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Young woman vanishes after online date, family fears the worst

A 24-year-old Lincoln, Nebraska, woman has been missing for several days following a date with someone she met online, and now police are calling the circumstance surrounding her disappearance “concerning.”

>> Read more trending news

>> Related: Police make gruesome discovery after teacher bails her boyfriend out of jail and disappears 

Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Jeff Bliemeister spoke to local media Tuesday and urged residents to continue looking for Sydney Loofe as the department conducts interviews and pieces together the events that led to her her disappearance, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Police confirmed that Loofe was last seen in Wilber, 40 miles southwest of Lincoln, on Wed. Nov. 15.. according to the Star.

Suspicion grew when she missed work the following day at a Lincoln grocery store where she is a cashier after apparently going out on a date the night before, her parents said. Loofe sent a Snapchat message saying she was “ready for my date” just hours before she disappeared.

Her family said she sent the Snapchat message about going on a date with a woman she met online, and that she was definitely “planning on coming home that night.”

She also left her cat and car at her home in Lincoln, her family said.

>> Related: Killer details brutal murder, final minutes of NY jogger in police video

Loffe’s family is circulating a flyer that suggest they fear she was abducted. The flyer indicated that her phone pinged off a cellphone tower in the Wilber area, but that it has since been turned off.

Her parents, Susie and George Loofe, find it suspicious that her phone is off, and that her cat and car were left at home.

Lincoln police have declined to say if they have spoken to the person Loofe was going out with that night or where in Wilber she might have been.

“Really what our focus is on at this point is trying to find Sydney,” the police chief Bliemeister said. “And to go out and to detail every investigative aspect really, I think, is going to detract from the overall message of, ‘We’re trying to find her as quickly as possible.'”

Police are asking anyone with information on Loofe’s whereabouts to call 402-441-6000.

>> Related: Teen who disappeared with her teacher says it was wrong, but she doesn’t regret it

Loofe is 5-foot-7 and weighs 135 pounds. She was last seen wearing a white Columbia jacket and a cream-colored shirt. She has a yin-yang tattoo on one of her forearms, the word “Believe” with a cross on the inside of her left wrist, and the phrase “Everything will be wonderful someday” on her right bicep.

Black Friday 2017: Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon deals, store hours, ads and more

 

It’s almost go time.

Sure, you have a turkey and all the fixins’ to fix, family to visit with and football to watch, but you also have sales to attend, deals to get and shopping to get over with.

With holiday shopping barking at the door like a pack of wolves, here's a quick guide to the best deals, store hours, ads and shopping apps. 

Good luck!

Below is a list of store opening times for Thanksgiving:

  • Bass Pro Shops – 8 a.m.
  • Bealls Florida – 6 p.m.
  • Belk – 4 p.m.
  • Bergner’s – 11 a.m.
  • Best Buy – 5 p.m.
  • Big Lots - 7 a.m.
  • Bon-Ton – 11 a.m.
  • Boston Store – 11 a.m.
  • Cabela’s – 8 a.m. 
  • Carson’s – 11 a.m.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods – 6 p.m. 
  • Dollar General – 7 a.m.
  • Elder-Beerman – 11 a.m. 
  • Five Below – 6 p.m. 
  • Fred’s Pharmacy – 9 a.m.
  • GameStop – 4 p.m.
  • Herberger’s – 11 a.m.
  • JCPenney – 2 p.m.
  • Kohl’s – 5 p.m. 
  • Kmart – 6 a.m.
  • Macy’s – 5 p.m. 
  • Meijer – 6 a.m.
  • Michaels – 6 p.m. (Opens at 5 p.m. for Rewards members)
  • Rite Aid – Hours Vary by Location (most stores open)
  • Sears – 6 p.m. 
  • Shopko – 4 p.m. 
  • Stage Stores – 2 p.m.
  • Target – 6 p.m. 
  • Toys R Us – 5 p.m.
  • Walgreens – Varies by Location
  • Walmart – 6 p.m. (for Black Friday deals)
  • Younker’s – 11 a.m.

See the complete list of Thanksgiving openings/hours here.

Below is a list of the store opening times for Black Friday:

  • Babies R Us - 8 a.m.
  • Bass Pro Shops - 5 a.m.  
  • Belk - 6 a.m. 
  • Best Buy - 8 a.m.
  • Big Lots - 6 a.m.
  • BJ's Wholesale Club - 7 a.m.
  • Cabela's - 5 a.m.
  • Costco - 9 a.m.
  • Dick's Sporting Goods - 5 a.m.
  • Guitar Center - 6 a.m.
  • Hobby Lobby - 8 a.m.
  • Home Depot 6 a.m.
  • JCPenney - Thanksgiving 2 p.m. through Black Friday
  • Kmart - 6 a.m.
  • Kohl's - Thanksgiving 5 p.m. to Black Friday 1 p.m. 
  • Lowe's - 6 a.m.
  • Macy's - 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Meijer - 6 a.m.
  • Michaels - 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Office Depot & OfficeMax - 7:45 a.m.
  • PetSmart - 7 a.m.
  • Sam's Club - 7 a.m.
  • Sears - 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Staples - 7 a.m.
  • Target - 6 a.m.
  • Toys R Us - Thanksgiving 5 p.m. to Black Friday 11 p.m.
  • Walmart - Thanksgiving 6 p.m. overnight into Black Friday
  • See the complete list of Black Friday 2017 hours here.

Check out the ads

Here is a list of some "leaked" Black Friday ads from national retailers.

(Click on the store name to see the Black Friday ad)

Black Friday best bets on TVs, laptops and tablets, electronics, smartphones and gaming

Black Friday television deals

Black Friday laptop deals

Black Friday tablet deals

Black Friday electronics deals

Black Friday smartphone deals

Black Friday gaming deals

Apps for shopping

Finding the best deals can be exhausting, but, as for most things in life nowadays, there’s an app for that. Actually a few of them. Here are a few suggestions that may help you with gift buying throughout the holiday season.

Christmas Gift Planner in iTunes (called Christmas List in Android Market)

You can see what you are spending in real time. It allows you to keeps lists of gifts purchased, the ones you are still looking for and whether the gift is wrapped.

Gifts HD2 for iTunes and Android You can create lists, set budgets mark things off as you buy them, and add ideas as you go. It also allows you to comparison shop, which is great for Black Friday.

No More Socks

As with the other apps, No More Socks is a list-making and shopping app. In addition to searching retail sites, the app can also do a general Google search for products.

Chameleon

Chameleon will find the best price for an item and coupons if they are available. Chameleon works at more than 3,000 locations across the country.

RedLaser

RedLaser allows you to scan barcodes to find the best price, online or locally. PriceBlink

A browser add-on, PriceBlink lets you know when there's a better price for a product you are shopping for online.

Camel Camel Camel

CamelCamelCamel is a site that tracks Amazon prices. It notifies you when the price drops on an item you've added to your Amazon shopping list.

How much will you have to exercise to burn off that turkey dinner?

How many burpees does it take to burn off a dollop of gravy? How far must you run to negate a slice of holiday pie?

>> Read more trending news

The Daily Burn tallied the caloric cost of a Thanksgiving feast, and the results might make you second-guess that decision not to sign up for the local turkey trot.

>> Related: One ‘hot’ Thanksgiving: Turkeys get Flaming Hot Cheetos makeover

According to the Daily Burn’s helpful infographic, the turkey trot will take care of one slice of pie. That’s it. You’ll have to walk for 35 minutes to equalize a single 6-ounce glass of red wine, dance for 14 minutes to negate a half-cup of green bean casserole or play flag football for 20 minutes for that hot buttered roll. And you’ll have to run the stairs for 10 minutes to make up for that half-cup of stuffing.

>> Related: Thanksgiving 2017: How to fry a turkey without burning down the house

Most Americans gobble up between 2,400 and 4,500 calories in a single sitting on Thanksgiving Day, according to this article in The New York Times. That includes turkey, stuffing, a buttered roll, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, some green bean casserole, and slices of pecan and pumpkin pie. That’s more than an entire day’s calories, especially if you add a glass or two of wine to the mix.

We’re all for overindulgent feasting on such a special occasion, but it does help to balance out all the calories with some exercise.

David Cassidy’s younger brother Shaun offers touching tribute on Twitter

Teenage heartthrobs run in the Cassidy family. David Cassidy’s younger brother, Shaun Cassidy, who was also a teen idol and singer in the 1970s, remembered his late brother with a touching tribute on Twitter after the pop culture icon’s death Tuesday from organ failure.

>> Read more trending news

“When I was a little boy and my big brother would come to visit, the first call of business would be a punishing pillow fight. During the battle, he would regale me with hysterical stories of our father, often culminating in his taking a giant leap off my top bunk,” Cassidy posted on Twitter, along with a black and white photo of the boys as children.

“I tried to catch him of course. I always tried to catch him. But I never could. Now, I will carry him, along with all of the funny/sad/extraordinary days we shared, none more filled with love than these last few at his side.”

>> Related: ‘Partridge Family’ star, ‘70s teen idol David Cassidy dead at 67

Eight years younger than David, Shaun was the oldest son of Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones, while David was Jack’s only child with his first wife, Evelyn Ward. In addition to being his step-mother, Shirley Jones played David Cassidy’s on-screen mother in the ‘70s musical sit-com “The Partridge Family.”

