banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner
Genesee Joe
Genesee Joe
3:00pm - 8:00pm
927-FM TheDRIVE - Central New York's Best Rock
Request A Song
My Profile

Monday, December 10, 2018
Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved.
National News
Subscribe To This Feed

tzahiV/iStock(NEW YORK) -- New York City police officers are coming under fire after a "troubling" video surfaced showing them ripping a baby from the arms of a mother who had waited at a social services office for four hours seeking help, police and the woman's relatives said.

Jazmine Headley, 23, was arrested on charges of resisting arrest, committing an act in a manner injurious to a child, criminal trespass and obstruction of governmental administration, according to the NYPD.

A judge also issued a restraining order against her barring her from coming near her baby.

Headley was booked into the Rikers Island jail pending a court hearing on Thursday.

"The video, obviously, is disturbing. It's very disturbing to me," Commissioner James O'Neill of the New York Police Department said Monday afternoon. "I'm a dad. I have two kids. But being a cop is a really difficult job."

O'Neill said an investigation of the incident has been launched by the NYPD and Steven Banks, commissioner of the city Human Resources Administration.

"We’re trying to get as much video as we can," O'Neill said. "We’ve got to see what led up to the incident. What were the actions of the people from HRA? What were the actions of our police officers?

"We do get called to HRA facilities now and again," he said. "We have to figure out the protocols and work with HRA to figure out a better way to do things."

Headley's mother, who witnessed the arrest, claims city Human Resources Administration security guards and police officers were in the wrong and responsible for letting the incident escalate into pandemonium.

"I was devastated to see something like that happen to my daughter and grandson," Headley's mother, Jacqueline Jenkins, told ABC New York station WABC-TV.

The office was crowded and there were no seats available when she and her Headley arrived, Jenkins said. She said her daughter sat on the floor with her 1-year-old son, Damone, to keep him calm.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former New York City police captain, said at a news conference Monday outside the social services office that the "horrific" incident should have never happened.

"We are better than the images we witnessed over the weekend," Adams, a former New York City police captain, said. "This should be a place where families come to regain their dignity and respect instead of having it ripped from them."

He demanded a full investigation by the NYPD and that all charges be immediately dropped against Headley.

"Something's terribly wrong when the most well-trained police department can't resolve a dispute with a mother and child without looking like the President's southern border strategy. We must do better," Adams said, referring to the Trump administration's practice of separating children from parents caught illegally crossing the border.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a tweet that the video as heartbreaking and "hard to watch."

"This is unacceptable, appalling ...," he wrote. "I’d like to understand what transpired and how these officers or the NYPD justifies this."

NYPD officials said in a statement that they were called to the city Human Resources Administration office in Brooklyn just before 1 p.m. on Friday.

"The NYPD was called after office staff and HRA peace officers made unsuccessful attempts to remove this individual from the facility due to her disorderly conduct towards others, and for obstructing a hallway," police said in a statement.

Lisa Schreibersdorf, executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services, said her office has assigned an attorney to represent Headley. She said the woman went to the social services office to determine why daycare vouchers for her child were suddenly cut off.

She said Headley took a day off from her job as a security guard in hopes or resolving the daycare problems. She said Headley had been waiting at the office for four hours before the police were called on her.

"When people come to this office, they are here because they are in crisis," Schreibersdorf said. "Instead, they escalated the situation by bringing the police department in."

Both Adams and Schreibersdorf said the incident could have been avoided had officials at the office just went and found a chair for Headley or spoke to her calmly.

Jenkins said the HRA guards told her daughter she could not sit on the floor because she was blocking a hallway. When she refused to stand, a supervisor called the police, she said.

A cellphone video taken by Nyasia Ferguson, one of several taken by people who were also waiting at the office, shows at least three NYPD officers, including a sergeant, on top of Headley, who refused to let her child go.

"They're hurting my son! They're hurting my son!" Headley is heard screaming in the video.

One officer appeared to grab Damone and yank hard several times in an attempt to remove him from Headley's arms. A crowd of people gathered around the officers yelling for them to stop and attempting to explain that Headley had not been bothering anyone.

At one point, an officer is seen in the video pulling out a stun gun and appearing to point it at the crowd, ordering people to step back. The officer also appeared to point the stun gun at Headley, but it was never deployed, the video shows.

"I was just disgusted and scared," Ferguson told WABC. "I thought the cops [are] supposed to help you -- they just straight up came and attacked the lady."

Police were eventually able to wrest the baby away and place Headley under arrest. The city Administration for Child Protective Services was initially called in to take custody of the child, who was later turned over to Jenkins.

The NYPD called the incident "troubling" and said the encounter was "under review." The statement said the review will include all available video that captured the incident.

The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office was also conducting an investigation of the incident. A spokesperson for the district attorney said prosecutors do not plan to proceed with the charges against Headley.

Headly was being held on an unrelated warrant from Mercer County, New Jersey, Schreibersdorf said.

The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office said it was reaching out to New Jersey authorities on behalf of Headley "to expedite her release."

Police officials said the HRA guards were the ones who initially took Headly to the floor when she refused to leave.

"NYPD officers then attempted to place her under arrest. She refused to comply with officers' orders, and was then taken into custody," according to the NYPD statement.

Police said no one was hurt in the confrontation.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed YORK) -- An Ohio man who said he was inspired by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect planned to attack a Toledo-area Jewish house of worship for a "mass casualty attack" on behalf of ISIS, officials said.

Damon Joseph, 21, of Holland, Ohio, was arrested on Friday and charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS.

