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Reports: Region Native, FBI Fugitive in Custody

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Published reports say a Lake County native who was on the list of the FBI's most-wanted fugitives list for allegedly possessing child pornography has been arrested in Nicaragua. Various media are reporting that 31-year-old Eric Justin Toth, originally of Hammond was taken into custody Saturday. Authorities have been looking for Toth for nearly five years, when he disappeared from the Washington D-C area where he had been working as a teacher at an exclusive elementary school.
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Fatal Shooting in Calumet City

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Authorities say a 22-year-old Calumet City man was shot to death Monday afternoon in the 400 block of Freeland Avenue. The Lake County Coroners office says Victor Johnson suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died shortly after 6-o'clock Monday night at a Hammond hospital. Calumet City and Illinois State Police are investigating.
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40 Child Abuse/Neglect Deaths, 6 in NWI

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New data from the Indiana Department of Child Services show forty children in the state died of abuse or neglect between July of 2010 through June 2011, and six of the victims were from northwest Indiana – four from Lake County, one from La Porte County, and one from Starke County. Of the children who died from abuse in the state, nearly half were under the age of one. The state's latest child-fatality report reviews nearly three-hundred child deaths during the one-year period, varying in causes from medical conditions, to drowning, and in 82 of the fatalities, officials say unsafe sleeping conditions was a factor.
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Read more: 40 Child Abuse/Neglect Deaths, 6 in NWI

 

Silver Alert for Missing Lafayette Woman

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marshasmith WinCE
Photo from Indiana State Police
A Regional Silver Alert has been declared that includes Tippecanoe and surrounding counties in Indiana.  The Indiana State Police is investigating the disappearance of an adult from Lafayette, Indiana. Lafayette Indiana is located approximately 50 miles west of Kokomo, Indiana. Marsha D. Smith is a 57 year old white female, 5 feet 6 inches tall, and 150 lbs., with brown hair and hazel eyes. Marsha D. Smith was last seen at 7:30 am on Sunday April 21, 2013 in at the AMTRAK train station, and is believed to be in danger. Marsha D. Smith may be disoriented and require medical attention. She is believed to be traveling on foot, and it is unknown what type clothing she may be wearing.  If you have any information on Marsha D. Smith, contact the Indiana State Police by calling 765-473-6666.
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Missing Man Found Dead in Hobart

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The Lake County Coroners office says a 26-year-old Rensselaer man was found dead in Hobart Monday, in the 24-hundred block of 80th Avenue, which is just on the north side of US 30. Coroners officials say manner of death was pending investigation. According to Rensselaer Police, Seth Rusk had been reported missing April 16, and the man left about 4:30 in the morning April 15 to start a new job in Francesville, but never arrived. On April 16th, police received information that the missing man's cell phone was in the Merrillville area, and it was later located by authorities near a cell tower a mile west of East 84th Street.
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$10,000 Reward Offered in Homicide

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A ten-thousand dollar reward is now being offered for information into the death of a 76-year-old Griffith businesswoman. Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance says the investigation into the kidnapping and murder of Mary Austgen of St. John is a collaborative effort, involving the FBI, ATF, Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force, and the Griffith and Gary Police Departments. The Lake County Coroners office says Austgen suffered a fatal gunshot wound and was found during the early hours of March 29th in a parking garage at Majestic Star Casino in Gary.  Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance says they are seeking to identify the driver of a black four-door vehicle that was observed on the Majestic Star security video picking the suspect up.
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16 Adults, 2 Juveniles Arrested in Sweeps Friday

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Lake Co. Sherrif
The Lake County Sheriff's Department today announced that they, along with seven other local agencies, executed sweeps on Friday in Gary and the Calumet area of East Chicago, which netted 16 arrest. Most of the arrests were for warrants, with a couple for drug possession and one for parole violation. Authorities also report two juveniles were taken to the Lake County Juvenile Center. Sheriff John Buncich says as they continue to aggressively address drugs and gang violence, they appreciate any community assistance, and urges citizens to contact their anonymous tip hotline.
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Rensselaer Man Missing Since April 15th

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Police in Rensselaer are asking anyone with information regarding a missing 26 year old with a past history of drug use to please contact their department. Seth Rusk reportedly went to start a new job in Francesville around 4:30 in the morning on April 15th, but never arrived. On April 16th, police received information that the missing man's cell phone was in the Merrillville area, and it was later located by authorities near a cell tower a mile west of East 84th Street. Rusk is described as a white male, around six-feet tall, with blond hair, blue eyes, tattoos on both arms, and was last seen driving a white 2001 Chevy Cavalier with a paper plate on it.
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Read more: Rensselaer Man Missing Since April 15th

 

Sunday House Fire in LaPorte Under Investigation

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LaPorte PD
The cause of a fire in the city of LaPorte Sunday afternoon remains under investigation. The LaPorte Police Department reports crews responded to the fire, in the 800 block of Madison Street, at 2:09, and upon arrival observed black smoke coming from an upstairs apartment window. Police say the residents returned home while the fire department was extinguishing the blaze, who reported they had left at approximately 1:50pm and everything was fine at that time.
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Read more: Sunday House Fire in LaPorte Under Investigation

 

Investigation Continues into Jasper County Bomb Threat

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An investigation continues after a bomb threat this morning at a manufacturing plant located east of Rensselaer. The Jasper County County Sheriff's Office reports a search of the facility, using bomb detection dogs, met with negative results and employees were allowed to re-enter and resume normal operations by 9:50am, followed by the re-opening of State Road 114 which had been shutdown, and Amtrak and C-S-X Railroad were then allowed to resume operations, which had been interfered with. Authorities were notified of a bomb threat at approximately 5am, and anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Detective Matt Myers of the Jasper County Sheriff's Office.
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Read more: Investigation Continues into Jasper County Bomb Threat

 

Hammond Investigates 6th Fire

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Another fire has been reported east of downtown Hammond, where officials have been investigating a series of five suspicious fires that broke out within walking distance of each other in about a week's time early this month. Around 5:30 Saturday morning fire crews responded to a former auto repair shop in the 600 block of Sibley. No reports of injuries. The other fires broke out on Sibley, Erie and State Street. Hammond fire officials recently canvassed the neighborhood handing out fliers asking for the public's help.
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Read more: Hammond Investigates 6th Fire

   

Notre Dame Study: Depression is Contagious

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Notre Dame researchers found that depression can be contagious. In a study of over 100 college students, scientists found that students assigned negative roommates quickly became depressed themselves. But the study also found those paired with positive roommates adopted their cheery attitude. The findings could lead to new treatments for depression and anxiety.
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Record Flooding in Illinois, More Rain in Forecast

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Flood warnings continue along the Kankakee and Iroquois Rivers in Northwest Indiana, but river levels locally are not near the record heights being seen in the Midwest, even just across the state line. Cities along six rivers including the Illinois, Des Plaines and Chicago Rivers are seeing record flooding .Peoria, Illinois, has built a temporary seawall ... to protect against a record 30 foot flood crest expected tonight [Monday]. City Manager Patrick Urich says homes just outside Peoria will be harder hit. "The unincorporated areas of the city, as you move further north into the outlying areas of the county and into some of our neighboring communities to the north. The county is estimating that there's probably going to be 450 homes that will be damaged in the flood," Urich said.  Northwest of Chicago, the Des Plaines river crested at 11 feet on Friday. Des Plaines mayor Mark Walston says he hopes the worst is over. "Tuesday we're hoping that the river will be down enough that we can start cleaning up the streets, sweeping them of nails and all kinds of debris so they can actually get in there and drive and get back to their homes to start their own cleanup," Walston said. . More rain is expected this week.
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Two Arrested on Meth Charges

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A four month investigation resulted in two Kentland residents being arrested on methamphetamine charges early Sunday. Newton County Sheriffs Police say the suspects, a 33-year-old man and 34-year-old woman, were being held in lieu of bond. A warrant was served Sunday in the 300 block of North Second Street in Kentland, where police allege methamphetamine, several precursors to make the drug, and an inactive methamphetamine lab in the garage were found.   The Newton County Drug Task Force was assisted by the Newton County Sheriff's Department, Indiana State Police and Kentland Police Department
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Prescribed Fire in Miller Woods

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Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will be burning two sites... a total of about one-hundred acres...in Miller Woods today in Gary, starting between 10 and 11:00 am, weather permitting. Smoke from the prescribed fire will be visible throughout the late morning and into the afternoon. Park staff say they'll do what they can limit smoke in the area by monitoring wind and atmospheric conditions prior to ignitions. However, smoke drifting in and around park lands and roadways is possible. Before burning,a designated set of conditions must exist including ideal air temperature, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity. National Lakeshore fire officials say weather conditions will be monitored throughout the duration of the burn to ensure the fire is completed safely.
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Plant Evacuated After Bomb Threat

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State Road 114 is shut down a couple miles east of Rensselaer this morning. Around 5 am Jasper County Sheriffs Police say they received a report of a bomb threat at a trailer manufacturing plant.  Jasper County Sheriffs Police say the plant, under the supervisor's direction, was evacuated.  The area has been sealed off and all county and state highways and roads have been closed in the immediate area. The situation is an ongoing investigation at this time, no injuries have been reported, and officials say there's no property damage at this time. Police say no other details are being released at this hour.
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Lake County Traffic Alert

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Traffic-Alert
In the Crown Point area this morning (approx. 7am), an accident had US 231 closed between Iowa and 129th to the east of Interstate 65.   No other information was available at this hour.
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Read more: Lake County Traffic Alert

   

Harbor Dredging Pauses Temporarily

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The dredging project at the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal has been put on hold temporarily for maintenance work at the Dickey Road Bridge in East Chicago. The US Army Corps of Engineers is removing millions of cubic yards of polluted sediment from the waterway over a thirty-year period. The harbor was last dredged in 1972. Work got underway last fall, before pausing due to winter weather. The corps says the sediments pollute Lake Michigan and affect the efficiency of commercial navigation.
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Gov Signs S Shore Study Bill

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Indiana Governor Mike Pence has signed into law a measure that requires state lawmakers to study the idea of possibly expanding the South Shore line. House Enrolled Act 1450 will also review the makeup of the membership of the commuter line's operating board, possibly changing it to give Lake County more representation, since that's where the majority of passengers are coming from.
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Read more: Gov Signs S Shore Study Bill

   

Canoe Overturns in N Ind River

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Indiana Conservation Officers are urging everyone to stay out of the floodwaters. Regardless of swimming or boating ability, the unpredictable fast current and underwater obstructions are hazardous. And, it's still possible to suffer hypothermia. Multiple agencies responded to a call of an overturned canoe in the flooded Wabash River Sunday night. A second canoe with was able to paddle to a park in Lafayette. Conservation officers determined the first canoe struck an underwater obstruction near a bridge and overturned. All five, ages 13, 18, 19, and 23, are from around the Lafayette area. and were wearing life jackets. Everyone was evaluated by EMS and refused medical treatment.
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Read more: Canoe Overturns in N Ind River

   

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