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Shotgun Pellets Found on Sailboat Deck


Police are investigating after shotgun pellets were found on the deck of a sailboat in Mystic on Friday afternoon.

According to Groton police, shots were fired in the area around 4:30 p.m. Shortly thereafter, pellets were discovered on the deck of the Argia, an 81-foot schooner used for public cruises.

Police said no one was hurt and nothing was damaged. Authorities believe the incident was unintentional and speculate that hunters may have been to blame.

Photo Credit: Aden Tex/Flickr

Wrongly Convicted Woman Freed


A woman wrongly convicted of murder in the 1997 beating death of a homeless man in Lawndale is now free after spending 17 years behind bars.

A judge on Friday overturned the conviction of Susan Mellen, 59, who was accused of orchestrating the killing of former boyfriend Richard Daly over items he allegedly stole from her mother’s house.

She walked out of the courthouse about 5:50 p.m. and was embraced by her emotional family.

"This is the greatest miracle ever," Mellen said. "I'm just so excited, I don't know what to say. I'm overwhelmed. It's just so amazing, this is huge."

"I told the judge the day I got sentenced that one day God would bring the truth to the light," she said.

Judge Mark Arnold on Friday ordered Mellen released as soon as possible, and dismissed the case against her. He noted the Los Angeles County District Attorney concurred on many points of the case, which hinged on the testimony of a woman he called a "habitual liar."

Mellen insisted on her innocence from the moment of her arrest, and openly wept when the judge spoke.

Mellen's three children were emotional outside court, and said they could not wait for her to release. Mellen's time behind bars was spent most recently at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla.

They have been part of the process to free their mother, and said they were overjoyed that she may be free as early as the end of Friday.

Mellen’s daughter, Jessica Besch, called Friday the “happiest day of my life.”

She said the idea that her mother might be set free “felt like a dream.”

“It still doesn't feel real yet until I see her walk through that door,” she said.

In 1997, soon after Daly was found dead, an acquaintance named June Patti told police Mellen had confessed to being part of the beating, and had sought Patti’s advice as a paralegal, court records show.

Mellen was arrested August 1997 in the parking lot of a McDonald’s while her 9-year-old daughter looked on. In videotaped police interviews, Mellen insisted over and over again that she had nothing to do with Daly’s killing, and at trial witnesses testified supporting her alibi for the time of the killing.

While she acknowledged having a drug problem at the time of her arrest, she said she was not present when Daly was killed.

LAPD investigators largely relied on the testimony of a woman named June Patti, who it became clear was known for calling in crimes that never happened or implicating people who had no relation to a crime, according to court documents.

The filings cite Patti’s incidents with the Torrance Police Department, Gardena Police Department, Redondo Beach Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; they also cite her lengthy arrest record.

Mellen was convicted in 1998.

By 2009, representatives from the California Innocence Project began to do interviews with people who had some involvement with the group of people who knew the victim and Mellen, and who could have known something about the killing.

In 2013, Torrance nonprofit Innocence Matters began reinvestigating the case, and worked with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to reexamine evidence from the Daly murder.

According to court filings petitioning for Mellen’s release, evidence consistently pointed to three known gang members who frequented one of two houses on the property where Daly was killed. Both houses belonged to Mellen’s mother.

One of those suspected to be involved told investigators Mellen had nothing to do with the slaying, according to court documents. Innocence Matters has also called into question the motives and ability of the LAPD homicide detective who oversaw the investigation.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated Mellen was behind bars for 16 years, but the correct amount is 17 years. She was arrested in August 1997.

Photo Credit: Scott Spiro

Smoke Bomb Thrown at Diners: NYPD


A man in a baseball cap emerged on a West Village street through a sidewalk grate and threw a smoke bomb into a crowd of restaurant diners before fleeing back into the grate Friday evening, police say.

The man popped up from underground outside Bar Pitti on Sixth Avenue between Bleecker and Houston, lobbed a smoke bomb into the outdoor patio area, then went back through the grate, which leads to the subway system, according to police.

The smoke bomb resembled a red safety flare as it went off, according to a witness. 

No one was hurt, authorities say, but diners were shaken.

"We were just trying to relax and have a nice dinner, and then there was smoke and a bunch of policemen," said Sara Bond, who was visiting from New Orleans. 

Australian tourist Tina Millet said it was "quite a big commotion." 

