Review Category : National News

Timeline of the alleged kidnapping of Tennessee student Elizabeth Thomas

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation(CULLEOKA, Tenn.) — Tad Cummins, a 50-year-old married former high school teacher and Elizabeth Thomas, his 15-year-old former student, have been missing for more than a week — without any sightings.

Here’s a timeline of the alleged abduction and the events leading up to it:

Pre-2017

Cummins married his wife Jill in 1985, according to his Facebook account. The couple have adult children together and are also grandparents, according to police.

He worked as a health sciences teacher at Culleoka Unit School, which is where he met Elizabeth, according to police.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) said that the teacher used his position of authority to shape a potential relationship with his student, but it’s not entirely clear when he allegedly started that process with her.

Cummins “may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom this vulnerable young girl for some time in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her,” according to the TBI.

One way Cummins may have done this is by telling the girl elaborate stories about himself, according to Elizabeth’s father, who told ABC News that he bragged about being a millionaire and a CIA operative that traveled on secret missions.

January 23rd

It was a Monday in late January when one of Elizabeth’s schoolmates alleged she witnessed a kiss between Cummins and Elizabeth.

The girl said that she was walking into Cummins’ classroom when she saw Elizabeth and Cummins kissing, according to a Jan. 30 investigative report conducted by the school district.

“It wasn’t like a make-out kiss, just a peck on the lips,” the student said in a written statement quoted in the report. She said she told another student about what she believed she saw.

January 24th

The schoolmate who said she witnessed the alleged kiss sought out Cummins, with a different friend, on the morning of Jan. 24 to ask for an explanation, according to the report.

She wanted to know the nature of his relationship with Elizabeth before proceeding. According to the school’s report, Cummins told the students he was “a father figure” to Elizabeth and he “saw her as a close and best friend.”

January 30th

One week after the alleged kiss, a report on the January 23rd incident was created by the school. The report noted that a kiss “could not be confirmed.”

Elizabeth was assigned to be removed from Cummins’ class as a result of the report.

January 31st

In a letter from his attorney, Jason Whatley, Elizabeth’s father said he found out about the alleged incident when sheriff’s deputies questioned him on Jan. 31, but said he was never informed by the school district. He also said in the letter, issued on Feb. 6, that when he called the school about the report, a woman he spoke to expressed regret that he had been “left in the dark.”

February 3rd

Eleven days after the alleged kiss, a letter from the district addressed to Cummins stated that Elizabeth had been in the teacher’s classroom, against orders.

February 6th

Three weeks after the alleged kiss, the school district wrote a letter to Cummins telling him he was suspended without pay immediately “pending an investigation.”

Whatley sent a letter on behalf of Elizabeth’s father to the school district.

February 6th to March 12th

According to Whatley, Elizabeth’s phone history indicated she was still in contact with Cummins.

Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland told ABC News that he believed it was likely that Cummins planned an escape with the girl during the time after the suspension was issued.

In the days before they disappeared, security footage showed Cummins shopping for what appears to be women’s hair dye, according to TBI.

March 13th

Elizabeth was last seen around 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m. Monday at a Shoney’s restaurant in Columbia, Tennessee. She was dropped off by a friend, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Elizabeth’s family told ABC News that she told one of her siblings to call police if she didn’t return home by 6 p.m. on Monday, March 13th.

What appears to be the latest photo of the girl, issued on March 20th by TBI, shows her wearing what looks like an over-sized flannel and carrying something (https://tbinewsroom.com/2017/03/20/amber-alert-update-4-elizabeth-thomas/) in her arms, possibly her belongings.

Sabrina Gallup, a manager at the Shoney’s where Elizabeth was dropped off, told ABC News by phone that she had no connection to the restaurant beyond being a potential customer.

She said the girl’s disappearance has left people in the community of Columbia unsettled.

“Everyone’s keeping an eye out,” Gallup said. “The entire town is looking out for her right now.”

Surveillance footage from a gas station near the restaurant appears to show Cummins, 50, filling up his silver Nissan Rogue, the car in which authorities believe he is traveling with the teenager, at about 8:30 a.m.

Later, they were reportedly near Decatur, Alabama, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

A spokesperson for the Decatur, Alabama, police told ABC News by phone that Elizabeth had not been physically seen in or around Decatur and that reports of their whereabouts may have been attributed to a ping from the girl’s cell phone.

March 14th to March 21st

At some point, Elizabeth updated her Instagram bio to read “wife.”

March 14th

Cummins was fired from Culleoka Unit School, only after the alleged kidnapping, according to TBI.

March 15th

An Amber Alert about Elizabeth’s disappearance was issued by TBI.

March 17th

Cummins is added to the state’s ten most wanted list.

His wife, Jill Cummins, held an emotional press conference begging for her husband to return.

