<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:55:00 -0500 Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:55:00 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Gary Police Search Abandoned Homes]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:19:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/222*120/vacant+gary+home.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<![CDATA[TODAY'S FORECAST: Jacket Required...]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:27:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Andy+Avalos+Updated.jpg

Today: Mostly cloudy, breezy and much cooler with occasional light lake effect showers or sprinkles in NW Indiana and possible along the Chicago lakefront through this morning. Clouds gradually decrease for a little more sun later this afternoon while mostly sunny skies prevail well inland. Highs in the upper 40s far nothern counties, but low to mid 50s most areas. Wind: N/NE 8 to 18 mph.

Tonight: Clear to partly cloudy and colder as winds ease. Mid 30s well inland with patchy frost developing. Not quite as chilly with low to mid 40s city and lakefront. Wind: NE/E 5 to 15 mph.

Wednesday: Mostly sunny and cool, but less wind. Highs in the low to mid 50s most locations, upper 50s well inland.

Thursday: Mostly sunny skies early, become partly to mostly cloudy in the afternoon with a few showers late afternoon and evening; breezy and milder. Highs in the low to mid 60s. The partial Solar Eclipse may not be visible by late afternoon due to clouds.

Friday: Mostly sunny and pleasant. Highs in the mid to upper 60s.

Saturday: Mostly sunny and pleasant. Highs in the mid to upper 60s.

Sunday: Sunny skies mix with more clouds late, breezy and warmer. Highs in the low, possibly mid 70s.

Monday: Mostly cloudy with showers likely, still mild with highs near 70.

<![CDATA[Chicago-Area Hospitals Ready to Treat Ebola Patients]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:21:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009334804_1200x675_345958467789.jpg 10/21/2014: If Ebola were to arrive in Chicago, four area hospitals have agreed to treat potential patients. NBC 5's Nesita Kwan reports.]]> <![CDATA[Suspected Serial Killer Used Online Advertising Site to Meet Victim]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:11:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/220*120/hardy+backpage+investigates.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An attorney for Backpage declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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

<![CDATA[Editor Ben Bradlee Dies at 93]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:09:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/450818457.jpg

One of the great figures in American journalism has died.

Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of the Washington Post, passed away at the age of 93.

The family says he had been in hospice care suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

His death was reported by The Washington Post Tuesday.

Bradlee skyrocketed to fame in the early 1970s when he allowed the Post to look deeper into the burglary at the Watergate Hotel. His collaboration with young reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein eventually brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency and established the Washington Post as one of the world's top newspapers.

Bradlee's Watergate fame was sealed with the movie "All the President's Men," in which he was portrayed by actor Jason Robards.

Bradlee lived a life as rich as his family name. Born into privilege in Boston, he graduated from Harvard. As a young man he lived in Paris for a time, working for the American embassy. He then joined Newsweek and eventually the Washington Post, where he served as the executive editor from 1968 until his retirement in 1991.

A prominent figure in the glamorous days of the Kennedy Administration, he was a close friend of both John and Jackie Kennedy.

Bradlee was a major player in those heady days when Georgetown dinner parties probably shaped government policy more than Congress.

He added to his stature in 1978 when he married the young style section reporter, Sally Quinn, who was 20 years his junior.

Since retiring, Bradlee wrote a memoir entitled "A Good Life" in 1995 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama last year.

As for journalism, Bradlee once said, "I don't mean to sound arrogant, but we are in a holy profession.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<![CDATA[“A Living Science Experiment": Nursing School Reflects on Ebola Cases]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:01:10 -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 former nursing student at Texas Christian University, said the Ebola cases at Texas Health Presbyterian showed how the importance of nurses, something she had learned from her father, a plastic surgeon in Atlanta.

“We're not prepared for something like Ebola,” said Robinson, who is now studying education instead.

She had the passion but not the aptitude for nursing, she said.

“It was something I just really wanted to do,” she said. “It's something to help people -- exactly why you see so many nurses do it today.”

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
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Forgot to Clean His Chicago Home Before Leaving For Washington]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:18:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/203*120/obamalax.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Hurricane Bill Clinton Hits Chicago to Shake Up the Quinn-Rauner Race]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:15:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/194*120/AP844735183084.jpg

Remember when Bill "Explainer-in-Chief" Clinton waltzed into the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and proceeded to give the best speech of the election season thus far? 

