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South Korea says slain man tried to defect to North Korea



SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea said Tuesday that a government official slain by North Korean sailors wanted to defect, concluding that the man, who had gambling debts, swam against unfavorable currents with the help of a life jacket and a floatation device and conveyed his intention of resettling in North Korea.

Senior coast guard officer Yoon Seong-hyun said at a televised briefing that there was a “very low possibility” that the man could have fallen from a ship or tried to kill himself because he was putting on a life jacket when he was found in North Korean waters last week.

Yoon said tidal currents at the time would also make it extremely difficult for him to drift into North Korean waters naturally.

The coast guard said its assessment was based on an analysis of tidal currents in the area, a visit to a government boat the official had been aboard before his disappearance, investigation of his financial transactions and a meeting with South Korean Defense Ministry officials.

Yoon said the man conveyed his wish to defect before his death. He cited intelligence showing North Korea knew the man’s name, age, height and hometown as an evidence of his communication with the North.

Yoon didn’t elaborate. But some experts said he likely was referring to South Korea’s interception of communications among North Korean officials about the man.

Coast guard officials have previously said the 47-year-old official was a father of two with some debts. Yoon said Tuesday the debts totaled about 330 million won ($282,240), 80% of which were from gambling.

It’s still unclear whether Tuesday’s announcement would sooth mounting questions about why the man was in North Korean waters. The brother of the late official has said it was more likely that he fell into the sea by accident. The official had been aboard a government inspection ship before he disappeared.

South Korea has accused North Korea of having fatally shot him and burning his body. North Korea acknowledged that its troops killed him because he refused to answer to questions and attempted to flee. But North Korea said its troops only burned the man’s floatation device.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has offered a rare apology over the man’s death, but his government hasn’t confirmed the man was trying to defect.

The man’s shooting has triggered a huge political firestorm in South Korea, with conservatives launching fierce political attacks on liberal President Moon Jae-in, who espouses greater ties with the North.



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Federal officer slain in Oakland is mourned at memorial service


Family and friends mourning a federal law enforcement officer who was fatally shot while guarding a U.S. courthouse in Oakland voiced poignant pleas Friday for an end to the violence that cut short his life, saying America needs to overcome discrimination and hatred.

David Patrick Underwood, 53, was remembered as a soft-spoken and gifted natural athlete, a lefty pitcher in high school who was valiant on the mound and graceful on the basketball court.

In life and in work, he was confident but never arrogant, friends and family said in moving tributes. He treated people with dignity and had a deep love for family and the uniform he proudly wore, they added.

AIR FORCE SERGEANT ARRESTED IN DEPUTY’S SLAYING NO CHARGED IN OAKLAND COURTHOUSE AMBUSH 

Janie Taylor sings beside a photo of Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

Janie Taylor sings beside a photo of Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

He didn’t judge people by the color of their skin, but by what was in their heart, they said.

Local and federal officials joined the two-hour ceremony in Pinole, California, a San Francisco Bay Area city, at the high school where Underwood was a star baseball player in the 1980s. Wearing face masks, mourners packed into the school’s theater, where social distancing was mostly ignored, and paid tribute to Underwood, whose body lay in a blue casket on a gold stand.

Underwood, who was black, was killed May 29 while guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland as a large demonstration was underway nearby over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“We must not be embittered by this horrific injustice. Hate, vengeance and violence solves nothing,” said his older sister, Angela Underwood Jacobs, a recent Republican candidate who sought to fill a vacant U.S. district seat north of Los Angeles.

Angela Underwood Jacobs, sister to slain Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, right, speaks to media beside family mambers prior to a memorial service for Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

Angela Underwood Jacobs, sister to slain Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, right, speaks to media beside family mambers prior to a memorial service for Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

She added: “We will, we must, as individuals and as a society overcome discrimination, bias, hatred and violence of any kind whether it be against African Americans or people who wear the uniform in peace, as our brother did, to protect and serve and to ensure the safety of all.”

Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, joined the ceremony to honor Underwood and to deliver an American flag to his family. Gov. Gavin Newsom sent an officer of the California Highway Patrol who presented the family with a California flag.

In a separate video tribute, Wolf condemned the “senseless cowardly violence” that took Underwood’s life.

“Officer Underwood gave his life protecting us and we owe him and his family and colleagues a debt of gratitude we will never be able to fully repay,” said Wolf.

George Phillips, childhood friend of slain Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, speaks during a memorial service for Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

George Phillips, childhood friend of slain Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, speaks during a memorial service for Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

Underwood died from gunshot wounds in a drive-by shooting the night of May 29 as a protest in downtown Oakland that began peacefully sank into chaos. Underwood and a colleague were working that night as contract security officers for the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service.

Federal authorities say the shooter used the protest as cover for the crime. Authorities say that Underwood was targeted because he wore a uniform.

Last week, the FBI announced murder charges against Air Force Staff Sgt. Steve Carrillo. Authorities say Carrillo used the same homemade AR-15-style rifle eight days later to kill a Santa Cruz deputy in a hail of gunfire that wounded four other officers. Carrillo faces separate state charges for the June 6 fatal shooting of Santa Cruz County sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller.

Authorities allege that Carrillo, 32, had ties to the far-right, anti-government “boogaloo” movement and had hatched a plan to target federal law enforcement officials during the Oakland protest.

Colleagues described Underwood as hard-working, highly respected and conscientious. Friends and family talked of his hearty laugh, his personal style — he was a sharp dresser — and his giving heart. When he stopped playing baseball as an adult, he donated to local youth organizations, so he could help kids find joy in the sport he loved.