“I had no idea my husband was involved with anything that has led to all this. My heart breaks for the family of Beth Thomas,” Jill Cummins said. “Tad, this is not you. This is not who you are. We can help you get through this … Your family wants their Poppy back. Please do the right thing and turn yourself into the police and bring Beth home.”

March 20th

TBI issued the last known photo of Elizabeth, as well as surveillance footage showing Cummins purchasing hair dye, which they said on Twitter “was not part of his intended plan” for Elizabeth.

“As of early this afternoon, the TBI has received more than 600 leads. The lack of confirmed sightings, however, continues to lead TBI to believe Cummins could have Elizabeth hidden from view of the general public or far away from Tennessee,” TBI’s update of their Amber Alert said.

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Baby boy desperately tries to nap on his big, fluffy Goldendoodle dog

Michele Whitlow(NEW YORK) — Little Oliver and fluffy Leo are the best of friends. But 11-month-old Oliver also loves trying to nap on Leo, over … and over … and over again.

“Oliver is constantly using Leo as a pillow,” Oliver’s mom, Michele Whitlow, told ABC News.

Leo was the couple’s “first baby” and has been very patient since Oliver came along.

“Leo has always loved attention. Originally when Oliver was born, Leo was sort of getting shafted because all the attention was going to Oliver,” she explained. “So he was feeling left out. But over time he realized Oliver can actually play with him and now they’re constantly together.”

Whenever Oliver touches Leo “he becomes a statue,” said Whitlow.

“He just stands still. He just stands still and lets Oliver climb all over him,” she added. “He’s super patient. He doesn’t seem to care ever.”

The dynamic duo are inseparable.

“Anything Oliver is doing, Leo is following,” said the proud mom. “He loves to lay his head on him and honestly nail on his head. We’re trying to teach Oliver to be gentle with Leo but he’s your typical boy: rambunctious. But Leo is so patient and it’s been good for us that Oliver is learning with him.”

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Babies born 18 hours apart in same hospital coincidentally named Romeo and Juliet

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?

Apparently, he’s right next door to baby Juliet at Coastal Carolina Hospital in Hardeeville, South Carolina.

These bundles of joy are named Romeo and Juliet. They were born 18 hours apart, delivered by the same doctor, in the same hospital.

Their parents had never met and had no idea about each other’s chosen names.

“We had picked the name out months ago,” Juliet’s mom, Christiana Shifflett, of Bluffton, told ABC News. “We wanted a J name to go with our son’s name, Jonas. We picked Juliet because we were watching the TV show ‘Psych’ and the character’s name is Jules.”

Romeo’s parents, Morgan and Edwin Hernandez, also had their name chosen months ago.

“It’s funny because we didn’t even name him Romeo after Shakespeare,” said Morgan, 24, of Beaufort. “We named him after a singer named Romeo Santos that my husband and I both love.”

Neither family can believe the coincidence and both said “it’s too funny” how this happened.

“Our kid’s already famous and she’s only a day old,” Shifflett’s husband, Allan Umana, said with a laugh.

Social media can’t get enough of these star-crossed little babies who are going viral after the hospital’s newborn photographer, Cassie Clayshulte, posted their precious photos to her Facebook page.

“Both parents had picked these names out early on in their pregnancies and neither couple knew each other until they met today!,” she wrote in her post Monday, which already has almost 3,000 likes. “Both babies have full heads of hair and already make the cutest couple!”

Romeo and Juliet’s parents already mentioned they’d like to try to get the babies together for their first birthdays to have a Shakespeare-themed photo shoot.

And Clayshulte’s says she’s also got big plans for their future.

“We already discussed that if they get married I get to shoot the wedding and their engagement photos,” she joked.

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Former FBI agent: Few leads in missing student, teacher case troubling

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation(CULLEOKA, Tenn.) — As authorities hunt for a former Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old student, one former FBI agent explains the potential avenues police may be exploring as the investigation intensifies.

Tad Cummins, 50, is accused of kidnapping 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas on March 13, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

Cummins is also accused of having an inappropriate relationship with Elizabeth while he was a teacher at her Culleoka, Tennessee, school. Cummins has denied the claim, but nearly two months before Elizabeth and her former teacher went missing, one of Elizabeth’s schoolmates reported seeing the pair kiss in Cummins’ classroom, according to a Jan. 30 school district investigative report.

The TBI said that Cummins “may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom [the teen] … in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her.”

Cummins was fired March 14, one day after he and Elizabeth disappeared.

An Amber Alert has been issued for Elizabeth, and Cummins is wanted on allegations of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor.

Cummins is believed to be armed and authorities say the teen is “in imminent danger.”

NEW PICTURE: Here’s the last known photograph of Elizabeth Thomas prior to her alleged kidnapping. Spot her? 1-800-TBI-FIND! #TNAMBERAlert pic.twitter.com/5hInjYHU5d

— TBI (@TBInvestigation) March 20, 2017

TBI spokesman Josh DeVine told ABC News about 600 tips have come in as of today, which he called “substantially low.” And there are still no credible sightings of the duo, which DeVine says is very rare.

Former FBI Agent and ABC News contributor Brad Garrett agreed.

“In a high-profile case that involves a juvenile in the hands of an adult, it crosses all boundaries as far as people reaching out to police,” Garrett said, explaining that people who might not usually reach out to police because they have their own history with law enforcement will often reach out to give tips in these dire situations.

“Everyone is concerned and outraged about a child of this age disappearing with an adult,” Garrett told ABC News today. “It troubles me that they don’t have more leads.”

The possibilities

DeVine told ABC News the TBI thinks the duo is “off the grid” in a rural area or are outside of the Southeast.

Garrett believes there are two main possibilities in this case: One is that Cummins selected a predetermined, isolated spot, like a secluded cabin or a trailer, that the duo was able to reach before anyone could spot them arrive.

“If that’s true, you can only survive in that setting so long,” Garrett said. “During that time period, he has to continue, I assume, convince her it’s OK to stay with him. Because when you have someone this young and that old, it can become a real issue in trying to keep them, because they may have second thoughts at this point. It’s a big change and risk for them.”

The second possibility, Garrett said, is, “I have concerns that something bad could’ve happened. … He’s lost his job, he’s going to be prosecuted, he could very likely spend the rest of his life in jail. He’s humiliated in the community … [and the alleged kidnapping created] significant issues with his current wife.”

DeVine said the TBI is still working under the assumption that Elizabeth is alive and said the agency will work in that spirit until information suggests otherwise.

Hiding nearby

While DeVine said today the duo may be outside the Southeast, Garrett thinks they are likely not too far from middle Tennessee.

“They had maybe a several hour [head] start in this case before law enforcement got involved, but after that … everybody was looking for them,” Garrett said, adding that he’d “be shocked” if somebody spots them in another country.

Since the FBI has publicized the license plate of the car Cummins was believed to be driving, Garrett thinks Cummins is no longer near that car, because keeping it would be “too high profile.” According to Garrett, Cummins and Elizabeth likely either reached their remote location quickly before the license plate was broadcast so widely, or Cummins picked a place to ditch the car, like a barn or a parking garage.

Rural refuge

DeVine said today if the duo isn’t outside the Southeast, they are likely “off the grid” in a rural area.

Garrett also thinks they’re hiding out somewhere rural. Garrett said that when investigators look for people on the run, they often begin looking at places where they have some history; for example, a place Cummins has gone hiking, or a remote place where he has friends.

Garrett said investigators “have to put [their] faith in running down every conceivable lead as to where he has a history that has a remote aspect to it.”

And if the teen and former teacher are somewhere very rural, like in the woods or a campground, not in a cabin that has a kitchen and water, they would have to have the skills to survive, Garrett said.

“Fugitives have to stay in places at least for a period of time they feel they can at least survive today, tonight and tomorrow,” Garrett said. “It’s very difficult.”

Garrett said Cummins may have pre-stocked a location, but added, “that takes a fair amount of time.”

“The question would be, [as a teacher,] did he have a life situation day in and day out that would have allowed him to do that?” Garrett said. “My guess is, let’s say he did some stockpiling, there’s going to be a record of that — if he bought 10 cans of beans … or he’s been to a camping store and purchased a tent … other things that one would need to survive in a remote or wooded setting.”

On Monday, DeVine told reporters that the TBI was encouraging property owners, especially in rural areas, to search their grounds for suspicious activity. He said the TBI was also encouraging people to be on the lookout at campgrounds, parks, large parking lots, parking garages and other isolated areas.

Tracing phones

Authorities said neither Elizabeth nor Cummins has been in touch with family members.

Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland told local ABC affiliate WKRN-TV that the last time Elizabeth’s phone pinged was the day she went missing, off a tower near Decatur, Alabama.

Garrett says since then, the duo may have turned their phones off, ditched their phones or purchased throwaway phones, which are hard to trace.

But Garrett predicts they likely ditched their phones because “who are they going to want to talk to? Nobody in their past.”

Garrett said Cummins also likely “doesn’t want to have any cellphones around,” because “the last thing he wants [Elizabeth] to do is pick up the phone and call somebody.”

“Part of his control and isolation of her would also be no way to communicate with the outside,” Garrett explained.

Looking ahead

Going forward, Garrett said “the most important thing that both law enforcement and the public can do is keep this case out there. To not let up on who they are, what they might look like.”

He added, “I wouldn’t totally give up on continuing to look for the car, because even if you find the car, it’s still a lead … which might tie in, for example, with some place he has a history.”

“As time goes on,” Garrett said, “they’ll have to come out of the woods at some point. They’ll be out of food, they’ll be out of water, she maybe going sideways on him.”

And as soon as they move, they will be “more vulnerable,” Garrett said, explaining that every person they encounter has the potential to ID them.

