<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - National & International News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:34:20 -0500 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:34:20 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Body Is Missing U.Va. Student: Cops]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:22:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hannah+graham+triple+photo.jpg

The remains found Oct. 18 on an abandoned property are those of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, the Albemarle County Police Department said Friday.

The suspect in her disappearance, Jesse L. Matthew, Jr., was charged last month with abduction with attempt to defile Graham, 18.

"We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Hannah," Graham's parents, John and Sue Graham, said in a statement Friday afternoon. "Over recent weeks Hannah has been described by those who know her as bright, witty, thoughtful, loyal and fun to be around. She was all those things and more."

Graham's parents' statement continued:

Put simply, Hannah lit up our lives, the lives of our family and the lives of her friends and others who knew her. Although we have lost our precious Hannah, the light she radiated can never be extinguished. We will hold it in our hearts forever and it will help sustain us as we face a painful future without her.

Graham's family originally lived in England but later moved to the United States; Graham graduated from West Potomac High School in Fairfax County, Virginia in 2013.

In her second year at UVa., Graham had intended to pursue a career in global public health and wanted to help others, her parents said. They said it is heartbreaking that she'll never get to pursue that dream.

UVa. President Teresa Sullivan released a statement Friday, noting the 18-year-old "brought immense energy and delight to her learning at the university, [where] she was a source of friendship and joy for so many people."

Graham's family thanked Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo and other law enforcement agents for their dedication.

The Albemarle County Police Department announced the medical examiner's results at about 4:40 p.m. Friday, saying on Twitter, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Graham family & Hannah's friends during this incredibly difficult time."

Volunteer searchers found the remains at about noon Oct. 18 in an "abandoned property" in the Walnut Creek Park area of Albemarle County, authorities said.

A day later, investigators interviewed nearby residents, and forensic teams combed the sides of a road for several miles past the site. 

Authorities are still asking to hear from people who live along Old Lynchburg Road or those who may have any information; the Charlottesville Police Department's tip line remains open at 434-295-3851.

Matthew's attorney, Jim Camblos, issued a statement Friday, saying the "Carrs (Matthew's family) asked me to convey that they will continue to pray for the Grahams and the Harringtons throughout this ordeal."

Graham was reported missing after a night out with with friends Sept. 12. She was last seen on surveillance videos from the early morning hours of Sept. 13.

The videos show her walking unsteadily, and later running, in downtown Charlottesville. She is also shown with a man police have identified as Matthew, who is shown wrapping his arm around Graham. He is also accused of buying her alcohol.

Investigators believe Matthew, a hospital worker and former taxi driver, acted alone and didn't know Graham before her disappearance.

Matthew was arrested in Texas two weeks after Graham's disappearance, and was extradited to Virginia, where he remains in custody in the Charlottesville area.

He is not due for a court appearance in the case until December, but could appear in a Fairfax, Virginia court earlier to face charges in a separate, earlier case.

Matthew was indicted Monday for attempted capital murder and two other felonies in that case, a 2005 attack on a 26-year-old woman in Fairfax, Virginia.

Police said the victim was walking home from a grocery store in September 2005 when a man grabbed her and forced her into a wooded area, where he assaulted her. He fled after being startled by another person.

On Thursday, a Fairfax judge issued a bench warrant to bring Matthew to Northern Virginia to face charges in that case.

Authorities have previously said DNA evidence links the 2005 Fairfax assault to the murder of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington in fall 2009.

Harrington disappeared after attending a concert at the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. Her body was found in January 2010, a little more than five miles from where Graham's body was found Oct. 18.

No one has been charged in Harrington's murder. But Harrington's parents have been active in searching for Graham, noting the similarities between the two cases.

"I thought [Graham's disappearance] seemed very similar to Morgan's situation with sort of the question of her maybe being somewhat impaired, someone just picking her up and trying to take care of her," Dan Harrington said earlier this fall.

Virginia State Police said late last month that they believe they have found a link between Harrington's death and Graham's disappearance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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<![CDATA[Map: Where NYC Ebola Patient Went]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:45:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ebola+map.jpg
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<![CDATA[A History of School Shootings Since Newtown]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:49:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/school-shooting-AP746502146007_0.jpg

A student opened fire in a high school cafeteria on Friday, killing at least one person and wounding at least three others before killing himself, officials said.

The shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, outside of Seattle, happened during the lunch period. Witnesses described the shooter walking in with a blank stare before opening fire.

"Just all of a sudden I see him stand up, pull something out of his pocket," Austin Taylor, who had just finished lunch, told NBC affiliate KING. 

Taylor said he heard five pops, then saw three kids fall from the table.

The shooting is at least the 11th planned mass shooting at a school since the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, when Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 first-grade students and six adult staff members at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, before killing himself. Here's a look at the ten other major incidents.

Reynolds High School, Oregon

June 10, 2014

Parents of 15-year-old gunman, Jared Michael Padgett, were "confused and shocked" when they found out their son was the suspected killer in the school shootings at an Oregon high school that left one student dead, NBC News reported.The shooter concealed his weapons, an AR-15 type rifle, a semi-automatic handgun, a knife and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, in a backpack and guitar case. Padgett killed a 14-year-old student athlete, Emilio Hoffman. He eventually killed himself in the school bathroom, police said.

Seattle Pacific University, Washington

June 5, 2014

The man responsible for the Seattle Pacific University shootings at the beginning of June was off his psychosis medication because he "wanted to feel the hate", the Associated Press reported. Aaron Rey Ybarra, 26, was armed with a shotgun, a knife and nearly 50 shells of ammunition with intentions to attack a mass number of students and managed to injure two people and kill one 19-year-old student before a student security guard subdued the shooter with pepper spray. After being arrested, police learned Ybarra had done extensive research on other mass shootings, and the shooter told police he didn't target anyone but had a "hatred for the world in general," according to the Associated Press.

Berrendo Middle School, New Mexico

January 14, 2014

 A 12-year-old boy pulled a sawed-off shotgun from his bag and fired shots in a New Mexico Middle School gymnasium. According to officials, the unnamed seventh grade shooter opened fire in the school’s gym with a 20-gauge shotgun, killing one student and seriously injuring two others. John Masterson, an eighth grade social studies teacher, approached the shooter and talked him into putting down the weapon.

Arapahoe High School, Colorado

December 13, 2013

Karl Pierson, 18, entered Arapahoe High School on December 13th, 2013, equipped with a shot gun, a machete, 125 rounds of ammunition and three Molotov cocktails. Pierson entered the school through a door that was normally locked; he fired his first shot randomly in the school’s hallway, then his second, killing 17-year-old Claire Esther Davis. With his final shot, the gunman took his own life, shooting himself in the head. The teen was likely motivated by a dispute with his former debate coach, NBC News reported. 

Sparks Middle School, Nevada

October 21, 2013

A 12-year-old student arrived on the grounds of Sparks Middle School and shot a student in the shoulder, wounding him, then shot and killed Michael Landsberry, a math teacher at the school. The boy’s violent streak ended when he shot himself in the head. The shooter never entered the building and no shots were fired by law enforcement, NBC News reported. A Sparks student, Michelle Hernandez, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that the shooter had complained about being teased.

McNair Discovery Learning Academy, Georgia

August 20, 2013

A young male opened fire at a Georgia elementary school last year. Michael Brandon Hill, 20, was taken into custody after he fired six rounds of gun shots in the main office of the McNair Discovery Learning Academy. Hill was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, terroristic threats, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to officials. No one was injured, NBC News reported. 

Santa Monica College, California

June 7, 2013

John Zawahri, a former student of Santa Monica College, went on a mile-long shooting spree that culminated at Santa Monice College. He first set his father's house on fire, then carjacked a vehicle and threatened to kill the driver if she didn't drive him to the SMC campus, officials said. Zawahri killed five people and injured several others before killing himself, according to NBC News. Zawahri’s father and brother were among the victims.

New River Community College (NRCC), Virginia

April 12, 2013

An 18-year-old college student, Neil Allan MacInnis, faces two counts of malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony after shooting and injuring two women at New River Community College's satellite campus at the New River Valley Mall. The Christiansburg Police Department police chief said a year earlier MacInnis participated in the Christiansburg Police Department Citizens Academy program: a 12-week course where citizens observe the department on a regular day, get the opportunity to ride along in police cars, tour the offices and practice with firearms at the shooting range. 

University of Central Florida, Florida

March 18, 2013

James Oliver Seevakumaran, 30, planned a massacre at the University of Central Florida -- making a checklist that included instructions like "pull fire alarm" and "give them hell", police told NBC News. He pulled the firearm and pointed the gun at his roommate before the roommate slipped away and hid in a bathroom. When officers arrived, they found Seevakumaran dead in his bedroom, from a self-inclicted gunshot wound. They also found a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, a .22-caliber tactical rifle, ammunition and a backpack with four homemade explosive devices.

