Review Category : National News

A Missouri Family’s Desperate Search to Find Missing Daughter

The Runions Family(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — Printed maps line the hallway of John Michael Runions’ Missouri home, showing all the places his daughter’s family and friends have looked for her since she disappeared nearly four months ago.

“If we’re not out on the street, we’re looking online for new areas to search tomorrow. Our entire hallway is an enormous map of the area,” Runions told ABC News’ 20/20. “Your loved one doesn’t just disappear, never to be heard from again, by choice. She didn’t choose to not be here at the holidays by choice.”

Jessica Runions, 21, went missing Sept. 8 after leaving a gathering at a friend’s house in Kansas City, Missouri. Her family says friends told them Jessica was last seen giving her boyfriend’s longtime friend Kylr Yust, 28, a ride home.

Her boyfriend and family grew concerned when she did not come home that night and they were unable to reach her. Runions said his daughter’s cellphone kept going straight to voicemail when they tried calling her.

Their concerns were heightened when she didn’t show up for a doctor’s appointment the next day. Her mother Jamie S. Runions said Jessica had recently had her appendix removed. She and Jessica were supposed to go together to the follow-up appointment, Jamie said.

Jessica, who was working as a pastry chef in the restaurant at a senior living community, had recently been promoted to a manager position. Her mother said Jessica was hoping to go to college to pursue a journalism degree.

The Runions said their daughter is a hardworking, loving and family-oriented woman who has always been close with her family, especially her two younger sisters, Megan, 14, and a 5-year-old the family didn’t want to be named, and wouldn’t just disappear. Her mother said the daughters would text and send pictures on their family group chat every day.

“Jessica’s not a runaway girl,” John Michael Runions said. “Jessica would reach out to her family. She loved her job, she loved her friends, she loved her family … and there’s nothing from her.”

Her mother and boyfriend reported Jessica missing the night of Sept. 9. Hours later, Jessica’s 2012 black Chevy Equinox was found burned in a desolate, wooded area around 2 a.m. Sept. 10, police said. But she was nowhere to be found.

After police found Jessica’s car, they arrested Yust who was found in a small town two hours outside of Kansas City. Yust is accused of setting Jessica’s car on fire and has been charged with “knowingly burning” a vehicle. He has not been charged in her disappearance.

Yust pleaded not guilty to the charge. He is behind bars on a $50,000 cash bond. He is scheduled to go to trial on the burning charge in the fall of 2017. His attorney did not return ABC News’ repeated requests for comment.

Kansas City police have continued to investigate the Runions case and teamed up with Missouri Search and Rescue to conduct field searches. They have also asked for landowners and hunters to look at their trail and game cameras near the location where Jessica’s car was found.

John Michael Runions said he goes out to look for his daughter every day.

“It’s hard when we have limited information,” he said. “We have started over and gone back to square one and then [we have gone] back out again and then started back at square one.”

KCPD Sgt. Kari Thompson stressed the importance of the public’s help and coming forward with any information.

“Our community is family and it’s important to find her,” Thompson said. “We need those individuals who know a little bit more to have the courage to step up and let us know where Jessica is.”

Jessica’s friends and family have also taken to social media using Facebook as a tool to share photos of Jessica, plan fundraisers and coordinate search parties every Sunday. The community response has been overwhelming, the Runions said, adding they need more help, especially with the winter weather settling in.

The Runions said they will not give up searching for their daughter and answers.

“This is the worst thing that could ever happen. Somebody knows something” Runions said, “I will do anything in my power to find her.”

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Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting: Witnesses Describe Moment Gunman Opened Fire

ABC News(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — Witnesses described the scene of panic and terror Friday that unfolded at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport when a gunman opened fire at a baggage claim area of the airport.

Mark Lea told ABC News Friday he heard “what sounded like firecrackers” before people began yelling and “frantically running.”

Lea said he then saw a gunman “randomly shooting people” with “no rhyme, no reason.”

The shooter “went through a couple dozen rounds” before throwing the gun on the ground away from him and then “lying face down and spread eagle,” waiting for officers to approach him, according to Lea.

Lea added that he helped some people run to safety and consoled several people at the scene.

Diane Haggerty, a woman who said she works at a cruise line’s kiosk at the airport, told ABC News Friday she also heard what she thought was firecrackers but turned out to be gunfire.

Haggerty said she saw a gunman “walking up and down shooting people” and dived behind the kiosk for safety.

“I watched him, and I can’t believe I watched him,” she said.

Mike Starobinksy, another witness, told ABC News Friday that he had been sitting with his family in Terminal 2 when he heard a “popping noise” and realized that shots had been fired. He said he immediately grabbed his kids and ran.

Starobinsky was able to capture a photo of what appears to be a bloodied victim outside the baggage claim where the shooting occurred.

“I was looking down at a trail of blood,” Starobinsky said. He added that he saw “puddles of blood” where victims had sat waiting for help.

Another woman, Stephanie Auclair, told ABC News Friday that she had been in a food court at the airport when she saw “a wave of people running toward me, screaming, ‘Shooter! Shooter!'”

Auclair said that she hid in the kitchen of a restaurant, where she stayed for few minutes before being led outside to the airport tarmac.

Lisa Kapler, a makeup artist who works with ABC, said that she had just landed at the airport and was walking toward the baggage area when she suddenly saw people running.

They “were screaming, ‘Shooting! Shooting!'” Kapler said. “We were just stunned.”

Kapler said she was able to run away from the commotion and make it safely to a car rental area.

Five people were killed and multiple people were injured in the shooting, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. A suspect is in custody, a senior federal official said.

The suspected shooter was apprehended in possession of a military ID with the name Esteban Santiago, law enforcement sources said. It has not been confirmed if the gunman is Santiago or if the suspect was simply carrying Santiago’s ID.

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Bail Denied for 4 Suspects Accused in Alleged Facebook Torture Video

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — An Illinois judge has denied bail for the four suspects charged in connection with a Facebook video that allegedly showed them torturing an 18-year-old man whom police characterized as having “mental health challenges.”

The suspects’ public defenders were seeking that they be released on a “reasonable bail,” but Cook County Judge Maria Kuriakos-Cecil denied the request.

During the ordeal, 18-year-old suspect Jordan Hill of Carpentersville had contacted the victim’s mother seeking $300 in cash, prosecutors said in court.

Hill and the three other suspects — Tesfaye Cooper, 18, of Chicago, Brittany Covington, 18, of Chicago and Tanishia Covington, 24, of Chicago — were arrested and charged with hate crime, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Hill, Cooper and Covington were additionally charged with residential burglary. Hill also was charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, according to the Cook County State Attorney’s Office in Illinois.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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At Least 5 Dead, Multiple Injuries in Shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport; Suspect in Custody

iStock/Thinkstock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — At least five people were killed in a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Florida, official sources told ABC News.

A suspect is in custody, a senior federal official said.

Meanwhile, authorities are currently investigating reports of additional shots fired at Terminals 1 and 4 and a parking garage. There are no other victims reported, local and federal officials said.

The airport said the incident was in the baggage claim area at Terminal 2, which was evacuated.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said the incident occurred in a public area, not a secure area. The terminal is being repopulated and all passengers are being re-screened, the TSA said.

Passengers were seen huddled on the tarmac with their luggage.

President Obama was briefed on the shooting, said National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price.

Donald Trump tweeted about the incident, saying, “Thoughts and prayers for all.”

The airport said all services are temporarily suspended.

Flights more than 50 miles away from the airport are being diverted.

Story developing…

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At Least Five Dead in Shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport

iStock/Thinkstock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — At least five people were killed in a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Florida Friday, official sources told ABC News.

The Broward County sheriff earlier tweeted there were multiple fatalities.

A suspect is in custody, a senior federal official said, and at least eight people were injured.

The airport said the incident was in the baggage claim area at Terminal 2, which was evacuated.

Story developing…

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Multiple Fatalities in Shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport

iStock/Thinkstock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — Multiple people are dead from a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Florida Friday, the Broward County Sheriff said.

A suspect is in custody, a senior federal official said, and at least nine people were injured in the shooting Friday.

The airport said the incident occurred in the baggage claim area of the airport’s Terminal 2, which was evacuated.

The Federal Aviation Administration said there was minimal impact to flights at the airport at this time. No flights were diverted to other airports, the FAA said.

Story developing…

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Michelle Obama Signs Off as First Lady: ‘I Hope That I’ve Made You Proud’

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Michelle Obama delivered her final official remarks as first lady Friday, urging young Americans in an emotional speech to “lead by example” and to remain “hopeful.”

“We’re almost at the end,” Obama began, speaking at an event that recognized the 2017 school counselor of the year. “May I say for the last time officially: welcome to the White House!”

But it did not take long for the first lady to become overwhelmed by the emotion of the moment and the reality that her time in the White House was quickly coming to an end.

“If your family doesn’t have much money, I want you to remember that in this country, plenty of folks, including me and my husband — we started out with very little,” she said. “But with a lot of hard work and a good education, anything is possible — even becoming president. That’s what the American Dream is all about.”

Obama, who was widely praised for being an effective campaign surrogate for Hillary Clinton, in addition to her husband’s campaigns, made a subtle jab at President-elect Donald Trump.

“This country belongs to you –- to all of you, from every background and walk of life,” she said. “Our glorious diversity — our diversities of faiths and colors and creeds — that is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are.”

She added that “the power of hope” was the message her family believed in over the past eight years.

“Something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it,” she proclaimed. “That’s my final message to young people as first lady. It is simple.”

While the first lady is expected to remain publicly engaged on several issues close to her heart, she has ruled out running for elected office.

“Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered,” she implored. “Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope, never fear. And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life.”

The first lady choked back tears as she signed off.

“Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and I hope I’ve made you proud,” she said, drawing a raucous standing ovation.

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Shooter in Custody After Incident at Florida Airport; Injuries Reported

iStock/Thinkstock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — A shooter is in custody after an incident at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Florida, a senior federal official said. Injuries were reported.

