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Governor Pleads for Calm Hours Before Ferguson Grand Jury Ruling


The Brown Family / Facebook(ST. LOUIS) --  Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon pleaded for calm Monday evening, just hours ahead of a grand jury's decision whether to indict a Ferguson police officer in the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.Nixon made a brief statement as the region waited tensely for the grand jury's ruling on Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown on Aug. 9. Earlier in the evening officials said the panel had concluded its deliberations.The decision is expected to be announced at 9 p.m. ET."Our shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect and restraint," the governor said.Nixon said he was in Ferguson earlier Monday. "It is understandable that, like the rest of us, they are on edge waiting for a decision."He said authorities were making sure the "best and most experienced officers" would be on the street Monday night. "The Grand Jury hearing the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson investigation has reached a decision and it will be announced later today," the office of the prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County said on Monday.The panel must decide whether to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Brown on Aug. 9.The grand jury has been working on the case since Aug. 20 -- less than two weeks after the shooting -- meeting at least once every week.The question that the jurors had to answer was whether or not there was probable cause to believe that Wilson committed a crime when he shot Brown. They could consider charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter up to first-degree murder, the state prosecutor's office previously reported. The jury was also informed of the state statutes towards self-defense and the use of force by law enforcement officers.Authorities have been preparing for the decision for days amid fear that the protests could turn violent, as some did in August following Brown's death. The Ferguson-Florissant School District canceled afterschool activities on Monday because of news reports that the grand jury has reached a decision, and canceled classes for Tuesday. Schools are closed for the rest of the week because of the Thanksgiving holiday. The FBI sent about 100 agents to the St. Louis area to help deal with any problems that could arise from the grand jury decision. They also released a memo earlier last week warning that extremists "will likely" try to infiltrate the demonstrations not only in Ferguson, but elsewhere around the country, and may use the verdict as an excuse to hack public utilities and other sites.Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had declared a state of emergency last week and called out the National Guard.Brown's parents have made repeated calls for peace, and President Obama reiterated that message this weekend."Using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to the rule of law and contrary to who we are," Obama said in an interview that aired Sunday.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Texas Professor Moved into Dumpster to 'Explore the Idea of Less'


iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Dr. Jeff Wilson wanted to simplify his life.The professor at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, sold his belongings and in February moved into a used trash Dumpster 36 square feet in size. Wilson is documenting his progress on the website dumpsterproject.org, using videos and social media to showcase his sustainable living project.“It’s really just to explore the idea of less,” he told ABC station KTRK in Houston.Students, who helped clean the Dumpster before Wilson moved in, were stunned when he announced his plan.“I didn’t believe it at all,” student Charles Deshaw said. “I’m like, ‘You’re really going to live in a Dumpster?’”The front door slides shut. It’s cold at night. The walls contain decorative hangings. The home features few appliances such as a washer and dryer, which were added during the current phase of his project. The third and final phase will feature solar panels with a focus on renewable energy.For Wilson -- who goes by the nickname “Professor Dumpster” -- the second night in the Dumpster was scariest.“The trash man came by and picked up two of my neighbors,” Wilson told KTRK.Luckily, Wilson’s new home remained untouched by trash crews. After living in the Dumpster for six months, Wilson is proud of the discourse his experiment has encouraged and that it has promoted the idea of living with less.It’s important to “foster a conversation and keep that conversation going. We don’t know where that conversation is going to lead,” Wilson told KTRK.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Ferguson Grand Jury Has Completed Deliberations


The Brown Family / Facebook(ST. LOUIS) -- The St. Louis grand jury considering the shooting of unarmed Ferguson teenager Michael Brown has completed its deliberations, sources told ABC News.The lawyer for Brown's family has been informed that a decision has been reached and law enforcement personnel are also being notified, sources told ABC News.The panel must decide whether to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Brown on Aug. 9.The grand jury has been working on the case since Aug. 20 -- less than two weeks after the shooting -- meeting at least once every week.The question that the jurors had to answer was whether or not there was probable cause to believe that Wilson committed a crime when he shot Brown.If they decided that he was guilty of a crime, they could consider charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter up to first degree murder, the state prosecutor's office previously reported. The jury was also informed of the state statutes towards self-defense and the use of force by law enforcement officers.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Ferguson Officer Who Shot Michael Brown Got Married Last Month


Dorling Kindersley/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- The police officer who has been in hiding since fatally shooting a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, in August has married his girlfriend.Officer Darren Wilson, who has not been seen in public since the Aug. 9 shooting, obtained a marriage license in October.Little is known about Wilson other than the fact that he was 28 years old at the time of the shooting and had been working as a police officer for six years.He had worked for the Ferguson police department for four years and had never received a disciplinary complaint.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Video of Cleveland Boy's Shooting over Toy Gun Shown to Family Reps


File photo. (blackred/Getty Images)(CLEVELAND) -- A surveillance video of a boy with a toy gun being shot by a police officer has been shown to representatives of the slain boy's family, Cleveland police said on Monday.The family of Tamir Rice, 12, declined the police offer to watch the video themselves, police told a news conference on Monday.Police said that the officer who shot Rice Saturday at a recreation center was 10 feet from the boy, but said the toy was "indistinguishable" from a real weapon. The toy gun, which a 911 caller said the boy was waving around, was an "airsoft" gun and the orange tip at the end of the gun to indicate it was a toy had been removed, police said."Guns are not toys, and we need to teach our kids that," Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said. "Our community needs to understand that."Police said they offered to show Rice's family surveillance video of what happened when the boy was shot. The family declined, but representatives for the family viewed the footage. That video will eventually be released to the public, police said."Our concern is the family," Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said. "We've got a police officer that's also involved that is obviously very distraught over the situation.""It's very complicated," he added.Police said they are reviewing the video, interviewing witnesses and consulting with the medical examiner's office to process evidence as the investigation continues."A tragedy like this effects the entire community," Williams said. "Our officers at times are required to make critical decisions in a split-second. Unfortunately, this was one of those times."He urged parents to teach their children that "guns are not toys," and to understand that police are "part of this community."Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson also spoke at the press conference, apologizing to the boy's family."I know there's nothing that I can say that will be adequate in terms of the pain and suffering that they're going through now," he said.The officer who shot Rice has not yet submitted a formal statement, but was interviewed after the shooting.Williams said he spoke to the officer Sunday night."[He is] holding up pretty well but is broken up about this," Williams said, adding that the officer "didn't want to do this, but had to protect himself."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Slain Cleveland Boy's Toy Gun 'Indistinguishable' from Real Gun: Cops


