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3 sentenced in stomping that caused pregnant teen to miscarry brother’s child

Three members of a Texas family were sentenced to prison last week in the brutal 2013 beating and stomping of a 13-year-old relative who authorities said was raped -- and impregnated -- by her own brother. 

Sharon Jones, 47, of Dallas, and two of her children, Cedric Jones Jr., 29, and Cecila McDonald, 28, pleaded guilty for their part in the 2013 crime, which caused the girl to miscarry, The Dallas Morning News reportedThe newspaper reported in 2016 that the victim and five siblings, including a younger sister forced to help hold her down during the beating, moved from California to Texas to live with Sharon Jones, their aunt, after their grandmother died. 

“Most people would treat strangers better,” prosecutor Rachel Burris said during last week’s sentencing hearing, according to the newspaper. “Yet these people did it to someone they promised to love.

“They held her down. They forced her to lay there while people stomped her. It was savage.”

>> Read more trending news

A judge sentenced Sharon Jones to 12 years in prison. Cedric Jones was sentenced to five years in prison and his sister was sentenced to serve seven years, according to the Morning News. The siblings and their mother each pleaded guilty to felony family violence aggravated assault. 

A fourth suspect, Lonnell McDonald, was convicted in 2016 of aggravated assault and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the newspaper reported

The beating, which the now-19-year-old victim reported in 2015, stemmed from a sexual assault case in which the girl’s 24-year-old brother was accused of raping her in 2012, when she was 13. The brother, who relocated to Dallas a year before his siblings, was ordered to not have contact with them, though it was not immediately clear why.

The brother’s name is being withheld to help shield the victim’s identity. 

Testimony in Lonnell McDonald’s trial showed that, despite Sharon Jones promising to take in the siblings to keep them out of foster homes, the children were instead sent to live with Lonnell and Cecila McDonald. Their older brother was living at the McDonald home at the time, the Morning News reported. 

It was there that the alleged sexual assault took place, according to testimony

Sharon Jones is accused of telling the girl and her siblings to lie to Texas Child Protective Services caseworkers so authorities would not find out they were living in the same home as their brother.

The 13-year-old victim told authorities that she told Jones and Cecila McDonald about the sexual assault after it came out that their older brother had sexually abused McDonald’s own three young children. The women, who were reportedly worried that McDonald would lose custody of her children, never told authorities about the girl’s allegations. 

The brother has since been found mentally incompetent to stand trial and his criminal charges remain in limbo, the Morning News said.

When the teen’s relatives learned that she was eight months pregnant, they tried forcing Plan B birth control pills and cinnamon tablets on her to induce a miscarriage, the Morning News reported. When that didn’t work, they held her down and took turns stomping on her abdomen.

Cecila McDonald screamed during the attack, “(Expletive), you ain’t about to get my kids taken away from me,” the newspaper said

After beating her for hours, they left the girl in a bathtub, bleeding and drifting in and out of consciousness, as she gave birth to a stillborn baby, the Morning News reported. To combat her loss of blood, they fed her iron pills.

The victim told authorities they took her baby away before she got to see the child. 

The girl’s younger sister tried to care for her afterward. The Morning News reported in 2016 that the younger girl, who was 12 during the attack, was granted immunity in the case in return for her testimony. 

After the baby was born, Cecila McDonald put the infant’s body in a bucket. She, her brother and her mother then tried to burn the remains on a grill.

Sharon Jones subsequently paid her son $25 to get rid of the portion that did not burn. The Morning News said he hid the remains, which have never been found. 

“To this day, we don’t know what happened to that baby,” Burris told jurors during Lonnell McDonald’s trial. 

Teen in custody after 15-year-old girl shot at Texas high school, deputies say

Authorities arrested a 16-year-old on Monday morning after authorities said he shot a 15-year-old girl at a Texas high school, according to the Ellis County Sheriff's Office.

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Police: 4 children shot at park near Florida high school

Four children were shot Sunday at Willows Park near Evans High School, the Orlando Police Department said.

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Someone called 911 to report that three gunmen shot at a crowd at 3101 Willow Bend Blvd. around 6:15 p.m., police said.

Three teenage girls who were shot in the leg were taken to a hospital.

Police said a fourth victim went to a hospital later and investigators linked the child's injuries to the shooting.

Keniesha Hunt, a nurse who lives nearby, said she ran to the park after hearing gunfire to help the victims.

Hunt said the girls begged her to save them, saying that they didn't want to die. She assured them they wouldn't.

"My hope ... is that they find them," Hunt said. "It can't keep happening. ... You have to be mindful of other people."

Officials did not say how serious the children's injuries were. 

The shooting remains under investigation.

