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Cemetery Vandalism Suspect: "We Were Both a Little Drunk"


A 24-year-old man accused of vandalizing nearly 50 tombstones at a historic Westbrook cemetery and causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage while he was drunk faced a judge on Wednesday.

State police arrested Kyle Blye, of Westbrook, on Tuesday and said he confessed to knocking over headstones in the Old Burying Ground Cemetery, on Old Clinton Road in the center of town, on the Friday night before Halloween, known around the region and beyond as Mischief Night.

Blye told police he was drunk and sorry for what he'd done, according to the arrest warrant application.

In all, 46 headstones were damaged and the estimated cost to fix them ranges from $500 to $1,000 per headstone, according to police, or a grand total of between $23,000 and $46,000.

The vandalism was at the oldest cemetery in Westbrook, with monuments erected as far back as the 1730s, according to Catherine Neidlinger Doane, who posted photos of the vandalism on the Westbrook Historical Society's Facebook page. Some of the headstones were broken at the base, while others were broken in half.

Police said they received an anonymous tip on Monday morning, identifying Blye and a 17-year-old boy as the suspects.

When police found Blye, he said he knew the teen would tell police what happened. He went on to say he was on probation and did not want to go to jail for what he and the teen did in the cemetery. according to the arrest warrant application.

"We were both a little drunk when we did it and we didn't mean to upset anybody or cause any problems and we are sorry we did it," Blye said in a written statement, according to police.   

When police spoke with the teen, he said Blye bought beer and they were both drinking

Blye was charged with first-degree criminal mischief, conspiracy to commit first-degree criminal mischief,  interfering with a cemetery or burial grounds and delivery of alcohol to a minor.

Bond was originally set at $7,500 and the judge kept the bond the same.

Blye is due back in court on Nov. 9.

A 17-year-old juvenile was also arrested in connection with the vandalism.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Berlin Athletic Department Under Investigation for Players’ Residencies


The association that oversees high school sports, is investigating the athletic department at Berlin High School after allegations surfaced that some students were being moved from another town so they would be eligible to play football in Berlin.

Sources told NBC Connecticut that some of the players moved from the New Britain school system to Berlin.

According to Berlin Supt. David Erwin, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, or CIAC, is reviewing the residencies of the whole football team, which has a 6 and 1 record.

“We’re just wanting to make sure that all the students that are playing on our Berlin High School football team are indeed legitimate students living here in Berlin,” Erwin said.

The allegations are against head football coach, John Capodice, who’s coached at the school for around 18 years. Erwin said Capodice has not been suspended, and games and practices are continuing as planned.

“We’ve had some allegations made here from other people. Once we got those allegations made, they were in contact with CIAC, as well as we were in contact with CIAC because we want to do the right thing by our athletes and our students,” Erwin said.

Students are not eligible to play if they have poor grades, have been suspended or don’t reside in the same area where they play sports.

New Britain Supt. Kelt Cooper released a statement about the allegations.

“The New Britain School District is aware of the current investigation being done by the CIAC. We are cooperating with Berlin and CIAC officials,” the statement from Cooper said.

Officials from CIAC said the situation is under investigation and they have no further comment.

Employee Stole Thousands from South Windsor Store: Police


South Windsor police have arrested a Hartford man who is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the Lowe's in South Windsor he worked for.

Derrick Stewart, 42, of Hartford, is accused of stealing more than $7,000 from the Buckland Road store between August and September by entering fake merchandise returns and taking cash from the register, police said.

He admitted the scheme when he was confronted, according to police, who obtained an arrest warrant charging him with third-degree larceny.

Police arrested Stewart on Tuesday and he was released on a $50,000 bond. He is due in Manchester Superior Court on Nov. 12.

Photo Credit: South Windsor Police

Bridgeport Shooting Victim in Critical Condition


A man who was shot in the back in Bridgeport on Tuesday night is in critical condition.

Police responded to Maplewood Avenue, near the corner of Willowbrook Drive, at 8:10 p.m. after receiving reports of gunshots and found a 22-year-old man with one gunshot wound in his back.

An ambulance brought him to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he is in critical condition.

