Kidnapped woman uses insulin pump light to escape car trunk

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 1:25 PM

An Alabama woman’s insulin pump saved her life last week, but not in a way she ever imagined.

Brittany Diggs, 25, was lying in the trunk of her own Nissan Altima just before midnight on March 14, hours after being kidnapped outside her apartment in Birmingham’s Avondale neighborhood by a man wielding a gun. Diggs told “Today” that the gunman kept demanding her money. 

Diggs, a nursing student, told him she was a “broke college student” and didn’t have anything. 

“He was, like, since you don’t have any money, you’re going to help me get money,” Diggs told “Today.” “So he made me drive him to another side of town (and) he tried to rob two other couples.” 

Watch Diggs’ “Today” interview below.

When that didn’t work, the man, who took Diggs’ phone and wallet, forced her into the trunk of the car and drove to multiple ATMs to use her debit card to get cash from her bank account. Hours into her captivity, he pulled into the parking lot of Gas Land in Bessemer. 

Before getting out of the car, he made a threat that Diggs said he’d made multiple times through the night. 

“(He said), ‘If this don’t work, I’m going to kill you,” Diggs said. 

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That’s when a panicked Diggs decided to make her move. She said she had seen a video on Facebook about latches inside the trunks of vehicles, a requirement by law since 2000. 

“I just got the bright idea to use my insulin pump light,” Diggs told “Today.” 

As the man was inside the store, unsuccessfully trying to get more cash from Diggs’ bank account, Diggs held onto the trunk latch and waited. 

“He gets in, he’s yelling, he’s pulling out pretty fast, so I’m, like, ‘Oh, shoot, let me hurry up and get out of here,’” she said. 

Footage from the convenience store’s exterior security cameras captured the moment that Diggs jumped from the moving car, landed hard on the pavement and stood, fleeing into the store. Her captor hit the brakes, but only for a moment, before fleeing in her car. 

Cameras in the store showed Diggs taking cover inside as the owner, Yosef Alsabah, locked the door and called police. At one point, the visibly shaken woman grabbed a shotgun Alsabah kept in the store, fearful the man would come back. 

The store owner took the gun from her and assured her the man was not coming back. 

Alsabah told AL.com the day after the incident that the man tried several times to get cash out of the ATM in his store, but was trying to get more cash than was in the account. He said the man got frustrated and left. 

He was watching the man drive away when he saw the trunk of the car pop open and Diggs roll out, Alsabah said

Her car was recovered in Birmingham, but the suspect remains at large. Birmingham police officials released an image from surveillance video that shows the man’s face.

Diggs told “Today” that she is moving from her apartment because the suspect took not only her wallet and phone, but also her keys. A friend established a GoFundMe page to help her with the expenses of moving. 

As of Monday morning, the page had raised over $16,000, more than double its $7,000 goal. 

“I try to put it in the back of my head, so I can just, you know, get through the day,” a tearful Diggs said. “But that was, like, the scariest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.”

Police: Bus driver set to take kids on field trip was high on marijuana

Published: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 4:37 PM

Police in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, arrested Ali Mahfuz, 63, on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.
Chelmsford Police Department

Authorities arrested a school bus driver Tuesday after he allegedly drove a bus while high on marijuana.

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Officers were called Tuesday morning to Chelmsford High School in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, after students reported smelling a strange odor on the school bus they had boarded for a field trip. The students notified a teacher, who contacted the Chelmsford Police Department. The students were taken off the bus.

Officers determined that the bus driver, 63-year-old Ali Mahfuz, was high on marijuana. Mahfuz was charged with operating under the influence of drugs, operating negligently as to endanger and reckless endangerment.

Before arriving at Chelmsford High School, Mahfuz drove a route for Greater Lowell Technical High School in Tyngsborough.

Mahfuz is employed by North Reading Transportation Inc. The company is cooperating with the investigation.

Chelmsford police Chief James Spinney praised the students for speaking up.

"I cannot overstate the role played by the students today in ensuring their safety on the roads," Spinney said. "They knew something was not right, and they spoke up right away, alerting school administrators. I commend these students for their role in stopping a dangerous situation from unfolding."

Mahfuz is scheduled for arraignment Tuesday in Lowell District Court.

Tenn. couple arrested for allegedly attempting to sell baby on Craigslist

Published: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 9:36 AM

A Tennessee couple is in police custody after they attempted to sell their 5-month-old baby online. 

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John David Cain, 26, and Deanna Lynn Greer, 37, placed an ad on Craigslist, where they listed their infant for sale for $3,000, WATE reported on Saturday, citing the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.

The couple was detained by state agents during a sting operation that ended Friday when Cain and Greer attempted to exchange the baby for cash with state agents.

Cain and Greer were arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect or endangerment.

They are both being held on a $150,000 bond.

The baby is currently in state custody, according to WATE.

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Puppy’s chances improve after being brought in with mouth bound shut

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 3:52 PM

Veterinarians say the prognosis of a puppy brought in to a Florida animal center over the weekend with its mouth bound shut has improved.

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Pixie, a 7-pound Yorkshire Terrier mix, has been able to eat small amounts of food, Paws 2 Help founder Eve Van Engel said Monday.

“When they came in this morning, you’d think we’d won the lottery,” Van Engel said, describing the staff’s excitement over Pixie’s improvement. “(At first) she wouldn’t eat, couldn’t eat. Last night she ate some food. This morning she ate a whole jar of Gerber baby food.”

Dr. Lisa Matthews said necrotic tissue still has to be removed from around Pixie’s snout and the dog is receiving pain medication and antibiotics.

>> Related: Dog’s snout bound so tightly to stop barking, gangrene could kill it 

“But she’s already so much better than she was Saturday afternoon when she came in,” Matthews said. “I wasn’t real hopeful Saturday afternoon but I feel a lot better today after seeing her.”

Pixie had an elastic hair tie around her snout that cut a 3/4-inch-deep gash between her eyes and nose, Paws 2 Help founder Eve Van Engel said late Sunday.

One year old Yorkie mix, (we've named Pixie). She is fighting for her life, body wrecked with infection from the...

Posted by Paws 2 Help on Sunday, March 26, 2017

The wound was so gangrenous that the little dog “smelled like horse manure” when she was dropped off, Van Engel said, and it’s unknown when the dog last ate.

Who bound the dog’s mouth shut is unclear.

Florida woman accused of attacking man with birdhouse

Published: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 12:54 PM

Authorities in Collier County, Florida, arrested Monica Mehanny, 24, on Friday, March 24, 2017.
Collier County Sheriff's Office

A Florida woman was arrested after she attacked a man with a birdhouse, according to police.

The arrest occurred Friday at The Willough, a Naples rehabilitation center, when a man said Monica Mehanny, 24, of Palmetto, threatened to hit him, according to the Bradenton Herald.

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The staff told the man to write down his complaint, but before he finished Mehanny followed through with her threat, the Herald reported.

Mehanny came into the room with a small wooden birdhouse and slapped the man across the face with it. The birdhouse shattered, according to deputies.

Mehanny denied hitting the man and said he grabbed her arm before it struck him, according to the Herald.

Mehanny was charged with battery and probation violation.

Read more at the Bradenton Herald.