<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Sun, 24 May 2015 22:50:37 -0500 Sun, 24 May 2015 22:50:37 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Jewish Home Cares for Aging Nuns]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 17:37:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/52415nun.jpg

For 98-year-old Sister Angela Rooney, it was one of the most jarring moves of her life.

She always thought she would live out her days as she had for decades, in a convent under the time-honored Roman Catholic tradition of younger nuns dutifully caring for their older sisters.

But with few young women choosing religious life, her church superiors were forced to look elsewhere for care, and in the past year have sent Rooney and dozens of other nuns to Jewish Home Lifecare, a geriatric-care complex in the Bronx founded as a nursing home for elderly Jews.

"I wanted my convent, my great big chapel, my Stations of the Cross,'' Rooney said. "The very name `Jewish Home' turned me off. ... I don't think anyone came here with a heavier heart than me.''

Rooney and 57 other sisters, ages 73 to 98, have since adjusted nicely to their new accommodations and neighbors, becoming an active part of classes and continuing their ministry with good deeds like holding the hands of dying patients on the hospice floor.

"This is home now,'' said 83-year-old Sister Grace Henke. "When we first came, we were fish out of water.''

It's an unusual situation that reflects a reality of the nation's Catholic nuns in the 21st century: Fewer young women are devoting their lives to religious orders, and those who are already nuns are aging and facing escalating health care needs.

There are now more sisters over age 90 than under age 60, said Mary Gautier, a researcher at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. The center's 2009 study found that 80 percent of the nuns in the country were over 60.

"Their model of caring for their older sisters is no longer sustainable,'' said Robin Eggert, president of the Realm consulting group, which has worked with several nuns' orders to find solutions.

Eggert said a number of women's religious orders have partnered with outside organizations offering skilled nursing, assisted living and other levels of care, but `"We've never done Jewish before.''

The Sisters of Charity of New York has seen its numbers decline from a 1960s peak of 1,350 to 270 today, and no new sisters had joined in the U.S. in 20 years. It was the first order to put out a request for proposals that was answered by the nonprofit Jewish Home Lifecare. Two other orders based in Manhattan, the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary and the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, followed.

Several of the nuns now living at Jewish Home, including retired teachers, social workers and nurses, said they were very happy after some original hesitation.

"We've almost all, 95 percent, accepted and acclimated. Those who were resistant have kind of calmed down,'' said 92-year-old Sister Rosemarie Bittermann.

"It certainly fit our needs,'' said Sister Loretta Theresa Richards, 86. "We can stay together, we have our own little chapel. They went out of their way to find a space for us to have Mass. I have to say it was so nice I was a little reluctant, because I took a vow of poverty.''

Some things are different, however. While Jewish Home Lifecare is now nondenominational _ most residents are Christian _ its Jewish heritage remains apparent, with a resident rabbi and kosher-style meals in the independent living residences.

"I miss the bacon,'' Richards said. Added Sister Maria Goretti Mannix, 83: "I notice that we never get ham or pork chops. The food is good, though.''

The nuns' care is funded through a combination of Medicaid, Medicare, the New York archdiocesan health plan, payments from the order itself and the individual sisters' scant assets.

]]>
<![CDATA[Body ID'ed as Kayaker]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 18:43:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Graswald2.jpg

Authorities have identified a body discovered in the Hudson River a day ago as that of the 46-year-old missing kayaker allegedly killed last month by his fiancee, a source close to the case said Sunday.

Michael Archer, a forensic scientist, said the body has been "positively identified" as Vincent Viafore, who has been missing since April 19, when his kayak capsized in the Hudson, about 50 miles north of New York City.

Archer is working for attorneys representing Angelika Graswald, who is charged in Viafore's death.

"The members of Ms. Graswald's defense team, like everybody involved in this case, are relieved that Mr. Viafore has been recovered and identified," Archer said.

"It is our sincere hope that the recovery and identification of Mr. Viafore helps bring some consolation to his family and loved ones," he added.

Graswald, 35, who had been Viafore's fiancee, was charged last month with second-degree murder.

Viafore's body was found near the Cornwall Yacht Club, about a mile south of where Viafore's kayak capsized. The body was immediately taken to a medical examiner to determine the identity.

The medical examiner's office did not return phone messages requesting comment on Sunday.

Graswald, a Latvian expatriate, admitted to tampering with Viafore's kayak while the engaged couple paddled on the Hudson and later confessed "it felt good knowing he would die," a prosecutor said at Graswald's bail hearing.

Viafore, 46, was not wearing a life jacket.

Assistant District Attorney Julie Mohl said at a bail hearing that Graswald felt trapped and stood to benefit by $250,000 from life insurance policies.

Mohl did not detail how Graswald tampered with her fiance's kayak but said it filled with water and capsized. Viafore held onto his boat for 5 to 10 minutes in the cold, choppy water, but Graswald called 911 some 20 minutes after his kayak capsized. Witnesses say she intentionally capsized her own kayak, Mohl said.

Graswald was rescued by another boater and treated for hypothermia.

She later told investigators that she felt relief and "it felt good knowing he would die," Mohl said.

The judge set bail at $3 million cash.

After the hearing, defense attorney Richard Portale noted the language barrier between Graswald and investigators. He said he would look into whether her statements were voluntary.

"I'm skeptical of the statements," he said.  



Photo Credit: ALLYSE PULLIAM/For the Times Her]]>
<![CDATA[Stolen Phone Leads to Drug Bust]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 17:05:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/handcuffs-generic-on-black.jpg+20+may.jpg

A woman's cellphone was stolen from an Orange County theme park in California but it kept updating its location, leading authorities to a significant drug bust and six arrests, officials said.

The phone was reported stolen on Friday from Knott's Berry Farm on Friday evening, according to a San Bernardino Sheriffs Department news release. Its owner gave deputies its location, in the 11200 block of 4th Avenue in Hesperia, San Bernardino County.

There, the deputies made a series of discoveries on Saturday morning at about 1 a.m.

The owner of the home, Stacey Shelton, allegedly admitted to taking the phone while at Knott's Berry Farm; a known parolee was found to be in possession of methamphetamine and hypodermic needles and deputies saw a THC extraction lab, the news release said.

THC, also known as butane honey oil, is a highly concentrated form of marijuana that's legal to use in California as medical marijuana but illegal to make -- 32 people died from explosions caused by the honey oil production process in California last year, according to the Drug Endangered Children Training and Advocacy Center.

The Sheriff's Marijuana Enforcement Team arrived with a search warrant and discovered the THC lab was allegedly operational. They also found marijuana, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, according to the news release.

Deputies found marijuana in the child's bedroom, and deputies allege that Stacey and Michael Shelton admitted to smoking the drug with the 13-year-old. Children and Family Services was called, the news release said.

The Sheltons were arrested along with four other people, ranging in age from 22 to 51, according to the news release. They were booked on various charges.

Deputies ask anyone with information about the lab to call 909-890-4840.

]]>
<![CDATA[Tour Bus Erupts in Flames ]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 07:49:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tour+bus+fire1.jpg

A tour bus caught fire along Interstate 395 on Saturday, creating a huge scene.

Video captured at the location showed the back of the bus fully engulfed by the fire. The driver was able to pull over near the Pentagon exit, and everyone inside escaped safely.

Investigators aren’t sure how the fire started. Smoke could be seen from locations in northwest D.C.

]]>
<![CDATA[Hit-and-Run Kills Girl After Ice Cream Truck Visit]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 18:03:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/maria+gonzales+and+car.jpg

A 5-year-old girl was killed in a hit-and-run accident Saturday afternoon in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood after she left her house to buy a treat from an ice cream truck.

Maria Gonzales was in her home in the 5900 block of South Mozart doing her homework at about 3:15 p.m. when she heard the sound of an ice cream truck, her father, Juan Gonzales, told NBC Chicago. Maria then asked her mother, who was inside the home with her, if she could get ice cream before running outside.

Maria's father, who was working outside in the yard, said he told his daughter to stop running, but the girl continued toward the truck.

On her way back to their home after stopping by the ice cream truck, a dark-colored four-door Honda or Acura sped by and struck Maria, Chicago Police said. Juan Gonzales, who heard the impact but did not see it, said the driver seemed to be driving more than 40 miles per hour.

Following the accident, the driver fled the scene.

Maria's family called an ambulance, but the girl died on the way to the hospital, her father said.

Police ask anyone with information regarding the accident to contact the Major Accident Investigation Unit at 312-745-4521.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[How to Help Victims of Nepal Earthquakes]]> Tue, 12 May 2015 14:41:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/471414010_Nepal.jpg

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on Tuesday, killing dozens of people, less than three weeks after a 7.8-magnitude quake rocked the Himalayan country, killing 8,000 people. 

Nepal's National Emergency Operation Centre confirmed that Tuesday's quake killed 37 people and injured 1,117 others.

The U.S. Geological Survey said that the estimated damage from the April 25 quake and strong aftershocks that devastated Nepal could cost between $100 million and $10 billion.

