Vigil held for mother, daughter who vanished a year ago

It has been a year since Liliana Moreno, 43, and Daniela Moreno, 9, vanished.

To mark the moment Moreno’s family members are set to hold a vigil Tuesday outside Castano’s home in Doral.

“All day we’re thinking if they’re eating,” Eduardo Moreno, said about his missing sister and niece. 

Gustavo Castano, the little girl’s father, was the last person to see them when he dropped the pair off on Florida’s Turnpike near Okeechobee Road.

Shortly after, he tried to kill himself.

Miami-Dade detectives had called Castano a person of interest but he was never arrested and is not facing charges.

Castano’s attorney did not respond to requests for a comment.

Moreno’s family said that he hasn’t had contact with them since the disappearance. 

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the mother and daughter are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. 

 

 

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Court rules against Penn State in two fraternity hazing lawsuits

Two hazing-related lawsuits against Penn State are moving forward after a judge on Friday ruled on claims the university did not act appropriately in response to allegations of hazing at two fraternities.

In one case, a judge denied Penn State’s attempts to dismiss claims of negligence and liability in the 2014 suicide of Marquise Braham, an 18-year-old member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.

Braham’s death, his parents allege, could have been prevented by Penn State officials if they had notified his family about his emotional distress. The Brahams allege that a resident assistant employed by the university knew about and reported their son’s emotional state to Penn State officials a week before he jumped to his death, but the family was not notified.

Penn State later found evidence of hazing at the fraternity and shut it down.

In another case, the same judge ruled that former student James Vivenzio, who had been a member of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity, can sue Penn State and its student-run Interfraternity Council for fraud.

Vivenzio claims Penn State misleads students about Greek life on its website, listing no incidents of misconduct, and instead saying “there are many myths” about Greek communities, but “the reality is that men and women in fraternities and sororities are committed to their academics, volunteer their time in the community, develop and strengthen their leadership skills…”

Penn State responded to the rulings, saying it “has focused for more than a decade on the issues of excessive alcohol consumption and hazing, but like many other universities and colleges across the country these remain a serious challenge,” and that “Penn State has and will continue to educate its students about these issues and will hold them accountable whenever it learns of such wrongdoing. In every instance when Penn State is alerted to any allegations of hazing the university takes immediate action to investigate and impose sanctions.”

“Obviously this is a really significant development, not only in this case, but in the whole unfolding story of the university’s involvement in hazing and excessive alcohol abuse,” said Aaron Freiwald, the attorney for Vivenzio.

The rulings come just over three weeks after one of the largest criminal indictments against a fraternity was handed down by a grand jury, in the death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza.

Piazza, a 19-year-old sophomore, died after a night of binge drinking that was part of his fraternity initiation at Beta Theta Pi.

A grand jury report issued after his death called out Penn State’s Interfraternity Council for a “permissive atmosphere” of excess alcohol and hazing.

 

Greek life web page is focus of one case

Vivenzio’s fraud case is based on Penn State’s web page for Greek life, which offers information for parents and students interested in joining a fraternity or sorority. It says there is a zero tolerance policy on hazing.

Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, Judge Andrew H. Dowling Jr. ruled Friday that it is fair to infer that the Interfraternity Council “knew about the hazing and the underage drinking,” and cited the fact that Vivenzio, who left Penn State in 2014, had reported hazing to the university’s hot line, “but nothing was done about the hazing at KDR.”

“That constitutes that IFC knew that hazing took place, and thus knew that any statement that hazing did not occur was false,” the judge wrote in his order. “As such, we believe that plaintiff has sufficiently pled the elements of fraud with respect to Penn State and IFC.”

Freiwald said, “The fraud claim goes to the heart of what is so upsetting about all three of these cases, because the university is not only creating the environment in which this is happening, but covering it up at the same time.”

Vivenzio previously told CNN that his hazing included “drinking until you were vomiting. They were shoving alcohol down your throat all the time.” He shared with CNN pictures of bruises and text messages that he says he also shared with Penn State in an effort to stop the hazing after the fact.

Vivenzio says Penn State did not act on the reports until KDR came under national scrutiny for a headline-grabbing private KDR Facebook page that included pictures of naked women. Penn State investigated, found evidence of hazing, and shut down KDR in 2015.

Penn State told CNN that Vivenzio did not cooperate with initial attempts to investigate, something Vivenzio denies. After Friday’s ruling, Penn State said it is reviewing the order from the judge.

Penn State has repeatedly said it believes hazing is a national problem and Penn State is in a tricky position, given that the fraternities reside “off campus.”

