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Pineapple Studio/iStock(NEW YORK) --  A Michigan man made a shocking discovery inside a couch he purchased from a thrift store for just $35: an extra $43,000.

Howard Kirby purchased a couch from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Owosso only to discover it came with the wad of cash inside one of the cushions, the store manager told ABC News on Saturday.

Kirby decided to return the money to the couch's owner.

"He could use it. … He has needs, but he said he just felt this prompting from God that said, 'This isn't yours,'" store manager Rick Merlang said.

 Kirby met with the couch's original owners on Thursday to return the money. The store had called the family to say that Kirby found something "they're gonna want back."

"It was very, very shocking to them," Merlang said.

The couch belonged to the grandfather of the family, who died about a year ago, according to Merlang. The family called the thrift store to ask them to pick the couch up and left their contact information.

"I think they were hoping there might be some pictures. They would have never dreamed that it was money," he said.

While Merlang said the store often hears from people who discover items left behind, Kirby, who could not be reached by ABC News, was the first to actually return something.

"He's happy that he's got a couch," Merlang said. "Someone said, 'Are you gonna give the cushion back?' And he said, 'No, that's a $43,000 cushion.'"

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- Days after Baltimore City's State Attorney Marilyn Mosby rallied around a fellow top prosecutor to speak out about the racially charged attacks they have experienced while in office, she received a 60-second voicemail flooded with "hateful rhetoric."

The anonymous voice started by chastising Mosby for traveling to St. Louis, Missouri, to support St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner for filing a civil rights lawsuit against the city and their police union for allegedly coordinating racist conspiracies meant to force her out of office.

Mixed with half-recited, profanity-laced proverbs and racially biased opinions, the caller ended the message with a shocking suggestion. "If we'd known you all were going to be this much f-----g trouble, we would have picked our own f-----g cotton," the caller said.

Mosby received the rambling "hateful rhetoric" on Wednesday and posted it on her Twitter page on Thursday to further reiterate why she supported Gardner earlier in the week.

This is why #IStandWithKimGardner and this hateful rhetoric only strengthens my resolve to continue fighting for justice and working to undo the blight of mass incarceration and its impact on communities of color.” #KeepersOfTheStatusQuo pic.twitter.com/GbP8fTjJbH

— Marilyn J. Mosby (@MarilynMosbyEsq) January 16, 2020

Gardner is the first black woman elected as the top prosecutor in St. Louis and the lawsuit appears to mark the first time an elected local prosecutor has brought a federal case against the police union for racially motivated civil rights violations.

On Monday, Gardner held a press conference to announce the civil lawsuit she filed in the Eastern District of Missouri and was supported by other leading black female prosecutors from across the country including Mosby.

"Quite candidly, Kim, like the others who stand before you today, has challenged the status quo and the keepers of the status quo don't like that, which is why she is being personally and professionally attacked," Mosby said the podium on Monday. "Every prosecutor here has had similar experiences to Kim."

Mosby also spoke out about receiving death threats since taking office in 2015, in particular, for indicting six police officers in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a catastrophic spinal injury while in custody.

A request for comment from Mosby was not immediately received.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A major storm has now slammed the Northeast Saturday afternoon after battering the western states and the Midwest.

Yesterday, Alpine Meadows Ski Resort in Northern California received 25 inches of snow within 24 hours between Thursday and Friday morning, resulting in an avalanche that killed one person and seriously injured another.

This morning, blizzard conditions hammered parts of the High Plains and Upper Midwest from Iowa to North Dakota, where snow is falling and winds are gusting above 50 mph.

Alerts are in place Saturday morning for millions of Americans from the High Plains to New England.

As of 3:30 a.m. Saturday, radar showed hard winter weather affecting many major U.S. interstates, with icy conditions from Iowa through Ohio, heavy snow further north into the Great Lakes region, and heavy rain on the southern side of the storm.

The storm moved east rather quickly this morning, reaching the Northeast by midday.

The storm will impact a large area of the country bringing potential flooding from the Midwest south to the Tennessee River Valley, icy conditions along the mixing line stretching across a portion of the Midwest into the northeast, and snow accumulations on the northern side of the system.

