banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner
Genesee Joe
Genesee Joe
3:00pm - 7:00pm
927-FM TheDRIVE - Central New York's Best Rock
Request A Song
My Profile

Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved.
National News
Subscribe To This Feed

KNXV-TV(GLENDALE, Ariz.) -- An 18-month-old girl died after she was left in her family's car for several hours, Arizona authorities said.

The child's death is being investigated as a possible hot car case, said police in Glendale, where the temperature reached 88 degrees Monday.

When the baby's father found the girl inside the car at an apartment complex Monday afternoon, officers were sent to the scene.

The baby had been there for at least a few hours and "died from being left inside the vehicle," police said in a statement, adding that the parents were at the scene and spoke with detectives.

"Both parents are cooperating with detectives and they are very upset over losing their child," Glendale police spokeswoman Tiffany Ngalula told ABC News via email Tuesday.

"We will not be releasing their names as we are still working with them through this tragedy to determine exactly what occurred," she continued. "We have not formally submitted any charges at this time as we still have key portions of the investigation to complete."

The little girl's autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday, Ngalula said.

As the investigation continues, the police department urged, "Always check twice for loved ones left inside of a vehicle that do not have the ability to get out on their own, because we are ultimately responsible for them."

While it was not immediately clear if the baby's death was hot car related, public safety group warns that last year was the worst in history for child hot car deaths in the U.S., with a total of 52 fatalities.

"Hot car deaths continue to take place because nobody believes this could happen to them," spokesperson Amber Rollins said in a statement Tuesday.

If the Arizona case is confirmed to be hot car related, it will mark the third hot car death of the year, according to

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

AmyKerk/iStock(NEW YORK) -- An expert who has been working with the Boy Scouts revealed that there may have been as many as 7,819 sexually abusive troop leaders and volunteers in the storied organization, according to newly released court documents.

More than 7,800 individuals allegedly abused 12,254 victims, according to the court testimony.

These figures were released Tuesday by attorney Jeff Anderson, whose firm regularly represents victims of sexual abuse and has been involved in numerous clerical sexual abuse cases.

The new testimony was entered into the court record as part of a January trial about child sex abuse at a Minnesota children's theater company.

One of the expert witnesses who testified was Dr. Janet Warren, who is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia’s medical school.

Warren testified that she has been "on private contract" with the Boy Scouts of America for the past five years, evaluating its handling of sexual abuse within the organization from 1944 through 2016.

Warren testified that she and her team worked with the group's ineligible volunteer files, which have sometimes been referred to as perversion files.

In her January court appearance, Warren said that she and her team have coded through all of those files, determining that there were "7,819 perpetrators who they believe were involved in sexually abusing a child."

"From reviewing all these files, we identified 12,254 victims," Warren said.

Anderson publicly released those numbers at a news conference in New York Tuesday, saying 130 of those perpetrators are in New York and could face legal repercussions. In August, the state's Child Victims Act, passed earlier this year, will allow a one-year period for any and all claims of sexual abuse from any time period to be brought forth in spite of existing statutes of limitations.

“The disclosure made by Dr. Janet Warren really sounded the alarm to us,” Anderson said.

The Boy Scouts of America released a statement after the disclosure, expressing sympathy for the victims and noting the work the organization has done to protect children.

“We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, and we have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice,” the organization said in a statement to ABC News. “Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in Scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children.”

The organization confirmed it has maintained the Volunteer Screening Database since the 1920s and “at no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegation to law enforcement.”

In the statement, officials also confirmed that Warren has worked with the Boy Scouts of America since 2013 to conduct ongoing research about the database and provide recommendations for improvement.

The existence of the abuse database is not new but the scope of the abuse is. In 2012, more than 14,000 pages of documents relating to abuse by 1,247 scout leaders was released in connection to a case in Oregon. That same year, The Los Angeles Times created a database detailing about 5,000 men and a small number of women tied to the Boy Scouts who were expelled in connection to sexual abuse.

Warren’s number shows a significant jump in that number and Anderson is calling for the Boy Scouts of America to make the list public.

“This is information that the Boy Scouts has and has had for several years... [and is still] keeping secret today,” Anderson said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

LPETTET/iStock (NEW BERLIN, Wis.) -- Wisconsin resident Manuel Franco is the winner of last month's $768.4 million Powerball jackpot -- the third-largest lottery amount in U.S. history.

"It feels like a dream," Franco, 24, said at a press conference Tuesday.

"It was amazing, my heart started racing, blood pumping," he said. "I screamed for about 5 or 10 minutes."

"My dad cried lot," he added.

