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WDEF News 12 - Local News
Updated: 50 min 2 sec ago

CPD Help Fatal Shooting Victim's Baby

1 hour 30 min ago
The Chattanooga Police Department Shine some light on a local family affected by gun violence this year.

19 year old Jasmine Akins lost her life in a shooting while she was leaving a birthday party at a downtown lounge in September.
Her Daughter Journee was just four months old.
And she's the one that grabbed Lt. Eddy Chamberlin's attention.
He and the Fraternal Order of Police made sure their Christmas needs were met for little Journee today.

Jasmine's mother Ayesha Pinky says she'll make sure Journee knows how every helped her.
"It'll probably be overwhelming to her that she had so much love and support from everybody especially Chattanooga Police Department," said Pinky.

Police will  continue to accept checks and supplies this Monday  until Christmas Eve at  the Police Services Center  .

New details about events that led to Dalton police oficer's arrest

1 hour 53 min ago
DALTON, Georgia(WDEF) - There is new information about the Dalton police officer who was arrested and charged with child molestation.

According to the arrest affidavit, the mother of the victim told authorities she found a disturbing note written by her daughter. The note reportedly talked about Officer Tolbert kissing and touching the girl; and even telling her not to tell anyone.

According to the affidavit, The alleged crime occurred at an apartment in Dalton.

The victims mother told police Tolbert was dating one of her relatives and spent the night four times while he was going through the hiring process with the Dalton Police Department.

The affidavit also says on one occasion, the victim woke up only to find Tolbert standing over her bed taking pictures.

Since his arrest, the Dalton Police Department has been very transparent about how Tolbert became an officer.

"For our community sake, I want to stress that our department uses a very stringent background and hiring process that usually takes quite a few weeks. During a check of Mr. Tolbert's background, we didn't see anything that might have predicted a charge like this in the future," said Dalton Police Chief Jason Parker.

Officer Tolbert remains on administrative leave while the city continues the process of his termination.

The officer had only been on the job since September.

He is now out of jail after posting pond.

Double Rape Suspect May Have Targeted Other Women

2 hours 15 min ago
     News 12 learned from a Red Bank arrest affidavit that Derrick Caldwell may have been targeting another woman a few days before the alleged rapes took place.
     The report says a man called police when he saw Caldwell looking through his next door neighbor's window.
     He says his neighbor is a woman that lives alone.
     The officer responding says there was reason to believe Caldwell was trying to break into the home and arrested him.
     Rape Crisis specialists Caroline Huffaker says Senior Sexual Assaults are extremely under-reported.
      "About only half of all sexual assaults are reported and then that statistic drops even lower within our elder community.  So about 30% of sexual assaults against elderly individuals or vulnerable adults are reported," said Huffaker.
     Police say if you've been a victim of sexual assault, contact the rape crisis center.
     You are not required to file a police report after contacting the center, but they can assist you in doing so.

       CRISIS HOTLINE - 423.755.2700
      Available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Completely Confidential.


Rhea County Sheriff's Office "Toy Run" Helps 1400 Children This Christmas

2 hours 16 min ago
CHATTANOOGA,TN, (WDEF)-Santa,"Ho Ho Ho, my name is Deputy Pierce with the Rhea County Sheriff's Department, and I am a school resource officer, and today is a very special day because there are a lot of needy children in our county."

Hugs, laughs and gifts for those in need were the priority for Rhea County Sheriff's office during the 7th annual Toy and Coat Run in Dayton and Spring City.

Teams spent the week packing and sorting requests for gifts from families in need.

Seth Morgan,YMCA and TN Career Center,"We serve disadvantaged youth and help them connect to their career goals, and one of the things we like to do is encourage them to give back to their community and be a part of community volunteering. So for our December event, we chose the Sheriff's Toy and Coat Drive."

But for one volunteer the event means something more.

Carol Rucker, LAZ Boy Tennessee,"From personal experience I was in these people's shoes at one time and I know the feeling of not being able to know if you are going to get anything for Christmas and the heartache the parents go through."

