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‘Coercion Tactics’ Used to Lure Amish Girls, Police Say

‘Coercion Tactics’ Used to Lure Amish Girls, Police Say

iStock/Thinkstock(OSWEGATCHIE, N.Y.) — Investigators are looking for more information about the two people who have been arrested for allegedly kidnapping two Amish girls in Northern New York. Stephen Howells, 39, and his girlfriend Nicole Vaise, 25, allegedly kidnapped the girls from their family farm on Wednesday while they were selling vegetables. The girls were apparently released 30 miles away from their home.
On Saturday, Saint Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells said investigators are looking for “anything and everything about the backgrounds of the two individuals, where they’ve been over the years, what else have they done, who else have they been involved in there lives with, and we’ll go from there.”
Investigators believe “coercion tactics” were used to lure the children into the car and the sheriff said the motive of the kidnapping “was to victimize children.”
Wells also said the girls played a big role in bringing the two suspects to justice.
“We need to give credit to the girls here. Things that they saw. Things they remember, were very influential in getting us to this point so quickly,” Wells said.
The alleged kidnappers are being held without bond. They have not yet entered any plea. If convicted, they could face 25 years to life.
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More Human Remains Recovered in Rhode Island Funeral Home

More Human Remains Recovered in Rhode Island Funeral Home

iStock/Thinkstock(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) — More than 50 human remains were found during an investigation into a now shuttered funeral home.
Officials first discovered six decomposed bodies inside the Pennine Funeral home in Providence, Rhode Island in July, the same month the funeral home owner Alfred Pennine committed suicide.
This week three other bodies, including an infant, were found in a storage unit owned by Pennine.
And now it’s been revealed Pennine also kept 45 cremated remains, some of which date back to 2001.
Officials are working to identify the bodies and notify next of kin.
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Businesses Targeted by Looters in Ferguson, Missouri

Businesses Targeted by Looters in Ferguson, Missouri

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Several businesses were targeted by looters Friday night and early Saturday morning in Ferguson, Missouri. 
Mike Jacobs, the owner of Sam’s Meat Market, was awakened by a phone call from a customer saying that the store had been broken into and set on fire.
The fire damage was minimal, but the cash register was broken and merchandise was stolen. 
Tanya Littleton manages a beauty supply store that was also struck by looters.Another targeted business was the liquor store that 18-year-old Michael Brown is thought to have robbed, just before he was shot and killed last Saturday.
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Four Notre Dame Football Players Accused of Academic Violations

Four Notre Dame Football Players Accused of Academic Violations

iStock/Thinkstock(SOUTH BEND, Ind.) — The Notre Dame football program is trying to recover a fumble by their own players.The Fighting Irish has suspended four players suspected of committing serious academic violations. According to ABC’s Ron Claiborne, suspensions would not just effect the four players but the entire football program, which just two years ago went undefeated in the regular season and to the national championship game.Notre Dame now says it will voluntarily forfeit all of the games it won with the four players on the field if ultimately they are found to have cheated.
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Michael Brown’s Family Calls Police Report an Attempt to ‘Assassinate the Character of Their Son’

Michael Brown’s Family Calls Police Report an Attempt to ‘Assassinate the Character of Their Son’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — The family of Michael Brown, the teenager shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson on Saturday, released a statement in response to a police report made public on Friday, alleging that the report was “intended to assassinate the character of their son.”In the statement, released through the family’s attorneys, the family says it is “beyond outraged” at the manner in which the report was released.
“There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender,” the statement reads.Criticizing the delay in releasing the name of the officer and information pertaining to a robbery in which Brown was allegedly a suspect, the family notes the “distrust for the local law enforcement agencies” that the community feels. “It is no way transparent to release the still photographs alleged to be Michael Brown and refuse to release the photographs of the officer that executed him,” the statement says.The family also pointedly stated that the police “attempting to blame the victim” won’t “divert [their] attention,” calling the incident the “brutal execution of an unarmed teenager.”
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Arrests Made in Kidnapping of New York Amish Girls

