Friday, April 30, 2010

Dekalb, Al : DeKalb man pleads guilty to murder

Girlfriend stabbed at least 150 times

By Andy Powell
Times Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 9:23 p.m.
A DeKalb County man pleaded guilty Thursday to murdering his girlfriend and was given a life sentence without parole by DeKalb County Circuit Judge Randall Cole.

John Mark Cullom Jr., 27, pleaded guilty to the Aug. 10, 2009, murder of his girlfriend, Kristi Renee Wolf, who was stabbed at least 150 times, according to a press release from DeKalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris.

DeKalb County District Attorney Mike O’Dell said Cullom, who lives in DeKalb County but had an Albertville address, originally was charged with murder and his case was to be presented to a grand jury this week.

O’Dell said he had planned to seek an indictment for capital murder because kidnapping was involved and because of the violence and brutality of the crime.

However, Cullom agreed to plead guilty to murder and accept a sentence of life without parole rather than face the possible capital murder charge.

O’Dell agreed to the plea arrangement after getting the approval of the victim’s family.

He said he would not have made the agreement without that approval.

“This was a good resolution to this case,” O’Dell said, “I think it was in the best interest of both the defendant and the victim’s family.”

Cullom was taken into custody at the residence on DeKalb County Road 964 in the Kilpatrick community where the stabbing took place. Officers found Wolf’s body when they entered the residence.

Cullom told investigators he and Wolf had dated for some time and had had an argument earlier in the evening.

According to the press release from Harris, an autopsy by the Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Huntsville said Wolf had stab wounds on all parts of her body. There were about 150 wounds including several “defensive wounds” on her hands and arms.

Investigators determined that Wolf was beaten about the back and head at least seven times with a metal pipe before her death, Harris said, in an attack in the Douglas area of Marshall County.

Cullom then brought Wolf to DeKalb County in the trunk of his car.

At the residence in DeKalb County, Wolf told friends of the beating, which upset Cullom and he attacked Wolf with a large kitchen knife.

Cullom’s mother tried to stop the attack, but left to get help after she was threatened. Neighbors called 911.

Cullom later told an officer he had “just killed his girlfriend,” Harris said.

He later was determined to be competent to stand trial by state mental health officials.

Cullom remains in the DeKalb County Detention Center awaiting transfer to a state prison.

Cole said he appreciated the cooperation of Marshall County investigators and Marshall District Attorney Steve Marshall in the case.

Cullom has been charged in Marshall County with attempted murder. O’Dell said he did not know what Marshall County officials will do with that case.

Copyright © 2010 — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.

Philadelphia, PA: Man stabbed to death, girlfriend is held

A 25-year-old man was fatally stabbed in the Tacony section Wednesday night and his 36-year-old girlfriend was in custody, police said. The man was stabbed once in the chest shortly after 8 p.m. inside an apartment in the 4800 block of Longshore Avenue, police said. He was pronounced dead at Aria Health-Torresdale Campus at 8:35. There was no immediate information about whether the woman would be charged. - Robert Moran

Belton, TX: Local Man Indicted For Murder In Wife’s Beating Death

A Salado man has been indicted for murder in the beating death of his wife, who he claimed was injured by rolling off the couch.
Reporter: By Paul J. Gately
Email Address:

BELTON (April 29, 2010)--A Salado man was named in a murder indictment that the Bell County Grand Jury handed up Wednesday in connection with the October 2009 death of his wife.

Donald Lee Tretter was initially charged with aggravated assault in connection with an incident that resulted in serious injuries to Lou Tretter on Oct. 18, 2009 at the couple's Salado home.

Lou Tretter was found at about 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 18, unconscious, lying on the floor of the couple's Oak Tree Dr. home.

Officers stated in the arrest affidavit she sustained serious injuries and she was flown from the scene to Scott & White Hospital.

She later died from her injuries.

Officers interviewed Tretter who said he believed his wife had fallen off a couch where she had been sleeping.

Medical personnel, however, reported the injuries she sustained were not consistent with a fall, but instead with being beaten with hands or fists or some other object.

The charge against Tretter was upgraded to murder and he was rearrested and ordered held in the Bell County Jail in lieu of a $250,000 bond.

Salinas, CA: Monterey Co man could face death in wife's murder

The Associated Press
Posted: 04/29/2010 01:13:19 PM PDT
Updated: 04/29/2010 01:13:20 PM PDT

SALINAS, Calif.—A Monterey County man could face the death penalty for the murder of his missing wife after prosecutors added a special circumstance his charges.
The district attorney's office has not yet decided whether to seek capital punishment or life in prison if Jesse John Crow is convicted.
But on Wednesday, prosecutors added the special circumstance that claims the crime was committed intentionally and carried out for financial gain. That move puts execution on the table.
The 33-year-old Prunedale man was arrested Feb. 16 on suspicion of murdering his wife Ryann Bunnell Crow and disposing of her still-missing body. The 28-year-old woman has not been seen since Jan. 30.
Crow has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court May 14.

Brooklyn, NY: Dumped Brooklyn man held in stabbing of wife

BY Kerry Burke and Jonathan Lemire
Friday, April 30th 2010, 4:00 AM
A Brooklyn man who allegedly killed his wife in a jealous rage was in the U.S. only because she had traveled to Panama to marry him, family members and sources said Thursday.

But when the couple split up this year and 53-year-old Maritza Jolliffe stopped supporting Eustacio Roberts and started seeing another man, Roberts couldn't take it, sources said.

They said he began stalking the victim with growing anger that exploded in violence Wednesday night.

Jolliffe, a nurse who held three jobs, was "tired of taking care" of Roberts, and that infuriated him, said Fidel Clue, 50, the victim's brother. "That ticked him off."

He said Roberts, 54, came to the Canarsie home "drunk and high" and in a fury. "He couldn't stand that a woman was getting ahead without him," Clue said.

Roberts is accused of plunging a knife into Jolliffe's chest in front of their 12-year-old son in their Brooklyn apartment. He was to be arraigned on murder charges today.

Roberts had been deported in 1991 after being convicted of weapons and drug charges, law enforcement sources said. Investigators said he may have gotten back into the U.S. with Jolliffe by using aliases.

Read more:

Article: Humane Society offers reward after possum killed

April 29, 2010 - 6:36pm
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Kate Ryan,
WASHINGTON - The crime scene is an alley. The victim, a young mother of ten.

But this is not your typical crime story.

The mother is a possum.

She was killed in an alley off 16th Street in Northeast D.C on Tuesday when someone smashed her over and over again with bricks.

The Washington Humane Society is out to catch her killer.

"On a personal level, it infuriates me, because this was a mother just trying to survive in our environment," says Scott Giacoppo, vice president of external affairs and chief programs officer at the Washington Humane Society.

Giacoppo says every cruelty case is upsetting, but admits this one got under his skin, particularly because possums are harmless.

"Even if you approach them, their instinct is just to shut down, and play dead."

This one was carrying her babies in her pouch, looking for food.

"Someone just decided, this is it. And just wanted to watch her die - in a very cruel, cruel, painful manner."

To those who may think, it's just a possum, Giacoppo says the species of the animal doesn't matter.

"To me, and to the Washington Humane Society, it's an animal. It's an animal that's protected by law, that has feelings, and didn't deserve to get what she got."

Ironically, the Washington Humane Society had just announced a new program designed to help D.C. residents handle wildlife situations, like bats nesting in attics, or raccoons carrying kits under porches.

Giacoppo also says studies show that "anyone who would commit an act of violence toward an animal is actually seven times more likely to commit an act of violence against people."

He cites a recent case involving a father who killed his son's pet lizard. Animals are often abused in cases of domestic violence -- used as leverage by the abuser, Giacoppo says.

Convictions are becoming easier to get when the humane society goes to court on a cruelty case, Giacoppo says.

The Washington Humane Society is offering a $1,000 reward in the case. If you have any information that could help solve this case, call 202-BE-HUMANE.

Pine Island, FL: Pine Island man killed over woman

Suspect said to think victim dating his ex


A misunderstanding over a woman led to a">fatal stabbing Wednesday night on Pine Island, according to the victim's mother.

"I miss him," Lisa McClenithan said as she wiped tears from her eyes Thursday afternoon. Family and friends spent the day offering their condolences with roses and cards outside her mobile home near Stringfellow Road in Bokeelia.

Her son, Adam McClenithan, 21, was stabbed a few blocks from her home about 8:30 p.m. and later died at Lee Memorial Hospital. It was the first homicide on Pine Island in almost two years.

Deputies are still searching for David T. Chavez, 30, the suspect in the homicide, said John Sheehan, a spokesman for the sheriff's office. Sheehan said detectives aren't commenting on a motive.

McClenithan said neighbors told her that her son was walking back to her home, where he lived, after visiting his 4-year-old daughter, Tearzlee, who lives with her grandmother on nearby Judith Road. She claims Chavez was hiding in the woods and waiting for her son.

"As my son was walking by, he jumped out and stabbed him," McClenithan alleges.

She claims Chavez thought her son had started a relationship with one of Chavez's former girlfriends.

"But he didn't," McClenithan said. "He had a girlfriend."

She said her son called 911 on his cell phone after the stabbing and staggered to a nearby duplex, where Karen Higgens also called for help while Higgens' husband, Charles, and niece, Samantha, applied pressure to the wound. Neighbors from across the street then ran over to perform CPR on her son, she said.

David Proulx said he and his wife, Kelly, have known Adam McClenithan since he was 10 years old. Proulx said Adam was sitting in a chair outside the duplex, bleeding from a stab wound under his right arm.

"He was losing a lot of blood, and he said he was starting to pass out," Proulx said. A 911 operator instructed them to lay Adam on the ground and perform CPR, Proulx said.

He said his wife is certified in CPR, and she gave Adam chest compressions while he performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until paramedics arrived.

"It was horrific. We did the best we could," Proulx said. "We want to express our condolences to his family."

McClenithan said her son's death has saddened everyone in their close-knit neighborhood.

"Everybody loved Adam. He had a very good heart," said a neighbor, Amber Watson, 22. "He'd help anybody who needed help."