The quake flattened mountain villages and destroyed buildings, injuring at least 17,860 people. World leaders and global charities offered emergency aid and the United States was sending a disaster response teams and $10 million to help the people of Nepal, The Associated Press reported.

Here are ways you can donate:

WORLD VISION

The humanitarian aid group had staff on the ground when the earthquake hit. Members of the organization said survivors need food, water and shelter, spokeswoman Laura Blank told NBC News.

“Infrastructure is down all over the city,” World Vision’s operations director in Kathmandu Philip Ewert also said. “Power is out with limited internet access. Walls and water tanks are damaged. We are also getting reports that people are trapped in temples and other public buildings as there was a large festival here Saturday.”

To make a donation to the organization to address these needs, you can visit their Nepal page or text NEPAL to 777444 to donate $10.

RED CROSS

Volunteers and staff at the Nepal Red Cross Society are providing aid, but they have limited stocks of emergency relief items available in the country, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said in a statement.

"We are extremely concerned about the fate of communities in towns and villages in rural areas closer to the epicenter," said Jagan Chapagain, the IFRC's Director for Asia Pacific. “We anticipate that there will be considerable destruction and loss of life.”

For information on how to donate, visit the IFRC website.

SOS CHILDREN'S VILLAGES

In addition to the physical damage, Nepal's earthquake has left children scared and traumatized. This NGO plans to create 14 child-friendly spaces to provide "psychological and medical support" for children so adults can focus on rebuilding efforts. 

SOS Children's Villages has worked in the country for more than 40 years to give "loving, stable homes to orphaned and abandoned children," they said in a statement. "Our presence and permanence in the country allows us to quickly respond and support the local community in times of crisis."

You can donate to the organization's Nepal Emergency Children's Care Fund here.

GLOBALGIVING

The organization hopes to raise 1 million dollars and has created a Nepal-specific page outlining specific issues they hope to address with the funds.

“Initially, the fund will help first responders meet survivors' immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter,” the organization said on its page. “Once initial relief work is complete, this fund will transition to support longer-term recovery efforts run by local, vetted local organizations.”

GlobalGiving says it will provide updates about how the funds are being used. You can donate here.

AMERICARES

An emergency team from the AmeriCares India office is preparing shipments of medical aid and relief supplies for survivors. The organization stocks emergency medicine and relieft supplies in its warehouses in the U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in time of crisis, and launches comprehensive recovery programs.

"Our emergency response team is en route to Nepal and we are prepared to help any way that we can," AmeriCares President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis said in a statement. "This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the families suffereing."

To donate to AmeriCares International Disaster Relief Fund, you can click here.

UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in Nepal providing critical emergency aid to children and families.

"UNICEF expects children, an estimated 40 percent of Nepal's poplulation, to be among the worst affected by the earthquake. The first priorities are lifesaving interventions—getting essential medicines, nutrition, and safe water to children and families in immediate need," the organization's website said.

To support the UNICEF relief efforts in Nepal, you can donate here.

MERCY CORPS

Mercy Corps' team is on the ground in Nepal working to get a better understanding of the conditions. The team is focused on delivering lifesaving aid to hard-hit communities. Mercy Corps will be helping communities immediately start to rebuild homes, schools, help people return to work and process the trauma.

To support Mercy Corps' earthquake response team, you can donate here.

CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES 

The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has emergency personnel in Kathmandu that say weather conditions following the deadly quake have made life for survivors even harder.

“The situation is getting critical with the rain and cold winds,” Kushal Neogy, a member of the CRS India staff, said in a statement. “It slows down the rescue and relief operation and makes life difficult for those living on the street or in open fields.”

The CRS plans to give out tarpaulins and other shelter materials with donations they are now collecting. To help out, click here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds Rally for Tom Brady]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 18:32:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/free+brady.JPG

Tom Brady is living legend to the hundreds of fans who rallied at Gillette Stadium Sunday.

"He's a good player, he does nothing wrong," said one fan.

"Tom Brady's the greatest quarterback of all time," said another.

"I'm here for him," said another. "I got the sweater - it's a little hot for a sweater, but I'll take the heat."

Heat is what they are hoping this "Free Tom Brady" rally will put on NFL officials to remove the Super Bowl MVP's four game suspension.

"We're crazy when we're unified," said organizer Paublo Munoz. "We're an amazing team - as Patriots Nation, that is - and this really shows it."

 

Some came from New Hampshire and Rhode Island just to show their support and purchase shirts, dawning the words "Free Brady".

 

After getting married earlier this month, one couple had a change of plans for their honeymoon in hopes of a change in plans with disciplinary action taken against Brady.

"God bless Brady, because we're backing him, no matter what," said new husband Paul Goodrow. "We're not going on our honeymoon until that ban is lifted."

 

Last week, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he won't appeal the punishment dealt to the team. But these fans say the $1 million fine and losing two draft picks is way too harsh.

They also had some choice words for the NFL commissioner and Indianapolis Colts.

"Goodell is stupid," said a young fan.



Photo Credit: necn
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA["I Need Your Help": Woman Battling Anorexia in Video]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 11:40:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/OC+Anorexic+woman.JPG

Fighting for her life and asking the public for help, an emaciated woman from Southern California posts an emotional video on YouTube, spotlighting her battle with an eating disorder.

Sitting on a couch, looking gaunt and at times struggling to speak, 37-year-old Rachael Farrokh says, “I need your help. I’m suffering from an eating disorder and it’s a very severe kind of anorexia.”

She goes on to explain her years-long struggle with the both physical and mental disorder and how near death she is at 5 feet 7 inches, weighing a mere “40-something pounds.”

Farrokh’s husband Rod Edmondson quit his job to become her 24-hour caretaker as she is bedridden and too weak to move around on her own in their San Clemente home.

At one point, he is seen holding Farrokh, cradling her down a flight of stairs with her frail body clinging to him.

The couple asks for donations to help Farrokh get to a hospital in Denver that specializes in severe cases like hers. They both say hospitals in the area won’t treat her because her current weight makes her a “liability.”

“My lovely wife and I have been together for more than a decade and she will be seeing her final days if we don’t take action!,” Edmondson writes on a GoFundMe page created for Farrokh.

“The funding will help cover medical bills and overall treatment. Time is of the essence and I don't want to lose the most important person in my life,” he writes.

He warns about the oversimplification of the disorder, writing about how it’s not a quick fix for Farrokh.

“People think it's just about being skinny and that they just need to eat something and it will be all better. The reality is people are hurting so much that they're trying to make themselves disappear, and if we ignore it we let them.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Anorexia isn’t really about food. It’s an unhealthy way to try to cope with emotional problems. When you have anorexia, you often equate thinness with self-worth.”

The video was posted on April 29 and garnered more than 1.7 million voews on YouTube as of Sunday, May 24. Farrokh's GoFundMe page has raised nearly $30,000 of its $100,000 goal.



Photo Credit: Courtesy: Rod Edmondson]]>
<![CDATA[Woman's Obit: "Brady is Innocent!!"]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 09:00:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Patricia+Shong.jpg

A 72-year-old woman's loved ones fulfilled her dying wish to convey a final message on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the "deflategate" scandal while writing her obituary.

Patricia M. Shong, of Auburn, Massachusetts, died on Monday surrounded by family. Her obituary says she enjoyed knitting, weekly card night with the ladies and spending time with her family. "She would also like us to set the record straight for her," it reads. "Brady is innocent!!"

Brady is in the process of appealing his four-game suspension after the NFL ruled that he had a role in the deflation of the team's footballs. Commissioner Roger Goodell has rejected the NFLPA's request that he recuse himself from hearing the appeal after the union said he would be called as a witness and would not be impartial.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced Tuesday that the team would not appeal the penalties levied against it.



Photo Credit: Telegram & Gazette]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Responds to Girl's Letter]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 11:57:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/211*120/obamatweet1.JPG

A small girl with a big message caught the president's attention on Twitter.

Five-year-old Yasmeen from Virginia wrote a letter to President Obama asking that he "stop war for our world," adding that countries should have a meeting instead.

She also asked the president to "give a speech to tell everyone they can marry who they want."

Her aunt, Dr. Fahmida Zaman, a psychologist in San Francisco, tweeted a picture of the letter to the president — and the commander in chief responded.

He wrote: "Tell your niece I really like her letter. Couldn't agree more!" he wrote. It was only Obama's sixth tweet since getting his own account.

"The fact that he responded to a letter that a 5-year-old wrote, to be able to share with her that her words got to the president was pretty remarkable," Zaman said.

The message has been retweeted more than 3,000 times.



Photo Credit: Via Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Isla Vista Victim's Dad Fights for Gun Laws]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 08:57:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/216*120/VICTIM+FATHER.JPG

Since his son, Christopher, was killed during a shooting rampage in Isla Vista, California, a year ago Saturday, Richard Martinez has upended his life to advocate for gun control.

The former criminal defense lawyer who once gave little thought to the number of people shot in the United States now cares only about making sure others do not die as his 20-year-old son did.

"I feel a sense of urgency," he said this week. "I feel like the longer it takes us to get these things done, the more people are going to die for no good reason. It's that important. So for me, this is a matter of life and death."

Martinez is a senior outreach associate for Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group. He has traveled the country asking voters to back candidates in favor of what the group calls common-sense gun legislation. He worked to get gun control measures passed in California and Washington and to turn back other bills in Florida.

“The level of gun violence in this country is appalling,” he said. “We have lock-down drills now in elementary schools and we regard that as normal. When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s in this country, no little kid ever thought of being shot and killed in their elementary school."

Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, was gunned down at a deli near the campus on May 23, 2014 when a troubled 22-year-old student of a local community college went on a shooting spree.

Elliot Rodger had three guns in his BMW, a Glock 34 and two SIG Saur P226s. Firing out the window, he killed three people and injured seven others. He injured another seven people by driving over them with the car. Just before the shooting rampage, he killed three others at his apartment, stabbing to death two roommates and a guest.

Rodger, whose father, Peter, was an assistant director of the “The Hunger Games,” had earlier been visited by deputies from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office because his mother was worried. But the deputies failed to search his room or find his guns and left convinced of a misunderstanding.

Martinez’s activism began immediately after the shootings, at a sheriff’s office news conference where he emotionally denounced “craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.” At his son’s memorial he challenged the mourners to send postcards to their political representatives with what was becoming his mantra, “Not One More.”

Afterward, Everytown for Gun Safety approached him about delivering some of the 2.4 million postcards created in response and he did. He hand-delivered postcards to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a strong supporter of gun rights, and to U.S. Rep. Marco Rubio, who opposed some gun control measures as ineffective and infringing on the constitutional right to bear arms.

He's been working full-time for Everytown for Gun Safety ever since.

"Mr. Martinez said he never expected this could happen to his family -- but gun violence can, and does, happen in every town," said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which merged with Mayors Against Illegal Guns to create Everytown for Gun Safety last year.

The National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Martinez, 62, grew up on a farm in an extended family that hunted, and he served in the U.S. Army as a military police office in Heidelberg in what was then West Germany. Before his son was killed, he said he paid no attention to debates over gun control — not when 20 children were massacred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, nor when some of their parents pleaded unsuccessfully with the U.S. Congress to pass an expansion of background checks for firearms purchases.

“I blamed craven politicians,” he said. “The fact is I’m responsible too. I didn’t do anything.”

Everytown for Gun Safety has turned its attention to the states. In November, Washington voters approved universal background checks for gun buyers -- a law the NRA said would be ineffective. After the Isla Vista shootings, the California lawmakers approved allowing families to ask a judge to remove firearms temporarily from a relative who appears to pose a threat.

Martinez said he would never know whether the new legislation could have made a difference in his son's death.

"But it's a new tool that wasn't available to families or law enforcement before," he said. "And it's something that can save lives because we need to do a better job in this country about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people and that means felons, domestic abusers and people who are mentally unstable."

No laws will protect everyone all the time, but gun controls can make Americans safer, Martinez said, just as seat belts, air bags and other measures cut the number of deaths from automobile accidents. There is no single answer to gun violence, but many, and they will make a difference over time, he said.

On average 32,514 people die from gun violence in the United States each year, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"Why is it we have to accept such a high level of gun violence?" Martinez asked. "It's not necessary. These things are preventable. There are solutions."

The NRA in the 1950s and 1960s was a far different organization than it is today -- civic minded and safety conscious, he said.

"Their attitude towards gun safety was far different in that time period than it is now," he said. "They need to get back to their traditional values."

His son, whom he described as funny, kind, generous and gentle, was competitive in academics and athletics and wanted to follow his parents into law. His mother, Caryn Michaels, is a deputy district attorney in San Luis Obispo.

"He just enjoyed life," Richard Martinez said. "He was just an absolutely terrific kid."

Martinez himself has not been back in the courtroom since his son died. What is important to him now is trying to save the lives of other young people.

"That's why I get up in the morning," he said. "Otherwise -- my son was the center of my life. He meant everything to me."


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Missing Kayaker's Body May Be Found]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 21:41:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/52315kayak.jpg

A body discovered Saturday in the Hudson River could be the 46-year-old missing kayaker allegedly killed last month by his fiancee, according to a forensic specialist close to the case.

"We were informed that a body had been recovered from the Hudson River and that body was believed to be from Mr. Viafore," forensic scientist Michael Archer told NBC 4 New York.

Vincent Viafore has been missing since April 19, when his kayak capsized in the Hudson, about 50 miles north of New York City near Bannerman Island.

Angelika Graswald, 35, who had been his fiancee, has been indicted on a second-degree murder charge in the case. Archer works for attorneys representing Graswald.

"It is my understanding that the body located today was found in the general vicinity where Mr. Viafore went missing," Archer said, "and from various media reporting, the police have said that the clothing on the person found match what Mr. Viafore was last seen wearing."

The body was found near the Cornwall Yacht Club, about a mile south of where Viafore's kayak capsized. A medical examiner is attempting to determine the identity of the body.

Graswald, a Latvian expatriate, admitted to tampering with Viafore's kayak while the engaged couple paddled on the Hudson and later confessed "it felt good knowing he would die," a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Viafore, 46, was not wearing a life jacket.

Assistant District Attorney Julie Mohl said at a bail hearing Wednesday that Graswald felt trapped and stood to benefit by $250,000 from life insurance policies.

Mohl did not detail how Graswald tampered with her fiance's kayak but said it filled with water and capsized. Viafore held onto his boat for 5 to 10 minutes in the cold, choppy water, but Graswald called 911 some 20 minutes after his kayak capsized. Witnesses say she intentionally capsized her own kayak, Mohl said.

Graswald was rescued by another boater and treated for hypothermia.

She later told investigators that she felt relief and "it felt good knowing he would die," Mohl said.

The judge set bail at $3 million cash.

After the hearing, defense attorney Richard Portale noted the language barrier between Graswald and investigators. He said he would look into whether her statements were voluntary.

"I'm skeptical of the statements," he said. 

]]>
<![CDATA[Youth Soccer Coach Threatens Parent]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 19:10:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/robert+riccuiti.jpg

A Long Island, New York, youth soccer coach was arrested after sending a profanity-laced email to a parent who was concerned about his 6-year-old son's playing time, police said.

Robert Ricciuti, 45, of Glen Head, was arraigned Saturday on a charge of second-degree aggravated harassment for allegedly sending the email, which invited the boy's father to meet with him and his baseball bat.

"However, don't be surprised when I bounce your head off the floor with a Louisville Slugger," the email reads, according to a police citation. "And by the way, I am not simply spitting words out. I would actually prefer to settle this in person. You're a pathetic excuse for a man."

The citation states that Ricciuti admitted to investigators that he sent the emails.

"I lost my head," he told a detective. "I overreacted. I totally went overboard with my emails."

Ricciuti is also a principal at a school in Yonkers.

It was unclear whether Ricciuti had retained an attorney who could comment on the charge.



Photo Credit: NCPD]]>
<![CDATA[Soldier Father Surprises Daughter]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 23:14:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Soldier+Reunites+With+Daughter.jpg

It was a Memorial Day weekend to remember for one local girl who received a heartwarming surprise from her father that was captured on video.

Trent Shoemaker has served in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years and has been deployed to Iraq and Bosnia. Due to his role as a Flight Operations Specialist based in Jacksonville, Florida, Shoemaker only gets to see his daughter, 9-year-old Zolei, as well as his girlfriend, Jennie Mojica, every few months. Trent made sure his latest reunion with his daughter was a special one however.

“I knew I was gonna surprise her,” Trent said. “She actually thought I was gonna be at work.”

Jennie had a camera on hand Friday as she and Trent visited Zolei at her new school, Joseph H. Brown Elementary in Philadelphia. The camera rolled as Zolei ran towards her father, cried out “Daddy,” and jumped into his arms. The father and daughter held each other close as tears of joy fell down her face.

“I was really excited because I miss him,” Zolei told NBC10. “I miss him when he’s away but I’m proud of him.”

While Jennie admits there are challenges with Trent being away so often, she is proud of all that he’s done for his family and his country.

“It’s tough because obviously we want him here physically,” Jennie said. “But we understand that what he’s doing isn’t just for us but it’s for everyone.”

It’s an understanding that is especially relevant for the family this Memorial Day Weekend. It’s also something Trent and Jennie hope other families are aware of as they partake in the normal holiday festivities.

“Keep the people who are still in harm’s way in mind,” Trent said. “There are still people out there across the world, still fighting.”

“I’ve learned a lot through him,” Jennie said. “We have to keep in mind that there are soldiers out there putting their life at risk to keep our country safe. I wish he was home more but we’re all safe because of it.”

Trent will head back to work on Monday. But for now, just like the citizens he protects, he’s enjoying Memorial Day Weekend with the people he loves the most.

