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.”

Trending - Most Read Stories

House releases Democrats’ rebuttal to GOP memo on alleged government surveillance abuses

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 4:23 PM

 House Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks at the Council On Foreign Relations .
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
 House Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks at the Council On Foreign Relations .(Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The House Intelligence Committee Saturday released the Democrats’ rebuttal to the Republican memo alleging the FBI and Department of Justice engaged in questionable tactics in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia. 

>> Read more trending news 

Schiff Memo by National Content Desk on Scribd

>> Related: House Intelligence Committee votes to release Democrat’s rebuttal to Nunes memo

The 10-page memo, released two weeks after President Donald Trump blocked it and after wrangling between Democrats and DOJ officials, was authored by ranking Intelligence Committee Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in response to one by House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), and disputes allegations that illegal tactics were used to get warrants to surveil a former Trump campaign aide.

“The Democratic response memo released today should put to rest any concerns that the American people might have as to the conduct of the FBI, the Justice Department and the FISC. Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests,” Schiff said in a statement Saturday after the release of the memo.

Trump tweeted a response to Schiff’s document release Saturday, calling the Democrats’ memo “a total political and legal bust.” He also repeated his claims that special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign is a “witch hunt.”

The president released the Nunes memo last month, which contained information purporting to show that the FBI and DOJ did not provide complete information when requesting a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to watch one-time Trump campaign member and foreign policy advisor Carter Page.

>> Related: Trump sends Democrats’ Nunes rebuttal memo back to House committee

The release of both memos came over the objections of investigators in the intelligence communities.

What You Need To Know About Carter Page

Trending - Most Read Stories

FDA approves blood test that can detect concussions 

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 10:58 PM

Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC Vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on April 1, 2017 in New York City. 
Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC Vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on April 1, 2017 in New York City. (Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a breakthrough blood test that can help detect concussions in adults.

>> Read more trending news 

The blood test, also known as the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator Test, works by measuring UCH-L1 and GFAP, both proteins released from the brain into the blood, within 12 hours of a head injury.

It can be administered as soon as 15 minutes after the injury, but results take a few hours to produce.

>> Related: When love isn’t enough: A daughter’s suicide leaves a grieving father searching for answers

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injury is a “serious public health problem in the United States.” In 2013 alone, there were about 2.8 million visits to emergency rooms for traumatic brain injury-related conditions. Of these, nearly 50,000 people died.

TBI is typically caused by a blow or bump to the head, or a by a head injury that disrupts the brain’s normal functioning. It can range from mild to severe. About 75 percent of TBIs that occur each year are assessed as mild TBIs or concussions. 

>> Related: Spit test could diagnose concussion in kids, study says

Most patients with traumatic brain injury undergo a neurological exam, followed by a CT scan.

For their research, the FDA evaluated data on 1,947 individual blood samples from adults with suspected mild TBI or concussion and reviewed the product’s performance by comparing blood test results with CT scan results.

They found the blood test was 97.5 percent as effective in detecting concussion and 99.6 perfect as effective in ruling out the injury.

The test also costs as little as one-tenth as much as a CT scan.

» RELATED: Which high school sports have the most concussions? 

"A blood test that accurately, reliably and consistently detects the presence of brain proteins that appear in the blood after a brain injury is a major advance," Dr. David Dodick, a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology who specializes in sports medicine and neurology, told CNN. Dodick was not involved in the study.

One of the challenges of diagnosing concussions is that the injury’s symptoms can occur at various times. For some, they appear instantly. Others may not experience symptoms for hours or even days.

» RELATED: Football players under 12 at high risk of brain injury, study finds

Symptoms also vary from person to person. Some may experience light or noise sensitivity, or may lose balance.

“This is something that has been a long time coming,” Col. Dallas Hack, who was director of the Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program from 2008 to 2014 and is now retired, told the New York Times. 

“The concept originally was that we would have something that medical personnel in the field would be able to use to assess whether somebody who had received a head injury needed a higher level of care,” Hack said.

» RELATED: Youth football called ‘child abuse’

But Dodick told CNN that researchers still need to better understand when brains have fully healed from trauma and how the protein biomarkers may actually affect prognosis. Additionally, it’s unclear whether or not the new test can determine subconcussive blows, hits to the head that don’t always cause symptoms but do cause brain injury. 

Subconcussive or repeat blows are believed to lead to the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Over time, that damage may lead to personality changes, mood disorders and other behavioral issues.

"These occur much more often than actual concussions, especially in certain collision and contact sports,” Dodick told CNN.

Trending - Most Read Stories

President Donald Trump admits to trying to hide his bald spot

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 11:14 PM

U.S. President Donald Trump jokes about covering his bald spot while addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference.
 (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump jokes about covering his bald spot while addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Over the years, much has been speculated about President Donald Trump’s hair, but he’s never admitted to having a reason for choosing his particular hairstyle other than the fact that it’s the way he “likes it.” However, on Friday, that all changed when he finally admitted to having a bald spot — and trying to hide it.

>> Read more trending news

“Oh, I try like hell to hide the bald spot, folks. I work at it,” he told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland. “It doesn’t look bad. Hey, we are hanging in, we are hanging in, we are hanging in there. Right? Together, we are hanging in.”

Trump’s honest take on his hair came after a video of him boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base on Feb. 2 revealed a bald spot on the back of his head when his signature mane was whipped by the gusty wind.

Trump’s hair has been a topic of conversation for years, and he has often talked about it himself. In a much-maligned interview on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” the late-night host was allowed to mess up then-candidate Trump’s hair to prove that it was real.

Trump has also made it clear multiple times that he doesn’t wear a wig or a “rug” as he’s called it. “As everybody knows, but the haters and losers refuse to acknowledge, I do not wear a ‘wig.’ My hair may not be perfect, but it’s mine,” he once wrote on Twitter.

“I do not wear a rug. My hair is 100 percent mine. No animals have been harmed in the creation of my hairstyle,” the former businessman quipped in his book, “Trump: How to Get Rich.”

Trending - Most Read Stories

Dogs separated at adoption randomly find each other at crowded market

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 7:38 PM

Dogs Parted at Adoption Randomly Find Each Other

A couple strolled through downtown Seattle’s iconic, bustling Pike Place Market food stands on a clear winter Saturday when their dog started running through the booths

>> Read more trending news

"We noticed a puppy who looked very similar in age and appearance to [our dog] Maui, and once they saw each other they got really excited and started playing together," owner Kaitlyn Hawkins told KIRO 7. "After chatting with the other owners we realized that the dogs are siblings."

The 11-month-old dogs rolled around, embracing each other in their coincidental reunion. 

Maui and her sister Juniper were adopted from Russia. They were flow to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport last May as puppies.

The two dogs recognizing each other nearly a year later has made them an internet sensation. With more than 15 million visitors exploring the historic district annually, people find the encounter quite remarkable. 

A worker at the Pike Place Market captured the moment in a video, and nearly 3 million people have watched it on Facebook

"I witnessed the coolest thing," the Facebook post said. "They even had identifying tattoos that confirmed it. This joyful reunion went on for over a half an hour, in fact they were still at it when I left the market." 

After the two families chatted, they realized they briefly met while picking the dogs up at the airport. They've exchanged phone numbers and plan to meet again soon for a play date at a dog park. 

Trending - Most Read Stories