Articles on this Page
- 09/15/17--09:01: _Video Shows Chicago...
- 09/15/17--10:37: _East Haven Police M...
- 09/15/17--10:56: _Man Accused of Posi...
- 09/15/17--11:11: _AG Urges Equifax to...
- 09/15/17--11:45: _Congress Passes Fir...
- 09/15/17--11:41: _Multiple Sculptures...
- 09/15/17--12:07: _Red Cross Honors Li...
- 09/15/17--20:32: _Officials: Boy With...
- 09/15/17--13:02: _Greenwich Town Empl...
- 09/15/17--14:58: _East Lyme, Boating ...
- 09/15/17--15:23: _Juggalos, Trump Sup...
- 09/15/17--15:30: _Seaplane Makes 'Rou...
- 09/15/17--15:30: _Shoreline Closely M...
- 09/15/17--16:55: _Two Equifax Executi...
- 09/15/17--16:48: _Crews Battling Fire...
- 09/15/17--18:07: _Police Investigatin...
- 09/15/17--18:57: _Toddler Found Under...
- 09/15/17--19:28: _Connecticut in Poss...
- 09/16/17--04:42: _Woman Killed in Har...
- 09/16/17--04:50: _Women Now Lead Each...
- 09/15/17--10:37: East Haven Police Make Arrest on Robbery of Gas Station
- 09/15/17--10:56: Man Accused of Posing as Police Officer, Sexually Assaulting Woman
- 09/15/17--11:11: AG Urges Equifax to Disable Fee-Based Monitoring
- 09/15/17--11:41: Multiple Sculptures Line New London as Part of ‘The Sculpture Mile’
- 09/15/17--12:07: Red Cross Honors Lifesaving Heroes
- 09/15/17--20:32: Officials: Boy With Crowbar Fatally Shot by Virginia Police
- 09/15/17--13:02: Greenwich Town Employee Accused of Stealing Petty Cash
- 09/15/17--14:58: East Lyme, Boating Community Keeping A Close Eye on Jose
- 09/15/17--15:23: Juggalos, Trump Supporters to Converge on DC
- 09/15/17--15:30: Seaplane Makes 'Rough' Landing in Candlewood Lake
- 09/15/17--15:30: Shoreline Closely Monitoring Jose's Track
- 09/15/17--16:55: Two Equifax Executives Retire After Data Breach Disclosure
- 09/15/17--16:48: Crews Battling Fire in Branford
- 09/15/17--18:07: Police Investigating Motorcycle Accident in Southington
- 09/15/17--18:57: Toddler Found Under Couch Suffocated, Death Ruled Homicide
- 09/15/17--19:28: Connecticut in Possible Path of Hurricane Jose
- 09/16/17--04:42: Woman Killed in Hartford Hit and Run
- 09/16/17--04:50: Women Now Lead Each of Dallas' Top Law Enforcement Agencies
Hotel security footage shows a 19-year-old girl walk into a freezer alone before she was found dead inside nearly a day later, according to a Chicago activist who says police showed him the footage.
Police have not confirmed that Andrew Holmes, a seasoned spokesman for victims of violence and prominent community advocate, has in fact seen the videos. The family of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins has been given the videos along with the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, police said Thursday. They will be given time to review the videos before they are released to the public, police said.
Jenkins' family noted that Holmes is not a spokesperson for them and said they did not give permission for him to view the footage. Earlier Friday morning, they said they had not yet watched the video. Then, just before noon, the family released a statement saying they were given "snippets of video," none of which showed the teen walking into the freezer.
"The family has not been provided any video or other evidence of Kenneka Jenkins walking into a freezer," a statement from Jenkins' family read. "Serious questions remain as to how she ended up in a Crowne Plaza Hotel freezer and why it took a day and a half for the hotel to find Kenneka. Her death requires a thorough complete and independent investigation."
It was not immediately clear if the video shown to Holmes was the same video that was given to the family.
Holmes said Jenkins is seen in the video trying to find her way to the lobby when she appears to get lost. She ended up in an “unsecured” kitchen area in a lower level of the hotel and was checking doors when she opened the unused freezer and walked in, he said.
"From me looking at video she was trying to find way back upstairs to the lobby. She was checking he doors and trying to find way upstairs," he said.
Holmes said there did not appear to be any foul play involved in Jenkins’ death—and that it was an “accident waiting to happen.”
