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    An inmate who escaped from a maximum security jail in Orange County was found at an Oceanside motel after he was the subject of an extensive search, officials said on Saturday.

    Police were acting on information that Saith Na, 26 was at an Oceanside motel and caught him on Saturday morning, officials with the Orange County Sheriff's Department said in a press release.

    Na was being held at the Theo Lacy Jail in Orange on criminal street terrorism, robbery, narcotics and weapons possession charges. During a routine check, officials discovered him missing at 10:30 a.m. Friday. He had been arrested in Santa Ana on Aug. 26.

    The 11-acre facility was placed on lockdown and deputies used bloodhounds to try to find him.

    He faces a March 12 court date, officials said.


    The Orange County Sheriff's Department issued this picture of Saith Na, who they said escaped from Theo Lacy facility in Orange.The Orange County Sheriff's Department issued this picture of Saith Na, who they said escaped from Theo Lacy facility in Orange.

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  • 03/04/13--07:36: Baby Panda Makes Zoo Debut
  • The newborn panda cub at San Diego Zoo born July 29 has been making healthy progress.

    Photo Credit: Rita Petita/ San Diego Zoo

    Panda cub XIao Liwu enjoys some sunny San Diego weather at the zoo on Mar. 2, 2013. Panda life is tough, right?Panda cub XIao Liwu enjoys some sunny San Diego weather at the zoo on Mar. 2, 2013. Panda life is tough, right?

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    Police in the Bay Area community of Fremont this week retrieved a stolen pit bull and returned it to an animal shelter after the two alleged thieves tried to sell the puppy online.

    Dave O'Connor fell in love with the dog and had signed adoption papers just before the dog was snatched.  "I was in total shock. I couldn’t believe that somebody would do that, come in and take a puppy like that," O'Connor said.

    On Tuesday, a 19-year-old man and a juvenile went into the Tri-City Animal Shelter at 1950 Stevenson Blvd. and stole the puppy, according to police. The two brought the pit bull outside, hopped a fence and fled the area on foot, police said.

    The puppy was about to be placed with the O'Connors, but was later put up for sale on Craigslist.

    Detectives working the case took it seriously and set up a sting to buy the puppy from the two thieves in the area of Decoto Road and Fremont Boulevard.  The sting happened Thursday.

    When the puppy exchanged hands, a team of officers detained the seller and his accomplice.

    The pair, whose names were not immediately available, were both cited for theft.

    "We had hoped for the best as a family but with everything going in the world we figured he was probably low priority," said O'Connor, who lives in Pleasanton.  "I had hopes because the shelter was in the Fremont police department backyard. I was hoping they would be a little upset about it and want to figure it out, and they did – they did a great job."

    The dog was returned to the animal shelter where it was united with the O'Connor family Friday.

    One last thing, the dog has been named Opie.

    Bay City New contributed to this report.


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    Fifteen Chihuahuas that were ditched Friday morning at the front door of the Pasadena Humane Society are in good condition and adjusting to the shelter well.

    The Chihuahuas -- crammed into cages designed for animals as small as guinea pigs -- may have come from a backyard breeding operation, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society said. 

    “They were found to be in good condition, although they were anxious, and looked confused,” said Ricky Whitman, the spokeswoman for the Pasadena Humane Society.  “The wiring on the cage was the same size wire as you see on bird cages."

    Surveillance footage showed a white “work-style” truck cruising through the parking lot just before 5:30 a.m. when the dogs were dumped. By Friday afternoon, the animals were settling in, Whitman said.

    “Late Friday, they were asleep, lying on each other, and snuggling up together,” Whitman said. “Hopefully we'll be able to determine what their personalities are like soon and place them in a loving home.”

    Several people have already inquired about adopting the Chihuahuas, Whitman said. No decisions will be made until the animals complete a five-day observation period at the shelter.

    “We’ve had tons of people interested,” Whitman said.

    Chihuahuas make up about 40 percent of the population at the Pasadena Humane Society's shelter, Whitman said. The breed was very trendy a few years ago, but now many Chihuahuas are abandoned and in need of homes.

    The Pasadena Humane Society is conducting an investigation in an attempt to discover who the driver of the white truck may be, but the license plate is not identifiable from the surveillance footage. Abandoning animals at a shelter can warrant a misdemeanor.

    In this case, the person responsible could be charged with 15 misdemeanors -- one per dog, according to Whitman. But it’s not likely that the dog-ditcher will be found and charged.

    "Things like this are usually not very successful,” Whitman said.

    She urged people not to adopt dogs just because the breed is trendy.

    “It’s important for people to realize what the ownership of animals means," Whitman said. "It’s a responsibility -- you can't just abandon animals at the shelter.”
     



    Photo Credit: Pasadena Humane Society

    Chihuahuas make up about 40 percent of the population at the Pasadena Humane Society's shelter, a spokeswoman said.Chihuahuas make up about 40 percent of the population at the Pasadena Humane Society's shelter, a spokeswoman said.

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    A man wanted for shooting at a Yucaipa police officer has been found dead in his car, possibly of suicide, police said Sunday.

    Brian Forrett, 52, show at a San Bernardino Sheriff's deputy and rammed the patrol car on Friday, after the deputy responded to a complaint that an "unwanted subject" was in the area, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department said.

    Forrett's corpse was found at about 1 p.m. on Saturday in his white Buick. The car was parked in a turnout along Highway 38 in Angelus Oaks on Saturday, sheriff's Corporal Randy Naquin said.

    Forrett, who lived in Riverside, was found in the driver's seat. He had been killed by what the sheriff's department described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

     


    A coroner's vehicle responds to the scene in Angelus Oaks where the body of Brian David Forrett was found in a white Buick. Forrett was suspected of shooting at San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy and ramming his car with the Buick.A coroner's vehicle responds to the scene in Angelus Oaks where the body of Brian David Forrett was found in a white Buick. Forrett was suspected of shooting at San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy and ramming his car with the Buick.

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    A young boy who was the victim of bullying has died, according to his family. Bailey O'Neill, who turned 12 on Saturday, was in a coma after suffering several seizures. His family told Katy Zachry, of NBC 10 Philadelphia, that he died at the hospital on Sunday. 

    Bailey's family says he was jumped by two classmates during recess at Darby Township School, about 6 miles southwest of Philadelphia, last January and suffered a concussion as well as a broken nose as a result.  He then began to suffer seizures the next day, forcing doctors to put him into a medically induced coma. Joy Fecanin, the boy's grandmother, told the local NBC affiliate that he had to have a blood transfusion after getting pneumonia.

    On Sunday, the following message was posted on the Building Hope for Bailey Facebook Page:

    I would like to thank everyone who has prayed and supported Bailey and his family!! Bailey has been the strongest toughest boy I know. He has fought this battle long and hard. There just wasn't a way to fix this. I wish I could say he will get better but I can't. Bailey has gone to be with God today :( I love you Jina Risoldi with all my heart and I will help you through this. Bailey I love you!!! Please keep Baileys family in your prayers!!!

    While the students who jumped Bailey were suspended for two days, police have not yet revealed whether they will be criminally charged.

    “I would like to see these kids punished,” said Fecanin when she spoke to Zachry last month. “Something has to be done. I don’t know what’s taking them so long.”

    Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan says investigators are trying to determine if the injuries Bailey received in the fight caused his seizures. Investigators interviewed kids and recess aides who were on the playground when the fight broke out.

    “We can assure them that we are going to continue with our investigation,” said Whelan.

    Bailey’s younger brother was taken out of the school because his parents were worried that he'd also be the victim of bullying.
     



    Photo Credit: Family Photo

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  • 03/03/13--22:04: Man Dies During Triathlon
  • A 46-year-old Austin man died while swimming in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon on Sunday morning.

    Race organizers believe the man suffered a heart attack shortly after he entered the San Francisco Bay for the 1.5-mile swimming portion of the triathlon at 7:30 a.m., according a statement by race director Bill Burke.

    Burke said that the race's water safety team saw the man in the water and began cardiopulmonary resusitation efforts as they brought him to the shore.

    But rescuers were unable to revive him.

    Burke said the man is the first person to die in the race's 33-year history.

    The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon includes a 1.5-mile swim from Alcatraz Island to the shores of the St. Francis Yacht Club, an 18-mile bike ride, and an 8-mile run through San Francisco's Golden Gate Recreational Area.



    Photo Credit: digiyesica/Instagram

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    At least three floors of a San Fernando Valley hospital were evacuated on Sunday when police received a report of a duffel bag left by a man who told hospital employees it contained a bomb, police said.

    Bomb squad investigators responded and the bag turned out to be harmless.

    The incident began in the emergency room at 6:30 p.m. at Mission Community Hospital at 14850 Roscoe Blvd. in Panorama City, said Capt. Jeffery Burt of the Los Angeles Police Department.

