Blog Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo

  • Former Boy Scout safety director freed from federal prison

    DALLAS - The Boy Scouts of America have banned thousands of pedophiles and other undesirables from working as volunteers.

    But one name on their rejection list stands out: Douglas Sovereign Smith Jr. The BSA’s former national director for youth protection was released from prison last week after serving nearly seven years behind bars.

    He was in charge of Scout safety programs in 2005 when police discovered hundreds of images of child pornography and videos on his home computer. Some included prepubescent boys exposing themselves and engaging in sexual acts.

    “Heart-wrenching and gut-tearing,” a prosecutor said at the time.

    Smith reenters public life at a time when the Scouts are being heavily scrutinized for their past handling of alleged child sex abuse at the hands of staff and troop leaders.

    None of Smith’s 520 photos were of Scouts and he was never accused of molesting children, but his case is a disturbing reminder that people in positions of power can lead double lives that put

    Read More »from Former Boy Scout safety director freed from federal prison
  • First person: Harsh reality of reporting on young lives lost

    A casket carrying the body of shooting victim Jessica Rekos, 6, is brought out after her funeral. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

    NEWTOWN, Conn.—Small talk with new acquaintances inevitably evolves to, "What's the worst story you ever covered?"

    The question makes me cringe. I enjoy what I do, but 20 years of reporting on crime and national news has put me face to face with unforgettable tragedies.

    Being on the scene at Hurricane Katrina, Columbine, Virginia Tech and the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre undoubtedly made me pause and seek perspective in life.

    But what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary has been different. Not to take away anything from those other horrors, but first-graders slaughtered by some sicko is a gut-wrenching story even for the most jaded journalist.

    My “worst” stories have always been and will always be tragedies involving kids.

    Kids like 11-year-old Jason Boner, who I witnessed get sucked down a storm drain during a 1994 Dallas rainstorm. I can still hear his mother crying his name as she ran to the scene.

    Or 9-year old Amber Hagerman, whose kidnapping and murder inspired the Amber Alert

    Read More »from First person: Harsh reality of reporting on young lives lost
  • Gunman’s behavior indicates planning and control: Ex-FBI profiler

    An undated photo of Adam Lanza, who posed for a group photo with the Newtown High technology club (AP)

    NEWTOWN, Conn.—In stockpiling ammunition, smashing his computers and killing his mother as she slept, Adam Lanza undertook considerable preparation before shooting up an elementary school on Friday, a former FBI profiler said.

    "He didn't just snap. This takes a lot of planning," said Mary Ellen O'Toole, who worked for 15 years in the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit where she studied psychopaths and helped capture killers.

    O'Toole retired in 2009 and has no direct connection to the case.

    Investigators had hoped Lanza's computers would shed some light on what caused him to massacre 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, a school he once attended. But the 20-year-old reportedly butchered his computer's hard drives with a hammer or screwdriver, according to ABC News.

    Still, the FBI's Computer Analysis and Response Team has been working around the clock on the case and could make progress despite the damage.

    "The FBI is pretty good, we can pull stuff off anything,"

    Read More »from Gunman’s behavior indicates planning and control: Ex-FBI profiler
  • Funerals begin for school shooting victims

    Mourners file into Honan Funeral Home to remember 6-year-old Jack Pinto. (Jason Sickles/Yahoo)

    NEWTOWN, Conn.--The families and friends of two little boys killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings poured into funeral homes Monday as the first of the massacre's victims were laid to rest.

    Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner, both age 6, were remembered at separate services. Both boys were killed in a mass shooting Friday at the school, one of the worst in U.S. history. 26 people died, including 20 children.

    On Main Street in Newtown, mourners strolled somberly in a cold drizzle to Honan Funeral Home to remember Jack. An obituary published over the weekend called him "an incredibly loving and vivacious young boy."

    Classmates and sports teammates were among those who came to pay their respects. Members of his wresting team wore their club T-shirts and letter jackets.

    On a sidewalk, a father knelt down to comfort his son who was wiping tears with his shirt sleeve before entering the service.

    A group of teens from a local choir quietly sang church hymns for those waiting to get inside the historic two-story funeral home.

    A police car was parked in the street out front to help maintain order and the family's wishes for a private service. Plain-clothed detectives in trench coats also combed the area for extra security.

    A grieving woman arrived in the building's driveway to hand funeral directors a small black and red dress for another victim, a grim nod to the services yet to come. Funerals for some of the 12 little girls killed in the attack are scheduled later this week.

    Read More »from Funerals begin for school shooting victims
  • Sandy Hook School to remain closed as a protected crime scene, police say

    Connecticut state police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance speaks to the media on Monday. (Jason Sickles/Yahoo News)NEWTOWN, Conn. - Sandy Hook Elementary School will remain closed and a protected crime scene for months to come, police said Monday.

    Investigators have launched a painstaking examination of the school because of the number of shots gunman Adam Lanza fired in his rampage that left 26 people, 20 of them first-graders, dead inside the school, state police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance said.

