Former White House chef missing for nearly a week in rugged New Mexico mountains after leaving for day hike

A desperate search is on for a former White House chef after the 61-year-old man went missing nearly a week ago in a rugged stretch of New Mexico mountains. Walter Scheib, who spent 1994 to 2005 cooking up meals for Presidents Clinton and Bush, was last seen Saturday after heading into the wilderness at the Taos Ski Valley. He was reported missing after he never showed for a meeting with his girlfriend on Monday. Authorities found his car Tuesday evening at the Yerba Canyon trail head, the Taos News reported. Search and rescue teams couldn’t begin until the next day because of a lack of light and have come up empty ever since. Rescuers are using dogs and horses to comb through the rocky terrain. Little is known about where he was headed, and for how long, but searchers fear he was ill-prepared for an extended stay outside. And recent bad weather may have scrubbed the trails of any sign of the missing chef. “He had, at best, a very light jacket, and hiking shoes — more like running shoes — for the wilderness as opposed to real hiking boots,” incident commander Richard Goldstein told KRQE-TV. “And we’re not aware of any other gear that he had. He may have had a water bottle with him.” Scheib had recently moved to the Taos area from Florida after his 11 years serving up presidential platters. He wrote a book of the experience called “White House Chef: 11 years, two presidents, one kitchen.” And the skilled personal chef had appeared on shows like Iron Chef and maintains a blog detailing his charity work with children aspiring to cook. In an interview with the website “Munchies,” Scheib admitted that Hillary Clinton was a huge fan of his during his years serving the Clinton White House. He said he’d consider a return to the presidential kitchen if Clinton were elected in the 2016 election. “Well, I mean, of course if the Continue Reading

New Mexico police officer shot and killed, suspect captured

A New Mexico military veteran-turned-police officer was shot and killed Monday night during a traffic stop outside Albuquerque. Officer Gregg Nigel Benner, 49, was a father to five adult children, an Air Force veteran, and had spent four years on the Rio Rancho force before being gunned down about 8 p.m. outside the city’s library near Southern Boulevard and Pinetree Road. The officer was killed on Memorial Day and is the first cop shot and killed in the line of duty during the department’s 34-year history. "Losing him is going to have a great impact with the officers, on the department, with the employees on the department ... I'm sure once we're able to identify the officer to the community, they will feel a loss as well," Captain Paul Rogers told KOB-TV. The fatal encounter began with an attempted traffic stop at a nearby Arby’s. The suspect fled in a 1999 Dodge Durango before pulling over near the Esther Bone Memorial Library, where gunfire erupted. Fellow officers responded to the scene after a call of “Officer down!” went out over police radio. Hours later, authorities with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department announced they’d apprehended one of two suspects about 3:30 a.m. some 20 miles south in Albuquerque. Police later said only one suspect was wanted in connection with the crime. "Officer Benner was a dedicated military veteran and law enforcement officer and his tragic death is deeply saddening to the tight-knit community of Rio Rancho," Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull said in a statement. "The City of Rio Rancho mourns his untimely death and I urge community members to keep Officer Benner's family in their thoughts and prayers. Our police officers hold a special place in our hearts as they lay their lives on the line every day protecting our safety and this is a stark reminder of their sacrifice." A teen riding his bicycle near the shooting scene heard Continue Reading

Career criminal jailed in death of New Mexico police officer during traffic stop

One of the last decisions Officer Gregg Benner made before ending his shift on Monday was to make one more traffic stop. That decision ended in the Rio Rancho, New Mexico officer’s death as he confronted a driver who then allegedly shot his girlfriend in the foot and shoved her out of the car in order to flee, according to local reports. The wounded woman watched Benner, a 49-year-old husband, father of five children, retired member of the U.S. Air Force and officer with Rio Rancho Police Department, collapse to the ground with multiple gunshot wounds to his chest, the Alburquue Journal reported citing court documents. Andrew Romero, the alleged 28-year-old gunman is behind bars in suspicion of Benner’s death. He was given a $5 million cash bond at a court hearing on Wednesday morning as Benner’s grieving family and police force watched in the audience, KOAT-TV reported. Romero was no stranger to law enforcement, Rio Rancho Police Chief Michael Geier noted on Tuesday. The suspect is a career criminal and known gang member who had already been imprisoned for taking another man’s life in 2006. He had been nabbed by authorities in Albuquerque eight hours after fleeing the suburban shooting in Rio Rancho. In the hours since the shooting, Romero had already become implicated in a gas station robbery. His girlfriend, Tabitha Littles, painted Romero as a heroin user who had been acting paramoid. The couple had been scoping out places to burgle with Littles behind the wheel on his orders, she told investigators. Hoping to catch Benner’s attention for help, she drove erratically through the streets of Rio Rancho, spurring what would become Benner’s last call at 8:04 p.m. even though his shift had just ended, KOAT-TV added. Romero only supplied false information at first and had Littles drive off, authorities said, but Benner stopped the couple a second time a short distance later. Continue Reading

New Mexico man arrested after throwing banana peel at Dave Chappelle on stage

SANTA FE, N.M. — Santa Fe police say a man tossed a banana peel at Dave Chappelle during a show, hitting in the comedian in the leg. Police Lt. Andrea Dobyns says 30-year-old Christian Englander of Santa Fe was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and battery after the fruit throw Monday night at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in the northern New Mexico city. Dobyns says Englander acknowledged throwing a peel from a banana he had eaten earlier because he took offense to jokes Chappelle made about his companion. Christian Englander was arrested for throwing a banana peel at comedian Dave Chappelle. Police say Englander appeared to be intoxicated after event security escorted him outside. Englander remained in jail Tuesday, and Dobyns said she didn’t know whether Englander has an attorney to speak in his defense. Continue Reading

Boy Scout swept away by flash flood and killed at Boy Scouts of America’s New Mexico ranch

A flash flood whipped up by a nightime storm early Saturday swept a Boy Scout to his death during a 12-day camping trip at a remote northeast New Mexico ranch. The surging waters rushed through one of the scout campsites around 4:30 a.m. Saturday as the storm struck, whisking away four young scouts through the North Ponil Canyon. Three of the boys, whose ages range from 14 to 17, survived when rescuers pulled them from the raging waters, but one teen never resurfaced during the initial search. The boy's body was eventually found a mile from the campsite, New Mexico State Police said.  He has not been identified by pending the family’s notification. “This is a very difficult time for our entire Scouting family,” a Philmont Scout Ranch spokesman said in a statement to its website. “Our staff was unable to account for one youth participant, who we have since confirmed passed away. The scouts were in the first 15 miles of their trek through the ranch that covers about 214-square miles of rugged terrain owned by the Boy Scouts of America.  It’s unknown which path the scouts had taken, but multiple trails do pass through the canyon, ranch controller Steve Nelson said. Nelson does not recall any flash floods in that area of the canyon during his eight-year tenure at the ranch. The ranch has had at least one fatality in recent history when an adult died of a medical condition while on the trail. With News Wire Services Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

New Mexico lobbies to be high-level nuclear waste storage site

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico is touting a rural area in the southeastern part of the state as an interim storage site for the country's high-level nuclear waste, according to a letter issued by Gov. Susana Martinez earlier this month. The governor reached out to the Obama administration in a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. In the April 10 letter, which was obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican, Martinez urged officials to consider a 1,000-acre parcel as a place for storing spent radioactive fuel rods from power plants. Martinez also praised southeastern New Mexico residents for being able to "carve out a niche in the nuclear industry." "Time and time again, the citizens of southeastern New Mexico have impressed me with their hard work ethic and willingness to tackle national problems that many others consider to be unsolvable," Martinez wrote. Officials in Lea and Eddy counties are involved in the proposal. The site is about a mile north of US 62/180, halfway between Carlsbad and Hobbs. The Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, a consortium of city and county governments, says the potential disposal ground could bring jobs and economic growth. "You've got to recognize, we're not a Santa Fe, and we're not an Albuquerque that has a self-sustaining economy. We're out here in the hinterlands, and we need to find our own niches," said John Heaton, a former state lawmaker and alliance chairman. Others, however, have reservations about opening New Mexico to radioactive waste. Don Hancock, a waste expert with the Southwest Information and Research Center in Albuquerque, said towing volatile waste across the country could be problematic. With no plans for a permanent repository facility, a site in New Mexico could end up being the final destination for spent fuel. He also expressed concern that Martinez seems to be focused on just bolstering southeastern New Mexico. "She certainly hasn't asked the people of the state what they think about it," Hancock Continue Reading

Two fired New Mexico cops could face charges in jail cell beating of handcuffed man (VIDEO)

Two former cops in New Mexico could soon be the ones behind bars after video of the December 2014 beating of a handcuffed arrestee was released and captured the brutal, unwarranted assault. The local district attorney and the state Attorney General plan to present their case against Las Cruces police Richard Garcia and Danny Salcido to a grand jury in June. Both officers, on administrative duty since March, were fired earlier this month after the department finished an internal investigation into the Dec. 23, 2014 beating of 47-year-old Ross Flynn. Flynn is suing the department for $12.5 million. "The allegations against both officers were reviewed and it was found that these officers violated internal policies and procedures which warranted their discharge from employment with the Las Cruces Police Department," LCPD Chief Jaime Montoya said in a May 19 statement announcing the termination. Flynn was being arrested two days before Christmas on charges stemming from a dispute with his neighbor when, he says, he asked officers to adjust his handcuffs, which were digging into his wrists. That’s when he lightly kicked a cell door, getting the attention of the two officers, who walked in and immediately started attacking Flynn, who was cuffed to waist chains. The nearly two minute clip shows the officers slam him against the wall, while one grabs him by the head, as they throw him onto a metal bench and one begins to apply knee strikes to the cuffed man’s body. They fling him around and face first into the wall before tossing him on the cell floor, video shows. The officers then drag him over to the bench and prop him against the wall and again pick him up and move him to a second portion of the bench before leaving. Flynn was later hospitalized with a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain, a cracked cheekbone and cracked rib, according to KVIA-TV. The officers in their Continue Reading

