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  • British and European Union negotiators expressed cautious optimism Tuesday that they would reach a deal to prevent a disorderly U.K. exit from the bloc, saying talks will be intensified and take place 'continuously' over the next few crucial months. After meeting U.K. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab in Brussels, chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said differences remained between the two sides on future economic relations and maintaining an open border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland. Barnier said the challenge 'for the coming weeks is to try and define an ambitious partnership between the U.K. and the EU, a partnership that has no precedent.' Raab said there were 'significant' issues to overcome, but that if both sides showed ambition and pragmatism, an agreement could be reached by October. That's the deadline the two sides have set themselves for a deal on divorce terms and the outlines of future trade, so that it can be approved by individual EU countries before Brexit day on March 29. But negotiations have got bogged down amid infighting within British Prime Minister Theresa May's divided Conservative government about how close an economic relationship to seek with the EU after Brexit. Last month the government finally produced a plan, proposing to stick close to EU regulations in return for free trade in goods and no customs checks on the Irish border. But to some EU officials that smacks of cherry-picking benefits of EU membership without the responsibilities — something the bloc has explicitly ruled out. Last week Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics put the chances of getting a Brexit deal at 50-50. British businesses have warned that leaving without a deal could cause mayhem for trade and travel, bringing higher food prices, logjams around U.K. ports and disruption to everything from aviation to medical supplies. A group that represents U.K. hospitals and ambulance services has said that its members may run out of drugs if Britain leaves the European Union without an agreement on future relations. In a letter published Tuesday, NHS Providers said a lack of 'visible and appropriate communication' from the government is hampering preparations for a so-called no-deal Brexit. In a letter to National Health Service bosses that was leaked to the Times of London, the group's chief executive said it would be more efficient to develop contingency plans nationally rather than 'have to reinvent the wheel 229 times.' Chris Hopson said 'the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals' could be affected by the failure to reach a deal, adding that it could also 'jeopardize' the EU workforce 'on which the NHS relies.' The U.K. government says it remains confident of reaching a deal, but is preparing for all outcomes. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Tuesday that the chance of no deal was 'not negligible,' and that outcome would be bad both for Britain and for the EU. On Thursday, the U.K. government plans to publish the first in a series of technical reports outlining the effects a no-deal Brexit would have on various sectors and offering advice to businesses and the public on how to prepare. ___ Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this story.
  • The Latest on the Trump administration's plan to roll back the centerpiece of Obama-era efforts to slow global warming(all times local): 8:20 p.m. The Trump administration is set to announce plans to roll back the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's efforts to slow global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency says the plan will be announced Tuesday. It's expected to propose regulations that give states broad authority to determine how to restrict greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. The plan is expected to let states relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades. That would stall an Obama-era push to shift away from coal and toward less-polluting energy sources. Combined with a planned rollback of car-mileage standards, the plan represents a significant retreat from Obama-era efforts to fight climate change. President Donald Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry. ___ 2 p.m. The Trump administration is set to roll back the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's efforts to slow global warming. It's expected to propose regulations that give states broad authority to determine how to restrict greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. The plan would let states relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades. That would reverse an Obama-era push to shift away from coal and toward less-polluting energy sources. The plan is to be announced in coming days. Combined with a planned rollback of car-mileage standards, the plan represents a significant retreat from Obama-era efforts to fight climate change. President Donald Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry.
