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   Phineas the dog, a golden lab who's been the focus of controversy in Salem, Missouri, is probably still alive.  

   The dog was stolen from the veterinarian's office where he'd been staying since shortly after Salem Mayor Gary Brown ordered him destroyed because the dog allegedly bit a 7 year old girl in 2012.  

   Phineas' owners and their attorney Joe Simon had expressed fears that someone had taken the dog and destroyed him.  But Simon told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Monday that a letter was received Friday indicating that the dog is being kept in hiding by someone who believes they're helping the animal.  

   Last Thursday, a canine bite expert  and veterinarian both testified that photographic evidence indicates that Phineas isn't the one who bit the child.  The court case is ongoing.

Published in Local News

 CLEVELAND (AP) - Ariel Castro learns his sentence today after pleading guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping, rape, assault and aggravated murder for holding three women captive in a run-down Cleveland home for a decade.

The prosecutor says one captive's diaries document the horrific physical and sexual abuse that Castro subjected the women to on a daily basis. Castro could get as much as life in prison plus 1,000 years.

 
Published in National News

 A message of thanks. The three young Cleveland women recovered two months ago after being held captive for nearly a decade have posted a video on YouTube.





 

Amanda Berry says, "Everyone who has been there to support us, it's been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness. I'm getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely."

Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight all appear on the video.   They say financial support from the public is allowing them to restart their lives. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, the three women held against their will for a decade locked in a Cleveland, Ohio, home, posted a video on YouTube early this morning to offer thanks for the support they have received trying to rebuild their lives.

Each of the women appeared separately in the 3-minute, 33-second video, with Berry and Knight each making a brief statement, while DeJesus answered questions from someone off camera, followed by her father, Felix DeJesus, and then her mother, Nancy Ruiz.

Berry appears calm and happy in the video, which was filmed July 2. She smiles frequently, as she offers thanks not only for those who have helped her, but to those who have respected the three women's request for privacy.

"First and foremost, I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family, my friends," she says. "It's been unbelievable. I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness. I am getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely." 

In response to a question of what she wants to say, DeJesus briefly answers that she would like to say thank you, before her father and then her mother speak at greater length.

Ruiz reflected on the love and support of neighbors, such as those who played such a big role in helping the three young women finally escape their captivity.

"Parents in general that do have a loved one missing, please do me one big favor. Count on your neighbors. Don't be afraid to ask for the help because help is available," she said.

Knight, who appears last, expresses confidence for the future and talks about how her faith in God has helped her.

"I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my held high and my feet firmly on the ground," she says. "Walking hand-in-hand with my best friend, I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation."

Kathy Joseph, an attorney for Knight, said in a statement about the video that the three young women wanted to "say thank you to people from Cleveland and across the world."

"People are recognizing them now as they go about in public, so they decided to put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages," Joseph said. "It was their decision to relay their thanks in this way to all of the many people who have offered support to them, for which they are extremely grateful."

James Wooley, attorney for Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, said the release of the video does not mean that the three women will begin making public appearances or granting interviews any time soon.

"It is important for everyone, especially the media, to understand that the three women still have a strong desire for privacy," Wooley said. "They do not want to talk about their ordeal with the media or anyone else. This cannot be stated strongly enough."

Ariel Castro, 52, the man accused of kidnapping the three women and keeping them inside his home, has pleaded not guilty to a 329-count indictment that includes charges of kidnapping and rape.

Castro, a former school bus driver, also is also accused of the aggravated murder of a fetus for allegedly forcibly causing an abortion in one of his victims that he is accused of impregnating, a charge that could potentially carry the death penalty. 

 
Published in National News

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