FUGITIVE TREASURE HUNTER
Feds chase treasure hunter turned fugitive, Sept. 13, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — One of the last times anyone ever saw Tommy Thompson, he was walking on the pool deck of a Florida mansion wearing nothing but eye glasses, leather shoes, black socks and underwear, his brown hair growing wild.
It was a far cry from the conquering hero who, almost two decades before, docked a ship in Norfolk, Virginia, loaded with what’s been described as the greatest lost treasure in American history — thousands of pounds of gold that sat on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for 131 years after the ship carrying it sank during a hurricane.
On that day in 1989, Thompson couldn’t contain a gap-toothed grin as a marching band played “My Way” and hundreds cheered his achievement. It was, indeed, monumental: the result of years of preparation, innovation, dogged single-mindedness and a belief that Thompson could not only find the gold, but also use the experience to track down other sunken treasure.
“We hope to be rich,” he said then. But his victory was short-lived.
Also in Norfolk that day were insurers laying claim to Thompson’s gold. He would eventually win the legal nightmare that ensued, but those closest to him believe it was the beginning of the end. Soon another court fight began with investors who funded his dream but never saw a penny back, and Thompson grew increasingly private, transforming into a Howard Hughes-like recluse.
Still, what came next was a surprise to all. Tommy Thompson disappeared.
Feds: Treasure hunter eluded police with cash, tradecraft, Jan. 29, 2015
Thompson, 62, was wanted after he failed to appear in an Ohio courtroom in 2012 in a lawsuit about the gold he brought up in 1988 from a 19th-century shipwreck. Two investors who had funded Thompson’s dream to find the shipwreck sued, as did some of his crew members, who said they also had been cheated out of their share.
Treasure hunter who found a fortune in gold is captured, Jan. 28, 2015
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A treasure hunter accused of cheating his investors out of their share of one of the richest hauls in U.S. history — $50 million in gold bars and coins from a 19th-century shipwreck — was captured at an upscale Florida hotel after more than two years on the lam.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Deep-sea explorers recovered millions of dollars in gold and silver and a slew of personal items that are a virtual time capsule of the California Gold Rush, according to newly unsealed court documents obtained by The Associated Press that provide the first detailed inventory of a treasure trove being resurrected from an 1857 shipwreck at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
BITE MARK ANALYSIS INVESTIGATION
AP IMPACT: Bites derided as unreliable in court, June 16, 2013
CINCINNATI (AP) — At least 24 men convicted or charged with murder or rape based on bite marks on the flesh of victims have been exonerated since 2000, many after spending more than a decade in prison. Now a judge’s ruling later this month in New York could help end the practice for good.
A small, mostly ungoverned group of dentists carry out bite mark analysis and their findings are often key evidence in prosecutions, even though there is no scientific proof that teeth can be matched definitively to a bite into human skin.
DNA has outstripped the usefulness of bite mark analysis in many cases: The FBI doesn’t use it and the American Dental Association does not recognize it.
“Bite mark evidence is the poster child of unreliable forensic science,” said Chris Fabricant, director of strategic litigation at the New York-based Innocence Project, which helps wrongfully convicted inmates win freedom through DNA testing.
Supporters of the method, which involves comparing the teeth of possible suspects to bite mark patterns on victims, argue it has helped convict child murderers and other notorious criminals, including serial killer Ted Bundy. They say problems that have arisen are not about the method, but about the qualifications of those testifying, who can earn as much as $5,000 a case.
CALIFORNIA CRIME AND COURTS
LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the minutes after a fatal shooting at a UCLA engineering building, panicked students seeking a safe place to hide used belts, cords and other items to try to secure doors they said did not lock.
With rumors swirling that there could be as many as four shooters, senior Daphne Ying, 21, and others struggled to secure a door that swings out into a hallway of the building.
They tied one end of a long cord to the doorknob and the other end to a chair bolted to the floor. Three male students stood near the door to pull it shut in case someone tried to get in.
Engineering student Pranasha Shrestha’s design class was ending across from the engineering building when students got a text alert to shelter in place. She and others retreated to the classroom and quickly realized the doors didn’t lock.
“Doors open outward with no locks so we had to improvise our own locking mechanism,” the 22-year-old Shrestha tweeted.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — With a wall’s worth of academic degrees from top universities and a new wife in his chosen country, Mainak Sarkar entered mid-life with a foundation of success. Then his life began to unravel.
This week he snapped and, for reasons that investigators are still trying to understand, gunned down those he once held close.
Authorities say Sarkar killed his estranged wife in a Minneapolis suburb then drove across half the country to Los Angeles and fatally shot the UCLA professor who had helped him earn an engineering Ph.D.
As panic began to spread on the bustling University of California, Los Angeles campus, he turned the gun on himself.
California police draw attention to cold case, in tweets, July 8, 2018
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California police department is drawing attention to a 45-year-old murder case by tweeting about the crime as if it just happened, in the voice of the 11-year-old victim.
The Newport Beach Police Department just south of Los Angeles suspended all its normal Twitter content on Saturday to post an extensive series of tweets about Linda O’Keefe, an 11-year-old girl kidnapped while walking home from school on July 6, 1973.
The blue-eyed girl’s body was found the following morning in a nearby nature preserve.
The department wrote the powerful tweets as if Linda herself was telling readers about the last hours of her young life.
The tweets became a Moment on the social media site and have been gaining attention under #LindasStory.
Although police have become more reliant on Twitter and other platforms to spread the word about important cases or public safety information, the dozens of unique tweets telling Linda’s story show how some departments are more fully embracing the power and popularity of such outlets.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge sentenced a California mother to life in prison Thursday and gave her boyfriend the death penalty in the “beyond animalistic” killing of the woman’s 8-year-old son, who prosecutors say was punished because the couple believed he was gay.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George Lomeli told the couple that he hopes they wake up in the middle of the night and think of the injuries they inflicted on 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale.
“I can only wish … that it tortures you,” the judge said.
Los Angeles mayor picks 36-year veteran as police chief, June 5, 2018
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 36-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, who has seen it grapple with some of its toughest times from the 1991 beating of Rodney King by four officers to the more recent erosion of trust in law enforcement, is expected to become the next chief of police in the nation’s second-largest city.
Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Monday that he has chosen Michel Moore as the 57th police chief of the department, calling it “the most important personnel decision that I probably will make as mayor.”
Moore, who beat out two other candidates chosen by the city Police Commission, joined the department in 1981, a decade before King’s beating and ensuing riots.
He assumed command of a key division in the department following a corruption crisis in the late 1990s known as the Rampart scandal, which inspired a movie starring Woody Harrelson.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A paroled sex offender who led police on a wild 3-hour motor home chase with his young kids inside eluded arrest by running on foot for three more hours, shaving his beard and hopping a freight train headed to Arizona, authorities said Friday.
Stephen Houk also napped at a city library and ate a meal at a homeless shelter during his time on the run, Capt. Eddie Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
Houk, 46, was arrested at a railway yard Thursday in the Mojave Desert city of Barstow. He was found in an empty oil car.
His capture came about 48 hours after he led dozens of officers on a 100-mile (161-kilomter) chase from the narrow surface streets of Hollywood to California’s agricultural heartland.
Houk, who was on parole for felony sodomy of a child in Oregon, escaped arrest after his motor home kicked up blinding dust along a dirt road and he ran into an almond orchard avoiding police.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — When Bill Ware died of cancer in 2002, he still didn’t know who killed his daughter, dumped her body in an alley and covered her in trash in 1987.
Barbara Ware had been shot in the chest just two days shy of her 24th birthday. She was among at least nine women and a teenage girl killed by one of the most prolific serial killers in Los Angeles history, the “Grim Sleeper.”
A jury on Monday recommended the death penalty for the man convicted of killing Ware and the others, 63-year-old Lonnie Franklin Jr. His formal sentencing is Aug. 10.
Bill Ware was among a handful of parents who died either before Franklin was arrested in 2010 or before his trial came after years of delays.
“He would have been happy” with Monday’s verdict, said Diana Ware, Bill Ware’s 67-year-old widow, who spoke tearfully of the stepdaughter she largely raised. “That was his baby.”
Los Angeles undersheriff gets 5 years in corruption inquiry, June 27, 2016
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The former second-in-command of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department was sentenced Monday to five years in prison in a federal corruption investigation that also brought down his boss and 19 other members of the department.
Ex-Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka was sentenced in federal court in Los Angeles He was convicted in April of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
His attorney appealed the sentence just a couple hours after it was handed down by Judge Percy Anderson, who blasted Tanaka for his arrogance and “gross abuse of public trust.”
Tanaka was the ringleader of the department’s efforts to hide a jail inmate after deputies discovered he was an FBI informant, prosecutors said. Tanaka played a key role in sending sergeants to intimidate an FBI agent in the case and threaten to have her arrested, they said.
‘Shield’ actor gets 40 years to life in wife’s killing, June 10, 2016
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An actor who played a police officer on the TV show “The Shield” was sentenced Friday to 40 years to life in prison after tearfully apologizing for fatally shooting his wife but still insisting he didn’t mean to kill her, much to her family’s outrage.
Michael Jace, 53, was sentenced by a judge in Los Angeles after a jury convicted him last week of second-degree murder in the death of April Jace two years ago.
“There is absolutely no justification for my actions on that night,” Jace told his wife’s family members in court. “I am profoundly sorry for the pain that I’ve caused everyone.”
He said it was important that her family know he didn’t commit first-degre murder. “There was no premeditated anything,” he said.
LAS VEGAS MASSACRE
Acts of heroism emerge in chaos of Las Vegas shooting, Oct. 3, 2017
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Rob Ledbetter’s battlefield instincts kicked in quickly as bullets rained overhead.
The 42-year-old U.S. Army veteran who served as a sniper in Iraq immediately began tending to the wounded, one of several heroes to emerge from the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Amid the massacre in Las Vegas, which left 59 people dead and more than 500 injured, there were acts of compassion and countless heroics that officials say saved many lives.
There was a man one survivor knows only as Zach who herded people to a safe place. There was a registered nurse from Tennessee who died shielding his wife.
Like many people in the crowd of some 22,000 country music fans Sunday night, Ledbetter heard the pop-pop-popping noise and figured it was fireworks. Then he saw people dropping to the ground. When more booms echoed in the night air, he recognized the sound of automatic weapons fire.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tubes connecting to veins in her arms, Natalie Vanderstay clutches a pillow to her stomach, over the spot where a bullet entered her body. Blankets cover the leg that was ripped apart, doctors believe by shrapnel.
The 43-year-old Los Angeles nurse can hardly believe she’s alive. In the past 48 hours, she said, her life has changed forever.
She saw corpses and people dying as she fled the massacre on the Las Vegas Strip. She recalls being trampled and shot and then summoning a survival instinct to find a way out. She stepped on people to save herself, something that may haunt her forever.
“I said, ‘OK, I can’t stay here. I’m going to bleed out.’ It hurt so bad,” Vanderstay said, weeping from her bed at University Medical Center on Tuesday. “But I knew I didn’t want to die. I wasn’t ready to die.”
LOS ANGELES (AP) — As soon as Chris Gilman knew she would survive the gunshot wound she sustained in the Las Vegas massacre, she wanted to find the two strangers who saved her life — a man and woman whose names she didn’t even know.
She found a Facebook page called “Find My LV Hero” and posted a plea.
“Looking for husband and wife who were by the VIP bleachers and helped me get out,” wrote Gilman, of Bonney Lake, Washington. “My wife gave the husband her shirt and the wife held it against my side to stop bleeding as they carried me through the VIP area out to the street.”
Despite the scant details in Gilman’s post, it worked. Three days later, Gilman connected with her rescuers, Alex and Wanda Valiente, off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who were at the Oct. 1 concert where a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds.
The connection is one of about 25 made so far through the Facebook page. Nearly six weeks after the massacre, Ashton Zyer’s social media creation continues to generate new searches for heroes who in some cases saved lives and in others simply provided what comfort they could.
SAN BERNARDINO TERROR ATTACK
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — A heavily armed man and woman dressed for battle opened fire on a holiday banquet for his co-workers Wednesday, killing 14 people and seriously wounding more than a dozen others in a precision assault, authorities said. Hours later, they died in a shootout with police.
Authorities were trying to determine a motive, which could include workplace violence or terrorism.
The shooting happened at a social services center for the disabled where the suspect’s colleagues with the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health were renting space for a celebration. It was the nation’s deadliest mass shooting since the attack at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, three years ago that left 26 children and adults dead.
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan identified one dead suspect as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, the other as Tashfeen Malik, 27, his wife or fiancee. Burguan said Farook was born in the United States; the chief said he did not know Malik’s background.
The attackers invaded the Inland Regional Center about 60 miles east of Los Angeles around 11 a.m., opening fire in a conference area where county health officials were having an employee banquet, said Marybeth Feild, president and CEO of the nonprofit center.
“They came prepared to do what they did, as if they were on a mission,” Burguan said.
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — The FBI announced Friday that it is investigating the mass shooting at a Southern California office party as an act of terrorism, but the agency’s director said there is no indication the husband and wife who killed 14 people were part of a larger plot or members of a terror cell.
If the investigation confirms the massacre was inspired by Islamic extremism, it would be the deadliest such terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.
While authorities did not cite specific evidence that led them to the terrorism focus, a U.S. law enforcement official said the wife, Tashfeen Malik, had under a Facebook alias pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and its leader. A Facebook official said Malik praised Islamic State in a post at 11 a.m. Wednesday, around the time the couple stormed a San Bernardino social service center and opened fire.
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — A change came over Tashfeen Malik two or three years ago.
She started dressing more conservatively, wearing a scarf that covered nearly all her face, and became more fervent in her Muslim faith, according to some who knew her in Pakistan.
But her path from there to the bloody events of this past week — when she and her husband slaughtered 14 people in a commando-style shooting rampage — remains a mystery.
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — The San Bernardino killers had been radicalized “for quite some time” and had taken target practice at area gun ranges, in one instance just days before the attack that left 14 people dead, the FBI said Monday.
In a chilling twist, authorities also disclosed that a year before the rampage, Syed Farook’s co-workers at the county health department underwent “active shooter” training in the same conference room where he and his wife opened fire on them last week.
Many questions remain elusive in California terror attack, Jan. 15, 2016
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Six weeks after the San Bernardino terror attack, the man leading the investigation said Friday that some of the most basic questions remain the most elusive to answer — was anyone else involved, was more violence planned, and why was the attack site chosen?
David Bowdich, chief of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, told The Associated Press that of all the unanswered questions, the one he most wants answered is whether the husband-and-wife killers had accomplices.
Some victims in terror attack support efforts to hack iPhone, Feb. 22, 2016
WASHINGTON (AP) — Some family members of victims and survivors of the San Bernardino terror attack will file court papers in support of a judge’s order that Apple Inc. help the FBI hack into a locked iPhone as part of the terrorism investigation, a lawyer and others said Monday.
Prosecutor: iPhone could ID unknown San Bernardino attacker, March 4, 2016
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Information contained in an encrypted iPhone could help finally answer whether there was a third assailant in the San Bernardino terror attack that killed 14 people, according to court papers filed by the county’s district attorney.
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Friday that the question of a third attacker has nagged investigators despite no supporting evidence.
“We’ve never been able to completely eliminate it,” he said. “We know we have some witnesses that said they thought they saw three … some saw two, some saw one. The majority said two, and the evidence we have up to this point only supports two.”
REP. GABBY GIFFORDS, MASS SHOOTING
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A gunman targeted Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she met with constituents outside a busy supermarket Saturday, shooting a bullet through her head and killing Arizona’s chief federal judge and five others in an attack that left Americans questioning whether divisive politics had pushed the suspect over the edge.
The assassination attempt left the three-term congresswoman in critical condition. A shaken President Barack Obama called the attack “a tragedy for our entire country.”
Details of suspect in Ariz rampage slowly emerge, Jan. 9, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The suspect accused of killing six people and wounding Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was described as a disturbed young man who was rejected by the military and frequently disrupted his college class.
The Tucson neighbors of 22-year-old suspect Jared Loughner said he often kept to himself — not hostile to anyone but certainly not warming up to anyone, either.
“He was a guy in high school who definitely had his opinions on stuff and didn’t seem to care what people thought of him,” said Grant Wiens, 22, who told The Associated Press he went to high school and had a class at Pima Community College with Loughner.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Federal prosecutors brought charges Sunday against the gunman accused of attempting to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing six people at a political event in Arizona.
Investigators said they carried out a search warrant at Jared Loughner’s home and seized an envelope from a safe with messages such as “I planned ahead,” “My assassination” and the name “Giffords” next to what appears to be the man’s signature.
Docs optimistic, but Giffords in for long recovery, Jan. 10, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Recovering from a gunshot wound to the head depends on the bullet’s path, and while doctors are optimistic about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ odds, it can take weeks to months to tell the damage.
Doctors say the bullet traveled the length of the left side of the Arizona congresswoman’s brain, entering the back of the skull and exiting the front.
APNewsBreak: More warning signs on day of shooting, Jan. 12, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Investigators revealed more disturbing details about the events leading up to the assassination attempt against U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, including a menacing handwritten note in the suspect’s home with the words “Die, bitch.”
And on the day of the shooting, a mumbling Jared Loughner ran into the desert near his home after his father asked him why he was removing a black bag from the trunk of a family car, sheriff’s officials said. Loughner resurfaced later Saturday when authorities say he showed up at a grocery store in a taxi and shot 19 people, killing six, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.
Investigators provided the new details to The Associated Press and said they’re still searching for the bag. They suspect it could contain clues into Loughner’s motives.
Sheriff in Giffords case lashes out about politics, Jan. 10, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was thrust into the spotlight to face a nation demanding answers in the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. He didn’t mince words.
State of the Union stirs current of hope, doubt, Jan. 26, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Some craved words of comfort and a strong signal that the many promises made since a gunman’s rampage stunned the nation just might, in fact, be kept.
Others sought much more than polite talk and a show of etiquette via a bipartisan seating arrangement – a turnaround in tone, yes, but also something tangible: More jobs, less spending, a dramatic course-correction for a country that, for some, seems headed down the wrong path.
PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona judge on Monday ordered the suspect in the January shooting rampage in Tucson to undergo a mental evaluation at a specialized facility in Missouri as soon as possible.
The evaluation will be videotaped and provided to prosecutors and defense attorneys, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said in his late Monday ruling. The judge also ordered that the exam be conducted no later than April 29, and that findings be reported to the court and attorneys on both sides by May 11.
Portrait emerges of Loughner’s daily prison life, Sept. 29, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Jared Lee Loughner passes his days alone in a cell at a Missouri prison facility in therapy sessions with psychologists, watching TV, looking at photos of his pets and snacking on junk food.
The most detailed portrait of the daily prison life of the man charged with shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords emerged Wednesday at a hearing in Tucson where a judge extended his stay in the facility by another four months so doctors have more time to try to make him mentally fit for trial.
Tucson shooting victim honored with 9/11 memory, April 2, 2011
ORO VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) — The silver angel lies just beyond the outfield fence, overlooking the field where Christina-Taylor Green once scooped up grounders.
The 9-foot, 11-inch-tall statue was unveiled Friday evening before the Canyon del Oro Little League season opener Friday evening in honor of the youngest victim of the Tucson shootings.
Christina-Taylor’s mother, father and brother watched as a fire truck pulled off a cover to reveal the glistening figure.
First photos of Giffords released since shooting, June 12, 2011
HOUSTON (AP) — Two portraits of a smiling Rep. Gabrielle Giffords gave the nation its closest look yet at the congresswoman’s remarkable recovery less than six months after she was shot in the head at point-blank range outside a supermarket.
The pictures posted Sunday on Facebook were the first clear photos of the Arizona congresswoman who rose to national prominence after a gunman opened fire on her in January as she met with constituents in Tucson. Six people were killed and 13 others wounded.
But the images left unanswered many questions about her cognitive abilities and when — or even whether — she will be able to resume her job in Congress.
A spokesman said Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, released the photographs to prevent her from being hounded by photographers when she leaves in- patient rehabilitation in Houston late this month or in early July.
AP Exclusive: Book gives look at Giffords recovery, Nov. 4, 2011
PHOENIX (AP) — When President George H.W. Bush came to visit her in the hospital, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords could say only “Wow!” and another word she had been uttering frequently at the time, “chicken.”
Months later, when she was shown photos of famous people to see if she recognized faces, Giffords looked at Arnold Schwarzenegger and replied, more or less accurately: “Messin’ around. Babies.”
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Ron Barber’s nightmares wake him in the dead of night and he can still see it: The flash of a gun muzzle aimed at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ head.
‘Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,’ went the gunman’s weapon, recalls Barber, who fell to the ground, shot in the cheek and thigh.
He saw the pool of blood around his body and Giffords breathing shallowly as she lay facing away from him. Then he looked into the eyes of colleague Gabe Zimmerman and knew the 30-year-old was dead.
Best friends remember 9-year-old slain in Tucson, Jan. 8, 2012
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Three little girls made plans for the future. They built sandcastles, they danced to pop songs, they swam, they laughed, they swore to be roommates in college.
Two of the girls, now 10, stood Sunday on a stage in Tucson and told a crowd of hundreds, many weeping, about their friend. Christina-Taylor Green, a 9-year-old born on Sept. 11, 2001, aspired to dance with Beyonce, to be the first woman in Major League Baseball and one day be elected president of the United States.
“She wasn’t afraid of boys or sports or anything,” Serenity Hammrich said, wearing a black dress and standing with Jamie Stone on a stage in the University of Arizona. “When she made student council, I was so happy for her. She believed it was important to help others to try to make a difference in the school and to put others first.”
Giffords leads crowd in Pledge of Allegiance, Jan. 8, 2012
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords led a crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, her words ringing out across a cold Tucson night in a rare public appearance Sunday evening at a candlelight vigil one year after surviving a deadly shooting.
The Democratic congresswoman — who has struggled to re-learn to walk after being shot in the head — stepped onstage to cheers from the crowd. Ron Barber, a staffer who was wounded in the rampage that killed six one year ago, invited her to lead the audience in the pledge.
The crowd chanted: “Gabby, Gabby.”
CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES, RELATED MUDSLIDES
VENTURA, Calif. — For a brief time, Bob Pazen thought he had been one of the lucky ones, a man whose house had somehow escaped the ferocious wind-driven fires that destroyed at least 150 other structures in his hillside neighborhood overlooking this picturesque beachfront town.
Pazen, his wife, son and their dog had fled just ahead of the raging flames Monday night, and when he returned Tuesday morning he was delighted to see their home still standing.
But after leaving to move the cars he’d left behind the night before, Pazen returned later Tuesday to discover the blaze had doubled back.
“The house was totally engulfed in flames,” he said.
VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — They ran for their lives by the thousands when devastating wildfires raced across a huge swath of brush-covered Southern California hillsides, and they survived — even if in many cases their homes didn’t.
Some lost everything. Others returned to find homes still standing but in danger a second time when flames that had seemed to spare them returned. Others told of driving through a wall of flames to safety.
Brian Bromberg and Wendy Frank had just saved their beloved horses from a raging wildfire for the second time when they experienced their own brush with death — for the third time.
The couple, who live in the mountainous artist colony of Ojai, had already escaped flames that had burned down neighbors’ homes and had gone back to rescue their horses from a boarding facility when they were headed to a hotel in Santa Barbara.
Suddenly, they were confronted by a wall of flames lining both sides of a highway Wednesday night.
“I thought we were in a Schwarzenegger movie,” Bromberg, 57, recalled at an evacuation shelter in Ventura on Thursday as he comforted his horses.
17 dead in California mudslides, more than a dozen missing, Jan. 11, 2018
MONTECITO, Calif. (AP) — Anxious family members awaited word on loved ones Wednesday as rescue crews searched grimy debris and ruins for more than a dozen people missing after mudslides in Southern California destroyed an estimated 100 houses, swept cars to the beach and left at least 17 victims dead.
“It’s just waiting and not knowing, and the more I haven’t heard from them — we have to find them,” said Kelly Weimer, whose elderly parents’ home was wrecked by the torrent of mud, trees and boulders that flowed down a fire-scarred mountain and slammed into the coastal town of Montecito in Santa Barbara County early Tuesday.
The drenching storm that triggered the disaster gave way to sunny skies, as hundreds of searchers carefully combed a messy landscape strewn with hazards.
“We’ve gotten multiple reports of rescuers falling through manholes that were covered with mud, swimming pools that were covered up with mud,” said Anthony Buzzerio, a Los Angeles County fire battalion chief. “The mud is acting like a candy shell on ice cream. It’s crusty on top but soft underneath, so we’re having to be very careful.”
Mudslide survivors find hope in recovered belongings, April 17, 2018
LOS ANGELES (AP) — When a torrent of mud crashed through Mari Mitchel’s bedroom in Southern California three months ago, it carried away everything from massive pieces of antique family furniture to a tiny pouch that held her wedding and engagement rings and a beloved pendant.
As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, Mitchel had nearly lost all hope she would ever see her most treasured jewelry again.
But on April 3, the 65-year-old Mitchel got what she calls her “tiny miracle.” The pouch filled with jewelry was plucked from a 6-foot pile of mud down the street from her house.
“My knees were shaking, and I was oh-my-goshing and jumping up and down,” Mitchel said. “I cried tears of joy, disbelief and thorough happiness.”
Months after the Jan. 9 mudslides killed at least 21 people and nearly wiped the small community of Montecito off the map, those who survived are still looking for and finding their belongings in the deep and hardened sludge. They lost loved ones, neighbors and houses in the catastrophe, which still looks like it happened yesterday. Two children remain missing.
Residents flee California wildfire as it tears through towns, July 27, 2018
REDDING, Calif. _ An explosive wildfire tore through two small Northern California communities Thursday before reaching the city of Redding, killing a bulldozer operator on the fire lines, burning three firefighters, destroying dozens of homes and forcing thousands of terrified residents to flee.
Flames swept through the communities of Shasta and Keswick before jumping the Sacramento River and reaching Redding, a city of about 92,000 people and the largest in the region.
The so-called Carr Fire is “taking down everything in its path,” said Scott McLean, a CalFire spokesman for the crews battling the blaze.
“It’s just a wall of flames,” he said.
Residents of western Redding who hadn’t been under evacuation orders were caught off guard and had to flee with little notice, causing miles-long traffic jams as flames turned the skies orange.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An intentionally set wildfire grew perilously close to homes in Southern California on Thursday as evacuation orders expanded to more than 20,000 residents, though some homeowners stayed behind to fend off the flames themselves.
Firefighters fought a desperate battle to stop the Holy Fire from reaching homes as the blaze surged through the Cleveland National Forest above the city of Lake Elsinore and its surrounding communities. They were trying to keep the flames from devouring neighborhoods and taking lives, as gigantic fires still burning in Northern California have done.
“Our main focus this afternoon was getting everyone out safely,” said Thanh Nguyen, a spokesman for the crews battling the Holy Fire.
With ring found in ashes of burned home, man proposes again, July 18, 2018
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Southern California couple who lost their home in a wildfire made a new happy memory Sunday amid the ashes when they found what was left of the wife’s wedding and engagement rings.
Ishu and Laura Rao, who got married only eight months ago, returned to the rubble of their home in Goleta in Santa Barbara County, to look for the rings. The house was incinerated in a fast-moving wildfire Friday that destroyed nine other homes; the blaze was 80 percent contained Sunday.
Ishu Rao found the charred rings amid the ashes after figuring out where the kitchen sink was by looking for pipes.
Rao said he decided to get down on one knee and ask his bride to marry him, again.
“She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, she’s the glue in our family, and I adore her to pieces, so if I can put a smile on her face I’m going to do it,” said the 48-year-old.
Judges weigh gay marriage cases from 4 states, Aug. 7, 2014
CINCINNATI (AP) — Judges Martha Craig Daughtrey and Deborah L. Cook made it clear fairly quickly they stood on opposite sides of the same-sex marriage debate. Their colleague, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, however, gave fewer hints as to where he may come down when the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decides the fate of gay marriage bans in four states.
The cases heard Wednesday pit states’ rights and conservative values against what plaintiffs’ attorneys say is a fundamental right to marry under the U.S. Constitution.
If the 6th Circuit decides against gay marriage, it would create a divide among federal appeals courts and put pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the issue during its 2015 session.
CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal appeals court will hear arguments in gay marriage fights in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee in a single session, setting the stage for historic rulings in each state.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, scheduled arguments in five cases from the four states for Aug. 6. Though the cases are unique, each deals with whether statewide gay marriage bans violate the Constitution.
Lawsuit aims to strike down Ohio gay marriage ban, April 30, 2013
CINCINNATI (AP) — Civil rights attorneys filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking a judge to strike down Ohio’s gay marriage ban as unconstitutional and allow same-sex couples to wed in the state, echoing arguments that have led judges to throw out gay marriage bans in five other states.
Longtime Cincinnati couple Karl Rece Jr., left, and Gary Goodman speak to media at a law firm in Cincinnati, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. They are among 12 plaintiffs named in a lawsuit seeking to strike down Ohio’s gay marriage ban and allow same-sex couples to marry in the state. (Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press)
Judge stays most of Ohio gay marriage ruling, April 16, 2014
CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio officials must immediately recognize the same-sex marriages of four couples who sued over the state’s gay marriage ban, a federal judge said Wednesday, while staying the broader effects of his ruling to avoid “premature celebration and confusion” in case it’s overturned on appeal.
CINCINNATI (AP) _ A federal judge on Monday ordered Ohio to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states, and civil rights attorneys and gay marriage supporters immediately began looking ahead to their next fight: a lawsuit seeking to force Ohio to allow gay couples to marry.
Judge Timothy Black’s ruling was a partial but significant victory for gay rights supporters, who called it a stepping stone for full marriage equality in Ohio.
CINCINNATI (AP) _ A federal judge who recently ordered the marriages of two gay couples to be recognized in Ohio despite a statewide constitutional ban has infuriated some conservatives who paint him as a liberal activist judge who should be impeached, while his supporters say he’s a fair and thoughtful adjudicator.
Judge Timothy Seymour Black ruled in favor of the two couples, each struggling with death as they sue state authorities to get their out-of-state marriages recognized on Ohio death certificates. Black found that the couples deserve to be treated with respect and that Ohio law historically has recognized out-of-state marriages as valid as long as they were legal where they took place, such as marriages between cousins and involving minors.
“How then can Ohio, especially given the historical status of Ohio law, single out same-sex marriages as ones it will not recognize?” Black wrote in August. “The short answer is that Ohio cannot.”
Gay marriage court win in Ohio may spawn new suits, July 27, 2013
Two gay men who successfully sued to get their out-of-state marriage recognized in Ohio despite a state ban are at the forefront of what supporters and experts believe will be a rush of similar lawsuits aiming to take advantage of an apparent legal loophole.
John Arthur of Cincinnati, who is dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, won the right to be listed as married on his death certificate and to have his partner of more than 20 years listed as his surviving spouse.
Ohio executes man who killed, raped 6-month-old, May 1, 2013
LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) — One family wept loudly and another family cheered Wednesday as a man was executed for killing a 6-month-old as he raped her.
Steve Smith, 46, was executed by lethal injection at the state prison in Lucasville in southern Ohio for the 1998 killing of his live-in girlfriend’s daughter, Autumn Carter, in Mansfield.
Court: Ex-Ohio death row inmate can’t pursue lawsuit, March 27, 2014
CINCINNATI (AP) — A man who was freed from prison after spending 21 years on Ohio’s death row because of a botched prosecution can’t pursue his federal lawsuit against the county prosecutor’s office, an appeals court ruled Thursday.
Arizona on pace to match busiest year for executions, March 14, 2012
PHOENIX (AP) — With two executions already carried out so far this year and two more up for consideration next week, Arizona is on pace to match its busiest year for executions since establishing the death penalty in 1910 and be among the busiest death-penalty states in the nation, The Associated Press has determined.
FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona executed an inmate Wednesday for killing and dismembering his adoptive mother while he was out of prison on furlough for another crime, despite a spate of last-minute appeals over his mental disabilities and how the state has changed and violated its own execution protocol.
Just before he was put to death, Robert Henry Moormann used his last words to apologize to his family and to the family of an 8-year-old girl he kidnapped and molested in 1972.
“I hope this brings closure and they can start healing now,” he said. “I just hope that they will forgive me in time.”
Moormann is the first Arizona inmate to be executed with one lethal drug, as opposed to the state’s long-standing three-drug protocol.
Arizona death penalty procedures challenged in court, July 25, 2011
PHOENIX (AP) — In Arizona’s death chamber in the minutes just before an execution, inmates lay strapped to a table with a white sheet pulled up to their necks.
Witnesses who are there partially to ensure that the inmates don’t experience unnecessary pain don’t see anything leading up to that point – it’s just a person on a table about to be put to death with an injection they can’t see.
The veiled process and other procedures followed by the Arizona Department of Corrections are now being challenged in federal court. U.S. District Judge Neil Wake scheduled a trial in the matter for Oct. 11 and can rule that the department is violating inmates’ constitutional rights by the way it conducts executions, or find that the department has acted properly.
FLORENCE, Arizona (AP) — Last-minute legal wrangling over an execution drug ended with a killer’s last breaths Tuesday, as officials prepared to repeat the procedure next week in what will be Arizona’s last use of a controversial three-drug lethal injection method.
Daniel Wayne Cook, 49, is scheduled to die April 5 in the same room at the Florence state prison where Eric John King was executed Tuesday morning.
Cook’s attorneys are also fighting the use of the knockout drug sodium thiopental, even though similar arguments failed to stop or delay King’s execution for killing two men in a 1989 Phoenix convenience store robbery
FATAL ARIZONA WILDFIRE
PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — An erratic wildfire driven by ferocious and shifting winds curled around the location of a team of Arizona Hotshot firefighters, cutting off their access to a safety zone and creating a death trap that quickly consumed them, two fire officials confirmed Friday based on a map of how the tragedy unfolded compiled by The Associated Press.
PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — The idea to drape the bodies of 19 dead firefighters in American flags came from Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher, shortly after the men were found dead.
PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — Nineteen firefighters killed in a wildfire a week ago went home for the last time on Sunday, their bodies traveling in individual white hearses in a somber caravan for 125 miles through Arizona cities and towns.
Although a rural Ohio county’s judges actions were “petty, unethical and unworthy of his office,” he is still immune from being sued by an attorney who got fired after the judge kicked him off all the cases in his courtroom, an appeals court panel found Tuesday.
CINCINNATI (AP) — From Twitter and Facebook to Amazon and Google, the biggest names of the Internet are blasting a federal judge’s decision allowing an Arizona-based gossip website to be sued for defamation by a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader convicted of having sex with a teenager.
PHOENIX (AP) — The mother of a 19-year-old man fatally shot in the back by a U.S. Border Patrol agent has sued the federal government and the agent himself, claiming it was “an appalling use of excessive force” because her son was unarmed, had his back to the agent and posed no threat.
Jury: White supremacist guilty in Arizona bombing, Feb. 24, 2012
PHOENIX (AP) _ A federal jury on Friday found one of two white supremacist brothers guilty in the 2004 bombing of a black city official in suburban Phoenix, but stopped short of finding that it was a hate crime.
Identical Illinois twins Dennis and Daniel Mahon, 61, were on trial for six weeks as dramatic testimony came from the bombing victim and a female government informant dubbed a “trailer park Mata Hari” by defense attorneys.
PHOENIX (AP) — An attorney for one of two white supremacist brothers charged in Arizona with bombing a black city official in Scottsdale tried Thursday to paint a government informant as a temptress who led one of the brothers to believe that she would have sex with him, and possibly have his children, so that he would admit to the crime.
Attorney Deborah Williams played for jurors numerous tapes of the informant flirting with identical twin brothers Dennis and Daniel Mahon and talking about sex, often in raunchy terms.
PHOENIX SERIAL KILLERS
Jury being picked in Ariz ‘Baseline Killer’ case, April 19, 2011
PHOENIX (AP) — Carmen Miranda was vacuuming her car and talking on her cell phone when a man dubbed the Baseline Killer shot her in the head, shoved her body in the back seat and lodged her legs over her head with her pants pulled down.
The Phoenix woman was the last victim connected to a string of eight other killings in 2005 and 2006 in which victims were attacked while going about daily activities such as leaving work, waiting at a bus stop or washing a car.
They were shot in the head, and many of the bodies were left with their pants pulled down.
Now, the man accused of being the Baseline Killer is set to stand trial for murder. Jury selection began Tuesday in the case against Mark Goudeau, whose trial is expected to last about nine months.
Lawyer: Baseline Killer suspect a ‘ravenous wolf,’ June 6, 2011
PHOENIX (AP) — Graphic images of dead people flashed across courtroom televisions as the victims’ families looked on, weeping and consoling one another. Some had to leave to collect themselves.
For the first time since the nine victims were killed in 2005 and 2006, the man accused of the crimes is on trial for murder. The prosecution and defense delivered their dramatic opening statements Monday in the trial against Mark Goudeau, who is accused of being the so-called Baseline Killer.
MILLERSVILLE, Md. (AP) — The man accused of firing at five public places in Maryland learned his petition for divorce was dismissed at the height of the shooting streak.
Hong Young, 35, of Beltsville, was informed of the case dismissal Monday, the same day calls were reported of shots fired at a Wal-Mart and a movie theater in central Maryland. Authorities said Young chose targets at random, including a building of the National Security Agency.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The estranged wife of a man arrested in connection with shootings at five public places in Maryland, including a National Security Agency building, said Friday that she filed for divorce from her husband because of what she called his “crazy” behavior.
