Review Category : National News

Vikings Place Peterson on Exempt List

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Minnesota Vikings have announced that Adrian Peterson has been placed on the NFL’s Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list and will not play this Sunday.

The decision comes after the team announced earlier this week that it was reinstating him while the legal process involving charges of child abuse against the running back proceeded.

The Vikings now say Peterson will not be allowed to participate in any team activities until his legal matters are behind him.

The Vikings issued the following statement:

“This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday’s news. In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team’s decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian.”

The statement continues: “We are always focused on trying to make the right decision as an organization. We embrace our role – and the responsibilities that go with it – as a leader in the community, as a business partner and as an organization that can build bridges with our fans and positively impact this great region. We appreciate and value the input we have received from our fans, our partners and the community.

While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian. We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well.

We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe and realize this is the right decision. We hope that all of our fans can respect the process that we have gone through to reach this final decision.”

The statement is signed by team owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf.

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Former Suspect in Aspen Philanthropist’s Murder Denies Helping Husband Kill Her

Vladek/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ASPEN, Colo.) — The wife of the man who murdered prominent Aspen, Colorado, resident Nancy Pfister says she is innocent and didn’t help her husband kill Pfister, despite once being a suspect herself.

“I had absolutely nothing to do with this,” Nancy Styler, 62, told ABC News’ 20/20.

Styler’s husband, Dr. William F. Styler III, known as Trey, is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty on June 20 to second-degree murder for bludgeoning Pfister to death inside the Buttermilk Ski Area heiress’ home, which the couple was renting.

Pfister, 57, a philanthropist with a party girl reputation, was found dead inside a walk-in closet in her mountain chalet on Feb. 26 by her friend, Kathy Carpenter, who was also suspected in her murder. After Trey Styler’s confession, the first-degree murder charges against Carpenter, 56, and Styler’s wife were dropped.

Prosecutors have said that if new evidence comes to light they can re-file charges against Carpenter at any time. As part of a deal, Nancy Styler can never be charged for Pfister’s murder.

After her husband confessed to killing Pfister, Styler said she was shocked that he could be capable of such a crime.

“The jail part was a day at the beach compared to learning that the person that you’ve been with for 32 years committed such an awful crime,” she said.

According to prosecutors, Trey Styler, 66, a former anesthesiologist from Denver, and his wife had intense disagreements with Pfister over whether he and his wife had been paying the $4,000 monthly rental fee on her Buttermilk home. Nancy Styler said the couple did not have a lease because Pfister “didn’t want one.”

Pfister had been renting her home to the Stylers while on an extended trip in Australia, prosecutors said. At one point, Styler said Pfister told her if she helped her pack for a month-long trip to Australia, she wouldn’t charge them rent. After she left, Styler said she and her husband moved in, but then they received word that Pfister was cutting her trip short and wanted them out immediately.

“It was like…’How are we going to do this in four days?'” recalled Nancy Styler.

She and her husband moved to a nearby motel in Basalt, Colorado, with a festering grudge against Pfister.

Four days after she returned home from Australia, on Feb. 26, Pfister’s body was discovered wrapped in white and black trash bags and the sheets from her bed.

The Stylers were arrested on March 3 and charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Trey Styler admitted to hitting Pfister in the head with a hammer while she slept and hiding her body in a closet, prosecutors said.

“He said, ‘I looked at her peacefully while our life was being torn apart,’ and he said, ‘I lost it,’” Nancy Styler said.

Nancy Styler said her husband told her how he was able to kill Pfister, including how he wrapped a cord around her body to be able to drag her to the closet.

“And he had left the bag — the murder weapon, the papers, her pearls, her pills — he had left that all in a bag, and that the bag was in the trunk of my car. And I was driving around with the murder weapon for three days,” said Nancy Styler.

Although he confessed to being the sole killer, the now wheelchair-bound Trey Styler appeared to be physically incapable of killing Pfister and covering up the crime on his own. Nancy Styler said her husband was diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease in late 1999 that made it difficult for him to walk.

“We’re thinking, you know, ‘How could he physically do that?’” Agent Lisa Miller told 20/20 of Trey Styler’s confession. “We took a break, and I asked Mr. Styler if he wanted to stand up. And he informed me he couldn’t stand up. He didn’t have the strength to.”

Police wondered during their investigation if Carpenter or Styler had a role in helping him with the murder.

“If he had come to me and said, ‘I’ve just done something horrible,’ I would’ve called the police right away,” Nancy Styler said.

Nancy Styler said she still loves her husband, whom she visits behind bars, and that people are wrong for thinking she helped kill Pfister.