Detectives are investigating and ask anyone with information to call the Bridgeport Police Department at (203) 581-5201.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Low Clouds, Fog and Mist Roll in Tonight


Low clouds, fog and mist roll in tonight. Temperatures will bottom out in the middle and upper 40s.

Tomorrow starts with low clouds and fog, but a good amount of the cloud cover will burn off. Expect some breaks of sun in the afternoon. Temperatures will surge to near 70 degrees.

Scattered showers will move in tomorrow night and last into Friday morning. Not much rain, but it will be damp.

Most of the daylight hours on Friday are dry, but another round of showers arrives late in the day as a cold front moves through. It will be breezy with highs near 70 degrees.

The weekend looks dry and seasonable.

A blend of clouds and sunshine on Saturday will permit temperatures near 60 degrees. So, it will be cooler, but that's closer to seasonable levels.

Sunday's the coldest day in the next seven. Temperatures will only top out in the lower and middle 50s, though it will be completely sunny.

The start to the next work week remains dry, with sunshine on Monday and more clouds than sunshine on Tuesday. Rain is possible on Tuesday.

Car Hits Woman in Putnam Parking Lot


A 40-year-old woman was hit by a car in a Putnam parking lot on Tuesday night, but the child with her was not hurt, according to police.

Police responded to the Riverfront Commons Shopping Center on Kennedy Drive in Putnam at 5:33 p.m. on Tuesday after the car hit the woman, according to police, and learned that a 2003 Lexus RX300 has struck Victoria Cleveland, 40, of North Grosvenordale, after she stepped off the sidewalk and was walking toward her car, police said.

Putnam EMS responded and brought Cleveland to Day Kimball Hospital.

Police are investigating and ask anyone who witnesses the crash to call Sgt. Sezenias, of the Putnam, at 860-928-6565.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Ill. Officer's Death Ruled Suicide


The death of veteran Fox Lake, Illinois, police officer Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz was a "carefully staged suicide," investigators said Wednesday.

"We have determined this staged suicide was the end result of extensive criminal acts Gliniewicz had been committing and the fact he was under increasing levels of personal stress from scrutiny of his management of the Fox Lake Police Explorer program," said Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko.

Filenko claimed Gliniewicz had been stealing and laundering money from the Fox Lake Police Explorer Post, a program that instructs youth between the ages of 14 and 21 on law enforcement material, over the past seven years. He said Gliniewicz used thousands of dollars for personal purchases, mortgages, travel expenses, gym memberships, adult websites and to facilitate personal loans. He also said Gliniewicz forged signatures in official documents. 

Gliniewicz also made incriminating statements in text messages that were deleted prior to his suicide, Filenko said, adding that Gliniewicz appeared stressed about being discovered and felt "as if everything has come to a close, so to speak, surrounding him."

Among the messages are statements from Gliniewicz claiming he used money from the Explorer account to pay for a $624.70 flight. Another one claims that if the Fox Lake village administrator "gets ahold of the checking account I'm pretty well [expletive]."

"There are no winners here," Filenko said. "Gliniewicz committed the ultimate betrayal to the citizens he served and the entire law enforcement community."

The investigation also "strongly indicates criminal activity" from at least two other people, Filenko said, but he declined to comment further as an investigation into that claim is ongoing.

The announcement comes more than two months after the officer's death, which prompted a massive manhunt in northern Illinois and left a community stunned. 

"While some wanted the results fast, we wanted them right," said Detective Christopher Covelli with the Lake County Sheriff's office. "We were obligated to prove our conclusions before we reported to you and the public we serve."

Covelli said more than 430 leads were examined in the investigation along with 250 pieces of evidence, 6,500 pages of text messages from Gliniewicz's phone and 40,000 emails.

Officials said pepper spray, a baton and Gliniewicz's personal glasses were strategically placed around the scene as "an attempt to lead investigators to believe this was a homicide scene." They added that Gliniewicz had "significant experience" staging mock crime scenes for police explorer training.

"This was laid out to seem as if there was an ongoing type of struggle through the scene," he said.

In addition, the first of two gunshots was "strategically aimed" so that it hit his cell phone and bulletproof vest. 

The conclusion is a shocking end to months-long mystery surrounding the veteran officer's death. 

"The embarrassment comes to me personally that this is the first time, in my career, that I’ve felt ashamed by the acts of another police officer," Filenko said.