"In a matter of months, Damon Joseph progressed from radicalized, virtual jihadist to attack planner," said FBI acting special agent-in-charge Jeff Fortunato.

"Joseph will now be accountable in a court of law for his pursuit of a violent act of terrorism upon our fellow citizens attending their desired house of worship," Fortunato said in a statement released by the Department of Justice.

Joseph unknowingly had multiple interactions with undercover FBI agents, telling them that he was an ISIS supporter and saying that he was supportive of "martyrdom operations," the statement reads.

According to officials, Joseph expressed admiration for the shooter who opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Oct. 27, killing 11 people inside the house of worship.

"I admire what the guy did with the shooting actually," Joseph told the undercover agent, according to the DOJ.

"I can see myself carrying out this type of operation inshallah. They wouldn’t even [an attack] expect in my area..." Joseph said, the Justice Department said.

Joseph then started planning an alleged attack, sizing up two synagogues in the Toledo area as potential targets and telling the undercover agent that the final location would depend on "which one will have the most people, what time and what day. Go big or go home."

He gave the undercover agent the name and address of the synagogue that he was planning to attack, though that information has not been publicly disclosed. He told the agent that he wanted to kill a rabbi, and showed the agent photos from inside the synagogue, according to the DOJ.

He then discussed which weapons would who be helpful in inflicting mass casualties, the DOJ said, and made a plan for the undercover agent to purchase the two AR-15s that Joseph would then hide in his house.

Joseph was arrested when he took the bag containing two AR-15s from the undercover agent on Dec. 7.

It was not immediately clear if Joseph had a lawyer.

Jeremy Pappas, the regional director of the Cleveland chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, praised law enforcement "for working so diligently to prevent terror from hitting our community.

"The Jewish community is still grieving following the October attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We can never let that happen again," Pappas said in a statement.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Zolnierek/iStock(LUMBERTON, N.C.) -- The man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing 13-year-old Hania Aguilar in North Carolina could face the death penalty if convicted, a judge said Monday, according to ABC Raleigh station WTVD.

Michael McLellan, 34, is accused of abducting and killing the teen in November. Her disappearance sparked a massive manhunt and her body was found in Robeson County, North Carolina, weeks later.

During McLellan's brief court appearance Monday, the judge revoked bond, WTVD reported.

McLellan is charged with 10 felonies in Hania's case including first-degree murder, first-degree forcible rape, statutory rape, abduction of a child and first-degree kidnapping, the FBI said.

The FBI announced the arrest on Saturday and said McLellan was being held on unrelated charges.

Hania was abducted outside her home at the Rosewood Mobile Home in Lumberton on the morning of Nov. 5.

She had taken the keys to her aunt's SUV to start the car when a man dressed in all black with a yellow bandanna over his face forced her in the car and drove away, police said. The stolen SUV was found three days later in Lumberton.

The same day McLellan's arrest was announced, more than 1,000 mourners gathered in a school gymnasium in Lumberton for Hania's emotional funeral service.

Friends and family took turns coming up to the podium to read letters and poems they had wrote for Hania.

She was described as a bright, happy 8th grader who was a good student and a loving daughter, big sister and friend.

Born in Fort Payne, Ala., on March 21, 2005, Hania loved to draw and listen to music, had dreams of becoming an architect, played soccer and the viola.

One of Hania's best friends, Jeidy Diaz Perez, read a letter at the funeral that she had written to Hania.

"When I found out what happened to you that morning, I didn't want to believe it," she said. "I prayed for you to come back that same day but you didn't. That night they found a body, I hoped that it wasn't you. But when that it was confirmed that it was you, I felt my heart breaking into pieces."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Prathaan/iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- A mother and her 17-year-old daughter were strangled to death in Southern California, officials said, as authorities search for their suspected killer.

Cecilia Meza, 41, and her daughter Kelsey Meza, 17, were found dead in a Monrovia home on Dec. 5 by officers conducting a welfare check, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

Cecilia Meza died from strangulation while Kelsey Meza died from blunt head trauma and strangulation, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's office.

Their suspected killer, Nimrod Perez Guerrero, remains at-large, the sheriff's office said.

Kelsey attended Monrovia High School, across the street from her home, reported KABC.

The 17-year-old was "excited about going to college," and was a "sweet, kind girl who always went out of her way to help others," Monrovia Unified School District Superintendent Katherine Thorossian said in a Dec. 6 statement.

"It is not natural for us to comprehend unnatural death – especially one in our own back yard," Thorossian said. "We’ve deployed our emergency response team, including trained counselors and psychologists, to Monrovia High School, where they will remain as long as they are needed to support students and staff coming to terms with their shock and grief."

Guerrero was believed to have known the victims, ABC Los Angeles station KABC reported.

The sheriff's office did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A major winter storm that pummeled the Southeast has become a "nightmare and a tragedy" in North Carolina, claiming at least two lives, the governor said, as he warned drivers to be cautious of snowy roads and dangerous ice.

The storm has dropped staggering amounts of snow, ice and rain across North Carolina, with a year's worth of snow falling in some places in just one day, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday.

A driver died in Matthews, NC, on Sunday after a tree struck the car. The driver then plowed through the front lawn of a church, hitting the building and causing minor structural damage, local police said.

In Haywood County, a woman on hospice care died, Cooper said, and another possible storm-related death is under investigation.

Now the South is digging out from what Cooper called a "mammoth winter storm."

While up to 20 inches of heavy, wet snow fell in North Carolina, the storm also brought 2 feet of snow to Whitetop, Va.