“All law enforcement really needs is a hot tip,” Garrett said.

It’s been a week, but we’re not giving up hope. Stay vigilant, stay alert, and let us know if you spot these individuals or this vehicle. pic.twitter.com/jDACuW1iUg

— TBI (@TBInvestigation) March 20, 2017

In an interview with ABC News Monday, Elizabeth’s father, Anthony Thomas, pleaded with Elizabeth to “please let us know you are all right and please come home to us.”

Thomas family attorney Jason Whatley told ABC News that Cummins was “taking advantage” of his student and “manipulating her into leaving with him.”

“We are very concerned about the control that he has over her,” Whatley said. “We believe that is 100 percent the reason why she is missing at this point. He is the problem, she is not. She’s a child, she’s a victim.”

Cummins is described as a white man with brown hair and brown eyes. He is 6 feet tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He may be driving a 2015 silver Nissan Rogue with a Tennessee license plate number 976-ZPT.

Elizabeth is described as a white girl with blonde hair and hazel eyes. She is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing leggings and a flannel shirt.

Authorities are asking that anyone with information call 1-800-TBI-FIND and that anyone who sees a car with a Tennessee license plate 976-ZPT call 911. A $1,000 reward is available for information leading to Cummins’ arrest.

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Boy, 8, with skin disorder takes trip to meet dog with same condition

ABC News.(NEW YORK) — An 8-year-old boy with a skin disorder that causes white patches on his skin was able to fly across the country to meet a dog with the same condition.

Both the boy, Carter Blanchard, of Searcy, Arkansas, and the dog, Rowdy, 13, who lives with his owners in Oregon, have vitiligo, a disorder with no known cause in which the cells that make pigment in the skin are destroyed, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Carter when diagnosed with the disorder in December 2014 when he was in kindergarten. The first white patches appeared around his eyes and caused him to lose confidence, according to his mom.

“He was at a big school with a lot of kids and his face was transforming very quickly,” Stephanie Adcock told ABC News. “As he was trying to come to terms with it, he had his classmates trying to also because his face was changing in front of them.”

She added, “The first thing he’d tell me when he got in the car is that he hated his face and hated the way he looked.”

It was around that time that Adcock saw a photo of Rowdy by chance while scrolling through Facebook. She clicked on his photo not knowing that he had the same condition as her son.

Adcock quickly discovered that Rowdy had gained a worldwide following because of his unique look. The dog, who was also diagnosed with vitiligo in 2014, has his own website and social media accounts.

Carter began watching videos of Rowdy online and made what his mom called a “180” in how he thought of his skin disorder.

“Vitiligo is a very rare condition and he was very upset that he had it but now he is proud that he was chosen to have vitiligo and this is the way he is and he wouldn’t have it any other way,” Adcock said. “He thinks that everyone else’s skin is boring.”

Adcock and Rowdy’s owner, Niki Umbenhower, began to email each other and kept in touch. When the story of Carter and Rowdy’s friendship was featured on Oregon ABC affiliate KATU, an anonymous viewer donated $5,000 to help fly Carter and his mom to Oregon to meet Rowdy in person.

Carter and Rowdy met over the weekend for the first time.

“When we walked in I didn’t feel like we were walking in for the very first time, they were family already,” Adcock said. “You could tell Rowdy knew something was going on and felt the energy of the room.”

Umbenhower said Rowdy has reacted to Carter as if they were old friends.

“Carter will be on the floor doing Legos and Rowdy will come and lay down next to him,” she said, adding of the pair’s first meeting, “Carter hugged him and petted him for two hours straight and they’ve been together ever since.”

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Russian mafia boss still at large after FBI wiretap at Trump Tower

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — There, indeed, was an FBI wiretap involving Russians at Trump Tower.

But it was not placed at the behest of Barack Obama and the target was not the Trump campaign of 2016. For two years ending in 2013, the FBI had a court-approved warrant to eavesdrop on a sophisticated Russian organized crime money laundering network that operated out of unit 63A in Trump Tower.

The FBI investigation led to a federal grand jury indictment of more than 30 people, including one of the world’s most notorious Russian mafia bosses, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. Known as the “Little Taiwanese,” Tokhtakhounov was the only target to slip away, and he remains a fugitive from American justice.

Five months after the April 2013 indictment and after Interpol issued a “red notice” for Tokhtakhounov, the fugitive appeared near Donald Trump in the VIP section of the Moscow Miss Universe pageant. Trump had sold the Russian rights for Miss Universe to a billionaire Russian shopping mall developer.

“He is a major player,” said Mike Gaeta, the FBI agent who led the 2013 FBI investigation of Tokhtakhounov and his alleged mafia money laundering and gambling ring, in a 2014 interview with ABC News. “He is prominent, he has extremely good connections in the business world as well as the criminal world, overseas, in Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, other countries.”

