‘I can’t describe the savagery’: Lesbian couple, 2 children found slain day after Christmas

Published: Thursday, December 28, 2017 @ 3:24 PM

Two Children, Lesbian Couple Found Slain Day After Christmas

Police in upstate New York are investigating a quadruple homicide that one police chief is calling the most savage slayings he’s seen in more than 40 years on the job.

A property manager found the bodies of a lesbian couple and the older woman’s two children the day after Christmas when he was asked to perform a welfare check at the family’s Troy basement apartment. The Troy Record identified the dead as Shanta Myers, 36; her son, Jeremiah, 11; her daughter, Shanise, 5; and Brandi Mells, Myers’ 22-year-old live-in girlfriend. 

The New York Daily News reported Thursday that all four victims were bound and had their throats slit. 

In a news conference held Wednesday, Troy Police Chief John Tedesco spoke carefully to avoid revealing information that could compromise the criminal investigation. He acknowledged that investigators believe the crime was not a random act and that the community at large is not thought to be in “imminent danger.”

He said, however, that the person or persons responsible are considered dangerous and potentially capable of anything.

“After being in this business for almost 42 years, I can’t describe the savagery of a person like this,” Tedesco said. “I don’t know the word that it takes.”

The chief declined to go into detail about the crime scene. 

“I’m not describing the crime scene or anything else, but to me, only a person of savagery would do something like this.”

The chief appealed to members of the public to report any information they might have relating to the crime or the week or so leading up to it.

“I can only ask that if you know anything at all, even if you think it’s insignificant but you feel it is something out of the ordinary, please call us,” Tedesco said. 

The chief said that, thus far, investigators have been dealing with a “mass of information” and that no one has been labeled a “person of interest” in the case. He said investigators were still piecing together a time frame and that they were hopeful that the autopsies, performed on Wednesday, would help shed light on when the family was killed. 

Myers’ cousin, Tracy Coleman, grieved for the family on social media and asked that reporters respect the family’s privacy and allow them to mourn. 

Both children were students in the Troy City School District, where grief counselors were being brought in Friday to help their classmates cope with the loss, the Daily News reported. 

“Our hearts are broken and our thoughts and deepest condolences are with their family and loved ones during this terribly troubling time," John Carmello, Troy school superintendent, said in a statement Thursday. 

Tedesco said pastors have also been called in to counsel the families of the dead, as well as police officers who witnessed the carnage at the scene. The department’s peer counseling team was also called in to assist.

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The New York State Police is assisting in the investigation, both with its major crime unit and its forensics team. Troy, a city of about 50,000 people on the east bank of the Hudson River, just north of Albany, had just one other homicide in 2017. 

Tedesco said there is no resource that his department will not utilize to solve the crime. 

“This will be a full-court press, if you will, until we bring someone to justice,” the chief said.

Scientists worry brain-wasting 'zombie deer' disease could spread to humans

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:09 PM

File photo. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Jack Taylor/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)(Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Deer across North America are dying from a mysterious disease that gradually destroys the animals’ nervous systems.

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And scientists are concerned that the infection could make its way to humans. 

Chronic wasting disease — or “zombie deer disease” — was first observed in 1967 in Fort Collins, Colorado, and has since infected wild herds in 24 states and Canada, as well as in South Korea and Norway, NPR reported.

“CWD passes from animal to animal through prions, misfolded proteins that cause other proteins to misfold around them,” NPR reported. “Different prion diseases tend to only harm certain species, but can evolve to overcome those limitations.”

In some herds, as many as half of the animals carry prions.

But direct contact isn’t the only way prions are transmitted. According to The New York Times, sick animals and cadavers can spread prions through plants and soil, which could be coated with deformed proteins for years, perhaps even decades.
An animal infected with the disease can live two years before signs of symptoms -- such as a vacant stare, thick saliva, exposed ribs or drooping heads -- become visible.

There have been no reported human illnesses due to the disease, and scientists don’t have conclusive evidence that infected meat has ever harmed people, suggesting there is a “species barrier” between humans and deer.

Researchers led by Mark Zabel, associate director at Colorado State University’s Prion Research Center, found that macaque monkeys who ate infected deer contracted the disease, the first time the disease was shown to spread to a primate through meat.

"While most research shows there's a robust species barrier, this recent study showed that barrier might not be quite as robust as we once thought," Matt Dunfee, head of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliancein Fort Collins, Colorado, told NPR.

Zabel and his team also found that the prions involved in the “zombie disease,” which scientists have only known about for 50 years, are probably still evolving, “which leads us to believe it's only a matter of time before a prion emerges that can spread to humans,” NPR reported.

A map where chronic wasting disease has been reported. (Photo: National Wildlife Health Center)

Mad cow disease, for example, is a prion disease that evolved from scrapie, a deadly disease that afflicts sheep. Once the prions were passed to cows, the cows developed a prion disease of their own (mad cow disease). And when humans ate the beef from those sick cows, they developed prions in their own brains. As of 2016, according to the Food and Drug Administration, 231 people had died from the condition.

Zabel believes the only way to get rid of CWD prions is to set controlled fires. But “there’s a lot that we still don’t know and don’t understand about the disease,” Zabel said in an interview with The New York Times.

According to Michael Miller, senior wildlife veterinarian for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, mule deer transmission more than tripled toward the end of 2017, and CWD continues to be prevalent in Colorado.

Public health officials in the area have been monitoring for CWD and human brain-wasting diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

But over the past 21 years, rising rates of both diseases haven’t impacted human health.

Still, as a precaution, Dunfee told NPR, "if you are hunting in an area where CWD is found, have your animal tested. If it comes back positive, don't eat the meat."

Trump cancels Florida trip as government shutdown looms

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

President Donald Trump will not make a planned trip to Mar-a-Lago today because of a looming federal government shutdown, a White House official told The Palm Beach Post on Friday morning.

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Trump was scheduled to arrive at Palm Beach International Airport tonight for a weekend trip that included a Saturday fundraiser for his 2020 re-election campaign at Mar-a-Lago. The official who confirmed today’s travel is off did not address the president’s plans for the remainder of the weekend.

5 Things to Know About Mar-a-Lago

Trump was planning to make the 12th Palm Beach visit of his presidency. But Congress has not reached a spending agreement to keep the federal government operating past midnight.

Saturday is the one-year anniversary of Trump taking office. The Trump campaign recently announced a “special sweepstakes” in which a winner will get to attend dinner Saturday at Mar-a-Lago with Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.

5-foot tapeworm wiggles out of California man after eating sushi

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 8:39 PM

File photo.  (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Lifetime)
Jesse Grant
File photo. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Lifetime)(Jesse Grant)

A sushi-loving California man with a habit of consuming raw salmon recently pulled out a 5-foot tapeworm from his own body.

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According to Dr. Kenny Bahn, who treated the man in August and revealed the case on a Jan. 8 episode of the medical podcast “This Won’t Hurt a Bit,” his patient thought he was dying.

"He asked me for worm treatment and I was like, 'Oh, not an everyday request,'" Bahn said on the podcast, skeptical about the patient’s self-diagnosis.
It started with abdominal cramps and escalated to bloody diarrhea. Then, the man told Bahn, when he went to the bathroom, “I looked down and it looked like there was a piece of intestine hanging out of me.”

Though the visual is horrifying, the man was relieved to find it wasn’t a part of his own intestines.

Instead, it was a 5-and-a-half foot tapeworm “wiggling” out of his body, likely a result of the man’s daily consumption of raw salmon, Bahn said.

In January 2017, experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that eating raw or undercooked fish heightens the risk of developing an infection from parasites, including Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense, or the Japanese broad tapeworm. And wild salmon caught in Alaska had also been infected.

Doctors warned that eating raw salmon in the United States, particularly along the Pacific Coast, may increase risk of those Japanese tapeworm parasites.

According to the CDC, the Japanese tapeworm and related species can grow up to 30 feet long.

Not everyone infected with the tapeworm will have symptoms, but some common signs and symptoms of a Diphyllobothrium infection can include abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss.

In some cases, complications can lead to intestinal obstruction and gall bladder disease, according to the CDC.

Once diagnosed, a health care provider prescribes an effective medication, typically a pill, to kill the parasite.

Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose, family says 

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 7:15 PM

Tom Petty Death Caused By Accidental Drug Overdose

Tom Petty died from an accidental drug overdose after taking a variety of medications, the family for the legendary rock star said Friday. 

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Petty, who suffered emphysema, knee problems and more recently a fractured hip, was prescribed various pain medications including Fentanyl patches, his family said. 

“On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use of medication,” his family wrote on Facebook

The family called Petty’s Oct. 2 death an unfortunate accident. 

“As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.”

DOVER, DE - JUNE 22: Tom Petty performs onstage at the Firefly Music Festival at The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway on June 22, 2013 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Firefly Music Festival)(Theo Wargo)