Sheriff seeks 2,000 volunteers in search for missing girl -- that's two-thirds of the town's population
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald on Monday asked for 2,000 volunteers to help authorities in an expanded routine search of the area around the crime scene Tuesday for possible evidence in the investigation into Jayme Closs' disappearance. The teenager vanished early October 15 and her parents were found fatally shot in their home near the city of Barron in northwestern Wisconsin. Barron, a city of less 3 square miles, has a population of about 3,300, according to US Census figures.
Monday's call for volunteers is 10 times the number of volunteers the sheriff sought last week. Fitzgerald said more people are needed to help search a bigger area.
The sheriff also released photos of two "vehicles of interest" captured on surveillance footage near the Closs home during the killings.
The first vehicle is likely a red or orange 2008-2014 Dodge Challenger, Fitzgerald said. The second vehicle is likely either a black 2006-2010 Ford Edge or a black 2004-2010 Acura MDX, he said.
"These are vehicles of interest only," the sheriff said.
Fitzgerald said authorities don't know what license plates were on the vehicles.
Authorities have said a mysterious 911 call led deputies to discover Jayme's parents -- James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46 -- had been shot dead at the family's home. No gun was found at the scene, according to Fitzgerald.
An Amber Alert was issued for Jayme on the day she disappeared, and the FBI has added her to its online list of kidnapped or missing people.
On the 911 call, no one on the line talked to the dispatcher, but a disturbance was heard, authorities said. The dispatcher "could hear a lot of yelling" during the 911 call, which was "pinged" to the Closs home, according to a dispatch log the Barron County Sheriff's Office released Friday. When the dispatcher called the number back, a voice mail greeting indicated the phone belonged to Denise Closs.
A responding officer arrived to find "the door has been kicked in," according to the log. The family's dog was there at the home when deputies arrived.
The log does not indicate who made the 911 call or who was yelling or what was said.
More than 1,300 tips have come since Jayme's disappearance. More than 1,100 of those tips have been investigated and closed, Fitzgerald said.
On Monday, the Barron Area School District will hold "A Gathering of Hope," to help the community heal. Counseling resources will also be provided.
Jayme was a dancer and cross-country runner at Riverview Middle School in the district.
Bible Museum says five of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fake
German-based scholars tested the fragments and found that five "show characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin and therefore will no longer be displayed at the museum."
CNN raised questions about the museum's Dead Sea Scroll fragments in an article published last November, as the Green family prepared to unveil their new, $500 million museum. At 430,000 square feet, and with views of the Capitol, the Bible museum represents a significant investment for its evangelical founders.
Now scholars say the Dead Sea forgeries could be part of the most significant sham in biblical archeology since the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife," a fiasco that hoodwinked a Harvard scholar and made worldwide news in 2012. Some scholars estimate that as many as 70 forged fragments have hit the market since 2002.
Oklahoma billionaires, the Greens are best-known for their chain of Hobby Lobby craft stores and their religious freedom battle with the Obama administration over covering contraception in company health care plans.
"Though we had hoped the testing would render different results, this is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artifacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken and our commitment to transparency," said Jeffrey Kloha, the chief curatorial officer for Museum of the Bible.
"As an educational institution entrusted with cultural heritage, the museum upholds and adheres to all museum and ethical guidelines on collection care, research and display."
But some scholars have been raising questions about supposed Dead Sea Scroll fragments for years, saying that unscrupulous antiquities dealers are preying on evangelicals like the Greens, making millions in the process.
Those same scholars questioned the Greens' fragments even before the museum opened with splashy ceremonies last year, including an event attended by Vice President Mike Pence.
Monday's revelations are not the first time the Greens have courted controversy with their artifacts collection. In 2017, the Green family's company, Hobby Lobby, agreed to pay $3 million and return artifacts smuggled out of Iraq as part of a settlement with the Justice Department.
Steve Green, the Bible museum's evangelical founder and chairman, would not say how much his family spent for the 16 Dead Sea Scrolls fragments in its collection. But scholars say even small fragments with little text can fetch millions in the antiquities market.
On the website, "The Lying Pen of Scribes," scholars and scientists have identified more than 70 purported Dead Sea Scroll fragments that have surfaced on the antiquities market since 2002. Ninety percent of those are fake, said Arstein Justnes, a professor of biblical studies at the University of Agder in Norway, including the Museum of the Bible's.
