Courtesy of St. George News | STGnews.com, photographer Dan Mabbutt(SALT LAKE CITY) -- A big boulder on the outskirts of a scenic national park in Utah has skidded of a cliff and crushed a house, killing two people.
Several boulders -- one the size of a house -- fell from a cliff in the town of Rockville, Utah. One chunk tumbled into a home, completely crushing it, authorities said Thursday.
"Fire department's gone in and searched everything," said Kurt Wright, who is chief of police in nearby Springdale, outside of Zion National Park. "We've located the two deceased."
Wright said rockslides often occur when temperatures dip lower.
"They'll thaw and then freeze, thaw and freeze," he said Thursday. "Whether it comes down as a baseball size or the size of a school bus, you know, it varies. But it generally happens every year."
The area has been plagued by dangerous and damaging rockfalls in the past. In 2011, Utah geologist warned such disasters could happen at anytime, without warning.
Wright said crews are mulling options to safely recover the bodies from the rubble Friday morning.
"We're trying to determine that right now…If we're going to need dynamite, use dynamite to shatter it, or if we can do it with equipment. We're not sure," he said.
Kalispell Police Department(MISSOULA, Mont.) -- Montana newlywed Jordan Graham agreed Thursday to plead guilty to killing her husband Cody Johnson by pushing him off a cliff. The surprise plea agreement came just before closing arguments were set to begin in the 22-year-old's trial.
Graham originally pleaded not guilty, and her attorneys said Johnson fell by accident during an argument with her that got physical. But Thursday Graham's defense changed course, and she pleaded guilty to second degree murder charges for pushing her husband Cody off a cliff at Glacier National Park in Montana just eight days after the two were married.
"The family is very thankful for the outcome of this case. It was very emotional," Johnson's aunt, Celeste Watson, said Thursday outside the court in Missoula, Mont.
Graham faces a possible sentence of life in prison. She will return to court in March for a formal sentencing.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office(PHOENIX) -- The half-brother of golfer Tiger Woods was arrested Thursday in Phoenix, Ariz. on suspicion of calling in a bomb threat at a government building.
Police in Phoenix say 58-year-old Earl Dennison Woods Jr. called in a bomb threat at the Department of Economic Security near downtown "as a joke" Thursday morning. They say Woods rang the building's front desk saying he had a bomb and was going to blow up the building.
Woods later came forward as the caller while police searched for the supposed bomb. He was booked into the Maricopa County Jail on a misdemeanor charge.
Stocktrek/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Mission Control has launched several "Tiger Teams" to work around the clock troubleshooting the cooling failure on the International Space Station, NASA officials said Thursday.
A Tiger Team focuses specifically on one area of the problem to find a solution -- then the teams present their findings to the Mission Management Team. Tiger Teams became legendary during the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. If you remember the scene in the movie of the same name in which engineers had to to solve a life-threatening filter problem and dumped a pile of spare parts on the table -- saying esentially, "this is what the crew has, so this is what we have to work with" -- that's a Tiger Team.
The MMT is meeting throughout the next few days trying to sort through their options to solve the cooling problem, officials said. Engineers hope to find a software solution for the stuck valve on the pump. A spacewalk is no one's first choice to solve the problem if an engineer in Mission Control can upload a patch, or hit a reset button.
By Monday, mission managers will decide if a spacewalk or two is needed to fix the broken pump.
Also at stake is the launch of the Cygnus cargo ship, which is scheduled for a nighttime launch near Washington, D.C., on Dec. 18. If the cooling loop isn't working by then the launch will have to be delayed.
Spacewalks are inherently dangerous. Outside temperatures fluctuate 500 degrees during one orbit of Earth and suits can malfunction. NASA is still puzzling through the spacesuit failure that nearly drowned Luca Parmitano earlier this year.
The U.S. isn't the only country to experience such problems. On Feb. 26, 2003, the cooling system on Cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri's Russian Orlon spacesuit stopped working, which caused him to overheat and moisture to form on his visor, making it hard for him to see. Kaleri and astronaut Michael Foale had just finished installing a Russian experiment on the orbiting outpost when the unit failed and the spacewalk was hastily aborted.
