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    A New Jersey man accused of killing his wife, throwing her body in their pool and then driving to Applebee’s for food to set up his alibi has taken a plea deal in the case, prosecutors said.  Norman F. Long, 53, of Woolwich Township, pleaded guilty earlier this month to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, according to NJ.com. The plea deal struck with Gloucester County prosecutors requires Long to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he becomes eligible for parole. Prosecutors are recommending a 15-year sentence, NJ.com reported. As part of the agreement, charges of tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice have been dropped.  Long is scheduled for sentencing May 3.  >> Read more trending news Gloucester County prosecutors said at the time of Long’s arrest that the body of his wife, Michelle Long, 47, was pulled from the swimming pool at their home on June 17, 2017. Norman Long claimed that he had gone to pick up dinner and came home to find that his wife had apparently drowned in the pool. “According to an investigator’s affidavit of probable cause, Norman Long and neighbors were at poolside when the investigator arrived at 8:35 p.m. (that night), performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Michelle Long,” a 2017 news release from prosecutors said. “Norman Long ‘became combative’ while CPR was being administered and had to be restrained, the neighbors said.” A small dog was also found dead in the water.  Michelle Long’s autopsy showed that she had not drowned but instead died of blunt force trauma. Her death was ruled a homicide, prosecutors said.  Investigators spent just over six weeks investigating Michelle Long’s killing before arresting Norman Long on Aug. 1, 2017. He was charged with first-degree murder for “using physical force to cause blunt head and neck trauma” to his wife, the news release said. “It was a violent attack by him,” Gloucester County prosecutor Sean Dalton said during Norman Long’s first court appearance in August, NBC10 in Philadelphia reported. “The medical examiner found that there was bruising on her hands, consistent with defensive wounds. There was a struggle.” He was also charged with concealing evidence by “disposing (of) paper towels containing the blood of Michelle Long in the kitchen trashcan” and obstructing justice by throwing the blood-stained towels away and putting his wife’s body in the swimming pool, prosecutors said.  According to NJ.com, investigators believe Michelle Long may have been planning to leave her husband of 15 years. The last search she did on her computer, just minutes before her death, was a search for houses.  “This is what happened as a result of him finding out about that,” Dalton said during Long’s August appearance, NBC10 reported.  A timeline of the crime given in court last August alleged that Norman Long said his wife was on the computer when he left between 6:30 and 7 p.m. to pick up dinner at Applebee’s, NJ.com reported then. Prosecutors argued, however, that the timeline did not correspond with evidence. Michelle Long’s search for homes ended at 6:11 p.m., prosecutors said.  Surveillance footage from a nearby business’s security camera showed Norman Long driving by a carwash and then heading back home before going to Applebee’s, where the restaurant’s own footage shows him inside from 7:15 to 7:37 p.m., NJ.com reported. He against drove by the carwash headed for home at 7:47 p.m. The 911 call reporting Michelle Long’s death was received at 8:02 p.m. Norman Long was taken to a state psychiatric hospital for evaluation following his Aug. 1 arrest because he was expressing suicidal thoughts, prosecutors said.  NBC10 reported last year that the defendant’s first court appearance was delayed because he had an emotional breakdown in the jail. Sources told the news station Long physically fought being removed from his cell and had to be forcibly taken to his hearing. He was quiet once he was in the courtroom, the news station reported.  Michelle Long’s daughter, Brittany Maguire, said at the time of her stepfather’s arrest that her family was torn apart. “She was definitely the best mom, and she did not deserve this at all,” Maguire said during a news conference attended by NJ.com reporters. “We are all broken without her.” Since Michelle Long’s death, her mother and her daughters have partnered with a company called ROAR for Good, which makes a wearable personal safety device that, if activated by the touch of a button, shares the user’s location via text to a previously chosen list of contacts. It is designed to let people know if a loved one is in danger.  It can also emit a high-frequency alarm to scare away assailants, NJ.com reported. The family sells the devices, inscribed with Long’s nickname, “Chel,” on a website they created called guardianangelchel.com.  “We wanted to direct our energy into something positive, meaningful, and honor my daughter's life and leave a lasting legacy for her,' her mother, Susan Direso, told NJ.com last year. 'Chel was my joy, my little girl, and to lose her in such a brutal way broke my heart forever. This mission to help at-risk victims gives us a purpose to turn our tragedy into a meaningful project.”
  • Jean Skinner has been hoping against hope over the past month. Skinner, of Galveston, was at a Mardi Gras parade Feb. 22 in the city when she misplaced a bag of Mardi Gras beads. Inside the bag was not only the cheap plastic celebratory necklaces, but something much more valuable: a blue pendant containing ashes from Skinner’s mother, Wanda Ogle. “It’s a glass pendant,” Skinner told The Galveston County Daily News. “It was made by an artist and, when they made the pendant, they put my mother’s ashes in the glass.” >> Read more trending news Skinner said it was her first Mardi Gras parade. She ordinarily only wears the pendant to special events she thinks her mother would have enjoyed attending. The problem started when Skinner became overloaded with colorful beads up to her chin.  “A friend of mine was, like, ‘You’re drowning in beads,” Skinner told the Daily News. “I guess when I took the beads off, the necklace was in there, as well.” In a Facebook post four days after the parade, Skinner wrote that the pile of necklaces was in a white plastic bag that also contained a Trader Joe’s bag and an umbrella. She has since posted several times about her loss, including an interview she did with Fox26 in Houston.  Skinner told the Daily News she hopes the bag did not end up among the piles of trash picked up after the parade.  “I just hope that I get it back,” she said. “If I don’t, I just hope that whoever does have it has more fun and that my mom can go with them.”