Kipp Davis, an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls at Trinity Western University in Canada, was one of several academics who has tried to warn Christians, including the Green family, about the forgeries.
Davis, who studied the fragments for the Museum of the Bible, said Monday's news about the fakes felt like bittersweet vindication. His takeaway: Evangelicals or others whose faith motivates them to collect artifacts should be very careful with some antiquities dealers eager to take advantage of them.
"These good intentions that draw from a place of faith are subject to some really gross manipulations and that is a big part of what has happened here," Davis said. The scholar said he believes 2-4 of the Greens' 16 fragments may be authentic.
In April 2017, Bible Museum sent five fragments to the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM), a German institute for analyzing materials, where scholars tested for 3D digital microscopy and conducted material analyses of the ink and sediment on the papyrus.
Scholars have theorized that forgers write on top of ancient scraps of papyrus or leather, making the scrolls appear authentic until the ink is tested.
Their report, which the Bible Museum said they recently received, "further raises suspicions about the authenticity of all five fragments."
Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered 70 years ago, the earliest and most complete version of the Hebrew Bible was from the 9th century.
But then Bedouin shepherds stumbled on the scrolls, hidden away for nearly 2,000 years in caves in Qumran, on the western shore of the Dead Sea.
The discovery was so vast, with more than 900 manuscripts and an estimated 50,000 fragments, it took six decades for scholars to excavate and publish them all.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority keeps a tight hold on most of the Dead Sea Scrolls, displaying them in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem. For decades, it was almost impossible for private collectors to get their hands on even scraps from the famous archeological find.
But in 2002, new fragments began mysteriously appearing on the market. The Greens bought their fragments between 2009-2014. At the time, they were deeply involved in the antiquities trade, amassing a collection of some 40,000 artifacts.
Some scholars accused the Greens of buying too many artifacts too quickly, without being sure exactly where they came from, or who had owned them in the past.
"They made it widely known that they were buying everything," said Joel Baden, a professor at Yale Divinity school and co-author of "Bible Nation," a new book about the Greens.
"Every antiquities seller knew the Greens were buying everything and not asking questions about anything."
In an interview before the Bible museum opened last Fall, Steve Green told CNN that wasn't sure who sold his family the Dead Sea Scroll fragments.
"There's been different sources, but I don't know specifically where those came from."
Suspect in Atlanta-area police officer's slaying killed in shed after showing lawnmower blade, chief says
Officers fatally wounded Tafahree Maynard during an attempt to apprehend him, Gwinnett County Police Chief Butch Ayers told reporters.
"The danger to the community is over," Ayers said, explaining there were no more suspects in the officer's death.
Maynard, 18, had been charged with aggravated assault and felony murder in the Saturday afternoon killing of Officer Antwan Toney near Snellville, east of Atlanta, authorities said.
After receiving a tip about 3 a.m. ET Monday, between 75 and 90 officers helped set up a perimeter in the Snellville area, not far from where Toney was killed. Once the cordon was established, they began knocking on doors, conducting interviews and searching sheds and structures in the area, the chief said.
After searching a home, two officers found a closed, wooden shed behind the house. When they opened it, they saw someone inside, Ayers said. They identified the person as Maynard, who had one of his hands behind his back, he said.
"Mr. Maynard was issued verbal commands. He failed to comply with those verbal commands," Ayers said.
One of the officers deployed his Taser, and Maynard revealed a lawnmower blade that he had hidden behind his back, Ayers said. The second officer, who was standing about 5 or 6 feet away from Maynard, opened fire, killing him at the scene, he said.
It was not clear whether the homeowner knew Maynard was in the shed, but Ayers said his officers would charge anyone who aided Maynard during his time as a fugitive.
Toney's killing remains under investigation, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will conduct a probe into Maynard's shooting, Ayers said.
A few hours before news of Maynard's death surfaced, Gwinnett County Police tweeted that there had been a "credible sighting" of Maynard in Snellville sometime late Sunday or early Monday.
A second suspect, Isaiah Pretlow, 19, was previously arrested and charged with aggravated assault, police said.
Toney, 30, was responding to an anonymous 911 call reporting a suspicious vehicle parked near Shiloh Middle School when he was killed, Ayers said. The caller suspected the vehicle's occupants were smoking marijuana.
