ABC Digital News
(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) -- A 3-week-old kitten survived a 1,000-mile trip across two states inside the engine of a Honda Fit and is expected to make a full recovery.
“I was concerned about this kitten because it had been in the car engine for two to three days,” Julia Di Sieno, executive director and co-founder of Animal Rescue Team, Inc., told ABC News. “I put on latex gloves, and I managed to get my hands in there until I had a little kitten and wiggled it through.”
Late last week, an owner of a silver Honda Fit heard meowing coming from her car before a journey from Oregon to Santa Barbara, Calif., Di Sieno said.
“She heard the kitten crying before she departed and there was nothing she could do. She tried to find the kitten,” said Di Sieno. “So they continued on their journey, driving south.”
The next day, Di Sieno received a call from the car owner with concerns that a kitten was trapped somewhere inside her car. Di Sieno was as much as 45 miles away, so she asked the car owner to call the Santa Barbara police department and request that they summon animal control.
“Animal control was dispatched, an officer showed up, and he thought perhaps the kitten was no longer in the compartment,” Di Sieno said.
That afternoon, Di Sieno received a second phone call from the owner saying there were still cries from a cat inside the engine compartment.
“I had to go do something,” Di Sieno said.
Di Sieno arrived at the scene and had a difficult time locating the cat. After assessing the situation, she decided to call a tow truck for some extra help.
“They needed to get underneath the car to find it,” Chuck Love of Love’s Towing told ABC News. “We lifted up the car, and she still couldn’t find it.”
With Love holding a flashlight and Di Sieno feeling around for the kitten, the duo spotted the scared feline shifting around the engine. Di Sieno was able to use a “jab stick” to administer sedation, and finally was able to get the kitten to an accessible spot.
“It took a half an hour, at least, to get it out, and after getting it out it was so cute and so small,” said Love. “Lucky it was small, because then [otherwise] we wouldn’t have been able to get it out. Of course, if it wasn’t that small it would’ve never been able to get in there.”
The short-haired, grey, male kitten meowed as it was pulled out of the engine in frail condition. Di Sieno took him home, started immediate care and found the 3- to 4-week-old kitten was dehydrated and had an infected eye. Now just a couple of a days later, the kitten is recovering and expected to make a full recovery.
“He is very tame now, purring, and finally eating. We’ve been treating him with antibiotics,” said Di Sieno.
Di Sieno has been saving animals for more than 29 years at Animal Rescue Team, Inc., sustained solely by donations. She’s rescued lions, bears and other large mammals, but she said this was the first time she’s rescued a kitten from an engine.
“It was refreshing for me because I’m passionate about this work and saving animals,” she said. “The moment I pulled him up, it was so exhilarating.”
She added that, for a lost kitten, an engine is a perfect small, tight compartment to seek warmth, especially if it was in a climate such as Oregon.
Di Sieno said she couldn’t have done the rescue without Love’s help.
She said she appreciated “having someone step up like that without asking for money. … He was determined to help me and get that cat out of that engine. I thought we’d name him ‘Love’ for now.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/18/2013 00:00:28 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Just how many unregistered or stolen guns are available on the streets? A new report by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives finds the numbers are staggering.
According to the report, the result of an audit ordered by President Obama following the Newtown shootings, more than 191,000 guns were lost or stolen in the United States in 2012. The government says more than 16,000 of those guns disappeared from licensed gun dealers.
Pistols were the most common firearm stolen, the report says, and gun dealers reported more than 4,000 rifles were simply lost. And these numbers only represent the missing guns reported to the National Crime Information Center. ATF spokesman Charles Mulham points out that in many states it's not even mandatory to report stolen firearms.
Still, UCLA Public Policy expert Mark Kleiman says the number of lost or stolen firearms seems low, given the 300 million firearms in private hands in the U.S.
"The bigger issue than stolen guns is the easy availability of guns to people who aren't legally possessed through the private sale loophole," Kleiman says.
The ATF report also shows Texas is the top state for total firearms reported lost and stolen in 2012. Kleiman explains that people with stolen firearms might be more likely to commit violent crimes.
"In some cases, gun dealers, federal firearms licensees, falsely report a theft as a way of concealing an illegal sale," say Kleiman.
As for owners of legally registered guns, Mulham says they should be taking steps to safeguard firearms in their possession.
"You need to [be responsible] in keeping that weapon not only out of the hands of criminals if you were robbed or if your house was to be burglarized, but also out of the hands of children," he says.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 23:55:20 PM
(CHICAGO) -- The family of a University of Chicago student who vanished during a powerful storm last week was intending on Monday to review surveillance videos from restaurants, bars and shops near Lake Michigan, hoping for a glimpse of the missing man.
Austin Hudson-LaPore, 20, a third-year biochemistry major from New Mexico, was last seen by his roommate a little after 8 p.m. on Wednesday night. He had not taken his wallet or phone, according to a website set up by the Hudson-LaPore family, www.findaustinhudson.com.
The website was updated on Sunday to say that the Chicago Police Department has sent divers and a sonar boat to investigate a portion of Lake Michigan near Hudson-LaPore’s apartment. The police have not released the results of that search.
