Who Set Jessica Chambers On Fire? The Internet Is Trying To Find Out

The stranger who wrote to Lisa Daugherty had a simple question. Were the grisly details she had read about the death of Lisa’s daughter, Jessica Chambers, true? If they were, it might help solve Jessica’s murder, she explained to Lisa in a Facebook message:“She was so burnt, her fingers were gone, her skin was crisp and falling off, her tongue was gone and she died alone wandering for help which arrived too late.”Lisa read the woman’s message aloud to me off her laptop screen in her soft Mississippi drawl. It was late May, nearly six months since Lisa’s 19-year-old daughter was burned alive in her 2005 Kia Rio on a rural road two miles from home. Lisa was spending the afternoon as she has most days since: curled up on her couch in the dark, chain-smoking and chatting with people on the internet who are obsessed with Jessica’s still-unsolved murder.The stranger’s message didn’t faze Lisa, who was dressed in faded jeans and a pink “Justice for Jessica” T-shirt, even though it was not only grotesque but also incorrect. Lisa has heard much, much worse, both fact and fiction, since the night she sat next to her unconscious daughter, who was swaddled in bandages, and watched her take her last breath. Instead, Lisa was a bit exasperated. Facebook messages and comment notifications from other self-proclaimed sleuths she’s never met popped up as she considered how to respond.“Well, I can tell her that I was there when she passed,” Lisa said, lighting another cigarette. “I was right there.” Jessica was murdered last December, but people from all over the country still convene on forums and in Facebook groups to argue about who killed her and why. Private investigators seeking the now $54,000 reward for information leading to Jessica’s killer have trawled the county for clues, but the dozens of diehards who post every few hours about Jessica’s case have never even Continue Reading

How New York City Hired A Con Artist To Clean Up Ebola

When New York City officials needed someone to disinfect the apartment of its first Ebola patient, they found someone who seemed to be made for the job. Sal Pane boasted decades of experience cleaning up extremely dangerous materials, including anthrax in 2001. Ebola was his time to shine. “This is our Michael Jordan moment. The fourth quarter,” he told USA Today. “When everyone else says no, we show up.”But when Pane and his Bio-Recovery crew showed up at Dr. Craig Spencer’s home, they brought a truck bearing permit numbers that belonged to a dead man. Pane had duped the dead man’s grieving sister into selling that truck, she said, as well as the company name. Pane then claimed the dead man’s years cleaning up anthrax sites and other danger zones as his own — despite the fact that the dead man’s family, friends, and former co-workers said they had never known him to work with Pane.Soon after Spencer’s apartment was first cleaned, BuzzFeed News reported that Pane — who has referred to himself as the “chief safety officer” of the firm New York City hired to clean up a lethal pathogen— is a convicted felon and former mortgage scammer.But now, further investigation has revealed that Pane has a long and colorful history of telling falsehoods. An examination of his past legal troubles and his current operation has found that he has a playbook: He uses fake names and makes false claims to inflate his credentials, gains credibility from media interviews in which he speaks of lofty ideals and glittering successes, and along the way accumulates a trail of people who feel he exploited them when they were vulnerable.His story illuminates how, with enough audacity, a scammer can even land a job that’s critical to public safety.Pane and Bio-Recovery have claimed to have certifications from the EPA and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. But BuzzFeed News could not find Continue Reading

