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Texas State fraternity death likely to result in criminal charges

The death of a Texas State fraternity pledge after an off-campus social event will likely result in criminal charges based on a preliminary review of evidence, San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp told the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV Tuesday.

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“I think it is pretty likely we are going to have some kind of criminal case,” Stapp said. “Once we know the complete picture, we will have to have discussions with the district attorney on the most appropriate course of actions. It’s not going to be overnight by any means.”

The death comes about a week after the national chapter of Phi Kappa Psi ordered the Texas State chapter to cease its social activities because of an on-going investigation, university officials confirmed Tuesday. Texas State had launched an investigation Oct. 4 based on a complaint it had received in late September. The university would not disclose the nature of those allegations.

>> Related: Texas State suspends all fraternity, sorority activities after death of Phi Kappa Psi pledge

Stapp said it likely will take a month to six weeks before a decision is made because officials will want to wait for a full autopsy, which he said will be a critical piece of evidence in the case and would show the blood alcohol level for 20-year-old Matthew McKinley Ellis, who was pledging Texas State’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

San Marcos police say Ellis was dead when friends found him around 11 a.m. Monday. The university said he had attended a fraternity event off campus. The university on Tuesday suspended all Greek activity.

“Any death in our community we take seriously and especially the death of a young person like this who had so much ahead of him,” Stapp said. “In any case like this, if there are appropriate charges that can be proven, the intent is to file them,” Stapp said.

Under Texas law, hazing is a Class A misdemeanor unless it results in a death, in which case the charge can be elevated to a felony.

Texas State suspends all fraternity, sorority activities after death of Phi Kappa Psi pledge

Police on Tuesday were investigating the death of a Texas State University sophomore and fraternity pledge, authorities at the university said.

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Texas State President Denise Trauth confirmed in a statement Tuesday that Matthew McKinley Ellis, a Phi Kappa Psi pledge, died after attending an off-campus fraternity event, and she announced an immediate suspension of activities of Greek fraternity and sorority chapters at Texas State.

“These chapters are prohibited from holding new-member events, chapter meetings, social functions, and philanthropic activities until a thorough review of the Greek affairs system is completed,” Trauth said.

University spokesman Matt Flores said Ellis, 20, was a business administration sophomore from Humble.

Police said he was pronounced dead at 12:28 p.m. Monday after medics responded to the off-campus Millennium apartments. Friends discovered him a little after 11 a.m. and first responders got the 911 call at 11:35 a.m., officials said. 

Police believe Ellis was a pledge for Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, based on interviews with those at the scene, San Marcos police said.

According to a preliminary police investigation, alcohol may have been a factor in Ellis’s death, but his autopsy is still pending, police said. The University Star, Texas State’s student newspaper, said Ellis died after his fraternity’s initiation. 

Joanne Smith, vice president for student affairs, is in charge of conducting the review and proposing recommendations for reinstating fraternity and sorority chapters “that demonstrate a commitment to the core values of Texas State and the ideals established by their respective national organizations,” Trauth said. “It is imperative that our entire university community develop a culture that places the highest priority on the safety of its students, faculty, and staff.”

Ellis is the second Texas State student to die since the winter of 2016 after attending an off-campus Greek event. Four Texas state fraternities were handed suspensions in January, ranging from two to five years, for alcohol violations stemming from a party last year in which a 20-year-old student was fatally struck and dragged by a bus near Martindale.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Who was Kevin Janson Neal, suspected gunman in California shooting?

Law enforcement sources have identified the man believed to have killed five people and injured 10 others Tuesday in Rancho Tehama, California, The Associated Press reports.

>> 5 dead, including suspected gunman, in shooting at California home, elementary school

Here's what we know about 43-year-old Kevin Janson Neal:

>> Read more trending news 

>> Click here or scroll down for more

Roy Moore's accuser, wife pictured in yearbook under same high school class, report says

Months before Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore is accused of sexually assaulting her in 1977, Beverly Young Nelson was a sophomore at Southside High School — alongside Moore’s future wife, Kayla Kisor, reports.

>> Here's why people are boycotting Keurig

“Some people are questioning the yearbook that Beverly Young Nelson showed at her press conference yesterday. Here’s what I know about that particular yearbook,” William Thornton of Alabama Media Group wrote on Twitter.

>> Alabama woman says Roy Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16

Although Nelson said she was attending Gadsden High School in December 1977 when she was a waitress at Olde Hickory House, she had attended Southside from 1975 to the summer of 1977. The 16-year-old received her Southside yearbook in the mail that month and brought it with her to the restaurant, where she said Moore sexually assaulted her in a car. In that same yearbook is a picture of her fellow sophomore Kayla Kisor, who went on to marry a man 14 years her senior, Roy Moore.

