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Missing Milford Teen Might Be In Manhattan: Police


Milford police are asking for help from the public to find a 17-year-old girl who ran away from home on Saturday after an argument with her mother.

Police said Samantha Oliveras left home at noon on Saturday and might have taken a train to New York and headed to Manhattan.

Samantha is 5-feet-3, weighs 110 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on where Samantha is should call the Milford Police or Detective William Haas at 203-878-6551 or 203-783-4771 or email whaas@ci.milford.ct.us or submit a tip online. 

Photo Credit: Milford Police

Okla. College President Stands by "Daycare" Statement


An Oklahoma college president stands firm by a statement he made last week that he believes college students expect too much coddling and noted that, "This is Not a Day Care. It's a University."

Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, posted the statement to a school blog. He said he wrote it after becoming frustrated when a student complained about being "offended" by a sermon given at the Christian liberal arts college, NBC News reported. The sermon included a Bible passage about love. 

"It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love," Piper wrote in his post. "I'm not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic."

His post gained national attention following recent student protests against racial discrimination and other issues on campuses across the country.

Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Oklahoma Wesleyan University
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No Injuries in Massive House Fire


A family of five is safe and no firefighters were injured as crews battled a massive fire that consumed a brick home in New Hampshire Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities in Bedford say the fire at 4 Burleigh Terrace started around 12:30 p.m. while the residents were still inside. More than 50 firefighters responded to the scene.

Smoke could be seen for miles, and the flames could been seen from nearby neighborhoods.

Necn spoke with one family member who lives there. He says his parents and two siblings are shaken, but will be okay.

Bedford Fire Chief Scott Wiggins says because the home is in a rural area, the nearest fire hydrant was about a mile away, causing first responders to raise the call to five alarms for tanker trucks.

Flames were raging through the attic and the walls and burst out once firefighters cut into the roof, but Chief Wiggins say while it took some time to get things under control, the weather was certainly working in their favor.

"Weather conditions are very favorable. Two days ago, when the winds were rolling, ash embers would take the woodlands here. A misty day keeps everything on site," he said.

The Red Cross of New Hampshire said it has responded to the scene of the house fire and is supporting first responders with food and drinks. It will also provide the family with shelter.

The family says they had one pet, a hamster, and the little guy got out safely, too.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Man Shot in Head in Hartford


A 36-year-old Windsor man is in critical, but stable condition after he was shot in the head in Hartford late Tuesday morning.    

Police found Quentin Dickens, 36, of Windsor, in the parking lot on the northwest corner of the Capen and Martin street intersection around 11:58 a.m. after the shotspotter went off and police received reports of a gunshot victim.

Crews at the scene performed first aid until medics arrived. Dickens was then transported to Saint Francis Hospital, where he is in critical but stable condition. 

The victim had a handgun on him that police said they recovered.

The shooter was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, according to police.

Police said they found critical evidence when they were canvassing the area.

Hartford firefighters and EMS personnel also responded.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Periods of Rain Through Tomorrow


Periods of rain will continue through tomorrow night, then much improved weather moves in just in time for the weekend.

NBC Connecticut has declared a First Alert Weather Day for the rain.

It will be rainy at times overnight and temperatures will hold steady in the upper 30s and lower 40s.

Batches of rain move through tomorrow, with a steady round likely in the evening. Temperatures will be near 50 degrees inland, but surge into the middle 50s along the shoreline.

The weather improves Thursday, but it will be a slow process. A good amount of clouds will mix with the sunshine, it will be windy and sprinkles and flurries are possible in the first part of the day.

Wind will be the big story on Thursday. Gusts could top 40 mph. Isolated power outages are possible if winds gust as high as expected.

High temperatures will again be near 50 degrees.

Mostly sunny weather returns Friday with high temperatures in the 40s.

By early December standards, this weekend will be unusually warm, dry and sunny.

Under full sunshine, temperatures will rise into the upper 40s and lower 50s on both Saturday and Sunday.

As a bonus, the dry weather sticks around Monday when temperatures once again top 50 degrees.

A storm is possible in the middle part of next week, but even if it hits, it would likely be a cold rain and not snow.

Man Charged With Sexually Assaulting 16-Year-Old Girl


Plainfield police arrested a 56-year-old man on charges of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.

Steven Bonin, 56, of North Stonington, is accused of sexually assaulting the girl at her home in the Moosup village section of Plainfield in July. The victim was known to him.

Police charged Bonin with two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault. He was released on a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Danielson Superior Court on Dec. 14.

Photo Credit: Plainfield Police Department

November 2015 Tied for Sixth Warmest on Record


November went into the record books as the sixth warmest November in recorded history.

Weather records have been kept for 110 years in the Hartford area.

With the strongest El Niño on record in the Pacific Ocean, all indications are for a much above average December.

It's been a year full of temperature extremes.

Since 1905 in the Hartford area, the following monthly records have been set this year:

  • February – coldest month
  • May – warmest May
  • September – third warmest September
  • November – tied for sixth warmest November

Obama Gives Advice to Would-Be Terrorists


If President Barack Obama were to sit down with a young jihadi, he would tell them to use their faith to build things, rather than harm them, NBC News reported.

Obama was asked about his advice for disillusioned youth thinking of joining groups like ISIS in an interview with a French broadcaster Tuesday. He said militants take advantage of young people's isolation and lonelines.

"This gives them something to attach themself to despite that fact that (ISIS is) a cult of death," he said.

In Paris for the United Nations climate change summit, Obama also took time to show his support for France, still reeling from a terrorist attack that left 130 people dead on Nov. 13. But he also joked with broadcaster Canal Plus about the current and former presidents of France and why he wouldn't move to Paris.

Photo Credit: File -- AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Bank Hides Free Cash for People to Pay It Forward


A Danbury bank is hoping to get residents in the holiday spirit by giving away free envelopes filled with cash to literally pay it forward.

Savings Bank of Danbury employees have hidden at least 50 envelopes, each containing $50 in cash, around the city, so you can't just stop in the bank to get them. You're going to have to search everywhere from stores to the streets. And bank officials are hoping people who find them give them to someone in need.

It’s all part of the bank’s Spirit of Giving campaign. If you find one of the envelopes, each comes with instruction on what to do with it.

"It’s up to the person to decide where they’d like to pay that forward," Kathleen Romagnano, CEO of Savings Bank of Danbury, said. "They can keep some of it, they can give all of it away, I’m hoping some will take some extra funds out of their pocket and give some additional out."

NBC Connecticut spoke with one of the people hiding the money and he wouldn't tell us where he was going to put it. But if you're looking for a hint, the bank will post one on their Facebook page every day.

"I think this is good because not all the time you have to receive," Yinet Peralta, of Danbury, said. "You have to sometimes give too."

If you do find the envelope and share your story by Dec. 31 on the bank's Facebook page, you’ll be entered into a drawing to have $250 dollars donated to the charity of your choice.

The bank began hiding the envelopes on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Body Found After Willimantic Fire


A man is dead after fire destroyed his home on Manners Avenue in Willimantic on Monday morning and officials said they only found his body after the fire was out because a roof collapse prevented them from going inside right away.

Firefighters responded to 144 Manners Avenue in Willimantic at 5:15 a.m., expecting a porch fire, but what they encountered was much worse. Nearly 40-foot-tall flames shot from the three-bedroom ranch-style house. Within around five minutes of firefighters arriving, the roof collapsed. 

"When the call came in, it came in as a porch fire in the back of the house. When they got to the scene, it was a fully involved structure (fire) and they started their attack, but within five minutes of them being there, that's when the roof caved in," Fire marshal Michael Licata said.

So, crews stayed out of the burning building.

"If they get to the scene and they have a collapse like that, it's up to the captain," Licata said. "It's his decision to make whether it's safe for his men to go in or not to go in."

If the roof collapses, the walls can go to and firefighters could have been killed, officials said.

For more than an hour, crews battled the fire from outside and kept it from spreading to nearby homes.

On Monday, officials said one resident was unaccounted for and they found the man's body after the flames were out. 

On Tuesday, a yellow rose had been placed at a truck parked outside the home.

"I mean that's kind of - I don't know, it's just a terrible thing to happen," Danielle Robillard, of Willimantic, said. "Nobody could have known either way though."

The state medical examiner will conduct and autopsy to indicate whether he died in the fire or of something else before it. Authorities will need to notify the man's family before they publicly identify him.

The Windham fire marshal and state fire marshal’s office are investigating the death and the cause of fire. They're waiting for more test results to come in.

