Authorities in Georgia say a man is back behind bars after his mother helped him escape from jail, then they stopped for pancakes on their way home.
The Heard County Sheriff’s Office told WSB-TV's Berndt Petersen that Joshua Gullat was working his cleaning detail of mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms at the county jail when he slipped out a door.
Gullat, who was serving time for burglary, slipped out a side door around 11:30 p.m. Monday to a getaway car that his mother, Kathy Pence, was driving, officials said.
Investigators said that earlier that night, Gullat made a phone call instructing his mom about where to pick him up.
"And it just so happened, during that phone call, she was being stopped by the city of Franklin, because she ran a stop sign," Heard County Sgt. Dan Boswell told Petersen.
Detectives listened to the call, which the jail records, and then talked to the Franklin police officer who pulled over Gullat's mother to learn what she was driving.
Investigators told Petersen that they tracked Pence's cellphone to a Coweta County IHOP restaurant, where they found the mother and son in a booth.
"He said they were sitting at the table eating. He was sitting with two of his kids at the table. His mom, him and two of his children," Boswell said.
Detectives said the children are now with their mother.
Deputies said Gullat was about to be transferred to a work-release program. Instead, he will likely face more jail time, along with his mother, they said.
A judge in a New Hampshire criminal case has ordered Amazon to turn over audio recordings from one of the company’s Echo devices, which may have caught the sounds of a January 2017 double homicide.
Timothy Verrill, 36, of Dover, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the fatal stabbings of Christine M. Sullivan, 48, and 32-year-old Jenna Marie Pellegrini. He is expected to stand trial in May.
A judge last week ordered Amazon to turn over the recordings from an Echo smart home device that was in the Farmington home where the women were killed Jan. 27, according to The Washington Post. The news station said prosecutors believe the device, which awaits “Alexa” voice commands from household members, might have recorded the women’s deaths, along with the moments before and after they were killed.
Prosecutors in the case already had the speaker as evidence, but a judge was required to compel Amazon officials to release any recordings the company has on its servers. The court seeks to have released data from Jan. 27, when the women were allegedly killed, through Jan. 29, when their bodies were found.
“The court finds there is probable cause to believe the server(s) and/or records maintained for or by Amazon.com contain recordings made by the Echo smart speaker from the period of Jan. 27 to Jan. 29, 2017 . . . and that such information contains evidence of crimes committed against Ms. Sullivan, including the attack and possible removal of the body from the kitchen,” the ruling stated, according to the Post.
Amazon officials told the Post they will release the data only after a valid legal demand has been served.
Sullivan and Pellegrini were slain at a home in Farmington, where Verrill is accused of stabbing both women multiple times and striking Sullivan over the head with a blunt object, according to the New Hampshire Department of Justice. According to The Rochester Voice, autopsies showed that Sullivan had a fractured skull and stab wounds to the neck and lungs.
Verrill, who was indicted last November, is also charged with two counts of reckless second-degree murder and five counts of falsifying physical evidence, DOJ officials said.
The home where the women were killed belonged to Sullivan’s longtime boyfriend, convicted drug dealer Dean Smoronk, the Voice reported. Sullivan lived in the home and Pellegrini was her houseguest at the time of their killings.
The reckless second-degree murder charges allege that, alternatively to committing first-degree murder, Verrill “recklessly caused the death of (both women) under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life” by stabbing them and by striking Sullivan in the head, the DOJ news release said.
The charges of falsifying evidence stem from allegations that Verrill hid the women’s bodies, which he wrapped in tarps, trash bags and other coverings, under the porch at Smoronk’s home. Their bodies were found a couple of days later after Smoronk, who had been visiting his rental property in Florida, reported Sullivan missing upon his return home.
DOJ officials said Verrill altered a blood stain on the porch by pouring Prestone Driveway Heat ice melter onto it. He is also accused of concealing bloodstained sheets, as well as Pellegrini’s belongings, in a black trash bag in the basement of the home.
“It is alleged that Mr. Verrill committed these crimes with a purpose to impair the verity or availability of the evidence in (a criminal) proceeding or investigation,” the news release said.
The Voice reported in January, around the first anniversary of the slayings, that Verrill told an acquaintance the day before the crimes that he believed Pellegrini was a drug informant. Testimony at a bail hearing last year alleged that Sullivan was also dealing drugs out of the house.
New Hampshire State Police Detective Brian Strong testified at the hearing that Pellegrini, who needed a place to stay, moved into the house on Jan. 25, two days before the slayings. The following day, Verrill went to Smoronk and Sullivan’s home to get drugs, the Voice said.
A friend of Verrill’s later told investigators that Verrill told him early the morning of the slayings that he believed Pellegrini, who was a new addition to the house, was an informant, the newspaper reported.
Strong testified that Smoronk told detectives that Sullivan called him around 2 a.m. the day of the killings to tell him Verrill had returned. Phone records backed up Smoronk’s claim, the Voice said.
Video from the house showed images of Verrill, Sullivan and Pellegrini, the newspaper reported. Sullivan was last spotted just after 3:30 a.m. and Pellegrini, around 6:38 a.m.
Verrill was seen leaving the house just nine minutes later, his shoes in hand, Strong said in court.
The detective testified that Verrill’s friend told investigators Verrill showed up at his house again later that day, minus the flannel shirt and hat he was wearing in the video shot at Smoronk’s house, the Voice reported. Receipts and store surveillance also indicate that Verrill went to Lowe’s and Walmart that same day to buy salt and ammonia cleanser.
Evidence of both were found at the crime scene, the Voice reported. Verrill was arrested on the charges about a week after the slayings.
Police charged a McDonald’s employee in Bluffton, South Carolina, Friday after she assaulted her manager with bacon in her hand.
The Island Packet reported that, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report, the assault happened after 1:30 p.m. when a manager asked a cook to stop eating bacon while working in the kitchen. When the cook kept eating the bacon, the manager told her supervisor about the issue.
That angered the employee, who backed the manager into a corner and “tried to shove hot crispy bacon in (her) face,” according to the police report.
The manager tried to push the cook away. The cook, still holding onto the bacon, hit the manager in her face and threw “a cup of an unknown substance” at the manager, according to police.
Another employee broke up the fight and called 911.
The Island Packet reported that the police report said a judge issued an arrest warrant for the cook.
A 6-year-old Houston girl was shot in the leg during a shooting Monday involving a security guard and robbery suspect, KTRK reported.
Claire Tidwell underwent surgery Tuesday. She was sitting in a car with her family at a McDonald’s drive-thru when an alleged robbery took place at a T-Mobile next door to the fast-food restaurant, KPRC reported. A security guard fired nearly a dozen shots at a man who fled the T-Mobile store with a phone, and one of the shots hit Claire, the television station reported.
Claire’s father, Danny Tidwell, said he and his son ducked after hearing shots around 4 p.m.
“We were sitting in the car, ordering food. All of a sudden, gunshots started going off everywhere. It was so loud that we knew it was close. It was so close that we ducked in the seat, because we couldn't tell where it was coming from.” Tidwell told KTRK. “As the shots were going off, my daughter said, 'Daddy, I'm hurt.' I turned around and there was blood everywhere. I knew she was shot, so I just left."
The T-Mobile security guard, identified as Christopher Jermaine Bradley, was in custody, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, KPRC reported.
"He saw the theft happening in progress. He pulled his weapon and actually shot the suspect," Houston police Officer Anthony Le told KTRK.
Bradley’s mother rushed to the scene of the shooting, the television station reported.
"I don't even know the little girl, but I know my heart is breaking for all of them," Sherhonda Bradley told KTRK.
T-Mobile released a statement, calling the shooting a tragic situation.
“Our thoughts are with everyone involved,” T-Mobile said in its statement. “We are working closely with the independently-owned third party retailer that operates the store to fully understand the facts around this terrible incident and how their security service responded. We will also continue to provide assistance to law enforcement in their ongoing investigation."
Tidwell said doctors removed the bullet from Claire’s leg without causing additional damage, KPRC reported.
