Review Category : National News

FBI Probing Teen’s Hanging that Was Originally Ruled a Suicide

iStock/Thinkstock(BLADENBORO, N.C.) — The FBI is reviewing the investigation into the apparent hanging death of a 17-year-old boy that was originally ruled a suicide, the U.S. attorney said on Friday.

Lennon Lacy, an African American teen, was found hanging from a swing set near a trailer park in Bladenboro, North Carolina, in August.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has been handling the case until Friday, but District Attorney Jon Davis announced that the FBI is joining the case after Lacy’s relatives’ attorneys called for federal involvement.

Davis reiterated that he believes that the case has been handled professionally, but asked the FBI to help as an act of transparency.

“This is ongoing. This case has never been closed. It is now being enhanced by the presence of Federal Bureau of Investigation and together we put in place a process that represents the best possibility of seeking truth,” Davis said.

Lacy’s mother Claudia and brother Pierre spoke to Katie Couric last month about their pursuit for justice and a thorough investigation.

“It’s not about black or white. It’s about social class. You know, I just feel like the poorer you are in America, the less opportunity you have to have justice or anything that’s rightfully yours as an American. Someone needs to shine the light on that,” Pierre Lacy said.

Lennon’s mother said that she thinks that the details of the scene and the way his body was hanging — using a dog leash and belt — suggest that it was not a suicide.

“I can accept anything long as it’s explained to where I can understand. You see what I’m saying?” Claudia Lacy told Couric. “I don’t say answer all the questions, just answer that question. Prove to me how he did it. Because I can’t conceive him even thinking that in his, in his mind. I didn’t raise my child to think, ‘Take a life,’ not even his.”

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Three Injured in Shooting Near Portland School

iStock/Thinkstock(PORTLAND, Ore.) — Police are investigating a shooting near an Oregon school that has injured at least three people, authorities said.

The shooting took place at Rosemary Anderson High School in Portland, Ore.

All three victims were alive and conscious, Portland police said on Friday afternoon, though their medical conditions were unknown.

While the police could not confirm that the victims were students, they were of “student age.”

The suspect is believed to have fled the scene.

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FBI, DHS Issue Bulletin for Law Enforcement Warning of Lone Wolf Domestic Terrorism

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have issued a bulletin to local law enforcement agencies around the nation, warning of the threat of lone-wolf domestic terrorists.

The bulletin referenced the Austin, Texas, shooting spree last month in which Larry McQuilliams fired over 100 rounds at a number of buildings, including a federal courthouse, a bank, the Consulate General of Mexico and the Austin Police Department headquarters. Law enforcement ultimately shot and killed McQuilliams.

According to the bulletin, McQuilliams “was at least partially inspired by the Phineas Priest ideology — which advocates lone offender action.” That ideology, expressed in a 1990 book titled Vigilantes of Christendom: The History of the Phineas Priesthood, was interpreted from the story of Phineas in chapter 25 of the biblical Book of Numbers to justify white supremacist violence, the bulletin says. The book was found in a rented van used by McQuilliams during his spree, along with a handwritten note in which he described himself as a member of the “priesthood.”

Law enforcement agencies are warned about the difficulty to identify and track followers of the idology, as they do not rely on “collective resources of an organization with centralized leadership, formal membership, or a coordinating body that can be tracked or monitored by law enforcement.”

The bulletin cites other examples of criminal and terrorist incident tied to believers of the ideology. It also provides law enforcement with some things they can look out for.

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Alleged 9/11 Conspirator ‘Holds No Grudge’ Against CIA

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — One of the men accused of planning and carrying out the Sept. 11 terror attacks watched his torturers suffer as they did their jobs — and as a result “does not hold any grudges” toward those who inflicted pain on him, his attorneys said on Friday.

Lawyers for Ammar al Baluchi (also known as Ali Abdul Aziz Ali) issued a statement in response to the searing Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed soon after the Twin Towers were destroyed.

“The CIA and its defenders are using Mr. al Baluchi as a scapegoat for its illegal and reprehensible use of torture,” said James Connell, lead attorney for al Baluchi. “The United States spent incredible amounts of money, energy, and American credibility, and now the CIA is pointing at Mr. al Baluchi to justify its massive torture infrastructure.”

The nephew of self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al Baluchi is being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he is to be tried by military commission for his alleged role in orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.

Like KSM, he could face the death penalty if convicted.

Al Baluchi was arrested in April 2003 and held by the CIA at “black sites” until his transfer to Gitmo in late 2006. The CIA has said al Baluchi provided invaluable information to interrogators who subjected him to freezing baths and beatings while in custody.