Arrests Made in Kidnapping of New York Amish Girls

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HERMON, N.Y.) — Police have arrested two people in connection with the kidnapping of a pair of Amish girls from their family’s roadside vegetable stand in northern New York.Stephen Howells II, 29, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, each face two counts of first-degree kidnapping. That charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years to life.The girls showed up on the doorstep of Jeff and Pam Stinson barefoot, cold, wet and hungry Thursday night, the couple told ABC News on Friday.The Stinsons opened their door to the two girls, ages 6 and 12, who asked the couple to drive them back home. The Stinsons said they recognized the girls because they had bought produce from them before and were aware of news reports about their abduction.According to police, the sisters were abducted Wednesday night in Oswegatchie, New York, a rural town located near the Canadian border, when they went out to sell vegetables to a car at the stand. They were then dropped off later near the Stinson’s house, authorities said.Authorities held a news conference Friday about the abduction but refused to give details about the incident other than to say that they are still investigating and the girls appeared to be healthy.When the girls arrived on their doorstep, the Stinsons fed them watermelon and grape juice and the girls were so hungry they couldn’t stop eating the watermelon.”They ate that watermelon in 30 seconds. It was fast,” said Jeff Stinson.Jeff Stinson knew exactly where the two girls lived because he had bought corn from the elder girl before at their vegetable stand.At one point on the return home, the girls ducked in the back seat because they saw the kidnapper’s red car pulled over by the side of the road, the Stinsons said. An Amber Alert had been issued Wednesday night after a witness reported seeing a vehicle pull up to the stand, the girls go out to wait on them, and then the driver of the car put something in the backseat. When the car drove away, the witness told police the children were gone.
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Florida College Student Found Guilty in ‘Love Triangle’ Murder

Florida College Student Found Guilty in ‘Love Triangle’ Murder

ABC News(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) — A Florida jury found a college student guilty of killing his friend out of what prosecutors said was jealousy over an ex-girlfriend.Jurors found Pedro Bravo guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Christian Aguilar. They deliberated for just shy of four hours.Bravo, 20, was accused of killing Aguilar, 18, after taking him for a drive one night in September 2012 to discuss Aguilar’s relationship with Bravo’s ex-girlfriend, Erika Friman. Bravo and Aguilar had been friends, but Bravo was “crushed” to learn that Aguilar and Friman were dating.Prosecutors alleged Bravo poisoned and beat Aguilar, then hid his body. Surveillance footage showed Bravo buying a shovel, duct tape, bandages and over-the-counter sleep aids the night before Aguilar went missing.Bravo claimed that he and Aguilar only got in a physical fight that night.Friman testified that she arranged for Bravo and Aguilar to meet after Bravo threatened suicide, and that she hid her relationship with Aguilar from Bravo.“I lied to him because he was at a very sensitive point in his life, I supposed,” she said in court. “I didn’t want to throw him over the edge and say, ‘By the way, I’m dating a mutual friend of ours.’”In police interrogation tapes played in court, Bravo admitted to police that he met Aguilar on the night of his death.“He got out of the car and I fought him and after that, I remember going in the car and I remember seeing him in my rearview mirror while I was driving away,” Bravo said during the interrogation.Prosecutors agree that Bravo drove away, but they allege that he did so with Aguilar’s body in the back of his SUV, later stashing it in a remote field.Aguilar’s body was found 22 days later in a forest.Prosecutors also revealed a photograph in court of the belt they said Bravo used to kill Aguilar. Authorities also focused on a sketch pad they said Bravo filled with hate-filled messages.“No one will stop me,” he wrote in one passage, prosecutors allege. “I will get out of Miami and into Gainesville by January 2013 and I will get her back.”
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Lost in the Wilderness: One Man’s Five-Day Fight for Survival