"I've seen everything in New York, absolutely everything," she said.

It also sparked questions of how secure the city's subway system is. Neighbor Monica Vickers said she immediately wondered whether the smoke bomb was terror-related. 

"I guess they're going to have to do more security or something, right?" she said. 

Police haven't said how they think the man was able to get underground and up through the grate.

The suspect was described as a man in his 30s with blonde hair, wearing a baseball cap and a T-shirt with an American flag on it. 

Follow Brynn Gingras on Twitter @Brynn4NY

92-Year-Old Missing From Darien


Police have issued a Silver Alert for 92-year-old Anna Deblasi, who went missing from Darien on Friday.

State police said Deblasi may be driving a gray 2011 Lexus with Connecticut license plates 246-YSF.

Deblasi has brown hair and brown eyes. She stands 5 feet tall and weighs 95 pounds.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is urged to call Darien police at 203-662-5300.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Pro-ISIS Bigots Hack Synagogue Site


A South Florida synagogue says its website was hacked and plastered with pro-ISIS, anti-Semitic hate speech.

Temple Kol Ami Emmanu-El said the hack was first brought to its attention when concerned congregants began calling the synagogue to complain about what was on the homepage.

“Our website had been taken over, and had been redirected to this page that included hateful speech,” said Rabbi Howard Needlemen.

The hate speech was aimed at Jews, their faith and Israel.

The hack also boasted support of the radical Islamist militant group ISIS, infamous for the beheadings of captured western aid workers and journalists, including Steven Sotloff of Miami.

The synagogue's director believes the hackers are based in the Middle East based on discussions with investigators and the hackers' link to a purported Syrian hacking group. Some commenters on Facebook bragged about taking over the synagogue's site.

The site has been taken down as local and federal authorities are investigating.

“Although we were the first synagogue, I unfortunately do not think we’ll be the last,” said Rabbi Needleman.

Photo Credit: NBC 6

Hernandez's Phone Won't Be Tossed


Aaron Hernandez's personal cell phone will not be thrown out as evidence in his Bristol County, Massachusetts, murder trial, ruled Judge Susan Garsh on Friday.

The defense had argued that they were misled by the prosecution into believing the search warrant for the phone required that they surrender it. It was ultimately taken by state police at their Boston law office.

The prosecution argued that police had the proper search warrant for it, and that it was seized lawfully from Hernandez's attorneys.

Judge Susan Garsh found that Hernandez's lawyers voluntarily surrendered the phone and weren't duped by the police.

Garsh also ruled today that a rifle found in Hernandez's Toyota, at his North Attleboro home, will not be thrown out.

She however, ruled that a white towel, taken from Hernandez's home, won't be allowed into trial.

Prosecutors argued the towel was important to the case, because a similar towel was found at the Oden Lloyd murder scene.

Garsh further ruled that marijuana, and a bottle of Vitamin Water that was found in Hernandez's home, was properly seized by police and will be admissible into trial.

Prosecutors have alleged that a cigar with marijuana was found at the murder scene.

Prosecutors have also said the Vitamin Water was the same flavor and brand that was allegedly found in the vehicle reportedly rented by Hernandez and used in the murder.

Previously, in another big win for the prosecution, the Judge ruled that Hernandez's own home video surveillance system will be allowed into trial.

Prosecutors say video shows Hernandez allegedly holding a gun both before and after Lloyd's murder.

In a prior win for the defense, Judge Garsh threw out .45 caliber bullet casings seized from Hernandez's Franklin "flop house," along with a .45 caliber magazine found in his Hummer.

Prosecutors have said they never found the murder weapon that killed Llloyd, but that it was a .45 caliber Glock.

Garsh also threw out iPads and cell phones seized from Hernandez's North Attleboro home. It's unclear of the significance of those items to the case.

Hernandez is behind bars, awaiting a January trial in the Lloyd case. He's pleaded not guilty.

He's also pleaded not guilty to two more murders out of Boston.

His fiance, Shayanna Jenkins, will not have her perjury case thrown out either.

According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is direct evidence linking Jenkins to 14 separate perjurious statements.

Single Sneaker Stolen Off NYC Women


Police are looking for a suspect in a bizarre pair of shoe robberies on the subway in which a sneaker was stolen off each victim's right foot.

