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Latest from Marcy Williams

    The Butts County Sheriff's Office warns Georgians not to fall for a bogus Facebook headline reporting a fiery fatal crash.   The Macon Telegraph reports the headline is designed to grab your attention by mentioning multiple casualties involving women and children, but if you click to read more, a virus or malware infects your account.  The sheriff's office has been so besieged by calls about this phony fatal accident, it's posted about it on its Facebook page.   'This is FALSE information,' the post reads. 'We are being told the link on Facebook may be some type of virus. PLEASE DO NOT click on or 'share' the link as it apparently hacks your Facebook account after doing so.'   The Telegraph reports similar scams have popped up mentioning other counties in and out of Georgia. They typically feature a 'breaking news' graphic and a reference to 'NEWSROOMS.INFO' in the text.   If you do end up taking the bait, change your password and follow other web security precautions.
  • The success of Ponce City and Krog Street Markets in Atlanta inspires developers in Marietta.   The Marietta Daily Journal reports Concordia Properties and partners file plans to build an 18,000 square foot food hall just off the Marietta Square.   Marietta Square Market will be built in a converted warehouse on North Marietta Parkway.   The Daily Journal reports the food hall will feature three anchor restaurants, a central restaurant and bar, and smaller kiosks for food and shopping.   The hall's design is patterned after an old-fashioned railroad depot and there are plans to incorporate a fully-restored 1920s streetcar.  Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin's excited about the project and hopes it will be in business by the summer of 2018.   '[That area] used to be just car places and stuff, real dirty,' Tumlin tells the MDJ. 'You can put a shine on that area, especially with this.
  • A Columbus teen files suit in Muscogee County State Court after an incident at school results in the loss of his leg.   'We feel pretty good about this case,' Renee Tucker, the attorney representing Montravious Thomas, tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The suit seeks $25 million in damages.   The AJC reports Thomas was injured by a contract teacher at an alternative school last September. Behavioral specialist Bryant Mosley allegedly threw the 13-year-old boy to the floor at Edgewood Student Services Center several times.   Tucker alleges Thomas had to be carried to the school bus and the district failed to notify his family about the severity of his injury.   Mosley, who is named in the suit, is no longer working for the school district.   Thomas ultimately had to have his right leg amputated at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. His attorney tells the AJC, he continues with physical therapy but will require additional surgery on his leg.   Tucker says Thomas no longer lives in Columbus.   A school district spokeswoman states the system does not comment on pending litigation.
  • The family of a female inmate who died of pneumonia at the Gwinnett County jail files suit against the sheriff, jail health care provider and staff.  'This was such an avoidable, preventable death,” attorney Mark Begnaud tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Begnaud says Denise Forte begged a jail nurse to send her to the clinic after she was found in her cell too sick to go to breakfast on a Saturday in February, 2015.   The nurse noted Forte's resting heart rate was high and she complained she hurt all over.  Forte had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The nurse administered a standard cold protocol of Tylenol, an antihistamine and an expectorant and told Forte she could see a doctor Monday.    Forte died in her cell.   Begnaud alleges negligence.  The lawsuit filed in Gwinnett County State Court claims Forte's pneumonia should have been caught and treated earlier had medical decisions outweighed cost. The AJC reports Corizon Health, the private health care provider for the jail, is the largest for-profit provider of correctional health services in the country.   Corizon spokeswoman Martha Harbin will not comment on pending litigation but defends the quality of health care.  'One of the greatest misconceptions about our company is that we somehow benefit from providing lower quality care,” Harbin tells the AJC in an email.   'It is important to emphasize that the existence of a lawsuit is not necessarily indicative of quality of care or any wrongdoing,” Harbin adds in her statement to the AJC.  The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.   An inmate at the Gwinnett County jail died last month after what is described as a medical emergency. The sheriff’s office denies claims by the inmate’s family that he was not fed properly.
  • A Lawrenceville woman and her husband stand trial in Gwinnett Superior Court for child cruelty and false imprisonment after allegedly starving the woman's 15-year-old autistic daughter.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports Jade Jacobs and William Anthony Brown allegedly made the child live in a closet in the basement.   'Not only was it tiny, but it was disgusting,” Assistant District Attorney Bobby Wolf tells jurors in court. 'There was feces on the wall and a urine-stained mat where she was supposed to sleep on a hard floor.' The Daily Post reports the alleged abuse came to light after Jacobs brought her daughter to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite in August 2014.   According to the police report, a clinical social worker at the hospital said the teen only weighed about 60 pounds.      The girl's current foster father testifies she squirreled away food for months after coming to live with his family.   'She would fill her cheeks full of food, then spit it under the pillow or hide it under the pillow,' Todd Moog testifies.   He says she is now at a healthy weight.   Defense attorneys argue the overwhelmed couple tried desperately to get help to address the autistic girl's disabilities, but were stymied. 'All the resources my client begged for months, now they’re suddenly all available,' Jacobs' defense attorney Lawrence Lewis tells jurors.
  • Protesters show up at Tuesday's Gwinnett County commission meeting but embattled Commissioner Tommy Hunter does not.    Commission Chair Charlotte Nash explained Hunter was out of town.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports the board, in Hunter's absence, votes unanimously to name Herman Pennamon to the ethics panel hearing a complaint against Hunter.  An Atlanta resident filed the complaint after Hunter referred to Congressman John Lewis as a 'racist pig' on Facebook.  Hunter has apologized but resists calls to resign.  Three of the five ethics panel members have now been appointed.  Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter chose Terri Duncan as his representative and the Gwinnett Bar Association tapped David Will.  Hunter and the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia must still make their picks.  County Attorney Bill Linkous advises commissioners Hunter can be censured or reprimanded for his behavior but state law does not grant the Board of Commissioners authority to suspend or remove him.  Linkous explains citizens have the option to organize a recall effort.  Provisions of state law prevent a recall within 180 days of an elected official's term.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports a campaign against Hunter could not begin in earnest until summer.  For the first time this week, protesters also turned up at Hunter's employer in Norcross. United Consulting distances itself from Hunter's comments and has apologized to Lewis.
  • Over the protests of some parents, Atlanta's Board of Education votes to close Adamsville Primary School and Whitefoord Elementary School this summer.  Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's plan also repurposes Miles Intermediate School as an elementary school.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports dozens of parents urged the board Monday night to vote down the restructuring, arguing the upheaval is not in students' best interest.  Carstarphen maintains the system must streamline to cut costs and maximize efficiency.  'We're not rolling in the dough,' she tells the AJC.  Board members expressed concern about class size and potential blight from empty buildings.  Steven Lee and Byron Amos cast both no votes.  'I do not think merging two struggling schools into one larger school is what's best for children,' Lee stated at the meeting.   While there had been some early discussion of combining Benteen and D.H. Stanton Elementary Schools, that was not included in the final plan the board voted to approve.   Carstarphen says she is evaluating future uses of the buildings that will be vacated. 'I don't ever want to close schools or consolidate but we're in a special situation,' she tells parents and the board.  'I'm hopeful these changes are going to make a difference for our district.' 
  • Atlanta parents protest plans set forth by Superintendent Meria Carstarphen to close and consolidate under-attended elementary schools in east and southeast Atlanta. The Atlanta Board of Education votes on the proposal today and is expected to give Carstarphen the go-ahead, with some tweaking.   The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports opponents of the restructuring fear classroom overcrowding as students are absorbed into other schools.  They also worry about neighborhood blight if buildings are left vacant.  In a letter to parents earlier this year, Superintendent Carstarphen explained the consolidations are part of her overall strategy to promote academic progress while making operations more efficient.  The AJC reports the plan calls for Benteen Elementary School to close with students moving to D.H. Stanton Elementary.  Whitefoord Elementary students would be divided between Toomer Elementary and Burgess-Peterson Academy. Miles Intermediate School would be converted to elementary while Adamsville Primary would close.  Some current Adamsville students might be sent to West Manor Elementary. Carstarphen acknowledges teachers at affected schools would have to reapply for their jobs.  Approved changes by the school board will take place before the new school year. Stay tuned to WSB for updates.  
  • Metro Atlanta's becoming a mecca for professional soccer.  The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports First Team SC announces plans to bring two professional teams to play in DeKalb County.  WSB's Edgar Treiguts reported this week, ground breaks in May for a huge soccer and sports complex near Stonecrest Mall in DeKalb.  Developers compare Atlanta Sports City to Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports in Florida.  These new teams, men and women, will play at Atlanta Sports City, according to the Chronicle.  The men's team will begin competing in 2018 with the women's team in competition the following year.  Atlanta United MLS opens its season next week against the New York Red Bulls at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium.  Ultimately, it will play home games at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.  Atlanta United President Darren Eales tells the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the area is hungry for soccer. 'With over 40,000 tickets sold for our home opener, the excitement and momentum is building quickly as we near our first match on March 5,' he tells the Chronicle. The Atlanta Silverbacks of the National Premier Soccer League also call Atlanta home.  More details about the new teams should roll out within the next few weeks on atl2018.com.
  • Forsyth County commissioners vote unanimously to deny a permit for a Hindu temple near Lake Lanier.  The Forsyth News reports the landowner pursuing the conditional use permit (CUP) may go to court.  Dr. Sumaltha Satoor's attorney believes the refusal was on religious grounds.  'The issue of religious use basically neutralizes this issue of zoning, so I think there's really no reason for denial of this,' attorney Stuart Teague tells the Forsyth News.  Commissioner Laura Semanson insists religion is not the issue at all. She says building a temple and adjoining priest's residence in a residential community is prohibited by neighborhood covenants and the increased traffic would affect other homeowners. Dr. Satoor applied last summer for a permit to build an 11,200 square foot temple and priest's residence on 8 acres she owns on Pilgrim Point Road. Plans call for 109 parking spaces.  Hundreds of residents have turned out at various hearings to object to the plans.  'They shouldn't be discriminating against one particular religion and that's what I felt like happened,' Dr. Satoor tells the Forsyth News. Longtime residents of Bald Ridge and Shady Shores near Lake Lanier disagree. 'It makes me sad that Dr. Satoor is pursuing this on religious grounds,' Bald Ridge resident Paula Chambers tells the Forsyth News.  'This is so not what that's about.' 'This is about our way of life,' she adds. 
  • Marcy  Williams

    Atlanta's Morning News Anchor

    Marcy Williams has co-anchored Atlanta's Morning News with since 1993. Marcy started working at WSB in 1992 after news stints at KLAC-Los Angeles and KNEW-San Francisco. A 1984 graduate of Princeton University, Marcy is married with 3 children.

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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:
  • 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.”