Mother, son found dead along interstate highways in Southeast identified after 20 years

More than two decades after the bodies of a woman and 10-year-old boy were found in separate states, each discarded along the side of a highway, officials announced Tuesday a DNA analysis identified the victims as a mother and son — and helped authorities to elicit a confession from their killer.

The identity of the woman was revealed Tuesday to be Myoung Hwa Cho. Cho was suffocated before her nude body, bearing ligature marks around the wrists, was discovered dumped in the woods along Interstate 85 in South Carolina in May 1998, The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

In September 1998, 215 miles away from where Cho’s body was dumped, the remains of a young boy were found under a billboard by workers mowing grass along Interstate 85 in Mebane, North Carolina.


The Orange County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina said its own news release that, after trying other forensic analysis techniques — including even creating a bust of the child — the department used the analysis of an online DNA database to identify the child, who was a first-generation, biracial Caucasian and Asian.

Robert Adam Whitt's body was identified using a DNA database.

Robert Adam Whitt’s body was identified using a DNA database. (Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

“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,” Orange County Sheriff’s Maj. Tim Horne, who worked the case from the beginning, said in a statement.

After identifying the race of the boy, the agency enlisted the help of a consultant, Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter. Rae-Venter, whose work led to an arrest in the Golden State Killer case, matched the child’s DNA to DNA from a close relative who had submitted information to an online DNA database. After contacting the relative, investigators learned the boy’s name: Robert “Bobby” Adam Whitt. They soon found out Whitt’s mom — who had disappeared the same year as her son — was also dead.


With help from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, authorities in North Carolina said an unidentified female matching the search criteria was located in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. After contacting officials there, the DNA of the victims were compared and soon proved to be mother and son.

Authorities in South Carolina used fingerprints, with the help of the Korean National Police and INTERPOL, to identify the woman as Myoung Hwa Cho.

Myoung Hwa Cho is shown on a poster provided by the Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Sheriff's Office.

Myoung Hwa Cho is shown on a poster provided by the Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office. (Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office via AP)

“This case is an example of dogged determination of investigators who refused to give up,” Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said. “The efforts of Major Tim Horne and the entire investigation division were exemplary.”


Investigators then were led to Cho’s husband and Whitt’s father who is currently serving federal time for unrelated convictions, according to FOX Carolina.

The husband confessed to the murder of both victims within several months of each other in 1998, according to police.

Officials said that it does not appear that either killing took place in Spartanburg County or Orange County, so the man’s identification is being withheld until authorities can determine where the mother and son were killed and a prosecutorial decision can be made.

Authorities commended the work of both offices in utilizing new technology to finally crack the cold cases. Last year, detectives across the country said they were able to locate suspects in 28 cold cases after uploading crime scene DNA to, a public genealogy website.

“With technology what it is today, crimes that have gone unsolved before are now ripe for resolution,” Blackwood said.

Fox News’ Robert Gearty contributed to this report.

Exclusive: White House preparing draft national emergency order and identified $7 billion for wall

TIJUANA, MEXICO - JANUARY 11: A construction crew works as new sections of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier are installed on January 11, 2019 as seen from Tijuana, Mexico.  President Donald Trump is holding off from a threatened national emergency declaration to fund a border wall amidst the partial government shutdown.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

TIJUANA, MEXICO - JANUARY 11: A construction crew works as new sections of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier are installed on January 11, 2019 as seen from Tijuana, Mexico.  President Donald Trump is holding off from a threatened national emergency declaration to fund a border wall amidst the partial government shutdown.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Washington (CNN)The White House is preparing a draft proclamation for President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency along the southern border and has identified more than $ 7 billion in potential funds for his signature border wall should he go that route, according to internal documents reviewed by CNN.

