The latest local news

Sterling lays to rest a native son nearly 69 years after he was killed in the Korean War

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STERLING, Illinois -- The city of Sterling laid to rest a native son, Korean War infantryman Corporal John G. Krebs. He was killed in action at age 19 in 1950, but his remains were only just identified last December.

"Not in my wildest dreams," said his niece, Devetta Harris. "From the 1950s, it's just miraculous," she said.

Harris said her family didn't talk much about her missing uncle. It was a tough subject.

But members of the Rolling Thunder non-profit group roared into Sterling on their motorcycles to make sure Krebs' long overdue homecoming wouldn't go unnoticed.

"You see everybody stop what they're doing, pay attention, salute the flag or place their hand over their heart and reflect as the motorcade passes and the hearse as well," said Steve Johnson, who rode near the front of the motorcade with two POW flags and the Marine flag affixed to his motorcycle.

Jefferson Elementary students could be seen standing at attention and showing their respects, waving the black MIA/POW flag and showing that while John Krebs was lost long ago, he was not forgotten.

And in his return to Sterling, he won't be alone.

"It's so heartwarming that we're able to bury him next to his twin brother here in Sterling where they were born," said Harris.

John Krebs and his twin brother George served in Korea together. They were killed on the same day in the same battle. George's remains were quickly recovered and identified, and he was laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery. But John ended up in the tomb of the unknown soldier in Hawaii for nearly seven decades.

"It's good to see that he got back to his hometown," said Vietnam War Veteran Ron Anderson, who came to Sterling to pay his respects. "May he rest in peace with his twin brother," he said.

Former Oklahoma teacher charged with rape, sexual battery of multiple students

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POCOLA, Okla. — A former Oklahoma high school teacher faces multiple charges after she allegedly had sex with three different students.

An Oklahoma grand jury indicted Janet Kaye Barnes for rape and sexual battery on Friday.

Barnes, 44, is accused of having sex with multiple minors between 2014 and 2016, according to an indictment from the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

Barnes allegedly had sex with two separate minors between January 2014 and November 2016 while she worked at Pocola High School.

She is facing two second-degree rape charges for each incident.

During the same time, the indictment states Barnes committed sexual battery against another minor, unrelated to the ones she is accused of raping.

Barnes no longer works at the high school.

A LeFlore County judge signed a warrant for her arrest and set bail at $250,000, according to court documents.

Second-degree rape has a term of imprisonment in Oklahoma no less than one year and no more than fifteen years. The sexual battery charge carries a term of imprisonment in Oklahoma no more than 10 years.

California man pleads guilty to sexually assaulting neighbors’ 3-year-old

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SAN DIEGO — A registered sex offender who broke into his next- door neighbor’s home, where he raped and sodomized a 3-year-old girl, pleaded guilty Friday to four felony charges and is facing an 85-year prison term.

Francisco Diaz, 47, entered his plea to four counts of forcible lewd acts on a child, and admitted serious prior felony convictions, according to Deputy District Attorney Claudia Grasso.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 17.

Diaz broke a screen and curtain rod and climbed through a window of the sleeping child’s bedroom last August. When the toddler woke up and cried while being sexually assaulted, Diaz carried her out through the window and was walking her toward his home when the defendant’s mother saw them and wrapped the child — who was naked from the waist down — in a blanket.

Police were called around 9:45 a.m. and Diaz was arrested.

“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” Grasso said following Diaz’s arraignment last year. “The violation, the betrayal, (it’s just) horrific. I think that not only does it impact the victim but it impacts the entire family, who now have to look over their shoulder, who now cannot feel safe in their own home. It causes you as a parent to be more cautious, more protective.”

According to the Megan’s Law website, which tracks the state’s sex offenders, Diaz has a 2007 conviction for annoying or molesting a child.

Dixon man arrested for sexual assault of a child

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DIXON, Illinois- A Dixon man is behind bars and charged with several counts of abusing a child.

Jason E. Johnson,46, of Dixon, Illinois, was arrested May 17, for predatory criminal sexual assault of a child (4 counts), a class x felony, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse (5 counts), a class 2 felony.

Dixon Police say they began the investigation in October 2018.

Johnson’s bond was set at $150,000.00.

Tony Robbins accused of sexual harassment, verbally abusive tirades

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Tony Robbins wants you to come to his seminars and immerse yourself in his motivational mantras, but from BuzzFeed comes the story he “doesn’t want you to read.”

It’s the result of a yearlong probe into the self-help life coach, complete with allegations of sexual harassment toward staffers and followers, verbally abusive behavior toward victims of rape and domestic violence, and exposure of fans to potentially risky techniques.

The outlet relied on interviews with Robbins’ insiders and fans, internal files, and secret recordings that BuzzFeed describes as being “expletive-ridden tirades” against the very people he’s supposed to be helping.