"It was an un-caused accident that should have never happened," he said. "That door should have been secured."
Despite Holmes' comments, dozens of protesters continued to gather outside the hotel Thursday. They could be heard chanting "No justice! No peace!" as Jenkins' mother said she is still seeking answers.
Teresa Martin said despite a request she received from Holmes to stop the protest Thursday night, she attended the event and asked for demonstrators to remain peaceful.
"Don’t make it seem like it’s some race thing because it’s not," Martin said in an earlier Facebook live. "It could be your child. It could be a blue child, a purple child - it doesn’t matter."
A dozen people have been interviewed, 47 cameras are being analyzed by investigators--and social media posts continue to be scrutinized--after Jenkins was found dead in a hotel freezer over the weekend, authorities said Wednesday.
Rosemont police were still attempting to piece together her death. She was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located at 5440 N. River Rd. in Rosemont, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
Facebook videos purportedly taken from a hotel room party Jenkins was said to have been at have been shared thousands of times. As the posts sparked amateur online detectives to flood social media with accusations and conjecture, police gave an official update Wednesday.
They say the department is still conducting a death investigation.
“Our detectives are working around the clock to identify, locate, and interview all persons who were involved,” the department said in a release. “Additionally, certain videos related to this investigation have been sent to specialized forensic technicians for further analysis.”
Police said they have interviewed 12 people who were “involved in some way”—including eight who were present the night or morning of the hotel party Jenkins attended.
Police are still searching for four other people who were at the party they say they want to talk to, but they did not elaborate.
“As interviews continue, the names and whereabouts of more people present that night are being discovered,” the department’s press release says.
Police said the Crowne Plaza hotel has been “extremely cooperative” and has provided all video surveillance along with employee rosters. Family members of Jenkins and the community activist Holmes had implied at an earlier press conference that the hotel was withholding some security footage.
The hotel has offered to cover Jenkins' funeral costs.
An autopsy was conducted, but Jenkins' cause of death was pending results, police and the medical examiner's office said.
East Haven Police have arrested a suspect in a robbery at a Sunoco Gas Station in July and said he is also suspected of a burglary the same day in Branford.
Christopher Francis, 36, has been arrested in connection with the robbery on July 8 at the Sunoco Gas Station at 80 Frontage Road, according to police.
Police said he was not armed when he put a couple of small items on the sales counter, handed the employee a dollar bill and jumped up on the counter when the employee opened the cash register, police said.
The employee told officers that he tried to stop Francis from reaching the cash drawer, but Francis forced him to back away and was able to grab money from the drawer, police said.
Francis then fled in a rented white Jeep Grand Cherokee, according to police.
Police said Francis is also accused of attempting to rob the TA Travel Center in Branford earlier that evening.
Francis was taken into custody on Wednesday while he was at court for another matter, police said.
He has been charged with robbery in the third degree and larceny in the sixth degree.
He was held on a court-ordered $30,000 bond.
Photo Credit: East Haven Police
A Stamford man who is accused of posing as a police officer to the woman he was dating online is also accused of sexually assaulting the woman in Westport and has been arrested.
The victim went to police on Aug. 8 and said she was having an online relationship with 23-year-old Ashwin Mathur, of Stamford, who told her he was a police officer, and he sexually assaulted her at the Westport Inn the day before, according to police.
Mathur was wearing a badge when he arrived to pick her up, the victim told police.
Westport Police detectives investigated and a Stamford police officer took Mathur into custody.
He was charged with third-grade sexual assault, second-degree unlawful restraint and impersonating a police officer.
He was released after posting the $25,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Norwalk Court on Sept. 27.
Photo Credit: Westport Police
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and attorneys general around the country are asking the credit reporting firm Equifax to disable links for enrollment in fee-based credit monitoring service in the wake of the data breach that is impacting 143 million people, according to Jepsen’s office.
In a letter, they said the company is “seemingly using its own data breach as an opportunity to sell services to breach victims.”
The attorneys general also said that the credit bureaus, Experian and Transunion, are still charging fees for security freezes and Equifax should be taking steps to reimburse consumers who incur these fees to completely freeze their credit.