Taft Union High School, California

January 10, 2013

A 16-year-old student came to Taft Union High School armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, intent on shooting two students who had bullied him, authorities said. He shot one in the chest, and fired at another but missed the other. Both students survived. Many students described the shooter as a loner and a year earlier, the shooter was suspended for compiling a "hit list", police said.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NY, NJ Tighten Standards for Travelers at Risk for Ebola]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:59:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_newark_hospital_ebola_st.jpg

Anyone flying into John F. Kennedy or Newark Liberty International Airport after having contact with Ebola-infected patients in one of three West African nations battling an epidemic of the deadly virus will face a mandatory 21-day quarantine, the governors of New York and New Jersey announced Friday.

“We have to do more," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday. "It's too serious of a situation to leave it to the honor system of compliance."

The new measures came one day after a doctor who had recently returned from an Ebola assignment in Guinea was diagnosed with the virus in New York City. In addition to the mandatory quarantine for those who came in direct contact with patients in the Ebola-ravaged nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, health officials at those two airports have been authorized to actively monitor and quarantine if necessary anyone with a travel history in that region.

Craig Spencer, a doctor just back from a month-long stint treating Ebola patients for Doctors Without Borders, was admitted into an isolation unit at Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, less than a week after he arrived home. In the days prior to his Ebola diagnosis, he made several outings in the city, including coffee in one of Manhattan’s tourist-packed parks, a stop by a meatball shop and a subway ride to Brooklyn for an evening of bowling with friends.

While Spencer followed the self-monitoring protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some experts are now suggesting health workers who return from Ebola-ravaged areas do more to avoid public places.

City officials praised the quick response to his illness and said Spencer, the city's first reported Ebola patient, followed all the proper steps to monitor his health and minimize exposure. But Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in retrospect those steps weren't enough.

"New Jersey and New York are going to determine the standards of quarantine since the CDC's guidance is continually changing," Christie said.

The governor tweeted that a health care worker who arrived at Newark International Airport after treating Ebola patients in West Africa is now under quarantine and has no symptoms.

The Obama administration also is considering quarantining healthcare workers returning to the United States from the Ebola hot zone of West Africa, Reuters reported.

Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters on Friday that quarantine was one option being discussed regarding the monitoring of healthcare workers.

"We want to strike the right balance of doing what is best to protect the public’s health while not impeding whatsoever our ability to combat the epidemic in West Africa,” Skinner said. “Our risk here will not be zero until we stop the epidemic there.”

Some public health experts were already urging added extra caution as more doctors and others potentially exposed to the virus return from the front lines of fighting the outbreak in West Africa. Tighter restrictions on such health care workers could prevent mass hysteria and make the job easier on health detectives in the event of a positive Ebola test, they say.

Dr. Joseph McCormick, a professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health who has cared for Ebola patients, said while putting a large number of people in quarantine because of possible casual interaction “is not warranted,” as the virus can only be spread by contact with the bodily fluids of person with symptoms, some situations may merit more prudence.

“I would say that for somebody like a health provider like the physician who clearly was in direct contact with patients, I’m not sure that total quarantine is needed but I think a more cautious approach to traveling around the city probably would be warranted,” McCormick, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official who investigated the first Ebola epidemic, said. “We all have to balance our messages here.”

The safeguards followed by Spencer, recommended by the CDC and Doctors Without Borders, included taking his temperature twice daily, watching for fever and other symptoms during the virus’ 21-day incubation period. Living in New York, he was well within the recommended 4-hour radius of a hospital with isolation facilities. When his temperature hit 100.3 degrees Thursday morning, he called health officials and was quickly moved to Bellevue Hospital.

Still, at least one other relief group operating in West Africa has gone beyond the CDC recommendations in light of the heightened public concern following the infection of two nurses treating an Ebola patient at a Dallas hospital, including one who took flights to and from Ohio while she was self-monitoring for signs of the virus.

Samaritan’s Purse is mandating that employees who return from its efforts in Liberia undergo a “self-imposed, no-touch self sequestration” for 21 days that limits even physical contact with family members, according to Kendell Kauffeldt, the Christian international relief organization’s longtime country director in Liberia. Employees of the organization, which made headlines after its own Dr. Kent Brantly survived an infection, are also required to take their temperature four times a day, with the trigger for alerting officials set one degree lower than the CDC's level. They require returning staff, including three who are currently in the incubation period, stay within 90 minutes of an isolation facility for those three weeks.

Kauffeldt, who lived in Liberia for 10 years before returning to the United States with his family in August, stressed that Spencer took all the required steps and the potential of “anyone else becoming infected is almost zero because he followed the protocol.” He said the added precautions enacted for his own colleagues were simply meant to go even farther to ensure general public health, the safety of their employees and peace of mind.

“It was really just in reaction to the situations in Dallas and just recognizing that there is a level of uninformed fear, but we still as an organization have a responsibility to the general public to ensure we were doing everything possible for their safety and their health,’ he said.

The protocols for monitoring and protecting those workers will likely remain in the spotlight, as more are deployed to fight an outbreak that has sickened more than 10,000 since March. Demand for doctors is still high, and thousands have volunteered through an online portal USAID set up in early September to match qualified applicants with aid organizations.

Doctors, nurses and other medical aides are considered at the highest risk for contracting the virus because they deal with bodily fluids from the sickest of patients and the World Health Organization says an “unprecedented” number have been infected in this outbreak. In all, more than 440 health care workers have contracted Ebola and 244 have died as of Oct. 19, the WHO says. Six other American health workers — four who worked in Africa and two from a Dallas hospital that treated a patient from Liberia — contracted Ebola and recovered after receiving treatment in the U.S.

Both New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett and National Institute of Health’s Anthony Fauci, who cared for one of the Dallas nurses, suggested Friday that the federal guidelines for monitoring are the subject of active discussion.

 

Eden Wells, clinical associate professor of epidemiology and director of the Preventive Medicine Residency at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, said she would personally restrict her movements if she were returning from West Africa or had been caring for someone with Ebola. She stressed she did was not criticizing Spencer, who she noted followed the current protocols.

She’d take the more cautious approach “not only just to reassure the public but it is also to aid public health epidemiologist disease detective, because the more contact that’s out there that has to be investigated because someone did leave the home really taxes the system.”

“Whether they’re sick or not sick what happens is any time a case like this happens there’s an incredible amount of resources undertaken to do the investigation to reassure everyone that there’s not then another case as a result of a contact,” she said.

Doctors Without Borders, which did not return multiple interview requests, said in a statement Friday that it will investigate how Spencer contracted the virus. But it acknowledged that even with its “Extremely strict procedures “ for staff, the “risk cannot be completely eliminated.”

"Tragically, as we struggle to bring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa under control, some members of our staff have not been spared," Executive Director Sophie Delaunay said in a statement."Our thoughts are with our colleague in his own struggle right now, and we sincerely hope for his quick and full recovery."
 


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<![CDATA[How Is Ebola Spread?]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 04:37:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/456202288.jpg

The latest case of a positive Ebola test in the United States sparked immediate concerns about who may have been exposed and helped shed light on how the potentially deadly virus is, and isn't, spread.

Craig Spencer, a doctor who recently returned from West Africa, where he was on an Ebola assignment for Doctors Without Borders, tested positive for the virus Thursday at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York reporting a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms, a source familiar with the results told NBC New York.

Ebola can only be spread by infected people who show symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. If an exposed person does not develop symptoms within 21 days of exposure, the person will not become sick with Ebola, according to the CDC.

"There is no risk to people who have been in contact with those who have been sick with Ebola and recovered, or people who have been exposed and have not yet shown symptoms," the CDC's director Dr. Thomas Frieden explained last month, after the first patient tested positive in the United States.

That patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, recently flew to the United States from Liberia, one of the West African countries now grappling with a deadly Ebola outbreak. Because he showed no signs of sickness until four days after landing in the U.S., however, officials are not worried about travelers who were on the plane with him. Duncan died on Oct. 8 in a Dallas hospital.