The silver-tongued speaker, with his practiced man-of-the-people folksiness and enviable ability to condense a complicated issue into effectively simple terms, managed to argue the Democrats' case better than anyone else on that stage. He even out-shone President Barack Obama, the more introverted "Professor-in-Chief" and an oratory marvel in his own right, who lost some of that swagger from 2008, when "change" was in the air.

If Clinton didn't drop the mic afterward, he should have.

The former president, whose wife may soon launch a bid for the White House, relishes politics and the political spotlight—when Obama essentially ignored him during his first term, he felt slighted. Then 2012 rolled around, and suddenly his campaigning prowess—not to mention a rebound in goodwill from a public feeling nostalgic for the '90s—came into high demand. The Obamans knocked on his door. He jumped at the chance to spin the election in his party's favor.

Two years later, Clinton is doing just that for embattled Democrats here in Illinois. Earlier this summer, he stumped for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a splashy fundraiser downtown, lending his ex-adviser—up for re-election next February and struggling to win back Chicago voters he's alienated, especially African-Americans—a welcome dose of star power.

Today, in the city's South Side, he was addressing a crowd of workers, business and labor leaders at a manufacturing plant on behalf of Gov. Pat Quinn, who's locked in a tight race against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner. The theme: The economy and the state's economic "comeback."

While Quinn touts a decline in the unemployment rate, Rauner counters that the rate remains among the highest in the county and that the Democratic incumbent has "failed" as a leader. The governor, prone to social awkwardness and blustery delivery, has strived to streamline—and sell—his message on Illinois' fiscal woes (and how he can best salvage the post-crash wreckage) amid tough competition from Rauner, who projects an aura of competence and reason honed from years leading boardroom meetings as a veteran venture capitalist.

Here's where Clinton steps in to shake things up, attempt to reframe the issue and drop the mic. Again.

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

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

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

2. "Pat Quinn's a PHONY."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Flickr/Amanda Richards]]>
<![CDATA[1st Dallas Ebola Nurse Upgraded]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:22:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/nina-pham-nih.jpg

Dallas nurse and Ebola patient Nina Pham's condition was upgraded from fair to good Tuesday at the National Instites of Health in Maryland, where she has been in isolation with the potentially deadly virus since Thursday.

She had been in fair condition since Friday, a day after her transfer to the taxpayer-funded Bethesda hospital -- home to one of the nation's top-level biocontainment facilities -- from Dallas.

Pham contracted Ebola after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with the potentially deadly virus in the United States, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Pham had been listed in good condition in Dallas before her transfer, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Laboratory of Immunoregulation, had said the change to fair shouldn't be understood as meaning that her condition had worsened.

"She's not deteriorating," he had said Friday. "She is quite stable now and resting comfortably."

Last week Fauci said they fully intend to have Pham walk out of their hospital and will do everything they can to make sure that happens.

Photo Credit: AP / Texas Christian University
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[1 Dead, 2 Injured After Shooting at Dixmoor Home]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:28:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dixmoor-shooting-1.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Coroner Seeks Public's Help in Identifying Indiana Victims]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:16:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Darren+Deon+Vann+new.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Lake County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Vets Test Nina Pham's Dog for Ebola Virus]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:37:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bentley-Thumb-102114.jpg

A team of specially-trained veterinarians started testing Ebola patient Nina Pham's dog, Bentley, for the virus.

Dallas Animal Services has been carrying for Bentley in isolation. To date he has been healthy and still shows no symptoms of the virus.

The City of Dallas tweeted new pictures Tuesday of Bentley playing with the vet.

The veterinarians started testing Bentley's waste for signs of Ebola virus Monday.

Bentley will remain in isolation until Nov. 1. He's being monitored for a full 21-day period, similar to humans who've been exposed.

No word on when Pham will be released from the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

In response to the outpouring of support around the world for Bentley, the City of Dallas partnered with Dallas Companion Animal Project to establish the Dallas Pet Emergency Transition Services (PETS) fund. The donations will help Bentley and other pets in similar emergency situations in the future.

To donate visit DallasAnimals.org and click "You Can Help" or CLICK HERE to donate to the Dallas PETS (Pet Emergency Transition Services) Fund.