"Anytime we open that hatch it automatically gets dangerous," Doug Wheelock a veteran of six spacewalks, told ABC News. "We have to pay attention to our suits, to take care of each other. It's a very dangerous environment outside for sure."
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) – Heading into the final weeks of 2013 America’s largest cities are reporting dramatic drops in homicides. Eight of the nation’s ten largest cities have lower murder numbers for 2013, with an average reduction in homicides for those cities of 15.86 percent according to the most recent available data compiled by ABC News.
In New York City, murders are down 20 percent for the year, with less than one murder per day, a rate not seen since the 1950s. Chicago is also posting a steep decline with a 20% drop in murders, approaching levels last seen in 1965.
Why the drop? According to Chicago Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy, the drops are the result of a holistic strategy involving “saturating high-crime areas with additional officers, using intelligence to prevent retaliatory gang shootings, moving officers from administrative positions back to the streets, and partnering with the community.”
Chuck Wexler, of the Police Executive Research Forum says better information and intelligence has led to a sea change in policing, with a focus on crime prevention. “Police departments are getting much better at identifying people, locations and times when incidents are occurring and they are putting their resources where they are needed.”
Wexler also points out that with firearms accounting for the vast majority of homicides, reducing the number of shootings can have a major impact on murder numbers. Police, he says, have developed more effective strategies to prevent gunfire before it happens by disrupting potential acts of gang revenge.
Chicago this year has seen the number of shooting incidents drop year-to-date from 2,353 in 2012 to 1,751 -- a 26 percent reduction. Besides having an impact on the total number of murders, the reduced number translates to 740 fewer shooting victims in Chicago for 2013 compared to last year -- a dramatic reduction of blood on the streets.
Philadelphia is logging an even steeper drop, with murders down 26 percent year to date. That city’s top crime fighter, Commissioner Charles Ramsey, says technology is making a significant difference. “Today, we are in an era of proactive and preventive policing. We are better informed. We rely on precise data and technology to track crime and inform policing strategies,” Ramsey said recently in an address to the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia.
“We are being “smarter” and using evidenced-based approaches. We have access to mega-data like surveillance cameras, gunshot detection systems, automated license plate readers, and social media data. We use analytics and technology to help make sense of these data and help us make better decisions,” Ramsey told the conference.
San Diego is seeing a similar drop, with homicide numbers down nearly 32 percent in both cities. The city of Los Angeles is down 14 percent, approaching the lowest homicide total since 1966.
“Police chiefs used to measure their success on the number of arrests, now they measure their success on the reduction of homicides,” Wexler said.
Phoenix has remained flat, with 106 homicides through October. Only San Antonio posted a slight increase with one additional over last year at this time. Houston, Dallas and San Jose all had modest single-digit drops in crimes.
The numbers add up to hundreds of lives spared and thousands of families not destroyed by the pain of losing a loved one to murder. But with 387 homicides in the Windy City so far this year, McCarthy says, “There's more work to be done and no one will rest until everyone enjoys the same sense of safety.”
Fuse/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Communications Commission acted Thursday to begin a process that could eventually result in cell phones being used on airplanes.
On a 3-to-2 vote, FCC commissioners approved a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking," the first step in any regulatory change; the agency will now seek public comment before taking final action to let airlines install equipment enabling cell phone use.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says there's no technical reason to ban new technologies that allow cell phone use on planes.
But U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a statement that he shares the concerns of passengers, flight attendants and members of congress, promising to study a possible ban. A Quinnipiac University poll shows support for that runs 2-to-1.
File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Congressional committee that oversees the National Zoo said Thursday it will look into the zoo's accusation that budget cuts have so severely affected the zoo's operations that three animals have died this year under its care.
The staffers made their comments a day after the zoo announced that an endangered 5-month-old colt had died suddenly at the zoo's Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia on Wednesday. Preliminary reports found the colt died of a fractured neck.
