Review Category : National News

NJ Attorney General Launches Separate Probe into Murder of CEO, Wife

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New Jersey’s attorney general is conducting his own shadow investigation into the shocking September deaths of a politically connected hospital CEO and his wife, ABC News has learned.

Word of the separate probe came late Tuesday in the wake of revelations that John and Joyce Sheridan had both been stabbed multiple times before their home was torched on Sept. 28.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said one person briefed on the case has deployed a team from the State Police and state Division of Criminal Justice that is “providing a fresh set of eyes, additional manpower and expertise. This is a very complex investigation.”

The AG’s spokesman, Paul Loriquet, declined to comment because of the ongoing investigation.

John Sheridan, a former state transportation commissioner, was a pillar of the New Jersey Republican establishment, having served as an adviser to every GOP governor in recent memory, including the current holder of the post, Chris Christie.

When he died, Sheridan, 72, was the president and CEO of Cooper Health System, the leading hospital operator in South Jersey.

Deemed an arson in the first days of the probe, the blaze was confined to the master bedroom in the couple’s upscale home in Montgomery Township, about 40 miles southwest of Newark.

Originally, local authorities acted as though it were not complex at all. Officials suggested repeatedly the deaths were the result of an open-and-shut murder-homicide and that the public should have no concern at all.

On Oct. 2, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Jack Bennett told ABC News: “At this point, based upon facts and circumstances learned through this investigation, we are quite confident that there exists no threat to either the immediate neighborhood or to the local community.”

The prosecutor also said investigators had quickly ruled out the couple’s four sons, though he refused to explain that determination.

Then, officials went silent. Dozens of interviews yielded no information that might confirm the possibility of a murder-suicide and no other evidence was found to point detectives in that direction. The couple’s sons hired renowned pathologist Michael Baden to conduct his own investigation, though Baden has not released those results.

Late Tuesday, ABC News confirmed that John and Joyce Sheridan, 69, were stabbed multiple times with at least three different weapons prior to the fire being set and that only two of those weapons have been retrieved. The clear indication from the missing weapon is that a third party could have committed the crime and then left with key evidence.

The nature of the wounds to both Sheridans also appears ragged and unplanned and, when John Sheridan was found, he was lying beneath a large armoire that had been doused with gasoline. Those facts, again, suggest to investigators that someone besides either victim was involved.

The prosecutor’s office — which has been criticized for its refusal to discuss the case — again did not reply to questions from ABC News.

The Sheridans’ four sons issued a statement, saying “no one wants answers about our parents’ deaths more than us. Real answers will only come after a full and thorough investigation. …We are committed to getting to the truth and that means we will not comment while the investigation is ongoing.”

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What It’s Like to Be Trapped by a Wall of Snow in Buffalo Storm

iStock/Thinkstock(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — People in the Buffalo, New York, area have been snowed in for the second straight day, and some are even trapped at stores or jobs because of a sudden huge snowstorm.

And it isn’t over. More snow is expected to pound upstate New York on Wednesday, as officials frantically try to clear massive truckloads of snow from the area.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Wednesday that more than 5,000 tons of snow have already been removed from south Buffalo.

Meanwhile, residents are posting photos of the snow piling up outside their car or home windows.

Patti Mahaney said she’s stranded at home for the second day in a row and there’s more than four feet of snow in the parking lot of her apartment building, near the stadium where the Buffalo Bills play.

#BuffaloSnow #buffalostorm We have almost 4 feet of snow in parking lot of Regency Court Apts in O.Park & NOT 1 PLOW! pic.twitter.com/PFP729SQQC

— Patti Mahaney (@spikezezel2) November 19, 2014

And there are plenty of snow doors:

Many #snovember pics with snow halfway up open door. First one all the way to top: More pics: http://t.co/mr7ZK7lp3a pic.twitter.com/IJNe3UCFHU

— 7 Eyewitness News (@WKBW) November 19, 2014

Others not so lucky to be stranded at home got stuck at stores, restaurants or at work on Tuesday.

So this is how I’m spending my night. On the floor of a Tim Horton’s. You can see the snow piled up outside… pic.twitter.com/2b91u4uLL6

— Wolfvember Advocate (@Faustwolf) November 19, 2014

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Basketball Team Spent Day Stranded on Bus in Snowstorm

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A women’s basketball team stranded on a bus for more than a day during a massive snowstorm in upstate New York turned to social media to keep morale up, and to keep fans posted.