The relationship between Cassidy and his family was strained over the past years over his battle with alcoholism. Several months before his death, a video of Cassidy struggling to perform at a live show raised concerns about his well-being. Family and fans thought he had relapsed, instead he revealed he was suffering from dementia.

Regardless of past estrangements, his family rushed to his side after hearing of his hospitalization. A source told People magazine, Cassidy “was delighted to see them … There’s been total resolution within the family. They will always be there for him.”

David Cassidy passed away in a Florida hospital on Nov. 21. at the age of 67.

An outpouring of tributes came from celebrities, including Danny Bonaduce — who played David’s television brother — John Stamos, Marie Osmond and Carnie Wilson.

>> Related: Music legend and 'Touched by an Angel' star Della Reese dead at 86

Cassidy is survived by half-brothers Shaun, Patrick and Ryan; daughter Katie Cassidy and son, actor Beau Cassidy.

Jimmy Fallon, Maroon 5 pull street performing prank in NYC subway station

An oddly familiar-looking band of street musicians treated New York subway commuters to a jam session, and it turns out it was made up of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and James Valentine and “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon in disguise. Disguised as buskers -- people who perform in public for donations -- the trio performed a rousing rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” and the Maroon 5 hit. “Sugar” at the 50th Street subway station

>> Read more trending news

The commuters weren’t in on the joke, and their reactions when the subway musicians’ revealed their true identities were priceless.

This isn’t the first time Fallon has pulled this busking prank. Previously, he went undercover with his good friend, Miley Cyrus, to surprise a bunch of rowdy tourists. 

After devising new identities — with Cyrus becoming “Charlene” and Fallon playing “Bart” — the pair donned their disguises and headed to the Rockefeller Center subway station. “No one knows that this is going to happen,” Fallon told viewers before he began busking with Cyrus. “No one knows that it’s Miley Cyrus. Let’s do this.”

Woman pulled over by man impersonating law enforcement officer

A man impersonating a law enforcement officer pulled over a woman in Arkansas, according to the St. Francis County Sheriff’s Office.

The incident happened Saturday on Highway 38 near Hughes.

>> Read more trending news

Investigators said a man impersonating a game and fish officer stopped a woman and asked to check her vehicle for guns. He had a blue light on his dash and was in a dark-colored pickup truck.

The man did not show the woman a badge or a weapon. The incident happened during the daytime hours and appears to have been an isolated occurrence.

Investigators said they believe they know who the man is, but no arrests were immediately made.

Officials said the impersonator is not the same one who stopped people earlier this year.

'Bikini baristas' in court battle over dress code law

The city of Everett, Washington, is looking to crack down on the dress code of “bikini baristas,” but the baristas are not backing down.

The baristas are arguing that their skimpy costumes fall under freedom of expression.

In recent court filings, the city claimed the coffee stands have a history of prostitution, sexual assault and exploitation.

One of Everett's new laws requires the workers to wear a minimum of tank tops and shorts. It specifically applies to employees at "quick service" restaurants, which also include fast food and food trucks.

>> Read more trending news

The other redefined the city's lewd conduct ordinance and created a new crime of facilitating lewd conduct. Both ordinances took effect in early September.

But seven bikini baristas and the owner of a chain of the coffee stands called "Hillbilly Hotties" sued the city to block the dress code in September, saying it's vague, unlawfully targets women, and denies them the ability to communicate through their attire. 

KIRO-TV asked a constitutional law attorney about that argument. 

“That is not a frivolous argument. One can see that this is conduct which may not be pure speech, but nevertheless is a conduct that does enjoy constitutional protections. The question is how much constitutional protection,” said constitutional law attorney Jeffrey Needle.

The Everett City Council unanimously passed the ordinances in August but halted the ban while the case is in court. 

A senior U.S. district court judge heard the arguments Tuesday in a federal Seattle court.

Mother accused of using kids to steal from Macy’s, police say

Police in Austin, Texas, are looking for a woman who they say stole merchandise from a Macy’s department store with the help of another woman and four children no older than 10 years old.

>> Read more trending news

Investigators are looking for 27-year-old Martha Monique Lopez, who is charged with robbery by assault, according to an arrest affidavit filed this week.

On Nov. 12, police received a call around 2 p.m. from a store employee who watches for shoplifters at the Macy’s in the Domain shopping center. She told police she was watching the children, who were between 7 and 10 years old, through a security camera. According to the affidavit, they re-entered the store and met two women near the hotel bedding and pillow area.

The store worker told police that she saw the women point to some pillows, which the children then picked up before they “exited the store past the last point of purchase without attempting to pay for the items,” the affidavit said. The worker said in the affidavit that she confronted the children and identified herself as a Macy’s employee, after which point she said the children complied and started to come back with her to a store office.

