Review Category : National News

NC Police Search for Missing Elementary School Teacher

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — Authorities in Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department are searching for 31-year-old Bianca Tanner, an elementary school teacher who vanished in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday.

Family and friends called Tanner’s disappearance out of character, Detective Faulkner of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department told ABC News.

“We have received several tips, though nothing that would provide any closure,” Faulkner said.

Tanner taught second grade at the Fork Elementary School in Greensboro, North Carolina, school officials told ABC News.

Tanner was last spotted Sunday on Druid Circle in Charlotte by her boyfriend, who also lives in Charlotte, Faulkner said. Tanner’s boyfriend reported her missing to authorities at 12:37 p.m. on the same day. His identity has not been released at this time.

Tanner recently moved from Greensboro to Charlotte, and may still have ties in the area, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said in a statement.

Tanner is described by authorities as 5-feet-3 inches tall, weighing 110 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. Police say she was last seen wearing a red tank top, black shorts and black flat shoes.

A woman identified as Raleta Chanel on her Instagram account, has jump-started a social media campaign calling for the public to help shed light on Tanner’s disappearance, and also asks people to pray and keep an eye out for the elementary school teacher.

When reached by ABC News via Instagram and Twitter Wednesday, she declined to comment, instead uploading comments that authorities advised her not communicate with the media nor “speak anything that may hinder” the investigation.

Posts on Chanel’s Instagram account claim that Tanner went for a walk on Sunday with her cellphone and debit card and hasn’t been heard from since. The posts state she “is a mother and an educator who was working on her doctorate degree who would not abandon her child.”

It was unclear what her relationship is with Tanner.

Detectives are now digging into Tanner’s phone records to see if there are any clues that can lead to her whereabouts, police said.

Anyone who sees or has information about Tanner are urged to call Detective Faulkner at (704) 336-8970.

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Friends Mourn 14-Year-Old Killed in Oregon School Shooting

Natalie Behring/Getty Images(TROUTDALE, Ore.) — Friends of the 14-year-old shot dead at an Oregon high school Tuesday turned to social media to express their sorrow, remembering the boy as an “amazing soccer player” and a “great friend.”

Heartbroken pals used the hashtag #RIPEmilioHoffman to swap memories about the Reynolds High School freshman who was killed when another teen opened fire in the boys’ locker room, killing Emilio Hoffman before turning the gun on himself, police said.

“I love you so much and I always will. You were my first kiss and the first guy I truly loved,” @LyssaKarm wrote on Twitter.

Friends also retweeted messages from Hoffman’s account, last updated on Tuesday morning.

“Let’s just end school with a bunch of stressful test…yay,” his last message read.

A vigil was held for Hoffman Tuesday night. And students at the Troutdale, Oregon, school tweeted their plan to wear green on Wednesday in honor of Hoffman.

It was not yet clear whether the unidentified gunman was a student at the school, why he opened fire or if Hoffman was an intended target. A teacher also suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the shooting.

Hoffman lived with his mother, older brother and two younger sisters.

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NYC Strippers Accused of Drugging, Stealing More Than $200K from Dates

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Police have arrested four strippers in New York City, accused of meeting men in bars and restaurants and drugging their drinks with molly ketamine tranquilizers and cocaine.

The women allegedly took their victims to strip clubs in the Manhattan and Queens boroughs of New York City, where they ran up the men’s credit cards for more than $200,000.

The accused fraudulent strippers mostly drugged their victims at Scores or the Roadhouse NYC Gentlemen’s Club in Queens.

The strippers, identified as Samantha Barbash, Roselyn Keo, Karina Pasucci and Marsi Rosen, all were charged with conspiracy, grand larceny, assault and forgery. Roadhouse NYC Gentlemen’s Club manager, Carmine Vitolo, will also be charged with conspiracy, grand larceny and tampering with physical evidence.

The clubs paid the women as part of the scam but the owners aren’t facing criminal charges.

At least one of the accused is expected to appear in a Lower Manhattan court Wednesday.