    Police evacuated the first-floor emergency room and parts of the second and third floors of the hospital. Hospital staff transferred the patients to other rooms of the hospital away from the possible threat. Police used a water cannon on the bag.

    A perimeter was set up for blocks around the hospital as a precaution, police said.

    The man believed responsible has had runs ins with officers before. He was being investigated for making threats to hospital employees, apparently telling them that he had a bomb in his bag, police said.

    Mission Community has 145 beds, nine of which are in the ER.


    Some 31 people were evacuated when police received a call of a suspicious bag at Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City on Sunday, March 3, 2013.Some 31 people were evacuated when police received a call of a suspicious bag at Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City on Sunday, March 3, 2013.

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    Last week’s story about a mother who agreed to let the public name her baby in exchange for $5,000 was an elaborate hoax, NBC's blog TODAY Moms has learned.

    Read the full TODAY Moms story|Read the original story

    The woman who claimed she won a website’s online contest for moms willing to let others vote on a baby’s name was actually an actress, the blog TODAY Moms reported, “hired by the website’s founder to drum up publicity.”

    The TODAY blog attributed the confession to Natasha Lloyd, the actress who posed as contest winner Natasha Hill, and the owner of the website, Lacey Moler.

    Last week, dozens of news outlets, including NBC4 and NBCLA.com, reported the story after Moler and Lloyd gave extremely detailed interviews about the contest and Lloyd’s apparently fictional baby.

    The pair even emailed photos that they said were of the fictional mom, Natasha Hill.

    TODAY Moms said some of the details used to trick reporters included:

    • A claim that the baby was due in September

    • Details about other baby names the mom was considering

    • A long discussion with Moler about how she and her staff chose Hill (Lloyd) as the winner

    • The false claim that 80 women entered the contest, with details about their essays and descriptions of what they would do with the money

    The hoax began to unravel after TODAY Moms received a tip raising questions about the story’s veracity.
     


    This is the picture furnished by a website owner, Lacey Moler, and an actress, Natasha Lloyd, in an elaborate hoax claiming that Lloyd, whom they called Natasha Hill, was an expectant mom who had agreed to let internet users name her baby, the NBC blog TODAY Moms reported. This may or may not be a photo of the actress.This is the picture furnished by a website owner, Lacey Moler, and an actress, Natasha Lloyd, in an elaborate hoax claiming that Lloyd, whom they called Natasha Hill, was an expectant mom who had agreed to let internet users name her baby, the NBC blog TODAY Moms reported. This may or may not be a photo of the actress.

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    Drivers on Florida’s Turnpike were doing double-takes Sunday as they saw a life-sized statue of an elephant on the move.

    The tale of the elephant began at a southwest Miami-Dade home months ago when Reinol Fernandez put the statue he built in his front yard and was ordered by the county to remove it.

    "He built this looking at a picture, it was a dream of his. I think he did a great job," his daughter Damaris Fernandez said. "I’m very proud of him, being his daughter and having seen how he can accomplish his dream.”

    But the amateur sculptor had nowhere to move his statue. He was willing to donate the art, and his daughter contacted NBC 6, but every organization we called would only accept art from a renowned artist.

    That was the case until there was a match many might say was made in heaven – when an organization called the Hidden Ark came knocking.

    The Hidden Ark is the dream of four South Florida men who have begun building a 500-foot wooden replica of Noah's Ark in the hopes of turning it into a shelter for animals in Hialeah.

    “The people at the Hidden Ark contacted us yesterday and presented the idea to my father of his elephant being placed on the park grounds,” Damaris Fernandez said.

    Dutchman Launches Life-Sized Replica of Noah's Ark

    Reniel Aguila, the ark's architectural engineer, said Sunday they were making their "first rescue," referring to the statue.

    As the statue was being loaded onto a trailer to be transported, its creator got nostalgic.

    "It hurts," Reinol Fernandez said.

    He would have preferred to see it stay at home, his daughter explained.

    More Local Stories:



    Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

    The elephant statue on its way to Hialeah Sunday.The elephant statue on its way to Hialeah Sunday.

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    Candidates for Los Angeles mayor were up early Monday, one day before the primary nominating election. Toni Guinyard reports from downtown Los Angeles in a report broadcast Monday March 3, 2013 on Today in LA.

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    Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield waves goodbye at the end of a news conference from the International Space Station on a photograph taken from a television monitor Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 in St-Hubert, Quebec, Canada. Hadfield is on a five-month visit to the space station and will become the first Canadian to take command of the giant orbiting laboratory in March. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

    Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield waves goodbye at the end of a news conference from the International Space Station on a photograph taken from a television monitor Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 in St-Hubert, Quebec, Canada. Hadfield is on a five-month visit to the space station and will become the first Canadian to take command of the giant orbiting laboratory in March. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield waves goodbye at the end of a news conference from the International Space Station on a photograph taken from a television monitor Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 in St-Hubert, Quebec, Canada. Hadfield is on a five-month visit to the space station and will become the first Canadian to take command of the giant orbiting laboratory in March. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

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    Nearly a decade after then 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook from his Harvard dorm room as a way for college students to communicate, an integral audience, teenagers, now find the social media platform far less engaging than they used to, Business Insider reported.

    And the company knows it. In its annual 10-K report, Facebook says that its business could be hurt by younger members fleeing the site.

    “We believe that some of our users, particularly our younger users, are aware of and actively engaging with other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook,” reads the report. “For example, we believe that some of our users have reduced their engagement with Facebook in favor of increased engagement with other products and services such as Instagram.”

    Instagram, a photo sharing app for the iPhone, where many of the former Facebook faithful are heading, is a property of the company.

    However, the other leading social media apps, Tumblr and Snapchat continue to gain younger users daily. It’s an issue Facebook is well aware of.

    “In the event that our users increasingly engage with other products and services, we may experience a decline in user engagement and our business could be harmed,” the company also said in its report.

    So while Zuckerberg’s “Social Network” may be fading in popularity from youth, his hold on the mobile market via Instagram is still firmly intact. It's unsure from a company standpoint how the shifting trend will ultimately affect Facebook.

    Even in the face of losing its "cool factor," Facebook's user population still increased 25 percent in 2012 for the year, from 845 million to 1.06 billion. Between that and what they say is developers and marketers continued "engagement" with their platform, Facebook doesn't see itself becoming the next Myspace any time soon.

    "We believe that we are at the forefront of enabling faster, easier, and richer communication between people," the report reads. "Facebook has become an integral part of many of our users' daily lives."


    The younger audience isn't connecting with the site the way they used to.The younger audience isn't connecting with the site the way they used to.

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    A 46-year-old Austin man died while swimming in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon Sunday morning. Race organizers believes the man suffered a heart attack shortly after he entered the San Francisco Bay for the 1.5-mile swimming portion of the triathlon around 7:30 a.m., according a statement by Race Director Bill Burke.

    Burke said that the race's water safety team saw the man in the water, and began CPR as they brought him to the shore. But rescuers were unable to revive him.

    Burke said the man is the first person to die in the race's history.

    The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon includes a 1.5-mile swim from Alcatraz Island to the shores of the St. Francis Yacht Club, an 18-mile bike ride, and an 8-mile run through San Francisco's Golden Gate Recreational Area.


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    Rain and cold weather will return to Southern California this week after a warm weekend.

    Weather Page: Radar | Forecast by ZIP Code

    Expect dry conditions Monday before the cool-down begins at mid-week. Temperatures will be in the low- to high-60s for most of Southern California Monday and Tuesday before dropping to the low-60s and 50s Wednesday, when rain might arrive.

    The weather turnaround comes after a weekend of above-normal temperatures and sunny skies.

    "We say good-bye to those warmer temperatures," said NBC4 forecaster Elita Loresca.

    Strong winds are likely Monday in the Coachella Valley and Riverside County mountains.

    The storm system over the Pacific Ocean will push onshore Wednesday, when Central California can expect light showers in the morning before the system tracks south.

    "The best chance will be on Friday for not only rain showers, but also some thunderstorms," said Loresca. "This will be a cold enough storm that it brings us not only rain, but also some snow."

    Monday's Temperatures

    Coast: High 63, Low 52
    Metro LA/Inland OC: High 67, Low 52
    Valleys: High 68, Low 44
    Inland Empire: High 70, Low 47
    Mountains: High 51, Low 23
    High Desert: High 69, Low 36
    Low Desert: High 81, Low 51
     


    The extended forecast for the week of March 4, 2013.The extended forecast for the week of March 4, 2013.

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    Methane gas from the sea floor caused a foul odor on Sunday that prompted nearly 100 emergency calls from residents reporting the stench from Santa Monica to West Los Angeles, officials said.

    The odor, which smelled like sulfur, was first reported late Saturday, air quality officials said. The smell wafted in from the Santa Monica Bay.