Gusty winds up to 50 mph will cause blowing snow, reducing visibility and making travel especially dangerous through Saturday.

The highest snow totals are likely to reach the 1-foot mark across the northern Great Lakes and into interior New England.

Ice may accrue up to a half inch in some locations across the Midwest and into portions of the Appalachian Mountain Range and foothills by Saturday afternoon.

Even in areas where snow totals aren’t too high, gusty winds may result in blowing snow and hazardous driving conditions.

Travel along many U.S. interstates will be difficult Saturday morning through the overnight before conditions start to improve by Sunday morning as the system moves offshore.

Gusty winds up to 50 mph will impact a large swath of the country this weekend from the northern Plains to the East Coast.

Saturday morning wind chills are bitter cold across the Northeast, with a wind chill values well below zero in parts of interior New England.

The cold air will remain into the weekend and settles into the place for the first half of the week with minimum temperatures in the teens and single digits Monday through Wednesday from the Midwest to the Northeast.

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Jetlinerimages/iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- A Delta Airlines flight that dumped 15,000 gallons of jet fuel onto multiple people, schools and buildings in the Los Angeles area during an emergency landing is facing a civil lawsuit and violations.

Four teachers at the Park Avenue Elementary School were outside with their students last Tuesday when they noticed a plane flying at a very low altitude.

"I began to feel drops of jet fuel raining from the sky. My students thought it was rain," one of the four educators, who requested to remain anonymous, said at a press conference held on Friday by their attorney Gloria Allred. "Then the liquid overwhelmed our eyes, mouths, nose, lungs and skin. My students began screaming and crying because their eyes and skin were burning."

That flight was headed to Shanghai, China, from Los Angeles International Airport when an in-flight emergency occurred and caused the plane to return to the runway.

During the landing, the pilot was specifically asked by the Air Traffic Control System Command Center if there was a need to dump fuel in order to lighten the weight.

 "The pilot replied by saying 'negative...we've got it under control.' Had the pilot notified (air traffic control), the flight would have been directed to a location and altitude that fuel could be safely dumped," said Allred, who is suing the airline for negligence.

Delta said it is concerned that some students were impacted.

"The aircraft landed safely after a release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight," the airline said in a statement. "We are in touch with Los Angeles World Airports and the LA County Fire Department and share concerns regarding reported minor injuries to adults and children at a school in the area."

The lawsuit also claims that the coating from the fuel caused the victims to feel sick, dizzy and nauseous. It also, according to the suit, caused severe discomfort that required medical attention and severe emotional distress -- might produce health consequences in the future.

Damian Dovarganes/AP

"We are all very experienced teachers, but we are not equipped to deal with this level of hazard and contamination," the teacher said.

Allred expects to add more plaintiffs to the lawsuit and Delta said it's not commenting more at this time.

"I can confirm that we have opened an internal investigation, but will be declining further comment due to pending litigation," Delta spokesperson Drake Castañeda told ABC News.

"As part of its emergency landing, 15,000 gallons of jet fuel in the form of mist was released into the atmosphere impacting multiple areas of Los Angeles" including multiple schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Cudahy Public Library, and two schools within the El Rancho Unified School District, according to a statement by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South AQMD).

South AQMD issued a Notice of Violation to Delta Airlines on Friday for causing a "public nuisance in violation of the agency’s Rule 402 and California Health and Safety Code Section 41700."

If no settlement is reached, a civil lawsuit may ultimately be filed in superior court, the agency said.

Authorities said Los Angeles County Fire Department assisted 44 total patients and Los Angeles City Fire Department saw 16 patients, but none were taken to the hospital, authorities said.

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Courtesy Humphrey Family(PHOENIX) -- A 19-year-old Phoenix man ended up in a local hospital after he was aggressively taken into custody by police who said they mistook him for his older brother.

Dion Humphrey was arrested on Jan. 10 by officers in the Phoenix Police Department's Special Assignments Unit who had seen him from unmarked cars.