Trump has not ruled out using his authority to declare a national emergency and direct the Defense Department to construct a border wall as Congress and the White House fight over a deal to end the government shutdown. But while Trump’s advisers remain divided on the issue, the White House has been moving forward with alternative plans that would bypass Congress.
“The massive amount of aliens who unlawfully enter the United States each day is a direct threat to the safety and security of our nation and constitutes a national emergency,” a draft of a presidential proclamation reads.
“Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C 1601, et seq.), hereby declare that a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States,” the draft adds.
    The draft was updated as recently as last week, a US government official told CNN.
    According to options being considered, the administration could pull: $ 681 million from treasury forfeiture funds, $ 3.6 billion in military construction, $ 3 billion in Pentagon civil works funds, and $ 200 million in Department of Homeland Security funds, the official said.
    The Defense Department referred a request for comment from CNN to the White House, which has not responded.
    If the declaration is made, the US Army Corps of Engineers would be deployed to construct the wall, some of which could be built on private property and would therefore require the administration to seize the land, which is permitted if it’s for public use.
    The administration’s plans acknowledge the possibility for lawsuits if they move forward with acquiring private property. The documents also reflect a sense of urgency with administration plans, noting that environmental reviews can be skipped and DHS can use waivers to bypass contracting laws.
    If the President proceeds with the declaration, it’ll likely be challenged in court and by Democrats in Congress, as critics have argued that Trump cannot use the national emergency authority to free up taxpayer funds and build the border wall he has long promised his political supporters.
    The question of legality and court challenges is still one of the main hang-ups in using executive action to secure the wall funding. Trump’s advisers have cautioned that taking that route would lead to certain legal challenge, meaning the wall construction would still be delayed.
    The draft document cites Title 10 of the US Code, which allows Trump to unlock a stash of Pentagon funds that are earmarked but have no signed contracts for spending that money. That would give the President authority to pull from military construction funds and civil works projects, like infrastructure repair projects.
    Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, tweeted earlier this month that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, “assured Texans that he understood the deep concerns about using Harvey relief funds for the border.” CNN previously reported that the Pentagon was asked to provide a list of those projects in anticipation of a national emergency.
    The Pentagon has assisted the Department of Homeland Security in the past. For example, the Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency within DOD that provides public engineering services, has helped evaluate prototypes of the border wall.
    Options under consideration conceded that acquiring private property would take time. Even if voluntary, the land could take up to a year to be acquired. Land condemnation cases are known to take time because property owners have the right to sue. A national emergency declaration would not speed that process up, a government official says.
      Customs and Border Protection has said that it would consider eminent domain in the future.
      “It is always CBP’s preference to acquire property through a voluntary, negotiated sale. The Government will attempt to negotiate an offer to sell using survey data and value estimates gleaned from the surveying process,” reads an excerpt in a border wall Q&A on their site. “The Government will attempt to negotiate an offer to sell before moving forward with exercising eminent domain. However, if the Government and landowner are unable to reach a negotiated sale or if the Government is unable to obtain clean title, the Government will need to file an eminent domain action.”

      Special Forces soldier killed in Afghanistan identified

      The Army identified the Special Forces soldier killed in Afghanistan Tuesday as a Green Beret from Virginia.

      Sgt. 1st Class Joshua “Zach” Beale, 32, was shot and killed during combat operations in Central Afghanistan’s Uruzgan Province. He was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

      “Joshua was a smart, talented and dedicated member of 3rd SFG [Airborne] and the special operations community,” Beale’s commander, Col. Nathan Prussian, said in a statement. “He will be greatly missed by everyone who had the fortunate opportunity to know him. We extend our deepest condolences to his family for this tragic loss.”


      A native of Carrollton, Va., Beale graduated from Old Dominion University in 2008 and joined the Army in 2011. He was on his fourth overseas tour and his third tour to Afghanistan when he was killed. He received a posthumous Bronze Star Medal, his fourth.

      Beale is the second American soldier to be killed in Afghanistan so far this year. He is survived by his wife and two children.

      Murdered 20-year-old woman finally identified 31 years later

      Southern California cold case investigators announced this week a breakthrough in identifying a 1987 stabbing victim whose hands had been hacked off by her killer.

      The investigators identified the Jane Doe homicide victim as Tracey Hobson after 31 years using “forensic genealogy techniques,” according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

      Hobson was 20 and living in Anaheim when she disappeared in June 1987. A hiker found her body near a red handkerchief two months later, Patch Orange County reported Thursday. She had been stabbed in the chest.

      “Our investigators are working to see if anyone filed a missing person report on Tracey,” Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman with the sheriff’s office, said.


      The nonprofit DNA Doe Project assisted in identifying Hobson using GedMatch, a public genealogical website, Patch and other local media reported.

      The same technique was used to identify a man northern California police say was the notorious Golden State Killer. Jospeh DeAngelo, 72, a former cop, is accused of committing more than 50 rapes and 13 murders from 1974 to 1986.

      “Forensic genealogy has provided a new tool for investigators to work cases from a different angle to bring closure to families,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said. “We will never stop investigating these types of cases and seeking justice for victims of crime.”

      A DNA profile of Jane Doe was extracted in 2005, the Orange County Register reported.


      Over the years the DNA profile was compared to other missing persons in an attempt to identify the victim with no results.

      Two years ago investigators used facial reconstruction to create images of what Jane Doe might have looked like, the paper reported.


      Those images were released to the public but generated no new leads.

      3 Americans killed in Syria suicide blast identified

      Three of the four Americans who were killed in a suicide blast near a U.S.-led coalition patrol in Syria were identified Friday.

      Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, of upstate New York and Defense Department civilian Scott A. Wirtz of St. Louis, Missouri were all identified as the American victims in the explosion.

      The fourth American killed in the attack was an interpreter working for the Defense Department and his name wasn’t released.

      This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

      Florida man decapitated in freak helicopter accident identified, authorities say

      A maintenance man working on a helicopter in south Florida was decapitated in a freak accident Thursday after the main rotor blades suddenly jerked up and down before fatally slicing the 62-year-old man, authorities said.

      Salvator Disi died Thursday near the hangars at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

      Two men were using a power cart to jumpstart a helicopter when it began acting erratically – moving up and then down.


      “This motion caused the main rotor blades to strike one of the men, who was working on the helicopter,” the sheriff’s office said in a written statement.

      During a news conference, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis told reporters that, even though foul play is not expected, a full investigation will take place.

      “Obviously a death that is a little unusual…and we want to make sure we have all the answers,” Nienhuis said. “It’s tragic that those individuals are not going to be able to give their loved one a hug again.”


      In a Facebook post Thursday night, Nienhuis said Disi was a family friend.

      “He was a good man,” Nienhuis wrote. “This is so tragic.”

      Desi was certified to command multi-engine airline airplanes and pilot commercial helicopters. He had a drone pilot certification, was certified as a flight instructor for single- and multi-engine planes and in 2010 was certified as an advanced ground instructor.


      The helicopter Desi was working on belonged to Dr. Alfred Bonati, an orthopedic surgeon at the Bonati Spine Institute in Husdon, Florida. Bonati was at the scene when the accident occurred.

      The aircraft is believed to be a 1993 Bell 230 twin-engine light helicopter, according to the Tampa Bay Times, which cited Federal Aviation Administration records.

      Remains of Navy sailor from San Diego, killed at Pearl Harbor, have been identified, Pentagon says

      James T. Cheshire of San Diego was 40 years old and serving in the Navy as a chief pharmacist’s mate aboard the USS Oklahoma when he was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

      The Defense Department’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency recently confirmed that Cheshire was officially accounted for in September, nearly 77 years after the attack that led to the United States entering World War II.

      The identification was made possible because of advances in forensics techniques, the agency said in a news release.


      When the remains of all those who perished aboard the Oklahoma were collected after the attack, only 35 sailors could be identified, defense officials said. The remains of Cheshire and others who could not be accounted for were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

      Then in April 2015, because of the advances in technology, the unidentified remains of those who served on the Oklahoma were disinterred for DNA analysis, the release said.

      In September, Cheshire’s family was informed that the sailor’s remains had been positively identified, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.


      In December, the remains of Navy Seaman 2nd Class Charles C. Gomez Jr., of Slidell, La., were confirmed as having been accounted for, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said.

      According to the Defense Department, more than 72,000 of the 400,000 Americans killed during World War II have not yet been accounted for, but the recovered remains of about 26,000 service members have been assessed as possibly recoverable.

      Second man found dead in Democratic donor Edward Buck’s home identified

      Second man found dead at Dem donor's home


        Second man found dead at Dem donor’s home


      Second man found dead at Dem donor’s home 02:18

      (CNN)The man found dead inside the West Hollywood home of prominent Democratic donor Edward Buck has been identified as 55-year-old Timothy Dean, according to CNN affiliate KTLA.

