Chris Coleman charged with strangling wife, 2 kids
A southwestern Illinois man was expected to plead not guilty to using a cord to strangle his wife and two children earlier this month.
Chris Coleman, 32, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, accused of using a ligature to kill his wife Sheri Coleman, 31, and her two sons, Garett, 11, and 9-year-old Gavin.
Their bodies were found May 5 at the family’s home in Columbia, just south of St. Louis.
Coleman, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit with his arms shackled to his waist, refused to answer reporters’ questions as police escorted him Tuesday night. He was being held without bond.
Defense attorney William Margulis said his client planned to plead not guilty at a Wednesday morning court appearance.
Police had presented evidence in the case last week to Monroe County State’s Attorney Kris Reitz, but Reitz did not file charges pending the results of forensic tests.
“For several days now we have been close,” said Jeff Connor of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis. “Tonight there was just some more evidence that came forward and we were able to (show) a more solid case.”
Details on a possible motive were not discussed by prosecutors or police on Tuesday.
The day the bodies were found Chris Coleman called police from a gym and asked a Columbia police officer who had investigated prior threats related to the family for a well-being check around 7 a.m., investigators have said.
Chris Coleman told officials that he called the house and no one answered.
Officials have declined to discuss details about the alleged threats. Some neighbors in the well-kept subdivision have also said the Colemans received threatening letters and that their mailbox was tampered with.
Police got to the suburban home that morning before the husband arrived and discovered the bodies. Shortly after, officers had to restrain the visibly upset man in his yard.
Chris Coleman worked security for Joyce Meyer Ministries, a Fenton, Mo.-based evangelical Christian group. Joyce Meyer spokesman Roby Walker said last week that Coleman resigned after an internal inquiry found he failed to follow a ministry policy.
Walker would not say what policy Coleman allegedly violated.
Rapper Dolla shot dead at L.A. mall
A 21-year-old up-and-coming rapper was fatally shot Monday afternoon at a popular mall in Los Angeles.
Dolla, whose real name is Roderick Anthony Burton II, was shot in the head about 3:10 p.m. at the Beverly Center, his publicist said.
Police later detained a person at the Los Angeles International Airport, said city police spokeswoman Karen Raynar.
Further details were not immediately available about the shooting.
Dolla, who was based in Atlanta, Georgia, was in Los Angeles recording his debut album.
He caught the attention of multiplatinium R&B singer Akon when the then-12-year-old Dolla was performing with friends at showcases around Atlanta.
The two collaborated on Dolla’s first single, “Who the F— Is That?” which also featured another high-profile singer, T-Pain.
Another Dolla song, “Feelin’ Myself,” appeared on the soundtrack to the 2006 movie “Step Up.”
According to his MySpace page, Dolla was born in Chicago, Illinois. His twin sister died at birth because of complications from an enlarged heart.
The family moved to Atlanta after Dolla’s father committed suicide while he, then 5, and another sister watched from their parents’ bed, the Web page said.
Dolla began composing rhymes in elementary school and decided to pursue a career in music.
Funeral services, which will be held in Atlanta, will be announced later, publicist Sue Vannasing said.
Richard Hatch survives prision too
Richard Hatch , winner of the season one ” Survivor ” show has been released from federal prison. He was serving a four year sentence for tax evasion.
Hatch, 47, of Newport, was convicted of failing to pay taxes on his $1 million prize in January 2006. He was sentenced to serve four years and three months in jail.
After being released from a federal prison in West Virginia this week, Hatch is now being held at a halfway house in Pennsylvania.
According to Carla Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Northeast Regional office of
the Bureau of Prisons , Hatch is expected to be released from the Pennsylvania halfway house Oct. 7.
Hatch has maintained his innocence, claiming the show was rigged. He has also said the producers offered to pay his taxes on the winnings, when he confronted them about the cheating. CBS has denied Hatch’s claims.
Eleanor Squillari talks about Bernie Madoff
Eleanor Squillari, Bernie Madoff’s longtime secretary, says that in the days leading up to his arrest, she once found him lying on the floor staring up at the ceiling, according to a lengthy article inVanity Fair.
