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2 arrested after infant, 4-year-old dumped along freezing roads

Authorities have captured two teens they say stole an SUV with two children inside before abandoning them in below freezing temperatures.

>> Read more trending news

Khyree Swift, 17, and an unidentified 16-year-old have been charged with kidnapping, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said. Investigators said they tracked a stolen iPad to the home of one of the suspects, WSB-TV reported.

>> On AJC.com: SUV thief dumped little girl, 1-month-old baby along freezing roads

Swift was arrested Friday by Riverdale police, according to jail records. He appeared in court later in the day and was denied bond, WSB-TV reported.

Swift told a judge he doesn’t understand the allegations against him, according to the news station. His family told WSB-TV that Swift had nothing to do with the crime.

It is not clear when the other teen was captured.

Swift and the 16-year-old are accused of taking Precious Wilmer’s 2009 Chevy Equinox about 5 p.m. Wednesday from a QuikTrip on Riverdale Road.

Wilmer left her daughters, 1-month-old Ava Wilmer and 4-year-old Arya Davenport, in the SUV with the engine running while she went inside the convenience store, Clayton County police Sgt. Ashanti Marbury said.

She came out of the store and saw her car being driven away with her children in the back seat, police said. 

The girls were later found miles apart. 

Georgia State University police Chief Joseph Spillane found Arya walking on the shoulder of a roadway near I-285 and Riverdale Road, police said.

Channel 2 photojournalist Brian Ferguson found Ava in the middle of South Fulton Parkway, still strapped in her car seat.

>> On AJC.com: Children carjacked in Atlanta saved by passers-by in frigid weather 

At the time, the temperature was in the 20s, but it felt like the single digits.

The girls appeared to be OK, but were taken to Southern Regional Medical Center as a precaution. 

Atlanta police later located Precious Wilmer’s SUV on Metropolitan Parkway. 

In addition to kidnapping, Swift faces charges of theft by receiving stolen property, cruelty to children in the first degree and theft by taking.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writers Steve Burns and Raisa Habersham contributed to this report

DA: Captive siblings limited to one meal a day, one shower a year

The 13 siblings taken from a California home after they were held captive by their parents were allowed to eat only one rationed meal a day and shower once a year, a prosecutor said Thursday.

>> Read more trending news

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said that David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were charged with 12 counts of torture, CNN reported. Hestrin said that David Turpin also was charged with a lewd act on a child by force or fear of duress.

The children were allegedly beaten, choked and chained to their beds at their residence in Perris, California, NBC News reported.

“This is severe, emotional and physical abuse. There is no way around that,” Hestrin said. “This is depraved conduct.”

The siblings range in age from 2 to 29. Six are minors, CNN reported.

>> Police: 13 siblings held captive

Hestrin said the Turpins would buy toys but not let the children play with them or even take them out of the packaging. They also would make pumpkin pies and not let the hungry children eat them, the prosecutor said.

“In more than 20 years as a prosecutor in Riverside County, this is one of the most disturbing cases I've seen,” Hestrin said. “We are fully prepared to seek justice in this case and to do so in a way that protects all of these victims from further harm.”

Lawyers for the Turpins entered not guilty pleas to more than three dozen charges that could send the couple to prison for 94 years to life, NBC News reported. Bail was set at $12 million.

The Turpins were arrested Sunday after Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies said they found several children “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings.”

Hestrin said the abuse “started out as neglect” but became more severe. He added that the charges only covered the eight years the Turpins lived in Riverside County.

Hestrin added that the children were allowed to write in journals and that officials had recovered “hundreds of them,” adding they "are going to be strong evidence of what occurred in that home."

Authorities were alerted Sunday when the Turpins' 17-year-old daughter and her younger sister escaped through a window, NBC News reported.

"There was two of them that left the house," Hestrin said. "One of them turned back because she was afraid."

The older teen called 911 for help with a cellphone she had found inside the house, Hestrin said.

Texas' 'Tourniquet Killer' executed via lethal injection

Houston’s “Tourniquet Killer” became the nation’s first prisoner executed in 2018, KTRK reported Thursday.

