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Retired Navy veteran accused of killing girl found on lawn of Charlotte church

Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 11:56 PM

Eric Brown, left, was arrested and charged with the murder of Ashanti  Billie.
WSOCTV.com
Eric Brown, left, was arrested and charged with the murder of Ashanti Billie.(WSOCTV.com)

A retired Navy veteran was arrested Wednesday in connection with the murder of Ashanti Billie, 19, whose body was found on the lawn of a church in northwest Charlotte in September.

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Eric Brown, 45, is suspected of having abducted Billie, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Sept. 18 as she arrived for work at a Blimpie’s restaurant on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach, according to court documents.

Brown has been charged with murder and kidnapping. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police also charged Brown with murder.

Brown was first arrested for separate charges in Virginia last month before detectives linked him to Billie’s death, officials said.

Charlotte resident Warren Stukes said that his children grew up with Brown and he was shocked at the age of the woman he is accused of murdering.

"Nineteen? That's even worse," Stukes said. “That's a young girl who has not lived her life. He lived his life."

On Sept. 29, Billie’s body was found in a wooded area behind East Stonewall AME Zion Church about 300 yards from Brown’s childhood home.

Police said Billie was the subject of a missing persons investigation in Norfolk, Virginia. She had been missing since Sept. 18.

"She was happy here,” Ashanti Billie’s mother, Brandy Billie, said about Virginia Beach. “She liked it here and to think this is where it ended for her."

Brown, who spent 21 years in the Navy, worked as a day laborer and helped with the construction of the Blimpie’s this past summer.

Brown was homeless and lived in random facilities and buildings on and off the naval bases, police said.

Billie’s coworkers said that Brown would visit the Blimpie’s almost every day, and that he was seen so often in the neighboring buildings, that they believed Brown worked there.

Video surveillance recorded Billie’s car entering the base at 4:58 a.m. Sept. 18 and circling the Blimpie’s at 5 a.m.

The driver of the vehicle in both videos was a person wearing dark-colored clothing, consistent with the clothing Billie was reportedly wearing.

Video surveillance recorded a person in light-colored clothing in Billie’s car driving out of the base at about 5:33 a.m.

At about 5:44 a.m., residential video surveillance recorded a person wearing light-colored clothing, driving a car consistent with Billie’s, stop at a construction dumpster in Norfolk.

A few hours later, construction workers found Billie’s cellphone in the dumpster.

Billie’s car was found in Norfolk on Sept. 23.

Inside the car, agents recovered Billie’s pants, which contained dirt and debris. The undercarriage of the car also contained dirt and vegetative debris.

Several witnesses described seeing a car like Billie’s during the week of Sept. 18 parked at various locations in Charlotte neighborhoods, near where Billie’s body was found. The property where the body was found is owned by and located next to the church where Brown attended vacation Bible school as a child.

"To know that this man took the time out to go back to the church where he went to Bible study at when he was a child, like how do you do that? That's sickening," said Kimberly Wimbish, a spokeswoman for Billie’s family.

Brown’s wireless internet usage data indicated that he used his mobile devices nearly every day from Sept. 1 to Sept. 29.

The only day in that time period that there was no usage data is Sept. 18, which is the day Billie went missing, police said.

Brown’s wireless internet usage data also indicated that he was on the base from Sept. 14 until late in the evening of Sept. 17, which is when all usage data stopped until starting again Sept. 19.

A review of security camera video from all of the gates on the base revealed no evidence of Brown ever leaving the base from Sept. 14 through Sept. 18.

A records check of base entry logs indicated that Brown re-entered Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek on the afternoon of Sept. 19.

During an Oct. 27 interview with law enforcement, Brown told agents he was on the base in Little Creek on the evening of Sept. 17, and that at one point, he blacked out and had no recollection of what he did for several days after that.

When discussing the abduction and murder of Billie, Brown confirmed that he could not remember if he did anything to Billie, according to law enforcement. 

In federal documents, a witness said Brown told them he hated African-American women.

