Two Missing BC Teens Considered Murder Suspect

bc murder suspects.jpg

 

 

Two British Columbia teenagers previously considered to be missing are now suspects in the murder of a young couple and the death of an unidentified man in northern B.C.  Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, were last spotted in northern Saskatchewan and police believe they are the run.  McLeod is described as 6’4”, approximately 169 pounds, with dark brown hair and facial hair and brown eyes.  Schmegelsky is described as 6’4”, approximately 169 pounds, with sandy brown hair.   The police issued a warning to the public not to approach McLeod and Schmegelsky, saying they are considered dangerous.

Police initially investigated the disappearance of McLeod and Schmegelsky as missing cases. But they say there’s now evidence to consider them suspects in the three murders.  Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24, a young couple on a 3 week road trip through Canada to Alaska were found shot dead on the side of a road in a remote section of the Alaska Highway.  Police believe they were killed sometime between July 14 and July 15.

Deese’s brother said that the couple met while his sister was working at a hostel in Croatia. He called their relationship “the most perfect love story.”  He said Deese and Fowler were both experienced travelers and took precautions while visiting other countries.  “For something like that to happen, it must have really been something because these are two people that have traveled around the world and were not, were not people to get caught off guard.”

Just days later, the burned-out truck belonging to the two teens was found on Highway 37 near Dease Lake in northern B.C. The body of an unknown man was found nearby.   Police released a sketch of the unidentified deceased man in the hopes the public would be able to help identify him.  He’s been described as between the age of 50 and 60 with a heavy build, grey hair, and a beard. The man would have been between 5’8” and 5’10” tall.

Another burned-out vehicle was found abandoned near Bird. It was not clear if this vehicle was linked to McLeod and Schmegelsky in any way but police believe the two may be switching out vehicles.  Port Alberni’s Mayor says the small town where the teens’ are from has been greatly impacted by the developing situation.  “We are a small community, and whether you know the boys or the community, everyone is connected in one way or another,” Mayor Sharie Minions.  “It’s definitely challenging, it has far reaching impacts for sure.”

McLeod and Schmegelsky are described as lifelong friends who were former employees at a local Walmart.  They were believed to be traveling while looking for work but had dropped out of contact for several days before the first bodies were found.  The police named them as suspects in the murders during a press conference but did not release any additional information about McLeod or Schmegelsky, citing the ongoing nature of the investigations.

Former RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter German said McLeod and Schmegelsky’s fast progression from missing persons to suspects shows the impressive speed of the ongoing investigation.  “I don’t think anyone would have expected this turn of events but I think that says something that the police are ahead of the game on this one.”  The former commissioner said investigators would have reasonable suspicion and enough evidence to publically name the teens as suspects.  “They’ve obviously got forensics or witness identification of some sort that point to these two individuals. That’s not to assume guilt at all,” he said.

Advertisements

Epstein Under Suicide Watch After Being Unconscious In Cell

 

epstein-jail-1.jpg

 

Jeffrey Epstein, 66, was moved to a suicide-watch unit in a New York City detention center after the financier facing sex-trafficking charges was found unconscious in his cell with marks on his neck.  Epstein is being held pending trial at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. He faces two counts related to alleged sex trafficking of minors.  Epstein has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of sex trafficking minors, after his arrest in July 6.   The charges allege that he lured young girls to homes in Manhattan and Florida between 2002 and 2005 for purposes of trafficking. If convicted, he faces 45 years in prison.

Sources say when Epstein was found he was on the floor of his cell in a fetal position in a semi-conscious state, with marks on his neck.  Some believe Epstein may have tried to hang himself but some say Epstein’s injuries were not serious, and raised the possibility that he may have used the incident to try obtain a transfer from the jail.

On July 18, a federal judge rejected bail and Epstein’s request to be placed under house arrest in his Manhattan home, instead ordering him to be detained.  The judge calling him a danger to the community and a considerable flight risk. Days earlier, prosecutors said a search of his home turned up a phony passport and about $70,000 in cash.  Judge Richard Berman also noted the fact that Epstein had in recent months made large payments to potential witnesses against him, and the discovery by FBI agents of a trove of lewd photographs of young women at his Manhattan townhouse.

