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Homeless Man Accused of Running Drug Factory in Manchester Parking Lot


A homeless man was arrested in Manchester on Tuesday after police said he was caught manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in a store parking lot.

Manchester Police said they identified the dealer, 42-year-old Ralph Mathena, after a lengthy investigation in the area of Center and Broad Streets.

Officers conducted a buy/bust operation on Tuesday, where they said Mathena was attempting to sell several grams of methamphetamine in the Save-A-Lot parking lot on Broad Street.

After Mathena was taken into custody, police said they found several more grams of the drug after searching the man's tent.

Mathena was charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell, possession within 1500 ft. of a school, and operating a drug factory.

He is being held on $85,000 surety bond.

Photo Credit: Manchester Police

Parents Used Zip Ties on Child: PD


Police have arrested a mother and father from Sarasota, Florida, accused of routinely restraining their 12-year-old daughter with zip ties and keeping her confined to a "playhouse" with no access to a bathroom.

Eugenio and Victoria Erquiaga turned themselves in at the Sarasota County Jail on Wednesday morning, deputies said. They were charged with aggravated child abuse and ordered held without bond.

A concerned neighbor called deputies on Dec. 27 to report a possible kidnapping after he saw the 12-year-old on his front porch with her hands zip-tied together and zip ties around her ankles, authorities said.

The girl explained that her parents would restrain her with zip ties when she got angry and would lock her in a playhouse in the home's loft area, which doubles as her bedroom.

Detectives responded to the home and found all but one of the playhouse's windows had been screwed shut. Authorities said the door had been blocked by a large piece of wood.

The wooden floor was discolored and the playhouse reeked of urine, deputies said. The girl allegedly told them she is often forced to soil herself because she cannot get out of the playhouse.

Deputies said the girl's zip ties would be secured to an eye hook located inside the playhouse to prevent her from kicking it apart.

The couple defended their actions to deputies and blamed the girl's supposed behavioral issues. The couple's seven other children confirmed to police that their sister would often be zip tied and confined.

The parents also said the girl is sometimes forced to sit on the floor to eat dinner.

The children have been taken into protective custody with the Department of Children and Families while authorities investigate.

It is not known if the couple have hired an attorney.

Photo Credit: Sarasota County Sheriff's Office

Congress to Send Obamacare Repeal to President


President Obama has already made clear that he intends to veto it, but Congress is still poised to send him a bill this week repealing the Affordable Care Act for the first time since the law's enactment in 2010, NBC News reported. 

The bill rescinds the mandates and taxes at the heart of the law and defunds Planned Parenthood. 

"First priority in 2016: Putting bill on Obama's desk that repeals Obamacare," Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said on Twitter Monday.

The House will vote on this measure later Wednesday and is expected to pass easily with Republican support. The Senate already passed the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act in December.

Ryan has said he hopes his chamber will be able to put forward a legislative agenda that the 2016 Republican nominee can build on to give Americans a choice.

Photo Credit: AP

Dogs Kill Rabid Raccoon in Cheshire


 A raccoon that two dogs killed on New Year's Eve in Cheshire has tested positive for rabies, according to Cheshire Animal Control. 

The dogs encountered the raccoon in their yard and killed it, according to animal control. Both dogs were up to date with rabies vaccinations "and were boostered against rabies." Per state mandate, they were placed on "strict home confinement" for 45 days, according to animal control. 

Cheshire Animal Control reminds pet owners that it's important to vaccinate your pets against rabies to protect them and your family from the fatal virus. 

Anyone with questions can contact the animal control office at 203-271-5590. 

Victim Stabs Suspect in Gas Station Robbery: Police


A man who was trying to rob a Valero gas station in Bristol was stabbed by a victim of the robbery, according to police.

Joshua Daniels, 26, of Bristol, was stabbed while trying to rob the Valero gas station at 228 Pine Street in Bristol just before 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, police said.

Daniels was armed and his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Police identified him on Jan. 4 as Joshua Daniels, 26, of Bristol.

He was charged with first-degree criminal attempted robbery and first-degree criminal attempt.

He was held on a $50,000 bond.

Photo Credit: Bristol Police

N. Korea Claims Successful Hydrogen Bomb Test


North Korea said Wednesday that it has successfully conducted its first hydrogen bomb test, which if true, would mean a dramatic escalation of the country's nuclear capability. The announcement came soon after South Korea reported a seismic event resembling an earthquake 30 miles from the Punggye-ri site where the North has conducted nuclear tests in the past.

South Korean officials and some experts questioned whether the explosion was indeed a full-fledged test of a hydrogen device. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior South Korean military official told NBC News that "we presume that it was not a hydrogen bomb test."

