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Latest from Ray Caputo

    Winter Garden Police and Orange County Sheriff's Deputies are at Lakeside Middle School investigating what they call suspicious activity. There are reports that officers made contact with an unidentified person in the area of the school, who told them they would be interested in two backpacks that were found nearby.  That suspect is currently being interviewed as the school is searched.  The school is locked down and those arriving late are being kept away. Parents are directed to take their kids to West Orange High School, and they will be bused back when the scene is cleared.
  • A 21-year-old Oviedo man is facing several serious gun charges after getting drunk and shooting his AR-15 style rifle into his neighbor's backyard, shattering her sliding glass door. Seminole County Sheriff's Office spokesmen Bob Kealing says the startled victim called 911 around 8:30 a.m. yesterday to report she was sleeping on her couch when she was awakened to the sound of breaking glass.  When deputies arrived at the home on Shadow Creek Circle, they located the suspect 21-year-old Liam Portway standing in front, which is directly behind where the victim lives.  Deputies say Portway appeared to be drunk and was swaying and slurring his words when they questioned him about the shooting.  Upon further investigation, several guns were found in Portway's house, including an AR-15 style rifle, which matched up with the bullet found near his neighbor's back door.  Deputies arrested and booked Portway into the John E. Polk Correctional Facility.  He's facing charges of firing into a home, firing a weapon on public or residential property, use of a firearm under the influence of alcohol, and property damage.
  • Lake County sheriff’s Cyber Crimes Unit dubbed the operation Treasure Florida’s Kids II.   Investigators posed as young teens, ages 13 through 15, during the week-long sting targeting people attempting to meet children for sex. In total, 14 men were arrested, including Jason Sellards, a middle school language arts teacher at Wolf Lake Middle School in Apopka. He’s been employed with the Orange County School District since 2011. Orange County Schools hasn’t responded yet to our request about Sellard’s status as a teacher. As for the other suspects, we are learning one man is a cook at Universal Resort Orlando. Most of them are from Central Florida.
  • It was a deadly night on Central Florida roadways, just ahead of the busy 4th of July weekend.   Three people are dead and one is in critical condition after three separate overnight crashes. The first accident happened around 9:50 p.m on State Road 19 in Altoona.   Florida Highway Patrol says Duane Bays, 53, was driving north near Matteson Lane when he swerved onto the shoulder of the road.   He then overcorrected, causing his pickup truck to flip over.   Bays wasn't wearing his seatbelt and was ejected from the truck.   He was pronounced dead at the scene.   Just over an hour later, a 51-year-old man was crossing West Colonial Drive at Hiawassee Road in Pine Hills when he was hit by a black SUV.   The SUV stopped briefly but then left the scene.   The pedestrian was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center but died.   FHP is investigating the hit-and-run crash and asks anyone with any information to call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.   The last accident happened around 2:30 a.m. in Brevard County.   Tanasia Shelton, 21, was driving west on Malabar Road when she veered into oncoming traffic.   Shelton's Jeep SUV collided head-on with a Honda driven by Ariel Arriera, 28, of Melbourne.   Both the SUV and car burst into flames.   The violent crash killed Arriera and left Shelton's 23-year-old passenger in critical condition.   No word yet on if alcohol was a factor.   The crash remains under investigation and charges are pending.
  • Governor Rick Scott announced Wednesday that Florida's crime rate is now at a 46-year low. Scott cited the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s most recent 2016 Annual Uniform Crime Report, which showed there were 18,146 fewer crimes in 2016 then the previous year across the state. But a closer look into the numbers paints a more conflicted picture about public safety in Florida. It's true the total crime rate in the state went down over 4.4 percent between 2015 and 2016.   The dip is largely due to significant decreases in robberies, burglaries, and larceny crimes. However, crimes involving guns are up across the board.   For example, there is a 10.4 percent increase in murders involving guns, a 2.4 percent increase in aggravated assaults involving guns, and a slight .5 percent increase in robberies involving guns over the period. In addition to gun crimes, you are also 6.1 percent more likely to have your car stolen. View the 2016 Annual Uniform Crime Report HERE
  • It's not something American's are use to seeing these days in Washington. Republicans and Democrats coming together.  Leaders from both parties, including President Donald Trump, are showing a sign of unity by strongly condemning this morning's shooting at an Alexandria, Virginia baseball field, where Republican's were practicing for an upcoming charity baseball game with Democrats.  'It's an injury in the family, for the staff and for our colleague, and for his leadership', said Democrat House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi.  Her comments echoed those made earlier by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said 'For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family'.  Former Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders condemned the attack after learning it was carried out by one of his supporters, 66-year-old James Hodgekinson of Illinois.  Sanders said violence of any kind was unacceptable and that he was sickened by the despicable act, which injured several people including Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was shot in the hip.  Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer announced today he was shaken by the shooting and praised the work of the Capitol Police who returned fire and ultimately took down the rifle-wielding shooter.  President Donald Trump  issued a somber televised statement from the White House calling for people to come together. 'We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because, above all, they love our country'. 
  • It’s one of Central Florida’s most infamous missing person cases. Today marks eight years since 27-year-old Tracy Ocasio was last seen leaving a Metro West bar after an Orlando Magic game. Police found Ocasio’s car abandoned on Franklin Street in Ocoee but she was no where to be found. The last man she was  seen with on surveillance video, James Hataway, remains the only suspect in her disappearance.  He’s in prison for life after being convicted of attempted murder for attacking another woman in an unrelated case. Hataway has previously denied any involvement in Ocasio’s disappearance. Ocoee Police Deputy Chief Stephen McCosker wants to get the word out again this year that Tracy Ocasio’s case is still an open investigation  as detectives continue to look for evidence that might help bring closure to her family. If you have any information as to the whereabouts of Tracy Ocasio, Ocoee Police ask that you contact Detective David Gray at 407-905-3161, or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.
  • The search is on for a hit-and-run driver after a woman was killed overnight while walking along an Orange County roadway.  Florida Highway Patrol tells us they found the body of a young woman around 3:45 a.m. on the shoulder of Hoffner Avenue near Reddit Road.  She didn’t have any identification on her so they still don’t know who she is.   They also don't know yet exactly when she was killed or who was behind the wheel of the vehicle that hit her. Crash investigators did find parts of a right side-view mirror they believe belong to a Chevy. Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes says “If anyone has a neighbor or friend that has a vehicle - possibly a Chevy - with the right side mirror missing, we need to know about that and that’s how these cases get solved.” If you have any information about this crash, you can report it directly to Florida Highway Patrol at 407-737-2313, or call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.
  • Two separate deadly accidents in Central Florida over the past 24-hours have something in common: both young drivers were not wearing seat belts. The first deadly crash happened in rural Volusia County yesterday afternoon. An SUV, driven by 17-year-old Darian Dearborn, was on Raulerson Road in Pierson when it veered onto the shoulder.  Dearborn overcorrected, causing the SUV to flip over before striking a tree. Florida Highway Patrol says Dearborn was not wearing her seat belt and was killed in the wreck.  Her 14-year-old passenger, Karley Lawbaw, was wearing hers and survived. The second deadly crash happened around 12:30 a.m. this morning on I-4 westbound near the Beachline Line Expressway.  A car, driven by 25-year-old Matthew Adams of Kissimmee, was in the far left lane when it collided with another car traveling in the center left lane. Both cars flipped multiple times and Adams was ejected onto the roadway where he was run over by a third vehicle traveling behind him. Adams died at the scene.  Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes says the difference between the other two drivers involved in the crash surviving and not being injured was that they were buckled in. 