Underwood was the kind of guy you went to for advice, his older sister said.

“He’d always say, ‘Angie, believe in yourself. Work hard, and ask for what you want,’ which is exactly what our mom and dad would have said,” Jacobs said in a tribute to her brother. “Now that he’s gone, who am I going to call now?”

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She added: “A brother, a friend, a mentor a leader, a good man has wrongly been taken from us.”



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Friend of slain mom Heidi Broussard, who went missing with newborn, charged with murder


The friend of a Texas mother found dead was indicted on capital murder and kidnapping charges, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office said.

Magen Fieramusca, 34, was initially arrested and charged in December with two counts of kidnapping and one count of tampering with a corpse after the body of Heidi Broussard was found in the trunk of a car outside of a Houston-area residence linked to the suspect. Broussard’s newborn daughter was found alive in the home.

A grand jury indicted Fieramusca, who also goes by the name Maygen Humphrey, on Tuesday.

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Magen Fieramusca.Austin Police Department

Fieramusca suffocated Broussard after kidnapping her and her baby on Dec. 12, the district attorney’s office said in a press release.

Attorneys for Fieramusca said the state has not disclosed evidence against her and they are “exploring all options at our disposal to vigorously represent Ms. Fieramusca.”

“The prosecution’s refusal to provide us with information at this time is contrary even to their own policies, yet this is where we are,” said a statement from the defense attorneys. “Those accused, as well as the public at large, understandably want swift and certain answers from our criminal justice system. We call upon patience and resisting the rush to judgment until all the facts are in. Unless the State has proven these allegations beyond any reasonable doubt, Ms. Fieramusca remains innocent.”

Authorities are searching for Heidi Broussard and her two-week-old daughter, Margot Carey, in Austin, Texas.Austin Police Dept

Broussard and her daughter disappeared on Dec. 12 after she dropped off her son at school. Her car was found at their apartment and all of her belongings — including her identification and her daughter’s diaper bag — were still inside, her boyfriend, Shane Carey, had said.

Friends of Broussard previously told NBC News that Fieramusca had told them she was pregnant. Carey told authorities that his girlfriend and Fieramusca had been friends for over 10 years and that they became pregnant around the same time in 2019, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit states that Fieramusca faked the pregnancy for months as part of a plot to kidnap Broussard and steal her baby. She then presented her friend’s child as her own to her boyfriend, telling him that she went into labor and delivered the baby without his being present.

Her bond has been set at $1 million for the murder charge and $100,000 for the kidnapping charge, the district attorney’s office said.



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Slain Missouri woman looked up ‘what to do if your husband is upset you are pregnant’ before she went missing: warrants


A suburban St. Louis woman whose husband is charged in her death had looked up “what to do if your husband is upset you are pregnant” on her cellphone before she went missing last month, according to search warrants.

The warrants, obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, outline the reasons detectives gave for searching the home of Jennifer and Beau Rothwell near the suburb of Creve Coeur. The couple’s cellphones, email accounts, Facebook accounts and Beau Rothwell’s SUV were also searched.

Beau Rothwell, 28, is jailed without bond on charges of second-degree murder and evidence tampering in his wife’s death. His lawyer previously declined to comment on the charges.

Her body was found about a week after she went missing about 45 miles northwest of her home. Detectives disclosed in warrants that Jennifer Rothwell, who was also 28, had been six weeks pregnant when she died.

REMAINS OF MISSOURI WOMAN BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN FOUND AFTER HER HUSBAND PROVIDES INFORMATION

Beau Rothwell, 28, was arrested for the suspected murder of his wife, 28-year-old Jennifer Rothwell, after investigators searched their home and found a wet carpet soaked with bleach and large areas of blood which had seeped into the underlying carpet pad. 

Beau Rothwell, 28, was arrested for the suspected murder of his wife, 28-year-old Jennifer Rothwell, after investigators searched their home and found a wet carpet soaked with bleach and large areas of blood which had seeped into the underlying carpet pad. 
(St. Louis County Police Department)

In the newly released search warrants, investigators say Beau Rothwell called 911 at 9:44 p.m. on Nov. 12 to report his wife of four years missing, saying he last saw her that morning as she was leaving for her job as a chemical engineer.

He told police that her co-workers told him she didn’t show up for work that day and that they were concerned. Police found her car parked near her home, with her cellphone inside.

Beau Rothwell wouldn’t let police search the home, car or cellphone, or take a DNA sample from him, according to investigators. He also requested an attorney,

Detectives then searched a trash can placed at the curb of the home on Nov. 13. In it they found various cleaning supplies, including rubber gloves and paper towels, the warrants state. A receipt showed cleaning items had been purchased Nov. 11 from a grocery store.

REMAINS FOUND IN NEBRASKA AND MISSOURI IDENTIFIED AS MISSING WISCONSIN BROTHERS

“This purchase was oddly at a time during a major snow event involving dangerous driving conditions, and was also contradictory to Beau Rothwell’s statement that he was home with his wife all night,” an investigator wrote in the documents.

Police also found signs that violent acts had been committed inside the home. Detectives described an “overwhelming” smell of bleach and other cleaners inside the home as well as several “large areas of red stain” at the base of the basement steps. DNA tests confirmed that the blood found in the home was Jennifer Rothwell’s.

There was also damage to drywall in the basement, which had samples of human hair, the warrants state.

The blood-stained areas were wet with detergent and had a circulating fan blowing air over the area, and the basement windows were open despite temperatures that were in the 30s.

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Beau and Jennifer Rothwell received chemical engineering degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2013. They married in 2015 in St. Louis County.



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