Review Category : National News

WATCH: Flames Engulf Calif. Home, Good Samaritans Race to Help

Courtesy Beth Lederach (FRESNO, Calif.) — Michael Alcala wanted to help.

The student was passing by a Fresno, California, house fire Saturday when he heard screams; a man trapped inside, his daughter pleading for her father’s safety.

“He was yelling for help…nobody was able to see him,” Alcala, 22, told ABC News.

The fire started in the garage, quickly spreading, with flames and heavy smoke shooting from the home.

Robert Wells was trapped in his kitchen.

“He was supposed to be right behind me,” his daughter Roberta Denise Francis said. “I looked behind me, and he wasn’t there.”

The only way around the flames was over a side fence, then through the backyard. Alcala found Wells gasping for air, and flagged down a second man to help move Wells.

“We were carrying him out, and that’s when we were passing the garage…and just an explosion out of nowhere,” Alcala said.

A third good Samaritan — seen on video wearing a Dodgers baseball hat — carried Wells the rest of the way to safety. The identities of the men who helped Alcala remain a mystery. Alcala was proud to be a part of the rescue.

“I felt good walking away knowing they were safe,” he said.

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WATCH: Flames Engulf Calif. Home, Good Samaritans Race to Help

Courtesy Beth Lederach (FRESNO, Calif.) — Michael Alcala wanted to help.

The student was passing by a Fresno, California, house fire Saturday when he heard screams; a man trapped inside, his daughter pleading for her father’s safety.

“He was yelling for help…nobody was able to see him,” Alcala, 22, told ABC News.

The fire started in the garage, quickly spreading, with flames and heavy smoke shooting from the home.

Robert Wells was trapped in his kitchen.

“He was supposed to be right behind me,” his daughter Roberta Denise Francis said. “I looked behind me, and he wasn’t there.”

The only way around the flames was over a side fence, then through the backyard. Alcala found Wells gasping for air, and flagged down a second man to help move Wells.

“We were carrying him out, and that’s when we were passing the garage…and just an explosion out of nowhere,” Alcala said.

A third good Samaritan — seen on video wearing a Dodgers baseball hat — carried Wells the rest of the way to safety. The identities of the men who helped Alcala remain a mystery. Alcala was proud to be a part of the rescue.

“I felt good walking away knowing they were safe,” he said.

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Woman Describes the Chilling Moment She Spotted Shooting Suspect Eric Frein

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation(PARADISE TOWNSHIP, Pa.) — A woman in northeastern Pennsylvania says she spotted accused police gunman Eric Frein while taking a walk Friday, a “high-credibility” sighting that has authorities re-focusing their search.

The woman — who did not want her identity revealed — told ABC station WPVI-TV that she was walking in Paradise Township, Monroe County near Pocono Mountain East High School when she noticed a man about 15 to 20 feet away.

She didn’t realize, at first, that it was possibly Frein.

“He had actually turned towards me and that’s where you could tell the mud on his face, you could tell the height he was based on the truck he was standing next to,” she said Sunday. “You could clearly tell it was a gun, a rifle with a scope attached to it. It looked as though he was looking for something or looking which way to go. He avoided making eye contact, I had the light shining on his upper half and his face was kind of confusing. This guy was not startled by me.”

The woman called police, and after authorities interviewed her, they shifted the search area for Frein.

“The individual’s description was consistent with Frein and he was observed carrying a rifle,” Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said.

Frein, 31, is accused of ambushing state police in early September, killing one and wounding another. Since then, police say he has been hiding in the woods of the Pocono Mountains. Frein attended Pocono Mountain East High School and worked at Camp Minsi, which is also in the vicinity, Bivins said.

Schools in the area are scheduled to open today, but with added security. Eighth grader Luke Bokins told WPVI-TV that the search for Frein has been concerning for the local community.

“I’ll probably go to school,” Bokins said. “But, I mean, it’s probably not a great idea to keep school open if he’s still going around the school.”

Frein, from nearby Canadensis, has been spotted several times, but always evaded police capture because of the thick terrain. He’s a self-trained survivalist and war reenactor who focused on Eastern European militaries and weapons.

Police found Frein’s Jeep in a swamp shortly after the shooting. They have also found two pipe bombs, an AK-47, food, ammunition, clothing and other supplies in the search.

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Jurors in Polo Mogul John Goodman’s Retrial Won’t See Cars Involved in Fatal Crash

iStock/Thinkstock(WELLINGTON, Fla.) — Neither of the cars at the center of Florida polo mogul John Goodman’s DUI manslaughter case will be seen by jurors during his retrial.

The Palm Beach Attorney’s Office ordered the release of the $200,000 Bentley driven by Goodman and the Hyundai driven by Scott Wilson after Goodman was convicted in the first trial. The two cars were to be crushed.

Goodman was speeding when he crashed into Wilson’s car in Wellington, Florida, sending it into a canal, prosecutors allege. Wilson, 23, drowned.

Palm Beach Homicide Detective Troy Snelgrove testified earlier this week that Goodman appeared inebriated in the hours after the crash. Goodman had watery eyes, slurred speech, and smelled of alcohol, he said.

Goodman was not driving while drunk, his lawyers said, but had a drink after the crash to calm his nerves. Goodman has also said the brakes malfunctioned before the crash.

Since the jurors are unaware that this is a retrial, they have been told the Bentley was released after thorough testing.

“His car was a crucial piece of evidence in the first case,” said ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams. “This is a much better case for the defense this time around.”

Goodman was convicted of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in 2012 and sentenced to 16 years in prison, but the conviction was thrown out when a mistrial was declared because of juror misconduct.

If convicted again, Goodman faces 16 years in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

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Mother of 5 Convicted of Killing Son Will Face New Capital Murder Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A Texas prosecutor has announced his intention to retry Hannah Overton, who has spent the last seven years in prison for the 2006 salt poisoning death of her adopted son.

The devout Christian was convicted in 2007 of killing her 4-year-old adopted son, Andrew Burd, and sentenced to life in prison. Her family and attorneys have been fighting for her release ever since and just last month, the state appellate court overturned that conviction.

Nueces County District Attorney Mark Skurka said in a news release Saturday that he would retry Overton on the original charge of capital murder and that “no jury, no trial judge and no appellate court has ever found that defendant Hannah Overton is not responsible for the death of Andrew Burd.”

Overton’s attorney, Cynthia Orr, said that when she read those words she was “outraged.”

“I think it is clearly unprofessional,” Orr told ABC News. “The presumption of innocence is something prosecutors should hold dear because that is what the entire system of justice hinges on.”

When Orr delivered the news to her client in prison, she said that Overton’s reaction was “calm but confident she will be vindicated and looks forward to the opportunity to clear her name.”

Her husband, Larry Overton, told ABC News on Sunday that after he learned of the DA’s decision he was “disappointed.”

“I had hoped that Mark Skurka would look at the lack of evidence in the case and allow our family to heal from our son’s death and my children to have their mother back without wasting time,” he said. “This is the same unfortunate and misguided conduct that the DA in Nueces County seems incapable of correcting.”

Skurka also had the option to retry Overton on lesser charges, offer a plea deal or dismiss the case. It is unclear whether he will try the case himself or assign a new prosecutor.

The original prosecutor, Sandra Eastwood, was terminated for reasons unrelated to this case years after the trial concluded. Overton has accused Eastwood of acting unethically in her case, something Eastwood has denied repeatedly.

The appellate court did not rule specifically on Overton’s claims of prosecutorial misconduct, saying that she deserved a new trial on claims of ineffective counsel.

However, three of the judges issued a concurring opinion saying the proceedings in the case were “problematic from the beginning” and cited both issues involving Eastwood, as well as Overton’s trial attorneys, who failed to call a salt poisoning expert to the stand.

At Overton’s original trial in 2007, the prosecution portrayed her as a mother who had lost control. Frustrated with a naughty child, prosecutors said, she tried to punish him with seasoning mixed in water.

The defense presented the jury with a medical mystery. They speculated Burd might have had pica, an eating disorder characterized by an obsessive appetite, and that he accidentally poisoned himself by consuming a fatal amount of sodium.

Witnesses outside the home said they had seen Burd’s bizarre habits, too. The day he died, Overton said she found him in the kitchen pantry but could not determine what he had consumed, if anything.

To find Overton guilty, jurors had to believe either of two scenarios: that she force-fed Burd salt knowing it would kill him or that she neglected to get medical help fast enough. They convicted her based on the latter argument, that she did not seek help quickly enough.

Overton told 20/20 in 2008 that she did not regret trying to adopt Burd.

“I wouldn’t take that away,” she said at the time. “He had brothers and sisters and a mommy and daddy, what he called his forever family, because we had to go through a lot of pain since then. It’s not fair to him. Or to us.”

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How Six-Year-Old Boy’s Wish to Attend the World Series Came True

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A Kansas man has been raising money to send his 6-year-old neighbor, a huge Royals fan who suffers from a cancerous tumor in his spine, to see his favorite team play at the World Series — and all the hard work and effort has worked.

In just one day, Ryan Zimmerman, of Olathe, raised more than $8,000 and counting through online crowdfunding — plenty of cash to send young Noah Wilson and his family to the game.

At the same time, Zimmerman said this afternoon that StubHub has decided to donate six tickets so that the entire family can go to a game. The money raised, Zimmerman said, will go towards Noah’s hospital bills.

The offers didn’t end there.

Moments after the StubHub offer was made, former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, who now works for Major League Baseball, invited Noah to the World Series.

Torre tweeted, “On behalf of @MLB we would like #NoahWilson to be our guest @ the 2014 #WorldSeries. Save the money for school! @RyanZOnline DM @DanScavino”

Noah will be at the hospital when the World Series starts Tuesday, so Zimmerman had been trying to get tickets for Wednesday’s game.

“When you look online, the cheapest tickets are $750, and that’s standing room only,” Zimmerman said before StubHub made its generous offer.

Noah is about halfway through cancer treatment at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, with 14 more weeks of chemotherapy left.

“So far he’s been responding well to it,” Wilson said. “The tumor hasn’t spread. It’s gotten smaller so we’re moving forward with high hopes.”

Noah made headlines last month when he developed a program for the hospital to replace the boring brown bandages with bright colors and superhero patterns.

“It’s a lot of fun. We just got a letter in the mail from a family that received some of the Band-Aids,” Wilson said. “And he just smiles real big. It melts our hearts.”

Zimmerman, who coaches soccer for one of Noah’s sisters, said he’s impressed by the boy’s selflessness even while battling cancer.

“That’s just another part of what makes this kid so special — that he’s dealing with things that I couldn’t even fathom and he’s still thinking about other kids in the hospital with him,” Zimmerman said.

Noah couldn’t be happier, his dad told ABC News.

“We’re overwhelmed with appreciation,” Scott Wilson said today from the hospital, where Noah was getting his last radiation treatment. “I keep telling people I don’t have enough words to say thank you.”

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New Mexico Zoo Searching for Tasmanian Devil Killer

iStock/Thinkstock(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) — A murder at a New Mexico zoo has taken the life of a Tasmanian devil, an endangered species threatened with extinction.

Police are searching for an unidentified assailant they believe killed Jasper the Tasmanian devil, who was found dead in his cage at the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo earlier this week.

Jasper was found lying in his cage in a pool of blood, his skull cracked, zoo officials told ABC News’ Albuquerque affiliate KOAT-TV.

Police say they believe Jasper died of blunt force trauma to the head. A piece of asphalt that did not belong there was found inside his cage.

It is unclear when Jasper was killed, officials said.

No suspects have been identified, but police do think Jasper was killed intentionally, according to a police report obtained by KOAT-TV.

Jasper and three other Tasmanian devils arrived in Albuquerque this past December on loan from Australia, the TV station reported.

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Video Catches Thief Stealing Giant, Inflatable Halloween Cat from Texas Home

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) — A thief was caught on camera stealing a giant, inflatable Halloween cat from the front lawn of a Texas home last week.

The homeowner’s surveillance footage shows the man walk up to a home in the San Antonio suburb of Laredo in the middle of the night, according to police. Video shows him turn off the fan that fills the cat with air and then crawl over the ornament until it is deflated.

The video ends with the man gathering the cat’s floppy arms and legs, which are twice his size, and walking away with it.

Anyone with information on this cat-napper is asked to call police at 956-795-2800.

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Search for Missing UVA Student Will Continue Sunday With 200 Volunteers

Charlottesville Police Department(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — Volunteers plan to conduct a new search for Hannah Graham, the University of Virginia student who went missing more than a month ago.

The Charlottesville Police Department announced Saturday it had registered 200 members of the surrounding community to comb the woods at Walnut Creek Park, continuing a search for Graham that has covered much of the wooded area around the UVA campus.

The search is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Sunday, according to a website, Hike for Hannah, set up by the Blue Ridge Mountain Rescue Group.

The 18-year-old sophomore disappeared in the early morning hours of Sept. 13 and was last seen with a man who police said was Jesse Matthew.

Matthew was arrested in Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 24 and was charged with abduction with intent to defile.

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Suspected Cop Killer Eric Frein May Have Been Spotted with Gun in the Poconos

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation(POCONO SUMMIT, Pa.) — Police in Pennsylvania believe suspected cop killer Eric Frein is still in the Pocono Mountains, possibly near his former high school.

Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens with the Pennsylvania State Police says there have been multiple sightings in the area, including one on Friday near Pocono Mountain East High School.

“Overnight we had a sighting for which we are assigning a high level of credibility,” Bivens said on Saturday. “The individual’s description was consistent with Frein and he was observed carrying a rifle. The individual’s face was covered with mud and so a positive identification could not be made. A search of that area is ongoing.”

Frein is accused of ambushing state police in September, killing one and wounding another. Since then he has been hiding in the woods of the Pocono Mountains.

Bivens added, “I think we’ve kept a tremendous amount of pressure on him and I think that likely had some bearing on where he’s at now, assuming that it is him.”

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