Teach NYS Encourages Jewish Schools To Apply For NYC Security Guard Program

“New York City NY May 15 2017 Teach NYS, a project of the Orthodox Union, encourages yeshivas to apply for New York City Local Law 2, the nonpublic school security guard program. The deadline is May 15, 2017.
To qualify for the program, a nonpublic school must have 300 or more pre-K-12 students in the 2017-2018 school year. The applications are complete on the NYC HHS Accelerator System and every school with the qualifying criteria gets accepted into the program.
Local Law 2, which was sponsored by Councilman David Greenfield, provides at least one private security officer for nonpublic schools with 300 or more students. With additional guards added for more students, yeshivas and day schools have found this program to provide a critical enhancement to security in these times of need.
Teach NYS led the fight for this program in 2015 and 2016 and continues to work to help schools take advantage of the opportunity. To date, there are nearly 80 yeshivas taking advantage of this program. Currently enrolled yeshivas don’t have to reapply by May 15th.”

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Expert: Wrongful Convictions Can be Reduced by 30 Percent

“Brian Leslie is essentially saying the same thing your mother did— “don’t jump to conclusions.” But the forensic deception expert is saying it to cops as a potential way to reduce wrongful convictions and instances of profiling—a number he thinks can be improved by at least 30 percent.

Leslie, who works with Criminal Case Consultants analyzing witness testimony in wrongful conviction cases, says the difference lies in the predisposition of the police officer, which subsequently affects how s/he vets witnesses and the information they provide.

A “predisposed officer” who has formed an opinion based on emotion is more likely to disallow or overlook information that is averse to the officer’s initial, kneejerk theory of the perpetrator. According to Leslie, this predisposition is the main reason officers both subconsciously and consciously profile specific groups of people.

To rectify this, Leslie suggests using a different type of investigational method.

Traditional police criminal investigations use a deductive method, in which an initial theory is formed based on information provided by witnesses and/or confidential informants. However, Leslie says by using an inductive method of investigation, it detaches the officer from the emotional elements of a case, allowing a more analytical vetting process.

Simply put, this means the officer analyzes witness credibility first, and then the information provided. This inductive process forces the officer to accept all information by all sources, then categorize it by relevance and credibility. It’s this small investigational difference Leslie points to as being the culprit behind wrongful convictions that can, literally, destroy lives.

The variance between deductive and inductive investigations is part of what Leslie calls the “Mr. X Theory,” which he expands upon in his new book, “Visual Liar.”

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Memorial museum security guard enjoys working among natural history

Editor’s note: In 300 words or fewer, this series spotlights people in our community whose stories typically go untold.

It’s still dark outside as Michael Fallon walks up the stairs to work, passing a saber-toothed tiger on his left. He unlocks the front door and flicks on the lights, illuminating the 40-foot wingspan of a Texas Pterosaur hovering above him.

Fallon is the first one at work every day and the last one out. Until the next employee arrives around 9 a.m., the Texas Memorial Museum’s 66 million-year-old Monasaur skeleton keeps him company.

“A lot of people kid me about that movie ‘Night At The Museum,’” he said. “If the animals were to come alive, it would be spooky, but in reality, it’s just very quiet.”

Most of his workday is spent in his security nook inside the museum’s Great Hall. Two computer screens stare back at him with live surveillance footage of the museum grounds.

At all times, he is ready to respond to a crisis. After nine years in the U.S. Air Force and 23 with UTPD, he is well versed in emergency protocol, although at the museum he rarely has to use it.

“If I can keep people happy and safe, that makes me happy,” he said.

In 2010, Fallon retired from UTPD because it was time for a new chapter in his life. He said being a cop is a young man’s game, and as he moved deeper into his 50s, he wanted a change of pace.

The museum provided just that. Michael gets to see every patron who comes through the museum, from retirement home groups to pre-K classes. He watches each of them experience the same wonder and awe he feels every day from his security nook.

“I think people should appreciate natural history so they know what was here long before we were and appreciate what we have now,” he said. “It humbles you.”

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After 75 years, remains of 5 USS Oklahoma sailors are identified

Almost 75 years after they were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the remains of five U.S. sailors who perished when their battleship was sunk, have been identified, the Pentagon said Monday.

The five men, who were exhumed last year from their graves in Hawaii and examined in special military laboratories, were among 429 sailors and Marines killed when the USS Oklahoma was torpedoed and capsized.

They had been buried as “unknowns.”

The battleship’s loss of life at Pearl Harbor was second only to the 1,100 lost on the USS Arizona, whose wreck remains a hallowed Pearl Harbor historic site.

The men identified were Chief Petty Officer Albert E. Hayden, 44, of Mechanicsville, Md., in St. Mary’s County; Ensign Lewis. S Stockdale, 27, of Anaconda, Mont.; Seaman 2nd Class Dale F. Pearce, 21, of Labette County, Kan.; Petty Officer 1st Class Vernon T. Luke, 43, of Green Bay, Wisc.; and Chief Petty Officer Duff Gordon, 52, of Hudson, Wisc.

The Oklahoma had a complement of about 1,300, including 77 Marines.

The identifications are the first to come from a project that began last April when the Defense Department announced plans to exhume an estimated 388 of the Oklahoma’s unknowns.

The effort was sparked after researcher and Pearl Harbor survivor Ray Emory, in 2003, used National Archives files to get officials to dig up a casket believed to contain an Oklahoma sailor’s remains.

That sailor, Ensign Eldon Wyman, was duly identified, and in 2007 a second casket was unearthed and the remains within were also identified as an Oklahoma sailor.

The remains were returned to their families.

The latest identifications were made by comparing pre-war dental records with the teeth of the exhumed sailors, said Air Force Lt. Col. Holly Slaughter, spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s newly created Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which is doing the work.

During the Dec. 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, which plunged the U.S. into World War II, many Oklahoma sailors jumped overboard as the battleship rolled over in about 50 feet of water.

But hundreds were trapped below decks.

Thirty-two were rescued by intrepid crews who heard them banging for help, cut into the hull and made their way through a maze of darkened, flooded compartments to reach them.

Others managed to escape by swimming underwater to find their way out. Some trapped sailors tried to stem the in-rushing water with rags and even the board from a board game. One distraught man tried to drown himself.

In the months, and years, after the attack, the handling of the crew’s remains was plagued by error, confusion and poor record keeping.

Most of the dead were found in the wreckage during the months-long salvage operation, especially after the Oklahoma was righted in 1943, according to a memo by DPAA historian Heather Harris.

By then, the bodies had been reduced to skeletons.

By 1944, the jumbled skeletons, saturated with fuel oil from the ship, had been buried as unknowns in two Hawaiian cemeteries, Harris’s report said.

Three years later, they were dug up and taken to a military laboratory near Pearl Harbor for attempted identification.

The chief tool then also was the comparison of the dental records with the teeth of the deceased. And 27 tentative identifications were made, but they were rejected as incomplete by the authorities.

Gordon, Hayden, Luke, and Stockdale were among those 27, Slaughter said in an email.

In 1949, all the remains were formally declared unidentifiable. And by 1950, they had been reburied in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, often called the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

There they rested until last year.

The first exhumations took place June 8, and the last four caskets were dug up Nov. 9.

Sixty-one rusty caskets, still with their carrying handles, were retrieved from 45 graves. The caskets were heavily corroded and had to be forced open with mauls and crowbars.

After the remains were removed, they were cleaned and photographed, and most of them were flown to the DPAA lab in Nebraska for further analysis. Skulls were retained in a DPAA lab in Hawaii, where forensic dentists are based.

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Three police officers and a citizen honored for good deeds in Park Ridge

Three Park Ridge police officers received special recognition this month for their efforts in saving men who tried to end their lives.

Officers Carlos Panizo and Kristen Abbinante were presented with the Park Ridge Police Department’s Award of Valor, while Officer Mark Vallejo was given the Life Saving Award during a Feb. 3 City Council meeting.

Panizo and Abbinante’s award — the highest given out by the department — was based on a dramatic rescue that occurred in late October on the railroad tracks near the Uptown train station. A 42-year-old man, reportedly telling passersby that he wanted to “end it all,” was sitting on the railroad tracks and claimed to have a gun in his coat.

“He told the officers he had a gun, that he was going to shoot and that he wanted them to shoot him,” said Police Chief Frank Kaminski.

The officers held the man at gunpoint as they tried to talk to him and call for all trains to be stopped, but almost immediately they were faced with another danger: an approaching express train.

As the man laid down on the tracks, Panizo was able to determine he did not have a gun in his hand and, rushing onto the tracks closely followed by Abbinante, Panizo grabbed the man by his shoulders and dragged him to a platform — just as the express train roared by. Panizo and Abbinante searched the man — finding no weapons — handcuffed him and called an ambulance.

“Both of these officers put their lives in jeopardy, and for their heroic actions they are being awarded the department’s highest award,” Kaminski told elected officials and audience members gathered for the Feb. 3 recognition at City Hall.

Vallejo was presented with the department’s Life Saving Award for his actions while responding to a call of a man who had cut his wrists in a suicide attempt. With pieces of information that he had from a third-party 911 call, Vallejo arrived at the home referenced in the call, but no one came to the door, which was locked.

“He kicked down the door, he went in, went to the second-floor bathroom and found the subject in there with two knives, three puncture wounds and blood all over,” Kaminski said.

Vallejo immediately administered first aid to the man. When an ambulance arrived, the man was further treated by paramedics and taken to the hospital.

“If it hadn’t been for Officer Vallejo, an individual would have taken his life,” Kaminski said. ”He’s a very seasoned officer. His quick assessment of the situation and his judgement really helped save this person’s life.”

In addition to honoring the officers, Kaminski also acknowledged Park Ridge resident Emily Patel for her work in reporting two suspicious people to police, which led to burglary charges.

Kaminski said Patel called police in December after noticing two people outside a neighbor’s home. Police responded and a brief foot chase and search of the neighborhood occurred before two men were apprehended. The officers also determined the house where the men had been seen had been burglarized and some jewelry that was allegedly stolen had been dropped in the snow outside.

“She did the right thing — she called 911,” Kaminski said of Patel as she was presented with an Award of Appreciation.

Kaminski said the case is an example of a successful community partnership with police, an initiative he has focused on since he joined the police department as chief in 2009.

Others can take away an important message from what occurred as well, he said.

“Know your neighbors, watch out, and if you feel something’s not right, give us a call,” Kaminski said.

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Montgomery County officer administers CPR to baby, saves life

WASHINGTON - Shortly after 1 a.m. on Dec. 30, Montgomery County Police Officer Ben Crumlin was approached by a vehicle flashing its lights, honking its horn and traveling at a high rate of speed on Randolph Road, near Hammonton Place in Rockville, Md.

But the vehicle’s occupants were not fleeing from a violation of the law, nor were they trying to start trouble. They were in need of the officer’s help.

According to Montgomery County Police, the vehicle’s occupants were en route to the hospital because their infant was having trouble breathing. Officer Crumlin, a six-year-veteran of the Montgomery County Police Department, checked the infant and discovered the baby boy was not breathing at all, the Montgomery County Police Department reports.

Officer Crumlin administered CPR and was able to revive the baby, and fire and rescue units arrived and transported the baby to a local hospital. The baby was held for several hours, and was released later in the morning.