]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Scouts Replace Stolen Flags]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 20:32:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/elsinore-veteran-cemetery-flag-memorial-day.jpg

A group of Girl Scouts may deserve a "Saving Memorial Day" badge after their quick thinking preserved a Southern California cemetery's tradition of honoring veterans.

The girls of Troop 1124 scrambled Saturday to replace hundreds of American flags apparently stolen from an Inland Empire cemetery. They quickly bought out several nearby stores of their flags, according to the Troop leader Cynthia Bertoldo, spending $450 of their own money in a gesture that a cemetery worker said saved their Memorial Day weekend.

"We used our cookie money to buy new flags so we can remember and honor our veterans," said Bertoldo's 11-year-old daughter, Emiley.

For Memorial Day each year, an Inland Empire Veterans of Foreign Wars post adorns veterans' graves at Elsinore Valley Cemetery with crosses accompanied by small American flags, cemetery administrative assistant Michael Blake said. They work with some other entities and the help of Boy and Girl Scouts.

But the roughly 650 flags were missing from a storage shed Saturday morning, and suspected stolen -- on the day when they were supposed to be laid out.

"We all kind of looked at each other like, well, what are we going to do?" Blake said.

Troop 1124 was at the cemetery at 8 a.m. to help with the project, just like they'd done for the last six years, Emiley said.

But when they were told that, unlike the prior years, they wouldn't be able to plant flags in the crosses, the girls discussed it and voted to take action.

"Tell us where to go, we'll go get the flags now. We don't want to walk away without the flags on these graves," Cynthia Bertoldo said.

They called nearby stores, including a Wal-Mart, Big Lot and Dollar Tree, and reserved all the flags they had on hand.

All told, Troop 1124 spent $450, Bertoldo said, "quite a bit" of their cookie fund, which is usually spent on things like trips. But Bertoldo said that the girls always spend at least 30 percent of the troop's cookie sales profits on the community.

The troop returned triumphant. It was a relief, Blake said, to be suddenly gifted a set of over 700 new, and matching, flags. He called the girls "saviors of the day" and added it was "really awesome of them to step up and do it for us, because that wasn't cheap."

All told, the girls were at the cemetery for about five-and-a-half hours Saturday, until 1:30 p.m., when the flags were all set up, Cynthia Bertoldo said.

"This is what I expect from the girls all the time," she said. "This is who they are. They're just excited that somebody thinks that they're special."

The Bertoldos have a personal connection to the cemetery, too: Emiley's great-grandfather's wife is buried there.

And though she never met him, Emiley thinks about her great-grandfather a lot, she said. Vito Bertoldo was honored with the Medal of Honor for guarding two U.S. command posts in France against a host of enemy soldiers, including nearby tanks, for two long days in January 1945.

"Master Sergeant Bertoldo withstood the attack of vastly superior forces for more than 48 hours without rest or relief, time after time escaping death only by the slightest margin while killing 40 hostile soldiers," his medal citation reads.

Emiley said she was amazed at "all he's done for our country." And as for the great flag rescue of Memorial Day 2015, she said "it feels super good when you're helping the community."



Photo Credit: Tony Shin]]>
<![CDATA[Vandals Destroy California Dam]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 18:43:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/0522-2015-FremontDam2.jpg

Police in Fremont, California, are trying to figure out who deflated a rubber dam on Alameda Creek Thursday morning, letting nearly 50 million gallons of drinking water flow out.

The lost amount is enough water for 500 homes for a whole year, Alameda County Water District general manager Robert Shaver said Friday.

"It's shocking that someone would do this, given our current situation. Our drought is so severe," Fremont-resident Emily Kunkel said. "I don't understand why anyone would do that."

Investigators don't have a motive yet and don't know whether this was the work of vandals or an act of terrorism.

The dam was inside a secured area where no trespassing signs are posted. But nearby residents said vandals have recently struck in the area.

"Fiber cables, AT&T U-verse being cut twice in the last eight to nine months," Fremont resident Karl Melzner said. "The second one was just six weeks ago."

Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison said state and federal leaders are not doing enough to protect vulnerable infrastructure.

Harrison pointed to the attack at a South Bay PG&E substation and to the serial stowaway who managed to sneak past security and board a plane at Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Harrison said the dam is just the latest example of what's sorely lacking: funding to protect infrastructure.

"Hopefully items like this will raise attention to not just local leaders, but to state and federal leaders, that we need more money for infrastructure to make sure that our city and our regions are safe," Harrison said. "We need to make sure we’re investing in infrastructure or things like this are just going to continue to happen."



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Vets Rescuing Oil-Soaked Pelicans]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 19:52:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/228*120/5-22-15-Pelican.JPG

There's no guarantee they will survive, but this could be their only shot.

Eight brown pelicans soaked in sludgy crude oil have arrived at the Oiled Bird Care and International Bird Rescue Center in San Pedro, California, where veterinarians and expert are scrambling to help the seabirds survive.

"They have been very heavily oiled," said Dr. Christine Fiorello of the Oiliced Wildlife Care Network based out of UC Davis. "Anywhere from 90 to 100 percent oiled."

So far, eight brown pelicans have been saved, but the bodies of five oil-soaked bodies of pelicans have been recovered, officials told Reuters Friday. Those being cleaned up and washed in San Pedro are expected to have a good prognosis, "based on the fact that they were captured promptly and getting care right away," according to Fiorello. "We’re lucky for that."

Rescuers also saved two sea lions and one elephant seal from the spill zone since the pipeline ruptured on Tuesday, according to a spokesperson for the cleanup and recovery operations.

The cleanup process is tedious. At first, the birds sit for 48 hours, so they can adapt to the stress of being removed from their environment, Fiorello said.

The team then uses various cleaning chemicals to first loosen the oil from the birds’ feathers before using Dawn dishwashing detergent to finally wash out the oil.

The Oiled Bird Care and International Bird Rescue Center is part of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's "Oiled Wildlife Care Network," and the closest to the spill near Santa Barbara.

"We have drills, we are getting ready for a spill every day of the year," said Eric Laughlin of Fish and Wildlife. But he said the whole process will take time.

Once the birds are cleaned, they are cared for medically for up two weeks before they are expected to be released back into the wild.

The release is expected to happen in San Pedro, because pelicans are migratory birds and could be released anywhere along the coast, Laughlin said.

]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. FedEx Trailer Crash Probe]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 23:46:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/199*120/bus-crash-new-AP162334977839.jpg

After 13 months of investigation, why the driver of a FedEx tractor trailer veered across a Northern California roadway and crashed head-on into a tour bus may never be known, California Highway Patrol officials said Friday. 

The big rig crossed a freeway median and slammed into a tour bus carrying a group of Southern California high school students on April 10, 2014. Five students, three chaperones and the drivers of both vehicles died in the crash on Interstate-5 near the Northern California city of Orland.

The Silverado Stages bus was taking the students, from many schools in Southern California, to Humboldt State University for a campus visit.

CHP officials said Friday the FedEx drive, previously identified as Timothy Evans, was responsible for the crash, but they were unable to prove whether driver fatigue was a factor. They also could not prove if the driver had an undetermined, undiagnosed medical condition.  But they did conclude there was no willful intent to cause the crash. 

"Our investigators carefully analyzed every aspect of this collision and concluded that environmental factors, roadway conditions and vehicle maintenance were not the cause," said CHP Northern Division Chief Ruben Leal. "The collision was caused — for unknown reasons — by the driver’s unsafe turning movement, and although fatigue or an undetermined medical condition may have contributed, there is no conclusive evidence."

Investigators did, however, determine that the drivers were not using cell phones and were not impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Prior to making public the report and conclusion, Chief Leal and other CHP officials met in private to brief surviving bus passengers and family members of those who died. The meeting occurred at a community center in Hacienda Heights.  Afterwards, they expressed thanks to the CHP for the thorough investigation, but also expressed some disappointment over the failure to reach a more deifnitive conclusion.

"I just wanted to know why," said Evelyn Guzman, a surviving passenger who recovered enough from her injuries to enroll at California State University Northridge.  "We didn't get that." 

The fire ignited by the collision caused such devestating damage to the human remains of Evans that autopsy was not able to determine if he had suffered a heart attack or other critical health crisis that may have incapacitated him, according to CHP Sgt. Nate Parsons, who oversaw the investigation.  However, the investigative team saw no evidence Evans had a pre-existing medical condition, Sgt. Parsons said.

Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board released information gathered in its own investigation, which included one witness who said the driver of the FedEx delivery truck appeared to be unconscious and slumped over moments before the collision.

The NTSB released 102 documents online, including still frames of security camera video that showed the FedEx driver at a fast-food restaurant, shortly before beginning the ill-fated trip south from the city of Weed.  Another driver there said Evans appeared clammy and pale.

NTSB investigators in 2014 found no sign that the driver attempted to brake before the crash, when it traveled at an 8-degree angle across the 58-foot median, passing through oleander bushes, and into the freeway's northbound lanes. But the NTSB's preliminary report into the incident didn't provide a conclusion on the driver's condition before the crash.