>> Read more trending news

Anthony Allen Shore, 55, who admitted to killing a woman and three girls in the 1980s and ‘90s, was executed by lethal injection, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.

Shore received his nickname because of his method of using handmade tourniquets to torture and murder his victims, KTRK reported.

Shore was convicted for the 1992 strangling of 21-year-old Maria del Carmen Estrada, KTRK reported. Estrada’s body was found dumped in the drive-thru of a Dairy Queen in Houston.

Shore’s other victims included 14-year-old Laurie Lee Tremblay, 16-year-old Dana Sanchez and 9-year-old Diana Rebollar. All of the victims were raped and tortured, KTRK reported.

When he was convicted in 2004, Shore asked for the death penalty. Before his execution, Shore apologized, saying he wished he could undo his past, CNN reported.

Girl convicted of killing friend after Facebook selfie shows her wearing murder weapon 

A Facebook selfie with her best friend helped put a Canadian girl in prison after investigators spotted her in the photo wearing a belt she used later that night to kill the other teen.

Cheyenne Rose Antoine, 21, of Saskatoon, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Monday in the March 25, 2015 strangulation death of Brittney Jane Gargol. She was sentenced to seven years in prison.

CBC News reported that Antoine and Gargol, 18, were out partying together the night of the slaying. Gargol was found several hours later, mortally wounded, along the side of a road on the outskirts of Saskatoon near the city landfill. 

The man who found her told police she was cold to the touch, had no shoes on and that there was a belt lying near her body. Gargol died a short time later at a hospital. 

It took days to identify her, a task accomplished after police made public photos of her tattoos, along with images of the jacket and broken watch that were found on her body, CKOM in Saskatoon reported

Antoine initially told police that she and Gargol had gone to several bars before Gargol met a man at one of them and left with him. Investigators said she attempted to lead them on the wrong path by posting on Gargol’s Facebook page several hours after she killed her. 

“Where are you? Haven’t heard from you. Hope you made it home safe,” Antoine wrote, according to the Toronto Sun

She continued to post on Gargol’s page in the months after the homicide, including on a photo that Gargol posted of the pair just hours before she was slain. The victim made the photo, seen below, her profile picture shortly before she died. 

“Aweh, I miss you soo much, Bert! Wish heaven had visiting hours so I could come see you, but I'm so glad you came & visited me in my dream last night,” Antoine’s comment read, according to CBC News. “Looking forward to that day I see you again. Say hello to my mommy up there for me!”

Police investigators worked the case for nearly two years, using social media to create a timeline for Antoine and Gargol’s movements the night of the slaying. It was that last profile photo on Gargol’s page, however, that proved to be the break they needed.

Detectives noticed that Antoine wore a distinctive black belt, visible around her waist in the bottom left corner of the selfie that she and Gargol took together the night of the killing. The belt in the photo was the one found near Gargol’s dying body, CBC News reported.

The photo remained as Gargol’s profile picture for more than a year after her death. It has since been changed by her family. 

With a suspect in their sights, investigators were able to tear apart Antoine’s story about the pair bar-hopping the night of the crime by obtaining surveillance video from at least one bar that failed to show the girls where Antoine said they were. Another break came when a tip led police to a friend of Antoine’s, who told detectives that a panicked Antoine showed up at her house the night of the murder.

Antoine confessed to the friend that night that after getting into a drunken argument with Gargol, she hit her and then strangled her, CBC News said

She was arrested on suspicion of murder in March of last year. 

A plea deal between prosecutors and the defense brought the charge down to one of manslaughter. 

Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter praised the police work that ultimately led to Antoine’s arrest. 

“It’s quite remarkable how the police developed this information,” Ritter said. 

>> Read more trending news

Antoine admitted in court Monday that she killed her friend, but said she does not remember doing so. Her lawyer, Lisa Watson, told the court that Antoine, who suffered years of abuse in the foster care system, had been dealing with serious personal problems prior to the homicide. 

“My client had some very deep, personal issues that she was dealing with, and unfortunately, they turned into a very tragic situation for all involved,” Watson said, according to the Sun

Antoine’s troubled past, which began when she became a ward of the province of Saskatchewan at age 2, factored into her plea deal and sentence. CKOM reported that Antoine was in foster care at age 4 and spent a decade suffering physical and emotional abuse. 

