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Embracing bodies found in national park died in ‘sympathetic murder-suicide’

The bodies of a couple embracing each other discovered at Joshua Tree National Park likely died in a “sympathetic murder-suicide” while they were lost amid the desert’s boiling heat. 

>> Read more trending news

Rachel Nguyen, 20, and Joseph Orbeso, 22, had been missing for nearly three months after going for a hike in late July. 

Crews spent more than 2,100 hours scouring the rugged terrain before finding their bodies in a canyon Oct. 15.

Autopsies found both had gunshot wounds and evidence at the scene led detectives to believe Orbeso shot Nguyen and then himself, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in a statement Friday.

The bodies were under a tree, with clothing covering their legs to protect them from the sun. They appeared to have been rationing food and had no water.

"We hold no grudges against Joseph or the Orbeso family," Nguyen’s family members said in a statement. "We thank God that we'll be able to give Rachel a proper burial and lay her to rest."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hippo photo bombs engagement proposal

Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s beloved baby hippopotamus, helped celebrate the engagement of #TeamFiona fans.

>> Read more trending news

The couple were in line to snap a picture on their one-year anniversary earlier this month when Nick Kelble surprised Hayley Roll by getting down on one knee and proposing while Fiona photo-bombed the special moment at the zoo’s Hippo Cove.

Kelble, a University of Cincinnati student, and Roll, a recent Bowling Green State University grad and radiology tech at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, have loved Fiona from the start, our media partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported.

“We are huge #TeamFiona fans and have been following her since she was born,” Roll said, WCPO reported. “We’re so happy Fiona could be there on our special day. Here’s to many more years of going to zoos with you,” Roll posted on Instagram.

One zoo staff member cropped the photo and quipped that Fiona thinks she’s the one getting engaged. Another said Fiona would need a much bigger ring for one of her toes.

Prototypes of Trump's border wall released

Congress is still calculating just how the Trump administration’s proposed Mexican-American border wall will be funded, but until then, we can now see what it might look like.

>> Read more trending news

Eight life size models are under construction on the outskirts of San Diego. Four of the prototypes are solid concrete and the other half are a combination of concrete and steel. One model is even topped with spikes. Roy Villareal, chief of the San Diego Border Patrol sector, shared the criteria on which the models are being measured on with NPR.

“We want a better barrier. One that is hard to scale, hard to penetrate and hard to tunnel under,” Villareal said.

“We’re hoping innovation from private industry combined with our experience generates the next evolution of border security infrastructure,” he continued.

Guidelines suggested the prototypes stand between 18 to 30 feet high, be capable of withstanding at least an hour of damage from construction tools, and be “aesthetically pleasing” from the U.S. side.

Each of the prototypes reportedly cost $500,000 and the six companies hired to produce them have until Oct. 26 to finalize construction.

President Trump is currently seeking $1.6B from Congress for 74 miles of new border wall to be located in southern Texas.

On Tuesday, he shared his excitement for the project, tweeting out, “BORDER WALL prototypes underway!”

Even with the available footage, Roy Villareal maintains that the prototypes may not be what the wall will ultimately look like.

“Part of the intent of the prototypes is to influence the ultimate design of new border fencing,” he said. “[The final design] may well not be what you witnessed.”

Until then, the Trump administration is currently keeping mum as to how the winners will be decided.

Photos show suspected poaching ring gloating over illegal kills; now they face nearly 200 charges

Newly obtained case files and criminal charges show the extent of a poaching case in Washington and Oregon where dozens of bears, elk and bobcats were killed for the thrill of it. 

KIRO 7 News reported in September that as many as 23 people possibly took part in the poaching ring breaking virtually every hunting law and regulation in Washington and Oregon. The suspects' photos of them gloating over their kills were used against as evidence by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

>> Read more trending news

Seven people — six adults, some of whom have previously been targeted in poaching investigations, and one juvenile — have been charged so far. 

Documents from the Skamania County clerk show at least five of those suspects are collectively facing 189 charges related to illegal hunting with aid of dogs, unlawful hunting of big game, and wasting fish and wildlife. 

Here are the suspects named in Skamania County case summaries:

• Joseph Dills, 64 charges

• Bryan Tretiak, 10 charges

• Eddy Dills, 26 charges

• Erick Martin, 28 charges

• William Haynes, 61 counts

Joseph and Eddy Dills were scheduled for arraignment hearings earlier this month.

Investigators said they linked the suspected ring through text messages and cellphone records allegedly showing the group coordinating illegal kills, which authorities say began in 2015.

Their alleged killing sprees focused on areas near Skamania County, where Gifford Pinchot National Forest is located, and near The Dalles in Oregon. Here’s what some of the video and images documented:

• Cougar chased up a tree by hounds before being shot and killed.

• Several bears treed by dogs, then shot and killed. 

• Elk killed in areas where hunting was not permitted. 

• A bobcat, along with deer, and elk shot illegally before being beheaded to take antlers and skulls as trophies. 

• Bones discovered months later in areas animals were killed. 

Investigators said the suspected poachers often left the carcasses of the slaughtered animals behind to rot in the woods. Additionally, the suspects shot animals in places where it was not allowed or the suspects did not have correct permits, according to WDFW. 

And in at least one case, the suspected poachers’ dogs were also apparently injured.

WDFW obtained one a series of text messages in their investigation. Authorities said this one was sent from a suspect to his girlfriend. 

“I'm done hunting already. I killed a huge bear about 400 pounds this morning about two feet from the ground. Now we are headed to Joe’s to drop the dogs off except for Jip and Stormy. Jip has about a 10-inch gash on her back leg and [Stormy’s] stiches pulled out so we're headed to get them fixed.”

Phone photos and videos dated back to August 2015, show bears illegally killed and hound hunting activity. Investigators said they were able to identify specific areas the suspected poachers went to over the last two years by photo-embedded GPS coordinates. 

Here’s how the investigation began: 

The investigation began with Oregon State Police troopers who were looking into poaching in The Dalles, charging papers filed in Skamania County Superior Court say.

Last December, the troopers contacted and interviewed two Longview, Washington, men, Haynes and Martin, who, the troopers said, confessed to illegally killing deer in Oregon and bringing their heads and antlers back to Washington.

The troopers contacted authorities in Washington, who recovered 27 deer heads and a bull elk unlawfully possessed by Haynes and a co-defendant, the charging papers say.

In executing search warrants for the suspects’ cellphones, the documents say, investigators found pictures, text messages and videos linking several other people to the poaching.

“The bears really suffered the brunt of this,” Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Brad Rhoden said. “They were just killed and left.”

More charges are expected in both Oregon and Washington state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report .

'She is going to get it,’ woman said before attacking teacher, police say

A woman who admitted to attacking her daughter’s teacher was arraigned Thursday night, and new details of what led up to the attack have been revealed in a criminal complaint.

>> Read more trending news

Police said Daishonta Williams went to King pre-K-8 on Wednesday for a conference about an incident involving her daughter.

The teacher, Janice Watkins, told police that the girl bit her after an altercation over a cellphone.

According to the criminal complaint, Williams was upset with how the school was handling the incident. Her daughter accused Watkins of choking her during the altercation.

As Williams left the school, she allegedly said, “She is going to get it later,” referring to Watkins, the complaint stated.

Williams previously told Channel 11 News that she followed Watkins as she left the school and approached her as she sat in her car near the West End Bridge.

Watkins told investigators that Williams threw a brick at her through the driver’s side window, which was rolled down. Williams then opened the door, pulled Watkins from the vehicle and began punching and kicking her, according to the complaint.

“I did get out and I did hit her, but I did not throw a brick through the window as they say I did,” Williams told Channel 11 News. “I did not. I punched her in her face.”

A man was with Williams during the assault. Williams identified him as her boyfriend.

Police caught up with Williams outside a home on North Charles Street and asked her about the assault.

“I ain't gonna lie, I did it,” Williams told officers. But she said she only used her fist, according to the complaint.

Police also spoke with Williams’ boyfriend, who said he witnessed the assault. He told officers that he was not involved and attempted to break up the fight.

Williams was arrested Thursday. She is charged with aggravated assault.

The teachers union completely supports Watkins, a representative said, and is meeting with Dr. Anthony Hamlet, the district’s superintendent, next week.

Channel 11 has learned that Hamlet will be at King soon to hear teacher concerns.

The union also has been in contact with the chief of Pittsburgh Public Schools police. Extra officers have been at King since the attack.

The union is ".asking for extra support for schools like Pittsburgh King that are experiencing difficulties ... ."

Watkins' family has created a GoFundMe account for her.

Funeral held for soldier at center of Trump rift

Before Sgt. La David Johnson joined the Army, he was known as “Wheelie King.”

He would remove the front tire from his bicycle and ride to Walmart where he worked in the produce department.

>> Read more trending news

“Once you feel that you are comfortable, you could just ride all day,” he said in a 2013 interview featuring his wheelie skills.

Johnson, 25, joined the Army in 2014, becoming a member of the Special Forces and was awarded leadership, achievement and marksmanship accommodations, according to his obituary.

Johnson and three other soldiers, as well as five Nigerian soldiers, died Oct. 4 in Niger when they were attacked by militants tied to the Islamic State. His death became the center of a dispute between President Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.

About 1,200 mourners gathered Saturday at Christ the Rock Church to remember Johnson before he was laid to rest. Johnson’s family asked reporters to stay outside during the service.

Portraits of his three comrades killed in action -- Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia -- joined his on the stage as the pastor, family and Wilson spoke.

Johnson's pregnant widow, Myeshia, held the arm of an Army officer as she led the couple’s children Ah'Leeysa, 6, La David Jr., 2.

La David and Myeshia were high school sweethearts. She is due to have a daughter, La’Shee, in January. An online fundraiser has raised more than $600,000 to pay for the children's education.

Johnson's sister, Angela Ghent, said his loss doesn’t feel real.

"It hasn't hit me yet,” Ghent said. “I haven't had time to grieve.”

Mourners said the fight between Trump and Wilson was never mentioned during the service.

The war of words between the president and Wilson began Tuesday when she said Trump told Johnson’s widow in a phone call that her husband "knew what he signed up for" and didn't appear to know his name, a version later backed up by Johnson's aunt.

The dispute has continued through the weekend with Trump tweeting: "I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Body of child found on Texas beach

Police are investigating after a young child's body was found on a Texas beach.

>> Read more trending news

Officers responded to a call Friday evening from an individual who said they found a body near the shoreline of a Galveston beach, according to the report posted on the Galveston Police Department's Facebook page. Police determined that the body was that of a white boy, approximately 3-5 years old. The child has not been identified and no missing persons reports match the child's description, KHOU reported.

Galveston police Capt. Joshua Schirard told KHOU that this is a very unusual case. Schirard said the U.S. Coast Guard and agencies in surrounding counties are assisting with the case.

Pizza shop owners remove bathroom signs after protests

The owners of a Colorado pizza shop are reluctantly removing the controversial bathroom signs at their restaurant after receiving backlash.The signs depict a man trying to lift up a woman's skirt, The Durango Herald reported. While the restroom signs have been up since HomeSlice Pizza opened four years ago, the complaints skyrocketed after images of the signs were shared on social media. Some found the signs to be in poor taste and making light of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

>> Read more trending news

Lynn Kitch and her husband own the restaurant. Kitch submitted a statement to the Herald, in which she said that she was removing the signs not because they are offensive, but because she didn't want her employees subjected to "adverse working conditions." Kitch said in the statement that she is a sexual assault survivor and would have welcomed a meaningful conversation about the signs, but instead, protesters were making harassing calls to the restaurant and cyberbullying the business by leaving bad reviews online.Some HomeSlice Pizza customers supported the owners, saying the sign was meant to be humorous.Kitch said at least one of the signs will be auctioned off and the proceeds will be donated to a local organization who supports sexual assault victims.

North Carolina politician sparks controversy with tweet comparing Trump to Hitler

A Charlotte city councilwoman is under scrutiny for a controversial tweet she posted comparing President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield posted the tweet Friday morning, which reads in part: “For All who read about Hitler you are Now Living how he reigned in #45."

WSOC spoke with members of the community for reactions to Mayfield’s statement.

"I don't think it's appropriate,” Charlotte resident Ulga Mazets said. 

Mazets is from eastern Europe and said her family was impacted by Hitler’s reign.

“My grandfather was in (a) concentration camp, so I feel it's a very harsh comparison,” she said.

>> Read more trending news

Others felt the comparison was inappropriate but said Mayfield had the right to make it.

“Everybody got their own opinion,” a Charlotte resident said.

Earlier this year, one of Mayfield’s fellow council members, Dimple Ajmera, landed in hot water when she said Trump supporters have no place leading Charlotte government.

[READ MORE: Councilwoman receives death threats following Trump comments]

Ironically, Mayfield just called for an investigation into a Charlotte Housing Authority worker who allegedly posted a tweet on Facebook applauding the death of Keith Lamont Scott, who was shot by police during an incident that sparked a nationwide debate.

University of North Carolina - Charlotte professor Anita Blanchard said these types of comments on social media are becoming more common.

She said leaders and those who use social media platforms should learn to be more media savvy.

“Finding a way to say something that’s not rude that still gets your point across,” she said.

Mayfield didn’t immediately respond to Channel 9’s calls about the tweet, but she tweeted again Friday afternoon saying, “I wish the media would question #45 about why we were in Niger.”

Mayfield is up for re-election. Her Republican opponent Daniel Herrera sent WSOC the following statement:

"I have heard of my opponent's divisive, and inflammatory tweet of political rhetoric comparing the President of the United States to Hitler, pure evil and everything President Trump and I stand to oppose. 

While LaWana Mayfield only wishes to divide our community by using the power of fear to distract from her failures. I stand to change and unite District Three. I will move us forward with policies that support safer streets that allow mail to be delivered and not canceled because of street violence. I have a real plan to promote affordable housing rather than subsidized soccer stadiums that only support the developers who own her vote. I will always represent my faith and never write a policy like her devastating bathroom bill, the one she spearheaded and forced upon our Queen City and which brought so much distrain to our community.

Shame on Mayfield for her continuation of divisive political tactics. Shame on her for disrespecting the over 400,000 Defenders of Freedom who fell beneath our flag to defeat Hitler." 

Mayfield's statement in response to the backlash:

"The Constitutional right of "Free Speech" is a precious and uniquely beloved gift among Americans. With this gift of free speech comes great responsibility. To some, I did not express that responsibly within the limited characters of my earlier tweet. I apologize for the brevity of my statement due to being limited to 140 characters. Many times, we cannot fully express intent or emotion through this limited platform."

"I do not want to diminish the heinous treatment and genocide that our Jewish brothers and sisters experienced at the hands of this dictator nor do I want to further create a dialogue that does not focus on the facts at hand."

"Today, we read about history as a story in a book and sometimes disassociate from the realities of lives impacted. Our communities must unite and realize that at this intersectionality of both conservative and liberal, white and people of color, gay or straight, young and seniors, these variances and diverse populations have strength when they unite in one voice."

"My anger and passion when tweeting was directed to those that continue to make excuses for a man who is leading our Nation in a divisive direction. His policies, the creation of the 'Birther movement,' executive orders and continual mistreatment of marginalized communities has quickly eroded the landscape of civility and civil discourse in our society. 

"I value the diversity of my community, work to be inclusive and give voice to those that are not at the table and bring equity to this city that I love.""While my words chosen have offended some, my intent was to bring attention to the continued crisis that we face each day while this president is leading us. My post angered some and I stay in a state of anger every day I watch the news and this like many posts was shared to shine a light on hypocrisy and the discourse rising in our nation."

World Series tickets for Dodger Stadium games soar in price

Emotions among fans in Southern California were sky-high after the Los Angeles Dodgers nailed down their first World Series berth in 29 years.

>> Read more trending news

Also rising are the cost of World Series tickets.

According to TicketIQ, a firm that tracks ticket sales and availability, the average asking price for games in Los Angeles are $3,164 per ticket. Only the Chicago Cubs last year, with an average asking price for games at Wrigley Field, had a higher amount, at $3,480, ESPN reported.

StubHub had several large sales for Game 1 of the World Series, which will be played in Los Angeles for the first time since 1988. One fan paid $37,804 (including fees) for a pair of front-row seats behind the Dodgers’ dugout, ESPN reported. Another paid $72,008 (also including fees) for four seats in the second row behind the Dodgers’dugout.

According to reseller Vivid Seats, the cheapest ticket available for Game 1 on Tuesday night is a standing room-only pass for $1,002, before fees. There was only one of those tickets available as of late Saturday morning.

Prices could even jump higher if the New York Yankees defeat the Houston Astros in tonight’s Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. The Dodgers and Yankees have met 11 times in the World Series since the two longtime rivals faced each other for the first time in 1941, when the Dodgers were based in Brooklyn. The Yankees have beaten the Dodgers in eight of those World Series.

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