Many of the victims only learned of the scam after receiving their credit card or bank statements.

The strippers allegedly blackmailed some of the men with sexually explicitly photos of them in compromising positions taken after the men were secretly drugged. Many of the photos are were taken at the Hotel Gansevoort in the the Meatpacking District section of Manhattan.

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Judge Strikes Down Tenure for California School Teachers

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — In what amounted to a battle of students vs. teachers in California, the students have won.

A judge ruled Tuesday that teacher tenure is unconstitutional, supporting a lawsuit brought on behalf of nine students from the nonprofit Student Matters in which they alleged the current system allows teachers too many protections when accused of being ineffective in the classroom.

Should Judge Rolf M. Treu’s decision stand an inevitable legal challenge, the entire California school system will have to craft new ways of employing teachers and firing those who are shown to be sub-standard.

Following the ruling, the plaintiff’s attorney Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., told reporters, “These laws are hurting students and hurting teachers. They make no sense. They are damaging in every respect.”

Another supporter of the lawsuit, Los Angeles schools chief John Deasy proclaimed, “Nothing we do in our schools is more important to the education of the child than the quality of his or her teacher.”

The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers joined the state in opposing the lawsuit, arguing that poor management was the chief reason why bad teachers don’t get the boot.

However, Judge Treu sided with students who claimed that low-income and minority children suffered the most by protections in place that make firing an inefficient teacher nearly impossible.

Teachers unions contend without these protections, it will be impossible to retain worthy instructors.

The defendants have two weeks to file objections to the judge’s ruling.

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Battle for the Everglades: Vets Versus Pythons

iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) — In the Florida Everglades now, it’s vets-versus-pythons, as survivors of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wrestle with a different kind of foe: lethal Burmese pythons.

While Everglades National Park does not permit hunting, it has authorized some 30 agents — mostly private individuals — to find and remove pythons, park spokesperson Linda Friar tells ABC News. The snakes, which are not native to the park, are rapidly gobbling up small mammals, thereby reducing the number of species present, say wildlife experts.

One agent, says Friar, is Tom Rahill, 57, a U.S. vet who six years ago founded Swamp Apes, an outfit dedicated to helping other vets get over their residual war trauma by spending time in the wild. Members of the group, he tells ABC News, volunteer to remove trash and invasive species from the park. Those species range from plants (for example, poisonwood, which Rahill likens to “poison ivy on steroids”) to animals, including water moccasins and pygmy rattle snakes. By far the biggest prey they capture, he says, are Burmese pythons, which now are locked in a death-struggle with native Florida alligators to see who will be king of the food chain.

Nor are the snakes content to stay put in the park.

Oscar Corral, founder and president of Explica Media, which is making a documentary, The Python Invasion, scheduled to be released this fall, tells ABC News that in September 2013, a python slithered into West Kendall, Florida, and killed a dog.

Says Rahill, “There’s concern about what will happen if more of them get into suburban areas and attack children or pets. It’s rare, but it’s happened. These are incredibly powerful animals, up to 11 for 12 feet long. They could kill me, if I didn’t handle them right, let alone a little kid in some back yard.”

Experts estimate that some 100,000 pythons may be living in the Everglades. Last year, the Park permitted a special month-long hunt, the Python Challenge. Some 1,500 volunteers captured only 68 snakes.

Rahill tells ABC News that his group, since 2008, has captured 150 snakes. Its goal, he says, is to bag at least 200 next year.

Why do the Swamp Apes succeed where other hunters have failed? Rahill thinks it has to do with two things: first, his volunteers all have military training. They are, he says, aware, focused and battle-hardened, comfortable with keeping their wits even in extreme conditions. Second, he says, those who suffer from PTSD find the disorder works to their advantage. “One characteristic of PTSD is hyper-vigilance. Being vigilant is good in the Everglades,” he said.

The men work up to python-hunting by small degrees, he says. “There’s lots of less-dangerous invasive species. We start with chameleon-hunting, then hunting tegus (lizards that feed on crocodile eggs),” he added. Eventually, they become qualified to deal with pythons.

Not only does the park benefit, he says, but the Apes do, too. There’s a body of evidence, including a 2013 study published in the journal Military Medicine, that suggests time spent in the wild helps victims of PTSD surmount their trauma. Further, hunting pythons gives back to vets something that Rahill says many crave: a mission, a sense of purpose.

“These are men who were told to defend the U.S. against all enemies,” he says. “When they get back home, a need for a mission is still ingrained in them, but they don’t have one.”

In the Apes, he says, they recapture their sense of purpose. “When one of them tells me, ‘I don’t have nightmares any more, Tom,’ I get tears in my eyes,” says Rahill.

Asked if he or any of his men get paid, Rahill says no. All are unpaid volunteers, Friar confirms. The Apes’ expenses now run about $20,000 a year for equipment, gasoline and other necessities, says Rahill: “It’s all out-of-pocket for me. It’s grown to a point where I can’t afford it.”

He’s in the course of getting the Apes registered as a 5013c, so they can accept charitable donations.

What becomes of the pythons? Friar says that snakes captured in the park cannot be removed from the park; agents must turn all of them over to park wildlife biologists, who then euthanize them, perform necropsies and dispose of the remains.

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Girls Accused in ‘Slender Man’ Stabbing Appearing in Court

iStock/Thinkstock(WAUKESHA, Wis.) — The 12-year-old girls accused of stabbing their friend 19 times in an Internet-inspired attack are scheduled to appear in a Wisconsin courtroom Wednesday for a status conference at which a judge could decide if their case will be sent to juvenile court.

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier are charged as adults with attempted first-degree intentional homicide after allegedly luring their victim into the woods with a game of hide-and-seek, then stabbing her repeatedly on May 31.

According to court documents, the girls say they carried out the attack in hopes of meeting a fictional online character named “Slender Man.”

Legal expert Wendy Murphy said it’s rare for children this young to be facing such severe charges.

“The girls are in adult court because this is such a serious crime. And they should be facing serious consequences,” Murphy said. “On the other hand, they’re 12. And most crimes committed by 12-year-olds, even if they’re serious, are handled in juvenile court.”

At Wednesday’s court hearing, defense attorneys could also request to have the suspects’ $500,000 bail reduced. The girls have been behind bars since the alleged attack.

Their alleged victim managed to survive, crawling out to a nearby road, gasping for air and catching the attention of a bicyclist who called 911.

She’s now recovering at home.

“Her physical wounds…are healing more quickly than anticipated,” her parents said in a statement.

That healing process has been aided by boxes and boxes of purple hearts — purple is her favorite color. The hearts have been sent from around the world, signs of support for the girl who survived the unthinkable.
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Girls Accused in ‘Slender Man’ Stabbing Appearing in Court

iStock/Thinkstock(WAUKESHA, Wis.) — The 12-year-old girls accused of stabbing their friend 19 times in an Internet-inspired attack are scheduled to appear in a Wisconsin courtroom Wednesday for a status conference at which a judge could decide if their case will be sent to juvenile court.

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier are charged as adults with attempted first-degree intentional homicide after allegedly luring their victim into the woods with a game of hide-and-seek, then stabbing her repeatedly on May 31.

According to court documents, the girls say they carried out the attack in hopes of meeting a fictional online character named “Slender Man.”

Legal expert Wendy Murphy said it’s rare for children this young to be facing such severe charges.

“The girls are in adult court because this is such a serious crime. And they should be facing serious consequences,” Murphy said. “On the other hand, they’re 12. And most crimes committed by 12-year-olds, even if they’re serious, are handled in juvenile court.”

At Wednesday’s court hearing, defense attorneys could also request to have the suspects’ $500,000 bail reduced. The girls have been behind bars since the alleged attack.

Their alleged victim managed to survive, crawling out to a nearby road, gasping for air and catching the attention of a bicyclist who called 911.

She’s now recovering at home.