The CHP investigation also found the driver crossed into opposite lanes without applying the brakes or "making any type of evasive steering."

"Some evidence of possible fatigue or sleepiness included: the long straight section of roadway, the departure angle of the tires consistent with fatigue-related collisions, that the driver was alone and did not attempt to avoid a collision, and an eyewitness report the driver was slumped toward the driver’s window as he approached oncoming traffic," the CHP concluded.

Investigators  looked at the driver's schedule in preceeding days, and found he had sufficient rest time so that he did not fit a fatigue profile.

Despite listing those factors, CHP officials said they could not determine for certain whether he had become drowsy and was not aware the big rig had begun veering to the left.

"I wanted to know something happened," said Evelin Jimenez, his brother Ismael was killed.  For her, the lingering uncertainty "made it worse."

FedEx "will carefully review the CHP report," FedEx Communications Manager Fred McCluskey said in a written statement.  "However, we will reserve comment until the NTSB has also completed its work and finalizes and releases its findings."

Also pending are multiple civil suits now moving through Los Angeles Superior Court.

"If your driver falls asleep...you're responsible for that," said Jeff Wells, an attorney representing four of the plaintiffs.

The trauma is still felt by those who survived, said one parent, Gaylord Hill, whose son Miles Hill is now enrolled at San Francisco State University.  "He has nightmares and flashbacks...his mental state is still pretty devestated."

Patrick Healy contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Funeral for Dean in Amtrak Wreck]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 21:45:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/derrick+griffith+funeral.jpg

Friends, family and students packed into a Bronx church Friday evening to mourn the CUNY dean who was killed in last week's deadly Amtrak derailment. 

Outside the Community Protestant Church on Gun Hill Road, everyone had a story about how CUNY Medgar Evers College Dean Derrick E. Griffith touched his or her life. 

Jovani Chavys, a dropout student Griffith took under his wing, said, "He gave me the chance to do something with myself. And I wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for him, honestly." 

The 42-year-old's funeral comes days after Medgar Evers College set up a scholarship fund in his name. Griffith, the school's acting dean of student affairs and enrollment management, was a beloved member of the college's community, and hundreds paid tribute to the man in the days following the derailment. 

A volunteer ambulance corps saluted Griffith outside the service. Commander James Robinson said it was Griffith who asked him to speak to students at Medgar Evers, and it was one of the proudest moments of his life.

"God, I wish I knew how I could bring him back," said Robinson, of Bedford-Stuyvesant. "But he has left a legacy, a real legacy."

Arthur Henderson, a former Amtrak conductor, said he'd never met Griffith but he felt compelled to pay his respects after learning about him.

"When this tragedy happened, I got really kind of emotionally involved, and I really, really made an effort, and thank God I'm here tonight to express my feelings to the family," he said.

Griffith was scheduled to participate in his doctoral commencement ceremony on May 27, and was to be conferred his Ph.D. in urban education from CUNY, which has released his dissertation, "What's Black Got to Do With It? An Analysis of Low-Income Black Students and Educational Outcomes", online. 

He was a father figure to his students, and on Friday, many said the best way they could honor him is try and live up to his expectations.

"It's a sad day, but we're always going to remember him for the things he did for us, as people who had nothing gorwing up," said Chavys. 

Griffith's body will be laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. 

Seven other people, including six with ties to the tri-state area, were killed in the May 12 crash, which also injured more than 200 people. Federal investigators are looking into the derailment and have said that the train's engineer was going more than 100 mph when the train derailed on a curved section of track in Philadelphia.

Steven Schwartzapfel, the attorney representing Griffith's family, said earlier this week it appeared that Amtrak was "negligent" in the derailment, though no lawsuit has been filed at this time, given the ongoing nature of the investigation.  

"A lawsuit at the appropriate time will be filed," Schwartzapfel said.

]]>
<![CDATA["Victory Parade" Police Pursuit]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 02:16:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/194*120/5-22-15_Citizen_Arrest.JPG

A bizarre slow-speed chase of a man in a convertible Ford Mustang ended peacefully Friday when a man stepped into traffic and in front of the car and stopped it, forcing the driver to surrender.

The man in the Mustang had a sign on the driver's side door reading, "Victory Parade," as he led police on pursuit at 10 mph with his hazard lights on in the western San Fernando Valley.

The man flashed victory signs, and waved and saluted at bystanders on sidewalks as he wove in and out of traffic while police followed along the main Valley drag, Ventura Boulevard.

The man had a beard and was wearing a newsboy cap. In addition to the sign on the driver's side door, a sign on the passenger-side door read: "victory" and below that "war over we win."

The pursuit began at 5:45 p.m. in Northridge after an off-duty firefighter called police to report an erratic driver, said LAPD Lt. John Jenal.

The pursuit ended about an hour later when an onlooker stepped into the path of the car. The Mustang driver appeared to try to wave the man away, but he didn't budge.

The driver got out of the car with his hands up and surrendered. He faces a less serious misdemeanor charge of evading arrest. Police said he has a history of mental illness and they believe he was having a "crisis."

The man who stopped the chase was intially detained by police but later released.

Witnesses were shocked to see him handcuffed at the scene.

"A slow-speed pursuit and then the guy that stopped the car got arrested?" said witness Kelsey Savoie. "I don't understand why that happened."

William Renaud said he thinks the man should get a reward.

"He was brave," he said.

Jenal said police do not condone someone "endangering themselves, impeding the road."

Rosa Ordaz contributed to this report.

]]>
<![CDATA[Cops Escort Girls Without Dads to Dance]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 02:50:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/daddy-daughter-dance.jpg

Dozens of girls being raised without fathers weren't left out Friday night when the Chicago Police Department held its first-ever "Daddy Daughter Dance."

The event at the South Shore Cultural Center wasn't intended for officers and their daughters, but rather as a way for all dads to spend a formal evening with their little girls. Still, many of the girls who come from neighborhoods where poverty and violence leave little for celebration got a very special escort: a commander, sergeant or officer who was happy to stand in for their dads.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing because some people don't really associate with their fathers," said 13-year-old Brejay Payne. "So once you come out, dressed up, and dance, eat, and play with your father, it's kind of a nice day."

Girls, dads, and officers were dressed to the nines for the free, formal event. While the girls got an opportunity to enjoy food and refreshments and be the center of attention, officers got a chance to connect with community members and show that policing is more than just walking a beat.

"They actually get to see us to find out that that the police are nothing but people. We just happen to have uniforms on," said Cmdr. Larry Watson.

Chicago police districts 5, 7, and 9, as well as the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, planned the dance. They said they hope to make it an annual event.



Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Man Convicted in '70 Murder Free]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 17:49:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/052215+prince+johnson.jpg

A man convicted in a fatal robbery of a ice cream truck driver in Coconut Grove, Florida, more than 40 years ago when he was just a teen is a free man.

Prince Johnson has been in prison since he was 16, following his 1971 trial for first-degree murder in the death of Marta Roman.

At a hearing Friday, a Miami-Dade judge furloughed the sentence. Johnson thanked his family after he was set free.

"My family, for all the moral support they gave me, standing by me," he said.

Prosecutors accused Johnson and another teenager of shooting Roman during a robbery of her ice cream truck in July 1970. Two 6-year-old girls told investigators they heard the shots and saw the teens running away from the ice-cream truck.

At first, prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for Johnson, but a judge sentence him to life in prison instead.

"The State knew that there was another person involved, they couldn't connect it. Prince was never alleged to be the shooter in this case, he was a kid who possibly got swept into this incident," public defender Gail Lewis said.

"I'm so happy and I want everybody to know there is a God up above," family member Olive Johnson-Coley said. "He missed his whole life, he was only 16."

"He wouldn't take anything from people, he was different but today is my day, I can't wait to kiss him," aunt Kathleen Basten said.

Three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all juvenile offenders sentenced to death or to life in prison must be re-sentenced. The court deemed it a cruel and unusual punishment otherwise, and now the courts are seeing more cases like Johnson's.

]]>
<![CDATA[2 Allegedly Tried to Join ISIS]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 17:02:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/231*120/nader+elhuzayel+arrest+fbi+isis.JPG

Two men from Orange County, California, arrested Thursday allegedly hoped to help or join the Islamic State, a terrorist group, according to Department of Justice officials.

Anaheim residents Muhanad Badawi and Nader Elhuzayel, both 24, were charged Friday in U.S. District Court of Central California with conspiring to support ISIS. The pair arranged for one of the men to fly to Turkey so he could join ISIS, according to a DOJ news release.

Badawi and Elhuzayel were arrested by a joint terrorism task force that included FBI agents Thursday night; Elhuzayel was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport, while Badawi was arrested at an inn in Anaheim.

