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CCMC Brings Trick-or-Treating to Patients


It was all treats and no tricks at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center for Halloween.

Doctors, nurses and surgeons dressed up as different characters and went “reverse trick or treating” from room to room at the Hartford facility.

“It was different than the hospital. You know for a second there, I forgot that I was even here,” said patient Aliya Stephens.

Chelsea Krance planned to go trick or treating with her friends before she got sick, but said seeing her doctor in costume is the next best thing.

“You get to see everyone in their costume which is really great,” she said

“We’re happy to see a smile on her face which we haven’t seen all week,” said her father, Herman Krance.

Patients and their families weren't the only ones who benefitted from the festivities Friday.

“Everybody dresses up and it’s just so exciting to see the kids so excited and the staff just as excited,” said nurse Laura Lally.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Remembering Lisa White 40 Years After Disappearance


It has been 40 years since Lisa Joy White disappeared from Prospect Street in Vernon.

For Aprille Falletti, it has been 40 years of wondering what happened to her blond-haired, blue-eyed older sister.

“I wanted to be just like her,” said Falletti.

Falletti said Lisa was a true talent, involved in acrobatic dancing and cheerleading. She was also no stranger to mischief and perhaps mature beyond her 13 young years.

“She had a boyfriend. I believe he was 18 at the time. My mother did not approve, obviously,” said Falletti.

On Oct. 31, 1974, Aprille’s mother, Judi Kelly, was called to state police barracks, where officers told herLisa and a group of friends had thrown a pumpkin from a car window on Interstate 84.

Lisa and her mother argued when they arrived home.

“I remember huddling in my closet in my nighty,” says Falletti. “It was just so loud and frightening for me.”

Falletti said Lisa was grounded, but the punishment didn’t stick. The following morning, Nov. 1, Lisa left for a friend’s house on Prospect Street. It was the last time she was ever seen.

At the time of her sister’s disappearance, Falletti was 10. Her life was quickly consumed by detectives at the front door, news crews outside her home and her sister’s picture plastered on telephone poles and posted at the local supermarket.

Falletti said her mother would listen to anyone and everyone who had a tip or idea. She still holds onto her mother’s scrapbooks, which contain as many news clippings on her missing daughter as she could find.

“She drove around night after night, day after day. Until the day she died, she never stopped looking for my sister,” Falletti said.

Falletti said her sister’s disappearance has shaped every aspect of her life. She now owns a dance studio because dance is something she and her sister did together.

It has also changed the way she interacts with her own son.

“I remember one time he had a different bus driver and I followed that bus to school,” Falletti said.

Mostly, she said it has left her thinking about how things should have been.

“I wonder what it would be like to have a sister to call, and on holidays to have my son spend time with her children,” Falletti said.

The work to find Lisa has never stopped. Rewards are still being offered, and just recently, authorities created a cold case task force in Tolland County. Lisa’s case will be a focus of their work.

“For me, closure would be to bring my sister home,” Falletti said.

A memorial to Lisa Joy White will be unveiled in a ceremony at Talcott Park on Saturday, just feet away from Lisa’s last known location.

Before she died, Lisa's mother hand-selected a boulder engraved with Lisa's picture. The inscription reads, “Lisa Joy White. 13 years old. Missing from here on November 1st, 1974. Gone but not forgotten.”

“I wanted it to be something permanent that couldn’t be taken,” said Falletti.

She said the boulder is meant as much for her mother as for Lisa.

“I think it is beautiful,” she said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Suspect in Assault on 3 Officers Faces Judge


The man accused of injuring three New Britain officers and dragging one of them behind his car on Thursday appeared bruised and bleeding in a New Britain courtroom on Friday.

Police tracked Richard Moore, 43, to the area of the Batterson Park boat launch on Alexander Road to arrest him just before noon Thursday. Three officers – and Moore – were hurt when he tried to get away.

He was taken into custody and faced a judge Friday on assault and other charges.

Moore's girlfriend, Sheray Unger, was there to support him and explain his actions.

"The cop startled him and he drove off," Unger said.

Moore's attorney requested a chair for his client as prosecutors combed through his criminal history. Prosecutors cited a "substantial record, counting 22 printable convictions" just in Connecticut.

But Unger said she gives Moore the benefit of the doubt.

"He is not a monster. He is not a bad person. He is the nicest person in the world," Unger said. "He has had issues in the past, absolutely. He is trying to start over."

The prosecution also emphasized the gravity of the current allegations in their push to set a high bond.

"It was only by good fortune that the police officers weren't more seriously injured in this case," prosecutors explained.

Unger alleged that Moore had no malicious intent.

"He comes from a line of police officers in his family," she said. "He would never hurt a police officer intentionally."

Moore is due back in court Nov. 13.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

1 Dead in Virgin Spaceplane Crash


One crew member was killed and another suffered a "major injury" after Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, designed for suborbital commercial flights above the Earth, went down Friday during a test flight over the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

The test flight, in preparation for space tourism trips for which 700 customers have already paid up to $250,000, involved two crew members. Ground controllers lost contact with the crew shortly after the space tourism plane separated from a mothership that carries it to a height of about 50,000 feet, according to a Federal Aviation Administration statement.

One crew member was found dead in the vicinity of what authorities described as a widespread debris field. A second crew member was hospitalized, but details regarding a condition were not immediately available.

"At times like these, we recognize we engage in our craft freely," said Stuart Witt, CEO of Mojave Air and Space Port. "The test community is very small. We are human, and it hurts."

Crews found three distinct debris fields, indicating SpaceShipTwo broke apart mid-air, said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. A witness told The Associated Press the space tourism plane exploded over the desert after its rocket motor ignited.

"Space is hard, and today was a tough day," Virgin Galactic Chief Exec George Whitesides said.

Parts of the plane landed in the Cantil area, about 25 miles northeast of Mojave Air and Space Port and 95 miles north of Los Angeles. Aerial video showed several pieces of aircraft debris marked with the Virgin Galactic logo.

"Well the aircraft was not in one piece when it hit the ground, so there was some kind of structural failure obviously," Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said.

Witt and other members of the test flight team watched the test flight from the base of the control tower. He said he "detected nothing that appeared abnormal."

"During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo," according to Virgin Galactic. The "anomaly" occurred as the plane fired its rocket engine in flight, according to NBCNews.com. A tweet posted by Virgin Galactic's account Friday morning said, "#SpaceShipTwo has experienced an in-flight anomaly."

The tweet was posted just minutes after the plane, carried to 50,000 feet by a mothership called WhiteKnightTwo, began flying under rocket power, something the hybrid-rocket engine plane had not done in more than nine months, according to NBCNews.com. WhiteKnightTwo landed safety, according to Virgin Galactic.

Billionaire Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic's founder, had planned to be among those on the plane's first commercial voyage. Branson's company is considered a front-runner in the space tourism industry.

"Thoughts with all @virgingalactic & Scaled, thanks for all your messages of support. I'm flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team," Branson tweeted Friday afternoon.

Branson's tweet referred to Scaled Composites, Virgin Galactic's flight test partner.

Authorities did not comment with regard to a cause at a Friday afternoon news conference.

Virgin Galactic had switched the plane's fuel mixture since the last powered flight, NBCNews.com reported. The fuel change involved a switch from a rubber-based compound to plastic-based mix, NBCNews.com reported. Engineers were attempting to determine whether the new mix would boost engine performance.

Test flight officials said at a Friday news conference that the new fuel formulation had been tested many times on the ground.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

Cop Stole Topless Arrestee Pics: DA


A California Highway Patrol officer is facing felony charges for allegedly stealing explicit photos from the phones of women he arrested.

Dublin-based CHP Officer Sean Harrington is charged him with two counts of computer data theft. He sent the pictures to at least two fellow officers as part of what he called a “game,” according to court documents.

Contra Costa deputy district attorney Barry Grove said Friday the two counts stem from two separate incidents that took place in August. "Obviously, something harmful was done,” Grove said. “This was an extreme invasion of privacy to these young women.”

Harrington's attorney, Michael Rains, agreed.

"This behavior is really not defensible,” Rains said. “It is impulsive, immature and inappropriate in every sense of the word.”

Harrington realizes his actions have tarnished the badge and submitted his resignation on Wednesday, Rains said.

"You talk about paying the price for something you once called a game. You can't pay too much of a price for that, and frankly, it's not over," said Rains, adding that his client is sorry for his actions and wants the women victimized to know that.

Attorney Rick Madsen, who represents the alleged 23-year-old victim, said he doesn’t buy it. “He's sorry he got caught," he said.

Rains said Harrington has admitted he stole explicit photos from the phones of up to a half-dozen arrestees. Search warrant documents detail text messages sent between them: "Her body is rocking," states one. Another reads: “Taken from the phone of my 10-15x while she's in X-rays. Enjoy buddy!!!”

"The women who were victimized by this deserve to be angry and upset because it's not a game, it's a serious matter,” Rains said.

Defense attorneys across the East Bay are shaking their heads as details continue to emerge about the alleged scheme to steal nude photos from arrestees’ cell phones and then text them to other officers.

“It's far from a game,” Oakland-based DUI attorney Francisco Rodriguez previously told NBC Bay Area. “It's a betrayal of the public's trust."

Attorney Rick Madsen, who represents the alleged 23-year-old victim, said last week the officers' communications were "dehumanizing'' and "horribly offensive'' to his client and all women, saying, "It's going to lead to another level of mistrust and skepticism to the motive of law enforcement in general.'

The other two officers who Harrington claims took part in the alleged “game” will not be charged at this point, prosecutors said.

Harrington’s attorney said his client will turn himself in Monday morning, when he is due to be arraigned.'

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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Truck Scrapes Railroad Bridge, Gets Stuck


Route 138/Newent Road is closed in Lisbon after a tractor-trailer scraped the bottom of a railroad bridge while trying to pass underneath, according to witnesses at the scene.

State police said the tractor-trailer crashed around 8:30 p.m. Friday. The entire length of Route 138, which spans from Route 169/North Burnham Highway to Route 12/River Road, is shut down while authorities respond.

Pictures from the scene show damage to the roof and walls of the tractor-trailer, which got stuck under a bridge in the area of 100 Newent Road. It's not clear if the driver or anyone else was hurt. No other vehicles appear to be involved in the crash.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Josh Cingranelli

Fire Breaks Out at Stratford Restaurant


Police and firefighters are responding to a fire at Jalapeno's Restaurant on Success Avenue in Stratford.

The road is shut down in the area while crews respond to the scene. Police said the fire appears to have started in the restaurant and spread to other units in the strip mall at 594 Sucess Avenue.

Milford firefighters are providing mutual aid, according to the department.

Check back for updates.

No Extra Hour at the Bar This Weekend


As we turn back our clocks this weekend, many will enjoy an extra hour of sleep. But it doesn't mean you'll get to stay at the bar an hour later too.

"It's going to be one of our biggest parties of the year," said Nicole Apuzzo, bar manager of Russian Lady in New Haven. "We don't stay open for the extra hour only because of the date of business. We have to abide by those hours, even though the clocks are set back, so we don't get that extra hour of business."

The Department of Consumer Protection is reminding businesses and patrons that they're not allowed a "do-over" of that last hour. It might say 1 a.m. when Daylight Saving Time ends, but state officials say that means no more booze.

"At the end of the night, we're literally pushing people out the door, so keeping them here that much longer would really help," Apuzzo said.

It might help a place like the Russian Lady, but others say it's not worth it.

"Typically, at that hour people have gotten in the amount of drinking they should and we don't want to extend it and push it much farther than we should," said Tim Cabral, who co-owns the bar Ordinary on Chapel Street in New Haven. "We think of our guests and as well as our staff and we want to respect everybody. There's no need for us to stay that extra hour."

Patrons of both establishments weighed in on that extra hour Friday night.

"You know what, if they were still drinking at that time, they wouldn't remember to put their watches back anyway," joked New Haven resident Stephanie Shames.

Bar owners said state liquor laws have been strict for as long as they can remember. The only night bars can stay open later than normal is New Year's Eve.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Say Boo: Halloween Around the World


From Washington D.C. to Tokyo, people donned their most ghoulish getups to celebrate Halloween.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

79-Year-Old Woman With Alzheimer's Rescued From Ravine


Police rescued a 79-year-old woman with Alzheimer's who walked away from her South Windsor home Friday afternoon and later found stuck in a nearby ravine.

Authorities issued a Silver Alert for Zari Jamala around 4 p.m. Friday. The Silver Alert was canceled shortly thereafter when a state police K-9 tracked her to a ravine near her South Windsor home, according to police.

Police said rescue crews found her 20-30 feet down the ravine sitting on island surrounded by water from a brook. She was able to talk to rescuers at the scene but speaks minimal, if any, English,  authorities said. Firefighters said they needed special equipment to get her out.

Police said Jamala suffered minor injuries, including a few scratches, and will be evaluated at the  hospital.

A communication barrier has prevented police from learning how Jamala ended up in the ravine. Authorities said it's not clear how long she was there.

Photo Credit: South Windsor Fire Department

"Windsor Purge" Rumors Circulate on Halloween


The town of Windsor is tightening security tonight in response to rumors of a "Windsor Purge" alluding to the 2013 horror flick in which all crime is legal for 12 hours.

Police said extra officers are patrolling the town in response to a "purge" event that local students have planned for Halloween night. In "The Purge," movie characters wearing a particular mask roam the city and loot, pillage, steal and kill.

"We were told they were going to have BB guns and possibly event paintball guns," explained Windsor police Capt. Tom LePore. "They were going to do property damage, vandalize cars, buildings and possibly even shoot at people that were trick-or-treating."

Students said they, too, caught wind of the rumors.

"I heard that it was going to be a bunch of juniors going out and doing the purge," explained Windsor High School senior Ellie Moore. "I heard they were going to buy BB guns and freeze the pellets so they'd be able to shoot them at people and hurt them. ... Everything you saw in 'The Purge,' they were going to try and recreate here."

Police told school administrators about the rumors Thursday evening, prompting schools to send letters home to parents of middle and high school students.

"Windsor Police and Windsor Public Schools have been partnering together since this information was developed and are working quickly to prevent these intended acts of delinquency," officials at Sage Park Middle School wrote in a letter to families.

"We will be meeting with students identified as participating in such discussions to determine the validity of such plans and to very emphatically communicate both school and police expectations," the letter continues.

School officials said they also planned to contact parents of students they suspected to be involved and urged families to have their own conversations about Halloween behavior.

Students noticed police at school Friday questioning their peers.

"I saw cops walking around talking to some students," explained Windsor High School sophomore Gaby Rosado, who also heard talk of frozen BB pellets. "Some students got pulled out of class to get talked to."

Police said nothing illegal has happened and hope a proactive approach will prevent any criminal activity. Students at the center of the idea will not face any repercussions as long as it stays just that – an idea.

"Halloween is going to be very safe tonight," police said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Gun Groups Vie to Be Heard in Conn. Gov. Race


Two years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the economy tops guns as the central issue Connecticut voters choose as most important. But with Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy running for his second term, gun control proponents say they want to send a message with his re-election: They will protect politicians who take on the gun lobby.

"He was really a strong, indispensable supporter of gun violence prevention after Sandy Hook and he should be rewarded for that," said Shannon Watts, who has paired up with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to create the group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Days before Tuesday's election, Malloy was running neck-and-neck with his Republican opponent Thomas C. Foley, a former ambassador to Ireland and private equity investor, who has said he would sign a repeal of the gun control legislation passed after the shootings if it were approved. The latest Quinnipiac University poll this week puts them at 43 percent each among likely voters, while an independent candidate, Joseph Visconti, has 7 percent of the vote.

The campaign is a rematch for Malloy and Foley, who were separated by about 6,400 votes in 2010. Foley leads Malloy when voters are asked who would do a better job on taxes, jobs and government spending, according to a September poll from Quinnipiac University. But the tragedy in Newtown is still raw and backers and opponents of the stricter legislation, both inside the state and out, are watching the election closely and trying to turn it into a deciding issue. Some of those directly touched by the Sandy Hook killings, meanwhile, have channeled their grief into activism for Malloy. Others in Connecticut, sometimes even in the same family, straddle both sides of the gun issue.

Big Spending on Gun Issue

The election comes as national organizations advocating gun-control measures are taking on the long influential National Rifle Association. Their goal: to equal the NRA in passion, if not spending.

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, a gun-control activist since she was shot in the head at a 2011 "Congress on Your Corner" event in Tucson, has visited Connecticut. Last week, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Independence USA PAC began buying $1.7 million in ads to highlight the state's gun control laws. Other groups have spent about $780,000 to see Malloy returned to office.

“The NRA praises Tom Foley, calling him pro-gun," says the narrator in the Bloomberg ad. "No wonder. The NRA opposes comprehensive background checks — and Foley promised he'd sign a bill to weaken them — undermining our gun safety laws."

On the other side, the NRA is sending out $49,000 worth of postcards supporting Foley in the last days before Tuesday's vote. The gun industry’s trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, has reported more than $290,000 for advertising and political mailings on Foley’s behalf. The foundation, which is based in Newtown, argues that the new gun restrictions do little to protect the public.

“We think that the governor purposely set out to identify the firearms industry as a straw man, as an enemy,” said the foundation’s spokesman, Michael Bazinet. “We are not those things.”

Bazinet said his group had been shut out of discussions about the tightened gun-control legislation. It would have wanted more focus on access to guns by those who are mentally ill, he said.

Foley has been endorsed by another gun-rights group, Connecticut Citizens Defense League, whose President Scott Wilson, charged Malloy had maligned gun owners.

“The governor of Connecticut has mislabeled and characterized law-abiding gun owners in Connecticut as extremist, that we are somehow dangerous,” he said.

Nationally, the NRA has spent $30.6 million in independent expenditures for the 2014 federal elections compared to Giffords' Americans for Responsible Solutions has spent $6.8 million and Bloomberg's Independence USA PAC, $5 million, according to the most recent tallies from OpenSecrets.org, which tracks campaign spending. Everytown for Gun Safety has paid $1.2 million for lobbying to the NRA's $2.5 million.

Even as gun-control groups have embarked on their blitz, the issue has receded in most of the country, said Robert Spitzer, author of “The Politics of Gun Control” and a professor at the State University of New York in Cortland.

Connecticut's Gun Law

In Connecticut, emotions are still strong two years after the tragedy. On Dec. 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 26 children and adults in a fusillade from his Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

The legislation that followed requires weapons be registered, expands the list of banned weapons to include the rifle Lanza used and adds a prohibition on magazines of more than 10 bullets.

"We don't care if you are a Republican or a Democrat," said Watts, who formed Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America after the shootings. "If you don't support gun sense, we want you out of office. And I think that when you see 26 innocent Americans, including 20 first-graders, slaughtered in the sanctity of their American elementary school, there's no un-ringing that bell.”

Overall, Connecticut’s legislation is popular in the state. A Quinnipiac University poll in May found that 56 percent of voters approve of it. But the support is highly dependent on party and gender: More Democrats and women are in favor than Republicans or men.

Not the Top Campaign Issue

Rather than talk about the gun legislation, Foley criticizes Malloy for raising taxes and failing to get spending under control, arguing that Connecticut has the worst economic performance of any state.

“If I’d been governor, the bill would have been very different in response to what happened in Newtown,” he said in response to a question while visiting a recent chili cook-off in Windsor. “But I think people in this race are focused on jobs and the economy, taxes, spending and Connecticut’s future."

Foley has said that he thought the legislation offered little to address access to guns for those who are mentally ill or urban crime with illegal guns, and that he would sign a repeal if one were approved by the General Assembly though no one believes that is likely.

Malloy counters that the mental health criticism is a false issue. Not only did Lanza come from a wealthy family able to afford mental health care, but Connecticut has increased spending on care, he said. And Malloy is unapologetic about his criticism of the NRA, which he says is out of step with its own members on such points as universal background checks.

The NRA did not respond to a request for comment.

The gun legislation in one among a list of accomplishments, Malloy said. He also is running on school reform and agreements on economic development and job creation, he said.

“We win the votes of people who are going to vote this issue and we win the votes of people who are going to vote other issues,” he said. “Intensity gets measured on Election Day.”

Visconti charges that the gun legislation is meant to make it difficult for law-abiding people to own any guns. He would put police officers at every school.

From Grief to Activism 

The morning of the Sandy Hook shootings, Abbey Clements’ class was supposed to be making snowflakes for a PTA luncheon. Instead, the pupils huddled together singing Christmas songs to try to mute the sound of Lanza's rifle.

Today the second-grade teacher is volunteering for Malloy's re-election.

"He continued to push for change and he continued to keep what happened to us right in the forefront of his mind,” she said.

Mark Barden is also among Malloy’s supporters. Barden's 7-year-old son Daniel was killed in the shootings. He said Malloy had the courage to transcend politics and sign legislation — he does not use the phrase gun control — that would save lives while preserving constitutional rights. He would like to see more officials do what Malloy did, he said.

“I think the public sentiment is changing on this issue,” he said. “I think the playing field is changing….Enough people are saying ‘Enough is enough, this is ridiculous.’ And I think that the politics is changing as well.”

Taking Sides on Connecticut's Law

At a recent Malloy campaign stop at Scotts' Jamaican Bakery in Hartford, the owner, Gordon Scott, said that people had the right to own weapons but not all kinds.

“Hunting is one thing but I’m not sure anyone needs an AK-47 to hunt or whatever those other guns are," he said.

But in Windsor, Mike McDonald, the owner of a security guard firm, said he agreed with Foley: The legislation failed to address issue of mental illness and guns.

For Paul Tappenden, the best kind of politician is one who interferes the least with his life and in this race, that means Foley.

Tappenden, a truck driver from Windsor, said his top concern was taxes, not gun laws.

His wife, Trish, who works as a secretary, said she was torn about the legislation. No one needs an Uzi submachine gun, she said.

“People own a lot of things they don’t need,” he countered. “If you’re legal and you’re sane and you’ve passed a background check and you want to go to the range and blast off a thousand rounds in a minute, you should be allowed to do that.”

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NYC Doctor With Ebola "Stable"


The condition of Dr. Craig Spencer, the physician being treated for Ebola at Bellevue Hospital, has improved from "serious but stable" to "stable," health officials said Saturday.

The announcement was made "based on our patient's clinical progress and response to treatment," the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation said in a statement. "The patient will remain in isolation and continue to receive full treatment."

Meanwhile, the New York City Department of Health announced Saturday that one person under quarantine because of contact with Spencer will only be subject to direct active monitoring. The decision was made after a physician review determined that the individual was not at risk of contracting Ebola. He or she can now move about freely, but must be assessed twice a day by Health Department staff.

The announcements came almost a week after authorities said Spencer had entered the next phase of his illness and warned that he was expected to get worse before he could get better.

He received a plasma transfusion from the second American Ebola patient, Nancy Writebol, on Oct. 25, according to SIM, the Christian organization that Writebol worked with before she was admitted to Emory University Hospital in August.

Authorities have said Spencer was awake, communicating and undergoing plasma and antiviral therapies, treatments that have been used to treat Ebola patients at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and at the Nebraska Medical Center.

His fiancee, Morgan Dixon, was released from the hospital days ago and returned to the couple's Hamilton Heights apartment. She had not developed any sign of the illness, and she was to remain under quarantine at home.

5 Dead, 2 Hurt in Maine Fire


As darkness fell, fire investigators in Portland, Maine, surrounded the blackened and charred apartment home right near the University of Southern Maine.

Five people are now dead, two others injured, one critically burned, after an overnight Halloween party at the home on Noyes Street.

The blaze was the deadliest in Portland in more than 50 years.

"This house within 10 minutes was engulfed in flames," said one eyewitness.

Other neighbors describe a scene of horror.

"One boy jumped out of the windows," said one neighbor.

Carol Schiller says she saw a young man jump from the porch.

"He was totally engulfed flames," she said. "He was rolling on the ground."

Seven people were able to escape the inferno.

Fire Chief Jerry LaMoria says the department first got the calls for help shortly after 7 a.m., and arrived to heavy flames.

Others spotted those flames early this morning from the very busy nearby Forrest Avenue.

"I saw a man laying in the road," said Damien Croxford.

He says he ran help, but the heat was too intense.

"I went around back to the back door, but the flames were so bad I couldn't handle it, the flames were just too hot," said Croxford.

As of Saturday evening, the victims weren't identified. No cause was determined, either.

Neighbors say the house is referred to as a "party house," a group of young girls and their pets living on one side, others in the next unit.

"As part of this investigation, officials will be looking at whether or not any code violations existed in this building," said LaMoria.

In the meantime, another woman says her boyfriend's 27-year-old son is likely one of the victims.

"We were told there were two bodies found in his room, and that's all that we know," she said, sobbing.

Saturday afternoon, family and friends of the victims were being referred to the University of Southern Maine Woodbury Campus at 35 Bedford Street.

Photo Credit: WCSH Reporter Sarah Delage

Woman Attacks Cop During Bar Disturbance: Police


A woman is accused of assaulting a police officer after refusing to leave a Bristol bar while authorities were investigating an attack at the establishment that left a man bleeding early Saturday morning, police said.

Police arrested Stashia M. Luddy, 27, of Bristol, in the incident, which happened at West End Café on 8 Divinity Street in Bristol. The bar's permit holder Howard "Paris" Allison, 37, of Bristol was also charged with obstructing the investigation, police said.

Police responded at about 1:45 a.m. on Saturday to investigate a report that a man was assaulted. When officers arrived, they noticed large groups of people in front of the bar, West End Pizza Restaurant and on Laundry Street in the area, police said. They found a man bleeding inside the business.

Staff and officers asked Luddy to leave, but she refused so police arrested her, police said. Then she attacked a Bristol officer and threatened "bodily harm" to another police officer, police said.

It took 10 officers to diffuse the disturbance, police said.

Police charged Luddy with first-degree criminal trespass, assault on a police officer, interfering with a police officer, second-degree breach of peace and second-degree threatening. Luddy also faces a separate charge of assault on emergency personnel

Officers said that Allison, the bar's permit holder, blocked their investigation into the assault, so police charged him with interfering with an officer and disorderly conduct.

Police are holding Luddy in custody on a $75,000 bond and Allison on a $25,000 surety bond until their court appearances Monday in Bristol Superior Court.

Photo Credit: Bristol Police Department

Masked Halloween Home Invasion


A Long Island couple with a 2-year-old child thought they were opening their door for trick or treaters but were instead accosted by masked home invaders who tied them up while ransacking their house, police said Saturday.

The 34-year-old woman answered her door at around 8:45 p.m. and encountered three masked adults, two of them armed with handguns, according to Nassau County police. The three forced their way into the Farmingdale home and demanded that the woman and her 48-year-old husband sit down; when the husband refused, he was repeatedly pistol whipped, receiving lacerations to the head, police said.

According to police, the couple's hands and feet were bound with duct tape. Two more people joined the attackers and began rummaging through the family's house, police said.

When the woman was able to free herself, she grabbed her son and ran to a neighbor's to call 911; the attackers fled, according to police. The husband was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for lacerations, police said.

Police are searching for the attackers - four men and a woman. They're asking anyone with information to call 1-800-244-TIPS.

Stratford Strip Mall Fire Believed to be Arson


A fire at a restaurant in a commercial strip mall Friday night has forced several Stratford businesses to close temporarily and a firefighter was injured in the blaze. Now police say they believe it was arson.

Stratford firefighters responded to 594 Success Avenue on Friday at 8:45 p.m. after a fire broke out in Jalapeños Restaurant. The building the restaurant is in also houses other eateries and businesses on the street level and an "unoccupied storage area" on the second floor, according to Stratford Deputy Chief Brian Lampart.

When firefighters arrived, they observed flames quickly spreading through the second floor, causing the roof to cave in, Lampart said.

It took 45 minutes to put out the fire. A firefighter was transported to an area hospital to be treated for minor burns to the face, Lampart said.

Several of the businesses will stay closed until the town's building official clears them to reopen, he said.

The State Fire Marshal's Accelerant Canine Unit responded and the "canine did alert on more than one area on the second floor within close proximity to the rear exit stair," he said.

Stratford Police Lt. Frank Eannotti confirmed Saturday that the fire appears incendiary in nature. Police are offering a $2,500 reward for any information.

The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to fire officials.

Bridgeport and Milford firefighters also assisted on scene and with coverage at Stratford's station.

Gas Leak Fuels Branford House Fire


A fire broke out at a raised ranch home in Branford on Friday night after a natural gas leak, the Branford Fire Department said on its Facebook page.

Firefighters responded to 8 Heritage Hill Road before 10 p.m. on Friday and determined natural gas was fueling the blaze, fire officials said.

The gas company responded to address the leak.

No one was injured.

The town's fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

UConn to Dedicate Jasper Howard Memorial at Homecoming Game


Thousands of fans at the UConn Homecoming game Saturday paid tribute to a player whose life was tragically cut short. The university dedicated a new memorial to Jasper Howard during the big game.

Jasper Howard was a hero to many and the news of his death five years ago rocked campus and Connecticut. Howard was stabbed to death on campus hours after helping the Huskies secure a victory over Louisville for Homecoming and recording career high tackles.

The new memorial of him was dedicated at halftime. Grassroots organizations have been raising money to build the memorial since his death and his former coach, Husky student athletes and fans nationwide have donated. Money will continue to be raised for a scholarship fund in his honor.

The game against UCF kicked off at noon at Rentschler Field.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Can Climate Change Move Votes?


The message has been sounding for months across the country, blaring on Florida airwaves, landing in voter mailboxes and even barreling through the roads of New Hampshire in the bed of a pick-up truck.

The focus of the multi-million dollar election blitz isn’t jobs, the threat of ISIS or the Ebola crisis dominating the news. It’s the environment.

Environmental groups are spending big on the midterm elections, with an eye on pushing climate and other issues to voters casting their ballots this year and elevating the issue ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Together we’re sending an unmistakable message to Washington,” Tom Steyer, a billionaire activist bankrolling much of the campaign, said in a YouTube video to supporters. “Climate change is not just an important issue, it’s the issue. And we need leaders who will take it seriously.”

Steyer, a former San Francisco hedge fund manager, seeded his new Next Gen Climate Action political committee with $58 million, a figure that may make him one of this cycle's biggest individual spenders. His unprecedented effort is taking its climate campaign to races that could determine the control of the U.S. Senate, some of the nation’s most competitive gubernatorial elections and even state legislative seats up for grabs in the Pacific Northwest.

