The Florida Department of Law Enforcement(TAMPA BAY, Fla.) — The 2-year-old Florida boy found dead after a five day-hunt was left to die by his own mother, according to authorities.Police arrested 21-year-old Charisse Stinson and charged her with first-degree murder and child abuse on Tuesday after the body of her son, Jordan Belliveau, was found in a wooded area.Stinson admitted to striking her child “in a moment of frustration” with a blow that caused him to hit his head against a wall in their home, according to the arrest affidavit filed by Largo Police, ABC affiliate WFTS in Tampa Bay reported. The injured boy then got steadily worse through the night and suffered seizures.But instead of seeking medical help, Stinson took the child to a wooded area and left him to die, the affidavit continued. She then hit herself to create “self-inflicted injuries” that she later presented as results of a conflict with a stranger.An Amber Alert was issued for Jordan the next day on Sunday, hours after Stinson turned up at an inn in the wee hours of the morning appearing to be injured. She said she had been knocked unconscious and dumped in a park by a stranger she called Antwan, who had given Jordan and her a ride. She had last seen the toddler when they were in Antwan’s car, she told police.But police said in a press conference on Wednesday that they believe the story is completely made up.“We do not believe there was an Antwan,” said Largo police Lt. Randall Chaney. “That was all fabricated by Ms. Stinson to help cover her alibi for what she’d actually done.”Throughout the five days authorities searched for the child and interviewed his mother, she repeatedly changed her account based on the line of questioning and did not show any remorse, Chaney said.Just a few hours before Jordan was killed, Stinson and her son had been visited at home by a member of the Florida Department of Children and Families, which was investigating the family, Chaney said. The boy had previously been in foster care, but had been given back to Stinson.Jordan’s parents have a turbulent history. They have both been arrested on separate occasions for violence against the other, according to court records in the possession of ABC News. In the latest incident in July of this year, the argument between the two was triggered after the father drove their child to Stinson’s residence to exchange custody access and she said she did not want the child yet.For nearly a week, multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Largo Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement searched bodies of water, reviewed surveillance footage, deployed canine search teams and interviewed family in the hunt for the child.Police said they had recovered “bloody items” from the apartment where Jordan and his mother lived, although they did not say it was in any way connected to the boy’s disappearance.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Barron County Sheriff(BARRON, Wis.) — It’s not clear where the $50,000 reward offered in the Jayme Closs kidnapping case will go now that the 13-year-old is home safe, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said.Suspect Jake Patterson, 21, is accused of gunning down Closs’ parents in Barron, Wisconsin, on Oct. 15 and fleeing with the 13-year-old to his rural Wisconsin home. Closs managed to escape Thursday after allegedly being held captive there for nearly three months.Closs’ mysterious abduction sparked a massive, months-long investigation involving the FBI, who offered a reward up to $25,000 for information leading to her whereabouts.The Jennie-O Turkey company, where Closs’ parents worked, also offered a $25,000 reward, said Leonard Peace, spokesperson for the FBI in Milwaukee.No decision has been made on what to do with that combined $50,000 reward, said Fitzgerald, who told ABC News Wednesday the “discussion is ongoing.”Peace echoed the sheriff, telling ABC News “the reward is still under review.”Closs, lauded by officials for making what they called a brave break for freedom, told police she crawled out from where Patterson allegedly trapped her under his bed when he left the house Thursday.Closs fled the home and approached a woman walking her dog to plead for help, officials said. The dog walker rushed Closs to a neighbor who called 911.“Jayme is a hero in this case, no question about it,” the sheriff told reporters Friday. “She’s the one that helped us break the case.”Patterson, who is charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, kidnapping and armed burglary, has not entered a plea.He is due to return to court on Feb. 6. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
diego_cervo/iStock(NEW YORK) — The Catholic diocese allowed priests to serve in the West Virginia community and work in their schools in spite of known histories of sexual abuse, according to newly filed court documents.The Attorney General of West Virginia announced on Tuesday that his office filed a civil complaint against the diocese and the bishop over the lack of transparency and their decisions to allow predators in their schools.The complaint says that the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston “engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices by failing to disclose to consumers of its educational and recreational services that it employed priests and laity who have sexually abused children, including an admitted abuser who the Diocese nevertheless allowed to work in a Catholic elementary school.”The Diocese did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.This legal action comes during a time of turmoil for the Catholic Church, both in the U.S. and abroad.Investigations into clerical sexual abuse are underway in Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia, as well as with the Archdiocese of Anchorage in Alaska. Spokespersons for several other state attorneys general offices told ABC News that their offices were reviewing options and considering taking similar actions.Leaders from more than 100 countries and regions met in the Vatican last month to discuss the abuse epidemic.The complaint filed Tuesday by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is asking for the diocese to permanently ban