The employee told police that as they were going back to the office, the two women approached her and one of them told her to let the children go and then pushed her, according to the affidavit. The other woman and the children began running away, the employee told police. She tried to grab the children, but the “female who told her to let her children go began to punch (her) on the left side of her face, chest and left arm with a closed fist causing (her) pain and redness,” the affidavit said.

The employee told police that she “tried to grab the female to detain her but the female took off running and (she) ripped (the woman’s) shirt off of her and the female ran out of the store wearing just a black bra,” the affidavit said.

A customer saw the woman running from the store and saw her and the children get into a white 2009 Chevy Malibu with a Texas license plate that matched a car registered to Lopez, according to the affidavit. Lopez was also identified by the store worker from a photo taken during a previous arrest, police said.

Could medical marijuana help fight the opioid epidemic?

New research suggests medical cannabis may play a key role in ending the opioid epidemic plaguing the nation.

>> Read more trending news

The findings from Aclara Research, a cannabis patient and consumer insights group, come soon after President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in the U.S. as an estimated 175 Americans die from opioids each day.

The study, which will be released in full in early 2018, was conducted in partnership with pharmacists active in the cannabis industry and included online surveys of more than 400 patients using prescription opioids nationwide.

» RELATED: Trump declares US opioid emergency but pledges no new money

Researchers also examined 500 pharmacists’ perceptions of medical cannabis and its role in the industry.

According to the Aclara study, the preliminary findings showed that 67 percent of the patients stopped using opioid medications after using medical cannabis.

» RELATED: Walgreens to begin selling OTC Narcan to combat opioid epidemic

And another 29 percent reported a decrease in the number of opioid medications used after starting medical cannabis.

Thirty percent of the patients said they stopped using any and all prescription drugs after using medical marijuana.

» RELATED: US gun death rate up for second straight year, drug deaths rising faster than ever

Of the 500 pharmacists surveyed, 87 percent said medical cannabis should be legalized, and 69 percent said pharmacists should dispense medical cannabis and counsel patients on medical cannabis use.

Another recent study, published in the Public Library of Science last week, found opioid users were more likely to stop usage if they had access to medical marijuana.

» RELATED: What is fentanyl? 10 things to know about the potentially deadly drug

That study involved 66 patients using opioids to treat chronic pain. Over a 21-month period, patients who used medical cannabis were 17 times more likely to stop using opioids, and patients who didn’t use cannabis on average increased their opioid use by 10 percent over that time period, according to the research. 

Research from 2014, published in the Journal of the American Medical Associationalso found states that had legalized medical marijuana saw lower rates of fatal opioid overdoses.

Aclara researchers said they will continue to collect data and examine the results in conjunction with additional pharmacy partners. The study’s final results will be released in January 2018.

Read more about the study at aclararesearch.com.

Michael Jordan replaces family’s signed jersey stolen from home after fire

A family received a surprise from NBA legend Michael Jordan after one of his signed jerseys was stolen from their home when it burned down in October.

Officials with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office said the family was forced out of its Rock Creek, Wisconsin, home on Oct. 11 when it caught fire. 

>> Read more trending news

Authorities said a family member went to the house on Nov. 2, after the fire, and noticed two men behind it with a vehicle. The family member told officials that the men said they were looting the house and then left with a garbage can full of items. 

Authorities said they later arrested one of the men. 

According to officials, a signed No. 45 Michael Jordan jersey was among the items taken by the men and is believed to have been sold. 

The Star Tribune reported Monday that the family’s daughter, Kelsey Schiel, got the item signed by Jordan at his Chicago restaurant in 1995. The meetup was coordinated by Starlight Children's Foundation, an organization that supports hospitalized children and their families. At the time, Schiel was battling a life-threatening illness. Now 28, she has beaten the disease that she now likes to keep private.

“It’s devastating to know that someone stole such an important item,” Schiel said. “I really hope that whoever has it realizes its importance and turns it in. We won’t ask questions; it’s just really special to me.”

According to the Star Tribune, Jordan heard about the robbery and is having the jersey replaced.

“Michael was very sorry to hear about what happened to the Schiel family and was happy to send Kelsey a new signed jersey,” a representative for Jordan said.

Spit test could diagnose concussion in kids, study says

It can be difficult to tell how a long a concussion will last. However, a spit test may soon be able to diagnose and determine the duration, according to a new a report. 

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from Penn State University recently conducted a small experiment, published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal, to explore whether saliva can be used to identify prolonged concussion symptoms, which can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, balance problems, double or blurry vision. 

First, they examined saliva, discovering that it contains five small molecules called microRNAs, which influence protein levels. 