Humphrey's older brother, Kahlil Thornton, 20, had been accused of armed robbery and attempted murder in a Jan. 9 incident, police said. The victim from that incident was in intensive care as of Friday and the individual's survival "was very questionable," said Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a police spokesman.

Two of the four suspects from the Jan. 9 incident were taken into custody that night, while police said they're still pursing the other two.

"Humphrey's brother is one of the outstanding suspects," Thompson told ABC News. "The two brothers are about 10 months apart in age and are very similar in appearance."

"Dion told investigators that people often mistake he and his brother for twins," Thompson added.

Thompson didn't name Dion's brother, who police said lives with Dion at their parents' home.

Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a spokesperson and adviser for the Humphrey family, told ABC News on Friday the older brother in question has not lived with his younger brother in more than 10 years and that have different mothers.

"The older brother is over 6 feet tall, has long dreadlocks, tattoos -- totally different from Dion, and the department knows this," Maupin said. "This is not a case of mistaken identity, as they are leading people to believe."

Thompson said Dion's brother "may not live there all of the time," referring to the parents' home, but that "he often goes to the residence" and that evidence of the Jan. 9 crime was recovered from there.

Complicating matters is that the Special Assignments Unit is not required to wear bodycams.

Said Maupin: "When they are looking for a white suspect in a white neighborhood, they don't operate like this. Did they even say, 'Stop! police!'? We'll never know."

Dion Humphrey was struck with bean bags as three officers subdued him using a flash grenade, Maupin added.

"He's in bad shape right now," Maupin said.

Dion Humphrey has chronicled the aftermath of the incident with family and friends from his hospital bed via Facebook posts. He captioned in one video that the police did not ask him any questions or allow him to speak during his arrest.

Police said Dion Humphrey did not comply with their commands and tried to flee.

"Had they stopped to talk to him, they would have realized Dion is developmentally disabled. He has the mentality of a child," Maupin said.

Dion Humphrey is about 90 pounds, and he suffers from sickle-cell anemia and asthma, his father, William Humphrey said on a GoFundMe page.

"I remember everything that had happened to me and I was crying why did it happened to me😭," one entry in Dion's Facebook page Jan. 12 states. "When I look back at what happened my vision gets bigger and blurry👀.It’s scary to know that i could have died I’m so happy I am in the hospital recovering my wounds and pain."

Dion Humphrey was detained for more than seven hours, Maupin told ABC News. After he was released, his parents took him to Phoenix Children's Hospital, where he remained hospitalized as of Friday.

The investigation, Thompson said, is ongoing.

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Scott Heins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement slammed New York City's leaders and their sanctuary city policies at a news conference Friday following the arrest of an undocumented immigrant in the death of a 92-year-old Queens woman.

Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence said it was “unbelievable" he had to come to New York to “plead” for cooperation from the city’s authorities when it came to cases involving fugitive undocumented individuals. He blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city's sanctuary city policy for the murder of Maria Fuentes, who was allegedly assaulted physically and sexually by Reeaz Khan, a 21-year-old undocumented Guyanese national.

Albence reiterated that federal authorities lodged a detainer against Khan after he stabbed his father with a broken coffee cup in November, but because the city didn’t turn him over to their custody, he was able to roam the streets and attack Fuentes on Jan. 6. She died from her wounds four days later.

“I hold the policies of this city put in place by the mayor culpable for this crime,” Albence said.

Khan was arrested on Jan. 11 and has been detained at Rikers Island on murder and attempted rape charges. ICE officials have issued another detainer against him. His attorney did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

The NYPD said it never received the detainer for Khan back in November.

Under its rules, the NYPD honors federal detainers if “ICE presents a warrant issued by a federal judge establishing that there is probable cause to take the person into custody, and the person has been convicted of a ‘violent or serious crime’ within five years of the arrest or is a possible match on the terrorist watch list,” according to a spokesperson to the department.

“The NYPD follows local law as it pertains to detainer requests,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Albence said the NYPD only complied with 10 out of the 7,526 detainers that ICE’s New York field office filed last year. He warned that more violent crimes would continue if the city didn’t comply with his agency.

“These are preventable crimes people,” he said.

In a statement, de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein dismissed Albence’s complaints against the city’s handling of Fuentes’ death.

“Fear hate and attempts to divide are signatures of the Trump administration, not New York City. We are the safest big city in America because of our policies, not in spite of them. We must band together as New Yorkers and reject these lies,” she said.

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ChiccoDodiFC/iStock(LAKE TAHOE, Calif.) -- One skier is dead and another is seriously hurt from an avalanche at a Northern California ski resort, officials said Friday.

When crews responded to an advanced ski area at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, near Lake Tahoe, one male skier was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Placer County Sheriff's Office.

A second male skier suffered "severe lower-body injuries" and was rushed to a hospital, according to officials with Squaw Valley–Alpine Meadows.

Placer County Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Powers said search and rescue crews and avalanche dogs scoured the mountain right for other possible victims. But no one else was found and the search was declared complete at 11:45 a .m. local time, according to Squaw Valley–Alpine Meadows.

Alpine Meadows received 25 inches of snow in the last 24 hours.

The cause of the avalanche, which was reported at 10:16 a.m. local time, is not known, according to Squaw Valley.

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Kuzma/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Twelve New Yorkers have been chosen to sit in judgment of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein at his rape and sexual assault trial.

The jury selected consists of seven men and five women. Six of the seven men are white and one is African American. Three of the women are African American -- with one sharing African American and Latino heritage -- and two are white.

Among three alternate jurors chosen to complete jury selection, one is a white man, one is an African American woman and a third is a Hispanic woman.

The grueling jury selection took nearly two full weeks. Prosecutors repeatedly accused the defense of trying to strike white women from the jury. Defense attorneys accused prosecutors of trying to keep men off the jury. Each side refuted the other side's allegations.

During jury selection on Friday, prosecutors and defense attorneys questioned prospective jurors in blocks of 20.

Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi stressed the need for the Weinstein jury to be able to pay close attention to potentially disturbing testimony and to recognize that people can be in severe personal anguish while still showing up for work each day and appearing normal.

"Somebody could be suffering in their personal lives but put on a brave face in their public lives," Illuzzi said.

"Can you all appreciate that the people who come and have to sit here and face all of you will be perhaps a little panic-stricken? They're going to need to know that you're paying attention and that you're not going to dismiss them out of hand and really listen," she said.

In what Illuzzi described as her "most important question," she asked whether jurors had the stomach to convict Weinstein.

"If we do our job and we prove that man guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, we need to know that each and every one of you will be able to come and say to this court, and to him, that you've found him guilty," she said.

Defense attorney Arthur Aidala wanted to know the opposite -- could each of the prospective jurors acquit Weinstein?

"It may be the right verdict," he said. "It may be the correct verdict, but it may not be the popular verdict. Is that something that you're going to have a problem with?"

In his final question to one group of prospective jurors during Friday's morning session, Aidala asked a simple question: "Who here thinks that someone could have consensual sexual relations with someone at work to get ahead at work?"

Later, fellow defense counsel Damon Cheronis asked prospective jurors whether they could envision a scenario in which "a young aspiring actress … may have sex with an older man for some reason other than love."

He then asked, "Does anybody -- or can anybody -- think of a situation where someone would have a consensual sexual relations with someone and then years later say it wasn't consensual, when it was?"

The case is scheduled to move into opening arguments next week.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A major storm continues to march east Friday morning with alerts issued across the country from California to Massachusetts.

The storm brought several feet of snow from Washington state to the California mountains and winds gusts over 100 mph. There is so much snow in some towns in Washington that people are stranded in their homes.

The storm has also brought heavy rain to the San Francisco Bay area, causing flash flooding.

There are alerts Friday morning from California to Massachusetts, with blizzard warnings issued for North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

As of Friday morning, the storm system is moving out of the Rockies and into the heartland, with freezing rain and sleet from western Texas to Kansas and Missouri, causing icy roads that are leading to accidents.

Friday afternoon and evening, the storm system will strengthen and bring heavy snow and blizzard conditions to the Upper Midwest with snow even reaching Chicago.

The heaviest snow will fall in the western Great Lakes, while Chicago will change to ice and rain overnight as some warmer air tries to work its way into the strengthening storm.

By Saturday, snow will move into the Northeast and even into Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

By evening hours, snow will change to rain in Philadelphia and New York, but stay as all snow from northern Pennsylvania into New England.

The next few days will see additional snow and ice accumulation with this storm.

The heaviest snow will fall from Minneapolis to Michigan and into New England, where some areas could see more than 10” of snow.

Lower snowfall amounts are expected in Chicago, with maybe 2 to 5 inches. Around a half a foot is expected in Detroit, with up to a foot of snow possible in parts of New England's higher elevations.

Philadelphia and New York City will see maybe 1 to 3 inches, which will then change to rain. In Boston, 3 to 4 inches of snow is possible.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Michelle Obama kicked off her 56th birthday Friday with a sweet message from her husband, former President Barack Obama.

"In every scene, you are my star," Obama wrote to his wife on Twitter. "Happy birthday, baby!"

Along with the message, Barack Obama shared a series of four photos of the happy couple -- married for nearly 30 years -- posing with each other.

In every scene, you are my star, @MichelleObama! Happy birthday, baby! pic.twitter.com/hgMBhHasBj

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 17, 2020

Michelle Obama is celebrating her 56th birthday one month after being named the "most admired woman" in the world for the second year in a row in a Gallup poll.

The former first lady, a mom of two, is also gearing up for the Grammy Awards later this month. She is nominated in the best spoken word category for the audio version of her best-selling memoir, Becoming.

The bestselling book turned into a world tour for Obama, with stops in major arenas around the globe. Michelle Obama was interviewed by high-profile women including Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey.

Last month, Michelle Obama released a guided journal that is meant to accompany her memoir.

In writing Becoming, Michelle Obama said she hoped to inspire the next generation to become whomever they aspire to be.

“I think that young people are the future,” she told ABC News' Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts in 2018, ahead of the book's release. “And if my story, my journey somehow gives them hope -- that they can build a powerful journey for themselves and that they can own their voice and share their story, that that's part of what makes us great. If I played a role in that for some young people comin' down the line, then ... I'll feel good about it."

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Massachusetts State Police(BRIMFIELD, Mass.) -- Benny Correa and his wife Amanda Disley were driving home from dinner with their family on Wednesday night when they spotted a familiar-looking car on the road near Brimfield, Mass.

A dark blue Honda Civic with tinted windows and distinctive wheel rims had crossed in front of their vehicle and the couple immediately recognized it as the one authorities were searching for in the abduction of 11-year-old Charlotte Moccia. A knife-wielding man had allegedly grabbed the girl and forced her into his car earlier that day, just after she got off the school bus in Springfield, about 30 miles west of Brimfield.

"We just had a gut feeling it was the car," Disley told ABC News in an interview that aired Friday on Good Morning America.

After calling 911 and double-checking the photo of the suspect's vehicle released by the Massachusetts State Police, the couple embarked on a hot pursuit with their five children in tow, determined to save the life of another.

"It was just an instinct of fight or flight that kicked in," Disley said.

The suspect's vehicle started to pick up speed, but Correa put the pedal to the metal and went after the car, even running a red light, in an effort to get close enough to read the license plate. Meanwhile, Disley remained on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, telling them what street they were on.

"I cut off people and I got up close to the car," Correa said. "I had to do what I had to do, being a father."

Disley told ABC News that her husband slowed down and looked both ways as he ran the red light to ensure they wouldn't get hit by other cars.

"We would never put our kids' lives in danger," she added.

The couple were able to read the license plate and reported it to the 911 dispatcher on the phone. Disley said they also saw "someone getting pushed down under the back seat" of the suspect's car as it passed under a street lamp.

The family ultimately had to end their pursuit as they ran out of gas. But police had already sprung into action.

Massachusetts State Police troopers used a road construction site along the Massachusetts Turnpike to funnel traffic into one lane, slowing down traffic to a crawl. They spotted the suspect's car, stopped the vehicle, found Charlotte in the back seat, 24-year-old Miguel Rodriguez in the driver's seat and a knife visible in the pocket of the door. One officer got Charlotte out of the car safely, while two others removed Rodriguez at gunpoint.

Charlotte told the troopers on scene that Rodriguez had pointed a knife at her and told her that if she screamed or tried to escape then he would kill her, according to the arrest warrant. The girl was taken to a local hospital for a precautionary evaluation.

"It was an absolute life and death situation for this little girl," Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood told ABC News.

Rodriguez, a Springfield resident, was taken into custody on several charges including aggravated kidnapping and assault by means of a dangerous weapon, according to the arrest warrant. A judge denied him bail on Thursday.

"We're eternally grateful to the motorists that paid attention to the Amber Alert and called and reported seeing the vehicle," Massachusetts State Police Lt. Charles Murray said. "There were a number of those calls and they made this rescue possible."

Charlotte's parents, Carl and Denise Moccia, issued a statement thanking police, news outlets, family, friends, neighbors and the greater community, all of whom "got the word out to help bring Charlotte home."

"In particular we'd like to thank Amanda Disley and her husband for their vigilance and courage for putting themselves in harm's way to make sure she wasn't out of their sight," the parents said. "The outpouring of love and support, near and far, is overwhelming. We are eternally grateful."

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Evgen_Prozhyrko/iStock(OCEANSIDE, Calif.) -- A former Marine has been arrested for the murder of a teenage girl whose body was discovered in a rural field in California about three months ago.

On the morning of Oct. 22, 16-year-old Josephine Jimenez was found dead in the southern part of California's Madera County, a week after she disappeared from her home in Madera, a small city some 25 miles northwest of Fresno. Detectives deemed her death suspicious due to the disposition of the body, according to the Madera County Sheriff's Office.

In December, amid the ongoing investigation into Jimenez's death, Madera County Sheriff's Office detectives were contacted by investigators at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the primary law enforcement agency for the U.S. Department of the Navy, who had identified an individual they believed may be connected to the case while investigating a separate matter.

Madera County Sheriff's Office detectives traveled to interview the individual, 19-year-old Codi Slayton, in Oceanside, Calif. Slayton was subsequently arrested by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service on unrelated charges, according to the sheriff's office.

On Thursday, Madera County Sheriff's Office detectives took the former Marine into custody on a first-degree murder charge in connection with Jimenez's death, based on information derived from his interview in December as well as new evidence discovered during a follow-up investigation.

Slayton has been booked at the Madera County Department of Corrections, where he's being held on a $1 million bond, according to the sheriff's office. It's unclear whether he has obtained a lawyer.

Investigators believe Slayton is responsible for Jimenez's death after determining that he had used social media to communicate with her and other young girls throughout California and possibly across the United States. Anyone who may have had online communication with Slayton is asked to contact the Madera County Sheriff's Office.

"This seems to be something more along the line of online predator," Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney told reporters at a press conference Thursday. "So my guess is somehow he had a method to contact her -- as most predators do -- [and] struck up some sort of conversation, and then the resulting crime occurred at some point after that."

Jimenez's family declined to speak on camera but provided the following statement to Fresno ABC station KFSN: "The Jimenez family wants to thank federal authorities, local authorities, and Madera County Sheriff's office detectives for their hard work in the capture of the person responsible for Josephine's death. We are still mourning the loss of our daughter Josephine and look forward for Justice for Josephine."

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Fredrick Hampton, 50, is seen in this photo provided by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Alabama police have issued an arrest warrant for a registered sex offender who authorities say may have been involved in the death of 29-year-old Paighton Houston, who disappeared a month ago after texting her friends that she was in trouble.

Houston's body was discovered Jan. 3 in a shallow grave behind a home in Hueytown, about 15 miles from the Birmingham bar where she was last seen on the night of Dec. 20.

After leaving the bar with two men, Houston texted one of her friends saying "she didn't know who she was with and that she felt like she was in trouble," her brother, Evan Houston, told Good Morning America after she went missing.

On Thursday, Alabama police announced they had issued a warrant for the arrest of 50-year-old Fredrick Hampton, a registered sex offender, in connection with the case. Hampton, who police said was at large, is wanted for "abuse of corpse" after authorities say he disposed of Houston's body.

Police said they had no evidence at this point that Hampton was responsible for Houston's death, but that Hampton could face additional charges if additional evidence is developed.

"We have evidence that that victim and the offender were together on the night of Dec. 20, 2019," said Deputy Chief David Agee of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. "We have evidence that the victim died the next day. We have evidence that after the victim died, her body was disposed of in a criminal manner by Fredrick Hampton."

Authorities said they believe Hampton is familiar with the property where Houston's body was discovered, with the property possibly being owned by relatives of Hampton.

Asked if police had determined whether Hampton and Houston left the bar together on the night of Dec. 20 or if Hampton had coerced her in any way, Agree simply said, "We are saying they were together on Dec. 20. There is no evidence that there was any force."

In addition to the abuse of corpse charge, Hampton has been charged with violating the sex offender notification act.

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duha127/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The acting head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is expected to speak out against New York City's controversial sanctuary policy amid an ongoing dispute between city and federal officials over the sexual assault and murder of an elderly Queens woman allegedly by an undocumented immigrant.

Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence is expected to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. to "address how sanctuary policies in both New York City and the state of New York impact public safety," the agency said in a statement Thursday.

Sanctuary cities, such as San Francisco and New York City, do not cooperate with the federal government in complying with ICE requests. President Donald Trump and his administration have repeatedly derided the policy.

The visit comes amid a well-publicized battle between city and federal officials over the death of 92-year-old Maria Fuertes, who was fatally attacked outside of her home earlier this month by a man who was in the country illegally, authorities said. Police charged Reeaz Khan, a 21-year-old Guyanese national, in connection with her death on Jan. 10.

Federal immigration officials said they lodged a detainer against Khan in November when he was arrested for allegedly stabbing his father with a broken coffee cup, but the city did not surrender him to federal agents, consistent with its sanctuary policies, according to ICE.

"It is made clear that New York City’s stance against honoring detainers is dangerously flawed," Thomas Decker, ICE's field office director for Enforcement and Removal Operations in New York, said in a statement Monday. "It was a deadly choice to release a man on an active ICE detainer back onto the streets after his first arrest included assault and weapon charges, and he now faces new charges, including murder."

"New York City’s sanctuary policies continue to threaten the safety of all residents of the five boroughs, as they repeatedly protect criminal aliens who show little regard for the laws of this nation," he added.

He said the city releases "hundreds of arrestees" each month with pending charges and/or convictions "to return back into the communities where they committed their crimes, instead of being transferred into the custody of ICE."

"Clearly the politicians care more about criminal illegal aliens than the citizens they are elected to serve and protect," Decker said.

New York City officials disputed claims that the police department ignored a detainer request to turn over Khan for possible deportation. They also accused the Trump administration of politicizing the elderly woman's death.

"We mourn with the family of Ms. Fuertes. If Mr. Khan is convicted, the city will cooperate with federal officials in accordance with local law," Olivia Lapeyrolerie, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, said in a statement. "It is shameful that the Trump Administration is politicizing this tragedy."

Mayor de Blaiso defended the city's sanctuary laws Wednesday on Twitter when acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf suggested that the policy had caused "a complete breakdown of law and order in New York City."

"There has been a complete breakdown of law & order in New York City," Wolf tweeted. "NYC proudly passed sanctuary city laws & bragged about it for months. But now they, & more importantly, the citizens of NYC are facing the deadly consequences of the sanctuary policies."

In response, de Blaiso touted the city's low crime rate and quipped that President Donald Trump should "quit spreading lies about the good work of the NYPD."

The last time crime was as low in New York City as it is right now, the Dodgers were in Brooklyn and your boss was in Queens — and in diapers. If you’re serious about keeping our country safe, quit spreading lies about the good work of the NYPD. https://t.co/cfua03lGWn

— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 16, 2020

"New York City has passed its own common-sense laws about immigration enforcement that have driven crime to record lows," he tweeted.

"The Trump administration’s scare tactics destroy trust in law enforcement. The day our police ask for immigration status is the day people stop reporting crimes & sharing information," he added in another tweet.

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smolaw11/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump issued new guidance on Thursday, asserting a First Amendment right of students to pray in public schools across the United States.

The president -- as he looks to gain more support from evangelical Christians, typically one of his most loyal constituencies -- is also taking steps to make it easier for religious organizations to gain access to federal programs.

"We will not let anyone push God from the public square," Trump said Thursday afternoon, speaking from the Oval Office on National Religious Freedom Day -- where he welcomed students from Christian, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds. "We will uphold religious liberty for all and I want to thank you all."

Trump said the directive is a way for the administration to "safeguard" students' religious freedom rights.

"We call this the right to pray," he said, adding "there is nothing more important than that I would say."

But it didn't stop with students, the Office of Management and Budget followed suit releasing a memo that will require federal agencies establish grant-making processes that comply with First Amendment protections.

Nine agencies are also set to release proposed rules to ensure religious and non-religious organizations are treated equally by the federal government.

The Trump administration's guidance will also give students and parents the platform to make complaints about religious discrimination to state education departments, according to administration officials.

In amplifying the president’s message, the Department of Education is set to send a letter to state education secretaries reminding them of students’ protected First Amendment religious rights.

"Too many misinterpret a separation of church and state as an invitation for government to separate people from their faith," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said. "In reality our Constitution doesn't exist to protect us from religion, it exist to protect religion from government."

Speaking at a Miami church in early January, Trump hinted that the action would be made official today -- Jan. 16.

"Very soon, I’ll be taking action to safeguard students and teachers’ First Amendment rights to pray in our schools," Trump said Thursday morning. "They want to take that right along with many other ones."

The guidance had not been updated since 2003.

An administration official pointed to the case of a group of middle school students in Texas who were repeatedly told not to pray in their school cafeteria during lunch break by the school principal, to highlight why the update is needed. The decision was later reversed by school district officials.

"President Trump is committed to making sure that people of faith, particularly children, are not subjected to illegal punishment or pressure for exercising their constitutionally protected rights," Grogan, the White House director of the Domestic Policy Council, said in a call to reporters.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), a group known for its advocacy to ensure that "religion does not dictate public policy," shot down Trump's plan in a series of tweets -- claiming it was only catering to "religious extremists."

Rob Boston, AU's senior adviser, shot back at Trump after he first announced his plans to issue new guidance.

"Any guidelines this administration produces will likely either be littered with twisted interpretations of the law or, even if they are accurate, Trump will start boasting that he 'brought prayer back to schools' or some such nonsense," Boston wrote in a Jan. 6 editorial on the group's website.

He added, "If [the] Trump administration offers misleading advice on religion and public schools, we’ll be there to set the record straight and ensure our public schools remain inclusive and welcoming for all students, regardless of their religious or nonreligious beliefs."

The group's leaders said in a different series of tweets that they would be "analyzing these regs now."

"We won’t let Trump's attacks on #ReligiousFreedom go unchallenged," the group said on Twitter.

The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement of critique following the event.

“President Trump isn’t trying to protect religious freedom; he’s pandering to religious extremists who want to inject a narrow set of religious beliefs into our public schools and taxpayer-funded services." ~AU's @rachelklaser Read & RT our press release: https://t.co/Su9v4WEjC3

— Americans United (@americansunited) January 16, 2020

"Government-funded programs, including those operated by faith-based organizations, should not be able to discriminate against vulnerable people seeking help," Heather Weaver, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said in the statement. "We will submit comments vigorously opposing these proposed regulations."

This presidential action comes as Trump also seeks to shore up support among the nation’s evangelical Christians after the prominent "Christianity Today” ran an op-ed advocating for the president’s removal from office.

The president’s reelection campaign announced the formation of an "Evangelicals for Trump" coalition at a Florida rally earlier this month.

"Well, it is a cultural war. And you have two sides ... you have a side that believes so strongly in prayer and then being restricted and it's getting worse and worse and I think we've made a big impact," Trump said on Thursday. "And we are loosening up a lot ... I want to loosen it up totally."

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