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Dec 18 - Mom kept corpse of disabled girl, 9, in fridge crisper

By messy marv stan - 11 hours ago

Texas mom kept emaciated corpse of disabled girl, 9, in crisper drawer for 6 months as she kept using fridge

Amber Keyes, 35, panicked after Ayahna Comb's died in January weighing only 14 pounds, she told authorities. She left the girl in the fridge for six months until other children found the remains. During that time Keyes continued to collect Social Security benefits for the girl, who suffered from cerebral palsy

Amber Keyes, 35, faces a charge of injury to a child for allowing Ayahna Comb, a 9-year-old girl who suffered from cerebral palsy and couldn’t feed or clothe herself or move without a wheelchair, to wither away and die in January

A Texas mom faces charges after she stuffed her dead disabled 9-year-old daughter’s corpse in the crisper drawer of her refrigerator and left the body there for six months, authorities say.

It was only in June, when her other child and two friends were looking for a cheese stick to eat in the Houston apartment, that they found Ayahna Comb’s emaciated, blanket-wrapped remains – weighing only 14 pounds – inside the fridge, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Amber Keyes, 35, faces a charge of injury to a child for allowing the tiny girl, who suffered from cerebral palsy and couldn’t feed or clothe herself or move without a wheelchair, to wither away and die in January.

An autopsy determined the child died of malnutrition and dehydration and the death was ruled a homicide last month.

"By not providing the proper parental care or seeking medical and/or professional assistance for [Ayahna's] condition, the defendant caused injury to [Ayahna] by omission, which led to the death of [Ayahna] due to neglect," authorities wrote in Keyes' charging documents, obtained by the Chronicle

Neighbors became concerned after they didn't see little Ayahna coming outside for months in her pink stroller

Keyes told authorities she panicked after Ayahna stopped breathing one night in January and tried CPR, but never called authorities after she failed to revive the frail child.

Instead, she stuffed the girl into the fridge and continued to use it during the several months the body lay inside, authorities said.

Keyes didn’t take the girl to the doctor for two years prior to her death and that towards her death on Jan. 29, found the girl “always difficult to feed,” the paper reported.

While the body chilled for months in the fridge, Keyes continued to collect Social Security benefits in her disabled daughter’s name, she told authorities

The body of 9-year-old Ayahna Comb, who had cerebral palsy, was found in the refridgerator of her mother, Amber Keye's, Houston apartment. Police believe Ayahna had been dead for at least a month but her father, Armand Comb, says he thought his daugher was still alive during that time

She also lived with another young daughter, who has been taken into protective custody.

Keyes previously lost custody of a third child, who was 18 months old in 2002 when child services learned her boyfriend was abusing the tot and removed the child from the Houston home.

After the girl died, Keyes continued to tell the child’s father, Armand Comb, that she was still alive, he told KHOU-TV in June.

He even spoke to Keyes, who pretended Ayahna was listening as Comb sang her a song.
Keyes remains jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail. Keyes remains jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail.
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Amber Keyes, 35, faces a charge of injury to a child for allowing Ayahna Comb, who suffered from cerebral palsy and couldn’t feed or clothe herself or move without a wheelchair, to wither away and die in January.

Armand Comb says he thought his daugher was alive as recently as several days ago, when he spoke to the girl’s mother, Amber Keyes, on the phone.

Neighbors said they hadn’t seen the girl, who wheeled around in a pink stroller, in months before the remains were found.

"I just want to know what happened, man, and why. I was right here. I would have helped. I would have done anything," a devastated Comb told reporters in June.

Keyes remains jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail

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Image inside Dec 18 - Cop facing dozens of stalking charges kills ex-girlfriend, shoots her daughter

By RAZAH CUTS - 11 hours ago


Shortly after being served with a restraining order from a former girlfriend, a Pennsylvania police officer went to his ex’s house and killed her. He also shot and injured her daughter before the woman’s husband fired back with a gun of his own.

The incident occurred Monday, NBC 10 reported, just three hours after Colwyn Borough Police Department Officer Stephen Rozniakowski, 32, was handed a protection from abuse order by Valerie Morrow, a 40-year-old former girlfriend.

Rozniakowski, who also faces 75 charges for stalking, resigned from the police department that same day.

