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Retired Navy veteran accused of killing girl found on lawn of Charlotte church

A retired Navy veteran was arrested Wednesday in connection with the murder of Ashanti Billie, 19, whose body was found on the lawn of a church in northwest Charlotte in September.

>> Read more trending news

Eric Brown, 45, is suspected of having abducted Billie, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Sept. 18 as she arrived for work at a Blimpie’s restaurant on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach, according to court documents.

Brown has been charged with murder and kidnapping. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police also charged Brown with murder.

Brown was first arrested for separate charges in Virginia last month before detectives linked him to Billie’s death, officials said.

Charlotte resident Warren Stukes said that his children grew up with Brown and he was shocked at the age of the woman he is accused of murdering.

"Nineteen? That's even worse," Stukes said. “That's a young girl who has not lived her life. He lived his life."

On Sept. 29, Billie’s body was found in a wooded area behind East Stonewall AME Zion Church about 300 yards from Brown’s childhood home.

Police said Billie was the subject of a missing persons investigation in Norfolk, Virginia. She had been missing since Sept. 18.

"She was happy here,” Ashanti Billie’s mother, Brandy Billie, said about Virginia Beach. “She liked it here and to think this is where it ended for her."

Brown, who spent 21 years in the Navy, worked as a day laborer and helped with the construction of the Blimpie’s this past summer.

Brown was homeless and lived in random facilities and buildings on and off the naval bases, police said.

Billie’s coworkers said that Brown would visit the Blimpie’s almost every day, and that he was seen so often in the neighboring buildings, that they believed Brown worked there.

Video surveillance recorded Billie’s car entering the base at 4:58 a.m. Sept. 18 and circling the Blimpie’s at 5 a.m.

The driver of the vehicle in both videos was a person wearing dark-colored clothing, consistent with the clothing Billie was reportedly wearing.

Video surveillance recorded a person in light-colored clothing in Billie’s car driving out of the base at about 5:33 a.m.

At about 5:44 a.m., residential video surveillance recorded a person wearing light-colored clothing, driving a car consistent with Billie’s, stop at a construction dumpster in Norfolk.

A few hours later, construction workers found Billie’s cellphone in the dumpster.

Billie’s car was found in Norfolk on Sept. 23.

Inside the car, agents recovered Billie’s pants, which contained dirt and debris. The undercarriage of the car also contained dirt and vegetative debris.

Several witnesses described seeing a car like Billie’s during the week of Sept. 18 parked at various locations in Charlotte neighborhoods, near where Billie’s body was found. The property where the body was found is owned by and located next to the church where Brown attended vacation Bible school as a child.

"To know that this man took the time out to go back to the church where he went to Bible study at when he was a child, like how do you do that? That's sickening," said Kimberly Wimbish, a spokeswoman for Billie’s family.

Brown’s wireless internet usage data indicated that he used his mobile devices nearly every day from Sept. 1 to Sept. 29.

The only day in that time period that there was no usage data is Sept. 18, which is the day Billie went missing, police said.

Brown’s wireless internet usage data also indicated that he was on the base from Sept. 14 until late in the evening of Sept. 17, which is when all usage data stopped until starting again Sept. 19.

A review of security camera video from all of the gates on the base revealed no evidence of Brown ever leaving the base from Sept. 14 through Sept. 18.

A records check of base entry logs indicated that Brown re-entered Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek on the afternoon of Sept. 19.

During an Oct. 27 interview with law enforcement, Brown told agents he was on the base in Little Creek on the evening of Sept. 17, and that at one point, he blacked out and had no recollection of what he did for several days after that.

When discussing the abduction and murder of Billie, Brown confirmed that he could not remember if he did anything to Billie, according to law enforcement. 

In federal documents, a witness said Brown told them he hated African-American women.

"It is disgraceful and I will not accept PTSD," Wimbish said of Brown’s claims regarding his memory.

Brown appeared in court Wednesday and is being held in Norfolk.

"For me, I'm looking to stack every charge that we can put on him," said Ashanti Billie’s father, Meltony Billie.

Eric Brown’s family member, DeVona Brown Alleyne, released the following statement Wednesday evening:

"Along with multiple communities along the East Coast, we, the Brown family, are deeply saddened at the tragic loss of Ms. Ashanti Billie’s life. We cannot imagine the impact her death has on those lovingly connected to her. Although we are shaken by the recent arrest made, our immediate concern is for those who knew and loved Ms. Billie, and we pray for them to be supported in every way possible. No amount of insight that we could provide would take back the pain they are currently feeling and will likely experience in days, months and years to come. Respectfully, we will offer no additional comment regarding these devastating events."

