Instagram deletes Calif. mother’s ‘Hope For Hazel’ account that showed cancer-stricken toddler’s progress

A California mother who chronicled her toddler's grueling battle with cancer on Instagram has been left heartbroken after the social media photo sharing site deleted the account that documented the difficult history. Lauren Hammersley had hoped to show her brave 4-year-old girl how she overcame neuroblastoma — and how 7 million followers watched her do it — but she fears those memories are now permanently erased. “There were quite a few photos and videos that I did not save. But more importantly, it was the comments that I wanted to share with her someday,” Hammersley told the Daily News. “I wanted to show her the impact she had on the community.” The proud new mom’s world was shattered on April 21, 2013 when her little girl Hazel was diagnosed with stage 3, high-risk neuroblastoma. Hazel, then 2-years-old, had a melon-sized tumor growing in her abdomen. "I remember my body went into shock and everything became such a blur," the devastated mother recalled in her blog. Hammersley documented the year-long battle on a "Hope For Hazel" Instagram account, sharing milestone moments of the tiny, resilient fighter beating the rare cancer. "In the beginning, it was showing when she was feeling bad during treatment, or days we got to go home and really exciting moments," she told CBS. "The day she shaved her head was another one, and then the day of her last chemo, that was another one." It was shared with 7 million people, Hammersley said. “There were really tough times when she was fighting for her life,” she told the News. “People reached out and said Hazel’s story affected their lives, and that they were praying. And it lifted our family up at that time.” Hazel is now feeling "tremendously well" and is a happy, healthy toddler after a hard-fought battle. But her distraught Simi Valley mother worries the Continue Reading

SEE IT: Kidnapper filmed running away with snatched toddler in arms

The hunt is on for a kidnapper who was caught on camera running down a street with a toddler in his arms after brazenly snatching him from a stroller in a Washington state park. It was the 22-month-old's siblings who came to the child’s rescue while desperately screaming and running after him Sunday in Sprague, outside Spokane, witnesses told KXLY News. Their frantic efforts got the attention of two teenaged boys who joined the 8- and 10-year-old's pursuit, apparently prompting the kidnapper to abandon the child in an alley. "This little girl came running around the corner screaming her head off," witness Dorothy Gidding told the station of the snatched toddler's sister. "I told that little girl, I said, 'Honey, you did exactly what you needed to do." Though the child was recovered safe, the children's father, Michael Wright, said he's still reeling from one of his worst nightmare's briefly coming true. "I can't explain the feeling, the anxiety and everything that goes into finding out your children is missing or something has happened to them," Wright told KIRO-TV. The rattled dad said he had entrusted his three young children with a babysitter that day while he was at work. That individual instead allowed them to go play unsupervised in a nearby park. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Devastated father of slain toddler ‘didn’t see the signs,’ calls mother charged with son’s death ‘a good person’

The devastated father of a slain toddler said he “didn‘t see the signs” and now he’s mourning his son, who cops say was smothered in a restaurant bathroom by his mother. Reeling in grief, Luis Ortiz, 33, described Latisha Fisher as a good mother who is mentally ill, not a demented demon following the instructions of the devil — and asked for sympathy for her. “She’s a good person and a happy person,” Ortiz said. “It’s not her fault that she’s sick.” Ortiz sat next to a shrine to 20-month-old Gavriel Ortiz-Fisher in his parents’ home in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, as he spoke about Fisher and his son. The memorial included some of the child’s toys and photos of the tiny smiling boy. “You couldn’t separate them,” Ortiz said. “They were always playing, and when they were playing he was a happy boy.” Yet Fisher took little Gavriel into a bathroom at the 5 Boro Burger restaurant on Sixth Ave. at 36th St. around 2:25 p.m. Monday and locked the door, cops said. They and witnesses say she then held her hand over the toddler’s mouth until there was no life left in his little body. The deranged woman tried to swat away staff who attempted to perform CPR on the child. Gavriel was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where he died, cops said. Ortiz said he knew Fisher, who lost custody of another son who now lives in California, suffered from mental health issues when the two started dating three years ago. But he never thought the woman he shared a Lower East Side apartment with was capable of such brutality. Fisher, who had worked in a nail salon when they first met, stopped going to school last year, when Ortiz landed a good-paying gig as a janitor, to stay home with their son. Ortiz claimed he noticed the 35-year-old mom had been acting strange over the past month and Continue Reading