Killing of Alabama housewife reveals secret life on internet

The killing of an Alabama housewife outside her suburban home on Jan. 13 revealed signs of a double life on the internet, several news outlets have reported.

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The body of 42-year-old Kathleen Dawn West was found outside her Calera, Alabama, home, WTVT reported. Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley said his department is treating the case as a homicide but has not released any details, AL.com reported.

While West described herself as a full-time wife and mother on Facebook, her internet presence also included a subscription-only website, where she touted herself as Kitty Kat West, AL.com reported. The page included suggestive photos and invited readers to join her “pay page” for a monthly $15.99 subscription fee to view more risque content, WTVT reported.

Her last post on her Twitter page came the day before she was killed, WTVT reported. Police said West was found outside her home, located about 35 miles south of Birmingham, around 5 a.m., clad in just a sports bra, AL.com reported. They would not speculate as to whether her online activities led to her death, AL.com reported.

West graduated from Bloomingdale High school in Valrico, a suburb of Tampa, Florida, WTVT reported.

On Saturday, the family launched an online fundraising campaign to help pay for funeral costs. While West’s family has not commented publicly, her mother, Nancy Martin, wrote on the fundraising page that her daughter was “a cherished wife” and “a loving mother” to her daughter.

“So much negativity is out there, but with God all I see and hear is the goodness of my Kat,” Martin wrote.

Flares, not improvised explosive devices, ignited at Florida mall, FBI says

 

Lake Wales police are searching for those responsible for igniting two marine flares Sunday evening near the entrance of the JC Penney at the Eagle Ridge Mall Sunday evening.

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Firefighters responded to reports of an explosion at the mall on 451 Eagle Ridge Drive around 5:20 p.m.

Firefighters initially said that an improvised explosive device had been detonated in a corridor located next to the mall entrance of JC Penney.

The FBI later determined that there was no explosion and no pipe bombs were discovered. Officials also said that the incident didn’t appear to be terrorism-related.

"It appears two items, believed to be marine flares, were ignited in a mall hallway, creating a large amount of smoke, and a backpack was located at the scene," said Andrea Aprea, an FBI spokeswoman. "Bomb technicians examined the contents of the backpack and determined it did not contain any incendiary or explosive devices."

A witness who called 911 told WFTV that she heard a fire alarm sound and saw orange smoke billowing from an object.

The mall was evacuated. No one was injured, but a ceiling and a wall were damaged by the flares, officials said.

After speaking with witnesses, police said they are looking for a person of interest described as a stocky, middle-aged white man wearing a gray shirt and a hat.

Detectives said they will review surveillance footage recorded at a jewelry store in the mall.

The investigation is ongoing.

Hotel evacuated after man walks in carrying multiple firearms, police say

Police in Henry County searched a hotel in McDonough on Monday morning after getting reports of an armed man at the hotel.

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Hundreds of journals found in home where 13 siblings held captive, DA says

We are learning more about the California home where police say 13 siblings were kept in subhuman conditions by their parents

>> Watch the news report here

Although the children in the home, ages 2 to 29, were only allowed to bathe twice a year and eat once a day, they were allowed to write in journals, authorities said. District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a press conference that the children kept hundreds of journals, and he believes they will be “very significant” in the upcoming court case, the Desert Sun reports. Hestrin added that he thinks the journals will provide “strong evidence of what occurred in that home.”

>> Parents accused of holding their 13 children captive appear in court

Researchers are also interested in the journals as they detail the firsthand accounts of the alleged abuse. One academic told the Desert Sun: “There is a good chance that being able to write may have kept them sane. In an interesting way, this may have helped them come to terms with the bizarre world they lived in.” He even compared them to the journals kept by Anne Frank.

>> Dogs found in perfect condition in home where 13 siblings held captive

The journals could prove valuable for prosecutors as they might provide evidence that could be used to cross-examine the parents, David and Louise Turpin. The Turpins are facing life in prison for a series of charges, including torture.

>> Read more trending news 

The journals have not been made public, and law enforcement officials are currently in the process of reviewing them.

The conditions in the home were unimaginable, authorities said. The children reportedly were beaten and chained to furniture. Neighbors recalled seeing them marching during the night. They were discovered when one girl escaped and managed to find a police officer, authorities said.

Read more here.

Parents accused of holding their 13 children captive appear in court

David and Louise Turpin are facing a string of charges, including torture, after police say the couple kept their 13 children locked away in subhuman conditions in their Perris, California, home. On Thursday, the Turpins made their first court appearance.