File photo. (blackred/Getty Images)(CLEVELAND) -- The toy gun a 12-year-old was brandishing when he was fatally shot by police was "indistinguishable" from a real weapon, Cleveland police said on Monday.Tamir Rice was shot and killed on Saturday at a recreation center after reports that he had a pistol and was waving it around. It turned out to be an "airsoft" gun and the orange tip at the end of the gun to indicate it was a toy had been removed, police said."Guns are not toys, and we need to teach our kids that," Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a press conference Monday. "Our community needs to understand that."Police said they have offered to show Rice's family surveillance video of what happened when he was shot. They declined, but representatives for the family viewed the footage. That video will eventually be released to the public, police said.The officer was within 10 feet of the boy when he was shot, police said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

University of Virginia's Campus Reeling over Sexual Assault Allegations


Lance King/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- Students at the University of Virginia on Monday praised the school's decision to suspend all fraternities and sororities in the wake of a report about a shocking sexual assault at a frat party.The Greek life at the school was suspended by university President Teresa Sullivan after rape accusations were detailed in a Rolling Stone article. The report sparked weekend protests on the Charlottesville campus.Tommy Reid, the president of the school’s inter-fraternity council, said that ending sexual assault on campus can’t be done by frat brothers alone.“It’s much larger and much more complicated than the Greek system itself. I think it’s important to understand the temporary ban in itself gives our community time to take a breath to sit back and talk and be active and develop what we consider to be actionable and long term solutions,” he said.“The culture here is not just a UVA issue. This is a pervasive national epidemic,” Ashley Brown, the leader of One Less, a group that helps sexual assault survivors, said Monday morning.The Rolling Stone expose involves a first-year student’s allegation in which she says she was “gang-raped” at a Phi Kappa Psi frat party. The victim claims the attack happened in 2012. That year, the university was crowned by Playboy as the nation’s top party school.The student, identified as “Jackie” in the article, said she felt obligated to stay silent and was even told by a roommate to “remember where your loyalty lies.”Alexandria Pinkelton, a friend of the student, said she was proud of her friend’s determination. “One of her goals with doing this article is to try to spread awareness,” she said.The national leadership of Phi Kappa Psi decried the situation in a statement, saying, “We do not condone violence under any circumstances.”Sullivan suspended all campus fraternities and sororities in the wake of the scandal. In addition, Sullivan stated that the school’s board of visitors will be meeting on Tuesday “to discuss the University’s policies and procedures regarding sexual assault as well as the specific, recent allegations.”"I write you in great sorrow, great rage, but most importantly, great determination," Sullivan wrote in a statement sent to the University of Virginia community. "Meaningful change is necessary, and we can lead that change for all universities."The current situation feels too familiar for Liz Seccuro, who has claimed she was raped in the same frat house as a freshman in 1984. The school has done little to improve its culture in the ensuing decades because it’s too worried about its reputation, Seccuro said.“For 30 years, to have no progress made is inexplicable and heartbreaking,” Seccuro said.According to the Rolling Stone article, 38 students reported sexual assault to university officials in the last academic year, but of those 38 only four resulted in sexual misconduct board meetings.The university is one of 86 schools under federal investigation or compliance review for their handling of sexual misconduct.Attorney Wendy Murphy has filed lawsuits against nine schools, including the University of Virginia.“I’ve seen UVA behave badly for a long, long time, and this is the first time they’ve faced such a significant public scandal. It’s long overdue,” Murphy said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Ferguson Grand Jury Still at Work


Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- A grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri, is expected to reconvene on Monday, trying to decide whether to indict a white police officer in the August shooting death of an unarmed black teen.The weekend was marked by protests in the city of Ferguson, with security tight and tensions running high ahead of the grand jury’s decision. Many people were expecting the grand jury to come to a decision over the weekend.While the jurors debate possible criminal charges against officer Darren Wilson, additional law enforcement -- including the National Guard and more than 100 FBI agents -- is stationed in Ferguson ahead of the grand jury’s decision.The Saint Louis County Police Department switched its officers to 12-hour shifts in recent days. Metal and concrete barricades have been erected in areas around the St Louis County government buildings in Clayton, Missouri, where the grand jury has been meeting. The justice center there also houses the prosecutor's office, the St. Louis County Police Department headquarters and the circuit courts.A handful of arrests were made during the weekend. Some stores in the St. Louis suburb remain closed, with business owners boarding up windows in fear.“We look abandoned here, pretty much imprisoned,” business owner Triondus Sleet said. “It’s sad.”Wilson could be charged with murder or manslaughter -- or nothing -- for the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown. If cleared, a police union rep said he should be able to return to work.“It would be my hope though that if, one day, he decides to stay in law enforcement, that he's able to do that,” said Detective Gabe Crocker, president of the St. Louis County Police Association. "Especially if he’s cleared, that means he didn’t do anything wrong, according to the grand jury."President Obama, in an exclusive interview with ABC News, urged for calm no matter what decision the grand jury reaches, a sentiment also expressed by Brown’s mother and father.“Using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are,” Obama said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama and Holder Plea for Calm Ahead of Ferguson Decision


JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting death not expected until Monday at the earliest, both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have issued pleas for a calm and measured response to the verdict.The grand jury, which convenes again Monday, will determine what charges, if any, to bring against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Last August 9, Wilson shot Brown, who was unarmed, six times following an altercation.The racially-charged incident touched off confrontations between the African-American community and law enforcement officers and many fear the civil unrest will be even more violent if Wilson is exonerated.In an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Obama urged residents to "keep protests peaceful," saying, "You know, this is a country that allows everybody to express their views, allows them to peacefully assemble to protest actions that they think are unjust, but using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are."Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video released by the Justice Department, "History has...shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence," a sentiment similarly expressed by Michael Brown Sr., who released his own video appealing for calm.Holder also stated that "long-simmering tensions will not be cooled overnight,” and he touted the “importance” of police forces engaging with communities long before times of crisis.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Rising Temperatures Bring Fear of Floods in Western New York