  • The driver of a refuse truck that was hit last year by an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to a GOP retreat in West Virginia was impaired by a combination of marijuana and a prescription drug, likely causing the collision, authorities said in a preliminary report issued this month. >> Read more trending news One person, identified as a passenger in the Time Disposal truck, died in the crash on Jan. 31, 2018, while several others were injured. The truck’s driver, Dana Naylor Jr., 30, was indicted last year by a grand jury on charges of involuntary manslaughter and maiming another while driving under the influence, The Washington Post reported. Last month, a jury found Naylor not guilty of involuntary manslaughter, according to the newspaper. >> 1 killed when train carrying GOP lawmakers strikes garbage truck In a preliminary report issued this month, officials with the National Transportation Safety Board said Naylor, who had been employed as a driver with Time Disposal since October 2010, had traces of marijuana and gabapentin in his blood hours after the accident. Gabapentin is an antiseizure medication also used to treat chronic pain, officials said. At the time of the crash, “It is likely that (the driver) was impaired due to the combined effects of THC and gabapentin,” NTSB investigators said. >> Read the preliminary report from the NTSB Authorities said that although the train’s engineer had sounded the horn several times and although warning lights were flashing, the Time Disposal refuse truck was already headed for the tracks by the time the railroad crossing became visible to the engineer. Witnesses told authorities the truck entered the crossing after the gates had already gone down. When it became clear to the train’s engineer that the truck was not leaving the tracks, the engineer said he applied the locomotive’s emergency brake. However, the train was moving around 60 mph and was not able to slow in time to avoid a collision.  >> Read the NTSSB’s Highway Accident Brief The train hit the left rear of the garbage truck at 35 mph, causing it to spin and hit a railroad signal next to the tracks.  Authorities said none of the people inside the truck were wearing seat belts at the time of the collision and two people inside the truck were thrown out. One of the truck’s passengers died and the other passenger suffered serious injuries. The truck’s driver suffered minor injuries.  Officials said three Amtrak crew members and three train passengers also suffered minor injuries in the crash. Authorities continue to investigate, although The Associated Press noted that their findings might have little impact on Naylor. The NTSB “does not have any enforcement authority,” a spokesman for the agency told the AP. “There is no legal action that can be taken by the board,” NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said. Naylor continues to face civil suits brought by people who were on the Amtrak train at the time of the crash, the AP reported.
  • Los Angeles police investigators are searching for suspects in what they say was a gang-related attack that left a pregnant first-grade teacher with 10 stab wounds Wednesday evening.  KTLA reported that the woman, identified by local media as 33-year-old Tanya Nguyen, was parked on the street in front of her home when the carjacking took place. Her husband, Greg Maga, told the news station three people came “absolutely out of nowhere” and asked Nguyen for her cellphone.  The Los Angeles Daily News reported that one of the men stabbed her repeatedly in the chest when they did not get her phone. The men then stole her car, crashing it a short time later.  One of the stab wounds went all the way through Nguyen’s lung, Maga told KTLA.  “She’s alive,” he said Thursday morning. “She’s badly injured. She’s going through surgery as we speak.” Maga told reporters another wound went through his wife’s nose. “Because she’s pregnant, she tried to protect herself from the stabbing,” Maga said, according to the Daily News. “She used her hand, so she has a lot of stabs on her hand. We don’t know yet about the baby.” An ultrasound was planned for after Nguyen’s surgery to determine if the couple’s 12-week-old fetus sustained any wounds.  Nguyen’s condition, which was initially listed as critical, has been upgraded to stable condition, KTLA reported.  >> Read more trending news Maga said he was driving home from work when a neighbor called and told him about the attack. “I was just panicked and completely helpless, because I was stuck in traffic,” Maga told the news station.  He said neighbors aided his wife until emergency crews arrived and took over.  “It’s a tight community and great neighborhood,” Maga said. “People know each other.” As of Thursday, two men were in custody in connection with the stabbing and carjacking, a Los Angeles police spokesman said. Lt. Frank Kryshak said an undisclosed number of additional suspects were sought.  Kryshak described the attack as “animalistic,” KTLA reported.  “I get choked up even talking now about it,” the lieutenant said.  Each of the suspects in custody is being held in lieu of $2 million bail, the news station reported.  “The chief is making this a priority,” Kryshak said Thursday, according to the Daily News. “We are making this a priority here at Foothill (Station). We’ve been working on this case nonstop since last night, and we will continue to do that. Sometimes we use the term ‘imminent.’ In this case it is imminent -- we are going to make arrests with the other outstanding individuals.” The names of those charged were not immediately released. 