      Dean worked at Saks Fifth Avenue’s Beverly Hills location and was well-liked in the community, his roommate, Ottavio Taddei, said according to KTLA.
      The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has said a man was found dead at Buck’s home early Monday morning.
      It’s the second death of an adult male at Buck’s home in the last couple years. In July 2017 a man identified as Gemmel Moore was determined to have fatally overdosed at the same location, authorities said. Buck, 64, was present at the time of both incidents.
        Police are conducting an investigation into the more recent death as well as follow-up interviews and a secondary review of the 2017 death to better understand the two cases, authorities said.

        Rep. Ted Lieu to donate contributions from Buck

        Buck has donated to a number of Democratic candidates and PACs in recent years, according to information from OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in US politics.
        California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu announced earlier this week that he will donate more than $ 18,000 in campaign contributions from Buck to LGBTQ and African American civil rights organizations.
        In a statement, Lieu said he was “deeply disturbed by the latest revelations” of a second death at Buck’s home.
        Lieu said he will donate $ 5,000 each to Lambda Legal and the NAACP; $ 3,000 each to GLAAD and The Trevor Project; and $ 2,500 to Equality California Institute.

        Two deaths in less than two years

        Deputies responded to Buck’s home at 1:05 a.m. Monday regarding a person not breathing. They pronounced the man dead when they arrived, the Sheriff’s Department said. The cause of death is unknown and will be determined by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
        The death of Moore, a 26-year-old black man, in July 2017 was determined to be an accidental methamphetamine overdose, the Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s website says.
        The admissible evidence in the case was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Buck was responsible for Moore’s death, according to a charge evaluation worksheet from the LA County District Attorney in July 2018. The admissible evidence was also insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he furnished drugs to Moore or that he possessed drugs, the document states.
        The Los Angeles LGBT Center, an organization that provides services and advocates for LGBT people, called on the Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to fully investigate the latest death and “aggressively seek justice.”
        “Although the investigation is in its early stages, we urge Sheriff Villanueva to keep the public fully informed as LGBT people have a considerable and urgent interest in a case that is so clearly linked to the health and safety of our community,” the statement said. “The reports we have heard provide more questions than answers.”
        Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, told CNN that Buck and the victim had been friends for over 25 years. He said he did not believe there would be charges filed in the case.
        “Yes, Ed does have individuals he associates with who have problems with drugs. He tries to talk them out of it. Sometimes they bring their problems into his apartment, and that’s where the problem is,” Amster said.

        Political involvement

        Buck has contributed to a number of causes and races in California and beyond.
        In addition to $ 2,700 to Lieu, in 2017, he gave $ 10,400 to the Getting Stuff Done PAC affiliated with Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and $ 1,000 each to Rep. Jimmy Gomez of California, Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, and former Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
        He also previously gave $ 2,700 to Hillary Clinton in 2015, $ 5,000 to the House Majority PAC that supports Democrats in 2014, and $ 1,000 to Barack Obama in 2008, according to OpenSecrets.
          In 2010, Buck heckled California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman at a political event, according to news reports from at the time. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was campaigning for Whitman, then confronted Buck.
          “It’s people who raise their voices and yell and scream like you that are dividing this country,” Christie said. “We’re here to bring this country together, not to divide it.”

          Jameela Jamil identified as her ‘Good Place’ character’s sister on Golden Globe E! chyron

          Was it an honest mistake or cheeky joke from a fan?

          Jameela Jamil graced the 2019 Golden Globe Awards red carpet on Sunday as herself, but a writer for E! seemed to mix up “The Good Place” star with a character on the hit NBC series.

          On “E!’s Live from the Red Carpet,” the cameraman panned to Jamil walking the carpet with a lower third identifying her as “Kamilah Al-Jamil,” the sister of Jamil’s “The Good Place” character Tahani Al-Jamil. For fans of the series, the mistake is especially comedic because Tahani is constantly living in the shadows of Kamilah, who appears to be the more celebrated and successful sister despite everything Jamil’s character does to outshine her.


          “Holy Forking Shirtballs. Did anyone else see my beautiful @jameelajamilposing on @eonlineTV Red Carpet @nbc for Pics & the Caption below her ACTUALLY Read:’KAMILAH AL JAMIL,’” a fan tweet upon seeing the mistake. “Have they LOST their FORKING minds? WHY take THIS away from ‘Tahani’ too? Is it a Prank?”