Elhuzayel allegedly admitted to FBI agents after he was arrested and read his Miranda rights that he planned to join ISIS after flying to Turkey, according to an affidavit filed in court. The ticket was allegedly purchased with Badawi's credit card, and both spoke of supporting ISIS online, according to the affidavit.

While the men awaited a court appeareance Friday, Elhuzayel's parents said he was not a terrorist.

"I don't believe my son is like that," said his mother, Falak Elhuzayel. "I know my son is a good kid."

His parents told NBC4 that they dropped Elhuzayel off at LAX's Tom Bradley International Terminal Thursday afternoon on a flight to Israel. Falak Elhuzayel said it was a one-way ticket, but that he only planned to visit family for the summer.

However, Elhuzayel planned to "pledge allegiance to (ISIS), and defend (ISIS) against attackers" after getting off the Tel Aviv-bound plane at its layover in Turkey, the affidavit said.

An affidavit in support of a criminal complaint, filed today in Santa Ana federal court, outlines an alleged scheme in which Badawi and Elhuzayel used social media to discuss ISIS and terrorist attacks, expressed a desire to die as martyrs and made arrangements for Elhuzayel to leave the United States to join ISIS, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

During an initial court appearance this afternoon in Santa Ana federal court, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Block found that Badawi posed both a flight risk and a danger to the community. He will be held without bond pending trial.

Elhuzayel will be held pending a detention hearing set for Wednesday.

The defendants were not asked to enter pleas.

Block set a preliminary hearing for June 5, which will take place unless an indictment is issued prior to that date. Arraignment scheduled for June 8.

According to the affidavit, on May 3, Elhuzayel saw a Twitter post from Elton Simpson, one of the two gunmen who were killed trying to attack a conference in Garland, Texas. In the tweet, Simpson stated that he and his "bro" had pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS, prosecutors said.

In response, Elhuzayel tweeted his support for the attempted attack and praised Simpson as a "martyr," according to federal prosecutors.

In recorded conversations last month, Badawi and Elhuzayel "discussed how it would be a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah, and to die in the battlefield," and they referred to ISIS as "we," according to the affidavit.

Prosecutors allege that when Badawi expressed concerns about ISIS struggling due to airstrikes by coalition forces, Elhuzayel responded that they had to be patient, and "can you imagine when al-Qaida joins with Islamic State?"

According to the affidavit, Badawi responded: "We will be huge."

The two men also discussed local Muslim leaders, with Elhuzayel complaining that these leaders were not "legitimate" because they believed in democracy and were not fighting for an Islamic State, prosecutors contend.

The men discussed where in the Middle East they would rather be, and Elhuzayel said he wanted to fight and did not want to be in the United States, according to the conversations recounted in the affidavit.

On May 7, Badawi allowed Elhuzayel to use his credit card to purchase a one-way airline ticket for travel from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv, Israel, via Istanbul, Turkey, on a Turkish Airlines flight scheduled to depart Thursday, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Badawi indicated that he would be traveling to the Middle East in the future, according to the affidavit.

According to the allegations in the complaint, Elhuzayel admitted after being read his Miranda rights that he planned to disembark in Istanbul to join ISIS and did not intend to travel on to Israel.

If convicted of the charge in the criminal complaint, Badawi and Elhuzayel each would face up to 15 years in federal prison for conspiring to provide material support to ISIS, prosecutors noted.

Elhuzayel's parents said their son was traveling to spend the summer with relatives, not to join a terrorist group.

"Completely beyond any sensible thoughts,'' his father, Salem Elhuzayel, said. "He is not the type. He is a good kid."

His mother, Falak Elhuzayel, said the FBI kicked in the door of their room at the Crystal Inn motel, 2123 W. Lincoln Ave. in Anaheim, and ransacked it.

"They stole my computers from the car,'' she siad. "They took my checkbooks, my credit cards, everything was gone."

Elhuzayel's parents said their son and Badawi were classmates together at Cypress College.

Kate Corrigan, attorney for Badawi, said her client had done nothing wrong.

"My client did not make any steps, according to what I've seen from the government so far, to leave the United States,'' she said. "He's a young man. He's a college student. He's lived here for many years. He's somebody that is very concerned about his family at this point, and he's obviously scared. He understands the severity of the charges and he's, you know, we're planning to address them as we get the evidence."

The Muslim Public Affairs Council issued a statement saying the arrests were based on the two suspects' social media comments, in which they expressed support for ISIS. Both men had purchased plane tickets, with Elhuzayel bound for Turkey, according to MPAC.

"ISIS uses social media to prey on impressionable people," according to MPAC. "According to law enforcement, ISIS puts out close to 100,000 tweets per day and there are at least 50,000 ISIS-related Twitter accounts."

The group said it is "working to bridge the relationship between law enforcement and communities to ensure that communities are safe and are treated as partners rather than suspects."

Toni Guinyard and City News Service contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Family photo provided to NBC4]]>
<![CDATA[Cops Trained to Interact With Vets]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 22:09:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/vets+training+white+plains.jpg

Behind a humble facade in the middle of White Plains, New York, lives are being changed for returning combat veterans, thanks to one idea hatched by a former first responder six years ago. 

"Education has been my best weapon, I think, to help veterans coming home fight their way back," said veteran readjustment counselor Liz Ianelli, who has developed a program teaching police how to interact with veterans.

"It's encouraging them to think differently and have a raised level of awareness that veterans are a special population, and they do have distinct needs," she said. 

From traffic stops to chance meetings, the training equips police with tools to recognize if a veteran is struggling with readjustment, depression and even PTSD.

White Plains Police Commissioner David Chong heard about Ianelli's program and immediately had her teach his entire department.

"We can't forget the service that these young men and women have done for our country," he said. "We're a service department. We're out there to help them." 

It's not just about lectures in a classroom. Ianelli and the officers take the classroom out into the field. At a traffic stop training demonstration, an officer practiced telling the driver: "I see on here you're actually a vet." 

The driver said she'd just returned from deployment, and the officers offered to escort her back to the Vet Center in that training session. 

"For that officer reaching out in that moment, it can profoundly change the direction of someone's life," said Ianelli.

The officers can identify how to problem-solve, defuse a situation, or even direct vets to the Vet Center for more help. 

"Veterans want to know that you care," said White Plains police officer Michael Cheeks, who was a Marine serving in the Persian Gulf before he joined the police department. He has seen the positive impact the First Responder Initiative is making.

"It actually helps us do our job better," he said. 

In just six years, Ianelli's idea has spread across Westchester with dozens of police departments receiving the training, and every new recruit going through the class.

Now first responders across the country are starting to take notice of what began in a humble office in White Plains, and on this Memorial Day weekend, Ianelli says listening and offering help is the least we can do for veterans.

"This country is big on the phrase, 'We'll never forget,' but I'd say, we'll never stop learning," said Ianelli. "If you see a need, what are you going to do about it?" 

]]>
<![CDATA[Letter Urges Black Family to Leave]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 22:10:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hate+letter+li.jpg

Police on Long Island say their hate crimes unit is investigating an anonymous note sent to a black resident asking her and her family to leave the town, which the letter said is "84 percent white."

"ATTN: AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILY," the all-caps note read. "THIS IS COMING FROM LINDENHURST COMMUNITY."

"YOU DON'T BELONG HERE," the letter continued. "PLEASE LEAVE LINDENHURST AS SOON AS YOU CAN. IT WILL BE BETTER FOR ALL OF US."

The letter urged the woman to find a town "WHERE THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE LIKE YOU," and ended with, "SORRY IF THIS IS RUDE, BUT IT'S THE TRUTH."

Darcell Copes lives in the home with her three grown children and five young grandchildren. 

"I went from being fearful, protecting my family, to being totally confused, and wanted to know who and why," she told NBC 4 New York Friday. "Today, it becomes even deeper: is it someone in the school district, is it the guy at the corner store, is it my neighbor down the street? Where?" 

Daughter Ronica Copes uploaded a photo of the menacing, hateful letter to Facebook, and the image has since been shared more than 1,500 times. Dozens of Facebook commenters expressed outrage about the letter, postmarked May 19.

"Sooooo, I'm checking my mail and when I come across this I can't help but laugh... wait, it's not funny though," Ronica Copes wrote on her Facebook page. "Where they do that at? Oh yeah Lindenhurst. Unbelievable but then it's not ... our daily reality, I've just never seen it in this form."

The Copes said they've been receiving support from the community. The family has lived in the home for two years and say they hadn't experienced overt racism in the past since moving there -- but the letter is proof that alive and well in 2015, and they're not shocked. 

Babylon Town and Lindenhurst Village condemned the letter for its "racist hateful views" in a joint statement obtained by Lindenhurst Patch Friday.

“The best way to fight bias is with solidarity and we stand with all of our residents in declaring that there is no place for this type of intolerance and hatred in the Village of Lindenhurst, the Town of Babylon, or anywhere in our community,” the statement said, according to Path. “We are, and always will be, a strong diverse community that does not cede ground to hostility, ignorance, or hatred, wherever it may appear.” 