The colt's death was the latest in a string of problems at the zoo, including the deaths of a red river hog, an antelope, and a gazelle this year, as well as a vulture that escaped its enclosure.
Following the announcement of the colt's death, National Zoo Director Dennis Kelly made comments saying that budgetary woes had led the staff to become "spread too thin," according to the Washington Post.
Kelly could not be reached for an interview by ABC News on Thursday.
Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich), the chair of the Committee on Housing Administration which oversees the zoo, said she was looking into the zoo's reports on the death but pointed out that Kelly said in February, ahead of the sequestration cuts, that animal care would not be affected by budget cuts.
Kelly said at the time that the budget woes were already difficult before sequestration.
"We're to the bone," Kelly told the Washington Post in February, ahead of sequestration taking effect. "I will never compromise on animal welfare or human safety, but we're now at the point where we'd have to lop off a whole module."
Rep. Robert Brady, the ranking Democrat of the CHA, said he scheduled a briefing with Smithsonian officials to learn more about the quality of care at the zoo after the recent deaths.
"He wants to hear specifically how budget cuts could have led to this situation, and will offer additional comment after those discussions," Brady's spokesman, Gregory Abbott, said Thursday.
"Mr. Brady has always supported strong funding levels for the Smithsonian, including the zoo, and has opposed sequester budget cuts," Abbott said. "He also supports strong oversight of animal healthcare issues to prevent any reoccurrences."
The zoo also released on Wednesday its response to an audit conducted by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee earlier this year. The audit, which set out to review the zoo's practices in the wake of the deaths, recommended some improvements to the zoo's practices and to its cheetah enclosure.
The zoo outlined some solutions it would undertake to address the problems.
Los Angeles County Sheriff(LOS ANGELES) -- Police are looking through Facebook "selfies" to track down as many as 100 teenagers who invaded a Los Angeles mansion for a rave party and allegedly stole $1 million worth of items ranging from a suit of armor to a stuffed snow leopard.
So far 16 people have been arrested. "It is an ongoing investigation so we'll hopefully make some more arrests," Lt. Arthur Scott of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department told ABC News.
Police say over 100 teens crashed the $7 million mansion for a party that was organized through social media.
"It was advertised on Twitter and Facebook," Scott said. "They referred to it as a 'ghost hosted' party. That's basically a party thrown at a residence where the owners are not at home or gone out of town."
Police said that one of the teens collected entrance fees as more and more people showed up to party at the 9,000 square foot villa.
"They were actually bragging about the party, showing themselves within the residence, showing themselves carrying some of the stolen property," Sheriff's Capt. Tim Murakami said at a news conference Wednesday.
So far 13 juveniles aged between 15-17 have been arrested. Three were females. Three others who were 18 have also been arrested. Police booked the teens for a range of crimes including burglary, grand theft and trespassing.
The teens pried open a window to enter the property.
"There's like an underground grotto, which had like a 16-foot window looking into the pool. Somebody actually broke that window and shattered it, and we're amazed that no kid got killed," Murakami said.
The mansion's owner, trucking magnate, Nick Radoi, who made the news last September when his yacht struck Balboa Pier, is no stranger to parties. Radoi hosted and videotaped an extravagant affair posted to YouTube last year featuring a bevy of bikini-clad women and fast cars to the tune of a techno soundtrack.
But Radoi was in Europe when the teens broke into the home on the evening of Nov. 23. During the course of the rave, which continued into the early hours of Nov. 24, police said the teens tweeted selfies, which are now included among key evidence detectives compiled over their two week investigation.
Scott told ABC News that while "ghost hosted parties" were popular in other areas, it was the first time he'd heard of it happening in this area.
The mansion is located on the 1700 Block of Chota Road in the city of La Habra Heights, where there are only two other houses on the remote hillside block.
Neighbors told ABC7 they heard music and saw cars parked up and down Chota Road that night, but that kind of activity was not unusual for the residence.