    Justin Walker, a Santa Monica Fire Department spokesman, said hazardous-materials crews found small increments of methane gas in the air at 8:30 a.m. 

    The amount of methane in the air was not considered dangerous, Walker said, adding he's heard of this type of incident happening up to six times in the last four years.

    Hazardous-materials crews were called out after dispatchers reported some 80 calls to 911 of residents reporting the stench.

    Methane is usually released when the tectonic plates shift, Walker said. This shift was small and did not cause an earthquake, he said.

    A cold weather front that moved in overnight and brought onshore winds with it caused the smell to waft inland, he said.

    "The marine layer vacuumed it up because it had nowhere to go out," Walker said.

    Inspectors from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California's air pollution control agency, were also investigating.

    Maria Carlito Covarrubias, writing on the NBC4 Facebook page, said she smelled the odor Saturday night at about 11:45 p.m.

    Another Facebook user, Summers McKay, said she called her building manager because she was worried that the smell was a gas leak.

    More Local News



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    This file photo of Will Rogers State Beach was taken in 2009.This file photo of Will Rogers State Beach was taken in 2009.

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    Eight candidates are vying for mayor of Los Angeles in the city's primary nominating election to be held on Tuesday.

    In order for a candidate to win the seat outright in the primary, the candidate must earn 50 percent of the vote. Otherwise, the top two candidates from March 5 face off in a General Municipal Election on May 21.

    Below are bios of the candidates, in alphabetical order:

    Yehuda "YJ" Draiman

    • Job Title: Neighborhood council secretary
    • Age: 63
    • Background: Energy consultant; Active on the Northridge East Neighborhood Council; He lives with his wife, Miriam, in Northridge. They have two adult sons.
    • Website: www.yjdraimanformayor.org

    Eric Garcetti

    • Job Title: Los Angeles City Councilman
    • Age: 42
    • Education: Bachelor of arts and master's of arts from Columbia University
    • Background: Grew up in the San Fernando Valley; Lives in Silver Lake with his wife and 1-year-old daughter.
    • Website: www.ericgarcetti.com

    Wendy J. Greuel

    • Job Title: Los Angeles City Controller
    • Age: 51
    • Education: UCLA
    • Personal: She lives in Studio City with her husband, Dean, and their son.
    • Website: www.wendygreuel.org

    Kevin James

    • Job Title: Radio broadcaster/attorney
    • Age: 50
    • Education: Undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma; doctorate of law from the University of Houston Law Center.
    • Personal: Lives in Los Angeles
    • Website: www.kevinjamesformayor.com

    Addie M. Miller

    • Job Title: Citywide advocate
    • Age: 63
    • Background: Ran for LA mayor in 2005
    • Website: www.addiemiller.us

    Jan Perry

    • Job Title: Los Angeles City Councilwoman
    • Age: 58
    • Education: Master's degree in public administration
    • Personal: She lives in Bunker Hill.
    • Website: www.janperry.com

    Emanuel Alberto Pleitez

    • Job Title: Technology company executive
    • Age: 30
    • Endorsements include:
    • Background: former aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; chief strategy officer of Spokeo; He and his wife, Rebecca, live in El Sereno
    • Website: http://www.pleitezforla.com/

    Norton Sandler

    • Job Title: Factory production worker
    • Age: 67
    • Background: Member of the Socialist Worker Party
    • Website: None; he can be contacted by email: nortonsandler@att.net.

     


    In alphabetical order (Top row from left): YJ Draiman, Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James. Bottom row from left: Addie Miller, Jan Perry, Emanuel Pleitez, Norton Sandler.In alphabetical order (Top row from left): YJ Draiman, Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James. Bottom row from left: Addie Miller, Jan Perry, Emanuel Pleitez, Norton Sandler.

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    The FBI has released its files on a trio of investigations the agency conducted on behalf of Whitney Houston.

    The records released Monday show the agency conducted one investigation into an alleged extortion attempt in 1992, but agents and prosecutors determined no crime occurred.

    Documents included in the 128-page file pertaining to the extortion attempt detail a time when someone Houston “[considered] to be a friend” threatened to go public with personal information about the singer.

    In one letter the so-called friend demanded Houston pay $100,000 or "certain details" of her private life would be revealed to several publications. The missive goes on to say the if the amount is paid, the "friend" would be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement and promise not to reveal the information.

    A further letter then upped the amount requested to $250,000 and claimed to have "intimate details" of Houston's romantic relationships.

    According to the file, Houston's father then sent a confidentiality agreement and an amount of money to the unnamed person - the exact sum being redacted from the released document. Ultimately the investigation found that no crime occured and the case was closed.

    Agents also found no evidence of criminal threats to Houston in fan mail that was sent to the FBI for investigation in 1988 and 1999.

    The fan mail included in the file is from an unnamed male writer and is postmarked from Vermont. More than 70 letters, some of which are included in the file, were sent from the fan to Houston.

    In the missives the fan professes profound adoration for the singer and in one letter, expresses his desire to meet Houston. “I might hurt someone with some crazy idea and not realize how stupid an idea it was until after it was done," he writes.

    Another letter from fan to Houston reads: "Miss Whitney, you are just so pretty and so beautiful. I just cannot stop thinking about you. Many times when I think about you I will start to shake..... I really and truly am in love with you."

    The file covers the height of the Grammy-winning singer's popularity but does not contain any new personal details.

    Houston drowned in a hotel bathtub at age 48 on the eve of the 2012 Grammy Awards.

    Check out the file here.

    Copyright Associated Press/NBC



    Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

    Singer Whitney HoustonSinger Whitney Houston

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    Prosecutors are charging 12 former Florida A&M University band members with manslaughter in the 2011 hazing death of a drum major.

    Ten of the band members had been charged last May with felony hazing for the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion, but prosecutors said Monday they are raising the charges to manslaughter. They also have charged two additional defendants with manslaughter.

    For full U.S. news coverage, visit NBCNews.com.

    Champion died in Orlando in November 2011 after he collapsed following what prosecutors say was a savage beating during a hazing ritual. It happened on a bus parked in a hotel parking lot after Florida A&M played Bethune-Cookman in their annual rivalry football game.

    Authorities say Champion had bruises on his chest, arms, shoulder and back and died of internal bleeding. Witnesses told emergency dispatchers that the drum major was vomiting before he was found unresponsive aboard the bus.



    Photo Credit: AP-FILE

    In this file photo from October 2011, Florida A&M Marching 100 Drum Major Robert Champion performed during a halftime performance. Champion died soon thereafter, following a hazing ritual in which prosecutors say he was brutally beaten. After prosecutors charged 13 people last year with felony hazing, they raised the charges against 10 of those defendants to manslaughter on Monday and charged another two new defendants with manslaughter, too.In this file photo from October 2011, Florida A&M Marching 100 Drum Major Robert Champion performed during a halftime performance. Champion died soon thereafter, following a hazing ritual in which prosecutors say he was brutally beaten. After prosecutors charged 13 people last year with felony hazing, they raised the charges against 10 of those defendants to manslaughter on Monday and charged another two new defendants with manslaughter, too.

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    Hoping to improve response times, officials in Culver City unveiled on Monday a “Smart911” system that allows residents to give authorities information about themselves and their homes that will be displayed to 911 operators during an emergency.

    Culver City is the first city in the state to use the system, which will cost $25,000 in the first year. Officials are encouraging residents to sign up at no cost. They promise the information will be kept private.

    “This data is never accessed except in an emergency,” said Culver City Police Chief Donald Pedersen.

    Culver City Mayor Andrew Weissman said the system will allow both 911 call takers and emergency responders to have more detailed information about a citizen in need with the hope of saving more lives.

    "You can now better prepare yourself and your family for any kind of emergency," said Culver City Fire Chief Christopher Sellers.

    Smart911 allows citizens to create a safety profile for their household that includes any information they want 911 and emergency response teams to have in the event of an emergency, said Culver City police Lt. Ron Iizuka.

    When a citizen makes an emergency call, their safety profile is automatically displayed to the 911 call taker, Iizuka said.

    "This allows them to send the right response teams to the right location with the right information," Iizuka said.

    "Fire crews can be aware of such things as how many people live at a home and the location of bedrooms," he said. "Paramedics can know about specific conditions for fast, precise medical treatment.

    Smart911, which is available in 28 states and more than 350 municipalities, was introduced less than two years ago by Rave Mobile Safety.

    "When people call 911 and can't speak, the information that is available to 911 on that incoming call is limited, often only to a phone number and general location," said Tom Axbey of Rave Mobile Safety.

    "When citizens elect to put more information in the hands of emergency responders prior to an emergency, they enable faster and more knowledgeable response, protecting not only themselves but their families as well," he said.

    City News Service contributed to this report.


    Culver City becomes the first California city to unveil Culver City becomes the first California city to unveil "Smart911," a system that works to improve responses to emergencies.

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