Lost in the Wilderness: One Man’s Five-Day Fight for Survival

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — For one California man, what began as a day fishing trip quickly turned into a five-day fight for survival.Mike Vilhauer, 58, went fishing Aug. 6 at Lower Sunset Lake in Alpine County when he noticed he wasn’t catching any fish. Deciding he needed more bait, Vilhauer, butterfly net in hand, left on what he thought would be a short trip to find some grasshoppers.“I was just zigzagging up and down the mountain,” Vilhauer told ABC News. “I didn’t see anyone for quite a while.”After a few hours, Vilhauer said it began to get late, and he decided he should probably head back to the fishing site. “That’s when the fun began,” he said.Vilhauer began to make his way towards what he thought was the fishing site. But with darkness upon him at about 8 p.m., he decided to make shelter under a pine tree, covering himself with pine needles and willow branches in an attempt to stay warm. Vilhauer attempted to call 911, but a weak signal thwarted his efforts.Vilhauer continued his search for the help on Thursday. Weak from his lack of food and water, he adapted what he called his “survivor man routine,” drinking water out of puddles, regardless of what else was in the puddle.“I thought ‘I’m going to keep walking, I’m going to get back to my wife,’” said Vilhauer, who lives in West Sacramento.After trying to find a way back the whole day, Vilhauer came across a stream and began to follow it before the sun began to set. Setting up a camp of tree bark and needles, he slept for another night in the open wilderness.He was crushed to find on Friday morning that the stream came to a dead end. “At this point I’m thinking ‘Man, this is looking bad,’” Vilhauer said.Vilhauer continued to wander in circles on Friday, unsure of where he was or where to go next. Exhausted and hungry, he set up camp under a large rock.“I hadn’t slept at all,” said Villhauer, “It was cold and I just tried to keep moving around. It rained every night.”Saturday morning brought no relief.“I hadn’t eaten since Wednesday morning,” said Villhauer, “I was so weak, I could only do so much before getting too exhausted and having to lie down.”Grounding himself underneath the rock, Villhauer tried to build up his strength. He decided he would try to climb up the side of the ridge, only to find out that every time he thought he had reached the top, there ended up just being another peak ahead.Suddenly, Villhauer could hear helicopters in the distance. One flew overhead, but kept going, leaving Villhauer “disheartened.”“It was a rollercoaster of emotions,” said Villhauer, “I thought, ‘You know what? I’m done. This is it.’”“I was thinking about my family and my wife and all of the stupid things I’d done to get myself into that position,” said Villhauer.“And then, after 10 to 15 minutes I decided ‘No. Hell no. I’m not going to give up, I’m going to get down to that stream and I’m going to sit there and wait until somebody finds me,’” he added.Villhauer made his way back down the stream, drinking out of puddles along the way, and made his way back to the rock.He picked up a piece of driftwood and began writing his last words to his wife.“I put all of these thoughts down, I had to continue on another piece of drift wood,” Villhauer said.He then used cypress needles to spell out “HELP”, saying “I figured if I don’t make it, at least I gave it my best shot.”Sunday morning, Villhauer had just had his first meal in five days – a dandelion – when he heard the helicopters again.“I got excited, I started waving around my blue shirt on a stick,” said Villhauer as the helicopter kept repeatedly flying over and then leaving.“It was a big rush, and then the letdown. A big rush, and the letdown,” described Villhauer, who assumed that the choppers were operating on a grid system, so once they deemed the area clear they would not be returning.“I figured, if they hadn’t seen me yet, I was in here for the long haul.”The choppers returned and began circling Villhauer, when he suddenly heard a bark from behind him. It was a search dog leading one of the rescue teams that had been looking for Villhauer since Friday.After five days in the wilderness, he had been saved.Villhauer was given a tiny meal, then transported in a chopper to a base where he met some of rescue teams.“I was shocked at how many people were yelling and screaming and crying and hugging,” Villhauer said, who soon came to realize that his disappearance had culminated in the largest rescue search of the year.Villhauer was reunited with his wife and family on Sunday night, staying in a hotel for the night and heading back home on Monday morning, when he was able to see a doctor. He suffered no serious injuries during his ordeal, just a few scrapes and bruises, though he did lose his wedding band somewhere along the way.Villhauer is happy to be back at home, and has nothing but gratitude for those the search teams, many volunteers, who helped him to get home.“I appreciate all of those efforts,” said Villhauer, “I couldn’t say enough about those folks.”Despite getting lost for five days, Villhauer is more than ready to plan another fishing trip, though he’ll likely bring a friend next time.“I plan to go back,” Villhauer said, “I’m going to go up there and buy a whole lot of rounds of beer.”
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Fed Warning over Drones Flying Near Wildfires

Fed Warning over Drones Flying Near Wildfires

iStock/Thinkstock(BOISE, Idaho) — Federal wildfire authorities issued a new warning Friday against the use of remote-controlled drones they say could interfere with firefighting aircraft and put firefighter lives at risk.This year, there have been at least three instances of an unmanned drone flying in restricted airspace near a wildfire, the National Interagency Fire Center said Friday.In July, a private drone was banned from flying over the Sand Fire in Northern California after authorities said it put fire crews in danger.“Unauthorized UAS [Unmanned Aircraft System] flights could cause serious injury or death to firefighters on the ground. They could also have midair collisions with airtankers, helicopters, and other aircraft engaged in wildfire suppression missions,” said NIFC, a federal firefighting organization made up of eight agencies including the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.Unauthorized drone flights, the agency says, “could lead fire managers to suspend aerial wildfire suppression efforts.”
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Ferguson Police Detail Moments Before Michael Brown Was Shot

