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'We've Caught Our Monster': Sex Offender Charged With Murder Of Girl Found In Creek

A convicted sex offender has been charged with murdering a 12-year-old Florida girl whose body was found in a creek last week.

The girl disappeared from outside her family’s Pensacola apartment in May. A fisherman found the body of Naomi Jones five days later.

Robert Letroy Howard, 38, who was dating a woman in the apartment complex where Naomi lived, was arrested Thursday, Escambia County Chief Deputy Chip Simmons said.

“We have caught our monster,” Simmons told reporters at a press conference. “We have caught the killer that took Naomi’s life.”

Howard is facing charges of first degree premeditated murder, kidnapping and failure to register as a sex offender.

According to Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan, surveillance video captured Howard by the creek where Naomi’s body was found.

“Howard could not provide a viable alibi of his whereabouts during the disappearance of Naomi,” Morgan said.

Howard has been on the Alabama Sex Offender Registry since 1999 after being convicted of two counts of sexual assault and rape involving a 19-year-old victim. He was jailed 15 years for the offenses.

A report made by the sheriff’s office indicates Howard told investigators he “had nothing to do with killing Naomi Jones” and was in Alabama at the time. Morgan said detectives determined that was “false information.”

Naomi disappeared after she and her siblings returned home from an afternoon walk on May 31. She left behind her cellphone, keys and purse at her home.

Authorities said the girl was active on social media prior to her disappearance and that “tech surveillance” was “critical” in solving the case. However, investigators have declined to confirm whether Howard used social media to communicate with the victim.

 “He was not unknown to our victim,” Morgan said, without elaborating.

Authorities said they believe Naomi was killed within 24 to 36 hours of her disappearance. The medical examiner determined that the death was probably due to asphyxiation.

Howard, who is being held behind bars without bond, is scheduled to appear in court on June 30.

Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said their office is likely to seek the death penalty.

Howard’s sister, Althea Walker, told WKRG News that she disagrees with the way the sheriff’s office portrayed her brother.

“I want people to know he is not a monster,” Walker said.

The sheriff, who said investigators believe Howard acted alone, warned parents to be mindful of their children’s activities.

“Please be parents,” Morgan said. “Your children are carrying a handheld computer. It just happens to double as a cellphone … There are predators out there [and] you can’t protect your children from this unless you parent. That’s part of your job.”

David Lohr covers crime and missing persons. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow him on Twitter.

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Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

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jun 12 17, 20:43
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Homicide Suspected After Missing 12-Year-Old Girl Found Dead

Five days after 12-year-old Naomi Jones was reported missing, a grim-faced law enforcement official announced that the body found in a Florida creek was hers.

“It unfortunately is my sad duty today to inform you of the outcome of the search,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said at a Monday press conference. “We know that she was found in the water.”

Morgan said homicide is suspected in the child’s death and detectives are interviewing people of interest.

“We have defined two people we are extremely interested in,” Morgan said, without elaborating.

Fishermen found Naomi’s body around 4 p.m. Monday, in a Pensacola creek. Police are investigating how she ended up there, several miles from her home at Aspen Village Apartments, the sheriff added.

State Attorney Bill Eddins told Pensacola’s WEAR-TV he has appointed an FBI agent to assist the sheriff’s office.

“Since the investigation started there have been more than 200 law enforcement officers on the ground, more than 300 interviews were conducted and 30 search warrants were issued,” Eddins said.

Naomi disappeared after and her siblings returned home from an afternoon walk on May 31. She left behind her cellphone, keys and purse at her home.  

Naomi’s mother, Shantara Hurry, told WKRG News that it was her son who first called her, telling her Naomi was missing.  “I rushed home from work to find my daughter … and she was nowhere to be found.”

Morgan told WKRG News that investigators believe the girl last had contact with a friend over Facebook before disappearing.

Officials have not delved into details of Naomi’s death. Jeff Martin, director of the First Judicial Medical Examiner’s Office, told The Pensacola News Journal on Tuesday that they expected to complete her autopsy by the end of the day and would only release the results if it didn’t jeopardize the ongoing investigation.

Also unanswered is the central question of why Naomi, who recently graduated the fifth grade at Ferry Pass Elementary School, was killed.

“I don’t care why,” Morgan said Monday. “I leave the whys to the psychologists and the script writers. We want to solve this crime and bring to justice the person who took Naomi’s life.”

