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House Fire in Torrington Possibly Caused by Lightning Strike


Firefighters are responding to a home on Weed Road in Torrington that caught fire as thunderstorms moved through the area Tuesday night.

The fire department said crews are investigating to determine whether a lightning strike is to blame.

Officials said the fire was under control by about 9:50 p.m.

A severe thunderstorm warning remains in effect for Litchfield County.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske

Tornado Strikes Texas Town


A building has collapsed in downtown Mineral Wells after a tornado moved through Palo Pinto County on Tuesday evening.

Mineral Wells police said the tornado collapsed an abandoned bank behind the Baker Hotel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, NBC News reported.

Police headquarters and an old mercantile building were also damaged, officials told NBC News.

There was "so much damage there's been no assessment," a dispatcher for the Palo Pinto County Sheriff's Office told NBC News.

Large trees and power lines were strewn across many major streets in the city, making were broken and downed across the city.

Telephone and electric service to the town was spotty.

No injuries have been reported.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is advising people to avoid downtown Mineral Wells because of downed power lines and scattered debris due to structural damage from the storm.

The Texas Thunder Truck continues to track severe storms in North Texas. Click play in the video player below to watch live.

Photo Credit: djmoore1017@yahoo.com
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Oil Spill Leaks on SoCal Beaches


An emergency cleanup is underway Tuesday afternoon along the coastline near Santa Barbara after an oil pipeline leaked 21,000 gallons, some of which made it into the ocean.

Coast Guard crews responded after reports of an oil slick in the ocean, also seen on the sand at Refugio State Beach, around noon. The slick was initially estimated to be about a half-mile long but was reported to have spread to 4 miles wide by 3:30 p.m.

Aerial footage showed that the spill may have happened in a portion of the pipeline above ground on land near the beach and made its way down to the sand and into the water.

Representatives from the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, Exxon and the Santa Barbara County Fire Department are on scene of the spill.

The leak has been stopped, a Coast Guard spokesman said.

This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.

Man Offers Teen Shoes in Effort to Lure Her Into Car: Cops


Police are investigating after a man in his 20s approached a teen while was walking near a park in Bristol and offered her shoes in an apparent effort to lure her into his car.

According to police, the man was sitting in a red car, possibly a Toyota Corolla, in a parking lot on King Street near Page Park when a 17-year-old girl walked by around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

He got out of the car and flagged down the teen, asking her for directions to Waterbury and telling her his GPS was broken. Police said the man then asked the teen her shoe size and invited her to look at shoes in his car.

The man opened the trunk and waved the teen over. Police said she ignored him and kept walking. She later reported the incident.

According to police, the man, who has not been identified, drove off southbound on King Street. Police described him as thin and said he stands about 5 feet 4 inches tall. He was wearing a black polo shirt with gray or blue jeans, a black hat and diamond earrings.

Anyone with information is asked to call Bristol police at 860-584-3000.

Baby Who Died in Norwalk Had 50-Proof Alcohol in Bottle: Cops


A young Connecticut father answered to a second-degree manslaughter charge in court Tuesday after his 5-month-old son died with a blood alcohol content of .04, according to the warrant for his arrest.

Jorge E. Chiclana, 22, of Bridgeport, was arrested on Monday, just over a year after his son's death. Court documents show the bottle in 5-month-old Jacob Isaiah Chiclana's crib contained  25 percent alcohol, enough to make a 50-proof cocktail.

Police began investigating on May 16, 2014. First responders were dispatched to an apartment on Ely Avenue in Norwalk because a baby had stopped breathing. Emergency personnel tried to revive the infant and brought him to Norwalk Hospital, but the baby couldn't be saved.

On Aug. 18, 2014, the office of the chief medical examiner revealed to police that the baby had alcohol in his liver tissue and urine. Police followed up with the child's parents and sent the bottle to a state lab for testing, according to the warrant.

The lab returned test results in October 2014 that showed alcohol in the baby bottle, the warrant says. Police again questioned Jacob's mother, who first said she didn't remember who had prepared the child's bottle that day and insisted she did not keep alcohol in the house.