Ferguson Police Detail Moments Before Michael Brown Was Shot

Ferguson Police Department(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Police reports detailing the moments before a police officer shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown claim that Brown stole $48.99 worth of cigars from a convenience store and manhandled a store employee who tried to stop him.The description of the alleged theft was included in a packet of police reports distributed by the Ferguson Police Department Friday when they identified Officer Darren Wilson as the cop who shot Brown. The packet of information gave a detailed description of the alleged theft and the suspect, but it included no details of Brown’s confrontation with Wilson.Anthony Rothert, the legal director for the Missouri branch of the ACLU, had sued Tuesday for the release of the incident report describing Brown’s shooting.
“I think it’s fair to say that releasing some records, but not releasing others when they’re equally public record seems to be an intentional effort to distract the public,” Rothert told ABC News. “They’re hiding it for whatever reason…That leaves the public to imagine why that’s being hidden.” “They’ve given us the wrong incident report,” Rothert said.Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon appeared to be surprised by the release of the robbery report.“New facts are out…those are not the full picture of everything,” Nixon said. “They’re pieces of information.”Among the 19 pages of reports in the police packet released Friday was a report written by the police officer who responded to the 911 call regarding the store robbery. That officer watched a store surveillance video of the theft. He also responded to a report of Wilson’s fatal confrontation with Brown.”It is worth mentioning that this incident (the store robbery) is related to another incident,” the officer wrote. “In that incident Brown was fatally wounded…I responded to that scene and observed Brown. After viewing Brown and reviewing the video, I was able to confirm that Brown is the primary suspect in this incident.”Below is a moment by moment description of what happened on Aug. 9 according to reports by the Ferguson police department and statements made on Friday by Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson:11:48 a.m. — Wilson was on a “sick call” where an ambulance had been summoned. Details of the sick call were not released.11:51 a.m. — Police receive a 911 call from a convenience store on W. Florissant Avenue that reported “stealing in progress.”The officer’s report said that the suspect identified throughout the report as Brown ordered several boxes of Swisher Sweet cigars. As the boxes were stacked on the counter, the suspect handed one of the boxes to his friend identified as Dorian Johnson. When the store employee asked to be paid, the suspect “reached across the counter and grabbed numerous packs of Swisher Sweets and turned to leave the store,” the report states.The employee came out from behind the counter and tried to lock the door and stop the suspect from leaving. The suspect “grabbed REDACTED by the shirt and forcefully pushed him back in to a display rack,” the officer’s report states. The suspect left the store, but returned “and advances on REDACTED. Brown towers over REDACTED appearing to intimidate him,” the officer wrote.During the confrontation between the suspect and the store employee, Johnson put back on the counter the box of cigars that he had been holding.11:52 a.m. — A police dispatcher gave a description of the robbery suspect over the radio. The suspect is described as wearing a white T-shirt, long khaki shorts, yellow socks, flip-flop type shoes and a red Cardinals baseball cap. Wilson left the sick call after hearing the report of the robbery.11:54 a.m. — A police officer arrived at the store, but the suspects were gone. The officer is told the suspects walked north on W. Florissant Avenue, but the officer did not see them.12:01 p.m. — Officer Wilson encountered Brown. In previous statements, Chief Jackson said Wilson was pushed back into his car and that he and Brown struggled before Wilson fired at Brown.12:04 p.m. — A second officer arrived “at the scene of the shooting,” Jackson said.12:05 p.m. — A police supervisor arrived on the scene.
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Kidnapped Amish Girls Showed Up Cold, Hungry on Stranger’s Doorstep

Kidnapped Amish Girls Showed Up Cold, Hungry on Stranger’s Doorstep

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The two Amish girls who were abducted from their family’s roadside vegetable stand showed up days later on the doorstep of Jeff and Pam Stinson barefoot, cold, wet and hungry Thursday night, the Stinson’s family friend told ABC News Friday.The Stinsons opened their door to the two girls, Delila Miller, 6, and Fannie Miller, 12, who asked the couple to drive them back home. The Stinsons said they recognized the girls because they had bought produce from them before and were aware of news reports about their abduction.According to police, the sisters were abducted Wednesday night in Oswegatchie, New York, a rural town located near the Canadian border, when they went out to sell vegetables to a car at the stand. They were then dropped off later near the Stinson’s house, authorities said.Police are still searching for a suspect or suspects. Authorities held a news conference Friday about the abduction but refused to give details about the incident other than to say that they are still investigating and the Miller girls appeared to be healthy.When the girls arrived on their doorstep, the Stinsons fed them watermelon and grape juice and the girls were so hungry they couldn’t stop eating the watermelon, the Stinson’s family friend said.Jeff Stinson knew exactly where the two girls lived because he had bought corn from the elder girl before at their vegetable stand.At one point on the return home, the girls ducked in the back seat because they saw the kidnapper’s red car pulled over by the side of the road, the friend said.An Amber Alert had been issued Wednesday night after a witness reported seeing a vehicle pull up to the stand, the girls go out to wait on them, and then the driver of the car put something in the backseat. When the car drove away, the witness told police the children were gone.The sisters were dropped off in the town of Richville, about 36 miles from where they were abducted, District Attorney Mary Rain said. The girls walked to the closest home and the man who opened the door, Jeff Stinson, immediately knew who the girls were because of news reports.”The girls walked up to a stranger’s house, thank goodness they had enough courage to do that, knocked on the door, and that person took them home,” Rain said.The two young girls have been reunited with their family. They “seem to be healthy,” but were “cold and wet,” Rain told ABC News, adding that they are being interviewed by authorities.Rain said the sisters were still wearing Amish attire when they were found. She also said that more than one person may have been involved in the girls’ abduction.
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Ferguson, Missouri, Police Release Name of Officer in Fatal Shooting