"We believe continuing to offer consumers a fee-based service in addition to Equifax's free monitoring services will serve to only confuse consumers who are already struggling to make decisions on how to best protect themselves in the wake of this massive breach," the attorneys general wrote. "Selling a fee-based product that competes with Equifax's own free offer of credit monitoring services to victims of Equifax's own data breach is unfair, particularly if consumers are not sure if their information was compromised."
Jepsen said. "Equifax should not give even the impression that it is attempting to make any sort of profit off of this enormous breach, and consumers should have access – at zero cost – to the best available credit monitoring services and protections."
The attorneys general previously requested information about the circumstances that led to the breach, the reasons for the months-long delay between the breach and the company’s public disclosure, what protections the company had in place at the time of the breach and how the company intends to protect consumers affected by the breach.
Two Connecticut congressmen said Thursday they have made progress in getting help for homeowners dealing with crumbling foundations.
Rep. Joe Courtney and Rep. John Larson say they got a set of amendments passed that could bring some relief in the form of grants and tax breaks.
One amendment directs the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to tailor grants to match needs for people with crumbling concrete.
Another directs the IRS to develop tax deductions for people with losses due to crumbling concrete, something Courtney and Larson discussed with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Monday.
A third amendment calls for developing standards for acceptable levels of pyrrhotite in concrete.
Pyrrhotite is the naturally occurring mineral that experts say causes it to crack and led to the crumbling foundation problem in homes in north-central and eastern Connecticut. All this still must be approved by the Senate and signed by the President.
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection has received 563 complaints from residents who say the concrete in their foundations is cracking and crumbling.
Courtney and Larson said the amendments mark the first time a full chamber of Congress passed measures related to crumbling concrete.
The Sculpture Mile is officially launching in New London Saturday.
It’s a mile worth of professional sculptures starting around the courthouse and Garde Arts Center, continuing to Broad Street, onto Williams Street, all the way to the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, according to Bill Bendig, president of the Hollycroft Foundation that has been creating sculpture miles for 25 years.
When all is said and done, Bendig would ideally like to have 40 sculptures up through the city of New London.
“It’s an extension of the great tradition of public art in New London,” said New London Mayor Michael Passero.
It’s why he’s excited his city was chosen to host the 25th anniversary exhibition.
“It’s your arts and it’s your historic nature of the city that brings the people to New London,” Passero said.
Bendig told NBC Connecticut that he had his eye on the Lyman Allyn Art Museum. The mile of sculptures leads to there, where people will find ‘Snowman’ in front of the Deshon-Allyn House. ‘Snowman’ is created by famed artist Erwin Hauer, who also has another sculpture at the start of the mile.
“Bill Bendig is a remarkable force of nature himself,” said Vera Harsh, director of external affairs for the Lyman Allyn Art Museum.
She said The Sculpture Mile complements the museum’s sculpture trail and highlights the city’s art scene -- which is debatably a hidden gem.
“We’re hopeful that it’s not only going to bring out New London County, but also bring out the commuters who travel between New York and Boston,” Harsh said.
The official launch of the mile is with the instillation of “Monk,” by renowned New Jersey artist Harry Gordon. It will be specially brought in with a crane.
Other exhibits include “Big Head Jimbo and Big Head Bimbo,” that sits near Hodges Square Park, “Insect in Flight,” by Leo Jensen that will light up at night around 239 Williams St., and “Let’s Play” by Nicholas Swearer that will be up in Williams Park.
Area businesses, like Mr. G’s Restaurant, are looking forward to the added foot traffic, too.
“Whenever you bring more people to an area, you’re going to get some falloff,” said owner George Gianakos.
There have been Sculpture Miles in Madison, Clinton, Old Saybrook and Old Lyme, among other towns.
Bendig said sculptures are up for a minimum of one year, but usually two years. However, The Sculpture Mile in New London could last even longer.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
Tom Brown and Patrick Mainolfi are Red Cross Lifesaving Heroes. They are staff members are New Canaan High School and used the Heimlich maneuver to save the life of a student who was choking at school.
"I just knew right away I had to do something," said Brown. "He had a bottle top stuck in his throat."
Both Brown and Mainolfi said they used skills they were taught as former state employees.
"I’m just glad we were in the right place at the right time," Mainolfi said.
They are just some of local heroes the Red Cross honored this year. Hundreds of people gathered for the 18th annual luncheon in Hartford Thursday.
NBC Connecticut anchors Heidi Voight and Ted Koppy emceed the event.
