Mesa AZ Feb 5 2011 An Arizona woman who was apparently kidnapped from her Maricopa County home was found dead along with her captor today in a suspected murder-suicide.
The bodies of Thomas Watson, 43, and his ex-girlfriend, Tara Shermerhorn, 31, were found in Watson’s truck parked near Horse Thief Basin, a central Arizona recreation area, Goodyear police spokesman Ralph McLaughlin told AOL News.
The two were found dead today by Arizona authorities, who believe he may have abducted her. Watson left a suicide note behind.The discovery was made about 10 a.m. (MST) by deputies with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, according to McLaughlin. A cause of death and positive identification is pending
“The families [have] been notified,” McLaughlin said. “We’re 99 percent sure that it’s them based on our descriptions and what not.”
Watson and McLaughlin were residents of Goodyear, a city about 20 miles west of Phoenix. They broke up in December, but were still involved in some sort of business venture together, police said.
Officers received a missing-person report for Watson at about 5 a.m. Thursday.
“[He left] what we call a suicide note behind,” McLaughlin said.
Co-workers of Shermerhorn last saw her at 9 p.m. Wednesday, when she clocked out and left for home. She was supposed to pick up her niece from school Thursday, but she never showed up. Concerned family members found her car parked in her driveway. They contacted police when they were unable to locate her.
Early on in the investigation, Watson’s phone was “pinged,” and it was reported to have been located near I-17, north of Phoenix. His phone has since been shut off. Investigators also pinged Shermerhorn’s phone, and it appeared to be stationary, near the Crown King area in Yavapai County.
According to a former FBI agent who has worked on dozens of missing-person cases, cell phone pings can be extremely useful in finding missing people.
“Cell phones are in constant communication with surrounding towers, and they can place you within a triangle of those towers that your cell phone hit off of,” Harold Copus, now head of Copus Security Consultants in Atlanta, told AOL News. “The ping won’t give them an exact location, but they can significantly narrow down where the cell phone is at.”
In this case, McLaughlin said, investigators had triangulated the phones and got them down to a one-mile radius of where they were at the time they pinged the towers.
Sponsored LinksThe search for Watson and Shermerhorn was based in the areas indicated by the cell phone signals. According to McLaughlin, the truck containing the bodies was found “in that general area.”
Authorities say Watson may have had a history of violence toward women.
“Yes, there is a history of domestic violence that I am hearing from the deputy,” McLaughlin said. “I haven’t confirmed anything yet, [but allegedly] in South Dakota with his ex-wife, who happens to also be named Tara.”
More details are expected to be released once the coroner completes his investigation into the case police said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of both of the victims,” McLaughlin said.
San Jose CA Feb 5 2011 Looking to reduce sky-high security costs, Mineta San Jose International Airport is launching an idea that few other major cities have tried — jettisoning the city’s police officers from the airport and replacing them with a private security force.
The transfer of 41 police officers and 12 firefighters might save the airport an estimated $10 million a year, a savings essential to preventing the loss of more flights — and the passenger revenue they bring — from the financially strapped airport, officials said.
“This decision has absolutely nothing to do with the fine men and women that serve on our patrols from the San Jose police, who have always provided us with a high level of service,” said William Sherry, aviation director for the airport, which serves about 8 million passengers a year. “But the airport is not a high crime area.”
But the police and fire unions contend that security guards and private firefighters are poor substitutes.
“We have serious concerns about the potential safety hazards of working with contract employees who are not as extensively trained in rescue techniques as we are,” said Jeff Welch, president of the firefighters union.
This week, the city-owned airport advanced the idea anyway, putting out a request for security firms to propose how they would manage airport security and fire protection, and how much it would cost. Officials are expected to bring their recommendations to the City Council in April.
If the City Council approves, the police could be replaced by security officers by July. Other proposals may include a major reduction of police officers at the airport, or a mix of private security forces and city police. Another idea would be for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, which said this week it would study the concept, to take over.
Turning out the city police force, which took over from the airport’s own force in 1990, would make Mineta one of the few major airports in the country without a sworn police agency patrolling its terminals. Honolulu International Airport uses a private security force but augments it with 32 on-site sheriff’s deputies.
“It seems to work for us,” James Pratt, Honolulu’s airport manager, said of the system that has been in place since 1999. Syracuse, N.Y., a much smaller airport than San Jose, is reportedly exploring the cost-cutting idea.
It’s unknown whether using a private security force would reduce public safety at the airport. San Jose police report between 8,000 and 10,000 calls for service a year, including unattended baggage, security breaches, traffic accidents and passenger assaults. However, there are relatively few arrests — 81 last year and 58 the year before. And serious crimes are rare. The airport paid $11.6 million for its police presence last fiscal year.