Inside A Controversial Clinic That Teaches People To Do Poop Transplants

One afternoon in October, a skinny 6-year-old boy in navy Crocs plodded into a nondescript Tampa clinic clutching a stuffed monkey. His mom followed him in with a big bag of toys.Like an estimated 70% of kids with autism, Luke was a picky eater who had been battling an achy tummy, a yeast infection, and chronic constipation for years. He had tried antibiotics, gluten- and sugar-free diets, and therapy. Nothing worked. So now his mom, Julie, was about to try a last-ditch procedure.Luke lay on his side on a cushioned exam table while his mom held his arms and kept him from squirming. A clinic technician plunged a syringe into a box next to the sink, pulled up a small volume of a brown, smoothie-like liquid — human feces — and pushed it into his colon through a catheter tube.Luke scrunched his legs together, and Julie soothed him: “Good job, buddy.”Five minutes later, Luke was off the table and back to his energetic self, playing with a Toby the Tram Engine, chewing on a rubber toy, squatting on the floor, and slinking out into the hallway when his mom’s back was turned.For Julie, this was a rare moment of relief. This infusion of “healthy” bacteria from someone else’s poop could heal Luke’s gut, she hoped, and maybe even spur him to speak a full sentence for the first time.“I'm happy we're at this point where we can actually do this,” she said later that afternoon. “I think it's going to help us quite a bit.”A spate of studies over the last decade have convinced microbiologists and doctors that “fecal microbiota transplantation,” or FMT, works for at least one disease: a deadly bacterial infection in the gut known as Clostridium difficile, or C. diff. No one knows whether the procedures work on other conditions, though dozens of clinical trials are testing them on people with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, autism, and even HIV.The science Continue Reading

The Devil In A Pussy Hat

Harvey Weinstein is a noted liberal feminist.He marched in the Park City, Utah, Women's March and endowed a faculty chair at Rutgers University in the name of feminist icon Gloria Steinem. He's said all the right things and spoke truth to power, supported liberal causes, and once raised nearly $8 million to fight HIV/AIDS in a single night.Harvey Weinstein is also taking a leave of absence from his position atop the entertainment elite, after realizing that “the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain.”“I so respect all women and regret what happened,” he wrote in a letter to the New York Times, in response to its report on Thursday detailing decades of allegations of sexual harassment against him, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements reached with eight of his accusers.Dan Lyons, the tech author and journalist, warned New York Times readers this April that “toxic bro culture” is ruining the tech industry, creating an environment where women are harassed and minorities excluded. On Thursday night, he wrote that he “felt sick” when he was reminded of messages he sent to right-wing culture warrior Milo Yiannopoulos, speculating about the true genders of two prominent tech industry women being targeted by misogynist hordes online.“I feel awful. I made a mistake,” he said of the emails uncovered by BuzzFeed News, including one which read, “Is this feminist a dude? I honestly can’t tell.”You never have to look too far when searching for hypocrisy in American public life. Sometimes, it's a pro-life Republican representative trying to convince his mistress to have an abortion via text message. But other times, it's a self-described "male feminist" academic who writes at length about "being a good man" while trying to sleep with his female students.This kind of hypocrisy is all too common at a time when being a feminist — or anti-racist, or Continue Reading

11 apps that can save your life in case of an emergency

No one ever likes to think of the possibility of running into trouble or getting caught in the middle of a natural disaster, but in case you ever find yourself in an emergency it's better to be prepared. The Daily News has put together a list of apps and messaging services that can alert of you of crisis or contact 911 if you're in dire need of help. PLUG INTO THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT Here are 11 apps that could potentially save your life in case of an emergency: Medical ID — iPhone and Android Smartphones now let you create a Medical ID that can be accessed from the Emergency Call screen. If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation the Medical ID could help people identify you and see your medical record. To create a Medical ID you have to access the pre-installed Health app and follow the instructions provided. To view a person's Medical ID in an emergency, go to their lock screen, tap on "Emergency" or "Emergency Call" for Android, and Medical ID will pop up with their information (full name, emergency contact and blood type). ICE Standard This app works as a digital emergency card that emergency responders can check in case you're unconscious or can't communicate verbally. ICE Standard, "the official in case of emergency standard card app," puts your health information on the lock screen of your phone so EMTs can know all your information at a glance. However, it's always recommended to have a physical emergency card in case your phone is severely damaged, overlooked or dead. ICE also has a featured called Smart911 that sends your digital emergency card to operators when you call 911 and ask for help. Bugle This app can help your loved ones find you in case of an emergency. Bugle is a free notification service that alerts your family if you don't check in when you're expected to. The app lets you create an activity log, determine Continue Reading