  • New Haven, Connecticut, became what officials called 'ground zero' Monday for efforts to shine a light on the dangers of drugs, as President Donald Trump's nominee for drug czar visited a city reeling from more than 100 recent overdoses on synthetic marijuana. Jim Carroll met with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Mayor Toni Harp and first responders to discuss the overdoses, as well as the country's opioid crisis. Connecticut officials are setting a national example for getting people into treatment for drug addiction, Carroll said, and he praised local paramedics, police and firefighters for their response to the overdoses last week. 'In an incident like this when there is an emergency, you don't call D.C., you don't call an 800 number to an office for the federal government,' he said. 'You call 911, and that's the first responders that are here in the room. And that's who we need to support.' Authorities responded to more than 100 overdoses from synthetic marijuana on Wednesday and Thursday, mostly on the New Haven Green, a historic downtown park next to Yale University. No deaths were reported. Police said Monday that 47 people overdosed, including some who were brought to hospitals multiple times after consuming the drug again once treated. Many of the people who fell ill were in treatment for addiction to other drugs, officials said. First responders described a chaotic scene of people collapsing unconscious at the same time, and others vomiting and becoming disoriented. Officials blamed a potent batch of K2, also known as spice, and three people were arrested in the investigation of the overdoses. Police said Monday that samples of the drug tested postive for AB Fubinaca, a synthethic cannabinoid that has sickened people across the country. Drug addiction killed about 72,000 people in the U.S. last year, which is about 200 people a day, said Carroll, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Trump's nominee to lead the office. A majority of those deaths were related to opioids. The Trump administration, he said, is fighting the problem on three fronts — prevention and education, treatment and law enforcement efforts aimed at keeping drugs from getting into the country. For example, he said, the federal government supports drug-free community education programs across the country, including 24 in Connecticut. 'Together with our state and local partners, we are determined to address this crisis effectively through prevention, treatment and recovery and law enforcement in order to save lives,' Carroll said. Blumenthal urged Congress to pass several bills now on the floor that are aimed at addiction and overdoses. 'The New Haven Green has crystalized awareness in the Congress,' the Connecticut Democrat said. 'For this centuries-old, historic setting to be the new ground zero for fighting substance abuse disorder is remarkable and truly game changing in the fight against addiction.' Harp, New Haven's mayor, said first responders are on the front lines of drug addiction every day and prepare regularly to respond to different kinds of emergencies. Funding for them is critical, she said. 'The fact that we have been prepared, that we've worked on it year after year and that this collaboration is not new is what meant that every person who dropped on our Green we responded to within a minute to 2 minutes,' she said. 'Every person got the service that they needed. We did not lose one life and for that I am eternally grateful.
  • Smoke from wildfires clogged the sky across the U.S. West, blotting out mountains and city skylines from Oregon to Colorado, delaying flights and forcing authorities to tell even healthy adults in the Seattle area to stay indoors. As large cities dealt with unhealthy air for a second summer in a row, experts warned that it could become more common as the American West faces larger and more destructive wildfires because of heat and drought blamed on climate change. Officials also must prioritize resources during the longer firefighting season, so some blazes may be allowed to burn in unpopulated areas. Seattle's Space Needle was swathed in haze, and it was impossible to see nearby mountains. Portland, Oregon, residents who were up early saw a blood-red sun shrouded in smoke and huffed their way through another day of polluted air. Portland Public Schools suspended all outdoor sports practices. Thick smoke in Denver blocked the view of some of Colorado's famous mountains and prompted an air quality health advisory for the northeastern quarter of the state. The smoky pollution, even in Idaho and Colorado, came from wildfires in British Columbia and the Northwest's Cascade Mountains, clouding a season that many spend outdoors. Portland resident Zach Simon supervised a group of children in a summer biking camp who paused at a huge water fountain by the Willamette River, where gray, smoky haze obscured a view of Mount Hood. Simon said he won't let the kids ride as far or take part in as many running games like tag while the air quality is bad. 'I went biking yesterday, and I really felt it in my lungs, and I was really headachy and like, lethargic,' Simon said Monday. 'Today, biking, you can see the whole city in haze and you can't see the skyline.' One of Colin Shor's favorite things about working in the Denver area is the view of the high peaks to the west. But that was all but gone Monday. 