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Sandwich Helps Reunite Owner, Dog


A dog missing for two years has been reunited with her owner thanks to the help of a neighbor, animal control and an unfinished breakfast sandwich.

Annie, a black and tan mixed terrier, was reunited with her owner June Nicolaus this week after disappearing in November 2012. She ran away from her owner's Manchester Township, New Jersey, home three months after being adopted, police said.

Manchester Township Animal Control officers believe Annie survived in the woods near Nicolaus' home for two years before being discovered. Apparently a homeowner had been feeding the dog since June 2014, police said.

But it wasn't until Tuesday when they called animal control. Officer Margaret Dellapietro came to the neighborhood and was able to lure Annie into a cage using a half-eaten breakfast sandwich.

Annie had lost her collar, was dirty and had matted hair, but a microchip allowed Dellapietro to reunite the dog with Nicolaus.

"In the back of my mind, I always held out hope," Nicolaus said in a police release. "Miracles do happen. I was over the moon."

Despite living in the elements for two years, Annie is said to be doing well.

Photo Credit: Manchester Township Police

Woman, 80, "Sweetheart" Judge Spar


There was a bit of disorder in a South Florida court when an 80-year-old woman facing charges of resisting arrest and violating an injunction called a judge "sweetheart" and asked if he would take her out for breakfast Thursday.

Dolores Sheinis had Broward Judge John Hurley cracking up after he ordered her to wear a GPS ankle bracelet for violating an injunction to stay away from her ex-husband.

"I don't particularly feel like keeping an 80-year-old woman in the jail who has no criminal record, but this is your second warning: Don't go around him again," Hurley said.

"I haven't bothered him for 31 years, why would I bother him now?" Sheinis cracked. "I swear to God and all that's holy on a stack of bibles, I will never go near him, talk to him, call him or even look at him."

"Ma'am, have you ever thought of doing a stand-up routine?" Hurley asked.

"If you pay me good money, sweetheart, I'll be there. I'm really short of funds," she replied.

"Ma'am, I have to tell you something: You seem like you have a great wit about you," Hurley said.

"I do, sir. Sweetheart, that's the only thing I have," said Sheinis, who records showed was arrested Wednesday in Coconut Creek.

"I haven't been called 'sweetheart' in this courtroom since I guess Mr. Miller took over," Hurley said.

"Does that mean you're taking me for breakfast?" Sheinis asked.

"Let me ask you something, ma'am. How have I done as a judge today? So far, how am I doing?" Hurley asked.

"Not bad, but you could do better," Sheinis shot back.

"You brightened my day, ma'am," Hurley responded.

"That's what the last guy said," Sheinis said.

New Britain Catholic School to Close at End of Academic Year


St. John Paul II School, a Catholic school in New Britain serving students in pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade, will close its doors at the end of the academic year, according to a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

"After substantial, careful consultation with parish and school constituent groups, the pastor of the parish school made the decision to close the school at the conclusion of the current academic year," the Archdiocese said in a news release Thursday evening.

The Archdiocese said the school's sponsoring parish, Holy Cross, can no longer support it.

“Although the closing of St. John Paul II School is unfortunate, we are committed to maintaining the vibrant presence of Catholic school education in the city of New Britain and the surrounding towns,” superintendent of Catholic schools Dr. Dale R. Hoyt said in a statement Thursday. “There are many exceptional educational options available for families seeking the numerous advantages, both academic and faith-based, that Catholic schools offer.”

Students attending ST. John Paul II School will receive $500 toward tuition to help with the transition to another Catholic school, according to the Archdiocese. Families who enroll their children at Sacred Heart School will receive an additional $500 toward tuition for the 2015-2016 academic year.

It's the second Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Hartford to announce its closure in a month's time. St. Stanislaus School in Meriden will also be closing in June.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Creatas RF

Crash Cleared on I-95 South in East Lyme


Interstate 95 southbound was closed briefly on Thursday evening near exit 75 in East Lyme following a crash.

State police said that a crash closed down the highway just prior to 10 p.m. on Thursday. According to the Department of Transportation, the right lane reopened shortly thereafter.

Police have since cleared the scene.

There has been no word on injuries. No additional information has been released.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Man Who Faked Death Surrenders: PD


A man missing since a pontoon boat crash at the Jersey Shore last summer has turned himself into authorities after allegedly faking his death.

Andrew Biddle, 45, turned up at Atlantic County Superior Court with his attorney on Thursday afternoon to surrender to authorities, Egg Harbor Township police tell NBC10.

The professional boater has been missing since July 20, 2014, when a pontoon boat he was piloting collided with an unlit buoy right off Longport, New Jersey. Biddle and a passenger were thrown into the water. The passenger was found ashore, but Biddle went missing.

Within weeks of the crash, police told NBC10's Ted Greenberg they didn't believe it was an accident and suspected that Biddle was still alive.

Egg Harbor Township police had charged Biddle with several counts of theft by deception months before he disappeared for allegedly defrauding customers during boat sales. They sent out a flier to other law enforcement agencies asking them to be on the lookout for Biddle.

The boat involved in the crash didn't belong to Biddle. Rather, it belonged to a Douglasville, Pennsylvania, couple who say the man and his company stole it from them.

Biddle's attorney Mark Roddy said he's unsure where his client has been since disappearing.

Biddle was arraigned Thursday afternoon and was granted $50,000 bail.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Man Struck by Car in Newington Near CCSU


A man was rushed to the hospital after being struck by a car at Fenn Road and Ella Grasso Boulevard in Newington, near the Central Connecticut State University campus, on Thursday night, according to police.

Police have only identified the victim as a man. He was alive at the scene, but his current condition is unknown.

Police said the car that struck him stayed at the scene.

No additional information has been released.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

West Hartford Residents Clash Over Mascot Debate


There was no shortage of conviction at West Hartford Town Hall on Thursday, but when it came to keeping or changing the high schools' Native American mascots, there was also no sign of compromise.

“I came tonight because I am a huge supporter of the Chieftain name,” said West Hartford resident Jake Reynolds.

Hundreds were in attendance, and as strongly as some residents adhered with tradition, others spoke in favor of change.

“I am very strongly ‘Change the Chieftain,” Grace Downes said.

Conard’s Chieftains and Hall’s Warriors brought hundreds before the West Hartford Board of Education to present opinions on the longstanding debate.

“One [side] definitely wants to instill a tradition that they grew up with, that they feel is very dear to them,” Cantor said. “The other sees these as offensive names, outdated, something that propagates a false history.”

Among the 60 or so residents who signed up to speak at the board of education meeting, both factions were represented at the podium. One speaker urging the board to “choose respect over tradition,” while the following speaker said he thought the mascots were “nothing racist, nothing offensive, nothing derogatory and nothing belittling.”

For Reynolds, a varsity athlete, the mascot has taken on a new meaning and served as a symbol he and his teammates work to respect.

“We always strive to be of a Chieftain and do things as chieftains would: be courageous on sports fields and in classrooms,” Reynolds explained.

Conard sophomore Leah Kelly argues those feelings shouldn't disappear if the mascot does, that school pride should stick with all of Hall and Conard’s teams regardless.

“The feeling isn’t going to go away just because you change some logo,” Kelly said.

The board of education said the subject is sensitive but that open dialogue is the only way to reach a decision.

“This is another step in a long process for us,” said Board of Education Chairman Mark Overmyer-Velazquez.

According to Overmyer-Velazquez, that decision could result in anything from the names being retired completely to things staying just as they are now.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Surprise for Mom Who Tackled Driver


The Dallas mom who wrestled a carjacking suspect to the ground after he slammed into the minivan she and her child were in got a big surprise Thursday: a brand-new van.

Video of Jessica Liesmann, 29, went viral Wednesday when she confronted the driver, who was fleeing police, after he slammed into her minivan at a red light in North Dallas.

Her 13-year-old son and her boyfriend were also in the car.

Liesmann, not knowing the man was involved in a police chase, immediately jumped out of her van, rushed over to the driver and slammed his car door into his body before grabbing him by the shirt.

Then, with the help of her boyfriend, she wrestled the man to the ground until police arrived, earning her a new nickname, courtesy of Dallas police: Mama Bear.

“He was just looking at me. I was expecting something to come out of his mouth, but it didn’t,” Liesmann said.

Officers arrested 40-year-old Artrai Alexander for aggravated robbery and evading arrest.

The shocking video caught the attention of the "Kidd Kraddick in the Morning" team on KISS-FM, who asked Liesmann to be on their show Thursday morning.

“I was like, wow! It just kind of caught me,” said cast member “Big Al" Mack.

Mack said initially he and the other cast members just wanted to talk to Liesmann about what happened. But the more he heard her story, the more he wanted to help.

Mack found out that Liesmann had lost her 4-year-old son last year due to a medical condition, and without her van, she wouldn’t have a way to drive her two other children to school.

Mack called Southwest Kia in Mesquite, and together, they teamed up to give Liesmann a new van Thursday afternoon.

He said part of the reason was due to the show’s namesake, Kidd Kraddick, who died in 2013.

“Kidd’s not here any longer, but I try to make him proud. So I said Kidd would not just send this woman out and say bye. He would do something. So that’s what we came up with. She needs a new car,” said Mack.

When Mack and employees at Southwest Kia presented the van to Liesmann, she immediately started crying as she first sat in the driver’s seat.

“I was just completely shocked at what happened. I cannot tell you how grateful I am. I really am. And every time I think about it, it makes me want to cry,” Liesmann said.

“I just feel like I was doing what any parent would do. So thank you,” she said.

Liesmann also got an apology Thursday.

In his first TV interview, the driver who police say caused the chase and crash apologized.

“I apologize to them for this whole incident. I apologize and hope JT (referring to Leismann’s 13-year-old son, TJ) be OK and the other people that were injured as well,” said Alexander, from the Dallas County Jail.

“I accept that. God always says you forgive to be forgiven, so I thank you for your apology,” Liesmann said after NBC 5 showed her video of what Alexander said.

Behind the wheel of her brand-new van, Mama Bear couldn’t ask for more.

“We have some great people here absolutely. I’m proud to be a Texan,” she said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Governor Proposes Longer Liquor Store Hours, Lower Prices


Gov. Dannel Malloy is proposing a plan to extend liquor store hours, cut prices on alcohol and increase the number of permits sellers can obtain.

Malloy made the announcement on Friday morning on the Chaz and AJ radio show, which airs on WPLR.

The according to the CT Mirror, Malloy would allow stores to stay open for an extra hour, increase the number of store permits one owner can hold from three to six and keep minimum bottle pricing, but allow for discounting.

Liquor sales would be allowed until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sundays, according to the Mirror. Liquor stores are currently open until 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Malloy cited the difference in prices between alcohol in Connecticut and neighboring Massachusetts and Rhode Island.


Mafia Hitman May Be Free in Weeks


A convicted Mexican mafia hitman could be free from his California jail cell in weeks after local law enforcement agencies endorsed him for parole.

Former mobster Rene "Boxer" Enriquez earned high praise for his work as a snitch from the FBI, Los Angeles Police Department, and the district attorney's offices in LA, Orange and Ventura counties at a recent hearing.

It is now up to California Gov. Jerry Brown to decide whether he should be set free, despite the fact he is serving two life sentences for murder. A decision has to be made by Feb. 22.

This comes on the heels of a controversial appearance made by Enriquez at an event hosted by the LAPD in downtown Los Angeles,  where he gave a crowd of about 125 people a firsthand insight about the inner-workings of the criminal enterprise. He was given a SWAT escort to the meeting.

Former Orange County Deputy District Attorney Rudy Lowenstein is not convinced allowing him to go free would be the correct decision.

"Boxer Enriquez is the most deviant, manipulative killer that I have ever encountered in 36 years as a DA first and then as a criminal defense lawyer," Lowenstein said.