"More than 400 coats have been given out in recent weeks and the most in demand sizes are for boys aged 8 to 16 across Rhea County."

The Sheriff's Office was only supposed to help about 400 kids this year in Dayton, but Spring City and the surrounding areas had about 1000 kids in need.
So the sheriff's office stepped in to help.

Debbie Ballard, Manager of Country Mortgage,"We just appreciate so much the response the help, I would encourage anyone who hasn't donated to donate. If it's not for this year, it's for next year. So the need continues."

The Toy Run was established by the Sheriff's Office special projects coordinator Jeffrey Knight and a local retired school teacher who felt compelled to help families during the economic crash in 2007 and 2008.

And the run continues today, helping more and more families in need each year.
Checks were donated by LAZBoy and other donors provided children's bikes and jackets.

Chattanooga Couple Seeks to Break World Record and Feed Needy Children

3 hours 40 min ago
HIXSON, TN (WDEF) - Gregg and Robin Layne are doing more than burning calories, they're burning a question into the minds of many.

Gregg says, "How many people can say, Hey, I was involved in a world record?  Here's your chance."

On January 3rd, the Layne's are encouraging everyone to join a free fitness class at various locations across the Chattanooga area.

Gregg adds, "We're going to set a world record, across the world, at the same time, the largest group workout."

But listen, there's a twist.

Gregg says, "We're going to have a sign in sheet where you'll sign in. So, we'll have your name and when your name is logged like that. You are going to get 30 meals donated in your name to a child in need."

Now, the money for the meals isn't coming out of the Layne's pocketbook.

A billion dollar meal replacement shake company called ViSalus is footing the bill.

Robin adds, "They have done very well, and so their way of giving back is to help where it starts.  It starts with the children."

If you can't make it to what could be the world's largest fitness class, the company is asking that you loose ten pounds or gain ten pounds of muscle in 90 days.

They'll then honor the 30 free meal deal.

Gregg says, "The only way we can create awareness is by doing something big, and this is going to be huge."

The Layne's hope breaking a sweat means breaking bad habits in the future.

On January 3rd you can join the group fitness class at Workout Anytime in Hixson and Kyle's Place.

For other locations or information, call 423-421-7995.

EPA Establishes Regulations for Coal Ash Disposal

4 hours 14 min ago
(WDEF)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the first national regulations to provide for the safe disposal of coal combustion residuals (coal ash) from coal-fired power plants.
        The final rule establishes safeguards to protect communities from coal ash impoundment failures, like the catastrophic Kingston, TN, spill in 2008.
        It also establishes safeguards to prevent groundwater contamination and air emissions from coal ash disposal.
        EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy explained, “EPA is taking action to protect our communities from the risk of mismanaged coal ash disposal units, and putting in place safeguards to help prevent the next catastrophic coal ash impoundment failure, which can cost millions for local businesses, communities and states.  These strong safeguards will protect drinking water from contamination, air from coal ash dust, and our communities from structural failures, while providing facilities a practical approach for implementation."
        EPA has been studying the effects of coal ash disposal on the environment and public health for many years.
        In the wake of the failure of the TVA coal ash pond in Kingston, EPA began a multi-year effort to help ensure the safety of the nation’s coal ash disposal facilities, including assessing more than 500 facilities across the country.
        Improperly constructed or managed coal ash disposal units have been linked to nearly 160 cases of harm to surface or ground water or to the air.
        EPA carefully evaluated more than 450,000 comments on the proposed rule, testimony from eight public hearings, and information gathered from three notices soliciting comment on new data and analyses.
        Improperly constructed or managed coal ash disposal units have resulted in the catastrophic failure of surface impoundments, damages to surface water, groundwater and the air. The first federal requirements for impoundments and landfills to address these risks include:
        •The closure of surface impoundments and landfills that fail to meet engineering and structural standards and will no longer receive coal ash;
        •Reducing the risk of catastrophic failure by requiring regular inspections of the structural safety of surface impoundments;
        •Restrictions on the location of new surface impoundments and landfills so that they cannot be built in sensitive areas such as wetlands and earthquake zones;
        •Protecting groundwater by requiring monitoring, immediate cleanup of contamination, and closure of unlined surface impoundments that are polluting groundwater;
        •Protecting communities using fugitive dust controls to reduce windblown coal ash dust;
        •Requiring liner barriers for new units and proper closure of surface impoundments and landfills that will no longer receive CCRs.
        In response to comments received on the proposal, the final rule makes a number of changes by providing greater clarity on technical requirements for coal ash landfills and surface impoundments under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the nation's primary law for regulating solid waste.
        Implementation of these technical requirements will be reported through comprehensive and regular disclosure to states, and communities to enable them to monitor and oversee these requirements.
        The rule requires that power plant owners and operators provide detailed information to citizens and states to fully understand how their communities may be impacted.
        The rule sets out new transparency requirements, including recordkeeping and reporting requirements, as well as the requirement for each facility to post specific information to a publicly-accessible website.
        This will provide the public with information such as annual groundwater monitoring results, and corrective action reports, coal ash fugitive dust control plans, and closure completion notifications.
        This final rule also supports the responsible recycling of coal ash by distinguishing safe, beneficial use from disposal.
        In 2012, almost 40 percent of all coal ash produced was recycled (beneficially used), rather than disposed.
        Beneficial use of coal ash can produce positive environmental, economic and performance benefits such as reduced use of virgin resources, lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduced cost of coal ash disposal, and improved strength and durability of materials.
        EPA is committed to working closely with our state partners on implementation of this rule.
        To ease implementation and harmonize the regulatory requirements for coal ash landfills and surface impoundments, EPA encourages states to adopt the federal minimum criteria, revise their Solid Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) and submit these revisions to EPA for approval.
        A revised and approved SMWP will signal EPA’s opinion that the state SWMP meets the federal criteria.

JOE FRUGAL: Harlem Globetrotters Chattanooga Floor Seats for $35

15 hours 33 min ago
  The Harlem Globetrotters return to Chattanooga next month for a match-up at U-T-C McKenzie Arena.

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  Right now, you can purchase discounted tickets in three floor seat sections for $35.  That's $23 off the regular price.
  The team faces off against its classic nemesis, the Washington Generals on Wednesday, January 14th 7:00 p.m.  The Generals are Coached by a man who was a member of the last Generals team to have beat the Globetrotters, more than 40 years ago.

Cleveland Salvation Army Angel Tree Distribution

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 11:35pm
Cleveland, TN (WDEF) Christmas is still officially a week away, but some of Santa's helpers gave out toys Thursday in Cleveland.

Volunteers with the Salvation Army distributed toys collected for their angel tree program.

They double checked recipients names with their number to match up the toys that go to each family.

It's been a very busy holiday season, but the generous donations from the community made the season a little brighter for hundreds of local families in need.

Lisa Porter with the Bradley Co. Salvation Army says, "We worked very closely with the other volunteers and workers from the past and we just made a big team and we got it done."

The Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign is still ongoing.

It raises the money for most of their programs throughout the year.

More than 600 guns taken off of Chattanooga's streets this year

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 10:25pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - Recent shootings in Chattanooga by suspected gang members have prompted the question of how gang members are getting guns.

Almost everyday, someone in Chattanooga is arrested for illegal possession of a firearm because they're convicted felons.

In recent days, the illegal use of firearms sent three people to the hospital.

According to Chattanooga police, more than 640 illegal firearms were taken off the streets between January and November of this year. Most of those weapons were used to injure and in some cases kill.

"The vast majority of our shootings and violence occurs with guns that are illicitly obtained through burglaries and through inappropriate sales," said Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher.