  • Singer R. Kelly appeared Friday morning in a Cook County courthouse as he faces accusations of sexual abuse. >> Read more trending news A lawyer for Kelly, who was charged last month with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, filed a motion requesting he be allowed to leave the U.S. to perform from April 17 to April 19 in Dubai, WLS-TV reported. Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, asked a judge Friday to decide later on the motion, to give Kelly’s team time to gather more information to present to the court. After Friday’s hearing, a publicist for Kelly said he was no longer planning to travel to Dubai in April, WMAQ-TV reported. The reason for the cancellations was not immediately clear. Kelly is scheduled to appear in court again on May 7. >> Who is R. Kelly? Things to know about singer charged with sex abuse Greenberg said in a court filing that Kelly has been unable to find work in the United States amid backlash for the allegations against him, according to the Chicago Tribune. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Fox said last month that the charges against Kelly stem from incidents alleged to have occurred between 1998 and 2010 with four victims, three of which were under the age of 17. “The request is outrageous, and I would be shocked if it is granted,” Michael Avenatti, an attorney representing two of Kelly’s accusers, told WLS-TV. “Were he (to) be permitted to leave, he would never return, and justice would be denied.” >> R. Kelly released from jail after someone paid his child support payment Kelly, one of the top-selling recording artists of all time, has several times over the years been accused of sexual misconduct, allegations that he’s consistently denied. Jurors acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges at a 2008 trial. Those charges stemmed from a video prosecutors alleged showed of Kelly having sex with a girl as young as 13. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Nearly four decades after an Atlanta man was convicted in connection with one of the most horrific serial murder cases in U.S. history, doubt still lingers about his guilt, even among some investigators and victims’ families. Wayne Bertram Williams has sat in a Georgia prison since January 1984, convicted of two murders, those of Nathaniel Cater, 27, and Jimmy Ray Payne, 21. Cater and Payne were both grown men, but many of the homicide victims Williams is suspected of killing were children. The three youngest victims were just 9 years old when they died. The oldest victim, John Porter, was 28.  All the dead were black.  On Thursday, more than 38 years after the end of the murders, Atlanta Mayor Kiesha Lance Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields announced that they are reopening the case and retesting any evidence that remains to put to bed, once and for all, speculation about Williams’ guilt in the crimes.  “It may be there is nothing left to be tested,” Bottoms said during a news conference. “But I do think history will judge us by our actions, and we will be able to say we tried.” >> Related story: Police to retest evidence in Atlanta child murder cases Bottoms, who said she was 9 years old when the crimes took place, recalled the terror the slayings unleashed on the community. She said she began thinking about taking another look at the case after meeting with Catherine Leach, whose 13-year-old son, Curtis Walker, was killed in March 1981. The mayor said applying modern technology to the testing of evidence will assure victims’ families that city and police officials “have done all that (they) can do do to make sure their memories are not forgotten and, in the truest sense of the word, to let the world know that black lives do matter.” Though Williams was tried for just two killings, the Atlanta Police Department attributed at least 22 of the other 29 known homicides to Williams and closed those cases. He is also a potential suspect in the case of a black child who went missing but was never found.  >> Read more trending news According to CNN, Williams’ convictions rested, in part, on dog hairs and a variety of fibers that prosecutors argued linked Williams’ home and car to both Cater’s and Payne’s bodies.  Williams, now 60, has maintained his innocence throughout the decades since his arrest and conviction.   “The bottom line is nobody ever testified or even claimed that they saw me strike another person, choke another person, stab, beat or kill or hurt anybody, because I didn’t,' Williams told CNN in a 2010 interview.  He said the panic in Atlanta over the serial killings put pressure on authorities to make an arrest. A black man had to be responsible, Williams continued, because arresting a white man would have sparked a race war. “Atlanta would’ve gone up in flames,” Williams told CNN.  Watch part of Thursday’s announcement in the Williams case, courtesy of WSB-TV in Atlanta. Forensic experts that same year found that human hair found on the body of Patrick Balthazar, 11, showed that Williams could not be excluded as the boy’s killer. CNN reported that Williams accused authorities of manipulating evidence against him. Retired FBI scientist Harold Deadman, who once served as the head of the agency’s DNA lab, told the news channel the findings in Balthazar’s case excluded 98 percent of the world’s population as the killer. Williams is in the other 2 percent, he said.  ‘A loud splash’ According to the FBI, the string of child murders that shocked Atlanta, and later the entire country, began July 21, 1979, with the killing of Edward Smith, 14, who was shot in the back. A second boy, 13-year-old Alfred Evans, was strangled to death just four days later. The killings continued, sometimes with multiple killings in a single month and others separated by as many as three months. Some victims were shot, stabbed or beaten, but the majority were strangled or otherwise asphyxiated.  The city of Atlanta asked the FBI for help in August 1980, by which time investigators were looking at six unsolved child murders and four missing persons cases in which foul play was suspected, according to FBI records. A task force had been established in the case, and FBI agents joined those efforts.  “Collectively, they focused on a dozen disappearances with several shared traits,” the FBI website says. “The victims were all young African-American males who vanished in broad daylight in fairly public locations. Their bodies were found in desolate areas. Their murders had no obvious motivation (in contrast, two other homicides from that period appeared to have been gang-related).  “These commonalities suggested a single killer.” As the murders continued unabated through 1980 and into early 1981, the killer began to change where he disposed of the bodies. By May 22, 1981, a total of six bodies had been recovered from the Chattahoochie River.  Another three victims were recovered from the waters or the banks of the South River, according to a 1981 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Task force investigators decided to begin staking out 14 bridges in the Atlanta metropolitan area in case, hoping to catch the killer in the process of dumping another victim, according to the FBI.  One early morning in May, they stumbled upon Wayne Williams, then a 23-year-old freelance cameraman and wannabe record producer.  Around 2:52 a.m. May 22, an FBI agent, an Atlanta police officer and two police cadets stationed at the South Cobb Drive Bridge heard “a loud splash” in the river and spotted a car on the bridge. “(The) car sped across the bridge, turned around in a parking lot on the other side and sped back across the bridge. The vehicle was pursued and stopped,” the FBI website says. Williams, who was driving the car, told the officers he was searching for the location of an audition he had set up with a woman for the following day. Without probable cause to hold him, the task force agents had to let him go. Two days later, Cater’s naked body was recovered from the river near the bridge. Like so many previous victims, he had been asphyxiated, the Journal-Constitution reported. The task force turned its attention to Williams. “Investigators soon learned that his alibi was poor and that he had been arrested earlier that year for impersonating a police officer,” the FBI website says. “Later, he failed multiple polygraph examinations.” Williams was again questioned for 12 hours over June 3 and 4, the Journal-Constitution said. He later told the media he’d been accused of Cater’s death and called a “prime suspect” in the case. He was again let go, but the task force kept him under constant surveillance. Knowing he was being watched, Williams would sometimes taunt the agents, including having them follow him June 10, 1981, to the home of Lee Brown, who was then Atlanta’s public safety commissioner.  He also took task force agents on a chase the night of June 20, driving to the homes of both Brown and then-Mayor Maynard Jackson, the newspaper reported. Williams was arrested in Cater’s death the next day. He was convicted the following February in the deaths of Cater and Payne. According to the FBI, Williams’ conviction was based on “meticulous hair and fiber analysis and witness testimony.” After the trial, the task force concluded that there was evidence to link Williams to at least 20 additional homicides.  Never far from people’s minds -- or from controversy The case, though nearly 40 years old, has never been far from the minds of those who lost loved ones. It has also sparked public interest through the years. CNN reported that celebrities including Sammy Davis Jr. and the Jacksons performed at benefit concerts for the victims’ families. Williams spoke to CNN in 2010 in conjunction with a documentary hosted by Soledad O’Brien, and more recently, the case was the subject of a podcast, “Atlanta Monster.” Netflix’s second season of its original series “Mindhunter” is anticipated to touch upon the case and Deadline reported last month that producer Will Packer was making a three-part special on the case titled “The Atlanta Child Murders.”  Packer’s documentary is scheduled to begin airing Saturday on cable network Investigation Discovery. The case has continuously sparked controversy over the decades. Louis Graham, who was a member of the original task force that investigated the killings, reopened some of the cases in 2005, a year after he became chief of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. “I never believed he did it,” Graham, who died in 2010, told the Journal-Constitution in 2005.  A total of five DeKalb County cases were reopened by Graham and his detectives: those of Balthazar, who was found strangled Feb. 13, 1981, in a wooded area; Walker, who was found asphyxiated March 6, 1981, in the South River; Joseph “Jo-Jo” Bell, 15, who was found asphyxiated April 19, 1981, in the South River; William Barrett, 17, who was found asphyxiated May 12, 1981, on a roadside; and Aaron Darnell Wyche, 10, who was found dead of a broken neck beneath a bridge June 24, 1980.  A sixth boy, Christopher Richardson, 11, vanished from DeKalb County, but his body was recovered June 9, 1980, in Fulton County.  Wyche’s father, Jesse Griffin, told the Journal-Constitution in 2005 that anyone with information about the killings needed to come forward. “It’s time for someone to step forward so the parents can rest a little bit more than they have been,” Griffin told the newspaper. “I’ve slept four hours at most since this incident happened. I’m hoping tonight I can have about two more hours added to that, knowing that this case is opened again and something’s going to be done about it.” The reopened DeKalb County cases were left to languish again a year later when Graham resigned after being caught on tape uttering a profanity-laced tirade, the Journal-Constitution reported.  Griffin is not the only parent of a victim who has doubted Williams’ guilt over the years.  Leach said Thursday that she had been let down over the years, not knowing for sure who killed her teen son.  “It seems like the Atlanta missing and murdered children have been forgotten in this city,” Leach said, according to CNN. “I don’t think it’s right for all these kids to be killed in this city, and nobody was concerned about it. “I want some closure. I want to know who killed Curtis.”
