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National News

    U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted Tuesday on federal charges that they used more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses that ranged from groceries to golf trips and lied about it in federal filings, prosecutors said. Hunter, a Republican, and his wife Margaret Hunter were named in a 48-page indictment filed in San Diego federal court. The indictment alleges the money was taken between 2009 and 2016. It says the couple concealed the misuse by falsifying campaign finance records, claiming the expenses as campaign-related. 'Throughout the relevant period, the Hunters spent substantially more than they earned,' the indictment said. 'They overdrew their bank account more than 1,100 times in a 7-year period resulting in approximately $37,761 in 'overdraft' and 'insufficient funds' bank fees.' Asked for comment about the indictment, a representative for Hunter sent an Aug. 6 letter from Hunter's attorney, Gregory A. Vega, to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein asking him to postpone the indictment. Vega contended that there was a 'rush to indict' after a two-year grand jury investigation. There was 'politically motivated' pressure to wrap up the investigation in order to tarnish Hunter before the general election after he handily won a June primary, Vega contended. Hunter, 41, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, won a fifth term in 2016 representing a heavily Republican San Diego-area district. His father represented the area for many years in Congress. The House Ethics panel had investigated allegations that Hunter improperly used campaign funds to pay for tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses, such as trips to Hawaii and Italy and tuition for Hunter's children. The panel said in March that it was delaying the inquiry at the request of the Justice Department. His lawyers said in 2017 that Hunter and his wife repaid the campaign about $60,000. Hunter's office said at the time that one of the charges he repaid was a $600 fee for flying a pet bunny with his family. There was no intent to stick donors with the cost, Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said at the time. The congressman used airline miles to pay for his family's travel and there was an assumption that bringing along the rabbit would not incur an extra charge, Kasper told The Associated Press. When Hunter found out his campaign had paid for the rabbit's transport, he paid back the money as part of more than $60,000 in other questionable charges, Kasper said. Kasper pointed to the rabbit expense as an example of overreach by the congressional ethics office. ___ This story has been corrected to show indictment is 48 pages, not 48 counts. ___ Blood reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Christopher Weber and Robert Jablon contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
  • Georgia is paying attention to what's happening in other states and around the world with measles.  Measles cases have been identified in 21 states and Washington, D.C. --- 107 in all. Georgia has not seen a case since 2016 but three cases have been reported in Florida and experts say that's close enough. Sheila Lovett directs the immunization program for the state and says a 93.3 percent vaccine coverage rate is serving Georgians well. 'There is a level of protection that is there that is keeping the disease out of our communities. Measles cases hit a record high in Europe. 41,000 cases of infection and 37 deaths in the first half of 2018,' she said. 'Europe is very alarming because the cases are widespread. But you have to look at that coverage rate there as well compared to what we have here.' TRENDING STORIES: Plane carrying famous rapper blows 2 tires, will try emergency landing Buford schools superintendent recorded in racist rant, lawsuit says 15-year-old girl rescued; 4 people accused of trafficking, pimping her for sex Facts show the vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease. It's recommended children be vaccinated at 12 months and get a booster between 4 and 6 years old. 'We cannot make them vaccinate their children. What we can do is continue to educate, continue to provide the facts,' she said. Lovett says 'worst case' measles can be a life or death situation, but a vaccine can help protect you from even the mildest complications.  'If you're going to travel is that you've been vaccinated and have received those two doses,' she said. What about the other 7 percent of people who are not vaccinated? That's where we rely on what's called 'herd immunity' since such a high percentage of people who should be vaccinated from this area, they rely on that stat to keep the disease out of the community.. 
  • Marlins right-hander Jose Urena 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. 'It seems like there's no reason to open that back up,' manager Don Mattingly said. 'We don't need that.' 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. His next start came Sunday, when he pitched a two-hitter for his first career complete game to beat Washington 12-1. ___ 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.
