Friday, July 14, 2017

Human Remains Found on Pennsylvania Farm in Search for Missing Men

The body of a missing man has been uncovered on a sprawling multi-million dollar Pennsylvania farm along with unidentified human remains, authorities announced Thursday morning. 
Dean Finocchiaro, 19, was found deceased on the property of Antonio and Sandra DiNardo, whose son Cosmo, 20, is being held by police as a person of interest in the disappearance of the teen and three others. 
After a painstaking search in the dark and muggy heat just outside New Hope, Pennsylvania, cadaver dogs led police to a section of the $5.4 million property, where the remains were found buried 12 ½ feet beneath the earth. 
Finocchairo was reported missing on July 7 along with Thomas Meo, 21, and Mark Sturgis, 22. Another 19-year-old, Jimi Patrick, was reported missing on July 5. It is unclear how the four men may have known Cosmo DiNardo.
"We're going to see this investigation through to the end," Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub said at news conference shortly after midnight. "We're going to bring each of these lost boys home to their families, one way or another." 
Although Cosmo DiNardo has not been charged with the murder of Finocchairo, he is being held on a $5 million bond. 
"This is a homicide; make no mistake about it. We just don't know how many homicides," Weintraub said. 
DiNardo was first arrested on Monday for an unrelated gun charge, stemming back to February when he was accused of owning a firearm despite a history of mental illness. Because of an involuntary commitment to a mental institution, DiNardo was not allowed to possess a firearm. 
The 20-year-old is schizophrenic, according to his lawyers, who say their client’s mental illness is being exploited by prosecutors, reported. 
He was held on a $1 million bond in relation to that case and released after his parents posted $100,000 for his bail. He was then taken back into custody on Wednesday for allegedly attempting to sell one of the missing men’s car for $500. 
DiNardo tried to sell Meo’s Nissan Maxima to a friend, court records show. Inside the car, police found Meo’s diabetic kit, which Meo’s parents said their son could not survive without. 
The back-to-back arrests bought investigators time as they scoured 90 acres of property and other spots across the county for clues to the men's disappearance, Weintraub said.
On Thursday morning, Weintraub thanked the tireless efforts of the officers working on the farm in an attempt to uncover any additional evidence relating to the men’s disappearance. 
Although he has not been charged in relation to the missing men, prosecutors described DiNardo as a flight risk and a “dangerous person.” 
Officers haven’t disclosed why DiNardo is considered a person of interest, or what led them to begin the search on the family’s farm. 
With DiNardo in custody, the punishing search continued on the family farm, where veteran officers and brand new cadets worked side-by-side to sift through the dirt with backhoes, hands, metal detectors and buckets. 
The Pennsylvania FBI and U.S. Marshal as well as local and state police are all working to investigate the case. Officials have suggested the search is the largest in the history of Bucks County. 
Before human remains were discovered on the property, a family attorney for the DiNardos released a statement saying they are fully cooperating with law enforcement. 
"As parents, Mr. and Mrs. DiNardo sympathize with the parents and families of the missing young men and they are cooperating in every way possible with the investigation being conducted by law enforcement," the statement said. 
The DiNardo family earned a fortune off of trucking and concrete, according to NBC News affiliate NBC 10. After buying the farm outside New Hope for $5.4 million in 2005, they purchased a nearby property for $500,000 in late 2008. 
DiNardo's grandfather, also named Cosmo DiNardo, owned numerous properties and eventually shared a real estate deal with his son Antonio before handing over the business entirely to him. 
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Friday, July 7, 2017

Woman Charged With Killing Family Smiles In Court

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — A woman charged with killing four of her young children and their father smiled and flashed a double thumbs up to news cameras during her first court appearance Friday before telling a judge she doesn't want an attorney.

Isabel Martinez, 33, appeared before Gwinnett County Magistrate Court Judge Michael Thorpe a day after police said she stabbed the five to death and seriously injured another child at her home outside Atlanta. The injured child, a 9-year-old girl, survived but remained hospitalized with injuries police described as serious.
Before the hearing began, Martinez sat with other inmates and struck poses for cameras — smiling, giving the thumbs up, putting her hands in a prayer position and spreading her arms out wide.
As Judge Thorpe listed the charges against her — five counts of malice murder, five counts of murder and six counts of aggravated assault — Martinez smiled, shook her head "no" and wagged her finger at him. The judge advised her sharply not to perform for the cameras.
When Thorpe informed her of her right to have an attorney, she said through a Spanish-language interpreter, that she doesn't want one. She later added that her attorney will always be the people and her faith.
Thorpe advised Martinez to hire a lawyer or to allow one to be appointed for her.
Isabel Martinez gestures towards news cameras during her first court appearance Friday, July 7, 2017, in Lawrenceville , Ga. Martinez is charged with killing four of her children and their father. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
"What prompts a person to take the life of such innocent children and her spouse is something we may never understand," Gwinnett County police said in a statement. "This is a horrendous crime not only for the victims but for the extended family, neighborhood and community."
Psychologists and others who study cases of mothers accused of killing their children say it's not as uncommon as people might believe. But media coverage often focuses on dramatic cases, such as Andrea Yates who was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the 2001 drowning deaths of her five children in her suburban Houston home.
Other cases get less attention, as when a woman kills a newborn or in children's deaths blamed on neglect, said Cheryl Meyer, co-author of two books on mothers who have killed children based on about 1,000 cases during the 1990s.
That amounts to roughly one death every three days. If anything, the total based on media reports at the time underestimates the reality, said Meyer, a psychology professor at Wright State University in Ohio.
In cases when mothers kill intentionally, Meyer said there is often another influence, such as mental health issues, postpartum depression or the loss of a close loved one.
"We like to classify these women as pariahs, that they aren't at all like us," Meyer said. "I found that was not the case."
Some neighbors in the small, largely Hispanic neighborhood in Loganville, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Atlanta, said they had no clue anything was amiss in the home until police mobbed the scene Thursday morning. The neighbors said the Spanish-speaking family had moved to the community recently, and their children seemed happy playing with other neighborhood kids.
Victoria Nievs said Martinez had recently suffered the death of her father.
Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Michele Pihera confirmed that the 911 call came from a woman who was inside the home at 4:47 a.m. Thursday to report a stabbing. Police believe Martinez made that call.
Pihera said the caller was speaking Spanish, which initially made it difficult for 911 operators to communicate with her. The county sheriff's office said Martinez is on a hold for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement but didn't provide further details.
The hospitalized girl, Diana Romero, was in serious but stable condition Thursday evening, police said.
The four children killed were identified as Isabela Martinez, 10; Dacota Romero, 7; Dillan Romero, 4; and Axel Romero, 2. Their slain father was Martin Romero, 33, Pihera said.
Early indications are that a knife was used to attack the five, though a medical examiner will make the final determination about the cause of death, she said.
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Man pleads guilty to killing 7 in South Carolina

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — A South Carolina man who admitted killing seven people over nearly 13 years while running a successful real estate business pleaded guilty Friday to seven counts of murder and a number of other charges.

Todd Kohlhepp admitted his role in the deaths of seven people less than seven months after he was arrested when investigators checking on a missing couple rescued a woman chained inside a shipping container on Kohlhepp's Spartanburg County property.
The woman had been raped and locked inside the container for more than two months after Kohlhepp shot and killed her boyfriend, authorities said. Charles David Carter, 32, was the last of the seven murder victims.
According to the plea agreement signed by the 44-year-old Kohlhepp, he will serve seven consecutive life terms plus 60 years on kidnapping, sexual assault and other charges. He will not be eligible for parole, and he also agreed not to appeal the sentence.
Kohlhepp admitted Friday that he killed four workers at Superbike Motorsports motorcycle store in Chesnee in 2003 after the manager made him angry. The victims were the owner, Scott Ponder, 30; Beverly Guy, 52; Brian Lucas, 30; and Chris Sherbert, 26. Guy was Ponder's mother and worked as a bookkeeper. Lucas was a service manager, and Sherbert was a mechanic at the shop.
Kohlhepp also admitted guilt in the deaths of a husband and wife who disappeared in December 2015. The bodies of 29-year-old Johnny Joe Coxie and 26-year-old Meagan Leigh McCraw-Coxie were found on Kohlhepp's land after his arrest. The couple had been hired to do work on Kohlhepp's property.
Kohlhepp was eligible for the death penalty, but the plea deal took that off the table.
No one has been executed in South Carolina in more than six years because the state lacks the drugs needed for lethal injections.
Kohlhepp moved to South Carolina in 2001 shortly after 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to kidnapping in Arizona. Authorities there said the then 15-year-old forced a 14-year-old neighbor back to his home at gunpoint, tied her up and raped her.
Kohlhepp had to register on South Carolina's sex offender registry, but told people it was a trumped up charge after a girl's father was angry about a joyride. Kohlhepp also lied about the felony conviction so he could get his real estate license in the state.
Friends and co-workers at Kohlhepp's real estate business said he was a hard worker with some strange habits. He would watch pornographic videos during work and joked on his firm's website that he motivated workers by not feeding them.
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Police: Man Stabs Wife to Death, Drives Self to Jail

