<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:14:10 -0500 Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:14:10 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Suspected Serial Killer Used Online Advertising Site to Meet Victim]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:11:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/220*120/hardy+backpage+investigates.jpg

Murder victim Afrikka Hardy’s ad on Backpage.com is one of thousands posted daily to the website offering sex for money.

The 19-year-old woman was one of seven women, all sex workers, found dead in Northwest Indiana over the weekend, the victims of a suspected serial killer.

At this point, officials say the website, an online classified advertising site allowing ads for “adult services,” is legal, and very lucrative.

According to Aimgroup, which tracks online activity and revenue, in May of 2013 the website took in $4.5 million.

Police say Darren Vann answered Hardy’s ad then killed her during “rough sex” in a motel room in Hammond. He was charged in her murder Monday, officials said.

In January, Alisha Walker posted an ad for sex online. She’s now accused of killing the man who answered the ad, Brother Rice teacher Alan Filan.

In an ongoing NBC 5 Investigates series on sex trafficking in the Chicago area in April, a young prostitute talked of posting an ad on packpage, and getting raped.

“Backpage has become sort of a leader now in facilitating prostitution,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Dart and Senator Mark Kirk, along with attorney generals from 49 states, have fought to have Backpage take down the ads, but have so far had no luck.

Backpage says it is protected by the communications decency act, which was intended to stop online sites from being sued because content posted on their sites. They’ve successfully fought challenged, but that could change.

A case filed against Backpage by three teenagers trafficked allegedly through the site, is being heard by the Washington State Supreme Court.

An attorney for Backpage declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Kirk has also introduced legislation that would make it illegal to sell sex trade advertising. The legislation is now in committee and similar legislation has passed the house.

<![CDATA[Field Museum Exhibit Dispels "Vodou" Myths]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:26:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009334413_1200x675_345947715925.jpg 10/21/2014: The Field Museum's "Voduo: Sacred Powers of Haiti" aims to dispel myths surrounding the powerful religion. NBC's LeeAnn Trotter reports.]]> <![CDATA[Cupich Won't Be Living in Cardinal's Mansion: Sources]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:27:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Blase_Cupich_9-22.jpg

Chicago’s new Archbishop Blasé Cupich has said “stay tuned” about where he will live when he moves to Chicago, but several sources tell NBC 5 Cupich has made a decision to not live in what’s known as the Cardinal’s Mansion in the Gold Coast.

Instead, Cupich will move to the rectory at Holy Name Cathedral, sources said. 

While The Archdiocese of Chicago will not officially confirm that Cupich has made a decision, insisting he’s still looking at all possibilitie, the decision wouldn't be out of character for Cupich.

In Spokane, Cupich lives at the seminary on the campus of Gonzaga University. His decision to live in the rectory is similar in style to Pope Francis choosing to make his residence at the Casa Santa Marta, rather than the Apostolic Palace. Of course, the Pope holds meetings and greets heads of state at the Palace. Perhaps that will be what the future holds for the Cardinal’s Residence.

An apartment has already been prepared for Cardinal Francis George at a separate residence, next door to Holy Name, at Casa Jesus. He says he plans to move there, depending on “his health status.”

George had considered selling the mansion at one point to raise scholarship money for Catholic education.

“It’s a good question, I’m sure it will be raised,” he said.

The mansion, worth more than $14 million, is more than 125 years old, has 19 chimneys and four priests live there with the Cardinal. Receptions and private meetings are often held there.

<![CDATA[Obama Forgot to Clean His Chicago Home Before Leaving For Washington]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:18:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/203*120/obamalax.jpg

President Barack Obama says his home on Chicago's South Side is a 2008-era time warp of sorts, with old newspapers and unpaid bills left behind in the First Family's move to DC six years ago.

"We always thought we'd be back every month and we'd kind of get everything in order and filed, and it hasn't happened," he told The Associated Press Monday night, at a fundraiser for Illinois Democrats. "But it's useful, actually, to take a look at some of these old articles to remind ourselves of where we were when we took office and to think about the progress we've made."

According to the AP, the president—who's reportedly looking to make his home base New York City, not Chicago, when he leaves the White House—took some time in between midterm-campaign obligations to revisit the Hyde Park mansion he and Michelle Obama bought in 2005.

On Sunday night, he headlined a rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at Chicago State University, attracting more than 6,000 supporters and imploring them to vote early. Obama himself cast a ballot the next morning, when he jokingly teased a guy who said, "Mr. President, don't touch my girlfriend."

(For the record, he would not reveal whether he checked off the box for Quinn or GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner; let's all take a wild guess and assume the former. Election Day is Nov. 4, but early voting has commenced here and Obama—still revered in his adopted hometown—is eagerly recruited by local politicians to help their campaigns.

Non-Illinoisians running for office and/or hoping to hold onto their Washington posts—especially in the Senate—have distanced themselves from the president, who's less popular late in his second term.)

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[The 11 Biggest Quinn-sults and Rauner Rips From Last Night's Debate]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:12:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/quinn-rauner-wls-debates.jpg

Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican opponent Bruce Rauner squared off Monday night in their final debate before the Nov. 4 election. Per usual in this wildly hostile, closely matched gubernatorial showdown, things got more than a little testy as the two attacked each other's leadership skills and moral character. Eleven of their most toxic Quinn-sults and Rauner rips, from the F-word to the B-word and everything in between:

1. "He's a failure. Governor Quinn has failed. He's failed on what matters. ... Pat Quinn has been a disaster." — Rauner, dropping the F-word with merciless abandon.

2. "Pat Quinn's a PHONY."

3. "He's a champion name caller." — Quinn, on his rival's nonstop failure-and-phony disses.

4. "I'm running against a billionaire. ... Savage, radical, extreme cuts." — Quinn, deploying his favorite B-word to cast Rauner as an out-of-touch Mr. Burns cartoon villain.

5. "We have a massive economic failure in Illinois. Gov. Quinn, he’s running on scare tactics. ... The truth is Illinois is failing on jobs, failing on taxes." — Rauner.

6. "You’ve got to take on hard things, tough things, on behalf of the common good. My opponent is all about easy street." — Quinn.

7. "He's a phony on the minimum wage. He's playing political football." — Rauner.

8. "He has a plan to give himself a million-dollar tax cut while slashing the education budget of this state. I’m against giving tax cuts to the wealthy and hurting our schools.” — Quinn.

9. "Let me be clear, you don’t judge a person’s heart by the size of their wallet." — Rauner.

10. "You are taking the African American vote for granted. You had a superstar who could have been your lieutenant governor: Stephanie Neely." — Rauner, referencing the outgoing Chicago Treasurer, who resigned her post for a job in the private sector.

11. "My question is 'Where’d ya look?'" — Quinn, addressing Rauner's past remarks that his private equity firm had not hired African-Americans because he couldn't find any who were qualified.

<![CDATA[The Chicago GOP's Chris Cleveland Sounds Off on Quinn, Rahm and Daley]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:09:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lucky-the-elephant-flickr.jpg

As Illinois' GOP gubernatorial contender Bruce Rauner focuses attention on Democratic Chicago, the state's most powerful voting bloc and one cornered by incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, the Chicagoan who heads up the city's Republican Party—yes, it actually exists—says he thinks the wealthy Winnetka investor stands a decent chance at winning over at least some voters in a one-party town.

