Escaped child killer missing for more than 40 years may be ‘hiding in plain sight,’ feds say

A convicted child murderer who has eluded authorities for more than four decades may be living under an alias in one of two states and “hiding in plain sight,” according to federal officials. The U.S. Marshals Service added Lester Eubanks to its “15 Most Wanted List” on Dec. 7 in hopes of ending his 45-year stint … Continue reading “Escaped child killer missing for more than 40 years may be ‘hiding in plain sight,’ feds say”

A convicted child murderer who has eluded authorities for more than four decades may be living under an alias in one of two states and “hiding in plain sight,” according to federal officials.

The U.S. Marshals Service added Lester Eubanks to its “15 Most Wanted List” on Dec. 7 in hopes of ending his 45-year stint on the lam.

“The U.S. Marshals are not deterred by the passage of time when it comes to cases like this one,” U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott of the Northern District of Ohio said in a statement. “We are fueled by one thing, and that is justice for 14-year-old Mary Ellen Deener of Mansfield, Ohio, the innocent victim in this case.”

On Nov. 14, 1965, Eubanks shot and bludgeoned to death Mary Ellen in what law enforcement allege was an attempted rape. Authorities quickly identified Eubanks as the offender, and he was arrested the next day and charged with first-degree murder while perpetrating rape.

On May 25, 1966, a jury found Eubanks guilty of the crimes and sentenced him to death. In 1972, Eubanks’ death sentence was commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Lester Eubanks shot and bludgeoned to death for 14-year-old Mary Ellen Deener in what officials alleged was an attempted rape. (U.S. Marshals)

But it was on Dec. 7, 1973, when Eubanks eventually made his escape, after prison officials took him to a shopping center in Columbus, Ohio. He was allowed to walk unescorted as a reward for good behavior, and then never showed at his scheduled pick up location.

“While the Eubanks case is designated as a cold case, I want to assure the public our investigation into his whereabouts is very active,”  U.S. Marshals Service Deputy Director David Anderson said in a statement. “I have total confidence in our deputies and our law enforcement partners who are determined to make sure Eubanks’ last days are spent in a prison cell where justice intended it.”

HUMAN REMAINS FOUND IN SEARCH FOR FLORIDA WOMAN WHO VANISHED IN 2010, POLICE SAY

Eubanks, who would now be 75, is believed to be alive and living under an alias, according to the agency.

Investigative leads over the years have placed him in Michigan and California, and officials said his whereabouts remain a mystery. A reward of up to $25,000 is available for information leading to his arrest.

Reward offered in cold case death of Virginia State Trooper

It’s been over three decades since Virginia State Trooper Johnny Rush Bowman was stabbed to death at his home, but federal investigators are hopeful a new reward and plea from his daughter could finally lead to the officer’s killer.

Deputy U.S. Marshal David Siler said that Eubanks may have changed his appearance, used aliases and even started a new life.

“He literally could be hiding in plain sight,” Siler said. “This is why we are asking citizens to be vigilant and contact us with any information they believe will help us apprehend him.”

Eubanks is described by officials as a 5 foot, 11 inches tall black male with black hair and brown eyes. He also has a mole under his left eye.

At the time of his disappearance in 1973, he weighed approximately 175 pounds. Eubanks may be using the alias “Victor Young,” according to federal officials.

Anyone with information on Eubanks or his possible whereabouts is urged to contact the nearest U.S. Marshals office or the U.S. Marshals Service Communications Center at 1-800-336-0102.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed

Michigan mom calls police on son too ‘lazy’ to get out of bed for school: ‘I did what I needed to do’

Crystal Towns was fed up.

The Grand Blanc Township, Michigan mother had spent many mornings struggling to get her 14-year-old son, Zachary, out of bed and ready for school. But like many teens, the Grand Blanc West middle schooler had no interest.

“I’m pretty lazy,” he admitted to local news station WEYI. Can’t lie — I like to sleep in.”

But that changed when Towns called for backup, contacting a Grand Blanc Township Police Department school resource officer who recently swung by the family’s home one morning before school.