North Korean news agency KCNA reported that the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, "made the final decision on Jan. 3 to go ahead with the hydrogen test and accordingly we have conducted hydrogen bomb test at 10 a.m. on Jan. 6 with total success."

North Korea held its last nuclear test in 2013. If Wednesday's claim is true, it will be the fourth nuclear test conducted by the country since it first tested a device in 2006, U.S. officials said.

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned North Korea's announcement, calling it "profoundly destabilizing for regional security."

Photo Credit: AP
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105 Marijuana Plants Found in House After Home Invasion


Police found more than 100 marijuana plants and drugs packaged to sell when they responded to a Southington home to investigate an armed home invasion and shooting, police said

Daniel Morin, 43, called police at 6:41 p.m. on Monday and told police that three masked intruders with handguns broke into his home on the Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike and one of them shot him in the upper arm after they got into a "scuffle," police said.

Police said they learned that Morin was home with a female when the intruders, dressed all in black, and wearing masks and gloves, broke into the home.

After firing the shot that hit Morin, the intruders moved through the house a little longer before running away, Lt. Michael Baribault, of the Southington police department, said.

Officers responded and searched the area with the help of a K-9 unit, but didn't find the home invaders.

On Wednesday,  police said they found a marijuana grow operation in the basement of Morin's home and seized 105 marijuana plants, around 1.5 pounds of packaged marijuana and several pieces of marijuana growing equipment.

Police are investigating the marijuana grow operation and have not filed charges. 

The intruders remain on the loose and police are investigating the home invasion as well.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

2 Accused of Theft Amid Death Probe


Two 33-year-old men have been arrested for allegedly stealing more than $30,000 in hay from a Westchester farm belonging to Lois Colley, the 83-year-old wife of a millionaire McDonald's franchisee found dead at her Manhattan home last year.

The men, Angel Parra Penafiel and Hugo Ramirez-Morales, both of North Salem, New York, have not been named suspects in the Colley case. No persons of interest have been named in the investigation into her death Nov. 9.

Authorities allege Parra Penafiel and Ramirez-Morales stole hay from Colley's Windswept Farm over the last several years and sold it. They were employed by the farm as laborers.

Both men were remanded to the Westchester County Jail in lieu of bail Sunday. It wasn't clear if either man had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.

Meanwhile, the investigation continues into Colley's death. Investigators have said she died of blunt force trauma; she was found dead in the main house laundry room of her 300-acre North Salem estate by a caretaker.

A small fire extinguisher was missing from the home.

Colley's husband, Eugene, is known for his empire of roughly 100 McDonald's restaurants. Police said he isn't considered a suspect.

Photo Credit: Handout

Oregon Occupiers to Face Charges After Siege: Sheriff


The anti-government activists that took over a federal wildlife refuge will face federal charges once the siege is over, the local sheriff confirmed to NBC News.

"The (FBI) has assured me that those at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will at some point face charges," Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward told NBC News.

Neither Ward nor the FBI would provide specifics.

The group’s ringleader Ammon Bundy gave no indication when the standoff would end, saying on Wednesday the group was “not quite there yet.”

The gunmen took over an unoccupied facility Saturday with the aim of freeing two ranchers who were convicted of setting fires on government land.  

Photo Credit: AP

Branford School Dismissing Early Due to Water Main Break


Students at Walsh Intermediate School in Branford will be dismissed early Wednesday due to a water main break, according to the district superintendent. 

The school will follow a "minimum day schedule" as a result. School will dismiss early at 12:40 p.m.

"We anticipate resuming a normal schedule tomorrow," Branford Superintendent Hamlet M. Hernandez said in a written statement. 

Hernandez advises parents to check the district's website for updates. 

Warmer Weather Ahead, Weekend Rain Storm Possible


Temperatures plunged into the single-digits again this morning, but a warm-up is on the way.

Highs will be near 40 degrees today with full sunshine.

Mostly sunny weather is expected tomorrow and Friday, with high temperatures near 40 degrees.

This weekend is unsettled but not very wintry.

Scattered showers could mix with some freezing rain on Saturday, though temperatures will eventually rise into the upper 30s to near 40 degrees.

By Sunday, it's looking like a full-blown rain storm. More than an inch of rain is possible! Temperatures will be close to 50 degrees.

After the weekend, dry weather sets in Monday and Tuesday with high temperatures in the 30s.

Attorney General Lynch Hails Capture Of 'El Chapo'


U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch hailed the capture of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman on Friday, NBC News reported.

Lynch called Guzman’s arrest “a vindication of the rule of law in our countries" and a blow to the cartel he’s alleged to have led.