>> On Texas heavyweights withdraw endorsements for Roy Moore to leave 'final judgment' to the voters

During a press conference this week, Nelson went on to reveal an inscription in her yearbook, which she said was Moore’s. The note, which was dated “Christmas 1977,” indicated that it had been written at Olde Hickory House and read, “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say ‘Merry Christmas.'”

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Moore was 38 years old when he married Kisor, who was 24. According to his autobiography “So Help Me God,” he met her just one year prior at a church Christmas party. He said he had seen her many years before, but did not specify where or how old she was at the time.

The new detail comes as Moore has been accused of pursuing teens when he was in his 30s. In addition to Nelson's allegation, Leigh Corfman said Moore initiated sexual contact with her when she was 14. Moore has denied the allegations, but many within his party, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have called for him to step down.

Man shoots wife, self following argument on drive home from high school reunion

A Texas man shot his wife before turning the gun on himself early Sunday after an argument broke out on their way home from his 20th high school reunion, investigators said.

Officials with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reported that dispatchers received a 911 call just after midnight from Rachel Butler, who said her husband had shot her in the chest before shooting himself in the head at their Montgomery home. Jason Butler, 39, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Rachel Butler told investigators that they attended her husband’s high school reunion Saturday night. According to Jason Butler’s Facebook page, he attended Klein Butler High School in Houston. 

An argument began on the hour-long drive back to Montgomery, and the fight turned physical.

“Once they arrived home, the altercation continued, at which time Jason Butler retrieved a firearm from his vehicle and then shot Rachel Butler one time in the chest,” Sheriff’s Office officials said. “According to Rachel Butler, Jason Butler then shot himself in the head in the front driveway of the residence.”

The Houston Chronicle reported that the couple’s two children, ages 6 and 2, were with family members at the time of the shooting and did not witness it. Rachel Butler, 26, was listed as stable at Conroe Regional Hospital, where a friend told the Chronicle she would remain for at least a week. 

Rachel Butler posted to Facebook Sunday evening from the hospital, where she remained in the intensive care unit. She said she was still having internal bleeding and trouble breathing.

From her hospital bed, she said she forgave her husband.

“The Jason I married was not the Jason who did (those things) last night,” she wrote. “I hope and pray he is in heaven with his daddy, his uncle Doug and many more relatives.”

She also requested prayers for her “sweet babies.”

“Jason and I both knew what it was like to grow up with our fathers being taken from us,” she wrote. 

On Monday, she shared a photo of her husband and their children from 2015, shortly after their son was born. In the image, Jason Butler holds his son while his young daughter gives the baby a kiss.

“All negative comments about him can stop,” Rachel Butler wrote. “This is how I want Jason to be remembered.”

Jason Butler appeared happy and content four days before the attempted murder-suicide, when he posted a note thanking his loved ones for helping him celebrate his Nov. 8 birthday.

“I am truly a blessed man, and by God’s grace have people who touch me in such a way I can only thank him for leading me down whatever path he wants me to go on,” Jason Butler wrote on Facebook. “You are all uniquely special to me. To my family, extended family and Rachel and my two awesome babies, I thank (you) for such a special (birthday) dinner. God bless all of you!”

The Chronicle reported, however, that court records include a divorce filing from about a month before the shooting in which Rachel Butler cited “discord or conflict of personalities.” Friends of the couple said they had gone through rough times, but that Jason Butler seemed to be doing better.

“I will forever miss you, and never understand why you’re not here with us,” a longtime friend, Danny Pechal, wrote on Facebook.  

On Jason Butler’s birthday post, the comments went from statements of love and joy to those of bewilderment, pain, and from some people, ugliness. 

“How do you go from this post to shooting your wife and then yourself?” one of the kinder comments read. “Prayers for all those involved.”

“Jason, our hearts are breaking and we are grieving,” another person wrote. “Praying for all your family. You just don’t know how much you are loved. RIP in God’s embrace, dear friend.”

“May God let Rachel have a full recovery and (may he) have mercy on you,” another woman wrote. “Thank God the kids still have one parent.”

>> Read more trending news

Some commenters wrote about how mental health issues are difficult to deal with, but a woman identifying herself as Jason Butler’s sister countered that he did not have mental health issues.

“(You) people do not know what has been going on,” she wrote. “If (you) did not know my brother, then (you) should keep your insensitive comments to yourself and have some respect for the family.”

Another commenter offered his sister her condolences on the family’s “immeasurable loss.”

“Unfortunately, the coverage of this most unfortunate event has brought out the worst,” the woman wrote. “I pray for healing for everyone involved.”

A friend of Rachel Butler’s created a GoFundMe account to help her bridge the financial gap until she could return to the beauty salon she owns and manages. On Tuesday, the page reported donations of just under $900 in one day. 

Man attacked trying to sell iPhone X at grocery store, cops say

When a man’s ad to sell his $1,300 iPhone X attracted a prospective buyer, he thought he took every precaution to protect himself in the handoff.