Her criminal record began with car theft at age 12, two years before she reconnected with her mother, the station reported. She was exposed to heavy drug and alcohol use by her mother, who died about a year after being reunited with her daughter. 

At that point, she began moving between relatives, group homes and other institutions.

Ritter agreed with the defense that Antoine has serious personal issues. 

“This young woman has issues, and because of those issues, she is dangerous,” Ritter said, according to CKOM.

Those issues continued even after Antoine killed her friend. She was reported missing in August 2016 to Saskatoon police officials, who sought information on her whereabouts on Facebook.

At the time of her arrest for murder, Antoine was also awaiting sentencing for threatening a store’s loss prevention officer when she was caught stealing, CBC News reported. She threatened the officer with a needle that she claimed was contaminated with the HIV virus.   

Antoine issued a statement through her attorney Monday in which she said she cannot provide the answers she knows Gargol’s family members are looking for.

“She knows the family would like an explanation, a reason, but unfortunately, she can’t provide that,” Watson said. 

Gargol’s family provided victim impact statements during Antoine’s sentencing.

“Most days we can’t stop thinking about Brittney and what happened that night,” her aunt, Jennifer Gargol, said, according to CBC News. “What she must have felt fighting for her life.”

Gargol’s stepmother, Kristi Wickenhauser, also spoke in court, according to CKOM.

“You were her friend. She loved you, she respected you and she trusted you,” Wickenhauser said. “And instead you decided to wrap a belt around her throat and squeeze until you ended her life.”

Antoine apologized to Gargol’s family in the statement read by Watson.

“I will never forgive myself,” she said. “Nothing I say or do will ever bring her back. I am very, very sorry. It shouldn’t have ever happened.”

Woman shot, killed at Mississippi Walmart by on-again, off-again boyfriend, police say

A man is facing a capital murder charge after Starkville police accused him of shooting and killing a woman described as his “on-again, off-again” girlfriend at a Mississippi Walmart where she worked as an optometrist, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The shooting happened around 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Walmart in Starkville. Police Chief Frank Nichols said a man fired several shots after walking into the store and confronting a woman, identified as Walmart Vision Center employee Shauna Witt, 42, the Starkville Daily News reported.

No other injuries were reported.

Witt was taken to a hospital, where she later died from her injuries, police said.

Police said they confronted a man at the scene of the shooting and detained him after a brief struggle. The man, identified as William Thomas “Tommy” Chisholm, was arrested and charged with capital murder.

Investigators believe the shooting was the result of a domestic situation. According to witnesses, Chisholm and Witt were in an on-again, off-again dating relationship.

After the shooting, Justin Blaylock, who said he knew Witt for nearly two decades, described her as “a generous, kind soul,” the Daily News reported.

“She will be greatly missed by all,” he said. “(She was) just a genuine friend that cared at all times and was willing to lend a hand at any time.”

At the time of the killing, police said, Chisholm was out on felony bond for an incident related to the victim.

Police continue to investigate the shooting.

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

Police: Man crashed car in icy river, left girlfriend to drown

A New Jersey man has been charged in connection with his girlfriend’s death after police say he left her to drown following a crash in the Delaware River.

Jacob T. Garrett, 24, of Burlington City, is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, causing a death while driving with a suspended license and endangering an injured victim, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. He is being held in the Burlington County Jail. 

Stephanie White, 23, of Burlington City, was killed in the crash.

Burlington City police investigators said that Garrett was speeding around 1 p.m. Sunday when his vehicle struck a parked minivan and went over a river wall into the water. The front end of the car broke through the ice on the surface and the vehicle became submerged.

Bystanders told detectives that they found Garrett standing on the roof of the car, yelling, “Help my girlfriend.” Then he fled the scene on foot.

“He left his girlfriend in the water to die,” Burlington City police Capt. John Fine told NBC New York

>> Read more trending news

Videos from the scene, including one obtained by NJ.com, show firefighters working to extract White from the car, a Ford Taurus. They had to go in through the rear window of the Taurus, which jutted from the icy surface of the river. 

