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Latest from Bill Caiaccio

    Independent voters in Georgia who want to take part in the state's biggest races will have to pick a party for the May 22 primary.
  • Gas prices are on the rise across metro Atlanta, and could shoot up even more this week due to the conflict in Syria. Even though Syria is not an oil-producing country, AAA spokesman Garrett Townsend tells WSB, “Anytime there are issues in that Middle East region you're going to start seeing some type of effect at the pump.' He adds, 'Motorists should expect a 15-cent increase at the pump in the short term.'  Gas prices in Georgia already average about $2.63 per gallon and $2.67 in metro Atlanta. Townsend says, 'That's the highest since July of 2015.'  Prices at the pump have increased 6-cents in the past week, and are 35-cents more expensive than last year at this time.  Georgia now has the most expensive gas since last September, when prices were recovering from Hurricane Irma.  The highest prices in the state are in metro Atlanta, Brunswick and Savannah. The lowest prices are in Augusta and in Walker and Dade County, in northwest Georgia, where prices average $2.54. The predicted increase this week could be even more depending on how the crude oil market responds to the crisis in Syria. Crude prices jumped more than $5 last week, which was the largest weekly increase in over eight months.
  • Two people are heading to prison after stealing firearms from firefighters across metro Atlanta. WSB Radio reported on hundreds of break-ins that occurred from January to June of 2017. Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds has announced two Lawrenceville residents have been sent to state prison after admitting to the vehicle break-ins and thefts. Ayana Dayshina Forest, 22, and Elisha Howard Ross, 26, each entered guilty pleas to two counts of racketeering and 46 counts of entering auto for the crimes that occurred from January to June of 2017.  Cobb Police Det. R. McElwain and Smyrna Police Det. J. Lanzing worked with law enforcement agencies across 17 counties to connect the dots between the entering autos and track down the perpetrators.  The thieves worked at night, mostly targeting personal vehicles belonging to firefighters that were parked at fire stations. The evidence showed that Forest was the driver and would drop Ross off near a fire station, circling back to pick him up a few minutes later.  Ross usually used a tool to quickly break the window of a vehicle in order to search through glove compartments and other areas inside the vehicles. The two communicated by cell phone during the crimes.  The thieves hit 52 fire stations, one ambulance service, and the Smyrna headquarters of Glock Inc., as well as automobiles parked at 11 residences near a fire station in Acworth. The thieves broke into more than 200 vehicles throughout the metro Atlanta area over the course of six months. A total of 59 firearms were stolen out of the vehicles, and most of those were then sold on the street. Two of the stolen firearms were found in the suspects’ possession, and another firearm was recovered at the scene of a shooting in DeKalb County. The thieves also took cash, headphones, laptops, and other valuables from the vehicles. Reynolds says 'I’m very proud of the work done in this case by Detectives from Cobb PD and Smyrna PD. When these firefighters are out working to keep our community safe, the last thing they need to worry about is a thief breaking into their vehicles.' Ross entered a negotiated plea to all charges on January 23, and Cobb Superior Court Judge Kimberly Childs sentenced him on that day to 20 years, with 10 years to serve in prison and the balance on probation, and ordered him to pay $8,920 in restitution.  Forest entered her negotiated plea this week to all of the charges. J udge Childs sentenced her to 15 years, with seven years to serve in custody and the rest on probation. She was also ordered to pay $8,920 in restitution. The following fire stations were hit: Alpharetta Fire Stations 81 and 86 Bartow County Fire Station 13 Cartersville Fire Station 2 Clayton County Fire Stations 14, 8, 9 Cobb County Fire Stations 30, 6, 23, 28,  Coweta County Fire Stations 16, 12, 5, 8 Dawson County Fire Station 1 Douglas County Fire Station 7 Forsyth County Fire Stations 10, 3, 4, 7, 1 Gwinnett County Fire Stations 9, 21, 5, 31, 23, 15, 3 Griffin Fire Stations 2, 1 Henry County Fire Stations 12, 3, 9, 11, 6 Newnan Fire Stations 2, 1 Paulding County Fire Stations 9, 10 Peachtree City Fire Station 82 Rockdale County Fire Stations 6, 7 Roswell Fire Stations 6, 2 Smyrna Fire Stations 1, 5, 3, 4,  Social Circle Fire Department Spalding County Fire Station 1 Walton County Fire Station 2