Mother accused of murdering her toddler son in burger joint bathroom held without bail at hospital arraignment

The mother accused of killing her toddler son in the bathroom of a Midtown burger joint was ordered held without bail Wednesday at her arraignment from a hospital bed. Latisha Fisher — who was once a “poster child” for an alternative sentencing program — was arraigned on murder charges for allegedly smothering her 20-month-old son Gavriel Ortiz-Fisher at 5 Boro Burger on March 30. Fisher, 35, said little from her bed at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens during the brief proceeding. “Yes, judge,” Fisher told Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Gilbert Hong. Prosecutor Elizabeth Clerkin noted that Fisher, a paranoid schizophrenic, is currently on probation for the 2011 stabbing of her aunt. Fisher avoided serving prison time through participation in the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), a program for felony offenders with mental illnesses. A court-appointed social worker wrote in a report that Fisher “has been the poster child for an alternative to incarceration program.” Fisher’s lawyer at the arraignment, Bryan Konoski, requested a psychological exam of his client. The next court date was scheduled for April 29. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Milwaukee man suspected in twin slayings after toddler was fatally run over by van kills self as cops close in

A Milwaukee man suspected of killing a relative and another man Sunday after a traffic wreck that killed a toddler committed suicide at a Chicago-area hotel as law enforcement closed in, police said Thursday. Ricky Ricardo Chiles III, 27, had a lengthy criminal record and was banned from possessing guns when he opened fire on Archie Brown Jr., who stopped near Wahl Park on Sunday after running over 2-year-old Damani Terry. Brown, a 40-year-old father of four daughters, stopped and was grieving over little Damani ’s body — Chiles' nephew —when Chiles shot him in the head, police said. Also killed in the spray of bullets was 15-year-old Rasheed Chiles, the brother of the toddler and the gunman’s own nephew. Damani and Rasheed were at a family gathering when the triple tragedy struck around 5 p.m. Ricky Chiles spent just two years in prison for serving as the getaway driver in a 2011 bank robbery and was released on probation in August 2013, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He’d been sentenced to probation for sex assault in 2004 and also had convictions for disorderly conduct and resisting an officer. Court records show he was diagnosed as bipolar and schizophrenic, according to WISN-TV. "Sunday was the worst day I ever lived in my whole entire life. It's a day I wish had never, never came,” Lena Tidwell, who is Chiles’ mom and grandmother to little Damani and Rasheed, told the news station Tuesday. “The only thing I want to say to Ricky is, ‘Do the right thing. If you was involved in that, do the right thing, just give yourself up.’” Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Toddler, 3, points loaded, semiautomatic weapon at California cops: authorities

It ended with an arrest, but it could have been so much worse. A California mom was busted after her 3-year-old daughter pointed a loaded, semiautomatic weapon at startled cops Tuesday. The toddler was disarmed without incident, and 20-year-old Kimberly Torres was charged with suspicion of child endangerment and possession of stolen property. “As the detectives spoke to Torres, her 3-year-old daughter walked out of a bedroom holding a black, semiautomatic pistol, with a tactical light attached to the gun, and pointed the gun at the detectives,” the San Bernardino police said in a statement. “The gun was immediately taken from the child, and was found to be loaded.” Last week two guns had been stolen from the vehicle of an off-duty Los Angeles sheriff's deputy. The gun the 3-year-old aimed at cops was one of the stolen weapons, according to authorities. Authorities said they had found the other stolen weapon during a traffic stop, and arrested the driver of the vehicle, identified as 25-year-old Ramon Quintero. The vehicle was found to be registered to Torres, and cops were able to track her down Tuesday. Her child was taken by Child and Family Services. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Fifteen percent of Boston toddlers drink coffee: study