One video, which can be found here, shows the entire rescue, including the moment when rescuers pulled White’s body from the car. 

First responders found White in the passenger seat, her seat belt still on, prosecutors said in a news release. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. 

A police K-9 officer tracked Garrett from the river to a nearby light rail platform, officials said. Investigators had the train he was on stopped at the next station, where he was taken into custody.

Garrett was soaking wet when he was found, NBC New York reported

White’s friends and family mourned her on social media. Her mother, Ina White, posted a video tribute someone made in her daughter’s memory. 

“Love and miss my daughter. My heart is broken,” White wrote. “Thank you for this tribute. I'll hold it dear to my heart always.”

“I love you, sis, Steph Birdy White. Words can't even explain,” another woman wrote. “You meant everything to me . You had a big heart inside and out. I miss you and you will never be forgotten.” 

GoFundMe page established by White’s aunt to help pay for her funeral expenses described the young woman as “loving, kind, soft spoken, (a) hard worker and loved by all that knew her.”

“She had so much innocence in her presence, and always smiled when she greet(ed) you,” Rosie White wrote about her niece. “Her mother can not financially afford funeral expenses for this, and any amount will help with burial costs.”

Stephanie White’s wishes were to be buried next to her grandmother in Maplewood Cemetery in Freehold, where she grew up.

The case against Garrett remains under investigation, and additional charges may be filed, prosecutors said. 

NJ.com reported that Garrett has two previous criminal convictions, including a 2016 conviction of criminal sexual contact. He also served 93 days in jail, and received two years’ probation, the year before for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. 

Details of those crimes were not immediately available. 

U.S. marshal killed, officers wounded while serving warrant in Pennsylvania

A deputy U.S. marshal was killed and two police officers were injured Thursday morning when authorities said they were shot while serving a search warrant, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Former U.S. Navy officers face negligent homicide charges in collisions

The U.S. Navy has announced that five officers, including two commanders, will face negligent homicide charges connected to separate incidents involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain that cost 17 sailors their lives.

>> Watch the news report here

A Navy spokesman, Capt. Greg Hicks, said the charges, which also include dereliction of duty and endangering a ship, will be presented to what the military calls an Article 32 hearing to determine whether the accused are taken to trial in a court-martial.

The disciplinary actions were decided by Adm. Frank Caldwell and are the latest in a series of moves the Navy has made in the aftermath of the deadly collisions, which investigators concluded were avoidable. It fired several top leaders, including the commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, and several other senior commanders in the Pacific.

>> Read more trending news 

The Navy said it is filing at least three charges against four officers of the Fitzgerald, including the commanding officer, who was Cmdr. Bryce Benson at the time. Benson suffered a head injury in the collision and was airlifted to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Yokosuka, Japan. A Navy investigation found that Benson left the ship’s bridge before the collision. Also facing charges are two lieutenants and one lieutenant junior grade, whose names were not disclosed. The Navy said all four face criminal charges, including negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship.

Fewer officers from the McCain are being charged. The Navy said the ship’s commander at the time, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, is being charged with negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship. A chief petty officer, whose name was not disclosed, faces a charge of dereliction of duty.

In a statement, Hicks said the announcement of charges Tuesday is “not intended to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence.”

In June, the 7th Fleet notified families of the seven sailors who drowned after a 29,060-ton container ship called the ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald.

The Navy identified the deceased then as Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Va.; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego, Calif.; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Conn.; Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, Calif.; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Md; Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio.

Divers found the missing sailors after they were able to gain access to parts of the USS Fitzgerald that were damaged in the collision.

Two months later, the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided, killing 10 U.S. sailors.

The deceased in that incident: Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, Amazonia, Mo.; Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, El Paso; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, Gaithersburg, Md.; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, Cable, Ohio; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, Manchester, Md.; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, Suffield, Conn.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, Killeen, Tex.; Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, Decatur, Ill.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class, Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, Cherry Hill, N.J.

The Navy dismissed three-star commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin in August after “los[ing] confidence in his ability to command.”