  • The public should be careful of what they touch. As the opioid drug epidemic grows, Marietta police are warning of a possible hidden danger that could be lurking in public places such as restrooms, hotel rooms, even rental cars. Officer Chuck McPhilamy tells WSB, 'What happens to the average hotel worker that's at any hotel in the city cleaning a room that happened across some residue?'   Anyone who comes in contact with drug residue could be at risk.  McPhilamy says drugs laced with Fentanyl can be absorbed simply by touching it. He says 'That changes the game,' and 'changes our concern level.'  McPhilamy says, 'It can be inhaled through your nose or your mouth, it can be absorbed through your skin or your eyes.' A concern is the average person may have no idea what the drugs look like.  McPhilamy says, 'Fentanyl itself can come in so many different forms it's not like I can tell you just look for one substance.' There have been no reports of this happening in Georgia.  McPhilamy says he doesn't want to cause a panic, but he wants people to be aware. Even if a person is not a drug addict, they may come across people who use or sell these potentially dangerous drugs.  He says, 'I think we're talking about two different cultures intersecting.' If anyone sees something that looks suspicious, police say call 9-1-1, and if one should start feeling ill, get medical attention immediately.    
  • After going 0-for-four in special U.S. House elections, Democrats are left licking their wounds.   The latest in a string of stinging defeats was Republican Karen Handel's win over Jon Ossoff in Georgia's 6th district runoff.   WSB Political analyst Bill Crane says, 'The Republicans taking all four of the seats that were created by appointments to the Trump administration gives them some gloating points.'   Despite spending about $30 million on the 6th district election, Democrats still couldn't take the seat away from Republicans. Crane says, 'For all of those resources, it did not substantially move the needle.'   Ossoff got 48% of the vote in April's special election, and had about the same number in the runoff.   Several factors may have cost Ossoff the race, including the fact he does not live in the 6th district. Crane says, 'In a close election any number of things can be the paper cut that wounds.'   The loss in the 6th district race could be a bad sign for Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, but Crane says Republicans still must deliver on their promises.   As for the chances we'll see a Handel-Ossoff rematch next year, Crane says don't bet on it. He says Handel will be tough to beat 'unless the Republican Congress can't deliver on any of its agenda.
  • Welcome to the unofficial start of summer. Most metro Atlanta schools are letting out this week, and families are making plans for the long weekend.   Georgia is bracing for a busy Memorial Day weekend on the roads and in the water. AAA is predicting more than 34-million Americans will be traveling.   The Georgia State Patrol, Department of Natural Resources and Governor's Office of Highway Safety will be out in force over the holiday weekend, and they will be ready to write tickets or arrest anyone breaking safety laws. They will especially be looking for people who are too impaired to operate a vehicle or a boat.   Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mark McDonough says, 'The Memorial Day weekend is always a heavily traveled holiday weekend, and historically one of the deadliest on our roadways.'  In 2016, the Georgia Department of Transportation says 12 people died in accidents Memorial Day weekend.  More than half of those people killed in traffic crashes in Georgia last year were not wearing a seat belt.   Many boats will also be on the water for the first time this year this weekend.   The Georgia Department of Natural Resources made 182 boating under the influence arrests in Georgia a year ago, and alcohol was cited as a factor in boating incidents that killed 19 people. Overall, the number of drowning's rose from 39 in 2015 to 44 in 2016.   Col. Eddie Henderson, director of DNR's Law Enforcement Division says, 'All summer, Game Wardens across the state will be enforcing boating laws on Georgia's waterways, just as troopers will be enforcing driving laws on the highways.'   The Summer '17 Safety Tour begins with a stop at Lake Lanier Islands. It will also make stops on Lake Hartwell, Lake Blackshear and West Point Lake.
