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FBI seeks possible burial site of missing teacher

(Reuters) - The FBI on Sunday asked landowners in parts of Montana and North Dakota to check for possible burial sites in a search for a missing teacher and authorities identified two men they are holding in connection with her disappearance.

Lester Vann Waters, 47, and Michael Keith Spell, 22, of Parachute, Colorado, were detained after a tip to a hotline set up by authorities, police said. They are charged with aggravated kidnapping.

The men were being held in a North Dakota county jail about 45 minutes from Sidney, Montana, where high school math instructor Sherry Arnold disappeared more than a week ago.

The Crime on Sunday said in a statement that Arnold may be dead but her body has not been recovered.

The Crime asked landowners in the northeastern corner of Montana and in three rural counties of northwestern North Dakota to report disturbed soil along tree rows -- or shelter belts -- because Arnold "may be buried in a shelter belt that contains mature or rotted trees," according to the statement.

Arnold, 43, was last seen on January 7 setting off for a predawn run. Her husband reported her missing when she did not return home.

Searchers found one of her running shoes on the outskirts of Sidney, which has undergone rapid growth amid a regional oil and gas boom.

Arnold's husband, Gary Arnold, expressed gratitude to those who helped him and his family, thanking them "for the love they showed us."

He told Reuters, "While this did not turn out the way we all had hoped, at least we are moving toward a resolution and an answer."

Waters and Spell will be extradited to Montana from the Williams County Law Enforcement Center, where they were being held, Williams County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Thompson said.

Bret Smelser, the mayor of Sidney, a town of 5,000 people on the upper Missouri River, said stepped-up oil and gas production from hydraulic fracturing has brought more people and economic activity to the community, as well as crime.

Firearms sales and permits to carry concealed handguns were on the rise in the aftermath of Arnold's suspected abduction, Smelser said.

"Before this, we always presumed we were safe and felt secure," he said.

The Crime said the search for Arnold's remains centers on far northeastern Montana near Sidney and Williams, McKenzie and Mountrail counties in North Dakota.

FBI spokeswoman Deborah Bertram said investigators are not seeking volunteers for a search and cautioned property owners inspecting shelter belts "not to put themselves at risk."

Aggravated kidnapping is a capital offense under Montana and federal laws.

(Editing by Karen Brooks, Ellen Wulfhorst and David Bailey)

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Mullah Omar's name deleted from Crime's most wanted list

Breaking news by Geo Tv: Mullah Omar's name deleted from Crime's most wanted list

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Imam sentenced in JFK airport terror plot

Kareem Ibrahim leaves court in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2007.
Kareem Ibrahim leaves court in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2007.
  • Kareem Ibrahim was convicted in May of conspiring to attack JFK airport
  • He is sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 2007 plot
  • Ibrahim was a leader of the Shiite Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago

Washington (CNN) -- An imam and leader of the Shiite Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to attack a New York airport by exploding fuel tanks and fuel pipelines under the airport, the Justice Department said Friday.

Kareem Ibrahim and several other co-conspirators believed the 2007 planned attack would cause extensive damage to John F. Kennedy International Airport and to the New York economy, as well as kill many people, officials said.

Ibrahim, 65, was convicted in May by a federal jury on multiple terrorism offenses after a four-week trial.

The plot originated in 2006 when Russell Defreitas, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Guyana who used to work at JFK as a cargo handler, planned the attack and then recruited others, according to officials. In May 2007, Defreitas gave Ibrahim video surveillance and satellite imagery of the targets because Ibrahim had connections to militant leaders in Iran, the Justice Department said.

During cross-examination at trial, Ibrahim admitted he advised the plotters to present the attack plan to revolutionary leaders in Iran and to use operatives ready to engage in suicide attacks at the airport, according to the Justice Department. On one of the recorded conversations entered into evidence, Ibrahim told Defreitas the attackers must be ready to "fight it out, kill who you could kill and go back to Allah."

Ibrahim was arrested along with two others in Trinidad in June 2007 and later extradited to the United States. He was convicted of conspiracy to attack a public transportation system, conspiracy to destroy a building by fire or explosive, conspiracy to attack aircraft and aircraft materials, conspiracy to destroy international airport facilities, and conspiracy to attack a mass transportation facility, the Justice Department said.

Defreitas was arrested in New York and convicted of terrorism charges in 2010 and sentenced to life in prison.

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Crime Cops

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Surviving the Mob: A Street Soldier's Life in the Gambino Crime Family

What do you do when the law wants you behind bars and the New York crime families want you buried? That was the life and death dilemma confronting Andrew DiDonato, who began his criminal career at the age of 14 under the watchful eyes of the local mob. By the time he was 17, the infamous Gambino family made DiDonato an associate of the Nicholas Corozzo crew. For the next 14 years, he was a loyal street soldier. But by 1996, DiDonato had run afoul of both the law and his friends, turning him into a hunted man on two fronts. Surviving the Mob is a cautionary tale of the harsh reality of a criminal, inmate, fugitive, and witness who, so far, has lived to tell the tale.

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FBI Seeks Help Finding Montana Teacher's Body

New details about the mysterious disappearance and reported death of a small-town Montana math teacher began to trickle out Sunday, as authorities asked property owners in parts of North Dakota and Montana to look for signs of her buried body, and released the names of two men being held in the case.

The FBI issued a statement late Sunday saying the body of 43-year-old Sherry Arnold of Sidney, Mont., might be buried in a "shelter belt," or a line of trees that protects soil from the wind. The agency asked that property owners in three North Dakota counties — Williams, McKenzie and Mountrail counties — and in far northeastern Montana check vacant farmsteads for signs of disturbed soil or matted grass.

"Based on investigative evidence gathered over the last few days, it is believed that Ms. Arnold may be deceased," FBI spokeswoman Debbie Bertram said in a statement. "Her body has not been recovered."

Authorities said 47-year-old Lester Vann Waters Jr. and 22-year-old Michael Keith Spell, both of Parachute, Colo., were in the Williams County Correctional Center in Williston, N.D., awaiting extradition to Montana.

Sherry Arnold

AP

In this undated photo provided by the Sidney,... View Full Caption
In this undated photo provided by the Sidney, Mt., Police Dept. shows Sidney High School math teacher Sherry Arnold, 43, who has been missing since Saturday, Jan. 7. Hundreds of people are assisting in the search for the Sidney teacher who did not return home after going for a jog on Saturday Jan. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Sidney Montana Police Dept.) Close

Williams County Sheriff's Deputy Jon Garrison said the two men face aggravated kidnapping charges in Montana.

The FBI said in its statement it is asking only for the help of landowners in the three North Dakota counties and in extreme northeast Montana, and it is not seeking other volunteers for a search. The agency said property owners who discover something unusual should not disturb the area, but call authorities.

Officials said Waters and Spell were brought to the Williston jail Friday. They declined to release where or how the men were taken into custody.

The jail is about 46 miles from Sidney, where officials say Arnold disappeared while on an early-morning run along a truck route on the edge of the oil boom town of about 5,500 residents.

"Well, obviously, it's not over," Sidney Mayor Bret Smelser said when told of the FBI news release. "We're angry. We're frustrated. But our concern is with Sherry's family and friends. And whatever support we can give to get them through this, that's what we'll do."

Sidney school officials posted a statement online Friday saying they learned of Arnold's death that day. The statement provided no details.

In the days after Arnold disappeared, hundreds of residents, police, firefighters and others combed the town and surrounding countryside without success.

The only clue that has been publicly released was that one of Arnold's shoes was found along her running route.

Arnold and her husband, Gary Arnold, have five children combined from prior marriages. Two live at home and attend the same school system where Sherry Arnold worked for the past 18 years.

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FBI Raid on Pharmacy

FBI Raid on Pharmacy

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FBI rape terms align with SC law

A local sexual assault victim advocate says the FBI changing its decades-old definition of rape will help victims of sexual assault.

"It's good news because it gives victims more justice," said Jane Alleva, director of Safe Passage, a non-profit that offers services to victims of sexual assault. "It also gives law enforcement and prosecutors more tools to catch perpetrators."

Rock Hill and York County agencies and prosecutors, however, do not expect to see an increase in local numbers because they already use a broader, and less restrictive, definition of sexual assault.

The revisions, approved by FBI Director Robert Mueller, will now define rape as "the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object" without the consent of the victim as well as the "oral penetration by a sex organ of another person" without consent.

The FBI's old definition of rape, in effect since 1927, reads, "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will."

The changes will also include male victims who are raped.

Attorney General Holder said in a statement. "This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes."

The changes will be phased into the FBI's data over the next two to three years.

The change was sparked by discrepancies between the number of rapes reported in the FBI's data compared to the number of sexual assaults. Under the old definition, 84,767 rapes were reported nationwide in 2010, based on data collected from 18,000 law enforcement agencies.

The agency's victimization survey reported 188,380 sexual assaults.

Male rape victims are an underreported demographic, Alleva said. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show nearly one in five women and one in 71 men have been raped at some point in their lives.

On average, Alleva said, they see one to two adult and three to four child victims each week. That number tends to increase on holiday weekends, and they are seeing more and more sexual incidents driven by alcohol and drugs.

Of those incidents, 85 percent are committed by people the victim knows.

Safe Passage helps victims deal with all aspects of the assault.

"It's tough for a victim," Alleva said. "The purpose of a sexual assault is control, humiliation and to have the victim not ever feeling safe again. It's not sexually motivated.

"The effects can last forever."

She hopes the new definition will help officials bring accused rapists to justice for the victims' sake.

"Every victim deserves justice," she said.

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Lt. Brad Redfearn said the Rock Hill Police Department's definition of rape follows state standards. Rock Hill police report forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault, sexual assault with an object and forcible fondling to the State Law Enforcement Division.

Redfearn said local police have seen a 14-percent reduction in all of the categories during the past 10 years. In 2008, 113 offenses were reported, 87 in 2009 and 80 in 2010.

"We already report on our statute, which includes 'persons,'" he said. "We report our numbers to SLED. They report the numbers to the FBI, as well as every agency in the state.

"This is not going to affect how we do our local numbers."

The amount of cases being reported won't change because they're already being reported, he explained.

York County Sheriff's Office's Lt. Mike Baker said, "the new definition is broader for FBI purposes. It will not change anything we are doing. Our state statutes have been all-encompassing.

"The only difference you're going to see is a statistic change increase due to the broader scope of their definition."

York County Solicitor Kevin Brackett said the change will give the FBI more complete data and allow them to better compare numbers.

"It is important how they define things from the standpoint of people outside looking in trying to decide if crime rate is high or low," he said.

He said it might help officials respond to crime trends in an area.

But, like the police agencies, he prosecutes based on state laws.

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Third survivor located on stricken cruise ship - USA Today

Police divers and rescue crews are circled around the wreckage of the cruise ship that ran aground and tipped over off the Tuscan coast in an apparent search for the few dozen people who remain unaccounted for.

  • A handout aerial view taken and released Saturday by Italian Guardia de Finanza shows the Costa Concordia cruise ship after it ran aground and keeled over off the coast of Italy.

    Italian Guardia de Finanza, AFP/Getty Images

    A handout aerial view taken and released Saturday by Italian Guardia de Finanza shows the Costa Concordia cruise ship after it ran aground and keeled over off the coast of Italy.

Italian Guardia de Finanza, AFP/Getty Images

A handout aerial view taken and released Saturday by Italian Guardia de Finanza shows the Costa Concordia cruise ship after it ran aground and keeled over off the coast of Italy.

Crews in dinghies were seen Sunday morning touching the hull with their hands. They were near the site of the 160-foot-long gash where water flooded in and caused the ship to fall on its side.

Coast guard officials have said divers will try to enter the belly of the ship in case anyone is still inside.

  • PHOTOS: Images from the disaster

  • STORY: Nations hunt for info on Italian cruise wreck

Italian news reports quoting local officials say some 40 people remain unaccounted for out of the 4,200 passengers and crew. Three people are confirmed dead.

Survivors, meanwhile, described a chaotic evacuation as plates and glasses crashed, and they crawled along upended hallways trying to reach safety.

Late Saturday, a South Korean couple on their honeymoon were rescued nearly 24 hours after the capsizing when firefighters in the unsubmerged part of the Costa Concordia heard their screams.

Prato fire commander Vincenzo Bennardo told the Associated Press that rescuers had been banging on doors of the ship cabins in the non-submerged part of the ship when they heard a reply from one of the rooms early Sunday. The couple, in their late 20s, were in good condition.

The ship's Italian captain, Francesco Schettino, was detained late Saturday and is being investigated for manslaughter and abandoning ship. The AP reports Schettino is being held in a jail in Grosseto, Italy, until next week, when a judge will decide whether he should be released or formally put under arrest. In Italy, suspects can be held without charge for a few days for investigation.

The chief prosecutor in the Tuscan city of Grosseto, Francesco Verusio, was quoted by the ANSA news agency as telling reporters that the captain "very ineptly got close to Giglio," the AP reports.

"The ship struck a reef that got stuck inside the left side, making it (the ship) lean over and take on a lot of water in the space of two, three minutes," he said.

Schettino was at the command, and it was "he who ordered the route, that's what it appears to us. It was a deliberate" choice to follow that route, ANSA quote him as saying.

According to the AP, Schettino's lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, said his client understands why he was being detained but that "as his defender, I'd like to say that several hundred people owed their life to the expertise that the commander of the Costa Concordia showed during the emergency."

Major passenger vessel disasters of the last century:
  • April 15, 1912: The passenger steamship Titanic sinks after striking an iceberg in the Atlantic, killing at least 1,517 people.
  • May 7, 1915: Cunard Line's RMS Lusitania sank after being attacked by a german U-boat off the coast of Ireland, killing 1,198 people.
  • May 29, 1914: The Empress of Ireland, a Canadian steamship, collided in fog with a Norwegian freighter and sank, killing 1,012 people.
  • July 25, 1956: Two passenger ships, the Andrea Doria of Italy and Stockholm of Sweden, collided off Massachusetts, sinking the Andrea Doria and killing 46.
  • Aug. 31, 1986: The Soviet passenger ship Admiral Nakhimov collided with a cargo vessel in the Black Sea, sinking and killing 423.
  • Dec. 20, 1987: The Philippine ferry Dona Paz collided with the petroleum tanker Vector, with the fire and sinking killing 4,375.
  • Sept. 28, 1994: The ferry Estonia sank during a storm in the Baltic Sea, killing 852 people.
  • May 21, 1996: The ferry Bukoba sank in Africa's Lake Victoria, killing up to 1,000 people.
  • Sept. 26, 2002: The Senegalese ferry Le Joola capsized in a storm off Gambia, killing at least 1,863 people.
  • Feb. 3, 2006: The Egyptian ferry al-Salam Boccaccio sank in the Red Sea, killing more than 1,000 people.
  • June 21, 2008: The Princess of the Stars ferry capsized off the Philippines during a typhoon, killing 700 to 800 people.
  • July 10, 2011: The Russian river cruise ship MS Bulgaria sank on the Volga River, killing 120 people.
  • Jan. 13, 2012: The luxury ship Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast, killing at least three people and forcing the evacuation of 4,000.
  • Source: USA TODAY research by Bart Jansen.

ANSA quoted Francesco Schettino's sister, Giulia, as saying her brother called their mother, 80-year-old Rosa, at five in the morning, saying "Mamma, there has been a tragedy. But stay calm. I tried to save the passengers. But for a while, I won't be able to phone you."

Officials say the captain appears to have taken the vessel close to shore in a dangerous manner, Reuters says.

"There was a dangerous close approach which very probably caused the accident, although it will be for the investigation to establish that fully," coast guard spokesman Luciano Nicastro told SkyTG24. He said the captain then attempted a safety maneuver, setting anchor and bringing the ship closer to the shore to facilitate a rescue.

Costa Crociera SpA, owned by the U.S. based Carnival Corp., defended the actions of the crew and says it is cooperating with the investigation, the AP says.

Authorities were looking at why the ship didn't hail a mayday during the accident near the Italian island of Giglio on Friday night. The ship is owned by Genoa-based Costa Cruises, a mass-market line that caters to an international clientele and whose parent company is the industry giant Carnival Corporation.

Three bodies — two French tourists and a crew member from Peru — were recovered from the sea after Costa Cruises' 6-year-old Costa Concordia ran aground near the coast of Tuscany late Friday, tearing a 160-foot gash in its hull and sending in a rush of water.

Costa said about 1,000 Italian passengers were onboard, as well as more than 500 Germans, 126 Americans, about 160 French and about 1,000 crew members.

By morning Saturday, the ship was lying virtually flat off Giglio's coast, its starboard side submerged in the water and the huge gash showing clearly on its upturned hull.

The Friday the 13th grounding of the Concordia was one of the most dramatic cruise ship accidents in recent memory. It immediately raised a host of questions: Why did it hit a reef so close to the Tuscan island of Giglio? Did a power failure cause the crew to lose control? Did the captain — under investigation on manslaughter allegations — steer it in the wrong direction on purpose? And why did crew members tell passengers they weren't in danger until the boat was listing perilously to the side?

The delay made lifeboat rescue eventually impossible for some of the passengers, some of whom jumped into the sea while others waited to be plucked to safety by helicopters. Some boats had to be cut down with an axe.

Passengers described a scene reminiscent of "Titanic" — which sank 100 years ago this April —complaining the crew failed to give instructions on how to evacuate and once the emergency became clear, delayed lowering the lifeboats until the ship was listing too heavily for many of them to be released.

Under U.S. Coast Guard and the International Maritime Organization's Safety of Life at Sea regulations, cruise ships must conduct a safety drill within 24 hours of sailing with instructions on the use of life jackets and how and where to muster in an emergency. But passengers are not required to attend, and cruise lines vary in how quickly they hold the drill and how stringently they enforce passenger participation.