The first happened the afternoon of Sept. 11 at the West 8th Street station in Coney Island, when the suspect went up behind a woman walking up the stairs to the Q train, took her right shoe -- a black Adidas sneaker -- and then ran away.

On the morning of Oct. 2, at the same station, the suspect approached a woman going upstairs to the F train and took her right-foot Nike sneaker, then ran away.

Coney Island resident Shirley Perry called the thefts "weird" and wondered what the robber's motive was.

"As women, we want to feel safe on the subway," she said. 


Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

1 Dead in 5-Alarm Blaze in Boston


One person has died in a five-alarm blaze that tore through a three-story, six-family home in Boston's Roxbury section Friday night, an official says.

The victim was male, an official on the scene of the fire said, as crews worked to put out lingering hot spots at 104 Winthrop Street.

A female patient was taken to the hospital, and another 30 people were displaced.

The Red Cross is helping these individuals with food, clothing, toiletries, and hotel arrangements. In addition, a mental health professional is on scene to provide support.

Flames could be seen bursting from the home and through the roof, sending heavy smoke billowing into the night sky, after the fire broke out around 9:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: Boston Fire Department

LifeStar Responding to Columbia


LifeStar is responding to a crash on Route 66 in Columbia, according to the helicopter service.

The crash happened between Hennequin Road and West Street. LifeStar said authorities believe only one car was involved.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Prison Time for Trooper Who Stole From Dying Crash Victim


The former Connecticut state trooper who stole jewelry and money from a dying crash victim on the Merritt Parkway in 2012 will spend a year behind bars.

Aaron Huntsman was sentenced in court on Friday to five years in prison, with the sentence suspended after one year, after he pleaded guilty over the summer. Huntsman will also serve three years' probation.

Dashcam video from Huntsman's own cruiser allegedly caught the former trooper stealing from the body of Orange resident John Scalesse, who was killed in a crash on the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield on Sept. 22, 2012.

Detectives began investigating after Scalesse's family members came forward looking for a gold chain valued at more than $5,000, along with $3,700 in cash and missing clothing.

According to court documents, Huntsman was first at the scene and snatched the broken chain from a pool of blood around Scalesse. Huntsman repeatedly told the victim’s father he never saw the missing items.

But the affidavit says another emergency responder handed Scalesse's cash to Huntsman, who claimed to be taking it in as evidence.

State police said they later found the missing money in Huntsman’s cruiser.

The former trooper has been convicted on charges of larceny and tampering with evidence.

Photo Credit: News 12 Connecticut

Teen Hides in Attic While Intruders Try to Break In: Police


A 13-year-old boy hid in the attic of his North Haven home while two intruders tried to break in, then left his house and targeted two others in the neighborhood, according to police.

Police said the teen ran upstairs and called 911 when 18-year-old Devin Cruz and 23-year-old Andrew Vermiglio attempted to force their way inside his home on Hartford Turnpike early Thursday afternoon.

When the suspects had no luck getting into the teen's home, they left the property and tried to break into an empty house down the street. According to police, the suspects fumbled with a locked window, then pried open a screen door on the back deck but couldn’t get inside.

Meanwhile, investigators had arrived on scene and were searching the neighborhood. K-9 Officer Zeus, a 4-year-old German Shepherd, tracked the suspects’ scent from door to door and helped authorities catch them outside a third home, police said.

The first witness identified them as the men who tried to break into his house, and both suspects were arrested at the scene.

Vermiglio and Cruz were each charged with criminal attempt to commit second-degree burglary, two counts of criminal attempt to commit third-degree burglary, conspiracy and risk of injury to a minor.

They were held on $25,000 bond and arraigned in Meriden Superior Court.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Silver Alert Canceled for Darien Woman, 92


Police have canceled a Silver Alert for a 92-year-old Darien woman.

Anna Deblasi, 92, of Darien, was reported missing Oct. 11.

Silver Alert Canceled for New Canaan Man, 44


Police have canceled a Silver Alert for a 44-year-old New Canaan man who had been missing since last week.

William Iovenko was reported missing on Oct. 6 and the Silver Alert was canceled on Saturday.

Photo Credit: New Canaan Police Department
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Route 9 Reopens After Crash in Haddam


Route 9 has reopened in the southbound direction after a tractor-trailer crash in Haddam Saturday morning.

The state highway was closed earlier between exits 9 and 10 due to the crash.

