The Florida Department of Children and Families has confirmed the death of a 5-year-old girl who was badly beaten in a Jacksonville home.
ActionNewsJax reported Friday that sources said the girl was on life support after an extreme case of abuse in a home at the Oak Tree Apartments.
The child’s grandmother told ActionNewsJax reporter Ryan Nelson that the child’s mother, Michelle Cannimore, is behind bars, and so is her current boyfriend, Jonte Harris.
Cannimore is charged with child neglect and child abuse with intentional infliction of physical or mental injury. Harris is charged with aggravated battery on a child using a deadly weapon.
Neighbors said they feared abuse may have been present in the home. They said they could hear screams coming from the home.
“I told [detectives] the same thing I'm telling you,” said one neighbor. "That I would hear that, and I was like, ‘What's going on?’”
ActionNewsJax obtained a statement from DCF Interim Secretary Rebecca Kapusta:
“I am absolutely horrified and disgusted at the abuse this child endured in her short life. That anyone would hurt an innocent child is shameful and DCF will work closely with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to hold anyone responsible for her abuse fully accountable under the law.
"There are not sufficient words to describe the pain those who loved her are feeling right now, but the department will continue to ensure her sibling is in a safe home and that she receives the highest quality care as she recovers from this loss.”
DCF also said the family has a history with the welfare system.
“We’d try to go ask if she's alright,” said the neighbor. “She would just open the door for a second. She wouldn't open the door all the way.”
Another woman, who asked that her identity be concealed for her protection, claimed that Cannimore’s personality seemed to change after she began dating Harris.
“She will have her head down,” she said. “And that’s how she would be.”
So far, no murder charges have been filed in the case. ActionNewsJax requested the arrest report from the Sheriff’s Office on Friday but has not yet received it.
Federal officials said Friday that they arrested a Florida teacher on allegations of distributing child pornography.
Jordan Frederic Schemmel, 37, is a teacher at Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville, authorities said.
>> On ActionNewsJax.com: Read the entire criminal complaint against Jordan Schemmel (WARNING: Graphic content.)
Duval County Public Schools confirmed the arrest and said Schemmel will not teach until the case is resolved.
"Should he be released from custody, he will be immediately removed from the classroom and not have further contact with students pending the outcome of an internal investigation," a voicemail sent to parents said.
According to a biography on the Duval County Public Schools site, Schemmel previously worked as a teacher at Ponte Vedra High in St. Johns County and Ed White High in Jacksonville.
Schemmel faces up to 20 years in federal prison. He is scheduled for a hearing on Oct. 25.
According to a the criminal complaint, an individual using the screen name “JS” and the user name “Profsunrise15” responded to a message in September on an internet bulletin board frequented by individuals with a sexual interest in children.
This message had been posted by an undercover FBI agent.
The user under the name “Profsunrise15” sent the agent a video depicting a prepubescent child being sexually assaulted by an adult male, and later sent a photo depicting similar criminal conduct with a child, authorities said.
Authorities said the IP address used by Profsunrise15 was traced back to Schemmel’s residence in Jacksonville.
A Pennsylvania man in prison for killing his wife and stepdaughter in March has been charged with another slaying, this time of a man who witnessed a burglary he committed in 1988, and investigators say he’s a suspect in at least six more murders.
Regis Andrew Brown, 59, has been charged with criminal homicide in the shooting death of Bryce Kenneth Tompkins, 45, whose body was found by hunters the day after Christmas, partially submerged in a creek near New Castle. He is also charged with two counts of aggravated assault and a single count of witness intimidation.
WPXI in Pittsburgh reported that police officials said Brown admitted his involvement in the slaying, telling cold case investigators he shot Tompkins, a neighbor, because he had witnessed a burglary Brown and another man, Paul Michael Ayersman, committed in New Castle. Ayersman is now dead.
Pennsylvania State Trooper Joe Vascetti said during a news conference Thursday that Brown is also suspected in a string of homicides in the southwestern portion of the state between 1986 and 2016.