Photo Credit: City of Dallas via Twitter
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Man to President: "Don't Touch My Girlfriend"]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:35:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009335099_1200x675_345806403788.jpg 10/20/14: President Obama gets a lighthearted word-of-caution while taking part in Early Voting in Chicago.]]> <![CDATA[Crawford Out vs. Flyers, Raanta to Start]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:05:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/177*120/456992758.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Line Shuffle Continues as Versteeg Joins Second Line]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:30:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/486345985.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Flight to Chicago Diverted After Mechanical Issue]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:16:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/United-Continental-merger.jpg

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

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

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

It was not immediately clear what the mechanical issue was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Top 10 Schools: 

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

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

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Man Extradited on Terror Charge]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:12:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/terror+suspect+extradite.jpg

Haroon Rashid Aswat, a British man charged with conspiring to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, is being flown to New York from London Tuesday by U.S. officials after nine years of fighting extradition, law enforcement officials tell NBC New York.

Aswat faces federal charges of conspiring with radical cleric Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly 15 years ago.

Mustafa was convicted in New York in May of being involved in the Oregon terror plan. He was also convicted of helping to plot the 1998 kidnappings of tourists, including 16 Americans, in Yemem. Mustafa told the jury that he lost both hands and an eye in an accident in Pakistan while working with explosives.

A third man, James Ujaama, pleaded guilty in 2007 to being the American contact for Mustafa and Aswat in their alleged bid to build a terror camp in the United States. The fourth man to be named in the plot, Oussama Abdullah Kassir, a Swede born in Lebanon, was convicted of terror charges in 2009.

Aswat, who is being treated for paranoid schizophrenia, has been fighting extradition to America since his 2005 arrest in London on a U.S. warrant. Last month, Britain’s high court ruled Aswat could be extradited after receiving assurances from U.S. authorities that his mental illness would still be treated.

Media reports in London Tuesday say the Metropolitan Police confirm that Aswat was taken from Broadmoor psychiatric hospital and escorted onto a plane by U.S. officials.

Officials from the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office in New York declined to comment.

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

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

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

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

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

See the full list of rankings at RootMetrics.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Police Detail NH Festival Chaos]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 21:11:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Keene+State+incident+1.jpg

Eighty-four people were arrested during riots at a New Hampshire community's annual pumpkin festival that spilled over to a nearby college over the weekend, and authorities are asking for the public's help in identifying more rioters.

The violent parties in Keene led to the destruction of private and public property, resulting in the injuries of more than 30 people on Saturday.

Local police say they planned ahead, based off previous years riots, but say this year things were different when the rioters moved out onto public streets and neighborhoods.

"I think, unfortunately, we were caught by surprise when things started earlier than expected," said Keene Police Chief Kenneth Meola. "We thought we had it well in hand, to be quite honest, but we fell a little short."

The incident happened around Keene State College during the city's Pumpkin Festival, which is when the community tries to set a world record for the most carved and lighted jack-o-lanterns in one place. Police responded to the violence with riot gear, tear gas and pepper spray in an attempt to control the crowds.

The area was cleaned up by college students on Sunday.

New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan said the Granite State's higher education institutions must "take swift action to hold students involved accountable."

Keene State College President Anne Huot was a witness to Saturday's riot.

"I'm gravely concerned" about the unruly behavior, she said.

According Mayor Kendall Lane, between 55,000-60,000 people were attending the festival and were safe during the violent parties, adding that the future of the festival is uncertain at this time.

According to Keene city officials, the riots seem to have begun in several places, including Wilcox Terrace and Winchester Court, around 1 p.m. Saturday with more than 1,000 people in each location, with some throwing rocks, bottles, cans, even billard balls, injuring some.

Keene Police Chief Kenneth Meoloa said his department communicated with Keene State College students before the festival, adding that it was "outside forces" that was part of the "riotous behavior."

As police tried to disperse the crowds, the crowds turned their attention to law enforcement, according to the city; police say they used pepper spray, tear gas and fired "sponge rounds" at some of the rioters. The crowd then moved through the neighborhood to Butler Court, where the riots continued, the city said; another crowd moved from Winchester Street to Blake Street, where a fire was set in the middle of the road.

Keene officials say the riots continued for the next eight hours as the crowd moved to Keene State College property. Crowds damaged college, city and private property, including an overturned car, officials said.

Chief Meola said there was also riotous behavior last year, adding that this year the rioters entered public domain, but last year was an "organized party."

Click here to make an anonymous tip to the Keene Police Department regarding this incident.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Casts Early Ballot in General Election]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:22:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-early-vote-2.jpg

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

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

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

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

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


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Karen Lewis Returns to Twitter After Brain Tumor Diagnosis]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:37:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Karen_Lewis_9-2.jpg

Karen Lewis is back on Twitter.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF]]>