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Christmastime Babies in Connecticut


When Christmas arrived, some families got an extra surprise present. Christmas babies! Here are photos some Connecticut families shared with us of babies born on and close to Christmas Day.

Photo Credit: Frank Turner

Priest Defrocked For Connection to Grave Robbery


The Telegram and Gazette reports that the Hartford man charged in connection with the theft of skeletal remains from a Worcester cemetery is no longer a priest.

Investigators say that Amador Medina, 32, of Hartford, Connecticut, stole the remains of three adults and two young children from Hope Cemetery in Worcester for use in a medicinal religious ritual.

Medina practices Santeria, an Afro-Cuban religion developed from the beliefs and customs of the Yoruba people and incorporating some elements of the Catholic religion. At the time of his arrest Medina was a priest, also known as a Santero, of Santeria. However, a group connected to that religion has revoked his status as a member.

The Cultural Association of African Religions Babalú Aye says that "his membership has been cancelled for violating several points of the terms and conditions agreement that he signed to conserve his affiliation," They say also that followers of Santeria do not recognize the use of human bones in their religious practice.

The directors of this association claim that they have no ties to Medina, though they aknowledge that he "achieved initiation" and that the group, until now, recognized him as a priest.

They write that "Mr. Medina ... does not deserve to be respected as (a religious figure)" and that he has disgraced the institution of Babalú Aye. religious figure)" and that he has disgraced the institution of Babalú Aye.

Medina was held on $1,000 bail and is set to appear in court next month.

Family Seeks Dog Who Ran Away at Rocky Neck


The Feltman family is seeking the public's help in helping them find their rescue dog, who ran away while they were at Rocky Neck State Park and East Lyme on Christmas.

Their dog, Jax gets nervous around strangers and escaped his harness while the family was at the state park on Christmas and he ran off. The Feltmans said they searched for hours on Christmas and couldn't find him.

The dog has a collar on with his name and a phone number to reach the family.

You can reach the Feltmans at feltman.idelle@gmail.com or 860-987-8337 if you have information on their lost dog.

Photo Credit: Idelle Feltman

Four Fatal Crashes, 19 DUI Arrests Over Christmas Holiday


Over the Christmas holiday, state police have been stepping up patrols to make sure the roads stay safe.

The increased enforcement started at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 23. As of Dec. 26 at 4 p.m., there have been 351 crashes, including 42 with injuries. Four of those resulted in fatalities in crashes on Interstate 95 in Old Saybrook near exit 68 on Christmas Eve, Litchfield Turnpike in Bethany and Route 6 in Bolton on Christmas Day and Interstate 84 in East Hartford on the day after Christmas.

State police also arrested 19 on charges of driving under the influence and issued 313 tickets for speeding violations, nine tickets for seatbelt violations and 729 tickets for hazardous moving violations, including citations like following too close, distracted driving and cell phone usage.

There was a high volume of traffic over the Christmas holiday and this wave of traffic enforcement will continue through New Year's Eve.

State police will continue to patrol the highways and state secondary roads. There will also be sobriety checkpoints in certain locations to discourage drunken driving approaching the New Year.

State police ask anyone who sees a suspected drunken or dangerous driver to call 911 to report it.

By comparison, last year, there were 279 crashes, including 38 with injuries and one fatality in a Beacon Falls accident. There were also 19 DUI arrests, 243 speeding tickets, 13 tickets issued for seatbelt violations and 706 tickets issued for hazardous moving violations.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

First Winter Storm Next Week Could Bring Snow


There wasn't a white Christmas in this streak of record warmth, but First Alert forecasters have their eyes on the season's first snow next Tuesday.

We're in for a mild weekend with rain moving in Saturday night to close Boxing Day and ending very early Sunday morning.

Sunday is the wettest weekend day with two rounds of showers: one early in the day, and another late in the evening. In between, it will still be cloudy. Temperatures will once again return to the lower 60s.

Monday is a day of transition.

The day will start with sunshine before increasing clouds roll in. The typical high clouds before a storm will spread over the region and result in considerable cloudiness. More importantly, high pressure over Quebec provide a flow of cold, very dry air on a north and northeast wind.

That sets the stage for the season's first winter storm.

A mix of sleet, snow and even some freezing rain is possible after midnight.

The Tuesday morning commute looks slick, particularly in northern Connecticut. It's still uncertain how much snow will fall, but a couple inches is possible. Any mix will likely transition over to rain fairly quickly along the shore.

Tuesday morning into the afternoon will likely transition into rain.

The one factor that will help is the unfrozen ground. It's warm and moist. That may decrease the chance for prolonged freezing rain or even impact how the snow accumulates.

Wednesday brings drier weather, with perhaps a mix of clouds and sunshine. There's some question as to how much low level moisture will be left, which cloud result in more clouds and even drizzle.