More information on the crash wasn't immediately available. There's no word on whether there were any injuries.

Check back for updates.

Police Arrest Suspected Car Burglar


Police arrested a Moosup man suspected of breaking into a car on Potvin Avenue on Saturday.

Jacob N. Hughes, 21, is facing burglary and larceny charges.

Police responded to a Potvin Avenue home at 2:45 a.m. on Saturday to investigate a report from a passerby who noticed the light of a car on at the home and saw a man crawling from the car to the backyard, police said.

The homeowner told police that someone broke into the car and the passerby that originally reported the incident saw the suspect walking on Church Street near the house, police said.

Police found Hughes wearing a red-hooded sweatshirt and jeans walking along Highland Street Extension and he had grass stains on his clothes, according to police. He eventually confessed to police that he broke into the car and stole loose change.

Police charged him with third-degree burglary and sixth-degree larceny.

Hughes has a history of crime in Plainfield, according to police. Plainfield police charged him with theft of a firearm and larceny in July 2014 and breach of peace in May.

Hughes was held on a $5,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Danielson Superior Court on Oct. 14.

Photo Credit: Plainfield Police Department

Pol Backtracks on ISIS Claim


A California Congressman is backtracking on claims he made on national cable television earlier in the week that as many as ten ISIS fighters crossed the border into Texas from Mexico.

NBC 7 asked U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter R-50th District about his statements Friday at an event in El Cjaon.

When he talked about the presence of ISIS fighters on the Texas border Hunter said he should have chosen his wording more carefully. Hunter said he shouldn't have said ISIS.

“I should have said terrorist affiliated military aged males coming across the border,” Hunter said.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said there is no credible evidence to support Hunter's claims that ISIS fighters were apprehended or attempted to enter the U.S. along its border with Mexico. 

Hunter said four people from Turkey had ties to the terrorist organization PKK, providing a letter he sent to the Ambassador of Mexico.

The letter shows DHS numbers that more than 250,000 people from countries other than South America were caught at the southwest border. Included in that group were 13 people from Syria and 30 people from Pakistan, the letter stated.

Given what is happening at the border when it comes to people who enter without being caught, Hunter said he doesn't trust or have confidence in DHS.

“This comes from guys on the ground that actually see what is happening on the border itself. That is different than what the administration tells us is the truth and frankly I don't believe them because I know otherwise,” Hunter said.

Hunter's opponent for the 50th District seat Democrat James Kimble is retired from the Navy and said he takes national security seriously.

He accused Hunter of trying to drum up fear.

“Certainly if there were ten members of ISIS crossing over the border into Texas from Mexico there would have been an alert message that would have gone out to all the border cities,” Kimber said. “They would have known about it here. But Mr. Hunter would have everybody believe that, in his words or his staff's words, the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing."

Johnson assured Americans the border is not “porous.” He said four people detained for unlawful entry were members of a Kurdish Workers Party fighting against ISIS.  He said the detainees will be deported.

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Hartford Marathon Runners Brave the Rain


It was wet and rainy, but the weather didn't deter runners hitting the pavement for the 21st running of the NU Hartford Marathon.

From the start,15,000 runners were determined to finish. They lined up on Capitol Avenue wearing multi- colored shirts and garbage bags to keep dry.

“Thousands of thousands of people. It’s like a sea of humanity everyone’s happy everyone’s excited,” said race director Beth Shluger.

Kimberly Markey, a mom from Berlin and a also cancer survivor, ran the full marathon.

“It’s a big deal for me to finish the Hartford Marathon not only will it be my 16th full marathon, but it will be my first marathon after finishing 19 out of 19 breast cancer treatments,” she said.

Race organizers estimated there were at least 30,000 spectators.

There was a 5K, half marathon, and the 26.2 mile course that winded through Hartford, East Hartford and South Windsor.

"Bucket List Baby" FB Hacked


Two days after the family of 'Bucket List Baby' Shane experienced the emotional birth — and soon thereafter loss of the newborn — a hacker broke into the parents' Facebook page and began posting explicit images.

"I just need it fixed," Jenna Gassew, Shane's mom, said through tears. "It means everything to us. These are our memories."

Gassew and her husband, Dan Haley, started the Facebook page, Prayers for Shane, earlier this year to track the memories they created for their unborn child, who was diagnosed with anencephaly — a rare, terminal condition — in utero.

