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Man Stabbed Milford Restaurant Employee in Back: Police


Milford police have arrested a man accused of stabbing a restaurant employee in the back when the employee approached him about damage in the restaurant.

Daniel Woodhouse, 27, of Milford, was at Redwood Restaurant at 341 Naugatuck Avenue around 11:10 p.m. on Monday when he damaged a jukebox because he was agitated for some unknown reason, according to police.

When an employee approached him, Woodhouse struck the man in the face, so the employee tried to restrain him until police arrived, but Woodhouse attacked him, allegedly stabbing the man twice in the back, police said.

The victim was transported to an area hospital, where he was treated for injuries and released.

Woodhouse was charged with first-degree assault, breach of peace and criminal mischief and held on $500,000 bond.

Teachers Allegedly Insult Special Ed Kids in School Chat


Parents of special needs children in a New Jersey school district say they want three teachers who were caught in an online chat allegedly making disparaging comments about students and former colleagues fired from the district.

The chat was discovered by a co-worker after the three teachers at Edison schools spent the morning of Oct. 23 voluntarily training on Chromebook laptops, according to NJ Advance Media, which first obtained a transcript of the chat. 

One of the teachers, Tyler Van Pelt, invited the others, Maria Weber and Maryellen Lechelt, into what he called a "personal wiseass backchannel discussion" on a public chat program called Today's Meet, according to the chat transcript. 

"i like the group name 'morons,'" Lechelt allegedly wrote of one group of her special education students. "they take the tart cart home."

Van Pelt allegedly called children "short bus kids," adding that he referred to one of his groups of students as "I hate you don't waste my time." 

Lechelt allegedly said she referred to another group as "jesus christ, why the ---- did they place you with me?" 

"Middle group = just shut your mouth and do your work," she added of another group of students. 

The two are teachers at Lincoln Elementary School. Weber, a teacher at James Monroe, did not respond to those messages, transcripts show. But she allegedly participated in disparaging the woman running the computer training program that day in a conversation filled with sexual innuendo. 

The chat was discovered by another teacher in the training room, who said she heard them laugh after she turned around to shush them, according to NJ Advance Media. She suspected they were chatting about her, and found the chat transcript insulting. She reported the chat to her principal. 

The three were suspended with pay and are accused of unbecoming conduct, insubordination for misuse of school technology, failure to pay attention to the training and violating the district's sexual harassment and affirmative action policies, among other charges.

At a meeting Monday evening, the Edison Board of Education moved forward in a process to potentially terminate the teachers, putting them on paid leave for 120 days. Their case will be sent to an arbitrator, who will decide whether to fire the teachers, reduce their pay or reinstate them. 

Parent Anthony Pasquale said during the public remarks portion of the meeting: "I truthfully feel there should be an apology by those teachers to the school district and to the township." 

"If you choose to be a teacher, it's a public work. You're dealing with kids. If you don't have it in you, I feel like the decent thing for you to do is to resign," said parent Andrea Siragusa. 

A fourth teacher who participated in the chats, Jonathan Bauza, resigned rather than face disciplinary action, the district told NJ Advance Media. 

NBC 4 New York was unable to reach the teachers' lawyers Monday, but Lechelt's lawyer told NJ Advance Media prior to the vote that he believes the teachers' punishment is inappropriate. 

-- Checkey Beckford contributed to this report. 

Milford Hotel Guest Left Loaded Gun Behind: Police


Milford police arrested a Hamden man who they said left a loaded gun behind when he checked out of a local hotel.

Police responded to the Howard Johnson at 1052 Boston Post on May 8 after a gun was found, police said.

After an investigation, police obtained a warrant for Vance Willis, 29, of Hamden, charging him with second-degree reckless endangerment.

Bond was set at $5,000 and he is due in court on Jan. 13.

1 Dead, 2 Hurt in North Branford Crash


One person has died and two others were hurt after two cars collided on Forest Road in North Branford on Tuesday morning, according to police.