**Eleanor Squillari would tell people who walked by his office and saw him staring into space that he “seems to be in a coma.” At one point, Madoff began taking his blood-pressure every 15 minutes and refused to look at his mail.
**The staff on the 17th floor, where the Ponzi scheme was conducted, “were mostly low-level, clerical women, many of them working mothers, who probably made no more than $40,000 a year. They were young and naïve, with no background in finance, so they weren’t able to connect the dots.”
**Following Madoff’s arrest, his wife, Ruth Madoff, called Squillari multiple times and encouraged her to provide certain information without notifying the bankruptcy trustees, which Squillari said she couldn’t do.
**Squillari believes Madoff meticulously planned out the particulars of his arrest and even wanted to FBI to find his appointment book that he left on his desk.
In an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Squillari says she has no proof, but in looking at the size of the swindling operation, “Sure, there were other people involved.”
Pregnant woman faces death penalty
A pregnant British woman facing possible execution in Laos will go on trial this week, the country’s foreign affairs ministry said Monday.
Samantha Orobator “is facing death by firing squad for drug trafficking,” said Clare Algar, executive director of Reprieve, a London-based human rights group.
Orobator, 20, was arrested on August 5, said Khenthong Nuanthasing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman.
She was alleged to have been carrying just over half a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of heroin, Reprieve lawyer Anna Morris told CNN by phone from Vientiane, the Laotian capital. “For that amount of heroin the sentence is normally the death penalty,” she said.
Orobator’s mother Jane found out in January her daughter was pregnant — more than four months after she was arrested, her mother said.
Jane Orobator heard the news from the British Foreign Office, which has been monitoring the case, the mother told CNN by phone from Dublin, where she lives.
She cannot believe her daughter was involved in drug trafficking, and was surprised to learn she was in Laos, she said.
“I don’t know” what she was doing there, she said. “The last time she spoke with me, she said she was on holiday in London and she would come to see us in Dublin before returning to the U.K. in July.
“She is not the type of person who would be involved in drugs,” she added.
Reprieve is worried about her health, especially given her pregnancy, Anna Morris said.
“She became pregnant in prison. We are concerned that it may not have been consensual and we are concerned that someone who finds herself in prison at 20 is subject to exploitation,” she said.
She is due to give birth in September, the lawyer added.
Reprieve sent Morris from London to Laos to try to help Orobator, Algar said.
The lawyer arrived there on Sunday and is hoping to visit Orobator on Tuesday, her boss at Reprieve said. A British consul has also arrived in the country.
“Reprieve heard about her case two weeks ago. We had thought yesterday the trial was going to start today,” Algar said Monday. “We have now heard from Anna that it is not going to.”
“I am the first British lawyer who has asked for access to her,” Morris said. “She needs to have a local lawyer appointed to her. We are pressing very hard for the local authorities to appoint one.”
She said it was normal in the Laotian justice system for a defendant to get a lawyer only days before a trial.
The last execution in Laos was in 1990, the foreign affairs spokesman said.
British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell issued a statement about Orobator on Saturday.
“The British Government is opposed to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances. We have made the Laos authorities aware of this at the highest levels in Samantha’s case,” he said.
“We are paying close attention to her welfare and are in regular contact with the Laotian authorities about her case. British Embassy officials, including the Ambassador, have visited her six times since her arrest,” he said.
“In addition, Britain’s consular representatives in Laos, the Australian Embassy, including the Australian Embassy doctor, have visited Samantha 10 times on our behalf,” he said.
There is no British Embassy in Laos. A British vice-consul arrived in the country this weekend, the Foreign Office said Monday.
Rammell plans to raise the Orobator case with the Laotian deputy prime minister this week, he said.
Samantha Orobator was born in Nigeria and moved to London with her family when she was 8, her mother said.
Wife beater Robert Schimmel arrested
The X-rated comedian is known for his off-color humor and his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which he chronicles in his new book, “Cancer on $5 a Day.”
Cops said they were called to his suburban L.A. home around 12:30 a.m. and saw marks on his wife. He was being held in a Los Angeles County jail on $50,000 bail.
