TIME Crime

Suspect in Virginia Student’s Disappearance May Be Linked to 2009 Murder, Cops Say

Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr
This undated photo provided by the Charlottesville Police Department, in Virginia, shows Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. AP

The main suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham may be connected to a 2009 abduction and murder

The main suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham may be connected to the abduction and murder of another young woman in the area five years ago, police revealed on Monday.

Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, 20, was last seen alive on October 17, 2009 after leaving a Metallica concert in Charlottesville, where the university is located. Three months later, her dead body was found in a field. Her murder has not been solved.

On Monday, Virginia State Police said “the arrest of Jesse L. Matthew Jr., 32, of Charlottesville, Va., provided a significant break in this case with a new forensic link for state police investigators to pursue.”

Read more from our partners at NBC News

TIME Crime

Cops Hunt Parolee After Arkansas Real Estate Agent Vanishes

Beverly Carter was reported missing by her husband

An arrest warrant was issued late Sunday for a suspect in the disappearance of Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter, who vanished after showing a home last week.

Aaron Lewis, 33, is a person of interest in the case, according to Lt. Carl Minden of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. Police said Lewis was involved a single-vehicle road accident in Jacksonville, Arkansas, earlier on Sunday and was treated in a local hospital for facial injuries but left before the warrant was issued.

“He was not under the guard of law enforcement at that time due to not having any criminal charges at that point,” Minden said…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Crime

How Poisoned Tylenol Became a Crisis-Management Teaching Model

Tylenol 1982
Bottles and boxes of Tylenol products which were taken off the shelves or returned to a Safeway store, on Oct. 1, 1982 Jim Preston— The Denver Post / Getty Images

Sept. 29, 1982: The first three of seven victims are killed by poisoned Tylenol in the Chicago area

The killer’s motives remain unknown, but his — or her, or their — technical savvy is as chilling today as it was 30 years ago.

On Sept. 29, 1982, three people died in the Chicago area after taking cyanide-laced Tylenol at the outset of a poisoning spree that would claim seven lives by Oct. 1. The case has never been solved, and so the lingering question — why? — still haunts investigators.

According to TIME’s 1982 report, Food and Drug Administration officials hypothesized that the killer bought Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules over the counter, injected cyanide into the red half of the capsules, resealed the bottles, and sneaked them back onto the shelves of drug and grocery stores. The Illinois attorney general, on the other hand, suspected a disgruntled employee on Tylenol’s factory line. In either case, it was a sophisticated and ambitious undertaking with the seemingly pathological goal of killing strangers entirely at random. Their symptoms and sudden deaths confounded doctors until the link was discovered, traced back to identical pill bottles that each smelled like almonds — the telltale scent of cyanide. The perpetrator left no margin for error, filling the capsules with poison at thousands of times the amount needed to be fatal.

One victim, 27-year-old Adam Janus, took Tylenol for minor chest pain and died within hours. His younger brother and sister-in-law were killed after taking pills from the same bottle while grieving the sudden, shocking loss at Janus’ house.

TIME’s Susan Tifft wrote of the tragedy’s victims on Oct. 11, 1982:

Twelve-year-old Mary Kellerman of Elk Grove Village took Extra-Strength Tylenol to ward off a cold that had been dogging her. Mary Reiner, 27… had recently given birth to her fourth child. Paula Prince, 35, a United Airlines stewardess, was found dead in her Chicago apartment, an open bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol near by in the bathroom. Says Dr. Kim [the chief of critical care at Northwest Community Hospital]: “The victims never had a chance. Death was certain within minutes.”

Without a suspect to revile, public outrage could have fallen squarely on Tylenol — the nation’s leading painkiller, with a market share greater than the next four top painkillers combined — and its parent corporation, Johnson & Johnson. Instead, by quickly recalling all of its products from store shelves, a move that cost Johnson & Johnson millions of dollars, the company emerged as another victim of the crime and one that put customer safety above profit. It even issued national warnings urging the public not to take Tylenol and established a hotline for worried customers to call.

Tylenol relatively quickly reestablished its brand, recovering the entire market share it lost during the cyanide scare. Though things could have gone very differently, the episode’s most lasting legacy has been in the annals of public relations, not poison control: the case has since become a model for effective corporate crisis management.