She later told police Chiclana had prepared the bottle, court documents state, and that he was not happy about the attention she had been giving the child. She went on to say the baby was teething and Chiclana had joked about giving Jacob alcohol to help him sleep.

Police received the autopsy report on March 16 of this year. According to court documents, the report found alcohol in the baby's blood, liver, gastric contents and urine and said Jacob likely did not die of aspiration, as originally thought, but likely died because he was asthmatic and had been placed face-down in the crib. According to the report, Jacob's breathing was likely affected because the alcohol depressed his nervous system.

The U.S. Marshals Service Violent Fugitive Task Force helped Norwalk police locate Chiclana at the Honeyspot Motor Inn in Stratford, where he was arrested Monday. He was charged with with second-degree manslaughter and injuring and impairing the morals of children and was held in custody overnight after failing to post bond.

Chiclana appeared in court on Tuesday morning, where his attorney stated that his client has substance abuse and mental health issues.

Photo Credit: Family Photo

LA Raises Minimum Wage to $15


The Los Angeles City Council has voted 14-1 on Tuesday to increase the city’s minimum wage from $9 to $15 an hour by 2020.

Under the plan, pay will gradually increase for the lowest paid workers over the next five years and reach the top mark by 2020 for larger employers.

The increase comes as labor organizers and workers across the country are demanding higher wages. Several cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and Oakland, California, have approved increases, and dozens more are considering taking the same action. 

The measure in Los Angeles was approved by the council's Economic Development Committee last week, and will initially boost the wage in July 2016 from $9 to $10.50 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees. 

It will then go up to $12 an hour by July 2017, $13.25 per hour by July 2018, $14.25 per hour by July 2019 and finally reach the top rate in 2020.

An allowance has been made for employers with 25 or fewer employees, as they would not have to pay $15 per hour until 2021.

Once parity is achieved for both small and large employers the proposal calls for the minimum wage to continue increasing based on average cost-of-living increases over the past 20 years.

The planned increases are implemented at a slower pace than a similar proposal made by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Under his plan the minimum wage would go up to $13.25 per hour by 2017. It would however go further than Garcetti's plan by increasing the wage to $15 by 2020.

Some council member have advocated for the higher wage rate and want a $15.25 per hour minimum wage to be reached by 2019, a year earlier than the one recommended by the committee.

"It doesn't take a study to tell you what it feels like to be poor," said Councilwoman Nury Martinez.

The slower pace of the proposed increases could be seen as a victory for business groups that complained that a faster increase would be a burden for business owners who might be forced to lay off workers.

"There is simply not enough room, enough margin for these businesses to absorb 50 percent plus increase in labor costs over a short period of time," said Ruben Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

They also called for exceptions to be made for teenagers, employees of nonprofit organizations and workers who receive tips, as well as participants in temporary transitional programs that serve those just released from jail, the homeless and others who face challenges in finding jobs.

In contrast, supporters of a $15 minimum wage hike plan said the committee's proposal is too slow.

The plan will now move to the City Attorney's office for an ordinance to be written and will return to the council for final approval.

City News Service contributed to this report

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Four Bridgeport Officers Cleared in Fatal Police-Involved Shooting


An investigation into four Bridgeport officers' use of deadly force in a police-involved shooting two years ago that killed a man during a firearm sale sting operation has determined that the officers' actions were justified and didn't break any laws, according to state's attorney for the Litchfield judicial district.

Bridgeport Officer Everton Walker, Det. Christopher Borona, Det. Sean Ronan and Det. James Borrico were under investigation after Carnell Williams was killed by police gunfire during law enforcement response to a staged gun buy involving an undercover officer on Nov. 24, 2013. State law requires an investigation into police force that results in the death of another person.

In a report detailing the investigation findings, the state's attorney said that Williams was armed with a gun and aimed it at police officers as they tried to take him and associate Kiarra "Kiki" Davis into custody during a police-staged gun transaction.

