NEW YORK, New York — (DMN) – Police in New York have tracked down the niece of a handyman linked to Etan Patz’s disappearance and she backed up shocking rape claims which touched off a dramatic search in SoHo last week, law enforcement sources said today. FBI agents dug up the basement where handyman Othniel Miller used to work, at 127-B Prince St., in hopes of finding any evidence tying him to six-year-old Etan, who vanished without a trace on May 25, 1979. The excavation was sparked, in large part, to claims of Miller’s ex-wife, who said he had raped their niece when she was 12.
The niece, now living in New Jersey, was interviewed by NYPD detectives on April 17 and she corroborated her aunt’s accusation. The alleged attack was so long ago, it was outside the statute of limitations, law enforcement sources said. Agents began digging on Thursday morning and wrapped up Sunday night — and found no blood or human remains connected to Patz, according to field tests. Miller was a handyman who had a workshop down the street from 6-year-old Etan’s lower Manhattan apartment building back in 1979. He allegedly gave the boy $1 for help with chores the night before he disappeared, May 25, while walking to the school bus. The New York Daily News reports that on Sunday, the handyman’s stepson Jason Webley insisted Miller’s ex “made that up” regarding the rape allegation, and that he would never hurt a child. “You can’t swear for anyone, but I don’t think he’s in any way, form, or fashion involved in this,” Webley said.
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — (DMN) – In the first criminal charge arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a former BP engineer who lives in Katy has been named in obstruction of justice charges alleging he destroyed evidence sought by government investigators, the Justice Department said Tuesday. Kurt Mix, 50, of Katy, Texas, was arrest on two charges of obstruction of justice, according to a criminal complaint filed in Louisiana.
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that Mix is accused of deleting records relating to the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well after the April 20, 2010 blowout and explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 workers and led to a three-month spill that the government says poured nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. “The Deepwater Horizon Task Force is continuing its investigation into the explosion and will hold accountable those who violated the law in connection with the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history,” Holder said. Mix, a drilling and completions project engineer for BP, worked on the company’s efforts to estimate the amount of crude flowing from the well and to stop it, the Justice Department said. These included a procedure called a “top kill,” an unsuccessful attempt to plug the leak by forcing material into the wellhead.
The charges against Mix allege that he deleted 200 text message, despite orders from the company to save them. Some of the messages included reports that the top kill was failing, the government alleges. Some of the deleted texts were “recovered forensically,” the government says, including one sent the evening of May 26, 2010, after the first day of the top kill attempt. In that message, Mix reported that the well was flowing at the rate of more than 15,000 barrels a day, at a time when the company’s public estimate was 5,000 barrels a day, according to the Justice Department news release. The release said BP engineers had concluded internally that the top kill would fail if the flow were greater than 15,000 barrels per day.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, BP said it would have no comment on the charges against Mix, and that it “is cooperating with the Department of Justice and other official investigations into the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill.” “BP had clear policies requiring preservation of evidence in this case and has undertaken substantial and ongoing efforts to preserve evidence,” the statement said. Justice Department officials said Mix would make an initial appearance in federal court in Houston on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, a federal judge in New Orleans is expected to consider a motion to approve a $7.8 billion civil settlement between BP and a committee of plaintiffs in a civil case.
WWL-TV and the Houston Chronicle contributed this report.
Martinsville, Indiana is an unusual little town 30 miles south of Indianapolis. Known for it’s fabled mineral water was, at one time, the headquarters for the Ku Kux Klan in Indiana and it’s a reputation that the city has fought hard to overcome. Regardless, Martinsville makes the news often and it’s rarely for anything good. There was a school shooting there. A cop tazed a 10-year kid at a daycare. A Congressional candidate from Martinsville was charged with 8 felony counts of intimidation for Facebook posts. Prosecutors had to throw out dozens of bad dope cases because of shady enforcement. Martinsville just cannot seem to catch a break so, arguably, maybe it’s something in the fabled mineral water that makes people there…a little off.