An 81-year-old Dayton man is in the Montgomery County jail charged with murder for allegedly stabbing his 70-year-old wife to death following an argument in their home on Delmar Ave.
Donald Cleaver was booked in to jail early Friday morning after he showed up at the police department to turn himself in for allegedly killing his wife, Mary Cleaver.
It was a neighbor that called 911 to alert police to the crime.  “He says he just killed his wife,” the 911 caller said.  “He’s getting ready to head to the jail he says.”
According to Dayton homicide detectives, the investigation shows the Cleaver’s apparently argued last night and after Mary Cleaver went to bed, Donald Cleaver fatally stabbed her. 
The case will be presented to the Montgomery Count Prosecutor’s office for formal charges.
According to a Dayton police report, officers responded to Cleaver’s home in the 200 block of North Delmar Avenue around 1 a.m. Friday.
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said Mary Cleaver, 70, was killed at the same address officers responded to.
“He did not say how he did it,” the 911 caller said.
A knife is listed in the police report as a possible weapon used.
Cleaver is not yet officially charged.
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Friday, May 12, 2017

4 Dead in Topeka Shooting

(CNN) Four people were killed and another injured in a shooting Sunday afternoon in Topeka, Kansas, police said.
The suspected shooter was among the dead.
The killings happened at a home that is part of a business that provides in-home care to people with special needs. All the victims were male.
The survivor was taken to a local hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
    The shooter died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police told CNN affiliate WIBW.
    Lt. Colleen Stuart of the Topeka Police Department said the home was a "private business providing residential services."
    She said the alleged shooter was "associated" with the home but would not elaborate.
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    Friday, May 5, 2017

    San Diego Gunman

    San Diego (CNN)Despondent over the end of a relationship, a gunman entered the pool area of his San Diego apartment complex Sunday and began shooting randomly at people gathered for a birthday party, authorities said.
    At some point during the shooting, 49-year-old Peter Selis took a seat in a lounge chair, pulled out his cell phone and called his ex-girlfriend to tell her he shot two people, San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said in a news conference Monday.
    Selis kept her on the phone as he continued shooting, killing one woman and injuring six before police fatally shot him, Zimmerman said. Another person was injured while fleeing the La Jolla Crossroads apartment complex.
      On Wednesday, a source with knowledge of the investigation identified the woman who died as Monique Clark. 
      A cell-phone video appears to show the gunman reclining in a chair beneath an umbrella, legs crossed as he reloads the gun in his lap, takes aim and pulls the trigger.
      Though Selis was white and some of the victims were people of color, Zimmerman said there was "zero information" to suggest the rampage was racially motivated. 
      "The victims were targeted for no reason other than their mere presence," Zimmerman said. "What started as a celebration of a friend's birthday turned into a tragedy of epic proportions for all those in attendance."

      'He didn't say a single word'