There is an ongoing incident in Terminal 2, Baggage Claim. Media availability is at the staging area.

— Ft. Laude-Hlwd Int’l (@FLLFlyer) January 6, 2017

Story developing…

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Charleston Church Shooting Victim Was Considering Retirement, Brother Says at Dylann Roof Sentencing

Charleston County Sheriff(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Charleston church shooting victim Cynthia Hurd was considering retiring from the Charleston County Library after three decades of service when she was gunned down at church, her brother told the federal jury deciding the fate of convicted killer Dylann Roof Friday.

Roof, already convicted of killing nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, will be sentenced to death or life in prison at the conclusion of the trial.

Hurd’s brother, Malcolm Graham, described Hurd as the protector in their family; she was mature, studious and an avid reader, he said.

“Cynthia used to get in so much trouble because when we were supposed to be doing chores, she would be hiding away reading books,” Graham said, according to ABC affiliate WCIV-TV. “She was smart … she knew the power of education.”

“She started being my life coach at a very early age,” Graham said.

Hurd worked at the Charleston County Library for 31 years. She was considering retirement, WCIV reported.

Her 55th birthday was the Sunday after she was gunned down at the bible study in Charleston.

FBI special agent Joe Hamski also testified Friday morning, showing the jury the nine victims’ death certificates; three of the victims were at least 70 years old.

Hamski read parts of Roof’s jailhouse journal, which included racist language and drawings, and said Roof wore shoes with racist symbols to court, as recently as this Monday.

On Wednesday, daughters, sons, sisters and friends of the victims shared their tragic stories of loss and grief with the jury.

WCIV reported that U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel had commented that court officials were crying during the friends and relatives testimony.

Last month, the jury found Roof guilty of fatally shooting nine parishioners at a Charleston church, in June 2015.

Roof went to the church that night armed and “with the intent of killing African-Americans engaged in the exercise of their religious beliefs,” according to the federal indictment against him. The church members welcomed Roof into their Bible study, according to the indictment, after which Roof drew a gun and opened fire.

The government is asking the jury to sentence Roof to death.

A journal-like document found in Roof’s jail cell included anti-Semitic and racist language, according to testimony Thursday from Lauren Knapp of the Charleston County Detention Center. The writing said in part: “I did what I thought would cause the biggest wave. … I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed. I do feel sorry for the innocent white people killed at the hands of lower races,” WCIV reported.

Roof, who is representing himself for the sentencing phase of his federal trial, spoke for less than five minutes in his opening statement Wednesday, telling the jury there is nothing wrong with him psychologically. Roof did not apologize for his actions.

Defense attorney David Bruck told the court last month, “He did it … You’re probably wondering, so what we are doing here? Why does there need to be a trial? … The practical reason is that the government has asked for the death penalty after conviction, and because of that, we have a procedure to go through.”

“Our society does not order the death penalty if there are reasons to choose life,” Bruck added. “You’re going to want to understand who this person was and why on earth he would want to cause so much grief.”

Roof also faces a state trial in which he may again face the death penalty. The state trial, which was scheduled to begin this month, has been delayed indefinitely.

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Elementary Students in NY Return Home After Being Stuck at School Due to Snowstorm

iStock/Thinkstock(WEST SENECA, N.Y.) — Students in upstate New York who were stuck at school overnight because of a heavy snowstorm have returned safely to their homes Friday morning, school officials said.

Students at West Elementary and Allendale Elementary schools in West Seneca, New York, spent Thursday night in school classrooms when road conditions became treacherous. At one point, school buses carrying nearly 50 students were told to return to the school, according to the school district.

West Seneca was blanketed with 26 inches of snow by 10 p.m. Thursday, the Buffalo News reported.

Parents said they received robocalls throughout the night informing them about the situation, ABC News affiliate WKBW in Buffalo reported.

“It was scary not knowing the whereabouts. I didn’t know what school he was at, at first, and then he had called,” parent Jamie Weixlmann told WKBW of her son. “It was scary but it was good to know they were in safe hands here at school.”

School officials said via Twitter that the students and faculty were eating pizza, watching movies and playing board games. “Things are great,” West Elementary principal Carolyn Anderson said in a tweet.

The superintendent’s office for the West Seneca Central School District did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

The nasty weather currently affecting residents in upstate New York will next head to mid-Atlantic states and southern New England.

Winter storm advisories were in effect from Alabama to the southern Delmarva Peninsula, including Birmingham, Greenville/Spartanburg, Charlotte, Durham and Norfolk, according to the National Weather Service.

As much as 56 inches of snow has pummeled the Sierra Nevada mountain range so far this week, due to a persistent plume of jet stream off the Pacific Northwest. That jet stream will move to the South and East regions, according to ABC News meteorologists.

Meanwhile, forecasts indicate a powerful “atmospheric river” event will take aim at California this weekend and into next week with heavy precipitation and high snow levels.

The brunt of the storm is expected to arrive Sunday and Monday, which could unleash floods that the National Weather Service said may be the worst since December 2005.

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