Ayers said there was a third person in the vehicle with Maynard and Pretlow, but that person has not been identified and is not facing any charges, said Cpl. Michele Pihera, spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Police.
Ayers said he was 100% certain it was Maynard who killed Toney before fleeing on foot. His confidence was based on evidence, as well as interviews with Pretlow and the third person.
After the shooting, investigators found marijuana and four firearms in the car, the chief said.
"What prompted Mr. Maynard, the suspect, to fire, I'm not sure we'll ever know, but the fact of the matter is Officer Toney never had the chance to verbally engage with the suspects or the occupants of the car, and the deadly shots were fired from inside through a closed window," Ayers said.
NYPD recalls body cam devices after one explodes
An NYPD officer on Staten Island retrieved a Vievu LE-5 body camera Saturday, noticed smoke rising from the device and took it off before it exploded, the department said in a statement Sunday.
No one was injured in the incident, which happened before the officer began duty, the NYPD said.
"The incident revealed a potential for the battery inside the camera to ignite," the department's statement said. "The cause and scope of the defect are currently being investigated."
According to NYPD, 2,990 of the 15,500 body cams in use by police officers were the LE-5 models.
All officers outfitted with LE-5 cameras have been asked to immediately discontinue use and return them to their commands. For the time being, those officers will not be equipped with body cameras, the NYPD told CNN.
Other body cameras manufactured by Vievu remain in service.
The NYPD has been phasing in body cameras since April 2017.
Before Saturday's incident, officers in 18 of the city's 77 precincts had not yet been issued body cameras.
The department has stated that it aims to equip patrol officers with body cameras in all city precincts, transit districts and public housing by the year's end.
"Nothing is more important than the safety of our officers and equipping the NYPD with the best equipment is a paramount priority," the NYPD said.
A spokesperson for Vievu's parent company, Axon, told CNN on Monday that the manufacturer was "working closely with the NYPD to investigate this issue."
"Officer safety is of the utmost importance to Axon," said company spokesperson Carley Partridge. "We will do whatever is necessary to quickly and safely resolve this situation."
Local school to hold 'Gathering of Hope' for missing Wisconsin girl
The Barron Area School District will hold "A Gathering of Hope" Monday evening at the Barron High School football stadium.
The gathering was initially set for Riverview Middle School, where Jayme was a dancer and cross-country runner, but officials feared that location would not be able to accommodate the large turnout they expect.
The event will include a lighting ceremony and provide counseling resources for students and other community members impacted by Jayme's disappearance.
"A range of emotions or reactions to this crisis are completely normal and should be expected. Barron County ... Mental Health staff will on hand to offer crisis support," organizers of the event said in a Facebook post.
Authorities have been searching for Jayme since early last Monday, when a mysterious 911 call led deputies to discover that her parents -- James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46 -- had been shot dead at the family's home in northwestern Wisconsin's Barron County. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Wednesday that no gun was found at the scene.
The Barron County Sheriff's Office is asking for 2,000 volunteers for "an expanded routine search" of the area on Tuesday.
In a city that isn't even 3 square miles, asking for 2,000 volunteers means two-thirds of the populations needs to show up.
Investigators say Jayme apparently vanished just after the shootings and is in danger. An Amber Alert was issued for her last Monday, and the FBI has added her to its online list of kidnapped or missing people.
Authorities said during the 911 call, no one on the line talked to the dispatcher but a disturbance was heard. A dispatch log that the Barron County Sheriff's Department released Friday offers a few new details from that night:
The dispatcher "could hear a lot of yelling" during the 911 call.
The call was "pinged" to the Closs home. When the dispatcher called the number back, a voicemail greeting indicated that the phone belonged to Denise Closs.
A responding officer found "the door has been kicked in."
The family dog was there when deputies arrived, and was eventually taken to a relative's home.
The log does not indicate who made the 911 call, who was yelling or what was being yelled.
Fitzgerald said Sunday that this office has received over 1,200 tips from the public regarding Jayme's disappearance.
Despite more than 1,000 tips having been investigated, "Jayme remains missing and endangered and has been added to the top of the FBI's Missing Persons list, and is currently on digital billboards nationwide," Fitzgerald said.
Man accused of killing Atlanta-area police officer may have been spotted
Gwinnett County Police tweeted at 9 a.m. ET Monday that someone had seen Tafahree Maynard in the previous 12 hours.