MicroRNAs also exhibit some predictive functions, because they include genetic fragments that reveal specific information about an individual’s health.

“Because of their abundance, stability in fluctuating pH levels, resistance to enzymatic degradation, and essential role in transcriptional regulation, miRNAs make ideal biomarkers,” the study read.

>> Related: Which high school sports have the most concussions? 

They then tested their theory by observing 52 children, teens and young adults. They measured the patients’ microRNAs by asking them to spit in cups. 

After analyzing the results, they found the microRNAs in saliva correctly identified children and adolescents with concussions 85 percent of the time. It also identified  those who had symptoms for at least a month. Standard surveys commonly used by doctors are only about 65 percent accurate.

Researchers said a concussion spit test could offer several benefits, including management of the condition and symptom testing.

“The miRNAs associated with prolonged concussion symptoms have potential utility as a toolset for facilitating concussion management. This tool could ease parental anxiety about expected symptom duration. An objective prolonged concussion symptoms tool could also inform clinical recommendations about return-to-play and school-based accommodations,” the authors wrote

Researchers did note that some patients used anti-inflammatory medicine, which could have altered their findings. They also acknowledged the size of the of study, explaining that a larger cohort would be needed to verify conclusions. 

>> Related: Football players under 12 at high risk of brain injury, study finds

In the future, they hope to study other biomarkers, such as blood, that could also yield the same results. 

Woman helps raise more than $40,000 for homeless veteran who gave her his last $20

A New Jersey woman has helped raise more than $44,000 for a homeless man who helped her when she was in a time of need. 

>> Read more trending news

Kate McClure was driving on I-95 in Philadelphia recently when her car ran out of gas. According to PhillyVoice.com, McClure got out of her car to walk to a gas station when she was approached by a homeless man, identified only as Johnny. Johnny told McClure to get back in her car and lock the door. He later returned to the vehicle with a can of gas. He had purchased the gas with what little money he had. 

McClure, who was in town to visit a friend, didn’t have anything to give to repay Johnny at the time, so she told him she would return. 

She kept her word.

According to a post online, McClure says she returned to visit Johnny, 34, at his spot by the side of the interstate with clothes, food and money. Each time, Johnny showed gratefulness and generosity.

“One day, I stopped to see him and had a few things in a bag to give him, one of which was a box of cereal bars so he could have something that he could carry around and eat,” McClure wrote. “He was very appreciative as usual and the first thing he said was, ‘Do you want one?’ Another time I dropped off (two) Wawa gift cards and a case of water. The first words that came out of his mouth were, ‘I can’t wait to show the guys’ -- there are (two) others he hangs out with, and they all take care of each other.”

McClure still felt compelled to do more for Johnny, so she created a GoFundMe account, hoping to raise $10,000 to help get Johnny a car, an apartment and some materials and amenities. 

In less than two weeks, McClure raised more than $44,000.

“With the money, I would like to get him first and last month’s rent at an apartment, a reliable vehicle and 4-6 months worth of expenses,” McClure wrote. “He is very interested in finding a job, and I believe that with a place to be able to clean up every night and get a good night’s rest, his life can get back to being normal. (I) truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break.”

Johnny told PhillyVoice.com that he was once a licensed paramedic and also served in the Marine Corps. He said he moved to Philadelphia last year with plans to start a new job, but when things fell through, he became homeless. 

He says now he wants to get a job at the Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville, New Jersey, and hopes to one day become recertified as a paramedic.

“(This) changes my life,” he said.

New York AG investigating fraudulent net neutrality comments to FCC

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday that his office is investigating tens of thousands of comments posted to a notice of the FCC’s proposed change to net neutrality rules after learning that they were made by impersonators.

>> Read more trending news

The investigation was launched six months ago, after researchers and reporters learned that the comment process, which is integral to the agency’s procedure for determining such rule changes, was being usurped by fraudsters who submitted an enormous number of fake comments, Schneiderman said Tuesday in an open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

“While some of these fake comments used made up names and addresses, many misused the real names and addresses of actual people as part of the effort to undermine the integrity of the comment process,” Schneiderman wrote. “That’s akin to identity theft, and it happened on a massive scale.”

He said that the identities of tens of thousands of New Yorkers were fraudulently used.

“Analysis showed that, in all, hundreds of thousands of Americans likely were victimized in the same way, including tens of thousands per state in California, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and possibly others,” Schneiderman wrote.

He said his office tried nine times over the course of five months to get records from the FCC necessary to investigate the apparent identity theft. He said his office and the FCC have shared information with one another before, but that despite offers to keep the records confidential, as done in the past, New York officials have “received no substantive response to our investigative requests.” 