His death was the first homicide on Pine Island since Christmas Day 2008, when Francisco Bernal, 39, was found beaten to death inside his Bokeelia home, Sheehan said. Deputies arrested Antonio Resillas, 36, on a second-degree murder charge in the case. Prosecutors later dropped the charge because of insufficient evidence.

Additional Facts
Crime Stoppers Reward
• Anyone knowing the whereabouts of David T. Chavez, 30, is asked to call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 800-780-8477. Callers remain anonymous and are eligible for a $1,000 reward.

Phoenix, AZ: PD: Man kills wife, drives body to police dept. to confess

Reported by: Katrina Wessman
Last Update: 4/29 6:17 pm

PHOENIX – Police have identified a man who walked into a Phoenix police station and allegedly claimed to have killed his wife before officers found the dead woman inside his car.

Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said Delores Glover was driving Dwight Wesley to work when they got into an argument around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Thompson said while in the car, the 46-year-old woman told her husband she was divorcing him. Wesley reportedly became upset and stabbed Glover multiple times, killing her.

Wesley, 58, then drove to police headquarters where he walked in and confessed, handing over the knife.

According to court documents, Wesley told police, "she kept pushing my buttons."

Officers took Wesley into custody, went outside and reportedly found Glover dead inside the car.

Thompson said the couple was in the middle of a divorce. Court documents show Glover had an order of protection against Wesley.

In the order of protection, Glover said Wesley punched her in the chest after he got upset because he thought someone used his toothbrush. Glover claimed Wesley had been drinking, and also wrote she didn't want anything to happen to her when Wesley was under the influence.

Wesley was arrested and charged with second degree murder. He is being held on a $750,000 bond.

Momence, IL: Killer takes last life

Inmate commits suicide day before his new sentencing

April 30, 2010
JOLIET -- Death-row inmate Brian Nelson was found dead Thursday morning in his cell in Pontiac.

He was 27.

Will County Chief Judge Gerald Kinney heard the news around 8:45 a.m. Thursday when he got a telephone call from someone at the Pontiac Correctional Center. The judge had expected to see Nelson in court Friday for a hearing.

"He hung himself," Kinney said.

Nelson, who is from Momence, was found guilty in 2006 during a jury trial of killing his former girlfriend and three other people almost eight years ago. Kinney presided over the trial.

The jury gave Nelson the death penalty.

Found dead in cell
The Illinois Department of Corrections confirmed Nelson's death Thursday afternoon.
"At approximately 2:30 a.m. this morning ... an inmate in the condemned unit ... was found dead in his cell at the Pontiac Correctional Center," DOC spokeswoman Sharyn Elman wrote in an e-mailed statement. "The inmate was singled celled. Preliminary indications are that the inmate took his own life."

The death remains under investigation.

Pontiac is the only Illinois prison housing death-row inmates, and there are 15 of them, Elman wrote. The inmates are allowed five visitors each month, and have at least five hours each week of recreation outside of their cells, she said.

His mother, Janet Nelson of Momence, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Victims beat to death
Early in the morning of May 31, 2002, Nelson drove from his home to the Custer Park farmhouse where Sara Tennant lived with their young daughter and other members of her family. Nelson was upset because she had a new boyfriend and refused to reconcile with him.
Nelson found an unlocked door and went inside. After talking with Sara Tennant, Nelson left the house, went to the garage, found a crowbar and returned to the 19-year-old woman's basement bedroom.

After saying he loved her, Nelson beat Sara Tennant to death with the tool.

Then he went upstairs and killed Eric Tennant, her 16-year-old brother, the same way. Still armed with the crowbar, he attacked Harry Tennant, the teens' father, and his girlfriend, Jean Bookwalter of Gardner, both 46. Nelson also stabbed the two adults and started several fires in the house to destroy his clothing and conceal the crimes.

Two people who were in the house that night survived: a young man who had been working on the farm that day, and Nelson's young daughter. The farmhand escaped through a second-floor window. Nelson had put the little girl in her car seat inside a vehicle that was parked near the farmhouse. Investigators found her there later that morning.

Police reportedly captured Nelson within hours of the fire at the home of Harry Tennant's mother, near the border of Will and Kankakee counties.

Awaiting new sentence
Nelson's jury trial began with witness testimony on Sept. 25, 2006. On Oct. 3, the jury decided that Nelson was guilty of first-degree murder, arson and home invasion. After deliberating for about 10 minutes the following day, the jurors found him eligible for the death penalty.
In late December, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned Nelson's sentence. During the sentencing phase of his 2006 trial, two jurors complained to Kinney about another juror. The man would not give Nelson the death penalty despite the evidence and the jury instructions. Kinney removed that juror from the panel and put one of the alternates in his place.

The higher court voted 6-1 that this was a mistake, and the case was sent back to Kinney for a new sentencing hearing.

"The only available sentence to me, to impose on Mr. Nelson, would have been natural life in prison without the possibility of parole," Kinney said Thursday. He expected to do that in court Friday morning.

Nelson knew that.

"He was disappointed," said Steve Haney, a lawyer from Joliet who represented Nelson during his trial.

Haney spoke to Nelson after the Supreme Court announced its decision.

"His main fear and main concern was getting moved. The result of the decision would have gotten him a natural life sentence, and he would have been off death row and in the general population. He had a significant concern about that," Haney said.

Nelson was accustomed to his life on death row, Haney said.

"It sounds ludicrous, but in Brian's mind, it was a much more comfortable existence than he would have in the general population," Haney said.

During Nelson's sentencing hearing, correctional officers from the Will County Jail testified that they had seized letters from Nelson that included racist remarks.

Although Nelson is dead, the hearing still is scheduled for Friday.

"What will happen tomorrow I truly do not know. I have not dealt with this before," Kinney said.

Bridgewater, CT: Police search ex-husband's home in Newtown cold case

John Pirro, Staff Writer
Published: 10:24 p.m., Thursday, April 29, 2010

BRIDGEWATER -- Investigators on Thursday searched the Bridgewater home of a former Newtown man whose ex-wife's body was found earlier this month, 26 years after he reported her missing.

Newtown police, assisted by State Police detectives, spent several hours at the Keeler Road home of John Heath, whose ex-wife, Elizabeth, vanished in April 1984.

Newtown police said investigators had obtained a state Superior Court

warrant to search the premises as part of the

investigation of Elizabeth Heath's death, but refused to provide any other details,

Attempts to contact John Heath at the telephone number listed for the address were unsuccessful.

Elizabeth Heath was 30 years old in April 1984 when she disappeared from her Poverty Hollow Road home, leaving behind a young daughter and all of her belongings.

John Heath reported her missing in April 1984. The couple was in the midst of a divorce, which John Heath later obtained before marrying another woman.

Elizabeth Heath's family had her declared dead seven years later.

But on April 14, the owners of the Heaths' former Newtown property were renovating a basement apartment in what once had been a barn when they discovered a skeleton in a chamber beneath the subfloor.

The remains were identified as Elizabeth Heath. Police classified the death as a homicide, but haven't disclosed how she died.

The dead woman's sister, Helen Gough, of Bridgeport, told The News-Times that her former brother-in-law built the apartment.

Heath lost the Newtown property to foreclosure in 2005, according to town records, and moved to Bridgewater.

Contact John Pirro


Younkers, NY: Ex-boyfriend 'person of interest' in Yonkers mom's slaying; funeral today

Will David

YONKERS — As police try to determine who killed a mother of two children and wounded her husband, detectives said Thursday that her ex-boyfriend from New York City is a "person of interest."

Detective Lt. Daniel Campanini said while the unidentified man who is the father of Sandra Hackley-Cornielle's 6-year-old daughter is a person of interest in the homicide investigation just like many other people, he is not a suspect at this time.

"He is cooperating with us," said Campanini, acting commander of the Detective Division.

The father of Hackley-Cornielle's 12-year-old daughter is dead, authorities said.

Hackley-Cornielle was shot dead April 21 in her 1159 Yonkers Ave. apartment, and her husband, Rafael L. Cornielle, 31, was wounded. He was shot in the chest and leg. He has been released from the hospital.

The funeral for Hackley-Cornielle is at 10 a.m. today at St. Peter's Church, 91 Ludlow St. Hackley-Cornielle was a parishioner of St. Peter's.

On Wednesday night, detectives went to the woman's apartment building and spent two hours handing out more than 500 fliers in English and Spanish asking for help in the investigation.

Police are looking for two gunmen. One is described as a Hispanic man who was dressed in tan pants and a tan jacket. He was in his 20s and carrying a package. Police believed he used the package to pose as a delivery man, to get into the building.

The second gunman is a heavy-set black man in his 20s. He wore a dark hooded sweatshirt and dark blue jeans.

On the night of the shooting, the two victims returned home at 7:30 p.m. with Hackley-Cornielle's two children. They were attacked by two gunmen who had gotten into to the building. Hackley-Cornielle was shot several times.

Cornielle was able to escape from their first-floor apartment and run across the street.

The older daughter was grazed by a bullet, but not seriously injured.

Hackley-Cornielle and her husband worked together for the same promotional company.

Police are asking anyone with information to call the Detective Division at 914-377-7725.

Hartford, CT: Ex-Boyfriend Charged With High School Sweetheart's Murder


Updated 7:20 AM EDT, Fri, Apr 30, 2010

An 18-year-old Hartford woman was stabbed and killed in a Windsor bank parking lot just after 3 p.m. on Thursday and police say her ex-boyfriend is the person who attacked her.

Police say Marqz Robotham, 18, and Allison Owen, 18, were high school sweethearts. They recently graduated from Windsor High School and moved in together in Hartford but their relationship had ended recently.

On Thursday, they met at the bank on Windsor Avenue. Witnesses tell police they saw the two talking for a long time, then Robotham attacked her.

Owen was rushed to St. Francis Hospital where she died from her injuries just before 4:30 p.m.

Cincinnati, OH: Ohio jury: Man guilty of killing woman, 2 children

Associated Press - April 29, 2010 6:35 PM ET

CINCINNATI (AP) - A Cincinnati jury has found a man guilty of killing his former girlfriend, her infant son and a 3-year-old girl she was babysitting.