David Stowers picked a Publix grocery store on Cobb Parkway in Kennesaw, Georgia, to meet Kevin McGhee just before 8 p.m. Saturday, according to WSBTV.

“It was well lit,” Stowers said. “It had closed-circuit television. It had a lot of traffic.”

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But the safety measures didn’t stop McGhee from snatching the phone, trying to make a run for it and wrestling Stowers to the ground, he told Kennesaw police.

Stowers, 28, ended up with a broken collarbone, WSBTV reported.

McGhee and alleged getaway driver Michael Rogers were arrested in the incident.

It started when Stowers decided to meet McGhee, who responded to his ad on the LetGo app, in the dining area of the grocery store, WSBTV reported.

“We sit down. I take the phone out of the bag. He takes it. He’s looking at it,” Stowers told the news station. “I thought something was wrong, and I got a weird feeling like it’s not going to end well.”

Soon after, McGhee snatched the phone and ran until he was stopped by automatic doors that failed to open, Stowers said. 

That’s when the two started wrestling over the phone, WSBTV reported.

At one point, McGhee slammed Stowers to the ground and a store manager and customer jumped in.

Rogers got out of the car and jumped in, too, WSBTV reported.

“I thought someone might lose their life,” Stowers told the news station.

Warrant: After allegedly raping woman in dorm, college student texted to apologize

A police warrant details the alleged rape by a Kennesaw State University student of a woman on campus earlier this month.

>> Read more trending news

The warrant says Benjamin David Wainscott, of Alpharetta, Georgia, told police he ignored the woman when she told him to “stop,” and he later texted her to apologize.

Police wrote that he invited the woman to dinner and afterward to his dorm room, where he allegedly attacked her.

“Said accused confessed that he should have stopped after the first time the victim ordered him to stop. However, (he) continued having sexual intercourse with the victim,”the warrant stated.

The university previously said the 20-year-old woman was not a KSU student.

The warrant said he texted her “apologizing to the victim for forcing the victim to have sex with him.”

Wainscott has been in the Cobb County Jail without bond since Thursday, according to jail records.

University police records show they have investigated eight forcible sex crimes this year.

>> Related: Police: Out on bond, alleged KSU campus flasher exposes himself to teens

Report: 3 UCLA basketball players to return to US after Chinese officials drop charges

The three UCLA basketball players previously detained by Chinese police on shoplifting allegations were being allowed to return to the United States on Tuesday, according to a report by The Washington Post.

>> Read more trending news

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were questioned and arrested by police after being accused of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to their hotel in Hangzhou, China. The three players were released on bond Wednesday and did not play in Friday’s game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai, China.

>> Related: LiAngelo Ball, UCLA teammates arrested in China could get 10 years in prison if convicted

The report of the players’ release comes hours after President Donald Trump said he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the players’ case.

“They’re working on it right now... Hopefully everything is going to work out,” Trump told reporters on his tour of Asia, according to the Washington Post.

China Sports Insider reported Tuesday the charges of shoplifting were officially dropped for all three players.

6 dead, including suspected gunman, in shooting at California home, elementary school

A shooting in rural Northern California on Tuesday morning left six people dead, including the suspected gunman, and injured multiple people. Authorities were investigating more than half a dozen scenes, including an elementary school, according to reports.

>> Read more trending news

Body found in Tampa neighborhood near recent string of shooting deaths, police say

A man's body was found early Tuesday in the historic Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa, Florida, blocks away from where three people were recently slain, the Tampa Police Department said.

Police said the body was found shortly before 5 a.m. near North Nebraska Avenue and East McBerry Street.

>> On Community in fear of possible serial killer after Tampa slayings

Investigators said Ronald Felton, 60, appears to have died from a gunshot wound. Investigators said he was walking across the street to a food bank at the church.

"We will hunt this person down until we find him," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said during a news conference.

Investigators said they're looking for an African-American man with a light complexion. Investigators believe he's 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall, with a thin build. He was last seen wearing an all black with a baseball cap and was armed with a large black pistol.

The shooting death comes weeks after three people were fatally shot in 10 days within a 1-mile radius.

>> Read more trending news 

Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was killed Oct. 9; Monica Hoffa, 32, was killed in a vacant lot Oct. 11; and Anthony Naiboa, 20, was shot and killed Oct. 19.

Police said they believe October's shootings are linked by proximity and time frame, but they don't have a motive or a suspect.

The three victims didn't know one another, but each person rode the bus and were alone when they were shot on the street. None was robbed.

>> On Watch: Surveillance footage of possible suspect in Tampa homicides

Until they can rule it out, police said they're investigating Tuesday's shooting death as one connected with the neighborhood's previous killings.

Nearby residents were asked to remain in their homes, and bus service was suspended in the area.

Residents have also been asked to make sure their guns are secure.

"If you own a gun and it's in your home, I want you to go to your home right now and find out if your gun is still there," Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said.

No other details were given.

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