The initial spread of the Ebola virus to humans is unknown, although researchers believe that "patient zero" in the recent West Africa outbreak became infected through contact with an infected animal, possibly a bat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How Ebola Is Spread:

Once a person is infected, the CDC said there are several ways Ebola can spread to other people:

  • Touching the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola, including urine, saliva, breat milk, feces, vomit and semen. To become infected with the virus, you would need to get some of the ill person’s bodily fluids into your mouth, nose, or eyes, or into your body via a cut or a needle stick. Doctors say that there is no evidence anyone has ever been infected via sweat.
  • Touching objects contaminated with the virus, like syringes or other medical equipment
  • Touching infected animals, by contact with blood or fluids or infected meat
  • A cough from a sick patient could infect someone close enough to be sprayed with droplets of mucus or saliva. People dealing with anyone who may be ill are told to stand at least three feet away, preferably six. Being within three feet of a patient for a prolonged time, without wearing protective gear, is considered direct contact, according to Frieden.
  • According to a new Ebola situation assessment issued by the World Health Organization on Monday, saliva and tears may also carry some risk. "However, the studies implicating these additional bodily fluids were extremely limited in sample size and the science is inconclusive, W.H.O. said. "In studies of saliva, the virus was found most frequently in patients at a severe stage of illness. The whole live virus has never been isolated from sweat."

Direct contact through broken skin or mucus membranes is key, as the CDC said Ebola cannot be spread through the air (the virus doesn't drift through the air like germs that cause measles or tuberculosis) or by water or food. However, that may not have been the case in some cases in Africa, where Ebola may have been spread through the handling of wild animals hunted for food and contact with infected bats, according to the CDC.

What Are the Symptoms of Ebola:

The following symptoms can appear from two to 21 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Muscle pain

Generally, after 21 days, if an exposed person has not developed symptoms, he or she will not become sick, the CDC said.

However, the Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to three months after exposure, so those who have recovered from the virus are advised not to have sex, or else only to have sex using condoms, during that time, according to the CDC.

Are Patients Who Recover From Ebola Immune for Life?

Evidence shows that people who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years, or longer, according to the CDC. But it's not known if people who recover are immune for life or if they can become infected with a different species of Ebola.

Can Ebola Be Passed on the Subway?

Spencer rode the subways, A, L and No. 1 since arriving in New York on Oct. 17, according to officials. Until Thursday morning, his temperature was normal and he was not experiencing any of the early symptoms of Ebola disease.

No one has conduced tests on Ebola transmission on subways, according to The New York Times, but no case of transmission to a human from a dry surface has ever been confirmed and there are no known instances of transmission on public transport in Africa. The C.D.C. has said there is “no epidemiological evidence” for transmission from hospital surfaces, including bed rails and door knobs – which are similar to subway poles and a bus handles.  

Can Ebola Mutate to Become Aiborne?

According to experts, it is very unlikely that the virus would mutate to become airborne. The Ebola virus has not previously mutated in this way, and experts say there is no other virus that has changed from non-airborne to airborne in humans.

Can Mosquitoes Spread Ebola?

There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit the virus, according to the CDC. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys and apes) have shown the ability to spread and become infected with Ebola virus.

How Long Does the Ebola Virus Live:

The virus can survive for a few hours on dry surfaces like doorknobs and countertops, according to the C.D.C. It can, however, survive for several days in puddles or collections of body fluid at room temperature. It is not clear how long it may survive in soiled linens and clothing.

A thorough cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants (such as household bleach) will kill Ebola.

How Can Travelers Protect Themselves:

The CDC said travelers can do several things to protect themselves when visiting the area where the outbreak is occurring, including:

  • Wash your hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Do not touch the blood and body fluids of an ill person or the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Do not touch bats and nonhuman primates or their blood and fluids and do not touch or eat raw meat prepared from these animals.
  • Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. Embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever (temperature of 101.5oF/ 38.6oC) and any of the other following symptoms: headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding.

There is no vaccine for the Ebola virus, but researchers are currently testing two.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Who Is Craig Spencer, 1st New York Ebola Patient?]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:25:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/182*120/ebola+clothes1.jpg

New York City doctor Craig Spencer is the fourth person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States and the first in New York. He recently came back from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, and preliminarily tested positive for the Ebola virus at Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, Oct. 23. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the following day that he had contracted the potentially deadly disease.

He was in stable condition as of Oct. 24 and talking on the phone with extensively with family members, officials said.

Spencer is the fifth U.S. aid worker to contract the virus while working in West Africa. Dr. Kent Brantly, who recovered from Ebola earlier this year, issued a statement saying he is "grieved to hear about another health care worker contracting Ebola in West Africa.

"My prayers are with Dr. Spencer, his family and the crew taking care of him," he said in a statement released to NBC's "Today." "From everything I've read and heard about his circumstances, it sounds like New York has done everything right to contain this case."

Here's what we know so far about Spencer, his background, what he has done since coming back to the U.S. and the people with whom he may have come into contact.

Who is Craig Spencer?

Spencer, 33, is an emergency room doctor at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Columbia Medical Center campus in Upper Manhattan. He is a Detroit native who went to Wayne State University there and has family in that area.

He attended Grosse Pointe North High School, where he played hockey and was a member of the National Honor Society, according to WDIV-TV in Detroit

His former principal there said she wasn't surprised to learn was on a humanitarian mission for Doctors Without Borders.

"I remember his smile, his energy and his positivity," said Kate Calabresa Murray. "He was the type of student you didn't have to have had in class to know him, because he was such a selfless leader." 

He was volunteering with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, one of the three West African nations experiencing an Ebola epidemic. His proficiency in the French language may have aided in his treatment in the French-speaking country. He hasn't returned to work at NewYork-Presbyterian since returning to the U.S., the hospital said in a statement.

Spencer "went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved population," the hospital said in a statement. "He is a committed and responsible physician who always put his patients first."

Spencer graduated from the Wayne State School of Medicine in Detroit in 2008 and received a master's in public health from Columbia's University Mailman School of Public Health. He is board-certified in emergency medicine. 

"Off to Guinea with Doctors Without Borders,'' he reportedly posted on Facebook on Sept. 18, along with a photo showing him dressed in protective gear. "Please support organizations that are sending support or personnel to West Africa, and help combat one of the worst public health and humanitarian disasters in recent history.''

Spencer left for West Africa via Brussels in mid-September, according to the Facebook page. He completed his assignment there on Oct. 12 and left on Oct. 14 via Europe. He arrived in the U.S. on Oct. 17 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

When Did Spencer Test Positive for Ebola?

Spencer participated in the enhanced screening at JFK for all travelers returning from the West African nations affected by Ebola. He did not have fever or other Ebola symptoms.

While back in New York, Spencer checked his temperature twice daily, New York City’s health commissioner Mary Travis Bassett said at a Thursday evening media briefing. He began feeling sluggish on Oct. 21, but did not have any symptoms then. He felt well enough to go on a three-mile jog this week.

On Thursday morning, between 10 and 11 a.m. ET, Spencer reported coming down with a 100.3-degree fever and diarrhea and called 911, New York's Department of Health said. Officials corrected the number Friday morning after having first said in error that his temperature was 103 degrees.

He was transported from his apartment on West 147th Street in Hamilton Heights to Bellevue, one of eight New York state hospitals designated to treat Ebola patients, by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Spencer was placed in a special isolation unit at the hospital, where he's being cared for by the predesignated medical critical care team.

Doctors Without Borders said it was notified about Spencer's fever Thursday morning and immediately notified New York City health officials.

"We are fully prepared to handle Ebola," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday.

A blood sample was sent to the New York City Health Department laboratory, which is part of the Laboratory Response Network overseen by the CDC, for preliminary testing, and tested positive for Ebola. A CDC test confirmed he had contracted the disease.

What Has Spencer Done Since Returning From Africa? 

Bassett said Spencer spent most of his time in his apartment, limiting his contact with people, but he had gone on a three-mile jog, taken the A, 1 and L subway trains, visited the High Line in Manhattan, stopped by the Blue Bottle coffee shop near the elevated park, and went to The Meatball Shop on Greenwich Avenue.

He also took an Uber livery car to The Gutter bowling alley in Brooklyn Wednesday night, where he met some friends and bowled.

"At the time he was at the bowling alley, he had no fever," Bassett stressed.

Who May Have Been Affected?

Health officials have been tracing Spencer's contacts to identify anyone who may be at risk. Bassett said officials were aware of four people who came in contact with Spencer: his fiancee, two friends, and the Uber driver.

The fiancee and friends who have been in direct contact with Spencer have been quarantined and are in good health, she said. They weren't yet being tested for Ebola because they were showing no symptoms, she said.

The Uber driver was determined not to be at risk because he had no direct physical contact with Spencer.

“Our understanding is that very few people were in direct contact with him," Mayor de Blasio said Thursday.

What Happens Next?

Spencer's apartment was cordoned off and the Department of Health was giving out information to area residents Thursday night. The bowling alley has been closed as a precaution, and will be examined Friday.

The Gutter said in a Facebook post Thursday that it had talked with health department officials, who determined that other bowlers weren't at risk for contracting the disease. They're cleaning the business as an extra precaution and will reopen afterward. 