A 150 page transcript of the hearing obtained by NBC4, which came with considerable redactions, quoted him as saying he works as an informant for law enforcement on a daily basis, a role he plans to continue in if he is freed.

"I know I have really good career lined up with law enforcement, he told the parole board," Enriquez said.

Enriquez was also candid when describing his own past offenses, admitting he was a "horrific individual who had little or no concern for human life." Enriquez is the subject of the book "The Black Hand: The Bloody Rise and Redemption of 'Boxer' Enriquez, a Mexican Mob Killer." He worked his way up from enforcer to shot caller for the organization known as La Eme before his arrest.

In 1989, he pleaded guilty in the slayings of a woman, whose body was found in a vacant lot, and a man, leading to the prison sentence. He suspected that the woman, 28, was stealing drugs from him and ordered her execution, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing court records. He then targeted a member of the Mexican Mafia, giving him an overdose of heroin and shooting him in the head, the Times reported, citing parole records.

As well as being praised by law enforcement for his work, one letter from someone in the LA County Sheriff's Department suggested he was a suitable candidate for parole. The California Parole Board states Enriquez does not pose a threat to public safety and is suitable for parole. If he is freed he will have to register as a sex offender.

Brown's office has refused to be drawn on how the decision may turn out.

"We do not comment on pending parole reviews. The governor has until February 22nd to act," a spokesman said.

Police Seize Cocaine, Crack and Heroin During Norwich Bust


Police seized more than three pounds of cocaine and crack, as well as more than 100 grams of heroin, when they raided a Norwich home on Thursday.

Police said they obtained a search and seizure warrant for 251 Norwich Avenue, apartment 3, and seized the drugs, as well as more than $9,500, scales, cutting agents and packaging materials, police said.

Larry Miliner, 47, of 251 Norwich Ave., Apartment 1, in Norwich, was charged with possession of crack cocaine, possession of more than one ounce of crack cocaine with intent to sell, possession of more than one ounce of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of cocaine and heroin, possession of heroin with intent to sell and operating a drug factory.

He was held on a $500,000 cash/surety bond and will be arraigned in Norwich Superior Court on Friday.

Police said they are continuing to investigate and more arrests are expected.

Photo Credit: Norwich Police

“Ice Missile” Hits Car on I-91 in New Haven


State police are responding to Interstate 91 South in New Haven to check on a driver whose car was damaged by a sheet of ice that fell off another vehicle.

Police said the ice hit the car near exit 6 and the offending driver left the scene. A photo from the scene shows damage to the windshield and roof of the car.

Connecticut law requires drivers to clear snow and ice from vehicles before driving on streets or highways and anyone who does not is subject to a $75 fine.

Should snow or ice come off one private vehicle and cause injury or property damage to another, the driver can be fined between $200 and $1,000 per offense. If the ice comes off a commercial motor vehicle and causes injury or property damage, the operator can be fined $500 to $1,200 for each offense.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

4-Year-Old Loses Leg in Attack by Officer Dad's K-9


A police dog was quarantined Thursday after attacking the 4-year-old son of his police officer handler in the Southern California high desert, leaving the boy with injuries were so severe that doctors had to amputate his left leg.

A neighbor who heard the horrifying screams coming from the young boy as he was mauled by Jango, a highly trained K-9, broke down the house’s fence and tried to intervene. 

"I run up to the dog and kick him, and I kicked him in the back hind quarters and he still didn't release the boy," Jeff Houlemarde said. "So I jumped on top of the dog and had to pry his mouth open." 

Another neighbor pulled the boy away from the dog. Rialto police say at that point, the boy's father, veteran Rialto police officer Mike Mastaler, rushed outside and put Jango back in his kennel. The boy, who was taken to Loma Linda hospital after the attack at his family’s Hesperia home on Sunday, remains hospitalized.

DeAnda said prior to the attack, Mastaler had released Jango from his kennel into the fenced in backyard to let him stretch his legs. The officer then went upstairs to change his clothes. His son was downstairs and went looking for his mom.

"This all happened within a two-minute time frame," Capt. Randy DeAnda said.