Hong Young, 35, had obvious mental health issues, would frequently talk to himself and would stay away for days at a time, said his wife, Bunnary Ngo (NO), who spoke with an Associated Press reporter in her native language, Khmer, from her home in Moreno Valley, California.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The big sister wanted to be known as a gamer, and she loved making videos with her pet guinea pig, Oreo. Her 6-year-old brother wanted to build robots.
Their cousins, blue-eyed, towheaded sisters, were a year apart but looked more like twins. The older girl knew she’d be famous one day. Her little sister loved Taylor Swift.
Their parents think the children, ages 6 to 8, along with their grandparents, Don and Sandy Pyle, were in a mansion near Annapolis when a massive fire turned the home into a pile of ashes Monday.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Just days after being freed from a nightmarish ordeal of abuse, three Ohio children who were chained to their beds and deprived of food are now relishing the seemingly mundane — attending school, interacting with other kids and going out for ice cream for the first time, authorities said Thursday.
RIPLEY, Ohio (AP) — Three months after his pregnant daughter was killed in a still-unsolved shooting on a quiet country road, Dave Dodson wakes up every morning still thinking she’s alive. He cries every time he sees the four-wheeler she grew up riding and he can’t bring himself to finish fixing a truck they’d been working on together.
CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) — A man who stole drugs from a Mexican cartel was bludgeoned, stabbed and then decapitated in a suburban Phoenix apartment — a gruesome killing that police say was meant to send a message that anyone who betrays the traffickers will get the same treatment.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — They shuffle into the courtroom in shackles, still wearing the dust-covered clothes and shoes from when they crossed the desert into the U.S. from Mexico.
The 70 illegal immigrants, mostly men and mostly in their 20s and 30s, fill the 16-seat jury box and seven rows of wooden benches normally reserved for the public in Tucson’s gleaming federal courthouse. The courtroom is expansive, with a regally high ceiling, and is filled with the pungent smell of dried sweat.
In only an hour or so, the dozens of immigrants will agree to plead guilty and be sentenced in a process that could play out for months for most federal defendants.
The scene offers a window into a federal immigration enforcement effort that is pushing the limits of the U.S. justice system, overwhelming federal judges and escalating the ranks of Latinos sent to prison.
CALEXICO, Calif. (AP) — The visiting British pilots were training near a naval air station one night this month when their helicopter came within about 150 feet of an ultralight plane flying without lights. The ultralight darted away toward Mexico without a trace.
The near-disaster over the Southern California desert was an example of drug smugglers using low-flying aircraft that look like motorized hang gliders to circumvent new fences along the U.S. border with Mexico. The planes, which began appearing in Arizona three years ago, are now turning up in remote parts of California and New Mexico.
Immigrant families leave Arizona and tough new law, June 22, 2010
NOGALES, Mexico (AP) — Hector Ortega stumbled across the body of a fellow migrant as he walked across Arizona’s harsh desert in the searing summer heat. He tried not to look too closely.
With nothing to be done for the deceased, Ortega and the others trudged on, guided by a smuggler across the U.S. border, determined to complete their illegal odyssey even as they endured record-high temperatures and fever-pitch resentment.
Immigrant deaths in Arizona desert soaring, July 16, 2010
PHOENIX (AP) — The number of deaths among illegal immigrants crossing the Arizona desert from Mexico is soaring so high this month that the medical examiner’s office that handles the bodies is using a refrigerated truck to store some of them, the chief examiner said Friday.
SWAT team’s shooting of Marine causes outrage, Nov. 27, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Jose Guerena Ortiz was sleeping after an exhausting 12-hour night shift at a copper mine. His wife, Vanessa, had begun breakfast. Their 4-year-old son, Joel, asked to watch cartoons.
An ordinary morning was unfolding in the middle-class Tucson neighborhood — until an armored vehicle pulled into the family’s driveway and men wearing heavy body armor and helmets climbed out, weapons ready.
Sudanese to fan out across US for historic vote, Jan. 7, 2011
PHOENIX (AP) —Wol Dhieu Akujang’s long wait for freedom to come to his village in war-ravaged Sudan began 20 years ago with a perilous 1,000-mile walk.
At age 6, he endured choking thirst, aching hunger and the constant terror of ambushes as he and hundreds of others traveled to a refugee camp in nearby Ethiopia. Then came safety in the United States.
Thrill-seekers to run with the bulls in Arizona, Oct. 10, 2011
PHOENIX (AP) — The bulls are better tempered, slower and their horns have been blunted, and this definitely isn’t Pamplona.
Nonetheless, they are bulls, and nearly two dozen of them will be chasing after hundreds of humans on a quarter-mile track this coming weekend in the small town of Cave Creek, Ariz., despite objections from animal advocates and town officials.
CINCINNATI (AP) — The family of a slain Iraqi war veteran wants her towering SpongeBob SquarePants headstone returned to her final resting place while the cemetery officials that removed it say that’s the only thing they won’t do, leaving both sides at an apparent impasse that may have to be decided in court.
Fatal air crash shows risks, thrill of wing walking, June 23, 2013
CINCINNATI (AP) — Risking death every time they go to work, wing walkers need courage, poise, a healthy craving for adrenaline and, most importantly, they need to be meticulously exacting with every step they take on the small planes that carry them past dazzled crowds at speeds up to 130 mph.
Women’s home fighting insurance giant to stay put, Oct. 11, 2012
CINCINNATI (AP) — As Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic battled for the title at the Western & Southern Open north of Cincinnati, a small plane buzzed overhead, trailing a banner calling the sponsor a bunch of bullies.