“We all have a powerful reason to hold accountable those who would steal Americans’ identities and assault the public’s right to be heard in government rule making,” Schneiderman wrote. “If law enforcement can’t investigate and (where appropriate) prosecute when it happens on this scale, the door is open for it to happen again and again.”

He urged Pai and the FCC to “reconsider its refusal to assist in my office’s law enforcement investigation.”

“In an era where foreign governments have indisputably tried to use the internet and social media to influence our elections, federal and state governments should be working together to ensure that malevolent actors cannot subvert our administrative agencies’ decision-making processes,” he wrote.

Pai previously pledged to try to repeal the net neutrality regulations enacted under the Obama administration, which treat internet service providers as if they were utility companies that provide essential services, like electricity. The rules mandate that they give equal access to all online content and apps.

Pai distributed his alternative net neutrality rule plan to other FCC commissioners Tuesday in preparation for a Dec. 14 vote. Although the FCC’s two Democrats said they will oppose the proposal, the repeal is likely to prevail as Republicans dominate 3-2. The vote for net neutrality in 2015 was also along party lines, but Democrats dominated then.

Schneiderman said that his office’s investigation is not about net neutrality, but is instead about “the right to control one’s own identity and prevent the corruption of a process designed to solicit the opinion of real people and institutions.”

“Misuse of identity online by the hundreds of thousands should concern everyone – for and against net neutrality, New Yorker or Texan, Democrat or Republican,” Schneiderman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Former cop used to solve crimes; now he cleans up after them

The man shot his wife first. Then himself.

When cops arrived they found the murdered woman in a chair. Her husband’s body was on the sofa nearby. The living room was a tragic tableau.

Atlanta Police Det. Pat Apoian was among the responders. As he and his colleagues processed the scene, he thought about what would happen once they were done. The murder-suicide wasn’t much of a mystery, and after the bodies were removed, the couple’s adult children would be left to deal not only with the awful deaths but the horrific mess left behind.

“These poor kids. They’re going to have to clean this up,” he remembers thinking.

That was in 2009, two years before the night Apoian was dragged by a car with a fleeing suspect at the wheel. The car nearly tore off his foot and left him with a broken leg and a damaged hand. It ripped his sternum from his rib cage, fractured his pelvis and spine and tore the muscle from one shoulder. He endured multiple surgeries, recovery (both mental and physical) was painful and slow, and he ended up retiring from law enforcement.

MORE PHOTOS

FROM THE AJC ARCHIVES: Officer down, but not out

In contemplating his next chapter, Apoian, who has a young son and daughter, wanted to put his background to work in a new career that would allow him to keep helping people. He and his wife, Sandra, have become Spaulding Decon franchisees. The firm specializes in environmental cleanups, responding to crime scenes, hoarding situations, mold or other biohazard contaminations – even meth lab mitigation.

“I feel like I’m still helping people,” he said. “I want to show up and make an impact.”

Just before Thanksgiving, he and his employees helped a distraught Roswell woman reclaim the holiday. Meredith Wilbanks had what she thought was a dripping sink. In fact, her dishwasher had been steadily leaking for who knows how long, and dangerous black mold was creeping along the inside of her kitchen island and cabinets and underneath her tile and carpet.

“I was really, really stressed,” she said. Not only was her house a wreck, but the thought of having to celebrate the holidays elsewhere this year left her in tears. Her father died in a car wreck in January, and spending the holiday season at home with family felt more vital than ever this year.

“To not be able to have Thanksgiving and Christmas here, I was panicked,” she said, her eyes welling up as she remembered how much her dad loved family gatherings this time of year. “He was all into Christmas.”

Wilbanks’ mom learned of Apoian’s company through a friend in a grief support group.

“I talked to him about his story and I told him about my dad,” Wilbanks said. “I feel like it was meant to be.”

A Long Island native with family and friends in blue, Apoian seemed born for the badge. Residents of Atlanta’s Zone 6 grew to know him as a guy interested in keeping the peace but also in getting to know them.

“He’s concerned about people. He talks to people,” Darrell White once told us when we were walking the beat with Apoian in 2013, before he retired. “It’s hard to find officers like that.”

Apoian used to fold his 6-foot frame into a library chair for story time at the elementary school in his zone, and once patiently “investigated” when an elderly woman dialed 911 to report terrorists had placed deadly powder in her mailbox. No ma’am, he reassured her, a bird took a bathroom break there.

“People still call me,” he said. He recently helped a crime victim navigate the system to report an assault. That suspect is now in jail. A different victim called Apoian for guidance in handling things after his home was burglarized. “I still feel connected.”

A case his company worked a few months ago reminded him of crime scenes he used to process. The client owned rental property she hadn’t visited in a while. Her tenant turned out to be an extreme hoarder.