Photo Credit: Willimantic Fire

Fire Prompts Evacuation of New Haven Building


A New Haven building is being evacuated as crews respond to a fire.

New Haven firefighters reported on Twitter at about 6:45 p.m. that there were visible flames coming from the third floor of 129 Church Street.

No further information was immediately available.

Woman Struck By 2 Cars in Guilford


A 36-year-old woman was struck by two vehicles on Tuesday evening in Guilford.

Police responded to the area of 32 Church Street at about 5:08 p.m.

Witnesses described the second car that hit her as a light-colored, possibly tan or gold, SUV and set it kept going in the southbound direction on Church Street, leaving the area, police said. The front end or passenger side of the vehicle might be damaged.

The woman was transported to the hospital.

The crash remains under investigation.

Police ask anyone with information to call Guilford police at 203-453-8061.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Video: Chokehold at Cowboys Game


Investigators are looking into claims that an opposing football team’s fan at the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day football game was manhandled by security guards in an incident that was caught on camera, Arlington Police said Tuesday.

Warning: Video contains profanity.

Two cell phone videos posted on YouTube show what appears to be a stadium security guard placing Carolina Panthers fan John Small in a chokehold while trying to remove him from a seating area.

The video also shows several fans around the incident trying to pull the guard off of Small.

It appears Small eventually frees himself from the guard. He is then escorted from the area by two guards. Small's mother confirmed his identity to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

At this time, it is not clear why the incident occurred, although Small posted the following explanation to his Facebook page:

A spokesperson for the Cowboys declined to comment.

Police are in the process of completing their report. Further details have not been released.

Photo Credit: David Ward via YouTube
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Man Arrested After Fight in Home Depot Parking Lot


A Waterbury man is facing risk of injury to a minor and assault charges after a scuffle in the Home Depot parking lot on Saturday afternoon, police said.

Eduardo DeJesus, 26, of Waterbury, punched someone in the head during an argument in the parking lot at the 89 Interstate Park Drive Home Depot in Southington and continued to attack the individual, police said.

At moments in the fight, the victim was holding a child, police said. The victim sustained minor injuries, but the child was unharmed.

Police responded to the incident, which was reported as a domestic dispute, at 2:18 p.m. on Saturday.

Police charged DeJesus with risk of injury to a minor, third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace.

DeJesus was released after posting a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 30.

Photo Credit: Southington Police Department

Ex-Zoning Official Pleads Guilty to Pocketing Payments From Residents


A former East Haven zoning enforcement officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to seeking and receiving illegal payments while working for the town, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Frank Biancur Jr. , 41, of West Haven, admitted to seeking out and accepting payments from at least five people "in exchanged for official acts he rendered" as zoning enforcement officer for East Haven, U.S. States Attorney Deirdre M. Daly said.

Last May, an East Haven resident contacted police and the FBI to report that Biancur had been extorting him or her since October of 2012, so the person claimed paying Biancur in cash, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Biancur called the victim on May 19 to say that he had to inspect his or her home, Daly said. But while Biancur told the victim he was fighting for the individual, he demanded $200 or he would force the victim to tear down an addition to his or her home, according to Daly.

Then, two days later, the victim gave Biancur $200 at a meeting in his office at East Haven Town Hall that was recorded, Daly said.

Biancur also admitted to investigators that he asked for and received $500 cash payments from two other East Haven residents in exchange for resolving zoning violations, according to Daly.

Biancur also pleaded guilty to one count of theft of honest services mail fraud, which means he could face as many as 20 years in prison.

He was released after posting a $20,000 bond following his arrest on May 27.

His sentencing hasn't been scheduled.

Biancur used to work for the cities of West Haven and Bridgeport.

The Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force and East Haven police continue to investigate the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher W. Schmeisser is investigating.

The task force is made up of officials from the FBI, Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Citizens are encouraged to report any suspected corruption to the task force at 203-238-0505.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Baby Found at Waterford Daycare Center With Burn Marks


Waterford police are investigating an accident at Ballestrini's Childcare Center that left an 11-month-old baby with burn marks.

The infant was found at the childcare center on 90  Rope Ferry Road in Waterford with burns from hot water to the arm, police said. The call came in at about 1:01 p.m.

An ambulance transported the baby to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London for treatment and was still there as of 5:32 p.m. to be evaluated, police said.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Suspect Sought in Shooting Caught on Camera


Waterbury police have released surveillance footage of a shooting that happened on Friday afternoon and they are asking for the public's help to identify the suspected shooter.