Uber driver told cancer patient she deserves to be sick after canceling ride

An Uber driver has been fired after harassing a cancer patient who says she was called an animal who deserves to be sick — all for canceling her car reservation. Alexandra Craigle, 25, had just finished radiation treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan last week when on a whim she canceled her Uber pick-up just a minute after reserving it and hopped in a taxi instead. The resulting punishment would be three phone calls, text messages and an irate voice mail from her ditched driver, she said. "You are not human…" one of three angry text messages blasted to her phone on Nov. 10 read. Craigle, who has been battling lymphoma since 2012, defended to the Daily News that she canceled the pick-up within Uber's five-minute grace period. The text message, seen left, were allegedly sent to Craigle following her canceled ride on Nov. 10. Craigle, seen right, said she will never ride with Uber again. She said she also explained her medical situation to the driver in a responding text, however admits that she blamed her cancellation on a forgotten head scarf instead of finding another ride. "Thanks though for great customer service," she texted him. "Yeah right I think you deserve what happened to you with such a [character.] You hang up the phone and cancel the trip … go see a head doctor too," the driver allegedly snapped back. "It was freezing cold, I was and still am suffering from shingles, am on liquid morphine, and didn't feel like waiting for the Uber driver to drive two avenues to me," she defended her last-moment decision to The News. A Los Angeles phone number attached to the hostile text messages was found to be disconnected when attempted to be reached for comment Tuesday. An Uber representative confirmed the driver's termination in an email, however. "Uber has a zero tolerance policy for abusive or threatening Continue Reading

Is it a sick day? Vacation day? With PTO, it doesn’t matter

NEW YORK — At small businesses this summer, many owners won't be trying to figure out whether employees will be counting it as vacation time, personal days or sick leave when they send texts or emails that say, "I'm not coming in today."A growing number of companies combine vacation and sick time into one bucket called paid time off, or PTO. Staffers decide whether they're going to use the days for vacation, when they or a relative is ill, or for family events."You're saying to staffers, it's PTO, just take it. If you have a sick kid, need a personal day, you're really stressed out," says Gretchen Van Vlymen, a vice president at StratEx, an HR consulting firm based in Chicago.Forty-three percent of companies offered PTO in 2016, up from 28% in 2002, according to a report from World at Work, an association of human resources professionals. The report said 51% of private companies, which would include small and mid-size businesses, offered PTO last year. The report was based on a survey of the organization's members.One of the biggest pluses about PTO for small business owners is eliminating the administrative chore of tracking how many sick days versus vacation days their employees have used. That can be particularly helpful in the growing number of states, counties and cities where employers are required to allow staffers to accrue sick time, usually up to 40 hours a year depending on how many hours they work. With PTO, there's no need to track hours worked or accrued.For Will Gadea, offering PTO to his five staffers means he doesn't have to be the arbiter of whether someone is really sick when they call him in the morning, coughing and asking for a day off."I don't want to make employees lie to me in order to use those days up," says Gadea, owner of IdeaRocket, an animated video company in New York.But PTO isn't a panacea for time off issues. It may not stop those workers who habitually call out on Mondays or after long holiday weekends. And some staffers may Continue Reading