Defenders of the so-called “torture program” said it was al Baluchi who revealed information that disrupted a planned terror attack in Pakistan.

And they said al Baluchi’s forced disclosures led agents to Abu Ahmad Al Kuwaiti, the al Qaeda courier whose trail pointed them to Osama bin Laden.

The Senate committee concluded that the critical intelligence about al Kuwaiti had been obtained before interrogators got it out of al Baluchi and it was not the product of “torture.”

“Despite the pain he endured, and the CIA’s use of Mr. al Baluchi to retroactively justify its torture program, Mr. al Baluchi does not hold any grudges against the CIA,” Connell said. “He saw the humanity, and the suffering, of those who tortured him.”

The military tribunal designated to try al Baluchi, KSM and three others is scheduled to return to session for pretrial motions at Guantanamo Bay on Monday.

Except for procedural matters, the case has been halted since January 2013, when CIA minders stopped the proceedings out of concern that one defense attorney was poised to discuss classified information concerning the enhanced interrogation program.

Arraignments in the case were held in May 2012. There is no telling when the five could stand trial.

Lawyers for the five defendants have repeatedly asked for permission to discuss the enhanced interrogation program in court only to be rebuffed by government officials who say they cannot because the information was classified.

It is not clear how the release of the Senate report could affect court procedures at Guantanamo.

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The Problem with Digital Drivers Licenses: Iowa Tests High Tech IDs

Iowa Department of Transportation(DES MOINES, Iowa) — Iowa is testing digital driver’s licenses but the high-tech approach to carrying identification could come with its own set of issues.

The Iowa Department of Transportation said it will experiment with an app next year that will allow users to trade in their plastic cards. State employees will be the first test group.

No timeline was released as to when the digital licenses could be implemented with the general public, however Mark Lowe, a director at the Department of Transportation, said there are still a number of issues that will need to be resolved.

Among them: How a user can put their license on multiple devices, as well as security issues, including how to keep someone else from using your digital license.

Another big issue: What if you’re stopped and need to hand the officer your digital license?

“That is one of the things people had concerns about,” Lowe told ABC News. “Once the officer has that, can he rifle through my phone?”

Before the digital license goes public, Lowe said the Department of Motor Vehicles hopes to create a feature that will lock the screen when the owner needs to hand over their smartphone, sealing off the contents of their phone from any potential snooping.

It may not even be necessary to show your digital license in the future, Lowe said.

“These devices allow us to communicate with other devices. The long-term concept is we may simply be able let one mobile device talk to another,” he said.

How It Works

One reason for going digital is safety.

The digital license will show the driver’s face in 3-D, allowing officers to better match the person in the photo to the one they’re speaking with.

Accessing the license will require a unique PIN code, allowing users to make sure their private information doesn’t fall into someone else’s hands.

“Not just anybody can download [the app],” Lowe said. “We need to know that after we have vetted you, you’re the person accessing the app.”

Once it’s on a user’s phone, the PIN code will act as one security measure, however Lowe said he envisions even more precise controls in the future.

“A thumb print or finger print or facial recognition or voice or iris image,” he said. “We have to change this static thing in your pocket to something that is live.”

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Feds Add $10K to Reward in Murder Case of Burned Mississippi Teen

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Marshals Service has added $10,000 to the reward being offered for information relating to the burning death of Mississippi teen Jessica Chapman as her family prepares for her funeral on Saturday.

“They’re very, very devastated by the loss,” Panola County District Attorney John Champion told ABC News of Chapman’s parents.

Local police and agents from federal agencies are continuing to search for the attacker, who is believed to have set Chapman on fire. She died of her injuries shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Champion told ABC News that they have not identified a suspect but are actively interviewing.

“We have spoken to many, many people and everyone has cooperated with us at this point,” Champion said.

“What we’re pursing at this point is something that somebody might say to somebody else that gets back to us. Something that somebody already knows, something that somebody saw that just didn’t register ’til they go back to start thinking about it … and, we’re looking for that,” Champion said. “We’re still going through records and looking at different things. It’s just a pounding the pavement investigation.”

Champion confirmed earlier reports that the 19-year-old was able to briefly communicate with first responders before being airlifted to a nearby hospital. He would not reveal what she said but confirmed that they are “looking into what she said.”