Read the 1982 report on the poisonings, here in TIME’s archives: Poison Madness in the Midwest

TIME Crime

Police Officer Shot in Ferguson

Police-Shooting-Missouri
Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers stand posted at the corner of Chambers Road and West Florissant Avenue on Sept. 27, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo., as police search for a suspect in the shooting of a Ferguson police officer. Christian Gooden—AP

Was shot in the arm and is expected to survive

FERGUSON, Mo. — A search for two suspects in a St. Louis suburb that’s undergone racial unrest continued Sunday after a Ferguson police officer was shot in the arm following an encounter with two men at a community center who ran from him and then opened fire during a foot chase, authorities said.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a media briefing early Sunday that the officer approached the men around 9:10 p.m. Saturday because the community center was closed. As the officer approached, the men ran away. When the officer gave chase, “one of the men turned and shot,” Belmar said.

The officer was shot in the arm and is expected to survive, he said. Belmar did not identify the officer or give further details about his condition. He said the officer returned fire but said police have “no indication” that either suspect was shot.

A search was underway for the suspects early Sunday in Ferguson, where some community members remain uneasy in the wake of the August shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year-old by a white police officer.

Belmar said he did not think the officer’s shooting was related to two separate protests about Michael Brown’s shooting that were going on Saturday night around the same time.

Around midnight at the police station, approximately two dozen officers stood near a group of about 100 protesters who mingled on a street corner, occasionally shouting, “No justice; no peace.”

Nearby, part of a road was closed in town as police conducted a search for the suspects. Numerous law enforcement agencies were responding, and police helicopters were canvassing the area.

The officer’s shooting comes after Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson issued a videotaped apology to Brown’s family earlier in the week and attempted to march with protesters, an effort that led to a clash with activists and several arrests on Thursday.

Brown’s parents told The Associated Press on Saturday they were unmoved by the apology.

Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, said, “yes,” when asked if Jackson should be fired, and his father, Michael Brown Sr., said rather than an apology, they would like to see the officer who shot their son arrested.

A county grand jury is weighing whether to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s shooting.

The Justice Department, which is investigating whether Brown’s civil rights were violated, is conducting a broader probe into Ferguson police. On Friday, it urged Jackson to ban his officers from wearing bracelets supporting Wilson while on duty and from covering up their name plates with black tape.

Ferguson residents complained about the bracelets, which are black with “I am Darren Wilson” in white lettering, at a meeting with federal officials this week.

Brown’s shooting has also focused attention on the lack of diversity in many police departments across the country. In Ferguson, of 53 officers in a community that is two-thirds black, only three are African-American.

Also early Sunday, not far from Ferguson, an off-duty St. Louis city police officer was injured on Interstate 70 when three suspects fired shots into his personal vehicle, a police spokeswoman said.

Schron Jackson said the officer, who has nearly 20 years of experience, was being treated at a hospital for a minor injury to his arm from broken glass. She said there is no reason to believe the two shootings were related.

TIME Crime

FBI Says Chicago Air Control Fire Suspect Planned His Attack

The FBI says the suspect responsible for thousands of flight delays out of Chicago Friday left a Facebook message of intent

Updated 3:10 p.m. ET

The man suspected of setting fire to an air traffic control center Friday near Chicago sent a Facebook message shortly before starting the conflagration saying he would “take out” the facility, the FBI said.

“Take a hard look in the mirror, I have,” 36-year-old Brian Howard’s message said, according to and FBI affidavit. “And this is why I am about to take out ZAU [the three-letter identification for the control center] and my life . . . So I’m gonna smoke this blunt and move on, take care everyone.”

The fire shut down operations at Chicago O’Hare International and nearby Midway Airport, leaving thousands of passengers stranded throughout the country. Flights resumed Friday evening at a “reduced rate,” the Federal Aviation Administration said, though reports indicate many Chicago-bound flights are still being canceled Saturday morning.

The FAA said Saturday afternoon that it handled 40 percent of the normal daily traffic at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Friday and 30 percent at Chicago Midway International Airport, and expects to continue to increase the traffic flow at those two airports over the weekend as it begins drying out water-damaged equipment and cleaning up the air traffic control center.

Howard has been charged with one count of destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities, CNN reports. After setting fire in the control center’s basement, he was found lying on the floor and slicing his throat with a knife, police said.

[CNN]

TIME Crime

Uber Driver Arrested in San Francisco for Hammer Attack

The driver has been arrested and suspended

A San Francisco Uber driver was arrested Friday for attacking a passenger with a hammer, police said, injuring him so badly he may lose an eye.

Roberto Chicas and two friends hailed an Uber ride Tuesday in San Francisco and disputed with the driver over the route they were taking, the Bay Area ABC affiliate reports. After telling the passengers to get out, the driver suddenly began attacking them, police say.