“In the end, we had no news so we assume they found nothing,” the family wrote.
The family said on its website that they are doing their own search and sought out commercial surveillance cameras on the route they believe Hudson-LaPore may have taken that night.
“We found several of these cameras with some at restaurants with outdoor seating, at dive bars, at liquor stores and at high-end condo buildings. Everyone we approached were very welcoming and eager to help. So, tomorrow morning we’ll head out early to start watching security tapes to see if we can get a glimpse of Austin. That will establish time and direction of travel for him,” they wrote Sunday.
They also appealed for help from anyone who may have seen Hudson-LaPore that night.
“We love Austin very much. He is a smart, happy and outgoing young man who is fully engaged in the community and we’d like your help in getting him safely back to his family,” the family said in a statement.
The family believe Hudson-LaPore went for a walk Wednesday night to observe unusually severe weather over Lake Michigan.
“We think that because of Austin’s fascination with weather, that he set out to walk to the lake to watch the storm from there, leaving his cell phone and wallet behind so they wouldn’t get wet,” the family said.
Weather reports from Wednesday night show that Hudson-LaPore would have likely faced powerful winds and heavy rain as a massive storm system made its way through the Midwest.
“In walking to the lake, he probably walked along either 53rd Street or 55th Street. We believe that during his walk to the lake, something went wrong,” the family continued.
The family is asking anybody with information to contact the Chicago Police Department. They are using social media sites like Reddit, Tumblr, and Twitter to gain national attention.
“We are appealing to the community that if anyone saw anything unusual along those routes, that they please contact the Chicago Police Department immediately,” the family said.
Hudson-LaPore was last seen wearing black gym shoes and blue jeans. He is 5-foot-7, weighs 110 pounds and has blonde hair and blue eyes.
A spokesman for the Chicago Police Department told ABC News that the investigation is ongoing.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 22:09:48 PM
(SURFSIDE BEACH, Texas) -- A 15-year-old boy was recovering after he was attacked by a shark earlier Monday at Surfside Beach in Texas.
The teen suffered non-threatening lacerations on his hand and leg, first responders told ABC News, and was in stable condition when he was airlifted to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston.
The victim's name and his current condition have not been released.
Officials said it was the first shark bite in 25 years on Surfside Beach, a popular swimming spot situated on the Gulf of Mexico.
As the temperatures heat up and more swimmers hit the water, shark sightings have rattled nerves.
A pair of great white shark sightings off the coast of Cape Cod in recent days had swimmers heading for the safety of the beach.
The ominous dorsal fin lurking off Nauset Beach in Orleans, Mass., was enough for officials to temporarily close the popular swim spot on Sunday, just days after another great white shark sighting in the Cape Cod area.
"It was reported to me that our senior lifeguard had spotted a dorsal fin about 150 yards east of the public bathing beach. He estimated it to be 12 to 13 feet in length," Dawson Farber, harbormaster in Orleans, told ABC News.
Lifeguards ordered swimmers out of the water at 10:15 a.m. and cordoned off a quarter-mile swath of the beach, Farber said. The waters were reopened to the public an hour later, he said, after there were no additional sightings in the area.
"We had a number of sightings last year, some confirmed, some unconfirmed," Farber said. "We are operating under the assumption these animals are here to stay."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 22:03:25 PM
(NEWARK, N.J.) -- Passengers aboard United flight 116 bound for the U.S. from Hong Kong were finally able to leave a Newark Liberty International Airport terminal late Monday afternoon after a flier was taken into custody and hospitalized after allegedly demanding that the plane be diverted to Canada.
An official with the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force said the man -- identified as Daniel Morgan Perry and reportedly in his 30s and American -- had been transported to Newark's University Hospital for observation.
During the flight, which landed around 1:40 p.m., the man was restrained by passengers. The official said there were no air marshals on the flight.
"It's apparently an unstable person who is controlled by his medication and maybe he didn't take it," the official said.
Jacques Roizen, who was one of the passengers who restrained Perry, said nearly 10 hours into the 16-hour flight, a man six rows in front of him started screaming out of nowhere. Roizen said that he had not seen the man drinking.
"[He was] screaming stuff about national security advisers, the CIA, saying names of people [he claimed were] working for the CIA," Roizen told ABC News. "[He was saying] that we couldn't land the plane, we had to divert the plane. He couldn't land in the U.S."
Roizen said Perry was afraid of being poisoned by one of the passengers.
"He saw everybody as a threat," Roizen said. "He thought everyone was working for the FBI, the CIA....He was drawing a parallel between [National Security Agency leaker] Edward Snowden and himself....He was convinced he was going to die before this flight landed."
Within minutes, about five passengers had restrained the man with plastic handcuffs from the flight crew.
Florida resident Paula Shea said the staff handled the situation "perfectly" and that she had not gotten scared.
"They did everything that you should do," she said. "It was a person that was trying to...divert to Canada."
Roizen said he and another passenger sat by Perry for the remaining six hours trying to calm him by talking about their families, Father's Day and their children.