To that end, Morgan said individuals questioned by police “may be involved in not only the disappearance of Naomi but might quite possibly be involved in her homicide.”

Morgan did not say whether any of the people being questioned are among the more than 300 registered sex offenders living within a 5-mile radius of Naomi’s home.

After the tragic news Monday, the community quickly organized a prayer service at Olive Baptist Church to comfort neighbors and volunteers who had been searching for the missing child.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Cindy Vess, a family friend, told WEAR-TV. “It’s just so heartbreaking for someone so young and for her life to end so tragically.”

“I can’t imagine what [Naomi’s mother is] experiencing right now,” added Gina Gonzalez, who had participated in volunteer search efforts. “And I hope it shows my kids that I am telling them the truth when I tell them to stay close. It hurts. It really does. It hurts.”

Brad Dennis, director of the KlaasKids Foundation, said Naomi’s family has asked for privacy as they mourn.

“The family is doing as expected,” he told The Pensacola News Journal. “There’s still a lot of unanswered questions obviously, so for them the grief comes in waves.”

Neighbors and friends have donated to the family through a GoFundMe account to help Naomi’s family with expenses.

Anyone with information in the disappearance or death of Naomi Jones is asked to call the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 436-9620.

David Lohr covers crime and missing persons. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow him on Twitter.

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jun 7 17, 22:01
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Oklahoma Cop Who Killed Terence Crutcher Found Not Guilty Of Manslaughter

The white police officer who fatally shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man whose car stalled in the middle of the road in Tulsa, Oklahoma last year, was found not guilty of first-degree murder on Wednesday evening.

Jurors deliberated for nine hours before acquitting the officer, 42-year-old Betty Shelby.

Shelby was responding to an unrelated call on Sept. 16, 2016, when she approached Crutcher’s vehicle. According to CNN, Shelby said she fired at Crutcher, 40, because he reached into his car.

On Monday, she told the court that she feared for her life

The Tulsa Police Department claimed that Crutcher failed to comply with orders from Shelby and the other officers who were on the scene. Videos of the incident, which captured several angles of the shooting, showed police with their guns pointed at Crutcher as he calmly walked toward his car with his hands above his head.

Moments later, he was shot

After the fatal shooting, Shelby was charged with felony manslaughter.

Her attorneys claimed she feared Crutcher was under the influence of PCP, a hallucinogenic drug. Police found PCP in Crutcher’s car, and an autopsy report later revealed that Crutcher had the drug in his system at the time of his death.

Crutcher’s family, who maintain that the shooting was unjustified, accused the police of using the drug possession to deflect attention from the fact that Crutcher was unarmed when police shot him, The Associated Press reported.

Crutcher’s twin sister Tiffany told reporters after the shooting that he was a father who was just trying to make his family proud.

“That big bad dude was a father. That big bad dude was a son. That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College,” Tiffany Crutcher said. She added that Crutcher “loved God” and would sing at church every week. Friends of Crutcher described him to The Associated Press as a friendly and generous person who went to church and was trying to turn his life around.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Shelby overreacted, and pointed out that Crutcher was not acting combative when he was confronted by police, per ABC News.

Crutcher’s family said they were disappointed by the verdict, NBC News reported, and called the Tulsa Police Department “corrupt.”  At a press conference, Tiffany Crutcher accused police of a cover-up.

“All the elements of manslaughter was there,” she said. “Terence’s hands were up. Terence did not attack her, Terence did not charge her. Terence was not the aggressor, Betty Shelby was the aggressor.

About 100 protestors who gathered outside of the courthouse yelled “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” after the verdict was handed down, the Tulsa World reported.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) then asked residents and protestors to respect the verdict and remain calm.

“Those who disagree with the verdict have the right to express their opinions,” Fallin said in an official statement. “I just ask that they do so in a peaceful manner.”

Hours later, peaceful demonstrators collected outside of the Mayo Hotel in downtown Tulsa, where Shelby is believed to be staying, per Fox 23 News.

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may 18 17, 08:53
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Arkansas Executes First Inmate In 12 Years

Arkansas carried out its first execution in 12 years on Thursday night following a flurry of court filings. 

Ledell Lee, 51, was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. CDT, just minutes before his death warrant expired. Lee had no last words, according to the Arkansas Department of Corrections. 