Another system brings rain showers on Thursday (New Year's Eve) with temperatures in the 40s.

So, while there are signs of winter in the forecast and some snow-making weather to be found, the temperatures generally remain above average heading into the final day of the year.

Teen Pedestrian Dies After Being Hit By Drunken Driver's Car: PD


A car struck and killed and 18-year-old pedestrian in Bethany on Christmas Day and the driver is facing charges including driving under the influence.

Robert Weidig Jr., 18, of Bethany, was walking on the right shoulder of Route 69 in the northbound direction when a car coming from behind him hit him at about 8 p.m., police said. He died of his injuries.

Police arrested the driver, Barbara Ross, 60, of Cheshire, and charged her with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and failure to maintain a proper lane.

Friends say Weidig Jr. was headed to a home on the Litchfield Turnpike for a Christmas open house Bethany Dance and Music was hosting, but he never made it after the fatal accident.He was walking across the street with his brother at the time. Members of the group already at the party canceled the program scheduled for that night when the road was shut down after the accident, not knowing that it was one of their own who was killed.

The crash happened two tenths of a mile north of Hatfield Hill Road.

ACE Auto towed Ross's car from the scene.

The case remains under investigation.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Kentucky Mall Shuts Down After Brawls Involving Up to 2,000


Chain-reaction brawls involving up to 2,000 people erupted in one of Kentucky's largest shopping centers Saturday night, forcing the entire mall and businesses in the surrounding area to shut down, police said, NBC News reported.

The hours-long chaos at Mall St. Matthews began about 7 p.m. ET when the six St. Matthews police officers assigned to the mall for the holiday season began responding to "disturbances," which began to "feed on themselves" and spread, police spokesman Officer Dennis McDonald said.

"It was a series of brawls" involving 1,000 to 2,000 people ages 13 to their early 20s, McDonald said, adding that "the entire mall" was affected. 

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Holiday Present Packaging Disposal Tip to Ward Off Thieves


Now that your Christmas presents are all unwrapped, Vernon police are warning residents to be careful of how they dispose of gift packaging to avoid giving thieves ideas about items they might want for the holidays.

When you're throwing out boxes for gifts like computers or televisions, for instance, police are advising people to break down the boxes.

"Don't advertise to potential thieves what is in your house," Vernon police said on Facebook. Break down the boxes before putting them out to the curb."

That means concealing the labels on any brand name items, including technology.

"Just a word of advice. Be wise don't advertise!!!" Break down the boxes from recent purchases so thieves don't have a shopping list of what they're looking for!!!" a meme on the police department's Facebook page reads.

Vernon police didn't say if there have been holiday theft incidents pertaining to thieves finding out what to steal in homes based on discarded boxes in the trash, but are putting the word out as a precaution.

Photo Credit: Vernon Police
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Sewage Problem Temporarily Closes Plainville Movie Theater


The AMC movie theater in Plainville has reopened after a sewage issue forced the theater to close earlier in the day.

Plainville police say the theater located at 220 New Britain Avenue was closed late in the morning for a sewage issue and that the town Sewer Department responded. The building reopened shortly before 9 p.m. It took hours for crews to fix the issue and clean the theater. Details of exactly what went wrong with the sewage system were not available.

Employees say anyone who pre-purchased a ticket and was turned away earlier in the day can visit the theater to see a free movie of their choice, or contact ticketing services for a monetary reimbursement.

Those who purchased directly through AMC should call 888 440 4262 and those who purchased through Fandango can call 866 857 5131 for assistance.

The closure came days after the release of record-breaking "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on a busy holiday weekend for theaters as many people are on vacations and home for the holidays.

Woman Damages Strip Club With Bat After Refusing to Pay Cover: PD


A Louisiana woman visiting family for the holidays in Willimantic didn't want to pay cover at a strip club, so she forced her way in with a baseball bat and bashed the interior of the club, police said.

Shantel Jones, 28, got into an argument after refusing to pay a cover charge at the Ultra Violet Gentlemen's Club in Willimantic, according to police. She left, then returned with a wooden baseball bat and got inside the club.

Police said Jones demolished the cash register and damaged other property with the bat.

"This type of belligerent behavior is grossly unacceptable and will not be tolerated within the City of Willimanticm," Willimantic police spokesman Stanley Parizo Jr. said in a statement early Sunday morning.

No one was injured.

Police took Jones into custody in the parking lot and arrested her, charging her with breach of peace and criminal mischief. She was released after posting a $1,500 bond.

Jones is due in Danielson Superior Court on Jan. 6.

Photo Credit: Willimantic Police Department

Crews Respond to Westbrook House Fire

Firefighter Rescue Dog Stuck in Fence, Save Woman Who Had Heart Attack


Branford firefighters rescued a dog whose head got stuck in a fence and saved someone who had a heart attack on a busy day of calls at the close of the holiday weekend.

Those were a couple of the 11 calls the fire department had on Sunday.