"Our heroes luncheon today honors those who have gone above and beyond the call of their community, by saving lives and stepping up to be leaders," Richard Branigan, CEO of the Red Cross, Connecticut, and Rhode Island Chapter, said.
He said it's a small thank you for their big acts of kindness and caring.
"They consider themselves to be ordinary citizens, but they've done extraordinary things," Branigan said.
A police officer shot and killed a 15-year-old boy in front of his home in Haymarket, Virginia, on Friday after he threatened officers with a crowbar, Prince William County police say.
The officer fired multiple shots, killing the teen after receiving a report that he "had a bomb strapped to his chest" and was holding a family member hostage, police said.
Officers responded to the house on the 6800 block of Hartzell Hill Lane about 10:25 a.m. to investigate a possible hostage situation.
As they arrived on the scene, they learned that the teen had what was described as a bomb, and that the person he was holding hostage was a family member.
Outside the house, the teen -- whose name police did not release -- "brandished a crowbar and began walking toward the officers in a threatening manner," police said.
The officers ordered him to drop the crowbar, but he refused.
Then, an officer opened fire, shooting the teen in the upper body about 10:45 a.m.
Officers provided first aid until medics arrived. The teen was pronounced dead at the scene.
No officers were hurt.
Police determined that the teen did not have a bomb. No details were released immediately on who told them that he did.
Neighbors said the teen went to Battlefield High School in Haymarket. Nasir Gorham said he went to school with him.
"He kept to himself a lot. He was pretty quiet. I would see him at the pool a lot, with some friends," Gorham said. "I would never think something like this would happen."
The officer who fired is on administrative leave, per standard police procedure.
Police body cameras are not in use in Prince William County, but a pilot program to put them onto streets is underway.
Images taken from Chopper4 on Friday afternoon showed many officers in the Northern Virginia neighborhood of brick townhouses.
A Greenwich town employee is accused of stealing the department’s petty cash and has been charged with second-degree larceny.
Police arrested Martha Reyes, 49, of Bronx, New York, a budget and systems supervisor, for the town of Greenwich Department of Human Services, Wednesday.
Police said they received a report from Reyes’ supervisors about missing money and determined she stolen petty cash entrusted to her for programs the Department of Human Services administers.
She was charged with second-degree larceny, posted a $1,000 surety bond and is due in court on Sept. 27.
Photo Credit: Greenwich Police
People on the shoreline are closely monitoring Hurricane Jose, waiting to see if they’ll stay in its path.
“Right now we’re taking a wait and see approach,” said Garrett Enman, dock master at Three Belles Marina.
While Jose is definitely on his radar, Enman said its severity can determine how the marina reacts. It could be as simple as making sure lines are securely fastened, or taking boats out of the water.
“It's been watched, but it has not been treated nowhere near the concern of Irma. We had staff meetings regarding Irma and (were) ready to go, and remind people what to do with their boat,” said Don MacKenzie, president of Boats Incorporated.
That hasn’t been the case with Jose, but MacKenzie said he did get a few calls to pull boats. If necessary, his crews will continue to do so until it gets dangerous.
Most boaters are waiting for that call to take action.
“Warning versus a watch. And that’s last minute,” David Miko said.
East Lyme Emergency Management is taking no chances.
Director Richard Morris said he’s already been in touch with counterparts in different communities since East Lyme hosts a seven-town shelter at East Lyme Middle School.
They are also warning residents to take precautions with items like outside furniture.
“Hunker them down so there’s not objects blowing around, put the gas grill away, and have flashlights, batteries and things of that nature,” Morris said.
Other tips include moving cars inside a garage or secure location and keeping trees around a home trimmed.
Stonington’s Director of Emergency Management George Brennan said he’ll meet with emergency personnel Monday to assess the situation.
In New London, AW Marina staff already advised people to double tie their boats or move them out of the water beginning Sunday and Monday.
Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
Boat owners along the shoreline are keeping a close eye on Jose.
An insane political circus will descend on Washington, D.C., this weekend under a barrage of a protests, rallies, counterprotests and marching Juggalos.
The two most prominent events will be the pro-Trump "free speech" rally dubbed by organizers as The Mother of All Rallies (MOAR) and the Insane Clown Posse's Juggalo March to protest the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s characterization of the rap-rock group’s fan base as a "hybrid gang."