The shots were fired near 352 Walnut Street at around 3:08 p.m. on Nov. 27 and surveillance video shows a group of about seven people standing outside a building in the area and a car parked alongside the road with at least one person in the front passenger seat.

In the video, the suspect, who police identify as the male shown in a black hoodie and black Adidas pants, initially has his back to the camera and is talking to a couple people. One of them goes inside the building and then the person who appears to be the one who was talking to the suspect comes outside.

As he walks through the group of people parted outside, the hooded suspect walks toward him, calmly with his hands in his pockets, and then all of a sudden pulls out a gun and fires two successive shots at him, as shown in the video. The suspect backs up, starts to turn and then turns back to fire one more shot before walking away with at least two others, going out of the view of the camera, the video shows.

Another vantage point shows the victim put his hands up in front of him after a shot is fired in an apparent effort to shield himself and runs a few strides before limping away.

Moments later, officials from Saint Mary's Hospital in Waterbury reported that a man came in seeking treatment for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the left leg.

Police noted in the video that witnesses are seen kicking shell casings into the nearest sewer. Then at least two people get into the car that has at least one person waiting inside before other people come into the camera view, walking down the sidewalk.

Waterbury police ask that anyone with information contact them at 203-574-6941 or Crimestoppers at 203-755-1234.

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police Department
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Freddie Gray Officer Trial Underway


Prosecutors laid out their case against Baltimore Police Officer William Porter Wednesday morning, saying in opening statements that Porter could have called for medical help for Freddie Gray with the push of a button but "criminally neglected his duty to keep Mr. Gray safe."

The defense stated its case Wednesday afternoon and told the majority-black, majority-female jury that Porter was a good, but inexperienced, officer who had dealt with arrestees who faked injuries to avoid going to jail.

Chief Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow said Porter, 26, failed to call for a medic for Gray though the 25-year-old repeatedly asked for medical help.

"The defendant could have helped him but did not help him," Schatzow said as members of Gray's family and State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby looked on.

Prosecutors said videos show Gray was able to walk and speak before he was placed in the van. One video shows him lying on his stomach and lifting his head 4 to 5 inches off the ground, indicating his spine then was intact, Schatzow said.

"When Mr. Gray went into the van, there was nothing wrong with his spine," he said.

Gray was handcuffed and put into ankle shackles, and was not secured in a seat belt, though there were five seat belts in the compartment of the van where he was placed, the prosecutor said. His spinal cord was severed during the ride as the driver made a total of six stops, Schatzow said.

"Help me get up. I can't get up," Gray reportedly said during one of the stops the van driver made during the 45-minute ride.

Porter, who graduated from the police academy in January 2013, took a course in how to respond to medical emergencies, Schatzow said. He was taught to place seat belts on all arrestees and call for medical help whenever it is requested.

The officer had received new guidance from Baltimore Police April 9 that went into effect April 12 saying all arrestees needed to be belted, without exception. Also, if the arrestee asks for medical help, officers must get them help.

There was no reason to put him in without a seat belt "unless he simply didn't care," Schatzow said.

Gray arrived at a police station unresponsive, was taken to a hospital and died a week later.

Gray suffered a severe spinal cord injury while being transported in a police van April 12, authorities said. His injury sparked protests about police brutality that escalated to riots and arson after his death April 19.

Porter is charged with assault, manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. He pleaded not guilty to charges that carry maximum prison terms totaling about 25 years.

Defense attorney Gary Proctor said Porter became a police officer to be of service to his city. He wanted to join the military but was rejected because he is colorblind.

“He didn’t become a police officer to swing a big stick; he became an officer to help people," Proctor said, noting that Porter will testify in his own defense.

Proctor said Porter did offer assistance to Gray multiple times and helped him get to his feet while handcuffed.

"That's the kind of cop he is," the defense attorney said several times.

Despite the police department's policy, Porter was not aware that arrestees needed to be secured with seat belts, Proctor said. Records showed that he did receive a BPD email with information on new rules, but it had been buried within 1,466 pages of emails he only had access to at the Western District headquarters, using a slow computer.

Inside the police van, Gray was "going crazy" rocking the van, Proctor said. "All 132 pounds of him."

When Gray said he needed help and said "I can't breathe," Porter believed he was faking.