Police said the cars struck each other head on on Forest Road near the intersection of Tommy's Path around 7:50 a.m. Tuesday. Two drivers and one passenger were rushed to the hospital, where one driver, a man, was pronounced dead.

Authorities have not identified the people involved but said they were all adults.

Forest Road was closed between Totoket and Augur roads while emergency crews responded to the scene.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Killing Spree Suspect Found Dead


The former Marine believed to have killed his ex-wife and five of her family members and seriously stabbed another was found dead in the woods near his Montgomery County home Tuesday, after apparently killing himself with a knife, authorities say.

Bradley Stone appears to have killed himself with “self-inflicted cutting wounds to the center of his body," Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said. A knife was found nearby, she said.

Stone's body was found at 1:38 p.m. near West 4th Street and Schoolhouse Road North Hanover Township, Vetri Ferman said. That is about a half mile from his home, where SWAT teams had been methodically searching for him for the past two days.

Police also found a video recorded by Stone on a cellphone on or near his body, law enforcement sources said.

Stone, 35, had not been seen since just before 5 a.m. Monday as he rushed his screaming children out of their mother's apartment in Harleysville. Moments before, neighbors and police said he gunned down the woman, Nicole Hill Stone. She was the last of seven family members he shot or stabbed that morning, prosecutors said.

The children were left in his neighborhood in Pennsburg, and he fled, officials said. The girls, along with Stone's current wife and child, are now in protective custody, Vetri Ferman said.

Newly released search warrants offered more detail into how the victims were fatally wounded.

Stone Hill was shot in the face and head, according to the documents. Her mother Jo Anne Koder was shot and cut in the neck, and her grandmother Patricia Hill was shot in the arm and head. Stone Hill's sister Trish Flick was shot in the face and cut, brother-in-law Aaron Flick was shot in the head and hands; and 14-year-old niece Nina died of cutting wounds.

Autopsies were being conducted to determine official causes of death, the DA said.

The lone survivor is Stone Hill's 17-year-old nephew, Anthony Flick, who officials believe tried to fight off the attack. He suffered a "gaping skull fracture" and lacerations to his arms and fingers, according to court documents.

Despite being left injured in his Souderton home for some time as police worked to determine whether it were safe to enter, the teen survived. He remains in serious but stable condition and is surrounded by family at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, the DA said. Friends tell NBC10 he is expected to recover.

"We are gonna be here for him," friend and former eighth-grade sweetheart Sarah Sewell said. "We are his family now, because that is all he has left is us. We are going to be his family."

A GoFundMe account, Funds for Flick, was set up to help assist with Anthony's medical bills and has raised more than $8,500 in nearly a day.

The Souderton-Telford Rotary also announced plans to set up a fund for Stone's children.

Stone served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and was briefly deployed to Iraq in 2008. Fellow Marines who served with him described the man as odd and said that he had a tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife. Hill Stone's neighbors and friends told NBC10 the woman warned Stone would kill her and they pointed to the couple's bitter custody dispute as motive for the killings. Prosecutors, however, have not released an official motive.

"We can speculate why. I could look at some of the court filings and say he wasn't getting his way and he was dissatisfied with that, but there's no excuse. There's no valid explanation. There's no excuse for snuffing out these six innocent lives and then injuring another child," Vetri Ferman said.

The two day manhunt for Stone sent eight SWAT teams rolling through at least four Montgomery County towns in assault gear and military-grade vehicles. They lobbed gas canisters and flash bangs into homes and searched neighborhoods and the woods. Federal agencies and police in other counties assisted in the search, schools were closed and neighbors spoke of the fear they were feeling.

A supposed sighting of a man who fit Stone's description involved in an attempted carjacking in Doylestown Monday night prompted lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders. In the end that report "did not appear to be valid," Vetri Ferman said.

The district attorney thanked the public for their assistance and patience.

"This is just a horrific tragedy that our community has had to endure," she said. "I think we're really numb from what we had to go through over the past two days."