The State Police Statewide Urban Violence Cooperative Crime Control Task Force and Bridgeport police had received a tip from an informant that Kiarra "Kiki" Davis, who has ties to Bridgeport Correctional Center inmate Samuel Dejesus, a felon convicted on narcotics charges, wanted to sell two firearms for $750, according to the state's attorney's office. Police received information that Dejesus instructed her to do so to get money for his bail.

So, Officer Walker posed as a buyer and called Davis to set up the Nov. 25, 2013 meeting under the guise that he wanted to purchase the weapon. Davis changed the meeting location to the Burger King at 193 Boston Avenue in Bridgeport.

Twelve Bridgeport police and task force officers were involved in the sting operation. In a police briefing before the meeting, responding officers were told Davis might bring Williams, referred to as a "crazy"man name "Nay Nay," to assist her with the transaction. Their real identities were not known at the time.

The plan was for Walker to meet Davis in the parking lot, show her the money and ask to see the firearms, according to the state's attorney's office. Once he got sight of the weapons, he was instructed to walk away and signal officers stationed in unmarked vehicles so that they could swarm Davis's car and take her into custody, the state's attorney's office said.

However, when he arrived and called Davis, who told him where to park, there was another car waiting with several men inside who police suspected were associated with her, according to the state's attorney's office. After that, Walker couldn't reach her by phone for awhile, but she finally texted him and told him to turn off his headlights, the report said. When he called her again to say she was leaving because he didn't believe she was coming, she said she was in the Burger King even though officers couldn't see anyone matching her description inside, according to the state's attorney's office. Walker started to leave and then she called and again told him where to park and to turn off his headlights, the report said. He did as she asked but then said he was leaving because he didn't feel comfortable, so she responded with her actual location and description of the gold Nissan Altima she was in, according to the report. Initially she had said she would be in a black Honda, the state's attorney's office said.

By that point, many of the officers were concerned Walker was in danger because it seemed like Davis was stalling and hiding her identity and location, the report said.

But Walker continued with the operation and approached the passenger side of the car as Davis asked him to do, according to the report. Davis was driving the car and the window was rolled down halfway, revealing a male passenger, later identified as Williams, who she said was there to protect her, the report said. Walker could see that Williams carried a large, loaded revolver, which was pointed downward, so he walked away from the car and signaled to the waiting officers.

Officers positioned unmarked police cars to block Davis and Williams from getting away and police, including Detectives Borrico, Ronan and Borona, surrounded the car with guns drawn, identifying themselves as law enforcement, according to the report. Walker yelled that the passenger had a loaded gun, which three other officers confirmed hearing, the report stated. Williams didn't comply with several commands to put his hands up and drop the weapon and neither party would shut off the car and open the door as asked, the state's attorney's office said.

With the passenger door locked and the window up, Det. Borrico tried unsuccessfully to break the window using his handgun, according to the report. The officers saw Williams moving around a lot in the car and waving around a large handgun that he then pointed in their direction, the report said. Multiple officers also responding heard a shot fired, followed by more gunshots, which all turned out to be fired by police, the investigation found. Walker said that he saw Borrico disappear from sight after hearing a gunshot, so he thought he was hit with a bullet, according to the report.

Walker and Detectives Borona, Borrico and Ronan fired shots at the car and both of Davis and Williams got out of the vehicle, the report said. Williams tried to flee and a police dog was released after him, but he fell to the ground, twisting and moving with his hands concealed. Borrico said he was worried that Williams still had a gun that he planned on using and was also concerned that he didn't have any cover, the report said. That's when Borona fired his gun at Williams from 20 feet away and the police dog apprehended Williams, according to the report. The dog was called off, but Williams kept his hands on his waist area and resisted being handcuffed, according to the report.

That incident happened quickly in about the span of a minute since Walker signaled police to come to his aid, the report said.

Police handcuffed him and brought him to Bridgeport Hospital, where he later died of multiple gunshot wounds. Davis sustained a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to her face from the gunfire while she was in the car.

The medical examiner's office determined that Williams suffered five gunshot wounds, one of which entered his mid-back, struck his right lung and exited his chest, causing his demise, the report stated. Forensics investigators determined that Williams' fatal injury happened in the car after blood matching his DNA was found in the passenger's side of the vehicle and they deduced that it was from the gunshot wound that punctured his lung and claimed his life, according to the report.