John Normile/Getty Images(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- The worst is over for the Buffalo, New York, area as far as the snow is concerned.Now comes the danger of epic floods with temperatures rising and the threat of rain with some suburbs still covered in seven or eight feet of snow.At a news briefing Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters, "Flooding in my opinion is worse than dealing with snow. It’s not water, it’s a toxic brew…It has all sorts of sewage in it."The chief worry in Buffalo-area towns like Hamburg or the city of Lackawanna is that rapid melting will turn basements and living rooms into swimming pools even as some homes had their roofs collapse under the weight of unprecedented autumn snowfall.To that end, a frantic snow clean-up continues with the governor calling on trucks and equipment from other parts of the state, including Albany and New York City.Meanwhile, emergency shelters have been set up by the Red Cross for possible evacuations should residents have to get out of their homes quickly.  Cuomo ordered over 50 boats and "swift-water" rescue teams to be at the ready for calls as waters rise. Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Buffalo, NY Braces for Floods from Melting Snow


John Normile/Getty Images(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- The worst is over for the Buffalo, New York, area as far as the snow is concerned.Now comes the danger of epic floods with temperatures rising and the threat of rain with some suburbs still covered in seven or eight feet of snow.At a news briefing Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters, "Flooding in my opinion is worse than dealing with snow. It’s not water, it’s a toxic brew…It has all sorts of sewage in it."The chief worry in Buffalo-area towns like Hamburg or the city of Lackawanna is that rapid melting will turn basements and living rooms into swimming pools even as some homes had their roofs collapse under the weight of unprecedented autumn snowfall.To that end, a frantic snow clean-up continues with the governor calling on trucks and equipment from other parts of the state, including Albany and New York City.Meanwhile, emergency shelters have been set up by the Red Cross for possible evacuations should residents have to get out of their homes quickly.  Cuomo ordered over 50 boats and "swift-water" rescue teams to be at the ready for calls as waters rise.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Pennsylvania Residents Complain About "Ugly" Christmas Tree


File photo. (The Image Bank/Getty Images)(READING, Pa.) -- The Christmas tree in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, wasn’t exactly bringing holiday cheer.According to WFMZ.com, many residents complained that the 50-foot Norway Spruce was “ugly” and “pathetic,” and now it’s being replaced. "I think it does look a little pitiful," resident Teresa Rodriguez said of the scraggly spruce. "I think they picked the wrong tree."Another resident who works near the tree, Martin McNeil, added, "It was a waste of time for them to even come out here and put this tree up. Honestly, they might as well put nothing out here."In response to the bah-humbugs, the city has decided to replace the tree with one that's fuller and greener. The new tree is expected to be in place Monday or Tuesday. It will be decorated Friday and lit on Saturday. As for the poor old tree, it was adopted by a local business.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Man Accused of Stealing 600 Combat Helmets


Getty Images(HARRISBURG, Pa.) -- Life’s tough, get a helmet…or 600…A former Pennsylvania state employee is facing charges for allegedly stealing more than 600 military combat helmets, Philly.com reported. According to criminal charges filed Friday, 43-year-old Michael Gantz swiped the protective head gear from his job at the Pennsylvania Department of General Services’ surplus property warehouse.The helmets, which were allegedly stolen between July 2009 and January 2010, have an estimated value of more than $5,000. Prosecutors said Gantz has filed an agreement indicating he will plead guilty to a felony count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. He faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.No word on what he actually did with the helmets after he stole them.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Ferguson Grand Jury 'Unfair,' Michael Brown Family Lawyer Says


Credit: Frances Twitty/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- A lawyer for the family of the black 18-year-old fatally shot by a white police officer said Sunday the grand jury process playing out in Missouri is unlike anything he's seen before and is unfair.The St. Louis County prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, has said that, unlike with a typical grand jury, he would present to this grand jury all the evidence gathered in the police investigation and offer the jurors the opportunity to hear from any witness with relevant information.The target of the investigation, Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, was among those who testified.A spokesman for McCulloch has indicated that the prosecutor's office will not likely make a specific recommendation about charges, but would give the grand jurors a range of charges to consider, from involuntary manslaughter up to first-degree murder.The grand jury investigating the killing of Michael Brown by Wilson is not meeting this weekend and will reconvene Monday, sources told ABC News."When you think about it, if this prosecutor is saying we're just going to be fair, we're not going to recommend any charges, that's different from anything he's done in his past 28 years with grand juries," attorney Benjamin Crump said Sunday on This Week."So, now are we going to say he was unfair to all those people and he's going to be extra fair, get a police extra rights?" said Crump, who also represented the family of Trayvon Martin. " Why can't it be equal justice?"ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams said there is precedent for prosecutors presenting cases to grand juries without recommending charges, particularly high profile, controversial cases."I'm not going to dispute with you on the facts, but let's talk about the process and the law, which is that there are a lot of high profile cases, and I've seen them, where prosecutors say, 'You know what, I'm going to hand this one to the grand jury. I want the political cover on this one. I want to let them decide so I'm not the one who takes the heat on this decision,'" he said."So it is not sort of out of left field that in a high profile case a prosecutor hands it off to a grand jury to make that decision," he said.Speculation that a decision on whether to indict Wilson in the shooting was coming soon has increased tensions in a town that already was on edge.Federal, state and county officials have been ramping up their readiness in case there is a fresh wave of angry and, at times, violent protests over the jury's decision. Protesters have been demanding that Wilson be charged with murder for the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown.The Saint Louis County Police Department switched their officers to 12-hour shifts on Saturday.Metal and concrete barricades have been erected in areas around the St Louis County government buildings in Clayton, where the grand jury has been meeting. The justice center there also houses the prosecutor's office, the St. Louis County Police Department headquarters and the circuit courts.Preparations are being made there for specific areas for anticipated protests.There also appeared to be some minor increase in activity behind the strip mall in Jennings, the town next to Ferguson, where the Unified Command will be operating once they are notified a decision has been reached.Many stores have boarded up their windows for fear of destructive protesters. The manager of Beauty Town Plus, a salon on West Florissant Avenue where much of the protests centered during the summer, told ABC News that they decided to board up because their windows were broken three times following Brown's death.Law enforcement have taken the threat of violence seriously as well as two federal officials confirmed to ABC News that more than 100 FBI personnel are being sent to the St. Louis area to join those already in the area and opened an intelligence center to head up operations.On Friday, federal authorities in Missouri charged two men with lying on forms to purchase guns ahead of the grand jury decision.Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Baldwin faced only those charges as of late Friday, but sources told ABC News that authorities were looking into whether they tried to acquire ready-made explosives and other weapons ahead of the decision, which is expected soon.The two men are suspected of being associated with the New Black Panther party, said sources briefed on the arrests. The charges that were filed were intended to "take them out of the rotation," according to one source.Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Michael Brown Sr., the slain teenager's father, have released videos urging protesters to remain peaceful when the grand jury's decision is handed up.Follow @ABCNewsRadio!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Boy Shot by Cleveland Police Dies


Credit: Adam Kazmierski/Getty Images(CLEVELAND) -- A 12-year-old boy who was shot by Cleveland police officers while carrying a replica gun in a park playground has died, hospital officials said Sunday.The boy, who hasn't been identified, died at MetroHealth Medical Center after he was taken there for surgery Saturday afternoon.Officers were called to the Cudell Recreation Center after receiving reports of the boy waving a gun and pointing it at people, the Cleveland Division of Police said in a statement.Two officers found the boy in the playground and ordered him to raise his hands, but he instead reached for what the officers thought was a gun in his waistband, police said.The officers fired twice, hitting the boy in the torso.Officers learned the gun was fake after the shooting, police said. Made to resemble a semi-automatic pistol, the orange safety indicator had been removed from the "airsoft" replica gun the boy was holding.“We are not rushing to judgment," said Timothy Kurcharski, an attorney for the boy's mother. "The police are investigating the matter and we are waiting for the result of that investigation."The two officers involved in the shooting have been put on administrative leave, which is standard protocol.Follow @ABCNewsRadio!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Ferguson Grand Jury to Reconvene Monday


Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- The grand jury investigating the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson is not meeting this weekend and will reconvene Monday, sources told ABC News.Speculation that a decision on whether to indict Wilson in the shooting was coming soon has increased tensions in a town that already was on edge.Federal, state and county officials have been ramping up their readiness in case there is a fresh wave of angry and, at times, violent protests over the jury's decision. Protesters have been demanding that Wilson be charged with murder for the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown.The Saint Louis County Police Department switched their officers to 12-hour shifts on Saturday.Metal and concrete barricades have been erected in areas around the St Louis County government buildings in Clayton, where the grand jury has been meeting. The justice center there also houses the prosecutor's office, the St. Louis County Police Department headquarters and the circuit courts.Preparations are being made there for specific areas for anticipated protests.There also appeared to be some minor increase in activity behind the strip mall in Jennings, the town next to Ferguson, where the Unified Command will be operating once they are notified a decision has been reached.A lawyer for the Brown family described the city Friday as "nervous, on edge, scared" as people awaited the grand jury's decision."The city is really in a panic at this moment," attorney Anthony Gray said.Many stores have boarded up their windows for fear of destructive protesters. The manager of Beauty Town Plus, a salon on West Florissant Avenue where much of the protests centered during the summer, told ABC News that they decided to board up because their windows were broken three times following Brown's death.Law enforcement have taken the threat of violence seriously as well as two federal officials confirmed to ABC News that more than 100 FBI personnel are being sent to the St. Louis area to join those already in the area and opened an intelligence center to head up operations.On Friday, federal authorities in Missouri charged two men with lying on forms to purchase guns ahead of the grand jury decision.Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Baldwin faced only those charges as of late Friday, but sources told ABC News that authorities were looking into whether they tried to acquire ready-made explosives and other weapons ahead of the decision, which is expected soon.The two men are suspected of being associated with the New Black Panther party, said sources briefed on the arrests. The charges that were filed were intended to "take them out of the rotation," according to one source.Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Michael Brown Sr., the slain teenager's father, have released videos urging protesters to remain peaceful when the grand jury's decision is handed down.The DA is trying to present a case that if there is no indictment, they can say, 'Look, it was them,'" said ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Two in Ferguson Charged With Lying on Forms to Buy Guns Ahead of Grand Jury Deci


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Federal authorities in Missouri charged two men with lying on forms to purchase guns ahead of the grand jury decision in the police shooting of Michael Brown.Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Baldwin only faced those charges as of late Friday, but sources told ABC News that authorities were looking into whether they tried to acquire ready-made explosives and other weapons ahead of the decision, which is expected soon.The two men are suspected of being associated with the New Black Panther party, said sources briefed on the arrests. The charges that were filed were intended to "take them out of the rotation," according to one source.Neither man had a lawyer listed on court documents. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives played a part in the arrest.This week, the FBI warned law enforcement agencies across the country that the decision “will likely” lead some extremist protesters to threaten and even attack police officers or federal agents.“The announcement of the grand jury’s decision … will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure,” the FBI says in an intelligence bulletin issued in recent days. “This also poses a threat to those civilians engaged in lawful or otherwise constitutionally protected activities.”The FBI has sent about 100 agents to the St. Louis area to help deal with any problems that could arise from the grand jury decision.St. Louis authorities said Friday that the grand jury was still meeting. The panel will decide whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Brown, who was unarmed, on Aug. 9.The FBI declined to comment on its operation in Ferguson.Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency earlier this week and activated the Missouri National Guard to help keep order if necessary.Michael Brown Sr., the father of the slain teen, issued a videotaped appeal this week for protesters to remain peaceful whatever the verdict.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Two Men Walk Free After 40 Years in Prison for Crime They Didn't Commit


iStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) -- On May 25, 1975, Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman went to jail for a murder they didn’t commit. Sentenced to death on the testimony of a single juvenile witness, the men continued to protest their innocence through years of incarceration.On Friday, nearly 40 years later, they walked out of prison as free men after the state’s witness in the case admitted that he concocted his testimony under police intimidation.A case suffused with emotion culminated in exoneration Friday morning, when Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Richard McMonagle formally dismissed all charges against Jackson after a brief hearing. Bridgeman, whose case was heard separately, was exonerated two hours later by Judge David Matia.The two joined Bridgeman’s younger brother Ronnie, now known as Kwame Ajamu, who was found guilty of the same crime and eventually paroled in 2003.The three were originally jailed for the 1975 murder of Harry Franks, a Cleveland businessman, after a 12-year-old witness named Edward Vernon told police that he had seen them attack the victim. No physical evidence linked them to the crime scene. Jackson was just 19 years old when he was sentenced to die, Wiley Bridgeman was 20, and Ronnie Bridgeman was 17.“The English language doesn’t have words to express how I’m feeling right now,” Jackson, now 58, told reporters.Wiley Bridgeman, now 60, quietly thanked the judge and attorneys in the courthouse as his case was dismissed. He had once been less than three weeks away from execution, rescued when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Ohio’s previous capital punishment law in 1978.The case was a major victory for the Ohio Innocence Project, which coordinated much of the investigation into the exonerating evidence and whose staff attorney, Brian Howe, represented Jackson. Terry Gilbert and David Mills, who together represent the brothers Bridgeman and Ajamu, worked with the Innocence Project during the case.“It’s been years in the making,” Howe told ABC News. “Literally years of work, witness interviews, tracking people down -- all that culminated on Tuesday when the state withdrew its case.”The first domino on the path to exoneration fell in 2011, when an investigation by reporter Kyle Swenson in The Cleveland Scene, an alternative weekly magazine, cast doubt on the 1975 convictions. Later, the Ohio Innocence Project took Jackson’s case and began investigating.“Kyle Swenson did some great investigative journalism into the case before anyone had really heard about it, way before Ed Vernon had recanted his testimony,” Howe said. “Kyle’s article was the first thing I read when I took on this case, and that really compelled me to spend those extra nights and weekends digging into it.”Vernon was sick and in the hospital, wracked with anxiety, when his minister convinced him to come clean. Later, the Innocence Project obtained a signed affidavit in which Vernon forswore the statements he made as a boy.Last week, Vernon, now a 52-year-old man, took to the stand to give stunning, emotional testimony recanting his childhood statements.“He was a wreck,” McMonagle, the judge who presided over Jackson’s trial, told ABC News.“Eddie Vernon broke down on the stand frequently during testimony,” said Gilbert. “He talked about how his life was affected by the stress, the anguish, because for all these years he was afraid that if he came forward with the truth, then he would go to prison.”Vernon testified that he had been on a school bus when he heard the gunshot that killed Franks. As a 12-year-old, he passed on rumors he had heard to the police incriminating Jackson and the Bridgeman brothers. When he tried to back out of his account at a police lineup, he testified that officers intimidated him into giving false testimony, yelling at him and banging on a table.“He was a kid,” Gilbert told ABC News. “He hadn’t seen them do it. The police told him that he’d go to jail, that they’d send his mother to jail if he backed out, and he was a scared kid.”Vernon’s testimony made a powerful impression on the hearing.Judge McMonagle said, “One of the prosecutors said later that hearing all the evidence and the recanted testimony made her physically sick, that she felt terrible.”After the hearing, the prosecutors totally conceded, Gilbert told ABC News.“Everybody’s human," Gilbert said, "and when you hear this story and hear this man testify, it’s like something you can’t believe.”On Tuesday, the prosecution withdrew its case after Jackson testified before the hearing.“We’ve had a lot of emotion in this case this week,” Howe told ABC News. “Ricky spoke on Tuesday, talking about being sentenced to death as a teenager, and we could barely get through the testimony.”By Friday, the case’s dismissal was a formality. By noon, both Jackson and Bridgeman walked away as free men.In 1975, Judge McMonagle’s father, George, was the judge who presided over the case when it was first tried. At 9 a.m., he dismissed the case first heard by his father almost 40 years ago.“It means something when I think about it, since he’s been gone for a while,” the younger McMonagle told ABC News of his father, who passed away in 2002. “I’m retiring at the end of the year myself, and this is certainly something I’ll remember.”Ajamu, previously Ronnie Bridgeman, was released on parole in 2003, but his case will soon be heard for dismissal, as well. Gilbert told ABC News that, although Ajamu's team could apply for the case to be dismissed remotely, Ajamu wanted his day in court.“Kwame wants to hear it from a judge,” he said. “He wants to hear it from a judge that he’s a free man.”Ajamu, who has a wife now, will temporarily host his brother Bridgeman and Jackson while they sort out their new lives as free men.“After all this time, they don’t have a penny to their name except for the money they had in their pockets when they were jailed,” Howe said. “We’re going to help Ricky get a wardrobe, and we’re going to tackle some paperwork to get him a birth certificate, some documentation to get him ready to get a driver’s license.”Howe added that the Ohio Innocence Project had put together a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe to help Jackson get started on his new life out of prison.“He’s not bitter or angry,” Howe said. “He’s just really looking forward to getting on with his life. He’s excited about getting a job, driving a car. He’s just processing the facts of being a free man.”After the hearing, Jackson told reporters that he did not bear any resentment toward Vernon after those years of imprisonment.“He’s a grown man today,” Jackson said. “He was just a boy back then."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Report Details Missed Opportunities to Treat Adam Lanza's Mental Illness