'Not being able to see the mountains is kind of disappointing, kind of sad,' he said. Forest fires are common, but typical Seattle-area weather pushes it out of the way quickly. The latest round of prolonged smoke happened as hot temperatures and high pressure collided, said Andrew Wineke, a spokesman for the state Ecology Department's air quality program. It's a rare occurrence that also happened last year, raising concerns for many locals that it may become normal during wildfire season. Wineke said climate change is expected to contribute to many more fires. 'The trend is clear. You see the number of forest fires increasing, and so there's going to be wildfires,' Wineke said. 'There's going to be smoke. It's going to be somewhere.' The Federal Aviation Administration said airplanes bound for the Sea-Tac International Airport, Seattle's main airport, may be delayed because of low visibility. In Spokane, air quality slipped into the 'hazardous' range. Thick haze hung over Washington's second-largest city, forcing vehicles to turn on their headlights during the morning commute. The air quality was so bad that everyone, regardless of physical condition or age, will likely be affected, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. In California, wind blew smoke from several wildfires into the San Francisco Bay Area, where haze led authorities to issue an air quality advisory through Tuesday. They suggested people avoid driving to limit additional pollutants in the air and advised those with health problems to reduce time outdoors. Health officials say signs of smoke-related health symptoms include coughing, scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, headaches, stinging eyes and runny nose. Those with heart disease may experience chest pain, irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath and fatigue. Patients at Denver's National Jewish Health, a respiratory hospital, were reporting worsening symptoms, hospital spokesman Adam Dormuth said. In Portland, six tourists from Lincoln, Nebraska, posed for a photo in front of the Willamette River with the usual Mount Hood backdrop shrouded in haze. The group of siblings and friends rented an RV and drove in to visit a sister who recently moved to the area. 'We are disappointed that we can't see the mountains and the whole city, because our relatives live here and tell us how pretty it is, and we're missing it,' Bev Harris said. 'We're from tornado alley, and we don't have wildfires. It's a different experience.' ___ Flaccus reported from Portland, Oregon. Associated Press reporters Nicholas K. Geranios in Spokane, Dan Elliott in Denver and Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco contributed to this story.
  • Both women and infants can reap significant benefits from breastfeeding, according to the CDC. 
  • The World Health Organization says the number of measles cases in Europe jumped sharply during the first six months of 2018 and at least 37 people have died. The U.N. agency's European office said Monday more than 41,000 measles cases were reported in the region during the first half of the year — more than in all 12-month periods so far this decade. The previous highest annual total was 23,927 cases in 2017. A year earlier, only 5,273 cases were reported. The agency said half — some 23,000 cases — this year occurred in Ukraine, where an insurgency backed by Russia has been fighting the government for four years in the east in a conflict that has killed over 10,000 people. France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Russia and Serbia also had more than 1,000 measles infections each so far this year. Measles, among the world's most contagious diseases, is a virus that's spread in the air through coughing or sneezing. It can be prevented with a vaccine that's been in use since the 1960s, but health officials say vaccination rates of at least 95 percent are needed to prevent epidemics. Vaccine skepticism remains high in many parts of Europe after past immunization problems. Measles typically begins with a high fever and also causes a rash on the face and neck. While most people who get it recover, measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children, according to the WHO. Italy has introduced a new law requiring parents to vaccinate their children against measles and nine other childhood diseases. Romania also passed a similar bill, including hefty fines for parents who didn't vaccinate their children. The U.N. agency on Monday called for better surveillance of the disease and increased immunization rates to prevent measles from becoming endemic. ___ Why Europe still has so many measles outbreaks: https://www.apnews.com/fe39445a21d4482680bcf2b0dc656ae8

Health Reporter Sabrina Cupit

News

  • A 61-year-old woman was pinned between her car and a gas pump after a four-car crash at a Lithonia gas station, DeKalb County police said.  Her grandchildren were inside the her car at the time, according to Channel 2 Action News.  The woman was taken to the hospital in critical condition following the Monday evening wreck at the Circle K gas station in the intersection of Covington Highway and Evans Mill Road, DeKalb County spokeswoman Shiera Campbell said.  Campbell said the woman was pumping gas when a gray vehicle sped into the gas station at a high rate of speed. The car crashed into a pick-up truck, causing it to crash into a Nissan SUV, Campbell said. The SUV slammed into the woman’s car, pinning her against the gas pump.  Campbell said the people, believed to be juveniles, inside the gray vehicle ran from the scene.  No other details were released.  In other news:
  • Marlins right-hander Jose Urena has dropped his appeal of a six-game suspension for intentionally hitting Atlanta rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. with a pitch. Urena began serving the suspension Tuesday. The Marlins, fearful the Braves might retaliate, had already decided Urena wouldn't pitch against them during a four-game series later this week. Urena is expected to return at Boston on Aug. 28. He hit Acuna on the left arm with his first pitch, triggering a melee in the Marlins' 5-2 loss in Atlanta last Wednesday. Acuna went into the game having homered in five straight games, including four homers in the three games against Miami — three of them leading off. Acuna left the game injured but was back in the lineup the next day. Urena was ejected. Urena pitched the first complete game of his career last Sunday in a win at Washington. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • West Virginia's Republican House speaker resigned Tuesday to run for a vacancy on the state Supreme Court, fueling accusations by Democrats that an unprecedented move to impeach state Supreme Court justices represents a power grab by GOP lawmakers. Speaker Tim Armstead disclosed his plans on Twitter. Though the secretary of state's office has said he's not required to resign, Armstead said he was doing so to make sure his candidacy is above question. House lawmakers recently impeached four of the court's five justices, prompting one to resign. All four were ordered Tuesday to appear in the Senate on Sept. 11 to answer accusations against them. The impeachment probe was sparked by questions involving more than $3 million in renovations to the justices' offices and expanded to broader accusations of corruption, incompetence and neglect of duty. Armstead had recused himself from the House debate over impeachment because he had previously expressed interest in serving on the court. More recently, he and U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, a Republican who is not seeking re-election and lost in his bid for the U.S. Senate this spring, both applied to be considered for temporary appointments to the Supreme Court by Gov. Jim Justice. Those appointments would last until the November election is certified. Jenkins has declared himself a candidate for a different seat on the court in the November election, which is officially nonpartisan. The West Virginia Democratic Party said on Twitter of Armstead's resignation, 'No surprise here, more self-serving moves for political gain and abandoning the people of West Virginia in his district.' In a statement announcing his resignation, Armstead said he intends 'to spend as much time as possible meeting West Virginians and earning their trust and their votes to represent them on their Supreme Court of Appeals.' Armstead filed by Tuesday's deadline to run in the nonpartisan race for the vacancy created last month when Menis Ketchum retired and agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud related to his personal use of a state vehicle and fuel. Robin Davis stepped down from the court Aug. 14 after lawmakers voted to impeach her and justices Allen Loughry, Margaret Workman and Beth Walker. Davis and at least one Democratic lawmaker have accused the Republican-led legislature of turning what they said was a legitimate pursuit of charges against Loughry into a blatant attempt to take over the court. Democratic Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer of Monongalia County has called impeaching the other justices 'a power grab ... and using the impeachment process to take over another branch of government.' Jenkins and six other candidates have filed to run for Davis' seat in November. Armstead and nine other candidates have filed to run for the seat Ketchum vacated. Loughry faces six charges related to accusations of spending $363,000 on office renovations, taking home a $42,000 antique desk owned by the state, and lying to a House committee. Loughry, Walker and Workman all face charges of abusing authority by failing to control office expenses and not maintaining policies about the use of state vehicles, office computers at home and other matters. Workman faces two separate impeachment articles related to accusations that she allowed senior status judges to be paid higher wages than are allowed. Armstead was appointed to a House seat from Kanawha County in 1998 to fill a vacancy and was elected later that year. He served as House minority leader and was named speaker in December 2014 after Republicans gained majority control of both the House and Senate for the first time in eight decades. Some Democrats have said the impeachments were strategically timed by majority Republican lawmakers to allow the governor to name their temporary replacements. 'There's never been any time in history where one branch of government supposedly controls another branch,' Senate Democratic leader Roman Perzioso said Monday. 'And for the governor to be able to appoint people to be replaced, obviously there's that apprehension by a lot of the Democratic senators and House members, too.