A Michigan woman has been charged and is facing loss of parental rights after she overdosed her 6-week-old daughter on methadone “because she was fussy,” police officials said.
Jennifer Lynn Pickerd, 37, of Grand Rapids, is charged with second-degree child abuse in the Sept. 30 incident at her apartment, ABC13 in Grand Rapids reported. Court records show that the case against Pickerd was filed Nov. 2.
She was booked into the Kent County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bond, but she has since been released, according to jail records.
ABC13 reported that Grand Rapids police officers responded to a 911 call Sept. 30 about an infant having trouble breathing. Pickerd reportedly admitted giving the baby 20 mg of methadone, which she obtained from a clinic at which she was a patient, because the baby was crying and would not go to sleep.
Court documents obtained by ABC13 showed that Pickerd told investigators she believed the baby was going through withdrawal after Pickerd stopped breastfeeding the girl.
“She denied calling (the child’s) doctor before deciding to give the baby the controlled substance,” the documents said.
Pickerd told investigators she gave the baby Narcan when she found her unresponsive and realized she was overdosing on the drug.
Methadone is an opiate typically used to wean addicts off narcotic pain medication. Narcan is a drug that is administered to people overdosing on opiates.
The infant girl was hospitalized for several days, ABC13 reported.
“The baby was released from the hospital on Oct. 5 after going through detox for methadone,” Sgt. Catherine Williams with the Grand Rapids Police Department said.
The girl has been placed in the custody of Kent County Children’s Protective Services, ABC13 said. A hearing has been set for later this month to terminate Pickerd’s parental rights.
Police are searching for a California woman who attacked a McDonald’s manager after she entered the back of the fast-food restaurant and asked for ketchup, KABC reported.
On Oct. 27 around 11 p.m., the woman entered the work area of a McDonald’s in Santa Ana and asked for ketchup. When told to leave the employee area, the suspect punched and choked the manager, the television station reported.
The incident was caught on surveillance cameras.
"The manager tells her, 'I'll be glad to help you, you just need to go up front,' and for whatever reason she took it upon herself to assault the manager," Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told KABC.
The video shows the suspect, dressed in a light T-shirt, putting her hands around the manager’s neck and slamming her head into a drink machine.
Later in the video, a man wearing a gray hoodie comes through the same back entrance and escorts the suspect out of the restaurant.
The restaurant manager said the suspect did not seem intoxicated or impaired, but was just angry, KNTV reported.
"There is no reason that any employee at any business should be assaulted by a patron, much less over not getting enough ketchup," Bertagna told told KABC.
Police are searching for the suspect, Bertagna told the television station.
A Texas thief stole a $300,000 Ferrari that was parked in the driveway of a suburban Dallas home, but left his damaged Chevrolet Suburban at the scene, WFAA reported.
The owner of the car -- a white, 2018 Ferrari GTC4Lusso T -- said his car was parked in the driveway on the side of the home, unlocked and with the keys still inside the vehicle, when it was stolen Nov. 4, The Dallas Morning News reported. There also was about $2,000 of pain medication in the car, the owner told police.
The Ferrari, which can reach speeds of 199 mph, was recovered Monday, Lt. Lance Koppa, a Highland Park Department of Public Safety spokesman, told the newspaper.
Police found an open beer can in the console of the Suburban, and the SUV had damage on the right front and back quarters of the vehicle, WFAA reported. A police report said the SUV was registered to a man in Fort Worth, but did not say if the owner was a suspect, the television station reported.
The Suburban was impounded by police, the Morning News reported.
Ronnie and Cindy Watts are frustrated.
The parents of Chris Watts, the Colorado man who pleaded guilty Nov. 6 to killing his wife, Shanann Watts, and their daughters, Bella, 4, and 3-year-old Celeste, told ABC7 in Denver that they are not convinced that the public knows the whole story of what happened that August morning at their son and daughter-in-law’s Frederick home.
Watts’ parents said in an interview from their North Carolina home that they were not allowed to get all the answers in the case before their son entered his guilty plea.
