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National News

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has now put a face on a suitcase full of bones found last year in Butts County. A forensic artist has created a sketch of what an unidentified woman might have looked like. Last December, a suitcase full of bones was discovered in the woods along I-75 in Butts County. A forensic anthropologist determined bones were those of an African American female but age range is wide. Investigators say she could have been anywhere from 19 to 45-years-old.  She had a broken ankle at some time in her life. So far, investigators call it an undetermined death.   They aim to find out who she was and they hope artist Kelly Lawson's sketch will jog some memories.  Channel 2's Berndt Petersen spoke to Lawson about her responsibility and the unique feature that could make the woman easy to recognize, on Channel 2 Action News at 4:45.  TRENDING STORIES: Woman kills husband's mistress then turns gun on herself in 'calculated, planned attack': Police Damaging winds and small hail possible as storms head our way Teen was driving 106 mph when she crashed, killed best friend, prosecutors say A skeleton was found in a suitcase along I-75 in Butts County. A forensic artist says the victim may have looked like this. 445 pic.twitter.com/6VUkLyJ7yQ — Berndt Petersen (@BPetersenWSB) April 26, 2018
  • Channel 2 Action News has learned a Fort Valley State University employee at the center of sexual misconduct and GBI criminal investigations has resigned from her position. Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Nicole Carr obtained Alecia Johnson’s personnel file through an open records request. We’re breaking down what's next for everyone involved in this ongoing story, LIVE at 5 on Channel 2 Action News. Johnson, the University President’s former Executive Assistant, worked for the state institution since 2004, receiving consistent, stellar reviews. TRENDING STORIES: Investigators: Teacher accused of sex with student also had heroin in school Is legal pot a good thing? We travel to Colorado to get the real story LIST: Well-known serial killers of the last 50 years Last year, her salary increased to $64,000 with a promotion to oversee university special events, in addition to her duties in the President’s office. Johnson submitted a resignation letter on April 18, the same day the national office for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated revealed its own probe into sexual misconduct allegations involving a Fort Valley State University employee who is also a graduate member of the sorority.
  • The Latest on a Wisconsin refinery explosion that injured several people (all times local): 2:15 p.m. Authorities have expanded the evacuation zone around a Wisconsin refinery that was rocked by an explosion and are now saying anyone within a three-mile (five-kilometer) radius should leave. Douglas County authorities also say those in a 10-mile (16-kilometer) corridor south of the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior should leave due to smoke coming from the site. Evacuees are being told to gather at Yellowjacket Union at the University of Wisconsin-Superior or at Four Corners Elementary School in Superior. It isn't clear how many people the evacuation order will effect. The refinery is in an industrial area, but there's a residential neighborhood within a mile to the northeast. The corridor downwind to the south is sparsely populated. At least 11 people were injured in the Thursday morning blast. A spokeswoman for Essentia Health says one person was seriously injured, while another nine being treated at Essentia hospitals in Superior and nearby Duluth, Minnesota, have non-life-threatening injuries. St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth received one patient who is in fair condition. ___ 12:55 p.m. The number of people injured in a refinery explosion in Wisconsin has grown to at least 11. Essentia Health spokeswoman Maureen Talarico says five patients are being treated at St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, Minnesota. She says emergency room physicians describe those patients as awake and alert. Talarico says another five are being treated at St. Mary's Hospital in Superior, Wisconsin, where the explosion happened. She says the extent of injuries is unknown. In Duluth, spokeswoman Jessica Stauber says St. Luke's Hospital is treating one person. She doesn't know the condition of that person. The explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery happened Thursday morning. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger has said there are no known fatalities. Panger earlier said the fire was out, but Superior police tweeted that the fire has reignited but that there is no need for residents to evacuate. ___ 12:10 p.m. Authorities now say five people have been taken to hospitals after an explosion rocked a large refinery in Wisconsin. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger initially told The Associated Press that six were taken to hospitals in nearby Duluth, Minnesota, after the explosion Thursday at the Husky Energy oil refinery. The Superior Fire Department later updated that number to five. The fire chief says there are no known fatalities. Authorities don't know the extent of injuries. The fire is out. A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like 'a sonic boom' and that it happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs. Owned by Alberta-based Husky Energy, Wisconsin's only refinery produces gasoline, asphalt and other products. ___ 11:30 a.m. Several people have been injured in an explosion at a refinery in Wisconsin. Authorities in Superior say the explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery happened at about 10 a.m. Thursday. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger says six people were taken to hospitals in Duluth, Minnesota. He doesn't know the extent of their injuries. Others were walking wounded. There are no known fatalities. A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like 'a sonic boom' that happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs. Panger says the fire was out by 11:20 a.m. Superior police are advising people to stay away from the area and roads around the refinery have been blocked off. There have been no neighborhood evacuations.