He said the man started to cry after a passenger told him that his actions had scared the children aboard.
"He seemed to react to that," Roizen said. "At one point, he started crying because he said, 'I don't want to hurt the children.' He asked both of us to put him under arrest, asked us to read him his rights."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 19:13:32 PM
(ADAMS TOWNSHIP, Ind.) -- An Indiana woman who was sentenced to death by the electric chair at age 16 was released Monday after serving more than a quarter of a century in prison.
Now 43 years old, Paula Cooper left the Rockville Correctional Facility in Indiana on Monday a free woman after serving 27 years in prison for her role in the murder of Ruth Pelke, a 78-year-old Bible school teacher.
“Paula has worked hard to change her life in the decades since the crime,” Cooper’s sister, Rhonda Labroi, wrote in an email to ABC News. “She entered prison as a very troubled teenager and is leaving a reformed woman.”
Cooper walked out of prison with $75 and wearing donated street clothes, said Doug Garrison, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Corrections. He said she was driven to an undisclosed location to begin the next chapter of her life, where she will be required to check in with a parole officer.
“The plan for her is to have her meet regularly with her parole officer to help her find a job and permanent housing,” Garrison told ABC News.
He declined to say where Cooper would be living.
The teenager, who was 15 when she fatally stabbed Pelke during a robbery, was sentenced to death row in 1986, while her three friends received lighter prison sentences.
Because of Cooper’s age, the sentence sparked outrage and got the attention of Pope John Paul II, who called for clemency for the teen.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people under the age of 16 at the time they committed a crime could not be sentenced to death, the Indiana Supreme Court commuted Cooper’s sentence to 60 years in prison and she was taken off death row in 1989.
Garrison said Cooper’s release Monday included credit for good behavior in prison, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree.
Cooper’s sister, Labroi, asked for privacy as her sister begins the next phase of her life.
“We are proud of how much she’s grown and she has all of our support as she starts this second chance at life,” Labroi said. “As always, our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to the Pelke family.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 16:21:29 PM
(LOGAN, W. Va.) -- A West Virginia judge has ruled that an eighth grader who was arrested after wearing an NRA T-shirt to school will stand trial for obstructing an officer, a crime that can carry up to a year in jail and $500 fine.
Jared Marcum, 14, was charged last week after wearing the shirt to school in April. The shirt included the logo of the National Rifle Association, an image of a rifle, and words “protect your right.”
Jared was asked to remove the shirt or turn it inside out by a secretary and then a teacher at Logan Middle School in Logan, W.Va. When he refused to do so he was brought to the principal, who called police.
The boy said that when police arrived at the school, they told him “sit down and shut up” and threatened to charge him with making terroristic threats when he tried to explain his side of the story.
Jared said he was detained in a room with the principal and two officers. He was unarmed and presented no threat to the officers or students, according to his lawyer.
He received just one day of suspension from school.
Jared’s attorney on Monday filed a motion to dismiss the case. A hearing on that motion will take place on July 11.
The law allows persons under arrest to question police and tell their side of a story, said his lawyer, Ben White.
“Case law says you can question police and you can talk to police – you just can’t use foul language, or insult them,” said White.
Calls to the school district and Logan County prosecutor were not returned. The police would not comment.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 15:54:00 PM
(BOSTON) -- Confessed hitman John Martorano, who has admitted killing 20 people, told a Boston court Monday that he was testifying against his alleged former mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger because "it broke my heart" to discover Bulger was an FBI informant.
Some of Martorano's victims were innocent bystanders. One man was mistakenly murdered because he shared the same name as a contracted hit victim.
Now he is a federal witness against Bulger, accused of being the head of the Winter Hill Gang and responsible for 19 murders.
The aging hitman, Martorano, 72, told the court that he was heartbroken when he found out that Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi were working for the FBI at the same time they allegedly oversaw Boston's rackets. Martorano testified that he named his youngest son, James Stephen, after his two criminal cohorts.
"They were my partners in crime, my best friends, my children's godfathers," Martorano told the Boston court Monday.
"When I heard they were informants, it sort of broke my heart. They broke all trust that we had and loyalties," Martorano testified, facing Bulger for the first time since the accused Boston mob boss fled Massachusetts 18 years ago after being tipped off about a federal indictment by rogue FBI agent John Connolly.
Martorano also testified against Connolly, who is serving a life sentence.
Martorano's testimony comes more than a decade after he cut a deal with the government to testify against Bulger. He has been a free man since 2007 and Bulger's defense attorney J.W. Carney tried to delay the trial by arguing that the hitman has continued his life a crime, a claim that was denied by prosecutors and dismissed by a federal judge.
Still, Carney insists that Martorano -- and other government witnesses expected to testify against Bulger -- are not credible because they pointed fingers at one another to avoid lengthy prison sentences. Bulger sidekick, Kevin Weeks, and Flemmi are also on the witness list.
Carney had especially harsh words for Martorano calling him "criminal psychopath."
"He would kill people almost randomly. He would kill people as easily as we would order a cup of coffee... The federal government was so desperate to have John Martorano testify ... they basically put their hands up in the air and said take anything you want," Carney said.