Kateleen Foy/Getty Images(HARTFORD, Conn.) -- Two years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Connecticut's Office of the Child Advocate has released a report detailing the mental health profile of gunman Adam Lanza, noting potential missed opportunities.The Office of the Child Advocate, which investigates all child deaths in Connecticut for prevention lessons, released the 114-page report on Friday.Lanza was 20 on Dec. 14, 2012 when he shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where he massacred 20 first-graders and six educators before taking his own life.The report's authors say they "looked for any warning signs, red flags, or other lessons that could be learned from a review of AL's life," referring to Lanza. "This report cannot and does not answer the question of 'why' AL committed murder," the authors wrote.Here are some of the things we learned about Lanza:1. Lanza had a falling out with his one and only friend months before.Among the factors that may have caused Lanza stress were the possibility of moving with his mother and a "falling out" with a friend."AL was acquainted with another adolescent that he played [video game Dance Dance Revolution] with on a regular basis," the report said. "They would meet a few times per month to either play the video game or go to the movies. AL and his friend talked about multiple topics, including computers, chimp society, human nature, morality, prejudice, and sometimes about his family. AL told his friend that he had a strained relationship with his mother.""AL would sometimes talk with this friend about the topic of mental health or depression, though he never indicated that he was diagnosed with anything. He did tell his friend that mental health issues were not a reflection of the character of a person, but were symptoms of something else going on inside a person," the report said."AL and the friend also talked about their interest in mass murderers or serial killers, but this was just considered to be a mutual morbid interest," the report said. "Both he and his acquaintance liked horror movies."But in June 2012, Lanza "and his primary acquaintance had a falling out and stopped spending time together," the report said, "after a dispute over a movie."2. His "social-emotional" challenges increased after fourth grade.Lanza was referred for special education preschool services at age 2."Adam Lanza was presented with significant developmental challenges from earliest childhood, including communication and sensory difficulties, socialization delays, and repetitive behaviors," the report states. "He was seen by the New Hampshire 'Birth to Three' intervention program when he was almost three years old and referred for special education preschool services."Early in the fourth grade, Lanza left the special education program because he had "met all speech goals," the report states.During Lanza's early elementary school years, his parents still lived together in the family home in Sandy Hook, but they separated in 2002 when Lanza was in the fifth grade."[Lanza] was described by some as seeming happy, smiling, and participating in community and school activities," the report states. "At the same time, however, more red flags for developmental and mental health concerns remained or emerged. AL began perseverative hand washing, avoiding contact with other people, and becoming increasingly fearful. By fifth grade, AL had written and submitted “The Big Book of Granny” — a significant and violent text — and following that school year, his struggles began to escalate."3. His preoccupation with violence may have been "largely unaddressed."The report raises questions about how there may have been missed opportunities with Lanza, including whether his family's wealth and race were factors."Would [Lanza's] caregivers’ reluctance to maintain him in school or a treatment program have gone under the radar if he were a child of color?" the report asks.Lanza's mother transferred him to a Catholic school for the fourth quarter of seventh grade."A teacher at the school later reported that he presented very differently from the other children," the report states.According to the teacher's account in the report, he had "very distinct anti-social issues.""AL would write ten pages obsessing about battles, destruction and war. I have known 7th grade boys to talk about things like this, but AL’s level of violence was disturbing. I remember showing the writings to the principal at the time, AL’s creative writing was so graphic that it could not be shared," the teacher's account in the report states."It was not the primary purpose of this investigation to explicitly examine the role of guns in the Sandy Hook shootings," the report said. "However, the conclusion cannot be avoided that access to guns is relevant to an examination of ways to improve the public health. Access to assault weapons with high capacity magazines did play a major role in this and other mass shootings in recent history."The report states, "[Lanza] and his parents did not appear to seek or participate in any mental health treatment after 2008."4. While he may have been described as "gifted," his cognitive abilities may have been just "average."On Oct. 24, 2006, almost a year after a community psychiatrist first evaluated Lanza, he was seen at the Yale Child Study Center by a clinical psychiatrist, the report states. "The evaluation was purportedly to determine if AL had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in the context of a putative diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome," it says.The report details how his parents said that their son was "angry" about having to go to Yale and he refused treatment."The Yale APRN [Advanced Practice Registered Nurse], in a present day interview, offered her view that AL may not, in fact, have had an Autism Spectrum Disorder, but rather that he suffered from disabling anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder," the report states.Meanwhile, the report indicates his parents may have had difficulty accepting his disabilities."While it is not uncommon for parents to struggle to identify and accept their child as suffering a disabling impairment, the Yale Child Study Center clinicians who evaluated and treated AL felt that his parents, and certainly his mother, may have had greater than average difficulty with accepting the extent of AL’s disabilities," the report states. "Yale did not think that AL was gifted and unique, pointing to the average cognitive abilities captured by the school’s psychological testing.""Adam Lanza's parents (and the school) appeared to conceptualize him as intellectually gifted, and much of [his] high school experience catered to his curricular needs," the report says. "In actuality, psychological testing performed by the school district in high school indicated AL’s cognitive abilities were average."5. Why Lanza and his father had a "falling out."Lanza stopped responding to his father's emails around 2010, the report states."After AL began declining to spend time with Mr. Lanza, Mr. Lanza would regularly send emails to him asking him how he was doing," the report states. "He asked AL to join him at events or other activities they had previously enjoyed, including arcades, shooting ranges, or coin shows."The "falling out" may have had to do with Lanza's desire to take college courses at Norwalk Community College, the report states."AL wanted to carry a full course load but Mr. Lanza said he couldn’t handle that and wasn’t being realistic," the report states. "This may have been the last time that AL and Mr. Lanza actually spoke or emailed reciprocally. Mr. Lanza continued to let AL know that he wanted to see him."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Ferguson 'On Edge' and Worried, Brown Family Lawyer Says


Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- The city of Ferguson is "nervous, on edge, scared" as they await the grand jury's decision on the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown, a lawyer for the Brown family and protest leaders said on Friday."The city is really in a panic at this moment," attorney Anthony Gray said in a press conference Friday afternoon.Federal, state and county officials have been ramping up their readiness in case there is a fresh wave of angry and at times violent protests over the jury's decision. Protesters have been demanding that Police Officer Darren Wilson be charged with murder for the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown.Gray said that he has received "numerous calls, emails and text messages expressing concern from members of our community about their safety," including from residents who specifically say they are worried about how they are going to get necessary medication.Many stores have boarded up their windows for fear of destructive protesters. The manager of Beauty Town Plus, a salon on West Florissant Avenue, where much of the protests centered during the summer, told ABC News that they decided to board up because their windows were broken three times following Brown’s death.Law enforcement have taken the threat of violence seriously as well as two federal officials confirmed to ABC News that more than 100 FBI personnel are being sent to the St. Louis area to join those already in the area and opened an intelligence center to head up operations.There were protests in the area both Wednesday and Thursday, though with less than half a dozen arrests at each, they were far smaller than those held this summer.“It’s a dicey situation right now,” Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told ABC News.“We’re preparing for the worst, but we’re really hoping that the leadership… understands the property rights of others and the value of human life,” he said.County Executive Charlie Dooley was more optimistic."I do not expect the worst and I said it then and I say it now. I expect the best in people. I am encouraged by conversations between law enforcement and protest groups," Dooley said.Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Michael Brown Sr., the slain teenager’s father, have released videos urging protesters to remain peaceful when the grand jury’s decision is handed down."It’s hard to sleep when you've got this looming," Jackson said.One business owner, Charles Davis, has remained optimistic about the possible protests and refused to take any extra precautions to fend off looters.Davis, who bought Ferguson Burger Bar & More the day before Brown was killed, said that he has received support from both locals and people across the country who have heard about his decision to stay open through any protests that come with the verdict.“I had a gentleman yesterday who drove from Memphis just to get a burger,” Davis told ABC News.“I’ve heard some things but that one brought me to tears,” he said.Davis said his restaurant will be open on Saturday but closed Sunday, as always.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