Crews revived a 58-year-old Branford resident who went into cardiac arrest. She was taken to the hospital and still had a pulse when firefighters were leaving. Medical staff is taking care of her. Fire officials were pleased with the successful outcome and said "it's not that often that we get to make someone's holiday a little bit longer.

Branford firefighters also responded to help a dog who got his head stuck in  afence.

Engine and rescue companies responded and removed the dog from the fence. The pup wasn't injured and was very happy to be free.

Both calls came in Sunday morning.

Photo Credit: Branford Fire Department

50-Year-Old Injured in Hartford Shooting

Police Seek Hit-and-Run Driver Who Hit Pedestrian in New Canaan: PD


Police are looking for a driver in a hit-and-run after a car struck a 24-year-old male pedestrian in New Canaan early morning on Sunday.

Officers responded to New Norwalk Road and Locust Avenue at about 2:19 a.m. on Sunday after receiving a report of a car striking a pedestrian. The person, a 24-year-old man, was walking across New Norwalk Road when a car headed north hit the individual, police said.

The driver kept going in the northbound direction, witnesses told police.

The pedestrian was injured in the head and New Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Crops transported him to Norwalk Hospital. His injuries don't appear to be life-threatening.

New Canaan police ask anyone with information to call the department at 203-594-3500.

The crash remains under investigation.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Route 8 Southbound Closed in Naugatuck


Route 8 south in Naugatuck is closed because of a rollover accident, according to state police.

Police say the road is shut down between exits 27 and 26. One person suffered minor injuries and was transported to Waterbury Hospital. Crews are working to clear the scene and the road should reopen shortly.

No further details were immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Multiple Deployments Now Routine for Military Families


President Barack Obama this fall announced that about 10,000 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan through most of 2016 — with a smaller group staying even longer. For many of those troops, it won't be their first deployment, or even their second, NBC News reports.

America's war in Afghanistan has seen multiple deployments become routine for military families. As many as 700,000 service member have served more than one tour in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Froehlichs, who live at Fort Drum in New York, knows this all too well. They weren't able to spend Christmas together again this year because Wade Froehlich, a chief warrant officer with the Army, was on his third deployment to Afghanistan — and the sixth of his career.

While Wade Froehlich has adjusted to deploying to various parts of the the world, he says, "you never get used to leaving your family, that's the toughest thing."

Photo Credit: NBC Nightly News
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Iraqi Forces Retake Key Post From ISIS


Iraqi forces on Monday declared a key victory in their battle to retake the city of Ramadi from ISIS militants who have occupied the city since May, seizing a strategic government compound in what the U.S. called a "proud moment," NBC News reported.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool told state television that the Iraqi flag was flying over the complex, saying that the city had been "liberated" following a weeks-long fight against the militants.

However, other officials urged caution and stressed that the battle for Ramadi was not yet over, and that several heavily-mined neighborhoods remained under ISIS control.

U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Col. Steve Warren, congratulated the Iraqi forces in a statement early Monday, calling the clearance of the government center "a significant accomplishment."

"Today's success is a proud moment for Iraq," Warren's statement said.

Photo Credit: AP

Abstract Painter, Sculptor Ellsworth Kelly Dies at 92


Ellsworth Kelly, a renowned American abstract artist, died on Sunday at the age of 92, NBC News reported.
Kelly died of natural causes at his home in Spencertown, New York, according to Matthew Marks of the Matthew Marks Gallery who said that Kelly's partner, Jack Shear, informed him of his passing.
Kelly started his career in France where he studied art on the GI Bill after serving in the U.S. military during World War II. He went on to establish himself as a respected abstract artist and the subject of major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
"He was a real American original," Marks said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

In Paraguay, Tens of Thousands Flee Worst Floods in Decades


The worst floods to hit Paraguay in decades have forced some 90,000 people to flee their homes in the country’s capital of Asuncion.
El Niño, a global weather phenomenon that causes climate extremes, has been blamed for record rainfall that has pushed the River Paraguay to its highest levels since 1992.
The flooding has extended into neighboring Uruguay and northern Argentina where an additional 20,000 people have been forced to evacuate.
Rain is forecast to continue throughout the region where tens of thousands are already camping in makeshift shelters.

Photo Credit: AP

209 Days at Sea: Man Rows From U.S. to Australia


A 53-year-old British adventurer arrived in Cairns, Australia Sunday aboard a 20-foot vessel he rowed more than 7,000 nautical miles from San Francisco.
John Beeden set sail in June, aiming to become the first person to sail alone and unassisted from North America to Australia. The journey was supposed to take between 140 and 180 days, according to a website tracking his trip, but it dragged on for 209 days.
"When I set off from San Francisco I didn’t realize how difficult this was going to be,"  he said. "I've peered right over the edge a number of times and didn’t think I could go on and had to dig deep."

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