  • A man accused of shooting and killing a man in a Walmart parking lot appeared in court Tuesday.  Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said that while he does believe Troy Hunte killed Fadil Delkic, a refugee from the Bosnian War, in the parking lot of a Snellville Walmart Sunday, he is not convinced there was malice involved. “Clearly there was provocation on both sides, so that's the reason they made that choice,” Porter said. Sunday afternoon, shoppers at the Scenic Highway store were sent into a panic after a shot was fired outside.  “All you saw was everyone running,” witness Robin Reynolds told Channel 2 Action News. [READ MORE: Bosnian War survivor identified as victim in Walmart parking lot shooting] Witnesses said Hunte, his girlfriend and their child were heading into the store as Delkic was driving away. Hunte's girlfriend apparently thought Delkic pulled too close to them in a crosswalk. TRENDING STORIES: Buford schools superintendent recorded in racist rant, lawsuit says Man arrested in death of Mollie Tibbetts details what happened Girl, 15, says police officer sexually assaulted her for hours; GBI investigating The two argued, she slapped Delkic, then police said Hunte shot and killed the Bosnian refugee.  Hunte made his first court appearance Tuesday on what are now voluntary manslaughter charges.   Porter said the charges may change as his team investigates. He hinted Hunte may claim self-defense. “There are two questions in this case. Number one: Was there a right to defend him or his girlfriend? And number two: Was he justified in using deadly force?” Porter said. Delkic is getting a lot of support. An online fundraising effort has taken in $25,000 in less than a day.  Some of Delkic's family are not only asking why the suspect is not charged with murder, but why the woman who first argued with Delkic has not also been charged. “There was a child to consider. There were other issues that taking her into custody at this point was not necessary for the public safety,” Porter said. Porter said the woman is not entirely cleared yet. “That's something that is still under investigation and she may be (charged),” Porter said.
  • Shanann Watts’ father sobbed in a Colorado courtroom Tuesday as a judge recited the charges against his son-in-law -- charges that indicate detectives believe Chris Watts may have killed his children before his pregnant wife returned home from a business trip.  Chris Watts, 33, of Frederick, was charged Monday with nine felony charges: five counts of first-degree murder, including two for killing a child under the age of 12 while the defendant was in a position of trust, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body. He is being held without bail in the Weld County Jail.  The defendant faces a potential death penalty on the murder charges.  In a confession to police, Chris Watts alleged that he strangled Shanann Watts, 34, after seeing her do the same to their two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Disbelieving investigators charged him with all three murders, as well as with the death of the couple’s unborn child.   >> Related story: Colorado father charged with killing pregnant wife, 2 daughters, says wife killed children Shanann Watts was 15 weeks pregnant with a son they planned to name Niko, friends and family have said. A Change.org petition started by friends demands that Colorado adopt a new law, named “Niko’s Law,” to make the killing of an unborn baby like the Watts’ son first-degree murder. As Chris Watts sat stone-faced throughout Tuesday’s proceedings, which were streamed live by CBS Denver, Judge Marcello Kopcow advised Watts of the updated charges levied against him. Watts had been in custody since Wednesday on suspicion of murder and tampering with evidence.  Chris Watts told 9News in Denver in an interview the day before his arrest that he had nothing to do with the deaths of his family.  “Everybody’s going to have their own opinion on anything like this,” Watts said in the TV interview. “I just want people to know that I want my family back. I want them safe and I want them here.” The charges Kopcow read in court state that Chris Watts caused the death of his wife on Aug. 13, the day she and her daughters were reported missing by a friend. The charges related to Bella and Celeste, however, state that he caused their deaths “between and including Aug. 12, 2018, and Aug. 13, 2018.” Shanann Watts was out of town until early Aug. 13.  