WWII Love Letters Reveal 3 Soldiers Vying for Same Woman's Heart


iStock/Thinkstock(RUTHERFORDTON, N.C.) -- They say true love knows no boundaries, and a collection of recently discovered World War II love letters between a soldier and the apple of his eye, a beauty whom he’d never even met, certainly proves that to be true.“Mama always said that she let him chase her, until she turned around caught him,” Jane Simmons, the wartime lovebirds’ daughter, told ABC News.Simmons and her brother, Larry Davis, who just recently suffered a fatal stroke, always knew their parents had something extraordinarily special.They were “very much still in love to the end,” Davis’ wife, Beverly, said of her in-laws’ 55-year marriage.But what it took to form that bond, however, was something even more extraordinary than their love itself—a story which the soldier’s children are only just now learning.“That was what was surprising. Mama never said anything about them,” Simmons, 63, of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, explained of the antiqued stack of 18 handwritten love letters she’s just inherited.The letters were, for the most part, penned from her father, Teal Davis, while he was stationed in Burma in 1945, to her mother, Evangeline Poteat, a 22-year-old factory worker in North Carolina. At the time of their writing, the two had never even met. Despite being separated by oceans, miles and war however, Davis knew Poteat would someday be his bride."It rains pennies from heaven,” he wrote of how it feels to receive a letter from Poteat.“I'll be looking forward to the day when I can meet you in person, but for now a letter will do,” he said in another. “Be good, have fun this summer and write soon.”The lovestruck couple was initially “introduced” by Poteat’s roommate at Appalachian State Teachers College at the time, Sarah Kate Davis, who suggested she write to her brother, Teal, while he was deployed in Burma.Poteat did, and the two fell hard and fast.But apparently Teal, an Army Air Force crew chief, wasn’t the only one who found Poteat irresistible.“She was a beautiful woman with this auburn hair,” said Beverly. “She was the real deal.”There were two other soldiers, both young men stationed in California, who were also writing to her—one of whom was even asking for her hand in marriage."I know that you think that I am crazy for asking you so many times," he writes from Camp Cooke. "Did you think the ring idea is OK with you, or is it? I love you."The other soldier, a former beau from high school, separately wrote, “We used to really have a swell time until Uncle Sam nabbed me.”Unfortunately for them though, Teal was the one who ultimately nabbed her.All of the men’s love stories are chronicled in a complete stack of 18 love letters that the couple’s children, Simmons and Davis, came to unexpectedly inherit, all thanks to a reporter with the local paper, The Charlotte Observer.“It’s odd to see that, but it’s wonderful too,” Simmons said of reading the 70-year-old letters from her mother’s other admirers.Over time, Poteat’s World War II love letters somehow ended up in Oregon and were being sold by a historical collector on Ebay when Gary Schwab, a reporter with the Charlotte Observer found them, outbid everyone to purchase them, and tracked down the relatives to ensure they were safely returned home.“We were just shocked,” Simmons said of the unexpected discovery. “Mama was good at keeping stuff. I just really don’t know how in the world they got to Oregon.”“We can’t figure that out,” Beverly, Davis’ wife, added. “We’d really like to know how that happened.”The family is thrilled to have the letters in their possession now— a treasure they never even knew was missing.“It’s a keepsake to me that I never knew I had,” said Simmons. “It just means the world to me. I miss my mom and daddy every day. It’s been quite a few years since they passed and this just brought them back.”Beverly knows her husband felt the same way, and knows his receiving these special letters just weeks before his sudden death was one of the best gifts he could have ever gotten.And as for their mother’s additional admirers, “She wound up with the one she was supposed to have,” said Simmons.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Phone Scams: Why People Keep Falling for the Oldest Scam in the Book