Maynard, 18, has been charged with aggravated assault and felony murder in the Saturday afternoon killing of officer Antwan Toney near Snellville, authorities said.
Sgt. Jake Smith, Gwinnett police spokesman, said Sunday that several locations in the area were checked. A SWAT team executed a search warrant at the home of a suspected associate of Maynard, near the initial location of the shooting, Smith said.
"He's still at large as far as we're concerned," Smith said.
A second suspect, Isaiah Pretlow, 19, was arrested and has been charged with aggravated assault, police said.
Toney, 30, was responding to an anonymous 911 call reporting a suspicious vehicle parked near Shiloh Middle School when he was killed, Police Chief Butch Ayers said. The caller believed the vehicle occupants might have been smoking marijuana.
The officer was approaching the car when, police say, Maynard fired a weapon from inside the vehicle and struck him. Another officer returned fire and dragged Toney away. He died at a hospital, Smith said.
Police have not released details about Toney's injuries and have not said whether anyone in the suspects' car was hit or how many shots were fired.
After the shooting, the suspects' four-door black sedan sped away and crashed about a mile away. The suspects fled.
"They fled the scene and crashed without an officer in hot pursuit," Smith said.
Police believe Pretlow was driving the car and that as many as four people were inside.
At some point after running from the car, Pretlow pointed a gun at an officer, and the officer fired his weapon at him, police said. Pretlow, who was not injured, is facing an aggravated assault charge stemming from that encounter.
He ran to a wooded area but was arrested hours later by federal marshals, police said.
Police presence was heavy Saturday evening in neighborhoods a few miles east of Stone Mountain as officers, SWAT and K-9 teams searched for those who fled the car. A helicopter flew above the vicinity of the middle school.
Officer was 'a jovial person'
Toney, who was originally from Southern California, had been with the department for almost three years.
His visitation is scheduled for Tuesday at a Peachtree Corners funeral home, and his funeral will be held Wednesday at a Lawrenceville church, Gwinnett County Police said in a tweet.
Before Toney was an officer, he had been a security guard, police said.
His Gwinnett colleagues "recall a very jovial person who was dedicated to his job and dedicated to his community," Ayers said.
A memorial was set up in front of police headquarters in Lawrenceville and flags there were at half-staff.
Gwinnett County is in the metropolitan Atlanta area and has 920,000 residents. Toney's killing is the first in-the-line-of-duty death in the county since May 1993, when an officer was killed in a traffic incident. Three officers were shot to death in April 1964.
Toney's death was the second fatal shooting of a law enforcement officer in the span of a few days. North Carolina State Trooper Kevin K. Conner was killed Wednesday during a traffic stop near the South Carolina border. A suspect was taken into custody.
Smith urged anyone with information about the shooting or Maynard's whereabouts to call the police tip line at (770) 513-5710. Smith said Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for anyone with information. Tipsters can remain anonymous.
Clemson floor collapse at apartment clubhouse leaves 30 injured
"You could hear the floor about to go through, kind of," he said, "but nobody thought it was going to happen. They just kept going."
Suddenly, the floor gave way. Dozens of partiers dropped into free fall and landed in a mass of sprawling bodies in the basement.
Police said 30 people were injured when the floor of the apartment clubhouse collapsed during a party during homecoming weekend in Clemson, South Carolina.
No individuals were trapped during the collapse and no one suffered life-threatening injuries, Clemson Police Chief Jimmy Dixon told CNN affiliate WYFF. A total of 30 people were sent to three area hospitals with broken bones and lacerations.
"We're just thankful that it was not any worse than it was," Dixon said.
Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity party
Clemson University said the event was an annual homecoming weekend party sponsored by Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and attended by students and non students alike. In a statement Sunday, the university said it was working to identify Clemson students involved and to notify any other institutions whose students attended.
"The University will continue to do everything it can to help and support our students who were affected by this terrible situation, as well as their families and friends," campus President Jim Clements said in the statement.
Provost Bob Jones said the university's faculty had been asked "to exercise some flexibility in attendance policies for those students who were involved in this traumatic event."
Chaos and screaming
Tester said emergency responders were there in just minutes, and he saw people holding their arms or with bloody legs.
Video from the scene shows the floor opening up like in a horror movie. The scene of joy and celebration quickly turned to chaos and screaming.
Franzie Pendergrass and Leroy Pearson told WYFF they were in the middle of the clubhouse during the party. Pearson said he was jumping with his hands in the air when he suddenly felt a falling sensation, then blacked out.