“I asked Chris, ‘If you did not do this, do not confess to something you didn’t do,’” Cindy Watts told ABC7. “(His defense attorney) shut me down. She completely shut me down.”
“If he didn’t kill the children, I want him to face that and let them prove it,” Ronnie Watts told the news station.
Chris Watts entered a guilty plea to nine charges last week: three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree murder of a child under the age of 12 by a person in a position of trust, one count of unlawful termination of pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased body.
Shanann Watts, 34, was about 15 weeks pregnant with a son they planned to name Nico.
The Coloradoan in Fort Collins reported that Chris Watts held back tears as he pleaded guilty, his voice wavering each of the nine times he uttered the word. Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke took the death penalty off the table -- at the request of Shanann Watts’ family.
The minimum sentence on all five murder counts is life in prison without parole, according to Watts’ signed guilty plea. Unlawful termination of a pregnancy carries a sentence of 16 to 48 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines.
Tampering with a body carries a sentence of four to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000, the document said.
Chris Watts is scheduled for sentencing Monday.
Even prior to the guilty plea, Chris Watts admitted strangling Shanann Watts, 34, to death Aug. 13. He claimed that Shanann Watts strangled their young daughters after he asked for a separation, prompting him to do the same to her while in a rage.
Shanann Watts returned home from a business trip around 2 a.m. the morning of the slayings. According to Chris Watts’ arrest affidavit, he initially told investigators that the couple woke around 5 a.m., at which time they had an emotional conversation about splitting up.
He said he loaded some tools into his truck around 5:30 a.m. and went to work at his job for Andarko Petroleum Corp., at which time Shanann and the girls were still alive. He claimed that Shanann said she was going to take the girls to visit a friend later in the day.
A friend of Shanann Watts reported her and her daughters missing later that day when she could not locate them.
A two-day investigation determined that Chris Watts was having an affair with a coworker, the affidavit said. During subsequent questioning -- and after speaking to his father -- Watts admitted to killing his wife.
Chris Watts claimed he told Shanann he wanted a separation that morning. He said he went downstairs for a moment and, upon returning upstairs, he saw his wife killing their children.
“While in the bedroom, via baby monitor located on Shanann’s night stand, he observed Bella ‘sprawled’ out on her bed and blue, and Shanann actively strangling Celeste,” the arrest affidavit said. “Chris said he went into a rage and ultimately strangled Shanann to death.”
Chris Watts told investigators he loaded the bodies into his truck and drove them about 60 miles to a tank battery belonging to Andarko, where he buried Shanann in a shallow grave. Bella and Celeste were found submerged in crude oil in two nearby oil tanks.
The autopsy results on the victims have not been released to the public.
The charges against Chris Watts indicated that his daughters may have been dead before Shanann Watts returned from her business trip Aug. 13.
Ronnie and Cindy Watts told ABC7 they wonder if their son was coerced into confessing to killing the children.
“To me, all they wanted to do was save his life, just save his life,” Cindy Watts told the news station. “Save his life and life in prison, to me there’s no difference. He’s going to die in prison. I just want him to fight. I don’t want him to take this plea deal. I want him to plead not guilty to the children.”
Cindy Watts told Fox31 in Denver that she can not imagine her son killing his entire family.
“I don’t know how he could do that. I want to stop it before it’s too late," Cindy Watts told the news station. “I want to talk to him; we haven’t been able to talk to him. I know I raised a good man and he was such a good person, such a good person. He was not a sociopath or psychopath or kill animals or anything like that ... didn’t do any of these things people are saying he did.
“He’s not that monster people are portraying to him to be. I love my son no matter what. I want to fight for him. I don’t want him to go down for something he didn’t do.”
Shanann Watts’ family issued a statement in response to Ronnie and Cindy Watts’ interview, in which they accused their former in-laws of making “vicious, grotesque and utterly false statements about Shanann.”
“Their false statements, however hurtful and inaccurate, will never alter the truth about Shanann and will never alter the truth about the crimes committed by their son, Chris Watts,” the statement said, according to Fox31. “Shanann’s memory and reputation deserves to be protected. And her family is fully prepared to do so.”