Both demonstrations are set to take place on Saturday, Sept. 16, and both eye the National Mall — where war veterans and Martin Luther King Jr. made their voices heard — as the backdrop for their demonstrations.
Organizers of the MOAR event say the purpose of their demonstration, which is being promoted as the "Woodstock of American Rallies," seeks to champion President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda.
"Rally participants will demand protection for traditional American culture while they express their love for the United States and the America First agenda," a message on the group’s website says. "MOAR will send a message to the world that the voices of mainstream Americans must be heard."
The Mother of All Rallies Patriots Unification Gathering will take place at the National Mall near the Washington Monument from 10 a.m. ET to 5 p.m. ET. Metropolitan police is reporting an estimated 1,800 participants. The event will feature speeches from vocal Trump supporters like Marco Gutierrez, founder of Latinos for Trump, and Omar Navarro, the Republican challenger to California Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat.
The Juggalo’s March is part of a continued fight between the Insane Clown Posse (ICP) and the FBI over a 2011 Gang Task Force labeling fans of the group, who call themselves Juggalos, as a "loosely-organized hybrid gang" that "exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence."
Jason Webber, an organizer of the Juggalo march and publicst for the ICP's record label Psychopathic Records, said demonstrators will demand the FBI rescind their characterization of the Juggalos, a label "that allegedly exposed law-abiding Juggalos to harassment and discrimination by police, employers and others," NBC News reported.
The rally will begin at noon at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and then travel to the memorial’s plaza. Roughly 3,000 people will attend the event, the National Park Service estimated.
While both events have explicitly urged participants in their codes of conduct to not use violence during their respective gatherings, the fear of possible clashes has grown in the wake of the violent Charlottesville, Virginia, demonstrations where a young woman was killed when a car plowed into a group of people protesting a white nationalist rally.
Webber says the group is apolitical, but added that many of the band’s songs speak out against racism and bigotry.
Meanwhile, the MOAR's website lists white supremacist groups like Alt-Knights and the Proud Boys as affiliates while claiming "all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, age or political affiliation are invited."
And though organizers of MOAR say they "condemn racists of all colors and supremacy of all colors" in their mission statement, Peter Boykin, president of Gays for Trump and a speaker at the conservative rally, said in an interview with The Washington Post ahead of the event that he will speak out against what he calls "Sharia law, transgender men and women in the military and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program" in his speech.
The MOAR is expected to be countered by an anti-Trump rally near the White House. That demonstration will focus on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Wrapping around those events will be the annual Fiesta D.C. parade celebrating Latino culture. The annual parade is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. along Constitution Avenue NW.
Also on Saturday, runners will participate in the Race To Beat Cancer 5K that will begin and end in the Northwest, but the route will travel close to the National Mall. The event benefiting cancer research celebrates survivors, and honors those who have lost their battles with cancer.
Overall, the NPS said it has issued permits for more than 35 events, including a wedding, making Saturday one of the busiest days of the year for the Metropolitan Police Department. D.C. police said it plans to be "out in full force" to help manage the gridlock conditions brought on by several planned road closures. A full list of planned road closures can be found here.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/FILE
A seaplane made a "rough" landing Friday afternoon on Candlewood Lake, according to Connecticut State Police.
State Police troopers and Connecticut Department of Energy & Environment Protection crews are on the scene in Sherman.
The plane landed on the lake near the Sherman/New Fairfield line shortly before 4 p.m. and then began taking on water, according to a DEEP spokesperson.
The plane's occupants were able to get off the plane with the help of a good Samaritan's boat.
No injuries were reported.
DEEP's Emergency Response Team is arriving at the site of the landing to assist with any environmental concerns, including the possibility of fuel getting into the water.
Photo Credit: @CT_STATE_POLICE
People who live along Connecticut’s coastline are keeping a close eye on the path of Jose in the Atlantic Ocean.
Many know first-hand how devastating a tropical storm of hurricane can be for the shoreline.
“This was our 38th summer,” said Wayne Capone, owner of Stowe’s Seafood in West Haven.
Capone remembers the storm surge from Irene, Sandy and Hurricane Gloria in 1985.
“All three of them,” he said, “I got three feet of water where we’re standing right now, we got three feet of water, but when the tide went out, the water went out, I never had to pump the water out.”
