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Police Find 36 Pounds of Marijuana During Traffic Stop in Willington


State police said they found 36 pounds of marijuana when they stopped a driver on Interstate 84 in Willington on Wednesday evening.

A state trooper stopped Hugh Thomas, 45, of Dorchester, Massachusetts, on Interstate 84 East just after 3 p.m. on Wednesday and searched the car after questioning the driver about his travel plans.

Inside the trunk, the state trooper found 36 pounds of marijuana concealed and arrested Thomas.
Police said they also seized three cell phones, 36 pounds of marijuana, a 2014 Toyota Camry and $387 in currency.

Thomas was charged with possession with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana, speeding and following too closely.

Bond was set at $100,000.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Kitten Survives 12-Story Fall


A kitten's fall from a 12-story building has prompted SPCA officials to warn pet owners about the dangers of "high-rise syndrome."

A kitten, nicknamed Lilac by responders, fell from the 12th story of a Philadelphia apartment building in April, PSPCA Humane Law Enforcement officers say.

Lilac was taken to the PSPCA shelter hospital, where she was found to have fractures in both femurs and her hard palate and a soft tissue injury to her wrist. She underwent successful surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, before being put into foster care and later adopted.

PSPCA officers say they had initially been told the cat had been thrown from the window, but officers who inspected the scene found no evidence of animal cruelty. Investigators soon determined Lilac wasn’t thrown from the window, but rather fell from it while her owner was away from home — a result of high-rise syndrome, they said.

High-rise syndrome describes when animals, especially young cats, become startled while near a window or chase a bug or bird off a balcony or through an unsecured window, officials say.

“Oftentimes people say, ‘Cats always land on their feet,’ but it is a common misconception that cats will not be injured if they fall from even low height levels,” says PSPCA Staff Veterinarian JoEllen Bruinooge. “In fact, they may actually have more damage when falling from only two-to-four stories because they do not have time to adjust their body position.”

While cats often survive falls from heights higher than a human can survive, they still suffer serious, life-threatening injuries.

If your pet falls from a window, make sure you contact a veterinarian immediately.

“If your pet does accidentally fall from a window, get them to the veterinarian immediately," a PSPCA spokeswoman said. “There is a 90 percent survival rate for cats who are high-rise victims if they receive immediate and proper medical attention. There is no 'at-home' treatment, and many of these pets are in extreme pain, whether they show the symptoms of pain or not.”

High-rise syndrome is prevalent during warm weather. Officials have the following tips for orders to protect their pets:

  • Secure windows with well-fitting, animal proof screens
  • When able, open the top pane of windows that are inaccessible to pets, rather than the bottom panes
  • Never leave windows open when animals are unattended
  • Close windows before starting loud appliances such as vacuums or blenders that may startle cats
  • If pets are allowed out on balconies never leave them unattended. Even then, do not allow then to jump onto railings or banisters. Move all furniture away from railings to lower access or better yet just don't let them out. Accidents happen!
  • Close windows before playing chase or fetch games inside with your pet, they may be more focused on that laser pointer than the approaching window

Photo Credit: PSPCA

Mansfield Man Charged With Sex Assault


Connecticut state police have arrested a Mansfield man who is accused of sexually assaulting someone in December.

Little information has been released, but police said the sexual assault was reported to have happened in a Mansfield home and police started investigating on March 4.

Police found Miguel Gutierrez, 21, of Mansfield, on Wednesday and brought him to Troop C, where he was held on bond.

Gutierrez has been charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault.

Bond was set at $100,000 and he is due in Rockville Superior Court on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Dad Finds Daughter's Photo Online


A Long Island father is speaking out after he found a photo of his teenage daughter in a bikini on an overseas website that compiles anonymously submitted photos of scantily clad or nude women.

Cliff Pfleger said he found his daughter's photo on the site that authorities think is run out of Ukraine and features hundreds of pornographic images. Below the image, Pfleger said, he saw comments from users asking for more pictures of the girl.

He said he was also able to find photos of other Long Island teens in sections sorted by high school and hometown.

Pfleger told NBC 4 New York he and his wife were outraged after finding the photo, which he said was posted without his daughter's consent. He said she put the photo on social media and someone with access to it moved it to the photo-sharing site overseas.

Pfleger said he was able to get the photo taken down, but he wants other parents in the area to be on alert. 

"The first feeling is like you found your house burglarized," Pfleger said. "You feel violated, like, 'Holy cow.'"

Pfleger said a Facebook tip pointed him in the direction of the overseas site.

"You get a sense that it's almost as flippant as trading baseball cards," the father said.

The Suffolk County Police Department said its computer crimes unit has been monitoring the online image board for about four of five months. Investigators say they received complaints from elected officials and school boards in and around Islip.

Police say that there isn't any evidence of child porn on the site, so they don't have enough evidence to pursue charges against anyone.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Whales Swim With Fishing Boat


Four college buddies on an angling trip in the Long Island Sound this week came home with one heck of a fishing story — and the video to back it up.

Schofield Campbell, Charlie DeNatale, Ryan Bard and Brendan Miner were fishing off the coast of Fairfield, Connecticut, when they say they spotted a group of light gray forms underwater.

Those forms turned out to be whales, and they seemed to be following the boat. Video shows the marine mammals approach the boat and swim alongside it, breaching several times before disappearing back into the sea.

Miner said the group contacted Norwalk's Maritime Aquarium and showed experts the footage. The aquarium identified the whales as Belugas, which were also recently spotted near Narragansett Bay off of Rhode Island.

"Have there ever been whales in Long Island Sound?" one of the students wonders in the video.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says whales, porpoises and dolphins occasionally visit the sound.

Photo Credit: Brandon Campbell

Stonington Woman Has Been Missing for 2 Weeks


Police have issued a Silver Alert for a Stonington woman who has been missing for two and a half weeks.

Nancy Rosado, 50, has been missing since May 6, according to a Silver Alert.

She has black hair and brown eyes. She is 5-feet-6 and weighs 180 pounds.

Anyone who knows where Nancy is should call Stonington Police at: 860-599-4411.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Norwalk Police Arrest Drug Suspect


Police have arrested a man accused of selling cocaine and said he sold it to an undercover officer five times.

On Wednesday, officers from the Norwalk Police Department Special Services Division, as well as the Westport and Stamford Police Departments, executed five arrest warrants for Andrew Sebastian Arteaga, 27, of Stamford.

The arrest warrants were issued after a drug investigation that went on for several weeks and included an undercover officer who purchased cocaine from Arteaga on five separate occasions in busy parking lots in the area of Connecticut Avenue in Norwalk, according to a news release from police.

Police arrested Arteaga on Wednesday in one of those parking lots and found him with 2.9 grams of powdered cocaine, according to a news release from police.

With help from police dog Kai, police found 1.98 grams of cocaine and around 3 grams of marijuana.

After Arteaga was arrested, police searched his home and found a small amount of cocaine, police said.

Arteaga was charged with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1,500 of a school, sale of narcotics, possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school and possession of less than half-ounce marijuana.

One arrest warrant charges him with possession of narcotics and sale of narcotics.

Four additional warrants charges him with possession of narcotics,

possession of narcotics within 1,500 of a school, sale of narcotics and sale of narcotics within 1,500 of a school.

Bond was set at $75,000 for Arteaga’s arrest on May 20, while bond for each of the five arrest warrants was court-set at $75,000. Total bond was set at $450,000.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

1,000 Protest Low Wages at McD's HQ


More than 1,000 “Fight for 15” protesters returned to McDonald's headquarters Thursday to rally for higher wages ahead of the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

Demonstrators marched down streets outside the Oak Brook building and gathered in front of the main entrance, which was blocked off by police. The group — police estimated there were more than 1,000 — chanted "If we don't get it, shut it down" and "No burgers, no fries, make our paychecks supersize."

Protesters delivered a petition with more than one million signatures calling for the fast food giant to pay an hourly wage of $15. While police said the demonstrators weren't allowed in, a McDonald's representative did come out to receive the signatures. 

The rally comes just one day after hundreds of protesters swarmed the headquarters, prompting the company to close a nearby restaurant and building for traffic concerns.

Demonstrators from the "Fight for 15" organization, many of them members of the Service Employees International Union, came from cities such as New York City and Kansas City to be on hand for Wednesday's rally.

"We go to work every day. We slave. We sweat for $8.25," said Dominique Mack, who works at a McDonald's restaurant at West Roosevelt Road and Harlem Avenue in Chicago. "That can't take care of our kids. We got a house. We got bills we need to pay. Like every other worker that goes to work, we would like to get paid like everybody else."

The campaign for pay of $15 an hour and a union began in late 2012 and has involved a range of tactics, including ongoing demonstrations in cities around the country. Earlier this year, McDonald's said it would raise its starting pay for workers to $1 above the local minimum wage. Labor organizers said the move falls short because it only applies to company-owned stores.

In addition to the wage increase, many of the workers on hand said they also want the opportunity to be represented by a union.

"Whether it's the eight-hour work day, paid sick days -- these are all things, living wages, that have been won by unions," said political activist Clem Balanoff.

McDonald's Corp. owns about 10 percent of its stores in the U.S., while the rest are run by franchisees.

The protests come as McDonald's fights to hold onto customers amid intensifying competition from smaller rivals and changing tastes. CEO Steve Easterbrook, who stepped into the role in March, has said he wants to transform McDonald's into a "modern, progressive burger company."

Thursday will mark his first shareholder meeting as CEO.

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago

Gates Urges Scouts to Drop Gay Ban


The president of the Boy Scouts of America, Robert Gates, said Thursday that the organization's longstanding ban on participation by openly gay adults is no longer sustainable and called for change in order to prevent "the end of us as a national movement."

In a speech in Atlanta to the Scouts' national annual meeting, Gates referred to recent moves by Scout councils in New York City and elsewhere to defy the ban.

"The status quo in our movement's membership standards cannot be sustained," he said.

Gates said no change in the policy would be made at the national meeting. But he raised the possibility of revising the policy at some point soon so that local Scout organizations could decide on their own whether to allow gays as adult volunteers and paid staff.

In 2013, after bitter internal debate, the BSA decided to allow openly gay youth as scouts, but not gay adults as leaders. The change took effect in January 2014.

Gates, who became the BSA's president in May 2014, said at the time that he personally would have favored ending the ban on gay adults, but he opposed any further debate after the Scouts' policymaking body upheld the ban.

On Thursday, however, he said recent events "have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore."

He cited the recent defiant announcement by the BSA's New York City chapter in early April that it had hired the nation's first openly gay Eagle Scout as a summer camp leader. He also cited broader developments related to gay rights.

"I remind you of the recent debates we have seen in places like Indiana and Arkansas over discrimination based on sexual orientation, not to mention the impending U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer on gay marriage," he said. "We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be."

Gates said the BSA technically had the power to revoke the charters of councils that defied the ban on gay adults, but said this would be harmful to boys in those regions

He also noted that many states have passed laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, raising the possibility of extensive legal battles.

"Thus, between internal challenges and potential legal conflicts, the BSA finds itself in an unsustainable position, a position that makes us vulnerable to the possibility the courts simply will order us at some point to change our membership policy," Gates said.

He expressed concern that an eventual court order might also strike down the BSA's policy of banning atheists.

"Waiting for the courts is a gamble with huge stakes," he said. "Alternatively, we can move at some future date -- but sooner rather than later -- to seize control of our own future, set our own course and change our policy in order to allow charter partners -- unit sponsoring organizations -- to determine the standards for their Scout leaders."

Such an approach, he said, would allow churches, which sponsor about 70 percent of Scout units, to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith.

"I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement," he said.

But some churches may be alienated nonetheless. Some Southern Baptist churches stopped sponsoring troops after gay scouts were allowed, and letting in gay adults will likely prompt even more departures, said Southern Evangelical Seminary President Richard Land, who formerly led the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

To him, Scouts shouldn't have leaders who are sexually attracted to their gender, whether a heterosexual man leading Girl Scouts or a gay man supervising boys, no matter objections that leaders of any sexuality shouldn't be assumed to be potential pedophiles.

"This seems to me to be sound judgment 101," he said, calling Gates' message a display of "political correctness."

The Utah-based Mormon church is the nation's largest sponsor of Boy Scout units, and in the past has supported the ban on participation by openly gay adults.

In a brief statement Thursday, the church said it would examine any policy changes "very carefully to assess how they might impact our own century-long association with the BSA."

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. gay-rights group, called Gates' speech "a step in the right direction."

"But, as we have said many times previously, half measures are unacceptable, especially at one of America's most storied institutions," said the campaign's president, Chad Griffin. "It's time for BSA leaders to show true leadership and embrace a full national policy of inclusion."

Until Thursday, there had been no indication how the BSA would respond to the New York Councils, which on April 2 announced the hiring of Pascal Tessier, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout. Tessier, currently finishing his freshman year of college, has been a vocal advocate of opening the 105-year-old organization to gay scouts and leaders.

Tessier had been getting legal advice from prominent lawyer David Boies, whose recent causes include arguing for recognition of same-sex marriage. Boies said it was possible that Tessier's hiring could lead to litigation between the New York chapter and the BSA's national headquarters, but he expressed hope this could be avoided.

After Tessier's hire, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office opened an inquiry into the BSA's membership policies and influence over local councils' hiring decisions. The office, which cited state laws against hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation, was reviewing Gates' remarks Thursday.

One of Tessier's lawyers, Josh Schiller, expressed hope that the BSA's ban would be lifted.

"People will join the Boy Scouts and look at them as an organization that has the principles of equality," he said.

Debate over the BSA policy has coincided with a steady drop in the organization's youth membership, which fell 7.4 percent last year to about 2.4 million.

After the 2013 decision to admit gay youth, some conservatives split from the BSA to form a new group, Trail Life USA, which has created its own ranks, badges and uniforms. The group claims a membership of 23,000 youths and adults.

Trail Life's chairman, John Stemberger, said his organization was "saddened" by Gates' speech.

"It is tragic that the BSA is willing to risk the safety and security of its boys because of peer pressure from activists groups," he said. "Trail Life USA remains committed to timeless Christian values."

Photo Credit: AP

Ansonia Police Department Has a New Police Dog


Kane is the newest member of the Ansonia Police Department.

The department announced the addition of the 1-and-a-half year old German Shepard on Thursday.

On May 25, he begins a 12-week training program and he will be crossed trained in handler protection and narcotics detection, police said.

The department purchased the German Shepard Dog from Dietrick Nuehmar of Derby.

Officer Paul Smith, who has been with the department since March 2003, will be Kane’s handler.

“We are pleased to add Kane to the police force and expect to be able to use him for tracking purposes and narcotics investigations in after he has completed his training,” a statement from the department says.

Kane will be on patrol duties in the late summer.

Photo Credit: Ansonia Police

Attorney Accused of Stealing $1.8 Million From Woman’s Estate


A Woodbury attorney has been arrested on federal charges, accused of stealing more than $1.8 million from the estate of an Oxford woman who died in 2010.

When Miriam S. Strong died on July 2, 2010, her will left money, property and other items to several individuals, along with the Town of Oxford, the State of Connecticut and several religious and other charitable entities, including the creation of a scholarship fund for college-bound Oxford residents, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Peter M. Clark, 57, of Woodbury, was co-executor of the Strong’s estate, but he was removed in March after $1.8 million the estate bequeathed to the town was reported missing.

He had drafted the will and federal officials said they determined that he took at least $1.8 million from it for his own use.

Clark was arrested at his home on Thursday morning, has been charged with one count of mail fraud and appeared in court in New Haven.

He will be released after posting a $500,000 bond co-signed by family members, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Town officials met with state police in March after the funds were reported missing.

"This theft is significant to the town as we were named as beneficiaries of the residual estate," Oxford First Selectman George R. Temple, said in a statement in March. "The money was earmarked by the will for use in the construction of a library, a scholarship fund for Oxford High School and the purchase of open space."

At the time, Clark was removed as the executor of the estate.

"I knew Miriam Strong. She was a very energetic focused individual who gave freely of her time," Temple said. "She loved Oxford as evidenced by her very generous bequest to the town. It is infuriating that her good intentions would be defeated by individual greed. We are all too familiar with the anger associated with being a victim of a crime as our former tax collector is serving time in Niantic Prison as a result of her embezzlement of public funds."

Traffic Getting By on Route 8 South in Thomaston


Traffic is getting by on Route 8 southbound in Thomaston after a crash briefly closed both sides of the highway Thursday afternoon, according to state police.

According to the state Department of Transportation, two cars collided in the area of exits 38 and 39 on the northbound side of the highway.

State police said the northbound side is clear and one southbound lane has reopened.

Dispatchers said injuries have been reported. There has been no word on the conditions of the people involved.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Alcohol Banned at Scantic River State Park in Enfield


State officials have banned alcohol at Enfield's Scantic River State Park after rowdy crowds and piles of garbage caused major problems last summer.

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee announced his decision Thursday. Although the alcohol ban is not permanent, it will last through the summer.

"I have exercised my authority to declare a 90-day ban on alcohol at the Scantic River State Park because large numbers of people consuming large volumes of alcohol there is not a combination conducive to public safety and enjoyment of our state's natural resources," Klee said in a statement.

Enfield residents organized a cleanup last summer after large groups left behind litter. DEEP officials said intoxicated visitors have broken bottles both on the ground and in the water and squabbled with other groups over space along the river bank.

"Given the changing use and issues at the park, the time has come for us to take stronger action at Scantic River State Park," Klee said in a statement. "The vast majority of visitors to our parks enjoy themselves while following the rules and exhibiting good behavior. Unfortunately, situations do arise – like that at Scantic River State Park – where people engage in behavior that affects the experience of others."

He added that Environmental Conservation Police "will vigorously patrol the park to enforce" the alcohol ban.

State Sen. John A. Kissel, who represents the region including Enfield, released the following statement Thursday afternoon in response to the measure:

"I thank our state environmental officials for taking this necessary step just in time for Memorial Day weekend, which marks the unofficial start of summer. Last summer, I urged state officials to step up efforts to protect the pristine setting of the park. Many north-central Connecticut residents have expressed to me their dismay about the way the park has been treated by out-of-state visitors using the space for large barbecues, drinking and unsupervised swimming. Despite the efforts of volunteers who clean up the park, large groups who picnic and party there on weekends leave behind litter and debris. This decision will make the park safer, cleaner, and more family friendly."

Photo Credit: Richard Thomas

Crews Rescue Seagull Stuck on Kite String in West Haven


A seagull with a "very badly broken wing" is recovering after getting tangled in a kite string near the West Haven boardwalk, according to the city's animal shelter.

The West Haven Animal Shelter posted photos of the rescue on Facebook on Thursday and said the public works department alerted them to the trapped bird.

According to the shelter, Lewis Tree Service sent out a bucket truck to get the bird down and the Barnum Animal Hospital in Stratford is nursing the seagull back to health.

Both facilities donated their services free of charge, but the shelter said Barnum Animal Hospital needs donations to cover the the bird's medical expenses.

The West Haven Fire Department also lent a hand by bringing in ladder trucks to take down the kite string, which was draped between two trees, so no other birds get stuck.

You can donate to the Barnum Animal Hospital by calling 203-378-0687.

Photo Credit: West Haven Animal Shelter

Mansion Murder Suspect May Be in NY


The man suspected in the brutal murders of a family and their housekeeper in an exclusive Washington, D.C., neighborhood last week may be back in Maryland after New York City authorities said earlier he may be in Brooklyn. 

Law enforcement sources told NBC 4 New York Thursday U.S. Marshals and the NYPD were tracking leads that suspect Daron Dylon Wint, 34, may be in the area. Authorities picked up Wint's girlfriend at her Brooklyn apartment and questioned her; she is not considered a suspect.

NBC Washington, citing law enforcement sources, reported that he may be back in Maryland and the D.C. area by now. 

Police were looking into the possibility that Wint took a bus to New York at some point, stayed with his girlfriend Wednesday night and left in the early-morning hours as the national manhunt for him intensified.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said initial information pointed to Wint having been somewhere in south Brooklyn at some point, though Police Commissioner Bill Bratton emphasized police have not been able to confirm he was in the borough.

"We have a very active investigation underway at this time assisting our colleagues at the Marshal service and the DC metropolitan police," Bratton said. 

Wint is considered armed and dangerous and was last seen wearing blue jeans, a blue hooded sweatshirt and white tennis shoes, authorities said. A U.S. military official says Wint enlisted in the Marine Corps about 15 years ago but never made it through basic training and was kicked out after several days. 

The Marine Corps had no immediate comment.

A law enforcement official says Wint's girlfriend told investigators the suspect told her he was considering turning himself in. 

DNA found on a piece of a pizza delivered to the slain family's home led police to Wint, who is now wanted for first-degree murder while armed in the deaths of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia "Vera" Figueroa, 57.

The family had likely been kept bound and threatened overnight May 13, sources close to the investigation told NBC Washington. Police believe the victims were killed the next day, hours after someone delivered $40,000 in cash to the multimillion-dollar house. Some time after the cash arrived, the home was set on fire, leading to the discovery of the bodies, authorities have said.

The cash had been withdrawn from an account at American Iron Works, where one of the victims was the CEO, the sources told NBC Washington. Police said it's believed Wint worked at the company at some point, and they say that the crime was not random. Authorities say they have not ruled out the possibility that multiple suspects were involved in the murders, though they declined to elaborate.

The brutal murders 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, shocked the local community and drew national attention.

Three of the victims had been beaten and stabbed to death, and some of the bodies smelled of gasoline, police said. The 10-year-old boy was so badly burned that investigators couldn't say if he had been injured before the fire was set, sources close to the investigation told NBC Washington. The boy's body was found in his room; the other three were found on the floor in another bedroom.

The family Porsche was found burning in a church parking lot in suburban Maryland. Police had circulated the grainy image of a person leaving the scene of the car fire, wearing black clothing.

Wint has four previous arrests in New York state in the Oswego area; he has at least two assault and harassment convictions from 2007 and an open arrest warrant for violating an order of protection, a source familiar with the investigation tells NBC 4 New York.

The suspect also has a court record in Maryland's Prince George County that includes charges of assault, carrying concealed weapons and theft. One of those records lists a home address that is less than a half-mile from where the car was found burning. In another case, in 2010, he was arrested near American Iron Works with an open can of beer and a 24-inch machete and a BB gun in a backpack. He pleaded not guilty to charges involving only the alcohol in a plea deal.

The American Iron Works CEO Wint is accused of killing, 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.

Their son Philip was a fourth-grader at St. Albans, the private school near St. Sophia and the National Cathedral; two daughters were away at private boarding schools.

Neighbors who have been in the home told NBC Washington the family had an extensive and valuable art collection, which was on display several 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 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, NBC Washington reports.

On May 13, Figueroa texted Nelly to say she wanted to work at the home, and planned to finish by 3 p.m., Nelly told NBC Washington. 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 voicemail the next morning.

Nelly said Figueroa's husband went to the home the morning of May 14 to look for her. 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 cellphone. Savopoulos said Figueroa was OK and had spent 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. 

Photo Credit: AP/NBC 4 New York

Local Organizations Take Part in Red Nose Day


The REACH Foundation and the Wilson-Gray YMCA joined in on the Red Nose Day festivities Thursday on Thursday by giving away free food in Hartford.

The two nonprofits partnered to host an outdoor pancake breakfast outside of the Albany Avenue Y location, followed by a hot dog lunch at State House Square.

The events were designed to raise awareness about the two organizations and their work to help thousands of children in need in the Hartford region all year long.

Leaders of the REACH Foundation and the YMCA said they’re glad to put on bright red noses in fun while reminding the public that children in need exist right in Hartford.

“We don’t have to go around the world to find these children. We can find them right here in our own backyard,” Mark Wilson, president of The REACH Foundation, said.

“We’re trying to make sure that the kids have everything that they need to be successful. So we look at Red Nose Day as an everyday thing,” said Clinton Hamilton, executive director of Wilson-Gray.

They’re hoping that spirit will spread and remind everyone to lend a helping hand to the young people in their community.

Learn more about the REACH Foundation.

Learn more about the Wilson-Gray YMCA.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Biker Freed After Paying $1M Bond


One of the 177 bikers arrested following a deadly shooting outside of a Waco, Texas, restaurant is free after paying a $1 million bond.

Nine people were killed and another 18 were injured after an altercation led to a shootout outside of the Twin Peaks restaurant on Waco's south side Sunday afternoon.

Afterward, the 177 bikers not killed or injured in the melee were arrested. Hundreds of weapons, motorcycles and other vehicles were seized by police and either impounded or taken into evidence.

Bond for each of the bikers was set at $1 million by McLennan County Justice of the Peace W.H. Peterson, who said the bond amount was appropriate given the level of violence that occurred at the restaurant.

Jeff Battey was among those arrested and charged with engaging in organized crime with relation to a capital murder. He is the first to have paid his $1 million bond and was released from the McLennan County Jail.