  • The Florida man accused of sending pipe bombs last year to several high-profile critics of President Donald Trump pleaded guilty Thursday in a Manhattan federal court. >> Read more trending news Cesar Sayoc appeared Thursday for a change of plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.  Sayoc pleaded not guilty in November to a slew of charges after he was identified as the man suspected of mailing pipe bombs to targets including CNN, former President Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro. >> Cesar Sayoc Jr.: What we know about the man arrested for sending package bombs Sayoc has been held without bail since his late-October arrest outside a South Florida auto parts store. He had been living in a van covered with stickers of Trump and showing images of some Trump opponents with crosshairs over their faces. Authorities launched an investigation in October after pipe bombs were mailed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and philanthropist George Soros. In the subsequent days, similar devices were mailed to several other prominent Trump critics, including U.S. Rep Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Democratic donor Tom Steyer. >> 2nd mail bomb to Tom Steyer recovered; suspect agrees to remain jailed, face charges in New York Authorities said Sayoc was linked to the packages after investigators found his fingerprints and DNA on some of them. Without a plea deal, Sayoc faced charges carrying a potential penalty of mandatory life in prison. A court filing last Friday didn't indicate which charge or charges the plea would involve. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Federal authorities and Butler Township police are investigating after an explosive device was placed inside a mailbox and detonated, according to police. >> Read more trending news  The explosive device, which police believe was a commercial-grade firework, was detonated and destroyed the mailbox sometime between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday, Butler Township Police Chief John Porter said in a media release. Police did not say what road the incident occurred on but described the area as a rural part of the township.  “Since tampering with a mailbox is covered under federal law, federal authorities have been notified and are participating with us in a joint investigation,” Porter said. “Our initial investigation shows there is no indication of any type of hate or bias crime at this time.”  Authorities continue to investigate.
  • The sister of a Minnesota woman accused of killing a stranger to steal her identity in Florida last year is now facing criminal charges of her own after investigators say she grew angry at her intoxicated son and ran him over with her SUV.  Cynthia Lea Grund, 58, of Salem Township, was jailed on suspicion of second-degree assault and reckless driving. Olmstead County Jail records indicate she has since been released.  >> Read more trending news Olmstead County deputies were called Monday evening to Grund’s home, where they found her 37-year-old son, identified by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as Jason Finstad, suffering from significant lower body injuries, a Sheriff’s Office news release said. The man had been run over by a vehicle.  Investigators determined that Grund had run over her son with a 2004 Ford Explorer, the news release said.  According to detectives, Finstad was very intoxicated when he began walking down the rural driveway to go to a friend’s house. His mother and stepfather no longer wanted him staying at their home.  Grund drove down the driveway to pick Finstad up and drive him to the friend’s house, the news release said. Finstad refused to get in the SUV. “Why don’t you just run me over,” he allegedly said before lying in the driveway in front of Grund’s vehicle.  “Grund then backed the vehicle up and intentionally ran over the victim,” the news release said. “Grund admitted to her actions and at one point made a comment to the effect, ‘He didn't believe I would. He has been drinking all day. We gave him a chance.’” Grund was taken into custody at the scene. >> Related story: ‘Losing Streak Lois,’ killer grandma wanted in 2 slayings nabbed near U.S.-Mexico border Finstad underwent surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester to repair damage to his pelvis. He also suffered head injuries in the incident, investigators said.  He was in fair condition as of Tuesday, the Star Tribune reported. According to the newspaper, Grund is the sister of Lois Ann Riess, 57, of Blooming Prairie, who is being held in Florida on a charge of first-degree murder in the April 5 slaying of Pamela Hutchinson, 59, of Bradenton.  Riess was arrested April 19 on Texas’ South Padre Island after a multistate string of crimes that investigators allege began with the shooting death of her husband, David Riess, 54, at their worm farm. Saturday will mark a year since David Riess’ decomposing body was found. Authorities said David Riess had been dead for several days by the time his body was discovered. The Star Tribune reported last month that a .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun found in Lois Riess’ Texas motel room matched shell casings found at the scene of her husband’s death. Dodge County investigators have turned their case over to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office for review.  Lois Riess, who authorities nicknamed “Losing Streak Lois” for her penchant for gambling, fled south to Florida -- stopping at a casino on the way. Riess’ abandoned Cadillac Escalade, which Minnesota investigators alleged she left the state in after gunning down her husband, was found in a park in Fort Myers, Florida.  Surveillance footage from a restaurant two blocks from Hutchinson’s borrowed timeshare condo showed the victim chatting with Riess at the bar on April 5, the day authorities believe she was shot to death. Hutchinson’s body was found four days later in the bathroom of the condo.  See the footage of Lois Riess chatting with Pamela Hutchinson below, courtesy of the Fort Myers News-Press.  Investigators believe Hutchinson was killed so Riess could assume her identity. They also believe Hutchinson was shot with the same gun that killed David Riess. According to Riess’ Florida indictment, Lois Riess stole credit cards, money, jewelry, sunglasses and other property from Hutchinson after she was killed. Surveillance footage from Hutchinson’s condo complex showed Riess walking into the parking lot, getting into Hutchinson’s Acura TL and driving away.  The indictment also alleged that Riess went to a Fort Myers bank and used Hutchinson’s identification to withdraw $5,000 from the dead woman’s account before leaving town. Riess was next spotted the following day at an Ocala Hilton hotel, where she used Hutchinson’s identification to check into a room, Lee County officials said. She stayed there the nights of April 6 and 7, according to investigators.  Surveillance footage from inside and outside the hotel showed both Riess and the stolen Acura. According to the News-Press, a white straw hat Riess wore in the footage belonged to Hutchinson.  While in Ocala, Riess is accused of withdrawing another $500 from Hutchinson’s bank account.  From there, Riess is accused of making her way west across the southeastern U.S., making several stops in Louisiana -- including at another casino -- before being seen driving the Acura around Corpus Christi, Texas. She attempted to get $200 from Hutchinson’s account at a gas station, but the effort failed, the News-Press reported.  Riess used her own ID to claim a $1,500 jackpot at a Louisiana casino, the newspaper reported.  Riess remained at large until April 19, when she was arrested on South Padre Island in Texas. Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose said a man recognized Riess when she walked into a restaurant on the island, located about 25 miles from the Mexican border, and looked at a menu. Riess did not stay to eat at the restaurant, identified as Dirty Al’s Seafood, but the man called police to report the sighting. A South Padre Island police officer and a federal marshal responded to the area and spotted the white Acura that had been stolen from Hutchinson at another nearby restaurant, the Sea Ranch.  Riess was taken into custody as she sat at the bar inside, eating a meal and chatting with fellow patrons. She was subsequently extradited back to Florida to face charges in Hutchinson’s homicide.   Riess was indicted June 6 in the case, according to court records. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Hutchinson’s slaying. 
  • Police announced Thursday a plan to re-test evidence from decades-old child murder cases that rocked Atlanta in the late '70s and early '80s. >> Read more trending news Mayor Kiesha Lance Bottoms and police Chief Erika Shields made the announcement Thursday at a news conference.  From 1979 to 1981, at least 25 young black men and children were killed in areas around Memorial Drive. Bottoms said she remembered hearing about the horrific crimes as a 9-year-old, and felt robbed of an innocent childhood as a result. “It may be there is nothing left it be tested,” Bottoms said. “But I do think history will judge us by our actions and we will be able to say we tried.” The operation will be a joint one, with authorities from the Atlanta Police Department, Fulton County and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation using modern technology in examining the evidence. Bottoms started thinking about taking a renewed look into the murders after speaking with the mother of one of the victims. Applying modern technology to the crimes of 1979 to 1981, she said, will assure the families that “we have done all that we can do do to make sure their memories are not forgotten and, in the truest sense of the word, to let the world know that black lives do matter.” Authorities have for decades suspected Atlanta native Wayne Williams was the killer who terrorized the city. He is serving life for murder convictions in the deaths of two adults in Fulton County, though he’s never faced charges in any child’s death. After his conviction, authorities in Fulton, where the vast majority of deaths occurred, announced they were closing the child homicides case because they were convinced Williams was guilty. Five cases from the same period are open today in DeKalb County because of disagreements through the years among various officials about whether the deaths should be attributed to Williams. DeKalb police told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in late 2017 that the investigations were inactive. Some of the victims’ relatives have questioned whether officials rushed to judgement by suggesting Williams was guilty in all the murders. Williams, who was a cocky young freelance photographer at the time of his arrest in 1981, has long maintained his innocence. Thursday’s announcement comes at the same time as a media blitz around filmmaker Will Packer’s forthcoming documentary on the cases, which is soon to air on the Investigation Discovery Channel.

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  • A New Jersey man accused of killing his wife, throwing her body in their pool and then driving to Applebee’s for food to set up his alibi has taken a plea deal in the case, prosecutors said.  Norman F. Long, 53, of Woolwich Township, pleaded guilty earlier this month to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, according to NJ.com. The plea deal struck with Gloucester County prosecutors requires Long to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he becomes eligible for parole. Prosecutors are recommending a 15-year sentence, NJ.com reported. As part of the agreement, charges of tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice have been dropped.  Long is scheduled for sentencing May 3.  >> Read more trending news Gloucester County prosecutors said at the time of Long’s arrest that the body of his wife, Michelle Long, 47, was pulled from the swimming pool at their home on June 17, 2017. Norman Long claimed that he had gone to pick up dinner and came home to find that his wife had apparently drowned in the pool. “According to an investigator’s affidavit of probable cause, Norman Long and neighbors were at poolside when the investigator arrived at 8:35 p.m. (that night), performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Michelle Long,” a 2017 news release from prosecutors said. “Norman Long ‘became combative’ while CPR was being administered and had to be restrained, the neighbors said.” A small dog was also found dead in the water.  Michelle Long’s autopsy showed that she had not drowned but instead died of blunt force trauma. Her death was ruled a homicide, prosecutors said.  Investigators spent just over six weeks investigating Michelle Long’s killing before arresting Norman Long on Aug. 1, 2017. He was charged with first-degree murder for “using physical force to cause blunt head and neck trauma” to his wife, the news release said. “It was a violent attack by him,” Gloucester County prosecutor Sean Dalton said during Norman Long’s first court appearance in August, NBC10 in Philadelphia reported. “The medical examiner found that there was bruising on her hands, consistent with defensive wounds. There was a struggle.” He was also charged with concealing evidence by “disposing (of) paper towels containing the blood of Michelle Long in the kitchen trashcan” and obstructing justice by throwing the blood-stained towels away and putting his wife’s body in the swimming pool, prosecutors said.  According to NJ.com, investigators believe Michelle Long may have been planning to leave her husband of 15 years. The last search she did on her computer, just minutes before her death, was a search for houses.  “This is what happened as a result of him finding out about that,” Dalton said during Long’s August appearance, NBC10 reported.  A timeline of the crime given in court last August alleged that Norman Long said his wife was on the computer when he left between 6:30 and 7 p.m. to pick up dinner at Applebee’s, NJ.com reported then. Prosecutors argued, however, that the timeline did not correspond with evidence. Michelle Long’s search for homes ended at 6:11 p.m., prosecutors said.  Surveillance footage from a nearby business’s security camera showed Norman Long driving by a carwash and then heading back home before going to Applebee’s, where the restaurant’s own footage shows him inside from 7:15 to 7:37 p.m., NJ.com reported. He against drove by the carwash headed for home at 7:47 p.m. The 911 call reporting Michelle Long’s death was received at 8:02 p.m. Norman Long was taken to a state psychiatric hospital for evaluation following his Aug. 1 arrest because he was expressing suicidal thoughts, prosecutors said.  NBC10 reported last year that the defendant’s first court appearance was delayed because he had an emotional breakdown in the jail. Sources told the news station Long physically fought being removed from his cell and had to be forcibly taken to his hearing. He was quiet once he was in the courtroom, the news station reported.  Michelle Long’s daughter, Brittany Maguire, said at the time of her stepfather’s arrest that her family was torn apart. “She was definitely the best mom, and she did not deserve this at all,” Maguire said during a news conference attended by NJ.com reporters. “We are all broken without her.” Since Michelle Long’s death, her mother and her daughters have partnered with a company called ROAR for Good, which makes a wearable personal safety device that, if activated by the touch of a button, shares the user’s location via text to a previously chosen list of contacts. It is designed to let people know if a loved one is in danger.  It can also emit a high-frequency alarm to scare away assailants, NJ.com reported. The family sells the devices, inscribed with Long’s nickname, “Chel,” on a website they created called guardianangelchel.com.  “We wanted to direct our energy into something positive, meaningful, and honor my daughter's life and leave a lasting legacy for her,' her mother, Susan Direso, told NJ.com last year. 'Chel was my joy, my little girl, and to lose her in such a brutal way broke my heart forever. This mission to help at-risk victims gives us a purpose to turn our tragedy into a meaningful project.”
  • The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said they’re considering changing the policy on naming K-9 deputies after a popular Facebook page featured a meme on a K-9 named “Trump.” The meme posted Wednesday shows an OCSO deputy’s patrol car with a decal of the K-9 deputy’s picture and name, “Trump.”  The caption reads, “Atta boy, Trump! Making a difference,” referencing the Sheriff’s Office slogan “Making a Difference” seen underneath the K-9 decal. The Facebook page “Cop Humor” describes itself as a “pro-law enforcement conservative group.” As of Friday after the meme post had over 1,200 likes, 107 comments and 285 shares. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office released a statement confirming one of their K-9 deputies is named Trump and they were aware of the meme.  The statement said the name of K-9s are left to the discretion of their human partners, and there’s currently  no policy dictating how the dogs should be named. “In the future, the Sheriff’s Office may consider directing Deputies t avoid naming their K9 partners after real people,” the statement said. (Facebook meme post)
  • Jean Skinner has been hoping against hope over the past month. Skinner, of Galveston, was at a Mardi Gras parade Feb. 22 in the city when she misplaced a bag of Mardi Gras beads. Inside the bag was not only the cheap plastic celebratory necklaces, but something much more valuable: a blue pendant containing ashes from Skinner’s mother, Wanda Ogle. “It’s a glass pendant,” Skinner told The Galveston County Daily News. “It was made by an artist and, when they made the pendant, they put my mother’s ashes in the glass.” >> Read more trending news Skinner said it was her first Mardi Gras parade. She ordinarily only wears the pendant to special events she thinks her mother would have enjoyed attending. The problem started when Skinner became overloaded with colorful beads up to her chin.  “A friend of mine was, like, ‘You’re drowning in beads,” Skinner told the Daily News. “I guess when I took the beads off, the necklace was in there, as well.” In a Facebook post four days after the parade, Skinner wrote that the pile of necklaces was in a white plastic bag that also contained a Trader Joe’s bag and an umbrella. She has since posted several times about her loss, including an interview she did with Fox26 in Houston.  Skinner told the Daily News she hopes the bag did not end up among the piles of trash picked up after the parade.  “I just hope that I get it back,” she said. “If I don’t, I just hope that whoever does have it has more fun and that my mom can go with them.”
  • The driver of a refuse truck that was hit last year by an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to a GOP retreat in West Virginia was impaired by a combination of marijuana and a prescription drug, likely causing the collision, authorities said in a preliminary report issued this month. >> Read more trending news One person, identified as a passenger in the Time Disposal truck, died in the crash on Jan. 31, 2018, while several others were injured. The truck’s driver, Dana Naylor Jr., 30, was indicted last year by a grand jury on charges of involuntary manslaughter and maiming another while driving under the influence, The Washington Post reported. Last month, a jury found Naylor not guilty of involuntary manslaughter, according to the newspaper. >> 1 killed when train carrying GOP lawmakers strikes garbage truck In a preliminary report issued this month, officials with the National Transportation Safety Board said Naylor, who had been employed as a driver with Time Disposal since October 2010, had traces of marijuana and gabapentin in his blood hours after the accident. Gabapentin is an antiseizure medication also used to treat chronic pain, officials said. At the time of the crash, “It is likely that (the driver) was impaired due to the combined effects of THC and gabapentin,” NTSB investigators said. >> Read the preliminary report from the NTSB Authorities said that although the train’s engineer had sounded the horn several times and although warning lights were flashing, the Time Disposal refuse truck was already headed for the tracks by the time the railroad crossing became visible to the engineer. Witnesses told authorities the truck entered the crossing after the gates had already gone down. When it became clear to the train’s engineer that the truck was not leaving the tracks, the engineer said he applied the locomotive’s emergency brake. However, the train was moving around 60 mph and was not able to slow in time to avoid a collision.  >> Read the NTSSB’s Highway Accident Brief The train hit the left rear of the garbage truck at 35 mph, causing it to spin and hit a railroad signal next to the tracks.  Authorities said none of the people inside the truck were wearing seat belts at the time of the collision and two people inside the truck were thrown out. One of the truck’s passengers died and the other passenger suffered serious injuries. The truck’s driver suffered minor injuries.  Officials said three Amtrak crew members and three train passengers also suffered minor injuries in the crash. Authorities continue to investigate, although The Associated Press noted that their findings might have little impact on Naylor. The NTSB “does not have any enforcement authority,” a spokesman for the agency told the AP. “There is no legal action that can be taken by the board,” NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said. Naylor continues to face civil suits brought by people who were on the Amtrak train at the time of the crash, the AP reported.