  • Opening your hotel room door with your cell phone? Disney has started to roll out the new technology for guests to skip the front desk and go directly to their room, speeding up the start of vacations. Disney gave WFTV anchor Jamie Holmes an exclusive look at how guests will be able to use their cellphones to get into their hotel rooms. The theme park rolled out the technology at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Over the years, the My Disney Experience app has been an expanding feature of how guests navigate the parks and hotels. Previous story: Your smartphone could unlock Disney hotel rooms Guests can use it to check ride wait times and even clean up park photos. But guests can also use it to plan their hotel stay, skip the check-in desk, and go straight to their rooms. 'If you choose to, you can actually bypass the front desk area, if that's important to you, and start your vacation earlier,' Michael Trum, with Disney digital guest experience, said. Here’s how it works: Guests take their cellphones and hold it up to their hotel room door, and that’s when a little Disney magic happens. >> Read more trending news  'They're Bluetooth-enabled. Your phone, most smart phones. We've upgraded our locks to be Bluetooth enabled as well. So, they pair together, via security obviously,' Trum said. The technology can be used as a companion to the Magic Bands, which are required to get into the parks. Long gone are metal hotel room keys, and for the most part, even plastic key cards are gone. But, since most guests these days aren't far from their phones, the Bluetooth technology gives them a choice. Many people wonder whether the new technology is safe. Cellphone passcodes are notoriously hard to crack and Disney stands by the system. “We obviously designed this with security in mind. We can't go into details on Disney security policies, but our guests should absolutely feel safe using this as an entry point into their rooms,' Trum said. Disney is not the first to use the Bluetooth technology. Hilton and Marriot hotels have been using it for several years. The FBI said it has never had a case of hackers using phones to enter a hotel room in the U.S. Disney will expand the service to other hotels over the next several months.
  • New text messages obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News show a top aide to former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed pressuring other city officials to delay production of open records during Reed's final months in office. In unvarnished, sometimes vulgar comments, the texts reveal the mindset of senior Reed administration officials through the unguarded words of one of Reed's closest advisers and most ardent defenders, former communications director Anne Torres. We'll show you the text messages and explain how a simple request quickly turned into a dispute between Reed's office and the Atlanta BeltLine, on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. Most ATL taxpayers don’t know this lawyer, but say thanks to her for taking some nasty heat from Mayor Reed’s Office. She & her Beltline boss did the right thing. Ch2 & AJC exclusive at 5:59 @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/osZxj2iJYp — Richard Belcher (@BelcherWSB) April 26, 2018 The GBI opened a criminal investigation of the city's handling of open records requests last month after the AJC and Channel 2 reported on other text messages from former Reed press secretary Jenna Garland. Garland instructed another staffer 'to drag this out as long as possible' and provide information 'in the most confusing format available' in response to a Channel 2 open records request for city water billing records. The new texts from Torres show Garland's instructions to curtail production of records were not an isolated incident. Torres defended the remarks as 'inter-employee banter.' This article was written by Scott Trubey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Several fired and still working bus drivers gathered in front of Dekalb County School headquarters on Thursday to discuss their demands for a better work environment. Five of the eight divers who were let go one week ago, were back at the district’s offices demanding their jobs back. The press conference was held a half-hour before Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green was to meet with a hand-full of current drivers. Also in attendance, parents, grandparents and current drivers who were there in support of fired drivers like Melanie. “I stand here with the support of hundreds of drivers, parents, students and community members, and I say without hesitation, give us our jobs back.” Said Melanie.
