intentions [Edwards] may have had," the chief said at the press conference. It's not clear what app or site Edwards and the teen used to communicate or for how long they were communicating, the chief said.

Blandin said the neighbor who noticed the unfamiliar car and called police is a "hero."

As for Brooke Winek's two daughters, "We hope that this community ... can lift them up. They have the most difficult journey ahead," Blandin said.

ABC News' Jenna Harrison, DeMarco Morgan, Izzy Alvarez and Flor Tolentino contributed to this report.

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Lava oozing out of Mauna Loa inching closer to main highway on Hawaii's Big Island

nited States Geological Survey/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- The lava flowing out of Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano located on Hawaii's Big Island, is inching closer to a main highway, according to officials.

The lava is flowing out of Fissure 3 in the northeast rift zone and is now just 3.6 miles from Saddle Road, a main highway that runs east to west through the center of the island and a route often used to travel between Kona and Hilo, the U.S. Geological Survey tweeted just before 10 a.m. local time.

Volcanic gas plumes are lofting high and vertically into the atmosphere, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Fissure 3 remains the dominant source of the lava and is feeding flows that are moving downslope toward the highway, according to the USGS. Around 7 a.m. local time, the lava fountains were reaching up to 82 feet, the USGS confirmed. Lava fountains have also formed at Fissure 4, which is emitting smaller fountains of hot magma and is also flowing downslope toward the road.

Both fissures are feeding flows that are advancing northeast at .08 miles per hour toward the highway.

The flows are approaching a relatively flat area and will begin to slow down, spread out and inflate, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense. It could take another two days for the lava to reach the highway, officials said.

However, seismic detection of tremors in the location of the currently active fissures, indicates that magma is still being supplied and activity is likely to continue, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Emergency managers are beginning to ramp up planning, as the lava threatens the main route to travel east and west on the island, Talmadge Magno, an administrator for the Hawaii County Civil Defense, said on Wednesday. Magno is especially concerned about the "thousands of residents and visitors" who have flocked to the highway to view the eruptions, which are exacerbating the safety hazards, he said.

In addition, Pele's hair, or strands of volcanic glass, are falling in the Saddle Road area, officials said.

Dramatic video released by the USGS shows the volcano dispelling a nearly six-story wall of exploding lava.

Ash and lava began spewing out of the volcano on Sunday around 11:30 p.m. and has continued into Wednesday.

This is the first time Mauna Loa has erupted in nearly 40 years. The last time it erupted was in March and April 1984. The volcano is so large it takes up more than half of the Big Island

Geologists do not expect any activity outside of the northeast rift zone, and there are still no threats to populated areas, as there are no homes downslope from the northeast rift zone, according to the USGS.

Since the eruption is occurring to the northeast, where the peak's slope seaward is more gentle, it would take weeks of a continuous eruption for it to reach Hilo, Michael Poland, research geophysicist for the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory, told ABC News earlier this week.

However, officials have advised residents at possible risk from Mauna Loa lava flows to review preparedness and refer to Hawaii County Civil Defense information for further guidance.

ABC News' Jennifer Watts contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Animal protection groups file emergency court challenge to stop black bear hunt in New Jersey

Nature's Gifts Captured/Getty Images, FILE

(TRENTON, N.J.) -- A court has granted animal protection groups' request for an emergency court challenge to stop a black bear hunt from taking place next Monday in New Jersey. The state's Fish and Game Council authorized the hunt earlier this month.

The groups allege that the council bypassed required procedures for a hunt by misusing an emergency rule-making loophole. The court will allow plaintiffs to file an emergency motion by 4 p.m. on Dec. 2, three days before the hunt begins. Any opposition to the motion will have to be filed by Dec. 5 at 2 p.m.

The Fish and Game Council approved emergency regulations on Nov. 15 to "control the black bear population and reduce the threat of dangerous encounters between bears and humans through regulated hunting and non-lethal management measures," according to the council's website.