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Florida Couple Arrested for Squatting in Million-Dollar Home

File photo. Hemera/Thinkstock(KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla.) — A Florida couple who allegedly moved into a 7,500-square foot mansion and even wrote about it on Facebook faces charges of grand theft, forgery and unlawful filing after authorities said they had been illegally squatting in the home for months.

Justin and Jenna Dean allegedly set up residence in the Keystone Heights, Florida, home — the centerpiece of a 240-acre estate — in September, claiming they purchased a deed for the foreclosed home at a discount.

“This is the house we just bought. We have a lot of work to do, it’ll take some time but Rome wasn’t built overnight,” Jenna Dean posted on her Facebook page.

Clay County, Florida, authorities said the couple did actually do some work on the home.

“Some locks have been changed and some ‘no trespassing’ signs have been put up,” Clay County Police Detective Steve Dugger said at a news conference this week.

The Deans’ alleged house of cards began to collapse when a couple from Ohio actually bought the house for $1.1 million.

“They put a down payment on it [and] that’s when the false deed was found,” Dugger said.

“The Quit Claim Deed that was found was fraudulent. It was made up from pieces of other deeds,” he said. “The signatures on the correct deed were used on the fraudulent deed.”

The Deans were arrested Monday and released on bail.

The couple had no comment when reached by ABC News.

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Florida Couple Arrested for Squatting in Million-Dollar Home

File photo. Hemera/Thinkstock(KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla.) — A Florida couple who allegedly moved into a 7,500-square foot mansion and even wrote about it on Facebook faces charges of grand theft, forgery and unlawful filing after authorities said they had been illegally squatting in the home for months.

Justin and Jenna Dean allegedly set up residence in the Keystone Heights, Florida, home — the centerpiece of a 240-acre estate — in September, claiming they purchased a deed for the foreclosed home at a discount.

“This is the house we just bought. We have a lot of work to do, it’ll take some time but Rome wasn’t built overnight,” Jenna Dean posted on her Facebook page.

Clay County, Florida, authorities said the couple did actually do some work on the home.

“Some locks have been changed and some ‘no trespassing’ signs have been put up,” Clay County Police Detective Steve Dugger said at a news conference this week.

The Deans’ alleged house of cards began to collapse when a couple from Ohio actually bought the house for $1.1 million.

“They put a down payment on it [and] that’s when the false deed was found,” Dugger said.

“The Quit Claim Deed that was found was fraudulent. It was made up from pieces of other deeds,” he said. “The signatures on the correct deed were used on the fraudulent deed.”

The Deans were arrested Monday and released on bail.

The couple had no comment when reached by ABC News.

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United Airlines Passengers Endure Nightmare Layover on Trip to Australia

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Hundreds of passengers aboard a United Airlines flight to Australia experienced a 30-hour travel nightmare, with the plane diverted — and passengers forced to endure a lengthy layover.

The plane departed San Francisco at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, en route to Sydney, with 251 passengers on board. The plane was diverted to Canberra, with the pilot blaming the diversion on debris on the runway.

After the plane landed in Canberra, the crew was unable to take off because the pilot exceeded his flying hour limit.

To make matters worse, the passengers weren’t allowed to enter the Canberra Airport due to customs and immigration issues.

Instead, the passengers were forced to stay on the tarmac, reportedly spending nearly four hours in their seats before crew allowed them to get off and get some fresh air. United Airlines gave the passengers snacks and drinks.

Some of the passengers wrote about their travel woes online.

More than eight hours after the plane landed in Canberra, a back-up crew arrived, allowing the plane to take off.

Flight UA 863 finally landed in Sydney at about 6 p.m. local time Friday, nine hours behind schedule — finally bringing an end to the travelers’ ordeal.

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Cruise Ship Fire Claims Three Lives

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(MIAMI) — An engine room fire aboard a luxury cruise ship Thursday morning claimed three lives.

The Insignia cruise ship was docked in St. Lucia when the fire broke out, according to its operator, Miami-based Oceania Cruises.

Oceania said two contractors and one crew member were killed. One crew member is hospitalized in stable condition.

The company released a statement, saying, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred this morning on Insignia. We have extended our heartfelt condolences to the families of those involved and are offering them our full support. This is truly an emotional time for all of us at Oceania Cruises.”

Oceania said Thursday it had arranged charter flights to transport all 656 passengers to Miami.

The cruise line says all guests will receive a 100 percent refund, and a 50 percent credit towards a future Oceania Cruises voyage.

Insignia was on a 10-day cruise. It departed San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Dec. 7 and was scheduled to arrive in Miami on Dec. 17.

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