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Man accused of beating wife, an online exhibitionist, to death with absinthe bottle

An Alabama man charged with killing his wife, whose slaying last month unveiled her double life as an online exhibitionist, is accused of beating her to death with a bottle of absinthe, court records show.

The partially-clothed body of Kathleen Dawn “Kat” West, 42, of Calera, was discovered lying in the road in front of her home just after 5 a.m. on Jan. 18, Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley said in a Thursday news conference. She lived there with her husband, William Jeffrey West, and their 12-year-old daughter. 

Jeff West, 44, was arrested Thursday and charged with murder. According to Shelby County Jail records, he was being held Friday in lieu of $500,000 bond. 

The couple’s daughter was not home when her mother was killed.

Lemley said Thursday that Jeff West was the department’s chief suspect from the beginning of the investigation, though Kat West’s “online professional activities” warranted investigators’ attention. 

He declined to specify what evidence pointed them toward her husband. 

“Let me say this. We are still restricted, very restricted, on what information that can be given out,” Lemley said. “The case is still under investigation, even though we have made an arrest. But, the case has to go to trial as well.”

The West murder case has shone a national spotlight on small-town Calera, due mainly to the more salacious details of Kat West’s life. Though she described herself on social media as a full-time stay-at-home wife and mother, she operated a subscription-only adult website where she went by the name “Kitty Kat West.” The public page boasted a suggestive photo and promised users that, for a monthly $15.99 subscription fee, they could get more risqué material beyond the paywall. 

Her Twitter account, also listed under her stage name, directs viewers to the paid adult website, as well. Kat West’s bio on the adult site, which was still live as of Friday, described the site, in part, as “hundreds of pics of ALL me, having some naughty fun.”

In the days immediately following the slaying, Kat West’s mother, Nancy Martin, wrote on Facebook that it seemed “impossible for the extreme sadness and grief we feel (over) the loss of our beautiful daughter, Kat, to ever diminish.” She described her daughter as a “cherished wife to Jeff” and a loving mother to their own young daughter. 

A fundraiser in Kat West’s name was established, but quickly ended as the case became more public. 

On Jan. 24, Martin changed her profile picture to one of her daughter and son-in-law. It remained there as of Friday afternoon. 

See Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley’s news conference, recorded by WBRC in Birmingham, below. 

Lemley said that investigators interviewed many witnesses in the case, as well as collecting a lot of evidence that needed to be processed. Four detectives were assigned to the case, two of them full-time. 

“Evidence takes time to process,” the police chief said. “And we have to wait on that evidence to come in so we can connect all the dots.”

Detectives were awaiting analysis on a final piece of evidence from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. That final report was issued on Tuesday and, after a thorough review by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, a warrant was issued for Jeff West’s arrest, the chief said. 

>> Read more trending news 

“We know exactly what happened, for the most part, on this case.” Lemley said. “I mean, we can’t tell you verbatim what was being said one way or the other, but we know what happened that night. We do have evidence to support that.”

The chief credited neighboring Shelby County law enforcement agencies, state agencies and the FBI with assisting in the investigation. 

Lemley again declined to go into detail about the evidence, but Jeff West’s arrest warrant, obtained by AL.com, indicates that Kat West was killed with a bottle of Lucid Absinthe. An autopsy found that the victim died of blunt force trauma to the head. 

The court documents state that, when a 19-year-old neighbor left for work Jan. 18, she found Kat West face-down on the ground in nothing but a sports bra, her body half in the roadway and half in the yard of the home across the street. A cellphone was found nearby, along with a green liquor bottle. 

Lucid Absinthe is sold in green bottles. 

TV news magazine Inside Edition on Jan. 25 aired surveillance footage from R&R Wine and Liquor, in Calera, that shows Kat West, just about eight hours before she was killed, walk into the liquor store with a man who appears to be her husband. In the video, the couple looks happy and playful.

“They came in (and) it looked like they were on their date night,” store clerk Stacey Oglesby told Inside Edition.

The couple bought two things that night: Lucid Absinthe and Jameson Irish Whiskey, Oglesby said. 

Lemley said it was not completely clear what could have happened between the couple’s visit to the liquor store, when they appeared happy, and when Kat West was bludgeoned to death. 

“It’s a domestic. Unfortunately, domestics turn bad pretty quickly,” Lemley said. “Anything can trigger it.” 