Richmond, Va., had its second-snowiest December day on record and double-digit totals were reported in South Carolina, Tennessee and as far west as Texas.

Parts of West Virginia saw a whopping 20 inches of snow.

Freezing temperatures could turn wet and slushy roads into ice rinks in some areas on Tuesday, Cooper warned Monday.

Cars were abandoned amid the snow and sleet. A four-wheel drive plow even became stuck in 1 foot of snow in Greensboro, NC.

In Virginia, state police said they responded to over 1,000 car crashes on Sunday.

Due to the heavy snow and freezing temperatures overnight, state police on Monday are urging Virginians to avoid driving in the western, southern and central regions of the state.

Gov. Cooper added Sunday, "Travel conditions are extremely hazardous. Don’t put your life and the lives of first responders at risk by getting out on roads covered with snow and ice."

The storm not only canceled over 1,000 flights on Sunday, it also left more than 276,000 people without power across seven states Monday morning. Over half of the power outages are in North Carolina.

The forecast

That storm now has moved to the coast, just off the Carolinas. Wet snow was falling Monday morning in the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.

Snow and rain are expected to continue falling in the Southeast as the low pressure slowly begins to pull away from the coast. Not much snow accumulation is expected.

The Southeast will remain chilly into Tuesday, with early-morning wind chills in the 20s and 30s for many areas.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Woodland Park Police Department(WOODLAND PARK, Colo.) -- The search for a young Colorado mother who vanished on Thanksgiving Day is intensifying with local police enlisting help from law enforcement nationwide and worried loved ones asking for prayers that she be found safely.

Kelsey Berreth, 29, a pilot and the mother of a 1-year-old girl, was last seen at a Safeway supermarket on Thanksgiving near her home in Woodland Park, police said.

After she disappeared, Berreth's cell phone pinged in Gooding, Idaho, more than 700 miles from where she vanished, Cmdr. Chris Adams of the Woodland Park Police Department told ABC News' "Good Morning America" on Sunday.

"It makes us wonder what she's doing up there, or what the phone is, potentially, because she may not be there," Adams said. Berreth's worried loved ones described her as a "responsible" and "grounded" woman, who wouldn't just leave her child without some sort of explanation.

"I just want her to come home," her brother-in-law, Brendan Kindle, told ABC News. "I find myself calling her quite often and her phone just goes to voicemail."

Police searched Berreth's house for clues and found her suitcases, makeup, and vehicles all untouched.

"After arriving at Kelsey's house ... and combing through things, we know 1 thing [is] certain, Kelsey did not pack to go anywhere," her brother, Clint Berreth, wrote on Facebook.

The FBI is now assisting in the investigation.

Berreth is described as 5-foot-3-inches tall, 110 pounds with green eyes and brown hair. She was last seen wearing a white shirt, gray sweater, and blue pants.

"We are determined to bring Kelsey Berreth home! We will NOT STOP LOOKING!" Berreth's family said in a post on a Facebook page created to keep people updated on the search.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Courtesy BBDO New York and Sandy Hook Promise(NEW YORK) -- Every year without her son Dylan and his classmates who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School is unimaginably difficult for Nicole Hockley, but this year brought fresh pain.

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas this February marked the deadliest school shooting since the one in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012.

“Parkland hit me and all of Sandy Hook Promise incredibly hard, as it hit the whole country,” Hockley said, referring to the gun violence prevention group she co-founded in the wake of her son’s death.

The two tragedies drew instant comparisons, and they came together directly at the White House earlier this year when President Donald Trump held a listening session on gun violence the week after the Florida shooting.

Hockley was seated next to Sam Zeif, a Parkland survivor who issued an emotional call to action.

“Being in the room with a lot of those parents and kids -- where the grief was incredibly raw -- it was very much like looking at myself five years ago,” Hockley told ABC News last week.

“You really do feel like the earth isn’t balanced underneath your feet," she said. "That whole first year I felt like I was walking on a tilt."

The parallels between Sandy Hook and Parkland -- both of which are among the 10 deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history -- make for easy juxtapositions.

But Hockley says that the wounds re-emerge much more often, with every shooting.

“Each shooting we take very personally because we feel it was another preventable shooting and we haven’t trained people fast enough,” Hockley said.

She and Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was also killed in Newtown, founded Sandy Hook Promise to help combat school shootings as well as gun suicides and other forms of gun violence.

“We know logically that we can’t reach them all, but we know in our hearts we want to,” she said.

As part of that effort, the group organizes training sessions in schools and guidelines for how students, parents and teachers can know the signs of gun violence.

Their latest annual ad stressing the importance of being aware of such warning signs was released Monday morning on ABC News' Good Morning America.

The ad, directed by Rupert Sanders -- best known for directing Snow White and the Huntsman -- uses a twist to shock the viewer at the end of a seemingly normal high school day.

“Folks are going to find it a gut punch,” Barden said of the ad. “It’s powerful. It’s hard-hitting. It’s real, but it absolutely emphasizes that there are warning signs.”

Barden said that the work that he and the team at Sandy Hook Promise have done helps him in the wake of Daniel’s death.

“I have to keep reminding myself of all the good work we are doing, and all the mass shootings that didn’t happen because of our work and all the suicides we have prevented,” he said, noting that more than 5.5 million children and adults have received the group’s training.

“We are getting anecdotal evidence from the field literally every day” about prevented shootings or instances of gun violence, Barden said, adding “it’s a good counterweight to these statistics of the growing number of mass shootings.”

