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Zika Virus Prompts Florida Governor to Expand State of Emergency

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott expanded the state of emergency to a fifth county Thursday after the discovery of Zika virus cases there.

There are currently 12 people diagnosed with the Zika virus in Florida, up from nine people on Wednesday, Scott said during a news conference. The five counties under a state of emergency are Broward, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa.

All of those diagnosed were infected while out of the United States, in areas where transmission of the Zika virus is ongoing, Scott said.

“We can prepare for the worse and hope for the best,” Scott said. “We are going to do everything we can to stay ahead of the Zika virus.”

There have been no reported case of mosquitoes transmitting the Zika virus to people in Florida.

Zika virus has been linked to thousands of infants born in Brazil with a birth defect known as microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head and associated with serious developmental delays. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued travel advisories for 28 countries and territories, warning pregnant women to avoid travel to those areas if possible.

Scott said the state is working with the CDC to get more tests that allow doctors to determine if a person has ever been infected with the Zika virus, and to help educate health providers in the state about the virus and its effects.

Scott said he wanted to get 1,000 tests from the CDC that test for antibodies for the Zika virus, so that any pregnant women who were in Zika-affected countries can get tested to see if they were actually infected.

Additionally, he is directing the government to purchase 4,000 tests that allow doctors to diagnose an active infection of the virus, so that a larger outbreak could be quickly identified.

Scott dismissed questions from reporters that his actions could make tourists wary about visiting the state if they are concerned about the Zika virus.

“I don’t think it’s scaring people. It’s telling people that you’re state government is going to be prepared,” Scott said.

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Virginia Tech Student ‘Excited’ to Be Part of Alleged Murder, FBI Says

Blacksburg Police Department(BLACKSBURG, Va.) — One of the two Virginia Tech students facing charges in connection with the alleged abduction and fatal stabbing of a 13-year-old girl had her bond denied as investigators said she admitted to planning the murder.

Natalie Keepers, 19, broke down on the stand Thursday in court as prosecutors detailed what she told investigators.

“I was excited to be part of something secretive and special,” Keepers told FBI investigators, according to commonwealth prosecutor Mary Pettitt.

Keepers told police that she bought a shovel with David Eisenhauer, the other Virginia Tech student who has been arrested in the case, before the alleged murder and then the pair went to a Walmart together to buy cleaning supplies while Nicole Lovell’s body was still in the trunk of Eisenhauer’s car.

Keepers gave detectives information about where in her dorm room they could find a suitcase containing a blanket that Nicole had with her when she went missing and cleaning supplies that Keepers and Eisenhauer had used.

She also told police where to find the body, Pettitt said in court Thursday.

Keepers was initially charged with a felony count of improper disposal of a dead body and a misdemeanor count of accessory after the fact in the commission of a felony. But later, on Feb. 2, the commonwealth’s attorney said they were adding an additional charge of accessory before the fact to the first degree murder of Nicole Lovell.

Keepers was arrested on Jan. 31, the day after Lovell’s body was found in Surry County, North Carolina.

The first arrest made in connection to Lovell’s alleged abduction and slaying was Eisenhauer, an 18-year-old Virginia Tech student.

“Based on the evidence collected to date, investigators have determined that Eisenhauer and Nicole were acquainted prior to her disappearance,” Blacksburg police said in a statement released Sunday. “Eisenhauer used this relationship to his advantage to abduct the 13-year-old and then kill her.”

Eisenhauer and Keepers had separate arraignments at Montgomery County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Monday, appearing briefly while wearing orange jumpsuits and shackles. At the time, Keepers was only facing charges of improperly disposing a body and being an accessory after the fact. Their preliminary hearings were set for late-March and neither has had to enter a plea. Neither of their attorneys has made any public statements about the case.

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Real-Life ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ Taunt Authorities on Social Media

iStock/Thinkstock(PERRY, Ga.) — A manhunt is underway for a modern-day “Bonnie and Clyde” couple who is wanted in connection to a string of robberies and kidnappings.

Missourians Blake Fitzgerald and Brittany Nicole Harper face charges after allegedly carrying out a bevy of armed robberies across the southeast over the past week. They allegedly robbed the Microtel Inn in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Sunday, briefly taking the hotel clerk hostage, police said.

From there, police say, they allegedly attempted to carjack the manager of a McDonald’s restaurant in Hoover, Alabama.