“Why can’t people believe this? Why do they have to involve me in this?” Nancy Styler asked. “I say, ‘Go back and look at things in your mind and think about how this could happen, and don’t judge people unless you know the story.’”

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Family of Missing University of Virginia Student Pleads for Help

Charlottesville Police(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The family of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham pleaded for help Tuesday in finding their daughter, whose disappearance this weekend has left them “heartbroken.”

The 18-year-old sophomore was last heard from after 1 a.m. Saturday when she texted friends saying she was on her way to a party but never showed up.

“Those of us who know and love Hannah know that she would not disappear without contacting family or friends,” the student’s family said in a statement released by the university.

“We urge anyone with any information, however insignificant it may seem, to call a newly dedicated tip line at 434-295-3851 at the Charlottesville Police Department,” the family said.

They described Graham as being “highly responsible and organized” and said “all summer she was looking forward to the start of the new school year.”

“She embraces life with energy and enthusiasm and has enriched the lives of many. Her empathy is evident in her daily interactions with us and her friends,” the statement from John, Susan and James Graham stated.

“The kindness and support of so many — her friends at U.Va., particularly her friends on the Ski Team, her friends from high school, our neighbors, and the larger community — mean so much to us at this difficult time,” the statement concluded.

Charlottesville Police Lt. Ronnie Roberts told ABC News that they received 60 tips from the public Tuesday morning, hours after they released surveillance footage of Hannah Graham. Roberts said the new information “may shift the particular area we were searching yesterday to a different area.”

Police had been combing a wooded area with the help of a bloodhound, Police Capt. Gary Pleasants said. Police declined to describe the new area under consideration.

Graham’s apartment is off campus and, according to police, she and other students were drinking heavily that night and were “fairly well intoxicated.”

Graham was seen at a pizza restaurant before she and a classmate headed to another party, authorities said. They left at 12:15 a.m., with Graham appearing to be walking home alone, according to police.

Police released surveillance images Monday showing Graham in her apartment hallway at about 9:30 p.m. Friday, hours before she disappeared.

Pleasants said authorities are using all available means to figure out what happened to Graham.

“We are checking her cellphone records, computer, bank accounts, everything we can possibly do,” he said.

University President Theresa A. Sullivan said that the campus community is “united in our deep concern” for the sophomore and is calling on the campus’ 21,000 students for help. “We are hopeful someone will come forward soon with information,” she said in a statement.

Graham’s parents, who are British but live in northern Virginia, have gone to campus to help authorities in the search.

Katie Schrieber, a friend of Graham’s, said the teen was especially kind to strangers.

“Hannah was really good at making friends,” Schreiber said. “She’s always one of the first people to talk to you. And she’s so friendly, so outgoing.”

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Grand Jury to Decide on Tony Stewart Case

Geoff Burke/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — NASCAR star Tony Stewart may face criminal charges in a fatal accident that killed a Sprint car driver.

After a review of evidence, prosecutors in Ontario County, New York said it would be best for a grand jury to decide whether Stewart should be charged in last month’s accident that killed Kevin Ward on a dirt track in Canandaigua. Ward had climbed out of his car and onto the track to confront Stewart.

Stewart said he respects the decision to send his case to a grand jury and, in a statement Tuesday, pledged his “full cooperation.”

It’s not immediately clear when the grand jury would convene or whether Stewart will testify.

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Texas Police Officer Blocks Speeding Car with Kids Inside

iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — A Texas police officer who drove his police cruiser directly into the path of a car speeding close to 100 mph the wrong way down a highway is being hailed as a hero for saving lives.

Dash cam video shows the moment Shenandoah, Texas, Police Sgt. Gary Sharpen swerved his police cruiser directly into the path of the speeding vehicle Friday night.

The driver of the vehicle, who was allegedly intoxicated, slammed on his brakes just feet before Sharpen’s stopped car, the video showed.

“Knowing this guy was as reckless and as dangerous as he was, he needed to be stopped one way or another,” Sharpen told ABC News affiliate KTRK.

“If I’m put in that position again, I think I’ll do the same,” he said.

The driver, later identified by police as Jose Luis Alejo-Zavalija, 25, continued on his high-speed chase with police after being stopped by Sharpen, officials said.

Alejo-Zavalija made a U-turn and drove through gas stations and parking lots until he finally stopped several minutes later, according to authorities.

When police arrested the suspect, they discovered he was driving with a 4-year-old and an 18-month-old child in the car, they said.

Authorities charged Alejo-Zavalija with a total of five felonies, including DUI, evading arrest and child endangerment.

He was being held on $125,000 bond, a Shenandoah Police Department spokesman told ABC News Tuesday.

Alejo-Zavalija has not yet retained an attorney, according to the Montgomery County District Clerk.