In the U.S., for example, Royal Caribbean and sister lines Celebrity and Azamara, like most U.S.-based lines, conduct all lifeboat drills before departure, says Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Michele Nadeem.

But, says cruise expert and guidebook author Fran Golden, while "cruise lines make a good effort to make people pay attention during drills, many don't." Golden says another potential problem on ships such as the Costa Concordia, which draw passengers from many different countries, is the fact that all announcements are made in multiple languages, which "can be a bit of a recipe for chaos."

"Cruise lines for years have been saying the (sinking of the) Titanic could never happen again because of all the safety procedures put in place," says Golden. "It seems pretty clear there was a'perfect storm' of things that went wrong here."

A top Costa executive, Gianni Onorato, said Saturday the Concordia's captain had the liner on its regular, weekly route when it struck a reef. Italian coast guard officials said the circumstances were still unclear, but that the ship hit an unknown obstacle.

Despite some early reports that the captain was dining with passengers when his ship crashed into the reef, he was on the bridge, Onorato said.

There were no firm indications that anyone was trapped under the sunken ship. Rescuers carried out extensive searches of the waters near the ship for hours and "we would have seen bodies," said Coast Guard Capt. Cosimo Nicastro.

Many passengers complained the crew didn't give them good directions on how to evacuate and once the emergency became clear, delayed lowering the lifeboats until the ship was listing too heavily for many to be released.

"It was so unorganized, our evacuation drill was scheduled for 5 p.m." on Saturday, said Melissa Goduti, 28, of Wallingford, Connecticut, who had departed on the Mediterranean cruise on Friday. "We had joked 'What if something had happened today?'"

"Have you seen 'Titanic?' That's exactly what it was," said Valerie Ananias, 31, a schoolteacher from Los Angeles who was traveling with her sister and parents on the first of two cruises around the Mediterranean. They all bore dark red bruises on their knees from the desperate crawl they endured along nearly vertical hallways and stairwells, trying to reach rescue boats.

"We were crawling up a hallway, in the dark, with only the light from the life vest strobe flashing," her mother, Georgia Ananias, 61, said. "We could hear plates and dishes crashing, people slamming against walls."

She choked up as she recounted the moment when an Argentine couple handed her their 3-year-old daughter, unable to keep their balance as the ship lurched to the side and the family found themselves standing on a wall. "He said 'take my baby,'" Mrs. Ananias said, covering her mouth with her hand as she teared up. "I grabbed the baby. But then I was being pushed down. I didn't want the baby to fall down the stairs. I gave the baby back. I couldn't hold her.

"I thought that was the end and I thought they should be with their baby," she said.

"I wonder where they are," daughter Valerie whispered.

The family said they were some of the last off the ship, forced to shimmy along a rope down the exposed side of the ship to a waiting rescue vessel below.

Some 30 people were reported injured, most of them suffering only bruises, but at least two people were reported in grave condition. Some passengers, apparently in panic, had jumped off the boat into the sea, witnesses said.

The evacuees were taking refuge in schools, hotels, and a church on Giglio, a popular vacation isle about 18 miles off Italy's central west coast.

Passengers sat dazed in a middle school opened for them, wrapped in wool or aluminum blankets, with some wearing their life preservers and their shoeless feet covered with aluminum foil. Civil protection crews served them warm tea and bread, but confusion reigned supreme as passengers tried desperately to find the right bus to begin their journey home.

Survivors far outnumbered Giglio's 1,500 residents, and island Mayor Sergio Ortelli issued an appeal for islanders — "anyone with a roof" — to open their homes to shelter the evacuees.

A coast guard official said the exact circumstances of the accident were still unclear, but that the first alarm went off about 10:30 p.m., about three hours after the Concordia had begun its voyage from the port of Civitavecchia, en route to its first port of call, Savona, in northwestern Italy.

The Concordia had a previous accident in Italian waters, ANSA reported. In 2008, when strong winds buffeted Palermo, the cruise ship banged against the Sicilian port's dock, and suffered damage but no one was injured, ANSA said. In February 2010, another Costa ship, the Europa, hit a pier in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, killing three crew members.

Despite the fact that Costa draws few American passengers, the fact that it is a modern, state-of-the-art vessel will impact cruise sales on this side of the Atlantic as well, at least temporarily, said Mike Driscoll, editor of the industry publication Cruise Week.

"From what travel agents are telling me, that horrifying image (of the massive ship on its side) is going to turn the cruise industry on its side, too," said Driscoll.

— USA TODAY's Laura Bly contributed to this report

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