Around 9 pm in the evening, Rozniakowski reportedly broke into Morrow’s home while wearing a bulletproof vest and fatally shot her. The gun involved was private, and did not belong to the police department, officials said.

"He came up the steps with his gun drawn, and as soon as he saw Mrs. Morrow and her daughter in the hallway, he started repeatedly firing at them in their direction, striking Mrs. Morrow and also hitting her 15-year-old daughter," Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said to

After the daughter, named Bridget, was shot, she ran into her bedroom while the mother died, Whelan added.

The officer’s attorney, Marty Mullaney, said Rozniakowski simply wanted to talk to Morrow before he shot her.

Morrow’s husband, a part-time officer who was apparently sleeping at the time, was woken up by the sound of gunshots.

“He had a revolver in his dresser drawer, he reached for it. He came out and returned fire against Mr. Rozniakowski. At that point, he emptied his revolver and then fled back into his bedroom. He realized he was trapped and he jumped from a second-floor window,” said Whelan, as quoted by CBS Philly.

After the shooting, Rozniakowski notified authorities of what he did using his police radio and told them he was unarmed.

When law enforcement and medical teams arrived at the scene, the officer surrendered and was arrested. He has been charged with first-degree murder, and Whelan said Rozniakowski could face the death penalty.

The officer had been on administrative leave since March, reported, due to a separate case in which a woman complained that he had been stalking her. Rozniakowski allegedly called and texted her dozens of times a day – sometimes more than 100.

Notably, right after following her restraining order, Morrow called an NBC 10 reporter familiar with the allegations against Rozniakowski. Law enforcement was reportedly in the midst of gathering an arrest warrant for Rozniakowski, who allegedly keyed Morrow’s car, but Morrow was killed before the officer would be arrested.

“If you find me dead,” she told NBC 10, “he did it.”

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Image inside Dec 19 - Gold tooth dropped into Missouri donation kettle

By phantomnation - 11 hours ago

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A Salvation Army spokesman says someone has dropped a gold tooth into a holiday collection kettle.

Spokesman Rick Carroll said Thursday that he's found diamond rings, silver bars and four-leaf clovers but has never heard of a tooth donation. He says the item could be worth $100 depending on the amount of gold it contains.

Kansas City's Red Kettle Campaign began Nov. 7 and is currently running about $50,000 behind where it was a year ago.

Carroll says he at first considered the donation to be gross, but now thinks it's a nice gesture. He worries that the donation might have been unintentional and he is temporarily hanging onto the tooth in case someone claims it.

Source: AP

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Image inside Dec 19 - Monster Three-foot Rat found in New York City shoe shop

By RAZAH CUTS - 11 hours ago


It may be the size of a small dog, but this is not the sort of creature many of us would fancy petting.

What appears to be a giant rat was allegedly found dead in a Foot Locker shoe shop in the Bronx, New York.

Scooped on a shovel in the Fordham store’s stockroom, the massive brown and white rodent measures around three feet.

The picture was uploaded to Twitter by user @thegoodfella_, who believes it was snapped by a friend last autumn.

Experts think the rodent is a Gambian pouched rat, a fairly common pet that can grow to up to three feet.

It is not the first time the giant breed has been spotted in New York City.

One of the creatures was speared to death by a pitchfork at a sprawling Brooklyn housing project last year.

Jose Rivera, a Housing Authority worker, was clearing a rat hole at the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn when three of the creatures popped out.

He was only able to nab one. It appears to be almost three feet long, including the tail, is covered in white fur and looks well-fed.

After he caught the rat, Mr Rivera, 48, said: ‘I hit it one time and it was still moving.

‘I hit it another time and that’s when it died. I’m not scared of rats but I was scared of being bitten.’

Naomi Colon, head of the Marcy Houses Tenant Association, said there have been sightings of the outsize rat for at least six years.

She said: ‘The residents have told me that they’ve seen it running around with other rats.’

Resident Stephanie Davis, 44, said: ‘Even the cats are afraid of the rats. They get together and gang up on the cats.’

Pam Davis, 43, added: ‘They’re here day and night. We don’t dodge bullets. We dodge rats.They’re so big, they should charge them rent.’

Animal experts identified the monster rodent as a Gambian pouched rat. The creatures are nocturnal, can grow to three feet, weigh four pounds or more and live seven or eight years.

Imports have been banned since 2003, when the rats were blamed for a monkeypox outbreak that affected 100 people.

Dr Paul Calle, director of zoological health at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said: ‘They are a very social animal and live in big groups in the wild. They’re pretty remarkable animals.’

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Dec 19 - italian female serial killer claimed 96 victims at hospital she worked at

By messy marv stan - 11 hours ago

An Italian nurse nicknamed “The Angel of Death” is in jail in Italy under investigation for the murder of up to 96 patients in the course of a single year in the hospital ward where she worked – that’s one death every three days between April 2013 and April 2014. If found guilty of killing all those patients, she will be classed one of the most prolific serial killers in history.

The dubious record is currently held by the Colombian Luis Garavito, whose victims, it was proven, were 138 children, murdered over a five-year period during the 1990s. The record for the greatest number of murders committed by a nurse is held by an American, Charles Cullen, who was given six life sentences in 2006 for the murder of 40 patients (though he was suspected of causing up to 400 deaths) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over a 16-year period.

What makes this case especially chilling is the supposed motive: whereas some doctors or nurses who kill their patients do so for reasons of mercy – as Cullen did, or at least claimed to have done – Daniela Poggiali is believed to have killed her patients simply because they irritated her. She had also allegedly given them laxatives, which made them incontinent, and even had photographs taken of herself next to the corpse of one of her patients on her smartphone, which she posted online. In some of them, taken in January 2014 by another nurse, she is laughing and making lewd gestures next to the corpse of an old lady, who had just died in her ward. In one, she is leaning over the corpse grinning and making a thumbs-up sign. In the other, she is lying down next to the corpse with her mouth open, pointing a finger at her face as if it were a gun. “She was particularly euphoric and wanted to have a photo next to the dead body,” her colleague later told police, Il Corriere della Sera reports.

Poggiali, 42, is a passionate supporter of the Juventus football team and the music of Elton John, keen on exotic travel and gym workouts. She qualified as a nurse 17 years ago and for the last 12 has worked in the 30-bed general medicine ward at the Umberto I hospital in the small city of Lugo, between Bologna and Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. She has cropped blonde hair and a number of striking tattoos. She has no children, but is dating Luigi Conficconi, a car mechanic, who is also a semi-professional soccer referee.

Hospital bosses only became suspicious of Poggiali in March 2014, after the unexplained deaths of five patients, who died in the space of a week during night shifts when she was working more or less alone on her ward. They did not call the police but moved her to day shifts in order, as they would later put it, to keep a closer eye on her. Three days later, on the morning of 8 April, another patient died: Rosa Calderoni.

The 78-year-old woman’s daughter, Manuela Alci, who was present that morning, has said she was told to leave the room while Poggiali gave medication to her mother, who had multiple health problems. Ten minutes later, Manuela was allowed back into the room and noticed that her mother’s eyes were rolling uncontrollably and that she had a glass tube inserted in her arm like a drip which, she said, had not been there before. Then, while she was holding her hand, her mother died. “She did not suffer,” Poggiali apparently assured her.

As a result, Poggiali’s bosses decided to conduct a full post-mortem on the dead patient, which showed high traces of potassium chloride in the eyeballs of the deceased. It was this discovery that would eventually lead to the nurse’s arrest; potassium chloride, which disappears from the body within 48 hours and is used in small doses to treat a number of conditions, is a key component in the lethal drug cocktail used in several states in America to execute prisoners on death row. According to investigators, an intravenous injection of neat potassium chloride had caused Calderoni to have a heart attack.

Meanwhile, however, Poggiali carried on working as normal at the Lugo hospital until July, when she was sacked after an internal inquiry found her guilty of stealing €10 from the relative of a patient and because of the photographs of her next to the dead patient, which she had posted on the internet. She is currently suing the hospital for wrongful dismissal.

On 9 October Poggiali was arrested on suspicion of murdering Calderoni. The press photos of the event show her handcuffed and smiling. Held in custody since her arrest, she has been bombarded with fan mail and received numerous marriage proposals. She denies the charges of murder, claiming that she is the victim of a grudge orchestrated by colleagues, who told police that they had been suspicious about the high number of patient deaths when she was on duty.
One nurse, Sara Pausini, said in a statement: “We had for some time been talking about Poggiali and about the strange number of dead patients, even three on the same day.” According to the arrest warrant, she said: “When I went to work with her I began to count the strange number of deaths to see if it was by bad luck or something else.”

Investigators say that between April 2013 and April 2104, 96 patients died on Poggiali’s ward while she was on duty – more than double the rate of a second nurse, who worked on the same ward (45 deaths), and nearly triple the rate of a third nurse (36 deaths). While they originally suspected Poggiali of having drip-fed as many as 38 patients with potassium chloride, police are now investigating the deaths of 96 patients who were in the nurse’s care.

Investigating magistrate Alessandro Mancini says that Poggiali saw her move to the day shift as “a kind of challenge”. He told the Italian press: “We maintain that she thought she was so clever, so cunning, that she could kill in the daytime, right under everyone’s noses. She had a sense of power, which made her feel capable of doing whatever she wanted, even in the sense of taking someone’s life. She felt omnipotent like a god. This was her mistake. We believe she is sound of mind but simply took satisfaction, and real pleasure, in killing.”

In fact, Poggiali’s sense of omnipotence was so great, according to prosecutors, that on one occasion, when discussing the poor survival prospects of a patient with a doctor, she joked: “Two phials of potassium and it would all be resolved.” The nurse, however, continues to maintain her innocence while the investigation continues.

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Dec 19 - Woman arrested for murder of eight children after stabbing in Cairns

By Mari - 11 hours ago

Police on scene at major incident in Cairns suburb Manoora as eight children stabbed to death

Eight children dead after Cairns stabbing

BREAKING: A 37-year-old woman has now been arrested after the deaths of eight children, aged between 18 months and 15 years, who were found stabbed to death in a Cairns home yesterday.

The woman is believed to be the mother of seven of the children, and the aunt of the eighth victim.

EARLIER: “DON’T let them take them away from us. God bless us. Forgive me for what I’ll do.”

These were the pleading screams of a woman heard by neighbours at 9pm on Thursday.

At 11:20am the next day, a young man, a 20-year-old brother of the family, walked into a Cairns house to find eight children dead.

Police attend a house in Murray St Manoora in Cairns where eight people were stabbed.

Police were called to the Murray St, Manoora home to be confronted by a scene so horrifying that their “screams and shouts” for an ambulance could be heard from the street.

Senior police have confirmed to The Cairns Post that Mersane Warria, also known as Raina Thaiday, is a person of interest in what is being described as one of the worst mass murders in Australia’s history.

No charges have been laid.

YESTERDAY: A CANDLELIT vigil is being held in Cairns from 6pm for the eight children stabbed to death in a home at Manoora.

Scene of a multiple stabbing in Murray Street, Manoora, Cairns, were eight children are deceased. State Emergency Service (SES) personnel arrive at the scene and assist police in the operation. Picture: Stewart McLean.

The vigil is at Munroe Martin Park.

Organisers invited the entire Cairns community to light a candle in remembrance.

The eight children, aged between 18 months and 15 years, were reportedly found dead at the scene this morning by their 20-year-old brother.

Dozens of police rushed to the home at 34 Murray Street, Manoora, about 11.20am, discovering the dead children and an injured woman, 34.

Police attend a house in Murray St Manoora in Cairns where eight people were stabbed. Picture. Marc McCormack

Far North Crime Coordinator Det Insp Bruno Asnicar spoke on the tragedy at 4.30pm.

Det Insp Asnicar said the incident was among the most significant he had encountered in his career.

“This is certainly a tragic and traumatic event with so many people deceased in one place.

“And it’s right up there with one of the most serious things that I’ve ever had to deal with,” he said.

Police attend a house in Murray St Manoora in Cairns where eight people were stabbed.

He confirmed these details:

– Police believe the 34-year-old woman in hospital is the mother of most of the deceased.

– There are no formal suspects at this time.

– Police have family liaison officers in place to support the families.

Locals sit on the sidewalk near a house police have blocked off as a crime scene where eight children have been found dead in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, Australia, Friday Dec. 19, 2014. Police said when they got to the house, they found the bodies of the children inside the home. The victims range in age from 18 months to 15 years.(AP Photo/Graeme Bint)

– SES in attendance to help manage the crime scene.