Officials have Spencer's MetroCard to track where he's traveled. They said there's a "close to nil" chance anyone was exposed on the subway.

"There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed," de Blasio said. "We've been preparing for months for the threat of Ebola with clear and strong protocols that were scrupulously followed in this instance."

A specially trained team determined earlier this week that Bellevue Hospital has been trained in proper protocols and is well prepared to handle Ebola patients, the CDC said.

Several members of the CDC's rapid response team were on their way to New York on Thursday night, and others were arrived Friday morning.

President Obama spoke Thursday night to de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo and offered the federal government's support, The Associated Press reported. He asked them to stay in close touch with Ron Klain, his "Ebola czar," as well as public health officials in Washington.

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<![CDATA[Despite Strict Protocol, Risks Remain for Ebola Doctors: Group]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:25:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_newark_hospital_ebola_st.jpg

The medical and humanitarian organization that employed the New York doctor who tested positive for the Ebola virus said that the risk for staff returning from the front lines in West Africa can't be completely eliminated, even with "extremely strict procedures" to protect against the potentially deadly disease. 

Craig Spencer tested positive for the potentially deadly virus at New York's Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, six days after he arrived home from an Ebola assignment in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders.  He is the first Ebola case in New York City and the fourth diagnosed in the United States.

Doctors Without Borders, which is also known internationally as Médecins Sans Frontières, said the doctor who contracted the virus followed its guidelines for self-monitoring, which includes checking temperature twice a day and staying within four hours of a hospital with isolation facilities during a 21-day incubation period. He was admitted to the hospital on Thursday after reporting a fever of 100.3 degrees. 

"Extremely strict procedures are in place for staff dispatched to Ebola affected countries before, during, and after their assignments," Sophie Delaunay, executive director of MSF, said in a statement. "Despite the strict protocols, risk cannot be completely eliminated. However, close post-assignment monitoring allows for early detection of cases and for swift isolation and medical management."

The organization has launched a "thorough investigation" to identify how Spencer contracted Ebola.

More than 10,000 people have fallen ill with Ebola since the outbreak began in March, creating a dire need for international health workers in the West African countries that have been hardest hit. 

Spencer, 33, is one of more than 700 international staff Doctors Without Borders has sent to Ebola-stricken countries since March. Three international staff and 21 locally employed staff have fallen ill with the virus since that time, with 13 dying of the disease.

“Tragically, as we struggle to bring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa under control, some members of our staff have not been spared,” Delaunay said in the statement. “Our thoughts are with our colleague in his own struggle right now, and we sincerely hope for his quick and full recovery.”

Scores of other aid groups and health workers have stepped up as well. More than 3,700 people have signed up using an online portal USAID launched in early September to connect potential volunteers with aid organizations, said Lisa Hibbert-Simpson, press officer with USAID. Demand for more help hasn't slowed, she said.

“The need will exist until we have it under control," she said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health workers are among those facing the highest risk of contracting the virus, which is spread through contact with bodily fluids from a person who is already showing symptoms.

In late August, the World Health Organization called the "high proportion" of doctors, nurses and heath care workers infected "unprecedented." As of late October, the virus had sickened more than 440 health care workers worldwide, claiming the lives of 224.

Four American health workers and a freelance cameraman for NBC who fell ill after working in West Africa have recovered from Ebola after receiving treatment back in the United States. Two nurses in Dallas who contracted the virus while caring for a patient diagnosed there were also recently declared Ebola free. That patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, has been the only person to die of the virus in the U.S. so far.

Officials in New York have said the risk to the public is minimal given the timing of Spencer's symptoms and admission to the isolation unit.   They believe he had direct contact with fiancee and two friends, before going to the hospital. The three have been quarantined and are in good health, New York City's health commissioner said.

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<![CDATA[Dallas Nurse Pham Ebola-Free]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:46:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP570888027428.jpg

Dallas nurse Nina Pham was declared free of Ebola and discharged from the hospital on Friday, just before she met with and hugged President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

"I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," Pham said in a brief statement outside the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, just before she headed to the White House. "I am on my way back to recovery, even as I reflect how many others have not been so fortunate."

Tests show that Pham, who contracted the virus while caring for the first patient diagnosed in the United States, has no more virus in her system, Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH told reporters.

Pham thanked everyone who has been praying for her, and the medical workers who have been caring for her. "As a nurse, I have a special appreciation for the care I have received from so many," she said.

Pham, a nurse with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, contracted Ebola while helping to care for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. She helped treat him from his first day in intensive care at until Oct. 7, the day before he died, NBC5 in Dallas reported.

Pham was flown via charter flight Oct. 16 to Frederick, Maryland's municipal airport and taken by ambulance to the Clinical Center, a hospital located on the grounds of the 312-acre NIH campus in Bethesda.

In her statement Friday, Pham thanked Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American to recover from Ebola, for the "selfless act" of donating his blood, and she asked people to pray with her for her colleague Amber Vinson and for just-diagnosed Dr. Craig Spencer.

In advance of Pham's arrival at NIH last week, Fauci, one of the most highly respected immunologists in the world, announced he would be her admitting physician.

On Friday, while wearing the colors of Pham's nursing school, Texas Christian, Fauci called her a "courageous and lovely person," saying that she also represents the nurses and healthcare workers who put themselves on the line caring for sick patients.

He said they did not administer any experimental drugs to Pham during her treatment at NIH.

Fauci said she was doing well in Texas, and continued to do well at NIH. "We both supported her, so I can't pinpoint in one patient, what was the turning point," he said.

Fauci said it was not possible to pinpoint whether Brantley's donation of plasma was critical in her recovery and that more research is needed.

He said Pham's youth and general health were likely other factors that likely helped, as was the fact that she entered a hospital that was able to give her intensive care early.

Fauci said that Pham communicated with her family via FaceTime during her treatment -- and that she taught him how to use the program, too.

"I gave her my cell phone number just in case I get lonely," he quipped.

Pham's dog, Bentley, tested negative for the virus, Dallas officials announced Wednesday. Dallas Animal Services have been caring for him in isolation. Officials said they'll run one more test before the end of a 21-day quarantine period Nov. 1.

Pham said Friday she plans to return home to Texas and looks forward to reuniting with Bentley.

Pham's Texas hospital said the decision to transfer her to NIH was made in consultation with Pham and her family, adding that many of the medical personnel who would have usually worked in the intensive care unit were themselves "sidelined" for monitoring.

In an emotional video recorded shortly before she left Texas, Pham is shown in her hospital room speaking with a doctor and another medical worker, telling them, "Come to Maryland, everybody!" and "I love you guys."

As medical workers prepared to transport Pham to Dallas' Love Field last week, her coworkers at Texas Health Presbyterian held up signs to encourage her.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Queen Elizabeth II Sends Her First Tweet]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 07:20:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP262404366191.jpg

Queen Elizabeth II tweets.

The British Monarch sent her first missive from the @BritishMonarchy Twitter account Friday morning to herald the opening of the Information Age exhibition at London's Science Museum, which fittingly celebrates the history of information and communication technology.

"It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @sciencemuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R," read the tweet.

Immediately following the above tweet, another was issued stating: "The last tweet was sent personally by The Queen from her official Twitter account @BritishMonarchy #TheQueenTweets."

According to another tweet from @BritishMonarchy sent earlier Friday, the Queen, 88, was also the first monarch to send an email (it was actually via an early from of the technology known as ARPANET) while on a visit to a military base in 1976.

The Queen is not the first member of the Royal Family to take to social media. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge used the Clarence House account to announce the arrival of Prince George in 2013, and to reveal the news he would be having a baby brother or sister in 2014. Prince Harry sent his first ever tweet earlier this year when he launched the Invictus Games.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Dart: Suspected Serial Killer Liked to Visit the Bodies]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:35:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_darren_deon_vann_nueva.jpg

Suspected Indiana serial killer Darren Deon Vann told authorities he liked to revisit his victims’ dead bodies in the abandoned homes after he killed them, according to Sheriff Tom Dart of Cook County in Illinois.

In an interview Thursday, Dart compared the investigation into Vann to the investigation into serial killer John Wayne Gacy saying, "When you’re dealing with someone who kills a lot of people, give up trying to predict."

Vann, 43, has been charged with two homicides and is suspected in at least four others after leading police on a bloody scavenger hunt in Northwest Indiana. All of the victims were believed to be sex workers, officials said.

Police said Vann has hinted that his crimes stretch back 20 years.

"The thing that is so tragic about this ... these are just these women that have these horrific lives and now it’s ending in this," said Dart.

Illinois law enforcement officials said Vann may have been in Chicago's south suburbs between the time the first body was found and when he was arrested. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the investigation into Darren Vann.