Gliniewicz, a married father of four, was last heard from the morning of Sept. 1 when he called for backup while on duty, reporting on his radio he was pursuing three suspicious men in a remote area of the village just south of the Wisconsin state line.

Just 17 minutes later, the responding backup officers found him dead, fatally shot twice with his own gun. One of the shots entered the right side of the front of the officer's vest. Another was fired in the upper chest region.

His death rocked the country and sparked a furious search for the suspects — who Gliniewicz had described as two white men and one black man — involving more than 400 officers, helicopters and canines. The investigation has reportedly cost more than $300,000, but police never made any arrests, identified any suspects or established a motive.

"We completely believed from day one that this was a homicide," Filenko said, adding that the criminal activity was discovered later in the investigation.

In the last update from police, a little more than one month ago, investigators revealed that Gliniewicz was shot twice with his own weapon and there was "evidence of a struggle" at the crime scene.

In the Wednesday announcement, officials revealed that there were no signs Gliniewicz had been dragged after being shot and there were no physical signs that he fought for his life. They added that his weapon hadn't been found at the scene until nearly two hours after his death. 

"We explored every possibility of what could have happened out there," Filenko said.

The 52-year-old officer was on the cusp of retirement before his death. He left behind a wife of 30 years, Melodie, and four sons. Throughout the drawn-out investigation, the lieutenant's family firmly stood against swirling rumors that Gliniewicz may have taken his own life.

SUICIDE PREVENTION: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I-84 East Lanes Reopen in Southbury Closed After Crash


A 22-year-old driver died after hitting a tractor-trailor in a crash on Interstate 84 East in Southbury Wednesday, according to police.

Austin C. Fiddner, 22, hit the back of a tractor trailor on Wednesday while driving in the center lane west of exit 15. He was driving a 2010 Nissan Altima 2.

Fiddner suffered fatal injuries and the driver of the other vehicle wasn't harmed.

The crash happened between exits 15 and 16 and traffic was backed up to the Rochambeau Bridge at exit 13. All lanes have since reopened.

An accident reconstruction team was called to the crash.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

New Canadian Prime Minister Appoints Gender-Equal Cabinet


Incoming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined an elite global club Wednesday by appointing women to 50 percent of his Cabinet positions, NBC News reported.

The self-proclaimed feminist made good his campaign promise that his governmental inner circle would be gender-equal. After initially trailing in the polls, the 43-year-old defeated incumbent Conservative Stephen Harper last month. His government was sworn-in Wednesday.

The appointment of a gender-equal Cabinet would mean Canada enjoying double the female representation of the United States; women make up just 25 percent of Washington's Cabinet of 16.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sanders Holds Climate Change Rally


Democratic presidential hopeful, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley are calling for a halt on future leases of public land to extract fossil fuels, including gas, oil, and coal, and suspend current leases that aren't producing, Mekley's office announced in a press release Wednesday.

The two will unveil legislation Wednesday at a rally in Washington, D.C., designed to radically reduce the production of fossil fuels, which they say is necessary to prevent dangerous levels of global warming.

The bill, called the “Keep it in the Ground Act,” would also ban offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Woman Escapes Serious Injury After Wood Smashes Through Windshield


Police are issuing a reminder to motorists after a woman escaped serious injury when a wood post smashed through her windshield Wednesday morning.

The 67-year-old Holyoke woman was traveling north on Interstate 91 in Springfield when the 4x4 came right at her.

Authorities say the post is believed to have fallen off of another vehicle. It was then run over by a tractor-trailer, sending it through the air and into the Subaru's windshield.

All motorists are being reminded to ensure that loads are properly secured at all times.

Photo Credit: Massachusetts State Police

DOD Paid Pro Sports Teams for Military Tributes


The Department of Defense doled out $10 million of taxpayer money to clubs in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS over the last three years as part of a multimillion-dollar program to promote the armed services and boost recruitment through patriotic events, game tickets, player appearances and other perks, according to a Senate report release Wednesday, NBC News reported.

"Americans deserve the ability to assume that tributes for our men and women in military uniform are genuine displays of national pride, which many are, rather than taxpayer-funded DOD marketing gimmicks," Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, the report's co-authors, wrote.