“This newly discovered evidence also suggests that Mr. Epstein poses ‘ongoing and forward-looking danger,’” the judge wrote. “Mr. Epstein’s dangerousness is considerable and includes sex crimes with minor girls and tampering with potential witnesses.”  Prosecutors say he sexually abused dozens of underage girls from 2002 through 2005 at his New York City townhouse and Palm Beach, Florida, who visited him under the guise of giving him massages. Some of the girls were as young as 14 years old.

In 2008, Epstein was charged with molesting and trafficking dozens—and potentially hundreds—of underage girls in Florida. He ended up serving just 13 months in county jail in what’s been described as “one of the most lenient deals for a serial child sex offender in history.”  The investigation into that case started in March 2005 when a woman contacted Florida’s Palm Beach Police Department and alleged that her 14-year-old stepdaughter had been taken to Epstein’s mansion by an older girl. There she was allegedly paid $300 to strip and massage Epstein.  She had allegedly undressed, but left the encounter wearing her underwear.  Police began an 11-month undercover investigation of Epstein, followed by a search of his home. Police alleged that Epstein had paid several girls to perform sexual acts with him.  Items found in Epstein’s trash and home allegedly showed that some of the girls involved were under 18 and a police search of Epstein’s home found two hidden cameras and large numbers of photos of underage girls throughout the house, some of whom the police had interviewed in the course of their investigation.  The lawsuit filed in 2006 that Epstein installed concealed cameras in numerous places on his property to record sexual activity with underage girls by prominent people for criminal purposes, such as blackmail.  Epstein allegedly “lent” girls to powerful people to ingratiate himself with them and also to gain possible blackmail information. A former employee told the police that Epstein would receive “massages” from young girls three times a day.

Senate Passes Bill To Permanently Fund 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund

 

911compensation fund.jpg

 

Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to permanently fund the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which provides healthcare for first responders to the 9/11 terror attack. First responders have been lobbying for its passage over recent months as the current legislation was set to expire next year. The US president is expected to sign the bill into law.  The Senate passed the bill 97-2 which will fund the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund for decades, permanently compensating individuals who were injured during the 2001 terrorist attacks and their aftermath rescuing people and removing debris under hazardous conditions.

The new bill would extend the expiration date through 2090 and cost what is deemed necessary to compensate those first responders to the devastating attacks. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it will cost about $10 billion over the next decade.  The bill is named after James Zadroga, Luis Alvarez and Ray Pfeifer, two New York police detectives and a firefighter who responded to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and died due to health complications attributed to their work at Ground Zero.

The collapse of the World Trade Center in September 2001 sent a cloud of thick dust billowing over Lower Manhattan. Fires burned for weeks. Thousands of construction workers, police officers, firefighters and others spent time working in the soot, often without proper respiratory protection.  In the following years, many have seen their health decline, some with respiratory or digestive-system ailments that appeared almost immediately, others with illnesses that developed as they aged, including cancer.

More than 40,000 people have applied to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which covers illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the attacks. More than $5 billion in benefits have been awarded out of the $7.4 billion fund, with about 21,000 claims pending.  In the face of dwindling resources and a surge in claims, the fund’s administrator announced in February that it would need to significantly reduce its awards. Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya said the fund received over 19,000 compensation forms from 2011 to 2016 and almost 20,000 more from 2016 to 2018 in part due to an increased rate of serious illnesses.

The original fund from 2001 to 2004 distributed over $7 billion to compensate the families of over 2,880 people who died on 9/11 and 2,680 individuals who were injured, according to the Justice Department. In 2011, Congress reactivated the fund and in 2015 reauthorized it for another five years, appropriating $7.4 billion to aid thousands more people. The fund was set to stop taking new claims in December 2020.