  • President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight charges, including multiple counts of tax evasion and a campaign finance charge stemming from so-called “hush money” payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. >> Read more trending news Cohen, 51, entered a plea deal Tuesday with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Update 6:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: 'There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government's charges against Mr. Cohen,' Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said in a statement after Cohen entered his plea Tuesday. 'It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen's actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time,' Giuliani said. Cohen said in court Tuesday that he coordinated with Trump to pay hush money to Daniels and McDougal, who both claim they had affairs with Trump years before he was elected. Cohen did not name Daniels, McDougal or Trump in court. Update 6:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told MSNBC that he and his client have been “vindicated” after Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges including tax evasion and a campaign-finance violation. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Read the documents from Michael Cohen’s guilty plea 'A lot of this stems from her courage,” Avenatti said. “We're going to get to the bottom now in connection to the civil case as to what the president knew, and what he knew about it, and when he knew and what he did about it.' Daniels claims that she had sex with Donald Trump in 2006, more than a decade before he became president. She is suing Trump and Cohen, seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement she signed days before the 2016 presidential election. Cohen said in federal court in New York that he paid Daniels, who was not named, $130,000 in exchange for the nondisclosure agreement to influence the election. The payment was made at the direction of Trump, who also was not named, Cohen said. Update 5:40 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami said after Cohen entered his guilty plea Tuesday that he submitted false invoices to the Trump’s company to obtain reimbursement for unlawful campaign contributions made in the form of payments to Daniels and McDougal. In his plea, Cohen did not name the two women or even Trump, recounting instead that he worked with an 'unnamed candidate.' But the amounts and the dates all lined up with the payments made to Daniels and McDougal. Cohen said in federal court in New York on Tuesday that he made the payments  in coordination with Trump to influence the election. Both women claimed Trump had affairs with them, which he denies. The other charges Cohen pleaded guilty to involve bank fraud and income tax evasion. As part of his plea agreement, Cohen agreed not to challenge any sentence from 46 to 63 months. Khuzami said Tuesday that Cohen’s “lies and dishonesty” were particularly egregious because of his profession. “(He) decided he was above the law and for that he’s going to pay a very serious price,” Khuzami said. Update 5:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: At a hearing Tuesday afternoon in federal court in New York, Cohen said he made payments to Daniels and McDougal on behalf of Trump, who was not named, “to influence the election,” according to The Associated Press. Daniels said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. She signed a non-disclosure agreement shortly before voters went to the polls for the 2016 presidential election in exchange for $130,000 from Cohen. McDougal claimed she had a nearly year-long affair with the president in 2006 and 2007. The rights to McDougal’s story were bought in August 2016 by American Media Inc., the company that publishes the National Enquirer, The Wall Street Journal reported, but her story was never published.  Update 4:55 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: Cohen admitted in court Tuesday to working at Trump’s discretion to silence Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate who claimed she had a nearly year-long affair with the president in 2006 and 2007, according to The New York Daily News. He also told the court that he paid adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election “with and at the direction of the same candidate (Trump),” the newspaper reported. The money went to Daniels in exchange for her signing a non-disclosure agreement that barred her from talking about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump in 2006, a decade before he was elected to office. A judge set Cohen’s bond at $500,000, according to Reuters. He is expected to appear in court for sentencing on Dec. 12. Update 4:40 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: The charges Cohen pleaded guilty to Tuesday include five counts of tax evasion, according to The New York Daily News. Update 3:45 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: An unidentified source told The Washington Post that Cohen's plea deal came