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  • Harrowing new details about murder of pregnant Chicago teen revealed as suspects appear in court
    by Leighton Schneider on May 18, 2019 at 11:57 pm

    iStock/Marilyn Nieves(CHICAGO) — Grim new details have emerged about the murder of a pregnant teenager whose baby was cut from her womb, as prosecutors described how the teen was lured by a Facebook ad for free baby clothes and her accused killer claimed the baby as her own. “Words really cannot express how disgusting and thoroughly disturbing these allegations are,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference. Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, 19, was 9 months pregnant when she was killed and she is survived by a 3-year-old child. Her baby is in grave condition at a hospital with no brain activity, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors in Chicago have charged Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her daughter Desiree Figueroa, 24, with the murder. At the news conference, they detailed what they say happened in excruciating detail. They allege that Clarisa Figueroa posted an offer of free baby clothes on a Facebook page called “Help a Mother Out,” which they described as a group that offers access to baby items for “families in need,” and that Ochoa-Lopez responded to the post and arranged to meet Figueroa at her Chicago-area home. Desiree Figueroa is alleged to have distracted Ochoa-Lopez with a photo album of Clarisa Figueroa’s dead adult son so that Clarisa Figueroa could strangle the teen with a cable. At one point, Ochoa-Lopez was able to slip her fingers between her neck and the cable, keeping herself from being strangled, and, according to Murphy, this prompted the elder Figueroa to yell at her daughter, “you’re not doing your f—— job!” “Defendant Desiree then stepped up and began to peel the victim’s fingers from the cable one by one,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy told reporters. Clarisa and Desiree Figueroa have been charged with murder, while Clarisa Figueroa’s 40-year-old boyfriend Piotr Bobak has been charged with helping to cover up the alleged crime. All three appeared in Cook County Court Friday and were denied release on bail. Julie Contreras, the spokeswoman for Ochoa-Lopez’s family, said that the family is asking for “justice for Marlen.” “Today is a sad day. Today is a day of anguish that this family is living through. A nightmare, a horror film,” Contreras told reporters at court. Murphy said that following Ochoa-Lopez’s murder, Clarisa Figueroa brought the baby to a nearby hospital, where it was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. Clarisa Figueroa then allegedly formed a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise money for the baby, who she was passing off as her own. Bobak shared a link to the fundraiser on his Facebook page, Murphy said. When police arrived at Figueroa’s house on May 14 to execute a search warrant, police reportedly saw Bobak cleaning a rug with bleach. Police later found Ochoa-Lopez’s body in a trash can on the property. Investigators believe the murder took place on April 23. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. […]

  • Former homeless student overcomes extraordinary odds to graduate from Georgetown University
    by Leighton Schneider on May 18, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – Rashema Melson is no stranger to adversity. The 23-year-old, who had lived for three years in a Washington, D.C. shelter, made headlines as the valedictorian of Anacostia High School’s Class of 2014 with a full scholarship to Georgetown University. On Saturday, Melson graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in justice and peace studies — the first person in her family to graduate from college. Her next steps are a job at a service organization in D.C. and law school, she told ABC affiliate WJLA-TV. Melson spoke with ABC News last week, sharing her path to graduation and some of the hardships she endured throughout her life. She grew up in southeast D.C., bouncing between public housing and homelessness, living in the infamous D.C. General Family Shelter — the notoriously-troubled mega-shelter which closed last October. She even, at one point, lived in an abandoned house. Melson said she used to wake up to the sting of bed bug bites, constantly changed schools and ate food straight from the can because there were no plates. “My life has always been rough,” Melson told ABC News. “Homeless or not, in Southeast, it’s rough, regardless,” she explained. “The circumstances are just rough due to the fact that we don’t have the tools or resources as everyone else.” Reading and education helped Melson focus and imagine a different life for herself, and the support of her friends motivated her to finish her studies. She left Georgetown after her freshman year to get married, and when the marriage didn’t work out, it was her friends who successfully urged her to return to Georgetown and complete her degree. To people going through difficult situations, her advice is that things always get better in time. “Just know that your blessing is there waiting for you, you just have to go get it,” she said. Melson told ABC News that she hopes someday that Americans will be able to entertain a more expansive view of homelessness. “How do you know that I am homeless? Because, am I supposed to look dirty? Am I supposed to stink? What does that mean?” she wondered aloud. “It’s not offensive when people do it but you really can’t tell anything from looking at a person.” Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. […]

  • Coach who disarmed alleged gunman at Oregon school says he’s ‘blessed to be alive’
    by Leighton Schneider on May 18, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    Portland Police Bureau(NEW YORK) — The “hero” football coach who disarmed an alleged gunman at an Oregon high school said Saturday he “put his life on the line” for his students because he didn’t have “any other choice but to act.” Keanon Lowe, who coaches football and track and field at Parkrose High School, wrestled the alleged gunman, Angel Granados Dias, 18, to the ground when police say the suspect brought a weapon on campus Friday afternoon. “When I signed up to be a Security Guard, Football and Track & Field Coach for Parkrose High School, I did so to guide and coach young people whose shoes I had once been in,” he tweeted Saturday. “I had no idea, that I would one day have to put my life on the line like I did yesterday for my students.” Lowe said when Granados Dias allegedly went to the school and put his students in danger, there was no option but to try to stop him. “When confronted with the test the universe presented me with, I didn’t see any other choice but to act,” he continued in the tweet. “Thank God, I passed.” No one was injured in the Friday afternoon scare, police said. “I’m blessed to be alive and extremely happy that the students are safe,” Lowe tweeted. Officers apprehended Granados Dias and recovered the weapon he allegedly brought to the school. He was charged with possession of firearm in a public building, attempting to discharge a firearm at a school, reckless endangerment, and possession of a loaded firearm in a public place, police said. Students told ABC affiliate KATU-TV that Lowe, formerly a star wide receiver with the University of Oregon Ducks, saved the day. “He’s a hero,” one student told KATU on Friday. A police sergeant said the shooting threat ended with the “best-case scenario.” “The staff members from all accounts did an excellent job,” said Portland Police Sergeant Brad Yakots. Police said the investigation was ongoing. But Lowe said the experience has been a blur, and has made him reflect on life and gun violence in schools. “I’ve spent the last 24 hours being more appreciative of my family and realizing we have a serious problem,” he said. “I’m not sure what’s next, I haven’t had the time to really think about it,” he added. “But I am sure I want to be a part of the solution to school gun violence.” I’m blessed to be alive and extremely happy that the students are safe. I’m not sure what’s next, I haven’t had the time to really think about it. But I am sure I want to be a part of the solution to school gun violence. Thank you @PortlandPolice for your help #ParkroseHighSchool— Keanon Lowe (@KeanonLowe) May 18, 2019 Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. […]

  • Mother of Maleah Davis, the missing 4-year-old Houston girl: ‘I want to hope’
    by Leighton Schneider on May 18, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    KTRK-TV(HOUSTON) — The mother of a four-year-old Houston girl who has been missing for two weeks says she hopes her child is still alive, even as suspicion mounts that her ex-fiance might have had a role in the girl’s murder. “As a mother, I want to hope that she is (still alive),” Brittany Autumn Bowens, 26, told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston. Her daughter, Maleah Davis, has been missing since May 3. “I’m devastated. This is my daughter, that I carried.” Last Saturday, Texas prosecutors charged Derion Vence, 26, Bowens’ former fiance who was living with the family when Maleah disappeared, with tampering with evidence. In setting bail at $1 million, the Texas judge noted that Davis had recently suffered a brain injury and undergone surgery while in Vence and Bowens’ care. Surveillance footage shows Maleah and Vence walking into the family’s apartment on April 30 — the same day that Bowens left town for her father’s funeral — and after that, Maleah was not seen again, according to KTRK-TV. Additional surveillance footage from a neighbor shows Vence leaving the couple’s apartment on May 3 with his son and a laundry basket. Later, police found a laundry basket in Bowens’ car and cadaver-sniffing dogs detected the scent of human remains in the car. Prosecutors also said that police found blood in the apartment that matched Davis’s DNA. During Vence’s court appearance, prosecutors detailed what Vence had told police about the little girl’s disappearance. Vence said that he left the apartment on May 3 with Maleah and his son in Bowens’ Nissan Altima. When he stopped to check the car’s tires, Vence told police, he was carjacked, assaulted and kidnapped by a group of people he described as Hispanic men. Vence said that when he regained consciousness, his son was with him but Bowens’ daughter was not. He said a good Samaritan then drove him to the hospital, according to prosecutors. Bowen told KTRK that she had been away from home to bury her deceased father, and had returned to find out that her daughter had disappeared. “How did I get to this place?” Bowens said through sobs. When asked why she had left Davis with Vence, she said, “Because I trusted him.” “I am a good mother. I’m hurting just like everybody else and I want answers too,” Bowens said. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. […]

