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    Meriden police are residents of scammers pretending to work for Northeast Utilities and calling business owners demanding fictitious late payments.

    According to police, six businesses have reported fraudulent calls over the past two months in Meriden. The callers allege the businesses are overdue on their utility payments and threaten to turn off the electricity unless account holders pay up immediately.

    Calls of this nature are not limited to the Meriden area. Connecticut Light & Power also tweeted out a warning Friday about a similar scam happening in Branford.

    Anyone who receives such a call is urged to contact their local police department right away.


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    The head of the Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that everything is on target to restore air traffic back to normal conditions at Chicago's airports by Oct. 13.

    FAA Administrator Michael Huerta toured the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center in Aurora that was sabotaged by fire a week ago, shutting down Chicago's two international airports.

    Huerta also met with Illinois' congressional delegation, including Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Bill Foster.

    "We are in a good place. We have all of the equipment in the building now, and all of it is powered up, and we're focusing on cabling and restoration of services, and are feeling very good about the target we've established for Oct. 13," Huerta said.

    Some lawmakers have called for an investigation into how a former contract employee entered the building with a suitcase a week ago without causing suspicion.

    Durbin said Thursday that he thought the facility would been in "much better shape" by now, but after meeting with Huerta, he said he was satisfied that there is "a total team commitment and team effort" to get the facility back up to speed.

    Durbin said the onus is on lawmakers to make sure the funds are there to improve the system.

    "What we need to have is not only the safety of airlines in the air when this occurs, but a quick restoration of services," Durbin said. "The second part has not been executed, or planned or funded for future challenges."

    Kirk maintains that facilities like these should have full-time backup facilities similar to practices employed by the Department of Defense.

    "I would say right not that Congress should be interested in funding warm backups for the FAA. When you look around this facility, it doesn't look like it's that expensive," Kirk said.


    Federal prosecutors allege 36-year-old Brian Howard of Naperville started a fire in the basement telecommunications room before attempting to commit suicide. Howard's alleged actions forced the cancellation of thousands of flights and cost an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

    Officials said Friday that Howard used 4 gallons of gasoline to set fire to the facility, which now are bring rewired with miles of new cable.

    The FAA said it hopes to return the facility to full service by Oct. 13.






    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

    FAA Administrator Michael Huerta speaks to reporters at the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center in Aurora.FAA Administrator Michael Huerta speaks to reporters at the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center in Aurora.

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    Several businesses were evacuated after a dump truck got stuck in a sinkhole in a New Jersey strip mall parking lot where construction is being done, authorities said.

    Police said the dump truck was backing up to the construction site around 12:30 p.m. Friday when the weight of the vehicle created a hole in the pavement.

    Businesses in a strip mall at 321 Broadway in Hillsdale were evacuated. 

    "There was big, loud bang," said Adam Duraku, an employee at Ray's Traditional Pizza, part of the strip mall. "I walked out and the truck was literally hanging down, right through the garage. It was crazy."

    Hillsdale Police Chief Bob Francaviglia said the dump truck driver was trying to get to a spot where the blacktop was supposed to be poured in, and the truck fell through in the attempt. 

    No injuries were reported, but some debris damaged at least one car in the underground lot, police said. Metal poles and wooden beams were added in the underground garage for extra strength and support. 

    Authorities were working to extricate the vehicle. 

    Follow Danielle Elias on Twitter @Danielle4NY



    Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

    Chopper 4 captured this image of the truck in the sinkhole.Chopper 4 captured this image of the truck in the sinkhole.

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    Route 202/Litchfield Turnpike has reopened in New Hartford following a crash, according to the Department of Transportation.

    The road was shut down in the area of Ramstein Road in New Hartford after a car struck a pole and brought down wires late Friday afternoon, state police said.

    There has been no word on injuries.

    No additional information was immediately available.

    Check pack for updates.


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    A motorcyclist is in the hospital after crashing at the intersection of Route 190/West Stafford Road and Route 319/Orcuttville Road in Stafford Springs on Friday evening, according to state police.