"If we here in Chicago get 25 percent, then we've hit our numbers," Chris Cleveland, vice chairman of the Chicago Republican Party and 43rd Ward committeeman, told Ward Room in a recent interview. "Thirty percent would be outstanding. That would really mean something. Getting 30 percent is definitely a stretch."

Ald. Michele Smith, a Democrat, oversees Ward 43, which spans the tony North Side nabes of Lincoln Park, Old Town and the Gold Coast. Cleveland, her GOP foil, is hosting uber-conservative Texas tea party Sen. Ted Cruz at a DePaul University breakfast funder on Wednesday to raise money for local Republican candidates. (Cruz, who may run for president in 2016, no doubt aims to hustle up campaign cash from well-heeled Chicago supporters while he's here.)

Meanwhile, Rauner, who's steering clear of the polarizing Cruz ahead of Election Day, isn't exactly hurting on the financial front: He raised $20.5 million last quarter, ending it with $3.5 milion cash on hand. He's poured a large chunk of that dough (which includes millions from his own deep pockets) into Windy City-centric media attacks upon the governor, specifically targeting Quinn-fatigued Democratic swing voters and independents as well as African-Americans frustrated with the status quo. (Quinn on Sunday got some welcome campaign love from President Barack Obama, who urged the largely black crowd at a South Side rally to support the party at the ballot box Nov. 4.)

"Bruce Rauner is making a very big push into black neighborhoods. He's opened some offices. He's got people on the street. He has endorsements from a number of ministers. You know, a lot of the thought leaders are starting to say, 'Hey, we've been loyal Democrats for a long time and what has it got us?'" said Cleveland.

Touting Rauner's strength in the 43rd, won by ex-Republican Gov. George Ryan in 1998, Cleveland said: "That was the No. 1 ward for him during the (March) primary. He got 68 percent of the vote. And he's got a real appeal. Because he's (fiscally conservative) on the economic issues and he's moderate on social issues, which reflects the ward."

Other potential pockets of voters who could destabilize Quinn's grip on the city—and tip the balance of the election outside of it—exist in wards 42 (Loop-centric), 32 (Lakeview/Wicker Park) and 41 (near O'Hare), which is "white, ethnic, working-class, lot of private trade union people, cops, firefighters. And those are swing voters," he declared.

Asked about Rauner's recent public missteps, which include owning up to having previously pitched the idea of eliminating the minimum wage altogether, among other bouts of foot-in-mouth-disease, Cleveland insisted voters' personal priorities supercede all the bad PR.

"The Democrats have engaged in class warfare since the days of Andrew Jackson. It's an old, old, old game that they play," he said. "But ultimately, people care about their families, their community and whether they have a job. And when people look objectively at the two candidates, and they realize that Quinn has messed up the state in embarrassing different ways over the last eight years, and that Bruce Rauner has the credentials to bring business and jobs to our different neighborhoods ... you know, they'll vote their own interest."

Cleveland's claws come out, big-time, on the subject of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who seeks a second term in 2015. His biggest competitor thus far? Political progressive Bob Fioretti, the 2nd Ward alderman. His least threatening competition? GOP spotlight-chaser William Kelly.

"He's a pretty terrible mayor. He is fully part of the Machine. He operates slush funds, particularly the TIF funds, for his own benefit," sniped Cleveland, adding: "He's just a sad, sad mayor."

Reps for Quinn and Emanuel did not immediately respond to Ward Room's request for comment.

Despite Emanuel's pro-business streak, a quality Republicans would generally like, "He is not a conservative," lamented Cleveland. "He is a man who is completely, utterly inept and unable to confront the problems that we have—and on issue after issue after issue. Jobs. Controlling spending. Doing something about pensions. Handling public safety. Having some sort of reasonable school choice programs so we can pull CPS up. He's an utter failure on all of them. I mean, that's what people used to say about Daley too. 'Oh, he's really a Republican.' Well, that was utter nonsense about him. And even he was more conservative than Rahm Emanuel."

Does Cleveland have anybody lined up to challenge Rahm on the Republican ticket?

"I don't! Do you? ... Some people have been sniffing around it but no, I don't currently have a credible candidate."

Photo Credit: Flickr/Amanda Richards]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks' Goal Horn Rated as Best in NHL]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:04:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/495182647.jpg

While sports teams across North America have traditions involving songs (think “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Cubs games, or “Bear Down Chicago Bears” when the Bears score a touchdown), there is no sport that has embraced music quite like the NHL has.

That’s because all 30 teams not only have a unique goal horn that blares when their team scores, but they also have a song that goes along with it to enhance the celebration. The Chicago Blackhawks’ contribution to that tradition is a serious one, as they were the first team in the league to begin using a horn to punctuate goals.

It is perhaps not a surprise then that Sports Illustrated (with the help of the awesome website “We Just Scored”) has picked the Hawks’ goal horn and song as the best combo in the league. Here’s what they had to say about it:

“You can hate the Hawks, but there’s no denying The Fratellis and the hook-filled power pop glory of “Chelsea Dagger.” An inherently happy tune, it manages to convey a sense of “Yeah, we’re glad we just scored, but we’ve done it before…and we’ll do it again.””

The Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers, and Anaheim Ducks round out the top five, with the Florida Panthers bringing up the rear. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gary Police Search Abandoned Homes]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:11:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/222*120/vacant+gary+home.jpg

Officials have been searching abandoned homes in Gary, Indiana, for more victims of a suspected serial killer as they prepare to demolish thousands of vacant buildings.

While it remains unclear if there are in fact more victims, officials said they were checking the buildings slated for demolition to ensure that they are vacant.

Police say Darren D. Vann led police on a bloody scavenger hunt in Northwest Indiana, pointing them to bodies of several of his alleged victims scattered in basements and empty, run-down buildings, authorities said.

“We're getting calls from all over the country from relatives of missing individuals so we're trying to forward everything,” said Lake County Sheriff John Buncich. “In my 40 years of law enforcement, this is the worst I’ve seen.”

Police have connected Vann, 43, to seven victims and “we have no idea how many more” are out there, one detective said. Vann allegedly admitted to killings dating back 20 years.

Prosecutors charged him with murder and robbery Monday afternoon in connection with 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy’s death.

Gary police said Tuesday they were searching dozens of abandoned homes in the area.

“I have dispatched a team of officers along with a cadaver dog to the Glen Park and Mid-town sections of the city,” Police Chief Larry McKinley said in a statement. “The purpose of the search is to ensure that the structures are completely vacant, get them boarded up and place them on the list for demolition.”

Officials said a team of roughly 20 officers and a cadaver dog combed the areas of the 4300 blocks of Broadway, Massachusetts and Connecticut streets and the 2200 block of Massachusetts. They were expected to continue to search a four-block radius throughout the afternoon.

They had cleared more than 90 homes as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to authorities.

“We need our residents to feel safe and for them to know that their police department is out on the streets taking the measures to ensure this,” McKinley said.

While there's been much focus on the many vacant homes where the bodies were stashed, one resident says that's not the problem.

“If there weren’t the abandoned buildings, with the mindset he has, he still would’ve did what did,” said resident Andrea Watkins.

