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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. 

>> Read more trending news

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.”

Gun range patron shot, killed by employee in freak accident

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 2:07 PM

Texas Man Accidentally Killed At Gun Range

An employee of a gun range in Texas accidentally shot and killed a patron as he worked on a rifle Tuesday morning, police said. 

The patron, Joshua Luke Cummings, 36, of Cypress, had just exited his vehicle in the parking lot of Hot Wells Gun Range when a bullet struck him in the head, KTRK in Houston reported. He was flown to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, where he died.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office officials told the news station that an employee was working on a hunting rifle inside the building when it accidentally discharged.

“The bullet went through the wall of the small range house and struck a patron who was walking through the parking lot,” Harris County Senior Deputy Thomas Gilliland told the news station

It was not immediately clear why the rifle was loaded while the employee handled it. KTKR reported that homicide investigators were looking into whether it was human error or a gun malfunction that caused the gun to fire. 

Cummings’ Facebook page shows that he was the father of three young children. Heartbroken friends said the Cummings children are triplets. 

YouCaring fundraiser page was established to help his wife, Kathleen, and their children. As of noon Wednesday, the page had raised nearly $10,000 of the $25,000 goal. 

“Josh Cummings has always been an amazing father, faithful, hardworking husband completely devoted to his faith, family and friends,” one woman wrote on Facebook. “Until we meet again, goodbye, our sweet friend.”

Hot Wells officials apologized in a statement that they said would be brief because they “simply do not have the words to express the sorrow in (their) hearts.”

“For 44 years, we have operated this facility accident-free, yet today, we are shaken by tragedy,” the statement read

They said that they would have no comment on the details of the accident while the investigation was ongoing. 

“We understand that this accident has, and will continue to affect the lives of many,” the statement read. “We ask that our community joins us in prayer for the healing of all parties involved.”

Newtown marks fifth anniversary of deadly Sandy Hook shooting

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 6:02 AM

Thursday marks the five-year anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, first shot and killed his mother, then went to the school, opened fire and killed 20 children and six staff members before killing himself.

>> PHOTOS: Scenes from Sandy Hook

According to the Hartford Courant, the town is paying tribute to the victims this year with a temporary exhibit featuring photos of the students and educators who were killed in the shooting.

“We ask that you spend a few minutes in quiet reflection as we remember the lives of these vibrant young children and caring adults who were part of the essence of this community as students, educators and friends,” reads a sign at the exhibit. “All of those so tragically killed on that day were greatly loved by their families and friends and they continue to be loved and missed every day.”

The exhibit will be on display through Friday, WTIC reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Additionally, town offices will closed for a moment of silent reflection from 9:30 to 9:45 a.m. Wednesday. Trinity Church will also host an interfaith service at 7 p.m., and St. Rose Church will hold a mass at 7:30 p.m., according to WTIC.

Earlier this week, Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit group created by parents of two of the victims, released a public service announcement urging people to become familiar with the warning signs leading up to mass shootings.

>> Watch the PSA here

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle to spend holidays with royal family

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 4:58 PM

WATCH: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle First Engagement Interview

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are reportedly breaking tradition again with their holiday plans. Kensington Palace confirmed that the former “Suits” star will be spending the holidays with her soon-to-be in-laws at Queen Elizabeth’s private estate in Norfolk, England.

“You can expect to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Ms. Markle at Sandringham on Christmas Day,” a spokesperson for the palace  told “Entertainment Tonight”.

>> Read more trending news

This reportedly is breaking royal protocol, as the royal family typically reserves holiday invitations to the Sandringham House for after an engaged couple has wed. The royal family usually spends the holidays at that estate but last year skipped the trip, after the queen and Prince Philip both caught colds.