Ferguson, Missouri, Police Release Name of Officer in Fatal Shooting

ABC News(FERGUSON, Mo.) –  Police have announced the name of the officer who shot and killed an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri — an incident that led to days of clashes in the streets of the St. Louis suburb.Darren Wilson was revealed Friday as the officer who shot Michael Brown, 18. Officials have moved the six-year police veteran and his family from the town as a safety precaution.Wilson does not have any history of disciplinary action, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said.Jackson also noted that Wilson was “treated for an injury.” When he announced Wilson’s name, authorities handed out copies of a police report to reporters relating to a convenience store “strong arm” robbery that took place in the area shortly before Brown’s fatal shooting, showing that the police see the two events as connected.”After viewing brown and reviewing this video, I was able to confirm that Brown is the primary suspect in this incident,” the police report about the convenience store robbery stated.
“We’re learning and we’re moving forward. This all starts now to heal, to just make things better,” Jackson told ABC News.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said early Friday morning that he thinks releasing the name of the officer involved Saturday’s shooting will help in Ferguson’s healing process.”I was pleased to hear the chief indicate this would be a day in which, finally, that initial name would come out, and we’ll work to make sure that his family [is safe] and there’s security around that,” Nixon told ABC News. “I think those kind of concrete steps of transparency leading to justice are vitally important now to heal the old wounds that have been made a fresh by this difficult and horrific situation.”Ferguson faced five consecutive nights of unrest or violence following the weekend shooting death of Michael Brown, 18. Brown, who was unarmed, had his hands raised when he was fatally wounded, at least two witnesses said.Peaceful protests followed Thursday after Nixon swapped local and county officers — many wearing riot gear — for state highway patrol troopers. Capt. Ron Johnson, the leader of the highway patrol, walked side-by-side with demonstrators Thursday.“This is my community. A lot of people I saw walking in this march are people that I know,” Johnson said. “So the old saying, ‘I’ve got a dog in this fight,’ [is true]. I’ve got a big dog in this fight.”

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Public Reacts with Skepticism to Ferguson Police Announcement

Public Reacts with Skepticism to Ferguson Police Announcement

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — The announcement by Ferguson, Missouri police on Friday that an officer named Darren Wilson was the one who shot unarmed teen Michael Brown and that the shooting happened after a nearby robbery were met overwhelmingly with anger and skepticism.Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson announced the name in a news conference Friday morning, nearly a week after the officer shot Brown on Saturday afternoon.Jackson prefaced the name announcement by describing a “strong-arm” robbery that had occurred a few minutes before the shooting at a nearby convenience store. A police report released to members of the media at the news conference described Brown as the suspect involved in the robbery, in which he allegedly took a box of cigars and grabbed and shoved a store clerk before leaving.”This is the first reference we’ve heard that this was a strong-arm robbery,” Laura Keys, who had come to the news conference to listen to the announcement, told ABC News. “Not a theft, but a strong-arm robbery. When I hear ‘strong-arm robbery’ I think that you went in and attacked people, ran off, used a weapon of some sort. So was Michael Brown’s weapon his height? Was it his race, his skin tone?”Others gathered at the news conference began yelling “No justice, no peace,” a rallying cry of the protesters demanding justice from the Ferguson police since Brown was fatally shot.Online, Internet users expressed widespread skepticism about the Ferguson Police Department’s announcement about Wilson and the circumstance surrounding the robbery.

The witnesses have yet to change their story but the police been all over the place! #Ferguson #JusticeForMikeBrown
— J. Sims (@JRocc205) August 15, 2014

I don’t believe that Darren Wilson ish one bit.
— Derail (@CainMcCoy) August 15, 2014

“That whole group needs to be gone,” Keys, the bystander at the news conference, told ABC News. “The police chief, the mayor, they all need to be gone and that is what I’m calling for.”
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Redhead Sent Home from School for ‘Disruptive’ Hair

Redhead Sent Home from School for ‘Disruptive’ Hair

Kim Boyd(MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala.) — Personal style is designed to make a statement. Still, Hayleigh Black never expected that hers would land her in the principal’s office.No sooner had she arrived for her first day back at school this year than the 16-year-old was told to go home. According to the Muscle Shoals school system in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, her red hair was too disruptive to remain in the building.Black has dyed her hair a variant of vibrant red for almost three years, as smiling school photos show. Her mother, Kim Boyd, told ABC News that school administrators have never taken issue with it before.But last week, Black was told that her hair was “distracting” fellow classmates. Citing the student handbook, which rules against “distracting” or “disruptive” hair styles, the principal insisted she leave the building.”This is a rule that we’ve known about. We’ve always abided by it,” said Boyd. “I told the principal, I said, ‘You were her assistant principal last year. How come you never sent her home last year?’ It’s the same color as always.”While she said the principal did not offer her an explanation, Muscle Shoals superintendent Brian Lindsey told ABC News that his decision is in accordance with policy.”The principal is just following the policy. Several girls were sent home for hair color,” Lindsey said. “Most everyone complied and came back and are back in class.””The policy was put in place years ago,” he added, and it “very rarely ever comes up as an issue.”Lindsey said the rule aims to “provide a safe environment conducive to learning.”Black, who was determined not to miss any more class time, stripped her hair hours after the incident. Her mother, however, reported that the disciplinary action has taken its toll.”She’s been a little down,” Boyd said. “She misses her hair color. I’m upset for her. I just felt very angered that my child — a good student, no problems ever — is having her feet knocked out from under her on the first day of school.”Boyd hoped the school would reverse its decision and allow Black to return to her preferred tint.”She’s a kid,” said Boyd. “I dyed my hair when I was her age. I was excited it was that, [that] it wasn’t a tattoo that she wanted or piercings, or something. There are so many girls that do it and there could be worse things. As long as she’s a good student, hair is the least of my worries.”
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Missing Amish Girls Found Alive, Amber Alert Cancelled