“He’s either been arrested for or confessed to or is a strong suspect in eight homicides right now,” Vascetti said. “We’ve done extensive interviews with him. He was in or around Lawrence County back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. He associated with a lot of individuals that we are looking at that are involved in some other homicides back in that era. He may be tied to or have knowledge (of) an additional six to eight homicides from that area.”
If that is the case, Brown could be tied in one way or another to as many as 16 slayings.
See the news conference on Brown’s latest arrest below.
Vascetti declined to go into further detail about those cases because they are ongoing investigations. He said Brown confessed to at least two additional homicides besides that of Tompkins.
“He has a checkered past,” Vascetti said. “He is a violent offender. He was involved in a lot of violent crimes back then.”
Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa said during the news conference that Brown and Ayersman were arrested in December 1988 for a series of burglaries they’d committed in New Castle. Taken in one of those burglaries was a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver -- the same caliber of the gun that was used to kill Tompkins.
Tompkins was shot twice in the back, Lamancusa said.
Lamancusa said that detectives questioned Brown about the Tompkins slaying March 19, shortly after Brown had been arrested in connection with the deaths of his wife and stepdaughter. According to Erie News Now, Michele Brown, 53, was bludgeoned to death and her daughter, Tammy Greenawalt, 35, was stabbed to death.
“It was a horrendous scene,” Vascetti said Thursday. “He’s just a vicious individual.”
The New York Post reported that Brown tied Greenawalt to a chair before beginning to stab her. He beat his wife to death in their garage when she returned home later that day.
Greenawalt’s 14-year-old daughter witnessed portions of the killings before her grandfather tied her up in a bedroom of his Fairview Township home for most of the weekend, Erie News Now reported. When she went to school the following Monday, school staff noticed marks on her wrists and the girl admitted her grandfather had tied her up.
Police officers who went to the Brown home for a welfare check when neither woman showed up for work found Michele Brown’s body wrapped in a rug in the garage. Greenawalt was still seated in the chair and covered with a blanket, the news station reported.
Officers found a sledgehammer and a broken pair of scissors, both of which appeared to have blood on them, the station said.
Regis Brown, who pleaded guilty to the murders last month, was sentenced to life in prison.
Lamancusa said Brown confessed to killing Tompkins during that interview in March.
“He described where the killing occurred, the motive for it, the disposal of the body and the subsequent burial of the .38-caliber pistol,” Lamancusa said.
The district attorney said that investigators tried on two separate occasions to find the buried weapon but could not because the area had been built up in the intervening years with dirt and fill.
“However, several witnesses have been developed in this case throughout the entire investigation and are prepared to testify to their knowledge of the killing,” he said.
Those witnesses’ identities are being kept secret due to Brown’s affiliation with at least one motorcycle gang, Lamancusa said.
Vascetti said Brown was a person of interest in Tompkins’ slaying from the beginning, specifically because of the burglary spree he and Ayersman committed. When Brown was arrested, he was in possession of a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun stolen in the same burglary in which the .38-caliber revolver was taken.
“(Troopers) knew it was from a burglary near where the victim lived and knew Regis Brown lived two doors up from the victim, and, you know, things started to click,” Vascetti said.
He said Brown did not know Tompkins, who had a habit of walking around the neighborhood at night.
“Unfortunately, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Vascetti said.
The men confronted him a few nights later and shot him execution-style, the trooper said.
“Just a brutal murder,” Vascetti said. “Ruthless.”
Tompkins’ family expressed relief that the case has finally been solved.
“After 30 years, I’m completely relieved for our family that we can have this closure and my dad can rest now,” his daughter, Stacey Harding, said, according to WPXI.
Brown’s stepson, Alan Greenawalt, said he wishes the arrest had come much sooner. If it had, he told Erie News Now, his mother and sister might still be alive.
“I just wish things were different,” Greenawalt said. “Whatever he gets, he gets. He deserves it.”
An ice cream truck driver in upstate New York was arrested Tuesday after he was accused of following a group of young girls in his truck.