The winning ticket was sold on March 27 at a Speedway in New Berlin, about 15 miles west of Milwaukee.

"I walked into the Speedway and I purchased $10 worth of individual Powerball tickets," Franco said. "I honestly felt so lucky that I did look up at the camera and I wanted to wink at it cause I just had that lucky feeling."

He went to work the day after he won but was anxious and sweating. He said he never showed up to work again after that day.

Before the big win, Franco said his biggest concern was getting his bank account up to $1,000.

Franco, who was born in Milwaukee, has been playing Powerball since he turned 18. He said he bought his first ticket on his 18th birthday.

The jackpot has a lump sum cash value of $477 million, according to Powerball.

Franco said he is accepting the lump sum. He will receive just over $326 million after taxes, said lottery officials.

"I'm sure you'll never see me as like one of the people who went bankrupt or broke or anything like that. I plan to live my life normal as much as possible," he said.

Franco said he doesn't know what his future holds but that he wants to "help out the world."

State law does not allow the winner to stay anonymous, said Wisconsin Lottery Director Cindy Polzin.

Franco had 180 days to claim the ticket.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

liveslow/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's top administration lawyer clashed with liberal justices of the Supreme Court on Tuesday over the government's plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

"I'm sorry. It's not been a part of the survey since 1960," Justice Sonia Sotomayor protested, interrupting Solicitor General Noel Francisco as oral arguments began.

"It has been part of the census for a long time," Francisco fired back. The decision to include it again "is well within [Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross'] discretion."

"This is about 100 percent that people will answer less," Sotomayor shot back.

New York state and several civil rights groups that sued Ross, who oversees the census, say his decision to add a citizenship question was "arbitrary and capricious," flouting the best advice of experts and a politically motivated attempt to generate an undercount in heavily Democratic areas.

How the justices rule will impact the decennial count which determines how congressional seats are apportioned, how many electoral votes each state receives in a presidential election and how billions in taxpayer dollars are distributed on a per capita basis.

The Census Bureau told Ross that asking about citizenship would drive down the census count by about 6.5 million people, mostly among immigrants and their families.

"A secretary can deviate from his experts' recommendations and bottom line conclusions, but he needs reason to do that and I don't see any reason," said Justice Elena Kagan.

"This boils down to whether the secretary's judgment here is a reasonable one," said Francisco.

Ross has said he sought to reinstate the question at the request of the Justice Department, in order to improve enforcement of the federal voting rights law. But documents revealed in the case suggest that Ross had other motives and may have engineered the DOJ request himself.

Three lower federal courts found that Ross acted illegally -- in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner -- circumventing the Administrative Procedures Act, which requires federal agencies to carefully study all relevant evidence and facts pertaining to a problem before implementing a new policy. The agency must also publicly lay out the reasons for a decision and allow public comment.

Earlier this month, a federal judge in Maryland also said Ross violated the Constitution "by unreasonably compromising the distributive accuracy of the Census."

The Constitution requires the government, every decade, to survey all "persons" living in the U.S. -- an "actual enumeration" -- regardless of citizenship or status.

The court's conservative majority was notably muted throughout the hearing, signaling potential inclination to support the administration's position. If all five justices vote to support Ross the lower court decisions will be overturned and the citizenship question added for 2020.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh pointed out that several major countries ask a citizenship question on their census, which is a recommendation by the United Nations. He also pointed out that until 1950, a citizenship question was a regular feature of the census in the U.S.

"The UN says be careful and test the question to ensure that it doesn't hurt the enumeration," countered Barbara Underwood, solicitor general for the state of New York. "It's useful information for a country to have. The question is, should it be included on an instrument to get a count."

Chief Justice John Roberts signaled he also had concerns about Underwood's argument.

"You're right. But we've had demographic questions on the Census -- sex, age, do you own a house or own a radio?" Roberts said.

"But there is no comparable evidence that those questions depress the count in such a way," said Underwood.

Dozens of states, grassroots advocacy groups and the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives have filed friend-of-the-court briefs urging the justices to prioritize ensuring the most accurate count possible.

"An undercount would threaten at least one of California's seats in the House of Representatives -- and, by extension -- an elector in the electoral college," said California attorney general Xavier Beccera. "It would deprive California and its cities and counties of their fair share of billions of dollars in federal funds."

Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, a nonpartisan public interest group, said the administration's approach amounts to discrimination.

"The citizenship question is a bald-faced attempt to racially rig the census, undercount communities of color and undermine fair representation which our democracy relies upon," she said.

A White House spokesman said the president is closely watching the case.

"He wants to know who is in the country. I think as a sovereign nation, we have that right. It's been a question that's been on the census for decades, but we'll wait and see how the Supreme Court rules," deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters.