Missing Amish Girls Found Alive, Amber Alert Cancelled

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) –  Two missing Amish girls in northern New York were found alive Thursday night and the Amber Alert for them has been cancelled.Police did not release any additional information, but applause erupted at the search command center.
According to District Attorney Mary Rain, a car dropped the girls off in Richville, N.Y. The girls then walked to the nearest house, where a male resident recognized them from the news coverage. Rain said that the girls “seem to be healthy.” She also noted that it is possible that multiple people were involved in the girls’ abduction. The family of Delila Miller, 6, and Fannie Miller, 12, had agreed to work with a sketch artist on an image of the elder child, providing a vital tool to investigators because Amish religious beliefs preclude taking photographs.”It’s a belief within the Amish community, so we did really well to get this sketch,” St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells said.He added that it was the family’s decision to not have an artist’s rendering of their younger girl.Another barrier has been that the family speaks mainly Pennsylvania Dutch, the traditional language of the Amish, authorities said. The girls have heavy accents, though the 12-year-old speaks English, Wells told the local ABC News affiliate.The girls went to wait on a customer at the family’s roadside stand Wednesday night in Oswegatchie, a rural town located near the Canadian border. Police said a witness saw a vehicle put something in the backseat. When the car drove away, the witness told police the children were gone.Wells said it was “a very short period of time” between when the family realized the girls were missing and when authorities were notified.He said police were alerted from a call made at an English-speaking residence that owns a telephone. Amish families do not have modern conveniences such as telephones, let alone cellphones.Both girls were last seen wearing dark blue dresses with blue aprons and black bonnets, authorities said.Despite the cultural differences, Wells said the community has been rallying together to help search for the missing girls.”This is something that’s against what we all believe in,” he said.
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Philadelphia Breach Raises Fresh Questions About Security in Federal Buildings

Philadelphia Breach Raises Fresh Questions About Security in Federal Buildings

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) — A disgruntled ex-cop carrying a loaded gun bypassed metal detectors at a federal building in Philadelphia and entered the FBI’s office there this week after flashing a fake police badge and his inactive ID card, according to sources and court records obtained by ABC News.The FBI ultimately took the man’s gun after becoming suspicious, but “he could’ve shot up half the office by that point,” as one law enforcement expert put it after reading the court records.“This latest report of a security breach at a federal building is concerning,” the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., told ABC News in a statement. “After our committee’s close review of the security practices and procedures at federal facilities in the wake of the tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard [last year], it became clear that the quality of the physical security at our federal buildings is in need of improvement, and this incident underscores that finding.”A Justice Department spokesperson, meanwhile, insisted the man who allegedly breached security on Monday never posed a threat.Just before 5 p.m. on Monday, Melvin “Tony” Ramos entered the William J. Green Jr. Federal Building in Philadelphia, which houses offices of the FBI, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service, among other federal agencies, according to the court records.After showing a badge and a police ID card to an officer of the Federal Protective Service, which helps secure federal buildings, Ramos was allowed to bring his loaded semi-automatic handgun into the building and up to the FBI office on the eighth floor, where he said he wanted to file a complaint with the FBI, according to the court documents.Ramos, who allegedly repeatedly identified himself as an officer with the University of Pennsylvania Police Department, was again allowed to keep his gun while two FBI agents interviewed him, court documents say.But Ramos had not been an employee of the University of Pennsylvania police department for nearly a year, having left his job on medical leave before being terminated on Sept. 11, 2013, a university spokesman told ABC News.Ramos never turned in his police ID card, and the police department never retrieved it.The university spokesman would not say what type of medical leave Ramos had taken. On Monday, though, Ramos allegedly told the FBI agents that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.“During the interview, Ramos seemed agitated, frequently answered questions by digressing to unrelated matters, and referenced the suicide of another UPPD police officer multiple times,” say documents filed by the FBI in federal court. “Agents began to believe that Ramos may no longer be a police officer.”They took his gun — with one round in the chamber and 14 rounds in the magazine — and called university police, which informed the FBI that the badge Ramos used to enter the federal building in Philadelphia was “not authentic” and was apparently a replica of a badge for the city police, not the university police, according to court documents.The two badges do not look alike, according to the FBI.The Federal Protective Service has received heightened scrutiny in the wake of September’s massacre in the Washington Navy Yard when a civilian contractor with the Navy used his valid credentials to enter a government building and gun down 12 people. Four others were injured.The Federal Protective Service was not involved with security at the Navy Yard, but the deadly incident renewed questions over security at other federal buildings across the country and whether the Federal Protective Service was fit to protect the 9,600 federal buildings under its jurisdiction. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives held several hearings on the matter.A government review of the agency last year found significant “challenges” in “some aspects of guards’ training,” noting that, “Screener training is essential to helping prevent unauthorized individuals and items from entering federal facilities.”Current and former law enforcement officials, however, told ABC News the blame for the security lapse on Monday should sit with the university police for failing to retrieve Ramos’ ID, not the Federal Protective Service guard.“No one’s going to be an expert on identifying every badge,” said one former official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “[Ramos allegedly] used a genuine ID, and that’s where things went bad.”A current federal law enforcement official agreed, adding that the seemingly “valid” ID card would have had the effect of validating the fake badge Ramos was allegedly holding.The former official said the FBI deserves credit for recognizing holes in Ramos’ alleged story and securing his gun.Still, another current official said the whole incident “does seem alarming, and this could’ve been a very bad outcome.”Several sources said officials at the federal building in Philadelphia are examining their security procedures in the wake of Monday’s incident, but changes are unlikely due to the high volume of law enforcement officers working in the building.“We should always strive to figure out how to better respond to evolving security threats,” Sen. Carper said in his statement. “I look forward to receiving more information from Federal Protective Service and others about plans to address this incident and prevent similar incidents in the future.”Ramos has been arrested and charged with bringing a firearm into a federal facility and making false statements to federal law enforcement. A hearing to discuss his competency for trial is expected in the coming days.The University of Pennsylvania and its police department “are cooperating fully with the FBI in their investigation,” the university spokesman said.A federal public defender representing Ramos declined to comment for this article. An FBI spokeswoman also declined to comment.
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Ford Recalling 83,250 Vehicles for Possible Power Loss Problem

Ford Recalling 83,250 Vehicles for Possible Power Loss Problem

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Ford Motor Company is recalling about 83,250 vehicles after reports that an improperly installed part could cause the vehicles to lose power or roll away when parked.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that the recall includes Ford Edge, Taurus and Flex vehicles and Lincoln MKX, MKS and MKT vehicles manufactured between 2010 and 2013. The NHTSA says that a halfshaft retention circlip may have been incorrectly installed in those vehicles. Such an issue could cause power to cease being transmitted to the wheels, placing the vehicle at risk of a crash. Vehicles could also roll away when placed in park, unless the parking brake is applied. Ford intends to notify owners, and free repairs are expected to begin by the end of August. It was not clear whether any injuries or accidents have occurred because of this defect.
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ACLU Files Lawsuits to Make Ferguson Incident Report Public, Allow Recording of Police

ACLU Files Lawsuits to Make Ferguson Incident Report Public, Allow Recording of Police

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a pair of lawsuits on Thursday that aims to make public the name of the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown on Saturday and make the protest situation in Ferguson more safe.In the first lawsuit, the ACLU of Missouri urged the St. Louis County Police Department to release a copy of the incident report for Brown’s shooting under the Missouri Sunshine Law. The law, according to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, aims to represent the “embodiment of Missouri’s commitment to openness in government.” Under the law, matters of public record are considered, with few exceptions, to be transparent and open to the public.The ACLU said that its request for the incident report “is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operation or activities” of the St. Louis County Police Department.
Included in the filing is a response that the ACLU says it received from the department, in which it was told records could not be released due to the ongoing nature of the investigation. The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of Mustafa Hussein, who has, according to the filing, “recorded the interactions of the police and demonstrators on public streets and sidewalks within the City of Ferguson and who would like to do so in the future.” The suit asks a judge to end the police policy of “demanding and ordering members of the media and public to stop recording the police acting in their official duty on public streets and sidewalks” and declare such a policy a violation of constitutional rights.That lawsuit names the city of Ferguson, St. Louis County and the Missouri State Highway Patrol as defendants.
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Obama Promises Open Probe into Ferguson Police Shooting

Obama Promises Open Probe into Ferguson Police Shooting

President Obama talks on the phone with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)(EDGARTOWN, Mass.) — President Obama appealed for calm in Ferguson, Missouri, Thursday and promised an open investigation into the police shooting of Michael Brown to ensure “justice is done.”“Now is the time for healing. Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson,” the president told reporters in Martha’s Vineyard, where he is on vacation with his family. “Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done.”Obama said he spoke with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon Thursday morning.“I expressed my concern over the violent turn that events have taken on the ground, and underscored that now’s the time for all of us to reflect on what’s happened and to find a way to come together going forward,” the president said.This is the first time Obama has spoken publicly about events in Ferguson since Brown, 18, was shot by a still-unnamed police officer. Obama urged restraint by both law enforcement and protesters.“There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting,”  the president said. “There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.”

