4-year-old boy with autism bound with belts, set on fire by mother, police say

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 6:20 PM

4-Year-Old Autistic Boy Bound With Belts, Set On Fire By Mother

A Wisconsin woman is accused of killing her 4-year-old son with autism, who police officials say was found burned and bound with seven belts in the bathtub of their apartment. 

Amelia Di Stasio, 23, of Milwaukee, is charged with first-degree intentional murder, according to jail records. She is being held in the Milwaukee County Jail in lieu of $350,000 bond. 

Fox 6 News in Milwaukee reported that firefighters were dispatched to Di Stasio’s home Sept. 28 after smoke was spotted coming from the apartment. The firefighters forced their way in and found smoke coming from the stove and the bathtub.

In the tub, they found the body of Antonio Di Stasio, the news station reported. The boy’s hands were bound behind his back and there was a garbage bag secured tightly over his head.

“(A) majority of his body was burned,” a criminal complaint obtained by Fox 6 News said. Antonio’s autopsy revealed “significant charring” and thermal injuries.

His death was ruled a homicide, but it was not immediately clear if he died of the burns or of asphyxiation from the plastic bag on his head. 

Antonio’s grandfather, Ralph Di Stasio, told the news station that his daughter suffers from bipolar disorder. The grieving grandfather said he is trying to understand how she could have hurt her son.

“She loved Antonio with all of her heart,” he said. “That’s why this was so hard.”

Di Stasio wrote on Facebook that his grandson was “bright and happy,” but that his autism caused him to “act out” and scream, which caused neighbors to complain about the noise. He said the apartment where the boy died was his third home in a little over a year. 

“Your (sic) all gonna be down on his mother. But she loved him,” Di Stasio wrote. “Took him everywhere with her. Tried to get him treatment. And she's now under arrest. I don't know what happened, only that I've lost both my grandson and a daughter.”

A neighbor of Amber Di Stasio’s told police that the day before Antonio’s body was found, she heard the boy crying, “Please, Mommy. Stop! I won’t do it again,” and then his mother yelling at him to “shut up,” the criminal complaint said. The witness said she heard a banging noise coming from the Di Stasio apartment the next morning. 

Antonio’s pet guinea pig was found drowned in its cage next to the bathtub, the news station reported. An open bottle of canola cooking oil was sitting on the sink and the apartment’s smoke detector had been removed and submerged in water. 

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Police officers who responded to the scene found Di Stasio’s cellphone, on which they discovered searches asking: “How do canabals (sic) die” and “how to kill a canabal (sic),” the complaint said

The search results included a link to the message board about an online game in which players fight cannibals, the news station reported. The messages detailed ways to kill a cannibal, with the first suggestion being to “kill it with fire.” 

The board also offered details of the game, in which the cannibals “like to bathe in oil,” Fox 6 News reported

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that a witness told investigators she saw a woman who looked “frazzled” jump from the window of the apartment shortly before firefighters arrived. 

Di Stasio was taken into custody a few hours later after a Milwaukee police officer spotted her walking along a street several miles north of the crime scene, the Journal Sentinel said. In her purse were identification cards for both her and her son, as well as a piece of paper with a name and phone number on it.

When an officer called the number, he talked to a man who said he’d given the phone number, which belongs to his wife, to a woman he saw crying at a bus stop that morning. The man told the officer that he’d asked the woman what was wrong.

“I did something really bad (and) I need to talk to a pastor,” the woman told him, according to the criminal complaint. 

The man said he offered the woman his wife’s name and number because his wife is a Christian, the Journal Sentinel reported. Investigators showed the man a photo array, from which he identified a photo of Di Stasio as the woman he’d met. 

Antonio’s family members told Fox 6 News that they are struggling to understand his death. 

“He was a good kid. Always smiling,” his uncle, Juan Allen, said. “It’s just sad. That’s an innocent life that’s gone. I’m just trying to cope with the pain right now.”

The boy’s aunt and Amelia Di Stasio’s sister, Eva Allen, told WTMJ-TV that she is angry with her sister. 

“I love my sister regardless, you know, and I know she was sick. I want to tell her I’m angry. I’m very upset with her,” she said. “I just want to know why.”

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Woman says she found worm in fish bought at Costco

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 11:57 AM

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12:  A Costco sign is displayed on March 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: A Costco sign is displayed on March 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

A Maryland woman says there was a live surprise in a package of fish she purchased at Costco last week.

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Emily Rhoades Randolph said she purchased a package of fresh cod on Feb. 9 at Costco. On Monday, she recorded video of what appears to be a worm wriggling around a corner of the sealed package and posted it on her Facebook page on Wednesday. The sell-by date on the package is the same day she recorded the video, according to Randolph.

Randolph said in the Facebook post that when she returned the contaminated fish to Costco, the clerk at the seafood counter commented that another customer had returned salmon with worms in it. Randolph said she did not receive an apology for the incident.

Randolph shared the incident to warn others to check their food.

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Melania Trump breaks with tradition again after new affair allegations

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 8:27 PM

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 10:  (AFP OUT) First lady Melania Trump looks as US President Donald Trump is reflected in her glasses. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 10: (AFP OUT) First lady Melania Trump looks as US President Donald Trump is reflected in her glasses. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

Once again, first lady Melania Trump gave off the impression that all is not well in her marriage to President Donald Trump when she broke presidential protocol on Friday following a report alleging the president had an affair with former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal.

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As the Trumps headed to Florida to meet with the victims of this week’s mass shooting at a high school, they began the journey separately. While it’s tradition for the couple to cross the White House lawn to Marine One together, Mrs. Trump decided to forgo the usual walk and instead drove separately to Andrews Air Force Base. She arrived in a separate vehicle ahead of the president and ascended the stairs to Air Force One without him.

“With her schedule, it was easier to meet him on the plane,” Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director, explained the situation, adding that she does intend to join her husband in visiting the victims.

The suspicious choice comes just hours after The New Yorker published a report based on an account from McDougal, who provided details about her alleged affair with President Trump between June 2006 to April 2007. At the time, the Trumps had been married for two years, and their son, Barron, had been born a few months earlier.

The White House responded to the allegations in a statement saying, “This is an old story that is just more fake news. The President says he never had a relationship with McDougal.”

This isn’t the first time the first lady has broken with tradition in the wake of infidelity accusations. Last month, she arrived at the U.S. Capitol separately from the president to attend his first State of the Union address. It was her first public event following a bombshell report alleging the president paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence after the pair had an affair in 2006.

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Dog food shipments pulled after euthanasia drug found in some brands

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 8:54 AM

Study Found Euthanasia Drug in Dog Food

J.M. Smucker Co. is pulling back some of its shipments after a television news investigation found that some of the company’s dog food tested positive for a drug used for euthanasia.

The company is having shipments of wet canned Gravy Train, Kibble ‘N Bits, Skippy and Ol’ Roy foods returned to the the company, The Associated Press reported.

The move came after Washington, D.C.-based television station WJLA tested 15 cans of the Gravy Train brand and found 60 percent, or 9 out of the 15 cans, tested positive for the drug pentobarbital.

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The station’s investigation started after a woman said that shortly after feeding Evanger’s pet food to her five dogs, they were falling over and convulsing in 2016. She sent the rest of the dogs’ food and the remains of one of the dogs for testing, where the dog was found to have been poisoned by dog food and that the food contained pentobarbital, WJLA reported last week

In 2017, Evanger’s recalled a batch of its Hunk of Beef food because it was exposed to the drug.

Smucker’s officials, which doesn’t produce Evanger’s, told WJLA that it was investigating the results of the station’s investigation on its food and are working with suppliers. 

Smucker’s officials said this week that the low amounts of the drug found in the station’s investigation is not a threat to pets.

WJLA reported that their test showed non-lethal levels but any amount of the drug is not permitted according to federal law.

“However, the presence of this substance at any level is not acceptable to us and not up to our quality of standards,” Smucker’s officials told the AP.

The company said it doesn’t use meat from animals that were euthanized in its pet food products, the AP reported.

For more on the company’s decision to return the products, click here for Gravy Train information and here for Kibble ‘N Bits.

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Florida school shooting timeline: Seven minutes, three floors and 17 dead

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 11:32 AM

Victims of the Florida High School Mass Shooting

Nikolas Cruz, the gunman charged with killing 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school Wednesday afternoon, has reportedly confessed to the shooting and, his attorney says, is now on suicide watch.

Cruz, according to a timeline put together by police, set off alarms as he entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the school he had been expelled from, hoping to get more people into the hallways and into his line of fire.

After firing into classrooms and at students in the hallways, Cruz dropped the weapon he had with him, an AR-15 weapon purchased legally one year ago, and blended in with the crowd of students fleeing the building.

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From the school, he headed to a Subway and bought himself a soft drink, went to a McDonald's to sit for a few minutes, left the restaurant and was arrested a short time later without incident.

On Thursday, he was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Here, from information from the Broward County’s Sheriff’s Office, is a timeline of the events that happened that day.

Feb. 14, 2018 (all times are local Florida time)
  • 2:06 p.m.: An Uber driver picks up Cruz, who asks to be driven to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
  • 2:19 p.m.: It takes 13 minutes to get to the front of the school where the Uber driver drops Cruz off. He has with him an AR-15 inside of a soft gun case and a backpack filled with ammunition. According to a police report, a school employee recognizes Cruz and radios to a colleague that Cruz is headed toward the school’s Building 12.
  • 2:21:18 p.m.: Cruz enters the east stairwell of Building 12 with a rifle inside of the case. Police said the 19-year-old also had smoke grenades and a gas mask.
  • 2:21:30 p.m.: Twelve seconds later, Cruz has taken the rifle from the bag and readied it to fire. At some point, he pulls the fire alarm. Students would later say they were confused by the sound of a fire alarm because they had had a fire drill earlier that morning.
  • 2:21:33 p.m.: As students began to leave the building after the fire alarm, Cruz begins shooting into rooms 1215, 1216 and 1214. Students and teachers, hearing the gunshots, head back into the classrooms. Cruz goes back to rooms 1216 and 1215 fires into them again, then walks to 1213 and fires again. Cruz then takes the west stairwell to the second floor and shoots a person in room 1234.
  • 2:24:39 p.m.: Three minutes after the first shots are fired, Cruz heads up the east stairwell to the third floor of Building 12. According to some reports, he tries to bust out a window on the third floor to shoot at students as they flee the building. The windows in that part of the facility are shatterproof, and Cruz is unable to fire down from the third floor.
  • 2:27:37 p.m.: Three minutes after he gets to the third floor, he goes back into the stairwell, drops the rifle and his backpack and runs down the stairs.
  • 2:28:35 p.m.: Among the fleeing students and staff, he leaves Building 12 and runs west toward the school’s tennis courts, then turns and heads south.
  • 2:29:51 p.m.: A little more than a minute later, Cruz crosses a field and runs west, meeting up with others running from the school.
  • 2:50 p.m.: Some 30 minutes later, he arrives at Walmart. He goes to the Subway located inside the Walmart and buys a soft drink. He then leaves on foot.
  • 3:01 p.m.: Cruz goes to a McDonald’s and sits in the restaurant for a few minutes. He leaves the restaurant on foot.
  • 3:41 p.m.: Forty minutes later, an officer from the Coconut Creek Police Department spots Cruz on Wyndham Lakes Drive in Coral Springs. The Broward Sheriff’s Department responds to the call that the young man who is now a suspect in the shootings has been spotted. He is positively identified by officers and taken into custody without incident.

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