Investigators were using Vann's cellphone records to pinpoint his movements after he told police he liked to check on the status of bodies he'd previously stashed after a fresh kill, authorities said.

Investigators were searching 16 abandoned buildings in Illinois on Wednesday and Thursday as part of the investigation into Vann's movements after the body of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy was found, authorities said.

"Trying to predict was he being accurate when he said he killed loads of people? Don’t know," Dart said. "Could he have just killed a few? Don’t know. It’s all going to play itself out. From a law enforcement standpoint, whether you’re here in Cook County or you’re in Indiana or Texas for that matter, if you’re not going at least to his areas where his patterns were with abandoned buildings, people involved in the prostitution trade, you’re really making a horrible mistake.”

A judge ordered Vann be held in contempt of court Wednesday when the former Marine refused to even acknowledge his name during an initial court hearing in Hardy's slaying.

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<![CDATA[Ebola in New York]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:15:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/craig-spencer.jpg Craig Spencer, a doctor who recently returned from an Ebola assignment with Doctors Without Borders in West Africa, has returned to New York and tested positive for the disease. See photos from the scene. ]]> <![CDATA[Man Fires 28 Times on Neighborhood]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 01:42:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/225*120/Assault+Rifle+Alton+Street+Shooting.JPG

A Northeast Philadelphia man fired an assault rifle at his neighbor more than two dozen times after an argument spiraled out of control Thursday night.

"The shooter fired multiple shots, unloaded his magazine, then reloaded the weapon," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small.

Not only was the 57-year-old neighbor hit multiple times but bullets -- police said at least 28 were fired -- also hit neighboring homes along the 8900 block Alton Street in the Bustleton section of the city.

Medics rushed a 57-year-old man from the scene to Einstein Medical Center in critical condition, according to Philadelphia Police.

"This victim stated who he was shot by," said Small.

Investigators said the incident began as an argument between the older man and a 26-year-old suspect around 7:30 p.m. in the rear driveway of the homes. At some point the suspect grabbed an assault rifle and began firing, police said.

At least 20 bullets hit two neighboring homes, said police. Officers checked on the residents inside and luckily no one was hit.

Police arrested the unidentified shooting suspect without incident and confiscated the rifle, said Small.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Ebola Lessons Hit Close to Home for Nursing School ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:19:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ebola_funerario_duncan.jpg

Just before Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, students in a microbiology class at Texas Christian University read the medical thriller "The Hot Zone."

The 1994 best-selling chronicle introduced them to virus hunters desperately battling outbreaks of Ebola and other deadly viral hemorrhagic fevers in Africa, the dangers the scientists faced and the stringent safety procedures they followed, from the biohazard clothing they wore to chemical showers and ultraviolet scans they used to keep from infecting themselves.

It was enthralling and far away.

And then Ebola arrived in Dallas — sickening a Texas Christian University graduate, Nina Pham, one of the two nurses who became ill after they cared for Duncan, the Liberian man who died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

When the Ebola scare began unfolding three weeks ago, 19-year-old nursing student Andrea Jumper thought about what she had read, particularly the protective steps the researchers took in "The Hot Zone.”

"It was all decontamination," the sophomore from Keller, Texas, said. "They had so much protection and they were just dealing with little samples of Ebola.”

She wondered why Duncan’s specimens were sent through the hospital’s tube delivery system during Duncan first visit to the hospital, when he arrived at the emergency room with a fever and complaining of nausea, abdominal pain and other symptoms. That changed when, after initially being sent home, he returned on Sept. 28 and was hospitalized.

“It was really mind-boggling to me that here they sent in the samples with all the other blood samples,” she said. “And they didn't have nearly as much of the protection as they use in the book.”

The hospital just did not know what to expect, she said.

It’s an assessment that Texas Health Presbyterian shares. It has acknowledged that its nurses had not received full training for such a deadly, contagious illness and that it made mistakes.

“On that visit to the Emergency Department, we did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola,” Barclay Berdan, the CEO of Texas Health Resources, the hospital’s parent company, wrote in a letter to the community. “For this, we are deeply sorry.”

At Texas Christian University's Fort Worth campus of yellow brick buildings, green quads and purple depictions of the school's mascot, a horned frog, the nursing students are keeping up with the latest developments on Ebola and here, their discussions have an added urgency. They will soon be on medicine's front lines, battling Ebola and other illnesses.

Kristie Tinh, a 21-year-old junior, said she and classmates are following the news reports and trying to make sure they have the correct information.

"We understand why it's a big deal, but we really just want people to calm down and look at the facts," she said.

Tinh said she was inspired by her father, a survivor of the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s who volunteered at a clinic where the injured were cared for. His work was dangerous, she said.

“He would tell me stories of what he would do and it just seemed really fascinating to me,” she said. “And that's what really pushed me to go into a health profession.”

She and other students said they thought that they were being prepared to protect themselves and that, panic aside, the disease in the United States was being controlled.

“You just need to be smart about it and take the proper steps and just think about what you're going in to,” said Jumper, who plans to work in neonatal care after serving in the U.S. Air Force.

Clark A. Jones, Jumper’s microbiology professor, said that each year he began his course with “The Hot Zone,” reading an excerpt at the start of the first class. It provides an excellent description of epidemiology and shows how agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control Prevention in Atlanta and the U.S. Army work together in public health emergencies, he said.

“It’s been an amazing book to always use,” Jones said. “Did I ever foresee that we would see something like this? Well, we talk about it a lot, especially as the book ends with HIV …a major virus that has affected our world.”

His students have asked about droplet transmission — when a virus is transmitted through fluids as Ebola is — as opposed to airborne transmission, and they understand why the nurses were so much more at risk of infection than Duncan’s fiancee and her family, he said. After reading “The Hot Zone,” they knew the danger of a “Level 4 hot agent” like Ebola and questioned why the protection gear being worn by the Dallas health-care workers as recommended by the CDC in Atlanta seemed inadequate, he said.

“Our students were really surprised,” he said.

Since Pham and the other nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, became infected, the CDC has announced a series of measures to better protect health-care workers, the most recent change coming on Monday, when it issued stricter guidelines for protective equipment worn by the workers. The CDC is now calling for gear that covers the workers’ bodies completely, with face shields, hoods and boot covers, and for trained monitors to supervise them as they put it on and remove it.

Also, on Tuesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that the state would create two new biocontainment facilities for treating patients with Ebola and other contagious diseases. Pham and Vinson are now hospitalized at two of the country’s four biocontainment hospitals specially equipped to handle infectious diseases, Pham at the National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, and Vinson at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Suzy Lockwood, the director of undergraduate nursing studies at Texas Christian University’s Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said the school’s students have always been made aware of the need to guard against infectious diseases.

She poined out that the Dallas nurses, in trying to better protect themselves, taped their gear closed, perhaps putting themselves at greater risk as they removed the tape. Some of the protective gear was too large for the nurses. Lockwood noted that Pham, whom she taught and described as very caring, thoughtful and smart, is also small. The CDC recommendation for monitors to watch health-care workers remove their gear is key, Lockwood said.

“We’re all in a living science experiment,” she said. “We’re learning so much. Unfortunately, Presbyterian, the hospital here, ended up being the hospital that got the patient. Any other hospital would have had the same, probably would have had the same experience — just a little bit different but would have had the same struggles that this hospital had. They wouldn’t have had any different equipment.”

Maddy Robinson, a 19-year-old who studied nursing before switching to education, said the Ebola cases at Texas Health Presbyterian showed the importance of nurses, something she had learned from her father, a plastic surgeon in Atlanta.

“We're not prepared for something like Ebola,” she said.

With Pham still hospitalized, students and staff at the Harris School of Nursing have started wearing purple and apricot ribbons as a show of support, purple for the university, apricot because it is the academic color for nursing. After homecoming this past weekend, alumni have been calling asking for them, Lockwood said.

“We’ve been sending ribbons all over the country,” she said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images / File Photo
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<![CDATA[NYC-Area Agencies' Ebola Plans]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:21:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ebola13.jpg

As the first confirmed case of Ebola in New York City sparks concerns about the possibility of the spread of the virus, organizations and agencies across the tri-state say they have prepared for weeks in the case of a possible diagnosis.

Dr. Craig Spencer, 33, marks the city and the tri-state's first case of Ebola. The emergency room doctor had been working with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea to help treat Ebola victims there and returned to the area on Oct. 17.

Gov. Cuomo said New York has been operating for weeks under the assumption that the state will have a confirmed case of Ebola, and was prepared when Spencer was confirmed to have the virus Thursday, Oct. 23. 

Below is a list of the contingency and preparedness plans of several area agencies to protect employees and screen others for the virus.

Airports, Rails and Transportation

  • Both Newark and John F. Kennedy international airports are screening passengers who traveled from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea for the disease. Health care employees at those two airports are using no-touch thermometers to take passengers’ temperatures. About 95 percent of all passengers from those three countries initially land in either of those two airports or ones in Washington, Atlanta and Chicago.
  • Everyone traveling into the U.S. from the Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. They're required to take their temperatures at least once daily and report it to health officials.
  • The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which runs JFK, Newark and LaGuardia airports along with several New Jersey-based mass transit systems, says it has given its first responders protective gear in the event they come in contact with someone exhibiting Ebola-like symptoms. Port Authority spokesman said the gear is “above and beyond anything required by the CDC and is done for the protection of our employees.”
  • The MTA has developed a contingency plan that includes more extensive cleanings during "sick passenger" delays. MTA Chief Thomas Prendergast said there is a protocol for removing infectious waste in the transit system; there are isolation areas and transit heads have met with labor unions to ensure consistent implementation of prevention efforts.
  • Cuomo said unannounced drills will be run, involving a sick passenger on a train, for example.

Emergency Response and Government

  • FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro ordered its hazardous materials ambulance crews to treat all patients who are in stable condition but are suspected of having Ebola. If a patient’s life is in imminent danger, non-HAZMAT crews will still treat the patients. The FDNY is also distributing CDC-approved respirators and body suits to those crews.
  • The NYPD sent out an internal memo to 35,000 officers educating them on Ebola, law enforcement sources say.
  • Every member of the Nassau County Police Department, as well as 80 emergency personnel have personal protective gear to wear in the event they receive a call about a potential Ebola case. The suits had been purchased years ago to protect first responders from the effects of weapons of mass destruction and chemical warfare
  • The New York State Senate is fast-tracking legislation that would review all hospitals in the Empire State for Ebola preparedness. Legislators are also looking into using unused funds from the state’s coffers to purchase equipment to safely treat the disease.
  • Officials are planning a public service announcement campaign -- which could include social media and TV advertising -- to reassure New Yorkers that the disease is not easily transmittable and that there is no need to abandon the subway or schools.
  • Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said he has established a command team to act as a central authority to deal with any Ebola cases. The team is led by Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewell Mullen and includes officials from state agencies for public safety, education, prison and environmental protection. Malloy has given Mullen authority to quarantine anyone who may have been exposed.
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order to create a joint response team to oversee the state's response as officials begin screening passengers from West Africa for Ebola symptoms when they arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Hospitals and Health Organizations

  • Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan has been designated as the city's primary hospital for treating Ebola patients. The hospital told the New York Times it can treat up to four Ebola patients at a time in a designated isolation ward.
  • The city Department of Health told WNYC that all 11 city hospitals are prepared for the virus and that actors have been going into area hospitals pretending to have Ebola symptoms to test each ER's response.
  • Statewide, Cuomo said eight hospitals with intensive training and protocols have been identified that will be used in the event of a confirmed or suspected case of Ebola. Employees at those hospitals will go through training and regular drills to maximize preparedness. Frontline responders are getting special training. "We are trying to train the entire system," while developing specialized capacity, the governor said.
  • New Jersey health officials said three hospitals in the state -- University Hospital in Newark, Hackensack Hospital in Hackensack and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick -- will be designated for cases where a patient is suspected to have Ebola.  
  • Hospitals across the region have been training employees on how to properly put on and take off protective suits and are conducting drills to prepare for a possible Ebola patient.
  • The New York Department of Health and Mental Health said in a news release that it is working with the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies to determine the best ways to prepare New York City and its hospitals for an Ebola diagnosis.
  • The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health along with state nursing unions and organizations issued two fact sheets about the virus and are urging employers to educate workers on Ebola. Access the fact sheets here and here.

Other Organizations

  • The New York Giants emailed an NFL newsletter outlining basic facts about the virus to players and staff.
  • Rutgers University, NYU, colleges in the CUNY and SUNY and other higher-learning institutions in the area have posted informational bulletins about Ebola on their websites with facts about the disease and numbers for campus health centers on their websites.

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<![CDATA[Girl Found Dead at Shelter: Cops]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:55:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/Generic+Police+Tape+Generic.JPG

A 4-year-old girl was found dead at a Queens homeless shelter and authorities are classifying her death as "suspicious," police say.

Police found the child, identified as Linayjah Meraldo, after responding to a call at the Briarwood Family Residence, a temporary housing shelter for homeless families on 134th Street, on Thursday. The little girl's four siblings were in school when she was found; the child's mother said she kept the girl home because she wasn't feeling well, according to a source familiar with the case.

There were no other adults living in the unit where the mother and children were staying.

The mother initially told police Meraldo was involved in a physical altercation with a sibling -- "a tousling thing," she called it, according to the source. The source said the mother later said the child had fallen, and that the version of events she told investigators kept changing.

The little girl was last seen in the 100-unit shelter Thursday morning, the source said. The child was active and nobody noticed bruises or other injuries, according to the source.

The family has lived at Briarwood for nearly a year.

The Department of Health and Human Services called Meraldo's death "terribly disturbing." The agency said in a statement it was working closely with police.

The child's death comes less than a week after a 3-year-old girl was found dead in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, saying the girl died from blunt impact to her head and torso. Her 20-year-old stepfather was arrested on a murder charge.

After the Brooklyn girl's death, Mayor de Blasio called for a thorough investigation. 



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA["Miracle Oil" Cures Girl's Seizures]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:03:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Glut+1+medicinal+oil.jpg

A North Texas family is touting a "miracle oil" and praising researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas for healing their little girl, who was having chronic seizures.

Spend a day with 6-year-old Chloe Olivarez and it is hard to keep up with her. Chloe's mother, Brandi Olivarez, says she never thought she would see this day.

"I don't even know that a year ago she would have been able to," Olivarez said.

Just two years ago, Brandi Olivarez had no idea what was wrong with her daughter. Video from Children's Health in Dallas shows doctors monitoring Chloe to figure out why she was having hundreds of seizures a day.

"We were looking at buying a wheelchair and diapers, because she wasn't able to be potty trained at that point," Brandi Olivarez said.

A helmet protected Chloe's head because she fell often.

"We were watching her go down this progressive slope, and she was just continually declining," Brandi Olivarez said.

Tests revealed Chloe had Glut 1 deficiency. That is a metabolic disease that depletes the brain of needed glucose, which makes most people unresponsive and slow to develop.

"It was kind of bittersweet. Finally understanding what she actually had, what we were fighting and the next step. It doesn't have a cure," Brandi Olivarez said.

But their timing was impeccable. Dr. Juan Pascual, a professor of pediatric neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, had just wrapped a groundbreaking study on mice with Glut 1, using an edible oil.

Pascual enrolled Chloe in his first human clinical trial, and within hours of ingesting the oil, her seizures started to subside.

"I had never seen anything like it," Pascual said.

"Speech was the first, other than seeing the seizure activity on the EEG, you could tell. She wasn't having seizures where she was hitting the floor anymore, and then speech was the next thing. Her speech, she immediately started using sentences," Brandi Olivarez said. "So then. with prolonged use, we have increased muscle tone. She's about to run a mile without stopping now."

The medicinal oil is derived from castor beans called Triheptanoin, which is used in many cosmetics in the United States. It has no smell and no taste.

All 14 participants in the study drank the oil four times a day in varying doses, and 70 percent of them saw a significant decline in seizures and improved neuropsychological performance.

The study is published in JAMA Neurology.

"Some days are very rough and some days are very happy, and I have to say that this was one of the happiest days of my life," Pascual said.

Chloe's family says watching her progress has been remarkable.

"We owe him everything. Now, we have a very vibrant, sassy little girl and I can't express my gratitude for everything they've done for us because it's been amazing to watch her," Brandi Olivarez said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Guidance Counselor Back to Work After Erotic "Slasher" Film Controversy]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:35:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/sage+park+middle+vnuk.jpg

A Connecticut middle school guidance counselor returned to work today after agreeing to stop making the erotic horror films that prompted school officials to place him on administrative leave earlier this month, according to the school system.

Aaron Vnuk, a counselor at Sage Park Middle School in Windsor, and Dr. Mark Foley, principal at Granby Memorial Middle School, are accused of using aliases to make independent horror movies featuring violence and nudity through their company Moongoyle Entertainment.

Vnuk was placed on administrative leave after school officials learned of the production company and began investigating.

Windsor Public Schools Supt. Dr. Craig Cooke sent a letter home to parents on Wednesday letting them know that Vnuk would return to work today.

"After a thorough investigation, we concluded that no students were involved in the films produced by the company, and the teacher's involvement was limited to outside of school hours," Cooke wrote in the letter. "Moreover, we have been assured that the teacher would have no involvement in the future production of any films of a similar nature."