Chicas is now recovering from a serious head wound. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said 26-year-old Patrick Karajua pleaded not guilty to the hammer attack.

The charges come just days after the Gascon and the Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey warned Uber, Lyft and Sidecar that they are operating illegally and could face civil penalties. The attorneys say the ride share companies mislead customers by claiming their background checks of drivers screen out anyone who has committed driving violations and other criminal offenses.

Uber responded to the alleged hammer attack by emphasizing its policy of suspending a driver charged with serious crimes. “Safety is Uber’s #1 priority. We take reports like this seriously and are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and care,” said Uber. “It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver’s account following any serious allegations, which we have done.”

[ABC]

TIME environtment

Dutch Man Fined for Crashing Drone into Yellowstone Hot Spring

View of the 'Grand Prismatic' hot spring
View of the 'Grand Prismatic' hot spring with it's unique colors caused by brown, orange and yellow algae-like bacteria called Thermophiles, that thrive in the cooling water turning the vivid aqua-blue to a murkier greenish brown, in the Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming on June 1, 2011. MARK RALSTON—AFP/Getty Images

The unmanned aerial vehicle is still at the bottom of the famed hot spring

A U.S. federal judge has ordered a Dutch tourist to pay $3,200 in fines and restitution after the man crashed his drone into an iconic hot spring at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Theodorus Van Vilet pleaded guilty to crashing his drone into the Grand Prismatic Spring in August 2014. A judge ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine and $2,200 in restitution over the incident. Authorities have been unable to locate the exact location of the downed drone, which remains at the bottom of the hot spring.

The ruling is the second guilty verdict this year stemming from a violation of the National Park Service’s drone ban issued in June. A German man was ordered to pay $1,600 in fines and restitution after crashing his drone into Yellowstone Lake in July. A third case involving an Oregon man is pending.

TIME Crime

Why the FBI Report That Mass Shootings Are Up Can Be Misleading

Gun Shooting
A new FBI report shows an increase in "active shooter" incidents, but that doesn't necessarily equate to more mass shootings, say criminologists. Getty Images

While 'active shooter' incidents appear to be on the rise in the U.S., mass shootings do not

Aurora. Virginia Tech. Fort Hood. Sandy Hook. They’re four of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. And they’ve all occurred in the last seven years.

For many Americans, mass shootings in malls, movie theaters and schools seem commonplace today. They’re fixtures of newscasts and are routinely referenced by gun control advocates in Washington lobbying for more restrictive laws on firearms. But the notion that they’ve been increasing has been mostly anecdotal. For all the discussion of gun violence in the U.S., the federal government has never collected information on mass shootings in one place.

But on Wednesday, the FBI released a report doing just that, including analyses of “active shooter” incidents and annual totals of casualties since 2000, all of which seem to point to one conclusion: The U.S. is experiencing more mass shootings than ever.

The FBI identified 160 “active shooter” incidents and 1,043 casualties between 2000 and 2013, finding that an average of 6.4 incidents occurred in the first seven years, and 16.4 occurring in the following seven.

“I was surprised that we identified that many incidents overall,” says J. Pete Blair, a Texas State University criminal justice professor who co-authored the FBI report. “I think it speaks to the fact that while there is interest in the media, many incidents don’t get covered, especially if they result in few injuries or don’t draw the body count of others.”

Seventy percent of the incidents identified occurred either inside a business or an educational environment, like a public school or a college campus. Sixty percent were over by the time police arrived, all but two involved a single shooter, and in 40% of them, the shooters committed suicide.

But at least two prominent criminologists have taken issue with the FBI report’s findings. James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University criminal justice professor, and Grant Duwe, a director of research for the Minnesota Department of Corrections and author of a book on the history of mass murder in the U.S., are both known for being mass shooting contrarians. And both think the FBI numbers are misleading.

“These events are exceptionally rare and not necessarily on the increase,” Fox says.

One of the problems, they say, lies with the definition of “active shooter” and “mass shooter.” The FBI report analyzed “active shooter” incidents generally, a term defined by the federal government as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill others in a confined and populated area. (The FBI report modified that definition a bit to include multiple individuals as well as events in locations not considered “confined.”)

The problem in conflating the two terms, Fox argues, is that an active shooter doesn’t necessarily have to kill anyone. And in fact, only 64 incidents involving “active shooters” met the federal government’s definition of a “mass killing,” in which three or more people were murdered in a single incident. In 31 incidents identified by the FBI report, no one was killed.

“A majority of active shooters are not mass shooters,” Fox says. “A majority kill fewer than three.”

If active shooters are removed from the equation, Fox says, mass shootings in fact have not been rising over the last few decades, and both the number of incidents and the number of victims has remained relatively steady since the 1970s.

Fox and Duwe are also critical of the report’s methodology. To collect many of the incidents, the FBI’s researchers often combed through news reports. But the term “active shooter” has only been in use within the last few years, Fox says, which may have skewed the numbers in favor of more recent events, possibly making it look as if shootings are rising.

An additional problem may also be the availability of digital news sources that could make it easier for researchers to find more recent incidents. For example, the FBI report only identifies one active shooter incident in 2000. Duwe’s analysis includes two.

“The point is if you go back to those earlier years, I don’t think they’ve gotten them all,” Fox says. “Recent years are easier to find.”

Blair, the report’s co-author, says he and the FBI has tried to make it clear that there’s a distinct difference between active and mass shooter. He says the agency decided to focus on active shooters generally in part to give law enforcement agents guidance on how those incidents were resolved, which could help them in future cases.

“The two terms have been confounded not just in the media, but by the public in general,” Blair says. “They interpret active shooter to mean a mass murder, a mass shooting. They could turn into that, but not all of them do.”

Blair acknowledges it’s possible the numbers have been skewed due to the availability of more recent news reports, but he disputes the argument that the numbers are biased because the term “active shooter” is more common today. Blair says researchers not only searched for “active shooter” in news articles but also for terms like “mass shooting,” “mall shooting” and “spree shooting.”

“Active shooter is one of the terms we search for, but it’s one of the least productive,” Blair says.

Not all criminologists dispute the FBI’s findings. Adam Lankford, a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama who studies mass shootings, says he believes the numbers paint an accurate picture of what’s occurring nationwide, and that in fact criminologists like Fox are including cases of drug deals gone wrong and family disputes in their analyses, which he believes skew their own numbers.

“The public wants to know whether more incidents like what happened at UC-Santa Barbara [involving 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, who killed six people] or Sandy Hook are happening more often,” Lankford says. “And I think the evidence says yes.”

Duwe does acknowledge that 2012 on its own was one of the worst years for mass shootings in U.S. history. According to his analysis, there were eight that year—including 12 people killed and 58 wounded in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and 27 killed and two wounded at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Sixty-six people total were killed in mass shootings that year, Duwe says. (In contrast, the FBI listed 21 “active shooter” incidents and 90 people killed.)

But he says there’s been a “regression to the mean” since then, meaning there have been fewer mass shootings since 2012 and a return to more average levels. According to Duwe’s analysis, there were just three mass shootings in 2013 with 22 killed, and he says similar declines happened after 1991 and 1999, both high years for mass shootings in the U.S.

Duwe believes the perception Americans have that there are more mass shootings than ever can be chalked up in part to a faulty collective memory.

“We may just have historical amnesia,” he says.

TIME Bizarre

NYC Mailman Allegedly Kept 40,000 Letters Instead of Delivering Them

US Postal Service Mail Delivery Ahead Of Second-Quarter Results
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) logo is seen on the side of a delivery truck in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, May 9, 2013. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

No word on whether he was grooving to all our love letters

A Brooklyn mailman has been accused of hoarding 40,000 pieces of mail at home, in his car and in has locker, according to a federal complaint.

The mail carrier, 67-year-old Joseph Brucato, was arrested this week after his supervisor noticed undelivered mail in Brucato’s car.

A police official said that when confronted, Brucato said he didn’t deliver mail on some days for “personal reasons.” The mail carrier’s lawyer said Brucato suffered from depression.

Brucato was arraigned Wednesday and subsequently released. The United States Postal Service has suspended him without pay.

TIME Crime

Woman Beheaded in Oklahoma During Workplace Fight

The assailant then tried to kill another woman after a workplace dispute

A man in Moore, Oklahoma, decapitated a woman during a workplace dispute before trying to kill another woman, authorities said Friday.

The incident took place at a Vaughn Foods Inc. distribution center in a town near Oklahoma City, The Daily Oklahoman reports.

The suspect, identified as Alton Alexander Nolan, 30, is accused of beheading one woman, who was pronounced dead at the scene, and stabbing another woman. The other woman was hospitalized; her condition is not known. Nolan was shot by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy and hospitalized. He is expected to survive.

The names of the women and the shooter have not been released.

[The Daily Oklahoman]

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