Last week, Sen. Rand Paul, delayed the bill’s passage, criticizing Congress for not offsetting its cost by not cutting government spending elsewhere. Paul and Sen. Mike Lee, were the only senators to vote against the bill.  After the passage of the bill, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the bill guarantees “once and for all that the heroes who rushed to the towers 18 years ago will no longer have to worry about compensation for their families when they’re gone.  First responders won’t have to return to Congress anymore to fight for the compensation they always should have been given,” Schumer said. “They will be able to go home, attend to their illnesses, their family members, their friends. That’s what they always wanted to do, just take care of themselves and their families.”

Man Charged In Murder of Civil Rights Activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph

 

sadie.jpg

 

Police in Louisiana are releasing new details about the man accused of killing popular Baton Rouge civil rights activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph.  Ronn Jermaine Bell, 38, was arrested on one charge of first degree murder.  According to police, Bell was her tenant and owed her about $1,200 in rent.  Both circumstantial and physical evidence led to his arrest after her body was found in the trunk of her car outside a vacant home about 3 miles away from her home last week. According to the arrest report, Bell admitted to being in the area where her car was abandoned, surveillance cameras place him in the area and his DNA was found on her body.

The death of Roberts-Joseph shocked and saddened the community and sparked a swift and coordinated investigation.  Baton Rouge police credited both the community and detectives in helping find Roberts-Joseph’s accused killer. Police say Bell suffocated the 75-year-old on Friday and then placed her body in the trunk of her own car. According to the East Baton Rouge district attorney, Bell was previously arrested after being accused of raping an 8-year-old girl in 2004. He pleaded guilty to sexual battery and served seven years in prison. He was not on probation or parole but was under indefinite supervision as a sex offender.  Officials say they do not believe Roberts-Joseph knew of Bell’s sex offender status.

Bell was already in jail when he was identified as a suspect in Roberts-Joseph’s murder, for violating sex offender registration requirements.  Bell was booked into jail Monday for not paying the $60 annual registration fee required of all sex offenders. He was then rebooked on Tuesday on the murder charges.  Bell told investigators that the activist had allowed him to stay in the home he was renting as long as he paid her something.  However, in the affidavit, investigators noted that Roberts-Joseph’s own notes suggested that she ” intended to contact the defendant on the day of her murder … in regards to the back payments.”

Roberts-Joseph was considered a local icon in Baton Rouge, where she founded the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American Museum and hosted the annual celebration of Juneteenth, which she fought to have recognized as a state and national holiday.  She also started the Community Against Drugs and Violence (CADAV), a nonprofit to empower people to combat drugs and street violence in order to create a safer environment for children.

Hundreds gathered in the Louisiana heat at the African American history museum Sadie Roberts-Joseph founded nearly two decades ago to mourn the loss.  Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said “Having known her for decades, she was one of the standout matriarchs of Baton Rouge. She was a part of the fabric of Baton Rouge and we will make her legacy a priority in Baton Rouge because of what she gave to so many here.”

Roberts-Joseph’s daughter, Angela Machen, said that although this experience has been heartbreaking and “heinous,” there has been solace in seeing the community unite to solve her mother’s killing and honor who she was as a person.  “All my mother ever wanted was for this community to come together,” she said. “It’s ironic that this happened in death. What she wanted to happen in life came to fruition in death. We will see to it that her legacy continues.”

 

9/11 First Responder Luis Alvarez Dies

 

 

lou-alvarez.jpg

 

 

Former New York City police detective, and outspoken advocate for 9/11 responders, Luis Alvarez died Saturday at the age of 53, after a three-year battle with cancer. Alvarez, woked at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks and fought for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.  His death came weeks after he testified before Congress to urge lawmakers to extend the victim compensation fund that many first responders depend on to pay their medical bills.

Alvarez spoke before Congress, alongside other 9/11 responders and former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, urging lawmakers to extend healthcare protections for rescue workers like himself, who became sick after responding to the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in downtown Manhattan.   Alvarez told Congress “  I did not want to be anywhere but Ground Zero.  This fund is not a ticket to paradise. It is there to provide for our families when we can’t. Nothing more. You all said you would never forget. Well, I’m here to make sure that you don’t.”

Alvarez emphasized that future families stand not only to experience the stress of fighting these terrible illnesses but that their struggles would be compounded by the unconscionable financial burden of trying to fund their healthcare.”  The House is expected to vote this month to permanently extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a group of first responders last week the Senate would work to pass its authorization by August.

Alvarez was a toddler when his family moved to New York. He signed up for the Marines Corps when he was 18. He went on to join New York’s police department in 1990 and became a highly decorated officer, working undercover and on the bomb squad.  After the 9/11 attacks, Alvarez spent 3 months at ground zero pulling people from the rubble and clearing away debris.  He was diagnosed with cancer several years ago and underwent dozens of rounds of chemotherapy.

Alvarez, 53, a husband and father of three sons, died in hospice care surrounded by his family.  He was remembered for his “tenacity and resilience” at a solemn and emotional funeral on Wednesday.  After his cancer diagnoses, he showed “tenacity and resilience that even surprised his oncology team,” said his sister, Ida Lugo. “Nevertheless, chemo became his prison, his jail. Often isolating him from the world, too sick to engage.  He wanted to urge our government to do the right thing,” Lugo said. “It became my brother’s dying wish, the legacy he wanted to leave that the bill protecting the Victim Compensation Fund be passed.”

Thousands came to honor the hero including family members, friends and uniformed officers, some of them in tears,.  They stood at attention as two fire engines hoisted a huge American flag outside the Long Island funeral home where 53-year-old Luis Alvarez was remembered at a wake a day earlier. A hearse carrying the remains of the retired detective rolled slowly underneath it as the somber procession to the memorial service at Immaculate Conception Church in Astoria got underway.

As of Wednesday, 222 NYPD officers, including Luis Alvareaz, have died from 9/11 related illnesses.  The bill to extend the Victim Compensation Fund passed a House committee in June and is awaiting a full House vote before it is taken up by the Senate.

 

Estranged Husband of Missing CT Mother Released After Posting Bail

missing ct mom.jpg

 

The estranged husband of missing CT mother Jennifer Dulos and his girlfriend have both been released after posting their $500,000 bails.  Fotis Dulos, 51, and his girlfriend Michelle Troconis, 44, were charged with tampering or fabricating physical evidence and hindering prosecution on June 1st.  Jennifer Dulos, who was last seen May 24th, had filed for divorce from Fotis Dulos in 2017 and had sole physical custody of their five children with their father seeing them every other weekend.  They had been embroiled in a contentious divorce and child custody case for the past two years.

Jennifer was last seen May 24th driving a 2017 black Chevrolet Suburban, as she dropped her kids off at school.  Her friends reported her missing around 7 p.m. that day after they had not heard from her for about 10 hours and she had missed multiple appointments that day.  Their children, who range in age from 8 to 13 and include two sets of twins, have been living with their 85-year-old grandmother under armed guard in NYC since Dulos went missing.

Court documents filed in the divorce case say Jennifer Dulos feared Fotis Dulos would harm her in some way in retaliation for her filing for divorce, and she noted he had a gun.  Jennifer Dulos had accused her husband of having revenge fantasies, exhibiting “irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening and controlling behavior” and saying he would abscond with their five children to another country, according to her custody petition.  Jennifer Dulos lived in a mansion in Farmington, Connecticut, with her husband and family until two years ago. In court documents, she said Fotis Dulos moved his girlfriend and the woman’s daughter into their Farmington house, and Jennifer Dulos moved out in 2017 to a home in New Canaan and filed for divorce, court records show.

