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Baby Sitter Sexually Assaulted 10-Year-Old: Cops


A Connecticut woman is facing charges after police say she had sex with her friend’s 10-year-old son while baby-sitting for the family in Meriden.

Police said Marybeth Rataic, 25, of Willimantic, sexually assaulted the boy three to four times over two weeks in August at the family home in Meriden while she baby-sat four children while their mother was in the hospital giving birth.

Rataic was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with three counts of first-degree sexual assault and seven counts of risk of injury to a minor/impairing the morals of children.

The boy told investigators the sex took place on the living room couch and in his parents’ bedroom. He said Rataic took off his clothes and encouraged the sexual contact, according to the warrant for Rataic’s arrest.

Police said Rataic, the mother of a 9-month-old, continued to stay at the house overnight after the mother returned home and would sneak into the bedroom the boy shared with his brothers.

According to the warrant, Rataic would spend the night in the boy's bed and have intercourse with him while his brothers slept across the room.

The victim told police one of the sexual encounters happened after Rataic had gone to Hartford to buy drugs, the warrant says. According to investigators, the boy''s mother became suspicious when she found a hickey on the boy's neck.

Rataic denied the allegations and said the victim forced himself on her while they were wrestling and tickling each other, according to the warrant. She told investigators she asked the boy to stop and tried to push him off.

Nonetheless, Rataic is "concerned about the child even after everything that went on," said Ashley Elliott, who lives in the same apartment building as Rataic and said the two are longtime friends.

"Emotionally, she's torn apart," Elliott added.

Rataic is being held on $150,000 bond and is due in court Nov. 25. Information on an attorney for Rataic was not immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Meriden Police Department

New Haven Residents Want Safer Streets


Wooster Square residents met in light of a recent accident in their neighborhood to talk about traffic calming measures.

Ortega Products Recalled


Taco lovers, there's a recall you need to know about.

B&G Foods is voluntarily recalling certain Ortega Taco Seasoning Mix, Ortega Taco Sauce, Ortega Enchilada Sauce and Ortega Taco Kit products and certain Las Palmas Taco Seasoning Mix and Las Palmas Taco Sauce products.

CLICK HERE for a complete list of affected products.

The recall is a result of one or more of the spice ingredients purchased from a third-party supplier contain peanuts and almonds, allergens that are not declared on the products’ ingredient statements.

People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts and almonds run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

There is no health risk associated with these products for anyone without an allergy to peanuts or almonds.

This recall does not apply to any other sizes or varieties of Ortega Seasoning Mix or to any Ortega Seasoning Mixes in canisters, all of which are correctly labeled.

Consumers who have purchased the recalled products are can return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

NBC 5 visited several grocery stores in North Texas on Monday night. Many stores had already pulled the items from their shelves, but at one Irving supermarket, the recalled packages were still on the shelves and available for purchase.

Consumers with questions may contact the company’s recall hotline at 877-929-2576 from 7:00 a.m. CT to 7:00 p.m. CT, or visit www.ortega.com for additional information.

Photo Credit: Ortega.com

Interstate 95 Crash Cleared


A crash on Interstate 95 northbound in West Haven has been cleared after causing delays on the morning commute. 

The accident happened half a mile before exit 44 for Kimberly Avenue in West Haven. Traffic was briefly down to one lane.

Traffic was stop and go from exit 42 to Saw Mill Road with delays building and traffic slowing near exit 41 by a service plaza in Milford.

Rubbernecking caused delays on the southbound side, as well.

The crash remains under investigation and more information was not immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Delays on Waterbury Branch of Metro-North


Mechanical difficulties are causing problems for Metro-North commuters today on the Waterbury branch.

The train service started offering substitute bus service during the morning commute and those buses were running 45 to 60 minutes late during the 6 a.m. hour.

Officials from Metro-North said this morning that the breakdown affected around 185 riders.

“It’s always delayed and I have to get to where I’m going on time and when it’s delayed it messes me up,” Chris Martinez, of Naugatuck, said.

What made matters worse was the bitter cold this morning.

“We have a booth right here that isn’t closed in, so it’s really cold for us to wait out here. Now if we had somewhere comfortable to stay, I wouldn’t mind,” Martinez said.

Buses will still be provided as of 1 p.m.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Arrest Cumberland Farms Robbery Suspect


Police arrested a suspect in connection to an armed robbery at a Cumberland Farms in Shelton from the beginning of the summer.

Wayne Bunting, 22, of New Haven, is suspected of robbing the Cumberland Farms store at 819 River Road in Shelton at gunpoint.

Authorities said previously that a man in a black ski mask entered the store around 2 a.m. on June 22, brandished a handgun and demanded cash. An employee handed over an unknown amount of money and the robber fled. Police said no one was injured during the incident.

Police charged him with first-degree robbery and sixth-degree larceny.

Police held Bunting in custody on a $75,000 bond. He was arraigned in court in Derby on Nov. 18.

Body Found in Willimantic


Police are investigating after a body was found at 560 Main St. in Willimantic.

The listing for the property on the assessor's office Web site says this a manufacturing building with apartments.

No additional information is available.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Teen Accused in Mom's Murder Heads to Court Next Week


A teen suspected in his mother’s murder in Torrington will face a judge next week. 

Police found the body of Wendy Hulme, 49, in a third-floor apartment at 30 Forest Street in Torrington on Thursday, Nov. 6.

The next day, police took her 18-year-old son, Nicholas Hulme, into custody almost 80 miles away in Sleepy Hollow, New York. He was charged as a fugitive from justice and police obtained an arrest warrant charging him in the death of his mother.

Nicholas Hulme will be extradited to Connecticut in the next few days to will face charges of murder and third-degree larceny, according to police.  He is due in court here in Connecticut on Tuesday Nov. 25, according to police.

The office of the medical examiner determined Wendy Hulme died of neck compression, according to law enforcement sources and state government sources said Nicholas Hulme was already on juvenile parole.

Torrington police ask anyone with information about the case to call Detective Jim Crean at 860-489-2061 or Lt. Bart Barown at 860-489-2036.

Photo Credit: Westchester County Department of Correction, New York and Facebook
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1 Person Burned in North Windham Blaze


One person was taken to burn center at Bridgeport Hospital after fire broke out at 82 Boston Post Road in North Windham this afternoon.

Willimantic police were called to the home, which is just over the Willimantic line, and two offers rushed into the house to rescue the victim, police said.

LifeStar then airlifted the person to the hospital.

Officials said the fire is now out and the scene has been cleared.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Crashes Stolen Car Into Wall: Cops


Ledyard police arrested a Groton resident suspected of crashing a stolen vehicle into a stone wall and fleeing the scene.

Myles Grillo, 21, is accused of driving away in a heavily damaged car after colliding with a stone wall on Church Hill Road near the Fanning Road intersection on Oct. 24. Police received a report that evening at 11:06 p.m.

After following a fluid trail that started at the scene, police traced the car to a Dunkin Donuts parking lot along Route 2 in Preston. The suspect ran into the woods, across Route 2 and into a wooded area behind the Hilton Gardens Hotel when police arrived, Ledyard police said.  Ledyard, state and Mashantucket tribal police searched for the driver, but could not find him, police said.

Police identified Grillo as a suspect and learned that the car from the crash was stolen from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Groton police arrested him the next day on an outstanding warrant. Ledyard police then arrested him in New London Superior Court on accident-related charges on Nov. 14.

Grillo was charged with third-degree larceny due to possession of the stolen Virginia car, as well as reckless driving, evading responsibility and operating without a license due to the crash.

He was held in custody at the Department of Corrections after his arraignment and he is due in court on

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

New Sandy Hook School Set to Open Fall 2016


Connecticut's State Bond Commission approved $5 million in grants Wednesday to finance planning and design costs of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School building in the wake of the tragedy nearly two years ago, according to Gov. Dannel Malloy.

“The State of Connecticut joins the people of Newtown in their resolve to move forward despite the most challenging of circumstances,” Malloy said. “This project is a necessary part of the recovery process, and will continue to be a priority even after students are attending classes in their new school.”

Newtown residents voted last year to demolish the old building and state lawmakers authorized up to $50 million in funding for the construction of a new school at the 12 Dickinson Drive site, according to the governor's office.

The bonding commission also allocated $7.45 million in Urban Act and "grant-in-aid" funds for the new building, the governor's office said in a news release. The building was demolished in November last year and "abatement of hazardous materials" was also completed, according to the governor's office. 

Officials approved architectural design plans for the new elementary school last week, according to the governor's office. Svigals + Partners, the company spearheading the project, said the design weaves in the theme of nature.

The two-story school will span 87,000 square feet and include 23 classrooms for students in pre-K through fourth grade, as well as music, art, library and computer education. The building will also contain a cafeteria, gym and auditorium and will be fully accessible to people with disabilities.

Newtown is overseeing the project and has worked with the state Office of Policy Management and the Department of Administrative Services to procure the bond funding, according to the governor's office.

“The action of the Bonding Commission today serves to remind us in Newtown and all through the state of the generosity and support of the Governor's Office and of virtually every state office and legislator,” First Selectman Pat Llodra said in a statement. “The new Sandy Hook School will become a reality in 2016 because of that generosity. We are humbled and thankful for the continuing kindness of our state partners.”

The site was prepared this month for construction and the new school is expected to open by fall of 2016, according to the governor's office.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

2 Dead, Cars Pinned Against Sign


A drowsy truck driver plowed his out-of-control tractor-trailer into nine vehicles, pinning some against a Dunkin' Donuts sign, in a "horrifying" crash that claimed the lives of two people and injured several others in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

"This accident today was caused by a tractor-trailer driver who dozed off and traveled into the opposing direction of traffic and caused the horrific accident you all saw today," said Berks County District Attorney John Adams.

"This tractor-trailer basically plowed through and caused this," said Adams.

Rescuers continued to work to free trapped passengers more than three hours after the crash along the 8000 block of Allentown Pike (U.S. Route 222) in Maidencreek Township, Pennsylvania, not far from Route 73, officials said.

Jeremy Augustine, 23, of Emmaus, Pennsylvania and Jane Harakel, 32, of Topton, Pennsylvania died in the crash, according to the Berks County Coroner's Office.

The crash, which was caught on surveillance video, ended with big rig's cab pinning multiple vehicles, including a red sedan and a silver SUV, against a sign outside a Dunkin' Donuts coffee shop just after 6:30 a.m.

"In reviewing the video, this should not have happened," Adams said. "This tractor-trailer just never stopped, resulting in a horrific accident."

Adams identified the driver as Steven Bernier, a registered sex offender out on parole, who was driving a truck for Harrisburg-based Cougle's Recycling. Bernier began his shift at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday and admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, said Adams.

"When he woke up he laid on the brakes but needless to say the tractor-trailer careened across his lane of traffic, impacting two vehicles waiting to leave this scene at the Dunkin' Donuts," said Adams.

A police officer, who happened to be inside the Dunkin' Donuts coffee shop at the time, rushed outside to assist the victims. The nine injured victims suffered what Adams said appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries.

Police took Bernier, 50, into custody at the hospital after he submitted to a blood test.

"We do not have any reason to believe that he was under influence of alcohol but we will be testing his blood to determine," said Adams.

It appeared Bernier was driving too fast for the conditions at the time of the crash, said Adams.

The driver will be charged with two counts of homicide by vehicle, nine counts of aggravated assault, two counts of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, speeding and driving violations.

Bernier was convicted in 2006 for a 2004 sexual assault on a child under the age of 13, according to Pennsylvania's Megan's Law website.

His employer didn't return calls for comment.

Photo Credit: Pa. Megan's Law Website / NBC10 - Randy Gyllenhaal

Route 68 in Durham Reopens After Car Fire


Route 68 in Durham has reopened. It was closed at Route 157 because of a car fire on Wednesday afternoon.

Minor inujuries are reported.

No additional information was available.

Photo Credit: Shannon Dietrich

Crews Respond to Fire in Bridgeport


Emergency crews are responding to a fire at a three-story home on Myrtle Avenue in Bridgeport.

Police said the multiple apartment units are consumed by flames at the building located located somewhere between 266 and 270 Myrtle Avenue.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Moose Spotted in North Haven


A moose was spotted in North Haven this morning and state environmental officials are asking drivers to be on the lookout.

The moose was spotted near Interstate 91 this morning.

Officials from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said the animal was last seen on Old Clintonville Road, trying to cross Route 22 and drivers are asked to use caution.

If you are involved in a crash involving a moose and deer, call local or state authorities, or DEEP Environmental Conservation Police Officers at (860-424-3333).

To report a moose sighting, go to the DEEP Web site. http://www.ct.gov/deep/wildlife

The moose population in Connecticut is estimated at 100 to 150 animals and most . They are found most often in the northeastern and northwestern wooded corners of Connecticut but have been seen in most other parts of the state.

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Police Identify Victim of Fatal West Haven Fire


A 60-year-old man died in an apartment fire at 11 Bassett Street in West Haven on Tuesday night, according to fire officials.

The victim, who has been identified as Paul Ryan, was set to undergo an autopsy today. Police said the State Medical Examiner's Office is still working to determine Ryan's cause of death.

West Haven Fire Chief James O'Brien said crews arrived to find heavy smoke filling the first-floor unit around 10 p.m. Tuesday. They knocked down the flames and found the man's body while checking the building.

"When I'd seen smoke pouring out, and I'd seen them pumping water from the fire hydrant, then I knew that it was something big, and tehy were there most of the night," said neighbor Joe Diverniero.

The fire has been ruled accidental, according to police, although O'Brien said oxygen tanks may have contributed to the spread of the flames.

"The occupant did have oxygen tanks in the residence, and from our investigation, it appears the oxygen may have affected the path of fire throughout the apartment," O'Brien said.

The state fire marshal and the West Haven fire marshal are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Industrial Fire Investigation Reveals Safety Violations: OSHA


Six months after an industrial fire broke out at the Soldream, Inc. facility in Vernon, federal authorities are launching an investigation into more than a dozen potential workplace violations they say may have contributed to the blaze and exposed workers to deadly hazards.

Soldream – an aerospace, defense and commercial industrial facility located on Reservoir Road in Vernon – could face more than $59,000 in fines for suspected health and safety violations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Flames broke out when titanium dust settled on a workbench while an employee was cleaning titanium aircraft parts May 19. According to OSHA, the bench was not designed for work with titanium and room’s dust collection system “lacked adequate fire and explosion controls.”

Further investigation revealed no sprinklers or fire safeguards in areas where flammable liquid was being sprayed. Employees also did not receive hands-on fire extinguisher training and lacked proper training and protection while working with hazardous chemicals, according to OSHA.

Federal authorities said some of the facility’s milling machines had faulty or bypassed interlocking systems, so there was nothing to stop workers from “being caught in the machines.”

“In addition to fire and explosion hazards, workers at this facility faced serious cuts and amputations, electrocution, illnesses and other serious injuries due to a lack of safeguards,” said Warren Simpson, OSHA’s area director in Hartford, in a statement Wednesday.

The Vernon Fire Department said at the time that firefighters quickly beat down the blaze and remained on scene for about an hour.

Soldream executives could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Jim Michaud/Vernon Fire Department

Driver in Drag Racing Crash Was Under the Influence: Court


The driver accused of colliding head-on with another car while drag racing in Vernon at the end of August is facing a string of charges, including assault with a motor vehicle and driving under the influence.

Authorities said Joshua Stephen Wagner, 28, drove head-on into a car traveling the opposite direction on Dart Hill Road the night of Aug. 31. The other driver was airlifted to Hartford Hospital for treatment of serious injuries and two other people were taken via ambulance.

Wagner was arrested Nov. 18 and charged with second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, first-degree reckless endangerment, driving under the influence, illegal racing on a highway, reckless driving, driving without proper insurance, failure to drive right and failure to comply with emissions testing.

His bond was set at $150,000. Wagner is due back in court Dec. 22.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Conn. DOT to Help Clean Up After Massive New York Snowstorm


The Connecticut Department of Transportation is sending resources and personnel to Buffalo, New York to help clean up after a massive snowstorm dropped more than five feet across the region and left six people dead.

"This early and massive snowfall has paralyzed much of New York and, while we can, we should help our neighbors to the west," Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement Wednesday. "It is reassuring that we have cooperative, reciprocal arrangements in times of need, similar to what we try to do with major power outages and even fires and other emergencies in the region."

Malloy's office said the DOT is sending 22 staff members to New York with three "jumbo snowblowers," plow trucks and other equipment that will operate around the clock.

The snowblowers were purchased in the wake the October 2013 snowstorm and can move up to 1,500 tons of snow per hour, according to Malloy's office.

Workers and equipment will head out Thursday morning and remain in New York until Monday, Nov. 24 at the earliest, the governor's office said.

This winter, the state has 632 working plows, "ample supplies of salt and the liquid salt-brine material" used to treat roads and bridges and 200 private plow contractors, according to Malloy's office.

Photo Credit: AP

Teen Charged in Threat to Derby Middle School


A 13-year-old girl is facing charges in connection with the threat that prompted Derby Middle School to close its doors Tuesday.

The eighth-grade student is charged with first-degree threatening and breach of peace, according to police. She will appear in juvenile court in Waterbury on Thursday.

The threat, which came in the form of a message scrawled on a bathroom stall, sparked a school "lock-in" on Monday. School officials opted to close the middle school Tuesday so police could sweep the building.

Police are investigating to determine whether any other students were involved in the incident and said the department is "committed to fostering a positive school climate free of violence and aggression."

Anyone with information on the threat is urged to call the Derby Police Detective Division at 203-735-7811. Calls can remain confidential.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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