March Madness: Kansas Jayhawks open with rout of New Mexico State, 75-56

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Second-seeded Kansas did its best to restore some luster to the Big 12. Well, at least scrub away some of the tarnish. Frank Mason III scored 17 points to lead a balanced attack, and the Jayhawks rolled to a 75-56 victory over No. 15 seed New Mexico State on Friday, giving their beleaguered conference its first NCAA Tournament victory in four tries this March. RELATED: TEN GREATEST UPSETS IN TOURNEY HISTORY Perry Ellis added nine points for the Jayhawks (27-8), who did their part in setting up a tantalizing matchup with seventh-seeded Wichita State in the Midwest Region’s round of 32. The Shockers played No. 10 seed Indiana in their opening game later Friday. DK Eldridge had 11 points and Remi Barry and Tshilidzi Nephawa scored 10 each for the Aggies (23-11), who had won 13 straight while sweeping the Western Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles. After a stunning day of upsets Thursday, lowlighted by an 0-3 mark from the mighty Big 12, the Jayhawks made sure to rob any drama from its opener at the CenturyLink Center. RELATED: NCAA TOURNAMENT INTERACTIVE BRACKET: TRACK THE GAMES AS THEY HAPPEN They shot holes in the Aggies’ unorthodox zone, going 9 of 13 from beyond the arc. They turned just about every turnover into a run-out. And they ran ragged New Mexico State’s veteran starters, who had not allowed an opponent to score 70-plus points in their last 24 games. In fact, the rim played better defense against Kansas for much of the game. Ellis missed a dunk in the opening minutes. Mason and Landen Lucas each missed bunnies. Wayne Selden Jr. even got the ball on a fastbreak, elevated high above the rim and then realized he was going to come up short on a dunk, missing a desperation lay-in instead. Kelly Oubre Jr. even clanked a dunk on an alley-oop pass off the iron early in the second half. All those easy misses didn’t put the Continue Reading

NYC weather is snowy, cold as ‘winter’s last hurrah’ poised to blanket states from New Mexico to New England, affecting 92 million people

New Yorkers woke up to icy rain that turned to wet snow Thursday as a winter storm stretched from Texas all the way to New England. But for many in the northeast who feel they have spent too much quality time with their snow-blower in recent weeks, there was some hope: some forecasters predicted it could be "winter's last hurrah." New York City was set to get as much as 8 inches of snow Thursday, and governors in Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Jersey declared states of emergency in advance of the storm. Altogether, about 92 million Americans were under a winter weather advisory on Thursday. The frontal system was expected to cover 2,000 miles of territory between New Mexico and Massachusetts, with temperatures dropping by at least 20 degrees from the previous day. By early Thursday morning, onslaughts of snow were already reported in the region between Jonesboro, Ark., and northwest Tennessee, according to the National Weather Service. The NWS predicted blizzard conditions in that region through 6 a.m., with snowfall and sleet totals expected to reach 12 inches. Kentucky is likely to get 6 to 10 inches of snow. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray tweeted a picture of Weather Channel correspondents in the city Wednesday night and wrote: "You know something's going on when the @weatherchannel is in town! Stay home if you can!" Drivers on Kentucky highways were left stranded for hours when white-out conditions stopped traffic and buried cars. Some travelers tweeted that they had been halted on highways for more than 12 hours. “I've been sick and haven't been eating and now here we are stuck on the road for over 12 hours no food and no water. I'm dying,” one driver posted from inside her car. Boston was poised to break a snowfall record. It was little more than 2 inches shy of eclipsing its all-time snowfall record, and the forecast was for a few inches to fall by storm's end on Thursday Continue Reading

Drunk New Mexico dad fires gun at customer during beer run, uses 13-year-old son as getaway driver, police say (VIDEO)

A "Breaking Bud" dad allegedly too drunk to drive got his 13-year-old son to take him to an Albuquerque gas station on an ill-fated beer run, police said. Sergio Barrientos-Hinojosa, 33, got into an argument with another customer inside the New Mexico station's convenience store and opened fire Saturday night, according to the Albuquerque Police Department. “Totally irresponsible of this individual,” Albuquerque Police spokesperson Simon Drobik told KRQE. No one was wounded and Barrientos-Hinojosa, still firing his gun the air, sped off in a truck with his underage son behind the wheel, cops said. They didn't get far. About 40 police officers were conducting a DWI checkpoint across the street and quickly stopped Barrientos-Hinojosa. “The 13-year-old looked completely shell-shocked at that moment,” Drobik told KRQE. Barrientos-Hinojosa, who fired up to eight times, faces child abuse and weapons charges. The 13-year-old getaway driver will not be charged, police said. Follow on Twitter @jmolinet ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. With News Wire Services Join the Conversation: Continue Reading