>> Watch the video here

>> On Rare.us: Here’s what the children in the California torture house did to cope with the alleged abuse

David Turpin appeared in chains, wearing a lavender shirt and black jacket while his wife sat nearby, also in chains and a black jacket. The Turpins entered not guilty pleas to all of the charges, some of which date back to 2010. The district attorney says the couple is facing 94 years to life in prison if convicted on all counts.

>> Dogs found in perfect condition in home where 13 siblings held captive

During the arraignment, the Turpins were quiet and spoke only to say they acknowledged their right to a speedy preliminary hearing, CBS reports. They will appear in court again on Feb. 23, and their bail was set at $13 million.

District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a press conference, “As a prosecutor, there are cases that stick with you, that will haunt you. Sometimes, in this business, we’re faced with looking at human depravity, and that’s what we’re looking at here.”

Authorities said the parents were able to keep their children hidden away by listing their home as a private school. Some of the kids, who ranged in ages from 2 to 29, reportedly didn’t know what a police officer was.

The children were only allowed to eat once a day and shower twice a year, authorities said. However, the parents reportedly did allow them to keep journals, and authorities said the kids filled hundreds of notebooks. Those have not been released and are still being reviewed by law enforcement.

The children are currently being cared for in the hospital, authorities said. The Riverside University Health System has set up a fund for the children that will go to their long-term needs, according to a press release. The hospital said the children have already seen a tremendous outpouring of support.

>> Read more trending news 

Brian Rokos of the Press-Enterprise was present at the hearing and reported that David Turpin is being represented by a public defender, while Louise Turpin has outside counsel. During Thursday’s arraignment, the public defender requested that media be banned from the trial, but the judge shot that down. Rokos said reporters from around the world were in the courtroom. The Turpins' lawyers have not announced whether they will try to have the case moved out of Riverside County.

Dogs found in perfect condition in home where 13 siblings held captive

A pair of well-kept dogs were taken from the Perris, California, house where 13 children were found shackled and severely malnourished last week.

>> Watch the news report here

David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, are facing a minimum of 94 years for charges including child neglect and torture after police said their children, ranging from ages 2 to 29, were discovered in their home severely malnourished.

>> Neighbors of parents accused of holding 13 kids captive describe family as odd, reclusive

In a statement on Wednesday, city spokesman Joe Vargo said authorities recovered two Maltese terrier dogs in far better condition than the Turpins’ children. The 1-year-old female puppies were reportedly healthy and were taught skills, People reported.

“The animals, one white and one black, appear healthy and friendly and are leash-trained, according to Christina Avila, a senior animal control officer,” a press release from the city of Perris said.

>> Read more trending news 

The dogs — one was named Fluffy — were featured in photos from the city appearing well-groomed and in sweaters. An adoption raffle for the pups is being held through Jan. 26 to find them new homes.

Investigators said the children were only allowed showers a few times per year and were fed only once per day. In a press conference with reporters Thursday, District Attorney Mike Hestrin alleged that the last time any of the children had seen a doctor was four years ago and they had never been to a dentist. Police said the parents allegedly kept themselves well-fed and regularly ate pies in front of their children to taunt them, ABC News reported.

>> Police: 13 siblings held captive in California residence

The 17-year-old who reportedly escaped the home through a bedroom window to alert authorities was initially believed to be just 10 years old due to the severity of her malnourishment, while the oldest victim, a 29-year-old woman, weighed only 82 pounds when the children were found. According to Hestrin, the children “lack a basic knowledge of life,” although they were allegedly homeschooled, KTLA reported.

According to the Daily Mail, the parents face a combined total of 75 charges, and each was being held on $12 million bond.

Florida man accused of shoplifting, leaving child in running car at Walmart

Police arrested a man at a Walmart in Florida Thursday night after he allegedly left a 7-year-old child in his car while he went inside the store and shoplifted.

Around 8 p.m., a loss prevention officer spotted Derek Kingsland, 29, in the Jupiter store “looking around suspiciously,” the arrest report stated.

Kingsland attempted to purchase $48 worth of items at the self-checkout line, but when his card was declined he walked to the women’s section of the store, placed the items in his pocket and attempted to walk out, the Palm Beach Post reported.

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Among the items listed as stolen on the police report were cordless phone batteries, a knife, an air compressor, a ratchet and a Starbucks coffee drink.

Jupiter police officers met with Kingsland, who admitted that he did not have enough money to purchase the items and tried to take them without paying. He then said to officers that he would go to his car to get money and that he left a sleeping child in his car.

Officers found the child awake inside the car with the engine running. A relative picked up the child and officers arrested Kingsland on charges of shoplifting, child abuse, and use of an anti-theft device.

Kingsland remains at the Palm Beach County Jail on a $18,000 bond, the Palm Beach Post reported.

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