"By getting these weapons off the street, we're creating a safer environment for Chattanooga. That's really important as we build a safer city," Said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

Many of the illegal weapons used on the streets are handguns. But during a recent shooting on Hawthorne Street, witnesses saw and heard something a little more powerful.

"I saw a a guy with an AK-47running across the sidewalk," said Timothy Newsome who's home was hit by a stray bullet.

According to Trentyn Murrell of Shooter's Depot, an AK-47 assault rifle is a lot easier to see on the streets thanks to non-reputable gun dealers who are more interested in making money but don't conduct background checks.

Murrell said some people do what's called a straw sale.

"Basically that is when an individual comes in, who can legally purchase a firearm and can pass a background, buys the gun for someone else."

That someone else is usually a person who can't pass a background check because of a felony conviction.

Shooter's Depot conduct background checks on every gun buyer. The store also does background checks on guns that people bring into the store to sell.

DeKalb County Drug Arrests

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 10:10pm
Fort Payne, AL (WDEF) DeKalb County deputies arrest four people for drug charges.
Community members reported suspicious traffic at a home on County Road 876.
That was enough to get a warrant for the Drug Task Force.
Officials found prescription drugs, meth, marijuana, spice and more during the search.
The four people inside the home were arrested.
Deputies also removed a 14-month-old from the home.

Dalton Police Officer Daniel Tolbert Arrested for Child Molestation

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 8:15pm
(WDEF) Officer Daniel Tolbert was arrested Thursday evening for one count of child molestation.
        The arrests comes after a Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Whitfield County Sheriff's Office investigation.
        Tolbert served as a police officer in Dalton for three months after getting out of the academy.
        We'll have more details as they become available.

FBI Investigating Arrested DeKalb Co. Corrections Officer

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 7:41pm
Fort Payne, AL (WDEF) The FBI is now investigating a DeKalb County Corrections officer.

Brian Crowe faces charges of extorting money from an inmate.

FBI agents are looking at possible federal charges.

Crowe was arrested last Friday.

He posted a $5,000 bond Monday.

Chattanooga Aggravated Robbery Arrests

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 7:38pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) Chattanooga Police arrested 40-year-old James Boas and 45-year-old Jerry Allen for aggravated robbery.

Officers say the victim told them two men approached him on Palmetto Street.

The victim says one held him down, while another hit him with a large stick.

He says they then took his wallet and fled.

Dade County Chase and Arrest

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 7:33pm
Trenton, GA (WDEF) A 29-year-old Hixson man is in the Dade County Jail facing multiple charges.

A car driven by Justin Doyle Rogers was stopped just short of the Alabama line after a chase that began in Chattanooga about 10 Wednesday night.

Trenton Police laid-out spike strips that forced Rogers to stop.

Sheriff Ray Cross tells us Rogers is charged with possession of drugs, possession of firearms and stolen property and reckless endangerment.

A woman in the car told officers that she had been kidnapped.

She is at Erlanger being treated for unknown injuries.

Rogers is being held without bond in Dade County.

Double Rape Suspect Arrested

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 6:14pm
Fresh out of jail and still in his orange socks, Detectives say Derrick Caldwell broke into two elderly womens homes and raped them.
Senior citizens like Kitty Hilliard say they were astounded by the news.
"I thought they aught to catch that SOB and put him in jail," she said.
On Thursday Caldwell was back behind bars and charged with the rapes.
His arrest affidavit reveals that the first victim came home to discover Caldwell hiding behind her bed where he raped her.
Caldwell confronted the second woman inside her home the next day.
Reports say he put his hands around her neck and told her he had a knife before raping her.
Neither one of the victims knew the man.
In both reports the victims say Caldwell talked them after the rape.
Reports show he said he does not try to do these bad things, then told them he used to play football in High School but his mother made him quit because of bad grades.  He also told them his father was dead and that he would be dead soon too.
Caroline Huffaker  is the Sexual response team coordinator for Partnership in Chattanooga, she says rapes that happen after a break in can make everyone feel vulnerable.
  "Home is supposed to be a safe place and so where do I go when home is no longer a safe place? I think that can really kind of add a different kind of dynamic to a situation like this," said Huffaker.
   When the crimes were first reported Chattanooga police wouldn't tell News 12 if the rapes were a break in, or even if the victims knew the suspect.
        Hilliard says that's information she wish she and her friends had.
        "Then they would be a little more leary and keep more doors locked and more alert to what's going on around them," Hilliard said.
        "I think any information that people can arm themselves with is helpful but also I can't really comment on why the city or law enforcement did or didn't do something," said Huffaker.
        Hilliard says she feels a little safe now that the suspected rapist is off the streets.
        "He should never have been let out of jail in the first place."