The justices are expected to issue an opinion before the court ends its term in June. The Census Bureau plans to send it's short-form 2020 census questionnaire to print by June 30.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Darwin Brandis/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Federal prosecutors charged pharmaceutical company Rochester Drug Cooperative and two of its former executives Tuesday in a new method of charges for a drug distributor related to the nation's ongoing opioid crisis.

Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC), one of the nation's largest distributors of opioids, has entered into a non-prosecution consent decree with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, which accused the company of failing to properly report thousands of suspicious orders of oxycodone, fentanyl and other controlled substances.

At the same time, the company's former chief executive, Laurence Doud III, has been placed under arrest by federal drug agents and is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court later Tuesday. He's believed to be the first pharmaceutical executive associated with the nation's opioid crisis to face a criminal charge of diverting drugs for an illegitimate purpose.

In the nation's opioid epidemic, RDC is a middleman that buys controlled substances from manufacturers and sells them to individual pharmacies. As one of the nation's 10 largest drug distributors, it delivers to more than 1,300 pharmacies. Along the way, federal prosecutors claim, it ignored certain pharmacies that were placing suspicious orders.

"RDC was well aware that many of its largest pharmacy customers exhibited 'red flags' associated with the diversion of controlled substances, but failed to report these customers or their orders to the DEA as required," court records said.

RDC was among the drug distributors named last month in a civil lawsuit by the New York Attorney General's office, which alleged fraud, willful misconduct and gross negligence.

Between 2010 and 2018, the company sold more than 143 million oxycodone pills to customers in New York alone, the state's attorney general's lawsuit said.

The DEA has been investigating for years whether RDC failed to comply with pharmaceutical reporting laws. The company has previously paid to resolve claims it failed to properly report the theft of opioids.

According to court records, from 2012 through 2016, RDC filled more than 1.5 million orders for controlled substances from its pharmacy customers but reported just four suspicious orders to the DEA. In reality, there were at least 2,000 suspicious orders in those four years, federal prosecutors said.

"During this period, RDC shipped large quantities of opioids to pharmacies that RDC knew exhibited dispensing patterns that suggested the pharmacies were dispensing controlled substances for illegitimate medical purposes," court records said. "They did not report suspicious orders or pharmacy customers to the DEA because they did not want to risk losing revenue from these customers."

Opioid manufacturers are facing over 1,700 lawsuits over their role in the current crisis. Paul Hanly, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the federal litigation who said he is handling 2,000 cases, welcomed the move by U.S. prosecutors.

"The charges make the civil case against RDC easier to try and provide a potential roadmap to evidence that may prove the civil claims against other distributors," Hanly told ABC News on Tuesday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(DELPHI, Indiana) -- The mysterious murder of two Delphi girls deepened this week when Indiana State Police revealed new clues about the killer, including that he may live in the tight-knit Indiana community.

But this new information -- including a new sketch and more video evidence -- seems to leave the public with more questions than answers.
The crime

Eighth-graders Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14, were enjoying a day off from school on Feb. 13, 2017, when they vanished on a hiking path.

Abby and Libby snapped this photo on the bridge on the day they disappeared.

Their bodies were found the next day near the trail.

The male suspect -- seen in this new sketch released on Monday -- is believed to be between 18 and 40 years old, but may appear younger than his age, police said.

Indiana State Police released a new sketch of the suspect in the unsolved murders of two teen girls.

Police had previously released a different composite sketch of the suspect.

Former FBI agent and ABC News contributor Brad Garrett said the new sketch likely came from a new witness -- "someone that's come forward, maybe alleging to have actually seen the guy they're looking for."

"The difficulty in any sort of sketch is that it's difficult obviously for people to remember exactly what somebody else looks like ... it's not uncommon for sketches to not necessarily look like the person you're looking for," Garrett said, which can translate into false leads.

Callahan Walsh, a child advocate with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, agreed.

"I think they have some new information. I think they have a new eyewitness who has come forward," he told "Good Morning America" Tuesday. "The [new] sketch isn't created from the video. A sketch like that is mostly done when someone is describing what a person looks like -- it's not a computer generated image from that video."

'Hiding in plain sight'

The killer is believed to currently or previously live in Delphi, work in town or visit on a regular basis, Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter announced Monday.

"We believe you are hiding in plain sight" and even "may be in this room," Carter said at a news conference.

"We likely have interviewed you or someone close to you," Carter said.

From the beginning, Garrett said he believed the killer was local and "attached to this community" of nearly 3,000 people.