the practice of hiring and not disclosing the sexual abuse allegations of employees — which is in violation of the state’s business practices — and demands restitution, among other penalties.The complaint names two priests and one lay person, and references another priest, who is does not named; all of whom were allegedly employed by the diocese in spite of accusations of sexual abuse or misconduct against them.The complaint highlights the case of Victor Frobas, a priest who was credibly accused of sexually abusing a child when he was staffed in Philadelphia in 1962.He then moved to the West Virginia diocese in 1965, the year after the complaint about the abuse was made to the Philadelphia diocese.The complaint charges that Frobas “was moved frequently due to suspicions of and sometimes allegations of sexual abuse of children” with the Diocese’s direction.While employed by the diocese, Frobas faced multiple subsequent allegations of abuse, took leaves of absence and received treatment at facilities known for dealing with pedophilia, according to the complaint. He left the West Virginia diocese in 1983, but moved on to work in St. Louis and later pleaded guilty to charges of inappropriate contact, leading to a five year prison term before he died in 1993, the complaint read.The complaint identifies another priest, Father Patrick Condron, who allegedly “groomed” a student for years.According to allegations made by the student years later, in 1995, Condron groomed him “beginning with long embraces, passing through kissing and culminating in an attempt at genital sexual intercourse,” the complaint charges.Condron admitted the allegations, received treatment, was allowed back into active ministry and later allowed to work at Wheeling Catholic Elementary School, according to the court documents.The complaint also cites an unnamed priest from another diocese, who on his application form in 2002, wrote that he had been accused of sexually abusing a child in 1979. He was still hired, according to the complaint.“The Diocese had the opportunity to thoroughly vet this priest after being put on notice to do so, yet, it failed to adequately investigate this priest’s background before hiring him,” the complaint read.The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the country’s oldest and largest support group for survivors of clergy abuse, released a statement praising Morrisey for “bringing these egregious oversights into the light.”“We hope that this move by A.G. Morrisey will prod other law enforcement officials to think outside the box, but will also encourage survivors, witnesses, and whistle blowers in West Virginia to come forward and report to police,” SNAP said in a statement Tuesday.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Baltimore Police Dept.(BALTIMORE) — A father and daughter who allegedly fabricated a story of a panhandler stabbing his wife to death when she gave them money were extradited to Baltimore early Thursday to face murder charges. Keith and Valeria Smith were brought back to Maryland by the Baltimore Police Department’s Warrant Apprehension Task Force after being caught in Texas earlier this month while attempting to make a run for the Mexican border, authorities said. The father and daughter arrived at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport shortly after midnight and were immediately driven to the Central Booking Intake Facility in Baltimore, police said. Baltimore police released video and photos of the pair being taken off the plane on the tarmac, put into handcuffs and driven away. It was not immediately clear when they will appear in court. They are both charged with first-degree murder in the Dec. 1 stabbing death of Keith Smith’s wife, Jacquelyn Smith, 54. The supects initially claimed Jacquelyn Smith was stabbed by one of two panhandlers she spotted while driving through East Baltimore. In interviews with homicide detectives and at a news conference shortly after the killing, the pair claimed Jacquelyn Smith was stabbed when she asked her husband to pull over so she could give $10 to a female panhandler who appeared to be holding a baby. Keith Smith told ABC News shortly after the killing that both panhandlers approached their car and the male panhandler stabbed his wife and snatched her chain as he and the woman were thanking her for the money. He said the woman panhandler reached into the car, grabbed his wife’s purse and ran. But on March 3, Michael Harrison, acting commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, said the story told by Keith and Valeria Smith “was not true.” Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh slammed the suspects for using issues of homelessness as a ruse in an alleged attempt to cover up the killing. “These individuals took advantage of a situation, a city that is already dealing with its own problems,” Pugh said earlier this month. “We’re looking forward to this cruel act being brought to justice.” The father and daughter were arrested that day in Harlingen, Texas, which is near the Mexican border. Police said they suspect the pair was attempting to cross the border and disappear. Since his arrest, Keith Smith’s criminal history has come under increased scrutiny. He pleaded guilty in 2001 to robbing the same bank in Timonium, Maryland, three times in nine months, according to reports obtained by ABC News from the Baltimore County Police Department.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
iStock/AndreyPopov(DALLAS) — A Texas mom has been arrested after allegedly kicking her son out of her car and leaving him alone outside in extreme heat.Kesa Brown has been charged with child endangerment after allegedly abandoning her 10-year-old son at a busy intersection in Harris County, Texas, on North Sam Houston Parkway after he spilled food in her car, and then drove away and left him in 100-degree weather, according to authorities.Deputies responded to a call of a juvenile walking alone under an overpass. They located the child at a nearby gas station, according to the Harris County Constable’s office.The child allegedly told deputies that his mother made him get out of the vehicle after he accidentally dropped food on the floor.Officers located Brown approximately an hour later. She allegedly told police that she did not contact law enforcement regarding the incident because her Texas driver’s license was invalid, according to the constable’s office.Brown has been arrested and charged with child endangerment. Her bond has been set at $15,000, according to authorities.Child protective services was contacted in regards the case, according to the constable’s office, and the 10-year-old has been released to a guardian. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