When he came to, he saw "girls everywhere with blood all over their face and everything like that," Pearson said.
Pendergrass left with injuries.
"I got five stitches on my leg from a slash, a real bad cut after people grabbed me and jumped over the ones in there," he said.
Floor moved like trampoline
Jaylen Adams said he felt the floor going up and down like a trampoline as people jumped around to the music. He told his friends they needed to go on the balcony but the floor cracked before they could get out of the way. Adams didn't fall.
"They weren't hurt at all but other people were crying, bleeding, it was just a shocking moment for everyone," he said. "They then evacuated everyone and ambulances and a helicopter came for all of the injured individuals."
The incident occurred just after midnight Saturday at the clubhouse of the Woodlands of Clemson apartment complex, Woodlands Property Management President Tal Slann said.
The complex is about three miles northeast of Clemson University. The clubhouse building where the collapse happened is a common area within the complex and was built in 2004, Slann said.
Police said the investigation is ongoing.
911 call traced to phone of missing Wisconsin girl's mother, authorities say
Authorities have been searching for Jayme Closs, 13, since early Monday, when a mysterious 911 call led deputies to discover that her parents had been shot dead at the family's home in northwestern Wisconsin's Barron County.
Investigators say Jayme apparently vanished just after the shootings and is in danger. An Amber Alert was issued for her Monday, and the FBI has added her to its online list of kidnapped or missing people.
"We believe Jayme was in the home at the time of the homicides and we believe she's still in danger," Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said this week.
The investigation began when someone called 911 shortly before 1 a.m. Monday. No one on the line talked to the dispatcher, but the dispatcher could hear a disturbance, authorities said.
Deputies responded about four minutes later and found Jayme's parents, James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, shot dead in their home outside the small city of Barron -- and Jayme was nowhere to be found, authorities said.
A city of 3,400, Barron is about 75 miles northeast of Minneapolis.
A dispatch log that the Barron County Sheriff's Department released Friday offers a few new details from that night:
• The dispatcher "could hear a lot of yelling" during the 911 call.
• The call was "pinged" to the Closs' home. When the dispatcher called the number back, a voicemail greeting indicated that the phone belonged to Denise Closs.
• A responding officer found "the door has been kicked in."
• The family dog was there when deputies arrived, and was eventually taken to a relative's home.
The log does not indicate who made the 911 call, who was yelling or what was being yelled.
Closs' parents were shot and their deaths have been ruled homicides, Fitzgerald said Wednesday. No gun was found at the scene, he said.
Investigators believe Jayme was at home during the shooting based on details from the 911 call and evidence from the home, Fitzgerald said.
"Is it a random attack or a targeted attack? I don't know that answer," Fitzgerald told reporters. "That's why those leads are so important."
Volunteers scour the area
Volunteers and law enforcement combed the sides of US 8 -- the road where the Closs' home is located -- on Thursday, looking for evidence. But they didn't turn up anything of value, Fitzgerald said.
Hours earlier, Fitzgerald asked for 100 volunteers to participate in Thursday's search, which took place about 3 miles from the family's home, according to CNN affiliate WCCO.
The Barron County Sherriff's Department has received more than 1,000 tips for missing teenager Jayme Closs, according to a news release on the department's Facebook page. Officials are asking the public to come forward with any information they may have about the Closs family and to remain vigilant in watching the behavior of others, as a change in normal behavior could lead police to additional tips, according to the release.
The sheriff said Thursday he has a "100% expectation that she's alive." On Friday, Fitzgerald said investigators still believe she's alive and hope to bring her home.
Motive in parents' death is unclear
Deputies are also trying to determine who killed Jayme's parents, and why.
On HLN's "Crime & Justice" Wednesday night, Fitzgerald told host Ashleigh Banfield that additional agencies, including the FBI, are involved.
"They are the experts in breaking down 911 tapes, looking at our phones and taking care of all evidence in that manner," he said.
Joan Smrekar, who lives next door to the Closs home, told Banfield she heard two shots a couple of seconds apart just after 12:30 a.m. Monday.
"It was just, 'bang' and 'bang,'" Smrekar said.
Jayme Closs is 5 feet tall, weighs 100 pounds and has green eyes and blond or strawberry blond hair, the sheriff's department said. Anyone with information can call the tip line at 1-855-744-3879.