Sherry said the cost savings are vital in a time when passenger volume is dropping, airlines are reducing flights, fuel costs are spiking and the city is dealing with the debt of a $1.3 billion airport modernization unveiled last summer.
And one way to reduce costs is to slash its spending on police. The average cost of an Atlanta airport police officer, for example, including benefits and overhead costs, is about $93,000 a year, airport officials said. In San Jose, the average cost of an officer to the airport is $245,000. That includes a 42 percent overhead fee to the city intended to cover management costs, uniforms and equipment.
Annual base salaries are about $108,000 for a San Jose police officer and $98,000 for a firefighter, excluding higher ranks and overtime. But the city also kicks in about $75,000 a year per employee for additional pay, pension and other benefits, boosting total compensation to $183,446 for a police officer and $172,292 for a firefighter.
City leaders say soaring police and firefighter pension costs are forcing them to consider layoffs departmentwide, and they have sought pay and benefit cuts to save jobs.
But police and fire union officials say they may fight for the airport.
“It would be disappointing if our city leaders don’t find a way to keep the airport’s security needs in San Jose PD hands,” said police Sgt. Jim Unland, union vice president.
Union officials say there would be difficulty coordinating with a private security force when police are called for a major incident or to arrest someone. The airport would lose quick access to the department’s bomb-detecting dogs.
And Unland fears if 41 officers are removed from airport duty, the city will simply cut that many positions from the force. “We could see our department’s staffing drop to 1,000 officers by this July,” he said. ” A thousand officers to protect 1 million citizens is insane. I hope our council members are paying attention.”
Mayor Chuck Reed and council members said they still need more details before committing to outsourcing police and fire protection at the airport.
“If we can save $10 million, we have to do it,” said Reed, who just made a trip to Japan seeking more airline business. “It’s being driven by a need to control operating costs. If we can’t do that we’ll start losing airlines, and if we lose airlines we’ll have difficulty making our debt service.”
Councilwoman Rose Herrera said she shares the mayor’s concerns about San Jose’s competitiveness.
“With some of the challenges we’re facing with gangs, medical marijuana dispensaries, I’m concerned about having officers on the street,” Herrera said. “If specialized workers can handle the airport and we can have more of our officers in the neighborhoods, that’s of interest to me.”
EMERYVILLE Ca Feb 5 2011– One police officer was injured and two others assaulted in a barroom brawl that spilled onto the street in Emeryville early Friday involving 180 patrons, authorities said.
Security guards at Kitty’s Bar on Hollis Street flagged down officers at 1:25 a.m. reporting a large fight inside with guns and knives, police said.
The fight spilled into the street, where officers tried to break it up, Sgt. Fred Dauer said. Some in the crowd then turned on police, with one officer suffering minor injuries from a punch to the face.
Emeryville police called for backup, and about 30 officers from Berkeley, Oakland, UC Berkeley and the California Highway Patrol responded. The crowd dispersed by 1:45 a.m., Dauer said.
Two people were arrested. Although officers found blood at the scene and saw one patron with a head wound running away, they were unable to locate anyone with injuries.
According to Facebook, the bar hosts a Ritmo party featuring a beer and shot of tequila for $5 on Thursdays, which reportedly draws a large crowd.
The owner of the bar, Kitty Faria, could not be reached for comment.
Greensboro NC Feb 5 2011 North Carolina school officials say they are re-examining school security procedures after a teacher was locked in a classroom closet and robbed Tuesday night, MyFox8.com reports.
A pre-Kindergarten teacher escaped injury when she was attacked at gunpoint around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday in the parking lot of Alderman Elementary School in Greensboro, N.C. The teacher had reportedly gone back to the school to do some work, police said.
The suspect tied the teacher up and forced her into a closet inside a classroom. The man then stole the her ATM card and SUV, police said.
“It could have been any employee. This person is just someone trying to do a good job and trying to do the right thing in terms of what they’re focusing on in the classroom,” said Nora Carr, chief of staff for Guilford County Schools.
Carr told Fox 8 that the school district is considering options that will tighten security during after-school hours.
“I don’t think the answer is that we shut down access to our campus,” she said, “I think the answer is that we all need to work together to make sure our schools are safe.”
Police are still searching for the suspect and the teacher’s stolen car. Authorities are urging anyone with information on the crime to contact the Greensboro Crimestoppers at 336-373-1000.
Richland TX Feb 5 2011 Pasco man was arrested after he tried to walk out of a Richland Walmart with a shopping cart full of merchandise and punched the store security guard who tried to stop him, police said.
Preston K. Hernandez, 22, was at the store on Duportail Street around 2:20 p.m. Wednesday and filled a shopping cart with about $330 worth of items, said Richland police Capt. Jeff Taylor.
Hernandez tried to push the cart out of the store without paying, Taylor said.
He reportedly hit a security guard in the face when confronted and got into a car driven by a woman later identified as Nicole Hornbuckle, 28, of Pasco.