  • The digital assistant Alexa isn’t just for adults. It’s now also for children, since the company has just announced the release of a kids’ version of the gadget.  » RELATED: Amazon is working on its first home robot, report says It’s called the Echo Dot Kids Edition, and it plays music and answers questions for little ones aged 5 to 12. The device also comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited, which offers kid-friendly books and radio stations.  “Parents can have peace of mind knowing their kids are getting age-appropriate content, while they listen to music, ask questions, enjoy Audible books, use Alexa skills, and more. We can’t wait for parents and kids to try this out,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president at Amazon Devices and Services, in a press release. >> Read more trending news  The smart speakers come with colorful cases that are available in blue, red or green, and parents can employ parental controls with the device. Not only can moms and dads set time limits for use, they can also disable the ability to purchase items from the internet. Songs with inappropriate lyrics are automatically blocked.  The voice experience is also tailored for kids. It offers the Magic Word feature, which encourages kiddos to use words like “please,” and children can ask Alexa questions about science, math, spelling, definition and even knock-knock jokes. The Echo Dot Kids Edition is retailed at $79.99 and can be pre-ordered now. Shipping will begin on May 9. » RELATED: Amazon in 2018: 6 things you should know about the e-commerce giant
  • State officials have released the last meal for convicted murderer Robert Earl Butts, Jr., who is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection. Butts was sentenced to death in 1998 for the murder of Donovan Corey Parks. The execution is scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 3 at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. Butts requested a last meal of bacon cheeseburger with American and cheddar cheese, ribeye steak, six chicken tenders, seasoned French fries, cheesecake and strawberry lemonade.    There have been 70 men and one woman executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.  TRENDING STORIES: Woman kills husband's mistress then turns gun on herself in 'calculated, planned attack': Police GBI investigating second scene in officer-involved in Villa Rica Teen was driving 106 mph when she crashed, killed best friend, prosecutors say If executed, Butts will be the 49th inmate put to death by lethal injection. There are presently 53 men under death sentence in Georgia.   Lawyers: Inmate set for execution should be resentenced A man set for execution next month should be resentenced because he wouldn't get the death penalty if he were sentenced today, his lawyers argued in a court filing. Butts Jr., 40, is scheduled to die on May 3 at the state prison in Jackson. Butts and 41-year-old Marion Wilson Jr. were convicted and sentenced to death in the March 1996 slaying of Donovan Corey Parks in central Georgia. The state and federal constitutions prohibit 'cruel and unusual' punishment, and the state prohibition on such punishment depends on the 'evolving standards of decency of the people of Georgia,' Butts' lawyers wrote in a filing seeking a new sentence in Baldwin County Superior Court, where he was originally sentenced. The murder for which Butts and Wilson were sentenced had a single victim and one aggravating factor, a circumstance that increases the severity of a crime and increases the possible sentence. According to sentencing data obtained and analyzed by Butts' lawyers, no one has been sentenced to death for a murder with one victim and one aggravating factor in over a decade. 'In other words, the people of Georgia no longer consider single-decedent, single-aggravator murder to be among the 'worst of the worst' offenses for which the death penalty must be reserved,' Butts' lawyers wrote. For that reason, they argue, he should be resentenced. The Georgia attorney general's office on Wednesday declined to comment on Butts' lawyers request to halt his scheduled execution and to hold a new sentencing trial. Butts' lawyers analyzed 246 cases in which the state filed a notice to seek the death penalty and a sentence was imposed from 2006 to 2017. During that time, of the 166 cases with a single victim, only seven, or 4.2 percent, resulted in a death sentence. And in the 21 cases with one aggravating factor, only one, or 4.8 percent, resulted in a death sentence. Under the state and federal constitutions, 'cruel and unusual' punishments 'include a sentence that is arbitrarily or rarely imposed,' Butts' lawyers wrote. The fact that no one in Georgia has been sentenced to death for a single victim, single aggravator murder in 10 years 'raises a threshold inference that Butts' death sentence is grossly disproportionate,' they argue. Attorneys for Butts have also argued repeatedly that his trial lawyers were ineffective and failed to thoroughly investigate his case or to present mitigating evidence, including a childhood characterized by abuse and neglect that could have spared him the death penalty. State and federal courts have rejected his appeals. His lawyers argued in a federal court filing earlier this month that a Georgia Supreme Court opinion published in January opens the door for a federal judge to consider his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. The state rejected that argument in a filing Wednesday. Butts and Wilson asked Parks for a ride outside a Walmart store in Milledgeville, about 93 miles (150 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta. After they'd gone a short distance they ordered him to stop the car, dragged him out and killed him with a single shot to the back of his head, prosecutors said. They tried unsuccessfully to sell Parks' car and ended up driving it to a remote part of Macon and setting fire to it. Appeals in Wilson's case are still pending. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report
  • Two men are facing charges after Alpharetta police say they caught them drag racing right in front of an officer on a busy road. Dash cam video from the officer on patrol on April 6 near Webb Bridge and Morris roads captured the men fly past the officer at a stoplight. 'When the light turned green he noticed two vehicles that were two car lengths ahead of him took off at a very high rate of speed,” Officer Howard Miller said. TRENDING STORIES: 50+ horses missing across southeast after vet student ‘adopts’ them Investigators: Teacher accused of sex with student also had heroin in school Is legal pot a good thing? We travel to Colorado to get the real story Video shows Officer Dustin Bak go after the cars. “Clocked both cars going about 91 miles an hour on Webb Bridge road, which is a 40 mph zone,” Miller said. The exclusive dash cam video and what the men told the officer they were doing at the time, on Channel 2 Action News at 4 p.m.
  • A jury in Pennsylvania on Thursday found comedian Bill Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. >> Read more trending news

News

  • An 17-year-old faces a vehicular homicide charges nearly a month after police said she crashed a car, killing her classmate on senior skip day.  Prosecutors said Cristina Pavon-Baker was driving at 106 mph when she crashed a Mini Cooper into a tree and killed 18-year-old passenger Makayla Penn, Channel 2 Action News reported.  The March 26 crash occurred on I-75 North at the Jonesboro Road exit in Clayton County. The vehicle, “traveling at a high rate of speed,” failed to navigate the turn on the exit ramp, went airborne, overturned several times and ended up hitting a tree, uprooting it in a wooded area, the GSP said at the time of the crash. Pavon-Baker was cut out of the car and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for her injuries.  Prosecutors said Pavon-Baker was on Snapchat before the crash.  The two girls attended Community Christian School and were participating in senior skip day at the time of the crash.  The judge gave Pavon-Baker a $31,000 bond and ordered her to surrender her passport, Channel 2 reported. She was also ordered to not drive and to stay off of Snapchat. 
  • Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, has withdrawn his name from consideration, multiple news outlets are reporting. >> MORE COVERAGE: Embattled VA nominee Ronny Jackson accused of drunken driving, drug use | Jamie Dupree: Trump pick to head VA in trouble as Senators postpone hearing | Senate postpones hearing for Trump VA pick Ronny Jackson amid 'serious allegations' | More trending news 
  • The Latest on a Wisconsin refinery explosion that injured several people (all times local): 2:15 p.m. Authorities have expanded the evacuation zone around a Wisconsin refinery that was rocked by an explosion and are now saying anyone within a three-mile (five-kilometer) radius should leave. Douglas County authorities also say those in a 10-mile (16-kilometer) corridor south of the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior should leave due to smoke coming from the site. Evacuees are being told to gather at Yellowjacket Union at the University of Wisconsin-Superior or at Four Corners Elementary School in Superior. It isn't clear how many people the evacuation order will effect. The refinery is in an industrial area, but there's a residential neighborhood within a mile to the northeast. The corridor downwind to the south is sparsely populated. At least 11 people were injured in the Thursday morning blast. A spokeswoman for Essentia Health says one person was seriously injured, while another nine being treated at Essentia hospitals in Superior and nearby Duluth, Minnesota, have non-life-threatening injuries. St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth received one patient who is in fair condition. ___ 12:55 p.m. The number of people injured in a refinery explosion in Wisconsin has grown to at least 11. Essentia Health spokeswoman Maureen Talarico says five patients are being treated at St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, Minnesota. She says emergency room physicians describe those patients as awake and alert. Talarico says another five are being treated at St. Mary's Hospital in Superior, Wisconsin, where the explosion happened. She says the extent of injuries is unknown. In Duluth, spokeswoman Jessica Stauber says St. Luke's Hospital is treating one person. She doesn't know the condition of that person. The explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery happened Thursday morning. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger has said there are no known fatalities. Panger earlier said the fire was out, but Superior police tweeted that the fire has reignited but that there is no need for residents to evacuate. ___ 12:10 p.m. Authorities now say five people have been taken to hospitals after an explosion rocked a large refinery in Wisconsin. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger initially told The Associated Press that six were taken to hospitals in nearby Duluth, Minnesota, after the explosion Thursday at the Husky Energy oil refinery. The Superior Fire Department later updated that number to five. The fire chief says there are no known fatalities. Authorities don't know the extent of injuries. The fire is out. A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like 'a sonic boom' and that it happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs. Owned by Alberta-based Husky Energy, Wisconsin's only refinery produces gasoline, asphalt and other products. ___ 11:30 a.m. Several people have been injured in an explosion at a refinery in Wisconsin. Authorities in Superior say the explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery happened at about 10 a.m. Thursday. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger says six people were taken to hospitals in Duluth, Minnesota. He doesn't know the extent of their injuries. Others were walking wounded. There are no known fatalities. A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like 'a sonic boom' that happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs. Panger says the fire was out by 11:20 a.m. Superior police are advising people to stay away from the area and roads around the refinery have been blocked off. There have been no neighborhood evacuations.
