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Jul 142013
 

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department(MENIFEE, Calif.) — The 16-year-old half-brother of a Menifee, Calif., boy whose body was found in a shallow grave behind his house has been charged with the boy’s murder, officials said.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office charged the 16-year-old with the murder of his 11-year-old half-brother, Terry Smith Jr., on Friday, according to a news release.

ABCNews.com is not releasing the name of the teenager because he is a juvenile.

Investigators originally said Terry was last seen from his family’s Menifee home around 9 p.m. on July 6 and was gone the next morning, according to ABC News’ Los Angeles station KABC-TV.

But the story changed on Wednesday when the brother allegedly told officials that Terry had followed him on the way to a friend’s house the night he disappeared, and when he realized Terry was following him, he told him to go home, KABC-TV reported.

At around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, someone from the Smith home called police to report possible remains in the backyard, according to KABC. Police found a shallow grave about 75 feet from the house when they arrived.

While Shawna Smith, the mother of both Terry and his half-brother declined to comment to KABC-TV, Terry’s aunt, Tracy Armato, called the boy’s death “a double tragedy for our family.”

“While we are in the process of putting Juju to rest, we are also trying to have an understanding of what occurred,” Armato told KABC-TV.

Meanwhile, Terry’s father, Terry Smith Sr., characterized the relationship between the teenager and his younger siblings as troubled.

“Shawna knew [the half-brother's] disposition, she knew that he did get violent with his brothers and sisters, and I begged her to get him the right kind of help,” he told KABC-TV.

The 16-year-old is due in juvenile court at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Calif., Monday afternoon. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has also filed a request for a hearing to decide whether he should be tried as an adult, a news release said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

May 282013
 

KLST/ABC News(EDEN, Texas) — Police on Sunday identified a U.S. Marine accused of a drive-by shooting rampage that left one woman dead and five others injured in Texas, and said they believe he is also be responsible for the death of another woman in North Carolina the day before.

Esteban J. Smith, 23, was killed in a shootout with police early Sunday morning after randomly firing on five vehicles from his pickup truck as he drove around Concho County, Texas, according to Tom Vinger, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Smith is an active duty Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. His rank and service record have not been made public.

He allegedly began the spree around 4:30 a.m. Sunday, opening fire on a vehicle in Eden, Concho County, where a woman was wounded.

He then allegedly fired at a car at a convenience store, injuring two people.

The next shooting occurred at approximately 5:30 a.m. back in Eden, where another woman was injured.

None of the four were seriously hurt.

Just after 6 a.m., the Concho County Sheriff’s Office received a call about shots fired, and when they investigated found a woman shot to death in her car in Eola.

The deceased woman has been identified as Alicia Torres, 42.

When Concho County Sheriff Richard Doane caught up with the suspect about 15 minutes later, Smith allegedly opened fire on his vehicle, wounding him.

Highway Patrol troopers and a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden arrived on the scene, and Smith engaged them in a firefight. He was killed in the shootout.

Police discovered “an assault rifle, a handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition” at the scene, according to Vinger.

Smith has also been linked to the death of another woman, whose body was found on Sunday at the Sunset Inn motel in Jacksonville, N.C., police said.

There are more than 1,500 miles separating the two incidents.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

May 272013
 

Comstock/Thinkstock(BARDSTOWN, Ky.) — Authorities are searching for clues in the shooting death of a Bardstown, Ky., police officer who was ambushed along a highway exit ramp after leaving his car to remove debris from the road.

State police believe the debris was intentionally placed to draw someone out of their vehicle, but they’re not sure whether a law enforcement officer was the target or someone else.

“I’ve been a trooper for 19 years and I’ve never seen anything like this, the level of planning,” Trooper Norman Chaffins with the Kentucky State Police told ABCNews.com. The State Police are the lead agency on the investigation.