Martorano testified after cross-examination of Boston bookmaker Dick O'Brien, 84, who was one of two bookies who testified that they paid "rent" to Bulger to stay in business. He recounted Bulger telling one bookmaking agent who got out of line that he liked to "kill a**holes like him." James Katz, 73, also testified that people who didn't pay Bulger could "wind up in the hospital."
O'Brien, 84, said he was trained in the business by his father, but when he brought his daughter into the mobbed-up enterprise she had a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized.
The breakdown came after Flemmi warned O'Brien what happened to turncoats.
Before he went to the meeting, O'Brien told his daughter to go to the FBI in Miami rather than in Boston because he didn't trust the agents working in that field office.
"It really upset her. We were very close," O'Brien said.
Carney asked if he came home after that meeting in Florida, whether he was harmed. O'Brien answered, "By the good graces of John Martorano I wasn't."
Bulger, 83, is charged with a 32-count indictment that includes accusations that he committed or ordered 19 murders, including the killings of two women who were romantically involved with his underlings. Bulger's trial comes 18 years after he disappeared ahead of a federal indictment.
He was arrested in June 2011 at a Santa Monica apartment complex where Bulger and his longtime companion Catherine Greig lived for 16 years as Charlie and Carol Gasko strolling the California coastline and shopping on the Third Avenue Promenade. Carney accused the FBI of "pretending to look for him" during opening arguments last week.
The government called those accusations absurd.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 15:25:49 PM
(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- Terrie and John Gardner thought they’d have more time.
They were at their Colorado Springs home a year ago, nervously monitoring the Waldo Canyon Fire that was spreading quickly and getting closer. “We started packing some things and preparing,” Terrie recalls.
By about 4 p.m., they still hadn’t been told to evacuate.
Suddenly, they realized if they waited for an official notice, they’d be dead. “I had gone upstairs for something, looked out the window and saw that the fire had come out the window over the ridge,” she says. “We started throwing everything in the car.”
John, 54, says he heard Terrie yell from upstairs. “She says, ‘Come upstairs, you have to see this.’ I look out the window and … the hillside is just glowing. It’s like, ‘Wow.’ We started moving a little bit faster.”
The couple managed to quickly pack up their dogs, important pictures, documents, computer equipment and even John’s favorite guitar. “In hindsight, there are things you wish you would have grabbed but they’re just gone,” John says.
Terrie, 54, says, “I grabbed a couple of boxes of my daughter’s things. She had a coat that I actually wore as a baby and so I had that.”
The Waldo Canyon blaze would become the most destructive blaze in Colorado history, burning the Gardner’s home to the ground along with nearly 350 others.
The Gardners have been living for the past year with Terrie’s parents in the Black Forest area of El Paso County, a few miles away from the Waldo Canyon aftermath. They’ve been trying to rebuild their lives, compiling an insurance company list of all the belongings they lost in the fire.
Then on Tuesday, lightning struck twice. The Black Forest fire exploded in the afternoon, flames pushed by erratic, dry winds. Terrie and John Gardner were not home at the time, so Terrie’s father had only minutes to pack what he could before the flames railroaded through the area.
“The clothes on our back, and my purse and the cars and that’s it,” Terrie says of the things her dad had scrambled to save before escaping. “Everything we had managed to store out at my parent’s house is gone. Baby clothes, everything.”
John, who was at work, watched on TV as his second home in a year was turned to a pile of smoking debris. Even the new furniture they’d just bought for their nearly rebuilt Waldo Canyon house is gone.
By the time the Black Forest Fire was tamed, it had claimed two lives and nearly 500 homes, shoving the Waldo Canyon fire aside and becoming the most destructive Colorado wildfire ever.
For having endured a dose of disaster double jeopardy, John and Terrie are remarkably upbeat and determined to carry on.
“This one was a little more difficult,” John says, “because all the little family mementos, all the little things we had saved up are now gone and they’re not coming back. But it’s not the end of the universe. It’s not that big of a deal.”
The Gardners say their unusual experience makes them perfect for helping others ease the trauma after the Black Forest Fire.
“The really cool thing is that we get to help people,” John says. “Everybody’s emotions are different. Some people are going to be devastated by this. Some people will take it a little bit easier. It’s never easy. Now it’s a tunnel, but there is light at the other end of that tunnel. It’s going to be OK.”
The Gardners say they will be OK, too. Their home lost in the Waldo Canyon fire is nearly rebuilt. They’d hoped to move in next month, but have asked their builder to try to speed things up.
“We know people who divorced over the Waldo Canyon fire,” John says. “The stress. People couldn’t take it. I think it’s made us stronger. You got to lean on each other and help each other.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 15:00:00 PM
(DETROIT) -- Authorities on Monday were searching a field in Michigan for the body of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, the latest in a decades-long string of searches for the missing labor leader who disappeared nearly 38 years ago.