Nicki Minaj’s brother, Jelani Maraj, convicted in child rape case

Jelani Maraj, the brother of rapper Nicki Minaj, has been found guilty of  predatory sexual assault on a child younger than 13 years old. 

He was tried in Nassau County, New York.

People reported that the conviction on Thursday also included endangering the welfare of a child, according to Nassau County District Attorney Spokesman Brendan Brosh.

>> Read more trending news

The charges say Maraj repeatedly raped an 11-year-old girl at his home in Long Island while the girl’s mother was at work. Brosh said prosecutors alleged the girl was repeatedly raped between April and November 2015.

The victim, who is now 14, testified in detail about the multiple sexual assaults. The girl’s younger brother also testified that he witnessed one incident.

Neither Maraj nor Minaj testified during the trial.

Brosh said Maraj was stoic when the verdict was read. According to Maraj’s lawyer, he will appeal.

Maraj was arrested for in connection with the case on Dec. 2, 2015. He was released from custody on $100,000 bail, reportedly backed by two homes owned by Minaj, according to People.

The Associated Press reported that Maraj, 38, was walked out in handcuff and bail was revoked after the sentencing. 

“Justice demanded that this defendant be held accountable for these heinous acts and we are thankful to the jury for their careful deliberation,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement to People. “We hope that today’s verdict will help the family in the healing process and that it will close this terrible chapter in their lives.”

A representative for the rapper did not immediately respond to a request for comment from People or The AP. She has never commented publicly about the charges.

Maraj is at Nassau County Jail until his sentencing Dec. 14. He faces 25 years to life in prison.

Teen shot in head is back to playing basketball after more than a year in recovery

Last year, a Chicago Public Schools honor student was shot in the head and has since made an unbelievable comeback Tuesday night. Damari Hendrix is back on the basketball court this week for the first time since a random shooting nearly took his life.

>> Read more trending news

According to WGN, Hendrix had to go through surgery three times and spent four days in a medically induced coma. He also was forced to learn to walk and talk again. But now he’s running, and his coach says he’s also redefining what’s possible.

>> On Rare.us: There’s a sad statistic about shooting deaths, influenced by Chicago

“Watching them practice, it’s impossible to believe that not long ago, one of these young men lay dying from a gunshot wound to the head,” Brian Rose, Hendrix’s coach, said. Last Labor Day weekend in a park near his home, Hendrix came close to his life ending.

“We just heard ‘shooter,’ and everybody got up running and stuff and I didn’t know I was shot until later on, I was running, my body started shutting down and stuff. I couldn’t see, walk, talk, run no more,” he said.

>> On Rare.us: Facebook Live video catches a fatal Chicago shooting that ended a toddler’s life

Hendrix came back on the court with his teammates at Foreman High School for the first time in 14 months – and all he can do is grin. Hendrix is still working on some fine motor skills but you wouldn’t know by watching him practice – dunking a couple of times.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“I get a second chance at life. I thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said. “Up. I only want to go up, get better and better every day.”

Toddler slams into windshield after Florida woman chases boyfriend at 90 mph, deputies say

A woman in Pinellas County was arrested Sunday after a 3-year-old girl flew into the windshield of her car from slamming on the brakes in a 90 mph car chase, deputies said. 

>> Watch the news report here

Before the incident, Justine Olesky, 33, got into a physical fight with her boyfriend while the toddler stood next to her, WFTS reports. 

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: Florida couple had heroin, loaded gun in car with child

Once the boyfriend left, Olesky put the girl in the passenger seat of her car without a seat belt, and then chased after him going 90 mph in a residential neighborhood, according to Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputies. 

>> Read more trending news 

Olesky hit the brakes when she saw her boyfriend, causing the 35-pound child to eject forward and hit her head on the windshield, deputies said. Deputies said the girl hit her head so hard it shattered part of the windshield, leaving blonde strands of hair in the glass, WFTS reports. 

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: VIDEO: Florida women violently beat driver unconscious in road rage incident

When deputies arrived to the scene, they said Olesky did not seem concerned about the child and “continued to talk about her boyfriend,” WFTS reports. 

The child was taken to a local hospital and fortunately did not suffer serious injuries, deputies said. 