Another bullet went through his lower back and exited his left shoulder and the other wounds were found in his right shoulder, upper right arm and right hand, the report on the medical examiner's findings said. Williams also suffered from dog bite marks on his right leg. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide by police shooting.

Williams also had marijuana in his system at the time of his death, according to the medical examiner.

Williams' DNA was found on four bullets, two of which penetrated his body, the report said, however forensics evidence couldn't determine which specific bullet killed Williams and therefore they couldn't identify which officer fired the fatal shot.

When detectives interviewed Davis, she said she "was in the wrong place at the wrong time" when a van pulled up with multiple "cops" and that she put her foot on the gas when her car was bumped. She told police that the officers fired at her car, but that she didn't fire a gun or have one in her hand at the time. She refused to say why she and Williams were at the Burger King or whether there were firearms in the car, but said "at the end of the day it all falls on me" and she has to "own this," the report said. She didn't elaborate on what she meant by that, deferring further questions to her attorney after she was released from the hospital. State police said they couldn't reach her lawyer, so the state's attorney tried to offer her immunity in exchange for information, but she declined further interviews, the report said.

A Burger King patron interviewed told police that he saw about six Bridgeport police officers with guns drawn surrounding a tan car. He heard a "loud bang" after seeing the car window roll down and then heard several other bangs from gunfire that happened "very fast," according to the report. The tan car moved to leave the parking lot, but struck a handicap sign, the man said in a statement. He said he saw officers rush to the vehicle, open both front doors and remove both people inside from the car, handcuffing the driver, the report said. Meanwhile, he heard the passenger screaming that he was hurt and needed an ambulance, so officers stayed with him until an ambulance arrived, the man said in his statement. He was the only civilian witness in the case.

Investigators reviewed surveillance videos from Price Rite, Chase Bank, United Check Cashing and Burger King in the area near the police-involved shooting incident and found that the video provided evidence consistent with the officers' statements.

Investigating detectives also seized a black nylon-type backpack from the passenger side of the car, an unloaded Ruger .357 Magnum revolver on the backpack and another unloaded Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver in the backpack, as well as five copper-colored Winchester 38 SPL cartridges and a copper-colored Federal 357 Magnum cartridge in the bag. The Division of Scientific Services found Williams' DNA on the firearms, which were both operational, the report said.

Investigators determined that Walker fired two shots, Ronan fired six, Borona fired eight and Borrico fired nine, the report said. The most rounds that could have been fired was 25 and detectives found 24 at the scene, according to the report.

Davis and Dejesus were arrested in connection to the gun sale arranged in the sting operation. She pleaded nolo contendere in Fairfield court to charges of attempt to commit the illegal transfer of a pistol or revolver, illegal possession of weapons in a motor vehicle, attempt to commit firearms trafficking and attempt to commit assault on a police officer. She was sentenced on Feb. 27, 2015 to 15 years in prison suspended after five if she proves good behavior and meets the conditions of her sentence and five years of probation after her release, according to the report.

Dejesus pleaded guilty to attempt to commit illegal transfer of a pistol or revolver, attempt to commit firearms trafficking and conspiracy to commit illegal transfer of a pistol or revolver. He was sentenced on March 27, 2015 to 15 years in prison, with the opportunity to get out after seven on good behavior, and five years of probation after his release, according to the report.

State law allows police to use deadly physical force if defending themselves from being killed due to the "use or imminent use of deadly physical force" by another person as long as the officer has the "objectively reasonable" belief that such force is necessary to protect himself from being killed, the report said.

The investigation concluded that the officers statements' were corroborated by evidence, the civilian witness's statement, surveillance videos, radio transmissions, forensics, bloodstain pattern analysis and the medical examiner's findings, according to the report. Investigators determined that Walker, Ronan, Borrico and Borona "believed the use of deadly physical force was necessary to defend themselves and their fellow officers from the imminent use of deadly physical force" and that their actions were justified and appropriate, according to the report.