A jury on Thursday found 20-year-old Mark Pickens guilty on all counts in the June slayings of 19-year-old Noelle Washington, Anthony Jones III and Sha'Railyn Wright. Pickens was charged with rape, three counts of aggravated murder and two weapons charges.

Prosecutors say the girl was shot through her hands as she covered her head moments after Washington and her son were shot in the head. Prosecutors say Washington had filed a rape charge against Pickens and he likely did not want her to testify.

Jurors could recommend the death penalty in the trial's sentencing phase.

Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer,

Manhattan, NY: Barbara Kogan admits role in 1990 double-indemnity murder of husband

BY Melissa Grace and Bill Hutchinson
Friday, April 30th 2010, 4:00 AM
A murderous Manhattan woman afraid to face her two sons in court pleaded guilty Thursday to hiring a hit man to whack their wealthy dad two decades ago.

Barbara Kogan, 68, admitted in Manhattan Supreme Court to having her husband, George Kogan, killed outside his girlfriend's pad so she could cash in on $4.3 million in life insurance policies she secretly had taken out.

She faces 12-36 years in prison.

"I've always known that she did it. I've known for 20 years," a close relative of George Kogan told the Daily News last night. "There was nobody else that could have done it."

Kogan took the plea deal because "she did not want to face her children in court," her lawyer Barry Levin said.

During the hearing, prosecutor Joel Seidemann grilled Kogan, who has been in jail for two years, and got her to confess that she conspired with crooked divorce lawyer Manuel Martinez in the 1990 double-indemnity murder.

"Did Mr. Martinez tell you he was going to hire a hit man?" Seidemann asked Kogan.

Answering in an emotionless voice, Kogan said, "Yes."

"And did you agree with him to participate in the killing of your husband?" Seidemann inquired.

"Yes," Kogan responded.

Levin said later, "It was a circumstantial case in which she was her own worst enemy."

A source said prosecutors subpoenaed recordings of Kogan's phone conversations at Rikers in which she discussed the case.

Levin predicted she would be out of jail in 10 years.

Besides greed, Kogan's deadly decision was fueled by anger over being dumped by her 49-year-old husband, an antiques dealer, for his 28-year-old publicist, prosecutors said.

After living in Puerto Rico for years, Barbara Kogan was arrested in November 2008, seven months after Martinez was convicted of murder in connection with the hit.

Kogan pleaded guilty to felony manslaughter, conspiracy to commit murder and grand larceny.

Read more:

Nashville, TN: Nashville woman convicted of strangling husband, leaving body in closet

By Associated Press
4:27 PM CDT, April 29, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A jury has found a Nashville woman guilty of premeditated murder in the strangulation death of her husband whose body was found in the closet of their upscale home.

WTVF-TV reported the jury returned the verdict against Kelley Cannon after an hour of deliberations on Thursday.

Prosecutors said Cannon strangled her husband, attorney Jim Cannon, in 2008 with the cord of a cell phone charger, then poured bleach on his body in an attempt to cover up evidence.

The couple were in the process of divorcing and Jim Cannon had custody of their two children when his body was found in his Green Hills home.

Officials testified about forensic evidence that linked her to the slaying, including a latex glove.


Information from: WTVF-TV,

Opa-locka, FL: Man says he killed girlfriend, and her suspected lover -- her nephew



When Raul Villafanez confronted his girlfriend and accused her of having an affair with her nephew, he was greeted with laughter.
But Villafanez wasn't in a jovial mood, according to police, who said he whipped out a gun and fired at the pair inside an Opa-locka apartment, killing both.
Villafanez was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Vilma Torres, 48, and Jesus Irlanda, 23. Police say that Torres and Irlanda are related. She is his aunt.
Here's what happened in the apartment at 13240 Port Said Rd., according to the arrest affidavit:
Around noon Wednesday, Villafanez called Irlanda to the apartment, saying he had something to give him. Instead, Villafanez confronted the pair, accusing both ``of having an affair behind his back.''
Irlanda laughed at him.
That's when Villafanez shot Torres, sending Irlanda running for safety. Villafanez chased him, firing until Irlanda crumpled to the ground. Then Villafanez ``stood over him and shot him again.''
Police found Villafanez at the apartment, standing with a gun and ``pre-written confession note.'' Torres was taken to Ryder Trauma Center, where she died.
Villafanez was taken to the homicide bureau, where he gave an audio and video-recorded confession, police said.
Villafanez and Torres have a child and lived together, police said.

Read more:

Hudson Falls, NY: Man arrested for stabbing ex-girlfriend's dog to death

Police say Richard Pennington, 37, told them he was depressed over a recent break up and he stabbed the animal with a steak knife in a fit of rage.

He told police that he was sitting on the kitchen floor when the dog approached him. He stabbed the dog once.

The dog left for the bedroom where the owner found it later in the day.

He faces animal cruelty charges and is being held without bail.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pahrump, NV: Two dead in Lakeside shootout


Four bullet holes mark the rear window of the car Sabrina Hepler was driving as she sought shelter at Terrible's Lakeside Casino Monday afternoon.

Thursday night vigil is planned

A candlelight vigil will be held at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Terrible's Lakeside Casino to honor the memory of Dep. Ian Deutch.

Organizer Carl Moore contacted the family who approved the event. "We need to show support for the family and our local law enforcement officers," said Moore.

According to a press release from the sheriff's office, a memorial fund under account number 0258040427 has been established at Nevada State Bank, 1301 S. Highway 160.


Nye County Sheriff's Office personnel and Pahrump residents are mourning the death of Dep. Ian Deutch, 27, killed in the line of duty Monday, after being shot three times in the parking lot of Terrible's Lakeside Casino just before 4 p.m.

The shooter, James L. Chaffin, 30, was killed by an officer who returned fire after the man stepped out of the casino with an assault rifle and opened fire, according to Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall.

"He is not someone who has that much of a record with us," said Sheriff Tony DeMeo. He said the shooter was a suspect in a minor credit card-related case.

At the scene, Capt. Bill Becht said Deutch had returned to Pahrump just one month ago from active duty in Afghanistan. Monday was his second day back on the job.

Deutch was wearing a protective vest, but one bullet penetrated the vest.

He was flown from the scene by Mercy Air helicopter to UMC Medical Center in Las Vegas, where he was immediately taken into emergency surgery. He died a little after 9 p.m.

A motorcade of officers from across Southern Nevada was prepared to escort Deutch's body back to Pahrump Tuesday afternoon.

Marshall said Monday's fatal incident began when deputies were dispatched to answer a 911 call that came in at about 3:45 p.m. from Sabrina Hepler, who said her boyfriend, Griffin, was driving close behind her car, shooting at her as she tried to get away from him.

She told the dispatcher she was driving to the casino to be safe.

Deutch and his partner, as well as other deputies, were dispatched for domestic violence involving weapons.

DeMeo, at UMC with Deutch's family, said Griffin followed the woman into the casino and then exited just as Deutch and his partner were pulling up in their vehicle. The suspect was carrying an SKS semi-automatic rifle, which fires a 7.62mm round.

"The deputies were actually exiting their vehicle, and that's when he opened up on them," said DeMeo. Deutch's partner was not injured.

DeMeo said a third deputy pulled up and witnessed the shooting. He returned fire with four rounds, killing Griffin.

Hepler was not physically injured. However, the rear window of her car had at least four bullet holes through it.

"She was scared and obviously shook up," said Marshall.

Dep. Eric Murphy, who survived after being shot during an extended gunfight at Terrible's Lakeside RV Park on Sept. 19, 2008, was also with the family at the hospital.

Pahrump Valley Fire-Rescue Services were dispatched to the scene, and a witness, who had been pumping gas close to where the shooting occurred, said he saw the emergency medical technicians crying and knew the deputy had been badly hurt.

The sheriff's department does not treat domestic violence calls routinely because, as DeMeo put it, "We don't know what we are going to face when we get a domestic call. It can turn very violent, very quickly."

Deutch had been in the National Guard for nine years when he spoke with the PVT last year.

A husband with two children, he said his family hated his upcoming departure for Afghanistan. "They don't want to see me leave," he said.

Ironically, Deutch had taken some pre-sniper marksmanship training that had him firing on targets up to 670 yards away.

"It definitely helped me out," he said, "like when we do active shooters or a lot of buildings searches."

He said he had spent five years with the sheriff's K-9 unit.

Dallas, TX: Police say Texan decapitated wife with chain saw

By JEFF CARLTON, Associated Press Writer
Wed Apr 28, 9:28 pm ET

DALLAS – Police searched Wednesday for a Texas man authorities say used two chain saws to decapitate his wife before leaving her body in the street near their suburban Dallas home.
Maria Corona's body was found around 11 a.m. Monday by a postal worker outside the family's one-story brick home in Lewisville, located about 25 miles outside Dallas, authorities said.
Police arrived at the home, shortly after the mail carrier called 911, and found a trail of blood from the body to the home, according to a search warrant affidavit. Two chain saws with blades covered in blood were on the tailgate of a pickup truck in the driveway. One of the chain saws was still running, the affidavit said.
Police said an arrest warrant had been issued for 49-year-old Jose Fernando Corona, charging him with the murder of his wife.
"Witnesses in the neighborhood did hear a chain saw running, but that was all they heard," Lewisville police Capt. Kevin Deaver said. "It was an extremely gruesome scene. The method of death was brutal."
The couple's daughter Carla Corona, 23, and her husband, Freddie Arellano, who also lived at the home, showed up after police were at the scene. Arellano told police he and his wife were picking up their daughter from school when Jose Corona called them and said he "had done it, he had killed her and was going to drag her body next door," according to the affidavit.
Carla Corona and Arellano did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner released autopsy results Wednesday that said Maria Corona was alive when she was decapitated. The cause of death was multiple chain saw injuries "due to assault by another person."
Jose Corona has no prior criminal history, Deaver said. Police, who declined to release the postal worker's 911 call, had never responded before to the home for any type of disturbance.
Police, noting that Jose Corona had friends and family across the state and Mexico, have asked state and federal authorities for help locating him.
He was last seen driving a gold-colored 1991 Ford Ranger pickup truck, which police said he stole from a car dealership after taking it for a test drive about three hours after the killing.
The Toyota SUV police believe Corona left his home in was found Wednesday abandoned in a parking lot in Bedford, a Dallas-Fort Worth suburb. Police said they were getting a search warrant for the vehicle.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Crafton Heights, PA: Crafton Heights man off death row for wife's murder

By Bobby Kerlik
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Allegheny County judge removed from death row a Crafton Heights man who stabbed his wife and then cut off her head, hands and feet.