Investigators started digging in a field in Oakland Township after a search warrant was issued in the case. The search area, according to ABC News Detroit affiliate WXYZ, is near land that was once owned by suspected mobsters. Approximately 20 federal agents focused their search Monday morning on one spot in the center of the field.
In January, a reputed underboss of the Detroit mafia said he believed Hoffa was buried in the area. Tony Zerilli, who the FBI considers a key figure in the city’s mafia, told reporter Marc Santia of WNBC in New York that Hoffa was going to be put “in a shallow grave” there and later taken upstate for “final burial” before the plan “fell through.”
Zerilli, who was in jail at the time of Hoffa’s disappearance, should be taken seriously by authorities, according to Dan Moldea, author of The Hoffa Wars.
“Zerilli was the underboss of the Detroit mafia. His father, Joe, was the boss of the Detroit mafia at the time Hoffa disappeared,” Moldea said in a phone interview with ABC News in January. ”Therefore, anything that happened in Detroit at that time had to be checked by Joe -- so his father clearly knew about what happened with Hoffa. Now Tony was in jail at the time but did he receive some information? I’d say it was very likely, especially once he got out.”
Hoffa, who headed the powerful International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union at one point, vanished in July 1975. He was 62 at the time and had recently spent nearly five years behind bars.
In the past few decades, numerous tips have emerged about his whereabouts, only to lead to nothing. Last September, police in Roseville, Mich., about 20 miles north of Detroit, dug up a driveway. In 2009, FBI agents dug up a lumberyard in the city, prompting speculation that the excavation was a search for Hoffa. Three years earlier, in May 2006, a search for Hoffa at a farm in the town of Milford, Mich., was known as “The Big Dig.”
Zerilli released a book, Hoffa Found, earlier this year.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 13:24:55 PM
(NEW MILFORD, Conn.) -- Police have scaled back the search for a popular wedding photographer who went missing in Connecticut last week as family and fellow photographers try to keep hope alive.
Eric Langlois, 33, of New Milford, Conn., was last seen June 11, by his wife, Amber, when she dropped him off at Lovers Leap State Park in New Milford to retrieve his mountain bike that had fallen into the water when he biked there the day before.
Hours after Amber, pregnant with the couple’s third child, left her husband at the state park, police received a 911 call from a woman who’d been hiking in the park and heard a man call for help.
“We’re not sure if he ever found his bike, [or] if he was trying to pull his bike up and fell in,” said Amber, who described her husband as having a “badly scraped left shoulder” and cracked helmet after his initial crash.
“Looking back, he did seem a little unusual,” she said. “My sister noted his pupils were dilated and his balance was a little off.”
Langlois’ family, friends and fellow photographers joined with state and local police to launch an all-out search, combing the park and nearby Lake Lillinonah off the Housatonic River.
“It was overwhelming the amount of people that showed up, brought flashlights, brought water, whatever they could do to help find Eric,” Amber Langlois said.
In a statement Sunday evening, the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it was scaling back the search to conduct only periodic sweeps of the lake and surrounding area and follow up on any new leads.
“Everyone at DEEP understands that this is an emotional and sad time for friends, family and colleagues of Eric Langlois. Our hearts go out to them,” the statement read, according to the New Haven Register.
Before the statement was released, Amber Langlois said she was not giving up hope of finding her husband.
“I’m just trying to take [it] day by day, and being strong for my kids is obviously going to keep me together,” she said. “I have to for them. And that’s what he would want me to do.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 12:10:00 PM
UPDATE: United flight 116 landed safely in Newark on Monday. The aircraft was met on the tarmac by police cars and emergency vehicles and a man was placed under arrest after allegedly claiming he had poisoned everybody on the plane. At least one passenger told ABC News that the man arrested never said he poisoned people, but rather that the suspect himself claimed he was poisoned.
(NEW YORK) -- United Airlines flight 116 from Hong Kong to Newark, N.J., is coming in Monday morning with a passenger who informed the crew he "poisoned everyone on board," sources tell ABC News.
The passenger in question is currently being restrained by other passengers, sources said.
Law enforcement officials are aware of the incident and are responding. There is no evidence passengers have been poisoned and officials believe the man who made the claim is emotionally disturbed.
He and others on board will be interviewed when the plane lands. The flight is scheduled to arrive Monday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 11:23:00 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Before U.S. lawmakers decide whether they will address same-sex couples in a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill, the Supreme Court could make the decision for them.
The high court faces a choice this month to uphold or strike down all or parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act's definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. If DOMA is struck down, gay marriage advocates will likely view it as an unambiguously positive outcome for their cause because, in part, it also resolves the question of whether the immigration law can apply to same-sex couples.
"For the first time in immigration equality's history, our legal team is now assisting couples in preparing their green card applications," said Steve Ralls, the communications director at the advocacy group Immigration Equality. "We're definitely preparing couples. The court ruling and the backup plan of congressional legislation make us confident more so than at any other time."
But a court decision has its downsides as well. Although the Obama administration is likely to implement the court's decision in a way favorable to gay marriage advocates, a future administration might not.