Charles A. Ross, 57, of Whitehall, is charged with felony stalking, misdemeanor stalking and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, according to The Post Star in Glens Falls. He is also charged with unlawful possession of marijuana because officers found marijuana on him when he was arrested, the newspaper said.
South Glens Falls Police Chief Kevin Judd told The Post Star that investigators received a complaint Oct. 3 that Ross followed the girls while driving a truck belonging to Mr. Ding-a-Ling, a regional ice cream truck company based in Latham. The girls were 12 and 13 years old.
The girls told responding officers that it appeared Ross was taking photos or video of them, the newspaper said. The ice cream truck was gone by the time the officers got to the scene.
South Glens Falls investigators worked with New York state troopers to identify Ross as the man the girls saw following them, Judd said. The families of two of the girls filed official complaints.
Ross was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop, The Post Star reported. He was in his own vehicle when the stop took place.
The complaints against Ross in South Glens Falls were not the first, The Post Star reported. A similar complaint of him taking pictures of children from his truck was lodged in June in Lake George.
The newspaper reported that Warren County sheriff’s deputies watched Ross and confronted him, but no charges could be filed because taking photos in public is not a crime.
He did not follow the children in the Lake George incident.
“It appears he escalated his behavior,” Warren County sheriff’s Lt. Steve Stockdale told The Post Star.
Police officials said that investigators notified the owner of Mr. Ding-a-Ling about the allegations against Ross, but he was allowed to continue driving his truck between the June and October incidents. The Post Star reported that calls to the company seeking comment had not been returned.
Mr. Ding-a-Ling was established in 1975 and has grown from one truck to 66 trucks, the company’s website says. The trucks operate from New York to Maine and Vermont.
The operator of Mr. Ding-a-Ling of the Adirondacks wrote in a post Thursday on Facebook that Ross was in no way affiliated with his truck.
“Just wanted to let everyone know that has nothing to do with our truck here,” the post read. “I’m so mad about the driver there tarnishing our brand.”
He wrote that “bad apples” pop up in businesses everywhere, but that he wanted to reassure his customers.
“Most of my customers are like family and friends,” the post read.
A South Florida man fighting with his ex-wife threw a disabled Chihuahua into a backyard swimming pool, telling the animal “You can’t swim but you’re going to learn tonight” before it drowned, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Pembroke Pines police arrested Juan Manuel Gonzalez, 40, on Thursday night and charged him with domestic violence and animal cruelty, the newspaper reported. Gonzalez’s ex-wife, who is four months pregnant, was injured during the domestic dispute, police said.
The arrest report does not describe the dog’s disability, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Gonzalez’s ex-wife called police around 11 p.m. Thursday, telling them she was grabbed by her face and suffered a cut lip.
“The victim advised that during the physical altercation, the defendant was screaming and yelling and destroying personal property within the house,” the arrest report said. “The victim also stated that she could hear the dog apparently suffering and crying for a short period of time. Ultimately, the family dog drowned.”
Police said Gonzalez was the “primary” aggressor in the dispute, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Gonzalez denied hurting his ex-wife but admitted throwing their dog into the pool, the newspaper reported.
An Indiana woman is accused of giving her month-old baby an overdose of a narcotic, WXIN reported.
Janelle Norman, 24, is charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in serious injury, the television station reported.
The incident took place in Madison County in August, but charges were filed this week.
“This child’s very fortunate to be alive,” Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings told WXIN.
According to court documents, police were called to the hospital, as the baby had overdosed on suboxone, the television station reported. Two doses of Narcan were administered and the baby survived.
According to court documents, Norman told police she found a partially dissolved orange pill in the child’s mouth, removed it and took her to the hospital emergency room, all within a span of about 25 minutes. Norman denied having suboxone or orange-colored pills in the apartment, WXIN reported.
Two other people contradicted Norman’s version, according to court documents.
The children, ages 1 and 2, were found at about 8 p.m. Tuesday, not properly clothed and barefoot, when the temperature was about 50 degrees and windy, according to a police report.
A woman called police after she found the children at her front door. She told police she didn’t know where the children lived.