It's not clear what prompted Jango, who has been with the boy’s father for two years, to attack the boy. Since the dog was left unsupervised, Mastaler could be disciplined by Rialto police.  The officer’s image is not being released because he works undercover.

DeAnda, who called Mastaler one of the department's finest officers, said the whole incident is a double tragedy. In addition to losing his son's leg, Mastaler may also lose Jango.

"Ultimately there has to be a decision made as to whether or not the dog has to be put down," DeAnda said.

According to police. Jango has never showed any signs of aggression toward people he knows.

Cyber Threat Information Sharing Encouraged: Obama


President Barack Obama is expected to use his stop at Stanford University Friday to announce an executive order encouraging information-sharing of cyberthreat attacks between the private sector and the government as part of an effort to clamp down on high-profile hacks of personal data from businesses and health insurance companies.

Ahead of the summit, the White House said Obama will sign an executive order to encourage and promote sharing of cybersecurity threat information because "rapid information sharing is an essential element of effective cybersecurity," the statement read in part.

The White House said the summit will help shape "public and private sector efforts to protect American consumers and companies from growing cyber threats." And numerous companies, ranging from mass retailers like Target and Home Depot to Sony Pictures Entertainment to health insurer Anthem, have suffered costly and embarrassing data breaches in recent months. The Twitter feed of U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the volatile Middle East, was hacked recently, while the White House reported detecting "activity of concern" last October on the unclassified computer network used by White House staffers.

A sore point for the private sector is that while most states require them to report breaches, the federal government isn't required to publicize its own data losses.

The Obama administration wants Congress to supersede an existing patchwork of state laws by setting a national standard for when companies must notify consumers that their personal information has been compromised. Obama was signing an executive order Friday to encourage members of the private sector to share information about threats to cybersecurity with each other and with the federal government, but he also wants Congress to pass legislation.

"What we as an industry, spanning across public and private sector security teams, need to improve on is breaking down the silos of 'how' and 'to whom' threat data and threat intelligence is being shared," said Barmak Meftah, president of the San Mateo, California, cybersecurity startup AlienVault.

It's the first time a sitting president will speak at Stanford  since 1975, the university said. That was when then-President Gerald Ford dedicated the Crown Quadrangle at the Stanford Law School.

President Herbert Hoover addressed students at Stanford in 1932, according to Stanford Report, and President Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the elite private university in 1903.  President Bill Clinton was a visitor to campus during his presidency, but in his private capacity as a Stanford parent of daughter Chelsea Clinton.

Stanford sits in the heart of the Silicon Valley, home to Google, Apple, Facebook, Intel and most other tech leaders. The valley is also a national hub of innovation, with the most patents, venture capital investment and startups per capita in the U.S. The university launched a $15 million initiative in November to research the technical and governance issues involved in maintaining security online.

"We are honored to host this White House summit at Stanford University and are excited to play a pivotal role in convening experts from government, industry and academia," Amy Zegart, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, said in a statement. The summit will be livestreamed here.

 Afterward, Obama will host a roundtable with Silicon Valley business leaders, which will include Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Friday evening, Obama will speak at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in San Francisco.  The president is then departing from SFO on Saturday and flying to Palm Springs in Southern California.

Darlene Superville and Martha Mendoza from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Tolland High School Students Evacuated to Middle School


The fire department has responded to Tolland High School and students have been evacuated and brought to the middle school, according to dispatchers.

No additional information was immediately available.

An NBC Connecticut crew is on the way to the school to gather more details.

Check back for updates.

Worker Charged With Massaging Without a License


An employee of a Milford spa was arrested for giving massages without a license and the owner was cited for allowing it to happen, according to Milford police.

Milford Police were conducting a routine compliance check at VIP Massage Parlor, 232 Boston Post Road, when they found Eun Soon Kohler, 55, of Pennsylvania, performing massage without a state license, police said.

The owner and manager of the salon, Kilson Elkins, 60, of Pound Ridge, New York, Elkins, was also charged for allowing the employee to perform massages without proper state license, police said.