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

USA Gymnastics says it will not fine McKayla Maroney if she speaks out against team doctor

USA Gymnastics said Tuesday evening it will not fine gymnast McKayla Maroney if she speaks publicly about the alleged abuse by former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Maroney, who signed a nondisclosure agreement for $1.25 million with USA Gymnastics in in December 2016 in exchange for her silence, is currently suing USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University with the claim that the nondisclosure agreement she signed after claiming Nassar molested her was illegal. 

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Chrissy Teigen offers to pay McKayla Maroney's possible $100K fine to speak out about team doctor

USA Gymnastics said in a statement it has not and will not seek retribution if Maroney speaks about alleged abuse by Nassar during his four-day sentencing.

As of Wednesday morning, Maroney was not expected to speak at Nassar’s sentencing.

"USA Gymnastics has not sought and will not seek any money from McKayla Maroney for her brave statements made in describing her victimization and abuse by Larry Nassar, nor for any victim impact statements she wants to make to Larry Nassar at this hearing or at any subsequent hearings related to his sentencing,” the statement to USA TODAY read. “This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out. USA Gymnastics remains focused on our highest priority — the safety, health and well-being of our athletes and creating a culture that empowers and supports them."

In response to reports Tuesday that USA Gymnastics could fine Maroney up to $100,000 if she spoke out against Nassar at his sentencing like nearly 100 other alleged victims, model Chrissy Teigen offered to pay the fine.

>> Read more trending news 

“The entire principle of this should be fought – an NDA to stay quiet about this serial monster with over 140 accusers, but I would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you, McKayla,” Teigen wrote.

After Nassar pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in November, his sentencing on seven sexual assault charges began Tuesday. 

The former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor is currently serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison on child pornography charges.

Neighbors of parents accused of holding 13 kids captive describe family as odd, reclusive

Neighbors described the reportedly nightmarish situation at the Turpin home, where parents David and Louise allegedly kept their 13 children shackled to their beds and malnourished, as seeming like a “cult.”

Former neighbors said the children were made to march around for hours in the middle of the night, they told the New York Post.

A man named Mike, who did not want to give his full name and was a neighbor of the Turpins when they lived in Murrieta, California, told the Post, “I thought they were like a cult. They would march back and forth on the second story at night. The light would be on the whole time, and they would be marching the kids back and forth.”

>> Police: 13 siblings held captive in California residence

Mike said he would arrive home late from his job at a hospital and see the children marching through the upstairs rooms of the Turpin home between midnight and 3 a.m.

David and Louis Turpin were arrested Sunday in their Perris, California, home after one of their daughters called police for help, saying she had managed to escape the house with a cellphone. When police arrived, they reportedly found the siblings, ages 2 to 29, living in squalor and looking very thin, with several of the kids shackled to furniture.

Mike said his wife, Myrna, called the family “clones,” saying the Turpins all spoke “robotically, in a monotone and at the same” time during the few occasions on which Myrna interacted with them at a local grocer.

However, Mike told the Post that he and Myrna never called the police because they didn’t see anything that suggested they needed to. They just thought the parents were a bit odd.

Mike, as well former neighbors from when the Turpins owned a farm in Rio Vista, Texas — which the family left due to foreclosure — remarked on the amount of trash that the family accumulated.

“I ended up calling the police because of the trash and everything that was left there,” said former Texas neighbor Randy McClain. “There was a brand new pickup truck covered in [trash] — a whole truck bed full and overflowing to the ground with trash: diapers, Spam cans, potted meat cans, just overflowing.”

The Daily Mail got access to the Turpin’s Perris backyard and found a Disney-themed fountain situated in a messy yard in which “piles of metal pipes could be seen strewn around, along with a rusty set of metal garden furniture and some diaper boxes.”

>> Read more trending news 

Through the screen door, the Daily Mail spied piles of clutter, including what appear to be stacked books, within the house.

Neighbor Leticia Gomez, 45, who lives directly behind the Turpin home, told the Daily Mail that she wasn’t aware there were any kids in the house. She described the Turpins’ garden as unkempt and “scruffy.”

Another neighbor, Andria Valdez, said she did know there were children living in the home and that she had seen them before. She joked that the Turpins reminded her of the vampire family in the “Twilight” books and movies, because they were “really, really pale” and “only came out at night.”

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