    Police said the motorcycle was driving eastbound on Route 190 and lost control while going around a bend around 5:45 p.m. Friday.

    The driver sustained moderate injuries and was alert and conscious at the scene. He was taken to Johnson Memorial Hospital for treatment and transferred to Hartford Hospital, according to police.

    Anyone who witnessed the crash is urged to call state police at 860-896-3200.


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    The family of the Bay Area girl declared brain dead last year after surgery wants a judge to declare her "not dead,” but a PR strategist who used to work for the hospital says the family lawyer’s effort is a publicity stunt to boost a statewide proposition on next month’s ballot to let medical malpractice plaintiffs collect bigger payouts.

    Chris Dolan, the lawyer for the family of Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery last year at the age of 13, has given $25,000 to the campaign for Prop. 46, a ballot measure that would boost the cap on verdicts from medical malpractice lawsuits from $250,000 to over $1 million.

    But Sam Singer, the publicist who used to work as a spokesman for the hospital that treated Jahi and is now speaking out against Dolan, also has a stake in that campaign. Singer is paid as a publicist to work for the "No on 46" campaign, aiming to keep malpractice caps at their current level.

    Describing the effort as the "cruelest publicity stunt of all-time," Singer theorized Dolan is seeking a judge’s order to declare the 13-year-old girl “not dead” at a court hearing on Oct. 9 to bring awareness to “things that can go wrong at a hospital.”

    Singer noted the timing of Dolan’s legal request – about a month before the November elections. Secretary of State campaign finance records show the Dolan Law Firm gave $25,000 to the “Yes on Prop. 46, Your Neighbors for Patient Safety, a Coalition of Consumer Attorney’s and Patient Safety Advocates” in January.

    If Prop. 46 passes, the cap on medical negligence lawsuits will increase “for inflation” from when it was first passed in 1975. In today’s terms, that would amount to about $1.1 million.

    At a news conference on Friday, Dolan answered why he was seeking to declare Jahi “not dead.”

    "This is no ruse,” Dolan said. “This is the truth."

    Dolan presented what he says are the findings of independent brain research experts who performed brain imaging and other tests on Jahi at Rutgers University Medical School.

    Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, said she finally has proof her daughter isn’t brain dead. She shared photos of the girl, appearing nourished and full of color, and videos that show Jahi apparently responding to commands to move her feet and hands. However, NBC Bay Area was not able to independently verify the videos.

    Jahi's family filed a court petition Friday, asking a judge to reverse the girl's death certificate.

    Dolan said Jahi has profound brain damage, but there is a difference between being brain damaged and brain dead. “This is unequivocal proof,” he said, pointing to an MRI photo.

    Before the conference, Jahi’s uncle, Omari Sealey, told NBC Bay Area that “there are a lot of different reasons we’ve done what we’ve done. Sam can say anything he wants.”

    Dolan has not filed a lawsuit against UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, and has previously said that his fight for Jahi is not about money. He did indicate this week, however, to reporters that Jahi could be eligible for state benefits if her death status is changed.

    NBC Bay Area Legal Analyst Steven Clark said it would be very "unlikely" that a judge would rule that Jahi is now alive, but acknowledged it would be "fascinating."

    If Jahi were "resurrected," Clark said, that would force the state to pay for her care — even, perhaps, back at Children's Hospital in Oakland. "This is a huge economic issue," he said.

    This week, on behalf of Jahi’s mother, Latasha “Nailah” Winfield, Dolan filed a petition in Alameda County Superior Court for Judge Evelio Grillo to determine that the girl is “not brain dead,” even though the same judge had declared her dead on Dec. 24, 2013.

    Dolan cited that Jahi’s circulatory system and “all her organs continue to function and world class experts in neurology and brain death” will provide evidence that the one-time 8th-grader at E.C. Reems Academy in Oakland “no longer meets the definition of brain death because she has 'neuralgic function.'” 

    Dolan wrote in his petition that Jahi has electrical activity in her brain, responds to her mother’s verbal commands, and has started menstruating. All are signs, he wrote, that the teen's brain death was “not irreversible.”

