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4 Bodies Found at Scene of Ky. Home Explosion


Four bodies were recovered from the remains of a rural home near Columbia, Kentucky, that exploded on Tuesday, NBC News reported.

Relatives told NBC affiliate WAVE that all four, including an infant, were members of an extended family. Police did not identify the victims.

Kentucky State Police said two of the bodies were found inside the home, while the other two were found outside.

The house near exploded Tuesday afternoon. The cause of the explosion remains unknown.  

Photo Credit: Valeria Gonzalez

Donald Trump Campaigns in South Carolina


Republican frontrunner Donald Trump campaigns in South Carolina.  

Photo Credit: AP

Brazil Revises Birth Defect Count in Zika Investigation


Brazil’s Health Ministry reported fewer confirmed cases of a rare brain defect that may be tied to the Zika virus, NBC News reported.

In new figures released Wednesday, only 270 of 4,180 suspected cases have been confirmed as microcephaly. 

Officials in Brazil still believe there’s an increase in cases of microcephaly and suspect the Zika virus is to blame. The rare birth defect, which also can be caused by factors such as infections, malnutrition or drugs, means babies have unusually small heads.  

Concern about the virus has prompted a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning to pregnant women to reconsider travel to areas where Zika is present.

Water Main Break in East Lyme Cuts Off Water for Some Residents


Officials were repairing a water main break on Forest Road in East Lyme on Wednesday night.

Traffic was routed off Riverview Road to Knollwood Road.

The Water Department informed everyone in this area that they will be without water for at least four hours.

If you have any issues with water please call the Water Department at 860-739-6652 M-F 8am-4pm or the East Lyme Dispatch Center after hours at 860-739-3419.

National Guard Unit Comes Home After 9 Month Deployment


More than 50 soldiers from Connecticut's National Guard Unit came home today after months of being deployed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Families waited at the Windsor Locks Readiness Center for the 192nd Military Police Batallion. The unit was responsible for detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Victoria Halbach couldn't wait to see her husband.

“[I'm] on the verge of tears, but I’m going to hold back. I’ve been waiting 10 months for this day. And I can’t believe it’s finally here.”

The unit arrived on bus, which was an emotional moment for families as they hugged their loved-ones.

“I feel amazing it’s great to be home!” said Staff Sgt. Jason Halbach after reuniting with his wife.

“I have my niece who’s here right now, my twin sister, her husband, daughter, I’m excited to spend some time with them,” said First Lt. Nichole Tellerin of Southington.

The unit's return marks 150 Guardsmen mobilized and deployed around the globe from Connecticut's National Guard.

Crash Involving Deer Near Valley Falls Road in Vernon


The fire department responded to a crash on Tunnel Road near Valley Falls Road in Vernon, Tolland County dispatch confirmed.

The driver suffered minor injuries after getting in a crash involving a deer, police confirmed. The car sustained heavy damage.

There was no other information available.

Please check back on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Sanders Relying on Voter Turnout in Iowa to Win


Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he’s relying on voter turnout for his campaign’s success not just in Iowa, but in every part of the country, NBC News reported.

In an interview with NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt, Sanders said if he comes in second place in Iowa, his campaign will move full steam ahead to the next three primaries on the calendar — New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

He referred back to the central tenets of his policy platforms during the interview — universal healthcare, free tuition at public universities and reforming the country’s finance system.

Sanders told Holt he can "work with Republicans,” highlighting legislation for providing healthcare to veterans. He also said he hopes to bring millions of people into the political process to demand that Washington represent everyone, including the middle class.  

Photo Credit: AP

28-Year-Old Naugatuck Woman Missing


 A 28-year-old Naugatuck woman was reported missing on Wednesday, police said.

Police are searching for Heather Huntley who is described as 5'5", 210 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. 

The report came in at 7:30 pm but the Huntley's family said they last saw her at 2:30 am.

Huntley is believed to be operating a blue  2000 Chevy Caviler displaying Connecticut plates. 