An arrest affidavit released Monday states that the friend who reported Shanann and the girls missing, Nickole Utoft Atkinson, dropped Shanann off at the Watts’ home just before 2 a.m. that day. The two women had been on a business trip to Arizona for Le-Vel, a health and wellness company that sells nutritional products.  “Nicole (sic) stated Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant and was not feeling well during the trip,” the affidavit states.  Atkinson became concerned later that morning because Shanann Watts missed a 10 a.m. doctor’s appointment and was not answering phone calls or texts. She went to the couple’s home at 2825 Saratoga Trail to check on her.  Read the charges against Chris Watts below. “(Nickole) went to Shanann’s residence and discovered her car in the garage with car seats positioned inside of it,” the affidavit says. “(She) attempted to enter the front door, but a latch prevented it from opening more than three inches.” Atkinson called Chris Watts at work and asked him to return home to check on his wife, the court document reads. She was afraid that Shanann Watts, who reportedly had lupus, had passed out or was suffering some other medical emergency.  Atkinson also called police, who arrived before Chris Watts did. Once Chris Watts arrived and allowed officers into the house, they found Shanann Watts’ personal belongings -- her cellphone, purse, wallet and medication -- inside.  They also found a pair of women’s shoes kicked off by the front door and a suitcase, apparently from her Arizona trip, at the bottom of the stairs, the affidavit states.  Chris Watts initially told investigators that around 4 a.m. that day, he told his wife he wanted a separation. He said it was an emotional conversation, with both of them upset and crying, but that it was not argumentative.  Chris Watts told detectives that when he left for work just before 5:30 a.m., Shanann Watts told him she and the girls would be going to a friend’s home later in the day. He said that he backed his work truck up into the driveway to load some tools into it before leaving.  Read the warrantless arrrest affidavit in the Chris Watts case below. The truck’s movements were captured by a neighbor’s security camera, the affidavit says.  During the investigation into the disappearance of Shanann Watts and her daughters, investigators learned that Chris Watts was having an affair with a female co-worker at Anadarko Petroleum Corp. -- an affair that he denied in previous interviews.  Chris Watts was taken into custody Wednesday night, at which time Anadarko fired him. In a subsequent police interview Thursday, after being allowed to speak to his father, Chris Watts admitted strangling Shanann Watts the morning of Aug. 13, the affidavit states.  “Chris stated after he told Shanann he wanted a separation, he walked downstairs for a moment and then returned to his bedroom to speak with Shanann again,” the affidavit states. “While in the bedroom, via baby monitor located on Shanann’s nightstand, he observed Bella ‘sprawled’ out on her bed and blue and Shanann actively strangling Celeste. “Chris said he went into a rage and ultimately strangled Shanann to death.” Chris Watts told detectives that, when he backed his truck into the driveway, it was his wife and daughters’ bodies he loaded into the back seat, the affidavit states. He said he drove the bodies to an Anadarko work site just north of Roggan, an unincorporated area of Weld County about 40 miles from the family’s home in Frederick.  A Google Maps search using the coordinates of the site, which are included in the affidavit, shows a desolate area in which a dirt road leads to a couple of large oil tanks.  Chris Watts told investigators buried Shanann in a shallow grave near the tanks and dumped his daughters’ bodies inside the tanks.  “Chris was presented an aerial photograph of the tank battery area and identified three separate locations in which he placed the bodies,” the affidavit reads. Prior to Watts’ alleged confession, investigators did a drone search of the site and spotted a bedsheet in a field near the tank battery, the document says. The sheet matched the pattern of pillow cases and a top sheet discovered stuffed into a trash can in Watts’ kitchen earlier Thursday.  Shanann Watts’ body was found that afternoon, buried in a shallow grave near the oil tanks. Bella and Celeste were found inside the tanks, which were almost completely full of crude oil.  