"Mr. Williams was sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle, holding a revolver that Officer Walker believed to be loaded," the state's attorney's office said in the conclusion section of its report. "Multiple officers observed Mr. Williams waving the gun above his head and moving around significantly within the vehicle. Mr. Williams refused to follow repeated police commands to open the door, show his hands, and lower his firearm. Instead, Mr. Williams leveled the firearm in the direction of police officers. Mr. Williams’ behavior caused a threat of lethal harm to the safety of all of the officers involved. At this point, Officer Walker and Detectives Ronan, Borrico and Borona resorted to the use of deadly force. Mr. Williams sustained several gunshot wounds, one of which caused his demise."

No further action will be taken on the case by the Division of Criminal Justice, according to the state's attorney's office.

The State Police Western District Major Crime Squad, as requested by the State's Attorney's office in Fairfield, conducted the investigation with the help of the state police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Squad, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection's Forensic Science Laboratory and the office of the state medical examiner in Farmington. The Fairfield state's attorney's office also asked that another office be assigned to the case, so Litchfield's state's attorney's office took on the investigation in Jan. 6, 2014.

Police Investigate Video of Officer


A Chicago police officer could face disciplinary action after a video surfaced on social media showing the officer sleeping in a parked squad car.

The video, posted to Facebook Friday, was filmed at an intersection on Chicago’s Southwest Side. A man narrating in the footage claims a number of shootings have happened in the area, and suggests a parked squad car is there to patrol.

The man then walks up to the car and shows an officer with sunglasses on sleeping in the driver’s seat.

“Still right here sleeping,” the narrator says. “Police officer still here sleeping.”

The footage has been viewed more than 700,000 times and garnered more than 25,000 shares since it was posted.

The Chicago Police Department said in a statement that it is aware of the video and was investigating. 

"This matter is under investigation, which may result in disciplinary action," the statement read. “From all appearances, this incident is not in keeping with the high expectations placed on our officers by this department and the residents of Chicago, which is unacceptable.”

Police said it was not clear when the video was taken and further details surrounding the footage, including who shot it, were not immediately available.

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All State Beaches Open for Memorial Day Weekend


All the state beaches in Connecticut are scheduled to be open for Memorial Weekend, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The state DEEP has tested the water quality at the following state parks and beaches, and all will be open.

  • Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison
  • Rocky Neck State Part in Niantic
  • Sherwood Island State Park in Westport
  • Silver Sands State Park in Milford
  • Black Rock State Park in Watertown
  • Burr Pond State Park in Torrington
  • Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth
  • Cockaponset State Forest (Pattaconk) in Chester
  • Day Pond State Park in Colchester
  • Gardner Lake State Park in Salem
  • Gay City State Park in Hebron
  • Hopeville Pond State Park in Griswold
  • Indian Well State Park in Shelton
  • Kettletown State Park in Southbury
  • Lake Waramaug State Park in Kent
  • Mashamoquet Brook State Park in Pomfret
  • Mount Tom State Park in Litchfield
  • Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown
  • Quaddick State Park in Thompson
  • Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield
  • Stratton Brook State Park in Simsbury
  • Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middlefield
  • Wharton Brook State Park in Wallingford

Local health departments are responsible for sampling municipal swimming areas. For information on closures of local swimming areas, call your local public health agency.

Photo Credit: LeAnne Gendreau

East Hampton Man Killed in New Britain Crash


New Britain police are investigating a motorcycle crash that killed a 50-year-old East Hampton man on Tuesday evening.

The motorcyclist, identified only as a 50-year-old East Hampton man, suffered critical injuries during a crash with a car around 5 p.m. at Stanley and North streets, police said.

He was transported to a local hospital, where he later died, according to police, who have not released the man’s name, because they are notifying his family.

The driver of the other vehicle was transported to a local hospital for minor injuries and has been released. Two other people in the vehicle were not injured.

The driver of the motor vehicle is cooperating with the investigation and alcohol does not appear to be a factor in this crash, according to police.