<![CDATA[Coroner Seeks Public's Help in Identifying Indiana Victims]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:11:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Darren+Deon+Vann+new.jpg

The Lake County coroner is asking for the public's help in identifying two more women whose bodies were among seven found in Indiana over the weekend.

One unidentified woman was found Sunday in the 400 block of 43rd Avenue in Gary. The woman was wearing a silver linked bracelet with “Best Aunt” on top, a silver ring with a heart shape and a silver ring with scalloped engravings. The woman was approximately 5-foot-3.

The other was found Sunday in the 4300 block of Massachusetts in Gary. She was wearing a pair of blue jeans by RUE21 and white Nike gym shoes. The individual was approximately 5 feet tall.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Lake County Coroner’s Office at 219-755-3265.

The coroner on Tuesday identified a woman found Sunday in the 4300 block of Massachusetts in Gary, Indiana, as 36-year-old Kristine Williams of Gary. Williams’ family has been notified, Coroner Merrilee Frey said, and her identity was confirmed.

An autopsy was performed Monday, but the manner and cause of her death are pending.  

Three other victims already have been identified: 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy, 35-year-old Anith Jones, 28-year-old Teairra Batey.

Darren Deon Vann, 43, of Gary, was charged with one count of murder, as well as murder in the perpetration of a robbery and robbery resulting in serious bodily harm, all related to Hardy's death.

Vann was moved Monday night to the Lake County (Indiana) Jail as charges were pending in other cases and as authorities continued the task of identifying the victims.

Though Vann hasn't yet been charged in the deaths of the other six women, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. told reporters Vann is "what I would label a serial killer."

Court records show Vann has been a registered sex offender in Texas since a September 2009 conviction.

Photo Credit: Lake County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Crawford Out vs. Flyers, Raanta to Start]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:05:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/177*120/456992758.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks will be looking to continue their solid start to the season Tuesday night when they tangle with the Philadelphia Flyers at the United Center, but they will be doing so without their starting goaltender as Corey Crawford will miss the game with an upper-body injury.

Antti Raanta will make his first start of the season Tuesday in place of Crawford, and backing him up will be Scott Darling, who was called up from the Rockford IceHogs. In two games this season in Rockford, Darling has a 2-0-0 record with a 1.44 GAA and a .948 save percentage. He also was perfect for the Blackhawks during the preseason, stopping all 27 shots he faced.

Crawford’s injury (or illness, depending on which member of the Hawks’ organization you’re listening to), comes on the heels of some really solid play to begin the year. He’s started all four games for the Blackhawks so far, posting a 3-0-1 record with a 1.66 GAA and a .926 save percentage. He’s especially looked good when the pressure has been at its highest, helping the Blackhawks to an opening night win over the Dallas Stars, so to lose him now is definitely an unwelcome surprise.

Raanta did play in both games against the Flyers last season, winning in Chicago and dropping an overtime decision in Philadelphia. He allowed five goals on 67 shots against in those two games. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man to President: "Don't Touch My Girlfriend"]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:54:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-vote-girlfriend-1.jpg

While taking part in Early Voting in Chicago on Monday, President Barack Obama was interrupted at his electronic polling station by a man with a lighthearted word-of-caution.

"Mr. President, don't touch my girlfriend," the man, later identified as Mike, quipped as he crossed the room.

Standing beside Obama at her own polling station was Mike's clearly embarrassed girlfriend, Aia Cooper.

"You know, I really wasn't really planning on it," Obama replied with a chuckle. "There's an example of a brother just embarrassing me for no reason."

Obama added: "Now you'll be going back home and talking to your friends about this. ... I can't believe Mike, he is such a fool."

After a moment the pair finished with their ballots and the president went toward Cooper for a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"Now you're really jealous," Obama said, smiling and pointing at Mike.

The president was in Chicago on Sunday and Monday attending fundraisers and offering support to Gov. Pat Quinn, who is in a challenging campaign against Republican Bruce Rauner.

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<![CDATA[Line Shuffle Continues as Versteeg Joins Second Line]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:30:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/486345985.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks will be getting forward Kris Versteeg back from injury on Tuesday night, and while his 2013-14 struggles with the team certainly have lowered his stock in the eyes of fans, head coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t share those concerns.

Rather than slotting him in on the third line with Brad Richards and Bryan Bickell like many observers figured he would, Quenneville has instead opted to put him with Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane on the second line for Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. That means Brandon Saad will be bumped down to the third line, and Jeremy Morin will be left fighting with Daniel Carcillo for a spot on the fourth line with Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger.

The initial reaction to the move is obviously one of intrigue. Saad and Kane have shown some excellent chemistry together, and while Saad’s numbers don’t necessarily back that up, one only need look back at the 2014 playoffs to see how well these two can work together. Their speed and passing ability complement one another perfectly, and Kane’s ability to carry the puck in, combined with Saad’s two-way ability as a forechecker and scorer, make them a formidable duo.

Even though all of those things are true, it might actually be for the betterment of the team to split them up for now. Richards and Bickell have been struggling in a big way the first four games of the season, getting stuck with some really tough matchups and failing to score as a result. Adding Saad to the mix should open up some space on the ice for them, and if Bickell can resume his net-crashing ways, Saad and Richards should benefit.

As for Versteeg, putting him on the second line is certainly a gamble, but it’s one that makes sense. While a guy like Morin or Smith could slide in if need be, Versteeg is looking to prove that last season’s struggles are behind him, and he’s looking to justify Stan Bowman’s faith in him with a big start to this year. That kind of motivation can drive a skilled player, and that definitely is something to keep an eye on when the team hits the ice Tuesday. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[City Continues to Walk Fine Line on Police Overtime]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:49:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/tlmd_rahm_emanuel_chapo_guzman_chicago.JPG

During the first day of City Council hearings on Mayor Emanuel’s 2015 budget proposals, City Budget Director Alexandria Holt revealed the city is once again spending millions of dollars beyond what was budgeted for police overtime.
Holt told aldermen the city expects to spend $95 million on police overtime this year, which is $23 million more than the $72 million already set aside.
It’s the second year in a row the city has exceeded its police overtime budget by millions. Last year, the city spent more than $100 million on police overtime after estimating it would spend $32 million.
The figures come amid growing concern in Chicago over the police department’s overall effectiveness in addressing spiraling shootings and murders, particularly in a number of poorer and more disadvantaged neighborhoods across the city.
In response to the city’s ongoing gun violence, community leaders, neighborhood activists and several alderman have called for the city to hire more police to patrol the streets and attack high crime areas. According to the city, 12,533 sworn positions are budgeted for 2015, including about 9,700 positions for beat officers.
A number of aldermen, including members of the Council’s Progressive Reform Caucus, have called for 500 additional police hires above and beyond what is currently budgeted.
“We need to find $50 million in the budget to fund the additional officers because as it is, [the police department] is understaffed,” Alderman Rick Munoz (22) told Ward Room. “If the city can find money for other projects, they can find the money for more officers.”
However, the Emanuel administration argues that hiring more police officers actually hurts the city’s budget more than simply asking existing officers to work more overtime. At Monday’s hearing, Holt said overtime costs less than hiring new officers, saying the average full-time officer costs the city about $100,000 a year in pay and benefits.
“If you look at the $40 million, say, in overtime for operation impact, that buys you about 570,000 hours of policing work,” Holt said. “If you were to do it on straight time, it’s about 150,000 hours less.”
Yet the city’s calculations appear to ignore potential human costs and ineffectiveness such a policy can create. In a statement on the proposed 2015 budget, the PRC expressed concern that “over-reliance on police overtime could exacerbate community-police conflicts and increases the risk of problematic interactions.”
“We should be hiring more officers to minimize the amount of time these officers are working,” Munoz told the Tribune. “Human beings do get tired, and we want to protect the men in blue.”
Nevertheless, the city stands by its policy, at least as expressed in the current 2015 budget proposal.
Holt pointed to $40 million of the $95 million in overtime costs as being devoted to special Impact Zones targeted for reductions in street crime and gun violence, saying “the issue is really one of flexibility for the Police Department."   