Back in February Martinsville High School teacher and boys basketball coach, Tim Wolf, was arrested after police said they found him sitting partially naked inside of his car, which was parked near a playground. A 17-year-old girl was also inside of the car. According to a police report, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer was patrolling Eagle Creek Park when he noticed a silver Chryser parked approximately 30 to 40 feet away from a playground. The officer said he found 65-year-old Wolf inside his car with his pants unzipped and the girl in the passenger’s seat.
Court document said the officer saw “suspicious movements from the passenger.” Wolf has been a teacher at Martinsville High School for more than 20 years. Parents and students allege he has been having an affair with the 17-year-old girl for more than a year. “It was obvious they were having an inappropriate relationship, we were just waiting for it to come out,” said Dalton Leitz, student. Students said their friends have filed anonymous reports through the school’s tip line. “Him and this girl and other girls, I’ve seen numerous girls hanging out in his office with the doors closed,” said Leitz.
The school released the following statement after the February arrest:
Metropolitan School District of Martinsville learned today the Martinsville High School basketball coach Timothy Wolf was arrested yesterday in Indianapolis. This afternoon Wolf’s attorney, John Boren, notified the school administration that Wolf will retire from the school district effective today, contingent on school board acceptance. In the meantime, I have authorized an immediate internal investigation focused on gathering the facts. The M.S.D. of Martinsville also plans to fully cooperate with law enforcement during its investigation.”
The girl reportedly worked at a restaurant that Wolf owns. A school employee said the girl recently graduated and that the alleged inappropriate behavior between her and Wolf had been part of a yearlong conversation among teachers and coaches at the school. Wolf is preliminarily charged with indecent exposure. The girl was not arrested but was taken to her car which was parked in a lot nearby. Reports now suggest the plot has widened. A Martinsville 2nd Grade teacher and High School girls tennis coach, Jeff McGown, was placed on administrative leave last week pending an investigation.
WXIN-TV is reporting that Rumors have a way of spreading quickly in a small town like Martinsville, and word gets around even faster at the high school. “We knew about it for a while before it came out… I knew about it freshman year.” Martinsville High School sophomore Nick Ruddell is talking about an alleged inappropriate relationship between a 17-year-old student and two district employees. High school teacher and head boys basketball coach Tim Wolf was caught semi-nude in a park with the girl, according to police. Second grade teacher and girls high school tennis coach Jeff McGown was accused this month, of misconduct with her.
Ruddell said both cases, particularly Wolf’s, were the talk of the school long before the allegations surfaced. “Just because they’ve seen them out so much together, people have talked about it at school, saying they’ve seen them holding hands and walking.” Once the news broke in February about Wolf, Ruddell and two friends went to that month’s school board meeting. said says one of his friends spoke up. “He just told everybody that people are supposed to look up to him. He’s supposed to be a role model for us students, but he wasn’t doing a very good job of it, they didn’t have anything to say,” said Ruddell.
A few weeks later, Ruddell and those same friends were called out of class to the principal’s office one by one, and questioned by an attorney representing the district. “He asked me what they asked me and I told him. He said ‘did it feel like your stories were getting flipped around’ and I said yeah. He said ‘like they just keep asking you questions’ and I was like yeah.” In response to this story, the Martinsville School District issued the following statement: “MSD of Martinsville has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with both the State Police and the Special Prosecutor’s office regarding their investigation. The School Corporation is also conducting an internal investigation and has interviewed a number of high school staff and students in the course of its investigation.”
A special prosecutor has been named to take over a State Police investigation into the misconduct of employees in the Martinsville School Corporation. Morgan County Judge G. Thomas Gray named Johnson County Deputy Prosecutor Doug Cummins as special prosecutor in the case. Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega stated last week “it became clear that it was the appropriate time to make the request for a special prosecutor for the case”.
WXIN-TV, WIBC-FM & The Indianapolis Star contributed to this story.