Police canvassed the area and found a home where there were toys and car seats scattered in the yard and the front gate was open. The woman who answered the door told police she was babysitting the children and other juveniles.
The mother showed up and told police she had left the children in the care of the babysitter while she went to the store.
The babysitter was issued a summons for child endangering. Police also forwarded a copy of the report to Butler County Children Services.
A South Dakota woman who works as a clinical psychologist is accused of trying to kill herself and her 6-month-old son in a car crash out of fear the baby has an attachment disorder, court documents allege.
Julia Jacquelyn Alzoubaidi, 34, of Sioux Falls, is charged with attempted premeditated first-degree murder and abuse or cruelty to a child under the age of 7, records show. The Argus Leader reported that bail has been set at $250,000.
According to the court documents, computer data from Alzoubaidi’s Mazda CX-5 indicate she accelerated from 50 mph to 70 mph just before the crash. She never hit the brakes, the arrest affidavit says.
“Our hearts go out to the Alzoubaidi family during this incredibly difficult time, and we are holding them in our prayers,” Avera Health said in a statement obtained by The Argus Leader.
Sioux Falls police spokesman Sam Clemens said 911 dispatchers received a call around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday about a vehicle that had left Interstate 229 near Minnesota Avenue and rolled into a ditch. The scene of the crash is close to the Big Sioux River.
The court documents say that Minnesota state troopers were first on the scene.
“As they made their way to the SUV, they heard splashing and moaning near the river,” the arrest affidavit said.
One of the troopers found Alzoubaidi facedown in the river under a bridge that crossed a culvert, the document said. He pulled her to shore, where he found her unresponsive, but breathing and shivering.
The temperature at the time was 37 degrees, with a wind chill of 32 degrees, the affidavit said.
Alzoubaidi’s 6-month-old son was found on the bank of the river, wet, cold and not breathing. The affidavit says the troopers began CPR and continued performing it until Sioux Falls fire medics arrived.
Both Alzoubaidi and the baby were taken to Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center for treatment. According to the arrest affidavit, the baby was rushed into the pediatric intensive care unit, where he was treated for hypothermia and aspiration pneumonia, or water in his lungs.
Meanwhile, the first responders were unsure if there were more victims in the water. Clemens told reporters the morning of the crash that the uncertainty of the situation resulted in a large response -- 15 patrol cars from the Highway Patrol and Sioux Falls Police Department, as well as two fire trucks and a rescue unit.
“I think part of it was they thought it was going to be a water rescue,” Clemens said. “Both of them had been in the water at some point in time. I think that was probably part of the response.”
Initially, first responders also believed more people might have been involved in the crash, but Alzoubaidi’s husband, when reached by police, was able to confirm his wife and son were likely the only people in the vehicle, Clemens said.
See Clemens brief the media on the crash and the charges against Alzoubaidi below, courtesy of The Argus Leader.
The troopers noted that all the doors on the SUV were closed, except the door next to the infant boy’s child safety seat, and they determined that Alzoubaidi and her son were not ejected into the water.
A suicide note was found in the vehicle, the affidavit says. The note, the contents of which were included in the affidavit, indicated that Alzoubaidi believed her son had signs of reactive attachment disorder.
According to the Mayo Clinic, reactive attachment disorder is a rare but serious condition in which an infant or young child fails to establish healthy attachments with his parents or caregivers.
“Reactive attachment disorder may develop if the child's basic needs for comfort, affection and nurturing aren't met and loving, caring, stable attachments with others are not established,” the Mayo Clinic website says. Signs of the disorder include a failure to smile, a listless appearance, failure to seek comfort or respond when comfort is given, failure to engage in social interaction and a failure to reach out when picked up.
“The prognosis is poor and I couldn’t let him live a life of misery and pain,” Alzoubaidi wrote in her suicide note. “Most kiddos I know with the disorder are institutionalized, suicidal and homicidal and tortured souls. (Name redacted) doesn’t deserve that.”
The note also indicated she blamed herself for her son’s condition and believed she’d caused her husband nothing but pain, the affidavit says.
Read the affidavit seeking an arrest warrant for Julia Alzoubaidi below.
According to the document, Alzoubaidi told emergency room staff treating her that she believed her son had the disorder because he did not enjoy being held.
“When she picked the baby up, he would cry,” the affidavit reads. “The defendant told the ER staff that her solution was to kill the baby and herself.”
Alzoubaidi’s husband told investigators that he did not worry when his wife was not in bed because she often woke during the night to feed their son or pump breast milk, the affidavit said. He did not realize anything was wrong until he was awakened by police officers knocking on the door around 4 a.m.
He told officers he was aware that his wife was concerned about the possibility of reactive attachment disorder, but he did not know his wife intended to harm their son or herself, the document says.
Alzoubaidi reiterated her concerns when investigators interviewed her in the hospital, the affidavit says. She said the lack of bonding she felt with her son made her feel “inadequate as a mother.”
“(Alzoubaidi) sought assistance and advice from her peers and colleagues,” the affidavit says. “This intervention helped for a time, and then she stated her thoughts would eventually turn to ending her life.”
Alzoubaidi’s husband told detectives his wife suffered from anxiety and depression, but that she had gone off her medication during her pregnancy and while breastfeeding their son, the document said.
As of Wednesday, both Alzoubaidi and her son remained hospitalized, KELO-TV reported.
UPDATE 4:58 p.m. EDT Oct. 18: The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said that during an investigation of a woman who left a a 2-year-old boy in front of a stranger’s house the found out she was a family friend.
“On the morning of October 18, 2018, the father was leaving his residence when he was approached by our media partners asking if he knew anything about the child,” authorities said in an update Thursday. “At that time, the father was shown the video and immediately identified the child as his son.”
KTRK reported that the father told authorities that the mother of the child, who was in the hospital, texted the boy’s father to let him know a friend was going to drop off the boy at his home Wednesday afternoon. The father said he assumed plans changed when his son didn’t arrive and had left his house.
“The suspect in the video dropped the child off after the father had left his residence and at the wrong residence,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “The female in the video then left location without verifying anyone was home or who she was releasing the child to.”
The woman is being charged with felony child abandonment. Authorities are not releasing her name, KTRK reported.
Police in Texas are investigating after a woman left a 2-year-old boy in front of a stranger’s house.
KTVT reported that deputies with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home in Spring, Texas, when a 911 caller said she heard a knock at her door. When she answered it, she found the child but no adult.
“When deputies arrived they viewed video surveillance and observed a black female arrive at the residence in a white passenger car,” Lt. Scott Spencer, with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, said in a Thursday morning news release. “The suspect is observed running toward the front door of the residence while lifting the child in the air by one arm. Once the suspect arrives at the front door she rings the door bell, knocks on the door and then flees back to her vehicle abandoning the 2 year child and two bags she was carrying. The entire incident lasted 23 seconds.”
“The child is uninjured and appears to be in good health,” Spencer said, adding that Child Protective Services took custody of the boy.
In an update later Thursday morning, the Sheriff’s Office said the father of the child had been found. The identities of the woman and child have not been released.
“With the help of our local media and our community, the father of the abandoned child has been located.”
KTRK reported the identity of the child and said that the boy’s father lives next door to the house where the child was abandoned.
A Georgia teacher accused of sexually abusing a DeKalb County middle-school student was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Wednesday afternoon, police said.
Zachary Meadors, 28, of Lawrenceville, was found dead in a vehicle in the 1200 block of Scenic Highway around 5:15 p.m., Gwinnett County police said in a news release.
He was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a sixth-grade male student at Freedom Middle School, according to an arrest warrant by DeKalb County police. He faced charges of child molestation, computer pornography and child exploitation, WSB-TV reported.
He was a sixth-grade English teacher at the school in Stone Mountain, and he had worked there for two years, WSB-TV reported. He was placed on unpaid administrative leave on Friday.
His parents filed a missing persons report Monday with police after Meadors left letters and an iPad at his parents’ front door. He was last seen Saturday.
The missing persons report said Meadors apologized for his relationship with the student and asked his parents to divide his money among family members, WSB-TV reported.
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