– Nobody has been in to the scene except forensic officers.

– None of the children have been formally identified.

– Anyone involved with the family for the past three days will be treated as a person of interest in this case until a suspect has been identified.

– Police would not comment on whether the house was known to them previously for other incidents.

He also confirmed police were this afternoon at the hospital.

When asked if police were talking with a man thought to be a brother of the victims, Det Insp Asnicar said only that police would speak with “everybody”.

“I don’t know if we’ve spoken to him. I don’t know who he is.”

A number of specialist officers from Townsville and Brisbane were being flown to Cairns to assist.

“They bring with them a range of skills that we will need to fully investigate the matter,” Acting Chief Superintendent Russell Miller said.

Mr Miller warned social media users against posting unhelpful content that would likely generate unrest.

He said authorities were working on a community recovery plan and the Queensland Police Service was wary of the impact the incident may have on first response officers.

Residents watch as Police attend a house in Murray St Manoora in Cairns where eight people were stabbed. Picture: Stewart McLean

“Some of the police who were on the scene earlier are young junior officers, so we’re providing the support they need to them from within our own systems.”

Earlier: More forensics officers were just seen moving onto the property behind the tarps that have been set up by the SES to cover the scene of the crime.

No bodies have been seen leaving the premises.

The SES has set up witches hats and are still blocking the East side of Murray St.

Police attend a house in Murray St Manoora in Cairns where eight people were stabbed.

Police tape is still blocking the centre of Murray St to traffic.

City Church Cairns will hold a vigil tonight from 7.30pm.

The scene at yhe house in Marchant Street Cairns where the eight children were found dead this morning. Picture: Brian Cassey

EARLIER: A neighbour of the Murray St house has described hearing shouting and screaming coming from the residence around 10am.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she was unsure who the voices belonged to, but did not contact police.

Other neighbours of the family involved in the horrific tragedy have said they were friendly, quiet and kind.

A resident who lives directly behind the house said he had only met the woman and children a few times but had once given them homegrown vegetables after they accidentally threw a ball into his backyard.

Lorry Birch said they had occasionally held parties but they were not rowdy and he had considered them good neighbours.

Meanwhile SES volunteers have begun erecting tarps around the fence line of the property to obscure the residence from view.

Far North Crime Coordinator Det Insp Bruno Asnicar said police were then called and found the bodies of eight children aged approximately between 18 months and 15 inside.

Police have not confirmed how they were killed.

They have also not confirmed the relationship between the woman and children.

“The crime scene has been locked down including from me,” Det Insp Asnicar said.

“These events are extremely distressing for everyone of course.”

Detectives and uniformed police continue to surround the one-storey residence which is beside a park.

Det Insp Asnicar said it was likely the crime scene would operate for several days.

Two adults have been taken to hospital. One is a 34-year-old woman — whom police confirmed to be the mother of seven of the dead children — and who was being treated for stab wounds to the chest and neck.

Police have stated they are not looking for anybody else in relation to the deaths and have yet to lay charges.

The woman is “assisting police with their inquiries” and “not in custody”, police said.

It is not clear whether the second person taken to hospital is the child’s stepfather, who lived at the address.

“It’s very early days but (the woman) is in a stable condition,” he said.

He reassured the community there was no other immediate danger though.

“As it stands at the moment there’s no need for the public to be concerned about this other that it’s a tragic, tragic event,” he said.

“There should be no concern for anyone else out of this environment.”

“The crime scene will continue now for probably the next day or two and as we get further information we will share that with you.”

It is understood that police were familiar with the family.

The 34-year-old woman’s cousin told AAP at the scene the children were all siblings.

The woman was their mother, she said.

She said another sibling, a 20-year-old man, arrived home to find his brothers and sisters dead inside the house.

He is now being comforted by other family members.

“I’m going to see him now, he needs comforting,” the woman told AAP.

She described the family and extended relatives as close-knit.

“We’re a big family and most of us are from the (Torres) Strait,” she said.

“I just can’t believe it. We just found out (about) those poor babies.”

About 20 to 30 people, including neighbours and locals, could be seen to be visibly upset and comforting each other at the scene.

A couple who had lived around the corner for 18 months said they didn’t feel safe in the area and it was not uncommon to hear fighting and drinking at night.

“It’s pretty scary. Oh my God,” the man who did not want to be named told AAP.

Specialist police officers were travelling from Brisbane to assist with the investigation, Det Insp Asnicar said.

“We are missing nothing as far as conducting this investigation,” he said.

“This is not a small job, we’re not taking this lightly at all ... we’ll cover every angle before this is finished.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the news as “heartbreaking”.

“All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened,” Mr Abbott said.

“This is an unspeakable crime.

“These are trying days for our country.

“Tonight, there will be tears and prayers across our country for these children.

“My thoughts are with the Queensland Police and all who have to respond to this terrible situation.”

A Mobile Police Facility has been established and officers from the Cairns Criminal Investigation Branch, Child Protection and Investigation Unit, Scenes of Crime and Scientific section are conducting an investigation and examination of the scene.

Ambulances also remain on scene.

The incident is not believed to be terrorism-related.


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Image inside Dec 19 - m!lf psychologist decapitated her husband with a chainsaw

By messy marv stan - 11 hours ago

Psychologist ‘decapitated her husband with a chainsaw and scattered his remains across the city’ :ojwhoa:

The psychologist used her knowledge of mental illness to feign madness

A psychologist is alleged to have murdered and decapitated her abusive husband, scattered his remains around the city, and then sent texts from his phone telling family and friends he was on a business trip.

Maria Alejandra Lafuente Caso, 40, is said to have drugged husband Allen Carrera Cuellar, 41, by slipping sleeping pills into his drink at their Mexico City home before chopping up his body with a chainsaw.

She is then believed to have stuffed his remains in black bin liners, which she deposited at different locations around the city before texting close friends and family saying Mr Cuellar had gone on a business trip.

‘Before the body parts were found she convinced everyone that he was alive and well by sending text messages,’ said a police spokesman

‘After we found the remains and managed to identify him from DNA, she pretended to be a grieving widow.’

‘But a forensic examination of her home found traces of his blood and bone gristle in the carpets and bits of flesh in the bathroom.

‘She then tried to have herself sectioned using her knowledge of mental illness as a psychologist so she wouldn’t have to stand trial for his murder, but we had a doctor carry out tests and she is of perfectly sane mind.’

Police launched the investigation after children found the head of Mr Cuellar in a local park.

The psychologist now faces life in prison


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Dec 19 - slendarman stabbing suspects ruled competent to stand trial

By messy marv stan - 11 hours ago

Two girls accused of stabbing a friend to impress the fictional Internet bogeyman Slenderman have been found competent to stand trial.

The decision came out of a Wisconsin courtroom Thursday, Waukesha County Circuit Court reporter Kathy Fus told CNN

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier have been charged with attempted murder after authorities say they stabbed their classmate 19 times in May. All three were 12 at the time

The suspects allegedly left the victim to crawl to her own rescue. She was taken to a hospital after a passing bicyclist found her.

According to a criminal complaint, the suspects were arrested hours after the victim was discovered.

The girls were allegedly trying to please Slenderman, a horror story meme the girls had encountered on a website known as Creepypasta Wiki.

One of the suspects is said to have told police that Slenderman is the site's supposed leader, and to climb into his realm, a user must kill someone.

Geyser and Weier are being charged as adults. A preliminary hearing is set for February 18

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Dec 19 - up to 35% of your cell phone bill is taxes and fees

By messy marv stan - 11 hours ago

:sealrape: On top of the state/local tax rates, cell phone users will pay an additional 5.82% federal tax :sealrape:

ver try make sense of your cell phone bill? Good luck with that.

Not only will you see 9-1-1 fees, you'll also find franchise taxes, utility sales taxes and mysteriously named surcharges like the MCTD, TRS or PUC.

On average, customers pay 17.1% of their bill in federal, state and local taxes and fees. But in some states, the average charges can run as high as 24% of the bill, according to a new report from the Tax Foundation.

Some city residents, meanwhile, end up paying even more: Up to 35%, thanks to per-line fees and other charges.

All in, wireless customers end up paying tax and fee rates that are about twice as much as the average sales tax rate on other goods and services, the Tax Foundation found.

Here's how it breaks down: First, there's the 5.82% federal charge, which is part excise tax and part Universal Service Fund charge.