K-9 Officer Jason Ellis, 33, was on his way home at 2:53 a.m. Saturday morning when he stopped at an exit ramp along the Blue Grass Parkway in Nelson County, 10 miles from Bardstown. When Ellis began removing debris from the roadway, he was shot multiple times. Kentucky State Police won’t say what the debris was, calling it a crucial part of the investigation.

Shortly after the attack, a passing motorist found Ellis, whose vehicle lights were still flashing, and called police using the radio in the officer’s cruiser. The motorist described the scene as if it was an apparent traffic accident, but when a trooper arrived, it became clear that this was no accidental death.

“We have no suspects at this time, but we don’t believe kids were responsible because of how calculated the crime was. The location was obviously not picked randomly,” said Trooper Chaffins.

“Officer Ellis didn’t even have time to remove his gun,” said the trooper.

The shooting occurred in a rural area and no witnesses have yet come forward. Ellis had a dash-cam installed in his car, but it was not on at the time of the shooting.

Kentucky State Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying anything that seemed unusal or out of place on the exit 34 ramp prior to the shooting.

“The smallest detail that may not seem important to a lay person may be the one detail we need to bring someone to justice,” said investigators in a statement. Citizens are asked to “Text a Tip” or visit the Kentucky State Police online or email a public affairs officer.

Ellis was a seven-year veteran of the Bardstown Police Department and is the first officer killed in the line of the duty for this small agency, located about 40 miles south of Louisville. Ellis leaves behind his wife and two sons.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Apr 132013
 

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) — California police are investigating an alleged murder, confessed anonymously on the internet and brought to the authorities’ attention by citizen sleuths who believe they may have uncovered the poster’s identity.

The San Diego Police Department is picking up where users of the popular website Reddit left off, working to confirm if indeed a murder actually took place and if so, who is responsible, said police spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer.

“This may be a hoax and it may be real,” said Mayer. “We received a tip and our Cold Case Unit is investigating it like any other tip. It may be a hoax, but it’s always a good idea to report this kind of information. Sometimes it’s the one thing that breaks open a case.”

The confession came in an unlikely place, a caption on a photograph of a bear. Reddit users typically admit to innocuous mistakes or misdeeds by adding text to the bear picture to create a meme called Confession Bear.

But this bear had a startling confession.

“My sister had an abusive meth addict boyfriend. I killed him with his own drugs while he was unconscious and they ruled it as an overdose,” a user identified only as Naratto wrote.

Within minutes, the post went viral, with thousands of Reddit users wondering if it was true. Hundreds of others began searching for information about Naratto, looking for clues to his identity – his age, location, occupation – mentioned in other comments he had left previously.

“If I had a dollar for every time someone took me… seriously on the internet, I would be able to retire from today alone,” Naratto, wrote in response to the comments and questions. “If you want to catch a murderer, get out of your house, put on some f***ing tights and go fight crime.”

Users believe the clues point to a 24-year-old San Diego man, and have posted his name and photograph online.

Police said there are currently no suspects because they do not even know if a crime has taken place and therefore won’t name anyone as the subject of an investigation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 272013
 

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo.) — The most recent addition to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list has been taken into custody, according to authorities.

A press release from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department states that Denver FBI officials returned the fugitive, Edwin Ernesto Rivera-Gracias, to Colorado after he had fled to El Salvador.

Rivera-Gracias will face charges in the August 2011 murder of Richard Limon. Limon’s body was found stabbed multiple times with duct tape covering his mouth and nose. Investigators believe Limon was already dead when his body was thrown from the side of a mountain road. A broken-off blade from a steak knife was found lodged in his chest.

According to an affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Russel Humphrey, Rivera-Gracias may have been upset because his girlfriend had told him that Limon molested her and sexually assaulted her mother.

Three other suspects were arrested in connection with the murder in August 2011: Raul Nunez-Soto, Tina Louise Moya and a 17-year-old juvenile female. Nunez-Soto and Moya each plead guilty, receiving sentences of 48 years in prison and 36 years in prison, respectively.

The FBI later launched an international manhunt to find Rivera-Gracias.  A federal judge issued a warrant for his arrest in 2011 for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio