Case solved two decades later


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Robert Whitt is seen in an undated photo provided by the Orange County, NC,  Sheriff’s Office. More than 20 years after the bodies of Myoung Hwa Cho, and a 10-year-old boy, Robert Whitt, were found 215 miles apart in separate states beside Interstate 85, investigators now say they were a mother and son and the boy's father has confessed to killing them. (Orange County, NC,  Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Robert Whitt is seen in an undated photo provided by the Orange County, NC, Sheriff’s Office. More than 20 years after the bodies of Myoung Hwa Cho, and a 10-year-old boy, Robert Whitt, were found 215 miles apart in separate states beside Interstate 85, investigators now say they were a mother and son and the boy's father has confessed to killing them. (Orange County, NC, Sheriff’s Office via AP)


Myoung Hwa Cho is shown on a poster provided by the Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Sheriff's Office. More than 20 years after the bodies of Myoung Hwa Cho, and a 10-year-old boy were found 215 miles apart in separate states beside Interstate 85, investigators now say they were a mother and son and the boy's father has confessed to killing them. (Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Sheriff's Office via AP)


After 20 years police in 2 states link dead mother and son

By JEFFREY COLLINS

Associated Press

Tuesday, February 5

Decades after the unidentified bodies of a woman and a 10-year-old boy were found in separate states beside a Southern interstate highway, investigators now say they were a mother and son and the boy’s father has confessed to killing them.

The case was cracked thanks to an online DNA database, help from international police and a consultant whose work led to an arrest in the Golden State Killer investigation, authorities in North Carolina and South Carolina said Tuesday.

But investigators in both states said they had never stopped trying to solve the 1998 cases that they never knew were related, separated by 215 miles along Interstate 85.

“I always kept the case file box under my desk, where it was purposefully in my way. Every time I turned, I hit it with my leg. I did this so the little boy couldn’t be forgotten,” said Orange County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Maj. Tim Horne, who worked the case from the beginning.

North Carolina authorities even enlisted experts to create a sketch and a bust reconstructing the appearance of the child. But despite wide-spread dissemination, no one was able to identify him.

Investigators had no idea the cases were linked until December 2018, when consultant Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter reviewed the latest DNA tests on the boy’s body, Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said in a statement. Rae-Venter’s work with online DNA databases had earlier helped lead to an arrest of a man in California charged with 26 counts of murder and kidnapping in California in the 1970s and 1980s.

The boy’s remains were found in September 1998 by workers mowing grass on a frontage road near I-85 in Durham, North Carolina, Blackwood said. DNA testing showed he had Asian and Caucasian parents.

Rae-Venter matched the child’s DNA to DNA from a close relative who had submitted the information to an online database. After contacting the relative, investigators learned the boy was Robert “Bobby” Adam Whitt, who was born in Michigan and raised in Ohio, Blackwood said. He also said they were given strong evidence his mother — who had disappeared the same year as her son — was also dead.

Meanwhile, deputies in South Carolina had found an unidentified woman whose nude body was dumped in the woods beside I-85 in May 1998, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Bobo said. Her hands had been bound and she had been suffocated.

After DNA testing confirmed the victims were mother and son, investigators in the U.S. enlisted the help of Korean authorities and international police to identify the woman as Myoung Hwa Cho.

Cho’s husband, the boy’s father, is serving time in federal prison on unrelated charges. After being questioned several times he confessed to killing his wife and son, Bobo said.

Authorities aren’t releasing his name because he hasn’t been charged in the killings yet. Charges may not be filed until investigators figure out exactly where the two victims were killed, Bobo said. Investigators think the woman and her son were killed somewhere else and dumped beside the interstate.

Court records: Man bludgeoned ex-wife’s family with hammer

Monday, February 4

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — A man accused of killing his ex-wife’s parents and brother after they began to suspect that he had also killed her ambushed them with a hammer just before Christmas, according to newly released court documents.

Investigators eventually tracked Shelby Nealy, 25, to Lakewood, Ohio, thanks in part to a pizza he had delivered to the home of Richard and Laura Ivancic after the couple and their adult son Nicholas were bludgeoned on Dec. 15 and 16, court records said. Their bodies weren’t discovered until New Year’s Day, after the older son of Richard Ivancic contacted authorities when he couldn’t reach his father. Nealy was arrested Jan. 3, with his two children, ages 2 and 3, in a vehicle stolen from his former mother-in-law.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Nealy was extradited to Florida on Saturday and faces three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and one count of grand theft. He’s being held without bond. Nealy hasn’t yet been charged in the death of Jamie Ivancic, who authorities believe was killed in January 2018. Her remains were found in the days after Nealy’s arrest.