He doesn’t have to go far to see the reality and regularity of shootings in America impacting children, though. He sees it with his daughter. Daniel Barden was 7 years old when he was killed at Sandy Hook, and he had two older siblings, Natalie who was 10 years old at the time and James who was 12 years old.

“I’ve heard my Natalie express things just recently,” Barden said of his daughter, now 16.

“She was having an anxiety attack at the movie theater," he said. "She was afraid she was going to get shot. That shouldn’t be normal.”

“You can’t say ‘You’ll be okay, don’t worry,’ ... she has every right to have that concern and I don’t know what to say,” Barden told ABC News.

He said he places his greatest hope in the notion that future generations won't be subject to the kind of horror and fear his own children have endured.

“I do feel like, ‘Hang in there, Natalie, we’re on it.’… Natalie’s kids won’t have to worry about being shot in the movie theater or being shot at the beach,” he said.

Hockley said that the group believes that gun violence prevention is a two-generation campaign, and she hopes that the invigorated students who have become vocal advocates in the wake of the Parkland shooting will help lead to massive, sweeping change.

“Now that the Parkland student leaders have given voice to youth… that’s powerful, so that’s why we’re seeing more movement and more noise,” she said.

“I would love for Sandy Hook Promise not to exist," she said. "My goal in life is to put this organization out of business."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

MattGush/iStock(YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio) -- Five children have died following a house fire in Youngstown, Ohio, local fire officials said.

Arson is not suspected in the Sunday night blaze, officials said.

Youngstown is just miles from the Pennsylvania border.

Additional details were not immediately available.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(CORAL SPRINGS, Fla.) -- Broward County Schools has pulled an assignment asking 9th graders whether they think suspected Parkland gunman Nicholas Cruz should die.

The worksheet, titled "Does Nikolas Cruz deserve to die," was given to ninth-grade students at Coral Glades High School in Coral Springs Friday and was provided by an academic subscription service by the Scholastic Corporation -- an Oct. 8 article on capital punishment from The New York Times' Upfront Magazine included with it, ABC Miami affiliate WPLG-TV reported.

The assignment, formatted as a quiz with multiple choice answers, included questions such as "What does the Eighth amendment prohibit" and "Why did states start using lethal injection in the 1980s?"

Cameron Kasky, a junior at the time of the shooting and one of the founders of the March For Our Lives movement, wrote on Twitter that Broward County Schools should be "ashamed."

"I cannot express how pathetic I find this," he wrote.

This worksheet was given to students in @BrowardSchools. I cannot begin to express how pathetic I find this. Our school
board should add this to the list of 1000 reasons to be ashamed.

— Cameron Kasky (@cameron_kasky) December 7, 2018

Kasky was quoted in one of the questions on the assignment, which read, "In the article, Cameron Kasky says, 'Let him rot forever.' His tone can best be described as ___." The multiple choice answers provided were, "angry," "fearful," "gloomy" and "truthful."

Coral Glades High School is less than 5 miles, a mere 10-minute drive, from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 17 students and staff were killed on Valentine's Day when Cruz allegedly opened fire into multiple classrooms.

Broward County Schools apologized for the "assignment with insensitive content" in a statement on its website, saying it was pulled and that school administration was unaware of the content.

"The material was from a subscription-based publication, used as a curriculum resource," the statement read. "The school's leadership has pulled the assignment, is instituting an approved review process of all such materials and regrets that this incident occurred. Broward County Public Schools is working with the publishers to make them aware of our concerns."

ABC News could not immediately reach a spokesperson for the Scholastic Corporation for comment.

Cruz is currently awaiting trial and faces the death penalty, if convicted.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rosanell Eaton, a voting rights advocate and one of the first African Americans to vote in her home state of North Carolina, died in hospice care at home over the weekend, her family said. She was 97.

Eaton, once celebrated by former President Barack Obama as an "unsung American hero," lived through Jim Crow laws and spent most of her life battling racial inequality.

Eaton was born April 14, 1921, and cast her first ballot in 1942 at the age of 21. She was forced to recite the preamble to the Constitution from memory and pass a literacy test before she could register -- a common tactic used to disenfranchise minorities.

"Yet more than 70 years ago, as she defiantly delivered the Preamble to our Constitution, Rosanell also reaffirmed its fundamental truth," Obama wrote in a letter to The New York Times in 2015. "I am where I am today only because men and women like Rosanell Eaton refused to accept anything less than a full measure of equality. Their efforts made our country a better place. It is now up to us to continue those efforts." 

We’re saddened by the death of Mother RosaNell Eaton. Mrs. Eaton was the Matriarch of the Forward Together Moral Movement. Mother Eaton was the lead plaintiff in the Historic NC NAACP v McCrory Voting Rights Case. She fought tirelessly to protecting our precious right to vote.

— North Carolina Poor People's Campaign (@NC_PPC) December 9, 2018

Eaton, who grew up on a small farm and attended segregated schools in Franklin County, North Carolina, remained devoted to voting rights up until the last decade of her life.

She was in her 90s when she agreed to be a lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging H.B. 589, a discriminatory North Carolina voting law backed by the state Republicans in 2013.

A three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down key parts of the law in 2016, calling it unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court let the judgement stand in a 4-4 vote a month later and it refused to hear an appeal to revive the case.

In a 2016 interview with Duke University, Armenta Eaton, the activist's only surviving child, said the legal battle broke her mother's heart.

"I could see why my mother was so sad about it, all of this is coming back," Armenta Eaton said. "Because when you live through Jim Crow, segregation, integration and then it's segregating under the cover again. And I've lived through segregation, integration and then this is another type, and then it seems like a lot of people don't realize that a history forgotten is bound to be repeated."