It was a groundskeeper or house-sitter who reported the party to authorities. Police said the property's security cameras had been turned off.
"From my understanding the security system wasn't really state of the art and it was deactivated," Scott said. "The home is for sale and I'm surmising that the security system was turned off because visitors were coming in and out."
"It is an ongoing investigation so we'll hopefully make some more arrests," said Scott.
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- What distinguishes Americans who say they'll sign up for health insurance under Obamacare from those who say they won't? Surprisingly, it's not age.
Mollyann Brodie, Ph.D., director of public opinion and survey research for the Kaiser Family Foundation in California, tells ABC News that in California and across the nation the "vast majority" of young adults see health coverage as important. They say it's something they need and want.
A national poll by Kaiser conducted in November asked uninsured people of all ages (18-64) if they thought they would be signing up for health insurance in 2014: 58 percent said yes, 34 percent said no.
What does Kaiser know about the demographics of the two groups?
"Those who don't plan to get coverage actually skew a bit older," says Brodie. "Twenty percent of those who don't plan to get coverage are under age 30, compared to 34 percent of those who do."
Politics, it seems, is a defining difference between the haves and have-nots.
Those who don't plan to get coverage are less likely to be Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents, compared with those who do (38 percent vs. 53 percent).
Referring to the respondents' politics, Brodie says, "That's the single biggest driver on whether you want to buy or not. The political lens is the most important."
It's not age that distinguishes the two camps. Kaiser polled California's young uninsured in November and found the following:
Some 58 percent of California's eligible uninsured (ages 18-34) said they planned to get health coverage -- similar or higher than the older uninsured. Says Brodie, referring to both the national and the California surveys, "We see no evidence in either project that the young uninsured are less interested in signing up."
The California poll was conducted by Kaiser from July 11 through August 29, 2013. It queried by phone a representative sample of 2,001 California adults between the ages 19 to 64 who said they had been living without health insurance for at least two months at the time of the interview. The margin of error for the 19-34 year olds (on whom most of the poll's findings are based) is plus or minus 6 percentage points.
About three in four of California's young uninsured say they feel the need to have health insurance, according to the poll. Only one in four say they feel healthy enough that they don't really need coverage. The majority of young people -- six in 10 -- say that health insurance is worth the cost.
When told or reminded that "nearly all Americans [will be required] to have health insurance by 2014 or else pay a fine," a clear majority of the youngest group (ages 18-34) of uninsured Californians -- 58 percent -- said they planned to get coverage next year. That compares to 48 percent of respondents aged 35-49 and 52 percent of those aged 50-64. At least as of late summer, 33 percent of young respondents thought they would remain uninsured, compared respectively to 33 percent and 27 percent for the older age groups.
The Van Winkle Family(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- The wife of a Missouri man who mysteriously died outside a football stadium after getting into an altercation with another person says she can't understand the "senseless" tragedy that has consumed her family.
Kyle Van Winkle, 30, of Smithville, Mo., was found unconscious outside Arrowhead Stadium Dec. 1 while the Kansas City Chiefs were playing the Denver Broncos, according to police. Kansas City investigators have ruled his death a homicide, but say it could be weeks before they know what exactly killed Van Winkle.
"It's completely senseless. I can't even wrap my mind around it sometimes," Van Winkle's wife, Jenni, told ABC News. "I wake up every single day with the same nightmare."
Van Winkle also leaves behind a 7-week-old son named Will.
"I try to move forward and I get up and I take care of Will because I know that's just what Kyle would want and unfortunately my life, now, is a reality that I never thought that I would have to be in," Jenni Van Winkle said with tears in her eyes.
Kyle Van Winkle left his seat during the game to go to the restroom but he never returned, according to his father Dean Van Winkle, who also attended the game.
"I was with him from start to finish that day at the tailgating. Most everybody in our group had some kind of drinks," Van Winkle said.
Van Winkle, a police sergeant, said his son didn't appear to be intoxicated.
Kyle Van Winkle apparently left the stadium and went to the parking lot, where he got into a green Jeep that looked like the vehicle he came to the game in, Kansas City police spokesman Tye Grant said last week.