  • Feds cite ‘overwhelming evidence’ against cop in alleged plot to kill her husband
    by SL on May 18, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    iStock(NEW YORK) — A NYPD officer allegedly paid her boyfriend $7,000 to help her hire a hit man to murder her estranged husband and the boyfriend’s teen daughter, according to court records.But the boyfriend turned out to be cooperating with authorities, and following a dramatic law enforcement ruse in which the cop was shown a picture on Friday morning of her husband appearing to be dead in his car, she allegedly began discussing her alibi with the boyfriend in case she was questioned, according to court records.The boyfriend was wearing a recording device, according to authorities, and the entire conversation was captured on audio and video.That’s when investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) moved in and arrested her.Officer Valerie Cincinelli, 34, of Oceanside in Nassau County on Long Island, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder and held without bail following a hearing late Friday afternoon.Prosecutors argued in a detention memo filed in court on Friday that “the evidence in this case is overwhelming.””The defendant was captured on audio and video recording planning the murders, and, once she was advised that the murder of John Doe was effected, she was captured on audio and video planning her alibi and destroying evidence of her involvement in the crime.”Cincinelli, who has been on the job since 2007, had been on modified assignment since 2017 because of prior domestic incidents involving the boyfriend and the estranged husband, law enforcement sources said.In the memo, prosecutors noted that Cincinelli’s first husband obtained a restraining order against her in 2014, that both she and her estranged husband have existing restraining orders against each other, and that she had a “volatile history” with the boyfriend — who tipped off authorities to the alleged murder plot.Cincinelli first approached the boyfriend about having her estranged husband — and his teen daughter — murdered in February, and continued discussions with him in person and on the phone, according to court records.The boyfriend told her he knew someone who would commit the murders for $7,000, which he would convert into gold coins to pay off the hit man. Cincinelli allegedly withdrew the $7,000 in cash from a Long Island bank in February, court records show. He then used the money to purchase five ounces of gold coins, according to authorities. The murders were supposed to take place last weekend, officials said in court records.The estranged husband was to be murdered near his office on Long Island, and Cincinelli and the boyfriend allegedly discussed how the killing “would not look suspicious because the murder would take place in ‘the hood’ or ‘the ghetto,'” according to court records.At one point, according to court records, Cincinelli seemed to become anxious about why the boyfriend’s teen daughter had not yet been killed. After the boyfriend allegedly informed her that the hit man would not commit the murder near the child’s school.”OK, so she leaves school, you said he knows exactly where she lives, right?” Cincinelli is alleged to have asked him. “So what’s the problem?”At another point she allegedly told the boyfriend to tell the hit man to “run her the [expletive] over, how about that.”On Friday morning around 10 a.m., Suffolk County police arrived at Cincinelli’s home to notify her that her estranged husband had been murdered — but it was all part of an FBI-orchestrated ruse.”Then, almost immediately after the Detective left the home, Cincinelli began to discuss…her alibi — specifically what she would tell the police if she were to be questioned about the death,” prosecutors wrote in a detention memo filed on Friday.Then, at 10:48 a.m., according to court records, an FBI agent posing as the hit man texted a picture of the husband, appearing to be dead in his car, to the boyfriend. Along with the picture, the agent texted a demand for another $3,000 in order to carry the murder of the boyfriend’s minor daughter, identified in court papers as “Jane Doe.””In response, Cincinelli instructed the [confidential informant] to delete the text messages and photographs, citing her fear that law enforcement could subpoena the phone,” prosecutors wrote.The identity of the boyfriend was not disclosed in court papers, and it remains unclear how he first came into contact with the NYPD.The target of the alleged attack — Isaiah Carvalho Jr., according to his attorney Matt Weiss — only learned of the purported plot on Friday.”He found out today, just like everybody else,” Weiss told ABC News.Weiss said that his client is grateful to law enforcement officials and that “all things considered, he sounds OK.”Carvalho Jr. sued her for divorce in Nassau County, according to court records cited by the New York Post, and a trial was set to begin next month.Weiss issued a statement late on Friday saying his client is “still in shock.””At the outset, Mr. Carvalho would like to thank law enforcement for all of their diligent efforts,” Weiss said in the statement. “Mr. Carvalho is still in shock and is attempting to process the events, which have transpired over the past 24 hours. At this time, Mr. Carvalho and his family would appreciate the press honoring their privacy.”It was not immediately clear whether Cincinelli had retained a defense attorney. She was represented in court on Friday by a federal public defender, who could not immediately be reached. The New York Police Benevolent Association, which represents New York police officers, did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.Cincinelli’s father told ABC News that his daughter was being set up by the boyfriend, whom he declined to identify.In a telephone interview as he drove north from his home in Virginia to New York City to try and assist his incarcerated daughter, Louis Cincinelli said the boyfriend had once accused her of pulling a gun on him and threatening his life, only to allegedly recant that accusation in criminal court in New York”I don’t know what happened but I do know my daughter and i knew this was not true when I first heard it. She was going out with some wacko pathological liar who had her locked up once before, saying that she pulled a gun on him and threatened to kill him, but then he went to court and said in open court, he recanted it and said he had made it up. Now … she throws this bum out again and two weeks later this happens.””But she’s the biggest idiot for being with him,” he continued. “I don’t know. I don’t understand these kids. But I know my daughter. She wouldn’t do this. She’s a domestic violence officer, and she knows that that’s not the way to handle something like this, to knock somebody off.”Cincinelli worked as a domestic violence officer in the 106th Precinct in Queens, according to the NYPD, but had been working on the modified duty since 2017 in a unit that monitors video surveillance cameras at city housing projects.”I guarantee you,” the distraught father continued, “the bottom line is going to be that it turns out she didn’t do this.”The FBI and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau brought the case against Cincinelli. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. […]