  • The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released jobs numbers for February and the Sunshine State continues to add new jobs. According to the report, Florida’s labor force grew by 170,000 people within the last year.  The state’s annual growth rate is 1.7 percent, up 0.2 percent from January. During the month of February, Florida added 24,300 private sector jobs, lowering the state’s unemployment rate to 3.5 percent. Orlando continues to outpace the rest of the state when it comes to creating new jobs, adding 10,000 new jobs in February. The unemployment rate for Orlando is now just 3.2 percent. For the complete statewide jobs report CLICK HERE.

Washington Insider

  • As Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted a report to the U.S. Attorney General on Friday concerning the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, many questions remain unanswered about what Mueller had uncovered, what legal actions still must take place related to the investigation, and just how much of the report that lawmakers in Congress will be able to review in coming months. Even before the contents of the Mueller report - initially described as 'comprehensive' - were known, there were certainly metrics for the Special Counsel investigation, which netted a series of guilty pleas, and one trial conviction, that of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on charges of tax and bank fraud. Court filings by the Special Counsel's office demonstrated a sweeping effort by Russian Intelligence agents to hack emails and other documents from Democratic Party officials in the U.S., and showed how a number of people with ties to the President lied to Mueller's investigators when asked about their links to certain Russians under scrutiny by the feds. 1. Will the Congress actually get to see the Mueller report? This is not as simple as it might seem, as the Special Counsel law does not guarantee that the Congress will get the details of the Russia findings. The decision on how much is shared with the Congress - and whether it can be shared with the public - is first up to the Attorney General William Barr. Under the law, Barr is supposed to review the report, and then send a summary to lawmakers, something he may do as soon as this weekend. But that's not the Mueller report. And it's clear that members of both parties want to read it. 2. What about the Mystery Case? Even while the Special Counsel is closing down his work, it doesn't mean the loose ends are just going to vanish into thin air. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court was considering on Friday - just hours before the Mueller report was submitted - whether or not to grant a hearing on a case involving an unknown foreign company owned by an unidentified foreign country which has been subpoenaed for the Mueller investigation. If the trial for Roger Stone is going to continue, then why wouldn't the legal wrangling over 'Country A' go on as well? Just one of the many unknowns at this point. 3. What about other federal prosecutors? As we have seen during the Mueller investigation, the Special Counsel at times farmed out certain cases to U.S. Attorneys in the Southern District of New York, or the Eastern District of Virginia. Could those matters - emerging from the Mueller investigation - still continue even after the Special Counsel is playing golf in coming weeks? That's also a big unknown. Certainly, it's always been a fervent hope of Democrats that something happens along those lines - but there's definitely no guarantee. 4. Will we ever hear from Robert Mueller? Unlike Watergate, unlike the Monica Lewinsky investigation, Robert Mueller has not made any public comments or held press conferences. It has probably driven both the White House and Democrats absolutely batty to see him be so quiet. Some Democrats have already suggested that Mueller be called before the Congress to testify on what he found, just like Independent Counsel Ken Starr was given the chance to outline his findings before the House Judiciary Committee against President Clinton in 1998. 5. There still is a lot going on in the 'Mueller' probe. I don't want to belabor this point, but even with Mueller on the golf course, lots of legal wrangling will have to continue on an array of fronts. A judge must still give former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn his sentence. Roger Stone's trial doesn't start until November. Paul Manafort's aide Rick Gates is still cooperating with the feds and has not been sentenced as yet. Andrew Miller - an associate of Roger Stone - is still being asked to testify before a federal grand jury. So, even with Mueller's report now filed - and even before we know the details - the impact of the Mueller investigation isn't 'over' - so to speak. 6. Waiting on the details. We still don't know what's in the Mueller report. And yet, everyone on the news is talking about it. I've been counseling for months about this investigation that one should wait to see actual documents before marching off to any conclusions. The same can be said of the Mueller probe. Has Mueller delivered total exoneration for the President? We really don't know. While Mueller's office won't be delivering more indictments, could more be in the pipeline? We don't know. Will this report recommend impeachment, or be silent on that issue? We don't know. If this was like the Starr Report, we would have all of the information. Instead, we have to wait.