For his business, Capone said the bigger issue is the possibility of losing power for an extended period of time.
“One of the hurricanes we didn’t lose power at all, the second hurricane Sandy we lost power for 7 days,” he said, “that’s when it’s a pain.”
With Jose heading toward the east coast, Capone said he will be checking the forecast.
“Absolutely, if it hits us in the middle of the week the way I look at that, that’s better,” Capone said, “it will leave my weekends alone.”
In Milford, the neighborhood on East Broadway by the Silver Sands beach was hit hard by both storms in 2011 and 2012.
“I remember just walking down here, a lot of the homes were damaged after Sandy and Irene,” Sally Whelan told NBC Connecticut.
Whelan lives a little further inland, but she still worries what could happen if Jose reaches the Milford shoreline.
“That the people down here would have a lot of flooding and damage and all these beautiful homes might be wrecked,” she said.
Superstorm Sandy wrecked Dawn Theodorsen’s summer beach home that was built in the 1920s, she said.
“It was very, very emotional coming down here after that storm,” Theodorsen said. “I mean it looked like a warzone down here.”
When they rebuilt their house, they had it raised 13 feet off the ground. Other homeowners on the street chose not to do the same.
“I think we’re in good position this time,” Theodorsen said. “We built it so that it could withstand a storm.”
A storm surge from Jose next week could push water under her home.
“I think we’ll have to move the boat and we will probably have to move all of our kayaks and paddle boards and our beach chairs and everything underneath,” Theodorsen said, “and we’ll probably have to take the cars and park them somewhere else.”
For Whelan and her family, the main concern is a possible power outage from strong winds.
“So will you be tracking Jose the next couple of days?” NBC Connecticut asked Whelan.
“I will now,” she said, “because you just informed me. I wasn’t even aware of it, so I definitely will now thank you.”
With more sunshine in the forecast for this weekend, Capone said owning a shoreline business is worth the risk, even during hurricane season.
“You want to work or live on the water,” he said, “this is what you got to put up with, I mean it’s a tradeoff.”
Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
Equifax said Friday that its top information and security executives were retiring, effective immediately, as the company reels from its disclosure last week that it suffered a data breach potentially affecting 143 million people in the U.S., CNBC reported.
Chief information officer David Webb will be replaced by Mark Rohrwasser, who has led Equifax International IT operations since joining the company in 2016.
Chief security officer Susan Mauldin will be replaced by Russ Ayres, who will serve in the position in the interim. Before his appointment, Ayres served as Equifax's vice president of IT.
Equifax announced last week it experienced a data breach that could potentially affect 143 million consumers in the U.S. The company said it first noticed suspicious traffic on July 29.
Photo Credit: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A monitor displays Equifax Inc. signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.
Firefighters are battling a fire taking place at Madison Polymeric Engineering in Branford.
No other details were immediately available.
Police are on scene investigating an accident between a car and a motorcycle that happened around 8 p.m. on Friday.
Police said the crash happened on Meriden Waterbury Road in Southington.
Police said there are some injuries but are not sure how serious they are at this time.
Meriden Waterbury Road is closed and it is not known when it will reopen.
The cause of death for Semaj Crosby, the toddler who was found dead in her Joliet home, has been ruled asphyxia and her death has been declared a homicide, the Will County Coroner's office revealed Friday.
The coroner's office said its homicide ruling was "based on the unusual circumstances surrounding her disappearance and the subsequent discovery of her decomposing body under the couch in her own home, the multiple previous contacts by the Department of Children and Family Services, the suspicious fire at the residence and lack of cooperation from the witnesses."
The case remains under investigation by the Will County Sheriff's office, the coroner's office said.
"The investigation into the death of Semaj Crosby is the highest priority for both the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Will County Sheriff’s Department," said Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow in a statement. "All available resources are being deployed in this investigation. The tragic death of this little girl has had a profound impact on all of the prosecutors and investigators involved in this case."
Glasgow said the sheriff's department has met with the Justice For Semaj Action Team and provided as much information to its members "as legally possible."
"However, this is an extremely active and sensitive investigation. It is common for law enforcement agencies to withhold some information from the public to protect the integrity of the investigation," he said. "This is necessary to ensure that any defendant who is identified is appropriately charged and receives a fair trial under the law. Local law enforcement is committed to this case and will take every step possible to find answers and bring justice for Semaj."
