Archive for the ‘January 2011’ Category

Facebook Post Falsely Accuses Man Of Philadelphia Stranglings

In January 2011 on February 12, 2011 at 11:07 am

Philadelphia — Fears of a serial killer stalking women in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have prompted some residents to take matters into their own hands — and onto the internet, with frightful results for one man.

Many residents of the city have joined a Facebook page titled “Catch the Kensington Strangler, before he catches someone you love,” and police say a male Philadelphia resident was falsely accused of being responsible for three strangulation murders and three other assaults that have occurred in the central Philadelphia area in recent weeks.

The post contained a photograph of the man and listed his address and contact information, police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers told CNN.

Shortly after the posting, a group of people began gathering outside the man’s home, prompting him to call the police, according to Evers.

“He probably feared for his life.” Evers said.

Police later escorted the man to the city’s special victims unit, where he was interviewed and his DNA was compared with samples taken from the scene of the three killings that all came from the same individual.

The man’s DNA didn’t match the DNA from the crime scenes, and he was cleared.

Police said they are unsure who made the accusation, but they believe whoever did it had a vendetta against the man and could face charges if caught.

Authorities are warning female residents not to walk alone, as police and community watch groups continue to search for the killer.

“The task force we’ve put together is sweeping the area, but we caution females in the area not go it alone at any cost,” Evers said.

On Tuesday night, police announced they are looking for a serial killer after it was determined that DNA found at the scene of the third homicide matched that found at two previous killings.

The partially clothed body of the third victim, Casey Mahoney, 27, was discovered December 15, according to police spokeswoman Jillian Russell. Mahoney had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Two other women, Elaine Goldberg, 21, and Nicole Piacentini, 35, were killed in November.

Police: Pastor Caught Burglarizing Church Member’s Home

In January 2011, Nonsensical News on February 12, 2011 at 11:06 am
Police: Pastor with criminal record caught burglarizing church member’s home

by Jonathan Betz / WFAA

DALLAS — Never has Serita Agnew’s faith been so shaken.

Police told her that the person who stole fur coats and laptop computers from her home was not a random criminal… but her trusted pastor.

The alleged crime took place on Christmas Eve.

“I’m still having a hard time,” Agnew said. “I don’t know what it was about.”

She said her pastor, Sandy McGriff, called her on Christmas Eve, shortly before the break-in. A short time later, police said a neighbor spotted the 52-year-old preacher breaking a window and climbing in.

Arriving officers said they caught McGriff loading her car with Agnew’s furs and purses — and then resisted arrest.

“It’s not like she needed them; she didn’t need them, she has fabulous things,” Agnew said.

McGriff has been preaching for years; she’s part of a well-known spiritual family in South Dallas. She recently began holding services in a small chapel in the back of her husband’s furniture store.

“My biggest mistake was going through… going through the window,” McGriff told WFAA, KENS 5’s sister station, explaining that she was checking on Agnew on Christmas Eve and she caught two men breaking in.

McGriff said she climbed through the window so she could protect Agnew’s property. She said she couldn’t find the key to the house.

But why not just call the police? “My mistake,” she said. “I should have.”

Record show McGriff has a lengthy criminal past and goes by several aliases.

Police booked her under the name “Kathy Robinson,” which McGriff concedes is a fake.

“Everyone has a past,” she said. “I am a giver, not a taker. I’m not a burglar.”

McGriff admits taking pain medication, but insists she’s been clean since the late 1980s.

Serita Agnew has her belongings back, but she worries about what’s been lost.

“She seems to have this connection with God; she seems to be a woman of God,” Agnew said. “I made a decision not to let it shake my faith.”

McGriff said she will plead not guilty to the theft charge. She told WFAA her faith remains strong, and she even held Sunday services just hours after being released from jail

AZ shooting targets US congresswoman, kills 6

In January 2011, Nonsensical News on February 12, 2011 at 10:54 am

TUCSON, Ariz. — A gunman nearly unloaded a semi-automatic weapon at a busy supermarket Saturday during a public gathering for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, wounding the Democrat and killing Arizona’s chief federal judge and five others in an attempted assassination that left Americans questioning whether divisive politics had pushed the suspect over the edge.

The shooting targeted Giffords and left the three-term congresswoman in critical condition after a bullet passed through her head. A shaken President Barack Obama called the attack “a tragedy for our entire country.”

Giffords, 40, is a moderate Democrat who narrowly won re-election in November against a tea party candidate who sought to throw her from office over her support of the health care law. Anger over her position became violent at times, with her Tucson office vandalized after the House passed the overhaul last March and someone showing up at a recent gathering with a weapon.

Police say the shooter was in custody, and was identified by people familiar with the investigation as Jared Loughner, 22. U.S. officials who provided his name to the AP spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release it publicly.

At a Saturday evening news conference, investigators said they were also looking for an accomplice, believed to be in his 50s, who may have assisted in the attack.

Loughner’s motivation was not immediately known, but Pima County Sheriff Clarence

Dupnik described him as mentally unstable. He said Giffords was among 19 people wounded in the melee that killed six people, including a 9-year-old girl, an aide for the Democratic lawmaker and U.S. District Judge John Roll, who had just stopped by to see his friend Giffords after attending Mass. Dupnik said the rampage ended only after two people tackled the gunman.

The sheriff blamed the vitriolic political rhetoric that has consumed the country, much of it occurring in Arizona.

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” he said. “And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Giffords expressed similar concern, even before the shooting. In an interview after her office was vandalized, she referred to the animosity against her by conservatives, including Sarah Palin’s decision to list Giffords’ seat as one of the top “targets” in the midterm elections.

“For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted

has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action,” Giffords said in an interview with MSNBC.