amphotora/iStock(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Florida’s largest sheriff’s office had its law enforcement accreditation revoked over its response to two deadly mass shootings, but the office’s new leader said it’s unfair to punish his team for the “previous administration’s mishandling.” The Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation voted 13-0 to revoke the Broward County Sheriff’s Office of its accreditation, citing its botched response to the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 dead. It also cited missteps connected to the 2017 Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shooting, which left five dead. The vote took place during the commission meeting last Wednesday in Orlando. The accreditation is a voluntary certification and the loss isn’t expected to affect BSO’s day-to-day operations. But the sheriff said the loss was insulting nevertheless.“It is disheartening for the hardworking members of the Broward Sheriff’s Office to lose our accreditation because of the previous administration’s mishandling of two devastating events in our community,” Sheriff Gregory Tony told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday. “Since recently taking command, I have worked on improving BSO and repairing the effects of bad leadership and negligence by focusing on training and community relations.”“I will continue working hard to ensure that all Broward residents feel safe and that our agency’s reputation and honor are restored,” he added.Broward County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Scot Peterson, 56, was terminated from his position last month and charged with multiple counts of child neglect after an internal investigation found that he retreated while students were under attack in the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.Internal investigators claimed Peterson “did absolutely nothing to mitigate the MSD shooting,” according to a statement released by the agency. He faces seven counts of neglect of a child, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury. He has not yet entered a plea.Peterson’s attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, said in a statement after Peterson’s arrest that his client was being made a scapegoat.“The State’s actions appear to be nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at politically motivated retribution against Mr. Peterson, as no other individual employed at the Broward Sheriff’s Office or Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been criminally charged,” DiRuzzo said.Three other deputies were also fired over their apparent inaction as a result of an internal affairs probe.“They have been terminated and will no longer be privileged to serve as law enforcement deputies for the Broward Sheriff’s Office,” the statement said. “We have enhanced our active shooter response protocol, increased our training staff, introduced essential equipment, established training partnerships with federal organizations and are building a regional training center.” Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
ABC News(NEW YORK) — Despite what you may have read this week, Amanda Knox and her fiance say they are not crowdfunding their wedding. They just posted about their wedding on social media, asking for tips and suggestions and sharing a link to their wedding website. That website is connected to a publicly-accessible wedding registry. “I did not put it out there expecting to get a dime from anyone,” Knox told ABC News.On Sunday, July 20, Knox posted on Instagram and Twitter about her upcoming wedding, which included a link to the couple’s “wedding story” website featuring the story of how they met and a series of photos of the pair through the years. It also has a button at the top of the site that connects to their registry.“Our wedding registry was never meant to be a crowdfunding source. It was meant for our family and friends and any well-wishers that I have” to see and participate in, said Knox, 32. “I have a lot of haters in this world but I have a lot of family friends and supporters as well. I wanted to share with them this fun, creative idea.”Creative it is. The wedding is space-themed, so to speak, with the cosmos apparently playing a big part in their celebration. There are multiple levels of patrons that visitors could opt to become — stellar, galactic, or temporal — that will help pay for things like “outrageous costumes, crazier puzzles, mind-bending sets, and extravagant alien food,” the website states.The registry does not solicit any specific gifts that may be staples of other wedding registries, such as place settings or blenders, with the couple writing at the top of the site: “Let’s face it, we don’t need any more stuff. What we do need is help putting on the best party ever for our family and friends!”“We’re big nerds when it all comes down to it,” Knox said in explaining the theme, adding “we’re taking a very nontraditional route to our wedding.”That includes the couple “writing a fun script,” Knox said, and asking guests to come in costume.“We’ve told the guests that they have been displaced into time and they should dress” as is appropriate in their time period, “whether that is ancient Rome or the mutant wars of the 22nd century,” said Knox’s fiance Christopher Robinson, 37.Knox said that she posted on social media about the wedding, which is set to take place on Leap Day aka Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, out of her excitement about the upcoming nuptials and “I didn’t have my normal restraint in deciding whether or not to share something with the world.”