After that, how much more you pay depends on where you live.

The highest combined state and local rates are found in Washington state (18.6%), Nebraska (18.5%), New York (17.7%), Florida (16.6%) and Illinois (15.8%).

Once you tack on the federal government's levy, taxes and fees make up 22% to 24% of your bill in these states, according to the Tax Foundation

The menu of charges won't be identical across states, either. In Nebraska, for instance you'll be charged a "city business and occupation tax," while in Illinois you'll have to pay a "simplified municipal tax." The District of Columbia, meanwhile, slaps on a 10% "Telecommunications Privilege Tax."

By contrast, states with the lowest tax rates on cellphone usage are Oregon (1.8%), Nevada (1.9%), Idaho (2.6%), Montana (6%) and West Virginia (6.2%). Their combined federal, state and local rates range from about 8% to 12%.

City dwellers tend to get hit the hardest: In a few cities - for example, Chicago, New York City and Omaha, Neb. - you may have to shell out quite a bit more.

Chicago takes the cake. If you have a family plan with four cell phone lines, you could pay 35.4% of your total bill in taxes, fees and charges. That's thanks to a recently increased 9-1-1 fee, which is now $3.90 per month, and a high per line fee of $4.

The city's 9-1-1 fee was doubled to $2.50 in 2008 to help with security upgrades as Chicago bid to host the Olympics, according to the report. The bid failed, but the fee remained at $2.50. The rationale for the most recent hike was to avoid a property tax increase. In both cases, the hikes were unrelated to direct spending on the 9-1-1 system.

"Facing continual revenue challenges, some states and cities have resorted to targeting wireless customers as a source for additional revenue," the Tax Foundation report noted.

And it may not be the fairest way to raise cash.

Given how essential cell phones have become - from keeping tabs on your young kids to being reachable for work - high taxes and fees can be especially hard on poorer citizens, the report's authors contend. "Excessive taxes and fees may reduce low-income consumers' access to wireless service at a time when such access is critical to economic success."

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Image inside Dec 19 - Curiosity Rover Drills Into Mars Rock, Finds Water

By Damagegadget - 11 hours ago

NASA's Curiosity rover is continuing to help scientists piece together the mystery of how Mars lost its surface water over the course of billions of years.

The rover drilled into a piece of Martian rock called Cumberland and found some ancient water hidden within it. Researchers were then able to test a key ratio in the water with Curiosity's onboard instruments to gather more data about when Mars started to lose its water, NASA officials said. In the same sample, Curiosity also detected the first organic molecules it has found. Mission scientists announced the discovery in a news conference today (Dec. 15) at the American Geophysical Union's convention in San Francisco, where they also unveiled Curiosity's first detection of methane on Mars.

"It's really interesting that our measurements from Curiosity of gases extracted from ancient rocks can tell us about loss of water from Mars," Paul Mahaffy, Curiosity's SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) instrument principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement. [Photos: The Search for Water on Mars]

Curiosity measured the ratio of deuterium (heavy hydrogen) to "normal" hydrogen. This D-to-H ratio can help scientists see how long it takes for water molecules to escape, because the lighter hydrogen molecules fly toward the upper atmosphere more freely than deuterium does.

The D-to-H ratio in Cumberland is about half the ratio found in the Martian atmosphere's water vapor today, NASA officials said. This suggests that the planet lost much of its surface water after the Cumberland rock formed, space agency officials added in the same statement.

But the water sample is also about three times "heavier" than Earth's oceans. This means that if Mars' surface water started off with a D-to-H ratio like Earth's, then most of the Martian water likely disappeared before Cumberland formed about 3.9 billion to 4.6 billion years ago.

The Cumberland measurement fills in a gap for scientists studying different epochs of Martian geological evolution. This sampling marks the first time scientists have been able to measure what the water on Mars may have been like during the Hesperian period, when this rock was formed, said Mahaffy, who is the lead author of a Mars water study published in the journal Science this week.

Previously, scientists have used Martian meteorites on Earth to sample Martian water; however, none of those space rocks date back to the Hesperian period.

"You have the whole period from 2.5 billion to 4 billion years old, and there's no data that we have from Mars meteorites just because we haven't found any yet, I guess," Mahaffy told "So, it's very gratifying to be able to fill in that picture a little bit."

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