Lee is one of eight men the state originally wanted to execute over 11 days before the supply of one of the drugs in its three-part lethal injection protocol expires at month’s end. Four of the inmates have received individual stays of execution. 

Throughout his more than two decades on death row, Lee maintained his innocence. He was convicted of the 1993 beating death of 26-year-old Debra Reese in her Jacksonville home.

Lee’s execution came after a flurry of last-minute appeals for more time to test DNA evidence that his lawyers hoped could exonerate him. The Innocence Project and the American Civil Liberties Union represented Lee in his final court battles. 

“Ledell Lee proclaimed his innocence from the day of his arrest until the night of his execution twenty-four years later,” the Innocence Project said in a statement following Lee’s execution. “During that time, hundreds of innocent people have been freed from our nation’s prisons and death rows by DNA evidence. It is hard to understand how the same government that uses DNA to prosecute crimes every day could execute Mr. Lee without allowing him a simple DNA test.”

It added: “While reasonable people can disagree on whether death is an appropriate form of punishment, no one should be executed when there is a possibility that person is innocent.”

Lee’s attorneys had raced to court Thursday with a string of filings that raised various issues about Lee’s trials and his representation over the years. Among them, attorneys noted that Lee’s lawyers in his first trial provided inadequate counsel and that the presiding judge didn’t disclose an affair with the assistant prosecutor, whom the judge later married. Lee’s post-conviction counsel showed up in court appearing drunk and slurring his words.

Arkansas set out to execute eight people over the course of 11 days. Why these eight? Why now?"
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

Lee’s current attorneys further argued that Lee had an intellectual disability, which made him ineligible for the death penalty under the Constitution.

Other legal petitions surrounded Arkansas’s use of midazolam, the controversial sedative that has been blamed for botched executions in states including Arizona and Oklahoma, and others questioned the state’s hasty execution schedule, which shortened the defendants’ time for measures such as clemency reviews.

The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals voted against granting Lee clemency Thursday.  

Notably, the U.S. Supreme Court’s newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, voted with the 5-4 majority that refused to reverse the 8th Circuit’s decision to allow the execution to take place. 

Justice Stephen Breyer, who was in favor of granting Lee a stay, lamented that Arkansas’s driving factor ― the expiration date of the drugs ― seemed arbitrary.

“Arkansas set out to execute eight people over the course of 11 days. Why these eight? Why now?” Breyer wrote. “The apparent reason has nothing to do with the heinousness of their crimes or with the presence (or absence) of mitigating behavior. It has nothing to do with their mental state. It has nothing to do with the need for speedy punishment.”

Lee’s execution was first effectively put on hold Wednesday due to a temporary restraining order put in place by a Pulaski County Circuit judge. The judge blocked the state from using its supply of pancuronium bromide, the second drug in the state’s three-drug cocktail. The drug supplier objected to the drug’s use in executions and said the state misleadingly obtained its product and refused to return it despite being refunded by the supplier.  

On Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court lifted the judge’s restraining order.

Just before 7 p.m., when Lee’s execution was scheduled to take place, the 8th Circuit issued a temporary stay ― followed later by a temporary stay from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ― to take additional time to consider his case.

Alito’s stay was set to expire at 9:30 p.m. or by a subsequent order, whichever was later. By 9:30 p.m., the 8th Circuit had denied all of Lee’s requests, but Alito’s stay remained in place pending the final order. The Arkansas Department of Corrections said the lethal injections were started at 11:44 p.m., and Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. with no reported complications in the execution process. 

An ADC spokesman told The Associated Press that Lee requested Holy Communion as his last meal. 

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) had aggressively sought Lee’s execution and called his death a “lawful sentence ... carried out.”

“The family of the late Debra Reese, who was brutally murdered with a tire thumper after being targeted because she was home alone, has waited more than 24 years to see justice done. I pray this lawful execution helps bring closure for the Reese family,” Rutledge said in a statement. 

Amnesty International USA, which opposes capital punishment, called Thursday’s execution a “shameful day for Arkansas.”

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apr 21 17, 07:33
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Driver Detained At White House After Alleged Car Bomb Threat

A man is in custody after he reportedly drove up to a White House security checkpoint on Saturday night and claimed to have a bomb in his vehicle, law enforcement officials told CNN.


from the Secret Service confirmed that an individual drove his vehicle to the checkpoint at 11:05 p.m. After contact with uniformed agents, the Secret Service detained the individual and “declared his vehicle suspicious.”