Photo Credit: Archivo Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[U of I Among Leaders in Sexual Health Rankings]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:19:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/b073afb87f204207b22b3e0de947d8ba.jpg

When it comes to offering students the information they need to have safe sex, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fares pretty well.

Condom maker Trojan on Monday came out with its ranked list of 140 college campuses around the country which best teach students about sexual health and make resources available to them.

The U of I was ranked 14th in the nation.

Other "Big Ten" schools to make the Top 15 included the University of Iowa, the University of Wisconsin Madison and the University of Michigan.

Oregon State University topped the list, jumping 25 positions from last year. Northern Illinois University was ranked 74th, while Brigham Young University remained at the bottom of the list for the third consecutive year.

The Top 10 Schools: 

1. Oregon State University
2. The University of Texas At Austin
3. University of Maryland-College Park
4. University of Arizona
5. Stanford University
6. University of Michigan
7. Brown University
8. Columbia University in the City of New York
9. Syracuse University
10. University of Wisconsin

Download the full report from FactsAboutCondoms.com to see the methodology and the complete list.

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<![CDATA[1 Dead, 2 Injured After Shooting at Dixmoor Home]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:28:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dixmoor-shooting-1.jpg

One person was killed and two others injured after a late Monday night shooting in Dixmoor, south of Chicago, officials said.

Deanthony Jackson, 32, was pronounced dead shortly after midnight at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, according to a spokesperson at the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

Officials said he lived at the home on the 0-100 block of West 143rd Street where he was shot.

Information about the two other people wounded in the shooting was not available as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Ken Herzlich, Network Video Productions]]>
<![CDATA[Firm Ranks Chicago No. 1 in Wireless Performance]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:47:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cellular+phone.jpg

When it comes to cellular phone service, there are apparently few hang-ups in Chicago.

The Second City was rated No. 1 overall in the nation by Root Metrics, an industry watch group, for the best mobile phone service on AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Chicago beat out 125 other cities around the country and also came in tops for best data performance.

Chicago was the only city to finish with a top ranking in multiple categories.

See the full list of rankings at RootMetrics.com.

<![CDATA[Suspected Serial Killer Moved to County Jail]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:09:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Darren-Deon-Vann.jpg

A man charged with one count of murder after seven bodies were found in Northwest Indiana over the weekend was moved Monday night to the Lake County (Indiana) Jail as charges were pending in other cases and as authorities continued the task of identifying the victims.

Darren Deon Vann, 43, of Gary, was charged with one count of murder, as well as murder in the perpetration of a robbery and robbery resulting in serious bodily harm, all related to the death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy.

Vann was transported from the Hammond Police Department to the county facility at about 8:30 p.m. Monday, an official told NBC Chicago. It was unclear Tuesday morning when he would appear in court.

Though Vann hasn't yet been charged in the deaths of the other six women, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. told reporters Vann is "what I would label a serial killer."

Aside from Hardy, three of the victims were publicly identified by midday Monday: 35-year-old Anith Jones, 28-year-old Teairra Batey, and 36-year-old Christine Williams. Hammond Police Chief John Doughty did not rule out the possibility that the investigation being done by several agenies would reveal more victims.

"It could go back as far as 20 years, based on some statements we have," Doughty told reporters during a Monday press conference.

Court records show Vann has been a registered sex offender in Texas since a September 2009 conviction.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Honoring Chicagoland's Fallen Heroes]]> Sat, 10 Nov 2012 20:11:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/american-flag1.jpg NBC Chicago salutes the men and women in the armed forces who have died in combat.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Flight to Chicago Diverted After Mechanical Issue]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:16:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/United-Continental-merger.jpg

A SkyWest flight traveling to O’Hare Airport in Chicago made an emergency landing Monday after the crew reported a mechanical issue.

SkyWest flight 5290, operating as a United Express from Asheville, North Carolina to Chicago, was diverted to DuPage, Illinois after reports of an unknown mechanical issue.

“The flight landed safely and customers were transported to O’Hare,” said SkyWest spokesperson Marissa Snow.

It was not immediately clear what the mechanical issue was.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ill. Family in Voluntary Quarantine Over Ebola Fear]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:24:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/79997774.jpg

A Rock Island family is in a voluntary quarantine after a family member arrived there from Liberia, health officials said.

The Rock Island County Health Department said a family of five was placed into voluntary quarantine after Jennifer Philips arrived in the town from Liberia, though she reported that she had no contact with anyone with the Ebola virus and was experiencing no symptoms.

Theresa Berg, public health administrator for the department, said the department first learned about Philips after she was contacted by professionals from Augustana College who asked if they needed to take any precautions since Philips' father was an employee of the college.

“With this new experience to our community, and the nationwide discussion about Ebola, they were proactive and wanted to be responsible for the health and safety of all connected to Augustana College,” Berg said in a statement. “I advised that since I did not have information regarding the health status of Ms. Philips, their employee should go home and stay there. They complied with this request.”

RICHD said they then contacted the Illinois Department of Public Health and obtained a series of questions to interview Phillips.

“Since Ms. Philips reported no exposure to Ebola, and she had no fever and no symptoms, a mandatory quarantine was not indicated according to current CDC protocols,” the statement from RICHD read.

Berg said she asked the family to “observe a voluntary quarantine for at least 21 days” as an extra precaution and to “avoid disruption of activities at Augustana College or Rock Island High School.”

The department provided the family with thermometers and said staff will continue to communicate with them twice a day to log the reported temperatures and any potential symptoms.

“The Rock Island County Health Department is very aware of our important role in preventing and controlling the spread of communicable disease,” Berg said. “As Administrator I do not want to give Ebola information to the public that promotes a false sense of security. I also do not want anyone to panic and experience unnecessary fear. I will make every attempt to ensure that we provide careful guidance and information on what is known at this time about Ebola.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Fuse]]>
<![CDATA[Foo Fighters Announce Wrigley Field Show]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 19:21:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Foo+Fighters.jpg

If you didn’t get to catch the Foo Fighters at the Cubby Bear Friday, you’ll have another chance to see them on a much larger stage in Chicago.

As hinted during their performance last week, the band is set to perform at Wrigley Field next summer—following in the footsteps of Billy Joel, Pearl Jam, and Paul McCartney.

