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Slain Journalist's Parents Decry Ad


The parents of James Foley, the New Hampshire journalist slain by ISIS, say it is "deplorable" that an image of their son moments before his execution has appeared in a conservative ad campaign.

James Foley's mother and father, Diane and John, told NECN in an emotional interview that they are demanding that the ad be pulled from New Hampshire.

Diane Foley remembers her son as a courageous and compassionate man who helped give a voice to people suffering in Syria.

"He was just the best of America," she said.

The image of her son in an orange jumpsuit just seconds before Islamist extremist militants executed him is something she tries to forget. But a new campaign ad from a conservative group called Secure America Now is forcing the Foley family to relive that horrific moment.

"I think it is deplorable, and there should be an apology," said John Foley.

Secure America Now uses the image in a 15-second internet ad attacking Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and other Democratic incumbents in critical Senate races nationwide.

"It makes me very sad that people would use the brutality of our son's death for their own political purposes," Mrs. Foley said.

The president of Secure America Now, Allen Roth, says the group did not contact the Foley family before making the ad public.

"The image has appeared around the world millions of times. We meant no harm; we just took an image that is in public domain, and we used it," Roth told NECN in a phone interview Thursday.

Sen. Shaheen has called the ad disgraceful, and her Republican challenger Scott Brown called it disrespectful. People in Foley's hometown of Rochester couldn't agree more.

"To see this brought back and put in our faces has been really appalling, and I hope the ad goes away very soon," said Rochester Mayor T.J. Jean.

Roth says the group doesn't plan to issue any apologies, saying the ad is simply not controversial.

"I am saying there is an attempt to create a controversy here, and that attempt is purely political," Roth told NECN.

Foley's parents say this has nothing to do with politics. This is about being human.

"I would just like them to have the sensitivity and compassion to withdraw that image from their campaign," Mrs. Foley said.

Secure America Now emphasizes that the Foley execution video and the image have been used in other campaigns across the country several different times.

After talking with NECN, Roth said the group would consider pulling the ad from New Hampshire out of respect for Foley and his family.

Because of the ad, the state Democratic party is now calling on Scott Brown to return $10,000 of campaign funds it says Brown received from John Bolton, a Secure America Now board member.

The Brown campaign did not respond to NECN's specific request for comment on that issue.

However, Roth made it clear that SAN board members are not involved in creating ads, nor do they see them before they go public. Roth says Bolton had nothing to do with this.

Photo Credit: AP

Wrong Ashes in Funeral Home Mix-Up


A family grieving the loss of a loved one says it's now dealing with a second loss, after they say the funeral home gave them the ashes of a stranger.

“She was sick and suffering while she was alive,” said Maley Michel, sister of the late Annie Hughes. “Her body went through so much. And now that the Lord has done called her to rest, her body is still not resting. Where is my sister? Where is she?”

Michel, her daughters and other family members say Hughes, 54, died in June. The family said they began to get suspicious about things when weeks went by and the ashes of Hughes weren’t returned following cremation. The family said they know the ashes given to them weren’t Annie’s.

“I got nightmares. I dream she’s in a garbage disposal. I dream she was packed in a bag thrown on the highway somewhere,” Michel said. “I dream her body is just decomposing somewhere with no dignity.”

The family said Hughes’ daughter, Rhonda Mitchell, chose the Taylor Smith West Funeral Home in Belle Glade to fulfill her mother’s wish to be cremated. Mtchell said four months ago she paid over $5,000 for the cremation. When no ashes arrived, she started asking questions, and then ashes were delivered.

“She told me it was my mom,” Mitchell said about the ashes that were delivered.

The family said the funeral home gave them a document to prove the ashes that were delivered came from Annie Hughes. However, the operation of the cremation facility in West Palm Beach told the family, and NBC 6, that Hughes’ body never came to them.

“We have no record of her being in here at all,” said Diane Edgley of Edgley Crematory.