If anyone has information regarding Huntley they are urged to contact Naugatuck police at (203) 729-5221

Photo Credit: Naugatuck Police

Animated Video Recreates El Chapo's Escape


The Mexican attorney general’s office has released an animated video recreating what Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s escape may have looked like, NBC News reported.

The video shows Guzman escaping from a digitized version of the maximum security prison he busted out of in July 2015.

He escaped through a tunnel and used a makeshift railroad powered by a motorcycle. The video also shows him being helped by another person.

Guzman was recaptured in January after a secret interview with actor Sean Penn. Officials said his contact with Penn and producers helped authorities figure out his location.  

Photo Credit: AP
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'D-Strong' Becomes Honorary Willimatic SWAT Member


Dorian Murray said "Thank you!" or "Nice!" to everything he was given this afternoon by his new friends from Willimantic.

Murray was greeted by a former military personnel carrier--customized for Willimantic police--bearing the "D-Strong" banner, to the Stonington police department.

"We were originally just gonna take a picture of the truck and send it down," said Corporal Stan Parizo.

"But that's not good enough for what this young man's fighting for."

Dorian Murray, the "D" in "D-Strong", raised his right hand to become sworn in as an honorary member of the Willimantic SWAT team.

"He's a true hero at eight years old, he's fighting the battle of his life," said Parizo. "Makes us think twice about our every day trials and tribulations to see what this young man's going through."

Dorian got some gear from the visiting police. Murray and his dad, an officer in Stonington, got a tour of the SWAT vehicle.

The driver told Murray he drove one of these every day when he was in Iraq. Many of the Willimantic cops switched shifts to be here, for different reasons, but all for Murray.

"I'm also a cancer survivor," said Parizo, "so this is an extra special day for me to see somebody like this because again there's a lot of evil in the world and cancer's right there at the top."

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Injured Connecticut Trooper Finally Returns to Duty


Seventeen months after the incident that nearly claimed his life, Connecticut State Police Trooper Mike Quagliaroli is telling his own story for the first time. He spoke exclusively with NBC Connecticut’s Heidi Voight.

At first glance, sitting at the Troop H barracks, Quagliaroli has no visible injuries. But underneath the uniform, he says, are physical scars from his injuries and surgeries. His retelling of events reveals another invisible injury – memory loss caused by severe head trauma. He can’t remember the accident itself, that night, or any other part of the day it happened – Thursday, August 7, 2014.

“The last thing that I actually remember is Wednesday evening,” he recalls. “I had to jump my truck because the battery had died. The next thing I remember was waking up Friday morning in Hartford Hospital. They said, you were in an accident; look up at the news. My story was on TV.”

He pieced together what happened in between by reading the accident investigation reports. Around 7:20 p.m., he responded to I-91 North in Hartford near Jennings Rd to help a driver remove a large fallen object from the roadway. He stopped his cruiser as a road block and activated his emergency lights as he assisted Enfield resident Aaron Altenhein. Seconds later, a 2014 Honda Civic driven by West Haven resident Ilona Gladu-Perez hit both of the men, with Trooper Quagliaroli taking most of the impact.

“I went into the windshield, shoulder-first, my left shoulder, and then when the driver hit the brakes I was sent flying off of the vehicle,” he said. “I landed head first and skidded about 85 feet on the pavement.”
Quagliaroli had only been on the job for eight months. Suddenly, he faced potentially career-ending injuries: a fractured tibia and fibula requiring two surgeries, and severe head trauma. He spent two weeks in Hartford Hospital followed by two weeks at an in-patient rehabilitation facility before returning home to begin a year of intensive outpatient physical therapy.

“Painful? Absolutely. There were days where I would actually say we have to stop I can’t go any further,” he recalled. “But the next time [my physical therapist] came in, I’d go a little bit further and push a little bit harder because I just wanted to get back.”

Quagliaroli says the support of family, friends and his fiancée Krystal carried him through those difficult days. Finally, as of January 16, 2016, he was cleared to return to full duty as a Connecticut State Trooper. He spent his first few days back doing ride alongs to get back into the swing of things. Now, “It’s like I never missed a beat.”