The cause of the crash is under investigation and no arrests have been made.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call the New Britain Police Traffic Safety Bureau at 860 826-3071.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crews Put Out Salisbury Fire


Crews put out a fire in Salisbury late Wednesday morning.

The first call came in at 10:55 a.m. and the scene cleared at 12:20 p.m.

No one was transported with injuries.

No further information was immediately available.

Pit Bull Abused in "Worst" Case of Animal Cruelty: Officers


A young pit bull was found so badly neglected, animal control officers are surprised she's still alive, and now they're trying to track down the person who left her for dead.

"She's so skinny, her hip bones from laying on the ground actually wore through, and they're open sores on each hip," said Enfield Animal Control Officer Eric Boucher.

Enfield resident Meghan Beach spotted the female pit bull Monday, emaciated and roaming in the area of Barnardino Avenue. She called the police.

"It breaks my heart. People don't deserve their love and people don't deserve to have that companionship and relationship with animals if you can't take care of them the way they deserve to be taken care of," Beach said.

Enfield Animal Control calls it the worst case of animal abuse the town has ever seen. But somehow, the dog is still in bright spirits.

"Right now, you can see every bone in its body. She's in rough shape but she's just as happy as can be," Boucher said.

Police plan to charge the owner with animal cruelty.

"I know she still looks so skinny, but she looks so much better," Beach said. "She moves better. She could barely walk the other day. She could barely sit. She could barely stand. She shook the whole time."

Photo Credit: Meghan Beach

Lockdown Lifted at East Hartford School After Bullet Casing Found


The Woodland School, a Therapeutic Education Program in East Hartford, was on lockdown Wednesday after a bullet casing was found in a toilet bowl, according to police.

The lockdown has since been lifted. Police swept the school, located at 110 Long Hill Drive in East Hartford, after the bullet casing was reported in the toilet of a unisex single bathroom.

"A staff member found the bullet and then we were called shortly after," said East Hartford Police Sgt. Mike Demaine. "The school was put on lockdown and the scene was secured and the casing was taken as evidence."

School officials said in a statement Wednesday afternoon "students performed safely and responsibly" and were dismissed when the lockdown was lifted.

The school is a small K-12 Therapeutic Education Program that offers a smaller, structured, nurturing environment that encourages student success, according to its website.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Worker Stole Thousands From Jos. A. Bank: Police


Milford police have arrested an employee accused of stealing thousands of dollars from Jos. A. Bank in Milford.

Police said they received a report of employee theft from Jos. A. Bank at Westfield Connecticut Post mall on April 9 and obtained a warrant charging Keith Evans, 26, of New Haven with third-degree larceny.

Police said he is accused of making fraudulent merchandise return transactions and diverting the funds to his personal credit card. In all, he’s accused of stealing $2,616.36.

He was arrested just before 4 p.m. on May 19 and released on a promise to appear.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

MDC Employee Pleads Guilty to Federal Tax Evasion


An Metropolitan District Commission employee has pleaded guilty to tax evasion, according to U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly.

Troy Hester, 42, of Hartford, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Bridgeport federal court to one count of tax evasion. Federal officials said he paid little or no federal income tax on approximately $438,877 in income between 2008 and 2013, resulting in the federal government losing around $70,480.

Hester was arrested amid an Internal Revenue Service investigation into State of Connecticut employees, as well as others, who had little or no federal withholding taken out of their paychecks and who failed to file income tax returns.

Investigators determined that some people submitted fake W-4 forms, claiming several exemptions, or that they were exempt, and had little or no money withheld from their wages.

Hester is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 11.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Former Chaplin Tax Collector Stole $6K From Town: Cops


The former tax collector for the town of Chaplin is facing charges after police say she stole about $6,000 from the town.

Lynn Sembor, 58, of East Windsor, has been charged with first-degree larceny. Police said they began investigating after receiving a complaint Sept. 14 reporting a former town worker had embezzled money.

Town officials told police they suspected fraudulent activity with tax transactions and documents Sembor was collecting, police said. A town audit revealed discrepancies with the tax records and how the tax payments were being documented.