Fotis Dulos and Troconis were arrested based on surveillance video that allegedly shows a man and a woman matching both of their descriptions in a vehicle where a man can be seen depositing around 30 trash bags into multiple trash receptacles.  The man can also be seen discarding items that appeared to be stained with a substance that is consistent with the appearance of blood.  Detectives later recovered clothing and household goods from trash receptacles with Jennifer Dulos’ blood on it.

Investigators looking into the woman’s disappearance discovered stains that tested positive for human blood on her garage floor, as well as evidence of attempts to clean up the scene.  Police also found blood spatter and evidence that a “serious physical assault” occurred in her New Canaan home.  State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr., a prosecutor in the case, said that Jennifer Dulos’ blood was also found mixed with her estranged husband’s DNA in the kitchen sink faucet at her New Canaan home.  Fotis Dulos has never lived at that house. He has remained at the couple’s former home in Farmington, Connecticut.

 

Body of Missing Utah 5 Year Old Found, Uncle Charged

 

shelley.jpg

Utah police believe they have found the body of missing 5 year old Elizabeth Shelley just days after her uncle Alex Whipple was charged with aggravated murder.  Elizabeth Shelley’s body was found in a wooded area a quarter mile away from her home in Logan.  Court documents state Whipple, 21, has been charged with aggravated murder, child kidnapping, two counts of obstruction of justice and abuse or desecration of a human body.

Elizabeth’s mother reported her missing from her home on the west side of Logan on Saturday at approximately 10 a.m.  Her mother, Jessica, said she and her live-in boyfriend, Detrich Black, last saw Shelley sleeping in her bed at approximately 1 a.m. when they checked on her before going to bed.  Jessica stated that she had been drinking alcohol with Whipple and Detrich on Friday at approximately 10 p.m. She had invited her brother over via Facebook messenger. Elizabeth and her sister were already in bed when Whipple arrived at the residence. Jessica went to sleep around midnight and told Whipple that he could stay on the couch, court documents state.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., Jessica woke up and found the front door wide open. She recalled both Elizabeth and her brother, Whipple, were missing from the home.  Court documents state Whipple left his cellphone and skateboard at the residence.  The couple briefly looked for Whipple and Elizabeth outside before calling the police.  The couple described her as wearing a red tank top and teal skirt to police and volunteers who began searching the area.

At approximately 3 p.m., Whipple was located in a remote area near the home.  In his possession, police found a baseball bat, a pipe commonly used for narcotics, personal items and a Pabst Blue Ribbon 24-ounce beer can. He was transported to the Logan City Police Department for questioning.  At the station, handcuffs were removed from Whipple and he was left alone in the room.  Officers said he started licking his hands to try and wipe them clean.  Police placed the handcuffs back on him to preserve evidence that may be on Whipple’s hands.

During an interview with police, Whipple initially denied going over to Jessica’s house on Friday night and changed his story several times.  Court documents state Whipple said he drank beer at Jessica’s house and later left the residence to go on a walk because he could tell his sister and her boyfriend were “horny.” He told police he didn’t want to hear anything, so he went on a walk to enjoy the scenery just before sunrise. He claimed he had not seen Elizabeth while he was at her house.  While he initially did not admit to any involvement in his niece’s disappearance, he told officers that when he drinks he sometimes blacks out and does “criminal things”.

When police asked why he left his cellphone and skateboard and why he left the door open, Whipple claimed he didn’t know and that he didn’t need his personal items.  During the interview, investigators noticed dark colored stains on Whipple’s pants that were consistent with dried blood and several cuts on his dirty fingers.  While Whipple was being questioned, investigators found a bloody knife that matched one missing from the Shelley home in a nearby parking lot, a PVC pipe with a red substance on it and a partial palm print, along with a teal skirt that was hastily buried under dirt and bark.

Court documents show that blood found on the knife, Whipple’s watch and a hooded sweatshirt all had positive matches to Elizabeth’s DNA profile. The beer can tested positive for Whipple’s DNA and the palm print on the PVC pipe was determined to be Whipple’s.  When confronted with this evidence, Whipple admitted to the killing and drew a map for police to located her body in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table.