Tuesday after prosecutors 'claimed he risked more than dozen years in prison.' Unidentified sources told Fox News that Cohen’s plea included three to five years of jail time. Update 3:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: It was not immediately clear whether Cohen agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation surrounding Trump as part of the agreement, The Washington Post reported. Cohen surrendered Tuesday afternoon to FBI officials, according to the newspaper. Original report: Two unidentified people familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that Cohen’s attorneys were in negotiations with prosecutors earlier Tuesday. Cohen has been under investigation for possible fraud related to his businesses, the AP reported. Officials with the FBI raided his hotel room, home and office in April, seizing his computer, his phone and hundreds of thousands of records, The Washington Post reported. >> FBI sought records related to Trump 'Access Hollywood' tape in Cohen raid: reports Authorities sought details on Cohen’s efforts to stave off negative publicity about Trump, CBS News and The New York Times reported. Among other things, authorities sought information on the release of an infamous tape in which the president could be heard on a hot mic making derogatory comments about women and payments Cohen made to a pair of women who claim they had sexual relationships with Trump, The New York Times reported. Adult film star Stormy Daniels said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate, claimed she had a nearly year-long affair with the president in 2006 and 2007. Officials also sought details on the role that the publisher of The National Enquirer played in keeping the women’s stories from going public, according to The Times. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Stewart Cink enters the FedEx Cup playoffs at No. 58 in the standings, his best starting position since 2010. Thanks to a tie for fourth at the PGA Championship, he will return to the Masters for the first time in five years. He would not have seen this coming three months ago. 'The main thing that happened was ... what you think are bad circumstances turn out to be good circumstances,' Cink said. Cink enjoys the late spring because he typically plays well on some of those courses, such as Colonial, Muirfield Village and Quail Hollow. Bad final rounds turned potential top 10s into middle-of-the-pack, if not lower. The final straw was Memorial, where he ended a streak of making the cut in 19 consecutive appearances. 'I felt like crap playing bad golf,' Cink said. 'I had to have a little bit of something to wake me up. I didn't do anything new, I just recommitted to what I was working on the last year.' That can be a tall order for a 45-year-old whose last victory was the 2009 British Open at Turnberry. Cink put in time with swing coach Mike Lipnick, and he started hitting the ball the way he envisioned the flight. Over the next two months, he had three top 5s — a runner-up at the Travelers Championship when he closed with a 62, and a tie for fourth at the St. Jude Classic and the PGA Championship. The real test was at Bellerive, where he played in the raucous arena with Tiger Woods in the third round and matched his 66. In the mix at a major for longer than he can remember, Cink finished with two birdies for a 67 to tie for fourth. 'Being paired with Tiger helped me,' Cink said. 'I was nervous playing with the Tiger. The crowd was a factor. It felt like a Ryder Cup. It was a great challenge, and I really wanted to embrace it and test myself and see how well I can hang in there. I didn't have the option to fall back into a comfort zone. There wouldn't have been one in that group. I'm proud of myself the way I played.' Cink's five-year exemption to the Masters from his British Open victory ran out in 2014, when he shot 68 on Sunday and missed by one shot finishing in the top 12 to earn a trip back to Augusta National. He looks forward to going back. But that's in April. Ahead of him is a chance to return home to East Lake for the Tour Championship for the first time since 2009. 'I'm super excited,' he said. 'I have a better chance to go back to East Lake, and that's a goal from here on out to see if I can make it.' More than recommitting to his golf, Cink said his heart is in the right place. The last two years have provided the ultimate test after his wife, Lisa, was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer. He said her health has been steady — no setbacks — the last several months. 'It goes without saying that my life has taken on a different perspective,' Cink said. 'I'm enjoying playing golf. I don't have anything to lose. I'm having fun competing, testing myself. There's no downside. ... I wish I could tell my 18-year-old self that.' PAYNE STEWART AWARD In what is becoming among the most esteemed awards presented by the PGA Tour, the Payne Stewart Award will be given to two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer at the Tour Championship this year. The award is given annually to a player who best exemplifies the character, charity and sportsmanship of Stewart, the three-time major champion who died in a plane crash on the Monday of the 1999 Tour Championship. Stewart Cink won the award last year. The ceremony is Sept. 18 in Atlanta and televised live on Golf Channel. 