The report summarizes the conclusions of an investigation McCain and Flake began last spring, after they discovered that advertising contracts revealed weekly "hometown hero" tributes hosted by the New York Jets and New England Patriots were paid for by taxpayer money.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

I-395 South Reopens After Crash in Norwich


Interstate 395 South was closed in Norwich after a three-car crash on Wednesday.

The crash was at the former exit 80, which is now exit 11, state police said., near where the highway crosses Route 82.

There was no word on injuries.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

UK 'Concerned' Russian Metrojet Downed by Bomb


The British government said Wednesday it was "concerned" that a bomb may have brought down the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula over the weekend, NBC News reported.

Prime Minister David Cameron's office said flights due to leave for the U.K. from the Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh airport — where the doomed flight originated — have been delayed so British aviation experts can travel there to assess security arrangements. 

"While the investigation is still ongoing we cannot say categorically why the Russian jet crashed," Cameron's office said in a statement. "But as more information has come to light we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device."

Photo Credit: AP

Small Fire at Millstone Power Station Prompted Alert


Millstone Power Station in Waterford issued an alert for around three hours on Wednesday after a small fire broke out during some routine maintenance on a diesel generator.

Fire broke out around 11 am. at the Unit 3 diesel generator while crews were testing it after a maintenance outage and quickly burned out within around 10 minutes, according to the company.

Millstone issued the alert at 11:33 a.m., which they said is normal procedure, and lifted it as of 2:46 p.m. No one was injured and employees continued to work through the day, according to the company. 

Millstone officials said the station is assessing the damage, investigating the cause of the fire and notified federal, state and local officials. 

Millstone Unit 3 is operating at full power, while Millstone Unit 1 is decommissioned and Unit 2 is offline for a routine refueling outage.

The company said backup diesel generators are used to provide power to the station when  power is lost and there was no danger and no radioactive materials were released.

Hartford Fire Department Gets New Safety Devices for Firefighters


The Hartford Fire Department is unveiling a new self-contained breathing apparatus for firefighters across the city.

The new packs have tracking devices on them, allowing the department to know where each firefighter is within a burning building. It also can record up to 2,000 events.

The tanks are also bigger and are rated to provide 45 minutes of air, instead of 30 minutes.

"We are very excited about it. It is a big step for us and we think it is going to make a big difference out in the field," said Chief Scott Brady, Hartford Fire Department.

The department ordered 150 packs and 400 bottles, totaling $1.6 million in new equipment.

Much of that money came from a Federal Assistance to Fire Fighters Grant, as well as some assistance from Hartford’s General Fund and a Community Development Block Grant.

"Very excited. Systems that we are training on, big time upgrades, we got the heads up display now so it gives you a first warning," James Loura, a Hartford firefighter, said.

Chief Brady said the department began the process to get this new technology in 2013 and they secured the federal grant just before firefighter Kevin Bell died in 2014.

Bell got trapped in a fire on Oct. 7, 2014 and died of asphyxiation.

A federal investigation found that Bell was running low on oxygen. After the fire, the low-air alarm on his breathing tank failed a test, but Hartford officials said the alarm activated during the fire.

The state labor department handed the city of Hartford citations.

Those violations included a lack of medical evaluations of firefighters on the line, failure to ensure firefighters wore helmets properly with chin straps, failure to "fit test" members for their breathing apparatus, failure to properly test air bottles that enable firefighters to breathe at a fire scene and failure to require all firefighters to wear protective fire-resistant hoods.

Chief Brady said he does not believe the packs would have made a difference in Bell’s death, but thinks they can make a difference going forward.

Photo Credit: Hartford Fire Department

Local Police Partner with Feds to Fight Human Trafficking


U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly announced the formation of a federal, state and local law enforcement task force to fight human trafficking in Connecticut on Wednesday.

“This cruel victimization of defenseless young girls and sometimes boys is a form of modern day slavery,” Daly said.

Fourteen local police departments from across the state are partnering with FBI and Homeland Security agents to track down traffickers and rescue victims.

“Any of us would have our head in the sand if we don’t believe that it could be happening in our local communities,” Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra said.

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted 25-year-old Jordan Anate, of New York, for the sex trafficking of a minor for four months in Connecticut and elsewhere.