That said, her mother was never deterred.

"I never heard my mother say she was afraid," she added.

North Carolina's NAACP chapter recognized Rosanell Eaton's death in a tweet early Sunday morning, calling her the matriarch of its movement.

"We celebrate her commitment and her conviction. We celebrate her righteousness and her resolve," the organization said in a statement. "What an inspiration it was to watch her lead the way for us to fight and win the monstrous voter suppression bill of all. Mother Eaton kept her eye on the prize."

The entire NC State Conference of Branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is called to a most solemn moment. With news of the transition of Mother Rosa Nell Eaton the 94 year old Matriarch of our movement (1 of 3)

— North Carolina NAACP (@ncnaacp) December 9, 2018

The North Carolina Poor People's Campaign also celebrated the elder Eaton on Twitter.

"We're saddened by the death of Mother Rosanell Eaton. Mrs. Eaton was the Matriarch of the Forward Together Moral Movement," the organization said. "She fought tirelessly to protecting our precious right to vote."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Pgiam/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Christine Franke was a 25-year-old college student when she was shot dead in her Orlando, Florida apartment on Oct. 21, 2001.

Though DNA was left behind at the crime scene, years went by without an arrest.

The killing and the wait for justice devastated her mother and relatives.

"It's a terrible thing not knowing," said her mother, Tina Franke. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody."

But all that changed in November when a suspect was arrested after police say he was identified through genetic genealogy.

"After all this time, I wasn't sure we would ever find out," Tina Franke told ABC News weeks after the arrest. "They had DNA all along and just nobody ever matched up. I thought, you know, possibly he would be dead. How can you live 17 years under the radar?"

A new law enforcement tool arrives on the scene

Genetic genealogy only got on the public radar in April after the first public arrest through this DNA-and-family-tracing technique.

Since then, genetic genealogy has helped lead to 24 other suspect identifications, according to genetic genealogy expert CeCe Moore.

Moore is a chief genetic genealogist with Parabon NanoLabs, the company that's worked on the majority of the cold cases cracked through genetic genealogy this year.

Parabon has made 23 successful DNA identifications this year -- including in the Christine Franke killing. Two other cases not connected to Parabon were also publicly solved this year through genetic genealogy, Moore said.

Through genetic genealogy, an unknown killer's DNA from a crime scene can be identified through his or her family members, who voluntarily submit their DNA to a genealogy database. This allows police to create a much larger family tree than using law enforcement databases like the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, in which an exact match is needed in most states, CeCe Moore said.

"In a genetic genealogy database we can reverse engineer the [suspect's family] tree from their distant" relatives who have submitted DNA, Moore told ABC News. "So it doesn't matter that they haven't had their DNA tested through another arrest or crime scene, we don't need their DNA. We need somebody from their family to have tested in order to resolve these cases."

Parabon's cracked cases range from the 1986 rape and murder of a 12-year-old Washington state girl to the 1988 killing of an 8-year-old girl in Indiana, where the unsolved slaying had "haunted the community" for 30 years, according to the prosecutor.

But Moore called solving Christine Franke's 2001 killing the longest genetic genealogy case she has worked on, citing the suspect's large family and difficult-to-trace family tree.

Michael Fields, a detective with the Orlando Police Department who worked the Franke case, partnered with Moore this summer.

Fields said they began with two relatives of Christine Franke's unknown killer who had voluntarily submitted their DNA to GEDmatch -- a third-party genealogy database that permits people to upload their DNA -- to find other family members.

From there, tracing the massive family tree began, Fields told ABC News.

Eventually, Fields said he interviewed family members of the unknown suspect and zeroed in on one woman who had two sons in Orlando.

The woman voluntarily gave her DNA to police -- and that sample confirmed she was the mother of Franke's suspected killer, Fields said.

Investigators then narrowed the search down to one of the two sons -- Benjamin Holmes.

Police placed Holmes under surveillance and took a sample of his DNA from a discarded cigar butt, Fields said. The DNA on that cigar matched the DNA left behind by the suspected killer at the Christine Franke scene, Fields said.

The moment Fields learned of the match "was a feeling that I thought I would never have," he said.

And sharing the news with Christine Franke's mother was "more emotional than learning for myself," Fields added.

For Tina Franke, the news brought an overwhelming wave of relief.

"I couldn't believe it finally happened," she said.

When Holmes was taken into custody in November, he "denied having any knowledge or being near the crime scene," Orlando police said.

Holmes entered a plea of not guilty. His public defender, Robert Wesley, told ABC News, "We don't discuss clients or their cases without explicit consent and directions to do so from the client."

'Golden State Killer' opens the floodgates

The moment Fields realized genetic genealogy was the potential key to solving the Christine Franke killing was when he saw the April arrest of the suspected "Golden State Killer," he said.

The "Golden State Killer" case was the first public arrest this year linked to genetic genealogy, Moore said, though Parabon was not involved in the investigation.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the "Golden State Killer" was believed to have committed over a dozen murders and multiple rapes in Northern and Southern California, instilling fear in families, young women and suburban neighborhoods.

As the years went by, his crimes seemingly stopped -- but police kept investigating.

In the early 2000s, authorities obtained the unknown killer's DNA at one crime scene: the 1980 double murder of Lyman and Charlene Smith, who were bludgeoned to death at their Ventura County home.

Investigators then started reviewing rape kits -- which contained DNA samples from victims -- in other counties, said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.

This year, investigators plugged the mystery killer's DNA into the genealogy website GEDmatch.