The announcement, made Monday, says the group will perform on Aug. 29, 2015 with “special guests” as part of their Sonic Highways World Tour.

Tickets are set to go on sale Oct. 27 at 10 a.m.

There will be a four-ticket limit for General Admission purchases and a six-ticket limit for reserved seats.

Tickets for last Friday’s performance sold out quickly.

The band announced in May it would film the making of its new album, also called "Sonic Highways," in the eight-part cable series. The first episode prominently features The Cubby Bear, where Jam Productions says Dave Grohl saw his first punk rock show.

The series, directed by Grohl, features a different "American musical landmark" in eight cities, including Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York.

The Foo Fighters were spotted in Chicago in January, and pictures on social media showed the former Nirvana drummer riding the Brown Line by himself and visiting Piece Pizzeria & Brewery.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cardinal George Talks Regrets, Beliefs Ahead of Retirement]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:08:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_cardinal_francis_george1.jpg

While there’s been much debate whether the Catholic Church should be more welcoming to gay Catholics after a meeting with key bishops in Rome, Cardinal Francis George is concerned some may expect too much.

George says welcoming is one thing, but approving gay marriage is far different.

"You can’t demand approval, you have to ask for mercy," he said.

The Cardinal conducted what the Archdiocese is calling his final one-on-one interviews before the Installation of Archbishop Blasé Cupich Nov. 18.

He touched on a lot of controversial subjects surrounding the church.

When asked about communion for divorced Catholics, George said, “If this is a sacramental marriage, and that’s a big if, than its permanent and that’s the end of that.”

As for regrets, George said he has “piles of regrets, good heavens,” noting the priest sex abuse crisis.

“We thought we had it nailed down tight, well it didn’t work, I have deep regret there," he said.

Cardinal George is looking forward to the next phase, retirement. He doesn’t plan on maintaining a big public role, but has a lot he'd like to do in his private life, including “working the soup lines.”

Many have questioned what will happen to the Cardinal's Mansion after  Archbishop Cupich suggested he may not choose to live at the Gold Coast residence.

“It’s a good question and I’m sure it will be raised," he said.

George says he hopes to move to Casa Jesus, a residence next to Holy Name Cathedral , but said the state of his health will determine if that’s possible.

George has been participating in a clinical trial at the University of Chicago for his kidney cancer and will learn in the next two to six weeks if the tumor has grown or if the new trial is working.

<![CDATA[Federal Rule Restricts Sale of High-Powered Magnets]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:15:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/buckyballs.jpg

The death of 19-month-old Annaka Chaffin was not the first death connected to high-powered magnets, but it may be the last if a new federal rule just passed has its intended effect.

Last year, the toddler swallowed several tiny magnets-- the kind that look like shiny BB’s-- unbeknownst to her Columbus, Ohio, family.

A Consumer Product Safety Commission report revealed the tragic domino effect that happened next. Her mother took her to the hospital when she became ill, but she was mistakenly diagnosed with a virus. The next day, Annaka died in her sleep. The magnets she swallowed had attracted to each other inside of her, cutting off blood supply to her stomach.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission cited Annaka’s case during a hearing last month, as the agency voted to finalize a rule outlawing the type of high-powered magnets made popular by a product called Buckyballs, recalled last summer. The tiny but powerful type of magnets were blamed for hundreds of injuries, and at least one death. Federal regulators say in the years between 2009 and 2013, at least 2,900 children visited emergency rooms after swallowing the magnets.

The new rule will allow the sale of high-powered magnets only if they do not fit through a cylinder used to test choking hazards, or if they fall below a certain power level. Safety regulators say the kind of magnets used in Buckyballs are eight times stronger than magnet used for mainstream items like refrigerator magnets or toys.

The founder of Buckyballs initially fought the CPSC ban, arguing his product was never marketed to children. The packaging was labeled as “unlimited fun (for grownups).”

“They were labeled as sold for adults but we all knew it was children who were fascinated with them and carried them around with them,” said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Chicago-based Kids in Danger. “This is what we consider one of these issues parents wouldn’t necessarily understand. You might understand a child choking, you might understand sharp edges on a product. But with something this small, you think it’s just going to pass through the system.”

But in case after case, tiny magnets not only did not pass through a system, but also magnetized inside a child. Two or more magnets connected to each other, cutting off blood supply or perforating an organ, sometimes to tragic consequences.

The new CPSC rule takes effect April 1, 2015, when all magnets manufactured or imported after that date must meet the new performance standard.

The Buckyballs recall offers settlement from a fund controlled by the CPSC and funded by the company owner. Consumers have until January 17, 2015 to return Buckyballs magnet sets for a refund.

<![CDATA[Families "Heartbroken" After 7 Bodies Found in Indiana]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:30:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Afrika-Hardy.jpg

One of seven women whose bodies were discovered in Indiana over the weekend was remembered as a "fighter" Monday, as authorities continued to investigate a killing they now believe uncovered a string of slayings by a suspected serial killer.

“She left this world fighting,” Lori Townsend said of her daughter, 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy.

Officials said the bodies of seven women, including Hardy, were found in abandoned homes and in a motel in Northwest Indiana. Authorities believe they are the victims of a suspected serial killer, whose killings could go back as far as 20 years.

Darren Deon Vann, 43, of Gary, was charged with one count of murder, as well as murder in the perpetration of a robbery and robbery resulting in serious bodily harm, all related to the death of Hardy. Police said Vann, a registered sex offender in Texas, gave authorities information that led them to the other bodies after he was taken into custody in connection with Hardy's death.

Hardy was strangled to death Friday in a Motel 6 in Hammond, Indiana. She was found naked in a bathtub with what appeared to be a black piece of clothing covering her arms and around her neck, according to a probable cause affidavit.

“She didn’t bother nobody,” said Hardy’s grandmother Debra Allen. “Everyone loved her. She wasn’t a bad person and didn’t deserve this at all.”

Police said all seven women were sex workers, and Hardy is believed to be the youngest victim.

Hardy’s mother said she had no idea her daughter had fallen into prostitution.

“I’m not grasping this,” said Townsend. “It’s not real to me.”

Aside from Hardy, three of the victims were publicly identified by midday Monday: 35-year-old Anith Jones, 28-year-old Teairra Batey, and 36-year-old Christine Williams.

Batey’s boyfriend, Marvin Clinton, says she had been missing since January.

“She was a good person,” said Clinton. “She would give you her last.”

He said the two have a 2-year-old son together.

"Now I've got to sit here and figure out how to tell a 2-year-old that mommy's never coming home again," said Clinton.

Jones’ family reported her missing on Oct. 8. They say she left Chicago for Indiana about 10 years ago.

Family members of the victims said no matter what the women did to earn a living, they were still loved.

“My heart breaks for these girls and their families,” said Townsend. “Some of them were missing for months.”

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<![CDATA[Cicero Man Sentenced in Murder of Ex-Girlfriend, 15]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:51:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_erick_maya.jpg

A Cicero man has been sentenced to 122 years in prison for the brutal murder of his 15-year-old ex-girlfriend and the attempted murder of her mother outside their Romeoville home earlier this year, Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow announced Monday.

Erick M. Maya, 23, of 5600 Park Avenue, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated battery in connection with the Feb. 13 shooting of 15-year-old Briana Valle and her mother, Alicia Guerrero.

