National Roundup

North Carolina
Campaign ad fight involving lt. governor reaches state high court

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court has heard arguments whether current Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s campaign can be awarded nearly $80,000 from a political action committee for its ad supporting his opponent when he first ran for the job.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported attorneys for Forest’s committee and the State Employees Association of North Carolina’s political arm answered questions from justices on Monday.

The state Court of Appeals ruled last year that Forest’s committee could seek damages for the ad run in 2012 even though Forest won the election. Forest’s campaign says the ad didn’t comply with a now-repealed law requiring commercials to include a large photo of the sponsor’s chief executive officer or treasurer.

There’s no timetable on a decision. Forest is running for governor in 2020.

New Hampshire
Graveside service planned for 2 found in barrels decades ago

ALLENSTOWN, N.H. (AP) — A graveside service is planned in New Hampshire for two suspected victims of a serial killer who were identified decades after their remains were discovered in a barrel in 1985.

A public service is scheduled Saturday for Marlyse Honeychurch, 24, and 6-year-old daughter Marie Vaughn. They were buried in an Allenstown cemetery with a headstone that said they were known “only to God.”

Authorities found a total of four decomposed bodies. This year, they confirmed the identities of Honeychurch, Vaughn, and 1-year-old Sarah Lynn McWaters, another daughter of Honeychurch. The fourth, a little girl, remains unidentified.

McWaters will be laid to rest closer to their families, who live across the country. They asked the community to turn out for the 2 p.m. service at Saint John the Baptist Cemetery. The families said in a statement they “are grateful to the residents of Allens­town who never ceased in their compassion, thoughts and prayers for these young women.”

Matt Roan, director of the Petit-Roan Funeral Home in Pembroke, which is assisting with the arrangements, told WMUR-TV that Honeychurch and her daughters are “getting the love that they deserved, and that they obviously didn’t have before.”

The unidentified girl isn’t believed to be related to the other three. Authorities believe serial killer Terry Rasmussen is responsible for all four deaths and that the girl is his daughter. Rasmussen died in a California prison in 2010.

When they were found inside the barrels in a forest near Bear Brook State Park, authorities said the remains of the four were too decomposed to be identified. All they could say was that the four were murdered.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children produced facial reconstruction of all four. Authorities then turned to DNA testing, determining that Rasmussen was the father of the unidentified victim.

Prospects for identifying the four improved greatly in 2017, when authorities identified the suspected killer as Rasmussen and the case drew renewed attention.

From there, they got help from a librarian from Connecticut who focuses on missing persons and had listened to a podcast about the case on New Hampshire Public Radio. She remembered an earlier posting about the missing Sarah McWaters on an ancestry site and reached out to the person who had posted it. That led to the confirmation that Honeychurch and her children were last seen with Rasmussen at her mother’s on Thanksgiving in 1978.

Holly Sears, a resident of Allens­town, feels the family’s pain, and now, sense of relief.

“I really think it’s important that people show up to show their support and show that we care,” Sears said of the graveside service.

911 supervisor played Netflix movie as caller sought help

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — A South Florida 911 dispatch supervisor was watching “I Am Mother” on Netflix while a caller unsuccessfully tried to get help after someone shot out her car’s windshield, an internal affairs investigation found.

Records show a 34-minute delay in the June 9 call being dispatched to an officer. The victim told the South Florida SunSentinel she called back 16 minutes later and finally drove herself to the Coral Springs police station after being told an officer was on the way.

“It was a very hard situation,” Guadalupe Herrera told the news­paper. “It was a drive-by shooting. My windshield was shattered. Nobody showed up.”

Investigators later learned the call was logged as a “suspicious incident” rather than a priority. Investigators wanted to know how the error happened and how the supervisor missed it.

As part of an internal affairs investigation, investigators pulled data from supervisor Julie Vidaud’s computer and found the most used applications were Netflix, Hulu and Xfinity TV. They learned the Hilary Swank movie was playing for two hours during the time Herrera tried to get help.

Vidaud told Sgt. Dave Kirkland that movies played in the background as she worked. The report noted that Vidaud said “there was a good chance that Netflix was running but she would not have been watching during that period of time.”

Kirkland told Vidaud the call was handled so badly he would describe it as a “catastrophic failure,” the report said.

He noted in the report that Vidaud spends an inordinate amount of time conducting personal business on her police work computer, including watching movies and streaming TV.

According to Kirkland, the 911 dispatcher who handled the first call from Herrera was fired. The second person was disciplined and has since been terminated.

The investigation was inconclusive on what Vidaud was doing at the time of the incident, but she’s facing discipline for “failure to supervise,” and is expected to receive a two-day suspension without pay, police said.

She promised she would no longer have Netflix playing at work, according to the report. The agency has now changed its policy to prohibit any streaming of media services during shifts, the agency told the newspaper.

The person who shot at Herrera has been charged with premeditated attempted murder, Kirk­land said.