In the hours after the shooting, Palin issued a statement in which she expressed her “sincere condolences” to the family of Giffords and the other victims.

During his campaign effort to unseat Giffords in November, Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. Kelly is a former Marine who served in Iraq and was pictured on his website in military gear holding his automatic weapon and promoting the event.

“I don’t see the connection” between the fundraisers featuring weapons and Saturday’s shooting, said John Ellinwood, Kelly’s spokesman. “I don’t know this person, we cannot find any records that he was associated with the campaign in any way. I just don’t see the connection.

“Arizona is a state where people are firearms owners — this was just a deranged individual.”

Law enforcement officials said members of Congress reported 42 cases of threats or violence in the first three months of 2010, nearly three times the 15 cases reported during the same period a year earlier. Nearly all dealt with the health care bill, and Giffords was among the targets.

The shooting cast a pall over the Capitol as politicians of all stripes denounced the attack as horrific. Capitol police asked members of Congress to be more vigilant about security in the wake of the shooting. Obama dispatched his FBI chief to Arizona.

Giffords, known as “Gabby,” tweeted shortly before the shooting, describing her “Congress on Your Corner” event: “My 1st Congress on Your Corner starts now. Please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later.”

“It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does, listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors,” Obama said.

He called the shooting an “unspeakable tragedy.”

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this, and we’re going to get through this,” he declared. “I know Gabby is as tough as they come, and I am hopeful that she is going to pull through.”

Mark Kimball, a communications staffer for Giffords, described the scene as “just complete chaos, people screaming, crying.” The gunman fired at Giffords and her district director and started shooting indiscriminately at staffers and others standing in line to talk to the congresswoman, Kimball said.

“He was not more than three or four feet from the congresswoman and the district director,” he said.

Doctors were optimistic about Giffords surviving as she was responding to commands from doctors. “With guarded optimism, I hope she will survive, but this is a very devastating wound,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, the former surgeon general who lives in Tucson.

Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said three Giffords staffers were shot. One died, and the other two are expected to survive. Gabe Zimmerman, a former social worker who served as Giffords’ director of community outreach, died. Giffords had worked with the judge in the past to line up funding to build a new courthouse in Yuma, and Obama hailed him for his nearly 40 years of service.

An uncle of the 9-year-old girl told The Arizona Republic that a neighbor was going to the event and invited her along because she had just been elected to the student council and was interested in government.

A former classmate described Loughner as a pot-smoking loner, and the Army said he tried to enlist in December 2008 but was rejected for reasons not disclosed.

Federal law enforcement officials were poring over versions of a MySpace page that included a mysterious “Goodbye friends” message published hours before the shooting.

In one of several YouTube videos, which featured text against a dark background, Loughner described inventing a new U.S. currency and complained about the illiteracy rate among people living in Giffords’ congressional district in Arizona.

“I know who’s listening: Government Officials, and the People,” Loughner wrote. “Nearly all the people, who don’t know this accurate information of a new currency, aren’t aware of mind control and brainwash methods. If I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn’t have happen (sic).”

In Loughner’s middle-class neighborhood — about a five-minute drive from the scene — sheriff’s deputies had much of the street blocked off. The neighborhood sits just off a bustling Tucson street and is lined with desert landscaping and palm trees.

Neighbors said Loughner lived with his parents and kept to himself. He was often seen walking his dog, almost always wearing a hooded sweatshirt and listening to his iPod.

High school classmate Grant Wiens, 22, said Loughner seemed to be “floating through life” and “doing his own thing.”

“Sometimes religion was brought up or drugs. He smoked pot, I don’t know how regularly. And he wasn’t too keen on religion, from what I could tell,” Wiens said.

Lynda Sorenson said she took a math class with Loughner last summer at Pima Community College’s Northwest campus and told the Arizona Daily Star he was “obviously very disturbed.” “He disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts,” she said.

In October 2007, Loughner was cited in Pima County for possession of drug paraphernalia, which was dismissed after he completed a diversion program, according to online records.

Giffords was first elected to Congress amid a wave of Democratic victories in the 2006 election, and has been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate in 2012 and a gubernatorial prospect in 2014.

She is married to astronaut Mark E. Kelly, who has piloted space shuttles Endeavour and Discovery. The two met in China in 2003 while they were serving on a committee there, and were married in January 2007.

TX Trooper Charged for Excessive Force

In January 2011 on February 12, 2011 at 10:36 am

KDFW FOX4 Dallas-Fort Worth – A former Department of Public Safety trooper who was accused of using excessive force during a traffic stop now faces criminal charges.

Father Charged With Stabbing 6-Year-Old Son More Than 20 Times

In January 2011 on February 12, 2011 at 10:21 am

Xavier Thomas Jr

TAMPA, Fla. – A Tampa man has been charged with stabbing his six-year-old son more than 20 times.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested 23 year-old Xavier Thomas and charged him attempted murder.

Investigators say six-year-old Xavier Thomas Jr. was visiting relatives at an apartment on 58th Street last night. \

The victim’s dad was also there. The family was in the parking lot lighting fireworks after which the father took his son to a playground at the apartment complex. About 20 minutes later, family members noticed that the little boy was missing and started looking for him.

Around the same time, the father returned to the apartment without his son. When he was questioned about  the little boy, he took off.

A family member called the sheriff’s department about the missing boy. Just as deputies arrived, the child emerged from the playground area, covered in blood.

The child was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Officials say his stab wounds are not life threatening. The boy’s grandmothter told ABC Action News he lost a lot of blood and may need a transfusion.

Deputies searched for the father and located him walking on 50th street near I-4, where he was taken into custody.

Xavier Thomas Sr. will make his first appearance in court tomorrow. He has a lengthy rap sheet dating back to 2003 with charges ranging from possesion of cocaine to burglary.