WFSB - Eyewitness News

Snakes removed from West Hartford homesWESET HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – From time to time, we all have some unwelcome guest in our home, but that was taken to the next level in West Hartford. A video taken by a homeowner on Westmont Street shows a black rat snake found on a shelf in their garage. It was one of three snakes removed from homes in West Hartford this week. One of the snakes was 7 feet long. The Children’s Museum of West Hartford was called to save the day and retrieve the snakes, which could be scary to look at but are harmless. “If you find a snake in or around your house, you’re always welcome to call us here at the Children’s Museum, even if it’s just sending a picture to find out what type of snake it is. Because that can help determine if you, yourself, can move it off your property because most snakes want nothing to do with you,” said Nick Barnett, The Children’s Museum. Channel 3 was told the snakes are in their egg laying season, so they’re looking for a quiet place to hide. To find out more about rat snakes, click <a href="https://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&amp;q=325804" target="_blank">here</a>.
Hamden searches for next police chief amid officer-involved shooting investigationHAMDEN, CT (WFSB) - Hamden is still reeling after a controversial officer-involved shooting in April, and now town leaders want the public's help in selecting a new police chief. Hamden's former police chief resigned in the fall, but the public has even more interest in who is hired after an unarmed black couple was shot by police. A meeting was held Wednesday night. Last month, Hamden's legislative council said it approved the hiring of a third party to ensure investigations and actions within the police department are fair, just and transparent. The Police Chief Community Input &amp; Transparency Committee was formed in the wake of the shooting, which happened back in April in New Haven. Hamden officer Devin Eaton was seen on <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/body-cam-footage-shows-some-of-officer-involved-shooting/article_962d3324-65b2-11e9-af5d-df513a94d85f.html" target="_blank">surveillance camera and body camera footage</a> firing on a red Honda Civic that police said he believed was involved in an armed robbery. No weapon was found. Passenger Stephanie Washington was hurt and hospitalized, police said. Driver Paul Witherspoon escaped injury. The incident fueled protests and strained the relationship between law enforcement and the community. Wednesday night's meeting was the first of three where residents will explain what qualities they want in their new chief of police and create criteria to guarantee a diverse pool of candidates. "I'm here and the committee members are here to ensure that Mayor Leng makes the right decision," said Pastor Keith King, committee chair. The committee includes pastors, a former mayor and activist group members. They said they will: Gather input from residents through meaningful dialogue.Recommend changes to the job description for police chief based on those talks.Research best practices for recruitment and proactively seek a diverse group of candidates.Participate in the interview process and make recommendations. Mayor Curt Balzano Leng says the task has been complicated by officer-involved shooting. "Certainly, when tragic events occur they make you focus on trying to build those relationships back and to tell the community that you really value their input," Leng said. Even the meetings and committee are a divisive subject among city leaders. Two city council members bashed the format of the meeting because everyone was split into small groups instead of talking together. "We started a conversation about the community coming together and moving forward and we started it by dividing the room," said Rod MacDowall, Hamden Town Council member. There will be two more meetings held like this. The next one will take place at Hamden Town Hall next Wednesday night.
Middletown debates name of middle school being changedMIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) – A debate over a president has a local town split. Middletown is building a new middle school, but former President Woodrow Wilson’s name might not be attached. Some in town say he has a racist past. During a meeting on Wednesday evening, a passionate debate ensued. Some want to keep the legacy, but others say it’s time to create a new one. Historians say Woodrow Wilson brought American the 8-hour workday, the Federal Reserve, and workman’s comp, but also in his presidency, Washington D.C. and the federal government were racially segregated. “Woodrow Wilson didn’t invent segregation, but he certainly institutionalized it in the government offices in Washington D.C., which in effect sanctioned segregation throughout the country,” said A. Scott Berg, Wilson biographer. Looking deeper, Wilson wrote “A History of the American People,” which critics say sided with the Ku Klux Klan. Yet, Wilson has a couple schools named in his honor. There’s one in Waterbury and another in Middletown. “It really shows how we just glaze over actual things that happened,” said Evan Davis, Woodrow Wilson graduate. In days, ground will be broken on a brand new $87 million middle school that will combine Woodrow Wilson and Keigwin Middle Schools. At a meeting, the community had a civil discussion about carrying on the Wilson name when it comes to this project. “It was our school. We were proud of our friends, our activities. We’ll all be Wildcats until the day we die,” said Barbra Novak, 1963 graduate. Wilson does have a connection to Middletown. In the late 1800s, he taught history and political economy at Wesleyan University. “History is history, you can’t rewrite it. It’s just important to keep the legacy. There are many good families in this town, black, white, many ethnicities and we’re all just friends and alumni of Woodrow Wilson.” Novak said. Channel 3 confirmed Wilson’s past is not taught at the middle school level, but is brought up during high school. Students say with a new building, it’s time to create a new legacy. “This stands more as a symbol of sticking to traditions and keeping the systemic racism that we are still trying to work past today,” Davis said. A lot of alternative names were brought up during the meeting, but one idea catching on is to name the school something like Middletown Middle School or Middletown Junior High. A committee will send its recommendation to the Board of Education by September.
Source: Hartford trash plant search expected to come to an endHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Police have received over 800 tips and 80 surveillance videos, but still no sign of Jennifer Farber Dulos. It’s been 26 days since the 50-year-old New Canaan mother was last seen, and police continue to actively search spots for clues leading them to answers about her disappearance. <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/timeline-events-surrounding-new-canaan-mom-s-disappearance/article_81bb741a-8613-11e9-b806-bf0cff043a93.html" target="_blank">TIMELINE: Events surrounding New Canaan mom's disappearance</a> On Wednesday, New Canaan police said state troopers continue to search the MIRA (Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority) trash plant in Hartford, for evidence related to the disappearance of Jennifer. They said as many as 25 to 30 investigators are working the case on a daily basis, however they’ve been tight-lipped about what they’ve found, if anything. Sources say <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/search-of-hartford-trash-plant-in-missing-mom-case-hits/article_28690166-9202-11e9-9364-87793333da82.html" target="_blank">police are looking for her remains</a>. Jennifer Dulos went missing on May 24. New Canaan police said it appears there was a brutal attack inside her home. Jennifer’s estranged husband Fotis Dulos <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/estranged-husband-s-defense-team-developing-own-evidence-in-missing/article_8b817e40-9130-11e9-968f-af96cde3432d.html" target="_blank">was released one week ago</a> from police custody. He faces tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution charges alongside girlfriend Michelle Troconis. <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/arrest-warrant-for-fotis-dulos-michelle-troconis/pdf_a607224a-8629-11e9-9ba0-f76720b4a166.html" target="_blank">An arrest warrant for Fotis Dulos and Troconis</a>, detailed how the couple allegedly dumped trash bags in more than 30 dumpsters throughout Hartford. Those bags were picked up and brought to the MIRA trash facility. Police said they found a kitchen sponge and Jennifer's blood in a dumpster. A source close to the investigation says state police expect to end their search at the Hartford trash plant this week. After searching the plant for weeks, the search will come to an end on Friday. The search has spanned from New Canaan, to Pound Ridge, NY, to Farmington, Hartford and Avon. When she went missing, Fotis and Jennifer had been in the middle of a bitter divorce and custody battle. The attorney representing Fotis Dulos, Norm Pattis, said his client and Troconis <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/interview-attorney-norm-pattis-answers-questions-about-dulos-case/video_c9f22a73-5d5e-515e-b0f6-91208c7841cc.html" target="_blank">both have alibis for the day Jennifer went missing</a>. In court last week, the state said Fotis' DNA was found mixed with Jennifer's blood on the kitchen sink of her New Canaan home. Pattis said his team is building their own case. Last week, Fotis Dulos' attorneys filed a motion for his seized property to be returned, specifically a Ford Raptor truck, a Chevrolet Suburban, a Cherokee, a server, Mac book Pro 15 inch computer, other computers, two iPhones, hard drive, two external hard drives, and personal papers. Documents say “The property is not contraband, the defendant needs access to it for practical reasons and in order to mount his defense, due to the exculpatory information available from the seized property, the defendant would stipulate to the use of secondary evidence in this case.” Jennifer Dulos added to National Missing and Unidentified Persons System Now, nearly one month since her disappearance, the 50-year-old mother of five has been added to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS). “NamUS was developed by the National Institute of Justice to be the national repository for missing, unidentified for unclaimed persons,” said Todd Matthews, of NamUS. Now that she’s been added to the database, Matthews said this can assist law enforcement in its searches. “So what we do is provide forensic resources for dental records, DNA, fingerprints, we have an analytical unit and a victims services unit,” Matthews said. Dulos is one of more than 200 Connecticut residents currently listed. There are more than 16,000 people listed as missing in the entire country on the Clearing House and Resource Center’s website. “Usually we hear from law enforcement or the families and just because you’re going into NamUS, it doesn’t mean a missing person is deceased. We want to do everything we can to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Matthews said. For more information on NamUS, <a href="https://www.namus.gov/" target="_blank">click here</a>. Anyone with information about Jennifer Dulos' disappearance is asked to contact New Canaan police at 203-594-3544. Police also created a website about the case, which can be found <a href="https://findjenniferdulos.com/" target="_blank">here</a>.