Cheap Gasoline in Southeast Tennessee

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 6:02pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV)- Here's your early Christmas gift! Gasoline is selling in the Chattanooga area for less than 2.00 a gallon.
Motorists are thrilled, and shoppers have a few more dollars in their pockets at the mall---what could possibly be wrong that that?
But, there may be a dark cloud up ahead.

DENNIS STAFFORD, CHATTANOOGA "I'd say better....buddy I'll tell can keep coming down if it wants to."

Southeast Tennessee has some of the cheapest gasoline prices in the nation. You can find unleaded regular at 1.99 or less at several stations in Chattanooga and Cleveland.

REBECCA RUSSELL, CHATTANOOGA "I was actually turning left and I l saw this 1.99 and and I thought, 'why not?'(laughter)."

Sometimes the best laid plans got awry. MAPCO stations were offering an additional discount for motorists who have a free station-issued card. In this case, you could get gas for 1.84 a gallon. But, this station on Lee Highway quickly ran out of gas

SONYA HALL, MOTORIST "I scanned everything..and tried to pump gas...and its empty. And I drove from Georgia."

While managers were sorting that out, most of the customers just laughed and went looking for 1.99 gas somewhere else.

Barring an international crisis of some sort, you'll probably see cheap gas into 2015.
But Lee University Economist Dr. Hermilo Jasso explains that cheap petroleum is a threat to the economy of a dozen nations. .

HERMILO JASSO, PHD, LEE UNIVERSITY ECONOMIST "For Saudi Arabia to have a balanced budget, they have to sell oil for as you know the price of oil is now at all these countries are suffering."

Dr. Jasso indicated that if deficits continue it could de-stabilize those countries, and lead to problems world-wide.

Closer to home, the mayors of 40 communities in middle Tennessee are urging the governor to add a penny to the state gasoline tax, to provide money for road improvements and transportation." .

REP. GERALD MCCORMICK, MAJORITY LEADER "I would say the burden of proof falls on those who want to spend more money and raise taxes..I don't have a lot of my constituents knocking on the door saying lets raise my taxes.They want to see the result of what that will bring them before they buy into that."

Bloomberg reports that oil's decline is proving to be the worst since the collapse of the financial system in 2008.
Analysts say it threatens to have the same global impact that caused the Mexican debt crisis and the end of the Soviet Union.

Dalton Pharmacy and Chemistry Experts Say Cost Of Meds Could Rise Further in 2015

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 5:46pm
DALTON, GA, (WDEF)-Pharmacist Shane Miller, S and W Pharmacy, Dalton, GA,"Double, ten times, doxycycline is the premier example it's a very important antibiotic its gone up some 8000%".

Miller says doxycline used  for acne and lyme disease is just one of a number of generic drugs that have shot up in price.

He tells News 12 Georgia families are struggling to get the medications they need this Christmas.

"People have always thought medicine was expensive but the crisis this year is that bread and butter prescriptions, blood pressure medicine, heart medicine, thyroid medicine things that been on the market since the 40,50s and 60s."

     Less than two months ago Congress led by Rep. Cummings of Baltimore called for an investigation into more than a dozen drug companies to explain the sharp price rise.

