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Florida Woman Found Dead in Bathtub Murder Mystery

Florida Woman Found Dead in Bathtub Murder Mystery

Insight For The Blind(DAVIE, Fla.) — Police in Florida are investigating the mysterious murder of a woman found dead in her bathtub.

Jill Halliburton Su — the wife of a prominent University of Florida professor — was found dead Monday inside her Davie, Florida, home in Broward County. The 59-year-old’s son discovered her body and called 911.

Davie Police Capt. Dale Engle said it didn’t take long for authorities to conclude that foul play was involved.

“The initial call came in as a possible suicide, but it became very evident that this was not a suicide, but in fact a homicide,” Engle said.

At this point, police aren’t saying how Halliburton Su died.

She was related to the founder of the billion-dollar Halliburton oil services empire and also volunteered, reading books for the blind.

Her husband, Dr. Nan Yao Su, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida’s Research and Education Center in Fort Lauderdale, was at work Monday, and said he called home when he couldn’t see his home surveillance cameras on his computer, police said. He told his oldest son to check on the house, at which time the victim’s body was found.

Both father and son were questioned by police and, at this point, neither are considered suspects, Engle said.

“I don’t want to say anybody’s been ruled out as a suspect. At this time, this is a very active investigation,” he said. “We did find a door that was broken or the glass of a door that was broken.”

That broken glass suggests that the house could have been broken into, with a room reportedly ransacked. Police are now canvassing the gated neighborhood, looking at surveillance tapes and even diving into nearby canals for clues.

“We’re going door-to-door, literally speaking, with residents over there to see if anybody captured any evidence that we may be able to utilize in this investigation,” Engle said.

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Hoax 911 Call Diverts Cops from Actual Bank Robbery, Police Say

Hoax 911 Call Diverts Cops from Actual Bank Robbery, Police Say

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ISLAND COUNTY, Wash.) — The FBI is searching for a suspected bank robber who’s believed to have made a hoax 911 call reporting a murder in order to send police on a wild goose chase while he robbed a Washington state bank.

In audio of the Monday 911 call, the caller can be heard telling a dispatcher on Whidbey Island the made-up story.

“He lives in a tent with his girlfriend. He says he shot his girlfriend on accident and how he’s suicidal,” the caller said.

The operator pressed the caller for details: “Hold on, listen to me one second. He shot his girlfriend?”

The caller replied: “My phone’s about to die!”

The few members of Island County Sheriff’s Office on duty at the time raced to the scene of the purported crime, but when they got to the wooded area they found no evidence of a murder. That’s when a second call came in indicating a bank robbery was happening at Wells Fargo in Clinton, located miles away from the officers’ location.

“I think the officers realized that they’d been duped and that we needed to respond immediately to the actual crime scene,” Island County Sheriff Mark Brown told ABC News.

A photo released by police shows a man wearing a black face mask, hood and camouflage jacket. Police say the suspect robbed the bank at gunpoint and fled in a bank employee’s car.

Whidbey Island, located north of Seattle, is better known for its picturesque views and quiet life.

Investigators say the last armed robbery on the island occurred at the very same bank two years ago and under very similar circumstances. In a 911 call later traced to a payphone, a caller reported a murder, sending police chasing in the wrong direction just before that robbery took place.

Investigators are considering whether the two robberies could have been committed by the same person and have brought in the FBI to assist in analyzing the 911 tapes.

“We’re certainly following leads to see if we can do some voice analysis,” said Sheriff Brown.

The stolen car used in the robber’s getaway was found Monday but the suspect is still on the loose, authorities told ABC News.

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Federal Agents Seize over $65 Million in Raid on LA Fashion District Businesses

Federal Agents Seize over $65 Million in Raid on LA Fashion District Businesses

Photo Courtesy: United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California (LOS ANGELES) — About 1,000 law enforcement officers executed dozens of search warrants in the Los Angeles Fashion District on Wednesday, arresting nine people and seizing at least $65 million in cash from businesses linked to international drug cartels.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, one of the indictments unsealed on Wednesday accused the Sinaloa Drug Cartel of using a business in the Fashion District to accept and launder ransom payments for the release of a U.S. citizen who had been kidnapped, held hostage and tortured in Mexico.

Two other indictments involved alleged money laundering by a pair of Los Angeles businesses using the Black Market Peso Exchange scheme, which involves a “peso broker” who matches up criminals with businesses in currency exchanges.

“Today’s arrests and searches should send a message to international drug cartels that the FBI and our partners won’t tolerate the exploitation of American businesses for the purposes of illicit financial transactions that fund hostage-taking and the distribution of narcotics,” said Bill Lewis, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division.

According to Bill Bodnar of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, “the message law enforcement is sending to the fashion district and the whole, whole sale district is clear…if you’re a business owner who chooses to be involved in trade based money laundering, this is just the beginning. The law enforcement community in Los Angeles is coming after you.”

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Terror Threat Peaks on Eve of 9/11 Anniversary, With ISIS Top Concern

Terror Threat Peaks on Eve of 9/11 Anniversary, With ISIS Top Concern

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — On the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, the nation’s top anti-terror officials warned that this is a high-tempo moment for national security, where the U.S. faces a multitude of potential threats. No specific plot has been identified, but authorities say the most serious threat comes from ISIS, the radical Muslim terrorist organization that recently beheaded two American journalists in Syria.

On Wednesday, President Obama huddled with his national security team at the White House. The secretary of Homeland Security warned that ISIS “is prepared to kill innocent Americans.” And the man most responsible for protecting the nation’s number-one terror target, New York City, had this sobering assessment.

“ISIS creates a totally new area of threat for us and one that is probably even more potentially impactful on us than al-Qaeda,” New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said in a speech Wednesday in New York. Bratton cited unrest in the Middle East and the rise of ISIS for making the terror threat “more significant.” The commissioner added that he is particularly concerned about the social media skills ISIS has shown, because it gives the group the ability to inspire from afar.

“Their ability to inspire not only those who will go there to fight and then potentially come back but also to inspire the so-called lone wolves — the disaffected sitting there in their basements pouring over their computer terminals,” Bratton said. “They have an incredible ability to influence those young men and women.”

In fact, 1,600 miles away in a Denver-area courtroom, a woman who had been inspired online to go to Syria to join ISIS pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a terror organization. The FBI arrested 19-year-old Shannon Conley last April, as she was boarding a plane that would take her to the ISIS boyfriend she met on the Web.

And at a Senate hearing Wednesday, a senior Homeland Security official confirmed that ISIS followers had been active online recently, urging volunteers to infiltrate the U.S. via the southern border. It is unclear how capable the group is of doing this, or how credible the online discussions are.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson also cited ISIS media capability as an emerging threat. “Its public messaging and social media is as slick and as effective as any I’ve ever seen from a terrorist organization,” Johnson said.

Then he warned how brutal the group – also known as ISIL — can be.

“Though we know of no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the homeland at present, we know that ISIL is prepared to kill innocent Americans they encounter because they are Americans – in a public and depraved manner,” Johnson said. “We know ISIL views the United States as an enemy, and we know that ISIL’s leaders have themselves said they will soon be in ‘direct confrontation’ with the United States.”

But ISIS is not the only deadly threat to the homeland. Top-level sources have told ABC News that Yemeni bomb makers – skilled at crafting undetectable, plastic bombs – are now working with another group of al Qaeda radicals in Syria. Their goal is to perfect an undetectable bomb — then send a Western volunteer back home with it. Officials say 150 or so Americans have gone to Syria — or tried — and more than 1,000 foreign fighters from Europe and other friendly countries have joined the terrorists as well. Many are from the 38 so-called visa waiver nations – citizens who we allow easy access to the U.S.

Secretary Johnson said Wednesday that “the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the intelligence community are making enhanced and concerted efforts to track Syrian foreign fighters who come from or seek to enter this country.” And he listed some of the steps being taken to deal with the threat posed by the foreign fighters in Syria. He said there is now enhanced aviation security partly in response to the Yemen/Syria bomb-maker problem. There is also enhanced screening at 19 overseas airports with direct flights to the U.S. Longer term, DHS is pursuing “pre-clearance” at overseas airports with flights to the U.S.

“To use a football metaphor,” Johnson said, “I’d much rather defend our end zone from the 50-yard line than from our 1-yard line. I want to take every opportunity we have to expand homeland security beyond our borders.”

But perhaps the most worrisome threat, Secretary Johnson said, is the hidden threat of homegrown radicals. They are difficult to detect, because they have no direct ties to any known radical group. The fear is that one might respond to the ISIS call and react with an unexpected and deadly attack on U.S. soil.

Then there is our old nemesis, al Qaeda central, still trying to strike the U.S., and pressured by the rise of its radical rival, ISIS. They may be degraded, officials say, but they are still a real threat.

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NFL Commissioner Comes Under Increased Criticism for Handling of Domestic Abuse Situation

NFL Commissioner Comes Under Increased Criticism for Handling of Domestic Abuse Situation

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — In the wake of the newest information about the Ray Rice domestic violence situation, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has come under increased criticism, with the National Organization for Women and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, questioning Goodell’s ability to handle the situation.

A statement released on Wednesday by NOW President Terry O’Neill declared that “the NFL has lost its way,” and that its problem is not isolated to the incident in which Ray Rice struck his wife in an elevator at Revel Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., but that the league “has a violence against women problem.” O’Neill’s statement notes even more recent examples of NFL players being accused of domestic violence, including San Francisco 49ers player Ray McDonald who played in his team’s first game of the season despite facing felony domestic violence charges and Greg Hardy, who has also been allowed to continue playing after being convicted in July of choking and threatening his girlfriend.

“The only workable solution is for Roger Goodell to resign,” O’Neill says, “and for his successor to appoint an independent investigator with full authority to gather factual data about domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking within the NFL community, and to recommend real and lasting reforms.”

Blumenthal even used some of Goodell’s own words to criticize the commissioner. When doling out suspensions to New Orleans Saints players and coaches two years ago, Goodell claimed that “ignorance is not an excuse.” Blumenthal echoed those words, noting that the NFL “has an obligation to do better.”

“The current leadership of the NFL cannot be trusted to fairly, genuinely implement policies that address domestic violence,” Blumenthal said.

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Supporters of Michael Brown Fail to Block Major St. Louis Roadway

Supporters of Michael Brown Fail to Block Major St. Louis Roadway

Win McNamee/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) — Dozens of protesters calling for justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown rallied Wednesday by attempting to block a section of Interstate-70 in St. Louis County, Missouri.

Organizers called the protest an act of civil disobedience.

Despite demands by police that they confine their protests to the sidewalk, some demonstrators stepped on the roadway anyway, prompting their swift arrests.

As traffic kept moving on I-70, police made about 35 arrests, four of them for assaulting officers, many of whom were in full riot gear.

Protesters were there to demand that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon hire a special prosecutor to investigate the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by Ferguson Police Officer Darren White, who is white.

Other community leaders want White arrested and booked for the alleged murder of Brown even as a grand jury is trying to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

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Driver’s Education Proves Valuable for Teens

Driver’s Education Proves Valuable for Teens

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — As the poem goes, a little learning is a dangerous thing but not learning the rules of the road is even more dangerous, particularly for young drivers.

Over the years, driver’s education requirements have dwindled in many states, mainly due to budget cuts.

However, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that if driver’s ed is available to teens, they should by all means take advantage of it.

According to AAA’s statistics, those who received an education on safe driving are involved in 4.3 percent fewer crashes than those who don’t. In addition, convictions due to driving-related offenses fall by almost 40 percent.

Driver’s ed is also valuable because it makes students more knowledgeable. They score higher on driving exams and show a noticeable increase in knowledge of road rules than teens who don’t take the course.

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Ravens Missed Chance to See Ray Rice Video: Sources

Ravens Missed Chance to See Ray Rice Video: Sources

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Baltimore Ravens knew shortly after running back Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator that a surveillance video of the assault existed and that Rice’s lawyer had a copy of the video, but never asked to see it, sources told ABC News Wednesday.

And the claim by Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, that the league was unaware of the brutality of Rice’s assault on his then-fiancee Janay Palmer has also come under a cloud because a police report at the time stated clearly that Rice committed assault “by striking her with his hand, rendering her unconscious.”

Rice, 27, was initially suspended for two games for what was described by his lawyer as a “minor physical altercation” on Feb. 15.

The Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and the NFL suspended him indefinitely earlier this week after TMZ.com released a video showing Rice twice hitting Palmer in the elevator, with the second punch knocking her out.

Both the team and league have said they asked for the video, but police and prosecutors did not turn it over because it was part of a grand jury hearing.

But two sources briefed on the incident and behind-the-scenes discussions regarding the tape told ABC News that the Ravens knew that the tape existed and knew what was on the tape almost immediately after the incident.

The seriousness of Rice’s confrontation with his then-fiancee, who is now his wife and who goes by Janay Rice, was first indicated when a surveillance video surfaced on Feb. 19 showing Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee out of the elevator at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. When that video surfaced, Ray Rice’s lawyer asked the hotel for the full tape, and Revel handed it over, sources told ABC News.

The Ravens also asked the hotel for the full video, but were told by Revel they couldn’t give it out to anyone except someone who was a party to what’s on the tape or to law enforcement, the sources said. But Revel officials told the team that Rice’s attorney had a copy and the Ravens should ask the lawyer for the tape, the sources told ABC News.

The Ravens did not ask Rice or his lawyer for a copy of the video. Instead, the Ravens and the NFL asked law enforcement for the video, which declined to give it up.

It’s not clear whether the league was in contact with the Ravens about the incident at this time.

Rice said in his July news conference when he apologized for his actions that he thought the league had all the relevant material, although neither the league nor his team had seen the full video.

The full video was released by TMZ.com earlier this week, showing the punch that promptly left Palmer sprawled on the elevator floor. That video triggered public outrage and resulted in Rice being kicked out of the NFL.

In Goodell’s version of events, he said the league acted after seeing the full video, which he called “extremely clear, was extremely graphic, and it was sickening.” League officials have suggested they had not been aware of the full detail of Rice’s assault on Janay Rice.

But documents obtained Wednesday by ABC News show that Atlantic City police reported almost immediately that Ray Rice’s assault knocked her out. Rice committed the assault “by striking her with his hand, rendering her unconscious, at the Revel Casino,” according to the ACPD summons on file at city court in Atlantic City.

A release from the Atlantic City cops at the time also stated that police made the arrests after “reviewing surveillance footage.”

The Ravens have not immediately responded to ABC News’ requests for comment. The NFL has said simply that it asked law enforcement for the video and it wasn’t given to them.

“We did not ask the Atlantic City casino directly for the video,” the NFL said. “Again, our understanding of New Jersey law is that the casino is prohibited from turning over material to a third party during a law enforcement proceeding, and that doing so would have subjected individuals to prosecution for interference with a criminal investigation.”

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Former FBI Director to Lead Investigation into NFL’s Handling of Ray Rice Situation

Former FBI Director to Lead Investigation into NFL’s Handling of Ray Rice Situation

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The National Football League announced on Wednesday night that an investigation into its handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident will be led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller III.

A statement put out by the league announced the investigation, which will be overseen by John Mara, owner of the NFL’s New York Giants, and Art Rooney, owner of the league’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Both owners are attorneys.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that Mueller will receive full access to league records and the cooperation of all league personnel.

Mueller served as director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013, under two presidents, and is currently a partner in the law firm WilmerHale, based in Washington, D.C.

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Colorado Teen Pleads Guilty of Conspiring to Help ISIS

Colorado Teen Pleads Guilty of Conspiring to Help ISIS

iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) — A Colorado teen pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to provide support to the terrorist organization ISIS.

Shannon Conley, 19, reportedly joined the U.S. Army Explorers for military tactics training and obtained a nursing and a weapons certification to help a man she met online who said he was an ISIS fighter. She was arrested at the Denver airport in April when she was trying to travel to Turkey to meet him.

Conley, who goes by the Muslim name Halima, reportedly converted to Islam a few years ago.

Conley’s attorney Robert Pepin says she never intended to be part of the “horrific” acts of violence ISIS has committed.

“Miss Conley is a Muslim, she’s also a 19-year-old woman of faith who was pursuing her faith and unfortunately, as she pursued it, she was led terribly astray,” Pepin said.

Conley will be sentenced in January 2015. She could face more than five years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine. In the terms of her plea negotiation, she also agreed to help the U.S. District Attorney’s office investigate the co-conspirators in this case.

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First Death Reported Linked to Northern California Quake

First Death Reported Linked to Northern California Quake

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) — The 6.0-magnitude earthquake that struck northern California last month has now been linked to the death of a 65-year-old woman.

Laurie Anne Thompson was hit in the head by a TV that fell during the shaking at her Napa home. After the incident, she was alert and did not show any signs of cognitive impairment, according to the Napa County Sheriff’s Office. But a day later, her family convinced her to go to the hospital after she felt dizzy and suffered a decline in mental function.

Thompson’s condition continued to worsen while she was at the hospital, and she died of a brain hemorrhage on Sept. 5.

She was the only fatal victim of the quake, although scores of people were injured.

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Dad Accused of Killing His Five Kids Had ‘Spice’ Drug, Cops Say

Dad Accused of Killing His Five Kids Had ‘Spice’ Drug, Cops Say

iStock/Thinkstock(LEXINGTON, S.C.) — A father accused of killing his five small children has not told police why he allegedly murdered them, but police said that he appeared “disoriented” when stopped by cops and that they found synthetic marijuana known as “spice” in his car.

Timothy Ray Jones Jr. will be charged with five counts of murder, Acting Sheriff Lewis McCarty of Lexington County, South Carolina, said at a news conference Wednesday. The children ranged in age from 1 to 8.

Authorities also revealed that one of Jones’ neighbors made a complaint on Aug. 8 “regarding some type of abuse from the father to the children,” a Department of Social Services official said. Officials investigated that day but found no reason to immediately remove the children from Jones’ care. The case was still open and a second visit was expected to be scheduled, the official said.

Jones vanished with the children on Aug. 28 after picking them up from school and day care. Jones’ ex-wife reported him missing, but also told police that he had been unreachable in the past. Nevertheless, Jones and the children were put on a missing persons database.

Jones was stopped at a routine vehicle checkpoint in Mississippi on Saturday, authorities said. “When an officer approached him, he seemed very strange, maybe a little bit disoriented,” McCarty said.

A check of Jones’ name brought up the missing persons report, the sheriff said.

“They found evidence of cleaning material, material to clean blood…and they saw blood. They saw children’s clothes, but no children,” McCarty said.

The officers arrested Jones on charges of driving while intoxicated and possession of synthetic marijuana.

“It’s called spice,” McCarty said. It’s also known as K2 and has been implicated, along with other synthetic drugs like bath salts, in a string of crimes and violent behavior.

Jones led police to a dirt road in Alabama where they recovered five garbage bags containing five sets of human remains that authorities believe are the missing children, McCarty said. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.

“He has not indicated why he did this,” the sheriff said.

McCarty said the children’s mother is “a very nice person, a very sweet lady…she is in shock and emotionally distraught.”

The sheriff said the case has also taken a toll on his staff. “Not a person in this room could speak to the mother of these children and not become emotional,” he said, referring to the investigators with him at the news conference.

“I made a promise to these children’s mother that I will bring these children home, and I was not going to go back on that,” McCarty said.

Tearing up, he added, “It’s hard to work the murder of a child. Two is very difficult, but five.”

Jones is believed to have killed the children shortly after picking them up, McCarty said.

“We feel the deaths took place early on. We’re not certain exactly what time, but those deaths came early on in the investigation,” he said.

Jones then drove for several days through several states, the sheriff said.

“These children were in the car deceased in garbage bags for some period of time,” McCarty said.

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Was Ohio Plane Crash a College Frat Accident?

Was Ohio Plane Crash a College Frat Accident?

iStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) — Relatives of a student who died in an Ohio plane crash are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit over suspicion that the crash may have been a fraternity event gone wrong.

Four students from Case Western Reserve University — Abraham Pishevar, 18, Lucas Marcelli, 20, John Hill, 18, and Michael Felten, 19 — died in the Aug. 25 crash.

Felten, a licensed pilot, was flying the Cessna 172R. According to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board, Felten told air-traffic controllers he was going to “fly east to sightsee.” A loss of control shortly after takeoff likely caused the accident, according to the NTSB report.

Prior to the crash, Marcelli shared a video from the cockpit.

“Cleared for takeoff,” he wrote.

Marcelli and Felten were members of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. According to documents filed in court Tuesday, Pishevar’s parents believe the students may have been on the plane as part of a ZBT fraternity rush or recruitment event.

Pishevar shared photos on Snapchat before the crash, writing, “About to go on a night flight” and “rush” in the posts.

“The Snapchat photo that you’ve seen which has a heading ‘Rush’ on it goes to what Abraham’s state of mind was,” family attorney Jamie Lebovitz said.

Pishevar’s family is seeking safety, insurance and other records from the fraternity and the flying club that rented the students the plane.

In a statement, Zeta Beta Tau says the flight was not connected to the fraternity, saying, “We have been assured…that the flight was not a recruitment event.”

Bita Pishevar Haynes, Abraham’s aunt, said his family was overwhelmed by the suddenness of his death and is still trying to figure out what happened the night of the crash.

“Abraham was starting out his first day at Case Western when this tragedy happened,” she said.

Haynes said Abraham’s relatives weren’t aware of his interest in joining a fraternity.

“No one from our family knew he was even rushing,” she said.

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Man Sleepwalks over Cliff While Camping

Man Sleepwalks over Cliff While Camping

iStock/Thinkstock(SLADE, Ky.) — The Ohio man who fell 60 feet off a cliff when we went sleepwalking while on a camping trip says as soon as he landed he thought he was going to die.

A rhododendron bush saved his life.

“I was sure I was dead, or at least severely messed up,” Ryan Campbell told ABC News. “You don’t think you’re going to fall that far and walk away from it.”

Campbell, 27, was camping with friends in Grays Arch Trail in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge last week when he fell asleep in a hammock.

One hour later, early last Thursday morning, Campbell got out of the hammock and began sleepwalking. While his friends watched, Campbell walked right over a nearby cliff, plunging 60 feet below.

When rescuers rappelled down the mountain to Campbell, they found him miraculously alive and with no life-threatening injuries.

“I was pretty shocked that I couldn’t really find any discernable injuries,” Wolfe County Search and Rescue officer David Fifer told ABC News.

Rescuers placed Campbell in a basket to hoist him back up the mountain, giving Campbell a chance to see how far he had fallen.

“It was surreal coming up the way I came down, because I got to see every foot of this cliff that I’d just flown over,” Campbell said.

Rescuers attribute Campbell’s soft landing to the fact that, in an area full of rocks and boulders, Campbell landed on a rhododendron bush.

“Otherwise, more likely than not, it would have been a fatal fall,” Wolfe County Search and Rescue officer John May told ABC News.

Campbell was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he was treated for a head injury, a dislocated shoulder and a fractured leg and released.

Though he is expected to make a full recovery, Campbell says rescuers will not have to worry about coming out to save him ever again.

“I’m not going to put myself in a position to have that happen again,” Campbell said.

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Satanists to Hold Controversial Black Mass in Oklahoma

Satanists to Hold Controversial Black Mass in Oklahoma

iStock/Thinkstock(OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.) — A devil-worshiping group hell-bent on hosting a satanic black mass is planning to go ahead with its controversial ceremony this month, despite fervent protests by residents of Oklahoma City and a lawsuit from the Catholic Church.

The co-founder of Dakhma of Angra Mainyu told ABC News that the religious and educational organization decided to hold the black mass in public, but it will be a “tamer” version than some traditional satanic ceremonies.  For instance, they’ll substitute vinegar for acts involving urine, in order to comply with state health laws.

The upcoming event has generated controversy because black masses mock Christianity and the rituals that make up their services, but organizers see it as an integral part of their religion.

“One of the dictates of the church is not only to educate the members but to educate the public,” Dakhma of Angra Mainyu’s Adam Daniels said, “and to debunk the Hollywood-projected image of our beliefs.”

Daniels said all 88 tickets to the Sept. 21 event — held at the theater in the city’s civic center — have been sold. The parks and recreation department, which rented the space to the group for $420, cited First Amendment protections in allowing the group to meet in a public facility.

“Mr. Daniels must abide by our local ordinances, our fire codes and all of our state laws,” Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Jennifer Lindsey-McClintock told ABC News. “No bloodletting of any kind will be allowed.”

A $17.50 ticket buys participants a front-row seat to the festivities, which include a performance from the band “God in a Machine” and readings that call for the renunciation of God. Male participants and audience members are encouraged to wear black, hooded, full-length robes, but evening wear is also appropriate for spectators.

Anthony Briggman, an assistant professor of theology at Emory University in Atlanta, explained that the general motivating principles behind satanic groups – including Dakhma of Angra Mainyu – is to “parody” Roman Catholic liturgy by “demonstrating their opposition to orthodox Christian beliefs and practices.”

“The line between parody and mockery is a fuzzy one and it is unclear to me on which side of the line they usually fall,” he said of satanic groups in general.

“The goal seems to be to acquire some of the spiritual power [and] magic that they associate with the Roman Catholic ritual of transubstantiation, the transformation of the Eucharistic bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ,” Briggman said.

Co-founder Daniels said the Sept. 21 ceremony will take place before an altar-like table where a woman lies clad in lingerie — another concession to reflect the state’s nudity laws.

The culmination of the event comes when the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu deacons and priest stomp on the unconsecrated host and spit on it. Daniels said organizers will wear profane costumes, use explicit language and desecrate the fake host, which Catholics believe symbolizes the resurrected Christ.

Professor Briggman said that in other instances, he has “heard the reports of ritualistic practices of sex, bloodletting, and sacrifice … but it is unclear to me how much these reports are hyperbole designed to capture the attention of the press and public.”

Daniels said the Oklahoma City ceremony will wrap up with a Satanic exorcism intended to draw the Holy Spirit from the follower’s body, which contrasts with traditional exorcisms that are designed to expel the devil from the individual.

“Our practices have gotten it to about 22 to 25 minutes,” Daniels said of the ritual.

Additional controversy has surrounded this particular event because the Oklahoma City Archdiocese filed a lawsuit against Daniels’ group after media reports that he was in possession of a consecrated host, a wafer that some Catholics believe is literally the body of Christ.

The host in question has since been handed over to the archdiocese and the legal action has been stopped, but that has not put all of the Archbishop’s concerns to rest.

“I remain concerned about the dark powers that this satanic worship invites into our community and the spiritual danger that this poses to all who are involved in it, directly or indirectly,” Archbishop Paul Coakley said in a statement.

The group is separate from The Satanic Temple, a national group with similar beliefs that has long fought with Oklahoma City officials about the right to have a statue of the devil placed prominently in the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Lucien Greaves, the leader of The Satanic Temple, told ABC News that Dakhma of Angra Mainyu may be timing its black mass in order to coincide with the publicity drummed up by The Satanic Temple’s legal battle for the devil statue.

“I have a feeling that they’re rather inspired by the attention that our activity has gotten,” Greaves told ABC News, “but I don’t think there’s a particularly higher concentration in Oklahoma than anywhere else.”

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Greed Motivated Man to Poison Wife with Nicotine, Prosecutor Says

Greed Motivated Man to Poison Wife with Nicotine, Prosecutor Says

iStock/Thinsktock(SANTA ANA, Calif.) — Greed drove Paul Curry to poison his wife in 1994, prosecutors alleged in court Tuesday, the first day of a cold case-turned murder trial in California.

Curry could spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted in the death of Linda Curry, who was 50 when she died.

Curry, 57, poisoned his wife with nicotine in order to collect more than $500,000 in insurance money and other benefits, prosecutors say.

“This man took Linda Curry for a paycheck,” prosecutor Ebrahim Baytieh said in court Tuesday. “The man sitting at the end of counsel table was greedy, wanted money. And for that, he killed his wife.”

They were married for 21 months when Linda died mysteriously in their Orange County home. She was a non-smoker, but tests revealed fatal levels of nicotine in her system.

It’s unclear how prosecutors believe he administered the nicotine.

But prosecutors say it took years of tests before they could connect Paul Curry to his former wife’s death. By then he’d moved on, living in Kansas, remarried and working at a government job.

He was arrested in 2010.

Curry has pleaded not guilty to his former wife’s slaying. His defense attorney, Lisa Kopelman, told jurors Tuesday that Linda Curry had battled gastrointestinal problems for years before the couple married, and she might have used nicotine as an experimental medicine to treat her mystery illness.

“She was very, very desperate to find a cure,” Kopelman said. “You’re going to have to find my client ‘not guilty.’”

But Curry himself wasn’t so confident, at least not in a recording prosecutors played for jurors Tuesday, featuring his call to his new wife from jail after his arrest.

“If I go there and go to trial, they laid out a bunch of stuff. I gotta tell you, it looks bad,” he said in the recording.

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Calls Renewed for Arrest of Ferguson Police Officer

Calls Renewed for Arrest of Ferguson Police Officer

Scott Olson/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) — The St. Louis County Police Department has been called upon to arrest Ferguson Police Office Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown following an altercation.

Since the incident a month ago, more witnesses have come forward to claim that Brown had his hands raised when Wilson fired his weapon, striking the teen six times, including a bullet to the head that killed him.

The racially-charged case resulted in nights of protests and civil unrest that was only calmed after a visit by Attorney General Eric Holder.

Members of the Ferguson chapter of the National Action Network were joined by Brown’s parents Tuesday in demanding that Wilson, who is now on administrative leave, be arrested, charged, photographed and indicted.

Because the Ferguson Police Department is no longer handling the case, and in fact, is being investigated itself by the Justice Department, community activists are urging the St. Louis County Police Department to put Wilson behind bars while a grand jury decides whether to indict him for the shooting.

Rev. Carlton Lee, National Action Network chapter president, told reporters, “We believe there is enough evidence to arrest Officer Darren Wilson. If probable cause is enough to arrest civilians, then it is enough to arrest police officers.”

In other developments, a group of protesters calling themselves the “Justice for Michael Brown Coalition” announced that they planned to shut down a stretch of highway in St. Louis as an act of civil disobedience Wednesday.

The group claims that it has a series of acts of civil disobedience planned, and that the first one will take place at 3 p.m. Wednesday near Interstate 70 and Hanley Road in St. Louis.

The organizers are planning a rally in a public parking lot, followed by a plan to block traffic at 4:30 p.m. That time is intended to symbolize the four and a half hours that Brown’s body was left on the street after he was shot and killed Wilson.

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Ravens Owner Acknowledges ‘Mistake’ in Handling of Ray Rice Situation

Ravens Owner Acknowledges ‘Mistake’ in Handling of Ray Rice Situation

Harry How/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) — Baltimore Ravens owner Stephen Bisciotti wrote a letter to the team’s fans and sponsors Tuesday, addressing the team’s handling of the Ray Rice situation and stating that the Ravens could have handled things differently.

“First, let us say that we did not do all we should have done and no amount of explanation can remedy that,” Bisciotti wrote in the letter, which was posted on the team’s website.

Rice and his then-fiancee, Janay Rice, were involved in a Feb. 15 altercation in an Atlantic City hotel elevator. The Ravens initially supported Rice following the incident, but terminated the running back’s contract Monday after a second video from the February assault emerged.

The newly-emerged video shows Janay Palmer, now Rice’s wife, being hit in the face in the elevator. Palmer then lunges at the running back before he delivers a blow that knocks her out. When the elevator doors open, Rice drags Palmer’s body outside, leaving her face down on the floor, her legs still inside the elevator.

A previous video only showed the scene outside the elevator.

The letter posted on the team’s website, addressed to Ravens stakeholders, begins, “You deserve an explanation.”

Bisciotti wrote that following the incident, team officials spoke to Rice, Palmer, the casino management, police and prosecutors.

“In March, the prosecutor dropped the case against Janay, but elevated the charge against Ray from simple assault to aggravated assault,” the letter says. “At this point, we decided to defer action until completion of the court proceedings. We stopped seeking to view or obtain a copy of the video. We halted our fact-finding. That was a mistake on our part.”

But the letter indicates that the team, like the NFL, was taking its lead from how law enforcement was handling the case, and police and prosecutors had seen the full video.

“In May, the prosecutor recommended, and the judge agreed, that Ray should be accepted into a pre-trial intervention program that will eventually have the assault charge dismissed from his record, pending a year of good behavior,” Bisciotti wrote in the letter.

“The police had seen video from inside the elevator,” it continues. “The prosecutor and the judge, who had also seen such video, allowed Ray into the program that would eventually clear him of the assault charge.”

Rice and Palmer met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on June 16. Weeks later, Goodell announced that Rice would be suspended for the first two games of the season.

Seeing the video, however, “changed everything,” Bisciotti said.

“It is violent and horrifying,” he said. “I immediately came to the office and called a meeting with [team president] Dick Cass, [general manager] Ozzie Newsome, [coach] John Harbaugh and [senior vice president of public relations] Kevin Byrne. The meeting was relatively short. The decision to let Ray Rice go was unanimous. Seeing that video changed everything. We should have seen it earlier. We should have pursued our own investigation more vigorously. We didn’t and we were wrong.”

He said that Rice had “earned every benefit of the doubt” from the team because of his contributions on and off the field for six years.

“We took everything we knew and decided to support Ray Rice until we could not,” he said.

Spokesmen for the New Jersey state Attorney General and the Atlantic City Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment.

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Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Sued for Alleged Sex Attack

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Sued for Alleged Sex Attack

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(DALLAS) — In yet another piece of bad publicity for the NFL, a 27-year-old Oklahoma woman has sued the Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Jones, claiming the owner sexually attacked her in 2009 and the team tried to cover it up.

Jana Weckerly alleges in her suit that Jones touched her inappropriately and forced her to watch him engage in other sexual acts. She says the Dallas Cowboys, rather than reporting the incident to police, coerced her to sign documents that nothing untoward occurred.

According to Thomas D. Bowers, Weckerly’s attorney, the amount of time between the alleged attack and when the lawsuit was filed is a “normal thing.”

In response, Levi McCathern, a lawyer for Jones, said in an email, “This is nothing more than an attempt to embarrass and extort Jerry Jones. This is a shakedown by a lawyer who is a solo practitioner just trying to make a name for himself.”

Weckerly wants $1 million in punitive damages. The NFL had no comment on the suit.

Jones, 71, has been the Cowboys’ owner and general manager since 1989. He is married with three grown children, who all work in the team’s front office.

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‘Dirty Bomber’ Jose Padilla Re-Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison

‘Dirty Bomber’ Jose Padilla Re-Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison

DanHenson1/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jose Padilla, known as the al-Qaeda “Dirty Bomber” was re-sentenced on Tuesday, receiving 21 years in prison for conspiracy to murder and providing material support to terrorists, after his original 17-year prison sentence was deemed too lenient.

Padilla was convicted in 2007 for conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim individuals in a foreign country, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, and providing material support to terrorists. His initial sentence was 17-and-a-half years in prison, significantly less than the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines of 30 years to life.

Padilla’s sentencing was remanded by the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department said Tuesday, after his conviction was upheld, but the sentence was deemed too light.

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