"Carroll County, Indiana, is very rural ... when the superintendent of the police says 'local,' that's not just the town of Delphi. That's Carroll County," Garrett said. "This person could well live 15 miles from Delphi, but they're from here, they know that trail, they walk that trail ... it's reasonable to think that the killer isn't down the street from the trail, but he's in the proximity."

Garrett said that particular trail likely wouldn't have visitors from outside the area.

"The idea that a random person would happen to be walking down the railroad track and happen upon these two victims, and that they had never been there before, I think is low," Garrett said.

Serial offenders often do not leave the area where they committed their crimes, Garrett said, because "they feel comfortable that they're not gonna get caught."

"This particular killer, he's on a remote trail -- if he believes that nobody else saw him actually harm these two girls, then in his mind, he feels like he's home free," Garrett said.

"He's going to be somebody that is pretty good at keeping his mouth shut. That doesn't mean somebody doesn't know something, but he's been very good at maintaining his lifestyle," Garrett continued. "Some killers have an innate ability to do that ... it goes with criminals' ability to place their life in boxes -- commit these crimes, do awful things, continue on their normal life."

Walsh said it's likely the killer is "very close to the investigation" and is likely "trying to take the temperature of the investigators to determine what they know and how hot on his trail they are."

"It's not unlikely he could have been a volunteer in the search" for the girls that first day they went missing, Walsh added.

An abandoned car

Officials also said Monday they're looking for the driver of a car mysteriously abandoned on the day the girls' bodies were found.

Carter did not elaborate on the car's involvement in the case. But Garrett said he believes investigators either just learned about the car recently or were unable to find the driver.

"Maybe this car has taken on a different significance in this investigation," he said.

In 2017, police released a grainy image of someone seen on the trail the day the girls went missing along with a chilling recording found on Libby's phone with just three words heard: "Down the hill."

On Monday, state police released new audio and video footage from Libby's phone.

The brief video clip shows the suspect walking on the bridge near where the girls were last seen.

"When you see the video, watch the person's mannerisms as they walk," Carter said Monday. "Do you recognize the mannerisms as being someone you might know?"

It's hard to decipher what the suspect says in the new audio clips.

"The person talking ... is the person on the bridge with the girls," Carter told reporters. "Please listen to it very, very carefully."

Garrett said he doesn't understand why state police waited two years to release the additional footage.

"The critical window many times in catching people quickly is to release as much evidence as you can that won't compromise the case -- maximum amount of video, maximum amount of audio that you can get out there to trigger somebody to come forward," Garrett said. "That's how you get really good tips."

But to Walsh, the delayed release of the video and audio helps keep "the community invested in this crime."

"And if anybody out there who did know anything and maybe it's weighing on their conscience, they're seeing it out there again and they're getting a reminder that they need to do the right thing," Walsh said.

Walsh thinks Monday's press conference was an appeal to the community in hopes that more eyewitnesses will come forward.

"People sometimes think their tip may be insignificant so they don't say anything -- but it can often be the key that unlocks the door to justice," he said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

WABC(NEW YORK) -- Chanel Lewis has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2016 murder of Karina Vetrano, who was beaten and strangled to death while out for a jog near her home in Queens.

The sentence was handed down by a judge who a day earlier rejected a defense motion to vacate Lewis’ conviction based on allegations of juror misconduct. Lewis, 22, was convicted after five hours of deliberations following his second trial after the first ended in a mistrial.

"I'm sorry to the family. I didn't do this," Lewis said before he was sentenced.

Cathie Vetrano, Karina's mother, clutched her daughter's pair of white work shoes as she addressed the judge.

"On Aug. 2, 2016, Chanel Lewis slaughtered me as well with the gruesome slaying of my soul," she said. "The second you put your hands on a child of God, you rejected the Holy Spirit and acted out as the devil."

Lewis was arrested in February 2017, six months after Karina Vetrano's murder. After Lewis consented to a DNA swab, it matched the DNA found on Karina Vetrano's body.

The Legal Aid Society, Lewis' defense team, made at least two attempts to get a new trial. His lawyers said they had received an anonymous letter from an alleged law enforcement officer claiming prosecutorial misconduct. One juror also said alleged misconduct had taken place during deliberations. Both motions by the defense were rejected by Judge Michael Aloise.

"This is a lose-lose situation for both families ... parents' worst nightmare, child goes out for a jog and never returns," Judge Aloise said before rendering the sentencing. "In the future, you'll find that the followers of this case would have moved on and you will be alone, but I tell you what, when that day come around you'll be in a cage."