When asked what she thought when she saw the paperwork that was given to the family, Edgley said, “It was a forgery, no doubt.”

The crematory said on the alleged forgery, the permit number and ID number for the body at the top are completely missing. In addition, the crematory said the alleged forgers used the wrong address for the crematory business and that the signature on the document wasn’t accurate.

NBC 6’s Willard Shepard went to the funeral home trying to get an answer, but Sonya Rumph of the Taylor Smith West Funeral Home said she didn’t want to comment on the story.

Fort Lauderdale attorney Vincent Pravato filed a complaint with the state and said the family has filed suit against the funeral home. In addition, the state is opening an investigation to determine if the ashes given to the family are in fact those of Annie Hughes.

“So many things have transpired that fly in the face of law and all reasonableness,” Pravato said. “My first and foremost thought here is locating the body.”

Pravato said the next step in the case is to go to court to try to secure an injunction to get inside the funeral home to see if Hughes’ body may still be there. 

Photo Credit: NBC 6

Man Pistol-Whipped, Robbed Clerk


A cashier at a Bristol gas station was pistol whipped on Thursday night when he refused to hand cash over to a robber.

Police responded to the Citgo Gas Station at 436 Broad Street around 9 p.m. on Thursday to investigate an armed robbery and learned that the robber held the clerk up at gunpoint, but the employee refused to give the robber cash, so the man pistol whipped him, police said.

Someone driving by saw the cashier in the road, covered in blood, and called 911.

Police said the assailant was in his late 20s, wearing a gray sweatshirt, and left in a gray or silver vehicle that headed north on Andrews Street. 

The cashier was taken to Bristol Hospital and treated for injuries.
The Bristol Police Patrol and Detective Divisions are investigating and ask anyone with information about the robbery to call the department at 860-584-3011.

3 People Survive Small Plane Crash


A man and two women survived a small plane crash in the rugged mountains of Big Bear in California on Thursday in what a firefighter called a miracle.

Rescuers hoisted the trio to safety after the small plane went down about 12 miles west of Big Bear Airport after 2 p.m., according to the San Bernardino County Fire Department. Crews had to hoist the victims out of the dangerous area one rescue official described as"very steep, very rugged, very tree-lined."

"For them to land in the area they did or crash land in the area they did, I believe it to be a miracle that they survived," said Marc Peebles, a battalion chief with the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

The wreckage of the plane could be seen between the trees at the bottom of a steep ridge off Highway 18, a main route through the San Bernardino Mountains.

All three were hoisted in harnesses and then put on stretchers. Two were taken to the hospital by ambulance a third was taken by helicopter to the hospital.

One woman who appeared to sustain facial injuries in the crash told a reporter she thanks God she survived as she was rolled away on a stretcher

It's unclear what caused the plane to go down.

Photo Credit: NewsChopper4

Suspect in Credit Card Fraud Case Contacts Police


South Windsor police said they have found a man suspected of using a stolen credit card to buy gift cards and other items from Geisslers Supermarket.

The incident happened on Sept. 16 and police said the man bought a $200 gift card and other items with the stolen credit card.

Police released surveillance images to the media and the suspect contacted authorities and gave a statement, police said.

Photo Credit: South Windsor Police Department

Teen Mom of Baby Found Dead in Trash Can Due in Court


An 18-year-old East Hartford woman whose newborn baby was found dead in a trash can in August will go before a judge today.

Authorities discovered the baby after Geralyz Sotomayor-Cruz, 18, went to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center the night of Aug. 12, showing signs of having given birth, but did not have a baby with her, police said.

Police searched the area of Sotomayor-Cruz's home at 1047 Tolland Street in East Hartford and found the baby unresponsive in a trash can outside the home. The child was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police have not released any information on the cause of the infant's death, but said the Connecticut State Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy.

Sotomayor-Cruz was arrested on Oct. 16 and charged with first-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault, first-degree risk of injury to a minor and concealment of delivery. Bond was set at $500,000.

She's due in court tomorrow if she does not post bond.

Photo Credit: East Hartford Police Department

Virginia Man Burns Down Brother's Higganum Home


Police have arrested a Virginia man accused of torching his brother's home in the Higganum village of Haddam on Thursday morning.

Ronald Carlson, 50, of Portsmouth, Virginia, is accused of setting fire to the raised ranch at 575 Candlewood Road around 10:30 a.m.

Police said Carlson turned himself in to police and admitted to lighting the fire.

He was taken into custody and was brought to the Shoreline Clinic in Westbrook to be treated for burns on his arms and face, then transferred to the Bridgeport Hospital Burn Unit for further treatment.

Haddam First Selectwoman Melissa Schlag said there is "no further threat" to the community.

The home was empty and fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Crews siphoned water from a nearby pond, but the home and barn were destroyed, according to the Haddam Volunteer Fire Department.

Crews responded fpr from nine departments, including Haddam, East Haddam, Haddam Neck, the City of Middletown, Middletown South District, Chester, Killingworth, Deep River and Durham.

Carlson was charged with first-degree arson and third-degree burglary. His bond was set at $500,000, and police said he will appear in court "when medically possible."

The investigation is ongoing.

"I am heartbroken for the Carlson family. My thoughts are with them at this time and the Haddam/Higganum community is here for them," she said in a statement Thursday night.

Anyone who would like to donate money or clothing is asked to call Schlag's office at 860-345-8531 ext. 204 or email her directly.

Photo Credit: Haddam Volunteer Fire Department

Ebola Contacts Asked to Sign Pact to Avoid Public


All health care workers who had contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan are being asked to sign a document agreeing not to fly, use public transportation or visit public areas,  asked officials said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services created the document at the request of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jenkins spokesman Philip Haigh told NBC News.

Two Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurses who cared for Duncan, a Liberian man who died of the virus in Dallas on Oct. 8, have tested positive for Ebola and health officials have cautioned that more cases could surface. One of those patients, 29-year-old Amber Joy Vinson, traveled on a commercial airline to Cleveland and back before her diagnosis. Another health worker who handled a lab specimen from Duncan is now being quarantined and monitored for signs of an infection on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

Haigh said the document was not created out of fear that the hospital workers will break the rules, but because they want to reassure the people of Dallas that these health care workers will not be out and about.

"They already know what they're supposed to do," he said.

Haigh noted that the document is a voluntary agreement rather than a control order or court order. He added that action could be taken in the event of non-compliance, but that he doesn't expect that to happen.

"These are health care workers. They wouldn't endanger people's lives with unnecessary risks," Haigh said. "These are people who volunteered to help treat the first case of Ebola in this country."

Officials have not yet released the document publicly because they want the health care workers to see it first.

Dallas health officials and members of the CDC "contact tracing" unit began distributing the agreement and asking for signatures Thursday.

"Some official will go to them," Haigh said. "They are already being monitored."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Police Rescue Man from Submerged Car in Danbury Lake


Danbury police rescued a man who was trapped in a car that crashed into Candlewood Lake in Danbury last night.

Police responded to Candlewood Town Park just before 11 p.m. on Thursday after receiving reports that a car was submerged in the lake with people trapped inside, police said.

The car was about 50 feet offshore with water up to the roof and police noticed a hand sticking out of the driver’s side window and went to help.

Matthew Branche, 59, of Carmel, New York, was the only person in the car and water was up to his neck, police said.

Branche told officers that he wasn’t able to get out of the car.

Officers were able to open the door and brought Branche to shore.

He was then taken to Danbury Hospital.

Police are investigating, but said it appears Branche was traveling north on East Hayestown Road in his 2011 Lexus and lost control of his car at the intersection of East Hayestown.

Carmel, New York is about 15 miles away from Danbury.