Mitt Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention: Full text

Mr. Chairman, delegates. I accept your nomination for President of the United States of America. I do so with humility, deeply moved by the trust you have placed in me. It is a great honor. It is an even greater responsibility. VIDEO: MORE ON MITT ROMNEY'S SPEECH Tonight I am asking you to join me to walk together to a better future. By my side, I have chosen a man with a big heart from a small town. He represents the best of America, a man who will always make us proud – my friend and America’s next Vice President, Paul Ryan. In the days ahead, you will get to know Paul and Janna better. But last night America got to see what I saw in Paul Ryan – a strong and caring leader who is down to earth and confident in the challenge this moment demands.  I love the way he lights up around his kids and how he's not embarrassed to show the world how much he loves his mom.  But Paul, I still like the playlist on my iPod better than yours. Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections. We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than what divides us. When that hard fought election was over, when the yard signs came down and the television commercials finally came off the air, Americans were eager to go back to work, to live our lives the way Americans always have – optimistic and positive and confident in the future.  That very optimism is uniquely American. It is what brought us to America. We are a nation of immigrants. We are the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life, the driven ones, the ones who woke up at night hearing that voice telling them that life in that place called America could be better. They came not just in pursuit of the riches of this world but for Continue Reading

Tiny town, big bucks: Official earns $142,000 to run upscale village of 4,000

Meet Andy Pederson, who has one of the cushiest government jobs in the Milwaukee area. Pederson is the village administrator for the tiny suburb of Bayside, a community not much larger than a subdivision. Its 2010 population: 4,389. In his position, Pederson oversees seven village staffers, including the police chief, and the North Shore dispatch center for fire and police calls. On a typical day, Bayside's quiet and well-groomed village hall has many more parking spaces than cars. Pederson is paid a base salary of $142,009 a year. In many years, he also gets a bonus and a car allowance. For example, all together — including a sick leave payout — Pederson received $155,279 in taxable income in 2014. Pederson also hired and promoted his top deputy to an $81,000-per-year job despite her relatively short résumé. She left her Bayside post last year for a job crafted just for her with the City of Waukesha, and Pederson and she got married in March.Pederson said in an interview that they began dating in September, a month after she left Bayside and weeks after his divorce was finalized. He described the romance as "very quick.""We have nothing to hide," Pederson said. "We've done everything in a very professional way."While other governmental agencies have struggled to balance their budgets, members of the Bayside board have consistently rewarded Pederson since hiring him in 2005 at $81,000 a year. His base salary has increased 75% over that time. In addition, the board has given Pederson bonuses in six of the past seven years, ranging from $3,500 to $10,500. He has also been granted a car allowance of up to $6,960 in most years. Pederson now makes more than the Milwaukee County executive, the Milwaukee County sheriff and the Milwaukee County district attorney. Depending on bonuses, he receives a paycheck in line with that of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Continue Reading

When good trips go bad: Expert tips to prepare and respond

As part of USA TODAY’s new travel research portal Embark, we’ve assembled an expert panel of travel bloggers to share their best advice to help you travel smarter, safer and more economically. This month’s query: Something's going to go wrong on a trip this summer. What should you do to prepare in advance, and how should you respond in the moment to get the best resolution? DUPLICATE IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS Jared Alster, VP of Marketing, Stride TravelIf you're traveling internationally this summer, make sure to make copies of everything — passport, credit cards, travel insurance, itinerary — and save it in iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive or similar. Or, if you want to go old school, print everything out and leave it with a friend or family member for safekeeping. This way, if something goes missing or is stolen, you'll have a backup record for easier replacement. Also, be wary of storing important documents or items such as jewelry in hotel safes. Often times, multiple hotel employees have duplicate keys and there have been reports of theft — even at luxury properties. The safest place for valuables is at home. The second safest is often on your person.If your flight is canceled or delayed, or you're given a studio when you asked for a suite, your best outlet is often social media. All major airline and hotel brands maintain large teams to quickly reply to issues raised via Facebook or Twitter and can often solve issues quicker than staff on the ground. In all situations, remember to be respectful no matter how frustrated you might be — a little smile can be the difference between getting that upgrade or not.  TRAVEL AGENTS CAN SAVE THE DAYJoshua Smith, Travel Designer, Global Citizen Journeys  In today's digital age, it's much easier to be prepared when traveling. Scan your passport, IDs and backs of bank cards and email it to yourself so you'll always have that information. Numbers are important, Continue Reading