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Victim Advocacy Group Wants Meeting with Pope


The group SNAP -- the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests -- wants a meeting with the newly-elected pontiff.

The group's midwest director in Chicago on Friday called for a new rule mandating abusive priests be turned over to the police.

“We want to begin a new dialogue with him, and with the church we want to begin a real dialogue about prevention of child sexual abuse," Peter Isely said outside the Chicago archdiocesan headquarters.

He was flanked by a small number of men and women abused as children asking for action to be taken against priests who have mistreated children.

"Right now if you're a priest in most parts of the world, and you have been known by your bishop to have raped or sexually assaulted a child, you get to remain in the priesthood and in most of these cases you're remaining in ministry working with children and families," Isely said.

Isely stated that the majority of priests within the church are working on behalf of children, but there is still a need to "turn a new page" and set rules for those who aren’t.

The group is also calling on Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George to aid them in setting up a meeting with the pope.

"There has probably been more progress in 15 years than there has been in 15 centuries," Isely said.

Group members said they're encouraged by the pope’s choice of "Francis" as his namesake because St. Francis was one of the greatest reformers in church history and stood for justice.

N.J. Couple Charged with Animal Cruelty


A couple who turned in an ill, emaciated cocker spaniel to animal authorities, saying they found it in a bag on the side of a New Jersey roadway, has been charged with animal cruelty, according to the Monmouth County SPCA.
Victor "Buddy" Amato, the Chief Humane Law Enforcement Officer with the SPCA, told NBC 4 New York that Keith Morgan, 55, and Shauna Morgan, 44, of Brick Township were charged after "interviews with the suspects and facts presented."
The Monmouth County prosecutor's office spokesman Charles Webster said the Morgans are facing multiple counts of animal cruelty and interfering with an investigation.
Alicia Necker of the Associated Humane Societies said the couple brought the dog in on Thursday, saying they found it in a black plastic bag along a road in Wall Township. The dog was believed to be in poor condition before being placed in the bag.
"It's severe, he's not out of the woods," Necker said. 
Workers at the AHS named the dog "Morgan" before it knew that the couple owned it.
Morgan is hooked up to two separate IVs in a restricted recovery area at the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls. 
When NBC 4 New York visited him, he was laid out in a cage and unresponsive.

9-Year-Old Among 4 Charged in Carjacking


A 9-year-old boy was reportedly one of four people arrested Thursday night in connection with a carjacking in Chicago's East Side neighborhood.

The boy was in the stolen car with two 15-year-olds and a 14-year-old Thursday night when they were arrested for allegedly pointing a pellet gun at the driver of a 2003 Pontiac Sunfire and driving away in the vehicle.

The charges were denied against the boy, who was released into the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, but the three older boys were charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking with a firearm and one of the 15-year-olds, the driver, was charged with aggravated possession of a stolen vehicle, police said, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The 9-year-old and the 14-year-old were both arrested in connection with an armed robbery at a McDonalds last month, according to the Tribune.

2 Injured in Hot Air Balloon Crash in Fla.


Two people were rushed to a regional trauma center after a hot air balloon crashed in Homestead Saturday morning, Miami-Dade Police said.

It appears that the hot air balloon's passenger basket, which had three adults aboard, crashed into power lines while airborne, police said.

Police were sent to the scene at about 10:02 a.m.

The third passenger was not injured, police said.

Miami-Dade Police said they are working in a support role for the National Transportation Safety Board as authorities respond to the incident.

Stay with NBC6.com and NBC 6 South Florida for updates as more information becomes available.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue

Enthusiam Spikes at Volleyball Tourney


About four dozen teams are crowding the gymnasium at Trinity College in Hartford this weekend to spike funds for Easter Seals of Connecticut.  The local charity provides health services to people with physical and mental disabilities.

“We cover people with individual disabilities, breast cancer rehabilitation, traumatic brain injury, stroke…we also have a vocational program that helps people to obtain employment,” said Mary Ann Slomski, the Chief Development Officer for the local chapter of the Easter Seals.

Easter Seals has helped locals for decades. That is why so many groups were eager to take part in Saturday’s event and give the charity a boost.

“This is our second year competing in the tournament. We had a great time last year, so we’ve tried to increase the energy this year,” said Joe Shiman.

Not even NBC Connecticut could miss out on the fun. Our station is one of the event’s sponsors. Bob Connors, who works at the station, said he looks forward to the event every year.

“We were champions several years in a row. We lost last year, so we’re back this year to try and win it all,” said Connors.

One serve at a time, the annual volleyball tournament is a long-standing tradition that the Easter Seals hope to continue for years on end.