"Guzman's latest attempt to escape has failed, and he will now have to answer for his alleged crimes, which have resulted in significant violence, suffering and corruption on multiple continents," she said in a statement.

Lynch praised Mexican authorities, but did not say whether the government would immediately seek to extradite Guzman to the U.S. where he is wanted on multiple charges.  

Photo Credit: AP

Ski Sundown Gets Ready for Winter Season


After months of waiting around, the staff at ski sundown sprung into action last week when temperatures dropped and managed to make enough snow and get it groomed in time to finally open today.

Jarrod Moss, the Director of Snow Sports School exclaims, "Opening day has been a long time coming this year and it's awesome right now"

After record breaking warmth in December, when the cold weather finally hit last week it hit

"We made snow at 6 degrees so it's really nice man made snow and now that it's warmed up we got it all spread out and it's skiing really really nice right now" said Moss.

Visitors to ski sundown have been waiting a long time for this day, and told me the conditions could not be better.

"They're awesome. For first day it's smooth not a lot of ice it's perfect" says Alyssa August, who grew up snowboarding at Ski Sundown.

Miriam Nichols, an instructor at Ski Sundown told us, "I don't think I've hit any ice patches so it's a really nice way to start out the season"

Right now there are 10 trails open, but plans to open the remaining trails and more are in the works.

"We're going to get the rest of the mountain open by the end of next week if the forecast holds true and from there we're going to expand our terrain park and mogul skiing offerings" explains Moss.

On top of great conditions for opening day, it was gorgeous outside and the skiers said it felt more like spring skiing than January.

"I'm not even in a jacket it's awesome" says August.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

'Polite' Robber Robs Pizza Shop


The Broward Sheriff's Office is looking for a man who's accused of politely robbing a Little Caesars in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

BSO said the incident happened at the restaurant at 1462 South Federal Highway on Dec. 9.

According to witnesses, the man was holding a black handgun and described the robber's tone as very polite. The man allegedly asked a restaurant employee to open the safe and please give him the money.

The man went on to say he was sorry for doing this, but his kids need Christmas, according to detectives.

"All of his apologies and politeness are one thing, but it doesn't change the fact that he put these people in a terrifying situation," said Gina Carter with BSO.

The suspect is described as a black male in his early 20s with a light complexion and medium frame. He is about 5'8" and had a gold grill on his teeth and a mustache.

"This man may have felt bad about what he was doing, but he clearly knew what he was doing was very wrong," Carter said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS.

Cruz Suggests Voters Give Clinton 'Spanking' Over Benghazi


Ted Cruz suggested on Friday that voters should give Hillary Clinton a “spanking” for the Benghazi attack in 2011 when she served as secretary of state, NBC News reported.

Cruz compared it to how he punishes one of his daughters for lying while speaking to voters in Iowa.

"In my house, if my daughter, Catherine, the 5-year-old, says something that she knows to be false, she gets a spanking," Cruz told the attendees at a crowded coffee shop here.

There have already been seven congressional probes into events and decisions around the Benghazi attack. Cruz often uses Clinton's role as secretary of state during the Benghazi attack as a rallying cry against the Democratic front-runner.  

Photo Credit: AP

Fla. Couple Charged with Duct Taping, Using Taser on Girl: Cops


A couple in Lakeland, Florida, was charged with child abuse after allegedly tying up children with duct tape and using a stun gun as a form of discipline, police said.

NBC affiliate WFLA reported that Yalonda Ashley, 36, and Steven Sanchez, 31, are both facing charges.

Ashley was accused of duct taping a young girl’s mouth shut and wrists together to discipline the child, according to detectives. Ashley said she did this to “teach her a lesson to keep her hands and feet to herself,” according to an arrest affidavit.

Witnesses also told WFLA that they saw Sanchez using a stun gun to scare the girl and other children at home, even using it on the child’s bottom.

When asked for her reaction, Sanchez’s mother told WFLA "It saddens me. It actually makes me cry. My son is not a monster. He is a good dad."

Photo Credit: WFLA

Freezing Drizzle Possible Late Tonight


Freezing drizzle could impact untreated surfaces overnight. Temperatures will fall just below the freezing mark after sunset in the hill towns.

Tomorrow's a day that won't cause many issues, once temperatures rise above freezing in the morning, though plain drizzle will be found in spots. Temperatures will average 40 degrees.

Rain comes down in buckets Sunday morning, and gradually comes to an end late in the day. More than one inch is possible. Temperatures will be in the middle and upper 50s!

Monday looks dry and windy with temperatures in the lower 30s.

A period of light snow is possible Tuesday night into Wednesday.

Long Waits to Apply For Unemployment Benefits


People who lost their jobs are now demanding answers as to why they say it’s so difficult to apply for unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor is blaming the slowdown on a rush of people applying for benefits. But some say job cuts are leaving the department short-handed.