The Legal Aid Society said in a statement: “While there is no denying that Karina Vetrano’s death is tragic and that her family and friends suffered a great loss, every aspect of this case – from the police investigation to jury deliberations – was propelled by a desire to convict at all costs.This was done without any concern for Mr. Lewis’s Constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial. We will appeal this case to the Appellate Division to secure Mr. Lewis the justice that he deserves.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

WLDavies/iStock(MEDECINE LODGE, Kansas) -- A vulture has been blamed for a motorcycle crash that killed a couple on a rural road in southern Kansas, authorities said.

Brandon Husband, 42, was riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle on Saturday afternoon with his 43-year-old wife, Jennifer Husband, on the back when the scavenging bird of prey emerged from a nearby ditch and struck him in the head.

The collision caused the bike to swerve off the road and crash into a barbed wire fence before overturning, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Brandon Husband was pronounced dead at the scene along River Road, some 13 miles of the town of Medicine Lodge, 75 miles southwest of Wichita.

Jennifer Husband was taken to a hospital where she died hours later.

Neither was wearing a helmet, according to highway patrol.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx has received death threats since her office's decision to drop charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett.

Her office did not offer specific details about the threats, but it said they included "racially charged language," according to a statement Monday.

"We can confirm that the State's Attorney has received threats to her personal safety and security, a number of which have contained racially charged language," the office told ABC Chicago station WLS on Monday.

The announcement comes less than a week after the office released more than 3,800 pages worth of emails and text messages, including some where Foxx referred to the 36-year-old Smollett as a "washed up celeb who lied to cops."

Foxx made the comment to her top deputy, Joseph Magats, after she recused herself from the case.

Smollett was indicted on 16 counts after allegedly lying to Chicago police about being attacked in a hate crime.

“Sooo…...I'm recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases...16 counts on a class 4 (felony) becomes exhibit A,” Foxx texted Magats, according to documents released last week.

She also compared the case against Smollett to her office's sexual abuse case against embattled R&B singer R. Kelly, to whom she referred as a "pedophile."

"Pedophile with 4 victims 10 counts. Washed up celeb who lied to cops, 16. On a case eligible for deferred prosecution I think it's indicative of something we should be looking at generally," Foxx wrote. "Just because we can charge something doesn't mean we should. … it's not who we want to be."

The office eventually dropped the case against Smollett, saying it instead would focus resources on violent crimes. The move sparked backlash from the Chicago Police Department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called the decision "a whitewash of justice."

City officials sued the actor for $130,000 in the wake of the dropped charges, seeking reimbursement for funds spent investigating what they called bogus hate crime allegations.

The lawsuit laid out a detailed account of the allegations against Smollett, who told police he was attacked Jan. 29 by two men who shouted homophobic slurs at him, wrapped a noose around his neck and poured an unknown liquid on him. The timeline includes a 41-point, blow-by-blow description, from when Smollett first met the Ola and Abel Osundario -- the brothers who say Smollett paid them to help stage the attack -- in the fall of 2017 until the final allegation that Smollett continued to be in contact with the brothers days after the purported attack.

A lawyer for Smollett, who portrays a gay musician on Fox's "Empire," said the actor "vehemently denies" accusations of making false statements to police and "will not be intimidated into paying the demanded sum."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Florida Department of Corrections(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- A Florida father may have saved his son's life when he chased down a man who allegedly stole his vehicle while the child was in the back seat.

Police said the man left his vehicle running near West Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday when 29-year-old Lamar Thurman took off with the car.

The unidentified victim stepped out to say goodbye to a group of friends, leaving his 6-year-old son alone in the back seat. That's when Thurman swiped the vehicle, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Monday.

Police said Lamar Thurman, 29, stole a car with a 6-year-old boy in the back seat.

The victim and a few friends immediately went after the suspect in a separate vehicle. They fired multiple shots at the suspect "in an attempt to stop him from fleeing," according to the statement.

The suspect crashed the stolen vehicle, got stuck, freed the car and drove east, police said.

"The victim, armed with a handgun, shot at the suspect in an attempt to stop him from fleeing further with his child in the car," according to the statement.

Thurman, who was apprehended after crashing a second time, sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition. Police said the 6-year-old was unharmed.

The suspect was still in the hospital as of late Monday evening, and police had not announced any charges.

"Evidence on scene, witness statements along with the victims statements, are consistent with what occurred," the statement said. "The suspect has no association with the victims. This incident is still open and active pending further investigation."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(PARADISE, Calif.) -- In the wake of the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history, the residents of Paradise are slowly returning and rebuilding.

But even though one Paradise resident's home survived the wildfire, her family's saga of returning to a normal life is far from over. While the structure of resident Kyla Awalt's home is still intact, she said it has no access to running water -- a widespread problem in the area after the historic fire -- but her insurance company has ruled that the water issue isn't covered by her home insurance policy.