Schimmel, who has made appearances on The Howard Stern show, Conan O’Brien and HBO, has had rocky relationships before. He divorced his first wife, Vicki, three times. When his cancer went into remission, he married his daughter’s friend, Melissa, who is half his age.
Daniel Andreas makes FBI’s Most Wanted List
An alleged animal rights extremist from the western U.S. state of California has been added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted list.
Daniel Andreas San Diego is accused of bombing two California companies in 2003. Both businesses were connected to Huntingdon Life Sciences, a company that conducts experiments on animals for medical and pharmaceutical industries.
No one was hurt in the blasts. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $250,000 for information directly leading to San Diego’s capture.
The 31-year-old is the first domestic terror suspect added to the list of the bureau’s 24 most wanted, which includes al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The FBI says animal rights and environmental extremists have been responsible for more than 1,800 criminal acts and more than $110 million in damages.
Another U.S. citizen and California native, Adam Yahiye Gadahn, also is on the list for his overseas work with al-Qaeda.
Philip Markoff charged as ‘Craiglist killer’, fiance claims innocence
Boston cops on Monday night branded a 22-year-old med student engaged to be married as the “Craigslist Killer” who murdered a pretty New York masseuse and attacked at least two other escorts in hotels.
Philip Markoff, a Boston University student who lives in Quincy, a harborside town 10 miles south of Boston, will be arraigned on murder charges on Tuesday.
Cops said the brainy blond doctor wanna-be, who grew up in upstate Sherrill, N.Y., and went to SUNY Albany for his undergraduate studies, has no rap sheet, but they think he has preyed on sex workers for a while. Police begged other victims to come forward.
“He is a predator,” said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. “There may be other victims out there, and we want to help you.”
Markoff, who was arrested after cops tailed him for several days, will be charged in Boston Municipal Court with the murder of Julissa Brisman.
The slain 26-year-old New Yorker advertised her services on craigslist and was shot in a posh Boston hotel last Tuesday.
Markoff also will be charged with kidnapping and robbery in an attack four days earlier in another luxury Boston hotel on an exotic dancer who advertised online.
Police believe last Thursday’s armed robbery of a Las Vegas hooker in a Rhode Island hotel is also connected.
Markoff, the son of a Syracuse dentist, is engaged to marry Megan McAllister, a fellow med student he met while they were at SUNY Albany. A Web page devoted to their planned wedding later this year recounts how they volunteered together at an area emergency room and enjoyed their first date on Nov. 11, 2005. McAllister could not be reached for comment.
Brisman’s mother was glad to hear there was a break in the case, but she was too distraught to talk.
“Her mother was very pleased, but when she saw the pictures [on TV], she broke down and was just crying. We turned it off. You have no idea how fragile she is,” said family friend Mark Pines. “It is great that they found him, but it’s not going to bring back our girl.”
Cops credited “high-tech leads and old-fashioned shoe leather” for the arrest. Cops stopped Markoff at 4 p.m. Monday as he drove south of Boston on Interstate 95, Davis said. He agreed to come in for questioning and was arrested at headquarters.
The break came hours after police released new security camera photos showing the clean-cut, 6-foot-tall suspect strolling casually to and from the three crime scenes peering into his BlackBerry.
The new pictures were taken last Thursday in the hallway of a Warwick, R.I., Holiday Inn Express, where a prostitute who advertised on Craigslist was tied up and robbed at gunpoint.
Markoff is expected to be charged in that attack, too. Cops say Markoff’s first known attack was April 10, when a 29-year-old woman who advertised as an exotic dancer on craigslist was attacked at Boston’s Westin hotel. She was bound and robbed of her debit card and $800 in cash.
Four days later, Brisman was shot multiple times in a 20th-floor room of the Copley Marriott, apparently because she fought the thief’s attempts to restrain her with plastic handcuffs known as “zip ties.”
Residents of the sprawling 800-unit High Point apartment complex where Markoff rented a third-floor flat earlier this year mostly described Markoff, who was on the golf and bowling teams in high school, as an average Joe, but several said there was something not quite right about him.
“The guy was friendly enough. He’d say hello when you saw him and he supposedly had a girlfriend,” said John Uva, who has lived in the building for two years.
“But he was never really around much, and there was a creepy factor to it.”