The statement said a criminal investigation was ongoing, but did not mention any explosive devices.

Ryan Nobles, a CNN reporter who was on the scene, said that a robot and bomb squad member were 

of the suspect’s car “
” after the incident began.

Shortly after midnight, Nobles tweeted that the suspect’s car was still running and 


This was the second security incident at the White House that day.

On Saturday afternoon, Secret Service agents arrested an individual who reportedly jumped over a bike rack in an attempt to reach the White House, CBS News reported. The individual was apprehended before reaching the White House fence along Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Donald Trump was in Florida at the time of both incidents.

Last week, a man identified as Jonathan T. Tran was arrested after he climbed over a fence and reached the exterior of the White House carrying two cans of Mace and a letter for Trump, according to the Washington Post.

Tran reportedly spent 15 minutes on White House grounds before he was apprehended. 

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mar 19 17, 10:28
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A Truck Driver Has Lost His Marbles — All 38,000 Pounds Of Them

Clean up on I-465. 

A truck carrying 38,000 pounds of marbles lost its trailer in Indianapolis on Saturday morning, causing the contents to spill onto the highway and shoulder near Pendleton Pike.

No injuries were reported, and the lost marbles brought a pop of color to an otherwise bleak winter’s day.

Indiana State Police public information officer Sgt. John Perrine tweeted a photo of the accident:

One lane of the highway remained closed for hours as crews cleaned up the mess. 

Drive safe out there.

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jan 23 17, 14:06
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Parents Apparently Overdose At Home, Baby Daughter Starves To Death Days Later

After two young parents died of apparent drug overdoses in their Pennsylvania home, their baby died of starvation in her bassinet some four days later, according to authorities.

Summer Chambers, five months old, and her parents Jason Chambers, 27, and Chelsea Cardaro, 19, were all found dead on Thursday in the family’s home in the Kernville section of Johnstown, a town about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, the Tribune-Democrat reported.

#BREAKING Cambria County Coroner Jeff Lees says a man and woman were found dead with their 5-month-old baby in Kernville (1/2)

— Daniel Hamburg (@DHamburgReports)

Investigators who found drugs on the scene believe the parents died of heroin overdoses within minutes of each other, though autopsy results are still pending, Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan said Friday.

A friend of the couple found their bodies about a week after their deaths. Summer, discovered in a second-floor bedroom, had also died by then. Autopsy results confirmed the baby had died of starvation and dehydration.

“It was hard going in there and being the one to see them like that,” the friend, James Grant, told local station WAJC-TV. “They cared for their daughter. For two flawed people, they did their best to hold it together.”

Chambers had overdosed before in November, but medical personnel revived him, according to Callihan. Authorities allowed the baby to stay in the home. 

A representative from Children and Youth Services met with the parents “with the child present at the residence,” said Callihan. “They checked out the house, and it was appropriate to a child living there. There was plenty of food and the child seemed well taken care of,” she added.

Since both parents died at approximately the same time, no one was left to alert authorities or care for the baby, according to Johnstown Police Captain Chad Miller. “Being from out of town, not having anybody in town, it was too long for anybody to notice that they were missing,” he said. 

Callihan said the tragedy “illustrates the ongoing issues that we’re having with overdoses” in the area. 

“If you are addicted, if you’re using heroin and you have children, you’re endangering their lives,” Callihan said. “You need to get help for your children.”

Heroin deaths in the U.S. are skyrocketing. Last year, for the first time in more than 15 years, heroin caused more deaths than gun homicides, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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dec 26 16, 19:24
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Police Release Man Suspected Of Killing Joe McKnight

A man suspected of shooting and killing former National Football League player Joe McKnight in a possible case of road rage in a suburb of New Orleans was released from custody Friday without charge, police said.

The suspect, 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, was taken into custody after Thursday’s shooting around 3 p.m. local time in Terrytown. 

#BREAKING: Ronald Gasser, suspect in Joe McKnight's killing, released from custody

— (@NOLAnews)

McKnight, 28, was pronounced dead at the scene, suffering from “multiple gunshot wounds,” Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department said in a statement on Thursday.