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It was 11 o’clock in the morning when Luann and Betty Ann’s world was shattered with a single phone call.“He says, ‘Do you have a daughter or a son?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I have a daughter,’” Luann said. “And he said, ‘Oh boy, there’s been a terrible accident. Four cars at an intersection. Everyone is unconscious.’”“He said, ‘What kind of car does she have?’ And I said, ‘It’s a Kia,’” she continued. “And he said, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a Kia here. She’s unconscious.’”The two women, who asked that their full names not be used, didn’t know who the man on the phone was but, terrified for their daughter’s life, they jumped into their own car and headed out to look for her, staying on the phone with the stranger.“I am thinking my daughter is laying on a highway somewhere unconscious,” Betty Ann said. “And the scariest part was we didn’t even know where she was. They wouldn’t say exactly where she was.”But then, the story took an unexpected, and even more frightening, turn.“I was like, ‘You have to tell me exactly where you are and what the hell is going on now,’” Luann said. “And then his whole demeanor changed and he was like, ‘Now you wait a minute. ... We have her, at gunpoint, and we are going to shoot her if you don’t give me $1,700.’”But what Luann and Betty Ann didn't know at the time was that they were on the receiving end of a phone scam, where the latest tactic in an otherwise low-tech crime is for con artists to claim to have kidnapped a loved one and are holding them for ransom.“I never felt terror before in my life,” Luann said. “This was absolute terror, having your child’s life in your hands.”The Federal Trade Commission estimates that over 25 million Americans lose in excess of $2.5 billion to fraud each year, and phone scams, which account for a big chunk of that, have been surprisingly successful for decades. Past scams have included asking people to invest in an oil company, gas deal or gold coins. Con artists have also been known to pose as lottery officials or IRS agents calling about taxes owed. Whatever the pitch, phone scammers are like top-notch salespeople, and they are extremely effective.“These are dangerous people you are on the phone with,” said Jimmy, a convicted con artist. “Make no bones about it. I am a dangerous person. On the telephone if I chose to be fraudulent in my practices there is nothing that is going to stop me taking lots of money from people, period.”Choosing their next victim, what Jimmy called “the crush” or “the kill,” is emotionally driven. “It’s not logic,” he said. “If you apply logic to this concept it's 'No, I am not going to send you my hard earned money. I don’t even know who you are.'”Doug Shadel, a former fraud investigator and current Senior State Director for AARP in Washington state, has interviewed Jimmy and more than a dozen con artists like him, trying to understand how they are able to pull off a scam most people think they would never fall for. The AARP runs their own Fraud Watch Network where they track the latest scams.“We always ask them the same question: ‘What is your central strategy for defrauding people?’” Shadel said. “They all say the same thing, ‘get them under the ether.’ ... a heightened emotional state where you are no longer thinking rationally but you are reacting emotionally.”A heightened emotional state, such as the con artist claiming he has kidnapped someone’s child.“This explains why so many people who are doctors, lawyers, professors of chemistry have actually fallen for this stuff,” Shadel said. “How could somebody that smart fall for this? It’s not their intellect that’s engaged when they make that decision. It’s the emotion.”Shadel said he has received piles of recordings from states attorney general investigations into phone scams, many filled with abusive and demeaning language, even threats.“Whenever I get tired and need some motivation I listen to tapes like this to remind me that there are thousands of people out there who are suffering in silence. They are afraid ... and people comply out of that fear,” Shadel said. “Part of our goal is to give people an opportunity to come forward, shine a light on these things so that law enforcement can do something about it and we can help each other.”But for law enforcement, tracking down scammers can be challenging. The New York Attorney General’s office is currently taking on the grandparent phone scam, where a grandparent gets a call from a scammer pretending to be a teenage grandchild in trouble.The Attorney General’s office is reaching out to the supposed victims -- the grandkids -- to try to get them to warn their families about phony phone calls that could come their way. Investigators say they are up against crooks who have no problem tugging at a person’s heartstrings to rip them off.Looking back on that day, Luann said she didn’t think there was anything she would have done differently.“When they do that to you they pull right at your emotions and you are raw. You are terrorized, and you will do anything,” she said.She and Betty Ann say they were lucky to be together when the supposed kidnapping call came in. While Luann was on the phone with the scammer, Betty Ann frantically tried to call their daughter.“At first I called and there was no answer. I called again and said, ‘Where are you?’” Betty Ann recalled. “And then finally I get back a text, ‘I’m in class. What’s wrong?’”“And then once I knew it was a scam I hung up,” Luann said.And they weren’t the only one terrorized that day. Their daughter, Maxine, was also panicked.“It killed me just to hear -- that’s my mom, I love and care for her, she’s my life. ... To hear her voice like that, I got upset and then I got angry,” she said. “I was like who was doing this to my mother? Who are you to do this to my mother. This is my mother, my family. You don’t do that.”They filed a police report, but doubt the callers will ever be caught, which is why, in addition to not using their full names, they asked that their location not be revealed either.“I have heard of scams. I’ve never heard of this,” Betty Ann said. “The way they just got the details and got the info and used it against me, that’s exactly what they did, they got the info they needed and used it against me.”Investigators warn even if you keep your doors locked and passwords secured, crooks want into your life, and sometimes, they’re just a phone call away.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Military Mom's 'Pride Packages' Spread Love and Support Overseas


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One mother’s care packages to her soldier son have now turned into gifts of love for untold numbers in war zones.Evan Garlick joined the Marines when he was 17. He was eventually deployed to Iraq, a combat zone filled with chaos and pain.He was injured by a roadside bomb in December 2006, but refused medical attention so a more seriously injured fellow Marine would be taken care of.“I could feel the shrapnel and I remember taking a piece out,” Garlick, now living in Pelham, Georgia, told ABC News. “They said the lieutenant was down and we ran to him.”Garlick earned a Purple Heart and both Marines recovered from their injuries. This wasn’t the first time Garlick had displayed such selflessness.In his first deployment in 2005, his mother, Pat Garlick, would send him letters every single day, along with a weekly care package. His nickname around the base quickly turned into “post office.”One day, however, Garlick noticed a buddy in his barracks wasn’t getting any mail at all.“He was disappointed because everyone had received mail,” Garlick said. “You can see the look on his face of disappointment when the mail came. And when it was all gone, he hadn’t received anything yet.”So he put in a special request with his mom: To send his empty-handed friend a package and “keep it a secret.”“He goes, ‘Mom, can you send him a package?’” Garlick’s mom recalled. “’But don’t tell him where it came from. I don’t want him to know.’”The package was received and something magnificent began. Garlick and his mother’s act of kindness has now turned into an assembly line of love. More than 3,000 care packages filled with snacks, goodies and magazines, all packed into personalized boxes they’ve dubbed “Pride Packages.”Pat Garlick works with AnySoldier.com, a website that helps facilitate sending items to soldiers overseas, to get the names and addresses for where to send her “Pride Packages.”“My mission is to make sure those in need receive something from back home,” she said.Garlick and her team of volunteers in Shelbyville, Illinois, have sent more than 3,000 packages since her son’s deployment.ABC News found one of the recipients of Garlick's care packages, Navy Lt. Cheryl Collins.Collins, who was stationed in Afghanistan, had a message for Garlick."I am so thankful for you and what you mean to so many people," Collins said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

FBI Sends 100 Agents to Ferguson Ahead of Grand Jury Decision


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- The FBI has sent about 100 agents to the St. Louis area to help deal with any problems that could arise from the grand jury decision in the police shooting of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown.In addition to the FBI, other federal agencies have also mobilized staffers to get to St. Louis on Friday, sources told ABC News.A decision by the grand jury is expected soon, but St. Louis authorities said on Friday that the grand jury is still meeting. The panel will decide whether or not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Brown, who was unarmed, on Aug. 9.Authorities are braced for a recurrence of angry protests that turned violent at times during the summer.The FBI has ordered its Ferguson contingent to mobilize and arrive in the St. Louis area on Friday. In addition to FBI personnel already in the St. Louis area, about 100 more are being dispatched, law enforcement sources said. Additional FBI personnel have been put on alert so that they could be called in as part of a second emergency wave if necessary, ABC News has learned.The FBI is opening up its special St. Louis intelligence center on Friday. This facility will be in constant contact with the Missouri and St. Louis County Emergency Operations Center.The FBI declined to comment.Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency earlier this week and activated the Missouri National Guard to help keep order if necessary.Michael Brown Sr., the father of the slain teen, issued a videotaped appeal this week for protesters to remain peaceful whatever the verdict.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio