SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Four skeletons found in shallow graves in the Southern California desert are believed to be those of a San Diego County family that vanished three years ago, police said Friday, resolving one mystery and raising a host of new questions about what happened to the seemingly happy couple and their two young sons.
The McStay family – 40-year-old Joseph, his 43-year-old wife, Summer, and their sons Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3 – were apparent homicide victims, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said. Police now will try to piece together what led them to disappear and end up 100 miles from their home, not far off heavily traveled Interstate 15 connecting San Diego and Las Vegas. The skeletal remains were found Monday by an off-road motorcyclist.
The McStays disappeared in February 2010. There were no signs of forced entry at the residence or in their SUV, which was found parked near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Authorities pursued hundreds of tips and eventually came to believe the family left voluntarily for Mexico. One of the pieces of evidence supporting that theory was a poor-quality video that appeared to show four people matching the McStays’ descriptions walking into Tijuana, Mexico.
Officer probed over aid to LAX victim
A Los Angeles Police Department official says an internal investigation will be done into an allegation that an LAPD officer delayed medical aid when he told responders that an airport security officer was dead after being shot Nov. 1 at Los Angeles International Airport.
Marshall McClain, president of the airport police union, claims LAPD officer John Long told responding officers that Transportation Security Administration officer Gerardo Hernandez was dead as he lay in a terminal after a gunman targeted TSA officers. However, it’s unclear how that determination was made or whether Long was qualified to make it.
McClain says an airport police officer later thought he detected a light pulse and wheeled Hernandez to paramedics – 33 minutes after he was shot. He was later declared dead at a hospital.
Vaccine imported for meningitis fight
Federal health officials have agreed to import a meningitis vaccine approved in Europe and Australia but not the U.S. as officials at Princeton University consider measures to stop the spread of the disease on the Ivy League campus.
The Food and Drug Administration this week approved importing Bexsero for possible use on the New Jersey campus, said Barbara Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Princeton officials confirmed the school’s seventh case of meningitis in 2013 this week, and a spokesman said trustees will discuss the issue this weekend.
No vaccine for use against the type B meningococcal bacteria, which caused the cases at Princeton, is available in the U.S., Reynolds said.
Bacterial meningitis, rare in the United States, can cause swelling of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, and those who get it can die in a couple of days. The disease can easily spread in crowded conditions, like dorm rooms.
Man who fell out of plane identified
Authorities released the identity Friday of a Florida man who they say fell out of a private plane, and searchers continued looking for his body in the Atlantic Ocean near Miami.
Miami-Dade Police Department spokesman Javier Baez identified the man as Gerardo Nales, 42, of Key Biscayne, an island not far from where the plane’s pilot said Nales fell into the water.
1964 Genovese killer denied parole at 78
The New York City man convicted of killing bartender Kitty Genovese in a headline-grabbing 1964 murder has been denied parole for the 16th time.
The state Division of Parole announced Friday that the board denied 78-year-old Winston Moseley’s request because his release would undermine respect for the law.
The death of the 28-year-old Genovese became an urban horror story after reports that nobody tried to help her when she was being stabbed to death in Queens. That account has been challenged over the years.
Libyan militiamen massacre protesters
Libyan militiamen opened fire Friday on white-flag-waving protesters demanding their disbandment, killing at least 31 people and wounding more than 200 in a barrage of machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire.
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan blamed the protesters and the militia alike for the violence, though witnesses said they saw no protesters carrying weapons ahead of the shooting Friday afternoon.
But by nightfall, some protesters joined by other militias had armed themselves, and gunfire rang out in the Tripoli neighborhood where the attack happened.
Since the 2011 fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, hundreds of militias – many of them on government payroll – have run out of control in Libya, carving out zones of power, defying state authority and launching violent attacks.
Albania won’t take on Syrian weapons
The mission to destroy Syria’s poison gas stockpile was dealt a serious blow Friday when Albania refused to host the destruction, but the global chemical weapons watchdog said it is still confident it can eradicate the arsenal outside Syria by the middle of next year.
The surprise refusal by the small and impoverished Balkan country left open the question of where the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would send Syria’s estimated 1,300-ton arsenal, which includes mustard gas and sarin.
Syria has said it wants the weapons destroyed outside the country, which is in the throes of civil war.
Few diplomats expected Albania, a NATO country of 2.8 million, to reject what Prime Minister Edi Rama called a direct request from the U.S. But it was unpopular in Albania, and young protesters had camped outside Rama’s office to oppose it, fearing it would be a health and environmental hazard.
Toronto mayor stripped of powers
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford vowed Friday to take City Council to court after it voted overwhelmingly to strip him of some of his powers over his admitted drug use, public drinking and increasingly erratic behavior.
Then, by contrast, the 44-year-old Ford declared: “If I would have had a mayor conducting themselves the way I have, I would have done exactly the same thing.”
The motion, approved 39-3, suspends Ford’s authority to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and his executive committee, which runs the budget process. The council also voted to give the deputy mayor authority to handle any civic emergency.
The effort is to continue Monday when the council moves to strip Ford of most of his remaining powers.