Gaeta, who ran the FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime unit of the FBI’s New York office told ABC News at the time that federal agents were closely tracking Tokhtakhounov, whose Russian ring was suspected of moving more than $50 million in illegal money into the United States.

“Because of his status, we have kept tabs on is activities, and particularly as his activities truly enter New York city,” Gaeta said. “Their money was ultimately laundered from Russia, Ukraine and other locations through Cyprus banks and shell companies based in Cyprus, and then ultimately here to the United States.”

The FBI investigation did not implicate Trump. But Trump Tower was under close watch. Some of the Russian mafia figures worked out of the 63rd floor unit in the iconic skyscraper — just three floors below Trump’s penthouse residence — running what prosecutors called an “international money laundering, sports gambling and extortion ring.”

The Trump building was home to one of the top men in the alleged ring, Vadim Trincher who pleaded guilty to racketeering and received a five-year prison term. He is due to be released in July.

“Everything was moving in and out of there,” said former FBI official Rich Frankel, now an ABC News consultant.

“He would have people come in and meet with them. He would use the phones. He would also communicate, wither it was through e-mail or other communications through there,” Frankel said of Trincher. “His base of operations was in the Trump Tower.”

In court papers, the FBI described two years of intercepts of phone conversations and text message exchanges of the key figures in the gambling ring.

“Mr. Vladim Trincher was on one occasion intercepted speaking with a customer of the gambling operation who owed a debt of $50,000,” one court document stated. Trincher told the gambler about an enforcer who works with him named Maxin. On the recording, Trincher “threatens the customer that Maxin would come and find him, would come and find the money, and that he should be careful, lest he be tortured and lest he wind up underground.”

Last Fall, a Trump Organization spokesman told ABC News that Russians did not represent a disproportionate share of residents in Trump properties. Federal agents confiscated a total of four units in connection with the poker ring — two in New York and two in Sunny Isles, Florida.

ABC News conducted a review of hundreds of pages of property records and reported in September that Trump-branded developments catered to large numbers of Russian buyers, including several who had brushes with the law. Russian buyers were particularly drawn to Trump licensed condo towers in Hollywood and Sunny Isles, Florida. Local real estate agents credited the Russian migration for turning the coastal Miami community into what they called “Little Moscow.”

Organization lawyer Alan Garten told ABC News at the time that the firm did not track the nationality of buyers and that the company rarely plays a role in recruiting buyers — a job typically left to developers who buy rights to use the Trump name. Neither Garten nor the Trump Organization spokeswoman Amanda Miller responded this week to questions from ABC News about the 2013 poker raid.

Nor did they respond to questions about Tokhtakhounov, who, despite Interpol’s international “Red Notice,” is regularly seen in Moscow at popular restaurants and other public places. The poker case was not the first to target Tokhtakhounov. He had been indicted years earlier in the United States, accused of pay bribes to Olympic judges so that Russian figure skaters would win gold medals.

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Trump’s US-Mexico border wall gives Arizona town a sense of worry and hope

ABC News(COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz.) — John Ladd has seen just about every incarnation of the border fence separating his cattle ranch in Arizona from Mexico.

His family has owned 16,000 acres of land on the border with Mexico for 120 years, the 61-year-old told ABC News. Before 1927, there was nothing separating the property from Mexico. Then, there was a barbed wire fence built to stop diseases from spreading among cattle, Ladd said. In more recent decades, as concerns shifted from cattle health to border security, a mesh barrier up to 13 feet tall was erected. It was “real easy to climb” and able to be sawed through, Ladd said.

These days, much of the fence by Ladd’s property consists of steel tubing topped with metal placards that stretches nearly 20 feet in the air. There are 29 continuous miles of fencing of various heights that span from the mountains near Ladd’s house to the east of the nearby town of Douglas.

Ladd, like the majority of the voters in this postage-stamp shaped county at the southwest corner of Arizona, voted for Trump. He said he was excited about his presidential bid from the moment Trump descended his golden escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy.

“What he said about Mexico, what he said the problems were with illegal immigration is reality,” Ladd said. “We live here.”

Trump spoke extensively about undocumented immigrants during the presidential campaign, starting as early as his campaign announcement, when he made headlines by saying that some people who come to the U.S. from Mexico are criminals and rapists.

“Somebody that lives in Iowa might not see it like we do every day, but it’s a huge problem. It’s economic. It’s security. And everything that he addressed was absolutely what we’ve been going through down here for 30 years. And that’s what I said, ‘If this guy has the courage to say that and you know it’s not politically correct, I like him,’” he said.

Ladd said he’s seen firsthand what happens when people cross over illegally onto his land.

“The most humanitarian disgrace is we’ve had 14 dead bodies on the ranch and this isn’t very remote,” he said, noting how unlike some other ranches, his property is only a few miles from a public road.