Vetri Ferman could not say how long Stone's body was in the woods and when he might have died. She deferred to the coroner who picked up the man's body Tuesday evening and will determine a manner of death.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

Photo Credit: NBC10
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Enfield Fire Victims Died of Burns, Smoke Inhalation


The four people killed in an Enfield house fire that officials have described as "unprecedented" and "horrific" died of smoke inhalation, and two also suffered burns to their bodies and airways, according to state police.

The state medical examiner's office has ruled that Orise Handfield and her daughter Cathy Armes died of smoke inhalation in the Dec. 10 blaze at their home on South River Street in Enfield.

Police have identified the other two victims as Joshua Johnson, 20, and David Cygan, 19, both of whom died of smoke inhalation and thermal burns on their airways and bodies.

Friends and family members said Johnson was Handfield's grandson and Cygan, who went by Dahvie, was a close family friend.

Five other residents, including Johnson's mother, made it out alive after flames broke out in the duplex at 68 South River Street on Tuesday morning. One was taken to a facility in Boston for treatment of burns. The other three escaped on their own and ran to a neighbor's house, officials said.

Authorities have not released any information on the conditions of the survivors.

Detectives from the Connecticut State Police Fire and Explosion Investigative Unit are investigating the cause of the blaze. Witnesses speculate that a Christmas tree, which they say caught fire the day before, may have sparked the flames.

Firefighters said they did not receive a report of a previous fire at the home, which witnesses say was small.

"Within seconds, the smoke started to get very heavy and I heard an explosion, and huge explosion from upstairs, and then I heard multiple explosions," explained neighbor Kristy Conway, who said she heard screams and rushed to help.

Firefighters arrived to find the home engulfed in flames and said the second floor collapsed onto the first, making it too dangerous for rescue crews to enter the building, according to fire department spokesperson Mark Zarcaro.

"This is certainly unprecedented. I don't think in 30-something years that I've been in the fire service that we've had multiple deaths," said Zarcaro.

The American Red Cross has provided housing, food and clothing for the survivors, including an adult and two children in one family and two adults in the second. Volunteers have also been working to connect survivors with emotional support services.

Investigators are still trying to determine whether the house was equipped with working smoke detectors.

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Feds Say Metro-North Retaliated Against Injured Worker


The Metro-North Railroad is under fire for punishing an employee who reported an injury he suffered at work three years ago and must now pay his attorney fees, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

According to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a worker hired to clean railroad cars in April 2011 hurt his knee when he tripped on a wooden board sticking up 6 inches from the pavement in November of that year.

The worker told his managers what had happened and secretly recorded a conversation with the supervisor who drove him to the hospital. The supervisor warned against taking time off from work to keep “a clean record” and said “the employee gets watched all the time, and gets nailed” for reporting injuries at work, according to OSHA.

“If you have an injury on your record at Metro-North you are not going anywhere,” the supervisor said, according to the report. “You will stay a car cleaner the rest of your life.”

Despite a doctor’s orders not to return to work for a few days, Metro-North charged the employee with rules violations, including failure to properly perform his duties, failure to “keep a safe distance from passing cars and trains to avoid being struck by falling or protruding objects, failing to “use established routes, paths, crosswalks, and walkways” and conduct unbecoming of a Metro-North employee, state officials said.

He waived a disciplinary hearing to avoid a 30-day suspension and accepted a lesser punishment, the report says. The employee left work in Stamford and was then based out of New Haven and Bridgeport, where his supervisor continued to inspect his work. According to the report, the worker was “targeted under scrutiny” and “subjected to fear of losing his job because of further unwarranted discipline.”

Metro-North charged him with failure to properly perform duties in November 2012. Less than six months later, the worker filed his first complaint with the Federal Railroad Safety Administration. He filed a second complaint in April 2013.

“The Railroad’s conduct has the effect of intimidating me and my fellow workers from notifying the Railroad of safety concerns and reporting injuries, and as such exercises an improper chilling effect,” he wrote in one of the complaints, according to OSHA.