Investigators say the couple, who are in their 30s, fled to a nearby residence, allegedly taking the homeowner hostage, stealing her SUV and dropping her off at a hospital.

The SUV was discovered in Perry, Georgia, Monday night, police said.

Also, security footage appears to show the armed couple holding up an Express Mart and forcing the cashier into the same SUV, before dropping her off at a nearby exit.

The couple has taken to Facebook to seemingly mock police in recent days, despite pleas from their friends to turn themselves in. Harper apparently posted on Facebook, “I wasn’t planning on going for a run today but those cops came out of nowhere.”

One of Harper’s friends apparently wrote on Facebook, “I don’t want u to die … But I am afraid u are headed in that direction.”

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Former Turing CEO Martin Shkreli Dismissed from House Hearing, Calls Lawmakers ‘Imbeciles’

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who raised the price of an anti-parasitic drug fiftyfold, pleaded the fifth before the House Oversight Committee, refusing to answer lawmakers’ questions at a hearing on drug pricing.

As lawmakers blasted him for raising the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent, the former pharmaceutical executive rolled his eyes, smiled and even appeared to doodle.

Shkreli, who was subpoenaed to appear at the hearing by the committee, tweeted moments after leaving the Capitol:

Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.

— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) February 4, 2016

As CEO of Turing, Shkreli presided over the purchase of Daraprim, an established drug used to treat parasitic infections. The drug’s price was exponentially raised overnight. He stepped down from that post in December after his arrest on securities fraud charges.

“What do you say to that single pregnant woman who might have AIDS, no income and she needs Daraprim in order to survive?” asked Republican Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who called Shkreli’s actions “despicable.”

“Do you think you’ve done anything wrong?” he asked.

Shkreli, “on advice of counsel,” invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

When told he could choose to answer some questions and not others, Shkreli told Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., “I intend to follow the advice of my counsel, not yours.”

House lawmakers accused Turing — along with Valeant Pharmaceuticals — of raising drug prices in search of profit. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the panel, released a series of e-mails from both companies Tuesday, saying they illustrated how the drug price increases were profit-minded from the the start, despite the company’s public comments.

Shkreli was dismissed from the hearing after 50 minutes. Shkreli’s attorney told reporters his client was misunderstood and did not intend to disrespect the panel.

“When all of the facts about Daraprim and Turing are ultimately disclosed, I think everyone will recognize that Mr. Shkreli is not a villain. He’s not the bad boy. I think at the end of this story that he is a hero,” attorney Benjamin Brafman said.

Moments later, the 32-year-old took to Twitter to blast lawmakers as he departed Capitol Hill.

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Dramatic Video Shows Deadly Hostage Standoff

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — A tense standoff between police and an armed robber turned into a hostage situation in Texas.

Police in the Dallas suburb of Irving received a call from the alarm system at a check-cashing store on Friday, Jan. 29.

When police arrived shortly after 1 p.m., officers found the front door of Cash Store locked. At least one store employee and a man were inside.

The suspect, later identified by police as 29-year-old Christopher Michael Dew, grabbed the female employee and “put his arm around her neck and a gun to her neck,” Irving Police public information officer James McLellan told ABC News.

Video captured at the scene shows Dew after he had walked to a car in the store parking lot while holding the female employee by the neck. Police with guns drawn were surrounding him.

McLellan said officers were “triangulating in on the suspect” and there was an exchange of dialogue, with police urging him to drop the gun and Dew refusing.

At one point, Dew appears to turn to address some of the other officers, McLellan said, and that’s when one of the officers fatally shot him in the head with a rifle.

A second officer also fired a shot at that time but missed and hit a brick wall, McLellan said.

The employee, whose name has not been publicly released by police, may have suffered only minor injuries sustained by Dew during the hostage situation, McLellan said. She is “obviously very emotionally distraught,” he added.

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‘Pharmo Bro’ Martin Shkreli Pleads the Fifth on Capitol Hill

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who raised the price of an anti-parasitic drug fiftyfold, appeared before the House Oversight Committee Thursday morning for a hearing on drug pricing.

The controversial 32-year-old, who was subpoenaed to appear at the hearing by the committee, asserted his Fifth Amendment right.

The hearing comes a day after Shkreli, who is facing unrelated securities fraud charges, appeared in federal court in New York City.