"We were literally forced to move back home and figure out a solution to get us water," Awalt told ABC News' Brad Mielke on "Start Here."

Even if her pipes started working, she wouldn't be able to drink it. The Paradise Irrigation District has warned every resident that the city's water supply is not potable, after testing revealed several positive results for benzene.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said short-term exposure to the chemical can cause skin and eye irritation, as well as issues with concentration, dizziness, convulsions, irregular heartbeat and vomiting.

Long-term exposure to benzene causes anemia and cancer, specifically leukemia, according to the CDC.

The Camp Fire swept through Butte County in November, killing 85 people in the town of Paradise and destroying 90% city's structures. Since then, about 1,500 have moved back, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Awalt, a mother of two, has been back at her home in Paradise since early January, shortly after the town reopened in December. She told ABC News she and her family were evacuated for 2 1/2 months, and moved to four different locations during that time.

Thankfully, her husband was able to find their home still standing after the blaze.

"It was incredible for us to just know that it survived and that we were one of the very, very few ... we're the only house on our street," Awalt said, adding that they still had work to do to make the home habitable.

"We had to get the home cleaned for smoke inhalation," she said. "We needed the insulation repaired and replaced."

Awalt said she asked the family's insurance company when it would stop covering the rent the family was paying to stay elsewhere, as well as extra gas and extra food out of pocket.

"They were very clear numerous times. Once the house is cleaned, it's considered livable and that they would stop any additional living expenses that we were receiving," she said.

The house was cleaned and back to normal -- but the town's plumbing system was not.

"There is absolutely no water," she said. "There's no way to flush toilets. There's no way to wash your hands."

"There's no way that I would even turn it on," Awalt continued. "Because what happens is, once you turn it on, let's say there is that contamination in that line, and you bring it into your home while it contaminates the pipes. So it literally binds to your pipes and will continue to leach into your home."

Awalt said she filed a claim to have a new water tank installed in her home but her insurance company said that water contamination was a utility company issue that had "nothing to do with her plumbing."

"Our meter was not burned," she said. "If our meter had been burned, they would have covered the tank, but our meter wasn't even burned. So the fact that there was no water ... it didn't matter."

Awalt said she received a letter from Farmers Insurance dated Jan. 11, 2019, that read, in part: "You requested coverage for a water tank, pump and full-up due to the citywide water outage. Per your policy, there must be actual, accidental direct, distinct and demonstrable physical loss or damage to the water system on your premise for additional; living expense coverage to apply, and for us to cover the water tank. We did not find any damage to the water system on your premise. Unfortunately there is no coverage for your claim based on the facts known to us at the present time."

Awalt then filed a complaint with the California Department of Insurance concerning her issue with the water tank coverage.

In response to the insurance commissioner complaint, Awalt said she received a letter from Farmers Insurance dated Jan. 22, 2019, that read, in part, "Unfortunately, the damage was done to the city's infrastructure resulting in the loss of water service, but there was no direct damage to your water meter or water lines. Based on the policy language, we cannot extend coverage for the expense."

She said the situation is putting her in an impossible situation.

"You're still paying your mortgage, and now you're also having to pay rent," she said.

Awalt said she and her husband have had to pay out of their pocket for a water tanker from a private company until the water issue in Paradise is fixed.

City officials said the blaze created a "toxic cocktail" of gases that were sucked into homes' water pipes, according to the Bee.

In a statement to ABC News, Farmers said: "We have worked with our customer to pay all benefits due under her policy for direct damage to her residence resulting from the Paradise wildfire. While the homeowner has submitted requests for additional compensation, those supplementary items fall outside of the limitations of the policy, thus not compensable under her policy. We have discussed these items with our customer and are available to review any new information she may have related to this matter."

"It's all been made clear to everybody. Don't drink it," Awalt said. "You don't want to use hot water because it makes the benzene go airborne ... so you're told to use lukewarm water."

Residents of Paradise are being told not to drink the tap water and use only bottled water, according to the Paradise Irrigation District website.

She said officials told residents not to take baths, only showers.

"Everybody's really cautious right now," she said. "It's funny, my son -- he had a baseball practice up in ... the city just above us. And their water's fine. So he was at baseball practice, and one of the kids went over to get a drink out of the drinking fountain -- and my son yelled across the field. 'Don't drink the water, it's got benzene!' And so it was just really interesting seeing how the kids in the community is really affected by this."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Lindsey Jacobson/ABC News(DELPHI, Ind.) -- The unknown suspect in the mysterious murder of two Delphi eighth-graders may live in the small Indiana town, police said Monday, as new information about the killer was released.

The male suspect is believed to currently or previously live in Delphi, work in town or visit on a regular basis, Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter said at a news conference.

He's believed to be between 18 and 40 years old, Carter said, but may appear younger than his age.

Carter said the person seen in this image could be the girls' killer.

'We believe you are hiding in plain sight," Carter said at the news conference, and even "may be in this room."

"We likely have interviewed you or someone close to you," he said.

Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14, were enjoying a day off from school on Feb. 13, 2017, when they vanished on a hiking trail near their small town of Delphi.

Their bodies were found the next day near the trail. Police have not released details of how the girls died.

Over two years after the double murder shocked the small community, Indiana State Police on Monday released that new sketch of the suspect, as well as new audio and video evidence.

The never-before-seen video recovered from Libby's phone shows the suspect walking on the bridge near where the girls were last seen.

"When you see the video, watch the person's mannerisms as they walk," Carter said Monday. "Do you recognize the mannerisms as being someone you might know?"

Authorities in 2017 released a grainy image of someone seen on the trail the day the girls went missing along with a chilling recording found on Libby's phone with just three words heard: "Down the hill."

On Monday, police released additional portions of the audio recording from Libby's phone.

While it is hard to decipher what is said in the clip, Carter said, "The person talking ... is the person on the bridge with the girls... please listen to it very, very carefully."

Carter vowed to find the killer.

"You brutally murdered two little girls, two children. Only a coward would do such a thing," he said.

"We will not stop," he said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Fedorovekb/iStock(SAN DIEGO) -- A woman allegedly wielding an unloaded gun in one hand and holding a baby in the other interrupted an Easter service at a Southern California church by shouting bomb threats before she was detained by worshippers, police said.

The incident occurred around noon on Sunday at the Tsidkenu Church, a non-denominational church, in the San Diego suburb of Clairemont, according to the San Diego Police Department.

The suspect, Anna Conkey, 31, was taken into custody and booked at the San Diego County jail on suspicion of making criminal threats and displaying a handgun in a threatening manner, police said.

The incident unfolded just hours after suicide bombers killed nearly 300 people in a series of coordinated explosions at churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, more than 9,000 miles away.

NBC station KNSD-TV in San Diego reported that Conkey had worked for the station as a freelance producer and intern.

Police said the congregation of the Tsidkenu Church, which uses an auditorium at a public school for Sunday services, was wrapping up Easter services when Conkey walked in holding a gun and a 10-month-old baby.

"The female walked up on stage and made threats that she was going to blow up the church while waving the handgun," San Diego police said in a statement.

Before police officers arrived at the church, members of the congregation disarmed the women, according to the police statement.

"We were just about to finish up our service and a lady came in with a gun and started talking delusional stuff and just kind of kept it [the gun] at the ground, didn't really have a finger in it and she had an infant baby with her," Ronald Farmer, a member of the congregation, told OnScene TV. "So my first thought was get my family out of there and I went back in to just make sure if everything happened that there were enough men around that the situation could be controlled."

Another member of the church, who only wanted to be identified as Craig, said that he managed to take the gun away from the women while other church-goers tackled her.

Church member, David Michael Miller, a military serviceman, said the woman at one point pointed the gun at the baby.

"She starts talking all this craziness about the rapture not being real and everyone's going to hell and so everyone started praying and then they all ushered out of the service and the leaders and the pastor were up front and they were trying to talk her down," Miller told OnScene TV. "I was just slowly approaching watching them talk her down. And she was just being very apprehensive, pointing the gun at them, pointing the gun at her baby, saying, 'Don't come any closer. Don't come any closer.'"

He said that after Craig grabbed the gun from Conkey, a couple of other men tackled her.

"We got the baby away from her," Miller said. "A few minutes after that, the cops came in. She was trying to run away or something so a cop tackled her through a row of chairs."

Police said the gun Conkey was allegedly armed with was not loaded.

Conkey's baby was not harmed and was placed in protective custody, police said. An investigation led police to Conkey's 5-year-old daughter at an undisclosed location and she was placed into protective custody, police said.

"She just wanted attention, she wanted a conversation, she wanted to say all this stuff," Ben Wisan, the pastor of the church, told On Scene TV. "We knew who she was, she had been coming on and off for a little bit of time and we'd been praying for her because we wanted to see her set free. There was a lot of stuff bugging her."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Freda Bouskoutas/iStock(TOPEKA, Kan.) -- A Kansas zookeeper who was attacked by a Sumatran tiger at the Topeka Zoo over the weekend is on the mend, officials said Monday.