Gladu-Perez was charged with violating the Move Over Law, enacted in 2009 as a measure to keep first responders and road crews safe. It requires drivers on any highway two lanes or wider to move over a full lane or, if that’s not possible, to significantly and visibly slow down when they see vehicles with flashing lights operated by police, fire, EMS, road crews or commercial tow operators. Violation penalties range from a $181 ticket for a first offense to fines up to $10,000 in cases of injury or death.

Read the bill.

“Every day not only do members of my barracks but state police troops across the state in addition to firefighters, tow truck operators, DOT workers are standing on the sides of the highways in the state of Connecticut,” said Lt Marc Petruzzi, commanding officer at Troop H. “This makes it possible for my troopers to be able to go home at the end of the night and go back to their families. It prevents our agency from having to deal with a tragedy that could very easily be avoided if people are paying attention and giving us the space we need to do our work.”

It’s a law based on deadly precedent. Several Connecticut troopers have been killed on the roads after being hit while standing outside or sitting in their cruisers. Most recently, Trooper First Class Kenneth J. Hall, a 22-year veteran of the State Police and former US Marine, was killed on September 2, 2010 on I-91 in Enfield while making a traffic stop.

In Echo Hall at the State Police Academy, the photos and stories of Connecticut’s fallen troopers hang on the wall for all recruits to see. It’s a tribute, and a constant reminder of the dangers of the job.

“They always told us in the academy it’s not a matter of if but when,” Quagliaroli said. “That was my time… but I’m still here.”

Note: Quagliaroli has served as a reservist in the Air National Guard for nine years. He deployed to Afghanistan from July 2011 to January 2012. He is a graduate of Windsor Locks High School.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Gov't Worker Arrested for Allegedly Impersonating Cop


A youth services officer with the state's Department of Children and Families is under arrest for allegedly impersonating a Hartford police officer.

On Wednesday, Hartford police released the arrest photo of Luis Dacunha of Newington to NBC Connecticut.  Dacunha was charged earlier this month, following an incident officers say at the Koji Restaurant in downtown Hartford.

According to the arrest warrant, Dacunha appeared intoxicated and was bothering customers when he threatened to have the city shut down Koji in late November.

Court papers said when the owners advised they were calling police, Dacunha replied, “I am the police” and flashed a gold badge. That badge, according to authorities was later identified by officers as a Department of Children and Families badge.

A police report also obtained by the Troubleshooters states Dacunha admitted to the incident.
According to a state database, listing employee titles and earnings, Dacunha made more than $95,000.00 in 2015 as a YSO for DCF.

NBC Connecticut stopped by Dacunha’s home, but nobody answered. His attorney, Peter Odlum of Bayer, Odlum and Hyde,  told the Troublshooters he thinks the impersonation charge will be resolved.

A statement released to the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters from a DCF spokesman read in part:

“The Department is investigating an employee for serious off duty misconduct in connection with an incident reported to us by the Hartford Police Department. The employee is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. While the incident under investigation is not connected to any children or any children that we serve, we expect that our employees will conduct themselves in a responsible manner at all times even when they are not at work.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

NYC Worker Lying About Attack


The sanitation worker sent to the hospital with injuries after he was assaulted on a Queens street has been arrested for lying about the attack, police say. 

Michael Morelli, 31, was issued a desk appearance ticket for filing a false report, police said Wednesday evening. It's not clear if he has an attorney.

Earlier in the morning, he told police he was pistol whipped and robbed while clearing snow from around a fire hydrant at Guy Brewer Boulevard and Liberty Avenue.

After investigating, police discovered Morelli had lied about the attack, the sources said. 

Morelli admitted he had actually been out soliciting a prostitute when he encountered two men on the street and got into an argument with them, law enforcement sources said. That's when the men assaulted him and fled. 

It's still not clear what sparked the altercation or who the aggressor was, the sources said.