Olesky faces charges of child abuse and domestic battery. She is being held at the Pinellas County Jail on a $12,500 bond, according to jail records. 

Read more here.

Python found hidden in man's pants after drunken argument, police say

Police in the southwestern German city of Darmstadt got the shock of their lives when they discovered a python in the pants of a 19-year-old man they had just arrested after a drunken argument, The Guardian reports.

The man was reportedly detained after local residents complained about the loud argument he was having with another man. While searching him, officers noticed a “significant bulge in his trousers,” according to a police statement.

>> On Rare.us: An escaped lynx is blamed for the deaths of 7 sheep near where she went missing

The man then confessed to the officers that he had been concealing a live snake in his pants, and proceeded to reveal a 14-inch royal python — also known as a ball python, authorities said.

He was placed in a cell to sober up and the snake was put in a box. Police said they were trying to track down the python’s owner and examining whether “the non-species-appropriate transport” contravened animal protection regulations. It added that officers were investigating whether any animal protection laws had been broken.

>> Read more trending news 

The ball python is one of 26 python species. They typically inhabits dry grasslands when in the wild, according to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. Their diet largely consists of small rodents, and they tend to live about 20 to 25 years in captivity.

Substitute teacher removed from classroom amid sexual battery charges

An Ohio substitute teacher was removed from the classroom and arrested for what Kettering Fairmont High School officials are calling possible “inappropriate activities” with a student.

>> Read more trending news

“We became aware (the teacher was) possibly involved with inappropriate activities with a juvenile,” Kettering Superintendent Scott Inskeep said. “When we become aware of them, then we will remove those people and not have them around our students.”

Inskeep identified the substitute teacher as Madeline Marx, 23, of Brookville. She was booked into jail on two counts of sexual battery, according to police.

Police were notified of the allegations against Marx around 8 a.m. Wednesday, and by 11:45 a.m. the same day, she was arrested after a detective found probable cause for her arrest, Kettering police Lt. Mike Gabrielson said.

According to state records, Marx was issued a four-year teaching license in 2016 to instruct grades K-12.

Inskeep said Marx served as a substitute for the district last year and this year.

Gabrielson could not release any specific details about the accusations, or whether the accused activities happened inside or outside the school, but added that official charges will be presented to the county prosecutor’s office within 48 hours.

Marx has had no previous incidents with Kettering police, Gabrielson said.

94-year-old woman escapes through trunk after abduction, police say

A 94-year-old woman is recovering Wednesday after police said she escaped from the trunk of a car hours after she was abducted from her home in Scottsdale, Arizona.

>> Read more trending news

Scottsdale police Sgt. Ben Hoster told KPNX that a man knocked on Tuesday morning on the door to the woman’s apartment. Hoster told KNVX that the man forced his way into the woman’s home, located near 68th Street and Camelback Road, around 6 a.m. The woman was bound, put into her car’s trunk and driven away from the scene, according to police.

Holster told KNVX the woman was able to free herself hours later, around 1:30 p.m., while the car was parked at the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall.

A passerby spotted her and called authorities, AZCentral.com reported. She was taken to a local hospital, where she was last listed in serious condition, according to the news station.

Neighbor Laura Davidson told AZCentral.com that she was shocked to hear of the woman’s abduction.

“She was the first one to welcome me when I moved here,” she told the news station. “She came over and said hello and shook my hand, and she was just the sweetest woman.”

Police said the suspect was described as a “clean-cut” white man in his mid-30s.

"The suspect that we're dealing with is very dangerous person,” Hoster told AZCentral.com. “We definitely want to get this person in custody as soon as possible.”

Authorities continue to investigate the case.

Deputies: Florida couple shot themselves, staged home invasion for insurance money

Investigators in Volusia County, Florida, said a couple shot themselves as part of an elaborate, fabricated story about a home invasion.

Sheriff Mike Chitwood said it was all part of a plan to get thousands of dollars from the company that manages their rental home.

>> Read more trending news

Deputies surrounded the Hayward Avenue home in Deltona on Oct. 26 in search of two men that the couple said had busted a sliding glass door and shot the two people inside.

Chitwood said the neighborhood was put on edge needlessly.

“They make up this story to create a scam so they can sue the homeowner because he wouldn’t fix a locked door,” Chitwood said. “In the process of doing that, they put fear and panic in the city of Deltona.”