The Jeep's owner found Van Winkle inside the vehicle and investigators say a struggle ensued and Van Winkle collapsed.
Police responded to a disturbance call around 5:20 p.m. in Lot A at Truman Sports Complex, where Arrowhead Stadium is located. Van Winkle was taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Four people were taken into custody for questioning following the incident, but no one was charged.
"There's just too much unknown there, so it makes it difficult for everybody but it's also something I recognize as some of this may never be figured. I certainly don't have the answers," Dean Van Winkle said.
An education fund has been established for Kyle Van Winkle's son. Donations should be made out to:
Jennifer M. Van Winkle beneficiary of Kyle A. Van Winkle Memorial Fund Community America Credit Union P.O. Box 15950 Lenexa, Kan., 66285-5950.
Disney(NEW YORK) -- Thinking back to your Facebook newsfeed over the past year, there's probably at least one place you saw several friends "check in." Was it in New York City's Time Square? Or somewhere in Las Vegas? Although these two spots made Facebook's Top 10 list of most popular check-in spots, neither took the top spot.
Turns out the most checked-in place of 2013 was Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. And proving that Americans love a theme park, two others also made the Top 10 list -- Walt Disney World's Epcot (3) and Universal Studios Hollywood (7).
Here's the complete list:
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (Anaheim, Calif.)
Times Square (New York City)
Epcot-Walt Disney World (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.)
Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles)
AT&T Park (San Francisco)
Rangers Ballpark (Arlington, Texas)
Universal Studios Hollywood (Universal City, Calif.)
Purestock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- NASA engineers are working to troubleshoot a cooling system failure on the International Space Station. One of the cooling systems on the ISS has been shut down because of temperature fluctuations, cutting the artificial satellite's cooling ability in half.
"What appears to be the flow control valve inside one of our pump units got a little cold earlier today and there was an automatic shutdown," Kelly Humphries of Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas explained Wednesday.
There are six people onboard the International Space Station and they're all doing fine, Humphries told ABC News Wednesday.
"Two Americans, one Japanese astronaut and three Russian cosmonauts" are onboard the space station, he said.
While Humphries said there is no immediate danger for the astronauts and that they do not need to come home, he added that engineers are still looking at the data and trying to understand what happened. They're preparing to do some additional troubleshooting, but the engineers do not expect their investigation will threaten the safety of the six onboard. Shutting down the modules -- Kibo, Columbus and Harmony -- means that the six astronauts will have to stay in the other modules for now, NASA said.
Officials don't know yet whether the problem resulted from a software glitch or involves hardware, so it's unclear whether a space walk will be needed to resolve the issue.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston's alleged rape victim claimed she was struck in the head and couldn't recall everything that happened to her the night of the reported incident, according to newly released 911 tapes.
The woman's friend called 911 during the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 2012 and told a Florida State University police that the alleged victim was "very shaken up."
"She got hit? Does she know what she got hit with?" the dispatcher asked.
"No. She says she like kept blacking out, like she only remembers pieces. She keeps trying to tell me the story but it's very in pieces," the woman replied.
State Attorney Willie Meggs said last week that Winston, a Heisman Trophy hopeful, would not be charged with sexual battery because there was not enough evidence to win a conviction. Meggs also said there were too many gaps in his accuser's story.
Police said it took the alleged victim, whose name has not been released, a month to identify her accuser as Winston.
Also included in the public records released Wednesday were video recordings of recent police interviews with Winston's friends, who acknowledged that the star quarterback and his accuser had sex that night, but it was consensual.
Fellow FSU football players Ronald Darby and Chris Casher told police that they walked in on Winston and his accuser having sex.
"We walked into the room and the girl was like, 'What are you doing?'" Darby told police. "She was like, 'get out.' So, Chris was like 'My bad.'"
"Was there anything she said that made you think she didn't want to have sex?" an officer asked Darby, who insisted that what he saw seemed consensual.