McKnight played for the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. After 2014, his last NFL season, he had played as a running back in the Canadian Football League.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said at a news conference on Friday that it was premature to draw conclusions about the shooting and that the investigation would continue.

The Jefferson Parish District Attorney declined to comment.

Normand said his office had been publicly criticized for releasing Gasser, who is white, in the shooting of McKnight, a black football player who had a five-year career in the NFL. 

“I’ve been accused of dropping the ball and doing this and doing that because we released Gasser last evening,” Normand said. “We will leave no stone unturned.”

Normand added that “everybody wants to make this about race. This isn’t about race.”

The hashtag #JoeMcKnight was among the top-trending topics on Twitter in the United States as many social media users voiced shock and outrage.

“I don’t get it,” wrote Antonio Cromartie, McKnight’s teammate during his time with the Jets. “How in hell do you release someone who killed my brother.”

Rex Ryan, who coached McKnight for three seasons with the Jets, said in a written statement released by the Buffalo Bills, the team he now coaches, that the running back’s death was “heartbreaking.”

“He was always determined to get better - better as a football player and as a man - and I thought he did that.”


(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish and Grant McCool)

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dec 3 16, 00:39
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Suspected Suicide Car Bomber Attacks China's Embassy In Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK (Reuters) - A suspected suicide bomber rammed the gates of the Chinese embassy in the Kyrgyz capital Bishek on Tuesday, killing himself and wounding three others, officials said.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said the car exploded inside the compound and quoted Deputy Prime Minister Janysh Razakov as describing the blast as “a terrorist act.”

#BREAKING At least 1 killed, 2 injured after a car rammed gate of Chinese embassy in Bishkek & exploded: authorities

— People's Daily,China (@PDChina)

Police, who cordoned off the building and the adjacent area, and the GKNB state security service said they were investigating the incident, which occurred around 1000 local time (0400 GMT).

Authorities in Kyrgyzstan, a mostly Muslim former Soviet republic of 6 million people, routinely detain suspected Islamist militants accused of being linked to the Islamic State, which actively recruits from Central Asia.

An anti-Chinese militant group made up of ethnic Uighurs is also active in the region. In 2014, Kyrgyz border guards killed 11 people believed to be members of that group who had illegally crossed the Chinese-Kyrgyz border.

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aug 30 16, 09:35
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Brazilian Sources Say Swimmers Fabricated Rio Robbery Story: Report

Brazilian sources 

 on Thursday that American swimmers lied about being robbed by men dressed as police officers, claiming surveillance video showed an American swimmer fighting with a gas station security guard on the night of the alleged incident. 

#BREAKING Brazil sources: #RyanLochte + 3 swimmers fabricated robbery story. Video shows swimmer "fighting" w/security at gas station @GMA

— Matt Gutman (@mattgutmanABC)

#BREAKING Brazilian authorities tell @ABC video shows "US swimmer" "breaking down" gas station restroom door "fighting" w/ security guard

— Matt Gutman (@mattgutmanABC)

Reuters reported on Thursday that the swimmers paid for damage they caused at the

According to Brazilian outlet TV Globo, the police said there was no robbery, but a confusion involving the swimmers at a gas station in Barra da Tijuca. The athletes damaged the bathroom door and the police were called. According to the security guard, the athletes got aggressive when he pointed a gun to prevent them from leaving the gas station. There was a discussion and the athletes agreed to pay for the damage. 

Two of the swimmers involved in the incident, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, were removed from a flight to the United States in Rio on Wednesday night and detained by Brazilian officials.

“The three U.S. Olympic swimmers (Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen) are cooperating with authorities and in the process of scheduling a time and place today to provide further statements to the Brazilian authorities,” Patrick Sandusky, a United States Olympic Committee spokesperson, said in a statement. “All are represented by counsel and being appropriately supported by the USOC and the U.S. Consulate in Rio.” 



On Wednesday, a judge issued an order to seize the passports of swimmers Ryan Lochte and Feigen, who were also involved in the incident, but Lochte was already back in the U.S. 

On Wednesday, Lochte changed some elements of his recollection of the incident in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer. While he initially told NBC’s Billy Bush that a gun had been pointed at his head, he told Lauer that the gun had

. Lochte also told Lauer that the swimmers had stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom, while he originally said the men dressed as police officers had pulled them over.

Luciano Sarmento contributed reporting.

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aug 18 16, 17:54
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