    Dolan’s experts have not been vetted by the judge, and it's unclear how Grillo will weigh their testimony.

    In his tentative ruling, however, Grillo said there are ways someone can amend a death record. But  he felt that his court was not the right place to do so, suggesting that Dolan was not suing the right people and needed to find the proper agency to change Jahi's death status.

    As of Friday, Dolan had not filed a petition to amend Jahi’s death certificate with the California Dept. of Public Health Vital Records. And the Alameda County Coroner had also not been served with any papers.

    NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez contributed to this report.


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    Arch Street is closed between Prospect and Main streets in Hartford until noon today as murals the city of Hartford commissioned decades ago are moved and installed at the Hartford Public Library.

    The two murals by the Harlem Renaissance painter Romare Bearden have been on display at the XL Center in Hartford for 34 years and they are now being transported to the library, where anyone who wants to see them can do so for free. 

    The murals are being transported from storage in Bethel to the Arch Street side of Hartford Public Library between Prospect and Main streets and the street has been closed since 6 a.m.

    The City of Hartford commissioned the murals more than three decades ago and their value is now estimated at more than $4 million.

    One is 10-feet by 16-feet and the other is 10-feet by 12-feet. You will be able to see them at the Hartford Public Library is located at 500 Main Street in Hartford.

    Find out more about Bearden on the Web site for the Romare Bearden Foundation.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    A mural is being installed in Hartford this morning and Arch Street is closed.A mural is being installed in Hartford this morning and Arch Street is closed.

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    Two doctoral students from Yale who have been in West Africa will sequester themselves for three weeks immediately after returning to the United States this weekend, according to the Yale Daily News.

    The students from the Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases doctoral program have been in Liberia, where there is an Ebola outbreak, according to the Daily News.

    They have been helping to set up a computer system for the Liberian Ministry of Health to monitor the Ebola outbreak and “track contact tracing,” the paper reports, citing the email from the dean of the Yale School of Public Health.

    The article says the graduate student researchers left for the country on Sept. 16, had no direct contact with Ebola patients and are not exhibiting any symptoms of the deadly disease.

    The two students will return on Saturday after helping to set up a computer system for the Liberian Ministry of Health to monitor the Ebola outbreak and “track contact tracing,” the paper reports, citing the email.

    The Ebola outbreak has been going on since March 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is urging United States residents to avoid nonessential travel to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

    Two doctoral students from Yale who have been in West Africa will sequester themselves for three weeks immediately after returning to the United States this weekend, according to the Yale Daily News.Two doctoral students from Yale who have been in West Africa will sequester themselves for three weeks immediately after returning to the United States this weekend, according to the Yale Daily News.

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    Forget the gloves – the last 10 minutest of Thursday night’s gubernatorial debate between Gov. Dan Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley looked more like a bare-knuckle brawl.

    Both candidates threw jabs, even snuck in a sucker punch or two, and it looks like the voters at home were hit the hardest.

    “It was different than Tuesday's debate, which was more about policy,” explained CTNewsJunkie’s Christine Stuart. “I think Thursday’s debate got a little personal.”

    The discussion Thursday night at the University of Connecticut started with economic issues, but ended with Foley calling for a truce.

    That call came almost an hour after Foley dropped a line about Malloy alluding to his time as Stamford mayor.

    “He also was investigated for corruption while he was mayor of Stamford, and he leaves that out,” Foley said.

    That investigation found no wrongdoing, but Stuart says it set the stage for the fight that followed.

    “It hit a nerve and Malloy just unloaded all of Tom Foley’s indiscretions on him at that point,” said Stuart.

    Malloy went after Foley over two car crashes, including an arrest in 1981 when Foley was accused of hitting parked cars in Southampton, New York. Foley has been arrested twice but not convicted.

    “I’m not the person that got fined $16,000. I’m not the person who failed to disclose to the FBI that he got arrested," Malloy said. "I’m not the person who didn’t tell the full truth about incidents involving women in a car that you struck five different times at rates of speed going as fast as 50 mph.”