“I suppose I should have anticipated the hateful response and the utterly misrepresented response that the media had,” she said.Both she and Robinson, who work together on their podcast, “The Truth About True Crime with Amanda Knox,” felt that their wedding “means nothing” in the grand scheme of things and the news should be focused on bigger issues, like those who have been wrongfully imprisoned.The couple used a password-protected website for invited guests to RSVP, but they said that they didn’t want to put the registry behind a similar protection because, as Knox said, there are “thousands of people who are supportive of me who follow me” and she said that “very often [they] want to feel connected to me and I try my best to share that.”“We weren’t expecting people to go to the registries page,” Knox said.Robinson said that they have been “planning and paying for this wedding for a year,” and the website notes that an unexpected cost that they faced this year was to travel to Italy when Knox was invited to speak by the Italy Innocence Project.Knox was acquitted in 2015 for the murder of her roommate while the pair were studying abroad in Italy.Knox was 20 years old when she was accused of murdering British student Meredith Kercher in November 2007. Her case involved two appeals court trials and two Supreme Court decisions before she and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted.Knox sees the reaction to the wedding registry as the latest example of “the tabloids deliberately misrepresenting me.”“In a way I anticipated this a little bit but I honestly didn’t expect the level of vitriol i thin in part because I am desperately in love with this person and I’m excited about it and excited to share it… it’s deeply sad that the news media has turned into a place where gratuitous shaming is making national headlines,” she said. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
MattGush/iStock(IRVING, Texas) — A 16-year-old has died from injuries sustained when he was attacked by three dogs in the early hours of Saturday morning in Irving, Texas.Police were responding to a call regarding a “suspicious circumstance” around 4:45 a.m. when officers discovered the teenage boy being mauled in the backyard of a residence. In an attempt to save the boy, the officers then jumped the fence and attempted to get in between the boy and the dogs, according to a police statement.The three dogs then turned their sights on the officers. One officer was bitten before they started firing their weapons at the animals.One of the dogs was shot and later had to be euthanized due to the severity of its injuries, and the other two were captured and taken to the Irving Animal Shelter, police said.The 16-year-old, whose name has not yet been released, was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.The Irving Police Department said in a statement that the dogs were secure in their own backyard and the boy who was mauled did not live there.The officer who was bitten was treated and released.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
ABC News(NEW YORK) — The Southwest likely will roast again on Thursday as severe weather settles into the Plains.Storms on Wednesday moved through the western Plains and Southeast, delivering damaging winds, large hail and flash flooding.In parts of South Carolina, as much as 5 inches of rain has fallen in the last 24 hours, with flooding north of Charleston. A local daycare facility had to be evacuated as wind gusts of up to 60 mph uprooted trees and knocked out power in Georgia as well. Baseball-sized hail was seen in Wyoming and Colorado.Thursday’s strongest storms again will be in the Plains, with areas from the Dakotas down to Kansas possibly seeing damaging winds, hail or isolated tornadoes.San Francisco on Wednesday reached a high of 94 degrees, shattering the city’s previous daily record of 85. Oakland also reached 94, also a record, and it was 100 in Napa.In Arizona, Yuma tied a record high at 115.Some areas of California desert could see 120 degrees on Thursday as Sacramento could reach 106.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
ABC News(NEW YORK) — Gusty, dry winds continue to impact parts of the West, including California, Thursday. Some of the wind gusts have already surpassed 50 mph in parts of Northern California, with humidity as low as 3 percent. Because of the very dry conditions, the Briceburg fire in Mariposa County has more than doubled in size, and evacuations are in effect. The fire is burning in relatively rural area near Yosemite National Park.On Thursday, the worst of the gusty dry winds will shift into Southern California, where they’re called Santa Ana winds. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a rare extreme fire danger warning for Los Angeles and Ventura counties, with wind gusts possible up to 70 mph and very low relative humidity. With these conditions, any fire can spread very quickly.Meanwhile, a record snowfall brought nearly half a foot of snow to Billings, Montana, Wednesday. Some areas of Montana have received up to 13 inches of snow. Denver is getting slammed Thursday with temperature whiplash: It was 83 degrees Wednesday in the city, but by Thursday night the temperature will be in the teens. This could be a 60+ degree temperature drop in a very short period of time, possibly close to all-time record. Already, seven states are under winter storm warnings, watches and advisories.On the southern end of the storm system, we could see severe storms with damaging winds, hail, and a few tornadoes, from Dallas to Tulsa, Oklahoma and into Missouri. The heaviest snow will be in the Dakotas on Friday and Saturday, where some areas could see up to two feet of record-breaking October snow. Combined with gusty winds over 45 mph, the weather could shut down I-90 and I-94.Finally, an ocean storm is backing up toward the Northeast U.S., with gusty winds 30-50 mph, heavy rain up to 5 inches, and coastal flooding. The worst hit areas will be eastern New England and eastern Long Island, especially Cape Cod and Suffolk County, Long Island, where wind alerts and flood alerts have been posted. The worst of the storm will be through Friday, after which the storm will begin to weaken and move away from East Coast by the weekend. Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.