“Since the inception of this event, it’s been over $1 million that have been raised,” said Slomski.

The tournament runs all weekend with the final match being played on Sunday afternoon.



New York Insurance Company Moves to Stamford


Navigators Group, a New York-based insurance company, is moving from New York to Stamford and bringing 200 jobs to the state.

The state of Connecticut will be giving the company a 10-year forgivable loan up to $8 million at no interest, along with a $3.5 million grant.

“Navigators’ relocation to Connecticut is great news, not only because it will create hundreds of jobs, but it will also strengthen Connecticut’s global reputation as a leader in the insurance industry,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement. “Navigators started in 1974 as a family-owned managing agency specializing in marine insurance and has since grown into an international, diversified specialty insurance group with more than $1.2 billion in annual revenue. Connecticut is looking to attract more companies with this kind of track record for growth and success.”

Navigators has multiple locations in the United States, as well as overseas.

In November 2012, PwC issued a report saying Connecticut’s insurance sector “plays a vital role in the global insurance landscape and the state’s economy.”

“Today marks the day when Connecticut puts a stake in the ground to resurrect the state’s title as Insurance Capital of the U.S.  It’s time to promote our rich history, extensive workforce, and global brands that drive future growth of insurance in our own backyard and the world,” Susan Winkler, executive director, Insurance & Financial Services Cluster, said in November, according to the new release from PwC.

Photo Credit: Gunnar Pippel

Man Sexually Assaulted Teen Facebook Friend: Cops


A Bridgeport man has been charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl he met on Facebook.

Jean Eugene, 26, was arrested this week.

According to police, the father of the 14-year-old girl contacted investigators after learning his daughter had been seeing Eugene. During interviews, the girl told detectives she was hesitant when Eugene friended her on Facebook, but began talking to him on the phone and chatting online regularly. The teen said Eugene came to her house on nights when her parents weren't home and that the two had sex on several occasions, police said.

Eugene admitted to having sex with the girl, but said he loves her and wants to be with her, according to police.

Eugene is charged with second-degree sexual assault, risk of injury to a minor and using a computer to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. He was held on $100,000 bond.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police

Vernon Police Call Human Remains Found "Suspicious Death"


Police in Vernon are considering the discovery of human remains a suspicious death.

At a press conference held Saturday afternoon, police confirmed that it was a single victim found and are now calling it a crime scene.

Police intensified their search Friday after the discovery of human remains.  Investigators spent the day looking for clues after someone stumbled upon what appeared to be a human skull by the old landfill near West Street on Wednesday.

Detectives scoured the dense property with cadaver dogs on Friday, and said they recovered a significant amount of evidence, although they would not specify on what that evidence could be. They also had no indication of who the remains belonged to.
“I'm just hoping it’s Lisa, so we could end this thing,” said Gerald Kelly.  He questioned if the skull was Lisa White’s. He would have been her stepfather. 

Lisa vanished when she was 13 back in 1974, and lived just a short distance from the search site.

“It was brutal, it was brutal,” he added.
Kelly said police told White’s loved ones the skull belonged to a young woman.  Sources close to the family tell NBC Connecticut, White used to play in the area by the landfill and authorities asked the family for dental records.

“If this gets out there enough someone’s going to say who did what when,” Kelly explained.
People in the Vernon community also wondered if the remains belonged with Lisa White, or two other girls who vanished decades ago.  Janice Pockett from Tolland was last seen in July of 1973.

Debra Spickler was visiting family in Vernon when she went missing in July of 1968.  Police would not speculate on any of this.

“It’s a very active and very early investigation so we can't comment on any evidence or our findings right now,” said Lt. William Meier. 
Detectives said it could take a while to find some answers, and their results might give a family some closure. “You would like to get the person responsible that's number one,” said Gerald Kelly.
Vernon Police told NBC Connecticut they would search the property through the weekend, and possibly into next week. The search spans over several acres of land.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Debra Bogstie

Plane Pilot's Widow Speaks Out About Crash


Police on Saturday preliminarily identified the three victims of Friday’s deadly plane crash in Fort Lauderdale.

Steven Waller, 65, of Deerfield Beach, Wallis “Wally” Watson, 66, of Boca Raton and Kevin Watson, 30, of Pompano Beach were killed when their twin-engine Piper Cheyenne PA-31T crashed in a parking lot Friday afternoon, Fort Lauderdale Police said in a statement.

Waller was the plane's pilot, according to investigators. His widow, Kim Waller, said he had 20 years of experience as a pilot and wouldn’t have taken any chances when flying.