'We all are so proud of Payne Stewart and the husband and father he was, the player he was and the character he had,' Langer said. 'I was very close with Payne for a number of years. Toward the end of his career, he became a believer in Jesus Christ and a Christian, and that was very touching to me because the same thing happened to me a few years earlier, so we had even more in common at that point. To now be receiving the Payne Stewart Award, I feel extremely honored.' The German turned pro in 1972 when he was 15 and joined the European Tour four years later. He won the Masters in 1985 and 1993, played in the Ryder Cup 10 times and was the winning captain in 2004. On the PGA Tour Champions, he has 37 victories, including a record 10 majors. 'Bernhard Langer epitomizes the ideals around which the Payne Stewart Award is built,' PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. 'Fueled by his strong faith and steadfast humility, Bernhard has become one of the great ambassadors for this game and continues to set an admirable example every time he tees it up.' PLAYER OF THE YEAR Brooks Koepka already can count on one award this year. He has clinched the points-based award from the PGA of America as player of the year. Majors are worth 30 points, and there is a 50-point bonus for winning two of them. That gives Koepka 110 points for his U.S. Open and PGA Championship victories. Even if Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas or Bubba Watson wins all four FedEx Cup playoff events for seven titles this year, he would not catch Koepka. The PGA Tour award is a vote of the players. That's still up for grabs, though Tiger Woods thinks the race is over. 'You win two majors, you've got it,' Woods said. 'It's not real complicated.' Woods thought back to 1998, when David Duval won four times on the PGA Tour. The PGA Tour vote went to Mark O'Meara for his Masters and British Open titles. 'I think two majors trumps it,' he said. WRAPPING UP THE MAJORS An obscure record was set at the PGA Championship. Seven players had all four rounds in the 60s, led by champion Brooks Koepka. The others were Stewart Cink, Jon Rahm, Francesco Molinari, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Webb Simpson. The previous record was five players with all four rounds in the 60s at Baltusrol in 2016, Valhalla in 2014 and Riviera in 1995. Koepka and Charl Schwartzel each shot 63 in the second round. That extended the streak to four consecutive years when at least one player shot 63 or better in the majors. Tommy Fleetwood also had a 63 at the U.S. Open, so that makes 2018 the fourth time there were at least three rounds of 63 in the same year. The other years were 1980 (Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf at the U.S. Open, Isao Aoki at the British); 1993 (Nick Faldo and Payne Stewart at the British, Vijay Singh at the PGA); and 2016 (Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson at the British, Robert Streb at the PGA). Tiger Woods also got in on the act. His 64 in the final round at Bellerive tied for low score of the round. The last time no one had a lower score than Woods in one round at a major was in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he and Dustin Johnson each shot 66 on Saturday. DIVOTS Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho has won the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading player in the 2018 world amateur golf ranking. The award gives Kupcho an exemption into the U.S. Women's Open and the Women's British Open provided she stays an amateur. ... Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose each have a mathematical chance to reach No. 1 in the world this week at The Northern Trust. ... The University of St. Andrews is honoring teaching pro Renee Powell and British journalist Katharine Whitehorn by naming a residence hall after each of them. Powell in 2008 became the first female golfer in the five centuries of St. Andrews to receive an honorary doctorate degree. ... Darren Clarke makes his PGA Tour Champions debut this week at the Boeing Classic outside Seattle. STAT OF THE WEEK Only two players outside the top 25 in the world have won majors in the last five years. Martin Kaymer was No. 28 when he won the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, and Jimmy Walker was No. 48 when he won the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol. FINAL WORD 'You don't want to be put on the bench in the playoffs.' — Harris English, whose tie for 11th at the Wyndham Championship was narrowly enough for him to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