“You try and you try and you keep getting hung up on or you get a busy signal,” says Robert Gilmore.

That’s been the frustrating end so far to Gilmore’s calls to apply for Unemployment Benefits.
The Shelton man recently lost his job as a TV engineer.

He’s been attempting to reach someone for a week.

“It is very frustrating. You keep trying and trying and you wonder when am I going to get through? I haven’t gotten through yet,” says Gilmore.

Gilmore is not alone.

The state Department of Labor says this period is usually a busy time for people to apply for benefits.

In a statement, the department’s Communications Director, Nancy Steffens, wrote in part,
"staff with knowledge on processing claims have been temporarily reassigned from their regular duties to answer calls and process claims. People are getting through, but it does take patience and perseverance."

But Council 4, the union which represents Department of Labor workers, says there’s more behind this slowdown than just the time of year.

“The problem is that the agency laid of nearly 100 workers last fall and what we have is a shortage of front-line workers who can help people in their time of need,” says Larry Dorman, Council 4 Public Affairs Coordinator.

In response, the department says while there was a cut in the number of workers the real difficulty is the number of people calling for benefits.

Either way it’s left some people, including Robert Gilmore, just waiting for someone to answer to get the help he needs.

“It’s important to get this done. I want to see this done and not have to worry about it. I want to put my efforts into looking for work,” says Gilmore.

The department says it is looking at long-term solutions including technology upgrades, which would include applying online.

It expects the busy call time to last into mid-February.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

DMV to Answer 'Thousands and Thousands' of Letters From Drivers


The state is calling in DMV workers this weekend to go through “thousands and thousands” of letters from drivers proving they have insurance after it was discovered that a computer glitch was showing that insured drivers were coming up with expired registrations. 

“Faxes have come in, letters have come in from people, they’ve been dropped off. Thousands more than people handle in a normal every day,” said DMV Spokesman Bill Seymour.

Drivers have been ticketed for registrations that were suspended by the state for no proof of insurance. It turns out that proof may be sitting in envelopes that have piled up in the back offices of the DMV.

Seymour said employees will spend Saturday going through the letters one by one. However, he promised that work will not impact customers doing business at the DMV this weekend.

“They’re untouched by this. It has no effect whatsoever on them,” said Seymour.

Lines continued to run long on Friday.

“Yesterday I was in Norwich, and I waited four hours to registers a car. I’ve been here before, two, three, four hours. Not good,” said Herb Carlon who drove in from Attleboro, MA to register cars for his dealership.

The long lines that have plagued the DMV headquarters in Wethersfield, as well as other offices still aren’t as short as people would like.

“I have in the past dealt with 45 other states. It’s a very antiquated system. It’s one of the worst in the country,” said Jane Tarbox, who drove in from Hanson, MA to register a commercial truck.

Beginning in February, the DMV will open up kiosks in some of their locations. These kiosks will provide the same online services that you can access in your home. The three locations are Bridgeport, Norwalk, and here in Wethersfield.

“If they work well there then we’re going to put them our other offices and maybe in other places in the state in order to encourage more use of our online services,” said Seymour.

As far as those insurance lapses, Seymour admitted it may take longer than Saturday to completely work through the backlog. Those who prove they did have insurance will get a refund.

For more information, search “DMV” on our website and app. 

Suspect in Expensive Wine Thefts Nabbed in RI


A suspected robber with a taste for fine wine who was wanted in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey was taken into police custody in Rhode Island on unrelated charges, according to Groton Police. 

Groton police got involved in the case on Oct. 19 when staff from the Octagon Restaurant at the Mystic Marriott reported that a man made arrangements to meet with the manager under the guise of planning a formal dinner party there, then stole a $4,800 bottle of 1990 Chateau Petrus while he was alone in a dining room near a wine room.   

As Groton police investigated this case, they learned of similar incidents in New York and New Jersey, as well as in Connecticut, and identified 25-year-old Scott DeLuca, with a last-known address in Cohoes, New York, as a suspect. On Oct. 22, they obtained an arrest warrant for him.    

On Thursday, there was a break in the case when police in Smithfield,  Rhode Island took DeLuca into custody on unrelated charges, according to Groton police.   

Police in Smithfield have charged him as a fugitive from justice and Groton police are working to extradite him. It's not clear what other charges have been filed against him. 

As Groton police were investigating, they reached out to police in Bloomfield because they believed Deluca might have stolen from a liquor store there in August.

According to Bloomfield police, a man stole from Gillette Ridge Wines twice in just a few days and got away with $1,000 in wine.I.

Photo Credit: Groton Police
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