If DOMA is upheld or if the court's ruling on the constitutionality of a federal definition of marriage is less clear, the result could be continued legal uncertainty for gay couples. One way Democrats in the Senate and gay marriage advocates have hoped to resolve this is by attaching an amendment to the immigration bill that would give same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples under the immigration law.
But Democrats face an uphill struggle in Congress where Republicans have opposed the inclusion of a same-sex marriage amendment in the immigration bill. A principal Republican sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said last Thursday, he would walk away from his own immigration bill if a same-sex marriage amendment is included.
With the court's final decision fast approaching, here are some ways the issue could shake out:
The Supreme Court Upholds DOMA, Congress Does Nothing
If the Supreme Court upholds DOMA, there is only one way for same-sex couples to be recognized by immigration law: congressional action.
"Their status as spouses or as married is invisible for U.S. immigration law purposes because of DOMA," said Scott Titshaw, associate professor of law at Mercer University in Macon, Ga.
That means any benefits given to heterosexual couples couples in the immigration bill, like the ability to petition for a green card on behalf of a spouse, would not apply to same-sex couples.
The Supreme Court Upholds DOMA, Congress Addresses Gay Couples
Even if the Supreme Court keeps DOMA in place, Congress could pass legislation like the one sponsored (and immediately withdrawn) by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., which would have recognized marriages that were entered into in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
That means that in any of the 12 states that recognize same-sex marriage, the federal government would defer to the states in determining whether that marriage is valid for immigration purposes. And marriages entered into in other countries would also be recognized.
Advocates have also proposed a second option that would take marriage out of the equation altogether, by allowing the government to recognize couples in a "permanent partnership." Such an amendment, based on the Uniting American Families Act, would allow couples who live in states where gay marriage is not recognized to be recognized under U.S. immigration law.
The Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA, Congress Does Nothing
If DOMA's federal definition of marriage is struck down, the question of how immigration law is interpreted when it comes to gay couples falls to the Obama administration to decide.
That's a good thing for immigration advocates who view the administration's decision to stop defending DOMA in federal courts as a clear indication that they will interpret the immigration statutes in a way that favors gay couples.
But unlike a congressional amendment, which would put the issue on sound footing even if the Supreme Court does not rule in favor of gay marriage advocates, relying solely on the court to strike down DOMA could mean that a future administration could reverse Obama's actions when it comes to immigration law.
The Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA, Congress Addresses Marriage
If Congress chooses to cover its bases even if the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA by explicitly stating in the law that same-sex couples are recognized by immigration legislation, it would take the issue out of a future administration's hands and would make court challenges more difficult.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 06:56:12 AM
(BOSTON) -- Convicted assassin John Martorano confessed to killing 20 people -- including innocent bystanders -- but served just 12 years in prison in exchange for his testimony against accused Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger.
On Monday, more than a decade after Martorano cut that deal with the government, he will face his one-time friend in court.
Martorano, 72, has been a free man since 2007 and Bulger's defense attorney J.W. Carney tried to delay the trial by arguing that the hitman has continued a life of crime, a claim that was denied by prosecutors and dismissed by a federal judge.
Still, Carney insists that Martorano -- and other government witnesses expected to testify against Bulger -- are not credible because they pointed fingers at one another to avoid lengthy prison sentences. Bulger's sidekick, Kevin Weeks, and right-hand-man, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, are also on the witness list.
Carney had especially harsh words for Martorano calling him "criminal psychopath."
"He would kill people almost randomly. He would kill people as easily as we would order a cup of coffee... The federal government was so desperate to have John Martorano testify ... they basically put their hands up in the air and said take anything you want," Carney said.
Martorano will testify after cross-examination of Boston bookmaker Dick O'Brien, 84, who was one of two bookies who testified that they paid "rent" to Bulger to stay in business. He recounted Bulger telling one bookmaking agent who got out of line that he liked to "kill a**holes like him." James Katz, 73, also testified that people who didn't pay Bulger could "wind up in the hospital."
Bulger, 83, is charged with a 32-count indictment that includes accusations that he committed or ordered 19 murders, including the killings of two women who were romantically involved with his underlings. Bulger's trial comes 18 years after an indictment naming him was unsealed, but he had been tipped off by rogue FBI agent John Connolly and disappeared.
He was arrested in June 2011 at a Santa Monica apartment complex where Bulger and his longtime companion Catherine Greig lived for 16 years as Charlie and Carol Gasko, strolling the California coastline and shopping on the Third Avenue Promenade.
Carney accused the FBI of "pretending to look for him" during opening arguments last week. The government called those accusations absurd.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/17/2013 03:39:00 AM
(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- Firefighters have contained 65 percent of Colorado’s massive Black Forest Fire and hope to have it fully contained by next week, fire officials told reporters Sunday.
“The crews last night had a good night, nothing backwards, all forwards, so we're real happy with those guys,” said Incident Commander Rich Harvey, praising the efforts of the firefighters who are battling the flames.
There were no deaths or injuries, and no more homes were destroyed by the fire overnight. The people who were missing from the fire zone have now been found safe.
El Paso Sheriff Terry Maketa said that there are still police officers and other law enforcement personnel patrolling the area to protect evacuated homes from looters and to ensure that people heeded the evacuation. According to Maketa, there have been four burglaries.