“He thought, ‘He’s feigning injury to get out of going to jail today,'" Proctor said. “There was no outward sign of injury.”

Later in the trial, evidence will be presented from closed circuit cameras, police radio calls, witness testimony, expert testimony and cellphone videos shot by citizens, Schatzow told the jury, which was seated Wednesday morning.

One hundred fifty potential jurors were questioned for two days by Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams.

Eight members of the jury are women; four are men. The jury includes five black women, three white women, three black men and one white man. Four alternates were selected: three men who appeared white and one man who appeared black.

The judge brought in a pool of 47 potential jurors Wednesday morning. Prosecutors and Porter's lawyers then removed multiple potential jurors through "peremptory strikes" that both sides were allowed.

The first witness called by prosecutors was Officer Alice Carson-Johnson, a BPD veteran with 18 years on the force and 22 years military experience. She taught Porter in a 24-hour course on medical emergencies taught over the course of three days during the police academy training. Carson-Johnson said she taught Porter to call for medical help whenever someone asks for it.

"If someone requests a medic, you call for a medic," she said.

Defense attorney Joseph Murtha countered that the medical training had been brief and part of training on dozens of other topics. Also, he asked Carson-Johnson if rocking a transport van could have explained why Gray then was out of breath.

"It would be a consideration," she replied.

Porter's defense lawyer asked jurors to defend their city by finding the officer not guilty.

"Let’s show Baltimore the whole damn system is not guilty as hell," he said. “Mr. Gray’s death is a tragedy. So is charging someone who did not precipitate it."

Photo Credit: Art Lien
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Man Charged in Deaths of Mom, Baby


A South Jersey woman's former lover confessed to killing her and her infant daughter inside her apartment then using her sport utility vehicle to dump their bodies, investigators said Wednesday.

Police in Vineland, New Jersey, announced two homicide charges against Ricardo Santiago, 34, of Millville. Police said Santiago is the father of Neidy Ramirez's 5-year-old child.

Vineland police Lt. Matt Finley said the bodies of 34-year-old Ramirez and her 3-month-old daughter Genesis were found in western Cumberland County, New Jersey. A source and criminal complaint said the bodies were discovered in a swampy area near the Cohansey River Watershed Boat Ramp in Fairfield Township. Their bodies were placed in the area at some point between Friday and Saturday, according to the source.

Ramirez's grieving family called her a "loving mother who adored her kids."

"They were her life and would do anything for them," said the family statement. "She was someone who you could talk to for anything -- and count on. She always liked to laugh and make jokes with family and friends. She will always be loved and be in our heart's."

Ramirez and Genesis had been missing since Black Friday, when family members last saw them in Vineland, police said. Their final hours spent at a local laundromat, said police.

A day later, New Jersey State Police found Ramirez’s 2005 Chevy Trailblazer along Route 55 after a family friend spotted it near milepost 45.3, said investigators. Santiago used that same SUV to dump the bodies, according to a criminal complaint.

Investigators said Ramirez was reported missing after she failed to show up for work Monday.

Santiago was held on $1 million bail. Police said he was taken into custody and questioned Tuesday -- eventually coming clean and leading police to the bodies.

He was charged Tuesday night. Information on an attorney for Santiago was not immediately available.

Finley said Ramirez and Santiago were co-parents, but did not live together. The two were involved in a dispute, Finley said, but he did not elaborate on details.

Santiago had previously been arrested for making teroristic threats earlier this year.

Finley said the biological father of Genesis has been notified of the girl's death.

A vigil was held Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on the 200 block of W. Chestnut Avenue in Vineland. Conte's Pasta, where Ramirez worked, is collecting donations for the family. They are also working on setting up a fund.

Photo Credit: Vineland Police / Family Photos
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Paris Attack Venue Bataclan to Reopen in 2016


The Bataclan concert hall's owners plan to reopen in 2016, according to local media, NBC News reported. 

The Paris venue, where California band Eagles of Death Metal was playing at the time of the attack, will be internally rebuilt, managers told Le Figaro newspaper. Gunmen killed 89 people at the concert hall on the night of the Nov. 13 attacks. In all 130 people were killed, the majority at the Bataclan. 

"The Bataclan should not be a mausoleum or a place of pilgrimage ... it's necessary to see the doors open again," one of the owners, Jules Frutos, said.

Photo Credit: AP
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