Man taken into custody after barricading himself inside New Haven homeNEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -- SWAT members stormed a New Haven home on Wednesday afternoon and took one person into custody on a federal gun charge. Crews surrounded the home on West Hazel Street, around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday. Investigators said they spotted a man, later identified as 28-year-old Errie McClendon, sitting on the front porch of the home who they identified as having outstanding warrant. Police said McClendon ducked inside the house and barricaded himself inside. As police swarmed the home, his relatives made sure the situation ended peacefully. McClendon's family members said the man was not armed, and was not trying to hurt anyone. Eventually, they convinced him to come out. That’s when he was taken into custody. After police took McClendon into custody they did search the home for weapons, although the homeowner says there were no guns inside the house. Investigators did block off West Hazel Street near the intersection of Sherman Parkway during the incident, but the scene has since cleared.
Woman severely injured after getting stuck in New London supermarket compactorNEW LONDON, CT (WFSB) – A woman was seriously injured after being crushed in a compactor in New London Wednesday afternoon. Police were called to NSA Supermarket on South Frontage Road around 3:19 p.m. When officers arrived on scene, a woman was found inside a commercial compactor. Officials said it was apparent the woman has been inside the compactor during its operator for a period of time. The woman was severely injured and brought to L&amp;M Hospital for care. Police said the woman was not a store employee, but did not elaborate on what she was doing inside of the store. The incident remains under investigation.
Wethersfield mom says trains are derailing nap times for kidsWETHERSFIELD, CT (WFSB) -- Freight trains are rolling again in Wethersfield, but not everyone is on board with the sound of the horns. One mom posted on Facebook to say the noise is derailing nap times for her children, and others chimed in saying it concerns them too. Jenn Downey insists she’s not against the trains, as they live about a quarter mile down the track. However, it’s when the trains air-horn blasts for the grade crossing, it wakes her little ones. “My biggest thing was the schedule with having children, young children who require naps during the day, and are in bed between 7 and 7:30 p.m.,” Downey said. The rail line butts up to her backyard, some 300 feet away. The freight service, which stopped 10 years ago, resumed this month, but its the horn blast interruptions that are disturbing. After Downey posted about it on Facebook, she found that others in the area were complaining about the same thing. “We weren’t really worried about it. It wasn’t something we thought that all of a sudden after a decade they would start running a train again,” Downey said. In a statement, Connecticut Southern Spokesperson Mike Williams said, “operations of short freight railroads, such as the Connecticut Southern, are dictated by the service needs of their customers and by access to the large national railroads with which they interchange freight, both of which are subject to constant change.” He added that at least two trains per day run on the Wethersfield tracks at 10mph. As far as the regulations go, it’s not up to the town but the Federal Rail Administration and CT Dept. of Transportation. “I’m not against the train, I just think it’s unacceptable and irresponsible of a company not to have a schedule for when they’re going to be running,” Downey said.