Daly said the U.S. Attorney’s office has prosecuted 20 sex trafficking cases over the past decade. Some of the sentences landed convicted traffickers behind bars for more than 20 years.

“Our collaborative approach balances society’s need to ensure that justice is done for these despicable crimes,” Daly said, “while at the same time that the needs of these victims are addressed.”

Social service agencies like Department of Children and Families often report suspected trafficking and help rehabilitate victims. As this problem grows with more children being bought and sold on the Internet, Daly said law enforcement needs the public’s help.

“Be vigilant, speak up,” she said.

In October, an FBI led nationwide operation focused on underage victims of prostitution resulted in the arrests of 150 pimps and the recovery of 149 sexually exploited children.

“We all owe it especially to our children,” said Chief Wydra of his department joining the Connecticut Human Trafficking Task Force, “we owe it to them, those who are most vulnerable.”

Anyone who comes in contact with potential trafficking victims is encouraged to call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 888-373-7888. Emails can also be sent to NHTRC@traffickingresourcecenter.org.

Trafficking victims can text “BEFREE” to receive immediate assistance from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Conn. Resident First to File for N.H. Primary


Democrat Martin O'Malley was expected to be the first presidential candidate to file to run in the New Hampshire Primary on Wednesday.

Then Mark Stewart showed up.

Stewart, whose full name is actually Mark Stewart Greenstein, lives in West Hartford, Connecticut. He said he plans to run in New Hampshire because "You're first, you're most important, and I live nearby" and South Carolina.

He's a former lawyer who has also operated a test preparation and an education consulting firm.

After signing paperwork at the New Hampshire Statehouse on Wednsday, Stewart billed himself as a liberty-leaning Democrat. He called himself an "IED - an increasingly embarrassed Democrat" - and said he wants to reduce the power of union leaders, reduce the income tax, and reduce illegal immigration.

"The Democrat party needs an injection of liberty to its current leadership," Stewart said in an email. "I will be in as many primaries as possible to tout the message that freedom brings prosperity and happiness and dignity."

Wednesday was the first day that candidates could file for the New Hampshire Primary. The filing period runs through Nov. 20.

In addition to the high profile candidates, the primary traditionally attracts lesser known names as well. The most candidates who have ever run is 61, back in 1992.

Photo Credit: Marc Fortier

National Crack-Down on Abusive and Sketchy Debt Collectors


Have you ever gotten a frightening phone call from a debt collector that left you feeling so intimidated, you wanted to pay up immediately, whether you owe the money or not?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a collection of states, including Connecticut, announced a big crackdown Wednesday on abusive collection tactics.

The FTC wants to put stop to calls like this.

“I have been retained to serve you with documents to appear in court.” That was part of a fake debt collection call NBC Connecticut obtained back in February.

The FTC says sketchy debt collectors use illegal tactics such as harassing phone calls that threaten legal action, arrest, and wage garnishment to strong-arm people into paying money. Sometimes the debts are real, but sometimes they’re made up.

Brandi Hughes was almost a victim of a company that tried to collect $600 on a debt she didn’t owe.

“It was almost like a scare tactic that they use to scare you into giving them the money,” said Hughes. “I definitely felt the initial panic.”

The FTC and other agencies are taking aggressive steps to prevent this.

“Being in debt is stressful enough for many Americans without also being subjected to intimidation and false threats,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said. “Debtors have certain rights and rogue collectors that step outside the law will face the consequences of illegal behavior.”

According to the FTC, this year alone they filed 11 cases against more than 50 defendants secured more than $88 million dollars in judgments and banned 24 defendants from working in debt collection.

You should always research a debt before you fork over your hard earned cash to make sure it is legitimate. You can file a complaint with the Connecticut Department of Banking if you don’t think you really owe the money. Or, if you do owe, but you think the collection practices are abusive.

Louisiana Cops Kill 6-Year-Old After Car Chase


Louisiana police fatally shot a 6-year-old after a car chase with the boy's father, authorities said.

The boy's father, who was driving the car, was listed in critical condition, police said.

The state police did not explain the reason for the chase of the circumstances that caused the officers to shoot.

Officials told NBC affiliate WDSU that the boy's death was accidental.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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