“Her physical wounds…are healing more quickly than anticipated,” her parents said in a statement.

That healing process has been aided by boxes and boxes of purple hearts — purple is her favorite color. The hearts have been sent from around the world, signs of support for the girl who survived the unthinkable.
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Mayor Admits to Being Bag Man, Cops Investigating

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN MARINO, Calif.) — The mayor of San Marino, Calif., has admitted leaving a bag of dog poop on a neighbor’s sidewalk, but while the neighbor does not want to press charges, the cops are still sniffing around the case.

The police have obtained a home surveillance video that allegedly shows Mayor Dennis Kneier putting the doggie bag on Philip Lao’s sidewalk.

“On Monday June 9, 2014 the San Marino Police Department spoke with the resident who indicated he is not desirous of prosecution; however, the Police Department is considering this matter under investigation at this time,” the police said in a statement.

Lao went to the cops June 7 after he and his wife returned from a walk and found a plastic bag of dog feces on their sidewalk. They checked their home surveillance video tape. Police said that after reviewing the video that monitors the exterior of the residence, the Laos identified “their neighbor Mr. Dennis Kneier as the person who had placed the plastic bag on their walkway.”

Kneier admitted to being the bag man.

“Rather than leave it or dispose of it properly, I placed it on your side walkway. This was a mistake, for which I apologize. It won’t happen again,” Kneier said in a statement he shared with KABC.

Neither Mayor Kneier nor Lao responded to ABC News’ requests for a comment on the matter.

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Native Americans’ Anti-Redskins Ad to Air During NBA Finals

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Native Americans are sending a loud message to the Washington Redskins during Tuesday night’s NBA Finals.

A northern California tribe paid for a commercial to air in seven major U.S. cities during halftime, their latest plea for the NFL team to change its “racist” name and mascot.

“In my opinion, the ‘r’ word is just as derogatory a slur as the N-word,” Marshall McKay, chairman of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, said in a video about the “Change the Mascot” campaign.

The minute-long commercial, called “Proud to Be,” is a shortened version of a similar ad that was posted online earlier this year. In it, a narrator lists adjectives that could describe Native Americans — “Indian,” “Navajo, “Sioux,” “Spiritualist,” “strong” — before the camera zooms in on a Redskins helmet, “the one thing they don’t” call themselves.

The ad, which premiered Sunday night in Miami during Game 2 of the NBA Finals, will reach its biggest audience yet Tuesday night when it plays in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The tribe wouldn’t say how much it paid for the prime TV spot, except that it was a “substantial” amount.

The video was produced by the National Congress of American Indians.

Despite a growing push to change their team name, the Washington Redskins have remained insistent that it must stay. Redskins President Bruce Allen recently wrote a letter to senators stating the team “has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans.”

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Native Americans’ Anti-Redskins Ad to Air During NBA Finals

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Native Americans are sending a loud message to the Washington Redskins during Tuesday night’s NBA Finals.

A northern California tribe paid for a commercial to air in seven major U.S. cities during halftime, their latest plea for the NFL team to change its “racist” name and mascot.

“In my opinion, the ‘r’ word is just as derogatory a slur as the N-word,” Marshall McKay, chairman of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, said in a video about the “Change the Mascot” campaign.

The minute-long commercial, called “Proud to Be,” is a shortened version of a similar ad that was posted online earlier this year. In it, a narrator lists adjectives that could describe Native Americans — “Indian,” “Navajo, “Sioux,” “Spiritualist,” “strong” — before the camera zooms in on a Redskins helmet, “the one thing they don’t” call themselves.

The ad, which premiered Sunday night in Miami during Game 2 of the NBA Finals, will reach its biggest audience yet Tuesday night when it plays in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The tribe wouldn’t say how much it paid for the prime TV spot, except that it was a “substantial” amount.

The video was produced by the National Congress of American Indians.

Despite a growing push to change their team name, the Washington Redskins have remained insistent that it must stay. Redskins President Bruce Allen recently wrote a letter to senators stating the team “has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans.”

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