  • Montana's governor is standing by his recent comments that he'd support a ban on some semiautomatic weapons, saying Tuesday that it's one of several measures that should be considered to curtail gun violence. The two-term Democratic governor, who is considering a 2020 presidential run, first voiced his support for a weapons ban Sunday in answer to a question posed during an interview on CNN. Gov. Steve Bullock held a news conference in the Montana Capitol on Tuesday and clarified his position: No taking away weapons from law-abiding gun owners and no ban on semiautomatic weapons that are conventionally used by hunters. 'When I view an assault weapons ban, it's sort of military, semiautomatic, typically removable clips, a magazine of 10 or more — it's like the AR-15s,' Bullock said of the rifle that has been used in several mass shootings, such as the one earlier this year at a Parkland, Florida, school shooting where 17 people died. Bullock said gun violence should be looked at as a public health crisis and that he wants a conversation on a range of restrictions that would make schoolchildren and communities safer. They include universal background checks, cracking down on straw purchases of weapons, banning bump stocks and passing so-called red-flag laws that allow a court to temporarily restrict a person's access to firearms. 'Frankly, I'm just tired of lowering the flags for school mass shootings and I'm tired of gun violence being part of our collective discussion for a week or two after another mass school shooting and then we move on,' he said. Montana Republican Party chairwoman Debra Lamm said the state's residents are now seeing Bullock for the 'gun-grabbing liberal' he really is after he spent years promising that he would protect gun rights. 'In his absurd look at a run for president, he's trying to court the liberal coastal elites by backing universal background checks and a ban on semi-automatic guns,' Lamm said. 'That's a non-starter for Montanans.' Amy Hunter, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, said Bullock is kowtowing to the gun control lobby and dismissing the constitutional rights of his constituents. 'By doubling down on his support for a ban on commonly owned rifles, Gov. Bullock proved beyond any doubt how out-of-touch he is with Montana voters,' Hunter said. Gun control advocates praised Bullock for supporting a ban and other policies. 'I'm hopeful the Montana state legislature will follow Gov. Bullock's lead and pass common-sense laws to keep our families safe,' said Kiely Lammers, who heads the Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Bullock said he is not proposing any specific bills or policy changes at this time. He also denied that the timing of his announcement had anything to do with his exploration of a possible presidential bid. Bullock is in between trips to early voting states, after speaking at the Iowa state fair last week and heading to New Hampshire on Friday.

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:
  • Georgia is paying attention to what's happening in other states and around the world with measles.  Measles cases have been identified in 21 states and Washington, D.C. --- 107 in all. Georgia has not seen a case since 2016 but three cases have been reported in Florida and experts say that's close enough. Sheila Lovett directs the immunization program for the state and says a 93.3 percent vaccine coverage rate is serving Georgians well. 'There is a level of protection that is there that is keeping the disease out of our communities. Measles cases hit a record high in Europe. 41,000 cases of infection and 37 deaths in the first half of 2018,' she said. 'Europe is very alarming because the cases are widespread. But you have to look at that coverage rate there as well compared to what we have here.' TRENDING STORIES: Plane carrying famous rapper blows 2 tires, will try emergency landing Buford schools superintendent recorded in racist rant, lawsuit says 15-year-old girl rescued; 4 people accused of trafficking, pimping her for sex Facts show the vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease. It's recommended children be vaccinated at 12 months and get a booster between 4 and 6 years old. 'We cannot make them vaccinate their children. What we can do is continue to educate, continue to provide the facts,' she said. Lovett says 'worst case' measles can be a life or death situation, but a vaccine can help protect you from even the mildest complications.  'If you're going to travel is that you've been vaccinated and have received those two doses,' she said. What about the other 7 percent of people who are not vaccinated? That's where we rely on what's called 'herd immunity' since such a high percentage of people who should be vaccinated from this area, they rely on that stat to keep the disease out of the community.. 
  • Marlins right-hander Jose Urena 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. 'It seems like there's no reason to open that back up,' manager Don Mattingly said. 'We don't need that.' 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. His next start came Sunday, when he pitched a two-hitter for his first career complete game to beat Washington 12-1. ___ 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.”