The zookeeper, whose name has not been released, was removed from an intensive care unit Sunday night, but remains in a hospital, Molly Hadfield, a spokeswoman for the city of Topeka, told ABC News on Monday.

The 17-year employee of the Topeka Zoo was attacked on Saturday by a 275-pound Sumatran tiger named Sanjiv when she entered the animal's enclosure at about 9:15 a.m., officials said.

An investigation into why the zookeeper was in the same enclosure with the 7-year-old tiger is underway.

"There really isn't a circumstance where they should be in the same space. So there was some sort of error that occurred," Brendan Wiley, director of the Topeka Zoo, told ABC News.

Authorities have found no problems with gates or fencing in the exhibit that would suggest the tiger had escaped from a separate locked area while the zookeeper was in the animal's exhibit.

Video from a webcam observed by ABC News showed the zookeeper walking in the tiger's enclosure, apparently dragging a water hose just before the attack occurred.

"As an accredited facility, there's no policy that would allow that," Ron Magill, a wildlife expert from the Zoo Miami, said in an interview Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "So that's going to be the first thing they're going to look at -- how these two were in the same space and why."

Hadfield said authorities are waiting for the zookeeper to recover more before they interview her about why she was in the enclosure with the tiger.

The zookeeper suffered lacerations and puncture wounds to her head, neck, back and arms, Wiley said.

The attack was witnessed by several visitors, who immediately ran to help, officials said.

"Our staff response saved a keeper's life, saved the tiger's life, and it truly is a miracle what happened. It could have been so much worse," Shanna Simpson, animal care supervisor at the zoo, told ABC News.

Zoo workers lured Sanjiv back into an enclosed space in the zoo with food, Wiley said. He added that "this could have been a very different outcome."

Sanjiv, who recently fathered four cubs, will not be euthanized because, Wiley said, the tiger was just acting naturally.

"While this incident is very unfortunate, he did what a wild tiger does," Wiley said.

The incident marked the third major attack on a human in the U.S. by an animal in captivity in less than five months.

In December, Alexandra Black, a 22-year-old intern at the Conservators Center in Burlington, North Carolina, was attacked and killed by a lion while helping to clean out the animal's enclosure. An investigation determined that a large ball had blocked a gate to a separate holding pen, allowing the lion to escape and get to Black, officials said.

Earlier this month, 75-year-old Marvin Hajos was attacked and killed by a cassowary, a large exotic bird similar to an emu, that he kept as a pet on his property in the Gainesville, Florida, suburb of Alachua. The cassowary, which has knife-like claws and is known to animal experts as the "world’s most dangerous bird," attacked Hojos when he tripped and fell, authorities said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Courtesy of Ann McDonald (NEW YORK) -- The mother of a young woman who died on a New York City subway platform knew something was wrong when she pulled into the driveway of her South Carolina home and was greeted by a police officer and a chaplain.

Ann McDonald's 21-year-old daughter, Helen McDonald-Phalon, had died in the early hours of Saturday morning at the Union Square subway station as she was waiting for the downtown 6 train.

The officer and chaplain didn't want Ann to hear the news "over the phone," she said.

Helen McDonald-Phalon moved to New York to pursue her Broadway dreams, and now her mom is grappling with her daughter's legacy.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is part of the ongoing investigation.

“This is a horrible and very uncommon incident, and is under investigation by both the MTA and NYPD,” a spokesperson for the MTA said in a statement to ABC News.

A source familiar with the investigation told ABC News that the incident happened on an uncrowded platform at 3 a.m.

The source said that investigators determined the train was already moving for more than 100 feet when Helen McDonald-Phalon made contact with it. The investigation into her death is underway, but according to a preliminary review of the information, the source said it does not appear to be a situation where she was dragged by a train door.

She was also not struck by a second train as one media outlet reported, the source said.

Helen McDonald-Phalon worked at ThinkGeek in Manhattan and lived in Brooklyn, her mother said. She started the job while she was studying at the New York Conservancy for Dramatic Arts, where her mother said she graduated in 2017.

“She just worked hard. She did everything right in a very unassuming way,” Ann McDonald said.

Helen McDonald-Phalon, who would have celebrated her 22nd birthday on Thursday, was still working to get her big acting break after a lifetime of dancing and singing.

“She never really got the lead role and she had to work really hard for everything,” Ann McDonald said. “If she got the smallest role, she would perform it like it was the lead role."

“You have no idea how many young women are messaging me and telling me how they would not be the person they are today without her,” Ann McDonald said of Helen.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Apple App
Android App


DRIVE Weather

More DRIVE Rock News
DRIVE Sports Updates
Breaking News
TheDRIVE Recommends