"It is disgraceful and I will not accept PTSD," Wimbish said of Brown’s claims regarding his memory.

Brown appeared in court Wednesday and is being held in Norfolk.

"For me, I'm looking to stack every charge that we can put on him," said Ashanti Billie’s father, Meltony Billie.

Eric Brown’s family member, DeVona Brown Alleyne, released the following statement Wednesday evening:

"Along with multiple communities along the East Coast, we, the Brown family, are deeply saddened at the tragic loss of Ms. Ashanti Billie’s life. We cannot imagine the impact her death has on those lovingly connected to her. Although we are shaken by the recent arrest made, our immediate concern is for those who knew and loved Ms. Billie, and we pray for them to be supported in every way possible. No amount of insight that we could provide would take back the pain they are currently feeling and will likely experience in days, months and years to come. Respectfully, we will offer no additional comment regarding these devastating events."

Man arrested after stealing idling car with toddler inside

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 8:42 AM

D'Jerry Cassamajor faces several charges, including larceny of a motor vehicle, child abuse and kidnapping.
WSOCTV.com
D'Jerry Cassamajor faces several charges, including larceny of a motor vehicle, child abuse and kidnapping.(WSOCTV.com)

A man is accused of stealing a woman's car Thursday night with her 2-year-old son inside.

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D'Jerry Cassamajor faces several charges, including larceny of a motor vehicle, child abuse and kidnapping.

Police said Cassamajor stole the woman’s Hyundai Santa Fe after she left it running and walked into the Super Wok restaurant in north Charlotte to order food. 

After realizing her car and child were gone, the woman called friends and then 911.

“I seen a lady out there yelling and I caught the tail end of a car leaving,” one witness said. “She was worried like any mother should be..”

Officers said that after speeding away, Cassamajor wrecked the car a few blocks away, leaving the toddler in the snow.

Family members were already rushing to the crash scene and ultimately helped police make the arrest by holding Cassamajor down until officers arrived.

“As soon as we came down the street right here, he jumped out and we started chasing,” one family member said.

The Department of Social Services has been notified due to the fact that the child had been left in the car unattended.

“You don’t ever expect that to happen, but of course, you jump into to action mode because you think, ‘What if that was my child?’” a family member said.

Cassamajor is expected to face a judge on Monday.

The boy was not hurt, police said.

College student dies after on-campus shooting at Wake Forest

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 8:30 AM

Wake Fprest University.
Davis Turner/Getty Images
Wake Fprest University.(Davis Turner/Getty Images)

A 21-year-old student from Winston-Salem State University was shot and killed early Saturday after a fight broke out during a party at Wake Forest University, police said.

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The shooting occurred around 1 a.m., WXII reported. It took place on campus during a Delta Sigma Theta sorority party at The Barn, police said.

Najee Ali Baker, 21, was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound, where he died, WXII reported.

Winston-Salem police said they responded to Wake Forest after receiving a call that a fight had occurred and a gun was fired on campus.

The Winston-Salem Police Department said they believe the shooter is no longer on campus and are looking for that person, WXII reported.

Government shutdown: What will close; will you get your Social Security check; what will happen to SNAP, WIC

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 12:35 PM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

Update: While the House passed legislation on Thursday to fund government  services, the Senate on Friday failed to vote on a continuing resolution that would keep the government up and running. With no bill to fund the government, non-essential services have been shutdown. 

Below is the original story that explains what will happen now that the government has been shut down.

The fight over a border wall, the fate of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, and the wrangling over the funding of an insurance program for children could force a U.S. government shutdown after midnight on Friday if Congress does not pass legislation that would keep the government running.

While negotiations on a temporary spending bill, called a continuing resolution, are ongoing, House Republican leaders said late Wednesday that  they lacked the votes to prevent a shutdown, but that they are pressing members to back Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-Wisconsin), on the  temporary spending bill.

“I think it passes,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, (R-North Carolina), told reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s overwhelming, but I think it passes.”