Morelli was taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

The account was far different than the one he told his girlfriend, Jaclyn Franin, and her father earlier. She told NBC 4 that he called her after the attack and she met him at the hospital.

"Anytime you get called in the middle of the night, the first thing you're concerned about is safety -- is he OK, is he alive, what actually went down? So of course I was terrified," said Francin, a veterinarian who's known Morelli for 16 years and whom she calls her best friend. 

Her father, Rudy Francin, said Morelli was a hard worker, and had been working ever since the storm: "Comes in, working like 14 hours a day, leaves 7 at night, comes back in the morning." 

When reached on the phone for comment after Morelli's arrest, Rudy Francin was in shock and said he couldn't believe it. He declined further comment.

The Department of Sanitation declined to comment, saying it was a police matter. 

Police say they're continuing to investigate. 

Alligator in Basement for 2 Decades


A man in south suburban Lansing kept an alligator at his house for over two decades without neighbors knowing, according to authorities.

The 6-foot-long alligator spent most of its 26 years in a cage of the basement of Charles Price’s house, according to Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Chris Young.

However, Price "put it out periodically in his back yard. No one knew he had it, no one had ever seen it,” IDNR Sgt. Bill Shannon told The Chicago Tribune Saturday.

The animal was noticed earlier this month by an appliance repairman who had been working in Price's basement, Young said. The worker noticed something moving in a covered container, so he lifted the cover, took photos of the reptile and contacted Lansing Police Department's animal control.

Shannon got word of the alligator and contacted conservation police Officer Roberto Macias and an alligator specialist known as "Bob."

"It was every bit of 200 pounds," Shannon told the Tribune.

Lansing police Chief Dennis Murrin Jr. also told the publication: "In 25 years, I've never had anything like it.”

Photo Credit: Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Tot Killed From Snow-Trapped Car


The 3-year-old New Jersey girl found in grave condition alongside her dead mother and brother in their carbon-monoxide filled car while their father was shoveling steps away over the weekend has died, authorities say.

The girl, Saniyah, was initially discovered in very critical condition in her family's car on a Passaic street and was transferred to St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, police said. 

She was pronounced dead Wednesday afternoon, officials said. 

Saniyah's mother, 23-year-old Sasha Bonilla, and her 1-year-old brother died in the idling car while taking refuge from the chill while the kids' dad, Felix Bonilla, worked to clear the snow from the blizzard, Passaic Police said.

The vehicle's tailpipe was blocked by snow, and carbon monoxide backed up into the car, police said.

When the father looked up, still shoveling, he found his family unconscious, according to neighbor Isabel Carmona, who said he was hysterical, "crying and jumping." 

Emergency responders arrived on the scene on Sherman Street to find people performing CPR. But the mother and son could not be saved.

The children's paternal grandfather told NBC 4 outside his son's family's home Sunday night his son was in shock. 

"My son, he can't even say nothing, he can't even move, he can't even talk," said Bonilla. 

Carbon monoxide is also thought to be the cause of death for a Brooklyn man found in his snow-covered car Monday. Angel Ginel's family said he had been trying to stay warm in his car when plows came through the street and buried the vehicle in snow, blocking the exhaust pipe. 

Drivers who find themselves trapped in the snow should crack open the window while they keep warm, fire officials say. 

NFL Warns of Fake Super Bowl 50 Tix


About 80 percent of Super Bowl tickets are sold in the two weeks leading up to the big game. And in the rush to buy, experts say counterfeiters are getting ready to take advantage of excited football fans.

The NFL did not release this year’s ticket artwork until recently, so counterfeiters would not have enough time to copy the exact design. Plus, parts of the tickets are covered up in photos to hide security features, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

“The technology in printing some of the counterfeit tickets is amazing,” said Better Business Bureau CEO Steve McFarland, who says his Silicon Valley office is expecting dozens of complaints about “phony tickets, phony brokers – a lot of different situations for the upcoming Super Bowl.”

Counterfeit tickets are an issue at every Super Bowl, but the Department of Homeland Security believes the problem is growing as scam artists get better at copying holograms and codes.