He was found guilty by jury last month.

The Will County State's Attorney's office initially said Maya was sentenced to 118 years, but later corrected to 122 years.

“This cowardly manipulator killed an innocent girl because he couldn’t stand that she wanted to escape his control. And then he shot her mother, who was fortunate to survive this vicious attack,” Glasgow said in a statement. “Erick Maya will now spend the rest of his life in prison, where he will never control even the smallest aspect of his own life, and where he will never be free to harm another young girl or her family.”

Valle and Guerrero were sitting in their vehicle on the 300 block of Emery Avenue that morning, about to leave for school, when prosecutors said Maya walked up and fired shots. Valle was shot in the head and died two days later. Guerrero, 33, survived after taking a bullet to the neck.

Police said Maya and Valle, a Romeoville High School student, had dated in the past but were not romantically involved at the time of the shooting.

During the trial, Guerrero testified that she tried to keep her daughter away from Maya, even making contact with authorities to seek orders of protection. To better protect her family, Guerrero said she moved from Chicago's Little Village neighborhood to Romeoville, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Maya, initially charged with attempted murder, was ordered held without bond.

<![CDATA[Chicago Eateries Among Nation's "Best Wine List Restaurants"]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:28:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/red+wine+generic+pour.jpg

Chicago is home to some of the world’s top bars, and has even been named the best city for drinking in America, but now the city can claim another alcohol-related title.

Two Chicago restaurants were named among the 2014 Best Wine List Restaurants in America by OpenTable.

Bin 36, located at 339 N. Dearborn, was the top city restaurant named on the list of 100 wine list restaurants.

The list cited the eatery as a “casual, friendly and affordable spot where wine novices can enjoy over 50 wines by the glass.”

Everest, located at 440 S. LaSalle St., on the 40th floor of One Financial Place, was also named on the list.

“Under the culinary direction of Chef/Owner Jean Joho, Everest serves some of Chicago's finest personalized cuisine,” OpenTable said.

Seven other Illinois spots made the list.

Also named were Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Arlington Heights, Merrillville, Orland Park and Naperville, along with DOC Wine Bar in Lombard, Porter’s Steakhouse in Collinsville, and bacaro in Champaign.

See the full list here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/PhotoAlto]]>
<![CDATA[City Treasurer Stephanie Neely Stepping Down]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:29:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Stephanie+D.+Neely+1.jpg

City Treasurer Stephanie Neely will step down after eight years in office, effective at the end of November.

Neely announced her resignation to her staff Monday morning, telling them she plans to return to the private sector, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Neely confirmed "with mixed emotions" that she will not seek re-election.

"When I came into this office nearly 8 years ago I vowed to become the best Treasurer this city has ever had," she said. "It has been an honor and a privilege to serve my hometown as its Treasurer."

Looking back on the accomplishments of her two terms, Neely touted her office's annual Small Business Expo, micro-loan program for small businesses, workshops for entrepreneurs, financial education for Chicago Public Schools students and six clean external audits in a row, "something no other Treasurer can claim," she said.

"I have been humbled by the brilliant individuals I have met along the way," she said, "and am forever grateful to my staff and to the people of Chicago for electing me to serve the City I love."

Neely's resignation allows Mayor Rahm Emanuel to appoint her successor. Some speculate he will choose Kurt Summers, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's former chief of staff.

Neely had been considered as Governor Pat Quinn’s running mate, but he choose Paul Vallas instead.

"I was honored when Gov. Quinn spoke to me," she said in an interview with NBC Chicago's Mary Ann Ahern. "He decided to go a different way and that is his choice and I'm not sour on him or politics because of it."

GOP candidate Bruce Rauner mentioned Neely’s name to her surprise at last week’s debate focusing on African American issues.

"I was sitting there in the audience and I was like, 'What?'" she said.

As for her future in politics, Neely says "never say never."

"I've enjoyed serving, but it's just time for me to do something else," she said.

<![CDATA[Marshall Calls Bears' Loss to Dolphins "Unacceptable" ]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:01:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/217*120/0d7d41844dbe412a83e1a1217ad964dc.jpg

Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall has always been known as an outspoken person, whether addressing the teams he has played for or whether he’s working to further his advocacy of mental health awareness. That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that after the Bears lost 27-14 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Marshall made sure the media knew that the players in the locker room were angry about the game:

“There’s a lot of guys this means a lot to. We’re 3-4. We need to play better. That’s unacceptable. That’s unacceptable. We shouldn’t have lost today, shouldn’t be 3-4. [The] offense [has] got to play better. It’s as simple as that.”

The Bears’ offense turned the ball over three times on the afternoon, including a bad interception by Jay Cutler and a fumble by the Bears’ quarterback. A report from Michael C. Wright of ESPN Chicago said that Marshall “called out” Cutler after the game in the locker room, and added this thought:

“Marshall, meanwhile, didn’t deny there was friction in the aftermath of the game.

“’We lost, there should be a lot of frustration,” Marshall said. “You should hear frustration. We’re 3-4. Yeah, this means everything to a lot of guys in this locker room. This means a lot.”

Several reporters said after the game that Marshall could be heard yelling in the locker room behind closed doors, with kicker Robbie Gould being the subject of some of his anger.

While some fans and writers may have the opinion that Marshall’s actions speak to a locker room in disarray, there is a small reason for hope amongst the wreckage of this game. Receivers butting heads with quarterbacks is not a new phenomenon in the NFL, and a guy like Marshall is certainly capable of letting loose if he wants to get a point across.

Cutler has been in the league long enough to know that dealing with teammates is always a delicate balancing act, and what Marshall said doesn’t reek of blaming Cutler or anybody else; it reeks instead of a desire to hold everyone on the team, himself included, accountable for the loss.

This is a pivotal moment for the Bears this season. Will they allow this adversity to cripple their playoff chances, or will they use this as motivation to move forward and improve on their execution and game-planning?

Cutler and Marc Trestman’s reputations could very well be riding on the answer to that question, and if Marshall’s statements are any indication, the Bears’ locker room is aware of the magnitude of the battle that they face. 

Photo Credit: Lutz, BJ (NBCUniversal)]]>
<![CDATA[Bruce Rauner Won't Campaign With Rand Paul, Ted Cruz]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:57:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Rauner_black_ministers.jpg

The GOP touts Bruce Rauner as The Next Best Thing to rescue Illinois from fiscal doom. The media often touts Rand Paul as The Second Coming to rebrand and energize the party, saving it from its stodgy self.

Last week, Time christened Paul, the libertarian senator from Kentucky who might stage a run for president in 2016, as "The Most Interesting Man in Politics," following a slew of similar accolades in other mainstream media outlets including The New York Times Magazine and Politico. (Not among them: Mother Jones.)

But Rauner, the super-rich Republican candidate running a super-close race to dethrone Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, will apparently have nothing to do with Paul ahead of Nov. 4's election. At least not in public. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Rauner opted not to enlist the buzzy-yet-polarizing politician (and former eye doctor) for a campaign photo-op even though he was in town Monday to speak at an American Academy of Ophthalmology conference at McCormick Place.

Neither will he make an appearance alongside arch-conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas tea partier, who's doing a fundraiser with the Chicago's Republican Party on Wednesday, reports the Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet.