“Patrol officers never know what they face when they encounter a speeding vehicle at one o’clock in the morning. It may be nothing more than a traffic violation or it could be a robbery that just occurred. In this case, Officer Crumlin was called upon to use his medical training to save a life,” says Montgomery County Police Commander Don Johnson in a press release.

“Officer Crumlin’s training and experience and his ability to act quickly made a difference in this child’s life.”

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Police: 4 Dead After La. Shootings, 3 Injured

A nurse embroiled in a custody fight with his ex-wife killed his current wife before shooting his former in-laws and his onetime boss in a rampage that spanned two parishes in Louisiana, leaving three people dead and three wounded. He then fatally shot himself in the head, authorities said.

All three survivors remained hospitalized Friday, two in critical condition, Brennan Matherne, a spokesman for the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, said in an email. He said deputies are still investigating the motive.

Preliminary evidence shows that Ben Freeman, 38, first killed his wife, Denise Taylor Freeman, 43, before he went on a rampage and shot the others Thursday, Maj. Malcolm Wolfe, of the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office, wrote in an email.

Denise Freeman’s body was found in a bathroom of their house, and an autopsy showed that she suffocated and drowned, Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said Friday.

According to investigators, Ben Freeman then drove to his former in-laws’ home in Lafourche Parish, about 45 miles southwest of New Orleans. With a shotgun, he killed his former mother-in-law, Susan “Pixie” Gouaux (pronounced “go”), and wounded her husband, Councilman Louis Phillip Gouaux, and one of their daughters, Andrea Gouaux. His ex-wife, Jeanne Gouaux, apparently wasn’t at the home.

About 20 minutes later, Freeman arrived at the home of Milton and Ann Bourgeois. Milton was the longtime CEO of Ochsner (OX-ner) St. Anne General Hospital in nearby Raceland, where Freeman had worked as a nurse until two years ago. Freeman shot Milton Bourgeois at close range, killing him, and shot Ann Beourgeois in the leg. She was in stable condition Friday.

Both Louis and Andrea Gouaux were in critical but stable condition following surgery Friday in New Orleans, Matherne said.

Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said Freeman had been fired from St. Anne. He said police previously had been called to the hospital after Freeman damaged a room. Freeman told officers he would seek mental help, Webre said.

But in a teleconference later Friday, Ochsner officials said Freeman had resigned voluntarily, citing personal reasons. The officials said he had worked at the hospital from May 1998 to April 2011, and that he was considered an on-call employee for another five months after that.

Freeman also had worked at two other hospitals, which along with St. Anne had been placed on lockdown for a time on Thursday.

Susan Gouaux — “Pixie” to her friends — was a teachers’ aide at Holy Savior Elementary School. She also was a talented needlewoman and knitter who designed the state bicentennial quilt square for Lafourche Parish and made scarves for all her friends, Parish President Charlotte Randolph said in a telephone interview.

Randolph said she went to school at one time or another with Philip and Susan Gouaux, and that Susan Gouaux had taught her grandchildren. The couple has six adult daughters.

Gouaux called 911 around 6:40 p.m. Thursday from his home in Lockport, telling dispatchers he had been shot in the throat, The Courier newspaper in Houma reported. Freeman was divorced from Gouaux’s daughter Jeanne, whom he married in 1997.

Jeanne Gouaux — also a nurse — had filed several protective orders against Freeman, who had pleaded guilty to harassment charges and was allowed only supervised visits with their four children, Webre said. The last protective order expired less than a month ago, he said.

“Clearly, there has been a very difficult and complicated divorce/custody issue going on,” Webre said during a news conference late Thursday.

Freeman pleaded guilty on Oct. 23 to one of two criminal telephone-harassment charges brought on a complaint filed June 19 by Gouaux and her father, Lafourche Parish Clerk of Court Vernon H. Rodrigue said. He was given a deferred sentence of a $250 fine or 10 days in jail, put on unsupervised probation for a year, and the second count of criminal harassment was dismissed, Rodrigue said.

On Nov. 27, Ben Freeman was issued a citation for simple battery domestic violence against Denise Freeman, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. A court date had been scheduled for Jan. 16, 2014.

Court records show Freeman agreed in June to pay Jeanne Gouaux $22,560 in overdue child support payments dating back two years. A settlement filed the following month showed the couple would sell three adjacent lots near her parents’ house and split the $25,000 in proceeds; Freeman also agreed to pay Gouaux $39,000.

Jeanne Gouaux and the children lived with her parents for a while after the divorce, said Rita Bonvillain (BAHN-vee-yenh), 83, a neighbor of the family for nearly 30 years. She said Andrea Gouaux, a nurse like her sister Jeanne, was visiting from Texas.

Whenever a holiday came, she said, children filled the house and yard. A trampoline, soccer balls and a swing hanging from a big oak in the front yard testified to that.

Bonvillain choked up and held back tears several times as she talked about the Gouauxes. Since her husband died, they regularly have stopped by to ask if she needs groceries or other errands run. The councilman once told her, “If you ever hear a sound at night and want someone to check it out, call me,” she said.

Ben Freeman was found dead around 10:45 p.m. along U.S. Highway 90 near Bayou Blue. He had shot himself in the head.

At Denise Freeman’s house, a man who did not give his name demanded that an Associated Press reporter leave his sister’s property.

Others in the neighborhood of quaint middle-class, ranch-style houses in Houma, the Terrebonne Parish seat, said the house was originally hers.

She had only recently married Freeman, but she and her son Josh — of elementary school age — had lived there for years, said Glenn Cradeur, who has owned his house, two down from hers, for 28 years. He said he believed the boy was not home when his mother was killed.

Cradeur said he saw no signs of trouble until about two weeks ago, when he saw police vehicles outside the home, responding to what he believed was a domestic dispute.

He returned from a visit to out-of-town relatives to find emergency vehicles outside the house and stunned neighbors gathered nearby.

“It’s shocking, and it’s sad,” he said.

———

Associated Press writer Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans and researcher Judith Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report.

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Utah Doctor’s Conviction Follows Family’s Pursuit

The conviction of a Utah doctor in the murder of his wife was the culmination of a yearslong pursuit of justice by the family of the victim.

The daughters and sisters of Michele MacNeill hounded authorities to investigate Martin MacNeill amid an initial finding that the 2007 death was natural, possibly from heart disease. They attended court hearings and sat in the front row of the courtroom at a 2012 preliminary hearing holding photos of Michele MacNeill. They were in Provo again throughout this three-week trial, listening intently. Several of them testified.

When the verdict was read, they let out a loud yelp before dissolving in tears as the jury delivered its verdict to the tense, packed courtroom.

“We’re just so happy he can’t hurt anyone else,” said Alexis Somers, one of his older daughters and his main protagonist. “We miss our mom; we’ll never see her again. But that courtroom was full of so many people who loved her.”

The jury convicted MacNeill of first-degree murder about 12 hours after getting the case, returning the verdict after 1 a.m.

He faces 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 7. He also was found guilty of obstruction of justice, which could add 1-15 years.

MacNeill, 57, showed little emotion when the verdict was read. He hugged his lawyer and said, “It’s OK.” Deputies led him back to Utah County jail.

Randy Spencer, one of his lawyers, said he was disappointed before declining further comment.

The Utah doctor was convicted after prosecutors built a case based largely on circumstantial evidence. He was accused of hounding his 50-year-old wife to get a face-lift, pumping her full of drugs and helping her into a bathtub.

Prosecutors contend that MacNeill was “swapping” his wife for a new life with a mistress without having to go through a divorce.

Gypsy Willis’ testimony was the highlight of the three-week trial. MacNeill introduced her as a nanny within weeks of his wife’s death, but his older daughters quickly recognized her as his secret lover. They said her mother had been arguing with her husband over the affair.

The daughters went to work uncovering what they call their father’s secret life. They dogged county officials to open an investigation that local police never conducted. It wasn’t until MacNeill’s release in July 2012 from a federal prison in Texas on charges of fraud that Utah prosecutors moved to file charges of murder and obstruction of justice.

Willis also served a federal sentence for using the identity of one of MacNeill’s adopted daughters to escape a debt-heavy history. That daughter had been sent back to Ukraine, supposedly only for a summer.

For a time, MacNeill’s only family defender was his only son. Damian, a 24-year-old law student, committed suicide in January 2010, according to his sisters, who have said he was haunted by their mother’s death.

The case shocked the Mormon community of Pleasant Grove, 35 miles south of Salt Lake City, and captured national attention because the defendant was a wealthy doctor and a lawyer, a father of eight in a picture-perfect family and former bishop in his local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Defense lawyers contend Michele MacNeill died of natural causes. They believe she had a heart attack and fell headfirst into the tub and noted the autopsy showed she had an enlarged heart, a narrowing of the heart arteries and liver and kidney deterioration.

“There’s simply no proof” of homicide, Spencer said. “The prosecution has presented to you their cherry-picked portion of the evidence.”

He called the testimony of a handful of prison inmates angling for early release doubtful. The men who spent time behind bars with the doctor testified he had acknowledged killing his wife — or suggested that investigators could never prove he did it.

Their testimony was the only direct evidence of murder, chief prosecutor Chad Grunander said. MacNeill lawyers argued he would never admit murder to strangers in prison.

Grunander said the largely circumstantial case was the most difficult he ever brought to trial and that many prosecutors wouldn’t bother trying, especially with medical examiners unable to produce a finding of homicide.

“It was an almost perfect murder,” Grunander said in his closing argument, asserting MacNeill “pumped her full of drugs” that he knew would be difficult to detect once she was dead.

An early mistress of MacNeill’s testified he once confided he could induce a heart attack in someone that would appear natural.

Family testimony suggested it was MacNeill who insisted his wife, a former local beauty queen in her California hometown, get the cosmetic surgery. Prosecutors said he used it as an excuse to mix painkillers, Valium and sleeping pills for her supposed recovery.

“Make no mistake, the defendant’s fingerprints, if you will, are all over Michele’s death,” Grunander said.

Prosecutors said MacNeill might have gotten away with a perfect murder, but his erratic behavior the day of his wife’s death and shortly afterward was “dripping with motive.”

They reminded jurors about testimony that MacNeill stood in the bathroom yelling what prosecutors called phony grief, “Why did you do this? All because of a stupid surgery,” as paramedics tried to revive his wife.

MacNeill was medical director of the Utah State Development Center, a residential center for people with cognitive disorders, who moonlighted in other medical jobs. He had a law degree but wasn’t known to practice law and has since surrendered his law and medical licenses.

Prosecutors say MacNeill contrived a medical condition in the weeks leading up to his wife’s death, telling many around him he was dying of cancer or multiple sclerosis to absolve him of any motive in the death. He also made use of a cane and could be seen limping at times.

Investigators who subpoenaed MacNeill’s own medical records found he was in good health.

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Family of Kidnapped Louisiana Woman Daring Rescue

The family of a kidnapped Louisiana mother tracked down and killed the father of her child in the abandoned house where he was allegedly holding her prisoner, authorities said.

Bethany Arceneaux, 29, of Duson, La., was abducted in the parking lot of a daycare where she was picking up her 2-year-old at approximately 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Department Captain Kip Judice told ABCNews.com.

Witnesses saw the suspect, Scott Thomas, allegedly force Arceneaux into his white Buick LeSabre, before driving off, Lafayette Police Department spokesman Paul Mouton told ABCNews.com.

Thomas, 29, of Leonville, La., is the father of Arceneaux’s child, Judice said. The woman had a restraining order against Thomas, but Judice said he did not know when it was filed.

The child was left behind in the woman’s car, and was later taken into custody by the woman’s mother, Mouton said.

Later that evening, law enforcement officials found Thomas’ car near an abandoned sugarcane field in a rural area of Lafayette Parish, La., Judice said.

One of Arceneaux’s shoes was found in the car, while the other had been left in the parking lot of the daycare where she had been last seen.

Authorities searched the sugarcane field Wednesday night and all day Thursday, but to no avail, Judice said. The cane towers as high as eight feet tall and was “a brutal search area” for officials, he said.

It wasn’t until Friday morning, when Arceneaux’s family members conducted their own search in the same area that they came upon a secluded, abandoned house behind a cluster of trees.

The house was directly across the street from the field where Thomas abandoned his car, but only the home’s roof was visible from the road, Judice said.

“[The family] converged on a piece of property about a mile from where the car was found,” Judice said. “One of the family members heard what he thought was a scream.”

Arceneaux’s cousin approached the home, kicked in the door in and entered, Judice said. Inside, he found Thomas with the woman. Thomas then began stabbing Arceneaux, and a confrontation ensued.

“The cousin, who was armed, began firing several shots at Thomas,” Judice said. “After a couple of shots, [Arceneaux] was able to get free of him and they escorted her out of the house.”

Arcenaux suffered several stab wounds and was taken by ambulance to Lafayette General Medical Center, where she is in stable condition, Judice said. It is not known if Arceneaux had been stabbed before her cousin found her inside the home, officials said.

Meanwhile, officers who heard the gun shots fired surrounded the home, Judice said. Upon entering, they found Thomas’ lifeless body on the ground. He had sustained several gunshot wounds.

Thomas’ cause of death is not known, Judice said. An autopsy on the body will be conducted by Lafayette Parish Coroner Ken Odinet, but it is not known when it will take place.

ABC News’ attempts to reach Odinet were not immediately successful.

Thomas did not own the abandoned home, Judice said. At this point, there is no known connection between Thomas and the property’s owners.

Arceneaux told investigators that the home was the only place she remembers being held hostage, Judice said. She said she had not eaten or drunk anything since her abduction on Wednesday.

No charges have been filed against the man who shot Thomas, and it is unlikely that the man will be charged, Judice said.

“In the state of Louisiana, you have a right to protect yourself and others from imminent bodily harm,” he said. “We believe at this point, based on evidence and statements collected, that this guy was acting in defense of Ms. Arceneaux and thus, was within the state law.”

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U.S. Accuses 2 Rabbis of Kidnapping Husbands for a Fee

In Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, Mendel Epstein made a name for himself as the rabbi to see for women struggling to divorce their husbands. Among the Orthodox, a divorce requires the husband’s permission, known as a “get,” and tales abound of women whose husbands refuse to consent.

While it’s common for rabbis to take action against defiant husbands, such as barring them from synagogue life, Rabbi Epstein, 68, took matters much further, according to the authorities.

For hefty fees, he orchestrated the kidnapping and torture of reluctant husbands, charging their wives as much as $10,000 for a rabbinical decree permitting violence and $50,000 to hire others to carry out the deed, according to federal charges unsealed on Thursday morning.

Rabbi Epstein, along with another rabbi, Martin Wolmark, who is the head of a yeshiva, as well as several men in what the authorities called the “kidnap team,” appeared in Federal District Court in Trenton after a sting operation in which an undercover federal agent posed as an Orthodox Jewish woman soliciting Rabbi Epstein’s services.

Paul Fishman, the United States attorney for New Jersey, said in an interview that investigators have “uncovered evidence” of about a couple dozen victims. Many are men from Brooklyn who were taken to New Jersey as part of the kidnappings.

In court, the lead prosecutor in the case, R. Joseph Gribko, explained how the abductions were carried out. “They beat them up, tied them up, shocked them with Tasers and stun guns until they got what they want,” Mr. Gribko, an assistant United States attorney, said.