“Shanann Watts was a faithful wife, and the most gentle and loving mother in the world to her children Bella, Celeste, and Nico,” her family wrote. “She was also the best daughter any parent could ever hope for. Shanann was a wonderful soul.
“Everyone who knew Shanann knows this to be true. Even Chris Watts knows this to be true. Yet Chris Watts still chose to murder Shanann, Bella, Celeste and Nico. Chris Watts still chose to dump the bodies of his own family in oil tanks. And Chris Watts still chose to lie about it until he could lie no more. He pled guilty to murdering his family because he is guilty.”
Indiana police said a woman murdered her husband on Friday and did not report it until Monday morning, WXIN reported.
Sheila Ridenour, 55, was charged with murder and failure to report a body, the Indianapolis Star reported, citing an arrest report by police in Montgomery County.
According to police, Ridenour called 911 at 3:24 a.m. to report the death. Officers responded and found Billy Ridenour, 62, dead at the couple’s Crawfordsville residence, WXIN reported.
Ridenour told a 911 dispatcher she shot her husband on Friday, the Star reported.
Police said the case is still being investigated, WXIN reported
George Zimmerman entered a no contest plea to resolve a misdemeanor charge of stalking a private investigator in the latest run-in with the law for the neighborhood watch leader who killed Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman will be placed on 12-month probation, during which time he is not allowed to possess a firearm.
The Associated Press reported that Zimmerman entered the no contest plea in absentia, meaning he did not have to be present at the courthouse. Under such a plea, a defendant doesn’t admit guilt, and a conviction is withheld if the conditions of the plea are met.
Zimmerman was accused of sending threatening messages to a private investigator who had contacted him about a documentary series on Martin.
According to court records, the private investigator contacted Zimmerman about the film on Sept. 21, 2017 and mentioned the producer, Mike Gasparro, and left a voicemail with Gasparro’s contact information.
Deputies said Gasparro told the private investigator that Zimmerman was extremely agitated with him and threatened physical harm because the investigator had been contacting Zimmerman’s family.
Zimmerman allegedly told Gasparro, “Help (the investigator’s wife) out and give him a heads-up. I’m going to find him. And I’m bringing hell with me.”
He allegedly texted Gasparro and said, “(The private investigator) is a (expletive) who bothered my uncle in his home. Local or former law officer, he’s well on his way to the inside of a gator as well. Ten-four?”
On Dec. 16, the private investigator said he, too, began receiving threats from Zimmerman. In total, he received 21 calls, 38 texts and seven voicemails in a two-hour time span.
The investigator called deputies to report the alleged threats.
The responding deputy told the private investigator to make a call to Zimmerman and ask him to cease communication. According to documents, Zimmerman told him, “No,” and to go ahead and “pursue charges.”
He also said, “Text me again. I’ll show up at your house,” the documents said.
Zimmerman also sent the victim a website link to a December 2017 news story on celebrity gossip site The Blast, in which Zimmerman was quoted, saying, “I know how to handle people who (expletive) with me. I have since February 2012,” and, “Anyone who (expletive) with my parents will be fed to an alligator.”
According to The Blast, Zimmerman himself said that he was being harassed by production crews working on the documentary about Martin.
In March 2017, Variety reported that JAY-Z was a partner with the Weinstein Company on the project. The documentary series, titled, “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story,” aired from July to September, examined Martin’s life, the shooting by Zimmerman and the 2013 acquittal.
According to the court documents, Zimmerman continued to send text messages, emails and phone calls.
Court records show the private investigator received 55 phone calls, 67 text messages, 36 voicemails and 27 emails throughout December. The voicemails, deputies said, contained what appeared to be ticking sounds and tones that would slowly increase in frequency.
On Jan. 3, a deputy who was familiar with Zimmerman from a domestic dispute between Zimmerman and his ex-wife, called Zimmerman.
Court documents said he berated the deputy.
Zimmerman fatally shot the black teenager in 2012 in the central Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, who identifies as Hispanic, was acquitted of all charges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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