Most of the deaths on Ladd’s property over the past 30 years have been the result of exposure — from the significant temperature swings that come with being in a desert — or dehydration.

“[Initially] there’s a certain amount of compassion, but I’ve lost it,” he said.

Decades of having to deal with regular repairs on his property — caused both by undocumented immigrants and Border Patrol agents — have cost his family. Cut water lines and broken ranch fencing are two problems that Ladd has had to pay to fix repeatedly. Carlos Diaz, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told ABC News that if there is damage to private property individuals have to fill a damage claim form “to start the claim process.”

And beyond the monetary cost, there’s an emotional one: at night, he worries people crossing illegally will try to break into his home while his family is sleeping, he said.

Despite his frustrations, Ladd finds himself in a strikingly common situation for many Trump-supporting residents along the border: He doesn’t necessarily agree with Trump on his plan to build — as Trump said on the trail — a “big, beautiful wall,” but he likes that Trump is addressing the topic of border security.

The fact that security problems along the border are getting attention at all is enough to garner Ladd’s support, even if he doesn’t love the solutions that Trump proposes.

“Well, there is places on the [U.S.-Mexico border] that a wall would be useful but our experience here on our ranch is [the fence] hasn’t been functional because there isn’t enough agents patrolling. And I think that a lot of President Trump’s wording is build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. …. It’s a play on words, in my opinion. You know, even though I do believe he’s going to build some wall,” he said.

Some 25 miles east of Ladd’s property is the sleepy town of Douglas.

It’s very clear that the roughly 16,500-person town has seen better and more bustling days in the past: From the main shopping street lined with empty storefronts to the historic Hotel Gadsden, which has a makeshift museum with pictures of the balls that were held in its lobby earlier in the 1900s, the town’s former glory lurks in the background.

But the border crossing remains busy. As the sun rises over the port of entry separating Agua Prieta in Mexico from Douglas, a steady stream of cars comes to the U.S., though the highest traffic area is on the pedestrian walkway. Groups of children walk cross the border, making their daily walk to school an international trip.

The amount of foot and passenger traffic into Douglas every day is sizeable. According to CBP’s records for the 2016 fiscal year, more than 3.8 million people passed through the town’s port of entry either on foot or by car. In March 2016, there were a total of 317,249 people who passed through, which equates to roughly 10,233 people per day. That’s more than half of the town’s population.

“I’m certain there’s a misunderstanding about the importance of legal immigration versus illegal immigration,” said G.T. Bohmfalk, a Douglas resident who voted for Trump and owns a saddle shop on the town’s main street.

“Every day, people come across this border and they’re legal entrants into the United States. They have shopping cards or visas or whatever and they come across that border through the port of entry. There is nothing in the world wrong with that and there’s only positives to be gained by that. Because our economy here in this town depends not so much on this town as it does on the Mexican citizens from northern Mexico coming across that border here. If you choke that down by politics or whatever, that harms this town and its economy,” he said.

And Bohmfalk, 66, should know: After 50 years of having his store in his family, Bohmfalk has put Marlin’s Saddle Shop up for sale. He told ABC News that his age and the desire to spend more time with his newborn grandson in Texas were the main reasons why he decided to put it up for sale, but he also acknowledged that business is at one of the slowest points he’s ever seen.

“You’ll find that most of these buildings down here are empty and even the businesses that are here like mine are not doing as well as we would like and I’ve heard some of my other friends in business here say that this is as bleak and as dark as it’s ever been here,” he said.

Nubia Romo, the 36-year-old executive director of the Greater Douglas Chamber of Commerce, said that four stores in the town have closed in December and January, noting that she thinks it’s because of “money not coming over as much as it used to.”

“For me to see businesses that have been open for so many years to close is a personal heartbreak,” she said.

“I think for many years living on the border, we relied a lot on the money that came from Mexico to continue living. Right now, because of all the issues there is in Mexico, the money coming over isn’t as much as it used to be where we see that businesses are slowly dying out because of things like this,” she said, referencing the decline of the Mexican peso. The peso has weakened against the dollar from about 12 pesos to the dollar in 2012 to about 20 pesos per dollar today, meaning that Mexicans paid in pesos have less buying power in dollars than they did previously.

When it comes to the issue of the wall, Bohmfalk said that he actually fought against the construction of the current fence but “now times have changed.”

“This wall to me is a distraction of what’s going on here. Because the wall will not affect the things that [Trump] calls critical, like the deficit. The wall won’t fix the deficit. The wall won’t fix trade,” he said, adding, “The wall is only a security device,” but it’s a necessary one, he thinks. Bohmfalk voted for Trump, but wants to be clear that while he respects him now that he is president, he is not a die-hard supporter.

“Don’t be mistaken here and think that I like him. I’m willing to tolerate him because he says things that I like to hear,” Bohmfalk said.

A consistent idea that resonates with many of the residents of Douglas is that Trump is paying attention to them, and they hope he will follow up with his promise to remember those he calls the “forgotten men and women.”