Three others, originally charged under a different case number, had been released earlier in the week on bond amounts between $20,000 and $50,000. Their charges were later matched to the Waco incident and new bond amounts were reissued and two of the three men had been re-arrested, police said.

The third man, police said, would be returned to police custody and held on $1 million bond. At this time, it is not known if he is currently in police custody.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News/McLennan County Sheriff's Office
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University Faculty Clashes With Board of Regents


Members of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system met with the Board of Regents president Thursday to explain why 92 percent of the faculty has no confidence in him.

It was a war of words between the Faculty Advisory Committee FAC and Board of Regents president Gregory Gray after a recent vote of "no confidence" was taken at most of the CSCU campuses against Gray’s leadership.

"All 436 votes have been cast in favor of a 'no confidence' resolution on some type. Only 40 votes have been cast against the resolution," said Tunxis Community College professor and Faculty Advisory Committee chairman Bob Brown.

The concerns arose months ago, when faculty members asked their advice be used in the development of Transform 2020, the system’s new higher-learning initiative.

"I think it was, more than anything, an effort to be part of the process," said Rachel Siporin, a professor at Central Connecticut State University.

She was one of about two dozen teachers wearing white shirts that read, 'Whereas… Be It Resolved' in support of the no-confidence vote Thursday.

The FAC recommended scrapping the Transform 2020 plan, but Gray said he wants to collaborate.

"It’s going to be the prerogative of the presidents to start seriously looking at this and how these initiatives do, appropriately fit into their campus strategic plans," said Gray.

Gray told the board in moving forward, he plans to arrange meetings with university stake holders and campus presidents.

Siporin wasn’t impressed with the response.

"They played lip service to establishing more dialogue, but they did not engage in really listening," she said.

Siporin said she was disappointed the Board of Regents did not ask faculty who attended the meeting to express their thoughts on the situation.

More in Store for Bridgeport's Pleasure Beach


It debuted as a summer destination last year, but there's even more in store for Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport this year.

"This year, we're adding a historic walking tour. You know Frank Sinatra sang out there. Frank and Eleanor Roosevelt spoke out there. Many state and local conventions were held out there in the ballroom that no longer exists, but you can see the history," said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.

That walking tour is just one of the features of the 71-acre barrier island that remained vacant for 18 years.

"[We] weren't able to reach it for years, because the wooden bridge burned out. Now we have the Gustave Whitehead and the Lewis Latimer ferry boats taking people back and forth from docks that our state and our local government helped us build, along with the city taxpayers," said Finch.

Some 25,000 people visited last year, and the city is hoping to add to that number by adding more attractions to the island.

"We hope to be opening up even longer during the year to more people," said Finch.

This year, it will be open as of Saturday, and as always, it's free of charge.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Sentence in Halloween Hit-and-Run


An Orange County, California, man was sentenced to over 15 years behind bars Thursday after pleading guilty to a Halloween hit-and-run crash that left three teen girls dead.

Jaquinn Bell, 32, pleaded guilty in March to felony charges in the crash that killed twin sisters Lexandra Perez and Lexi Perez, and friend Andrea Gonzalez, all 13 years old.

Bell was sentenced to 13 years and eight months in state prison and six months in jail, as well as an additional year and a half for a probation violation in a separate case. The OC District Attorney's Office previously said Thursday that Bell was given 14 years and eight months behind bars, but corrected the amount to a total of 15 years and eight months.

On Halloween night 2014, the 13-year-old girls were donning costumes and trick-or-treating in Santa Ana when Bell's SUV sped through a crosswalk and struck the girls.

Family and friends described the teens as girls who were "always laughing" and "always had a smile on their face." All three died at the scene.

Bell ditched the SUV about three blocks from the crash and ran away, but police captured him at a Motel 6 in Stanton over a day later.

Santa Ana police said Bell's 17-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter were in the vehicle with him at the time of the crash.

Several witness accounts of the crash with a description of the heavily damaged vehicle led authorities to the motel, where Bell was with two other adults, including his mother, and his two children.

Bell has a lengthy criminal record, including cases involving domestic violence, child abuse and endangerment, driving under the influence of alcohol and hit-and-run with property damage, all misdemeanors, according to court records.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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