    NBC Connecticut took it to the voters Friday for their reaction.

    “They are getting a tired, a little cranky,” said Michael Dunne, of West Hartford, “almost as tired as I am of all the negative campaigning.”

    According to the Wesleyan Media Project, this is the third most negative governor’s race in the country right now.

    “The things that disappoints me is that both candidates are spending a huge amount of time on negative campaigning, giving us all the reasons why we should not vote for the other guy,” said Dunne. “What they are not telling us is why we should vote for him.”



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

    Things got personal during Thursday night's debate between Gov. Dan Malloy and GOP challenger Tom Foley.Things got personal during Thursday night's debate between Gov. Dan Malloy and GOP challenger Tom Foley.

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    Residents of one New Britain neighborhood are concerned about safety at the intersection of Sterling and Slater streets, but Department of Transportation officials say there are no immediate plans to make changes.

    Neighbors complain that cars come speeding down that ramp, sometimes losing control and crashing here. They say it’s dangerous and want something to change.

    Madeline Follachio has lived in this New Britain neighborhood all her life and worries because Sterling Street is directly across from a busy three-lane off-ramp from Interstate 84. The only thing between them is a traffic light.

    “They see the light and then come down as fast as they can to make the light,” she said. “They come barreling across the hump in the city street and they bottom out and go airborne.”

    “A three-year crash history report [from 2011-2013] for the I-84 exit off ramp 36 at local roads Slater and Sterling street indicates one crash with no injuries as a result of a driver rear-ending a vehicle stopped at the traffic signal,” a spokesperson from the Department of Transportation said Friday.

    DOT officials said in a statement that "there is no pattern or trend indicated in that crash history, as there is only one crash. Thus, the Department does not envision any plans to modify the ramp in an effort to influence any perceived poor driver behavior. The ramp and intersection configuration is quite typical.”

    It seems up until recently, it hasn’t been a problem, but residents sent NBC Connecticut pictures from more recent crashes.

    In August, a 17-year old was struck while crossing the street at the intersection. She was not seriously injured.


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    A Rhode Island man was arrested Thursday for allegedly soliciting and paying a mother to sexually molest her 8-year-old daughter over a webcam.

    Jose A. Marquez Escarcega, 27, of 126 Jenckes St. in Woonsocket, faces a slew of charges in connection to child pornography and soliciting another to commit a crime.

    Rhode Island authorities say they were alerted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that someone in the state had uploaded a child pornography image to an online storage account and the investigation eventually led them to Marquez Escarcega.

    Police say that as they investigated further, they discovered Marquez Escarcega had solicited and paid a woman outside of the United States to sexually molest her 8-year-old daughter over a webcam. A task force executed a search warrant on Marquez Escarcega's Woonsocket home and found numerous child pornography images and videos on digital media.

    Marquez Escarcega was held on $40,000 surety bail with special conditions, including no contact with children and no online access.

    He's set to be arraigned Friday. 



    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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    Two thieves thought they had it easy, grabbing the packages off a New Britain porch while no one was home. But little did they know, surveillance cameras were rolling.

    The suspects appeared to be working as a team. Surveillance footage shows one woman walking up to the home and snatching a box, then looking around to make sure no one is watching.

    Moments later, the camera catches a man holding packages he allegedly grabbed from outside the front door. He drops them on the porch only to pick them back up before running away.

    “I was waiting for a vehicle to be delivered in the driveway, and I noticed a person I didn’t recognize,” said homeowner Hunter Mathena.

    Mathena said he was stunned to watch it all unfold on his surveillance cameras. Away on a trip in Germany, we connected with him exclusively via Skype.

    “It’s just really frustrating to have individuals who will target people in their neighborhood and steal packages,” he said.

    He describes the suspected thieves’ getaway car as a blue Toyota Camry, hoping someone will recognize it so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

    “It wasn’t about the money. I don’t even know what they took,” Mathena said. “I think it was just small items, like clothing for children.”

    New Britain police are investigating and say they believe it to be an isolated incident. If you recognize these people or have any information about the crime, call New Britain police.