Officers stopped them on Interstate 182 as they were headed toward Pasco, Taylor said.
Hernandez, who has previously been banned from Walmart for theft, also had a felony warrant for his arrest. He was taken to the Benton County jail on suspicion of second-degree robbery.
Hornbuckle had two misdemeanor warrants for her arrest and also was jailed.
Andrea Gray, 40, has pleaded not guilty to felony grand larceny and remains in jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.
In a written statement, she told police that she was put up to the heist by a boyfriend. Gray worked in the cash room as a money counter, and on the morning of Nov. 12, she told police, she walked into the store with a duffel bag and filled it with cash. Police said Gray said she knew there was more than $100,000 inside because the armored car company that takes the deposits had not done so the day before because of the Veterans Day holiday.
The theft cleaned out the locked cash office inside the store.
According to police, Gray said she and her boyfriend came up with a story that she had been kidnapped by two men while leaving her home on Lenox Street in Rochester for work and that the men threatened to kill her children if she didn’t do what she said.
Police said her story was filled with inconsistencies and that she confessed when pressed for details.
The money has yet to be recovered, and no other arrests had been made as of Wednesday.
PATERSON NJ Feb 5 2011 — Investigators arrested a five-year veteran city police officer on child pornography charges Thursday, culminating a three-month investigation, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department said.
Officer James R. Berthold, 39, of Paterson, was arrested at his home without incident. Officer James R. Berthold, 39, of Paterson, was arrested at his home without incident at 11 a.m. The patrolman was arrested on possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography, Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik said in a statement.
“Possession and distribution of child pornography is a serious offense,” Berdnik said. “The fact that this suspect is a sworn police officer makes this matter even more alarming and disturbing.”
The three-month investigation began late last year when the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office received nine reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which revealed complaints from America Online concerning the distribution of approximately 12 child pornography images, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
The prosecutor’s office forwarded its findings to the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crime Task Force, which launched an investigation and found the 12 images were allegedly transmitted from Berthold’s computer and e-mail address, the statement said.
Bill Maer, spokesman for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department, said Berthold was sent to the Passaic County jail on a $75,000 bail set by Superior Court Judge Marilyn C. Clark. He was transferred to the Bergen County jail Thursday evening because of the nature of his job, Maer said.
He said none of the criminal allegations against Berthold are work related and additional criminal charges are pending.
Lt. Alex Popov, a Paterson police spokesman, said a department investigation is ongoing and Police Chief James Wittig and the internal affairs division cooperated with the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department. Popov said Berthold is under suspension pending the outcome of the investigation.
The police department was surprised and shocked by the nature of the allegations against Berthold, Popov said. He said Berthold was assigned to the patrol division and was a good employee as far as he could tell.
The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and the Paterson Police Department Internal Affairs Division assisted in the investigation. Berthold may face additional charges when the results of a forensic analysis are finished, Berdnik said.
PBA President Detective Steve Olimpio did not know if Berthold had an attorney.
“We’re concerned about the allegations and the arrest,” Olimpio said. “We hope they’re not true. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. It’s serious stuff. These are issues that I don’t think anyone wants to talk about.”
EVANSVILLE, IN Feb 5 2011- Security screening is a way of life these days from the airport to the civic center.
And while most people know the routine, you’d be surprised to see what some think they can bring into public buildings.
They’ve been doing security checks at the courts building downtown for nearly 20 years, and that’s helped cut down on the number of restricted items folks try to get in the door with.
People do try to get all kinds of things through security.
“If you’re going to come to the courthouse there’s no reason to bring brass knuckles or a Chinese throwing stars or expandable batons, and if you think about it as you get out of the car leave your pocket knife,” Vanderburgh County Sgt. Robert Goedde says.
And it’s also a good idea to leave other things behind to help make the trip through security as smooth as possible.
Less is more. If you can come in without your cell phone. If you’ve got a belt on you don’t absolutely have to have on.
“Others things… pockets full of change, extra change, extra keys, whatever, you can get by without coming into the courthouse,” Sgt. Goedde says. It makes it that much quicker for you to get in and the others behind you to get in.
“I just remember don’t wear a watch, don’t wear earrings, don’t wear a belt. Once you know what triggers the thing you just don’t wear that,” Evansville resident Betty Brown says.
There are some occasional problems, but for the most part, people are more than willing to sacrifice a few minutes in the name of safety.
“Seems fine to me. Congressman Giffords getting shot, I mean you just can’t be too careful. From what I hear there’s one gun for every man woman and child over the age of seven in this country. Way too many guns.” said local resident Don Novack.
The security staff is doing its best to make sure they don’t add one of those to their stash.
For those who carry small pocket knives, the sheriff’s office says there are lock boxes available for storage
while doing business in the civic center or courts building.