Common Pleas Judge Lawrence J. O'Toole ruled this month that Connie Williams, 59, is mentally retarded and vacated his 2002 death sentence. Williams will spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole.

Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said the DA's office is reviewing the decision.

A jury convicted Williams of first-degree murder for stabbing Frances Williams, 53, and dismembering her in August 1999. The jury agreed Williams should die by lethal injection.

Four attorneys for Williams from the Federal Community Defender Office in Philadelphia filed a 135-page petition in 2008 asking to overturn the death sentence based on Williams' low IQ and poor mental functioning.

"After reviewing the very thorough testimony of both the defense and the Commonwealth expert witnesses, the Court is convinced, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant has mental retardation," O'Toole wrote in his April 15 ruling.

Assistant District Attorney Ron Wabby argued that Williams is not retarded and that the death sentence should stand.

Assistant Public Defender Lisa Middleman, who represented Williams during the penalty phase of his 2002 trial, said she was pleased with O'Toole's decision.

"Connie's lack of intellect was evident. I was unable to discuss options with him as I would with a person with average intelligence," Middleman said.

Bruce Antkowiak, a Duquesne University law professor, said it's rare for judges to remove people from death row, but "the Supreme Court made it clear that you can't execute juveniles or other people that meet certain categories."

The judge found that Williams' IQ -- between 70 and 75 -- and significant deficits in adaptive functioning prove Williams has mental retardation.

The judge detailed Williams' inability to read or write, the fact that he held only simple minimum wage jobs for which he needed frequent assistance, and that he has no social skills.

O'Toole cited the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court case Atkins v. Virginia, in which justices determined the execution of mentally retarded people is cruel and unusual punishment.

Williams, a former sausage maker, claimed his wife left him but later admitted to detectives that he stabbed her in the chest during an argument and dismembered her body. He led investigators to where he threw the body, wrapped in a blanket, over a hillside in the North Side and to other parts buried in McKees Rocks.

Williams was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1974 stabbing death of his girlfriend's landlord and sentenced to seven to 20 years in prison. He was released after serving seven years.

Bobby Kerlik can be reached at or 412-391-0927.

Tangipahoa, LA: Police: Tickfaw man beat, killed wife as she slept

by Michael Luke / Eyewitness News

TANGIPAHOA, La. – Authorities arrested a Tickfaw man for allegedly beating his wife to death as she was sleeping in the couple’s bed, according to Tangipahoia Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Dawn Panepinto.
Benny Ray Prine, 49, was arrested by police Sunday and charged with second-degree murder, according to police.
Police were called to the home of Prine and his wife, Rose Mary, 41, Saturday afternoon, according to police.
“Upon Lt. Blane Sanders arrival, he was able to determine that Mrs. Prine’s death was not of natural causes. It was determined at this time that the victim, Rose Mary Prine, died as the result of a brutal homicide,” said Panepinto.
“After an extensive investigation led by TPSO Detectives, it is believed that Benny Ray Prine violently beat his wife to death as she lay sleeping in their bed. It was determined that the weapon used in the death of Mrs. Prine was a blunt instrument.”
Benny Ray Prine is currently being held in the Tangipahoa jail on a $150,000 bond.

Duncan, SC: Trooper: Man shot and killed wife before I-85 chase

By Steve Lyttle
Posted: Tuesday, Apr. 27, 2010
A man who allegedly shot and killed his estranged wife and led police on a 150-mile chase surrendered this morning after a three-hour standoff in the middle of Interstate 85 in Davidson County.

N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeff Gordon said the suspect, Arthur Duval Mims, 45, of Duncan, S.C., was taken into custody about 8:30 a.m. on I-85 near Lexington.

The standoff had forced authorities to close the heavily traveled highway in both directions, causing a backup of 15 miles and affecting thousands of motorists. During that time, the suspect sat in his truck on the northbound side of I-85, refusing to surrender to police for several hours.

The overnight pursuit went through Charlotte and several other metropolitan areas.

Police say Mims was wanted in connection with a shooting and arson in Duncan, S.C.

An N.C. Highway Patrol officer told NewsChannel 36 that Mims is believed to have shot his estranged wife and her teenage daughter at about 3:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Authorities in Spartanburg County, where the shooting and arson took place, told reporters that Mims' estranged wife was shot and killed, and the woman's daughter was injured and hospitalized. The names of the victims have not been released.

Tony Ivey, a spokesman for the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office, said Mims is being charged with murder, assault and arson. He was jailed in Davidson County but is expected to be returned to South Carolina.

The series of events began about 3:30 a.m., when the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office said it received a 911 call about shootings at a house in the 900 block of Terrace Drive, near Duncan, S.C. When deputies arrived, they discovered the house was on fire.

A short time later, authorities in Cherokee County spotted a truck described as the getaway vehicle northbound on I-85 near Gaffney, S.C. The S.C. Highway Patrol started pursuing the Ford F-150 pickup truck, through Cherokee County and across the state line into North Carolina.

The N.C. Highway Patrol and other law enforcement units were alerted and supported South Carolina authorities as the pursuit moved through Cleveland and Gaston counties. Before 5 a.m., the truck and pursing police cars moved through the Charlotte area. N.C. Department of Transportation cameras along I-85 captured images of the truck being pursued by police.

During the pursuit, according to several sources, the man in the truck fired shots at police.

The chase continued through Cabarrus and Rowan counties. The N.C. Highway Patrol said it placed stop sticks on northbound I-85 near mile marker 58 in Rowan County. Troopers say those devices managed to blow out one or two of the front tires on the truck, but the man continued heading northbound.

The driver of a tractor-trailer told Winston-Salem TV station WXII that the white pickup truck passed him, driving on a rim and three tires, on northbound I-85 in southern Davidson County.

Finally, about 5:30 a.m., the truck came to a stop on I-85 near mile marker 91, in Lexington. Surrounded by police cars, the man stayed in the truck, refusing demands to surrender. Sometime after 7:30 a.m., an armored vehicle belonging to the High Point Police Department was called to the scene.

Troopers say Mims surrendered about 8:30 a.m.

Interstate 85 was reopened a short time later.

Lake George, NY: Man killed, officer wounded in Lake George shootout

By Don Lehman | Posted: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 11:45 am | (31) Comments

LAKE GEORGE -- A Lake George man with a long history of violence shot two police officers early Tuesday, prompting the officers to return fire and kill him after a wild car chase from Warrensburg to Lake George.
The bullet-proof vest of one officer, Warren County sheriff's Sgt. Greg Riley, saved him from injury, while the other officer, sheriff's Sgt. Ralph Bartlett, suffered an abdominal injury that required 18 stitches, authorities said.
The shooter, Patrick E. Penders, 59, of Bloody Pond Road, was being sought by police after he fired five shots from a handgun into the side door of his ex-girlfriend's home on Monte Vista Drive in Warrensburg late Monday night.
That started a wild car chase that ended with Penders dying in a hail of bullets near the intersection of routes 9 and 9N after he stopped his Dodge sport-utility vehicle, got out and began firing a large-caliber handgun at the officers who were pursuing him.
Several officers returned fire, and Penders suffered at least one serious head injury. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Warren County Sheriff Bud York said.
Bartlett was treated at Glens Falls Hospital and released, while Riley did not require hospital treatment.
Officials said it appears the gunshot that injured Bartlett hit the canister of pepper spray attached to his belt, causing it to explode. It was unclear if the bullet or shrapnel from the canister caused his injury, officials said
York said it was not known when Bartlett would return to work, but that he was doing well later Tuesday. Bartlett was on administrative leave as of Tuesday afternoon.
"It's a very traumatic experience. We want to make sure physically and emotionally he's OK," York said of Bartlett.
Riley was hit in the chest, but it was unclear if he remained on duty later Tuesday. Both officers work the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.
Penders is known to police. He had been to state prison twice for violent incidents, including a 1993 standoff during which he fired gunshots at state troopers in Fort Ann.
He served nearly six years in prison in that case, and remained out of serious trouble until late Monday.
‘Low-speed chase'
Police gave the following account of the shootout that began late Monday and ended just after 12 a.m. Tuesday:
Warren County's emergency dispatch center received a 911 call at 11:38 p.m., reporting gunshots fired through a side door at 27 Monte Vista Dr. in Warrensburg. No one was injured, and police were told to watch for an older-model gray sport-utility vehicle.
Warren County sheriff's officers and state troopers responded, and the SUV was spotted heading south on Schroon River Road. One of the officers set up "Stop Sticks," spike-tipped mats designed to deflate car tires, and the SUV ran over them, causing one tire to deflate.
The driver kept going though, making his way on Route 9 at what York termed "low" speeds. More Stop Sticks were set up on Canada Street in the village of Lake George, and two more of the SUV's tires were flattened.
The driver kept going, eventually stopping just after he turned right from Route 9 to Route 9N, headed toward Lake Luzerne.
It was then that he got out of the SUV, pointed a large-caliber revolver at the pursuing officers and began firing. At least two sheriff's officers and three troopers were in vehicles that stopped behind Penders' vehicle, and they returned fire from about 30 feet away.
One of the sheriff's officers fired an M-4 assault rifle that patrol cars carry, authorities said.
York said it was unclear who shot Penders or how many times he was hit. That will be determined during an autopsy that was planned for late Tuesday at Albany Medical Center.
An acquaintance of Penders' said he was drunk Monday night, and police said toxicology tests will be performed to determine whether he was intoxicated.
York said it appeared the officers acted appropriately, but the Sheriff's Office and State Police were continuing to investigate the events later Tuesday.
"They only fired after they were shot at. ... He was aiming at them," York said. "All initial appearances are that there was nothing that was done that was not according to procedure."
Speaking at a Tuesday morning press conference that was attended by several members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, York said there was no indication that Penders left behind any notes or made any statements to police during the chase or shooting.
Holes in the door
The chase started after Penders drove to the 27 Monte Vista Drive, Warrensburg home of his ex-girlfriend, Rochelle Gussow, shortly after 11 p.m. Monday. Monte Vista Drive is a small dead-end road in the north end of town with fewer than a dozen homes.
Jim Wells, who lives next door to Gussow, said he saw an SUV drive down the road -- "like he was creeping" -- and stop at Gussow's home.
Minutes later he heard a "boom" that he said he thought came from a shotgun, then four more noises he thought were gunshots as well. Five minutes or so later, the SUV slowly left.
"He didn't leave in a hurry," Wells said.
Wells said he went next door and found Gussow and her daughter uninjured, with five holes in a side door to their home. Some of the shots went into the floor of the home, he said.
Police said a large-caliber handgun, possibly a .357-caliber Magnum, was used to shoot the home.
"It was quite a shock," said Wells' mother, Sue Wells. "Nothing like that goes on up here."
Gussow works at the Rite-Aid store in Lake George, less than a mile from Penders' home. He met her at the store and they began dating last summer, friends said.
Wells said he did not know Penders and had not known him to have caused any trouble at Gussow's home before Monday night.
Yellow police "crime scene" tape blocked the driveway to the home through Tuesday morning, and a sheriff's officer was guarding it.
A young woman who answered the door at Gussow's home later Tuesday said Gussow did not want to discuss the attack.

