National Roundup

Principal: ‘Vile’ cyberbullies worse than Iraq insurgents

WINCHENDON, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts high school principal says cyberbullies who targeted students are worse than the insurgents he fought in Iraq and vows the anonymous posters will be found and punished.

Joshua Romano, principal of Murdock Middle/High School in Winchendon, logged on to the school’s Twitter account to warn perpetrators who attacked some students’ sexuality and appearance.

He called the posts “vile and ignorant.” He also sent an email to the school’s roughly 700 students calling the cyberbullies “pathetic cowards.”

The Iraq War veteran said the cyberbullies were worse than the insurgents because at least they didn’t hide behind anonymity.

The Twitter accounts have since been deleted.

Romano tells The Telegram & Gazette he took such direct action to convey the message that such conduct is not acceptable.

Father ruled incompetent to stand trial

LARGO, Fla. (AP) — A man accused of throwing his 5-year-old daughter over a Tampa bridge is being sent to a prison mental facility until he’s capable of understanding the first-degree murder charges he’s facing.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Chris Helinger ruled Thursday that John Jonchuck is incompetent to stand trial. He was arrested Jan. 8 after authorities say he dropped daughter Phoebe Johnchuck more than 60 feet off a bridge approaching the Sunshine Skyway during what appeared to be a psychotic breakdown.

Prosecutors say two experts who’ve evaluated Johnchuck believe he can become mentally competent with proper treatment in six to nine months. Then, the case against him can continue.

The judge will get an update on his condition during a June 9 hearing.

Johnchuck’s court appointed attorneys have waived his right to a speedy trial.

New York
Teen admits strangling woman, 81

GOSHEN, N.Y. (AP) — A 17-year-old girl has pleaded guilty to strangling an 81-year-old woman while burglarizing the victim’s upstate New York home before setting it on fire.

Local media report that Jennifer Molyneaux, of Wallkill, pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder, admitting in Orange County Court that she killed Helen Mills on Aug. 2 in the village of Goshen.

The teen told the judge that she and her then-19-year-old boyfriend, Devin Giordano of Goshen, were high on heroin and other drugs when they broke into the home and attacked Mills in her bedroom.

Prosecutors say they’ll seek the maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Giordano is also charged with second-degree murder. His case is pending.

3 arrested after woman sexually abused for weeks

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Three men were arrested in the case of a woman who reported being held captive and sexually abused for almost two months, authorities said.
Investigators believe Jose Angel Barajas-Mireles masterminded the kidnapping of the 22-year-old woman, who was held against her will in a rural home in Santa Rosa since the holidays, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said. Authorities initially said she had been held captive for three weeks.

She escaped last week after noticing an open door and went to police.

Barajas-Mireles, 34, is responsible for the sexual abuse and most of the physical assaults, investigators said. He was charged with aggravated sodomy, aggravated oral copulation and aggravated rape. His bail was set at $6 million, an official said Wednesday.

Jaime Gomez Cisneros of Watsonville and Guillermo Crestino Avina of Santa Rosa guarded the victim and prevented her from leaving the compound, the sheriff’s office said. Each was charged with false imprisonment and being an accessory.

The suspects were arrested when they went to the sheriff’s office to retrieve property seized during the investigation, authorities said.

The woman had told police she had been randomly kidnapped at gunpoint from the neighborhood where she lived. But none of the men were charged with kidnapping or firearms violations.

“Out of an overwhelming sense of fear of retaliation coupled with the traumatic events she endured, she initially stated to law enforcement that she had been kidnapped at gunpoint,” the office said.

outside house upset neighbors
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California man’s display of poster-size swastikas outside his Sacramento house is upsetting some neighbors and state lawmakers, who plan to call on him to remove them.
The symbols used by German Nazis in World War II replace stars in one American and two Israeli flags. There is also a Palestinian flag and a statue made of wood of a figure raising its arms and dressed in army green. The display also includes Christmas lights to illuminate it at night.
Sacramento Police Spokesman Officer Justin Brown said Wednesday police received a call about the house in the River Park neighborhood on Monday and after doing a welfare check found there were no reportable crimes.
“We haven’t received any other complaints,” Brown said.
Democratic Sen. Marty Block of San Diego said a news conference with lawmakers, veterans and community leaders will be held Thursday to call on the house owner to voluntarily remove the swastikas.
Block, chair of the Jewish Caucus, called the display “an insult” to the American soldiers killed and wounded fighting Adolf Hitler’s Nazi army and the millions who died in German concentration camps.
“It’s an insult to the memory of tens of thousands of brave American soldiers who died fighting people wearing swastikas and for the 6 million people who died a horrible death in concentration camps,” Block said. Most of those who perished in the camps were Jews.
KCRA-TV first reported about the display on Tuesday and tried to talk to the house resident but he refused to be interviewed.
Robbie Rose, who lives nearby, told KCRA-TV he has thought about taking down the swastikas himself.
“How do I explain this to my little one?” asked Rose. “I am all for freedom of speech, but this is just too much. I really do want to get out of my car and rip that down. But the only reason I don’t (is) because I do believe in being a good American, and I do believe in freedom of speech.”