  • The Orange County Sheriff's Office is on the hunt for two armed suspects after a scary home invasion near Pine Castle.It happened around 9:oo p.m. last night at a home on Nashua Street, south of downtown. A mom was at home with her three kids when two armed men came to her door. They pointed guns at her and pushed their way into the home. They then rummanged through the home and fled the scene, but not before being caught on a surveillance camera. You can watch the surveillance video right here: If you recogonize either suspect, contact the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
  • Ray Caputo


    Ray Caputo joined the News 96.5 WDBO news team as a reporter and anchor in May of 2010. He previously worked at News Radio 570-WSYR in Syracuse, NY, where he was born and raised.


    Ray did his undergraduate work at Florida State University and earned his master's degree at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication. 


    In addition to his newsroom duties, he is also a full-time communications professor at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, and an adjunct media writing professor at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. 


    Ray is a regular news contributor on HLN's Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield and was previously featured on The Nancy Grace Show. 


    You can check him out on the web (www.raycaputo.com) or follow his work on Twitter: @profraycaputo

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A University of Central Florida employee suffered burns Monday after a chemical reaction, according to Orange County Fire Rescue officials. Firefighters were called to 3512 Perseus Loop Lane near the Facilities Operations building on UCF's campus around 3 p.m.  The 29-year-old who was the only person in the building at the time, and was transporting the chemicals when a static discharge sparked a fire.  He was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center with burns to his face, arms and chest according to responding firefighters.  A university spokeswoman said the incident happened in a building on campus that is designed to handle chemicals and no students were involved in the incident or ever in any danger.  The worker's name was not released. Mike Jachles with OCFR said he was conscious and alert when he was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
  • Four days after the announcement of a series of executive actions to fund his signature border wall, President Donald Trump’s administration still needs to fill in the details on his plans to shift over $6.6 billion from the Pentagon and Treasury Department into funding border security, as members of Congress continue to wonder if the move will dig into their local military base construction projects. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers and their staffs were awaiting guidance on where the Pentagon would look for money in the $3.6 billion sought by the President in his emergency declaration from military construction projects, which was already the subject of new lawsuits. “Congress has not enacted any emergency legislation even remotely related to border wall construction, and thus the President’s reallocation of funds is unlawful,” read a suit filed against the President and Pentagon by several environmental groups. In a letter to the Acting Secretary of Defense, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) asked for a breakdown of which projects would be put on hold – as under the ‘national emergency’ law used by the President, the Pentagon would make those decisions – not the Congress. Congress approved $10.3 billion for military construction in Fiscal Year 2019 – the $3.6 billion sought by the President would be more than one-third of that amount – which has drawn expressions of concern from lawmakers. As Kaine noted in his letter, the move to shift money from military construction comes at a time when the Pentagon already was having to deal with hurricane damage at two major domestic bases – Camp Lejeune for the Marines in North Carolina, and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. Tyndall was seriously damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018 – and despite support for rebuilding the base, Congress has not yet acted on extra money for the Pentagon – or on broader hurricane relief for those hit in Florida and Georgia. During the partial government shutdown, Democrats in the House approved a bill which had $12.1 billion in disaster aid, both for hurricanes and wildfires – but that bill does not seem to be on the agenda in the U.S. Senate at this point. @DrNealDunnFL2 Dr Dunn, we are hearing here in the Panhandle that Trump is going after Tyndall rebuilding money for his wall. Please don’t let this happen! No Tyndall would be catastrophic to our area. Please help! — Billy Shears (@BillyShears9) February 14, 2019 The Commandant of the Marine Corps said over the weekend that he needs $3.5 billion just for repairs at Camp LeJeune from damage caused by Hurricane Florence in September of 2018 – which is equal to the figure of how much in military construction the President wants to shift into a border wall. Earlier this month, Air Force officials said they planned to spend $3 billion to rebuild Tyndall, which was flattened by Hurricane Michael in October of last year. House Democrats say they plan to hold a hearing as soon as next week to get a better idea on what military construction projects the Pentagon wants to scrap – in order to move money to the wall. Also still unclear is the legal underpinnings for two other moves announced last week by the White House, where the President would move money from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund, as well as money from a Pentagon anti-drug account – into a border wall.
  • Following two accidents in recent months, the Orlando Fire Department has announced new roadway safety procedures. The changes include shutting down two additional lanes of traffic on major highways and other roads, as well as placing cones between the crash and the responding unit, and requesting additional backup from the Orlando Police Department following an accident. This will include accidents on major roads such as I-4, State Road 408 and State Road 417. An additional fire suppression unit will also head to the scene, and be angled in a way to alert drivers of an upcoming accident. It comes after an accident Sunday on I-4, when a car slammed into a fire truck, injuring four firefighters and two others. Also, on December 21st, 2018, a vehicle rear ended a fire engine on State Road 408, causing minor injuries to the driver and three Orlando firefighters. The changes are set to take effect immediately. 
  • It's Star Wars movie season once again, and the latest installment in the series has finally finished filming. Director J.J. Abrams made the announcement on Twitter saying: ' It feels impossible, but today(Friday) wrapped photography on Episode IX. There is no adequate way to thank this truly magical crew and cast. I'm forever indebted to you all.'  To celebrate the occasion, he posted a picture of stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac embracing each other on the final day of filming.  Now that the filming is out of the way, the fun part is getting everything else done before the December 20th deadline, when it is released in theaters. So far there has been no official title, trailer, or teaser of any kind, but of course, we can expect that to come out as we get closer.
  • A Minnesota man was arrested last week after DNA from a used napkin he threw away at his daughter’s hockey game matched DNA left at the scene of the brutal 1993 stabbing death of a Minneapolis woman. Jerry Arnold Westrom, 52, of Isanti, is charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Jeanne Ann Childs, according to the Minneapolis Police Department. The arrest was made Feb. 11 following a years-long renewed investigation by Minneapolis detectives, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s forensic lab, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office investigators and Minneapolis-based FBI agents.  “Our efforts to increase public safety and ensure justice has no timeline. This case is an excellent example of great collaboration between our law enforcement partners,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a news release.  Jill Sanborn, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office, said the case “underscores law enforcement’s ability to use every tool at its disposal” to solve crimes.  “We all hope Jeanne’s family can finally find peace as a result of this tenacious effort by officers and agents,” Sanborn said. >> Read more trending news Members of Childs’ family were in the courtroom Friday as Westrom made his first court appearance, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Westrom’s wife, son and daughter were also there, along with about 20 other supporters.  They watched as the well-known businessman’s defense attorney, Steven Meshbesher, successfully argued that his client’s bail should be reduced from $1 million to $500,000.  Meshbesher argued that Westrom, a lifelong resident of Minnesota, was not a flight risk. According to the Star Tribune, he manages an organic farm just outside of Isanti.   “What we’ve got is a very unsolved case and it was charged, in my opinion, prematurely,” Meshbesher said, according to the Star Tribune.  Westrom was released on bond Friday night, according to Hennepin County Jail records.  A violent death The criminal complaint against Westrom, which was obtained by the Star Tribune, outlines Childs’ violent June 13, 1993, death: Minneapolis police officers were called to an apartment Childs allegedly used for prostitution because another tenant in the building saw water coming from the apartment. The officers found Childs dead in her running shower, naked except for a pair of socks.  She had dozens of stab wounds, including several inflicted after she was already dead, the complaint said.  The walls of Childs’ bathroom, bedroom and living room were covered with blood, the Star Tribune reported. Finger, palm and footprints were found at the scene.  It was not immediately clear if any of those prints matched Westrom. Investigators at the time collected Childs’ bedding, a towel, a washcloth and a T-shirt, as well as a bloodstain found on the sink, the newspaper reported.  Childs’ live-in boyfriend was ruled out as a suspect after detectives confirmed he was not in Minnesota at the time of her death.  The case soon went cold, but a Minneapolis detective, encouraged by the advances in DNA technology, renewed the investigation in 2015, the Star Tribune reported. DNA samples from the scene were sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and a private DNA company.  FBI agents ran the results through an online genealogy website last year, using the same technique California cold case investigators used to secure the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, the alleged Golden State Killer who killed more than a dozen people and raped more than 50 women in the 1970s and 80s.  Since DeAngelo’s arrest, about 50 other cold cases across the U.S. have been solved using public genealogy websites, the Star Tribune reported.  Following the DNA trail The genealogy website used by Minnesota investigators led them to two possible suspects in Childs’ slaying, one of them Westrom. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told the Star Tribune either Westrom or a close family member had apparently submitted DNA to learn more about their family tree. Westrom, who was 27 and single at the time of Childs’ killing, worked in Minneapolis in 1993. He moved about six months after the homicide, the newspaper reported.  Investigators began trailing Westrom in January, seeking an opportunity to surreptitiously obtain a sample of his DNA. At his daughter’s hockey game at a Wisconsin hockey rink, they had their chance. Westrom bought a hot dog from the concession stand, wiping his mouth with a napkin when he was done eating, the Star Tribune reported. Investigators picked up the napkin after he tossed it in the trash. DNA taken from the napkin matched the DNA from the Childs crime scene, Freeman said. Another DNA sample taken from Westrom after his arrest confirmed the match.  The prosecutor said he is confident the case will withstand any legal challenges by the defense.  “When discarding something in the trash, the (U.S.) Supreme Court has said many times, it is fair game,” Freeman said.  Westrom’s attorney told Minnesota Public Radio News that the evidence against his client is thin. He argued that the DNA sample obtained at the crime scene was from semen, not blood. Because Childs was a sex worker, the evidence links him to possible sex, but not the homicide, the defense lawyer said.  “The sperm shows up allegedly matching, but not the blood,” Meshbesher told MPR News. “What we’ve got is not any record of violence, not connecting it to the blood, not to the weapon, because they didn’t find it.” MPR News reported that the criminal complaint alleged that the DNA samples from the crime scene came from Childs’ comforter and the towel.  The Star Tribune reported that investigators have not yet compared Westrom’s DNA to the blood found in Childs’ bathroom. The complaint stated the case remains under investigation.  “They don’t know what the facts are,” Meshbesher told MPR News. “You don’t charge a case before you know what the facts are. You need to do the investigation first.” A sordid arrest history Westrom denied all the allegations against him, the criminal complaint said. He denied recognizing Childs, being in her apartment or having sex with any woman in 1993. Investigators said he told them he had no explanation for how his DNA could have been at the crime scene.  Meshbesher disputed the account of his client’s interview given in the complaint, MPR News reported.  Despite Westrom’s high standing in his community, part of which comes from his involvement in youth sports, he has a record of drunken driving convictions dating back to 1996, court records showed.  He also has two arrests on his record for prostitution-related offenses. A 2012 charge was dismissed, but he was convicted in Stearns County in 2015 of trying to hire a prostitute.  The Star Tribune reported Westrom was snagged in a police sting in which he thought he was soliciting a teenager for sex. His probation for that offense ended in February 2018, the court records showed.  Childs’ mother, Betty Eakman, told the newspaper the story of her troubled daughter, who dropped out of school in the sixth grade and was a repeat runaway as a teen. Eakman said her daughter’s problems seemed to begin following the 1971 shooting death of her stepfather, who was killed by his brother-in-law and business partner.  She said her daughter bounced from place to place in Minneapolis prior to her death. Eakman expressed gratitude for the science that helped solve her daughter’s slaying. “I am so happy they have come out with this new technology so it can help other cases to be solved,” Eakman told the Star Tribune. Childs’ sister, Cindy Kosnitch, credited Eakman with keeping Childs in the minds of investigators.  “This has been very hard on our family, of course, but I have a very determined mom who always kept in contact with Minneapolis police,” Kosnitch told the paper. “She refused to let Jeanie be forgotten and wanted some type of closure, as most parents would.”