Now the Department of Labor has ordered Metro-North to clear the employee’s record of all charges and pay “reasonable” attorney fees, along with $10,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages. The railroad must also post a notice to employees saying it will not discriminate against them or intimidate them for reporting workplace injuries.

“When employees, fearing retaliation, hesitate to report work-related injuries and the safety hazards that caused them, companies cannot fix safety problems and neither employees nor the public are safe,” said OSHA Asst. Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels, in a statement Tuesday. Michaels called the railroad’s conduct “deliberate and discriminatory.”

The railroad responded with a statement Monday night that reads, in part:

“The events that are the subject of the OSHA ruling occurred in 2011. Since then, Metro-North has made considerable strides to create and promote a safety culture that encourages employees to report safety concerns and injuries without fear of retaliation. Among the changes that Metro-North is making is the implementation of the confidential close call reporting system so that employees can report safety issues without fear of reprisal. Metro-North is also requiring supervisor instruction in safety training that emphasizes the importance of the anti-retaliation protections afforded employees under the Federal Rail Safety Act.”

Metro-North officials added that the railroad has “zero tolerance for discipline targeted against those reporting safety violations or injuries.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Odd Google Searches That Trended in 2014


Google has released its 2014 list of its most common search requests. Many popular searches weren't surprising, like The World Cup, Robin Williams, and Disney's “Frozen.”

However, the search engine also revealed other searches that were also, somehow, popular this past year. People of the web turned to Google for odd info about dogs, beauty, diets, memes, fashion and famous selfies.

Take a look at searches that also trended in 2014: 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Police Nab Suspect in 2012 Bridgeport Homicide


Police have arrested the man accused of stabbing and killing a Bridgeport resident in 2012.

According to police, Mario Chavez, 53, who previously lived in the city and now resides in Miami, was caught in Florida and charged as a fugitive from justice earlier this month.

He was extradited to Bridgeport on Tuesday and will be charged in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Francisco Barbosa-Vega on the 500 block of Arctic Street on May 27, 2012.

Police said Chavez and another man pulled up to a home on Arctic Street, got out of a car and started fighting.

Barbosa-Vega, who was sitting on the porch watching the scene unfold, tried to break up the fight, and Chavez stabbed him in the chest, according to police.

At the time, police said Barbosa-Vega was trying to save a woman who was being assaulted.

Chavez fled the state shortly thereafter and was arrested Dec. 5 in Florida. He has been charged with murder.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department/NBCConnecticut.com

Man Stranded for 6 Days on Island


An American man who spent six days stranded on an island in the Bahamas was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, officials said Tuesday.

Larry Sutterfield, 39, was on a dinghy that went adrift and landed on an island in Cay Sal Bank, Coast Guard officials said.

A Coast Guard C-130 airplane spotted the man on Monday, waving his arms in distress. The crew of the plane dropped a radio, food and water to Sutterfield.

Sutterfield was picked up by a Coast Guard boat and taken back to Key West with no major injuries.

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Car Fire on I-91 North in Hartford


A car is on fire on Interstate 91 North in Hartford between exits 32 and 32.

Firefighters and police are at the scene.

Traffic is congested, but getting by.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

U.S. to Bid for 2024 Olympics


The U.S. Olympic Committee has decided to bid for the 2024 Olympics, hoping to bring the Summer Games back to America after a 28-year absence.

The USOC board heard presentations from four candidate cities Tuesday — Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington — and voted to enter a field that already includes Rome and either Hamburg or Berlin, with Paris likely to join.

A decision on which city the U.S. will put forward for a bid is expected next month.

The United States hasn't hosted a Summer Games since the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

The country's last two tries have been flops, with New York (2012) and Chicago (2016) each finishing fourth in voting. The USOC chose not to bid for the 2020 Games, which will take place in Tokyo.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Former Bridgeport Officer Arrested 3 Times in 24 Hours


A former Bridgeport police officer was arrested three times in the one day, twice for suspicion of driving under the influence, according to police.