Said Bohmfalk, “Maybe he’ll listen to people like me who really know the story on the border and will tell it like it is.”

One such person that Trump said he has listened to is Art Del Cueto, a Border Patrol agent, the vice president of the National Border Patrol Council and the president of the Border Patrol union Local 2544.

Del Cueto, 43, is “very proud to say” that his union was the one that “spearheaded the [Border Patrol] endorsement of Donald Trump” in March 2016 and he said that support comes largely from Trump’s attention to border issues and his outreach to Border Patrol groups.

Del Cueto was in the ballroom at the New York Hilton Midtown when Trump won on election night, and he proudly shows a cellphone video of Trump pointing to him and his friend, a fellow Border Patrol agent, after getting off the stage.

“These are my guys,” Trump says in the video. “… Get ready to work!”

Del Cueto says his dedication and interest in the safety at the border stems from childhood spent in Douglas.

He said it feels like he’s “been involved [in Border Patrol] my whole life.” He has seen firsthand the danger that agents come across, which is partly behind his reasoning for wanting a wall, he said.

“It’s a high-level game. It’s a high-risk game. It’s agents that put their lives on the line every day. You don’t know if you’re going to come home that night,” he said.

According to the CBP, there were 585 assaults against CBP law enforcement personnel in fiscal year 2016.

“We realize that we’re a family and sometimes we’ve seen in Washington and through different administrations that the only backup that we have is ourselves,” he said.

One way that he thinks the wall will make his fellow agents safer is by making it more difficult for some malicious people on the other side of the fence who “rock” agents.

“What they do is they pick up boulders and rocks on the south end and they’ll throw them over this fence at agents,” Del Cueto said, noting that “agents have been severely, severely hurt by some of these.”

As of Feb. 18 of this year, there were 3,795 Border Patrol agents working in the Tucson Sector — the section of the border that includes Douglas — according to Border Patrol, making it the most-staffed sector along the country’s borders. That equates to about 14 agents for each of the sector’s 262 miles.

During the 2016 fiscal year, Tucson Sector had the most marijuana confiscated — 728,367 pounds — out of any sector, and the second-highest number of apprehensions of people crossing illegally: 64,891. CBP reports that there were 84 deaths along the border during that same time period, making it the second-most fatal sector.

In the National Border Patrol Council’s endorsement of Trump nearly a year ago, the organization stated that it stood behind him “in his mission to finally secure the border of the United States of America, before it is too late.”

Del Cueto thinks the current fence is insufficient, noting that he thinks a solid wall would make it more difficult for people to “rock” agents, and he hopes that Trump follows through on his campaign promise to build a literal wall.

“Ideally a wall, a real wall, works a lot better. It will be closed off. It will be solid. It will be harder to [scale],” he said.

But Shani Zepeda, 31, who grew up in Douglas and teaches social studies at a local high school, is more skeptical.

“What kind of a wall is he even going to construct to potentially keep out whomever? If there’s a will, there’s a way and whatever wall he’s going to build, I think it’s penetrable you know with the right equipment,” she said.

Zepeda, who says she “exercised her right not to vote” in the 2016 election, thinks the proposed wall is about more than just creating a physical barrier to keep out undocumented immigrants.

“I think that it definitely is a racial issue,” she said. “Being an American citizen, I do believe that America needs to be put first, but I don’t know how somebody can logically argue truly especially based on history itself that the construction of this wall is not a racial thing.” Del Cueto doesn’t see it that way. He insists racism isn’t at play and the wall is about the security of the nation.

“You close your door at night because you care about the people inside the house,” he said. “You don’t close your door at night because you hate the people outside.”

The issue of hate – and the at times anti-immigrant rhetoric that surrounded Trump’s immigration policy proposals, including the wall, during the campaign – is one that has been felt on a personal level in Douglas.

Alex Espinosa, 55, also grew up in Douglas, and his parents are migrants from Mexico. He said he was subject to criticism over his support of Trump.

“I’m not afraid to say that [I voted for Trump], but I’ve been called racist,” he said. “I’ve been called a womanizer. I’ve been called pretty much everything that people are calling Donald Trump. I’m neither one of those …. I’m Mexican but I’m American first.”

He runs a business creating headstones that is located three blocks from the border fence. He said he understands how interconnected Douglas is with Agua Prieta, directly on the other side of the fence.

“A lot of the families here in Douglas are from Agua Prieta, and it’s always been a practice for people to work over there and live here or work here and live over there,” he said.

Espinosa has ties to both sides of the border: His parents are Mexican and migrated to the U.S. legally, and while he is a U.S. citizen, he grew up going to school in Agua Prieta.

“We used to be able to go over there to restaurants and take our family. Now, people — a lot of the people that I know — won’t do that anymore. I don’t do that anymore. I used to. I’d rather not,” he said in reference to what he sees as a growing level of violence.