MICHIGAN STATE POLICE ESCORT HOME GIRL WITH LIFE-THREATENING DISEASE

"He blamed his sister for not waking him up, and I had it. So I called the school resource officer to come [to] pick him up,” Towns told WEYI. "He wasn't bad, he just thought he was gonna not go to school again.”

The officer, who the news station did not identify, “came to the door, knocked, then told him ‘I'm here to take you to school and you are riding in back seat,’” she added.

Towns claims she had previously warned her son she would call the resource officer if he didn’t get up. Looking back, the 14-year-old now says he shouldn't have tested his mom's patience.

MYSTERY SHIPWRECK IN MICHIGAN DRAWS CROWDS

“I don't think I should have pushed my mom’s limits because that's the 100th time I've done it this year,” he said.

“I did what I needed to do I would do it all over again and feel good about it,” Towns added.

Crystal Towns was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Fox News on Friday.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

Parents say priest told mourners that son may be kept out of heaven over suicide: report

A Catholic priest in Michigan is facing criticism after he presided over the funeral of an 18-year-old who killed himself earlier this month and told mourners at the service that the teen may be kept out of heaven due to the way he died, reports said.

The parents want the priest who presided over his funeral removed after they say he disparaged and condemned their son during the service.

Maison Hullibarger, 18, a straight-A student, killed himself on Dec. 4. His funeral was on Dec. 8, and Rev. Don LaCuesta said the mass.

LaCuesta mentioned “suicide” six times and wondered out loud if the teen had repented enough to make it to Heaven, Hullibarger's family said. At one point Jeff Hullibarger, the teen's father, walked over to the priest and whispered, "Father, please stop," to no avail.

"We wanted him to celebrate how Maison lived, not how he died," Maison's mother said.

The words were so hurtful that the family said Catholic officials in Detroit apologized in a statement to the Detroit Free Press. Hullibarger's parents want LaCuesta removed from his post in Monroe County, just south of Detroit.

"Everybody seems to understand but the Catholic Church," said Jeff Hullibarger.

The couple also claims that LaCuesta denied them the chance to eulogize their son, as had been discussed in advance. Several boys the same age as Maison walked out of the church crying, the couple said.

"People told me there was almost a smirk on his face," Jeff Hullibarger said.

The Catholic Church has backed off its tough stance on suicide in recent years, finding that it can be forgiven under certain circumstances.

In a Thursday statement to the paper, the Archdiocese of Detroit said its hope "is always to bring comfort into situations of great pain, through funeral services centered on the love and healing power of Christ,” and that "unfortunately, that did not happen in this case."

"After some reflection, the presider agrees that the family was not served as they should have been served. For the foreseeable future, he will not be preaching at funerals and he will have his other homilies reviewed by a priest mentor,” it continued.

The Hullibargers said an apology isn’t enough.

"Really, the only way for that to happen is for this priest to be removed. We’re afraid that, like the Catholic Church does, they’ll send him off and he’ll do it to somebody else," Jeff Hullibarger said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Michigan State Police escort home girl with life-threatening disease

A 6-year-old girl in Michigan got “a very special escort home” upon her release from a months-long hospital stay, police revealed Tuesday.

Olivia Hanson was admitted for medical care to treat “a rare form of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis,” Michigan State Police said on Facebook. It was described as a “life-threatening” illness that targets the brain and central nervous system.

MICHIGAN BOY, 12, RAKES LEAVES TO RAISE MONEY FOR GRAVESTONE OF FRIEND WHO DIED OF CANCER

Hanson spent 95 days in the hospital and, over the course of her time there, a number of police officials would frequently stop by and provided her with “an exclusive ‘light show’” that was visible from her hospital room window, police said.

Alongside the post, the department shared numerous photos of uniformed officers with the young girl, including a group shot set on a snowy backdrop.

MICHIGAN WOMAN HEADED FOR CHURCH SHOOTS, KILLS HOME INTRUDER

Hanson spent 95 days in the hospital, police said. (Michigan State Police)

Another showed the young girl with a smile stretched across her face as an officer knelt down to hug her.

“Welcome home, Olivia!” the post said.

Pastor held in murder of transgender woman, authorities say

A Detroit pastor was charged Monday in the murder of a transgender woman, as authorities revealed that her gender status played a role in her fatal shooting.

Albert Weathers, 46, of Sterling Heights, was charged with murder in the death of Kelly Stough, 36, who was found dead on a Detroit street Friday.

Evidence about how Stough's transgender status had a role will be presented in court, according to the Wayne County prosecutor's office said. Spokeswoman Maria Miller declined to offer further comment.

The Associated Press left a message with Weathers' lawyer seeking comment.

A GoFundMe campaign was created in memory of victim Kelly Stough, 36.  (GoFundMe)

Dana Nessel, Michigan's next attorney general, said the case reflects the "excessive brutality" faced by a member of Detroit's transgender community.

Nessel is also president of Fair Michigan, a group committed to equal protection for gay, lesbian and transgender residents.

"You keep fighting, keep pushing and live your life. … Don't let the world dictate how you should live," Jessica Williams Stough, the victim's mother, told FOX 2 Detroit. "He was always a happy kid but bullied because of his tendencies."

A GoFundMe page has been created, in Kelly's memory, to assist with funeral expenses. The campaign has raised more than $2,000 of its $4,000 goal.

Weathers was being held on $1 million bond for first-degree murder, FOX 2 reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

Mystery shipwreck in Michigan draws crowds

A mystery shipwreck uncovered in a Michigan channel this week has residents and researchers alike trying to figure out where the doomed vessel came from.

Dozens of observers have flocked to the White Lake channel near the White River Light Station to see the shipwreck after photos emerged on social media earlier this week showing a partially deteriorated wooden hull coated with ice.

"[It's] a small piece of history that we're able to take part of," a couple told FOX17 West Michigan on Monday.

Some residents believe the wreck may be the remnants of the L.C. Woodruff, which was built in 1866 and fell apart during a bad storm in 1878 near White River Light Station on Lake Michigan, according to the U.S. Lighthouse Society.

It’s unclear, however, to what century the wreckage dates.

"We're piggy-backing on earlier accounts where people have perhaps jumped to conclusions and named it Woodruff," Valerie van Heest, the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association president, told FOX17. "But really, until we do an archaeological investigation can we really start to narrow it down."

Others have reported seeing a shipwreck believed to be the Woodruff in 1942 and again in 1974 near the White River Light Station after changing currents washed away enough sand to unearth what’s left of the vessel. The sightings were of damaged ribs and keel.

Van Heest said those who wish to see the wreckage should do so soon before another storm rolls through the area.

"The sands are shifting, big storms will move large bodies of sand then reveal things," van Heest said. "This may be gone with the next storm. It's a small window in time where we can look at these ships, the remains of these ships."

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam

Michigan boy, 12, rakes leaves to raise money for gravestone of friend who died of cancer

Kaleb Klakulak and Kenneth “K.J.” Gross had been BFFs since second grade before K.J. died in May of congestive heart failure after years of chemotherapy to fight leukemia.

Now, Kaleb, a 12-year-old Michigan boy, is working odd jobs to raise money for a special Christmas gift: a gravestone for his best friend.

K.J. was buried in a family plot at Detroit’s Elmwood Cemetery.

Kenneth “K.J.” Gross, left, and Kaleb Klakulak before K.J.’s death. (Kristy Hall)

However, K.J.’s mom couldn’t afford a grave marker, so Kaleb has been raking leaves, collecting bottles and soliciting PayPal donations on social media to help raise $2,500 — the cost of a headstone, as The Detroit News reported.

He’s raised $900 so far and given the money to K.J.’s mother, LaSondra “San” Singleton.

Kaleb Klakulak raking leaves in Rochester Hills, Mich., as he raises money for a headstone for his best friend Kenneth "K.J." Gross, who died of cancer last year. (Max Ortiz/Detroit News via AP)

“I love Ms. San,” Kaleb told the news outlet. “I was sad she couldn’t afford it. I wanted people to be able to find (K.J.’s grave) when they went to see him.”

MAN WELCOMES BABY GIRL, LOSES WIFE ON SAME DAY

Kaleb with K.J. (Kristy Hall)

Kaleb’s mom, Kristy Hall, helped him get started with the fundraising effort.