John Biehn, 39, of Southington, told Vernon police he was on the way home from a court appearance in Rockville when officers pulled him over for driving on the wrong side of Route 83 early Monday morning.

Police said Biehn was there to answer to an unrelated DUI charge out of Vernon.

According to police, Biehn failed a field sobriety test and was charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and failure to drive in the proper lane.

He was taken to the Vernon Police Department and went home to his wife on a $2,500 non-surety bond, police said.

Hours later, Wallingford police arrested Biehn under suspicion of driving under the influence. After they released him from custody, he was picked up on a shoplifting charge in town, according to police.

Biehn, a former Bridgeport police officer, resigned from his position after being accused of going on a drunken shooting spree in a Bridgeport public housing complex 10 years ago.

No one was hurt, and Biehn ultimately pleaded guilty to a reckless endangerment charge. He served no prison time.

He is due back in court on Dec. 22 to answer to the most recent Vernon charges.

Photo Credit: Vernon Police

Bristol Dad Needs Liver Transplant


Bristol resident Matt Ragiani loved to attend his 8-year-old daughter's dance performances and sporting events. He was on hand for every event until recently, as his declining health began to keep him homebound.

He developed a disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis, or PSC, which involves the thinning of his bile ducts and eventually leads to liver failure.

Matt was placed on the National Organ Donor Registry four years ago, but the scoring system used to receive a liver from deceased donors does not reflect how sick Matt really is, according to his doctor.

“Matt right now, although he is very sick, has a meld score somewhere in the low 20s, which in this region will not allow him to get a liver readily,” explained Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center doctor Martin Hoffman.

MELD stands for Model For End-Stage Liver Disease and a gravely ill person in need of a liver donor could have a score as high at 40 according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

Ragiani is also in a region where it is tougher to get donated organs, according to Hoffman. His wife said they were told moving south would increase his odds of receiving a liver, but they both grew up in Bristol and are hesitant to leave their family and support system.

It’s a system that involves volunteers who help the family with meals, house cleaning and childcare as they navigate this tough time.

To increase Ragiani’s chances, a living liver donor is being sought. Someone who is an A blood type who passes rigorous screening can donate part of his or her healthy liver.

“That portion will grow to a normal size in the recipient and the patient who donates that liver will also have their liver replace itself so to speak,” Hoffman explained.

While the family waits, Ragiani’s wife Jennifer has started a Facebook page called "Support for Ragz" to raise awareness and hopefully find a match.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a living organ donor, contact the Yale New Haven Hospital Transplantation Center at 1-866-YALE-TXP.

Photo Credit: Family Photo/Facebook

Police Ask for Help in Finding Driver in Fatal Crash


Nearly two weeks after they lost her, the family of Evelyn Agyei is still searching for answers and waiting to learn who was behind the wheel of the SUV that struck her Subaru and pushed into a tree in Bridgeport.

Agyei died in the crash on Boston Avenue.

“There's not enough words to describe the frustration and the grief that not only has affected brother Jonathan and his family, he no longer has a wife. His children no longer have a mother,” said Rev. Edwin DeBourgh, pastor at the Stratford Church of God.

One of those children, 11-year-old Michael was in the car with his mother. He survived.

“He had a muscle stretch, he had neck pain, he had some bruises on his lungs, then damage to his spinal cord,” said explained his father, Jonathan Agyei.

Doctors believe Michael will make a full recovery.

Police are still searching for the white BMW X3 pictured in surveillance footage from that night. According to police, detectives have used all means possible to figure out who was driving, but they need the public's help in identifying the culprit.

“We're doing everything we possibly can to get to the bottom of this, but really it's about information,” said Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudett.

Police ask anyone who may have information, whether it be a body shop that worked on a damaged SUV or a neighbor who saw something in the area, to come forward.

“Without this, we will still continue to search for whoever caused this into my family. Please come out and let us know what happened,” said Francis Turkson, Evelyn Agyei’s brother.