Investigators said Lindsey Pelton, 36, and Doug Teixeira, 35, shot themselves, staged the crime scene and tried to clean things up.

Chitwood said deputies found dry blood and the smell of bleach when they went inside the home.

"We found a .22-caliber gun hidden. When they were confronted, they said, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, the home invaders didn't bring their own gun. They got ahold of our gun.’ I mean, the story just fell apart and it stunk from the very beginning."

Deputies said the couple claimed to have been in the shower when masked intruders came in, but authorities determined that the shower and bath mat were dry. According to a report, a TV was lying on the floor but wasn’t damaged.

Deputies also said surveillance video in the area did not show anyone entering the home.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories 

The couple told deputies a small safe with $7,000 and jewelry inside was stolen from the home, but deputies spoke to the couple’s family members, who said the couple has no money and Pelton’s father was paying for their living expenses.

People who live in the neighborhood were relieved to find out the story about the home invasion wasn't true.

"Honestly, I'm disappointed. Isn't it easier to get a job than try to commit insurance fraud?” said a neighbor, who asked not to be identified.

Pelton and Teixeira will face a judge Wednesday afternoon.

They are facing charges of providing false information to law enforcement officers, which is a misdemeanor charge.

Teixeira is also facing a charge of tampering with evidence.

2 police officers shot in Georgia

Two police officers were shot Wednesday morning in Forest Park, Georgia, according to WSBTV.com’s Investigative Reporter Mark Winne.

>> Read more trending news

Massachusetts State Trooper says he was forced to change arrest report for judge's daughter

A Massachusetts State Trooper said he was just doing his job when he arrested Allie Bibaud, the daughter of a judge, for allegedly driving under the influence, but what happened afterward was far from what he expected.

Trooper Ryan Sceviour, 29, said he hasn’t been able to sleep since being forced to edit and redact the police report for Bibaud’s arrest.

>> Read more trending news

Sceviour has hired an attorney. He said he wants an apology and to have his name cleared.

“They have impaired his reputation. People hear his name, ‘Isn’t that guy who faked the report? Isn’t that the guy who covered up for the judge?’” attorney Lenny Kesten said.

Allie Bibaud is the daughter of Dudley District Court Judge Timothy Bibaud.

Boston 25 News obtained recordings of voicemails left on Sceviour's phone.

“You are to immediately code 7 to the barracks, per the colonel. It’s an order from the colonel. It’s got something to do with an arrest report, umm, a judge’s daughter,” one of the messages said.

Kesten said Sceviour didn’t know who Bibaud was until she commented about it during the arrest.

“My dad’s a (expletive) Judge. He’s going to kill me,” she said, according to Sceviour’s report. She also allegedly implied she would trade sexual favors for leniency.

Bibaud was arrested the night of Oct. 16 after being pulled over on Interstate 190 south, in the Worcester area. Sceviour said he was ordered on Oct. 19 to change the report.

“At 10 a.m., he’s awakened by pounding on the door,” Kesten said. “There is a local trooper there. ‘I’ve been sent here to wake you up, immediately get to Holden.’”

Sceviour said he was forced to drive 90 miles from his home on the South Shore to sit with State Police Maj. Susan Anderson and edit the report, or be fired.

“He said, ‘I don’t want to. This is wrong,’” Kesten told Boston 25 News. “He said, ‘This is morally wrong.’ She said, ‘It’s direct order from the colonel.”

State police issued the following statement:

Supervisory members of the State Police, up to and including the Colonel, may review any report and have the responsibility to order any appropriate revisions. In the report in question, the revision consisted only of removal of a sensationalistic, directly-quoted statement by the defendant, which made no contribution to proving the elements of the crimes with which she was charged. Inclusion of an unnecessary sensationalistic statement does not meet the report-writing standards required by the department. The revised report – which is clearly marked as having been revised –includes all observations made by troopers, all descriptions of physical evidence found in the defendant’s possession, and summaries of statements made by the defendant relative to her possession and use of heroin, all of which constitute clear evidence against her. Furthermore, both versions of the report were submitted to the court. The removal of the inflammatory and unnecessary quotation did not change the substance of the trooper’s narrative, did not remove any elements of probable cause from the report, and, most importantly, had no impact on the charges against the defendant. The defendant remains charged -- as she was initially charged -- with operating under the influence of drugs, operating under the influence of liquor, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and two other motor vehicle offenses, and she will be held accountable for those crimes based on the evidence collected by State Police.
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