When police questioned Sembor, she confessed to taking money from the tax payments that had been made in cash, then replacing it with other tax payments as they came in, according to police.

Sembor turned herself in to police at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Bond was set at $10,000 non-surety bond. Sembor is due in court on June 3.

Cash Delivered to D.C. Mansion


Shortly before four people were found slain in a multimillion-dollar house in Northwest D.C. last week, someone delivered $40,000 in cash to the home, sources close to the investigation told News4.

Police believe three family members -- including a 10-year-old boy -- and a housekeeper were murdered Thursday, the day the cash arrived at the home.

The family had likely been kept bound and threatened overnight, sources tell News4. The cash had been withdrawn from an account at the company where one of the victims was CEO, the sources said.

Sometime after the cash arrived, the home was set on fire, leading to the discovery of the bodies.

The news of a cash delivery is the latest revelation in a case that seems almost unimaginable in its brutality and in its location. It happened in the 3200 block of Woodland Drive NW in Woodley Park, a neighborhood of security systems and landscaped lawns just blocks from the vice president's home and near the National Cathedral. 

Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, 57, were found dead after the home was set on fire. Three of the victims had been beaten and stabbed to death, and some of the bodies smelled of gasoline, police said.

Philip's body was so badly burned that investigators aren't sure if he was injured before the fire was set, sources close to the investigation said. Philip's body was found in his room; three other bodies were found on the floor in one room.

The family Porsche was found burning in a church parking lot in suburban Maryland. The most-publicized clue so far: the grainy image of a person leaving the scene of the car fire, wearing black clothing.

Message from the Housekeeper

Savopoulos was the CEO of American Iron Works, which helped build the Verizon Center and CityCenterDC. Savopoulos and his wife, Amy, were well known in the neighborhood, often hosting parties for neighbors and friends, according to The Washington Post; the family had attended St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the neighborhood. Philip was a fourth-grader at St. Albans, the private school near St. Sophia and the National Cathedral; two daughters, Abigail and Katerina, were away at private boarding schools.

Neighbors who have been in the home said the family had an extensive and valuable art collection, which was on display a couple of years ago during the Christmas house tour put on by St. Albans.

The timeline of events that investigators are working from seems to match information from a longtime housekeeper for the Savopoulos family, who said she was a good friend of Veralicia "Vera" Figueroa. 

Nelly, who didn't want her full name used for security reasons, owns her own cleaning company and worked for the family for more than two decades. Nelly allowed Figueroa to work with her at the Savopoulos family's home.

On that Wednesday, Figueroa texted Nelly to say she wanted to work at the home, and planned to finish by 3 p.m., Nelly told News4.

That evening, Nelly missed a call from Savvas Savopoulos, saying Figueroa was spending the night at the family's home. She heard the call on voice mail the next morning.

An Eerie Encounter

Nelly said Figueroa's husband went to the home Thursday morning to look for her and had an eerie encounter. No one answered the door when he knocked on it, but he told Nelly he had the feeling someone was standing just inside the closed door.

He went around the back of the house to knock again. As he did, Nelly said, Savopoulos called his cell phone. Savopoulos said Figueroa was OK and had spend the night, according to Nelly.

The fire at the home was reported about four hours later.

Nelly said Figueroa was hard-working and loved life. She'd come to the United States from El Salvador to earn money before planning to retire next year.

GoFundMe page was created to help with her funeral costs.

Throughout the week, ATF agents and D.C. police have continued to gather evidence at the Woodley Park home. Meanwhile, in New Carrollton, authorities used a bloodhound to try to track down the person who torched a 2008 blue Porsche 911 stolen from the home on the day of the fire.

The Porsche was burned in the parking lot of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church. That's where surveillance video of a person of interest in the case was captured on a camera at a nearby banquet hall.

The person is difficult to see in the video. The person is dressed in dark clothing, including a hoodie with the hood pulled up.

Meanwhile, neighbors and friends are mourning the family -- and left dreading the idea of what they endured in the hours they may have been held captive in their own home.