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Thousands Sign Online Petition to Stop ‘Black Mass’

iStock/Thinkstock(OKLAHOMA CITY) — Over 88,000 people have signed an online petition to stop a satanic black mass scheduled for later this week in Oklahoma City.

A petition started by the conservative activist website CitizenGo.org calls on the Oklahoma City Civic Center to cancel the Sunday event. The petition calls the event “offensive and blasphemous,” and “designed as a mockery of the Catholic Mass.”

“We’ll continue over the next week,” CitizenGo’s U.S. campaigns director Gregory Mertz told ABC News.

Each signature automatically sends an e-mail to both the general manager of the Civic Center and the city’s mayor, he said.

“Hopefully, they will do the right thing and cancel the black mass,” he added.

Mertz says the website has protections in place to keep people from signing the petition, which launched Sept. 1, more than once.

Whatever the number of signatures, city officials have already gone on record defending the organization’s right to hold the event. The Parks and Recreation Department, which rented the space to the group for $420, cited First Amendment protections in allowing the group to meet in a public facility.

Organizers of the black mass event say that as their detractors charge, they do intend to mock the rituals of the Catholic church in their services; it is these acts of mockery that make up their services and serve as an integral part of their religious practice.

Co-founder of Dakhma of Angra Mainyu Adam Daniels told ABC News that the religious and educational organization decided to hold the black mass in public but it will be a “tamer” version than some traditional satanic ceremonies by, for example, substituting vinegar for acts involving urine to comply with state health laws.

“One of the dictates of the church is not only to educate the members but to educate the public,” Daniels told ABC News earlier this month, “and to debunk the Hollywood-projected image of our beliefs.”

Daniels said on Tuesday that he’s also aware of several other petitions online to stop the black mass, and that he has signed them all out of spite. He said he believes, which city officials have confirmed, that there’s no stopping the event.

“I really don’t care if 80,000 people don’t like me,” he said. “It’s a free country and they cannot like it all they want.”

The Oklahoma City Archdiocese filed a lawsuit against Daniels’ group after media reports that he was in possession of a consecrated host, a wafer that some Catholics believe is literally the body of Christ.

The petition argues that “while the Constitution protects freedom of expression, it does not protect stealing property from others and desecrating it.” The host in question has since been handed over to the archdiocese and the legal action has been stopped.

Daniels said all 88 tickets to the event at the city’s Civic Center have been sold.

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Cellphone Records Could Hold Clues in UVA Student’s Disappearance

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — Police in Charlottesville, Virginia, are pouring over cellphone records, trying to find a University of Virginia student who vanished during a night of partying with friends.

Hannah Elizabeth Graham, 18, was last heard from after 1 a.m. Saturday.

Graham’s apartment is off campus and, according to police, she and other students were drinking heavily that night; “fairly well intoxicated,” police said. Graham was seen at a pizza shop before she and a classmate headed to another party, which they left at 12:15 a.m., with Graham appearing to be walking home alone.

But Graham may have changed her mind, texting friends at another party that she was on her way, authorities said.

She never made it.

Police released surveillance images Monday showing Graham in her apartment hallway at about 9:30 p.m. Friday, hours before she went missing.

Charlottesville Police Capt. Gary Pleasants said authorities are using all available means to figure out what happened, including a bloodhound, which was used to search a heavily wooded area.

“We are checking her cellphone records, computer, bank accounts, everything we can possibly do,” he said.

University president Theresa A. Sullivan is calling on the campus’ 21,000 students for help. “We are hopeful someone will come forward soon with information,” she said.

Graham’s parents have arrived on campus from England to help authorities in the search.

Katie Schrieber, a friend of Graham’s, said the England native was especially kind to strangers.

“Hannah was really good at making friends,” Schreiber said. “She’s always one of the first people to talk to you. And she’s so friendly, so outgoing.”

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Cellphone Records Could Hold Clues in UVA Student’s Disappearance

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — Police in Charlottesville, Virginia, are pouring over cellphone records, trying to find a University of Virginia student who vanished during a night of partying with friends.

Hannah Elizabeth Graham, 18, was last heard from after 1 a.m. Saturday.

Graham’s apartment is off campus and, according to police, she and other students were drinking heavily that night; “fairly well intoxicated,” police said. Graham was seen at a pizza shop before she and a classmate headed to another party, which they left at 12:15 a.m., with Graham appearing to be walking home alone.

But Graham may have changed her mind, texting friends at another party that she was on her way, authorities said.

She never made it.

Police released surveillance images Monday showing Graham in her apartment hallway at about 9:30 p.m. Friday, hours before she went missing.