Nearly 1 million people are following the page, which included photos of the expectant Delaware County couple's trips to Linvilla Orchard's petting zoo, the Jersey Shore, and, most recently, the day Gassew gave birth to Shane.

Around 1:30 p.m. Saturday, the couple received a message, which appeared to come from Facebook, asking them to verify the Prayers for Shane account, Gassew explained.

"The email looked very, very similar to one we got before," she said.

But the message was not from the social media site's administrators like the last time.

"It looked legit, so I typed in Dan's name and password," Gassew said. "And then they took control of Shane's page and took me out of being able to control it."

Gassew immediately contacted Facebook to rectify the problem. NBC10 staff also reached out to Facebook in an effort to expedite the process.

Many of the page's followers — upset by the posts, which included sexual imagery — began blasting the hacker in comments.

After several hours, Facebook staff members were able to resolve the issue. Facebook removed the inappropriate posts and returned control of the page to Shane's parents.

Contact Alison Burdo at 610.668.5635, alison.burdo@nbcuni.com or follow @NewsBurd on Twitter.

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Prayers-for-Shane/

1 Dead, 22 Injured in Hayride Flip


A hayride flipped over at a Halloween attraction in Mechanic Falls, Maine, on Saturday, killing one teen and injuring 22 others.

The Maine Sate Fire Marshal's office confirms one person, a 17-year-old girl, died as a result of her injuries.

They say that two others, including the driver and a teenage boy, remain in critical condition.

In addition, 15 people were taken to Central Maine Medical Center, seven were taken to St. Mary's in Lewiston, and one person was taken to Maine Medical Center, according to the State Fire Marshal. One child was later sent to a Boston hospital for treatment, according to WCSH.

Scott Lansley, a Harvest Hill spokesperson, says the two most serious injuries were sustained by employees. 

Authorities say a small jeep pulling a flatbed trailer missed a turn on a steep dirt road and jack-knifed. The jeep went off the road and the trailer hit a tree, sending riders tumbling to the ground. 

Investigators say a mechanical problem with the jeep may have caused the driver to lose control. State Police will inspect the vehicle.

The Maine State Fire Marshal is required to inspect and license mechanical amusement rides in the state, but hayrides do not require such licensing.

Lansley said Sunday morning that the operator is an experienced truck driver.

Harvest Hill Farms/Pumpkin Land posted the following message on its Facebook page around 10 p.m. Saturday night:

"Emergency crews are on-site now at our Gauntlet Night Ride as there was an accident with one of the wagons. We will keep you posted."

Around 11 p.m., the farm posted the following update:

"Emergency crews are on site and Life Flight was called in to transport those needing urgent care. The accident occurred at the Gauntlet Haunted Night ride, a separate venue from Pumpkin Land, our daytime Family Fall venue. However Pumpkin Land will be closed Sunday while authorities investigate the accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured."

Several people who were at the Halloween attraction or had loved ones there on Saturday night posted messages as well. 

"My bestie and our lil girls were a few rides before this tractor. So sad," said Alexis Caron.

"My family was minutes away from this...a couple tractors ahead," said Patty Ann Keene. Thinking of everyone involved."

"My son and his pregnant girlfriend and a bunch of their friends were on that ride," said Penny Peare. "Thank God they are okay."

The Portland Fire Department posted the following message on Twitter on Saturday night:

"Thoughts and prayers with the victims, their families, and the emergency crews operating at a MCI in Mechanic Falls, ME"

Mechanic Falls is about 30 miles north of Portland. 

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NECN

Bridgeport Police Investigate Commercial Burglaries


Bridgeport police are asking for the public’s help in identifying suspects in two commercial burglaries.

Police say the first incident occurred at Metro PCS at 2127 Boston Ave in the early morning Thursday. Two suspects broke in and stole numerous telephone accessories.

In a separate incident, police say a suspect burglarized Aaron’s at 4016 Main Street on Saturday and stole numerous tablets, a laptop and a camera. The suspect broke in using a crowbar on the front door.

Anyone with information about the Metro PCS burglary is asked to contact Det. Joseph Badolato at (203) 581 5241 or Det. Art Calvao at (203) 581 5240. Anyone with information about the Aaron's burglary should contact Det. Martin Heanue at (203) 581 5242 or Det. Calvao.

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