The Niagara University team was returning from a game in Pittsburgh late Monday when they got stuck on the New York State Thruway near Buffalo, as several feet of snow pounded the area.

Things started to get bad Tuesday around 2 a.m., and the bus had to stop, Niagara players and coaches said.

Five hours later, players tweeted that they were still stuck:

Omg we got on this bus around 11 o’clock we were suppose to get home in 3 hrs.. It is 7:03 am and still on the bus..

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Al Sharpton on ‘High Alert’ About Ferguson Decision

Win McNamee/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Al Sharpton said on Wednesday that he is “on high alert” for the grand jury decision in the case of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Sharpton said that his civil rights group, the National Action Network, have been planning for “vigils and non-violent demonstrations” when the Ferguson grand jury hands down its ruling, which is expected to come any day.

“I have pledged to the mother and father of Michael Brown that I will be there with them when the decision is announced,” Sharpton said at a press conference Wednesday.

Sharpton said he is also waiting for a grand jury ruling on the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died while being held in a choke hold by a New York City police officer. That incident was caught on videotape.

He said both grand juries appear to be going beyond the usual protocol of hearing enough evidence to determine whether there should be a trial.

“It is very suspect to us that the grand juries in both cases appear to be improperly expanded to where it is about to prove or disprove the accused rather than seeing if there is probable cause to go to trial,” Sharpton said.

“That is not the proper use” of a grand jury, he said. Such tribunals are generally used to deem whether or not there is enough probable cause for a criminal case, while guilt or innocence should not be their focus.

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Basketball Team Spent Day Stranded on Bus in Snowstorm

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A women’s basketball team stranded on a bus for more than a day during a massive snowstorm in upstate New York turned to social media to keep morale up, and to keep fans posted.

The Niagara University team was returning from a game in Pittsburgh late Monday when they got stuck on the New York State Thruway near Buffalo, as several feet of snow pounded the area.

Things started to get bad Tuesday around 2 a.m., and the bus had to stop, Niagara players and coaches said.

Five hours later, players tweeted that they were still stuck:

Omg we got on this bus around 11 o’clock we were suppose to get home in 3 hrs.. It is 7:03 am and still on the bus..

Read More →

Basketball Team Spent Day Stranded on Bus in Snowstorm

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A women’s basketball team stranded on a bus for more than a day during a massive snowstorm in upstate New York turned to social media to keep morale up, and to keep fans posted.

The Niagara University team was returning from a game in Pittsburgh late Monday when they got stuck on the New York State Thruway near Buffalo, as several feet of snow pounded the area.

Things started to get bad Tuesday around 2 a.m., and the bus had to stop, Niagara players and coaches said.

Five hours later, players tweeted that they were still stuck:

Omg we got on this bus around 11 o’clock we were suppose to get home in 3 hrs.. It is 7:03 am and still on the bus..

Read More →

US Faces Epidemic of Phony Debt Collectors: Prosecutor

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing an epidemic of unscrupulous debt collectors who pose as law enforcement, threatening their victims with jail time unless they pay bills for things they never bought, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Tuesday as he announced the arrests of seven people who worked for a Georgia-based company.

A criminal complaint was filed Tuesday against employees at Williams Scott & Associates LLC, based in Norcross, Georgia. The alleged thieves posed as debt collectors and local law enforcement, conning 6,000 people of out more than $4 million in recent years, authorities said.

Victims were tricked into believing they’d committed a crime such as fraud then bullied into paying up bogus debts or going to jail, authorities said.

“I don’t care if you’re nine months pregnant, I have a job to do here,” a phony collector said on one of the calls, which was recorded.

In another recorded call, a person was threatened with legal backlash. “I will have no choice but to forward it to Los Angeles County. However, Los Angeles County will issue you a warrant for your arrest,” a recorded caller said.

Experts warned that more fraudsters are on the loose and that federal authorities are cracking down.

“There are lots of companies that do this and victimized not just 6,000 people, but I think tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people all over the country,” Bharara said.

