August 10, 2011
A Cleveland jury today convicted a former U.S. Marine of kidnapping and murdering 11 women and hiding their remains in his house and yard. He was also found guilty of raping three other women.
Anthony Sowel, 51, showed no emotion as Judge Dick Ambrose read the verdicts, which could result in the death penalty.
Relatives of the women wept, hugged and nodded their heads.
Sowell was charged in an 83-count indictment that included aggravated murder, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse. Five women testified during the seven-week trial that Sowell had attacked them.
The killings in a working-class part of this Rust Belt city’s east side horrified residents. It also led to a re-examination of how reports of rapes and missing people are handled, especially when they involve those with criminal records or mental health or substance abuse problems. The women Sowell is accused of killing or assaulting were drug addicts or alcoholics, had criminal records or had mental health issues.
Article: USA TODAY
Troubled siblings on a brief but dramatic cross-country crime spree that included high-speed car chases, two shootouts and a bank robbery were arrested Wednesday in southern Colorado after they crashed their car, state police said.
The two brothers and their older sister who became known as the Dougherty Gang had been on the lam for a week and had traveled from Pasco County in north Florida. Their crimes provoked a nationwide search led by the FBI.
Ryan Edward Dougherty, 21, Lee-Grace Dougherty, 29, and Dylan Dougherty Stanley, 26, began their latest crime spree on Aug. 2, police said. A day earlier, Ryan had been convicted in Volusia County of a sex offense involving a child and had texted his mother, “There’s a time for all of us to die,” according to police .
The siblings, who already had long rap sheets, are charged with attempted murder of a police officer for allegedly firing at least 20 shots at Zephyrhills, Fla., police officer Kevin Widner after he tried to stop them for speeding in a residential neighborhood. Widner chased them for 5 miles through Zephyrhills into neighboring Pasco County, where one of the siblings shot out Widner’s tire, halting the chase.
“These are very dangerous fugitives out there,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said last week after the chase. “We know they have an arsenal of weapons.”
Article: USA TODAY
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A principal was found dead Wednesday in an apparent homicide at a private school in suburban Memphis and a 17-year-old student was in custody, police said.
Officers said the body of the 48-year-old woman was discovered by a teacher shortly after 11 a.m. at Memphis Junior Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist Church-affiliated school in east Memphis.
Marvin Lowman, the executive secretary with the Kentucky-Tennessee conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, identified the victim as Suzette York. She had been the principal at the school since 2008.
Police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said a 17-year-old student was taken into custody at the school.
A motive and cause of death were not immediately disclosed nor was the name of the victim.
Classes at the one-story, red brick school began Monday. A sign out front Wednesday said “Welcome back.”
The school was surrounded by yellow crime scene tape after the body was found. Police officers milled about.
“It’s a frightening thing for children to see,” said Pastor David Steede of the New Covenant Seventh-day Adventist Church, who arrived at the school shortly after the body was found. He said he has parishioners attending the school.
The school’s website says it has students from pre-kindergarten through 11th grade. It’s part of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist school network.
“Our staff is committed to providing quality education is a Christian environment,” the website says.
A United Methodist Church and a church cemetery are across the street.
Linda Taylor told The Commercial Appeal she received a call from her husband who said the school called and told them to pick up their 14-year-old son, Josiah, because there was an emergency. The school didn’t say that someone had been killed.
“I’m just wondering what’s going on,” she said at the scene.
It’s her son’s first year at the school.
Article: USA TODAY
San Angelo, Texas (CNN) — Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison plus 20 years for sexually assaulting two girls he claimed were his “spiritual wives.”
Jeffs, 55, will have to spend at least 45 years in prison before being eligible for release, according to Jerry Strickland, spokesman for the Texas Attorney General’s office.
The jury sentenced Jeffs to life in prison for aggravated sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl and 20 years in prison for the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl. He must serve at least 35 years of the life sentence and half of the other sentence, Strickland said. The judge in the case ordered that the sentences be served consecutively.
“Justice has been served,” Jeffs’ nephew, Brent Jeffs, told InSession soon after the sentence. He testified during the penalty phase of his uncle’s trial that Jeffs raped him when he was 5 years old.
“I finally had this day and it was an awesome day in court to be here, involved in all of this,” said Brent Jeffs, now 28.
Jeffs perverted his position as the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to “satisfy his own personal appetites and desires,” prosecutor Eric Nichols said.
Those appetites included forcing sex on the two girls, 12 and 15, who he had taken as wives, prosecutors said.
Audiotapes seized from his car and the church’s Yearning For Zion Ranch compound in Eldorado, Texas, and played for jurors during his trial, depicted Jeffs offering “celestial marriage” instructions to the young wives, according to prosecutors.
“You have to know how to be sexually excited and to help each other … and you have to be ready for the time I need your comfort,” a man’s voice says. “This is your mission. This is how you abide the law.
At one point, the man says, “Take your clothes off. Do it right now,” followed by the sounds of crying.
“Just don’t think about the pain; you’re going to heaven,” the man says.
“Rarely if ever in the criminal justice system in Texas have we ever encouraged a person such as Warren Jeffs, whose criminal conduct spans decades, multiple jurisdictions and hundreds of victims,” Nichols said.
Los Angeles (CNN) — Two men pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony charges related to the brutal beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow after a Los Angeles Dodgers game in March.
Late Wednesday, prosecutors announced they won’t charge a woman who’s the sister to one defendant and the girlfriend to the other because they don’t have enough evidence against her, a spokeswoman said.
During their arraignment in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Marvin Norwood, 30, and Louie Sanchez, 29, both of Rialto, California, were ordered by the judge to remain in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail each.
Meanwhile, Dorene Virginia Sanchez, 31, who is Sanchez’s sister and the live-in girlfriend of Norwood, won’t be charged, said spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
“There’s not sufficient evidence,” Gibbons told CNN.
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