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.”

Oklahoma police officer who shot, killed daughter's boyfriend found guilty of manslaughter

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 1:12 AM

FILE - In this June 30, 2017 file photo, ex-Tulsa police officer Shannon Kepler, left, arrives with his legal team for afternoon testimony in his third trial in Tulsa, Okla. Jurors in the fourth murder trial for Kepler, a white former Oklahoma police officer, heard a 911 call Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 where his daughter screams to dispatchers that her father had shot her 19-year-old black boyfriend. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Sue Ogrocki/AP
FILE - In this June 30, 2017 file photo, ex-Tulsa police officer Shannon Kepler, left, arrives with his legal team for afternoon testimony in his third trial in Tulsa, Okla. Jurors in the fourth murder trial for Kepler, a white former Oklahoma police officer, heard a 911 call Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 where his daughter screams to dispatchers that her father had shot her 19-year-old black boyfriend. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)(Sue Ogrocki/AP)

A jury has reached a verdict in the fourth murder trial of a former Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer.

>> Watch the news report here

After more than five hours of deliberation, the jury found Shannon Kepler guilty of manslaughter in the 2014 killing of Jeremy Lake, his daughter's boyfriend, and recommended 15 years in prison.

>> Watch reaction from the courtroom here

Kepler Trial Update

VERDICT IN: The jury has returned a guilty of manslaughter verdict in the 4th trial of former Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler. http://bit.ly/2kYON6z

Posted by FOX23 News on Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Kepler is accused of killing Lake in 2014 while off duty.

Though he was charged with first-degree murder, the jury also considered the lesser charge of manslaughter in the heat of passion.

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Three previous trials ended in mistrial.

Some members of Lake's extended family traveled over an hour to be at the trial.

While the district attorney said evidence doesn't show that Kepler needed to use deadly force to defend himself, the defense claimed the state's evidence did not show that Kepler went to Lake's home with bad intentions.

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U.S. judge: Immigrant in Texas must have access to abortion

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 11:59 PM

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
American-Statesman Staff
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN(American-Statesman Staff)

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Trump administration officials to stop blocking a pregnant 17-year-old immigrant from having an abortion while she’s being detained in Texas after crossing the Mexican border illegally.

>> Read more trending news

After a hearing in her courtroom in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered administration officials to allow the teenager, identified only as Jane Doe, to be taken to an abortion clinic “promptly and without delay.”

Without court intervention, Chutkan wrote, Doe “will suffer irreparable injury in the form of, at a minimum, increased risk to her health, and perhaps the permanent inability to obtain a desired abortion to which she is legally entitled.”

Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union argued that Doe’s experience is part of a larger pattern by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which under President Donald Trump has refused to allow unaccompanied minors to receive abortions, referring them instead to crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel women against abortions, often from a religious perspective.

Wednesday’s emergency order, however, applied only to Doe, and required federal officials to ensure that she can arrive as early as Thursday at an abortion clinic closest to the government-shelter where she’s being held.

“If transportation to the nearest abortion provider requires J.D. to travel past a border patrol checkpoint, Defendants are restrained from interfering with her ability to do so and are ordered to provide any documentation necessary for her to do so,” the judge wrote in the order.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had asked Chutkan to deny the teen access to an abortion, arguing that crossing the border illegally does not provide immigrants with broad rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“No federal court has ever declared that unlawfully present aliens with no substantial ties to this country have a constitutional right to abortion on demand,” Paxton said.

Paxton made the same arguments last week when the ACLU asked a California judge to intercede on the teen’s behalf. That judge, however, ruled that the request did not belong in her court, prompting the ACLU to file a second emergency request in Washington.

Halley’s Comet is source of this week’s Orionids meteor shower

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 10:18 PM

The Orionid Meteor Shower

A waxing crescent moon lends the celestial stage this week to the Orionid meteor shower — a wash of rock and ice shed from the venerable Halley’s Comet.

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While the Orionid shower runs from Oct. 2 to Nov. 7 this year, the heavenly theatrics will be most robust in the predawn hours of Saturday when the greatest number of meteors are expected to slip into Earth’s atmosphere.

With the moon just past new Saturday, there will be no lunar interference. During the peak, 10 to 20 Orionids per hour should be visible.

Deborah Byrd, editor in chief at the astronomy website Earth and Sky, said that while Saturday is the shower’s peak, meteors are likely to be firing from Friday morning through early November.

“The Orionids are known to be fast and on the faint side, but can sometimes surprise you with an exceptionally bright meteor that might break up into fragments,” Byrd wrote in her blog. “Maybe half of the Orionid meteors leave persistent trains — ionized gas trails that last for a few seconds after the meteor itself has gone.”

The Orionids are the only well-recognized major shower that happens twice a year. In May, the Earth again runs through the detritus of Halley’s Comet, creating the Eta Aquariid meteor shower.

Halley’s Comet was discovered by Edmund Halley in 1705, but is believed to have been recognized for millennia.

The comet returns every 72 years and was last seen from Earth in 1986. It won’t come again until 2061.

The Orionids are named for the celestial hunter Orion, which is easy to spot in the night sky by its bright belt of three aligned stars. Orion is the namesake because the meteors appear to radiate from north of Betelgeuse, one of the constellation’s most well-known stars.

You don’t have to stare at Orion to see a meteor; they will be visible in all parts of the sky.

If it looks like the Orionids will be clouded out, the website Slooh.com is aiming its telescopes at the sky Friday beginning at 7:59 p.m. in a live hunt for meteors. The show requires registration, so arrive early if not already a member.

The annual Orionids meteor shower is not considered the showiest of meteor showers, but it is generally a reliable one,” the site advertises.

Halley's Comet photographed by the Soviet Probe "Vega" in 1986. (Photo by Liaison)(Getty Images/Getty Images)

Nude photos taken in Florida judge’s chambers lead to clerk’s arrest

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 11:20 PM

Closeup of gavel in court room
IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Closeup of gavel in court room(IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A Florida clerk who allegedly took nude photos of his girlfriend in a judge’s chambers was arrested Monday on a petty theft charge, news reports stated.

>> Read more trending news

The twisted tale involves Jefferson County Clerk of Courts Kirk Reams, 40, and his ex-girlfriend Brittany McClellan, according to the Tallahassee Democrat
The two began dating in 2012, had a child together and broke up about a year later, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
In 2013 and 2014, McClellan was arrested twice on domestic violence charges during fights with Reams, according to court records obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat. The two also went through a tumultuous custody battle for their child, the paper added. 

The saga continued into late 2016, when McClellan told the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office that while they were dating Reams took nude photos of her inside a circuit court judge’s chamber’s office. She also told them that McClellan let her borrow a government laptop, which she used for about a year, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. 

An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Public Corruption Unit determined that the nude photos taken in 2013 did exist, but that McClellan did not do anything criminal, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. 

However, the state agency continued its investigation into the allegation of misuse of a government-owned laptop. She told officials that she used it to order supplies for her salon in Monticello, east of Tallahassee. 

Reams was charged Monday with misdemeanor petty theft and booked into jail. 

His attorney, David Collins of Monticello, said criminal charges should never have been filed and that the case should have been handled by the Florida Commission on Ethics. He said the latest event is essentially the result of an ex-girlfriend trying to smear Reams’ reputation.

“It appears that the government has gone to great lengths and costs to the taxpayer to prosecute a misdemeanor whose basis is that the clerk of court loaned an otherwise unused laptop and the clerk is the person who has authority to give permission to do such,” he told the Tallahassee Democrat. 

Read more at the Tallahassee Democrat