Posts tagged members
Bullied Middle Schoolers, Paige Moravetz and Haylee Fentress, Take Lives In Suicide Pact.
Family members admit that the signs were there.
After repeatedly indicating that they were bullied and felt ostracized, Paige Moravetz and Haylee Fentress took their lives at a sleepover in what family members believe was a suicide pact.
Moravetz’s cousin Hillary Settle tells the TODAY Show that Fentress had posted a telling status update directed at Moravetz on Facebook shortly before their deaths:
"I’m so nervous and I just want to get it over with. I love you, Paige."
The two eighth graders from southwestern Minnesota hanged themselves at a sleepover Friday night at Fentress’ house. Her mother discovered their bodies Saturday morning, according to the TODAY Show.
Moravetz, a hockey star remembered for her big smile, and Fentress, a newcomer to Minnesota with a bubbly personality, were best friends.
Still, Fentress had sent her relatives Facebook messages describing how hard it was to have recently moved from Indiana, saying that she was sad and lonely. Those close to her say that she was teased about her weight and her red hair.
Wisconsin Church Members Charged With Abusing Infants.
The pastor and seven members of a small church in central Wisconsin have been charged with using wooden rods to spank infants as young as 2 months old for “being emotional, grumpy or crying,” the Dane County Sheriff’s office said.
The Aleitheia Church, in the town of Black Earth, was started in 2006 with a donation in the range of $500,000-$600,000 from Bob and Lori Wick of nearby Mazomanie, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Lori Wick is the author of almost three dozen historical Christian novels with more than five million books in print, according to her Amazon profile. Reached by AOL News today by telephone at their home, Bob Wick said they “have no comment” on the case.
Publicists at Lori Wick’s publisher, Harvest House Publishers, did not immediately respond to emails from AOL News today for comment.The investigation into the Aleitheia Bible Church began last November, when former members contacted authorities with concerns about how children were being treated, according to the sheriff’s office.
Six church members pleaded innocent to charges of child abuse during an appearance Thursday in Dane County Circuit Court. They were booked and released.Pastor Philip Caminiti, 53, and his brother, John Caminiti, 45, were charged with a dozen counts of child abuse last week and also pleaded innocent.
The victims included 12 children ranging in age from infancy to 6 years old, according to the sheriff’s office.
"During interviews with detectives, Phil expressed his belief that the Bible dictates the use of a rod over a hand to punish children. He stated that children only a few months old are ‘worthy’ of the rod and that by ‘one and a half months,’ a child is old enough to be spanked," according to the sheriff’s office release.
"Throughout the investigation, the church members were open with detectives about their ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’ philosophy. They described using wooden dowels and wooden spoons on the bare skin of children, starting as young as 2 months old," the sheriff’s office said.
"If you spank early and it is done right, then kids will be happy and obedient," Philip Caminiti said, according to the criminal complaint.
According to the sheriff’s office, the dowels were described as being 12-18 inches long with a diameter about the size of a quarter. The parents told detectives that “redness and bruising” were the “common effects of the spankings.”
"One person described the children being emotional, grumpy or crying as behaviors that would constitute a spanking with a dowel," according to the sheriff’s office.
Three sets of parents are among the six others charged, including two of Philip Caminiti’s children and their spouses: Matthew Caminiti, 27, and his wife, Alina, 24; and Maria J. Stephenson, 29, and her husband, Timothy, 28. Also charged are Andrea L. Wick, 26, and Timothy J. Wick, 27.
The children often were punished when they cried or failed to sit still during church services, a former church member told authorities. “Phil was very strict about children being quiet during church,” the complaint states.John Caminiti told investigators in November that he does not allow his family to communicate with people outside his religious beliefs and has punished his wife and son by confining them to their rooms until they corrected their disobedience, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Attorney Jeffrey W. Nichols, who represents Alina Caminiti, described his client as a “caring mother who loves her children,” according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
"I believe it is important to note that the children have never been removed from her or her husband’s care despite these allegations and despite some unfair characterizations of her," he said.
All the children of the parents charged are remaining in their homes and the fami
lies are working with social workers from Dane County Human Services, the sheriff’s office said.