Both Paul and Cruz are among the high-profile GOP names being bandied about as potential presidential candidates to face off against the likes of Hillary Clinton. Both are too risky, too extreme, to be seen with Rauner before Election Day, especially in Chicagoland, where the tea party is frowned upon and Democratic ideals run deep. Both are certainly aware that this city, home to some of the richest Republicans in the nation, boasts a deep reserve of donor cash in the event that, say, somebody wants to launch a bid for president. The money: That's why they're here.

And so Rauner is aligning himself with politicos who play better here in Chicago, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—two other 2016 possibilities. (Interestingly, Rauner previously distanced himself from Christie following the George Washington Bridge scandal earlier this year. Now that's all ... water under the bridge.)

As early voting begins in Illinois, the Winnetka investor-turned-political rookie campaigns this week with stalwart state Republicans including Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and Sen. Mark Kirk.

Quinn, meanwhile, is wrangling A-listers like: President Barack Obama, who headlined a packed-house rally at the South Side's Chicago State University on Sunday night; ex-President Bill Clinton, who gives a pro-Quinn, economy-themed speech on Tuesday at Wheatland Tube's Chicago branch; and Vice President Joe Biden, who's flying out for a Wednesday event in the northern 'burb of Vernon Hills, the scene of a battleground race between Democrat congressman Brad Schneider and GOP rival Bob Dold.

<![CDATA[Obama Casts Early Ballot in General Election]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:22:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-early-vote-2.jpg

President Barack Obama on Monday morning took advantage of early voting and cast his ballot for next month's General Election.

Monday was the first day Illinoisans could cast their votes in advance of the Nov. 4 election.

"Love voting. Everybody in Illinois: early vote. It's a wonderful opportunity," the president said as a polling worker prepared his ballot inside the Martin Luther King Center in Chicago's Grand Boulevard neighborhood. "This is the most important office in a democracy: the office of citizen."

Election law precluded Obama from answering a reporter's question about which candidates would get his vote, but the president on Monday night headlined a rally for Gov. Pat Quinn. He's also a supporter of Sen. Dick Durbin, who is being challenged for his seat by Republican Jim Oberweis.

Obama later shook the hands of other voters and got in a photo with a group of poll workers.


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<![CDATA[Suspected Serial Killer Is Sex Offender in Texas]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:33:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/indiana+house.jpg

The man who police say confessed to killing a woman then led police to the bodies of six others in northwestern Indiana is a registered sex offender in Texas.

Murder charges were filed Monday against Darren Deon Vann
after 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy was found strangled to death Friday night at a Motel 6 in Hammond.

Vann, 43, of Gary, was charged with one count of murder, as well as murder in the perpetration of a robbery and robbery resulting in serious bodily harm, all related to Hardy's death.

Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said Vann met Hardy last Friday in a room at a Motel 6 on the 3800 block of 179th Street after arranging a sexual encounter online. Hardy had been strangled, and Hammond Police Lt. Richard Hoyda said Sunday that as part of the investigation into her death, police served a search warrant on a home on 49th Avenue in Gary, where Vann was taken into custody.

Doughty did not rule out the possibility that the ongoing investigation would reveal more victims.

"It could go back as far as 20 years, based on some statements we have," Doughty said.

Court records show Vann was convicted in September 2009 of Aggravated Sexual Assault -- a 1st Degree Felony -- stemming from a December 2007 incident in Austin, Texas.

According to court records, Vann met a suspected sex worker near his apartment in Travis County, Texas. He initially told her his name was Dean and brought the woman up to his second-floor apartment, where he then attacked her.

Court records show that he tripped her and strangled her. The victim later told police she felt her body go limp and thought he was going to kill her. That’s when he threatened her, struck her several times in the head and then forced her to have sex.

“I don’t have a specific reason why he does this,” said Hammond Police Chief John Doughty.

Just three years prior, in another state, Vann was arrested for threatening his ex-girlfriend. According to court records, Vann poured gasoline on himself and the house of his estranged ex-girlfriend in Lake County, Indiana. Police said he then put her in a headlock and dragged her down an alley.

Vann took a plea deal and served 90 days in jail, received probation and community service.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said authorities weren't sure how long Vann had been in northwestern Indiana, although he does have a conviction for residential entry in the area. The mayor said she doesn't know whether more bodies might be found.

"There are court records indicating that he was here back in 2004 [and] 2005, but there are also records that he was in Austin, Texas, and so he appears to be a person who has moved back and forth between a number of states," Freeman-Wilson told reporters early Monday.

Court records in Cook County show no criminal history for Vann, but traffic records do show that he had some encounter with Calumet City police on December 16, 1993, when he would have been 22 years old. In that case he was found guilty of "aggravated fleeing police" and, according to records, jailed for that offense the following August.

Several other traffic charges related to that same encounter, including speeding more than 20 mph over the speed limit, running red lights, and improper lane usage, were dismissed.

Regarding the most recent cases, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said Vann is "what I would label a serial killer."

Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said Vann was arrested shortly after Hardy's body was discovered inside the room at the Motel 6. Doughty said Vann confessed to killing the woman and then provided information that led to the discovery of six other victims.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com
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<![CDATA[Dolphins vs. Bears: Three Phase Report Card ]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:40:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/167*120/bears+dolphins+getty30.jpg

In our weekly grading of how the Chicago Bears did, we examine the offensive struggles and defensive lapses that led to Sunday's loss against the Miami Dolphins. 

Offense: C-

The Chicago Bears’ offense is supposed to be one of its strengths, but with their scoring average down to 22 points per game and only scoring 14 points against the Miami Dolphins on their home field, things are not going right for this group at the moment.

The only reason this unit’s grade isn’t even lower is because of Matt Forte. He had 109 all-purpose yards on Sunday, scoring two touchdowns and helping the Bears at least remain somewhat competitive. Outside of him however, things go south in a hurry. Jay Cutler looked awful on Sunday, throwing off his back foot repeatedly and turning the ball over twice in the loss.

Alshon Jeffery was largely absent from the game as well, catching two balls on the first drive of the game and then not coming down with another reception the rest of the way.

All told, the team had just 224 yards of offense in the game, and they only had two first downs in the entire first half. TWO. It was a bad day overall, and one that Marc Trestman and company are going to have to address.

Defense: C

Being expected to play for over 37 minutes is never easy, but the Bears’ defense still has to play better than they did on Sunday. Jeremiah Ratliff was the lone standout of the afternoon, with three and a half sacks to his credit, but those all came in the early stages of the game, and he disappeared in the second half.

Several other players were worthy of criticism after the game, including cornerback Kyle Fuller, who blew a few coverages even before he broke his hand and picked up a hip pointer later in the game. Linebacker Shea McClellin also looked completely lost on the field, vacating gaps and getting pushed aside on run plays all afternoon.

About the only other bright spot on the day was that the Bears held the Dolphins to just four third down conversions in the game. That’s a carry-over from their success against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6, and one they should cling to as they evaluate game film this week.

Special Teams: B+

In what has to be the most surprising sentence we’ve typed so far this season, the Bears’ special teams actually looked really good in this game. They didn’t have a single penalty, Robbie Gould didn’t miss on either of his extra point attempts after having one blocked in the Atlanta game, and most importantly of all, Chris Williams actually broke the 20-yard line on returns twice in the game.

Coaching: F

The impact of coaching in sports is often debated, but there is no way that the coaching staff can escape blame after a loss like this one. Trestman’s offensive game plan was a complete joke, and the results speak for themselves. His decision to let the first half clock run out rather than trying to get the ball back to get a positive result before the break was questionable, and his decision to call timeout on a 4th-and-1 play with 21 seconds left on the play clock was downright laughable.

As for Mel Tucker and the defense, one picture sums up the afternoon pretty well:

It was a scene all too reminiscent of the Buffalo game earlier in the season. The linebackers were vacating gaps, allowing Lamar Miller to savage them. They couldn’t contain Ryan Tannehill on read-option plays. They couldn’t do anything right. It was a bit of regression from Tucker, and it was something that the Bears cannot repeat again if they’re going to have any hope of beating the New England Patriots next week. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Driver Found Dead Inside Vehicle Identified]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:27:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/88961749.jpg

A driver found dead Sunday afternoon in a vehicle in northwest suburban Bull Valley has been identified as a 22-year-old Wonderlake man.

Police said Aaron D. Sutherland was found in a vehicle off the road in the 300 block of Ridge Road after passersby noticed roadside debris in the area.

A preliminary investigation indicates that the 1997 Honda sedan driven by Sutherland was traveling at a high rate of speed on Ridge Road just south of Swarthmore, police said.

It's not clear what caused the crash, police said, and an investigation is underway. Investigators said a second vehicle, impounded by Bull Valley Police, may have been involved, and the incident could have happened as early as around 8 p.m. Thursday.

The Honda left the road and went into a wooded area, striking a tree before coming to a stop in a ditch about 20 feet from the roadway, police said.

Police said illegal drugs were found in the vehicle, but it's not yet known whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash.

The driver was pronounced dead on the scene by the McHenry County Coroner’s Office.

An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF]]>
<![CDATA[Karen Lewis Returns to Twitter After Brain Tumor Diagnosis]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:37:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Karen_Lewis_9-2.jpg

Karen Lewis is back on Twitter.

Until yesterday, the Chicago Teachers Union president, former mayoral contender and avid tweeter had been silent on the social media platform since Oct. 5, when she checked into the hospital and was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. A week later, she took her name out of the running as a potential candidate to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2015.

The 61-year-old CTU rabblerouser, who would often use Twitter to rib Emanuel (whose tweets are boring by comparison), resurfaced on the site Sunday to retweet several missives from supporters and fellow pro-teacher progressives. One of those was Michelle Gunderson, a CPS educator who oversees elementary schools at the union and wrote: 

Others sending well wishes were the Badass Teachers Association, an East Coast-based liberal group, which said: "BATS are praying hard for your health & happiness! We adore U #Love4Karen."

Fiery, charismatic and a born leader, Lewis would have shaken up the mayor's race in exciting ways—especially during a time when progressive issues like the minimum wage are gathering steam throughout the country.

At the moment, Emanuel's biggest competitor is 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti, another of his most vocal critics. Many possible candidates are less-than-willing to go up against his $9-million-and-counting election warchest; Lewis, however, recently launched a nascent fundraising campaign to gather enough donations to battle the super-connected celebrity city boss.

Lewis' allies say "instead of fighting Rahm, she'll be fighting for her life" with many calling the turn of events "tragic."


<![CDATA[Madhouse Enforcer's Central Division Power Rankings: Week 2]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:07:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/175*120/457315830.jpg

Every week, Madhouse Enforcer will take a look around the Central Division and let you know who’s hot and who’s not in our little corner of the hockey world.

1. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week’s Rank: 1)

Despite dropping an overtime decision to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, the Blackhawks retain their top spot in the rankings based on their dominance of possession in their two Week 2 games. They outshot their opponents 87-38 in those games, but that advantage in shots was at least in part due to the fact they got 12 power plays in the two games.

Nonetheless, the Hawks will be looking to improve on their power play and on their finishing around the net as they head into a tough stretch of games. Home tilts against Philadelphia and Ottawa sandwich road tests against the Predators and Blues.

2. Dallas Stars (Last Week’s Rank: 5)

The Stars got off to a rough start to the season, but they rebounded nicely in the second week, grabbing five of the six available points. They scored three times on the power play in wins over the Blue Jackets and Penguins, and they got a hat trick from Tyler Seguin and a four point night from Jason Spezza in the process.

Next week things remain on the easy side for the Stars schedule wise, with tilts against the Canucks, Islanders, and Devils on the docket.

3. St. Louis Blues (Last Week’s Rank: 4)

The Blues are a team that was all over the map last week, with a blowout victory over the lowly Arizona Coyotes and then two resounding defeats at the hands of the Kings and Ducks. St. Louis did outshoot Los Angeles 43-18 in a losing effort, but the fact they couldn’t get the job done was a bit disconcerting.

Unfortunately for St. Louis, things aren’t getting any easier. They only play two games in Week 3, with home tilts against the Canucks and Blackhawks looming, but they will likely be without offseason acquisition Paul Stastny, who is week-to-week with an upper body injury.

4. Minnesota Wild (Last Week’s Rank: 2)

After winning back-to-back games against the Colorado Avalanche to begin the year, Minnesota crashed back to earth with losses to the Ducks and Kings. Overall on the season, they are 0-for-16 on the power play, and they suffered a huge scare when Mikael Granlund was drilled on a late hit by Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler. Fortunately for them, he seemed to be okay, but it reminded them of what life could look like without him.

Minnesota will look to get back on the winning track with a couple of home games this week, playing the Coyotes and Lightning at Xcel Energy Center.

5. Nashville Predators (Last Week’s Rank: 3)

Despite being outshot in three straight games and racking up an 1-0-2 record, the Predators are still one of the more intriguing teams in the NHL. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has a record of 3-0-1 on the season with a 1.23 GAA, but his replacement has been solid as well, as Carter Hutton nearly backstopped the Preds to a win over the Blackhawks.

Three home games loom on the schedule for the Predators this coming week, with the Coyotes, Blackhawks, and Penguins all visiting the Music City.

6. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 7)

The Avs grabbed their first win of the season against the Boston Bruins last week, but they also picked up three more losses in a series of games against Canadian opponents. They are 1-for-22 so far on the power play this season, and to make matters worse, goaltender Semyon Varlamov was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury.

The schedule does offer a bit of a reprieve to the Avalanche in the coming week, with a couple of home games against Florida and Vancouver on the docket. A road game against Winnipeg on Sunday will give them their first taste of divisional hockey since back-to-back shutout losses against Minnesota to open the season.

7. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 6)

Speaking of the Jets, they drop to the bottom of the rankings this week, and while it’s surely comfortable territory for them (they spent a good chunk of last season down there), they at least have one thing going for them: they are 20-of-21 on the penalty kill so far.

Another good thing for the Jets is that goaltender Ondrej Pavelec hasn’t been bad at all, giving up 2.22 goals per game and racking up a .919 save percentage. They do need to improve on their anemic power play however (they are 0-for-14 so far this season), and a game against the Hurricanes to open the week could do the trick.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>