Based on the pool of people on GEDmatch, investigators built a family tree of the unknown killer’s relatives who had submitted their DNA to the database on their own.

Authorities narrowed the search based on age, location and other characteristics, leading them to 72-year-old former police officer Joseph DeAngelo.

Investigators placed DeAngelo under surveillance and eventually collected his DNA from a tissue left in a trash. They then plugged his discarded DNA back into the genealogy database and found a match, linking DeAngelo's DNA to the DNA gathered at multiple "Golden State Killer" crime scenes, Schubert said.

DeAngelo, accused of 13 murders and other charges, is awaiting trial in Sacramento County. He has yet to enter a plea.

His public defender declined to comment to ABC News about the genetic genealogy component of the case.

Privacy concerns

As genetic genealogy cracks more and more cases, its use is also drawing criticism from some civil liberties advocates who say it unfairly gives up the privacy of law-abiding people because of their family members.

"Our DNA is essentially like a blueprint to ourselves," said Vera Eidelman, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "DNA can tell us about hereditary diseases potentially, our ancestry... there are already attempts to tie genetic information to personality traits, to mental health, to other predictors of life outcomes. So giving that deeply detailed information over to government investigators is troubling in that it just exposes so much information about ourselves."

Eidelman said the use of genetic genealogy by law enforcement "compounds the privacy harms and concerns in terms of one person's genetic material actually disclosing information about so many others -- including people who are no longer alive, people who have yet to be alive."

"It's a frustrating position to be in, because we should be able to enjoy the benefits of technology ... without having to fear that that information will then go into the hands of the government or others," Eidelman said.

Eidelman said setting guidelines now for what is acceptable is imperative as the use of genetic genealogy by law enforcement increases.

"It may end up being the case when you're thinking you're sharing information for only one purpose, the reality may be that that information gets used for very different things than what you intended to share it for," she said.

But Moore stressed that direct-to-consumer DNA companies, including AncestryDNA and 23AndMe, do not allow their DNA samples to be searched by authorities.

Those companies, however, do allow users to download their raw data. And third-party genealogy databases like GEDmatch permit people to upload their DNA information, making the samples widely available for searches -- and that's how genetic genealogists have been cracking these cold cases.

"The only way your DNA can be used for our purposes is if you go through the steps of downloading it and uploading it to GED Match," Moore stressed. "We're not using your DNA unless you've gone through that process."

"People give their permission when they go on our site," added GEDmatch co-founder Curtis Rogers. "We make it very clear to them that law enforcement is involved and if you have any concerns, do not put your information on our site."

"Privacy is not lost by anyone on GEDmatch. No DNA is visible on GEDmatch," Rogers told ABC News. "The people who would have their privacy lost would be someone who is a direct family member."

He said he's received emails from family members of criminals -- including the daughter of a serial killer -- who want their DNA included on GEDmatch to potentially help solve cold cases.

Moore agreed.

"A lot of people are uploading to GEDmatch for the expressed purpose of helping us resolve more of these cold cases," Moore said. "I understand the privacy concerns, but I think in this particular argument the good to society, to individuals, far outweighs the risks."

"For me, it's all about the families," Moore said. "We can't fix the damage ... we can only help give some answers and peace."

Tina Franke said she's "all for" law enforcement's use of genetic genealogy.

"Maybe it's not fair to invade privacy, but he invaded my whole life," Tina Franke said of her daughter's suspected killer. "He changed my life in the blink of an eye. And if it can help catch a criminal, that's more important to me than anything."

'It's going to be a game changer'

Now that genetic genealogy is in the hands of authorities, Fields, who called it "an unbelievable tool," predicts "it's going to be a game changer in how we do business."

But the Orlando detective added, "Not everyone is going to have the opportunity to use it, because it's expensive, time-consuming and it can be really difficult."

"I just hope that people use it and can solve as many cases as they can," he said.

To Tina Franke, genetic genealogy's biggest strength is its ability to give answers, and possibly closure.

"I hope it helps another family who is struggling with similar circumstances," Franke said. "I would want the same relief for them as we felt."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Colleen Gill(NAPLES, Fla.) --  Colleen Gill walks the beaches in Naples, Florida regularly, a scarf or mask covering her mouth and armed with a camera and cell phone.

For months Gill has been documenting the effects of the red tide, specifically dozens and dozens of dead fish, eel and dolphins that have washed up on the beach.

"The entire food chain is impacted now. We've had six months of consecutive fish dying," Gill said.

Gill said she decided to start showing people what was happening on the beach after she attended a demonstration of activists holding hands on the beach to bring attention to issues impacting the ocean.

"We had a big giant eel wash up behind us that day," she told ABC News.

Gill has lived in Naples for years and vacationed there regularly for 20 years before that. She's watched for years as algae blooms plagued the coast, but between human contributions and climate change the issue seems to have gotten worse, she said.

"The canary in the coal mine has literally died," she said.

Harmful algae blooms known as red tide occur naturally but scientists say it could be aggravated by warm water temperatures and more acidic oceans attributed to climate change. Residents say this one, which has lasted almost 14 months, is unusual and has killed more animals than it normally would.

While Gill attributes the severity of this year's red tide to the changing climate, local Republicans aren't convinced of the connection.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, now a senator-elect, declared a state of emergency earlier this year and allocated millions of dollars for cleanup and response. But critics say his support for loosening environmental regulations are part of why the algae blooms have been so bad over the last year and cost the state millions of dollars in tourism revenue.

Members of Florida's congressional delegation on both sides of the aisle have also pushed for more federal money to study red tide and health threats from harmful algae blooms.

