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Mom gets 40 years for murder of 2-year-old son who wet bed, gave her ‘sideways look’

A South Dakota woman was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in federal prison for the brutal 2016 beating death of her 2-year-old son, which occurred less than two months after she regained custody of the boy. 

Katrina Pauline Shangreaux, 30, who is also known as Katrina White Whirlwind, pleaded guilty March 20 to second-degree murder in the death of Kylen Shangreaux. The boy died of blunt force trauma July 28, 2016, at Shangreaux’s home in Porcupine, a small community on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. 

>> Read more trending news

Angie Shangreaux, Kylen’s paternal aunt, had custody of the boy for about 14 months, a majority of his life, before Katrina Shangreaux regained custody June 1, 2016, through Oglala Sioux Tribal Court. Angie Shangreaux, 38, described for Native Sun News Today what Kylen’s life was like in her home. 

“A lot of people think ‘Oh he’s just another abused and neglected Native American kid,’” Shangreaux said. “There’s so much more to his life. That wasn’t his life. That was the last fifty-eight days of life.”

She told the newspaper that Kylen’s life was filled with laughter and love before he was returned to his mother. She described him as a “good boy” who loved Chicken Little, Home, Lego Batman 2 and Cars.

His favorite meal was breakfast. 

“He loved to eat waffles," Shangreaux said. “He would sit and drink coffee with me. He called it ‘foffee.’”

Angie Shangreaux’s Facebook page, along with one titled Justice for Kylen, is filled with photos and videos of a smiling, happy Kylen. In one video on the Justice for Kylen page, the toddler and his aunt tell the camera good morning and giggle. 

“I love you, Ky,” Shangreaux says. 

“I love you more,” Kylen responds. 

As Shangreaux starts to say, “I love you the most,” Kylen says, “Most!” The boy laughs. 

A statement of fact filed in federal court in March, when Katrina Shangreaux entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors, details the crime, which U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken on Tuesday described as “horrific, depraved, torturous (and) humiliating,” according to the Rapid City Journal

[Warning: The following details are graphic.]

Shangreaux, who said she had consumed a large amount of alcohol and taken the pain medication Tramadol before her son’s killing, admitted in the court records that she returned home the night of July 27, 2016, and became angry when she found that her son had wet the bed. Shangreaux and Kylen lived with her other children and her mother, Sonya Dubray. 

“She took him to the bathroom and tried to force him to use the toilet,” the statement of fact said. “Shangreaux perceived (Kylen) was being defiant and that made her even angrier.”

Shangreaux admitted she hit her son multiple times, including with a studded belt, and put him in the corner as punishment. Her anger grew, she said, when the boy gave her a “sideways look.”

When the toddler accidentally called her “Angie,” she became infuriated. 

“Shangreaux despised (Kylen’s father’s) sister Angie,” the statement said. 

Katrina Shangreaux admitted in the statement of fact that, after her son called her by his aunt’s name, she threw the boy to the floor and repeatedly kicked him in the abdomen and head.

“She stopped only when she saw that he appeared different and she realized how badly she had injured him,” the statement said. 

Shangreaux also bit the boy multiple times and caused damage to his genitals. 

“The most shocking was the damage that she did to his scrotum,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Collins said during the sentencing, according to the Journal

The newspaper reported that the toddler’s genitals were “practically obliterated” by the beating. According to court records, his scrotum was torn and a long hair had been wrapped around it and his penis. 

Shangreaux told Dubray what she had done, the statement of fact said. At some point early the following morning, the mother and daughter sat Kylen at the kitchen table with Shangreaux’s other children and tried to get him to drink some apple juice.

He became more unresponsive and fell on the floor, where he soiled himself. His mother and grandmother cleaned the boy up -- and cleaned the crime scene with bleach -- before calling an ambulance, court records showed. 

Shangreaux told police when she called 911 that Kylen had choked on his juice and stopped breathing, the Journal reported

When the ambulance arrived, Kylen was in clean clothes and there was no visible blood on his body, according to the statement of fact. 

“Shangreaux did not accompany (Kylen) to the hospital,” the document said. “Instead, she had three cigarettes, then found a ride to Pine Ridge, where the hospital staff told her (Kylen) had died. She fled, to White City, Nebraska, and later to Rapid City.”

Rigor mortis had already set in and Kylen’s body temperature was 90.7 degrees when he was pronounced dead around 8:30 a.m., according to the record. The treating physician estimated that he had been dead for about four hours. 

Emergency room doctors saw belt and bite marks on the boy’s body and found that he had a skull fracture and possible abdominal injuries. 