McFarland says there are ways to tell if a ticket is fake: “smeared numbers, smeared barcodes, white out, crossed-out information, inferior materials, inferior paper.”

Sites such as StubHub estimate less than 1 percent of tickets are fake, but when prices are so steep the resale ticket company says they are taking extra precautions.

“The cheapest ticket right now on StubHub is around $4,000 – that’s for upper level seats. There are prices that go up to $20-25,000 for club-level suites,” StubHub spokesman Cameron Papp said, explaining the company’s inspectors check every ticket by hand using black lights and heat lamps.

“Every ticket from a seller has to be sent in to stub hub by next week before the Super Bowl. We have a trust and safety team that goes through every single ticket, and then the buyer picks up their ticket on Super Bowl Sunday. There are no electronic tickets,” he said.

About 90 percent of Super Bowl tickets are not sold through StubHub, which gives customers a guarantee. However, McFarland says there are websites where buyers can research sellers first:

-National Association of Ticket Buyers: www.natb.com
-Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) also says to make sure you’re buying from a secure website that begins with “https” – “the ‘s’ is for secure,” McFarland said, explaining there are sites that mirror legitimate websites but divert unsuspecting buyers to other sites where they input personal information.

“For counterfeit tickets there’s a potential to lose twice. First, by not getting the valid ticket. Second, you’ve now given up personal information, financial information,” McFarland said.

Then, there’s game day, when schemers can hatch elaborate plans to resell already used tickets, according to the BBB. Scammers take real tickets, drop them down to people outside the stadium, who in turn give them to scalpers to sell.

“Then when you take your ticket to be scanned, of course, it’s going to reject,” McFarland said, explaining this scheme has been executed at nearby AT&T Park.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Ammon Bundy Asks Supporters to 'Go Home'


Ammon Bundy asked the remaining occupiers on a federal wildlife in Oregon to leave the property, NBC News reported.

"To those at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down. Please stand down. Go home and hug your families." Bundy said in a statement read by his lawyer, Mike Arnold, outside court. 

Local and federal authorities arrested Bundy, his brother and six others late Tuesday afternoon — most of them as they were driving to another town to attend a community meeting.  

The FBI and Oregon State Police say they've arrested three more people late on Wednesday night connected to the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in a remote Oregon area, The Associated Press reported.

A statement said they arrested 45-year-old Duane Leo Ehmer of Irrigon, Oregon, and 34-year-old Dylan Wade Anderson of Provo, Utah, around 3:30 p.m. A few hours later, 43-year-old Jason S. Patrick of Bonaire, Georgia, was arrested.

The FBI said the men turned themselves in to agents at a checkpoint on a road near the refuge.

As with the eight others arrested a day earlier, officials say these men will face one federal felony count of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats

A seventh follower, Robert LaVoy Finicum, was shot and killed under circumstances that haven't been explained.

Photo Credit: AP

Southington Survey About Sex, Drugs Sparks Concern


Seventh, ninth and eleventh grade students in the Southington district took the survey Tuesday which asks questions about sexual activity, drugs and gender association.

"They asked him a lot of uncomfortable and unusual questions like had he sniffed cocaine in the last 30 days. Had he engaged in unprotected sex in the last 30 days," said parent, Mike Lehone, who told NBC Connecticut his 12-year-old took the survey.

Another question on the survey included: "How would you describe yourself: Male, female, female transitioning to male or male transitioning to female?"

The conversation sparked interest on Facebook, with some parents saying surveying seventh graders is too young, calling it "inappropriate."

The survey is administered by Southington's Townwide Effort to Promote Success (STEPS). The survey comes from The Search Institute and is referred to as the "Attitudes and Behaviors" survey, given to the students every other year.

Superintendent, Timothy Connellan, told NBC Connecticut parents were notified with a letter early January. The letter included details on an information night to discuss the survey content. STEP officials said only one parent showed up at the meeting, and two parents inquired with questions by phone.