    Photo Credit: Hunter Mathena

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    Eight hundred dollars lost became more than $4,500 gained when the Hooker Brewery hosted a raffle Friday night to compensate for a donation jar stolen over the weekend.

    Police are still searching for the person who broke into the Bloomfield business late Sunday night, but in the meantime, brewery owner Curt Cameron found a creative way to recover the stolen cash.

    Tonight, Cameron raffled off the rock used to shatter the brewery window.

    Although tickets went for just $1 apiece, the brewery collected $4,518 Friday night from local companies and the Rock Cats and expects another $2,500 to come in from Chaz and AJ at PLR radio, Cameron said.

    The money will benefit a Hartford charity called Village For Children, which helps find housing for kids in need.

    Cameras at the brewery caught the culprit throwing the raffled-off rock through a glass door Sunday night, then entering the building and swiping the donation jar off the from counter.

    “It’s pretty obvious. The guy knew it was there. He was probably at one of our events, which he probably read what it was for. It didn’t matter to him,” said Cameron.

    Cameron said he expected a big turnout at the raffle tonight.

    “We have a nice plaque for it that says you rock thanks for supporting Village for Children,” he explained.

    The brewery has received an outpouring of support since the jar was stolen. A number of people and businesses have donated thousands of dollars to make up for the loss.

    “Every time we pick up the mail, more checks come in. It's really fantastic,” Cameron said.

    Money for the new donation jar will now be stored in a secure place after hours.

    “That’s a new procedure taking that thing and locking it up at night,” Cameron added.

    The raffle at Hooker Brewery takes place tonight from 5-8 and is open to everyone.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Hooker Brewery

    Police are searching for the man who broke into the Hooker Brewery in Bloomfield Sunday night and stole a collection jar containing $800 in donations to help neglected children.Police are searching for the man who broke into the Hooker Brewery in Bloomfield Sunday night and stole a collection jar containing $800 in donations to help neglected children.

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    Thirty-three new officers are getting ready to head out on the streets after graduating from the New Haven Police Academy on Friday night.

    The officers received their badges at a ceremony at Hill Regional Career High School in New Haven after completing more than six months of training.

    Twenty-five officers will join the New Haven Police Department, six will serve in East Haven and the remaining two will join the police forces in Madison and Trumbull.

    New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, Police Chief Dean Esserman and members of the city’s Board of Alders, Board of Police Commissioners, the mayor’s staff, assistant police chiefs, police academy staff and the graduates’ family and friends attended the ceremony.


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    A trove of loot — from dozens of designer suits and antique china to framed prints of Pope John Paul II — was found in the home of two of the people accused in last weekend's high-end watch heist at a Rush Street jewelry store, Chicago police say.

    Police say they did not find the stolen watches in the North Rutherford home, but they did stumble across many more items they believe were stolen. Now, they are trying to find those goods' owners.

    Among those goods were 29 framed paintings, 18 candle holders, five complete sets of antique china, nearly 60 men's designer suits, a large box of bootleg DVDs, musical instruments, flatscreen televisions and several framed prints of Pope John Paul II. 

    Four people were arrested and charged this week after police say they stole more than $400,000 worth of merchandise from a display cabinet at B. Young & Company before fleeing in a minivan. Exclusive video obtained by NBC 5 shows a man prying open the case and another man grabbing seven watches.
       
    Police say the items they found in the suspects' home were stolen from both businesses and residential homes. Some retailers, including Armani and Neiman Marcus on the Magnificent Mile, have already identified items stolen from their stores.

    Chicago police are encouraging victims of burglaries in the Near North Side 18th district to visit the station at 1160 N. Larrabee this week to claim any stolen items. You must bring proof of purchase. 

    The items will be on display Friday from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    Anna Straus, 35, of the 3400 block of North Rutherford; Glowacka Xagniezska, 36, of the 3400 block of North Rutherford; Damian Duitlow, 41, of the 4200 block of West Wrightwood; and Ian Kowolski, 50, of an unknown home address, were identified as suspects in Saturday's burglary at B. Young & Company. The group was charged with one felony count each of burglary and theft of items valued between $100,000 and $500,000.