The Agyei family is echoing that plea.

“Don't wait for another life to be lost, before you take action. Please help us heal, because we lost a dear one,” said Franklin Appiah, Evelyn Agyei’s cousin.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

Shot Fired During Standoff in Watertown


Police surrounded a home in Watertown after a man who authorities say is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder fired a shot at officers Tuesday morning.

According to police, a resident of Bryant Road called for help with a family member around 9:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Police responded to find the person armed inside the home and said he was refusing to come out. Officers set up a perimeter around the house and called in the Regional Emergency Response Team for backup.

According to police, the person fired a single round at officers.

Police communicated with the man and encouraged him to surrender peacefully. He was arrested after surrendering, police said.

The man has not been publicly identified.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Towns and Cities Pushback Against DEEP Proposal


The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities is fighting a proposal from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that would require towns and cities to make changes to some of their methods of cleaning streets and clearing storm drains.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican, called DEEP a "runaway state agency" and complained that the proposal would put an unfunded burden on towns.

Officials at DEEP said it's premature to draw any conclusions since the regulations have yet to be approved.

“This is draft language that we’ve put out there for discussion and debate," said DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain.

The proposal will be addressed during a public hearing tomorrow morning.

Boughton said it's bold of the agency to force new regulations on cities and towns when he can cite numerous examples of state misconduct when it comes to cleaning up roads.

“In fact, they use a median in the center of I-84 to dump the roadkills that they collect all year long and they’re telling us to worry about run off on our local streets," he said.

Schain said the department wants to collaborate before any decisions are made, adding that everyone has common goals.

"We want to work with them and find some agreement on some projects that would be acceptable to them and meet our environmental concerns,” he said.

Forensic Lab Clears Backlog, Improves Response Time


The state forensic lab that examines evidence from crime scenes recently cleared a years-old backlog and improved its response times by leaps and bounds.

"We've made great progress," said lab director Guy Vallaro.

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association recognized the lab Tuesday for its work on improving response times and helping police departments across Connecticut.

Police said they had gotten used to yearslong response times on evidence and DNA processing.

Now the average is down to 60 days.

“We became more outward looking, asking our customers what it is that they want from us and we have a great management team here that was built," said Vallaro, "and they do a lot of this work and go out and as some of the chiefs said, we were doing the work before they called us up."

The state has reduced the backlog entirely in all major areas including DNA, firearms, toxicology and computer crimes. The agency expects to have fingerprints completed by next month.

Package Thieves Target Shelton Homes


Two New Haven residents are facing charges after driving to Shelton and stealing packages from porches, according to police.

Police were called to Meadow Lake Drive in Shelton around noon Dec. 16 after a passerby noticed a pickup truck pull up to a home. The bystander watched someone get out of the truck, grab a package off the porch and drive off, according to police.

Officers stopped the truck on Meadow Street near William Street and found stolen packages inside. Police arrested the driver, 35-year-old Jose Santini, and passenger, 42-year-old Alejandro Guzman, both of New Haven.

Both men were charged with three counts of sixth-degree larceny and three counts of conspiracy to commit sixth-degree larceny.

Santini was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and several motor vehicle offenses.

They're each being held on $10,000 bond and are due in court Wednesday.

Police are encouraging residents to be on the lookout for package thieves as the holidays approach. They suggest having packages delivered when someone will be home or sending them instead to a work address or opting for in-store pickup.

Car Hits Transformer in Bloomfield


Nearly 1,000 homes in Bloomfield lost power after a car crashed into a transformer Tuesday night, according to Connecticut Light & Power.

Representatives from CL&P said crews are on scene at Terry Plains Road making repairs. Police also responded but have not released any additional information.

According to the CL&P outage map, 963 customers were without power in the area shortly after the crash. This represents about 9 percent of the town.

As of 10:45 p.m., those outages has been cut back to about 400.

It's not clear if anyone was hurt in the crash.

Check back for updates.

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