"This was a beautiful family, a wonderful family with children," said Coco Palomeque, a friend of Amy's. She described Amy as "beautiful, vibrant, full of life and full of energy --ready to jump into any project to help others, to help her community."

"The community where they lived really loves them, and we are here to support them if they need us," she said.

Staff members Pat Collins, Meagan Fitzgerald, Mark Segraves were among those who contributed to this report.

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Hartford Police Seize 600 Bags of Heroin During Bust


Hartford police arrested two men during a drug investigation and said they found more than 600 bags of heroin.

Detectives from the Hartford Police Vice and Narcotics Unit learned on Tuesday that a man violating his parole was driving a blue, four-door Lincoln with tinted windows and had narcotics and a firearm, police said.

Police said they identified the man in the car as Miguel Diaz, 35, of Wethersfield, and police tried to stop the car.

Narcotic detectives, with help from South Condition Officers and the State Police Narcotics Task Force, tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver would not stop.

Police said they found a clear plastic bag with 309 bags of heroin.

Police set up surveillance on Hillside Avenue, which detectives identified as a “hideout” for Diaz.

Diaz and Felix Hernandez, 39, of Hartford, were found in the area, detained and consented to a search, where police found a firearm, along with narcotics and packaging material, police said.

Police seized $4.099 in U.S currency, 10 grams of raw heroin, 609 bags of heroin, a Hi-Point 9mm handgun and a box with several live 9mm rounds.

Diaz was charged with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, criminal possession of firearm, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, failure to obey officer’s signal and a drug factory.

Hernandez was charged with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police

Woman Killed by Tour Bus in Manhattan: Cops


A 68-year-old tourist from Europe was fatally struck by a tour bus in Manhattan Wednesday, authorities said.

Police said the empty bus was parked on Amsterdam Avenue facing northbound between West 112th Street and West 113th Street, and when it moved forward, it hit the woman, who was trying to cross Amsterdam Avenue mid-block, from west to east. 

The woman, identified as 68-year-old Wanda Canestri, who is Italian but from Spain, according to sources, was pinned under the bus and pronounced dead at the scene. 

Only the driver was on the bus, police said. 

"It was a terrible sight," witness Tyrone Wilson said, adding he'd never seen anything like that in his life.

"I heard from a lot of pedestrians, 'She got hit, she got hit.' And I looked closer, I saw the lady folded up under the bus," he said. 

A second person who witnesses identified as the victim's sister was taken to a hospital for evaluation after the deadly accident, fire officials said. Witnesses said she was inconsolable. 

The bus driver stayed on the scene, and the NYPD's Collision Investigation Squad is investigating. 

The tour bus company, identified as United Coach Line based on Staten Island, said it was investigating the incident and had no further comment. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

Connecticut Cheers on "Voice" Winner With Local Ties


Connecticut native Sawyer Fredericks became the latest winner of NBC's "The Voice" Tuesday night.

His grandparents, who were watching from Monroe, said they always knew Fredericks was talented and had a hunch the rest of the country would feel the same.

"Deep in my heart, I just had the feeling he was going to get it," said Fredericks' grandfather, Jan Larsen.

His step-grandmother, Barbara Larsen, called Fredericks' victory "a win for the entire family."

It's a win not just for the family, but for many from Connecticut, who remember Sawyer as a young boy. He spent his first couple years in Newtown and started kindergarten at Booth Free Elementary School in Roxbury before moving to upstate New York.

"It was really very exciting to know that one of our former students was on stage," said Sawyer’s kindergarten teacher Rita Gregory.

"I just remember him being a very sweet, young boy. He seemed very happy," said Booth Free Elementary School nurse Sandi DiBella.

They said they couldn't be prouder and have been voting for Fredericks throughout the season. They hope he'll remember Roxbury and maybe even pay a special visit to the students.

"It would be fantastic if he would be willing to come Booth Free School to play for the boys and girls," said Booth Free Elementary School Principal Cathy Colella. "Again, it's sort of a role model, and it would be great to have somebody here who can share that experience, and it gets all the kids excited. Especially in this little, tiny town."

Photo Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC
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