Semaj's death remained a mystery for months after she was found dead in April following an intense hours-long search by police and dozens of community members.
On April 27, her body was found under the couch in her family’s home – a home police have said was in “deplorable” conditions, a home she lived in alongside “squatters.”
In the months since the girl’s death, there have been no arrests. An initial autopsy revealed no signs of trauma and no clear indication of how she died.
Detectives said they don’t know when or how Semaj’s body got under the family’s couch. Law enforcement initially searched the house, but since the first reports indicated she had wandered off or was taken, police dedicated the search to surrounding areas.
“It was only until we exhausted every resource we had – we had so many helicopters, hundreds of searchers looking for her – we said, ‘Time out, let’s start from square one,’” said Detective R.J. Austin.
At the time of her disappearance, the girl's mother told authorities her daughter had been playing outside with other children before she wandered away.
Less than three hours earlier, at about 3:20 p.m., investigators with the Department of Child and Family Services said they visited the home and saw the girl alive while investigating the mother for an allegation of neglect. At about 6:30 p.m., the family reported her missing.
Photos released by investigators following the girl's tragic death showed the home she lived in was in "very deplorable conditions." Anywhere from five to 15 people typically lived there at a given time, officials said, adding that the attorney for the girl’s mother told them many of those residents were considered "squatters."
In the months following Semaj's death, the medical examiner's office only said her cause of death was "pending further studies." Austin noted in his Q&A that at the time of her autopsy, Semaj had no visible wounds or blood on her body.
Days after her daughter's death, her mother Sheri Gordon thanked the community in an emotional statement saying, "I appreciate you guys for your love and support."
A day after Semaj was buried, a fire destroyed the home where she was found dead, burning it to the ground.
Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services released a 22-page reportdetailing its investigation into the death of the child, but did not say why or how the little girl died.
The report contains information regarding the various people who inhabited the home, including Semaj's biological parents. It also notes mental health concerns among adults and children living in the home. It states Semaj's cause of death as "unknown" pending the results full autopsy.
The director for DCFS, George Sheldon, resigned roughly one month after her death.
"Somebody knows what happened," Austin said. "I want justice for Semaj. I want justice. I want closure. I want one of them four grown women to come up to me, whether it was an accident or whether it was a crime maybe that they tried to hush."
Photo Credit: FBI Chicago
It appears we have a good 'ol fashioned American vs European model fight brewing with Hurrcicane Jose. The two spaghetti plots of the GFS and European ensembles are very different - the former being closer to the coast and the latter being farther out to sea.
The differences in track make a huge difference in terms of what kind of impact Jose would have here in Connecticut. More often than not a blend of the two disparate model camps yields the best forecast - though it's important to not the Euro is typically the better model. With that in mind here is what I'm thinking in terms of local impact probability for Tuesday and Wednesday when Jose makes its closest pass.
A scenario painted by the GFS ensembles is possible and it would be a significant wind, rain, and coastal flooding storm. At least for now this seems like the least likely scenario. One thing that makes me think it's unlikely is the fact the jet stream pattern is generally not the pattern that fits most New England tropical storm and hurricane strikes. Generally, you want a deep trough of low pressure to capture the hurricane and sling shot it north.
A more likely scenario is more of a glancing blow with some rain and some wind but nothing that would result in more than a handful of power outages.
Still, it's important to watch the path of this storm. Sometimes the least likely scenario is the one that verifies and that scenario is still in the cone of uncertainty. What I am confident in is that even with a "direct hit" the storm will not be of hurricane strength. Cold water temperatures and slow forward motion of the storm should manage to weaken Jose relatively quickly.
Photo Credit: National Hurricane Center
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A woman was struck and killed in a hit and run accident in Hartford early Saturday morning.
According to police, the woman was struck by a car while walking across the street near the intersection of Park St. and Hudson St. around 2 a.m.
Witnesses flagged down police to alert them to the incident.
According to witnesses, the car appeared to have a green light at the time of the accident.
For the first time in a major U.S. city, the top law enforcement agencies are led by women. Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and District Attorney Faith Johnson all put Dallas in a unique spot in law enforcement history.
The three women sat down for the first time to talk candidly about their struggles and how they are managing male-dominated fields.