As CEO of Turing, Shkreli presided over the purchase of Daraprim — an established drug used to treat parasitic infections. The drug’s price was exponentially raised overnight. He stepped down from that post in December after his arrest on the securities fraud charges.

House lawmakers accuse Turing — along with Valeant Pharmaceuticals — of raising drug prices in search of profit. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the panel, released a series of e-mails from both companies Tuesday, saying they illustrated how the drug price increases were profit-minded from the the start, despite the company’s public comments.

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‘Pharmo Bro’ Martin Shkreli to Plead the Fifth on Capitol Hill

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who raised the price of an anti-parasitic drug fiftyfold, will appear before the House Oversight Committee Thursday morning for a hearing on drug pricing.

The controversial 32-year-old, who was subpoenaed to appear at the hearing by the committee, plans to assert his Fifth Amendment right, his attorney Benjamin Brafman told ABC News.

The hearing comes a day after Shkreli, who is facing unrelated securities fraud charges, appeared in federal court in New York City.

As CEO of Turing, Shkreli presided over the purchase of Daraprim — an established drug used to treat parasitic infections. The drug’s price was exponentially raised overnight. He stepped down from that post in December after his arrest on the securities fraud charges.

House lawmakers accuse Turing — along with Valeant Pharmaceuticals — of raising drug prices in search of profit. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the panel, released a series of e-mails from both companies Tuesday, saying they illustrated how the drug price increases were profit-minded from the the start, despite the company’s public comments.

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Exclusive: Bernie Madoff’s Secret Plan to Destroy the Ponzi Evidence

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Even before he admitted his Ponzi scheme to his family, Bernard Madoff had begun a plan to destroy the most damning evidence with a massive shredding operation, according to former FBI case agent Keith Kelly, speaking publicly for the first time in an interview with ABC News.

Madoff ordered 50 boxes of documents taken from his Manhattan offices to a warehouse in Queens where they were shredded.

“What was in those 50 boxes, we never found out,” Kelly said. “Why he didn’t shred more, quite honestly, I don’t know.”

Kelly said the case was so document-intensive, had he shredded more, “the case against him would’ve been very, very difficult,” resulting in much less serious criminal charges.

“He would have gone to jail for something,” said Kelly, “but maybe not 150 years.”

And Kelly said the case against the Madoff employees who were ultimately convicted “would have probably been impossible.”

According to Kelly, Madoff hatched his plan with his right-hand man Frank DiPascali, who ran operations on the 17th floor where the Ponzi scheme documents were produced.

But Madoff’s plan fell apart when his sons, Mark and Andrew, went directly to authorities after he confessed his crime to his family, instead of waiting for a week as Madoff had requested.

FBI agents arrived on the 17th floor as DiPascali and others were in the midst of the massive shredding operation.

The ability of the FBI to move in and stop the destruction of evidence underscores the significance of the Madoff sons’ decision to ignore their father’s request for a week “to tie up some loose ends.”

“DiPascali was furious, when he hears on the news that Madoff had been arrested, because they were supposed to do it together,” said Kelly. “DiPascali panicked and that’s when he reached out for his attorneys and destroyed his cell phone.”

DiPascali soon agreed to become a government witness. He pleaded guilty, testified against others who worked for him and then died of lung cancer before he could be sentenced.

Former FBI agent Kelly says he still wonders what else Madoff had planned for the end game.

“Why didn’t Madoff flee? He had $600 million cash in the bank. You can find some place in the world that will take you for $600 million,” Kelly said.

Instead, Madoff is currently serving a 150-year sentence in a medium security facility in North Carolina.

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Law Enforcement on High Alert for Super Bowl 50

Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images(SANTA CLARA, Calif.) — There will be an increase in security for the Super Bowl this year as the Carolina Panthers prepare to take on the Denver Broncos in the wake of the deadly Paris and San Bernardio attacks.

Federal, state and local authorities, along with the National Football League are coordinating the massive security undertaking, which includes air support, extensive screening and behind-the-scenes technology.

“In light of world events, we are particularly keen to making sure that all the events in the region are safely held and should something happen we are be able to respond quickly,” said Tatum King, the Department of Homeland Security federal coordinator.

The Super Bowl is designated a SEAR (Special Events Assessment Rating) level 1, an event that’s considered of national importance, which requires extensive federal coordination and support.