Oakland, CA: Arrests Made After Gunfire Erupts At Oakland Funeral

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Five people were under arrest Tuesday night after shots were fired at an Oakland church during a funeral for an 18-year-old man who was allegedly killed last week by his teenage girlfriend at his birthday party.
The shooting triggered panic and a large brawl erupted involving hundreds of people, some of whom police said were armed.
Oakland Police spokesman Officer Jeff Thomason said the shooting took place around 12:33 p.m. at Oakland’s Cosmopolitan Baptist Church.
A funeral was being held at the church for Davante Riley, 18, who was shot and killed at a party at an apartment in the 2200 block of East 20th Street early the morning of April 18.
Oakland Police Lt. Ersie Joyner said hundreds of people were attending the service and officers arrived to find a "huge melee" in the street. About 300 people were involved, some armed with guns.
Oakland resident Chris Hawkins said gunshots rang out, spreading panic.
“I saw people leaving, then they came running back,” said Hawkins. “They said someone had a gun and everyone ran.”
Richard Williams, another Oakland resident, dropped to floor when he heard the gunshots.
“We heard boom, boom,” Williams said. “Sounded like a .22 to me. I just hit the floor. I stayed down and it started again. I hid behind a podium.”
A call for additional officers immediately went out and a large response was made. Some officers were likely from a massive parolee sweep under way all day Tuesday in the nearby neighborhood.
Police said while it didn’t appear anyone was hit by gunfire, two people were taken to the hospital: one for anxiety, the other, a pregnant woman who was having complications.
Police arrested three people in connection with the shooting and two people officers said were involved in the fight.
A 15-year-old girl has been arrested and charged with murder for Riley's slaying. Her identity has not been revealed by authorities because of her age.
Meanwhile, the shootout at the funeral unsettled the entire neighborhood as the incident forced lockdowns at two adjoining schools only a block away. A number of understandably tense parents were stranded trying to pick up their children outside the school grounds.
“I don't know what's going on,” said panicked parent Victor Cruz, whose five-year-old was inside one of the new Highland and Rise Community Schools that share a campus on 85th Avenue. “We have no information.”
A padlocked fence kept Cruz and other parents from reaching their children while police tried to quell the violence down the street.
“I’m worried about my baby,” said parent Nacole Schackelford. “She comes first. She is the only one I got.”
The students and teachers inside could hear the shots, sirens and helicopters overhead.
“They said there were gunshots in the neighborhood and that was enough for me,” said Principal Liz Ozol.
She locked down the school to try to ensure the safety of the children. Shades were drawn and teachers refused to open their locked classroom doors.
“It was shocking at the beginning but, we stayed calm and played a game,” said kindergarten teacher Covi Valera. “Like we had to hide and we had to be quiet and, if we did, they were going to get a prize.”
Finally, after two hours, police unlocked the gate and parents rushed in to scoop up their children.

Beulaville, NC: Police: man shoots, kills girlfriend

Submitted by Kevin Wuzzardo on Tue, 04/27/2010 - 11:16am.

BEULAVILLE, NC (WWAY) -- A domestic dispute turned deadly last night Duplin County. 45-year-old Beverly Knowles is dead after police say her boyfriend shot and killed her around 9 p.m.

Right now, investigators have the suspect, 42-year-old Carlus Langston, behind bars with no bond. Beulaville police say the woman's 14-year-old child made the 911 call to get help from police.

An autopsy was was scheduled for this morning.

Oceanside, CA: Couple dead in apparent murder-suicide, police say

By MORGAN COOK | Posted: April 27, 2010 4:08 pm | (5) Comments | Print

A couple were found dead inside their Fire Mountain home Tuesday in what appears to be a murder-suicide, an Oceanside police sergeant said.
Records show the home at 2464 Fire Mountain Drive belonged to John A. and Barbara C. McWorthy, and neighbors confirmed the two lived there.
A co-worker of one of the residents called police Tuesday concerned because the person had not come to work, Sgt. Jeff Brandt said. Police went to the house at 12:45 p.m. and entered to find the deceased pair, Brandt said.
After speaking with investigators, neighbor Traci Newcomb said she was surprised and saddened by what they told her.
"They were wonderful neighbors," Newcomb said as tears began to fill her eyes. "It's just a terrible loss."
Sgt. Karen Laser would not give any identifying information about the victims, including their genders, ages or relationship. She said police were not searching for other suspects and did not believe a suspect was at large.
Oceanside homicide detectives obtained a search warrant for the home and were investigating Tuesday evening, Brandt said.
Felicity May, a neighbor, said the couple were in their 60s.

Plantation, FL: Plantation police: Dead woman was likely victim of murder-suicide

Guilouse Cenatus, 37, thought to have been shot by estranged husband
April 27, 2010|By Alexia Campbell and Sofia Santana, Sun Sentinel
PLANTATION — A woman who was shot dead at an apartment complex Monday night was likely killed by her estranged husband who later committed suicide, police said.

Guilouse Cenatus, 37, was found dead on the sidewalk outside an apartment building in the Plantation Gardens complex, located in the 7600 block of Northwest Fifth Street, Police Detective Phil Toman said.

Several people at the complex said it looked like Cenatus was shot as she ran out of an apartment in her underwear about 9 p.m.

At about 9:24 p.m., authorities were called about a suicide at the Pompano Beach Cemetery at 400 S. Federal Highway. Cenatus' estranged husband, Wilbert Lormeus, 39, had shot and killed himself, police said.

It appears that the estranged couple died in a murder-suicide, Toman said.

Detectives are awaiting autopsy and ballistic test results.

The couple were married in March 2003, according to state records.

Lormeus was facing trial Aug. 6 for a child abuse charge in Boynton Beach, records showed. The charge stemmed from Lormeus striking his 9-year-old son Feb. 26 with a belt on the inside of his arm, leaving a welt, police said. Lormeus, arrested two days later, admitted to the beating, saying it was a form of discipline, according to his arrest report. His son told police it wasn't the first time Lormeus struck him with the belt.

Lormeus told police he struck his child for "horsing around with a younger sibling" that ended up with that sibling being hurt, the report said.

The couple had recently lived with three children at the picturesque townhome community of Parkside Village in Boynton Beach, where neighbors recalled a spat within the last month between Guilouse Cenatus and Wilbert Lormeus.

Cenatus came by to drop off two of her children with Lormeus, then sped off after arguing outside their home. It seemed she had moved out with two of the three children about a month ago, said a neighbor, Katarina Lucas, who was shocked to learn about the murder and suicide.

"Oh, my god, I can't believe it. So, what's going to happen to the kids now?" she said.

Another neighbor said he saw Lormeus cleaning his car and talking on the phone Monday and he seemed fine. He said the husband and wife usually kept to themselves.

Staff Writers Erika Pesantes and Jerome Burdi contributed to this report.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Anchorage, AL: Soldier killed wife, daughter, police say

Preliminary autopsy findings have determined Spc. Kip Lynch, a 21-year-old military policeman, was responsible for the double homicide at the family's South Anchorage apartment, police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker said.

Lynch also shot himself and remains hospitalized in critical condition, Parker said. Police have not been able to talk to him, he said.

Authorities went to look for Lynch on Monday morning after he failed to report for duty. Two military police officers knocked on the door of his home in the 9900 block of William Jones Circle and got no answer, so a landlord let them in about 7:30 a.m. Monday.

They found the bodies of Lynch's wife, 19-year-old Racquell Lynch -- who goes by Kellie -- and their daughter, 8-month-old Kyirsta Lynch. They had been shot to death, police said.

Anchorage police arriving on the scene later discovered Kip Lynch critically injured with a gunshot wound in another part of the apartment in an eight-plex. He was rushed to Providence Alaska Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery for life-threatening injuries, according to police.

Kip Lynch, of Jacksonville, Fla., serves with the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, at Fort Richardson and just two months ago returned from the brigade's yearlong deployment in Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.

According to the Army, Lynch enlisted in September 2007 and went to boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He got to Fort Richardson in March 2008, and his unit deployed to Afghanistan in February and March of 2009.

Lynch returned from war in February, according to the Army.

Kip Lynch's mother, Terri Lynch of Jacksonville, Fla., on Monday said she was coming to Anchorage this week. The family released a short statement Tuesday through a family friend, Elizabeth Scarborough, in which they said they are still in shock at the deaths and trying to figure out how to deal with the tragedy.

