DOJ Charges Russian National With Conspiracy to Influence U.S. Politics; Latest Updates on Children Separated at the Border; Deaf Houston Woman Murdered by “Serial Killer"; 6-Year Old Deaf Boy Dies in Philly, Stepfather Charged With Murder; Lauren Ridloff Has Role On “The Walking Dead”
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Tuesday, July 17. Ready for news?
DOJ Charges Russian National With Conspiracy to Influence U.S. Politics
Yesterday the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they have charged a Russian national with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation in the U.S. without notifying the U.S. government.
The Russian, Maria Butina (29) lived in Washington D.C. and was arrested on Sunday, had a court appearance yesterday, and is still in custody until a hearing tomorrow.
The DOJ accuses her of working under a high-level official in the Russian government with the goal of developing relationships and have influence on American politicians or lobbyists, giving them "back channels" of communication with the Russian government.
Butina would attend various political conferences and had a focus on building relationships with the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The DOJ said she visited the U.S. several times from Russia and then resided in the U.S. on a student visa, and never notified authorities she was "working" for the Russian government. She attended American University and graduated in May.
That’s the accusation. She, through her attorney, denied the accusations and said she will defend herself and looks forward to clearing her name.
If convicted, she faces up to 5 years in prison.
This is yet another accusation of a Russian of trying to influence American politics through illegal activity. She is the first one to be arrested, but is the 26th Russian to be charged.
Latest Updates on Children Separated at the Border
The U.S. government can’t find the parents of 71 children who were likely separated from their families. They’re looking for them.
There is a total of 2,551 children who are in federal custody who were separated, and government officials said they have confirmed matches with 2,480 parents. So that leaves 71 unidentified. Who are their parents?
1,609 parents are in government custody, which means the other parents are either deported or released, or in federal or state criminal custody.
Yesterday (Monday) a federal judge ordered the government to temporarily stop the deportations of reunified families.
The ACLU, representing the children and the parents, made an emergency motion to request parents to have at least one week with their children before they are deported so they can have time to make decisions. The ACLU said there are rumors that there are mass deportations that are carried out immediately, sometimes without reunification. The judge allowed a temporary stop with the U.S. government required to respond within a week (by next week).
The same federal judge said the U.S. government must figure out which adults in ICE detention are parents of separated children by Thursday.
Another big deadline is July 26. This is the court-ordered deadline for the government to reunite separated children ages 5 to 17 with their families.
Deaf Houston Woman Murdered by “Serial Killer”
A 62-year old deaf woman from Cypress, Texas (near Houston) was found dead in her home on Friday in an apparent murder. Her name was Pamela Johnson.
She was a widow (her husband has passed away) and lived alone. She was shot, her body was tied up, and her PT Cruiser vehicle stolen. Her television, computer, and jewelry were missing.
Police found her car the next day on Saturday at a nearby mall. They showed surveillance footage of the man who left it there and identified him as the suspect — Jose Gilberto Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was arrested this morning after a car chase in the Houston area.
He is also a suspect in two other murders on Saturday and yesterday (Monday) afternoon, both at mattresses stores. An employee at each store were shot and killed. One was a 28-year old female, the other an older male. So Rodriguez is considered a serial killer with the three murders.
Police also said he is a person of interest in the shooting and robbery of a city bus driver yesterday and a home invasion last Monday. So it’s five crimes in total. Police did ask for the Houston community’s help to find him.
Now he is arrested. Police found him because someone saw Rodriguez driving a Nissan Sentra that belonged to one of the mattress store employees. The car was stolen and he was arrested.
Rodriguez was on parole and had an ankle monitoring system, but police said he cut it off before he started his crimes.
Now back to Pamela, the Deaf woman. A local news article did an interview with her sister. She said the family’s last contact with Pamela was last week (on July 10) and was concerned after not hearing back from her. Her two brothers went to her home on Friday and found her body.
Pamela worked at a Krogers grocery store. Her sister said she was sweet and would give people small gifts, cards, and notes. She was heartbroken.
There was a vigil to honor her on Sunday night.
6-Year Old Deaf Boy Dies in Philly, Stepfather Charged With Murder
Last Thursday evening in Philadelphia, a 6-year old deaf boy, Travon Register who was a twin with a deaf brother, passed away in his home.
His stepfather, Michael Williams, said the boy was playing outside with a water gun and when he went into the house at 4:45 pm, he slipped on the kitchen floor and injured his head.
His mother was at work at the time.
The stepfather said he put him in his bed upstairs, went outside to smoke a cigarette, and 15 minutes later saw him gasping for air. He moved the boy to another bedroom then went back downstairs.
At 5:40 pm, an hour later, the stepfather said he saw that the boy was unresponsive, but didn’t call 911, waiting for another hour and 40 minutes before making the call.
When medics and police arrived about 7:20 pm, they pronounced the boy dead at 7:29 pm.
After a police investigation, the stepfather was charged with murder and endangering the welfare of a child, two serious charges. He was arrested Friday night.
Police thinks the stepfather murdered Travon, but didn’t explain what evidence they found.
A person familiar with the situation told me that Travon was a student at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and would have been in the first grade this fall.
A family member of the mother, Breonna, set up a GoFundMe to raise money for his burial. The mother said after she got off work on Thursday, she got a call saying she had to go home immediately and when she got home, she was struck with grief.
She said her baby was only six years old and she never thought she would be burying him at this age. She said there will always be a hole in her and his twin brother, and that his death will not be in vain.
You can go to the GoFundMe link at the transcript below.
Lauren Ridloff Has Role On “The Walking Dead”
The television show “The Walking Dead” will have a Deaf character for their ninth season. Who is the actress? Lauren Ridloff, who recently finished her successful lead role in the Broadway play “Children of A Lesser God” — she got a Tony award nomination for her role. She’s now moving on.
EW reported that Lauren’s character is “Connie” and will be on several episodes. Connie is a deaf person who uses ASL and is described as a “seasoned survivor who uses her senses to read people, situations, and trouble.”
Lauren posted on Instagram an image of a seat with “CONNIE” written on it to confirm her role on the show.
EW said she will be the first deaf person on the TV show. EW explained there is a “Connie” character in The Walking Dead comic, but Connie isn’t deaf in it, just on the TV show.
Nice! It makes sense to have a deaf character, because zombies (walkers) attack you based on sound. With ASL, you can talk as much as you want without a sound. So it makes sense.
The show is on AMC and season 9 seems like it will be released this fall. If you want to catch up on the show, you can watch seasons 1-7 on Netflix.
Congratulations to Lauren for the big role!
Quote from Lauren Ridloff:
“I love TWD and am so honored to be a part of this family. TWD has a large Deaf fan base at conventions and some of the actors mentioned they learned a little big sign language from those conventions alone!
I look forward to the premiere in October. It is going to be a very exciting season.”
That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light!