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Ferguson Police’s Show of Force Highlights Militarization of America’s Cops

Ferguson Police’s Show of Force Highlights Militarization of America’s Cops

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — The latest images of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, evoke scenes from a battlefield: heavily-armed officers in camouflage, carrying rifles in armored vehicles, firing at civilians.In the case of Ferguson, police were firing rubber bullets, not real ones, along with tear gas and smoke bombs in an effort to tamp down protests and disperse demonstrators who had gathered for a fourth consecutive night Wednesday to demand justice for Michael Brown.Brown, 18, was unarmed when he was shot multiple times by a police officer in broad daylight Saturday afternoon, authorities said. The officer has not been identified to the public and he has been placed on paid administrative leave, authorities said. Protesters have demanded he be identified and brought to justice.The response of the Ferguson and St. Louis County police to the protests has highlighted a growing trend in policing in the United States: police SWAT teams look increasingly like military forces, using military-grade equipment and justifying that use by noting that the public has increasingly-sophisticated weapons themselves.The distribution of military equipment to local law enforcement began in the 1990s to help agencies fight the so-called war on drugs. It was expanded after 9/11, with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, to help law enforcement fight terror threats, experts said.An official with the U.S. Department of Defense told ABC News Thursday that last October, Ferguson police received “non-tactical” equipment under the so-called “1033 program” that included two unarmored Humvees, a trailer and a generator.The armored vehicle used by Ferguson, and seen in many of the images from Wednesday night, was not given to the town by the DoD, the official said. It was not a military vehicle.There’s no information yet about what other tactical equipment the Ferguson Police Department may have received, the official said, but a complete list of the equipment provided to St. Louis County by the DoD shows the types of weapons being distributed: six .45-caliber pistols, 12 rifles, two sight reflexes, one explosive ordnance disposal robot, one helicopter, seven utility trucks, three trailers, one motorized cart, one pair of elbow pads, one pair of knee pads, one industrial strength face shield, two night-vision viewers, and computers.The weapons that Ferguson police are using appear to be non-military issue, the DoD official said, and their camouflage uniforms were likely commercially purchased.But experts said police equipment and training around the nation have been getting military upgrades. And critics say this can be a problem.”When you arm police like soldiers and outfit them with military weapons and train them on military tactics and tell them they’re fighting a war, whether it’s a war on crime or drugs or looters and rioters, they’re going to start seeing themselves as soldiers, and seeing the people they serve less as citizens with rights and more as potential threats, and that’s what we’re seeing,” said Radley Balko, author of the book Rise of the Warrior Cop and a reporter for the Washington Post.Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson was asked at a press conference on Wednesday why his department was using military-grade equipment to tamp down unarmed protesters angry over the death of Michael Brown.”None of that was military equipment, all of the SWAT teams have big vans and that was the city SWAT team and [St. Louis] County SWAT Team,” he said.
When pressed why his department was using armored vehicles and rifles, he countered, “People are using bombs now, pipe bombs and so forth.”Since 1990, the federal government has distributed surplus military weapons to town and county police forces under a program known as 1033, through the Law Enforcement Support Office. In 2013, LESO distributed $450 million worth of supplies, including automatic weapons to towns such as Ferguson and counties such as St. Louis, according to a report from the ACLU released this summer.Other law enforcement personnel, including former Los Angeles Police Chief and current New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, have defended the equipment as necessary for defending themselves from a more dangerous citizenry.“I don’t see us as militarizing police,” Bratton told the Center for Investigative Reporting in 2011. “I see us as keeping abreast with society. And we are a gun-crazy society.”Balko said that isn’t necessarily true.”There are more guns out there but there’s not much evidence that there’s a problem. The crime rate’s been dropping since 1994, and the Justice Department’s done a couple of studies that show the type of gun typically used in a homicide, overwhelmingly, is low caliber handgun,” Balko said. “The job of police officer has been getting safer as crime rate has been dropping.””What’s happening in Ferguson is a reflection of militarization of policing happening across America,” said Kara Dansky, senior counsel at the ACLU and the author of the report. “It’s the routine use of paramilitary tactics, using weapons directly from the U.S. military, in towns across America.””As we’re seeing in Ferguson, it tends to escalate the risk of violence, makes people less safe, and undermines the public’s trust in law enforcement,” Dansky said.
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