Darcell Copes called the letter writer a "coward" but will pray for the person, she said. The family won't be intimidated and plan on staying, she added



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York/Ronica Copes]]>
<![CDATA[More Than 1 Involved in DC Murders]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 06:57:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wint+mugshot.jpg

Three members of a D.C. family — and their housekeeper — were held overnight by more than one person before they were slain in their home last week, according to new court documents filed Friday afternoon.

The youngest of the victims, 10-year-old Philip Savopoulos, died from "thermal injuries" and stab wounds. He was found in a bedroom consumed by fire, the documents say.

There was a strong smell of gasoline permeating the house, and a K-9 officer detected an "ignitable liquid." A matchbox and several matches were found at the top of the stairs.

The court documents reveal new details in the murders of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip, and housekeeper Veralicia "Vera" Figueroa, 57, on May 14. 

Quadruple+murder+suspect+Darron+Wint+in+custody+May+21%2C+2015Darron Dellon Dennis Wint, 34, is the only person charged in the murders so far, though the documents say Wint "and others" held the family hostage until $40,000 in cash was delivered Thursday. The deed “required the presence and assistance of more than one person," the documents say.

Wint's name was spelled "Daron Dylon Wint" in previous filings in the case, though today's filing says Darron Dellon Dennis Wint is his "true name." He has also used his brother's name: Steffon. 

Court documents also indicate more than one person knew of the delivery of the $40,000 to the Savopoulos family's home in the hours before the victims died.

In fact, one of those witnesses changed his story about critical details of the case while police were interviewing him, changing his claims of when the request to deliver money was made, how he received the package and where it was left.

The person the documents call "W-1" said that he received a text from Savvas Savopoulos Wednesday evening, instructing Savopoulos' assistant to meet another employee Thursday morning to pick up a package.

Initially, W-1 said the request to pick up a package was made Thursday morning.

The employee took four bundles out of his or her pockets and put the cash in a red bag belonging to W-1.

W-1 drove the assistant to the Savopoulos home, and called Savopoulos 10 minutes before arriving. According to the witness, Savopoulos instructed W-1 to leave the money in a red car inside the garage.

The assistant put the money inside a manila envelope and left it on the driver's seat. Police did not find the envelope in the car during their search of the home.

Wint appeared in court Friday afternoon in a prison jumpsuit, his hands and legs shackled. He is charged with first-degree murder while armed. 

In court Friday, Wint was ordered held without bond and ordered to submit to a DNA swab. He did not enter a plea, and is due back in court June 23.

Police said during the hearing that they are looking at a plastic water bottle with fingerprints on it that was found at the crime scene.

On Friday, D.C. and Prince George's County authorities searched a motel in College Park where Wint and and others were seen the previous night. Investigators carried bags of evidence from the motel shortly after 4 p.m. Friday.

Wint was arrested late Thursday while in a two-vehicle caravan including a box truck in northeast D.C.

The white Chevrolet Cruze Wint was in was followed from the Howard Johnson motel in College Park by members of the fugitive task force. A Prince George’s County Police helicopter also Tracked the car for several miles as it headed south on Route 1 into the district, providing the exact location to officers on the ground.

Officers at the scene described Wint as stoic.

A court document said U.S. marshals saw "a large stack" of what appeared to be $100 bills in the truck. This denomination is consistent with what was delivered to the victims' home.

NBC News has confirmed that at least $10,000 was found in the truck.

The marshals also saw several money orders.

An occupant of Wint's vehicle admitted to authorities that he or she had purchased money orders "under the direction of an identified person who was providing [him or her] with money," according to the document. The person providing the money was not named in the document.

The occupant of the vehicle also told authorities he or she believed the total amount of money orders exceeded $10,000.

He had once worked for the company run by one of the victims, and was identified as a suspect after authorities made a DNA match on a partially eaten slice of pizza left behind in the Savopoulos' home.

Investigators found two Domino's pizza boxes in the bedroom where the three adult victims were found, according to the court documents obtained Friday.

The pizza boxes were time-stamped May 13 at 9:14 p.m. — the night before the killings — and paid for with the Savopoulos' credit card.

A Domino's employee who took the order told detectives that the caller, believed to be Amy Savopoulos, gave some unusual instructions. She told the Domino's employee that she was caring for a sick child and couldn't come to the door, so the delivery person should leave the pizzas on the front porch, ring the bell and then leave.

The delivery person told detectives that all the lights in the house were off, with just the front porch light illuminated. The delivery person placed the food on the porch as instructed and left.



Photo Credit: AP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[4.8 Nevada Quake Shuts Vegas Freeway Ramps]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 17:22:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/199*120/5-22-15-nevada+quake+shake+map+2.JPG

A magnitude-4.8 earthquake struck Nevada Friday afternoon, damaging part of a Las Vegas freeway, officials said.

The quake hit at 11:47 a.m. about 24 miles south-southwest of Caliente, Nevada, according to the US Geological Survey.

Nearly 2,000 responses were listed on the USGS Did You Feel It? survey. The quake was downgraded from a magnitude 5.4 to 4.8

The Nevada Department of Transportation reported the ramps from US-95 southbound to 1-15 northbound and southbound are closed, as well as the MLK on ramp to I-15 southbound, due to possible structural damage.



Photo Credit: USGS]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Indicted in Mattress Murder]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 18:30:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hotel+garden+inn+death.jpg

A 31-year-old woman was indicted Friday on murder and robbery charges in the death of a 28-year-old man found bloodied and unconscious under a mattress at a midtown Manhattan hotel blocks from the Empire State Building earlier this week, according to court documents and authorities.

Christine O'Brien had been with victim Roderick Goodwin, of Bridgeton, New Jersey, in his hotel room at the Hilton Garden Inn early Monday before going down to the lobby and bringing five people -- four men and another woman -- up to Goodwin's hotel room with the intent to rob him, a criminal complaint alleges.

Surveillance video shows O'Brien, the four men and other woman, getting onto an elevator from the lobby around 3:30 a.m., then leaving the hotel sometime later, the complaint says. Two of the men were seen walking down the stairs carrying a large object hidden in a sheet, which is believed to have been a hotel safe stolen from Goodwin's room at the 298-room hotel near Herald Square.

According to court documents, hotel security alerted police after getting a number of complaints around 3:45 a.m. about noise and yelling coming from Goodwin's room. Officers responding to a 911 call found him face down on the floor under the mattress, authorities have said. Blood and broken glass littered the floor of the room, the criminal complaint said. Goodwin was pronounced dead at a hospital. The medical examiner ruled he died of blunt force trauma and asphyxiation,

According to the criminal complaint, one of the men O'Brien allegedly brought up to Goodwin's room smashed him in the head with a bottle, causing some of the traumatic injuries detectives observed. All five suspects then proceeded to beat up Goodwin, kicking and punching him while they repeatedly demanded he give them the combination of the hotel room safe, the complaint said.

O'Brien allegedly told investigators she hit Goodwin in the torso. At one point during the beating, when Goodwin said something that sounded like a number, O'Brien allegedly told investigators she went to the room safe and tried to open it using the number she heard. It didn't work.

Ultimately, O'Brien and the other four suspects left the room together and pulled the safe off the wall so they could take it with them, the criminal complaint says. It wasn't clear what might have been in the safe, and there was no word on the whereabouts of the group O'Brien allegedly involved.

O'Brien was remanded to jail after arraignment Wednesday. She was not in court when the grand jury indictment was announced Friday and is due back in court next month.

Daniel Scott, an attorney for O'Brien, said the criminal complaint has some inaccuracies.

"What they claim she said she did is not true," Scott said. "You have very persuasive detectives putting words in people's mouths."

Scott said detectives obtained the information after a lengthy interrogation that lasted "many hours." He said he met with his client after the indictment was handed down Friday, and that she's doing OK, given the circumstances. Scott said he and his client were looking forward to litigating the case.

The Hilton Garden Inn did not return AP calls earlier this week seeking comment on the murder.  



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sleeping Cop Suspended Without Pay]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 17:17:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/sleeping-cop-1.jpg

A Chicago police officer seen in a viral video apparently sleeping inside a squad car was suspended for five days without pay, a department spokesperson confirmed.

"This incident is unacceptable and not in keeping with the high expectations placed on our officers by this department and the residents of Chicago," the department said in a statement to NBC Chicago.

The penalty was handed down after the officer in seen in the video came forward, the department said. 

The video was posted online last week after being recorded at an intersection on the city's Southwest Side. A man narrating in the footage claims a number of shootings have happened in the area, and suggests a parked squad car is there to patrol.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel reacted to the video on Wednesday and implored the media and the public to keep the incident in context with the other positive things the city's public servants do.

"The video, I think, is there for all to see and make a judgment," he said after a meeting of the Chicago City Council. "You have to look at what the men and women in uniform throughout the city do all day," he said. "There are a lot of videos of officers, and a lot of them do exactly what you’d want them to do, both on duty and off duty, consistent with the responsibilities of being a police officer, which means we put a lot of trust in you."