Dozens of federal agencies are involved in the DHS-coordinated effort including, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Secret Service, Federal Air Marshals, U.S. Marshals, Department of Defense and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The FBI and DHS said they have no information to indicate a specific, credible threat to the game or its surrounding events, according to a Joint Special Event Threat Assessment.

However, authorities are concerned about terrorists’ interest in targeting crowded venues, as well as lone wolf attackers and homegrown extremists.

Screening

All people and things will be screened before they can enter Levi’s Stadium as well as the NFL Experience and Super Bowl City venues in downtown San Francisco.

Everything from food to Beyonce’s wardrobe will go through CBP’s large truck screening equipment.

In addition to metal detectors for spectators entering the stadium, officers will scan cargo for contraband such as hazardous materials, explosives, weapons and anything harmful, unusual or suspicious.

Bomb sniffing dogs will be out to search for anything suspicious.

To detect against any biological agent, a network of BioWatch detectors have been deployed warn health officials.

Air and Sea Support

The most vulnerable targets are outside the stadium, where large crowds will gather, according to the joint DHS-FBI assessment, so resources are deployed throughout the region on land, in the air and on the water.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a temporary flight restriction zone during the game in Santa Clara, as well as over the San Francisco venues.

Those restrictions include unmanned aircraft, prompting the FAA to launch a “No Drone Zone” campaign telling spectators to “bring your lucky jersey, bring your face paint, bring your team spirit, but leave your drone at home. Be a responsible pilot. Make the game safe for all of us.”

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will be responsible for providing high-altitude air support, while CBP Air and Marine Operations agents will be in Citations, UH-60 Black Hawks and AS350 A-Stars to concentrate on “low and slow” targets.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has deployed additional maritime safety and security teams from across the country to help facilitate with its security efforts. The boats are equipped with two 50-caliber machine guns that are mounted at the ready for use in the event of a security breach.

“We’re looking for anything suspicious, anything out of the ordinary, and we ask that the public also look for anything out of the ordinary and report it,” said Lieutenant Junior Grade Colin Weaver, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Pike.

Training and Drills

The Department of Homeland Security began security planning with local partners in the summer of 2014. Federal agencies and local law enforcement participated in a number of drills to discuss potential threat scenarios and fix any potential gaps in security.

In addition, DHS conducted an active shooter preparedness workshop, which included training private sector participants. The U.S. Secret Service conducted magnetometer training for security personnel.

Since 2014, security advisers conducted nearly 100 site visits and 40 security assessments in the San Francisco Bay and Santa Clara Metropolitan area, said DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, who toured Levi’s Stadium Wednesday.

Technology

Authorities will be “utilizing all tools available,” to keep the Super Bowl safe, said King.

FEMA is providing Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) units to provide emergency mobile telecommunications support, in case of a loss of regular communications.

The Secret Service will support open-source social media monitoring and has been assisting with cyber security vulnerability assessments.

DHS launched its communications software – a tool that has been used in past Super Bowls as well- to local, state and federal partners, so that everyone can communicate with the same platform.

In terms of surveillance, DHS would not comment on specifics, but King reiterated that “federal partners are using every tool that’s available.”

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‘Making a Murderer’ Sheriff’s Dept. Targeted by ‘Justice for Steven’ Bomb Threat

Alex_Schmidt/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) — A bomb threat was called into a Wisconsin sheriff’s office that was prominently featured in the hit Netflix series “Making a Murderer” Wednesday night, sparking an evacuation of the area, police said.

The caller allegedly directed the threat, “Justice for Steven” — an apparent reference to the show’s central character, Steven Avery — to the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, according to the Manitowoc County Police Department.

The sheriff’s department played a prominent role it the show, with Avery’s lawyers arguing in court that the members of the agency manipulated evidence in an attempt to frame him for murder.

Avery, who maintains his innocence, was convicted in court and his conviction was upheld. His rape conviction in 1985 was overturned nearly two decades later.

“Making a Murderer” takes a look back at the murder arrest and trial, as well as Avery’s bid to clear his name based on the alleged framing. The prosecutor at the time said that the show left out key pieces of evidence and sheriff’s department members denied the allegations in court.

Police said that the threat to the sheriff’s department stated that there were bombs inside the building and a vehicle with bombs outside the building in the parking lot.

The all clear was eventually given.

The sheriff’s department referred the questions to the police department.

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