"Kip proudly served his country in the Army in Afghanistan and had just returned home," the family said. "His family remembers him as a strong, spirited, good-humored and sweet young man. He loved his beautiful wife and daughter with all his heart. Words cannot express how much we will miss them."

The family declined to answer questions.

Find James Halpin online at or call him at 257-4589.

Toledo, OH: Jury finds husband not guilty in wife's death


After deliberating nearly 20 hours over three days, a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury Monday found Johnnie Johnson not guilty of charges related to the death of his wife.
Johnson, 42, of 2030 Ashland Ave. was charged with two alternate counts of murder for the strangulation death of his wife, April Nicole Johnson. Ms. Johnson, 24, had been found unconscious and unresponsive in a central-city alley on May 23. She died four days later.
After the verdict, Judge Linda Jennings released Johnson from custody. He was led from the courtroom by deputies who transferred him back to the jail, where he was to be released.
Defense attorney Myron Duhart was out of town and unavailable for comment. Assistant county prosecutors Andy Lastra and Rob Miller declined comment.
Julie and Roger Bradford, Ms. Johnson's mother and stepfather, were angry and distraught after the verdict and declined to comment.
Several witnesses testified during the trial, including law enforcement officers, medical personnel, and residents of the neighborhood around the alley near Bancroft and Fulton streets, where Ms. Johnson's body was found. Ms. Johnson died of complications caused by strangulation.
Assistant prosecutors presented a case of opportunity, saying that Johnson was the one who had the chance to cause the injuries based on witness statements. The defense countered that Ms. Johnson was a known drug user and prostitute who was known to ply her trade in the alley where she was found.

Mr. Duhart asked about the many other people Ms. Johnson could have encountered as part of her dealings with drugs and prostitution. He asked jurors to question the state's case and consider the "other side of the story," which included Johnson looking for his wife on the night she was attacked and finding her unconscious in an alley.
The jury of seven women and five men began deliberating Thursday afternoon and worked late Friday before returning yesterday to reach the verdict.
The trial was the second time Johnson put his fate before a jury. Judge Jennings declared a mistrial Feb. 25, on day three of the trial after it was discovered that a piece of evidence had mistakenly not been given to the defense prior to the trial's start.
After the mistrial, Mrs. Bradford shared some thoughts about her daughter, saying there was more to the young woman than what was heard in court. Acknowledging her daughter had problems with drugs and had been "influenced by bad people," she said Ms. Johnson was someone who did not care for material possession but instead cared about helping others.
"[April] is a kind and gentle person," Mrs. Bradford wrote in a statement she had hoped to read one day to the judge. "She loved everyone unconditionally and everyone that knows her loved her."
Contact Erica Blake at:
or 419-213-2134.

Springfield Township, OH: Husband admits he killed wife

By Kimball Perry

A Springfield Township man admitted Monday he drove a vehicle that backed over and killed his wife in the couple’s driveway July 26, 2008.

Michael Barnes, 36, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide in exchange for prosecutors dropping murder and felonious assault charges in the same incident.

“He was drunk,” Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Kevin Hardman said.

Barnes told police he and his wife, Tawnya Barnes, 32, were arguing because he had been drinking and was getting into his 2002 Ford Explorer to drive away. Knowing he had been drinking, his wife tried to stop him.

As Michael Barnes backed out of his driveway in the vehicle, he apparently ran over and killed his wife. He told police he backed out of the driveway as he routinely did and knew nothing was wrong until he returned later and saw a shadow in the driveway. That shadow was his wife’s body.

The couple was married four years and had no children.

The plea agreement, which was approved by the dead woman’s family, will result in Barnes serving a minimum of two years in prison, but Common Pleas Court Judge Jody Luebbers can send him for as much as eight years at the May 27 sentencing. The pleas allowed Barnes to avoid a murder charge and the accompanying potential life sentence.

The conviction also carries a lifetime driver’s license suspension.

Tawnya Barnes was a graduate of Lakota High School and was attending Miami University-Middletown and working at a Middletown bank branch.

Jackson, TN: Murder case against Woods will likely go to trial

The case of a Jackson man accused of killing his girlfriend more than a year ago is likely to go to trial, the assistant district attorney general told a judge Monday morning.

Jeremiah Woods, 22, who was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder in the slaying of Sherry Cook in August, appeared in Circuit Court.

Assistant District Attorney General Shaun Brown told Judge Don Allen that, after talking to Cook’s family, it looks as if the case will go to trial June 1. Woods’ plea cut-off date was reset to 8:30 a.m. May 24.

Cook, 28, of Jackson, was reported missing by her family Jan. 10, 2009. She had been missing for 13 days before Woods led police to her body in a field in the 1600 block of Dr. F.E. Wright Drive.

Investigators have said Woods told them he stabbed Cook with a box cutter and that he planned the slaying because he was tired of her.

Woods is being held at the Madison County Jail without bond.

Las Vegas, NV: Family overcome with emotions at scene of apparent murder-suicide

Updated: Apr 27, 2010 3:02 AM EDT

North Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - Family members couldn't contain their anguish at the scene of an apparent murder - suicide in North Las Vegas. Police discovered the bodies of a male and female, both identified by authorities as in their 30's, on Monday afternoon in the 300 block of Copper Pine Avenue. That's near 5th Street and El Campo Grande Avenue.

Police received a 911 call from the home at 1:19pm about an argument at the house. When police arrived at the home they knocked on the door and nobody answered. Police then left.

At 2:06pm police received another 911 call from the home about a fight in progress. Shots were reportedly fired during the call. When officers arrived, they went into the home and found two people dead.

Family members identify the two as boyfriend and girlfriend.

"We know he shot her then turned around and shot himself," said Patricia Reeves, aunt of the woman killed. "Jealousy. He loved her so much that I guess he killed her."

Patricia Reeves identifies her niece as a mother of three. She says two children were inside the home as this violence was unraveling.

"I'd advise any woman that's out there, leave those jealous mans alone," Reeves went on to say.

Several relatives broke down at the scene and were treated by arriving ambulances for emotional distress.

It's unclear who placed both 911 calls from inside the home. Police also say a third 911 call was made from outside the home.

While it's confirmed that shots were fired in this dispute, police will not say what injuries led to these two deaths.

Autopsy results are pending from the Clark County Coroner's Office.

Orange County, CA: O.C. Man Shoots Wife In Face, Kills Himself

Police say Joseph Jacobo shot his wife in the face and then turned the gun on himself.
This home in Orange was the scene of a deadly domestic dispute Sunday night. Today, contractors were seen cleaning up the crime scene here on the 1600 block of north Fern Street.

Police say the man who lived inside was 43 year old Joseph Jacobo. Investigators say Jacobo got in an argument with his wife.

The 9-year old daughter called 911. And that's when dispatchers heard gunshots.

"There was cops everywhere, they said to get back in the house. There were shots fired and so we ran back inside," says a neighbor named Misty.

Misty lives across the street. She didn't want to show her face, but she said the commotion lasted for several hours.

"Police officers kept coming through the backyard and kind of stationing themselves on the roof and other places," said Misty.

Jacobo's wife and his two children were able to escape through a side gate. SWAT officers entered the home around 3 and found Jacobo dead from a self-inflicted gun shot wound.

"When I found out it was domestic, which was this morning, I was surprised, really surprised," says neighbor Valerie Naef.

Some neighbors told us, the couple didn't create any problems in the community. Police say they weren't aware of any previous disturbance calls to the house.

"It's just a really quiet, everybody knows everybody type neighborhood. Just a really nice neighborhood," says Naef.

The two children, ages 5 and 9, are staying with relatives.

Jacobo's wife is still recovering from the gunshot wounds to her face and her arm.

Police say she's in stable condition and it's not known when she'll be released form the hospital.

In Orange, I'm Melissa Mecija reporting for

Fort Myers, FL: Woman gets 25 years for killing husband

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A Lehigh Acres woman has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for fatally shooting her husband in 2008.
A Lee County judge sentenced 26-year-old Amber Roberts on Monday after she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Authorities say Roberts shot her husband John Roberts in August 2008 several times. She then duct-taped herself and her children to make it look like someone else had attacked the family.
Roberts later confessed to shooting her husband.

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North East, MD: Cecil Co. man charged with girlfriend's murder

Woman died Monday morning as a result of assault
April 26, 2010|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun
A Cecil County man has been charged with murder after Maryland State Police say he assaulted his girlfriend who died Monday morning of her injuries.

David A. Barton, 23, of North East faces charges including second-degree murder and manslaughter as well as assault, according to state police.

Based on the preliminary investigation, police say Barton assaulted his girlfriend of six years, Tracy M. Weichert, 23, in the home they shared between Friday and Sunday.

He took her to to Union Hospital in Elkton with abdominal pain at about 6 p.m. Sunday. Later that night she was transferred to Christiana Hospital in Delaware, where she died at about 6 a.m. Monday. Christiana Hospital staff called police to report that she may have been assaulted.

According to police, there was no documented history of abuse or open protective orders. Barton is unemployed, police said.

The Wilmington, Del. medical examiner will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Roswell, NM: NM man arrested in 2003 slaying of estranged wife

Associated Press - April 26, 2010 10:55 PM ET

CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico authorities say an arrest has been made in a Chaves County cold-case homicide investigation.

Authorities say 37-year-old Ramon Bravo was taken into custody without incident Monday in connection with the 2003 slaying of his estranged wife in Roswell.

Roswell police say 27-year-old Susan Amos-Bravo was found dead at her home on April 26, 2003. Police later learned that the night before, she had asked Ramon Bravo to sign divorce papers.

Prosecutors say Ramon Bravo faces life in prison if he's convicted. He's jailed on a $500,000 cash bond and will be arraigned in a 5th Judicial District Court within the next 10 days.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dekalb County, IN: Inmate kills self in DeKalb County jai

Michael ZennieThe Journal Gazette

A man facing charges of domestic battery and methamphetamine suffocated himself to death with a plastic bag in the DeKalb County Jail early Saturday, authorities said.