According to Maketa, it may be days before thousands of evacuees can go home -- not necessairily because of the fire, but because of the debris left in its wake. The roads are clogged with fire trucks, and there are numerous downed trees and power lines. Maketa says it’s too dangerous to send people home just yet.
The sheriff also said he's formed a task of state and ATF agents to try and find the origin and the cause of this blaze.
The fire has destroyed nearly 500 homes and killed two people. Maketa said that a top forensic doctor is working to identify the bodies, but he advised everyone to be patient.
“Don't forget, this isn't CSI,” he said. “It takes a lot of time. He is working with very little evidence to perform this identification.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/16/2013 23:33:00 PM
(DALLAS) -- A plane carrying President George W. Bush was diverted from Philadelphia to Louisville, Ky. Saturday night after the pilots reported smelling smoke on board, officials said.
“The flight President Bush was on was diverted to Louisville, and after a brief stop there we made it home safely to Dallas late last night,” Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said in a short statement.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/16/2013 14:23:11 PM
(NEW YORK) -- The National Football League is banning all purses in its stadiums this coming season. The decision is meant to increase safety at the games, but many fans, particularly women and families with young children are crying foul.
NFL Chief Security Officer Jeffrey Miller says the decision was made with fans in mind. “By taking this minor step per person we create a major improvement,” Miller said. “It really does dramatically increase our security posture at our stadiums.”
“Football is such a national past-time in the US. If you are a terrorist bad guy that would be a great target,” said former FBI special agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett. “I think it's a reasonable approach.”
The new policy limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into stadiums. Fans are now only allowed to bring in a hand-sized clutch and a clear, one-gallon Ziploc or freezer bag. Anything larger must be a clear tote. The NFL is selling acceptable totes online.
NFL officials said they'd make exceptions for people who had things like medical supplies that couldn't fit into a small bag.
Seat cushions are also banned, due to fears that they could contain an explosive device, according to the news release from the NFL.
“I have no problem saying what a huge issue I have with that,” one female fan told ABC’s Susan Saulny. “That's not appropriate.”
The fan said that she might have to root for her favorite team, the Steelers, from her couch instead of the stadium.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/16/2013 13:57:10 PM
(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Patricia Krentcil, the New Jersey woman known as the "Tan Mom," was sent to a temporary detox facility after she was allegedly found to be intoxicated at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, officials said.
Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan told ABCNews.com that police received a call about an intoxicated passenger at the Delta ticket counters at the airport Thursday.
Hogan said Krentcil, 45, of Nutley, N. J. was taken to a temporary detox facility located in Hennepin County, Minn., after police decided that she was not able to take care of herself.
Hogan said Krentcil was in Minneapolis on a layover, but he did not know where she was traveling to or from.
Krentcil was not arrested, Hogan said. He did not know what facility in Hennepin County Krentcil was taken to, but noted that she could be held up to 30 hours in the facility before her release.
Harriet Krentcil, Krentcil's mother-in-law, told ABCNews.com that she did not know if Krentcil had returned home to New Jersey.
Through Harriet Krentcil, Patricia Krentcil and her husband, Richard, declined to comment to ABC News.
Krentcil was arrested in April 2012 for allegedly violating a state law banning children under 14 from using tanning salons. Police became involved after school officials noticed burns on the legs of Krentcil's then-5-year-old daughter. A grand jury declined to indict her in February.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/16/2013 13:52:00 PM
(BAYTOWN, Texas) -- A Texas mother's determination to keep her family out of danger drove her to battle an alleged carjacker until he fled from her minivan -- only to be struck by her vehicle as she tried to "stop him so he didn't hurt anybody else," the woman said.
While Dorothy Baker and her 2-year-old and 5-year-old sons were shopping Friday at a CVS in Baytown, Texas, a man identified as Ismael Martinez allegedly hid out in her unlocked van, police said.
When the family got back into the car, Baker said Martinez "popped up out of the backseat and said that if I didn't want my kids to get hurt, that I would do exactly what he said."
Martinez, 54, allegedly pulled a knife on Baker while she was driving and demanded she stop at an ATM for money, she said.
When she refused, Martinez allegedly became violent, she said.
Baker said she fought back, refusing to compromise the safety of her children.
"She's got a cut that goes across her chest, and she grabbed the knife and he bit her hand," Baker's husband, Charles Flugence said.
"I took my fist and I hit him in the face, and I told him to get out of my car," Baker said.
Baker intentionally drove her van into a telephone pole in hopes of sending Martinez through the front windshield, according to the Baytown Police Department crime report.
Police said she managed to dial 911 while she grappled with the suspect in hopes that a dispatcher might hear what was going on in the car and find a way to help, ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston reported.
"I thought, 'If you swerve and hit the pole, he's not wearing a seatbelt, he'll go through the windshield or at least hit his head, and you can stop him. You can do something to make sure that he doesn't hurt your kids,'" Baker told KTRK-TV. "That's all I was thinking of really, was just to get him away from my kids."