Scott has also blamed Democrats in Washington, saying they haven't pushed for better federal management of the areas around Lake Okeechobee.

Activists disagree and say the state should focus on solutions to protect Florida's environment.

"It’s horrendous, there’s dead fish everywhere, the seagrass is dead. You’re witnessing full ecological collapse from the very bottom of the food chain all the way to the top," Daniel Andrews, executive director of the advocacy group Captains for Clean Water, told ABC News in an August interview. "Although red tide is natural, it’s not natural for it to be this severe.”

The red tide chokes the ocean's oxygen levels and releases a toxin that can poison fish. It's been going on so long that the effects are now suspected of killing animals like dolphins and birds that ate contaminated fish.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 123 dolphins have stranded as a result of the red tide since November 2017 and the red tide is suspected of contributing to the deaths of more than 200 manatees that swam in the bloom area or ate seagrass that contained the toxin.

Gill has posted videos of dolphins that she encounters during her patrols on the beach, even sometimes showing her emotional response. In one video posted earlier this month, Gill said she found seven beached dolphins in 24 hours.

"When is this going to stop?" Gill tearfully asks in the video. "We are killing our paradise and our beaches, people."

As Gill and other advocates bring attention to the algae bloom's impact on wildlife, they're concerned this year's event is a sign of what's to come and that as climate change causes warmer temperatures and more severe rain there could be more dangerous algae blooms that continue to persist in the future.

Gill said Florida is the epicenter of climate change in America but that the state government doesn't acknowledge the issue. Gov. Rick Scott has been accused of banning the use of the phrase "climate change" in his administration.

"Literally the day I was crying over a dolphin last week was the day Trump was coming out saying, 'I don't believe it,'" Gill said of the recently released national climate report.

But the red tide is only one of two ecological disasters impacting Florida waters, both of which activists say are made worse by a lack of regulation from the state and warming waters attributed to climate change.

While the red tide threatens animals that rely on the ocean off Florida's coast, a mucky blue/green algae resembling pea soup has invaded Florida's freshwater from Lake Okeechobee to canals in part of the state.

The red tide is made worse by excess nutrients in the water and warmer water temperatures but it does occur naturally almost every year, typically starting in the Gulf of Mexico and moving toward shore under certain weather conditions.

The blue/green algae bloom, however, is more directly connected to nutrients in fertilizer like nitrogen and phosphorous. When it rains or water flows over the soil where the nutrients weren't absorbed it can facilitate the growth of blue/green algae, also called cyanobacteria.

Both algae blooms are harmful to the environment and release toxins that can pose a threat to human health.

The cyanobacteria that make up the bloom release a toxin that can be harmful and even fatal for people or animals that ingest it. Exposure to the toxin has also been linked to degenerative diseases like ALS.

Red tide toxins aren't deadly and the state says swimming in affected water is generally safe, but the toxin can cause skin irritation or breathing problems, especially for people with asthma or COPD. The toxins can also accumulate in fish or shellfish that can be poisonous to people who eat contaminated seafood.

Activists and residents say the state hasn't done enough to combat the harm from the algae blooms, and that policy rollbacks from Republican politicians have made the situation worse. They say that nutrients in the water from untreated sewage and fertilizer runoff has fed the algae and made them worse than it would be if the state had stricter rules about releasing pollution that could flow into rivers and lakes.

Rae Ann Wessel, natural resource policy director for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Association, said those nutrients are why the state needs rules on how stormwater is treated and how fertilizer can be used to limit how much of those nutrients are released into the state's water and limit the fuel for these algae blooms.

"The fix ultimately is that we have to control nutrients at their source, and there's a whole variety of sources. The good news is we know what those sources are, we have solutions and fixes for these sources, what we need is the political will, funding, commitment, and leadership. And that's a pretty big ball of wax," she told ABC News.

But even though some cities have tried to update regulations that patchwork of rules and lacking enforcement make it difficult to find one solution to the problem. And as climate change leads to longer rain events and more severe storms cities will have to adapt to how to handle all that water.

"These aren't federal issues, these are state issues that they rolled back or stopped enforcing with the idea that its good for business to have less regulation," said Rae Ann Wessel, natural resource policy director for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Association.

"You can ask any of the chambers [of commerce] that I'm working with and this is not good for business, and there's no end in sight, and its scary."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

FIU(MIAMI) -- A South Florida college student who became confined to a wheelchair after suffering a debilitating spinal injury was able to walk during his graduation ceremony.

Venezuela native Aldo Amenta broke his neck when he dove into the shallow end of a swimming pool in 2015, he said in a video released by Florida International University. Doctors declared him a quadriplegic after the accident, he added.

Amenta's life "changed completely" after he was paralyzed, he said.

"Now, I depend on a lot of people to help me do my daily activities," he said. "So, that's become a huge challenge in just my everyday life."

The challenges were so difficult that Amenta considered dropping out of school, he said. But, with the help of his loved ones and a scholarship from the Miami-based university, Amenta was able to focus on his studies and eventually graduate, he said.

 On Sunday, Amenta, who has since regained some movement in his limbs, needed only a hoist out of his chair before he was able to take the steps on his own -- with the help of an exoskeleton on his legs and torso-- to retrieve his diploma.

Amenta had to practice with the exoskeleton for several hours before he was able to perform the walk, ABC Miami affiliate WPLG-TV reported. He graduate with a degree in electrical engineering, according to WPLG.

Applause from the audience rang out as Amenta took each determined step across the stage, shaking hands with school administrators along the path, video shows.