Robert Warstler, 30, of Auburn, was found unresponsive in his cell with a garbage bag over his head about 2 a.m. during an hourly jail inspection, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department said.

After trying to resuscitate him, DeKalb County EMS medics pronounced Warstler dead. DeKalb County Coroner Jeff Warner ruled his death a suicide.

Warstler was in jail awaiting jury trials on two cases from September. He was facing charges, among others, of dealing meth and domestic battery with a child present.

Orange County, FL: Man Kills Girlfriend, Kills Two Others During Chase

Posted: 8:51 am EDT April 25, 2010
Updated: 4:26 pm EDT April 25, 2010

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- Three people are dead after a man stabbed his girlfriend and led police on a chase that ended in a deadly crash.
Just before 11:00 Saturday night Orange County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the intersection of Dean Road and Blanchard Trail. According to witnesses the victim said her boyfriend stabbed her and hit her with his car.
The victim, 35-year-old Berlitz Alvelo, was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center where she later died.
Deputies spotted the suspect, 25-year-old Jose Antonio Maisonet-Maldonado, at the intersection of University Boulevard and Goldenrod Road. Massanet sped off when he saw deputies, leading them on a chase into downtown Orlando.
Eyewitnesses along Colonial Drive said they saw deputies following a few seconds behind the suspect and then heard the crash.
"A white BMW X5 just flew by, well over 100 and then we just heard popping and I guess it went airborne after these tracks" said Luis Alva.
Maisonet-Maldonado crashed into two cars stopped on Colonial Drive at I-4. The drivers of both cars were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. 22-year-old Francesca Jeffery and 28-year-old Amanda Taylor, both passengers in one of the cars, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Maisonet-Maldonado was taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries. He will be charged with 1st degree murder and two counts of vehicular homicide.

Middle Township, NJ: I'm not 'a rapist or a murderer'

Philadelphia Daily News 856-779-3231

ON THE ONE-YEAR anniversary of his wife's mysterious death, Michael Wayne Williams sat in the Atlantic County Jail with a wedding ring on his finger, a stack of investigative files under his arm, and a whole lot of trouble on his mind.

Wanted for allegedly raping a woman at knifepoint in Wildwood on April 21, 2009, Williams was arrested the following day outside a Middle Township, N.J., hotel. When police went inside his room, they found his wife, Ebony Flanders, dead.

Flanders' family blames Williams, a man authorities say has used 10 aliases and seven Social Security numbers while amassing a lengthy criminal record, but he's never been charged or named as a suspect. Williams said he loved his wife, despite his infidelities, and denies having anything to do with her death. His strongest denials centered on the rape charge, though, which could land him in prison for decades if he's convicted.

"There are two things that I'm not, and that's a rapist or a murderer," the 30-year-old said Thursday from jail. "I've lost my wife and my freedom. It's been pretty stressful."

The Cape May Prosecutor's Office told the Daily News that the cause and manner of death for Flanders remains undetermined and has said little else about the case over the last year.

"It's a pending investigation, it's an ongoing investigation, and that's really all we can say about it," said Capt. Eugene Taylor, of the prosecutor's office.

Williams was set to go on trial Monday in Cape May County for the rape case, but that's been pushed back because he was recently charged with witness tampering stemming from a letter he wrote in relation to the incident.

Police say that Williams posed as a social worker to gain entry to a woman's apartment in Wildwood on the afternoon of April 21, 2009. Once inside, they say he brandished a 12-inch kitchen knife, took the woman into the bedroom, and raped her.

Williams admits to having sex with the woman and said it happened on three other occasions, all consensually. He claims the woman invited him in, offered to make him spaghetti and meatballs, and led him into the bedroom. He thinks she fabricated the incident after her boyfriend showed up and grew suspicious.

"I'm being set up," he said.

According to investigative reports Williams obtained through discovery, the woman's young daughter said she witnessed the rape through a hole in a wall and by looking beneath the bedroom door. When investigators inspected the apartment, according to a report that Williams showed a reporter, a dresser was blocking the hole in the wall and nothing could be seen by looking through the crack between the floor and the door.

The girl also said she was screaming while Williams chased her around the apartment with the knife when she threatened to call police. At some point during the incident, the woman's boyfriend knocked on the apartment door and left when Williams answered and told him the woman wasn't available.

The boyfriend was also there later when Williams returned to retrieve a cell phone he had left. The victim's boyfriend never mentions in the report that he heard screaming when he knocked, Williams said, or that anyone had seemed upset when he returned to the home later.

"Wouldn't this little girl have been traumatized and sobbing after seeing mommy raped and having a guy chase her around the house with a big knife?" the father of four asked.

Williams also pointed to a letter, written in October, in which a neighbor said the alleged victim told him she had made the incident up. When investigators followed up on it though, the man said he had written the letter because Williams was going to help him get bailed out of jail.

Williams' attorney, Stephen Patrick, did not return multiple phone calls for comment over the last several months, but said in a prior hearing in Cape May County, that the rape case against Williams was not as "airtight" as prosecutors claimed.

Shelina Flanders, Ebony's sister, said she received a letter from Williams recently and she stared at it for weeks before getting up the nerve to open it.

"He said he was innocent, he asked how the kids were, and he was asking if I could send him pictures of Ebony," said Flanders, 31. "I made a copy of it and gave it to police. I believe he's guilty. I think he did it."

Flanders said neither investigators nor the Southern Regional Medical Examiner's Office seem to know how her sister died. Flanders said there were no visible signs of trauma found during the autopsy and toxicology testing found nothing in her sister's system.

"They said they've tried everything they could. They even sent specimens to the FBI," she said.

Lt. Lynne Frame, of the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office, said in an e-mail that the "manner of death is undetermined," but did not mention the cause. On Thursday, Williams said the prosecutor's office had cleared him of any wrongdoing in the death of his wife, claiming she had died of natural causes.

"I don't know what happened," he said. "She stopped breathing in her sleep."

When asked to respond to Williams' claim, Frame said "the investigation into the death of Ebony Flanders is ongoing and the cause of her death is undetermined."

The Southern Regional Medical Examiner's Office referred all phone calls to the state's Division of Criminal Justice. That office had not responded to a public-information request filed earlier this week to the cause and manner of Ebony's death.

Meanwhile, Shelina Flanders continues to raise three of her sister's seven children, and can't move past images of Ebony, dead in a hotel room, with a man Shelina said she wanted to divorce.

"It's really mind-boggling that we're on a year now and we don't have closure," she said. "We still have no idea what happened to my sister."

Hot Springs, AR: Trial at Hot Springs, Ark., ends with murder conviction, life sentence

By Associated Press
8:20 PM CDT, April 24, 2010
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — A Garland County jury has convicted a Hot Springs man of capital murder in the 2008 slaying of his ex-girlfriend.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty for 28-year-old Calvin Washington Jr. After his conviction Friday, Circuit Judge Marcia Hearnsberger imposed the only other sentence allowed under state law, life in prison without parole.

Washington was accused of killing 27-year-old Crystalle Jones, with whom Washington had been living until a falling-out a few weeks before her Oct. 4, 2008, death. She was slain outside the apartment they had shared.

Lehigh, FL: Lehigh brothers killed in shootings, one after firing on deputies

By Evangelia Ganosellis

Two brothers died minutes apart early Saturday in separate shootings - one involving Lee County sheriff's deputies.

The deputy-involved shooting was the second this year.

According to the sheriff's office, deputies responded to a call shortly before 2 a.m. on La Plata Avenue in south Lehigh Acres, near State Road 82.

Upon arrival, they found a critically injured man, 44-year-old Alexander Alfonso, in the driveway. He died moments later.

After securing the scene, deputies entered the home and came across an armed man, 41-year-old Arnold Alfonso, who opened fire on deputies. Law enforcement shot and killed Alfonso. No deputies were injured.

The sheriff's office hasn't revealed where the two men were shot or how many deputies were involved.

The first deputy-involved shooting of the year happened earlier this month.

On April 1, a deputy, yet to be named, shot and killed Timothy Baum, 54, outside his Bonita Springs home. Deputies said Baum was armed.

John Sheehan, Lee sheriff's spokesman, couldn't confirm who was responsible for the shooting that resulted in Alexander Alfonso's death in the driveway.

One other adult, who hasn't been named, was in the home at the time of the shooting, he said.

The sheriff's office responded to a domestic disturbance call at the same address at 3:28 a.m. last Sunday, according to a crime incident database. A report of that incident wasn't available Saturday.

The neighborhood where the burnt-orange-colored, single-story house sits consists of vacant lots and a sprinkling of single-family homes, many of which are for sale or have been abandoned.

Valerie Wright, who lives one block west of La Plata, said a shooting in the neighborhood does not surprise her. Her home was broken into in 2004, before she even moved in, and again in 2006.

"You hate to be judgmental, but we don't seem to have a high-caliber of people who move here," said Wright, 29.

A sign posted on the garage where the Alfonsos lived reads, "Iya Mile Botanica," a Lehigh Acres business that sells alternative medicines, followed by two phone numbers. A woman reached at one of those numbers Saturday night said she knew the brothers, but declined to talk about them.

Alexander Alfonso had previous listed addresses in Homestead, while Arnold Alfonso had former addresses in Miami and Hialeah, according to a public records search.

Both Alfonso brothers had criminal records in the Miami-Dade area, but none in Lee County.

In November 2000, both men were charged with assault, but the charges were dropped.

Arnold Alfonso had a criminal record dating to 1987, with charges including theft and resisting arrest with violence - although he was never convicted on those charges. He was convicted on two counts of burglary in 1990.

More recently, he was charged with carrying a concealed firearm and cocaine possession in November 2006, and cocaine possession again in May 2007.

A hearing was scheduled June 17 in Miami for the 2006 and 2007 charges.

On Saturday evening, the Alfonsos' home remained taped off as a crime scene, with a deputy parked in the driveway.

The sheriff's major crimes unit is still investigating the circumstances of the shootings.