Cooke posted a statement on the Sage Park Middle School Web site on Oct. 3 announcing Vnuk's suspension while school officials investigated. He assured parents that students were never at risk or in danger.

Foley was also placed on administrative leave after the allegations came to light. Tim Cunningham was appointed to serve as interim principal.

Neither Foley nor Vnuk responded to requests for comment.



Photo Credit: Sage Park Middle Schoo/NBCConnecticut.com
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<![CDATA[Ebola Patient's Fiancée Unable to Find New Home]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:43:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Troh+family+apartment+Dallas.jpg

The fiancée of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, has been unable to find a new home in Dallas, even though she was released from monitoring on Monday after showing no signs of the virus.

Louise Troh, her son and a nephew were quarantined at a Catholic Church camp in Oak Cliff, but they are still living there while they look for new housing.

Pastors at Troh's church, Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, have been trying to help her rent a home.

“We’re hopeful today. Things are looking better,” said the Rev. Mark Wingfield, associate pastor at Wilshire Baptist. “The last few days we’ve ended the day very disappointed in the way things have gone.”

Troh and her family left their unit at The Ivy Apartments in the Dallas Vickery Meadow neighborhood when workers in hazardous materials suits were decontaminating the place.

Family possessions were removed and incinerated as a precaution against spreading the disease.

Thomas Eric Duncan stayed in the apartment before being admitted on Sept. 28 to isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where he later died.

“You can imagine your own residence, and you were taken out of it, and everything in it was destroyed and you’ve got to start over again,” Wingfield said.

Experts say Troh and her family pose no threat to anyone, and they have nothing from the old apartment to bring to a new one. Still, that has not satisfied landlords to whom Wingfield has spoken.

“One larger complex in the area we talked to said we just don’t need any publicity out of this, and she’s welcome to fill out an application, but if she does it will not be approved,” Wingfield said.

Non-profit organizations serving other families in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood are facing difficulty operating programs since many volunteers are refusing to work in the area where an Ebola patient was, according to Laura Ward, with the Dallas Foundation.

“They're understaffed. They are short on volunteers. There have just been all kinds of needs that have come up in the community and for the non-profits as the result of something unexpected,” Ward said.

The Dallas Foundation is helping the other organizations return to normal.

“We've been overwhelmed by the number of people who come forward in our community and said, 'How can I help?'” Ward said.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is working with Wilshire Baptist on finding a new home for Troh and her family.

“It is challenging,” Rawlings said. “And that’s why we as a community have got to be sure we understand the science and the medicine behind this so she can be welcomed back into a community and pick up her life again.”

The mayor said he is encouraged by the number of possible contacts leaving the watch list with no symptoms.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday that 66 contacts have now completed a 21-day monitoring period disease-free and 108 are still being monitored. All possible contacts will be released Nov. 7.

“You see me knocking on wood right now, everyday. That’s what I do,” Rawlings said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Medical Records Stolen: Police]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:09:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/doctor-health-generic-1200-021.jpg

Medical records pertaining to about 40,000 patients over nearly two decades were stolen from a doctor's office in New Jersey earlier this week, authorities say.

Police say Nisar Quraishi, a general practitioner with more than 40 years of experience and offices in Jersey City and Manhattan, reported Tuesday that someone had cut through latches on a storage locker at his Jersey City office on Chopin Court and stolen the documents.

Quraishi told police a resident in the neighborhood called him to tell him the shed door was open, and when Quraishi went to check it out, he found all of his medical records from 1982-2009 were missing.

The stolen boxes had personal information, including social security numbers and home addresses, of about 40,000 patients he had treated and may still be treating, he told police.

Quraishi, who is also a clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone , told police he hadn't been to the storage shed since mid-August, at which point it was still locked. He said he had "no idea" who may have broken in, and he couldn't say whose information was stolen.

Police said there were no security cameras in the area.  

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<![CDATA[Company Paid Workers $1.21 An Hour]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:47:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/1022-2014-EFI.jpg

A Bay Area tech company has been slapped with a fine and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in back wages after a United States Department of Labor investigation revealed the company paid workers $1.21 an hour.

The Labor Department said about eight employees of Fremont-based Electronics For Imaging were flown in from India and worked 120-hour weeks to help with the installation of computers at the company's headquarters. The employees were paid their regular hourly wage in Indian rupees, which translated to $1.21.

EFI, which posted third-quarter revenue of nearly $200 million, released the following statement on Thursday: "During this process we unintentionally overlooked laws that require even foreign employees to be paid based on local US standards."

Last year, another company, Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale, faced similar charges and was fined for underpaying employees from Mexico an hourly wage of $2.66.

Federal officials said both cases are particularly egregious, given the booming labor market and the wealth in Silicon Valley.

"It is certainly outrageous and unacceptable for employers here in Silicon Valley to bring workers and pay less than the minimum wage," said Alberto Raymond, an assistant district director for the United States Department of Labor.

EFI has been ordered to pay $40,000 in back wages to the employees. In addition, the company was hit with a $3,500 fine.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Superhero Costume Scuffle]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:12:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/10-23-14_hollywood+blvd+costume+superhero+fight.jpg

A violent encounter between costumed superhero characters ended with Mr. Incredible slamming Batgirl on the sidewalk of Hollywood Boulevard in a fight caught on camera.

It was unclear what set off the altercation Tuesday in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre at Hollywood and Highland, and by the time police showed up no witnesses or victims were on scene.

In the video costumed Chewbacca and Waldo try to hold back Mr. Incredible as he grabs at a woman dressed as Batgirl, eventually throwing her to the ground on the crowded sidewalk. People watching nearby lunge toward the man after the slam, but no further violence appears to take place.

A man dressed as Spiderman said the sidewalk, filled with celebrity impersonators and people dressed as superheroes, is fiercely competitive as the characters collect money for photos with tourists.

“No one has respect for each other out here … it’s do or die,” he said. “Literally, everyone is feeding themselves.”

No arrests have been made. Los Angeles police are investigating the case.



Photo Credit: www.filmon.com]]>
<![CDATA[Man's Ashes Launched Into Space]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:04:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_shutterstock_tormenta6.jpg

The ashes of a Maine man that have been scattered all over the world by strangers who connected with his mother on social media are now being launched into space.

Using her Facebook page, Auburn resident Hallie Twomey has mailed hundreds of packets of her son C.J.'s ashes to people willing to scatter them on beaches, mountains and other places he didn't get to visit before he died four years ago.

On Thursday morning, a vial of C.J.'s ashes will take a new journey when it is launched in a rocket from the New Mexico desert. The rocket will spend a few minutes in space before landing in the White Sands Missile Range.

The roughly $1,000 memorial spaceflight is being paid for by Celestis, the company that arranged the launch.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Trooper Killer Suspect Mistaken ID]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:53:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/206*120/james+tully+eric+frein+lookalike.JPG

A northeastern Pennsylvania resident said he's been stopped and questioned more than 20 times by authorities who have mistaken him for a man sought in the killing of a state trooper, including one encounter at gunpoint that left him fearing for his life.

James Tully, 39, of Canadensis, said he wears his ID prominently around his neck as he walks to work each day through the wooded area where authorities are looking for Eric Frein. Nevertheless, he said he was once stopped about seven times in a single day.

"I'm worried about what is going to happen with the next one," Tully told the Pocono Record. "Is he going to shoot first and ask questions later?"

Trooper Tom Kelly, a state police spokesman, said Thursday the agency will investigate any formal complaint about alleged mistreatment. No such complaint has been filed, Kelly said.

Police have been searching for Frein in the woods around Canadensis since an ambush outside their barracks Sept. 12 left one state trooper dead and another seriously wounded. Authorities describe Frein, who grew up in the area, as a self-taught survivalist and expert marksman who hates law enforcement.

Not many people travel by foot in the rural region, which is filled with winding two-lane roads. Tully, a father of two, said he walks five miles each way to his job at a metal manufacturing company because he doesn't own a car. He carries a backpack, which police believe Frein has also done.

On Oct. 17, Tully said he was walking home when a driver in tactical gear pulled over, pointed a rifle at him and forced him down on the ground, putting a knee in his back. Tully said the man never identified himself, but let him go after another officer appeared and vouched for Tully.

"This guy apparently had delusions of grandeur that he would be the one to catch Frein," said Tully's father, Bob Tully. "We completely commiserate with the police, but this guy went full commando on my son."

James Tully said he went to the hospital and was diagnosed with bruised ribs. He now wears a reflective vest that he hopes will help identify him as someone not trying to hide from police.

"The one they're hunting for, he's not going to stand out. He's going to try and blend in," Tully told WNEP-TV. "I want to stand out so I can let them know ... I'm not the one they're looking for. Just let me go on my way."