Man sentenced for heroin and gun swap with undercover agentNEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man has been sentenced to almost three years in prison after swapping heroin for guns with an undercover federal agent. Federal authorities say 39-year old Patrick Rogers expressed an interest in accessing firearms during a recorded meeting where an agent bought heroin from him. Authorities later arranged a deal to swap two guns with Rogers in exchange for 160 bags of heroin. Rogers, whose last known address is in Waterbury, was on probation when he was arrested. His previous drug convictions bar him from possessing guns. Rogers' attorney sought a more lenient sentence arguing her client had entered crime at a young age and served as a lookout for neighborhood drug dealers. She said Rogers couldn't find permanent work after he was released from prison in 2017.
Body found in Connecticut River in GlastonburyGLASTONBURY, CT (WFSB) - A body was found in the Connecticut River in Glastonbury, according to environmental officials. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said the body has yet to be identified. It's not yet known of it's the same person officials had been searching for over the weekend. Ivan De Jesus Morales Mencia <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/crews-call-off-search-identify-victim-in-drowning-on-ct/article_9a6510f0-8fb1-11e9-a5ab-271cd0cbd446.html" target="_blank">went overboard while riding in a boat</a> on the Connecticut River in East Hartford. Crews, including dive teams, <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/search-for-missing-boater-in-connecticut-river-continues-on-monday/article_3b94bc34-90e1-11e9-b866-9bb99ca49cce.html" target="_blank">scoured the river near Great River Park for several days</a> but couldn't find him. They said fast-moving water and debris made the search difficult. Experts said that in water conditions such as those on Saturday, hypothermia would not take long to set in. DEEP said the water temperature was about 60 degrees at the time Mencia disappeared. It said when hypothermia sets in, a person quickly loses muscle function which could lead to drowning. Friends who were on the boat with Mencia said he went into the water while the boat was moving. Officials say the operator tried rescuing him by throwing a floatation device several times but was unsuccessful. They also said he was not wearing a life jacket. Channel 3 learned that Mencia was a father of three children.
Governor, lawmakers meet over transportation, tollsHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - The governor met with a bipartisan group of legislative leaders to discuss transportation and tolls on Wednesday. While Gov. Ned Lamont met with other lawmakers, nobody is calling it progress. The meeting lasted two hours, with numerous slides and presentations, but still no agreement. Leaders from all four caucuses discussed efforts to modernize the state's transportation system. The first part of the meeting was open to the public, but Lamont said the rest of it took place behind closed doors. Transportation was not involved in a <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/lamont-lawmakers-agree-on-state-budget/article_fd0fff16-830a-11e9-9368-f73b0835e348.html" target="_blank">2-year $40 billion budget proposal</a> that was approved by both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate. The discussion was tabled for a special legislative session. Lamont has been receiving pushback for his transportation proposal, which includes adding tolls to state highways. After Wednesday's meeting, a new offer may be on the table to make tolls more palatable. Lamont said he is willing to give middle class families a reduction in their income taxes. "What I am talking about is getting a transportation bill passed and we got to be able to pay for it and I have a lot of people in their building who don't like to make tough decisions, certainly don't like to pay their bills. They like to borrow and pass it off to the next generation," Lamont said. He added that without a plan, Connecticut faces a $1 billion deficit in 10 years, and the federal government could penalize the state if it doesn't fix roads and bridges. "What we are looking at coming in does not meet the need at a state of good repair that we need to maintain with the federal government," said Dept of Transportation Commissioner Joe Guilietti. Lamont's presentation showed bridge-only tolling is not adequate, and neither is funding from the car sales tax, and more borrowing. Those against tolls stood outside the meeting. "I think there are other alternatives and its starts with spending cuts. Someone has to look at the budget we have now," said Catherine Embriano, of No Tolls CT. Spending cuts would have to be pretty severe to maintain and improve the state's transportation system. Knowing tolls are an uphill battle, Lamont is looking at reducing the state income tax for middle-class families earning under $125,000, EZ Pass discounts for CT users, and $1 bus fares. Republicans said they're not sure they like any of these ideas and want more time. "They just threw a lot of numbers quickly, very quickly, very fast and for us to catch on, and start asking 'where are you, will you support tolls,' can we digest the numbers just a little bit," Republican State Senator Len Fasano. No future date was set, although the governor said he would like to meet with leaders again. The plan is to have a special session to vote on tolls, but no date has been set for that either.