Even with the cash infusion, elevating the environment into one that drives votes is a challenge. The issue trails more traditional stump issues like the economy, health care and immigration in surveys asking voters which issues are “very important” to their vote for Congress.

“The hurdle is that it’s never seemed imminent,” said Barbara Baudot, an environmental professor who chairs the politics department at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. “I think the issue is, 'Well this is 50 years off and we’re really concerned about these issues that are going to be on our dinner plate right now.'”

That’s changing, Baudot said, as extreme weather events such as superstorm Sandy and the threat a changing climate presents to states’ thriving natural tourism industries raise public awareness. In September, an estimated 100,000 people turned out for a climate march in New York City. 

In the meantime, the climate crusaders are also deploying more tested campaign messages for motivating voters. NextGen’s ads blast targeted Republicans, including New Hampshire Senate nominee Scott Brown and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, for ties to the oil industry and billionaire businessmen David and Charles Koch, who have poured their own fortunes into political organizations backing conservative candidates and causes. 

In New Hampshire, where Brown, a former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, is seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen, the campaign on the airwaves is “related to the environment, but it’s not saying necessarily that his policies are bad for the environment,” according to political science professor Christopher Galdieri. The broader focus overall, he said, is "more that the policies put him on the side of someone other than New Hampshire."

“I don’t think that necessarily a straight-up environmental pitch would necessarily carry as much weight as saying look, this candidate isn’t on your side because he’s too cozy with the oil companies," he said. 

But NextGen says its goal is to make that environmental pitch stick this year and into the future, especially in states like New Hampshire that have "an outsized role in the national political dialogue," according to state director Pete Kavanaugh. Hundreds of volunteers and staff have spent months targeting college campuses, where the group says 10,000 students have signed pledges committing to vote on climate issues, and knocking on more than 275,000 doors heading into the final weekend of the campaign. They expect to visit 100,000 more homes by Tuesday.  

Kavanaugh, who was the Obama campaign's state director there in 2011 and 2012, said he's been surprised to see how much the issue has resonated with voters as it has "become a much bigger part of the narrative in 2014." Polls showing the topic lagging, he said, fail to reflect the ways climate policy plays into other top issues, like the economy, particularly in states with large natural tourism industries, and public health. 

“I think people are starting to connect this all into the umbrella of climate change," he said. “This is no longer an issue that is 50 years out."

Campaigns on the receiving end of the attacks, meanwhile, say those more traditional issues, such as the economy, are going to be deciding factors this year. Scott, who has been bashed as a “climate change denier” by NextGen in Florida, has been quoted dismissing the attacks as coming from a" radical, left wing billionaire from the West Coast." In New Hampshire, Republicans have countered with ads highlighting reports that energy prices are going to rise this winter. Brown emphasizes he is for an "all of the above" approach on energy. 

“While I understand that many of the climate groups are discussing these sorts of issues on the trail, what’s really at the forefront of peoples’ minds are energy costs they’re facing on their daily lives,” said Lauren Zelt, spokesperson for the Republican Party in New Hampshire.

Major Spending Still a Sliver of Overall Activity 

The push by NextGen could boost total spending by a quintet of environmental groups to a record $85 million, according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post. One political media executive predicted this fall that the 2014 could be “the biggest cycle for energy/environment-related advertising, ever.”

“I think we have seen more mentions of environmental issues this year, driven largely by NextGen’s involvement,” said Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which is tracking campaign ads.

Still, it's a small portion of the overall spending in this year's Senate, House and gubernatorial elections, which have already seen more than $1 billion in ads, according to the Wesleyan Media Project.

NextGen's New Hampshire expenditures are "north of" $4 million, including about $1 million on ads, Kavanaugh said. Total spending by outside groups there has exceeded $29 million, according to OpenSecrets.org. Jobs and the economy and Obamacare have been the most popular topics on the airwaves for Democratic and Republican groups respectively, the Wesleyan Media Project analysis found.

In Florida, NextGen has reportedly poured $12 million into helping former Gov. Charlie Crist oust Scott. That race, expected to be the nation's most expensive gubernatorial campaign, has attracted more than $100 million in ads alone, The Associated Press reported. 

Polls heading into Election Day show many of the races where Next Gen is active stil neck-and-neck . But win or lose, the effort likely won’t end Nov. 4. 

"We’ve said from day one in New Hampshrie that we were going to be here long-term," Kavanaugh said.  "...The work we’re doing on the ground allows us to build that foundation." 

Photo Credit: AP
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