Witnesses should call Officer Anderson 203-797-4611, extension 626.

Motorcyclist Badly Hurt in Vernon


A motorcyclist was taken to Hartford Hospital after sustaining serious injuries in a crash in Vernon this morning.

A motorcycle and a car collided on West Street near at Daryl Drive and  West Street will be closed between Ogden View Drive and Tracy Drive until around noon, police said.

The LifeStar medical transport helicopter was called, but was then canceled and an abulamce transported the driver to the hospital.

Police have not released the motorcyclists name because they are notifying family members.

Police have set up a detour for traffic in the area. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Campaign Ad Featuring James Foley Pulled


A conservative ad campaign that featured James Foley, the New Hampshire journalist slain by ISIS, moments before his execution, will be pulled, the group responsible for the ad said.

Secure America Now President Allen Roth said in a statement that his group didn't intend to upset Foley's family with the ad attacking Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and that they "apologize for any pain we inadvertently caused.“

“It has been brought to our attention that a news report image of American hostage James Foley that appeared in a Secure America Now video has upset his parents, so we have decided to take the video down," the statement continued. “The purpose of the video was to draw attention to Washington’s failure to secure our borders from real threats by terrorists. That remains our objective and we will continue to engage in this public debate.”

Foley, a Rochester native, was beheaded by Islamic State militants in August, nearly two years after he was kidnapped in Syria. His parents say the ad was "deplorable" and told NECN in an emotional interview that they were demanding that the ad be pulled from New Hampshire.

Secure America Now used the image in a 15-second Internet ad attacking Shaheen, who is locked in a tight race against Republican Scott Brown, and other Democratic incumbents in critical Senate races nationwide.

"It makes me very sad that people would use the brutality of our son's death for their own political purposes," Mrs. Foley said.

Shaheen issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon condemning the ad.

"This is a disgraceful ad that dishonors the memory of a respected journalist and New Hampshire native," she said. "It hurts all who loved and knew Jim, and the people behind this ad owe the Foley family and apology."

According to Elizabeth Guyton, communications director for Scott Brown, Brown said, "This is completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Foley family.”

Roth says the group did not contact the Foley family before making the ad public.

Secure America Now emphasized that the Foley execution video and the image have been used in other campaigns across the country several different times.

Photo Credit: AP

Police Seize Kilo of Heroin in North Haven


North Haven police have seized a kilo of heroin that was heading to the New Haven area.
Police said Officer Alan Cantele and his drug detection K-9, “Koda,” were instrumental seizing the drugs. 

Cantele had received a tip in a suspicious package and “Koda” detected the package, who contained pure heroin, police said.

Police Arrest Suspect in Bank Robbery


Woodbridge police have arrested a man accused of robbing a First Niagara bank on Oct. 14.

A man went into the bank at 211 Amity Road at about 11:53 a.m., demanded money from one of the bank tellers and ran off on Mettler Street, police said.

Richard Worthington, 29, of Branford, was arrested and charged with second-degree robbery and third-degree larceny. 

He was detained overnight at the Woodbridge Police Department in lieu of a $200,000 bond, which he was unable to post, police said.

He was arraigned this morning.


Photo Credit: Woodbridge Police

Pedestrian Injured in East Hampton


Police are investigating a serious crash involving a pedestrian on Main Street in East Hampton this morning.

No additional information has been released.

Father, Son Arrested in Marijuana Bust


Police arrested a father and son and seized more than 500 marijuana plants when they raided houses in Stafford and Somers on Thursday afternoon.

Police, members of drug task forces and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration raided 72 Gilbert Road in Stafford and 95 Georgewood Road in Somers around 3 p.m. on Thursday during an investigation into a marijuana distribution network, police said.

Inside the Stafford home, police found an indoor marijuana grow operation, including 508 marijuana plants, grow lights, timers, fans and several other items used to grow marijuana inside, police said.