Nationwide, only 13 percent of all officers are female, while just one percent of police chiefs are female. Hall, who took the helm of the Dallas Police Department this month, is now part of that group and joins the sheriff and district attorney in leading Dallas' top law enforcement agencies.
"I think it matters that I'm the most qualified in this job," Hall said. "It's great I'm a woman. It's great I'm a minority. I think that's a wonderful thing. But I'm the most qualified."
Johnson was sworn into her position in January following an appointment by Gov. Greg Abbott.
"We're not just three women in the top law enforcement positions," she said. "We are three qualified, committed, capable, tenacious women who are in these positions."
They all know their field remains dominated by men, and they acknowledge the contributions of men to their field, but said they did experience hurdles along the way from their male counterparts.
"The misogynistic things that we've experienced in our careers probably shaped and molded us into where we are right now," Hall said. "It's being able to rise above that and knowing that we're better than that."
Valdez has been in her position the longest of the three women, first elected as sheriff in 2005. She hopes being the first to shatter the ceiling will help inspire others to move up.
"When I first came in, I got a lot of, 'You broke the glass ceiling.' I got a lot of that," she said. "I would always respond with, 'Good, it's open now, come on up. Now that it's broken, come on up.' It's time for all of us to come up."
Valdez and Johnson both agreed they experienced sexism along the way to the top of their departments.
"I didn't fight trying to make my way up to the top," Johnson said. "What I did is I attempted to let my work speak for itself."
Hall echoed that thought and said women had to work even harder to get in advanced positions.
"I think that is the fight, because you have to be twice as smart, twice as talented as your counterpart in order to get there," Hall said. "There are people who hold positions — 'I have two master's degrees, and this person doesn't even have a degree, but they're a man and it's OK' — and no one questions."
The women say they bring something unique to their leadership roles compared to men who lead in their profession.
"I think women bring a different perspective, an additional perspective," Johnson said. "Although we're tough, and we're OK being tough, we love being tough, but we also love being compassionate."
Hall said the compassion comes from a woman's tendency to be a nurturer.
"We focus on the small things, because it's those little things that grow into those big things," Hall said.
Hall is known for her nurturing nature and being one with the community. Prior to her move to Dallas, Hall was known in Detroit for showing up to community events and even giving out her cell phone number to citizens.
When asked if that would change being in Dallas, Hall gave an example of how she's already begun reaching out to the community through little gestures.
"I stopped, one of my officers was doing an accident investigation, and I stopped, asked if the individuals, were they OK, did they need anything?" Hall said. "If they wanted my number, I would've given it to them."
The three women all say it is that nurturing, caring touch that Dallas needs with the events of the past two years in law enforcement.
"Dallas has been through a lot two years in a row. The headquarters was fired upon initially and then we lost five officers the year after that," Hall said.
The new police chief, just weeks on the job, said she remembered exactly where she was when she saw that five officers were shot and killed in Dallas.
"I don't care where you are in the country, when your brothers and sisters in blue are under attack and hurt, it just — I'm about to tear up right now — it pierces your soul. So all I remember is saying, 'I wish I could be there to assist,'" she said.
The women all say there is a delicate balance they take in leading departments that are majority-male.
"I think it's easier for men to accept us when they know we're trying to do the best we can for all of them," Valdez said.
"I'm a strong believer that if I go after a man in a large setting I may make all the men shut down. But make no mistake, wherever you buy a ticket, you'll get a show," Hall said. "It's not my show, it's our show. And I don't do that because I'm a female. I do that because it's the right thing to do."
Johnson said she hopes she restores faith in the Dallas County judicial system.
"I want to leave as a legacy for the people of Dallas County to take a deep breath and say, 'Ah, we finally got justice for everybody, and it really is blind,'" Johnson said.
Hall said she doesn't want to only be known as the first female African-American police chief in Dallas, but she also does not want it forgotten.
"I don't want to ride on that and make that the only thing I am," she said. "But I do want that. I am a Black History fact. And that's important for minorities everywhere, so to be the first African-American female in this position is important."
All three women emphasized their connections with the community, and they hope to strengthen that relationship in a forum in Dallas on Saturday, Sept. 16. Johnson, Valdez and Hall will all be part of a panel addressing the relationship between law enforcement and the community from noon to 1p.m. at The Potters House at 6777 West Kiest Boulevard.
Photo Credit: NBC 5 News