      The first 911 call came in at 6:08 p.m., reporting two people had been shot, Zimmerman said. The second caller described hearing five to six gunshots and seeing someone outside with a gun.
      As police responded to the calls, officers in a helicopter above the complex directed ground units to the suspect, she said. Three officers confronted the shooter, Zimmerman said. He pointed his weapon at them, prompting an exchange of gunfire that killed Selis at the scene.
      Six survivors were sent to area hospitals with gunshot wounds. Another person suffered a broken wrist, a broken hand and a concussion from climbing a fence during the shooting. All are expected to recover. Authorities initially identified the shooting victims as four black women, two black men and a Hispanic male. Investigators learned that one of the victims initially reported to be a black female was actually white.
      The party started about three hours before the gunman showed up around 5:30 p.m., guest Demetrius Griffin wrote on a fundraising site, where the victims are accepting donations for medical expenses.
      Something about him was "strange," Griffin said in the post -- all he had was backpack, no book or anything else to suggest "a day at the pool." 
      The "birthday boy" approached the man to invite him into the party, Griffin said. The conversation did not last long. The man pulled out a gun and shot Griffin's friend in the chest before turning his weapon on the crowd.
      "He was very docile. In his facial expression, no smiling, laughing, talking," Griffin told CNN Monday. "He let off eight rounds, reloaded, let off another eight, reloaded again."
      As people began scrambling and screaming, the shooter "didn't say a single word," he said.
      Partygoer Haley Thames said she and her friend Lauren Chapman were among those who ran for cover. As they ran, they noticed two women who had been shot and were lying in a pool of blood. One of them was Thames' cousin. 
      "I turn around and saw family on the ground, and it became all about that," Thames said.
      Chapman said they helped lead the women out of the pool area to safety. When they reached the street, Chapman flagged down an SUV. The driver cleared out his car and drove the women and another victim to the hospital, Chapman said.
      San Diego Fire Chief Brian Fennessy later identified the driver as a security guard for the apartment building. 
      At a news conference Monday afternoon, survivor Thomas Blea thanked the driver and the first responders who came to his aid.
      "It was a terrible experience that we went through, but I'm glad that I'm all right, and I'm glad that most of my friends are all right," he said.

      What we know about the shooter

      Selis broke up with his girlfriend days before the shooting, Zimmerman said. Family members described him as depressed, but said nothing in his behavior suggested this kind of violence.
      "It is very clear that he was despondent over the breakup," the police chief said. "It is apparent that he wanted his girlfriend to listen in as he carried out his rampage."
      Detectives are still looking into Selis' background, she said. He has no criminal history and one handgun registered in his name.
      Facing significant debts, he filed for bankruptcy in 2015. He listed his occupation as car mechanic, according to a petition filed in US Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of California.
      "This was a truly horrific and disturbing act. We pray for the victims and thank our first responders. Our city rejects this senseless violence," San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said at a news conference.

      Shots ring out in placid neighborhood

      The apartment complex, La Jolla Crossroads, is located near the University of California San Diego campus. Residents described the complex as typically quiet, a place that college students, physicians and military families, among others, call home.
      In a span of about 30 minutes, apartment residents heard gunfire, sirens and the screams of those near the main pool, said resident Susan Berry, who was at the property but did not witness the shooting. 
      "People are shocked because it's an affluent neighborhood," Berry said.
      When asked how he would characterize what happened, Griffin said he would not call it a terrorist act. "But it's terror," he said. 
      Chapman agreed that the most appropriate word to describe what happened was "terror." A junior grade lieutenant in the US Navy, she said she expects to come under attack in war zones abroad, not at home.
      "I dedicate my life serving my country understanding that my life is on the line when I'm out there. But at no point in time would I think an act of terror would take place at home in the way that it did."

      Thursday, April 27, 2017

      Baltimore asks FBI for help: 'Murder is out of control'

      (CNN)The number of homicides in Baltimore this year is soaring -- reaching 100 before the end of April for the first time in nearly two decades -- and the mayor is asking the FBI for more help.
      "Murder is out of control," said Mayor Catherine Pugh, at her weekly news briefing Wednesday. "There are too many guns on the streets. We're looking for all the help we can get."
      The mayor met recently with the special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore office and asked for additional agents to help local police battle violent crime in the city, according to the mayor's spokesman, Anthony McCarthy. He said that could either mean bringing in more FBI agents from other field offices across the country or reassigning agents already in Baltimore to work with local police investigating violent crime.
      Three people were killed in the city Monday -- raising the number of homicides this year to 101, according to police. And with the warmer months approaching, it's only expected to get worse. 
        "The summers in Baltimore tend to be very violent," McCarthy said. "And the mayor wants to get a handle on all the murders, the flood of guns on the streets and the gang activity."
        The mayor is also asking the FBI to share its newest crime-fighting technologies with Baltimore Police, according to McCarthy. He said Mayor Pugh is hoping to make an announcement about additional federal resources sometime next week.
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