“I blame the plane, the owner and the mechanics, whoever operated or worked on that plane,” she told NBC 6.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said in an email that the National Transportation Safety Board will release updates on the incident. The NTSB has not yet released information about the plane or its owner.

“Our focus so far today has been documenting the aircraft on scene to the point where we can get it recovered off-site to look at it further,” Luke Schiada, a senior air safety investigator with the NTSB, said at the crash site Saturday. “We will continue to do that the rest of the day. We will also be gathering information on the pilot, his experience, his type of experience, medical certification, things like that.”

The turboprop aircraft departed from Runway 08 at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport at about 4:20 p.m. and crashed just moments later into parked vehicles near a warehouse at 964 NE 53rd Court, authorities said Friday.

Witnesses said explosions followed the plane’s impact. Firefighters quickly arrived to douse various vehicles that caught fire in the lot, which police said is used to store repossessed vehicles.

VIDEO: "Everything Was in Flames Over There," Witness Says of Plane Crash

Members of the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office gathered evidence to help identify the victims. Police noted that the medical examiner's office would issue final confirmation of the plane’s occupants once it completes its evaluation.

The NTSB, the Federal Aviation Administration and Fort Lauderdale Police are conducting a meticulous investigation, police said.

Steven Waller was friends with the Watsons and was visiting them Friday when they asked if he wanted to fly with them, Kim Waller said.

She said Wally Watson and his son were doing an avionics check on the plane – checking its instrumentation and communications systems. The Watsons' company, Avionics Engineering, has been doing such work for years.

NBC 6 Videos

The Wallers, who were married 16 years, spoke on the phone about an hour before the crash.

"And I told him, I said ‘'Tell Wally hi,’ you know," Kim Waller said.

The men’s families are making arrangements for their funerals.

More Local and Florida Stories:


Photo Credit: Courtesy Kim Waller

Hartford Police Investigate Death as a Homicide


Hartford police are investigating the body found in an apartment as a homicide.

The body of a 59-year-old woman was discovered at 76 Main Street Saturday evening.

Police have not released the name of the woman. The State's attorney and medical examiner's officer are working with Hartford police to determine the cause of death. Police say they it is not expected that the cause of death will be released until Monday.

This would be the first homicide of 2013 in Hartford.

Photo Credit: George Colli

Race Car Runs Off Calif. Track, Kills Two


A race car at the Marysville Raceway Park about 40 miles north of Sacramento lost control and killed two people on pit row Saturday night, the Yuba County Sheriff's Department reported.

The Appeal-Democrat said a 68-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy died after being hit by the sprint car. 

There were no other reported injuries. 

A venue promoter told the paper the car left the track and crashed into pit row. This happened during a warm up lap prior to the actual race. Chase Johnson, 17, was reportedly going 90 mph and did not make a proper turn. 

"There must have been a mechanical problem," the announcer of the race said. "The car didn't slow down." 

Track officials said on the Facebook page: "Our thoughts and deepest prayers go out to everyone. Out of respect we will not elaborate on details. We ask everyone to respect each other and the families."

Marysville Raceway Park was hosting Round 1 of the Hoosier Tire California Sprint Car Civil War Series this weekend. Organizers canceled the event shortly after the incident.

Sprint cars are small, high-powered cars that usually run on short dirt ovals. The races serve as a path for drivers to make it to NASCAR.

Less than a month ago, another crash at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 23 left at least 30 fans.


Gunman Kills Himself Inside Dick’s Sporting Goods


Police say a gunman is dead after a barricade situation in eastern Pennsylvania.

Investigators say the ordeal began around 7:30 p.m. at the Dick's Sporting Goods store. A middle-aged man walked into the store and asked to see a shotgun as well as ammunition, according to investigators. As the clerk was about to hand the man the gun, the man allegedly pulled out a handgun, pointed it at the clerk and told him to unlock the shotgun. Police say the man then took the shotgun as well as ammo and then barricaded himself inside the store's bathroom.

The entire store as well as neighboring businesses were evacuated.

"Swat team rolled in," said Mike Elwell, a customer who was inside the store. "We've been here for awhile now but it's crazy. We watched them put together their full suits. They've got guns and everything. They're locked and loaded."

Shortly before midnight, police announced that the gunman shot and killed himself. They have not yet revealed the man's identity or the weapon he used to shoot himself.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Shoots Himself in Groin, Blames Ninjas


A teen in a Chicago suburb who was injured in a shooting Friday is believed to have shot himself, officials said, NBC Chicago reported.

The 17-year-old boy was taken to Loyola Hospital in Maywood, IL, with a gunshot wound to his left groin area when he reportedly told police he was shot by two men wearing ninja masks.

Police investigated, talked to witness and reviewed surveillance but found no evidence of the attack and the boy, who has gang ties, confessed that he was driving in a car and playing with a gun when it discharged in his lap, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Medical personnel said the wound reflected self-infliction and officials are working to determine where the incident occurred to determine which police agency has jurisdiction over the case, according to the Tribune.


Utah City Picks Mayor by Drawing Names out of a Hat


Ed Chavez Jr. became the mayor of a city in Utah thanks to a little luck.

Chavez and opponent Councilman Kirk Mascaro were hoping to fill the position as mayor of Helper, located 100 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, according to The Associated Press.

The city council was deadlocked between the two candidates following two rounds of voting. After it became clear that the tie wouldn't be broken, slips of paper containing the candidates' names were placed in a wicker basket.

It was decided that whoever's name was drawn from the basket would be the winner. The City Attorney drew Chavez's name, making him the new mayor.

"I was kind of shocked that I was the one whose name was drawn," Mayor Ed Chavez Jr. said to KSL News.

Chavez assured that there were no hard feelings between him and Mascaro. "Kirk (Mascaro) and I grew up together," Chavez  said to KSL News, "and I'm pretty sure, I don't think there's going to be any animosity between us. We'll work together just fine."

Chavez has a long history of public service, working at the county sheriff's office for 25 years and on the city council for 15 years, KSL reports. He was also chairman of the county Democratic party.

Chavez is replacing former mayer Dean Armstrong who resigned after being arrested for his third DUI, AP reports.

Despite the Helper's history, Chavez hopes to give the city a new direction. "We're entering into a new chapter in Helper City," he said to KSL News. "What's in the past is in the past.

Photo Credit: AP

Disney Bans Children Under 14 From Entering Parks Alone


Disney theme parks will soon require anyone under the age of 14 to be accompanied by someone who is older than 14, a Disney spokeswoman said Saturday.

The new policy will take effect March 23 at all U.S. Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts and parks.

"If a cast member who is working at the front gates sees a guest who appears to be younger than 14 without someone who appears to be older than that, they will engage in a conversation with the guest," Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown told NBC4.

The employee will verbally determine whether the guest is too young to enter on his or her own, since children that age typically do not carry identification with them, she said. The child’s parent or guardian would then be contacted if the visitor is underage, and that adult would need to physically come accompany the child into the park.

Disney chose the age of 14 after the company surveyed its guests and reached out to organizations that deal with child welfare, Brown said. She said both the organizations and visitors agreed on the new age limit.

"That was the age they felt was appropriate," she said. "That's also the age the Red Cross recommends for babysitting."

No particular incident triggered the change in policy, Brown added.

“We regularly review all of our policies, and we identified an opportunity to provide a consistent age of admission and address a question we occasionally get from parents, ” Brown said. "The question is just if we have a minimum age."

The Disneyland parks did not previously have a set age for solo admission, and the age rules at Walt Disney World Resort varied among the parks, she said.

"This was a move to bring a consistent age policy across our domestic resorts," Brown said.

Photo Credit: AP

UConn to Unveil New Logo


 Come this Spring, the UConn Husky logo will look a little bit more intimidating.
According to The Daily Campus, the university newspaper, the school will be unveiling a new Husky logo that will appear less friendly and more intimidating than the grinning, tongue wagging face of the current Jonathan logo.
The Daily Campus reports that Mike Enright, Associate Director of Athletic Communications expects the change to be made later this spring in April or May.
Since the 1930s the Husky has been the official mascot of UConn. The current logo has been in use since 1996.

Seaside Installs 1st Piece of New Boardwalk After Sandy


Officials in Seaside Heights took another big step in rebuilding the shore town’s hurricane-ravaged boardwalk today, installing the first piece of the new boardwalk.

The ceremony took place at 3 p.m. on Ocean Terrace and Dupont Drive Avenue in front of the Beachcomber Bar. It marks the completion of the first phase of the boardwalk reconstruction in that Ocean City community.

In February, the first pile was driven into the sand to replace boardwalk that was torn apart during the storm. Heavy equipment including a gigantic drill and a pile-driving machine were brought onto the sand and workers quickly began drilling holes in the sand and pounding wooden pilings into them, shaking the ground for blocks around.

“It’s a positive step forward, it’s a visual reminder that we’re on our way back,” Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers told NBC10’s Ted Greenberg. “The excitement is in the air. You feel like it’s Christmas.”

Seaside Heights’ boardwalk was badly damaged last October after Hurricane Sandy spun into New Jersey. The storm had so much power; it caused an amusement pier to partially collapse, sending a roller coaster into the surf.

The Mayor vows to have Seaside Heights open and ready for business by summer.

“It’s our intention that it looks as close to last summer as humanly possible,” Akers said. The boardwalk rebuilding effort is expected to cost about $7 million. Officials hope at least 75-percent of the cost will be covered by FEMA.

For Ocean County residents who’ve been working hard to come back from Hurricane Sandy, the sight of the rebuilding effort is welcomed.

“I’m very excited to see it happen and come back to life again,” Linda Sodl said. She and her husband came to watch the event. “My grandchildren can’t wait for it to be back and working again.”

"We have a clean washing of the old and we're going to come back bigger, better and brand new," said Michael Carbone, the owner of the Beachcomber Bar.

The boardwalk draws millions of people to the borough every summer, according to officials.

Related Stories:


Photo Credit: Getty

Philly Professor Sinks $10K Half-Court Shot


If you ask Brad Baer how confident he was before he made that unbelievable, $10,000 half-court shot and gained overnight fame, luck did not appear to be on his side.

“I wasn’t nervous at first but at the end of the half I started getting a little nervous," Baer said.

He was about to take his best shot from half-court at Saturday’s NCAA Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center.

“When I got on the court there was a guy right before me that missed (the shot), I said well hopefully I won’t do that bad.”

And then there was that staff member from the Barclay’s Center.

“He said, ‘No one has ever hit a half-court shot at a Nets game.’ I thought, well thanks that takes the pressure off a little bit,” Brad joked.

The 29-year-old adjunct professor from Temple University’s architecture department was at the Butler - St. Louis matchup with five of his childhood friends. On a whim, they each sent a text message to enter the half-court shooting contest before the game. Just before halftime, Brad got a message from organizers on his phone informing him that he had been selected and to come to the court.

“When I got to the court, my first thought was not to let my foot cross that line and then I wanted to make sure that I shot as hard as I could so that I didn’t come up short,” Baer said.

And he didn’t.

In front of an anxious crowd, blaring lights, and rolling cameras Baer hit the ball through the net with ease setting off an improbable sports moment that will be re-played and talked about for quite some time. Video of the amazing shot was posted on YouTube.

“It was definitely the epitome of my five minutes of fame,” Baer said. “This is the most exciting thing I’ve ever experienced. You are on the opening of Sports Center, which has been my biggest life achievement to this point,” Brad laughed.

We’re sure Brad meant to say his second biggest life achievement. The sports fanatic, who was recently married to his wife Katie, says it was three hours before he told her he’d be bringing home a little more bacon.

“She was at a bridal shower and when I told her she said ‘are you serious’, Baer said. “I was fortunate that they took that video so that she could see it.”

Pictured: Brad and pals at Del Frisco's Steakhouse

As for Brad's friends, he did what all sports superstars do when they win a big championship, he took everybody out for a celebration dinner. The group chowed down on Del Frisco’s steaks, seafood, and took in a drink or three to the tune of $1,100 - which is now chump change for Baer.

“The money is cool, but everything is better, like being with my buddies,” Baer said. “A guy came over and had me touch his son’s hand. “I thought it was kind of funny at first, but I think the kid was a little confused."

Baer says he expects to get his prize money in the next few days, with the take away to be about $6,000 after taxes. He says he plans to use it to pay off his graduate school loans and put away some of the money for a down payment on a new home.




Photo Credit: Brad Baer Facebook

Waterbury Fire Causing Road Closures


Firefighters are battling a fire at a vacant apartment building on Bishop Street in Waterbury that broke out late on Sunday night and roads remain closed on Monday morning.

The fire at 331 Bishop Street broke out after 11 p.m., officials said.

The building is under renovation and the fire spread rapidly. It was well-involved when the fire department arrived, officials said, and firefighters had to fight the fire from the outside because fire was so heavy.

No injuries are reported.

The fire marshal will investigate in the morning.

Bishop Street is closed between Pine and Hopkins streets. Motorists should use Cooke Street instead.

Denny Graziano submitted this photo:

Photo Credit: Steve Miller, NBC Connecticut

Woman Killed in Mansfield Crash


A 30-year-old Mansfield woman was killed in a crash in Mansfield on Sunday night.

Somer Payne, 30, was driving south on Route 32 near North Eagleville Road at 8:44 p.m. when she went off the right side of the road and down the embankment,  according to state police.

Payne’s 2004 Lexus hit several trees and stopped when the roof hit a tree, according to state police.

Payne, who was the only person in the car, was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials said she died of injuries sustained in the crash.

Police are investigating.

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