  • With Georgia's Tom Price leaving Congress to become the nation's Health and Human Services Secretary, it leaves an opening in the state's 6th Congressional District. The non-partisan special election to replace Dr. Price will most likely be held in late spring. Some experts are predicting a crowded field in the race to represent the district stretching from north Dekalb and Fulton counties to east Cobb.  If one candidate doesn't receive more than 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff. State Senator Judson Hill has already announced his candidacy, but WSB Political Analyst Bill Crane is expecting many more to join him. Crane says the seat could stay in the family.  'One of the question marks that still remains out there is Congressman Price's wife (Betty Price), who's a State Representative representing Roswell.' If she decides to run, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handle could be a frontrunner.  Crane says, 'In addition to having held statewide office, she's run for governor and statewide office twice.' Despite the district’s heavy Republican lean, Crane says a surprising number of Democrats have already indicated they're going to run.  Still, Crane says, 'I can't really see it going Democratic, unless the Republican Party has so many candidates they sort of eat each other alive.' And then there's the so-called Trump-effect.  'It'll be interesting to see how many running Republicans for that seat run away from or towards Donald Trump.
  • The University of Georgia releases a statement on President Donald Trump's immigration order that limits nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the United States. UGA President Jere Morehead, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten and Associate Provost for International Education Noel Fallows have written a letter to all students, faculty and staff on how the policy may impact international travel and visa holders. It says 'As you know, the safety and well-being of the UGA community is our top priority, and it is important that we remain in close communication as new information and direction from the State Department becomes available in the coming days.' All international students, staff and faculty who might be traveling overseas in the near future are advised to consult with the UGA Office of International Education. Morehead says it appears no University of Georgia students or faculty were detained over the weekend because of the executive order.   UGA will continue to assess the impact on its students, staff and faculty, and will provide updated information and assistance.
  • After weeks of going up, gas prices are finally beginning to fall across metro Atlanta. According to GasBuddy's weekly survey, average retail prices in Atlanta are down 3.5 cents per gallon in the past week to $2.22.  During the same time, the national average is down 3.2 cents to $2.30 per gallon. Despite the decline in the past week, prices are still almost 45-cents higher than the same time last year and are about 2-cents more expensive than a month ago.  One year ago, the average price in metro Atlanta was $1.77 per gallon. As for what impact President Donald Trump's administration will have on prices at the pump, GasBuddy's Gregg Laskoski says 'It's too soon to speculate.' One of the first announcements made by the new administration was its 'America's First Energy Plan,' which states producing more energy is in America's national security interest. Trump has said he's committed to achieving energy independence from OPEC countries and any nations hostile to our interests.  At the same time, the president says we will work with our Persian Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our antiterrorism strategy. Laskoski says 'Last week ended with President Trump's inauguration and we saw the benchmark WTI crude close up more than $1 per barrel from the previous day, coincidence?' He says 'Refineries are unloading winter-blend gasoline at fire sale prices.
  • After weeks of going up, gas prices are finally beginning to fall across metro Atlanta. According to GasBuddy's weekly survey, average retail prices in Atlanta are down 3.5 cents per gallon in the past week to $2.22.  During the same time, the national average is down 3.2 cents to $2.30 per gallon. Despite the decline in the past week, prices are still almost 45-cents higher than the same time last year and are about 2-cents more expensive than a month ago.  One year ago, the average price in metro Atlanta was $1.77 per gallon. As for what impact President Donald Trump's administration will have on prices at the pump, GasBuddy's Gregg Laskoski says 'It's too soon to speculate.' One of the first announcements made by the new administration was its 'America's First Energy Plan,' which states producing more energy is in America's national security interest. Trump has said he's committed to achieving energy independence from OPEC countries and any nations hostile to our interests.  At the same time, the president says we will work with our Persian Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our antiterrorism strategy. Laskoski says 'Last week ended with President Trump's inauguration and we saw the benchmark WTI crude close up more than $1 per barrel from the previous day, coincidence?' He says 'Refineries are unloading winter-blend gasoline at fire sale prices.
  • Bill  Caiaccio

    Anchor/Reporter

    Bill Caiaccio has been working for WSB since 2014. 

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  • 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.