    "Every single round of ammunition will be examined," Vance told reporters at a morning news conference here.

    All schools were closed in Newtown Monday but were set to reopen on Tuesday. The Sandy Hook children will remain home but will resume classes at a vacant middle school in nearby Monroe once the classrooms can be modified for them. A date for that to happen has not been decided.

    The community was set to begin the grim task of burying its dead. Funerals for Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner, both 6, were scheduled for Monday afternoon.

    Investigators are working around the clock at the gunman's home, where

    Read More »from Sandy Hook School to remain closed as a protected crime scene, police say
  • Newtown gunman had hundreds of bullets, police said

    [Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET]

    NEWTOWN, Conn. - The shooter who stormed Sandy Hook Elementary was carrying enough ammunition to kill scores of more people beyond the 26 lives he claimed at the school, police said Sunday afternoon.

    Adam Lanza, 20, was armed with a military-style rifle and two semi-automatic pistols. Investigators said he possessed "multiple high-capacity magazines" for all three weapons.

    Police haven't revealed how many bullets Lanza fired during his 10-minute shooting spree, but admit he still had many more live rounds with him when he took his own life as first responders closed in.

    "Hundreds of bullets, yes," said Lt. J. Paul Vance, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police.

    The 26 victims were all shot multiple times with the rifle. Lanza, however, used one of the handguns to shoot himself in the head. His death was officially ruled a suicide, the Connecticut state medical examiner announced Sunday afternoon.

    The death of his mother, 52-year-old Nancy Lanza, was a

    Read More »from Newtown gunman had hundreds of bullets, police said
  • Gunman’s computers may be key in Connecticut school shooting investigation

    NEWTOWN, Conn. — Alleged school shooter Adam Lanza reportedly occupied two bedrooms in his family's sprawling suburban home, one where he slept and another to stash his computer equipment.

    For a young man who has been described as withdrawn from the outside world, Lanza's computer room is likely a gold mine for detectives, a veteran law enforcement source familiar with the investigation told Yahoo News.

    "If he visited certain websites, they are going to glean whatever information they can from that and see what it means," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly. "Does he have friends he communicates with online? Was there a fight with somebody?"

    Police have already hinted that evidence inside the 4,000-square-foot home has been helpful in determining a possible motive for the rampage that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adult staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary.

    Lanza shot and killed his mother,

    Read More »from Gunman’s computers may be key in Connecticut school shooting investigation
  • Sandy Hook shooter a mystery to neighbors and former classmates

    Police prohibited access on Saturday to the neighborhood where gunman Adam Lanza lived. (Jason Sickles/Yahoo News)

    [Updated at 8:10 p.m. ET]

    NEWTOWN, CONN. -- Even to his neighbors, the gunman who massacred 26 kids and educators at an elementary school here still remains somewhat of a mystery.

    "I want to know more," said Len Strocchia, who lives less than a half-mile from the shooter's house.

    Authorities say Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their well-to-do home Friday morning before driving to Sandy Hook Elementary where he stormed in and committed one of the worst mass school shootings in U.S. history. The victims were 20 first-graders and six staffers, including the principal.

    Adam Lanza's parents divorced a few years ago. Late Saturday, his father, Peter Lanza, wrote his family is, "in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can."

    "Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy," he explained in a written statement. "No words can truly express how heartbroken we are."

    On Saturday, Strocchia walked down the

    Read More »from Sandy Hook shooter a mystery to neighbors and former classmates
  • Principal killed after lunging at shooter; evidence found at gunman’s home may point to motive

    Conn. State police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance at Saturday morning's news conference. (Jason Sickles/Yahoo News)

    NEWTOWN, Conn.--The Sandy Hook school principal and another staffer were killed after lunging at a gunman who forced his way inside to begin a deadly shooting spree, the regional school superintendent said Saturday.

    The principal, Dawn Hochsprung, 47, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, died along with 4 other adults and 20 children in the second deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The alleged shooter, 20-year old Adam Lanza, was found dead at the scene, and his mother, Nancy Lanza, was discovered dead at their home.

    Newtown school superintendent Janet Robinson told reporters that the two educators and other staff members had put themselves in harms way to protect children once it became clear the school was under siege.

    "The teachers were really, really focused on saving their students," Robinson said.

    Police on Saturday said evidence recovered at gunman Lanza's home may provide a motive for the massacre.

    State police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance declined to provide specifics about the evidence but said, "we're hopeful it will paint a complete picture."

    Authorities say Lanza  killed his mother at their home Friday morning before driving to Sandy Hook.

    Read More »from Principal killed after lunging at shooter; evidence found at gunman’s home may point to motive
  • Superstorms and Scorchers: #1 Hurricane Sandy

    Hurricane Sandy ranked at the top of weather searches on Yahoo!. Billions of dollars in destruction, more than 100 lives lost and storm surges that swallowed roller coasters trumped the focus on national elections.


(149 Stories)