But Vivenzio’s attorney said they will pursue records relating to what the university knew about hazing at Kappa Delta Rho and other fraternities.

“And that has a great deal of significance to both James’ case and also to what we now know was going on in a widespread basis, including the fraternity where Tim Piazza died,” Freiwald said.

 

Role of hazing in suicide key to 2nd case

 

The same judge is also hearing the Brahams’ case, and not only ruled that negligence and liability claims can move forward, but also left open the possibility that a fraud accusation against Penn State similar to Vivenzio’s also will stand in the Brahams’ case.

“Universities that promote fraternities but refuse to tell parents and students about the risks they face will be held responsible for their misrepresentations and misconduct,” said the Braham family’s attorney, Douglas Fierberg. “The family applauds the ruling by the court, but intends now to go the full distance to hold the fraternity and university responsible for the tragic death of their son. Universities must tell the truth and if they refuse to, this lawsuit seeks to compel them to do so.”

In Braham’s case, a grand jury investigated and found there wasn’t enough evidence to link the hazing to Braham’s suicide, which Penn State points to in its defense.

But Fierberg said his lawsuit has uncovered new evidence that shows otherwise and the judge seemed to agree.

Fierberg said a confidential report, obtained through discovery in the lawsuit, “made a direct connection between hazing and psychological crisis that led to (Braham’s) death. The report shows that five administrators from Penn State knew he was in trouble psychologically a week before he died,” Fierberg said.

In his ruling the judge found that Penn State did not provide “any explanation as to why suicide is not a foreseeable result from a person who is described as being in crisis. By its very definition, a crisis could very well lead to suicide as a result of extreme mental distress. As such, we do not agree that (Braham’s) suicide was not foreseeable based upon the allegations in the complaint.”

Fierberg said the family may ask the grand jury to take a second look.

“The grand jury didn’t have all of the evidence in front of it,” Fierberg said. “… Part of this has been about getting the truth out that Penn State has hidden. We’ve finally gotten it disclosed that Penn State knew about the hazing of Marquise, and knew the hazing placed him in psychological peril and then ignored it.”

Penn State did not respond to CNN’s request for a response to Fierberg’s comments.

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Police respond after armed man reported at Orlando airport

A spokeswoman for the Orlando International Airport says authorities are responding to a report of an armed man in the rental car area.

Spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell tells the Orlando Sentinel that law enforcement officers are on the scene Tuesday night.

The airport tweeted that the area had been contained and there was minimal impact to operations.

 Fennell didn’t immediately respond to a message left by The Associated Press. Police referred calls to the spokeswoman.

Earlier this year, authorities say an Alaska man killed five people inside a baggage claim area at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

 

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Gunman at Orlando International Airport in custody, police say

A man armed with a gun at Orlando International Airport was surrounded Tuesday evening and taken into custody shortly after 10 p.m., ending an hours-long standoff, the Orlando Police Department said.

Police stressed that there was never an active shooter situation and no shots were fired.

“UPDATE: Gunman is in custody. Everyone is safe,” OPD tweeted at 10:08 p.m.

OIA spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell said the gunman was contained in the rental car area on level one of the airport in Terminal A. 

Fennell said at 8:40 p.m. that the man was surrounded, but not in custody. In the hours leading up to the arrest, Orlando police repeatedly reiterated on social media that the man was contained, but has not in custody.

Police said at 9:30 p.m. that the armed man was speaking with a crisis negotiator. 

Officers from the Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office are at the scene and passengers were removed from the area. 

Witness video from the scene shows officers with their guns drawn yelling, “Put it down, bud, put it down” and “We’re gonna help you man.”

separate witness video, embedded above, shows an officer pointing a gun at a man who is sitting on the ground with his head in his hands. 

“It ain’t worth it,” an officer tells the man in a video a witness filmed while hiding behind a counter.

The Florida Highway Patrol said at 8:30 p.m. that all roads leading to the airport were shut down.

OIA tweeted at 9:15 p.m. that entrances are open, but congested. Passengers should contact their airline to find the status of their flight. 

“With ongoing events, [the Federal Aviation Authority] has placed a Traffic Management Program in effect for arriving flights. Arrivals may be delayed at departure point,” OIA tweeted at 9:41 p.m.

Airport officials said the scene is still active and no other information is available.

Orlando international airport… what’s is happening? pic.twitter.com/O85EDWWTVC

— Mario Munoz (@_MarioMunoz) May 31, 2017

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