  • Opening your hotel room door with your cell phone? Disney has started to roll out the new technology for guests to skip the front desk and go directly to their room, speeding up the start of vacations. Disney gave WFTV anchor Jamie Holmes an exclusive look at how guests will be able to use their cellphones to get into their hotel rooms. The theme park rolled out the technology at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Over the years, the My Disney Experience app has been an expanding feature of how guests navigate the parks and hotels. Previous story: Your smartphone could unlock Disney hotel rooms Guests can use it to check ride wait times and even clean up park photos. But guests can also use it to plan their hotel stay, skip the check-in desk, and go straight to their rooms. 'If you choose to, you can actually bypass the front desk area, if that's important to you, and start your vacation earlier,' Michael Trum, with Disney digital guest experience, said. Here’s how it works: Guests take their cellphones and hold it up to their hotel room door, and that’s when a little Disney magic happens. >> Read more trending news  'They're Bluetooth-enabled. Your phone, most smart phones. We've upgraded our locks to be Bluetooth enabled as well. So, they pair together, via security obviously,' Trum said. The technology can be used as a companion to the Magic Bands, which are required to get into the parks. Long gone are metal hotel room keys, and for the most part, even plastic key cards are gone. But, since most guests these days aren't far from their phones, the Bluetooth technology gives them a choice. Many people wonder whether the new technology is safe. Cellphone passcodes are notoriously hard to crack and Disney stands by the system. “We obviously designed this with security in mind. We can't go into details on Disney security policies, but our guests should absolutely feel safe using this as an entry point into their rooms,' Trum said. Disney is not the first to use the Bluetooth technology. Hilton and Marriot hotels have been using it for several years. The FBI said it has never had a case of hackers using phones to enter a hotel room in the U.S. Disney will expand the service to other hotels over the next several months.
  • New text messages obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News show a top aide to former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed pressuring other city officials to delay production of open records during Reed's final months in office. In unvarnished, sometimes vulgar comments, the texts reveal the mindset of senior Reed administration officials through the unguarded words of one of Reed's closest advisers and most ardent defenders, former communications director Anne Torres. We'll show you the text messages and explain how a simple request quickly turned into a dispute between Reed's office and the Atlanta BeltLine, on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. The GBI opened a criminal investigation of the city's handling of open records requests last month after the AJC and Channel 2 reported on other text messages from former Reed press secretary Jenna Garland. Garland instructed another staffer 'to drag this out as long as possible' and provide information 'in the most confusing format available' in response to a Channel 2 open records request for city water billing records. The new texts from Torres show Garland's instructions to curtail production of records were not an isolated incident. Torres defended the remarks as 'inter-employee banter.' This article was written by Scott Trubey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Several fired and still working bus drivers gathered in front of Dekalb County School headquarters on Thursday to discuss their demands for a better work environment. Five of the eight divers who were let go one week ago, were back at the district’s offices demanding their jobs back. The press conference was held a half-hour before Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green was to meet with a hand-full of current drivers. Also in attendance, parents, grandparents and current drivers who were there in support of fired drivers like Melanie. “I stand here with the support of hundreds of drivers, parents, students and community members, and I say without hesitation, give us our jobs back.” Said Melanie.