“The Queen and members of the Royal Family will attend the Morning Service on Christmas Day at Sandringham Church,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

Royal Love: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

It was previously reported that the couple would be hosted by Prince William and wife Duchess Catherine for Christmas and would stay at their home in Norfolk. On Christmas Day, the family will attend the church service together before lunch.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are planning for a May wedding at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. Following the “I do’s,” they will settle into their new home at Nottingham Cottage in Kensington Palace, where they will be next-door neighbors with Prince William, Duchess Catherine, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and their baby number three, who’s due in April.

Who was Dan Johnson? Kentucky lawmaker accused of sexual assault dies in apparent suicide

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 3:01 AM

In this Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, file photo, Kentucky State Rep. Republican Dan Johnson addresses the public from his church regarding sexual assault allegations in Louisville, Ky. Johnson died Wednesday night, Dec. 13, 2017. Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings says it was
In this Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, file photo, Kentucky State Rep. Republican Dan Johnson addresses the public from his church regarding sexual assault allegations in Louisville, Ky. Johnson died Wednesday night, Dec. 13, 2017. Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings says it was "probably suicide," and an autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)(Timothy D. Easley/AP)

A Kentucky state lawmaker accused of sexually assaulting a teenager died Wednesday night in an apparent suicide, officials said. 

Here's what we know about Republican state Rep. Dan Johnson, who was elected in 2016:

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A woman accused Johnson, pastor of the Heart of Fire church in Louisville, of sexually assaulting her in his basement when she was 17. According to a Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting article published Monday, she reported the alleged incident, which occurred on New Year's Eve 2012, to police, who later closed the case without filing charges. Read more here.

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Johnson denied the allegation Tuesday at a news conference at his church. "These are unfounded accusations, totally," the 57-year-old pastor said after he and his supporters sang "O Come All Ye Faithful," the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

He added: "I think this is an assault on all real people. This is an absolute assault on real people. There’s no perfect people. You get into office and all of a sudden, political hacks want to come against you and start accusing you after you’re in office."

This wasn't Johnson's first brush with controversy. When he ran for office in 2016, critics slammed him for sharing racist Facebook memes comparing the Obamas to monkeys, as well as numerous anti-Islam messages, WDRB reported. Although the Republican Party of Kentucky called for Johnson to withdraw his candidacy, he stayed in the race and won.

>> Read more trending news

The following post appeared on Johnson's Facebook page Wednesday shortly before his death:

"The accusations from NPR are false GOD and only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be. AMERICA will not survive this type of judge and jury fake news . Conservatives take a stand. I LOVE GOD and I LOVE MY WIFE, who is the best WIFE in the world,My Love Forever ! My Mom and Dad my FAMILY and all five of my kids and Nine grandchildren two in tummies and many more to come each of you or a total gift from GOD stay strong, REBECCA needs YOU . 9-11-2001 NYC/WTC, PTSD 24/7 16 years is a sickness that will take my life, I cannot handle it any longer. IT Has Won This Life . BUT HEAVEN IS MY HOME. “PLEASE LISTEN CLOSELY, Only Three things I ask of you to do,if you love me is (1)blame no person,Satan is the accuser, so blame the Devil himself. (2) Forgive and Love everyone especially yourself .(3)most importantly LOVE GOD. P.S. I LOVE MY FRIENDS YOU ARE FAMILY ! GOD LOVES ALL PEOPLE NO MATTER WHAT ! "

Officials said Johnson was found dead with a single gunshot wound in a "probable suicide" Wednesday night, WDRB reported. Officers believe he shot himself in front of his car after parking off a road in Mount Washington.

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U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin reacted to the news on Twitter. "Just terrible news from Kentucky tonight on the passing of Rep. Dan Johnson," Paul wrote. "I cannot imagine his pain or the heartbreak his family is dealing with tonight. Kelley and I pray for his loved ones."

Bevin wrote: "Saddened to hear of tonight’s death of KY Representative Dan Johnson...My heart breaks for his family tonight...These are heavy days in Frankfort and in America...May God indeed shed His grace on us all...We sure need it..."

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