“The border is about, I’d say 1,000 yards from my business here and you can hear gunshots. You can hear car chases, you can hear the cylinders where they’re sending drugs over here,” he said, referring to canisters shot out of air cannons that are sometimes used along the border to send drugs from Mexico to set locations in the U.S. “You can even hear radios at night: two-way radios at night from whoever is out there, you know, and Border Patrol has their hands full and they need more agents here.”

He added: “I’m not saying all Mexicans are bad because my mother came over here. My father came over here. But there’s a lot of bad people that shouldn’t be here and then a lot of them come over here and they abuse our system of government assistance and like the health insurance.

“We’ve got to stop illegal immigration. That’s my point. Legal immigration, we welcome people that want to come over here and they want to work. My parents are migrants. My grandparents were migrants. They did it the right way. Everybody else should. I honestly believe that if you want to come to America, you should do it the right way.”

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Kansas father arrested in shooting death of teenage son

iStock/Thinkstock(WICHITA, Kan.) — A Kansas man was arrested on second-degree murder charges in the shooting death of his teenage son, police officials said Monday.

Glen Farrow, 41, was arrested after he allegedly shot and killed his 17-year-old son, Michael Farrow, during an argument on Sunday, the Wichita Police Department said.

“A friend of the victim was with him in the alley and directed officers back to the victim’s house and also informed the officers that the 17-year-old victim’s father was a possible suspect in the case,” Wichita Police Department Lt. Todd Ojile said at a press briefing Monday.

Farrow was booked at the Sedgwick County Jail on Monday on second-degree murder charges, Ojile said.

Police said the two were arguing in the front yard of their home in Wichita before the shooting.

“During that argument, a handgun came out. The son basically fled the front yard and ran eastbound,” Ojile said. “And as he was running, the father fired several shots, striking and killing his son.”

Ojile said the victim may have been shot in the back as he was running away.

Police are still trying to determine what the argument was about, but the victim’s stepmother, Amanda Stoll, said the fight started because of a disagreement over the teenager’s school.

She said Farrow was violent with her during their relationship and that she’s filed restraining orders against him, according to ABC News’ Kansas affiliate KAKE.

“I knew Glen was violent,” she said in an interview with KAKE on Monday. “But it has always been towards complete strangers, or the female he was involved with.”

Stoll, who said she helped to raise to the victim for more than 12 years, is still trying to “cope” with the incident.

“I don’t know how to cope with the fact that the man that I loved and married and had children with killed one of our kids,” Stoll said. “There is no way this can possibly be worse.”

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Massive 8-alarm fire destroys multiple homes in Kansas

iStock/Thinkstock(OVERLAND PARK, Kan.) — An eight-alarm fire that began at an unoccupied apartment complex in Kansas on Monday injured three firefighters and destroyed multiple homes, according to emergency officials.

The fire broke out at an apartment complex under construction in Overland Park, Kansas at around 3:30 p.m. Monday before quickly spreading to several homes nearby, Fire Department Chief Bryan Dehner said Monday evening.

At least 17 homes were affected by fire in the incident, but “there may be some other damage out there,” Dehner said while speaking at a press conference.

He described their conditions as a “mixed bag” of damaged and destroyed.

Officials said the blaze was extinguished Tuesday morning and that crews were looking for hot spots and putting out any flames that may be buried under debris.

Three firefighters were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries but appear to be doing well officials said early Tuesday.

Much of the damage to the homes was caused by heat exposure and flying embers, according to Overland Park Fire Department spokesman Jason Rhodes, who described the scene as “a bit of a war zone” on Monday.

He said the fire was intensified by winds, which pushed fire embers south.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, but a spokesperson on Tuesday said investigators will look to see if anything in the construction process could have sparked the blaze.

Officials said about 40 fire personnel from different state and federal agencies will come in to inspect the homes that were impacted.

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Arrest made in deaths of 2 Colorado teens

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – A 19-year-old man was booked on first degree murder and kidnapping charges in the deaths of two teens who were found dead on the side of a Colorado road, authorities said.

Gustavo Marquez, 19, was also charged with aggravated robbery and child abuse resulting in the deaths of Derek Benjamin Greer, 15, and Natalie Partida, 16, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

The victims’ bodies were found on the side of a road about 15 miles from their Colorado Spring High School.

“I am so happy there is finally justice for my son and Natalie,” said Greer’s mother, Heather Ferguson. “The case is still ongoing so it’s not over yet.”

The deaths were ruled homicides but the cause was not clear.

“They had a whole life to live,” Greer’s cousin, Hannah Ortega, told ABC News Friday. “They don’t get to have kids, they don’t get to graduate high school, they don’t get to work their dream jobs, they don’t get to live anymore. Nobody deserves to get their life taken.”

Marquez is scheduled for a court appearance on April 5, according to records.

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