They don't call it Beantown for nothing! A new study reveals that 15% of Boston toddlers drink up to four ounces of coffee a day — putting them at risk of addiction, obesity, diabetes, depression and, obviously, sleep problems. "Anyone who gives coffee to a kid is a masochist!" said Stephanie Dolgoff, mother of two on the Lower East Side. "Who needs a 2-year old to be MORE hopped up? Do they also let them mainline high fructose corn syrup?" Study author Dr. Anne Merewood said these beany babies likely come from families where coffee consumption is a cultural norm. Hispanic parents are more likely to say they give their kids coffee than non-Hispanics, and residents of Cambodia, Australia and Ethiopia commonly give coffee to their children even before their fifth birthday, according to the study by the Boston University School of Medicine. Adults love coffee because it improves alertness — and it’s also been shown to boost memory and reduce the risk of diabetes. But kids "aren't merely small adults," said Alyssa Rumsey, a registered dietitian in New York and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The health research on babies and brew is scant, though one study found that 2-year-olds who drank coffee or tea had three times the risk of obesity, possibly because those drinks make kids crave more sugary beverages or simply because kids rarely drink coffee black. “Childhood is a critical period for establishing eating patterns and taste preference,” said Rumsey. And if they’re swapping milk or water for java, they’re not getting enough nutrients, Rumsey added. The effect of kid coffee lingers: Kids and teens who drink coffee have a higher risk for depression, diabetes, sleep problems, obesity, research shows. Parents who have ever struggled with a fitful baby will certainly wonder about any adult who would give coffee to a child. "As an exhausted new mom, I'm terrified Continue Reading

SEE IT: Family cat tries to get toddler away from oven

A YouTube video showing a cat apparently trying to nudge a toddler away from an oven is burning up the Internet. The footage shows a little boy playing with the dials and buttons of a kitchen stove while adults stand around talking. A white cat brushes the boy’s legs, then places its front paws on the child’s shoulders and appears to push him away. At that point, the adults start laughing and taking photos. It’s not clear where the video came from. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? SEE THE VIDEO HERE. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Milwaukee toddler killed by van apparently sparks shooting that claims lives of driver, teenager

A toddler struck and killed by a van in Wisconsin on Sunday apparently prompted a shooting that claimed the lives of the driver involved in the accident and a teenager, cops said. The triple tragedy occurred in Milwaukee when 41-year-old Archie Brown Jr. fatally hit the 2-year-old child who darted into the street, police said. Brown — a father of four daughters, including a 6-month-old — stayed at the scene and was shot in the head by a gunman, according to Brown’s father. He died at the scene, said Capt. Timothy Heier. The killer, who was on the loose Sunday night, also fatally shot a 15-year-old boy who was at the scene, police said. Heier said the boy died at a hospital during surgery. It was not immediately clear if the gunman was related to the toddler. “My son’s just been murdered,” Archie Brown Sr., 68, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “If I am a man of God and I believe in the Bible, nothing happens without a reason. What is the reason, I don’t know,” said the father, a street minister who goes by the nickname Prophet Brown. The shocking attack happened just after 5 p.m. when Brown stuck and killed the tot, who ran in front of him in a residential neighborhood, police said. When Brown stopped, the gunman suddenly appeared and blasted him in the head and shot the teen. Cops have not identified the boy, but they said he was not in Brown’s car. “It’s terrible,” Brown Sr. said. “My son has gone to eternity.” Brown said a family friend was in the van but was not injured. The senior Brown said his son was an entrepreneur who sold homes he bought and remodeled. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH VIDEO HERE. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Houston mom turns teen son in for knocking down toddler, stealing his iPad: police

Good moms are once again making good news. A 16-year-old who was caught on camera while callously knocking down a toddler to steal his iPad in Texas has been arrested after his own mother turned him in, police said. The Houston teen's arrest Tuesday evening came just hours after video of the April 19th theft outside a laundromat was aired by local news stations. "Apparently his father saw him on the news with the surveillance video we had sent out and called his mother. His mother called police and turned him in," Houston Public Information Officer Jodi Silva told the Daily News Wednesday. "By five or six in the evening, he was in custody," she said. The teen, who's not being identified because of his age but is now suspected in a number of prior thefts in the area, was dubbed the "the biggest thug I've ever seen" by one top cop following the surveillance video's release. "I've chased a lot of crooks but this is probably the biggest thug I've ever seen, to see some man knock a 2-year-old to the ground to take an iPad," said Senior Officer Ken Nealy, with the Houston Police Department. The child's mother, who didn't want to be named, also scolded the alleged thief — notably for putting a finger on her son. "They didn't have to touch him," she told KHOU. "He's two. Who steals from a 2-year-old? Get a job!" The little boy reportedly suffered minor bumps and bruises from the fall. His 7-year-old sister, who witnessed the robbery, is described as "scared to go outside" while the 2-year-old, his mother says, just wants his iPad back. "Every day: 'My iPad, my iPad, mommy. My iPad'" his mother recalled his words. The teen's arrest comes one day after video of a Baltimore mother catching her own 16-year-old son taking part in the city's violent street riots went viral, leading to public praise of her being "Mom of the Year." "To see my son Continue Reading