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What would happen if no bill is passed and the government “shuts down?” Here’s what to expect:

First, a government shutdown doesn’t mean the government completely shuts down. Employees and services deemed “essential” would remain in place. About half of the federal employee workforce, however, could be furloughed – sent home without pay.

Government agencies would shut down because of the lack of a bill that funds services those agencies provide. What Congress will be considering Thursday night and Friday is a continuing resolution, a way to temporarily fund the government.

What is a continuing resolution?
A continuing resolution, or “CR,” is legislation that funds government operations at the current spending level. In normal years, a bill that funds government operations is signed by Oct. 1, which is the end of the fiscal year. That didn’t happen this year.

CRs can fund the government for days, weeks or months. The CR that could be considered Thursday would fund the government through Feb. 16.

Here is a list of services and how they would be affected if a CR is not passed by Friday night:
Air travel
Air travel would not be affected as federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and Transportation Security Administration screeners would remain in place.
Federal court
For about two weeks, federal courts would continue operating normally. After that time, the judiciary would have to furlough employees not considered essential.
Food safety
The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls. Most routine safety inspections would be halted.
Health
Patients in the National Institutes of Health would continue to be treated. New patients would not be accepted until a funding bill is in place.
International travel 
You could still get a passport and visa applications would still be processed by the State Department. Fees collected when someone applies for a visa or a passport fund those services.
Loans 
The Federal Housing Administration, the agency that guarantees about 30 percent of all American home mortgages, wouldn't be able to underwrite or approve any new loans during a shutdown, causing a delay for those using one of those loans to purchase a home. 
The mail
You would still get mail, as the U.S. Postal Service is not funded by taxpayer dollars for everyday operations.
Military
Active-duty military personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed.
National parks
All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums. Visitors in overnight campgrounds in national parks would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park.
School lunches, SNAP and WIC
School breakfasts and lunches funded by the federal government would not be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, could be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which used to be called the Food Stamp Program, would continue to be funded and SNAP benefits would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.
Science
The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather.
Social Security
Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits would be paid, but new applications for those payments could be delayed. 
Veterans services
Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs would continue.

Sources: The Associated Press; Politicothe Congressional Research Service

  

Pizza shop owner sues when store confused for one where assault occurred

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 7:44 AM

Pizza parlor.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Pizza parlor.(Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A Pennsylvania pizza shop is being targeted, but its owner says it is a case of mistaken identity.

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Customers upset about a viral video in which a former manager allegedly assaulted a woman have been calling Original Milano's in Oakland -- but the video was taken at Pizza Milano.

Ben Sciulli is the owner of the Original Milano's Pizza.

He wants to make it clear that his family business is not affiliated with Pizza Milano.

“My dad started this in 1975 in Hampton Township. He owns the rights of the name. He trademarked it," Sciulli said.

His family owns three locations, and the Oakland shop has been open for nearly 20 years.

Some customers assumed Milano's Pizza was connected to Pizza Milano, where a former manager was seen on video allegedly assaulting a woman.

Owner of a local pizza shop is taking legal action after repeated confusion with another restaurant. Michele Newell WPXI has the details on 11 at 11. http://on.wpxi.com/2DQBJWE

Posted by Aaron Martin WPXI on Friday, January 19, 2018

It drew days of protests outside the shop and Sciulli's business has paid the price, too.

“For me and my employees answering the phone calls and the threats of coming to burn the place down and things like that, yeah, it was very frustrating,” he said.

He claimed people upset with Pizza Milano have been putting out false information about his business, including his phone number.

Sciulli’s attorney issued a cease-and-desist order, promising to file legal complaints against anyone who incites harassment.

Now, the threats have finally stopped and business is picking back up.

"We do have a lot of support in Oakland, (people) that have come and supported our business," Sciulli said.

The ex-manager at the Uptown Pizza Milano, Mahmut Yilmez, is due in court next week. The woman in the video, Jade Martin, was also charged.