Miller believes more regulation is key.
"Without the cash paying population there is no market pressure to hold the price down and everybody is grabbing for their share of the pie."

Chemistry experts here at Dalton State say there are a number of factors as to why medications both generic and non are getting more expensive.

Professor Richard Collison, Chemistry Department, Dalton State College,"Drugs get more and more specific they get more expensive, they get more difficult to make, it takes longer, to be honest the older drugs which are quiet effective are cheaper the newer ones are the popular ones."

Collison along with Miller predicts 4 dollar pharmacy deals could be in jeopardy in 2015 and says drug costs could continue to soar.

"It costs more to research the medications now, it takes years and years to make a medication, quiet often the research goes nowhere so they have wasted years and years for nothing quiet often when they actually make something that works."

The FDA say 8 out of ten prescriptions are now for generic medications.

Experts quoted in the New York Times say there needs to be at least 5 companies making one medication to bring prices down but in many cases there are only 2 or 3 in the US.

Couple Charged in the Murder of a Chattanooga Pastor Face Judge

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 4:25pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF) - Murder suspect, Jordan Craig, walked into Thursday's preliminary hearing and smiled.

Her boyfriend, Steven Kelley, walked in with an angry look on his face.

Both are accused of murdering Reverend Kenneth Johnson last month.

His wife was in court and argued why she should be allowed to listen to the state's only witness .. A Chattanooga police officer.

She said, "My husband had rights and I came for him."

Judge Clarence Shattuck adds, "m'am please please don't interrupt."

Johnson's wife was ultimately allowed to stay inside the courtroom.

She heard an officer tell Judge Shattuck that Johnson was beaten to death and left in a ditch along Blackford Street.

An attorney told the court, "The account given by the defendants was that they were involved in a purchase of drugs from Reverend Johnson."

Craig told investigators she bought drugs from Johnson in the past.

This time, he reportedly offered a Morphine pill and Hydrocodone in exchange for sexual favors.

A Chattanooga investigator, says, "She declined, this caused her boyfriend Stephen Kelley to become upset."

Police say Kelley was hiding and at some point approached Johnson.

The Chattanooga investigator adds, "She claims that Johnson had a crow bar at this time, hit her boyfriend with a crow bar and started a physical altercation between the two."

However, Kelley apparently didn't have any injuries after the alleged fight.

His statement to police was also different than his girlfriend's.

Kelley says Craig agreed to sexual favors.

The Chattanooga investigator says, "He felt bad like he was pimping her out, so he approached Johnson to stop him."

And that's when Kelley says he was attacked by Johnson.

Judge Shattuck adds, "The courts going to let the case go on to the grand jury."

Judge Shattuck says one piece of information in particular bothered him.

He adds, "Why does he have to hide in the backseat or get down to the car when they get to the ally?"

Now, it's up to a grand jury to decide if a trial will be in these suspects' future.

The Chattanooga police officer called as a witness also told the judge that Johnson's car had been ransacked.

However, they couldn't find any of the items, like drugs and a wallet, in Kelley or Craig's possession.

The judge reduced bond for Craig and Kelley's robbery charges, but not murder charges.

Missing Person

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 3:31pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) Chattanooga Police ask for the public's help finding a missing person.

23-year-old Chelsea Stanton was last seen by her family November 30th.

She left with a man known as "Renfro".

Her family says she has a history of drug abuse.

Stanton was on house arrest at the time of her disappearance.

Authorities say it's possible Renfro took Stanton to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Officials say he had a job waiting for him there.

If you know where Chelsea Stanton is, please call Chattanooga Police.

JOE FRUGAL: Free Shipping Day at 1,178 Merchants on 12/18

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 5:07am
     If you've been waiting till the last minute to shop for Christmas, don't miss today's Free Shipping Day online.
     1,178-merchants will offer the deal today.
     Many of the participating online retailers have no minimum purchase required to get free shipping on in-stock, ready to ship items...
     And several offer additional coupon codes for additional savings today only.