In one tape, Robbins can be heard laying into a woman who told him her husband had been emotionally abusive and physically violent. Robbins’ response: to tell her he knew she was “lying” based on her “body” and “words,” and to ask her, “Does he put up with you when you’ve been a crazy b—-?” (Hear that clip here.)

Two fans signed under-oath statements for BuzzFeed claiming Robbins sexually harassed them by aggressively pursuing them despite their disinterest, while two ex-assistants say they had to work in his presence while he was naked; a third former staffer says she was fired after a consensual sexual relationship with him.

Witnesses also back up for BuzzFeed claims that Robbins created and maintained a “highly sexualized environment.” A letter from Robbins’ legal team denies much of the allegations, including “engaging in any alleged ‘inappropriate sexual behavior'” or ever being “intentionally naked” in front of staffers.

Robbins “admits he has made mistakes in relationships and other aspects of his life, but he never behaved in the manner intimated by these salacious and false accusations,” the statement notes. Read BuzzFeed’s in-depth piece here. (The story also notes Robbins’ 2018 #MeToo misstep.)

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Woman allegedly attacked boyfriend with box cutter because he didn’t get her a birthday present

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WEST NEWTON BOROUGH, Pa. – A woman is accused of attacking her boyfriend with a box cutter because she didn’t get the birthday she was expecting.

A few hours after taking Georgia Michelle Zowacki out to dinner for her 55th birthday, her boyfriend said she became upset nobody bought her a card, cake or gift. He also said she had been drinking vodka throughout the day to celebrate.

“Next thing you know, I’m getting stabbed,” the boyfriend, David Rae, told KDKA.

Rae alleges Zowacki attacked him with a box cutter, putting it near his throat and threatening to kill him. “She went to my neck, she says, ‘I’m going to kill you,’” Rae explained. He said his girlfriend then slashed his arm with the weapon.

After cutting him, Rae told Westmoreland County Police Zowacki went into his bedroom and threw his TV set on the ground, broke his bed, tipped over his nightstand and threw other objects around the room.

“Destroyed my bedroom,” Rae said. “Destroyed it.”

The two had been living together at their West Newton home for about four months prior to the incident, according to the criminal complaint.

After the alleged attack, police said Zowacki left the residence on foot. When police arrived at the scene, she was on a nearby neighbor’s porch.

Zowacki spent the rest of her birthday in jail. She has been charged with aggravated assault, held on a $25,000 bond.

Meanwhile, Rae received several stitches. But he told KDKA, he feels lucky he didn’t end up dead.

California parents protest new sex education guidelines

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Parents across California planned to keep their children home from school and attend state-wide sit-outs dubbed the "SeXXX Ed" rallies Friday to protest a recent controversial overhaul of the sexual education guidance.

The Health Education Framework, which was approved last week by the California State Board of Education, provides information for school teachers to use in the sex education curriculum and suggests talking to kindergartners about gender identity, using LGBTQ-inclusive language, advising teenagers on navigating relationships and having safe sex. It also suggests teaching students about sex trafficking and the continued teaching of HIV prevention.

Teachers are not required to teach anything in the framework; it only acts as a guide.

While some residents praised the guidance for being inclusive, some parents and conservative groups have protested the changes, arguing that the new framework exposes children to ideas that should be taught at home.

The controversy predominantly centers on whether the suggested material in the framework is age-appropriate, especially on topics such as masturbation and gender identity.

The framework provides guides for teaching students in kindergarten through 12th grade and differentiates lessons for four main age groups: kindergarten through third grade, fourth through sixth grade, seventh and eighth grade, and ninth through 12th grade, according to an online draft of the framework.

Some parents have also protested certain books suggested in the framework, such as "S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties." Protesters described the material discussed in the book as explicit and graphic.

When the framework was approved May 8, around 200 protesters gathered outside the state Capitol holding signs that read “No to Explicit Sex Ed” and “Too Much Too Soon,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Friday's state-wide sit-outs were started at 11 a.m. and took place at each county's department of education building, according to a post by the Informed Parents of California.

In Los Angeles, the protest was held at the Los Angeles County Office of Education where protestors held signs that said "No SeXXX Ed" and "Stop Attacking Our Parental Rights."

One parent holding a "Mama Bear Says No" sign told KTLA that she was protesting the guidance to protect parental rights.

The mother said she views the guidance's recommendation to speak with children in kindergarten about identifying as transgender as wrong and "confusing my daughter to think that she is OK to feel as a boy at such a young age when I can teach my children that everything has a time."

Another mother at the protest said, "this is too much too soon."

Weather service says be prepared, the Mississippi will continue rising

WQAD News -

QUAD CITIES- The National Weather Service in the Quad Cities says that several rounds of thunderstorms with heavy rainfall over the weekend will lead to rising river levels.

“The Mississippi River may resume rising as early as Sunday to a level of 18-20 feet at the Rock Island location by May 23rd.”-David Donovan, Emergency Management Coordinator

The NWS has the following suggestions for the next round of storms:
  • Residents and businesses are encouraged to maintain existing flood protection.
  • Residents and businesses that need assistance with barriers that have already been removed should contact their local City Public Works Department or Scott County Emergency Management Agency.
  • Debris clean-up scheduled in the unincorporated areas of Scott County will be delayed until further notice.
  • Individuals in need of volunteer help or individuals interested in volunteering are encouraged to call 563-484-3086 (Monday-Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM).

Prosecutor: Mom and daughter strangled pregnant Chicago teen

WQAD News -

*Editor's Note: Details in this article are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers

CHICAGO (AP) — A pregnant Chicago teen who was killed and whose baby was cut from her womb was strangled while being shown a photo album of the late son and brother of her attackers, a prosecutor said Friday in urging a judge to keep the defendants locked up.

Assistant State's Attorney James Murphy told Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz that 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez managed to get her fingers under the cord around her neck and that the woman strangling her, Clarisa Figueroa, then yelled at her daughter, "You're not doing your (expletive) job!"

The daughter, 24-year-old Desiree Figueroa, then pried Ochoa-Lopez's fingers from the cord while her mother continued to strangle the teen for another five minutes, Murphy said. With Ochoa-Lopez showing no signs of life, Clarisa Figueroa, 46, cut her open with a butcher's knife and removed the placenta and baby, which she put in a bucket.

She then put the teen's body in a garbage can and called 911, claiming that her newborn baby was not breathing, authorities said. When first responders arrived, the child was blue. They tried to resuscitate the infant and transported Clarisa Figueroa and the boy to a nearby hospital, where police said he remained in grave condition and was not expected to survive. Figueroa, meanwhile, had blood on her upper body but no physical sign that she'd given birth, according to investigators.

Ortiz denied bond to the Figueroas, who are charged with murder, saying she felt "the presumption is great" that they committed a "heinous and brutal murder" and that they pose "a real and present" danger to the community. She also denied bond to Clarisa Figueroa's boyfriend, 40-year-old Piotr Bobak, who is charged with the concealment of a homicide.

The mother's lawyer asked Ortiz to place the Figueroas in protective custody for their safety, given "the nature of the case."

Clarisa Figueroa apparently wanted to raise another child after her adult son died of natural causes last year, authorities said. Murphy told the court that she told her family last October that she was pregnant and later posted on Facebook ultrasound results and photos of a room decorated for a baby. He said Desiree Figueroa was surprised because her mother had had her fallopian tubes tied to prevent pregnancy.

The arrests came three weeks after the disappearance of Ochoa-Lopez, whose decaying body was later discovered in a garbage can in the backyard of Figueroa's home on the city's Southwest Side, about 4 miles from Ochoa-Lopez's own home. The cord used to strangle her was still around her neck.

According to police, the young woman had driven from her high school to Figueroa's home in response to an offer of free clothes that Figueroa had posted on Facebook.

Police did not connect the Ochoa-Lopez's disappearance and the 911 call about the baby until May 7, when friends of the teen directed detectives to her social media account, which showed she had communicated with Clarisa Figueroa in a Facebook group for expectant mothers.

At the same time, Clarisa Figueroa had started a GoFundMe campaign for the funeral of what she said was her dying baby, said Sara Walker, a spokeswoman for Ochoa-Lopez's family. Police then conducted DNA tests, which showed that Ochoa-Lopez and her husband, Yiovanni Lopez, were actually his parents, Walker said.

When police arrived to question Clarisa Figueroa, her daughter told them that her mother was in the hospital with some kind of leg injury, before adding that she had just delivered a baby, said Brendan Deenihan, deputy chief of detectives.

"She told an extremely odd story," and officers "kind of knew where this is headed," Deenihan said.

Police then searched the neighborhood and found Ochoa-Lopez's car a few blocks away. On Tuesday they returned with a search warrant, finding cleaning supplies as well as evidence of blood in the hallway and in the bathroom. They later found the body in a trash can behind the house and recovered surveillance video that showed Ochoa-Lopez's vehicle driving through the neighborhood on the day they believed she was killed, authorities said.

Ochoa-Lopez's family had been looking for her since her disappearance on April 23, organizing search parties and holding news conferences as they pushed police for updates in the investigation.

Her father, Arnulfo Ochoa, said relatives were grateful to have found her. Now they want justice. The family was also bracing for the baby's death, while still hoping for a miracle.

"We plead to God that he gives us our child because that is a blessing that my wife left for us," Yiovanni Lopez told reporters through a Spanish interpreter outside the county morgue where his wife's body was taken.

The three suspects were scheduled to appear Friday in bond court.

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