Police said Martinez eventually jumped out of the van and tried to flee. But before Baker knew it, she had run her car into him.
"I didn't mean to run him over," she said. "I was just trying to stop him so he didn't hurt anybody else."
Martinez was airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston with serious injuries after the alleged attack. He is expected to face felony charges once he is discharged.
Meanwhile, Baytown residents have rallied around Baker's bravery.
"She was trying to protect herself and her kids. I would do the same thing," resident Joyce Sparks said.
But Baker said she is just glad her family is safe.
"You don't come after people with kids," she said. "I told him he messed with the wrong witch."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/16/2013 13:41:53 PM
(NEW YORK) -- In addition to dealing with more than 47 million passengers every year, John F. Kennedy International Airport officials have been dealing an unlikely infestation: diamondback terrapins.
The airport is located alongside Jamaica Bay and has been plagued in recent years by hundreds of turtles that have started to cross over runways as they attempt to find a nesting ground.
The turtles have become a slow-moving nuisance to the airport, causing runway closures and delays for passengers.
But in an effort to keep the planes running on time and the turtles safe, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials are installing piping along runways to keep the turtles out, according to the New York Post.
“We’re trying to find a balance between nature and aviation,” Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico told the New York Post. “We don’t want to see the turtles get hurt, and this should keep the airport running smoothly.”
The airport will install 4,000 feet of 8-inch plastic piping along the runway closest to the bay. The barrier will apparently come just in time: The Port Authority’s Twitter account recently posted a few photos of 200 turtles that were cleared from the area.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/16/2013 09:40:00 AM
(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- Authorities are placing the containment figure on the Black Forest fire at 45 percent, saying that evacuation orders will begin being slowly lifted.
The wildfire has destroyed nearly 500 homes and is being considered one of the most destructive in Colorado history. Nonetheless, officials are urging residents not to attempt to get around the evacuation orders. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said, "When it is safe and we can open it up, we want to open it up."
Fire crews got a major break Friday after thunderstorms cooled the area down. Decreased winds have also helped to calm the situation, but fire officials say there are still hot spots that could be the catalyst for another fire to burn if drier conditions continue.
Police on Thursday began investigating the deaths of two people found within the fire zone as the wildfire turned deadly.
Two bodies were found in their garage near their car with the doors open Thursday. It appears they were loading last-minute items and had waited too long before evacuating, according to El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who says friends told police they had just talked to the couple who died trying to escape the flames.
"They could see a glow to the West. They were packing their personal belongings to get out," Maketa says friends of the couple told authorities.
Though Maketa has given no indication that the fire was intentionally set to the home, the police have started a criminal investigation into the pair's deaths.
More than 40,000 people were under mandatory orders to evacuate on Thursday, some of which were lifted Friday. During early evacuations, some people refused to leave the area, prompting fears that more bodies could be found.
Sheriff Maketa said Thursday that approximately 38,000 people and 13,000 homes have already been evacuated or affected by the evacuations.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/15/2013 15:42:06 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama spoke with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper Friday to reaffirm his commitment to helping Colorado as it deals with the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.
The White House said Saturday that Hickenlooper updated the president about the current conditions on the fire just outside Colorado Springs.
President Obama expressed his concern for the damage that has been caused by the fire that started Tuesday and gave his condolences to the families who have lost relatives.
Nearly 500 homes have been destroyed and two people were killed preparing to flee from the wildfire. Authorities have lifted some evacuation orders and thousands of people are expected to return to their homes Saturday.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/15/2013 14:13:42 PM
(DENVER) -- A man was taken into custody by the FBI on Friday night after an apparent bomb scare on a plane bound for Denver.
The pilot made an emergency landing at the Denver Airport at about 7:30 p.m. The plane was immediately moved to a remote area.
The flight, carrying 136 passengers and five crew members, took off from Knoxville, Tenn.
Nick Dannenberg, who was traveling on Frontier Airlines flight 601 told Good Morning America he was seated near the man who reportedly told the flight attendant he had brought a bomb on board.
"The guy across the aisle from me pulled the flight attendant to the side and told her that he had a bomb in his backpack," Dannenberg said. "I can't even describe how fast my heart was beating."
The flight crew took the man's backpack to the back of the plane when they became aware of the potential safety risk, as passengers kept an eye on the passenger until the flight landed safely in Denver.
Meanwhile, children on board the flight were sent to the front of the plane for security purposes. There were three unaccompanied minors on the plane who were moved away from the potential bomb, law enforcement officials told ABC News.
Once grounded, authorities handcuffed and removed the man from the flight.
Passengers then left the aircraft, where they were met by the FBI and the Denver bomb squad on the tarmac.
All of the passengers were interviewed by law enforcement overnight.
The FBI would not comment as to whether or not an explosive device was recovered from the carry on.
Officials have not released the man's name.
There has been no decision on whether or not to prosecute the man. That decision will likely be made on Monday, law enforcement officials said. A law enforcement official briefed on the case says that the man is believed to be mentally unstable.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioCopyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 6/15/2013 09:46:38 AM