They also seized around 10 pounds of processed marijuana prepared for sale, around $1,500 and five all-terrain vehicles.

Police arrested Frederick Seagraves, 36, and Sarah Craddock, 33, at the scene. Both were charged with several marijuana-related crimes. Seagraves was held on $250,000 bond and Craddock was held on $500,000.

Police said three children were also at the home, so the state Department of Children and Families was contacted and the children were placed with a relative. 

When police searched the Somers home, they found one ounce of cocaine and two pounds of processed marijuana.

Robert Seagraves, 57, was arrested at the scene and charged with numerous marijuana and narcotic related charges. He was held on a $500,000 bond. 

The Seagraves are father and son, according to state police.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

North Haven High Dismissing Early After Chemical Spill


North Haven High School students are being dismissed early after a chemical spill on Friday morning.

Emergency crews responded to the school at 221 Elm Street and the building was evacuated after some sort of chemical spill.

Students were allowed back in the school briefly, but were dismissed early, according to police.

Officials from the fire department said there do not appear to be any injuries.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responded to the school to investigate the spill.  It was not clear what type of chemical spilled.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

State Trooper Injured in I-84 Crash


Three people, including a state trooper, were taken to the hospital after a crash on Interstate 84 East in Manchester early Friday morning.

Police said the state trooper was conducting a motor vehicle stop near exit 63 just after 1:30 a.m. when another car hit the cruiser, pushing it into the stopped car, according to a news release from police.

The state trooper, identified as Christopher Melanson, 38, was out of his vehicle and was hit with debris, police said. He taken to Hartford Hospital to be evaluated for injuries that not life-threatening.
The driver responsible for the crash, identified as Ricardo Gonzalez, 28, of Manchester, was also injured and taken to Hartford Hospital for injuries that are not life-threatening.

Richard Rebusmen, 36. of Vernon, the driver of the car that was stopped was taken to Rockville Hospital to be evaluated.

Police are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Gas Leak in Milford Contained


A gas leak at 494 Naugatuck Ave. in Milford is under control.

Police said they received a 911 call about the leak at 11 a.m. after a Regional Water Authority work crew ruptured an unmarked 2-inch gas line that supplied the St. Ann's School building, police said.

Nearby buildings were evacuated and fire crews used gas meters to check the surrounding areas, but found no dangerous levels.

Southern Connecticut Gas Company crews arrived, stopped the flow of gas and are in the process repairing the damaged gas line.

Officials said the scene was under control at 12:27 p.m. and fire crews began to clear the scene.

Car Plows Into Laundromat, Hits Woman on Sidewalk


A woman was taken to the hospital after a car jumped the curb outside a West Haven laundromat and hit her on the sidewalk, according to the store owner.

The owner of the laundromat said a silver Volkswagen Jetta drove over the curb at 163 Boston Post Road in West Haven Friday afternoon and plowed into the laundromat there, hitting a woman who was standing outside the building.

"I turned around and [saw] the lady in shock, that she got hit by a car, and the door completely blown out," explained laundromat worker Anthony Robinson.

The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment. Officials have not released any information on her condition.

The laundromat owner said the car continued on into the building's front door, shattering the glass. Workers were inside the building at the time but no one else was hurt.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Inmate Dies at Somers Prison


Authorities are investigating after an inmate was found unresponsive in his cell at the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers and was later pronounced dead.

According to the state Department of Correction, 27-year-old Sonny Rivera, of East Hartford, was found unresponsive and alone in his cell around 7:40 a.m. Friday. 

Medical staff performed "emergency and life saving measures," then rushed him to Johnson Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead an hour later, according to the DOC.

Rivera had been serving a four-and-a-half year sentence on a second-degree assault conviction. He had been behind bars since February 2012, the DOC said.

The State Medical Examiner's Office is working to determine Rivera's cause of death.

State police and the DOC are investigating.

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