“We found six decomposed cats,” he said. “Everywhere you can imagine there was cat mess. The showers, the tubs, the sinks, the countertops. The garbage was piled up on the porch, on the back deck.”

In responding to the nightmarish scene, Apoian drew upon the empathy he developed on the force.

“I always look at it as trying to see what was invisible to everybody else. Was there something there no one could see?” he said. “If I would see a prostitute I would think, ‘What got her there?'”

He took a non-judgmental approach to the hoarding case, and it has a happy ending. The home’s back to normal.

Apoian hasn’t responded to a death scene yet but grimly notes that it’s just a matter of time. He is, unfortunately, well-prepared, having responded to countless homicide, suicide and unattended death scenes. It’s hard to say which is worse.

“If it’s an unattended death your body basically melts. You literally melt into the floor boards,” he said. “God forbid it’s a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

He didn’t want to give a lot of details about what that’s like, but recalls the gentle approach he would take to dissuade family members who wanted to see for themselves.

“You want to keep the family out. You’re keeping them from that being the last memory,” he said. “It adds a whole new level of heartbreak.”

He misses police work but still lives up to the ideals he upheld after joining the Atlanta Police Department in 2002. As a New Yorker who lived not far from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, he’d actually thought of joining the military. His wife put an end to that plan, so Apoian instead decided to follow the example of his childhood mentor Bill Murphy, a Nassau County, N.Y., police officer who’d led fundraising efforts for the Police Athletic League.

Apoian pinned on his badge with Officer Murphy’s mantra in his mind, and he stays true to it today: “Always be remembered for the good that you do.”

Wendy Williams said she was groped on live TV, fans named names

Wendy Williams has her own story about workplace sexual harassment, but the talk show host is trying to keep mum about who it involves.

While discussing the recent slew of sexual assault allegations against veteran journalist, Charlie Rose, Williams, 53, revealed that her least favorite guest on her show was one who had groped her on live television, Inside Edition reported.

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“My worst guest, I’m not gonna name, but I can tell you this -- it had to do with some groping and you all saw it, but didn’t say a word,” Williams  told viewers on her live show Tuesday. “And I felt it and I didn’t say a word. My staff saw it, and, you know, that guest will never be here anymore. He’s not relevant anymore anyway.” 

The television host said that when the individual went further than a quick embrace, she didn’t know how to react.

“He hugs me, but lays in my breast inappropriately and I didn’t know what to do because I’m brand new on TV, whereas now, I would definitely push somebody through a glass coffee table. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

She continued, saying that guest looked up at her, saying, “Oh! You’re not Oprah!” 

“I’m two seconds away from saying his name but it’s not worth it. However, if I see you in the mall, I’ll tell you,” she told viewers.

Williams maintained that she wouldn’t be revealing who she was referring to, but viewers pulled out their own receipts. Photos of comedian Gilbert Gottfried resting his face on Williams’s chest during a 2011 appearance quickly spread. Wendy can be seen grimacing in the photo while Gottfried grabs her tightly around the waist.

Gottfried, 62, denied having any recollection of the incident when contacted by Inside Edition. When asked about being banned from her show, he said wasn’t aware if he had. 

As of now, Williams has neither confirmed nor denied that Gottfried was whom she referred to.

Police: Man clubs mom with rifle over stolen deer meat 

A Vermont man was charged over the weekend with assaulting his own mother for taking deer meat that belonged to him, police said. 

Zachary C. Merriam, 21, of Pittsford, is charged with first-degree aggravated domestic assault, according to the Vermont State Police

Police officials told the Rutland Herald that troopers spoke Saturday afternoon to Merriam’s mother, who said her son had assaulted her that morning over the deer meat. The 40-year-old woman told investigators that Merriam chased her through the house with a 30-30 rifle.

The woman told police Merriam did not try to shoot her, but that he used the gun’s stock as a club with which to beat her, the Herald reported. She said she did not know if the weapon was loaded, but was afraid it would fire by accident. 

Bruises on the woman’s back were consistent with being hit with a rifle stock, police officials said. 

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A witness in the house told investigators that Merriam and his mother had argued, and that Merriam threw a television remote control at her, the Herald reported. The witness said she did not see the assault, but heard the mother and son arguing upstairs. 

The woman said Merriam’s mother came downstairs and said her son had hit her with his gun. 

Merriam denied hitting his mother, but told troopers they were arguing because she had stolen from him. He said she also cut meat off a deer he shot.

Merriam was arrested on the assault charge and jailed. He was released from jail on $1,000 bail and ordered to stay away from his mother. 

Restaurant to open doors to ‘Thanksgiving orphans’

A restaurant in Maryland is forgoing dinner with family in the comfort of home to serve a feast to “Thanksgiving orphans”

“Thanksgiving orphans” are those who have nowhere to go; no friends or family to visit for the holiday, WRC reported.