Eyewitnesses say they told police Winston took the girl home a few minutes later and quickly returned to the apartment, according to the newly released documents.
Winston, 19, said last Saturday after a win over Duke that the sexual assault allegations taught him that he needs to be "more mature."
The undefeated Seminoles will play in the BCS National Championship game in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 6 against Auburn.
Winston will be in New York City this Saturday at the Heisman Trophy presentation. But Winston's accuser continues to insist she was raped.
On Friday, the day before the award presentation, her attorney says he'll hold a press conference to reveal more information and a statement from the accuser's family.
Seminole County Sheriff's Office(MIAMI) -- Now that his girlfriend has recanted her story, George Zimmerman is out of legal trouble once again.
Florida State Attorney Phil Archer announced Wednesday that no charges will be filed against Zimmerman stemming from a domestic dispute last November in which Samantha Scheibe first alleged that he pointed a shotgun in her face and threw her out of the home they shared.
Archer said that it would be difficult to prosecute Zimmerman based on "conflicting statements about what occurred, the failure to cooperate with the ongoing investigation, and a lack of any other corroborating evidence or witnesses."
Zimmerman, who was acquitted of murder last summer in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, no longer faces a charge of suspicion of aggravated assault and misdemeanor counts of domestic violence battery and criminal mischief.
Scheibe said this week that investigators pressured her into making statements implicating her boyfriend. She is also asking the no-contact order against Zimmerman be lifted and his bail lowered so they can continue seeing each other.
In November, a search of Scheibe's home revealed Zimmerman owned three handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR15 rifle and more than 100 rounds of ammunition.
Zimmerman was also taken into custody last September for an altercation involving his estranged wife and father-in-law. In addition, he received two speeding tickets since being acquitted in the Martin trial.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A fraternity hazing ritual may have killed a New York City college student. Investigators say 19-year-old Baruch College freshman Chen Michael Deng died Monday after suffering traumatic brain injuries from painful, physical abuse while pledging during a trip to Pennsylvania.
Friends say Deng had high hopes of becoming a member of the national fraternity Pi Delta Psi. Last weekend, Deng was participating in an unsanctioned fraternity pledging event when he was injured.
Three men stabbed in Broncos' parking lot
Three men were stabbed in a parking lot at Sports Authority Field after the Denver Broncos' game Thursday night. Police spokesman Steve Warneke said a fourth person might have been stabbed but left the scene.
Nets' Pierce, Garnett top former coach Rivers
Andray Blatche and Joe Johnson each scored 21 points in the Brooklyn Nets' 102-93 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, making Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett winners in their first matchup with Doc Rivers.
Redskins: RG III still starter entering 2014
The Washington Redskins made it clear they will be thrilled if quarterback Kirk Cousins plays well the final three games. They also made it clear nothing would change entering next season.
Texas' Brown: My situation hasn't changed
Texas Longhorns coach Mack Brown said Thursday he has no interest in discussing his future or campaigning for his job and that he plans to meet with new athletic director Steve Patterson and university president Bill Powers about his future.
Kobe fires back at Brown's culture remarks
Two days after Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown said Kobe Bryant was "somewhat confused about culture" and criticized Bryant's treatment of former teammate Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant responded to the comments.
Sources: Raptors working on Lowry to Knicks
The Raptors, fresh off the weekend deal that dispatched Rudy Gay to Sacramento, are trying to construct a trade that routes point guard Kyle Lowry to the Knicks, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions.
Megatron to show Elam 'old man's strength'
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson chuckled when asked about the comments from Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam, who called the three-time Pro Bowler "pretty old" on Wednesday.
Source: Joba, Tigers agree on 1-year deal
Once thought of as a New York Yankees star of the future, Joba Chamberlain agreed to a one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, sources told ESPN's Buster Olney.
Texas A&M finalizes Sumlin's six-year deal
Texas A&M's board of regents approved coach Kevin Sumlin's new six-year contract during a special telephonic meeting Thursday and the deal includes a handsome raise and a hefty buyout for the sixth-year head coach.