Kohler was charged with practicing massage without a license and Elkins was charged with allowing an unlicensed person to perform massage,

Both were released on a promise to appear and are due in court on March 13.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

2 Bodies in Serial Killer Case ID'd


The final two women who authorities believe were killed by suspected serial killer Darren Deon Vann were identified Thursday.

Lake County, Indiana, Coroner Merrilee Frey said DNA testing identified the bodies found in October as Tanya Gatlin, 27, and Sonya Billingsly, 53. Both were last known to have resided in Gary, Indiana.

Vann, 43, is being held without bail at the Lake County Jail. He's been charged with murder in the strangulation deaths of Afrika Hardy, 19 and Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville last fall. Additional charges have been delayed while police waited for Frey to declare additional women as homicide victims. In her latest release, Frey made no mention of the cause or manner of Gatlin's and Billingsly's deaths.

The case against Vann, of Gary, broke when Hammond police found Hardy dead in motel bathtub on Oct. 17 and determined that Vann had been with her at the motel. He was arrested the following day after police traced Hardy’s cellphone to him. Vann admitted killing several women and told police where the bodies could be found.

Gatlin and Billingsly were two of three women found in two adjacent abandoned houses at 43rd Avenue and Delaware Street. The third was Jones, whose sister had reported her missing days before her body was discovered.

The body of Kristine Williams, 36, was in a vacant house at 4330 Massachusetts St., and Tearia Batey, 28, was found in a vacant unit at the Dorie Miller Housing Development.

A body found in a vacant house at 2200 Massachusetts St. was identified last month as 41-year-old Tracy Martin.

Lake County prosecutors in January obtained five search warrants related to Vann’s case. The warrants were sealed and a gag order prohibits investigators from speaking publicly about the case.

Partial Roof Collapse in Meriden


The roof partially collapsed at 763 Hanover Road in Meriden, according to the Meriden Fire Department.

This is a vacant building and no Injuries are reported.

No additional information was immediately available.

Mother, Child, Escape Burning Home in Milford


A mother and her young child escaped their burning home on Friday morning when an unattended candle set fire to the 10-unit apartment building at 17 Foran Road in Milford.

Fire broke out at 8:57 a.m. and smoke was seen coming from unit 40.

The mother and child were able to get out of the building safely and firefighters were able to extinguish the fire quickly.

Most of the damage was confined to the bathroom, were the fire started, and the fire marshal’s office has found that an unsupervised burning candle ignited nearby combustibles, causing the fire.

However, there was some associated smoke and heat damage throughout the unit and the other units of the building were evacuated as the building was searched.

Because of the cold temperatures this morning, the Milford Transit Authority brought a bus to the scene to provide a warming station while residents were displaced.

The building management company was able to relocate the mother and child to a vacant unit in the complex and the other tenants of the building will be allowed to return to their own apartments.

The scene was clear by 10:37 a.m.

Family Dog Walks Into Hospital Where Owner Is Fighting Cancer


A 10-year-old miniature schnauzer named Sissy walked nearly 20 blocks from home to an Iowa hospital where her owner has been recovering from complications of a cancer-related surgery, according to a report.

Nancy Franck told NBC affiliate KWWL this week that she thought her daughter, Sarah Wood, had brought the dog to Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, where she has been recovering for the past two weeks.

"I said, 'Did you sneak this dog in?' Sarah said, 'No, (Sissy) snuck herself in,'" Franck said.

The dog was "on a mission," she added.

Nancy Franck's husband Dale had been taking care of Sissy and the dog's brother, Barney, since she was hospitalized. Dale said he took the dogs out for a walk and thought they both came back in the house. 

Dale said he called the animal shelter and Cedar Rapids police after noticing that only Barney had returned.

About four hours later, he got a call from the hospital.

“They say, 'We have a little dog here,'" he recalled.

A surveillance camera inside the hospital lobby showed the dog entering through the automatic doors. Sissy also appeared to be sniffing.

Sissy had never run away before and had no idea where the hospital was, the family said.

Franck, who was able to spend a few minutes with Sissy, called the surprise visit a "big boost."

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