Miami, FL: Ex-con, girlfriend arrested in 'horrific' beating of Dade police



An ex-con with a history of violence beat a Miami-Dade detective in the head with a cinder block, kicked him in the head and chest and ran him over with his unmarked police car, police said Saturday.
Miami-Dade Police Department Director James Loftus called the beating ``horrific.''
``Don't ask me to explain this, and don't ask me to understand this,'' Loftus told reporters at a press conference Saturday afternoon. ``Because I don't get it. It should horrify us all.''
Michael Paul Robertson was arrested Saturday morning for the attack Friday evening in Liberty City, which left Carlos Castillo with severe head and brain injuries and several broken bones. Robertson's girlfriend was arrested as an accomplice.
Robertson, 33, knew he was wanted by Miami police. That's probably why he fled after being pulled over Friday night in Liberty City, Loftus said. But Robertson, already wanted for shooting a gun during an argument with the mother of his child, returned -- with a cinder block.
Robertson came up behind Castillo, who had stopped Robertson and his girlfriend, and slammed the block into the uniformed officer's head with such force that police said it broke into pieces.
Castillo, 37, crumpled to the street, where police said Robertson kicked him in the head and chest. Then he jumped into Castillo's unmarked black Dodge Charger, and ran the detective over.
Monica Banks, 25, had been handcuffed by Castillo and watched as her boyfriend attacked the detective. She later was uncooperative and lied to police when questioned, Loftus said.
Robertson drove away in the Charger, leaving the detective in a pool of blood. Castillo was so covered in blood that officers who arrived at the scene minutes later thought he'd been shot, Loftus said.
Castillo, a 15-year veteran of the force and currently part of the robbery intervention unit, was transported to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami. The assault left him with multiple skull fractures, brain injuries, a liver laceration, seven broken ribs and a spine injury, among other wounds. Castillo remained in critical but stable condition Saturday evening.
Police found Robertson hiding in a nearby home soon after the incident. Someone told police where Robertson was hiding, Loftus said, and that he wanted to turn himself in.
He and his girlfriend were charged Saturday morning with attempted first-degree murder. Robertson also has been charged with robbery/carjacking, aggravated assault with a firearm, and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Robertson has served prison time and probation time for burglary, grand theft and other charges, Miami-Dade court records show.
``It goes to show the dangers of the streets,'' said John Rivera, president of the Police Benevolent Association. ``I just hope that not only the public, but the politicians, realize that cutting public safety only helps the criminals.''
Miami Herald staff writer Jennifer Lebovich contributed to this report.

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Denton, TX: Murder suspect’s fate subject of debate

12:05 AM CDT on Sunday, April 25, 2010
By Donna Fielder / Staff Writer
Daniela Coronado was 17 years old when she died in her bed with an electrical cord tight around her neck.

Courtesy photo
Daniela Coronado was found dead in her bed on Oct. 24, 2007, in Denton. Pedro Blancas is accused of killing her. His parents say he has died in Mexico.
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She left an 11-month-old baby boy who can’t remember her more than two years later. She left a grieving mother, two sisters and numerous other relatives who can’t forget the way she died and that the man accused of murdering her is free.

Pedro Blancas left the country.

Now Blancas’ parents, who live in Denton, say he has died, and his name has been read on a list of the dead during Mass at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church the past two weeks. He was buried in Morelita, Mexico, his father told police, adding that he had been too busy to attend the funeral.

Daniela Coronado’s relatives don’t believe it.

“They are pretending he is dead,” said Daniela’s sister Brenda Coronado. “In Mexico, as long as you give money, you can get what you want.”

Pedro Blancas’ parents, Amalia Perez and Pedro Blancas Sr., could not be reached for comment.

Denton police say they are skeptical about Pedro Blancas’ alleged death. They are working with the FBI to try to prove or disprove his father’s story.

Pedro Blancas
“I find it hard to believe they would have these Masses here and yet not go down there for a funeral or bring his body back,” Capt. Lenn Carter said. “Some of his family members lied to us at the time of the murder to give him time to get away. We believe a family member drove him to Mexico.”

Carter said FBI agents will work with Mexican officials to determine the truth.

“If we find he is not dead, we will step up our efforts to find him,” Carter said. “We are not going to stop looking.”

The young couple knew each other in high school, Daniela’s sisters say. Then Blancas went to jail on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and fleeing police, and he began writing to her. She wrote back. When he was released, they began dating. She became pregnant.

Her sister Sandra Almaguer allowed Daniela to stay with her, and Blancas stayed there often.

“He didn’t act as mean as he was,” said her aunt Sandra Vallejo. “He was very quiet.”

“We treated him with respect because she liked him,” said her mother, Berta Vallejo. “We never saw him be mean to her.”

But they say they saw the results of his temper on Aug. 9, 2007, when Daniela came to a family get-together with bruises on her face and a mark around her neck. The family has a photograph showing the injuries. She broke up with Blancas and notified police.

A witness told police that he saw Blancas sitting on top of Daniela, strangling her with a television cord and screaming that he was going to kill her. The witness struggled with the man, trying to get him off the girl. He literally had to knock Blancas out, according to police, before he could rescue the unconscious woman.

Blancas was charged with misdemeanor family violence, and Daniela obtained a protective order.

But he wanted to see his child, her relatives said, so she dropped the protective order.

She made plans with a friend for the morning of Oct. 24, 2007. The friend was going to pick her up, and she called several times to see if Daniela was ready. No one answered the cellphone. Then Blancas called on her phone. Coronado was in the shower, he said, and he would tell her to call.

But she never did.

Blancas took the baby to his mother’s apartment. She later told police that he was crying but she didn’t know why. She said he left on foot. The family claims to have not seen him again.

Meanwhile, Daniela’s friend grew worried. She drove to the apartment on Eagle Drive. The door was unlocked, and she walked inside. There, in her bed, was Daniela Coronado with a cord around her neck.

Hysterical and crying, the friend began calling relatives. Brenda Coronado was at work. She was so upset that her supervisor was afraid to let her drive, she said. Police picked her up and took her to the apartment.

They all gathered in the parking lot, not sure what had happened. A detective came to talk to them. Daniela was dead, he said.

“Are you sure?” Sandra Vallejo asked.

It was true. Bright, pretty Daniela had been murdered.

In the days that followed, police searched Denton for the fugitive because of information provided by his family. He was not around. They learned that Blancas was angry because he wanted to take his son to Mexico and the child’s mother said no. He also was angry because Daniela had moved on. She was dating other men.

That November, police received tips that Blancas was at a relative’s house in Morelita Guerrero, Mexico. They asked for help from the U.S. Marshals Service, but the marshals could not find him there.

Coronado’s family members don’t know what to believe. They heard rumors that the relatives he was staying with kicked him out. They heard rumors that he was living in Coyuca de Benitez, deep inside Mexico in the state of Guerrero. They heard rumors that he never left North Texas, and one relative swore he saw Blancas driving a green car.

Now, Blancas supposedly is dead. No, members of Daniela’s family say — that is a ruse to make police stop looking for him.

They want proof. They want the grave — if there is a grave — dug up and DNA samples taken.

Coronado’s sisters attended the two services in Denton where Blancas’ name was read on a list of the dead. They plan to attend a service today and expect to hear a final reading.

That isn’t fair, they say. He is a criminal whose name should not be read in church. They want to attend a trial. They want Blancas to pay for his crime.

They want justice for Daniela.

Anyone with information about the crime or Blancas’ whereabouts should call Denton police. Or call Denton County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-388-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Tipsters will remain anonymous.

DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is

Saturday, April 24, 2010

South Fayette, PA: Police accuse South Fayette man of killing wife

Domestic quarrel ends with victim beaten and stabbed and house set afire
Saturday, April 24, 2010
By Sadie Gurman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette
An Allegheny County Fire Marshall's detective investigates the scene of a house fire on Locust Lane in South Fayette, where a woman's body was found on Friday.
Police said a South Fayette man bludgeoned and stabbed his wife to death, then torched their house early Friday after they argued about him staying up late to watch the Penguins playoff hockey game.

Robert Dennis Abrams, 40, told detectives he pulled a hammer from their bedside table and struck his wife, Jeanette, several times in the head during a fight over "financial matters and his unemployment."

When she continued to yell and curse at him, he said, he grabbed a knife from a dresser drawer and stabbed her in the chest.

Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt, whose homicide detectives investigated the case, offered few glimpses into what he called a "domestic argument," but he said Mrs. Abrams was upset that her husband was still watching the triple-overtime Penguins' game late into the night.

The dispute started in the living room about 1:30 a.m., then continued into a bedroom, where Mr. Abrams shoved his wife from behind, causing her to fall and strike her head on a bedside table, according to the criminal complaint. Mrs. Abrams got up and came toward her husband, swinging her fists.

He hit her in the head at least 10 times with the hammer, Medical Examiner Karl E. Williams said, fracturing her skull before stabbing her at least four times in the chest.

Mr. Abrams lingered in the bedroom as his wife lay dying on the bed, the complaint says, then decided to burn the house at 110 Locust Lane.

He told police he lit a dog's toy with a candle and threw it in a corner of the living room, where it spread to a couch and then to the rest of the room.

Mr. Abrams escaped out a second-floor window.

"He showed me his burned hands, and he said the dog must have knocked over a candle," said Ed Haskins, who lives near the opposite end of the street. He was watching TV about 3 a.m. when he noticed from his window that flames were shooting 20 feet in the air from his neighbor's house.

Firefighters arrived shortly after 3 a.m., just as Mr. Abrams was getting up off the ground, according to Superintendent Moffat. Mr. Abrams told firefighters his wife was still inside the home.

They found Mrs. Abrams' body in the second-floor bedroom, and investigators could tell almost immediately that the blaze was not to blame in her death, although police said Mr. Abrams tried to make it look that way.

"There was no indication she was alive at the time of the fire," Dr Williams said, adding that such a cover-up would be "very difficult" to accomplish.

Mr. Abrams was awaiting arraignment Friday night on charges of homicide, arson and abuse of a corpse. He remained at UPMC Mercy for burns to his hands and face.

The couple had lived in the home, near the end of a short dead-end street, for seven or eight years, and South Fayette police had no history of any domestic problems there, Chief Louis Volle said.