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Al Sharpton on ‘High Alert’ About Ferguson Decision

Win McNamee/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Al Sharpton said on Wednesday that he is “on high alert” for the grand jury decision in the case of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Sharpton said that his civil rights group, the National Action Network, have been planning for “vigils and non-violent demonstrations” when the Ferguson grand jury hands down its ruling, which is expected to come any day.

“I have pledged to the mother and father of Michael Brown that I will be there with them when the decision is announced,” Sharpton said at a press conference Wednesday.

Sharpton said he is also waiting for a grand jury ruling on the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died while being held in a choke hold by a New York City police officer. That incident was caught on videotape.

He said both grand juries appear to be going beyond the usual protocol of hearing enough evidence to determine whether there should be a trial.

“It is very suspect to us that the grand juries in both cases appear to be improperly expanded to where it is about to prove or disprove the accused rather than seeing if there is probable cause to go to trial,” Sharpton said.

“That is not the proper use” of a grand jury, he said. Such tribunals are generally used to deem whether or not there is enough probable cause for a criminal case, while guilt or innocence should not be their focus.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Utah Man Accused of Kidnapping 5-Year-Old Girl from Bedroom Faces Parents

iStock/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) — The man accused of kidnapping a 5-year-old Utah girl from her bedroom made his first appearance in court Tuesday, facing off with the parents who say they stopped the alleged abduction attempt.

Troy Morley, 48, found himself face-to-face with Aaron and Stephanie Edson, his hands and feet in shackles. Morley is accused of taking their daughter from her bedroom Nov. 7.

Stephanie Holladay Edson credits intuition with waking up the couple.

“I knew something was wrong,” she told ABC News in an exclusive interview days after the incident. “And I yelled to Aaron, I said, ‘She’s outside.’”

Aaron Edson said he ran outside to find his stepdaughter being carried away.

“I said, ‘Really, I want to help you, but she’s got to stay,’” Edson told ABC News. “And I just walked up to him and held out my arms and he just handed her over.”

Police arrested Morley after a neighbor said she found him hiding in her house, allegedly telling her, “I’m in trouble. I’m bad.”

Newly released charging papers also state that he admitted to going inside the home and asking the girl to “come with him.”

The family is still shaken by the incident. “We currently feel that moving from our home may be the only way we can begin to heal,” the family said.

Morley, who was officially notified in court Tuesday of the charges including felony child kidnapping, has yet to enter a plea.

Roger Kraft, Morley’s attorney, said the one-time aerospace worker, who has no apparent serious criminal history, might not be fit to stand trial on kidnapping charges.

“It is likely there might be a petition filed to determine the competency of Troy and whether he can participate in this trial,” Kraft said, “but it is early on in the case. I don’t know.”

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Utah Man Accused of Kidnapping 5-Year-Old Girl from Bedroom Faces Parents

iStock/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) — The man accused of kidnapping a 5-year-old Utah girl from her bedroom made his first appearance in court Tuesday, facing off with the parents who say they stopped the alleged abduction attempt.

Troy Morley, 48, found himself face-to-face with Aaron and Stephanie Edson, his hands and feet in shackles. Morley is accused of taking their daughter from her bedroom Nov. 7.

Stephanie Holladay Edson credits intuition with waking up the couple.

“I knew something was wrong,” she told ABC News in an exclusive interview days after the incident. “And I yelled to Aaron, I said, ‘She’s outside.’”

Aaron Edson said he ran outside to find his stepdaughter being carried away.

“I said, ‘Really, I want to help you, but she’s got to stay,’” Edson told ABC News. “And I just walked up to him and held out my arms and he just handed her over.”

Police arrested Morley after a neighbor said she found him hiding in her house, allegedly telling her, “I’m in trouble. I’m bad.”

Newly released charging papers also state that he admitted to going inside the home and asking the girl to “come with him.”

The family is still shaken by the incident. “We currently feel that moving from our home may be the only way we can begin to heal,” the family said.

Morley, who was officially notified in court Tuesday of the charges including felony child kidnapping, has yet to enter a plea.

Roger Kraft, Morley’s attorney, said the one-time aerospace worker, who has no apparent serious criminal history, might not be fit to stand trial on kidnapping charges.

“It is likely there might be a petition filed to determine the competency of Troy and whether he can participate in this trial,” Kraft said, “but it is early on in the case. I don’t know.”

More ABC US news | ABC World News

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