Jeff West, a military veteran, works as an unsworn police officer at Birmingham Southern College, AL.com reported. Officials at the school said they are in the process of terminating his employment. 

As of Thursday, Jeff West had not admitted involvement in the crime, Lemley said. 

500 children may need revaccination; Orlando doctor arrested, officials say

An Orlando, Florida, doctor has been arrested for Medicaid fraud.

The Florida Department of Health and the Office of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit said Friday that Dr. Ishrat Sohail is accused of giving vaccines to patients with private insurance. The vaccines were intended for Medicaid patients and uninsured children as part of the Vaccines for Children Program, or VFC, officials said.

>> Read more trending news 

Officials said Sohail is accused of giving patients partial doses of vaccines while billing insurance for the full amount, officials said. The partial doses also may not provide sufficient protection from potentially dangerous diseases that can be prevented with a full dose of vaccine.

The health department is working with the Agency for Health Care Administration and health insurance companies to notify all potentially affected families. At this time, it is estimated that approximately 500 children may have been affected, officials said in a news release.

Read: Florida eye doctor gets 17 years for Medicare fraud

Sohail’s license to practice medicine in the state of Florida has been suspended by the state.

In 2016, the department determined that Sohail administered two vials of VFC vaccines to non-Medicaid patients and billed private insurance companies, officials said. She was suspended from the VFC program for two months. 

Read: Florida doctor facing long Medicare fraud sentence

Officials said Sohail was placed on a corrective action plan, which limited the number of doses of vaccines available to her and in January, she was found to be in noncompliance.

Any child who received a vaccine from Sohail between 2016 and 2018 should contact a new primary care provider and consider revaccination, officials said.

There is also the possibility that Sohail did not follow best practices in maintaining the sterility of the vaccines she administered.

Officials say that, if a child experienced a severe adverse reaction or infection at the injection site of any vaccine administered by Sohail or her staff, patients should contact the Epidemiology Department at the Department of Health in Orange at 407-858-1485.

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Mueller investigation

Rick Gates, a former aide in President Donald Trump's campaign, pleaded guilty to making false statements and conspiring against the United States on Friday, making him the fifth person to enter a guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

READ MORE: Paul Manafort, Rick Gates face new charges: report | Mueller investigation: Lawyer pleads guilty to lying to investigators in Russia probeWho is Rick Gates and why was he indicted by Robert Mueller?Who is Paul Manafort, the man indicted in Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation?What are Paul Manafort and Rick Gates charged with?MORE

Police: TN jailer had 3 weapons, 1,500 rounds of ammo in plan to ‘shoot up’ church

Tennessee police acting on a tip last weekend thwarted a correction officer’s apparent plan to “shoot up” the church his estranged wife attended, officials said. 

Daniel Vernon Toler, 35, of Huron, is jailed at the Wayne County Jail on weapons charges, according to Fox 17 News in Nashville. Toler is a jailer at South Central Correctional Center in Clifton.

Police, acting on the tip, approached Toler at work, where he was found to have an AR-15 assault rifle, two additional weapons and 1,500 rounds of ammunition in his vehicle, the news station reported. An AR-15 is the model of weapon used in the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and faculty members. 

“This is what didn’t happen in Florida,” Brent Cooper, district attorney for Tennessee’s 22nd Judicial District, told Fox 17. “Law enforcement listened to a tip and a potential tragedy was avoided.”

>> Read more trending news

In a news release shared on Facebook, officials stated that the tip was fielded by the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, whose investigators passed the information to the Clifton Police Department because that was where Toler was employed. 

Clifton investigators found Toler at work Sunday morning and, upon searching his vehicle, found the AR-15, an assault-style shotgun and a .17-caliber bolt-action rifle. An arrest warrant in the case stated that the AR-15 had a round in the chamber.

There were also multiple extra, loaded magazines for the assault rifle. 

When questioned, Toler told detectives he planned to potentially carry out the shooting when he got off work that evening, the news release said. 

“There were no specifics how it was going to be done, but (Toler) said the report was credible and that the threat would be possibly carried out after he got off work, which would have been Sunday evening,” Doug Kibbey, Clifton city manager, said in the news release.  

Fox 17 reported that the apparent target was Emanuel Baptist Church in Huron. The head of the church’s security team told the news station that Henderson County sheriff’s deputies call him and warned that Toler had threatened to “shoot up a church and kill himself.”

Toler and his wife, who is a member of the church, are divorcing, the news station said. 

Kibbey said in the news release that he has “the best officers in the state.” Cooper also praised Clifton police officers, particularly Investigator Steve Wilson, who handled the Toler case. 

“It is a very good chance that Officer Wilson’s quick, thorough response saved a lot of lives,” Cooper said. 

Kibbey said the quickness of the joint effort by investigators in Henderson County, Clifton and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is assisting in the case, was “paramount” in getting Toler into custody.

“This could have ended in a bad way,” Kibbey said

Police: Man hit woman with pickup after she refused his advances

A man is accused of hitting a woman with his pickup in Texas after she refused his advances toward her, according to an arrest affidavit.

>> Read more trending news

Carlos Amozurrutia, 27, of Round Rock, was charged with accident involving personal injury, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The victim said Amozurrutia was giving her a ride home Sunday when he began making unwanted advances toward her, the affidavit said. It said she told him to stop so he stopped his pickup and pushed her out. She said that when he drove away, he struck her with the truck, the affidavit said. It said police were alerted at 2:26 a.m. Sunday about the incident in the 400 block of Blockhouse Drive.

The victim had an injury on the left side of her face, and also scratches and red marks on her hands and knees, according to the affidavit. The affidavit does not say how the victim and Amozurrutia knew each other.

A witness who also was in the pickup said she got out of the truck with the victim and saw it strike her, the affidavit said.

It also said two other witnesses who were driving by saw the victim struck and knocked to the ground by an open door on the passenger side when the truck pulled away.

It said the two witnesses told police the driver left without offering to help the victim.

Police stopped Amozurrutia at a nearby gas station for an unrelated offense and were able to identify his truck as the one that hit the victim, the affidavit said.

Amozurrutia was released from the Williamson County Jail on Sunday after posting bail set at $75,000.

Father intentionally killed 5-year-old son, police say

father is in custody after police say he intentionally killed his 5-year-old son at a DeKalb County, Georgia, home Wednesday night.

>> Read more trending news

It was not immediately clear what led to the homicide or how the boy was killed.

According to police, the child lived at a home on Rocky Pine Drive in Lithonia with his grandmother. His parents drove from California for an unannounced visit Wednesday, authorities said.

The boy’s mother and grandmother left the home, returned and “learned that the child had been murdered,” police spokeswoman Shiera Campbell told WSBTV.

Three other children were inside the home at the time of the killing, but were not injured, the news station reported. 

Police have not released the names of the father and child.

"Right now, the father is in custody,” Campbell said. “He is a 25-year-old male.” 

Authorities continued to investigate the incident Thursday.

Cartoonist shares heartbreaking drawing in wake of the Florida school shooting

As people around the nation are grappling with the Feb. 14 massacre in Parkland, Florida, one artist’s work is as heartbreaking as is it is healing.

Pia Guerra opened up about the moment she knew she had to memorialize at least one of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victims in her unique way.

>> PHOTOS: Remembering Parkland Florida school shooting victims

“It’s not often that an image pops in your brain and you feel a lump in your throat,” Guerra told The Washington Post. “I need to get this down before time dilutes it,” she recalled thinking in the early morning as she got the idea to create a sketch in honor of fallen hero Aaron Feis.

When the shooting started last Wednesday, Feis — a school security guard as well as assistant football coach — reportedly stepped between the shooter and students, taking bullets in the act. He was reportedly hospitalized before dying from his wounds.

>> WATCH: Florida school shooting survivors perform emotional song at CNN town hall

In Guerra's sketch, titled “Hero’s Welcome," a girl is taking Feis’ hand to lead him back to a crowd of people as she says, “Come on Mister Feis! So many of us want to meet you!”

>> See the image here

Although she considers herself an atheist and said the image isn’t meant to represent “angels and heaven,” Guerra, 46, wanted to capture the idea that “all these brave, beautiful, vibrant people should still be with us.”

“Wherever all these wonderful people are, they’re not here,” she told the Post. Guerra reportedly wanted to visually portray the sheer number of people lost in mass school shootings, while also leaving the image open for people to find their own meanings.

>> Marco Rubio faces a tough crowd during CNN's town hall for gun reform

“This is who they are. This is all that we lost,” she said, adding, “When you leave something open enough to interpretation, more people can find something in it.”

Although most people have been touched, Guerra’s tribute has drawn some ire from people who think she did not well-represent the various races of all those who died in mass shootings, rather than just white people.

“That was a direct result of rushing and not paying more attention to the makeup of the crowd, and maybe making a point about how these things always seem to happen in white suburbia and totally mucking it up,” Guerra said, promising to “do better.”

>> On Rare.us: Football coach died shielding students from gunfire during Florida high school shooting

In the past, Guerra has used her cartoons to vent, but this one was especially “emotional.” She plans on creating more of these works relating to the shooting, and encourages more people to remain involved in its aftermath.

“It’s more emotional, it’s more personal … a gut reaction,” she said. “This is a whole other level.”

>> Read more trending news 

She added: “We should be engaged in this. We should use our voices … whatever it is we have to amplify what’s important to us.”

Feis was one of three faculty members and 14 students killed on Valentine’s Day when authorities said former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire on his high school with an AR-15. He was arrested following the shooting and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He is currently being held without bond.

(H/T Indy 100)

WATCH: Florida school shooting survivors perform emotional song at CNN town hall

Survivors of last week's deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, performed an emotional song Wednesday night to close a CNN town hall on gun control.

>> Watch the clip here

According to CNN, members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Drama Club wrote and performed the song, "Shine," at the event at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

>> Marco Rubio faces a tough crowd during CNN's town hall for gun reform

"You're not gonna knock us down / We'll get back up again / You may have hurt us but I promise we are stronger and / We're not gonna let you win / We're putting up a fight / You may have brought the dark / But together we will shine a light," the chorus says.

Minutes earlier, Max Schachter read a poem titled "Life Is Like a Rollercoaster" by his son, Alex, who was killed in the shooting. 

>> Watch the reading here

>> Read more trending news 

The tributes followed a heated town hall moderated by CNN's Jake Tapper and featuring lawmakers from Florida, including Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch also participated in the event.

Alabama police officer shot, killed; suspect dead

An Alabama police officer who was shot Tuesday night has died, authorities say.

>> Read more trending news 

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones calls arming teachers 'the dumbest idea I've ever heard'

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) called an Alabama push to arm teachers “the dumbest idea [he had] ever heard” and “crazy.”

>> 5 things to know about Doug Jones, winner of the Alabama Senate race

Alabama’s state House is considering a bill that would allow teachers to carry firearms. State Rep. Will Ainsworth – who is sponsoring the bill – introduced it during a press conference at an Alabama elementary school. Ainsworth, a Republican, said teachers carrying guns would be required to undergo 40 hours of training before being certified to carry a gun in the classroom, AL.com reports. The state won’t pay for a teacher’s gun.

>> Trump sends memo to DOJ asking for bump stock ban after Parkland massacre

Ainsworth said the law was about giving kids “a fighting chance.”

“The only way we can do that is to have people armed in the schools to fight back,” he said.

>> Read more trending news 

But to Jones, the new law doesn’t make any sense. He told WKRG: “I think that’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. I think it’s crazy. You don’t need 40 to 50 guns in there, and it’s a cost issue. You’re going to have to train those teachers. You don’t need to arm America in order to stop this; you just need to be smart about it.”

Jones was elected to the upper chamber in December after a heated race with Republican candidate Roy Moore. The former U.S. attorney has advocated for gun control in the past while simultaneously being a Second Amendment supporter. During the Senate race, the National Rifle Association spent almost $55,000 on mailers against him. He was the first Democrat elected to a Senate seat from Alabama in over two decades.

>> On Rare.us: A CNN panelist thinks the FBI didn’t act on the Nikolas Cruz warning because of his race

This isn’t the first time that pro-gun politicians have suggested arming educators, but the notion is getting another push in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 dead. A sheriff in one of Florida’s biggest counties said his department is putting together a program to train and arm teachers. Even Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been asked about the idea, although she declined to take a stand on the issue, instead saying: “I think this is an important issue for all states to grapple with and to tackle. They clearly have the opportunity and the option to do that and there are differences in how states approach this.”

Rare reached out to Sen. Doug Jones’ office but received no comment.

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