Charlottesville Police Capt. Gary Pleasants said authorities are using all available means to figure out what happened, including a bloodhound, which was used to search a heavily wooded area.

“We are checking her cellphone records, computer, bank accounts, everything we can possibly do,” he said.

University president Theresa A. Sullivan is calling on the campus’ 21,000 students for help. “We are hopeful someone will come forward soon with information,” she said.

Graham’s parents have arrived on campus from England to help authorities in the search.

Katie Schrieber, a friend of Graham’s, said the England native was especially kind to strangers.

“Hannah was really good at making friends,” Schreiber said. “She’s always one of the first people to talk to you. And she’s so friendly, so outgoing.”

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‘Slender Man’ Judge Says ‘Reason to Doubt’ Girl’s Competency for Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(WAUKESHA, Wis.) — A Wisconsin judge said Monday “there is reason to doubt” the competency of a 12-year-old girl to go on trial for allegedly stabbing a classmate 19 times to please the fictional character “Slender Man.”

The judge ordered Anissa Weier to undergo a 30-day psychological evaluation to determine her competency. The prosecution did not object.

Weier, 12, and her friend, Morgan Geyser, are both charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the May 31 attack. Judge Michael Bohren has already determined that Geyser is not competent at this time to stand trial following a series of psychological exams.

Earlier this month, Weier’s attorney, Assistant State Public Defender Joseph Smith Jr., sent a letter to the judge saying his client met with a forensic psychologist, and that “in his professional opinion, she is not presently competent to proceed.”

Before issuing his ruling Monday, Bohren said, “There is reason to doubt Ms. Weier’s competency to proceed.”

The survivor’s spokesman, Stephen Lyons of the Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C. law firm, told ABC News that the girl’s family stands behind prosecutors’ efforts.

“They have the full confidence in the DA and his team and the judicial system that ultimately justice will be served,” Lyons said.

The 12-year-old survivor has remained anonymous since the attack on May 31, when she managed to attract the attention of a passing bicyclist. An online fundraising page — “Hearts for Healing” — has raised more than $60,000 for her recovery efforts. Additionally, thousands of people have sent the girl homemade hearts, messages of hope made of construction paper, fabric and wool.

She’s back at school now and making major strides, Lyons said.

“On May 31, this little girl was lured into the woods and stabbed 19 times. At that point, she was a victim … and today she is a survivor,” Lyons said. “And that’s how we refer to her and to the family: They’re survivors. They rose above this horrific crime and they survived. And she is thriving.”

“What an ultimate testimony of the human heart to know she can both physically heal and then emotionally begin this journey of healing,” he added.

ABC News Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams said the main goal for the suspects’ attorneys is to get the case transferred to juvenile court, which requires a waiver for children above the age of 10 who face murder or attempted murder charges.

It’s unlikely that both of the suspects will avoid trial or a criminal punishment, Abrams said.

“Incompetent does not mean insane. Incompetence is generally supposed to be a temporary state,” Abrams said. “The treatment is supposed to bring the defendant to a state of competence so they can be tried.”

Attorney Wendy Murphy, who is unrelated to this case, said the judge has a duty to get a complete understanding of the suspects’ mental state.

“The defense benefits greatly from putting the brakes on. And in a case like this, fighting about competency is one of the ways to put the brakes on,” Murphy said.

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Fake House Cleaners Hit Homes in Upscale California Neighborhood

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Two women are believed to have helped steal tens of thousands of dollars from homes by posing as cleaning people in California, police said

Surveillance video shows two women knocking on doors in the upscale California neighborhood, purportedly offering their services as maids.

Police allege that the would-be housekeepers are really part of a burglary ring now hitting some of the wealthiest communities in Los Angeles.

Officials said that if no one answered when the women knocked at the door, the women would then call their male accomplices, who would break in.

Surveillance video from inside a Bel Air home shows men ransacking the living room in broad daylight. The men took cash, electronics and passports, police said. The homeowners told police that the thieves also ripped a safe from the wall, making off with up to $40,000 worth of property.

Officer Sally Madera said five suspects were involved.

“If we can identify who these people are they could be directly linked to other crimes,” Madera told KABC.

Posing as service providers is not an uncommon tactic. A man was arrested in Orange County, California, in August after he posed as a delivery man to get into home and allegedly rob residents at gunpoint before leaving them bound in zip ties.

And in 2012, a Miami woman’s Valentine’s Day was ruined when a fake flower delivery man pulled a gun and robbed her.

To keep themselves safe, experts say, people should always ask for credentials from delivery people or other service workers who come to their home.

“Have adequate lighting outside, or windows, obviously, if you live in a house, to physically see who is out there to begin with,” Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and ABC News analyst, said. “I even recommend that people have some sort of speaker system.”

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