Nealy confessed to investigators, and said he killed the Ivancics after they began getting suspicious because they had not talked to her in nearly a year, records show. Detectives said Nealy used his ex-wife’s phone to send text messages and pictures of their two young children to her parents.

Investigators pieced together a timeline of what happened at the Ivancic’s home in Tarpon Springs, which is near Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Police haven’t said whether he broke into the home, or was invited in. But records show he attacked Richard Ivancic, 71, on Dec. 15. When Laura Ivancic, 59, returned home, she was attacked in the kitchen with the same hammer. Investigators said Nealy wrapped the two bodies in rugs and put them in the bedroom.

Later that evening, Nicholas Ivancic, 25, came home and was asleep on the sofa when he was killed early on Dec. 16, records show. The family’s three dogs were also killed.

The complaint details evidence detectives used to track Nealy, including video that captured him buying supplies used in the killings at a nearby Home Depot and selling jewelry at pawn shops between Dec. 16 and 18. He used his fingerprint to complete those transactions, records show.

Detectives said Nealy used his phone to order a Domino’s pizza, which was delivered to the Ivancic’s home Dec. 21.

The children are now in state custody.

Chicago police have no record of pilot in California crash

By JOHN ANTCZAK

Associated Press

Tuesday, February 5

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A pilot killed along with four people when a small plane crashed in a Southern California neighborhood was not a retired Chicago police officer, as initially identified, authorities said Tuesday.

The Chicago Police Department has no record of Antonio Pastini, 75, ever working in the city, department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in an email.

Pastini was killed Sunday when the twin-engine plane he was piloting broke up in flight shortly after takeoff and fell in pieces on the Orange County community of Yorba Linda, igniting a fire in a home where four people — still not identified — were killed.

Witnesses said the plane came out of the clouds in one piece and “then they saw the tail breaking off and then the wing breaking off and then something like smoke before the airplane impacted the ground,” said Maja Smith, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Those witnesses did not report an explosion while the twin-engine propeller-driven Cessna 414A was in the air, she said.

Pastini had been identified Monday as a retired Chicago officer residing in Gardnerville, Nevada, by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Coroner’s investigators recovered credentials from Pastini after the crash that appeared to identify him as a retired Chicago officer, sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun said.

Discussions with the Chicago department later determined the credentials were not legitimate, Braun said.

The identification of the pilot as Antonio Pastini was not in question.

Aircraft that break apart while flying leave “fingerprints” — tell-tale signs — in the metal that will allow investigators to “build a sequence of the breakup that will lead them back to where it originated,” said John Cox, a former commercial pilot and crash investigator who’s head of the consulting firm Safety Operating Systems.

Authorities were trying to identify the people who died in the house, describing them only as two males and two females. DNA may be required because of the condition of the bodies.

The plane came down “in multiple pieces, about four or five pieces, with a long trail of smoke,” said Kyle Vanderheide, 25, who was driving when he spotted it overhead.

Shawn Winch, 49, said he was in his backyard when he heard what “sounded like a missile coming at my house.” He said he saw the plane veer off and debris falling.

“It wasn’t intact,” he said about the plane as it came toward the neighborhood.

Debris from the plane was strewn throughout a street. One home had broken windows.

The aircraft, which can carry up to eight people, took off from Fullerton Municipal Airport about 12 miles (19 kilometers) away.

Preliminary radar data show the plane reached about 7,800 feet (2,377 meters) and then rapidly fell, said Eliott Simpson, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator.

The main cabin of the airplane and one engine were found at the bottom of a ravine in the backyard of a house, and the other engine made a hole in the street, Simpson said.

Associated Press journalists Amy Taxin, Amanda Lee Myers and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Opinion: What People Should Know About E-Cigarettes and Public Health

By Shawn McCoy

InsideSources.com

Quitting smoking is tough. For decades, people have turned to candies, patches, gums and even hypnosis to try to quit. Now we have a technology that seems to reduce the health risks of a nicotine addiction and to help smokers quit. So why are American officials wary of encouraging vaping, and what should doctors know about it?

“I think there is well-established misinformation among the public because if you look at all studies — and it’s not just a U.S. phenomenon; the same is happening in Greece and Europe — you will see that most of the population, and smokers — for whom it’s more important — believe that e-cigarettes are equally or even more harmful than smoking,” said Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, a research fellow at Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens and who is a leading expert on e-cigarette use.

I spoke with Farsalinos recently and asked him about health effects and what he thinks is most important for the public to know. It’s clear that there is much misinformation that the public has heard about e-cigarettes.

In fact, so-called “reduced-risk” products are a helpful aid in quitting nicotine completely or stopping smoking.

Last week, a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine and funded by the National Institute for Health Research and Cancer Research UK, provided perhaps the strongest evidence to date about the potential benefits from the rise of e-cigarettes. Among smokers wishing to quit, those who used e-cigarettes as part of their therapy were nearly twice as likely successfully to stop smoking.

The study adds to a growing body of research that points to the opportunity that lies ahead as a result of the broad availability of e-cigarettes in the market. But there remains a complicated public health debate. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has refused to act on approving IQOS, a heat-not-burn product widely available in Europe and Japan.

I recently saw the product in use on a trip overseas, and it provides smokers the same sensation and taste of smoking a cigarette, but it heats the tobacco rather than burning it, which is what actually generates most of the carcinogens and toxins associated with tobacco.

Farsalinos discourages e-cigarette use as a means of quitting if other strategies can be used instead, but he says that, “For those people who are unable or unwilling to quit smoking by themselves or with approved medications, e-cigarettes and other alternative harm reduction products represent a viable and very important alternative — because the worst option and the worst choice is to continue to smoke cigarettes.”

Separately, Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the FDA, has threatened tough regulatory action over what he considers an “epidemic” of youth vaping. The truth of the matter may be more complicated, and experts disagree. Clive Bates, a former anti-smoking campaigner, has written extensively on the rise of e-cigarettes. Dissecting Gottlieb’s rhetoric, Bates instead sees a positive trend that has led to greatly reduced youth smoking levels, a trend that has accelerated with the rise of e-cigarettes. And as the real harm of tobacco is with the smoking, vaping and heating is a step in the right direction, even if not perfect.

I asked Farsalinos what he might say to governments that believe there isn’t enough evidence to show e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are better alternatives to regular cigarettes.

“If these products are not used by the population, you will never be able to gather this data. And I think we have overwhelming evidence of the greatly reduced rate of exposure of toxic chemicals from e-cigarettes compared to smoking,” Farsalinos said. “And I think this is a good enough reason to allow e-cigarettes to be available on the market and to encourage smokers who cannot quit with other methods to use e-cigarettes in order to quit.”

Farsalinos worries that the debate over reduced-risk products is ignoring the very strong evidence of harm reduction. “This debate about tobacco harm reduction has been largely an emotional debate. But I think that everyone is, more or less, ignoring the evidence, which as I said, is overwhelming, and is approaching this matter from an emotional standpoint. I think we should stick to the evidence, but of course, we should be cautious, and that’s why we are continuously monitoring how things will evolve,” he said.

As use of these products continues to rise, it is sure to drive continued debate over its effects on public health. But if we really want to see a decline in the illnesses and deaths that have come from smoking, we need to carefully weigh the evidence. Right now, the evidence is pointing toward great opportunity in reducing harm with e-cigarettes.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Shawn McCoy is the publisher of InsideSources.com.

OPINION: Peaceful Coexistence Should Be Taught in Schools

By Matthew Johnson

As a former student and teacher in both private and public schools, I believe diversity and inclusion should be not only encouraged but also taught. Education is by far the best response to bigotry and ignorance, and I applaud the faculty and students from my rival high school for spearheading a Global Community Citizenship course that could be mandated throughout the county this week.

I was raised in Anne Arundel County, Md., in a white suburban bubble. The n-wordwas thrown around far more than the r-word. There was a “Korean table,” a “Black table,” and a “Nerd table” in the school cafeteria. The “Nerd table” was typically the most diverse, but even among nerds, ignorance abounded.

Homophobia was normalized to the point that boys would be accused of being gay for not denying the ever-present accusation with enough disdain. And God help them if they weregay or questioning. It was not a safe place for them even in the drama club.

Given this context, I was ashamed but not surprised to learn about the string of racist incidentsplaguing Anne Arundel County since the beginning of the Trump era.

The word diversityhad no meaning until my college years. Even though the friends I kept were diverse in both race and family income levels, I had no real understanding or appreciation of those differences. In the white-dominated circles I frequented, students of color were often appreciated to the extent that they appeared or acted “white.” They were not celebrated for their cultural or individual uniqueness. Neither were their ancestors by extension—unless Black History Month, which is often used as evidence of preferential treatment by diversity’s detractors, is included.

This is a serious problem that can be ameliorated—at least in part —by formal education. It’s not as simple as adding an additional class that addresses diversity directly (even though this is an important first step) because this once again compartmentalizes the issue akin to how Black History Month compartmentalizes black history.

History teachers could allow students to research and present on their family heritage and how it relates to historical events. Imagine the conversation that would ensue if it turned out one student’s ancestors were Confederate soldiers while his classmate’s ancestors were slaves? It would take a savvy educator to navigate a dynamic such as this, but it could be done. No one would call the class boring at least.

In English class, which I have the most experience teaching, the metric for diversity is determined first and foremost by the texts presented to the students. If those texts are limited to those written by white men, this is objectionable from the standpoint of cultural inclusiveness. However, it would also be a mistake to not include any texts written by white men in an attempt to connect better with students of color (or female and/or LGBTQ students, for that matter). I have seen this latter approach taken and consider it equally objectionable because it presupposes—falsely in my opinion—that students of color cannot connect to these works. I cannot stress enough that fostering diversity does not mean leaving out controversial ideas or even played-out ones. Interpreting it this way would be a tragic mistake.

Science and math have never been my subjects, but I think it would go a long way if teachers informed students of the origins of the devices they use and concepts they explore—especially when those origins extend beyond the Western world.

The goal should be to infuse cultural sensitivity and inclusion into all aspects of the curriculum and broader school culture. This way every month is Black History Month, Asian History Month, Women’s History Month, Queer History Month, and so on. Our white students will be at a major disadvantage if they go on to college or into the workforce without the necessary cultural knowledge and sensitivity to engage cooperatively with their professors, peers, supervisors, colleagues, and clients—many of whom will come from backgrounds unfamiliar to them. No amount of clinging to crude stereotypes or the false notion of colorblindness will save them.

For their part, students from marginalized communities must be given the respect of acknowledgement and appreciation. This can be achieved through full integration of their heritage into school curricula and culture. This, in turn, can be achieved by hiring a diverse staff, training teachers on how to foster effective cross-cultural dialogue, consulting outside experts, and creating outlets for students to guide their own learning and provide constructive critiques of the curriculum.

My hope is that one day schools across the country will promote coexistence as essential for achievement, along with reading, writing, and arithmetic. Peaceful integration should continue to be the ideal if we are to maintain this radical experiment in democratic pluralism known as the United States of America.

Matt Johnson, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is co-author of Trumpism.

The Conversation

Restorative practices may not be the solution, but neither are suspensions

February 5, 2019

Author: F. Chris Curran, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Disclosure statement: F. Chris Curran receives funding from the National Institute of Justice for ongoing work on school safety.

Partners: University of Maryland, Baltimore County provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

Proponents of restorative justice suffered a blow recently with the late 2018 release of a much anticipated RAND study of restorative practices in Pittsburgh schools. The study’s results showed restorative practices were not as effective as many hoped – or as they are sometimes portrayed by proponents and in the media .

Unlike traditional disciplinary approaches, such as suspension, which remove students from school, restorative practices focus on repairing harm done by getting victims and perpetrators together to talk.

The idea is to rebuild and restore a sense of dignity and community.

As an educational researcher who studies school discipline, I think it would be misguided to use the study as a reason to go back to the old way of doing things, as is currently under debate in some locales.

First, let’s look at what the study found.

Mixed results

On the positive side, the study found evidence that teachers in schools using restorative practices reported better classroom management and school climate. Restorative practices led to an almost 15 percent decline in days lost to suspension overall. The intervention decreased the days lost to suspension for both black students and students from lower income households. However, it had no significant impact on white students or students from more affluent households. Furthermore, impacts were particularly large in elementary schools – there, the intervention led to an over 50 percent decline in days lost to suspension.

At the same time, however, there were a number of negative outcomes. Restorative practices did not lead to lower rates of suspension in middle schools. Nor did it result in declines in suspensions for violence or arrests. Furthermore, there were negative, statistically significant impacts on standardized achievement test scores in middle schools and for black students.

And, contrary to how teachers saw restorative practices, students reported worse classroom management and relationships.

In my opinion, it’s fair to say the findings were mixed at best.

Strong design, different takes on results

While the new study is not the first to examine restorative practices, it is notable for the strength of its research design. Schools were randomly assigned to use the Institute for Restorative Practices’ SaferSanerSchools Whole-School Change program or not. Since randomized controlled trials are considered the “gold-standard” of evaluating the effectiveness of an intervention, the RAND study theoretically provides more credible estimates of the true effect of the program separate from other school policies and practices.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the mixed findings have resulted in differing interpretations of the results.

For instance, Max Eden, of the Manhattan Institute, criticized the study’s original authors and popular media for focusing on the positive findings and downplaying the negative results. Ironically, Eden played up the negative findings claiming that “restorative justice isn’t working”.

In addition to the RAND study of restorative practices, other recent studies of discipline reforms, including bans on the use of suspension for minor offenses and shortening the length of suspensions, have also resulted in mixed findings.

A return to suspensions is not the solution

So what should educators and policymakers do with these results?

Even though the RAND study presents a speed bump on the road to discipline reform, turning back to what research has shown to be ineffective and inequitable exclusionary discipline practices would also be a mistake. Numerous studies have found that being suspended from school is predictive of a host of negative outcomes. Those outcomes include decreased academic achievement, a higher likelihood of involvement with the justice system, and decreased civic engagement as adults.

Zero tolerance policies have also been shown to result in greater uses of suspensions and little benefit in terms of improved school climate.

Exclusionary practices are also disproportionately used against students of color. Federal data and other studies have repeatedly shown that black students are three to four times as likely to be suspended as white students, with a large number of these suspensions being for lower level misconduct like “disrespect.”

Such disparities can’t be explained by differences in behavior across racial groups. The disparities may be the result of differences in the use of exclusionary discipline policies across schools.

Reducing suspensions and improving equity in school discipline is still a valid policy goal. The fact that initial reforms have not produced immediate positive results is disappointing, but hardly surprising. After all, changing practice and finding effective interventions in the field of education is hard work. Instead of settling for suspensions, I believe this is the time when states and local school districts should double down on trying innovative alternative approaches to discipline.

Comment

Vincent J.: Troublesome students disrupt others’ opportunity to learn. Expel the troublemakers. If the troublemakers should someday decide they want an education, they can earn a GED.

Robert Whitt is seen in an undated photo provided by the Orange County, NC, Sheriff’s Office. More than 20 years after the bodies of Myoung Hwa Cho, and a 10-year-old boy, Robert Whitt, were found 215 miles apart in separate states beside Interstate 85, investigators now say they were a mother and son and the boy’s father has confessed to killing them. (Orange County, NC, Sheriff’s Office via AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122265297-20af465e7735468cb0ee9a5d073395dd.jpgRobert Whitt is seen in an undated photo provided by the Orange County, NC, Sheriff’s Office. More than 20 years after the bodies of Myoung Hwa Cho, and a 10-year-old boy, Robert Whitt, were found 215 miles apart in separate states beside Interstate 85, investigators now say they were a mother and son and the boy’s father has confessed to killing them. (Orange County, NC, Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Myoung Hwa Cho is shown on a poster provided by the Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office. More than 20 years after the bodies of Myoung Hwa Cho, and a 10-year-old boy were found 215 miles apart in separate states beside Interstate 85, investigators now say they were a mother and son and the boy’s father has confessed to killing them. (Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office via AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122265297-929919f265bf4c7580f05edbc7e82d14.jpgMyoung Hwa Cho is shown on a poster provided by the Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office. More than 20 years after the bodies of Myoung Hwa Cho, and a 10-year-old boy were found 215 miles apart in separate states beside Interstate 85, investigators now say they were a mother and son and the boy’s father has confessed to killing them. (Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office via AP)
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