The letter alerted parents that they could choose to not have their child participate in the survey. Of all students scheduled to take it, only two middle schoolers' parents opted out.

Lehone said he received notification about the survey, but said it did not specify that there would be questions about sexual activity and drug use. NBC Connecticut obtained a copy of the letter, which did not specify those questions.

STEPS project director, Susan Saucier said the survey is confidential and allows the organization and district to track risky behavior to determine strategies to combat it.

"When you're surveying 7th, 9th and 11th you can see where that number goes up. Does it go up between 7th and 9th (grade)? Does it go up between 9th and 11th (grade)? Or does it stay the same? And that's one way we can kind of take a look of where we can make some interventions," said Saucier.

The survey was first administered several years ago after the district lost 5 students to suicide in 4 years. Saucier said realizing the number of issues students face these days, the hope is that surveys like this will help identify the problems and help to create solutions.

Students Arrested in Newtown High Sexting Case


Three Newtown High School students have been arrested and 20 others could have to do community service after a months-long police investigation into a sexting case in which some the students sold the photos and videos, according to police.

The investigation began in May when police received reports of Newtown High School students sharing sexually explicit photos and video.

At some point, school administrators were somehow made aware and police would spend six months investigating.

"I think the difficult lesson learned to all students is that every key stroke you're putting forward on technology, you own that for a lifetime," Newton public schools' superintendent Joseph Erardi said. 

Police said several boys and girls had created the photos and images of themselves outside of school, but then other students started getting them through Snapchat, Facetime, iMessage, Kik and other text messaging apps.

Several of the students were profiting on them by selling the photos and images, police said.

Three high school students were arrested on obscenity and child pornography charges.

"I think people need to know you shouldn't be sending pictures like that to begin with," Amanda Walsh, a Newtown senior, said. 

Twenty were referred to the juvenile review board, a community based program in which juveniles must do some kind of community service instead of going through the judicial system.

In October, Plainfield High School's varsity football team was barred from a game after some members were caught sharing sexual photos and videos in a group chat, officials said at the time.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

West Hartford Wal-Mart to Close Today


Wal-Mart announced earlier this month that it is closing 269 stories, including 154 in the United States. This affects one Connecticut Wal-Mart and the doors will close today.

The Walmart Neighborhood Market in Bishop's Corner, at 333 North Main Street, in West Hartford is closing today and people started lining up at 7 a.m. for some last-minute deals.

"We're out here, trying to find that 75 percent off deal," Karen Harris, of Bloomfield, said.

One customers got into the store, they found empty shelves.

“We’re standing out there freezing, and when we get in there, there’s nothing in there but just scraps. It’s like a scavenger hunt, nothing in there,” Isabel Taitague, of Hartford, said. 

Sherri Bushey has worked at Wal-Mart for the last 18 years and has been in Shelton for the last three. She'll be transferring to Shelton, but she is sad to leave the West Hartford store. 

“It’s emotional for all of us. We all enjoyed working here. We ended up having a great group of people and it’s kind of bitter sweet to see everybody go their own ways,” Bushey said

The Bishop's Corner Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market opened in 2013 and was the first in the northeast, according to WestHartfordNews.com. More than 100 people have been working at the store. 

There are currently at least 35 Wal-Mart stores in Connecticut.

Find you local store here.

As statement from Wal-mart said the stores closing in the United States include the company’s 102 smallest format stores, Walmart Express and  Walmart will "focus on strengthening supercenters, optimizing neighborhood Markets, growing the e-commerce business and expanding Pickup services for customers."

Among the closures are 23 Neighborhood Markets, 12 Supercenters, seven stores in Puerto Rico, six discount centers and four Sam’s Clubs. Two of the closing Sam's Club stores are in Massachusetts. One is in Fall River and the other is in Seekonk. Another is closing in Warwick. Rhode Island.

CNBC reports that more than 95 percent of the closed U.S. stores are within 10 miles of another Wal-Mart store. When possible, store associates will be transferred to nearby locations.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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