Immigration Officials Announce New Gang Arrests.
WASHINGTON — Immigration agents have arrested more than 600 gang members with ties to drug smugglers in the past three months, the largest such roundup since 1965, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday.
ICE agents, working with state and local authorities in 168 cities, made 678 arrests from December to February in an effort dubbed “Project Southern Tempest,” ICE Director John Morton said.
The latest roundup is part of a more than 5-year-old effort aimed at U.S. street gangs with ties to Mexican drug cartels and other drug traffickers.Morton said Tuesday that nearly half those arrested in the last three months were also connected to street gangs with known ties to violent drug cartels in Mexico. Those cartels are battling each other and the government in Mexico in a struggle that has killed more than 35,000 people since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the drug gangs shortly after taking office in late 2006.Federal authorities have announced the results of more than half a dozen such operations in the last 2½ years and touted them as blows to Mexican drug gangs. But an Associated Press review of those sweeps last year showed that the arrests have done little to stymie the drug trade or do more than inconvenience the major Mexican-based cartels.
ICE officials did not identify all of the gang members arrested or say which cartels they or their respective gangs were aligned with. But Morton said 13 gangs whose members were caught up in the latest operation are connected to the cartels. As a group, he said, the gangs have ties to all of Mexico’s cartels.
All told, members of 133 gangs were arrested.
Morton said 447 suspects face criminal charges, while 231 people were arrested on administrative immigration charges.The announcement of the arrests comes less than a week after agents from ICE, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal, state and local authorities launched a nationwide search for suspects with ties to Mexican cartels.
DEA officials said that effort, which netted more than 650 arrests, was a direct domestic response to the Feb. 15 killing of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata in a roadside ambush along a Mexican highway.
The arrests announced Tuesday, Morton said, were not part that response.
"We’re pursuing gangs because they are involved in violent crimes affecting our communities in a big way," Morton said.
He added that U.S. authorities have made it clear they will continue to target cartel members working in the United States and street gangs aligned with those drug organizations.
Nearly 4,500 stranded on cruise ship off Mexico.
SAN DIEGO -Navy helicopters shuttled in supplies Tuesday to 4,500 passengers and crew members expected to remain stranded on a disabled cruise ship off the coast of Mexico at least through Wednesday night.Mexican seagoing tugboats were expected to reach the Carnival Splendor on Tuesday afternoon to begin the slow process of towing it to the Mexican port of Ensanada. Passengers will be bused back to California from there.The ship, which left from Long Beach on Sunday, was 200 miles south of San Diego when an engine room fire cut its power early Monday, according to a statement from Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines. It began drifting off the coast of northern Baja California.Monty Mathisen, of the New York-based trade publication Cruise Industries, called the fire a freak accident.”This stuff does not happen, I mean once in a blue moon,” he said. “The ships have to be safe, if not the market will collapse.”The last major accident on a cruise ship was when one sank in a Greek harbor in 2007 after hitting rocks. No one was hurt.The 3,299 passengers and 1,167 crew members aboard the Splendor were not hurt either and the fire was put out, but the 952-foot Mexican Riveria-bound ship had no air conditioning, hot water or telephone service. It was also out of cell phone range, preventing families from communicating with their loved ones.After the fire, passengers were first asked to move from their cabins to the ship’s upper deck, but eventually allowed to go back to their rooms.Bottled water and cold food were provided, and the ship’s auxiliary power allowed for toilets and cold running water.On Tuesday, U.S. sailors loaded cargo planes with boxes of crab meat, croissants and other items for the stranded passengers. They were to be ferried to an aircraft carrier at sea, where helicopters will pick them up and drop them on the ship.The tugboats were expected to arrive back at the port with the ship around 8 p.m. PST Wednesday, Coast Guard Petty Officer Kevin Metcalf said. Metcalf said the tugs, which will be escorted by a Coast Guard cutter, must move slowly because the ship is so big.From Ensenada, passengers will be driven 50 miles by bus to the California border, said Joyce Oliva, a Carnival spokeswoman, who added that she was unaware of any safety concerns from passengers or their families about traveling by land in Mexico.Ensenada Port Capt. Carlos Carrillo said some bus companies that normally work with cruise ships docked in Ensenada already take passengers to the border.”I don’t think it will be much trouble to get the passengers to the border,” he said.Carnival Corp.’s stock was down about 1 percent Tuesday.Mathisen commended the cruise line for its handling of the situation, saying officials responded quickly and were providing information.But he said the accident deals another blow to the industry, which already has been hurting from a drop in trips to Mexico because of the country’s drug violence.It also will be costly for Carnival, which is refunding passengers, offering vouchers for future cruises and may have to dry dock the ship if the damage is extensive.Toni Sweet of San Pedro, Calif., was watching TV when she saw a news report about the stranded ship and realized her cousin Vicky Alvarez and her cousin’s husband, Fernando, were on board.She had dropped the Las Vegas couple off at the dock in Long Beach for the cruise, their first break after caring for their aging parents. She said Vicky was nervous about the trip, but Sweet reassured her everything would be fine. She has not heard from them since the fire.”It’s their first cruise and they were real anxious. I don’t think they’re going to take another,” she said. “Here you want them to have a good time and then this happened.”Once passengers are dropped off, the Splendor will be towed back to Long Beach, Calif., a journey that will take days. That’s why the passengers will be dropped off in Mexico first.”We know this has been an extremely trying situation for our guests and we sincerely thank them for their patience,” Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill said in the statement. “Conditions on board the ship are very challenging and we sincerely apologize for the discomfort and inconvenience our guests are currently enduring.”
Missing Sect Members Found Alive, Leader Hospitalized.
(Sept. 19) — The leader of a religious sect was hospitalized for a psychiatric evaluation today after members of the group left farewell messages for relatives saying they were going to heaven to meet Jesus.
The messages frightened relatives and police, thinking the group might be planning a mass suicide, and a massive search was launched for the 13 sect members. The five adults and eight children were found safe late this morning, praying in a Los Angeles-area park, police said.Reyna Marisol Chicas, 32, identified by group members as their leader, was questioned by police and then hospitalized under a mandatory 72-hour hold for a mental evaluation, The Associated Press reported, citing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Police said Chicas gave them a false name during questioning and began rambling, the AP and the Times said.
Authorities had earlier issued a public plea for members of the sect to contact them.
They are members are part of a “religious off-shoot group” that’s “cult-like” and “fundamentalist in nature,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore told KTLA, a local TV station, earlier. “If you’re watching this, come home,” he said in a plea on live TV. “Come home alive to the people who care for you.”In addition to Chicas, the group included three sisters, Salvadoran immigrants ages 30, 32 and 40, an 18-year-old son and eight children aged 3 to 17.
The search began Saturday afternoon when two husbands went to a sheriff’s station to report their wives missing, and told authorities they suspected the women had joined a cult that broke off from a mainstream Christian church in northern Los Angeles County, San Diego’s Channel 6 TV station reported.
One of the men told investigators he was ordered to guard and pray over a purse, but after several hours he got suspicious and looked inside. He found five cell phones, ID cards, deeds and letters in English and Spanish, the Los Angeles Times reported. “The letters essentially state that they are all going to heaven shortly to meet Jesus and their deceased relatives,” the California governor’s office said, according to CNN. “Numerous letters found say goodbye to their relatives. It is believed, through further investigation, that the missing persons’ intentions are to commit mass suicide.”One of the husbands told investigators that he believes his wife and the other missing people were brainwashed by Chicas, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Police put out an APB for three vehicles and used helicopters to scan Antelope Valley, a nearby area mentioned in some of the letters left behind. They also searching Vasquez Rocks, another wilderness spot where authorities believe the group had planned to go six months ago to wait then for the apocalypse or other catastrophic event. That previous trip was called off after a cult member told relatives about their plans.All 13 members of the sect were spotted late this morning at Jackie Robinson Park in Palmdale, Whitmore said.
Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker told the Los Angeles Times the group members were cooperative with authorities. They told police they were praying to end school violence and sexual immorality.
Paker said the group were surprised to learn there there fears they might commit suicide. “They seemed shocked,” Parker told the Times. “They said we are Christians, and we would never harm ourselves.”