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But Galazio Restaurant, in La Plata, Maryland, will open its doors with the help of volunteers to serve dinner to those who can’t travel home for Thanksgiving. 

According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, they’ll even find transportation on Thursday for those who can’t get there on their own.

This is the third year for the dinner at the business, which usually serves Greek food.

Last year, members of the military, executives and families made the trip to the Maryland town for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. The restaurant’s owner said they even had naturalists who live in the woods join the tables of strangers who celebrated and gave thanks as friends. They also hosted homeless guests last year as part of a mix of their community, WRC reported.

Ohio woman overdoses during sex, police say

A woman who was found snoring by police overdosed during sex with her boyfriend early Wednesday, police said.

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Around 4 a.m. Wednesday, Dayton police and medics responded to the 400 block of Sheridan Avenue.

A concerned man, the woman’s 28-year-old boyfriend, called 911 after his girlfriend overdosed during sex, the police report reads.

She was found by police partially clothed on the couch, snoring and unresponsive from a suspected heroin drug overdose, police said.

The 33-year-old woman woke up after a couple doses of Narcan and was taken to Miami Valley Hospital.

The man said he didn’t see his girlfriend take anything, but that she often mixes alcohol and Xanax.

In other news: Parents told 3-year-old cancer-free two days before Thanksgiving

Meghan McCain secretly marries conservative analyst Ben Domenech

Meghan McCain has tied the knot.

The co-host of ABC’s “The View” exchanged nuptials on Tuesday with conservative analyst Ben Domenech, 35, in a secret Sedona, Arizona, ceremony on her family’s ranch Tuesday. 

“Meghan McCain and Ben Domenech were married at the McCain family lodge in Sedona, Arizona,” a representative  for McCain told People in a statement Wednesday. “The bride’s father, Senator John McCain, gave her away, and they were married by John Dickerson. Following the ceremony, McCain and Domenech celebrated with dinner and dancing surrounded by their family and close friends.” 

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Until recently, few people knew exactly who had won the heart of the Arizona Senator’s daughter. She had referenced her “boyfriend” multiple times on social media, but did not disclose his name until early November, when news of her engagement broke. McCain, 33, told her co-hosts, “We’ve been together for years, and we have been engaged for a while, and it was a secret. I was hoping to get married and people wouldn’t find out, but people talk sometimes.” 

She revealed that the couple became engaged in July at Mayo Clinic, where her father was battling brain cancer. 

Related: Meghan McCain confirms engagement

Domenech — a conservative blogger and publisher of conservative online magazine “The Federalist” — has definitely earned John McCain’s seal of approval. On an October appearance on “The View,” he shared, “Actually, he’s a very fine man. I’m very proud and very happy that they’re so happy together.” 

“Yesterday I was deeply blessed to give away my little girl at a ceremony with family & friends in #Arizona. Congratulations @MeghanMcCain & @bdomenech – we are so happy for you!” John McCain tweeted Wednesday.

Although no pictures have been published so far, McCain shared a picture on her Instagram referencing her impending Tuesday nuptials, where she would later be surrounded by approximately 100 guests.

“#AlmostTime,” she captioned a photo of slippers that read, “I do!”

“Wait for people who love strong women,” McCain advised earlier in November when talking about relationships on her daytime show. “The men who love strong, independent women, they’re out there. Don’t settle for less.” 

WOW Air selling flights to Europe for $99 for Black Friday

WOW Air could fly you to Europe for as low as $99.

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If Black Friday sales on electronics don’t excite you, maybe a cheap flight abroad will. 

Wow Air is offering discounted one-way flights from airports in Boston, Chicago and Pittsburgh to destinations like Amsterdam, London, Dublin and Reykjavik, Iceland.

The catch? The select discounted flights are for dates between December and May, so you’ll have to act fast.

WOW Air, founded in 2011, is an Iceland-based company that connects Iceland to North America, Europe and Asia. The airline aims to provide “the cheapest flights to and from Iceland and across the Atlantic while providing a memorable service all the way,” according to their website.

“WOW air is happy to provide some early holiday cheer to travelers in many of our U.S. destinations,” WOW Air founder and CEO Skúli Mogensen said in a statement. “We hope to make international travel more accessible for travel enthusiasts during the holiday season and beyond.”

But before you get too excited, don’t expect to make it all the way to Europe and back for $99. You’ll still have to book a flight back to one of the U.S. airports and account for fees for checked luggage and carry-ons.

Plus, there were only about 1,200 tickets when the deal began, so act fast to score this amazing deal and get your European adventure started.

Brianna Chambers contributed to this report.

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