The pathologist who conducted the boy’s autopsy reported that he had bruises over most of his body.

“He noted (Kylen) suffered extensive and severe bruising over 70 percent of his body and this also likely contributed to his death, as the blood pooling at the bruises may have deprived his organs of sufficient blood,” the statement of fact said. 

The Journal reported that the pathologist found 111 distinct external injuries, including what appeared to be cigarette burns on his head. He also suffered broken ribs and bleeding in his abdomen and brain. 

Shangreaux was initially charged with multiple crimes, including first-degree murder, assault resulting in serious bodily injury of a minor, felony child abuse and neglect. Those charges were reduced to a single second-degree murder charge in the plea deal. 

Read the facts Katrina Shangreaux admitted to as part of her plea agreement below. WARNING: The document contains graphic details of Kylen Shangreaux’s death and may not be suitable for some readers. 

The toddler’s paternal relatives hoped for a life sentence in the case, the Journal said.

“You’re the last person who can give Kylen the justice he deserves,” Angie Shangreaux told the judge prior to Katrina Shangreaux’s sentencing. “I’m begging for what would be a lifelong sentence for her.”

Angie Shangreaux and her mother, Patti Shangreaux, told the court how much Kylen was loved and wanted by their family, the Journal reported. They described how he loved to run around in his diapers.

Kylen also loved music and playing on the computer with Angie Shangreaux’s sons. Before taking her seat following her victim impact statement, Angie Shangreaux told the boy’s mother she hated her. 

“I will never forgive you,” Angie Shangreaux said, according to the newspaper. “You deserve hell.”

The grieving aunt told Native Sun News Today that she has been haunted by the knowledge of what her nephew, who she considered one of her own children, went through before he died. 

“It took a toll on me emotionally. I literally just checked out,” Angie Shangreaux said. “The thoughts of what he suffered that morning. The thoughts of what it was like the last fifty-eight days invaded my mind constantly. The fact that he cried for me when she was killing him.”

Dubray was charged in September 2016 with being an accessory to first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, making a false statement and concealment of a felony. Prosecutors allege that she helped Shangreaux evade authorities, concealed the abuse of her grandson and misled investigators about the extent of the abuse. 

Aside from helping her daughter clean up the crime scene, Dubray is also accused of washing the clothes Kylen was wearing when he was abused to hide evidence, court records show. 

Her indictment states that Dubray also lied to investigators from the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs when she told them that Kylen was potty-trained. The boy was still in diapers, they learned during the investigation. 

Dubray is scheduled to stand trial in November. 

‘Taste the last kiss of death’: HIV-positive man spits in ER nurse’s face

An Alabama man with HIV was charged with felony assault last month after he was accused of spitting in an emergency room nurse’s face as the woman tried to treat him, police said. 

Montrel Dewaun Minor, 28, of Aliceville, is charged with assault with bodily fluids, a felony charge because he has a communicable disease, jail records show. He was booked into the Tuscaloosa County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. 

Court records allege that Minor “became belligerent and combative and had to be physically restrained in order to receive the treatment” June 11 at Northport Medical Center, The Tuscaloosa News reported. Even while restrained, he was able to raise himself up enough on the gurney to spit in the nurse’s face, the report said. 

Minor’s saliva came into contact with the woman’s mouth and nose, the News reported

He told the nurse to “taste the last kiss of death,” according to the court records. The records did not say why Minor was in the emergency room that day. 

>> Read more trending news

The nurse told investigators she immediately began decontamination procedures for HIV exposure and has thus far tested negative, the News said. She will again be tested six months after exposure. 

The HIV virus cannot be transmitted through saliva, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can only be transmitted via the blood of an infected person, through unprotected sex or through breast milk. 

The CDC estimates the risk of a health care worker being exposed to HIV on the job at less than 1 percent. The main risk is of being stuck with a needle that has already been used on a patient with the virus. 

Mariah Woods autopsy reveals new details in North Carolina 3-year-old's death

An autopsy report revealed that a 3-year-old North Carolina girl was wrapped in trash bags and a couch cushion cover before her body was tossed into a creek in November.

>> Watch the news report here

The report said Mariah Woods’ body was inside three plastic garbage bags that were tied up, and those bags were inside a plaid cover to a couch cushion that was zippered closed.

The autopsy report also said there were no obvious injuries on Woods other than a bruise near her left eye and some scrapes on her face, although there was some bleeding under her scalp.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE FROM WSOCTV.COM:

>> Remains positively identified as 3-year-old North Carolina girl, DA says

>> $1M bond set for man charged in 3-year-old NC girl's death

>> Grand jury indicts NC man in death of 3-year-old Mariah Woods

>> Mom's boyfriend faces death penalty in 3-year-old Mariah Woods' death

There was no evidence that the Onslow County girl had been sexually assaulted.

The man charged with killing Woods, 32-year-old Earl Kimrey, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Woods’ body was found in a Pender County creek Dec. 2 after being reported missing Nov. 27.

Kimrey was the live-in boyfriend of Mariah's mother. Kristy Woods said she last saw her daughter when she put her to bed the night before she was reported missing.

District Attorney Ernie Lee plans to seek a death sentence if Kimrey is convicted.

>> Read more trending news 

Kimrey was charged Dec. 1 with concealment of death, obstruction of justice, burglary, larceny and possession of stolen property. He was charged Jan. 24 with first-degree murder and child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Husband, wife accused of raping children, committing sex crimes over 10-year span

A west Tennessee husband and wife are accused of committing sex crimes against children over a 10-year span.

>> Watch the news report here

John and Dava Henley are charged with two counts of rape and four counts of aggravated sexual battery. 

John Henley is also charged with aggravated rape of a child and rape of a child, according to the indictments.

Investigators said in one charge, the couple verbally directed a child to have sex with another child. 

>> Parents charged with murder after 4-month-old son suffocates while in ‘timeout’

The charges stem from incidents that spanned from 2006 to 2016, the indictments said.

The children were between the ages of 3 and 13 when the crimes occurred, according to investigators.

Shelby County court records show the Henleys' home address to be in Drummonds.

While the crimes happened in Shelby County, WHBQ uncovered the investigation likely originated there. 

The Tipton County Sheriff’s Office took an incident report regarding the Henleys in June 2017. It listed two juvenile victims, and the investigation was looking into allegations of forcible fondling and sexual battery.

>> Read more trending news  

A spokesperson with the Tipton County Sheriff's Office told WHBQ that the couple was never arrested there because authorities discovered the incidents happened in Shelby County and passed over the case.

Right now, Dava Henley has a $500,000 bond.

John Henley has an $850,000 bond.

A court date has not been set.

Charges against strippers arrested with Stormy Daniels dropped, report says

Update 5:30 EDT July 18: The charges against the two strippers arrested with adult film star Stormy Daniels last week in Columbus, Ohio, have been dropped, according to BuzzFeed News.

>> Read more trending news 

Brittany Walters and Miranda Panda were taken into custody along with Daniels early last Thursday at the Sirens Gentleman’s Club.

Daniels, who was charged with three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business, was released hours later, but the other two remained jailed on charges related to a 2007 state law that prohibits anyone who isn’t a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude performer, according to The Associated Press.

In Daniels’ case, officials noted in a motion to dismiss the charges that the law applies only to regular performers.

Police said at the time that the arrests of Daniels, Walters and Panda were  "part of a long-term investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution, along with other vice-related violations,” but a Columbus judge, in dismissing the charges against Daniels, said her arrest was a “mistake.”

>> Related: Who is Stormy Daniels, the woman who claims to have had an affair with President Trump?

The charges against Walters and Panda were dropped Wednesday because the facts of the case "do not meet the elements required to prosecute under this law," Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said in a statement.

(Original story)

Prosecutors dropped charges against adult film star Stormy Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford, after she was arrested early Thursday on accusations of inappropriate touching while performing at a strip club in Columbus.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 7:30 p.m. EDT July 12: Stormy Daniels has changed her plans and won’t return for an encore performance at a strip club in Columbus where she was arrested early Thursday.

Her lawyer Michael Avenatti says the adult performer is looking for another club in the area where she can perform.

Daniels was arrested early Thursday on charges she let customers at the Sirens Gentleman’s Club touch her inappropriately, which is against the law in Ohio at an adult club. 

Update 7:00 p.m. EDT July 12: The show must go on. Stormy Daniels is returning to the Sirens Gentleman’s Club in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday night for a follow-up show.

The adult film star was arrested after a performance at the club early Thursday on three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexual oriented activity. The charges were later dropped.

“I'll be going onstage tonight at Sirens in Columbus to perform for my fans and register voters as planned. Can't stop the storm,” Daniels tweeted Thursday afternoon. 

She also said she’ll donate her tips from Thursday night’s performance to two other dancers who were also arrested, but are still facing charges in the case.

Update 3:10 p.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told The Associated Press that his client was “traumatized and rattled” after her arrest. He earlier told MSNBC that female undercover police officers asked if they could put their faces between Daniels’ breasts while she was performing on-stage at Sirens Gentleman’s Club in Columbus.

Avenatti told the AP that Daniels was in her tour bus after Wednesday night’s performance when officers knocked on her door. She was arrested on three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business, but the charges were later dropped after prosecutors determined she was working as a guest at the club and not a regular performer. State law prohibits anyone who isn't a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude regular dancer at adult establishments, according to The Associated Press.

Update 1:30 p.m. EDT July 12: Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein confirmed in a statement Thursday that charges have been dismissed against Daniels following her arrest at Sirens Gentleman’s Club.

Daniels was arrested on three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business. Two other performers, identified by police as Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters, were also arrested.

“I’ve determined that these crimes were not committed, based on the fact that Ms. Clifford has not made regular appearances at this establishment as required under the law,” Klein said. “We’ll do the same inquiry for the other defendants involved, as well.”

Update 12:55 p.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney confirmed Thursday afternoon that charges were dropped against his client.

Police arrested Daniels early Thursday while she was appearing at Sirens Gentleman's Club in Columbus. She was arrested after she inappropriately touched undercover officers who were at the strip club as part of a long-term sting operation unrelated to Daniels, according to police. She was charged with three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business.

The charges were based on a 2007 Ohio law that prohibits anyone who isn't a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude dancer, according to The Associated Press. However, officials noted in a motion to dismiss the case that the law applies only to regular performers

"In this case, there has been no evidence provided to the State that Defendant appears or has appeared regularly at Sirens," Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein wrote in the state's motion to dismiss.

Daniels was scheduled to appear twice at Sirens, on Wednesday and Thursday night. However, Avenatti announced her second scheduled appearance had been canceled in light of her arrest.

Update 11:10 a.m. EDT July 12: The state law used early Thursday to justify the arrest of Daniels and two other performers at Sirens, a strip club in Columbus, has been used 88 times in Franklin County since 2008, WCMH reported.

The 2007 law was introduced by a conservative religious group and bars dancers from touching customers and vice versa, save for immediate family members, The Associated Press reported. Police said Daniels was charged with three counts of illegal sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business as part of a long-term investigation of alleged human trafficking and prostitution in Columbus.

A spokeswoman for Columbus’ city attorney told the AP that the charges carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine per count, should Daniels be convicted.

Update 10:45 a.m. EDT July 12: Police said they arrested Daniels and two other performers early Thursday at Sirens in Columbus "as part of a long-term investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution, along with other vice related violations."

In a news release Thursday, officials said Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford, was arrested along with Miranda Panda, of Marion, Ohio, and Brittany Walters, of Pickering, Ohio.

Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said she will plead not guilty to three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business. In an appearance Thursday morning on MSNBC, Avenatti characterized his client’s arrest as being part of a “sting operation.”

Update 10 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told MSNBC on Thursday that female undercover officers asked his client to allow them to put their faces between her breasts before her arrest in Columbus early on Thursday.

“Unbeknownst to her, the police had set up a sting operation in the strip club with multiple officers,” Avenatti said. “I think it’s an absurd use of law enforcement resources.”

Update 7:38 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels issued a statement saying her Thursday performance in Columbus has been canceled.

>> On MyAJC.com: Stormy Daniels headed to Atlanta in July

Meanwhile, WSYX’s Mike McCarthy tweeted that police also arrested two other performers on illegal touching charges at the Sirens strip club overnight.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Status of Stormy Daniels’ Dayton, Ohio-area appearance unclear after Columbus arrest

Update 6:52 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted that his client will plead “not guilty” to the charges.

Update 6:41 a.m. EDT July 12: WSYX’s Mike McCarthy reports that Daniels was released from jail on $6,000 bond. 

WCMH reporter Matt Edwards tweeted that “Daniels was picked up minutes ago by a sedan with WV plates.”

Update 6:03 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH reporter Hattie Hawks tweeted that Daniels’ “bond has been posted by Denver Nicks.”

Update 5:49 a.m. EDT July 12: The charging documents reveal more information about the allegations against Daniels. 

>> See an image of the complaint here (WARNING: Discretion advised.)

Update 5:16 a.m. EDT July 12: WSYX’s Mike McCarthy tweeted that Daniels “is accused of touching three @ColumbusPolice officers during her appearance at #Sirens.”

According to WBNS, Daniels fondled patrons and undercover officers, police said. 

Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told WBNS that his client’s arrest “was politically motivated.”

He added: “There's no question these officers were undercover at that strip club. They knew my client would be performing there, and I find this to be a complete waste of resources.”

WBNS reporter Tino Ramos also shared a video of Daniels walking into the Jackson Pike Correctional Facility.

Update 4:33 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH’s Matt Edwards just tweeted a photo that appears to show officers leading Daniels into the jail.

Update 4:22 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH is reporting that Daniels’ arraignment is scheduled for Friday morning at Franklin County Municipal Court.

Daniels is being charged with “illegally sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business,” a first-degree misdemeanor, according to WCMH’s Olivia Fecteau.

Meanwhile, comedian Kathy Griffin took to Twitter to call out Columbus area law enforcement.

Update 3:28 a.m. EDT July 12: According to WCMH reporter Olivia Fecteau, Daniels “has not yet been booked into jail.” Jail workers said Daniels will be booked at the Franklin County Correctional Facility II on Jackson Pike, Fecteau tweeted.

Update 2:52 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels was performing at a club called Sirens when she was arrested, WCMH reporter Olivia Fecteau tweeted early Thursday. When Fecteau called the club, the person on the line declined to comment, she said.

According to Fecteau, “Ohio Revised Code 2907.40 outlines charges against either a patron who touches an employee (or vice versa) who is nude or semi-nude. Depending on what happened, the charge can be a first- or fourth-degree misdemeanor.”

Original report: Porn star Stormy Daniels has been arrested in Columbus, Ohio, her attorney tweeted early Thursday.

“Just rcvd word that my client @StormyDaniels was arrested in Columbus Ohio [while] performing the same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred strip clubs,” wrote Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer. “This was a setup & politically motivated. It reeks of desperation. We will fight all bogus charges. #Basta.”

>> Trump acknowledges he reimbursed Cohen, lawyer who paid Stormy Daniels

In a second tweet, he added: “She was arrested for allegedly allowing a customer to touch her while on stage in a non sexual manner! Are you kidding me? They are devoting law enforcement resources to sting operations for this? There has to be higher priorities!!! #SetUp #Basta.”

>> Stormy Daniels Day: West Hollywood honors adult film star with key to city

He continued: “We expect her to be released on bail shortly. We also expect that she will be charged with a misdemeanor for allowing ‘touching.’ We will vehemently contest all charges. #Basta.”

>> Read more trending news 

Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, claims that she had sex with Donald Trump in 2006, more than a decade before he became president. Daniels is now suing Trump and his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement that she signed days before the 2016 presidential election. Cohen reportedly paid her $130,000 after she signed the agreement.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Parents charged with murder after 4-month-old son suffocates while in ‘timeout’

A New Jersey couple is accused of smothering their 4-month-old with a comforter by putting the boy in a “timeout” when he would not stop crying, authorities said. 

William Herring, 42, and Brianna Brochhausen, 22, of Mahwah, are each charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. According to a news release from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, Herring and Brochhausen were arrested Monday by troopers with the New Jersey State Police. 

Police officers and paramedics were sent on Valentine’s Day to the Hilltop Motel in Springfield Township, where the couple was living at the time, after they called 911 and said their infant son, Hunter, had stopped breathing. He was rushed by ambulance to Virtua Hospital in Mount Holly, where doctors transferred him to the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

While in the PICU, Hunter had minimal brain activity and needed a respirator to breathe, the news release said. He died March 3 after doctors removed him from life support.  

Photos on Brochhausen’s Facebook page show that Hunter was a twin. His sister, Harley, will be 10 months old later this month. 

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in the news release that the couple became frustrated the night of Feb. 14 when Hunter would not stop crying. They decided he needed a “timeout,” the prosecutor said. 

“He was positioned on his stomach on the bed, and the comforter was pulled over him, covering his head and entire body,” Coffina said. “The parents then went outside to smoke cigarettes, returning to the room approximately 10 minutes later, where they discovered that Hunter was not breathing and was unresponsive.”

It was unclear where the surviving twin was at the time that the victim stopped breathing. Hunter’s autopsy found that he died of complications of suffocation, the news release said. 

“The thoughtless actions of these individuals ended up costing a defenseless 4-month-old infant his life,” Col. Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said in a statement. “I commend the detectives of our Homicide South Unit and Criminal Investigation Office for their commitment and dedication to finding justice for baby Hunter.”

>> Read more trending news

Coffina pointed out the help that is available for new parents who find themselves struggling. 

“The responsibilities of becoming a new parent can sometimes be overwhelming,” Coffina said. “Those who find themselves at a point of crisis when caring for a newborn child should know that help is available, and they must seek that help rather than taking actions that might harm their child.”

Parents Anonymous of New Jersey offers parent support groups, as well as a 24-hour Stressline/Family Helpline. Helpline volunteers listen to the concerns of parents and provide referral and crisis intervention information. 

The helpline can be reached at 1-800-THE-KIDS, and additional information about resources can be found on the organization’s website

New Jersey also has a Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, which allows parents or their representatives to anonymously surrender a newborn baby at any hospital emergency room, police station, fire station, ambulance, first aid or rescue squad that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The law is for parents of babies up to 30 days old. 

Homeless ex-con accused of killing 3 people – including 7-year-old – in 2 attacks

A homeless Alabama man who spent the majority of his adult life in prison has been charged with killing three people, including a 7-year-old boy, in two separate attacks at homes across the street from one another. 

Jimmy O’Neal Spencer, 52, is charged with four counts of capital murder in Guntersville, a small lakeside city about 40 miles southeast of Huntsville. Guntersville Police Chief Jim Peterson announced the arrest Tuesday in a news conference streamed live on Facebook.

Peterson said he is confident that his detectives found the man responsible for the slayings. 

“We’ve got the right guy. I’ll tell you that professionally and personally,” Peterson said. “Through the grace of God, we’ve got the right guy.”  

Spencer is charged with killing Marie Kitchens Martin, 74, and her great-grandson, Colton Ryan Lee, at Martin’s home at 2404 Mulberry St. The boy was visiting Martin from Huntsville. 

He is also accused of killing Martha Dell Reliford, 65, who was found dead in her home at 2321 Mulberry St. that same day. The houses are across the street from one another. 

Spencer faces two counts of capital murder during a first-degree robbery, capital murder of a victim under the age of 14 and capital murder of two or more people, jail records show. He is being held without bail in the Marshall County Jail.  

>> Read more trending news

A fourth death discovered as police canvassed the area on Friday is not believed to be related to the homicides, Peterson said. The body of James Michael Baker, 68, was found in a ditch a couple of blocks from the Martin-Lee and Reliford crime scenes. 

Baker, who had been reported missing from nearby Albertville Friday morning, is believed to have died of natural causes, Peterson said. Investigators are awaiting confirmation from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. 

Colton’s obituary describes him as having loved to help plant a vegetable garden, as well as sweeping, monster trucks, John Deere and tractor pulls.

“He especially loved his puppies, Harley and Max,” the obituary read

Colton is survived by his mother, Tiffany Lee, and a brother; he was preceded in death by his father, Chris Lee. A GoFundMe page set up by the Albertville High School Class of 2004 for Lee, a member of that year’s class, said that Chris Lee died in September 2010, just two months before Colton was born. 

Colton and his great-grandmother are scheduled to be buried Thursday following a joint funeral. Reliford’s funeral information was not available online. 

Reliford is the third sibling in her family to become the victim of a homicide. The Arab Tribune in 2012 reported that Reliford, who was blind in one eye and fighting cancer, attended a parole hearing for Victor Wray, the man who shot and killed her brother, Pat Reliford Jr., during a fight in 1995.  

“He’s scum of the Earth, a lower-than-dirt coward,” Martha Reliford said of her brother’s killer in 2012. 

Reliford had been sick since at least 2006, the Tribune reportedAccording to the Advertiser-Gleam in Guntersville, she was still fighting the disease when she was killed. 

Reliford spoke her mind again at Wray’s most recent parole hearing, which took place last summer. 

“I’m eat up with cancer, but I will be at that hearing if I have to crawl,” she said at the time

Reliford’s sister, Ruby Harbin, was shot to death in 2007 at the American Legion in Huntsville. The gunman, William Koller, killed Harbin after she refused to dance with him, AL.com reported

Koller had become obsessed with Harbin, who he had known for some time, the news site reported. He was sentenced to life in prison in her killing. 

‘Not indicative of our city’

Peterson did not detail what led investigators to suspect Spencer in the homicides, but he called his investigators’ work on the case the “most impressive police work (he has) ever personally witnessed.” He said the time from the moment they developed a suspect to the moment Spencer was taken into custody was 42 hours and 16 minutes. 

“Work has been nonstop since Friday, this past Friday at 4:36 p.m., when we received the first call that there was a problem,” Peterson said

Detectives were at Martin’s home, investigating that crime scene, Friday afternoon when a neighbor approached and told them that Reliford had not been seen or heard from in about 10 days. Officers who went across the street to check on her welfare found her body. 

John Young, chief investigator for the Marshall County District Attorney’s Office, said at Tuesday’s news conference that the attack on Martin and Lee and the attack on Reliford did not happen at the same time. 

Spencer is originally from Franklin County in west Alabama, Young said. 

“He’s spent a number of years in the state prison system,” Young said. “He’s not been out of prison that long. How he got here, we’re not totally sure. (He’s) been here for a short period of time, sleeping on park benches, occasionally in hotel rooms around.”

Spencer spent more than 20 years in prison on burglary charges, Peterson said. He has been in the Guntersville area since about January. 

Young said there was no known relationship between Spencer and the victims, but the Advertiser-Gleam reported that Spencer had stayed with Raliford on and off in her home. 

“He wasn’t living there, but he stayed there some and was an acquaintance,” Marshall County District Attorney Everett Johnson told the newspaper. “As for Mrs. Martin and Spencer, the details are unclear.”

Young and Peterson declined Tuesday to discuss the motive for the slayings, but Johnson confirmed for the Advertiser-Gleam what the charges against Spencer indicated -- that the two women were robbed. 

The object of those robberies was cash, Johnson told the newspaper. 

Peterson also declined to say how the victims were killed, but family members of Martin and her great-grandson told the Advertiser-Gleam that both suffered blunt force trauma and that Martin was also strangled.

Reliford’s cause of death remains private, pending official word from state forensic pathologists. Detectives initially thought that her death could be due to natural causes due to her health problems, but her autopsy showed that she had been slain, Peterson said. 

The slayings shocked the community of Guntersville, where even investigators struggled to remember exactly when they had seen the city’s last homicide. 

“This is not indicative of our city in any manner,” Peterson said.  

Peterson said he hopes that the arrest can give the community, particularly the families of the victims, relief. 

“I pray that, although we cannot give the families their loved ones back, we can at least deliver some degree of justice,” the chief said. 

Nonprofit helping pay off mortgage on slain police officer's family home

A nonprofit organization has announced a major donation to help pay off the mortgage on a slain Massachusetts police officer's family home.

Weymouth police Sgt. Michael Chesna, 42, was shot and killed Sunday in the line of duty. 

>> On Boston25News.com: Weymouth police Officer Michael Chesna posthumously promoted to sergeant

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is providing the first $100,000 toward the mortgage and is challenging others to support the family through the initiative.

Any money raised exceeding the mortgage will go directly to Chesna's wife and two children.

>> On Boston25News.com: Court docs: Man stood over Weymouth officer and shot him 10 times

The foundation, established in memory of a fallen 9/11 firefighter, supports military and first responders who are killed in the line of duty. In addition to his service with the Weymouth Police Department, Chesna was also a military veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

>> Read more trending news 

Frank Siller, chairman and CEO of the foundation, will join Weymouth police Chief Richard Grimes at the Weymouth Police Department at 3 p.m. Wednesday to make the official announcement.

Click here if you’d like to donate.

Suspect captured in Houston ‘rampage’ shootings that left 3 people dead, officials say

A registered sex offender wanted in three separate Houston-area slayings since Friday was caught early Tuesday morning following a brief police chase not far from where authorities say his alleged crime spree began.

Jose Gilberto Rodriguez, 46, of Houston, was taken into custody while driving a gray 2017 Nissan Sentra that law enforcement officials said was stolen from one of the victims. 

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said during a media briefing Tuesday morning that an observant citizen called authorities shortly after 6 a.m. to report seeing the vehicle in Cypress, an unincorporated community northwest of Houston. 

“It’s possible that he was casing the area in search of his next victim,” Gonzalez said during the briefing, which was attended and recorded by the Houston Chronicle

A deputy in the area spotted the car and a 14-minute pursuit ensued. Rodriguez was taken into custody just before 7 a.m.

A pistol was recovered from the stolen car, the sheriff said. 

“We’re very relieved this morning,” Gonzalez said about Rodriguez’s capture. 

>> Related story: Shooting deaths at mattress stores in Houston are linked, police say

The sheriff said his agency had deputies positioned in the Cypress area before the suspect was spotted because the first crime attributed to Rodriguez, a July 9 home invasion and robbery, took place less than half a mile from where he was ultimately captured. 

Rodriguez’s parents also live in the area and he grew up there, the sheriff confirmed. 

The first homicide that Rodriguez is suspected of committing also took place in Cypress. Pamela Johnson, 62, was found shot to death in her home there Friday evening. 

Gonzalez said during a news conference over the weekend that Johnson’s family became worried when no one could get in touch with her. The last time family members spoke to Johnson was around noon on July 10, the day after the home invasion about two and a half miles away. 

>> Read more trending news

Detectives investigating Johnson’s slaying found that personal property was stolen, including Johnson’s maroon 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser, the sheriff said. The PT Cruiser was found Saturday evening at Willowbrook Mall after a citizen reported seeing the vehicle aedbandoned in the parking lot.

Mall surveillance video footage showed a man -- later identified by investigators as Rodriguez -- park the vehicle around 11 a.m. that morning. The man was seen on video walking through the mall and exiting the building on the opposite side from where he abandoned the victim’s car. 

Around 7 p.m. that same night, the body of Mattress Firm manager Allie Barrow, 28, was found by a fellow employee, stuffed between two mattresses in the back of the store. The Mattress Firm store where Barrow was slain is in a strip mall across the street from Willowbrook Mall. 

Barrow had been shot in the head, investigators said. 

Gonzalez and Houston police Chief Art Acevedo, who held a joint news conference Monday afternoon to identify Rodriguez as a person of “strong interest” and ask for the public’s help in tracking him down, reported that a third homicide took place that morning at a Mattress One store in Houston, where a man was found shot to death. 

The Nissan Rodriguez was driving when captured was taken from the scene of the Mattress One homicide, officials said. KPRC in Houston identified the victim of that killing as Edward Magana, 57. 

A fourth person, a 22-year-old Metro Lift driver, was also shot in the abdomen and robbed Monday morning in Houston. Acevedo said that the bus driver was expected to survive. 

The motive for the crimes was not known, Gonzalez said Tuesday morning. Neither he nor Acevedo detailed how Rodriguez was tied to all the crimes. 

Rodriguez was released from prison in September, the Chronicle reported. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jeremy Desel told the newspaper that his release was mandated by law, due to the amount of time he’d already served.

Rodriguez, whose violent criminal history dates back to at least 1989, was on parole and was supposed to be on supervised release until 2023. He was ordered to wear an ankle monitor, but the Chronicle reported that he had tampered with it in the days before police and sheriff’s deputies began searching for him in connection with the homicides. 

It was unclear if he was still wearing the disabled device when he was arrested. 

Records accessed by the Chronicle showed that Rodriguez was sent to prison for attempted sex abuse, burglary and auto theft charges in 1989. Then 17, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

While in prison, he was charged in a theft case out of Montgomery County, for which he was sentenced to 10 years, with that time to run concurrently with his sentence on the previous charges. 

Rodriguez was also found with a weapon while serving time, the Chronicle reported. Another 10 years was added to his sentence. 

He served 28 years in prison before his release on parole last fall. Texas’ sex offender registry shows that Rodriguez was classified as high risk. 

Florida woman beat mother to death over absence from will, police say

“You destroyed my life, so I’m going to destroy you.”

With those words, a Florida woman on Thursday night beat to death her 85-year-old mother for leaving her out of her will, , police investigators said. 

Gabriela Perero, 53, of Fort Lauderdale, is charged with premeditated murder and aggravated battery of a person 65 years old or older, according to Broward County jail records. She is being held without bail. 

Perero’s arrest report, which is available online, states that medics with the Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue went to Luisa Perero’s home around 9:15 p.m. Thursday after receiving a report of an elderly woman suffering from chest pains. When they arrived at the elderly woman’s condo, they found Luisa Perero suffering from injuries consistent with a beating. 

They also found Gabriela Perero, who told the medics that she attacked her mother in a rage, the arrest report said. Fort Lauderdale police officers were called to the scene. 

“I guess I’m going to jail. I beat up my mom,” Gabriela Perero said, according to the arresting officer’s affidavit. 

The officer said that Perero continued to make incriminating statements.

“I pushed her down, grabbed her and tore the skin off her arm,” Perero said, according to the affidavit. “I did it all. I don’t want her to die.”

>> Read more trending news

Luisa Perero was taken to Broward Health Medical Center in critical condition, the affidavit said. The victim, whose visible injuries included cuts to the back of her head and skin torn off both arms, was briefly declared dead but emergency personnel were able to restore her heartbeat. 

Suffering from bleeding on the brain, she was placed on life support and died Friday of her injuries. 

Gabriela Perero told investigators she was angry because her siblings were receiving inheritances from their mother, but she was not, despite being the one caring for the elderly woman. According to the arrest affidavit, she told detectives she became enraged over the ongoing dispute and began ransacking her mother’s home, where she was also living temporarily. 

Perero said she broke picture frames and flung around paperwork, but was still angry and turned on her mother, the document said. She said she threw her mother to the floor, causing a bleeding head wound, and grabbed her by the throat. 

It was then that she told her mother she would destroy her, according to the affidavit. 

Perero told investigators that after the beating, she took her mother into the bathroom and washed the blood off her body, the affidavit said. She then put her to bed and called 911. 

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