A woman created a GoFundMe crowdfunding account to buy Tully a car and had raised more than $7,800 by Thursday afternoon.

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<![CDATA[Texas Hearing on Ebola Preparedness]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:13:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ebola-task-force-hearing.jpg

The newly-formed Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response held its first public hearing in the State Capitol.

At the 9 a.m. hearing, task force members focused on medical and public health preparedness for the initial identification and isolation of patients with Ebola or similar high-consequence infectious diseases, officials said.

Officials said that Thomas Eric Duncan could have walked into any hospital, so all hospitals must be prepared to handle an Ebola patient.

Task Force members heard invited testimony from witnesses representing professions and institutions involved in infectious disease identification and response. The main issues they discussed were internal communication, enhanced diagnostic screening and training for medical staff.

Speakers thanksed nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who tested positive for Ebola after treating Duncan. Texas Department of Health Services Dr. David Lakey, in particular, said it takes genuine bravery to care for someone with Ebola.

Texas Governor Rick Perry created the 15-member task force comprised of experts in infectious disease and public health, biodefense leaders and other state agency professionals Oct. 6. The group is charged with development of recommendations and a comprehensive state plan to ensure that Texas is prepared for the potential of emerging infectious diseases, such as the Ebola virus, and can provide the rapid response needed to effectively protect the safety and well-being of citizens.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Victim Told Family: "Look For Me in An Abandoned House"]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 06:42:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Kristine-Williams.jpg

The father of a victim of the suspected serial killer in Northwest Indiana says his daughter told a relative before she was murdered, “If I ever go missing, look for me in an abandoned house.”

Bruce Williams said his daughter, Kristine Williams, who was one of seven women found slain over the weekend, was dating her alleged killer, Darren Deon Vann.

Vann, 43, allegedly confessed to the murder of a 19-year-old woman in Hammond, Indiana over the weekend, then led police to the bodies of six other women in abandoned homes Gary, Indiana.

Williams is one of four women identified in the killings so far and the Lake County Coroner suspects she was likely killed about a year ago. The coroner’s office is still seeking the public’s help in identifying the remaining victims.

Bruce Williams told NBC Chicago Wednesday that his daughter was afraid of Vann. He said he saw news reports about the first victims identified and received a call the next day that his daughter was among them.

Bruce Williams said the shock of his only daughter’s death is slowly turning to bitterness.

"She wasn’t an angel, but she didn’t deserve this," he said.

Vann was charged in the murder of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy Monday and was charged Wednesday in the murder of Anith Jones, a 35-year-old Merrillville resident whose body was found late Saturday night.

Earlier Wednesday, Vann was ordered held in contempt of court when he refused to utter a word to the judge during his initial court appearance in the Hardy case.


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<![CDATA[What It Means If You See a Teal Pumpkin]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:54:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC-teal-pumpkins.jpg 10/22/14: Parents are encouraging houses offering non-food treats to display teal pumpkins so children with allergies will know it's safe to stop. Erika Edwards reports.]]> <![CDATA[10 Infamous American Serial Killers]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:43:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/serial-killers.jpg From the “Son of Sam” and “Zodiac” killers to John Wayne Gacy and Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, here is list of notorious serial killer cases in American history. ]]> <![CDATA[Famed Painting Mystery Swirls Around NYC Restaurant]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:02:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/nighthawk+diner.jpg

Artist Edward Hopper's famous "Nighthawks" painting has had admirers speculating for years whether the diner depicted was inspired by a real-life eatery, and one Greenwich Village restaurant owner is convinced he knows the answer.

Fiko Uslu, owner of the newly opened Classic's Cafe at Greenwich and Christopher streets, says he's so sure the space was the setting for the classic 1942 painting that he wants to rename the restaurant Nighthawks.

"We did a lot of research, a lot of legal paperwork," he said. "I don't want to get anything wrong."

The painting shows an all-night diner in which three customers are seated, lost in their own thoughts, under an "eerie glow," according to a description on the Art Institute of Chicago website.

Classic's Cafe manager, Alex Vigro, said they never thought about a connection until a mystery man named Mark stopped by last week and pointed out some similarities.

"These windows right there, the view in front of us, they still remain the same," he said. "The corner, I think everything, the design, everything is really similar."

It's not the only location that has been suggested as the inspiration for Hopper's painting, which hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago. A building housing what is now a flower shop is one of at least three Greenwich Avenue locations frequently discussed, and it's not lost on local residents.

"Certainly the shape of this building with the windows, and the way it comes to a peak, potentially," said Cynthia Kueppers.

Blogger Jeremiah Moss has chronicled his journey to find the real-life Nighthawks diner, writing in a 2010 New York Times op-ed piece that city folklore has suggested that Mulry Square -- a triangular lot at Greenwich Avenue and Seventh Avenue South -- was the site of the diner. His research found that it couldn't be the case because a gas station stood there from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Hopper himself has said the painting was inspired by a "restaurant on Greenwich Avenue where two streets meet," according to the Art Institute of Chicago, but never got more specific than that.

Carter Foster, the curator of drawing for the Whitney Museum, which has 2,500 drawings donated by the artist's widow, making it one of the largest Hopper collections anywhere, said the painting was probably influenced by multiple locations on the avenue.

"There were three corners on Greenwich Avenue, not Greenwich Street, where Hopper walked by frequently that were roughly the same shape as the diner in 'Nighthawks,' and I think those were the inspiration in a very general way, as was the tip of the Flatiron building," said Foster.

The artist with the answers died in 1967, leaving behind his painting and the speculation that goes along with it.


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<![CDATA[RAW: Costumed Superheroes Brawl on Hollywood Blvd]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:49:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/102314_hollywoodblvdcostumesuperherofight.jpg A fight caught on camera shows costumed character Mr. Incredible slamming Batgirl to the ground.]]> <![CDATA[Suspected Serial Killer Charged in Second Death]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 21:29:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Darren+Deon+Vann+new.jpg

A second round of murder charges were filed Wednesday against a registered sex offender suspected in the deaths of at least seven women whose bodies were found over the last weekend.

Darren Deon Vann, 43, was charged in the death of Anith Jones, a 35-year-old Merrillville resident whose body was found late Saturday night. Her family had reported her missing on Oct. 8.


Vann was charged Monday in connection with the strangulation death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy.

Earlier Wednesday, Vann was ordered held in contempt of court when he refused to utter a word to the judge during his initial court appearance in the Hardy case.

"He will stay in jail for the rest of his life until this hearing takes place," Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivanwas said before putting the case on hold until Oct. 29 and agreeing to a defense motion for a gag order.

"See you in a week," she said.

Vann was then taken back to his jail cell, which is away from the general population and where he is under 24-hour watch from personnel.

Authorities said Vann, of Gary, opened up about previous crimes once he was arrested in connection with the Hardy case and helped police find six other bodies. By Wednesday morning, just three of those six had been positively identified: Jones, 28-year-old Teairra Batey, and 36-year-old Kristine Williams.

Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey on Tuesday asked for the public's help in identifying two of the women who were recovered over the weekend. Anyone with information is asked to call the Lake County Coroner’s Office at 219-755-3265.



Photo Credit: Lake County Sheriff's Office
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<![CDATA[Cop in Racially Charged Rant Fired]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 01:26:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lyga.JPG

A veteran Los Angeles Police Department detective who once fatally shot a fellow officer and was heard on a recording making light of the killing has been fired, his attorney said Wednesday.

Frank Lyga was released from duty, his attorney Ira Salzman said, after Chief Charlie Beck signed a termination order Tuesday.

"We were not given an opportunity to appeal the termination," Salzman told NBC4.

The detective "is no longer an LAPD employee," Cmdr. Andrew Smith told the Associated Press.

Lyga had been assigned to home in June after the recording surfaced.

In the recording, Lyga, who as an undercover narcotics detective in 1997 fatally shot a black LAPD officer who was off duty, can be heard saying, "I could have killed a whole truckload of them and would have happily done that."

Lyga apologized, saying,"I can't talk about this. My only comment is: I made some inappropriate comments. I regret what I said. I embarrassed myself and my department and for that I am sorry."

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, did comment Wednesday on Lyga's release from duty.

It previously defended Lyga in a statement, saying, "When one listens to the tape in context, it is clear that Detective Lyga was not celebrating the killing of anybody," the statement said. "Although we do not support the denigration of any person, or group of persons, if there is a news interest here, it is far larger than improper remarks by a detective who 17 years later is still being asked about an experience he lived through that would deeply affect any of us."

Seventeen years ago, while working undercover, Lyga shot to death an off-duty officer, Kevin Gaines. The LAPD concluded it was a road-rage situation and that Gaines had threatened Lyga.

Jason Kandel and Beverly White contributed to this report.

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