The girls’ bodies had been submerged in oil for four days, according to court documents filed by Chris Watts’ defense lawyer. The attorney, James Merson, sought to have defense experts at the autopsies of the victims, and to have DNA swabs done on the necks of the children, an apparent bid to prove that Shanann Watts killed her daughters.  Kopcow on Friday denied the motion to have defense experts present at the autopsies, but granted the request to for DNA swabs of Bella and Celeste’s necks. He denied the defense’s request that their expert take the swabs, however.  “Furthermore, defendant’s request to order prosecution to collect evidence in the manner described by defense expert is denied,” the order reads. “This court cannot order the prosecution and/or coroner how to conduct their investigation.” Kopcow said there was no indication that prosecutors or the coroner would destroy evidence, improperly collect it or fail to collect it.  The disappearance and killings of Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts have captured national attention, and inspired gut-wrenching emotion from those who knew them. Shanann Watts’ father, Frank Rzucek, tearfully spoke publicly Monday ahead of the news conference at which Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke announced the charges against Chris Watts.  “We would like to thank everyone in the Frederick Police Department and all the agencies involved for working so hard to find my daughter, granddaughters and Niko,” Rzucek said. “Thank you, everyone, for coming out to the candlelight vigil and saying all your prayers. They are greatly appreciated. “Keep the prayers coming for our family.” Rzucek has also been active on his Facebook page, posting photos of Bella and Celeste smiling and playing together. In one post, he uploaded the song “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen.” “Dear Bella and Celeste and Nico,” Rzucek wrote. “Pop Pop loves you. God bless you.” He also posted several photos of Shanann Watts.  “Dad loves you,” he wrote on one. On another, he wrote, “We got you, baby.” Family friends who let Chris Watts stay in their home after his wife and daughters went missing expressed shock over the accusations against him -- and apologized for taking him in and defending him against swirling rumors.  “Had we had any inclination that we thought he was involved at all, no way would I have let him in my house with my wife and kid,” Nick Thayer told 9News Thursday, the day Watts confessed and the bodies were found.  “They were family,” his wife, Amanda Thayer, told the news station. “They spent Thanksgivings with us and Fourth of Julys and all the holidays. It’s just unreal.” The couple, who also took in the Watts family’s dog, Deeter, until Shanann’s family could pick him up, is now left figuring out how to tell their 5-year-old daughter that her playmates are dead. They are also struggling to understand the crime themselves, 9News reported.  “I’m so sorry. We didn’t know. We thought we were doing the right thing,’ Nick Thayer said. “It’s all we can do is say we’re sorry that we defended him on social media. We really had no idea that he was capable of doing something like we’ve.... I hate it. I hate all of this.”
  • Court documents detail what a man charged with murder told investigators about the abduction and killing of Mollie Tibbetts. An affidavit filed Tuesday says the 20-year-old Tibbetts was running on July 18 in a rural area near Brooklyn, in central Iowa, when a car driven by Christian Bahena Rivera approached her. During questioning Monday, Rivera acknowledged making contact with Tibbetts, first by pursuing her in his car and then getting out and running beside her. Rivera told investigators he became angry when Tibbetts showed a cell phone and threatened to call police. He says he panicked and then “blocked” his memory. He says he does not recall what happened but found an earpiece from headphones in his lap and realized he’d put Tibbetts’ in his trunk. TRENDING STORIES: 7 scenic drives that will make you love Georgia even more Man accused of killing wife, daughters says he walked in on wife strangling children Girl, 15, says police officer sexually assaulted her for hours; GBI investigating He opened the trunk and noticed blood on the side of her head. The affidavit says he carried Tibbetts’ body to a cornfield and covered her with corn stalks. When he was questioned by authorities, he led investigators to the site. Rivera has been charged with first-degree murder.