    The suspects' defense attorney says his clients, some of whom have been deported multiple times, identify themselves as Roma, an ethnic group whose members are concentrated in eastern Europe.

    The group was nabbed with help from a special Illinois State Police unit investigating Roma-associated crimes called the Ruse Burglary Task Force. Police say the group is part of an Eastern European burglary ring.

    "It appears that this crew was active here in Chicago and across the Midwest, and may have also been invovled in other major thefts and burglaries across the country," police Cmdr. Eugene Roy said.


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    The U.S. Navy identified a San Diego-based Marine Friday presumed dead at sea after an aircraft malfunction in the North Arabian Gulf earlier this week.

    Navy officials said 21-year-old Cpl. Jordan L. Spears, of Memphis, Indiana, was lost at sea Wednesday.

    Spears was assigned to Marine Tiltrotor Squadron 163, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar in San Diego.

    Spears was supporting operations with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group during Wednesday’s deadly incident.

    He was among a group of two enlisted personnel and two pilots aboard the MV-22B Osprey when it took off from USS Makin Island.

    The aircraft lost power shortly after takeoff and appeared to be heading into the water. The two air crew members – one of them Spears – jumped into the ocean when they thought they were going to crash, the Navy said.

    The pilot gained control of the plane and landed safely on the ship. One Marine was pulled from the water, but Spears was never found despite an extensive search.

    On Thursday, the Navy announced it had called off the search and rescue operation for Spears after efforts to locate him proved unsuccessful.

    The incident is being investigated by the Navy and Marine Corps, officials said.

    USS Makin Island, an amphibious assault ship, is based at Naval Base San Diego. The ship is currently deployed to the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility where it is supporting operations in Iraq and Syria, and throughout the region, the Navy said.

    The U.S. Marine Corps said this was Spears' first deployment. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Oct. 14, 2010, out of Memphis, Indiana.

    His personal and service awards include the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, USMC officials said.

    Col. Matthew Trollinger, commanding officer of the 11th MEU, released the following statement Friday on the loss of Spears:

    "Cpl. Spears was a cherished member of our MEU family, and he fulfilled a key role in our aviation combat element. His absence will be felt throughout the unit. My heart goes out to his family, and they will remain in our thoughts and prayers," he said.

    A memorial for Spears will be held onboard the USS Makin Island in the coming days, USMC officials said.



    Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego/USMC
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

    Navy officials said 21-year-old Cpl. Jordan L. Spears, of Memphis, Indiana, was lost at sea on Oct. 1, 2014.Navy officials said 21-year-old Cpl. Jordan L. Spears, of Memphis, Indiana, was lost at sea on Oct. 1, 2014.

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    NASA images released this week show the severity of drought-stricken California's declining water storage over the past decade.

    The images from the space agency's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites (GRACE) show the state's accumulated water loss from June 2002 to June 2008 and June 2014. The progression of colors from green to red indicate declining water storage in a state that faces a fourth-consecutive dry year.

    The GRACE satellite images depict changes in mass related to changes in water amount on or below the Earth's surface. Those changes are represented by different colors in satellite imagery.

    The most severe storage losses -- depicted by the most severe color changes in the images -- between 2002 and 2014 occurred in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins, including the Central Valley, because of increased groundwater pumping to support agricultural production, according to NASA. The images show a large swath of the central part of the state changing from green to orange to a blistering red, representing a severe reduction in mass due to declining water storage.

    The river basins lost a combined 4 trillion gallons of water annually between 2011 and 2014, according to NASA. Californians draw about 38 billion gallons per day from ground and surface-water sources, according to a USGS survey.

    Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in California, where state and local water agencies are urging resident to conserve and even considering plans to budget water use by creating a daily water allocation for each household.

    More than 58 percent of the state is under "exceptional" drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Three months ago, about 36 percent of the state was in the "exceptional" category, the most severe of the agency's drought levels.

    More than 95 percent of California is under severe to exceptional drought.
     



    Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of California, Irvine

    This trio of images depicts satellite observations of declining water storage in California as seen by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites in June 2002 (left), June 2008 (center) and June 2014 (right). Colors progressing from green to orange to red represent greater accumulated water loss between April 2002 and June 2014.This trio of images depicts satellite observations of declining water storage in California as seen by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites in June 2002 (left), June 2008 (center) and June 2014 (right). Colors progressing from green to orange to red represent greater accumulated water loss between April 2002 and June 2014.

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    Police have arrested three young women accused of participating in prostitution at Groton hotels.

    Melissa Crickmore, 26, of Groton; Theresa Edwards, 22, of North Providence, Rhode Island; and Joanna Kiminski, 20, of Jewett City, were arrested Friday and charged with prostitution.

    They were released on $500 bond and are due in court Oct. 17.

    Anyone with information on prostitution activity in Gorton is urged to call police at 860-441-6712.


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    Two teens are facing charges after they were caught on video stealing packages off a New Britain porch, according to police.

    The 16- and 17-year-old suspects, who have not been identified by name, are facing larceny charges.

    Video surveillance shows a young woman wearing a purple T-shirt snatch a parcel from a porch on Roxbury Road, then look around to make sure no one was looking.

    Moments later, the camera catches a young man holding packages he appears to have grabbed from the front door. He drops them on the porch only to pick them back up before running away.

    “I was waiting for a vehicle to be delivered in the driveway, and I noticed a person I didn’t recognize,” said homeowner Hunter Mathena, who spoke exclusively with NBC Connecticut from Germany prior to the arrests Friday.

    “It’s just really frustrating to have individuals who will target people in their neighborhood and steal packages,” he said.

    Mathena said he hoped members of the public would see the surveillance video and recognize the suspects. Just hours after the video was released, police arrested the teens.



    Photo Credit: Hunter Mathena

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    A Windsor middle school guidance counselor has been placed on administrative leave for allegedly producing erotic horror movies, one day after a Granby middle school principal accused of working alongside him was suspended.

    Dr. Mark Foley, the principal of Granby Memorial Middle School, and Aaron Vnuk, a counselor at Sage Park Middle School in Windsor, are both accused of using aliases to make independent horror movies featuring violence and nudity through their company Moongoyle Entertainment.

    Granby Supt. Alan Addley said on Thursday that Foley had been placed on administrative leave while the school system investigates his conduct.

    “The administration and BOE are concerned about the judgment used to be engaged in such activities while serving as an educational leader. Accordingly, we are looking into this matter to obtain all the facts,” Addley said in a statement Thursday.

    Tim Cunningham has been appointed to serve as interim principal. Addley said middle school staff planned to "briefly address the matter with students in a developmentally appropriate matter."

    Windsor Supt. Dr. Craig Cooke posted a statement on the Sage Park Middle School Web site Friday announcing Vnuk's suspension.

    "Yesterday morning we learned of the alleged involvement of one of our Sage Park teachers in a movie production firm. The movies produced by this firm contain, in my opinion, inappropriate content and is certainly not something Windsor Public Schools would condone. We are investigating this matter thoroughly and will continue to do so until we have information needed to make a decision," the statement says.

    Cooke said the school system is conducting an investigation and that, at this point, he has no reason to believe Windsor students were "at risk."

    Local residents are questioning the educators' motives.

    “If he found doing those movies perfectly acceptable, why where they made under a pseudonym?” Granby resident Leonda Markee wondered.

    "I do think there needs to be a discussion of what is appropriate and what isn't," said Markee.

    Neither Foley nor Vnuk have returned responded to requests for comment. Their current involvement with the film company is unclear.



    Photo Credit: Sage Mark Middle School/Granby Memorial Middle School
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    Aaron Vnuk (left), a guidance counselor in Windsor, and Mark Foley (right), the principal of a middle school in Granby, are accused of producing independent Aaron Vnuk (left), a guidance counselor in Windsor, and Mark Foley (right), the principal of a middle school in Granby, are accused of producing independent "slasher" films featuring violence and nudity.

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