Amenta described the moment as "amazing," saying that the walk symbolized his ability to continue fulfilling his dreams despite the accident that changed the course of his life.

The college graduate emphasized how perseverance allowed him to stay on track in achieving his goals.

"It doesn't matter how hard you think things are going to be," he said. "Maybe you feel that it is impossible for you to make it, but you'll find people that are willing to help you...that motivated me. That gave me the strength to be able to continue to push myself through and stay positive."

Next on Amenta's to-do list is to pursue a master's degree and to "keep on working on my rehabilitation, working for my dream to get back on my feet," he said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed ANGELES) -- Two nuns at a Catholic church in Southern California are suspected of embezzling up to $500,000 in school funds, allegedly using some of the money to go on trips and gamble at casinos, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told ABC News.

The nuns, Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang, had been "involved in the personal use of a substantial amount" of school funds "over a period of years," Monsignor Michael Meyers, pastor for the St. James Catholic School in Redondo Beach -- about 20 miles southwest of Los Angeles -- wrote in a letter to parents on Nov. 28.

The money came from tuition, school fees and donations and was taken while the nuns allegedly made parents believe that the school was operating on a shoestring budget, The Press-Telegram, a Long Beach, California-based newspaper, reported.

School administration noticed the alleged scam after performing financial reviews "in connection with a change in leadership" at the school, Meyers wrote. The half million-dollar figure represents only what auditors have been able to trace in six years' worth of bank records and may not include cash transaction, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told parents at an alumni meeting last week, according to The Press-Telegram.

Both Kreuper, the school principal, and Chang, a teacher, retired earlier this year, according to The Press-Telegram. A standard audit procedure was initiated about six months ago, ahead of Kreuper's retirement after 28 years of working at the school, the local newspaper reported.

Around that time, school staff noticed that a check made out to the school had been deposited into a different bank account after a family happened to request a copy of the check, according to The Press-Telegram. Kreuper then became "very nervous and very anxious" about the financial review and requested that staff alert records, and Meyers alerted an archdiocese internal auditor performing the review that "something was off," Meyers said at the alumni meeting.

 The auditor later confirmed Meyers' suspicions, he said at the alumni meeting. In addition, a tip was made to an archdiocese ethics hotline, The Press-Telegram reported.

"They used the account as their personal account," an attorney for the archdiocese said during the alumni meeting, adding that they had a "pattern" of going on trips and to casinos, according to the local newspaper.

Kreuper allegedly handled all checks made out to the school for tuition and fees and before handling them over to the bookkeeping for processing, auditors said at the alumni meeting, The Press-Telegram reported. Kreuper would allegedly hold some of the checks and deposit them into a "long forgotten" bank account opened in 1997 that only she and Chang knew about, auditors said. Those checks would then be endorsed with a stamp that read "St. James Convent" instead of "St. James School," according to the local newspaper.

Although Meyers initially wrote in his letter that the Archdiocese did not wish to pursue criminal proceedings, the spokesperson for the archdiocese told ABC News Sunday that it plans on pursuing the matter as a criminal case now that the investigation has deepened. Other staff members at the church were not implicated, Meyers wrote in his letter to parents.

ABC News could not immediately reach a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office for comment.

 The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the order to which Kreuper and Chang belong -- has agreed to arrange for full restitution of the funds, Meyers said. The order will also impose "appropriate penalties and sanctions" on the sisters, in accordance with the policies of the order, Meyers wrote. ABC News could not immediately reach the order for comment.

The accused nuns feel a "deep remorse" for their actions and are asking for "forgiveness and prayers," Meyers wrote in his letter to parents.

"They and their Order pray that you have not lost trust or faith in the educators and administrators of the school," Meyers wrote in his letter to parents. "Let us pray for our school families and for Sister Mary Margaret and Sister Lana."

St. James Catholic School has initiated additional procedures and oversight policies for financial management and reporting responsibilities, Meyers said.

No student or program has "suffered any loss of educational resources, opportunities, or innovations" as a result of the misappropriation of funds, Meyers wrote, emphasizing to parents that their children's education "has not and will not be affected by these events."

ABC News could not reach Kreuper or Chang for comment. It is unclear if they have retained attorneys.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Okeechobee Police Department (NEW YORK) --  Surveillance video shows the dramatic moment an elderly woman in Florida was almost run over by a driver who allegedly had just stolen her purse.

The woman had walked outside of a McDonald's in Okeechobee to confront the suspected thief on Thursday night when she was injured, according to the Okeechobee Police Department.

A surveillance camera outside the restaurant captured the man, clad in khaki shorts and a light-colored baseball cap, pulling up to the restaurant in a silver hatchback, a passenger in the front seat.

The man then entered the McDonald's and less than a minute later is seen running out toward his car with an object in his right hand.

The suspect then opened the driver's side door and got into the car as the woman chased him out of the restaurant, the video showed. When she got to the car, she opened the door, but the man continued to back out of the parking space, dragging the woman before she fell on the ground, the front tires missing her by just inches as the car was put in reverse. The suspect then drove away.

The extent of the woman's injuries was unclear.

Another surveillance video taken inside the restaurant shows the woman sitting in a booth with another person as the man approaches her from behind. The man then reaches over from the table behind and snatches the purse, located on the inside of the booth, and runs away, the woman following him as he exits the restaurant.

The suspect was arrested on Saturday, police said.

Additional details were not immediately available.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Apple App
Android App


DRIVE Weather

More DRIVE Rock News
DRIVE Sports Updates
Breaking News
TheDRIVE Recommends