Mr. Gribko said the defendants had been motivated by money, not faith. While the case might surprise some New Yorkers, accounts of such kidnappings have percolated through the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn for years. In 1996, for instance, a rabbinic council in Williamsburg issued a statement denouncing the rogue men who subjected husbands to such beatings, according to a news report.

Rabbi Epstein was sued in the late 1990s by another Brooklyn rabbi, Abraham Rubin, who claimed that a group of men shoved him into a van as he left synagogue, hooded him, and applied electric shocks to his genitals in an effort to force him to provide a get to his wife. The lawsuit was dismissed.

According to newspaper accounts from the late 90s, other men, too, have come forward with similar tales of curbside abductions and mistreatment.

How such violent practices, if proved, would have been able to persist for so long may be an indicator of the challenges that local law enforcement agencies face in trying conduct investigations of insular religious groups including the ultra-Orthodox.

Rabbi Epstein seemed confident that local authorities wouldn’t investigate too closely. In a recorded meeting with the female undercover F.B.I. agent, Rabbi Epstein explained that his preferred torture techniques, like electric shocks, offered little physical evidence of abuse, according to the complaint. Without obvious visible injuries, Rabbi Epstein said, the police were unlikely to inquire too deeply if any victims came forward.

“Basically the reaction of the police is, if the guy does not have a mark on him then, uh, is there some Jewish crazy affair here, they don’t want to get involved,” Rabbi Epstein explained, according to the criminal complaint.

Rabbi Epstein made his living appearing before the rabbinical courts, known as beit din, where he advocated on behalf of a spouse seeking an exit, another rabbi said. He took a special interest in the constraints that wives faced, speaking about the rights of women in terms not often heard in his deeply conservative community.

When two undercover F.B.I. agents — one posing as a woman seeking a divorce, the other as her brother — asked a rabbi for help, the rabbi explained how Rabbi Epstein might be able to assist them.

You need special rabbis who are going to take this thing and see it through to the end,” Rabbi Martin Wolmark, a respected figure who presides over a yeshiva in Monsey, N.Y., said in a recorded telephone call on Aug. 7. He described Rabbi Epstein as “a hired hand” who could help, according to the criminal complaint in the case.

When the undercover agents met with Rabbi Epstein a week later, he said that he was confident he could secure a get once his “tough guys” had made their threats.

“I guarantee you that if you’re in the van, you’d give a get to your wife,” he said to the male undercover agent posing as the brother. “You probably love your wife, but you’d give a get when they finish with you.”

The undercover female F.B.I. agent told Rabbi Epstein that she wanted to divorce her husband, described as a businessman in South America, who refused to grant her request. Rabbi Epstein urged her to lure the man to New Jersey, which she pledged to do.

Next Rabbi Epstein and Rabbi Wolmark convened their own rabbinical court, complete with legalisms and formalities, to issue a religious edict “authorizing the use of violence to obtain a forced get,” according to court records. The undercover agent offered testimony before the two rabbis, who were joined by other religious figures.

Told that the husband was arriving in New Jersey, eight of Rabbi Epstein’s associates met at a New Jersey warehouse to finalize the kidnapping plan, according to court documents. At that point F.B.I. agents moved in to arrest the group. The agents seized masks, ropes, scalpels and feather quills and ink bottles used for recording the get they anticipated.

On Thursday, the 10 defendants were denied bail after appearing in court in Trenton on the kidnapping conspiracy charges.

Juda J. Epstein, the lawyer for Rabbi Epstein, declined to comment.

A neighbor, Rose Davis, who lives opposite his home in the Kensington section of Brooklyn described him as a respected figure. Ms. Davis said she was skeptical of the charges, and suggested they might be the concoctions of enemies he had made as an expert in divorce work: “There’s always a loser,” she said, referring to divorce cases.

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