The council claimed the hunt was authorized due to increasing public safety concerns associated with the growing bear population. The hunting season is set to run from Dec. 5 to Dec. 10. Hunting is allowed a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset.

Hunters will not be allowed to take or kill a black bear weighing less than 75 pounds or if the bear is in the presence of cubs, according to the council.

The hunt does not limit the total number of bears that can be killed, according to animal protection groups.

The council will hand out 11,000 black bear hunting permits. Each hunter can get up to two permits for different hunting zones but is only allowed to kill one bear during the whole season.

Animal protection groups say black bears are "extremely slow to reproduce" and dispute the council's assertion that the state's bear population will grow by 33% in two years.

Opponents also claim officials do not know the accurate number of bears in the state.

"Scientific studies show only a weak correlation between the population of bears and bear attacks. Bear-human interaction is more closely connected with specific human behaviors that drive encounters. Some states with large black bear populations have fewer conflicts than states with much smaller bear numbers," the Humane Society of the United States said in a statement.

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Four pilot whales euthanized after stranding event on Massachusetts beach

International Fund for Animal Welfare

(EASTHAM, Mass.) -- Four pilot whales that had been stranded on a Massachusetts beach have been euthanized, according to conservationists.

The health of the whales had "greatly declined" after three days of being stranded, with the whales initially being lifted by the high tide but then getting stranded again, Stacey Hedman, communications director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team, told ABC News. The weather and the exhausted state of the whales contributed to the grim outlook for the large mammals, Hedman said.

"The team made the difficult decision to euthanize these animals as we knew rescue efforts at this stage were no longer going to be possible," Hedman said. "It’s the most humane decision to make in a circumstance like this."

The whales "passed quickly," Hedman said, adding that they are still searching for one remaining whale.

Six pilot whales were initially spotted swimming close to shore near Sunken Meadow Beach in Eastham, Massachusetts, on Monday afternoon, prompting stranding experts form the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team to respond to the scene to check on their well-being, Hedman said.

By Tuesday morning, the whales had become stranded on the beach, and one -- a calf -- had died, Hedman said. After the whales were briefly examined, and two were given satellite tags, the conservationists hoped the high tide in the afternoon would help push the marine mammals back into the ocean.

The five remaining pilot whales were re-floated and released shortly after the tide came in, but by 6 p.m. Tuesday, four of the whales had turned back toward shore, and rescue efforts were temporarily put on hold, the organization said.

"The five pilot whales swam off well in one direction together, but the reality is that we cannot celebrate a success yet this evening," Misty Niemeyer, stranding coordinator at IFAW, said in a statement. "One animal is now offshore, but the others did not follow."

The conservationists monitored satellite tag hits overnight, and a field team was able to locate the majority of the animals about 2 miles north near the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Hedman said. One whale is now offshore, she added.

The team is evaluating the next steps, Niemeyer said, describing the rescuers as "exhausted" after their strenuous efforts Tuesday.

"Large animals can be quite dangerous to work around, and it's for our health as well as tomorrow's continued efforts that we need to call it a day today," she said late Tuesday.

Teams of rescuers were responding in phases Tuesday to provide supportive care until the tides were more favorable, Hedman said.

Video taken on the scene showed crews digging up sand around the whales, some of which were covered in wet blankets to help them retain moisture. Some of the whales were also administered fluids via IV to help combat the stress and shock of stranding, Sharp said.

Dolphins and small whales can indeed live out of water for many hours when receiving proper supportive care and hydration, Hedman said.

While Cape Cod is considered a global hotspot for live cetacean stranding, historically, pilot whales do not strand there, Hedman added.

IFAW typically transports dolphins to deeper water using a custom-built rescue vehicle, but the whales are too big to transport, according to the organization.

But some of the animals are "very large," with the largest estimated to weigh about 4,000 pounds -- making them too heavy to transport, Brian Sharp, director of the research center, said in a recorded statement.

"This is tough on all of our responders," Hedman said. "We were cautiously optimistic and put a tremendous amount of work into this effort. If you were there, you likely felt our hopefulness as the whales first swam off at the end of the day yesterday."

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