          “tahani must be rolling in her grave right now,” another person wrote.

          One person tweeted, “This is the best thing that has ever happened to the Internet!! #TheGoodPlace”

          Netflix also commented on the hilarious mistake.

          “Give #TheGoodPlace fan who works at E! one billion dollars for this savage insult on a shot of Jameela Jamil that would ENRAGE Tahani,” the streaming service tweeted.

          Jamil didn’t seem to mind the error and applauded it as a “joyous mistake.” E! also did not address the chyron error.

          “E live red carpet. This is legit the funniest thing I have ever seen. What a joyous mistake. Tahani would DIE! LOO LOL LOL. #witherTahani ?” the actress tweeted. “Hands down the greatest of red carpet jokes from whoever did this. It’s made my night.”

          5 children killed in fiery Florida crash while heading to Disney World are identified

          Authorities have released the names of the five children from a Louisiana church who were on their way to Disney World and the two adults who were killed in a fiery Florida interstate crash Thursday.

          The Florida Highway Patrol said Friday that the children were Joel Cloud and Jeremiah Warren, both 14; Cara Descant, 13; Brieana Descant, 10; and Cierra Bordelan, 9. All were from Marksville, Louisiana, and were in a Pentecostal church van headed to the theme park when the accident occurred.

          The children were members of the Avoyelles House of Mercy in Marksville, Louisiana, according to the Gainesville Sun.


          The truck drivers who died in the crash were Douglas Bolkema, 49, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Steve Holland, 59, of West Palm Beach, Florida.

          In a statement posted on the United Pentecostal Church International’s Facebook page, Louisiana district superintendent Kevin Cox said the pregnant woman injured in the crash was stabilized. Cox also said church pastor Eric Descant’s wife, Karen, was critically injured and his granddaughter was among the children killed.

          The highway patrol said a truck driven by Holland was traveling north in the far-right lane when it suddenly veered left and collided with a car driven by Robyn Rattray, 41, of Gainesville.

          Both the truck and car went out of control and through the center divider, where Holland’s truck plowed into the church van driven by Amy Joffiron, 49, causing it to flip several times and eject some of the nine children on board. The highway patrol said it was not immediately known if any were wearing seatbelts.

          The five children killed in Thursday's fiery crash were identified.

          The five children killed in Thursday’s fiery crash were identified. (Lauren Bacho/The Gainesville Sun via AP)

          Holland’s truck then struck a truck driven by Bolkema. Both trucks and Rattray’s car caught fire, and a fifth vehicle hit at least one of the ejected van passengers.

          Rattray and Joffiron suffered serious injuries, as did the four surviving children, who were also age nine to 14. They remain hospitalized, as does Karen Descant.

          The image shows the fiery crash along Interstate 75 on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019.

          The image shows the fiery crash along Interstate 75 on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. (Alachua County Fire Rescue/Florida 511 via AP)

          Court records show Holland received numerous tickets between 2000 and 2014 in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Virginia for violations such as speeding, driving an unsafe vehicle, driving an overloaded vehicle and not carrying proof of insurance. Bolkema received a ticket in 1997 for following too closely.


          Investigators were working to determine what triggered the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board would send a team to investigate but cannot due to the partial government shutdown. The Florida Department of Transportation is investigating whether the guardrail should have stopped the northbound crash from crossing the highway or whether the accident was too severe.

          Marksville Mayor John Lemoine said the accident has affected the small town in Louisiana.

          Interstate 75 was shut down in both directions after the crash on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019.

          Interstate 75 was shut down in both directions after the crash on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. (Lauren Bacho/The Gainesville Sun via AP)

          “We are a small community with 6,500 people in town, and most everybody knows everybody else. It’s affected everybody. That is what’s so terrible about this,” he said. “You have a horrible accident with kids going to Disney to enjoy themselves and this happens. It’s just beyond belief. It just hasn’t set in yet, to just finish the Christmas holidays and have a new year start off with such tragedy.”

          Walt Disney World officials have expressed sympathies to the families of the victims of the crash. Spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said Friday that “there are no words to convey the sorrow we feel for those involved.”

          The Associated Press contributed to this report.