]]>
<![CDATA[Military Aircraft Goes Off Runway ]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 15:24:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP431552280467.jpg

A military plane has gone off the runway at Naval Air Station North Island into the San Diego Bay, officials confirmed Friday.

A Navy pilot, flying in a T-45C aircraft, overshot the runway while landing during a training exercise at 2 p.m. (5 p.m. ET) a Navy spokesman said.

The pilot was able to eject from the aircraft before it ran into the water. According to Harbor Police, a civilian boater pulled the crew member out of the water.

After being evaluated at UC San Diego Medical Center, the pilot was released and is in stable condition, Navy officials said. When a pilot ejects from a plane, Lt. Reagan Lauritzen told NBC 7 that he or she must have more thorough medical evaluations than a standard checkup.

According to Naval Air Forces, the pilot was training to undergo aircraft carrier landing qualifications before the crash.

The T-45C plane, assigned to Training Squadron 9 in Mississippi, is a two-seat jet used specifically for Navy training. The $17 million aircraft is made by Boeing and BAE Systems, according to a Naval technology website.

The incident happened off the Coronado base's runway 29, near downtown San Diego. For hours, the aircraft sat floating in shallow water against a sea wall.

By Friday evening, crews stationed a crane on the shore and hooked lines underneath the submerged aircraft. They were able to hoist it onto land as night started to fall.

While most of the plane appears intact, the canopy did fly off.

The crash grabbed witness Sean Brady's attention when he heard a large boom.

"So we came around the corner and looked outside and I saw a parachute landing in the water," he said.

His first thoughts went to the pilot. "It was good to see the parachute, and you're just hoping he's OK," said Brady.

The Naval Air Forces said a safety investigation has been launched to find out why the pilot went off the runway.

In 2004, the base experienced a similar crash when an F-18 pilot was unable to stop the jet and rolled it past the airfield, into the bay. According to the U-T San Diego, the pilot was pulled from the water unhurt.

]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Dramatic Cockpit Video]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 17:27:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/2015-05-22_1415.jpg

Stunning cockpit video has been released showing the emergency landing of a World War II-era plane during a historic flyover above D.C. earlier this month.

On May 8, the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the planes flew in formations to represent the major battles of WWII -- but about 30 minutes into the flyover, a Curtiss Helldiver was forced to make an emergency landing at Ronald Reagan National Airport because of mechanical problems.

This week, a YouTube video was posted showing the heart-stopping moments after smoke appears to waft into the cockpit, growing steadily thicker.

"Are we on fire?" a passenger shouts from the back seat as they fly over the Lincoln Memorial. The pilot quickly assesses the situtation and radios for an emergency landing.

Then, moments later, he radios, "We're landing at Reagan. We're on fire."

Information on an available runway quickly comes over the radio as the plane descends, flying low over the Potomac River.

By that point, the pilot believed his passenger was unconscious, according to text superimposed on the video. "Gut wrenching," he said.

In actuality, the passenger had simply removed his headset to look for what they believed to be a fire. 

The plane was on the ground just a minute after the smoky substance was first spotted.

"It was an overwhelming sense of relief to see [the passenger] was conscious," the pilot wrote.

The pilot and his passenger later learned fire wasn't to blame. Instead, a pinhole hydraulic leak had vaporized in the cockpit, appearing like smoke.

"It moved and acted like smoke, [and] combined with fluid heat on the legs of my passenger, it was mistaken for fire," the pilot wrote on the video's YouTube page.

The pilot said they had trained on what to do in case of an emergency during the flyover, and Reagan National Airport officials had been cautioned that they were the alternate airport in case of a problem.

The Curtiss Helldiver was taken off the runway quickly, was repaired and flew out later that afternoon, causing no delays at Reagan.

But the pilot said there was a bigger message behind what happened: "This event, especially on this day, gave a somber reminder to all those who didn't have a runway conveniently aligned," he wrote. "To those who were hundreds of miles away from the nearest carrier, in enemy waters. To those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We remember."


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton Visits NH Brewery]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 17:21:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/228*120/Hillary+Clinton+smuttynose+2.jpg

Hillary Clinton received information on her private email server about the deadly attack on US Diplomatic facilities in Benghazi that has now been classified.

It's new information that came to light about the former Secretary of State as she campaigned at the Smuttynose Brewery in Hampton, New Hampshire, her second visit to the state as a presidential candidate.

Clinton says she wants people to be able to see all of the nearly 300 emails that have been released

"I'm aware that the FBI has asked that portion of one email be held back - that happens in the process of FOI responses," she said. "But that doesn't change the fact that all of the information i the emails was handled appropriately."

No laws were violated. But Friday's redaction shows that Clinton received information considered sensitive on her unsecured personal server, which came to light just as she was beginning her presidential campaign.

Clinton also seemed to give a more definitive answer when asked about her views on the future of US Policy in Iraq.

"This has to be fought by and won by Iraqis," said Clinton. "There is no role whatsoever for American soldiers on the ground to go back other than as trainers and advisers."

The candidate got an earful from small business as she spoke in defense of the Export Import Bank which guarantees loans to help U.S. exporters - opposed by some Republicans.

On the subject of the controversial Trans Pacific Trade Partnership, Clinton says she is still deciding her position.

"I do have concerns," she said. "I have concerns that the standards will not be tough enough. They will not be enforceable."

The Clinton Campaign has announced that her official announcement rally will be June 13. The location has not yet been announced.



Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Quarry Blast Damages Homes, Cars]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 13:00:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/brokenglassquarry.jpg

A blast at a Loudoun County, Virginia, quarry sent rocks and debris smashing into nearby homes and cars, leaving one person injured Thursday morning.

Dwight Brooks said a huge rock from the quarry tore through the roof of his parents' house a half mile away and landed in a bedroom several feet from his brother's bed. Brooks said his brother, who was sleeping in the room, was cut by debris that fell from the ceiling and needed eight stitches. 

"If that had hit him, damage could have been much worse," Brooks said.

The debris came from a scheduled quarry blast, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue said. Falling debris damaged several structures and cars.

Security camera video shows a rock flying through the air and shattering glass in the nearby Fairfax Auto Parts store. Three large windows at the store were shattered when a rock went through the front of the store. 

Employees said they are used to the building shaking from nearby quarry blasts, but the size of these rocks was unprecedented.

Mike Quinn of Fairfax Auto Parts said he had "never in my wildest dreams" seen "the size rocks that we saw that came through the window."

At least a half dozen cars were damaged in the store's parking lot.

First-responders arrived in the area near the intersection of Old Ox Road and Oakgrove Road in Sterling shortly before 11 a.m.

County officials said only one person was injured in the blast.

Inspectors from the blasting company, Winchester Building Supply, surveyed the scene to try to determine what went wrong.

The Loudoun County Fire Marshal's Office and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy were also called to the scene.

Residents who were affected can call the Virginia DMME at 434-951-6310.



Photo Credit: Loudoun Fire Rescue
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Yearbooks Recalled Over Mean Quotes]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 16:11:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/yearbook-split-screen.jpg

Dallas' W.T. White High School is recalling hundreds of yearbooks after someone removed the personal quotes beneath the photos of some seniors and replaced them with insulting remarks.

Senior Juanita Cedillo, the school's prom queen, has cerebral palsy. She uses a wheelchair to get around school because the neurological disorder has affected her muscle coordination and makes using her legs difficult.

Under her senior picture is an insult where a personal quote should be.

"'Want to hear the most annoying noise in the world?'" Cedillo said, reading the quote. "I questioned myself. I was like, 'What could be that annoying noise? Was it my voice?'"

Below other students' pictures are sexual innuendos. Under one picture is written, "The only negativity around here should be a pregnancy test."

"I went in there Monday, thinking, 'Yay, it's here. The thing that I've been waiting for is here,'" explained Cedillo. "For them to taint it, it's not OK. It really isn't. Don't taint something that's important."

Parent Monty Walker, who attended White High School and whose son will soon graduate from there, talked with the principal.

"You know, somebody had to proof it, and proof it again, proof it 10 times. You don't make this mistake," said Walker. "I'm a graduate of W.T. White, and it tarnished the reputation of my high school and alma mater."

The principal is listed in the yearbook as its adviser. The staff even thanks her for proofreading the book and for stepping in to help after the they lost their original adviser halfway through the school year.

The Dallas Independent School District has recovered about 90 percent of the yearbooks and said they are working to determine who made the changes to the book and how it happened.

In a statement, the district said: The district is in the process of reviewing the complete contents of the yearbook, as well as determining the individuals responsible for the unfortunate quotations. Distribution of the yearbook has been ceased until corrections can be made and new yearbooks are printed. Individuals who were responsible will be held accountable. This will be an unfortunate but valuable lesson for all involved."

An email was sent to parents late Thursday, and we are told a note will go home with students as well.

Cedillo said when the book is reprinted she wishes she could have a different quote under her name.

"Be the change you wish the see in the world," Cedillo said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>