“I really think this is a great thing for Kaleb to focus on and help him with his healing as well as K.J.’s mom, who misses her baby and has to visit an unmarked grave,” Hall wrote in a Facebook post about Kaleb’s goal.

LaSondra Singleton holding a photo of her son Kenneth Gross Jr. while standing in front of a tree that was decorated in the child’s honor at her Warren, Mich., home. Kenneth died at age 12 waiting for a donor heart that failed due to complications from cancer. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)

Singleton said she’s overwhelmed by Kaleb’s actions and love for her son, even after his death.

She said the boys “were kindred spirits; they were like brothers.”

WOMAN KILLED BY BRAIN-EATING AMOEBA AFTER USING NETI POT FILLED WITH TAP WATER, REPORT SAYS

“It just speaks volumes to the type of people that they are, and it speaks to the type of person that K.J. was — he impacted people to where they want to do this for him,” Singleton said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Frank Miles is a reporter and editor covering geopolitics, military, crime, technology and sports for FoxNews.com. His email is Frank.Miles@foxnews.com.

Michigan medical chief to face involuntary manslaughter charge in Flint water trial, judge rules

A Michigan judge ruled Friday that the state’s chief medical executive will be one of six people to stand trial on involuntary manslaughter and other criminal charges related to the Flint water crisis.

The Attorney General’s office charged Dr. Eden Wells last year with obstruction of justice and lying to police after alleging that she was aware of a spike in Legionnaires’ bacteria in the Flint area in 2014 and 2015 but waited too long to tell the public.

During that period an outbreak of the disease affected at least 90 people in Genesee County, resulting in the deaths of 12. A manslaughter charge was later added to Wells’ case.

Wells, a member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s cabinet, has denied any wrongdoing and her attorneys claim she had no legal duty to warn the public.

Video

Legionella bacteria can trigger a severe form of pneumonia. Those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to catching the disease.

Some experts have blamed the outbreak on the use of the Flint River for municipal water. More than half of the cases had a common thread: The patients spent time at McLaren Hospital, which was on the Flint water system.

The investigation by state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office is part of a larger probe into how Flint’s water system became contaminated when the city used Flint River water for 18 months. The water wasn’t treated to reduce corrosion. As a result, lead leached from old pipes.

Wells will be one of six people facing an involuntary manslaughter charge in connection to the outbreak

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Paulina Dedaj is a writer/ reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @PaulinaDedaj.

Man held after ‘strange smell’ leads to woman’s torso in basement, other parts upstairs, police say

A foul stench led to the discovery of a woman’s torso in the basement of a Grand Rapids, Mich., home last weekend, according to court records revealed this week.

A tenant of the home called authorities after going into the basement to “investigate a strange smell,” and found a bag or tarp covered with blood, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Responding officers discovered the remains of an unidentified woman underneath, police said.

LONG ISLAND MAN WHO FOUND BONES IN HIS BASEMENT OPENS UP ABOUT GRISLY FIND: 'THIS IS ALMOST A PERFECT CRIME'

Authorities then obtained a search warrant and found other body parts in the upstairs apartment of a man identified in the report as 29-year-old James Chance. Grand Rapids Police detective Erika Fannon said the body parts were "suspected to have belonged to the torso located in the basement.”

She said investigators had determined the suspect “was with a female acquaintance two days prior and that the female acquaintance was since reported as a missing person and she had not to this date been located.”

Police are investigating whether it's the body of a Kalamazoo-area woman who was traveling to Grand Rapids and was last seen on Nov. 29.

NEW YORK FAMILY HOPES HUMAN REMAINS FOUND IN BASEMENT WILL LEAD TO ANSWERS ABOUT MISSING FATHER

Chance was taken into custody and charged with mutilation of a dead body and concealing the death of an individual with bond set at $750,000, the report said. Given his past criminal history and multiple probation violations, he was charged with being a four-time habitual offender, Fox 17 reported.

Police on Wednesday searched the home of Chance’s parents in Holland, Mich., about 35 minutes southwest of Grand Rapids, according to the station.

Chance’s next court appearance for a probable cause conference is scheduled for later this month. Authorities said identifying the victim “will take a little bit of extra time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Two cemeteries found in violation as Michigan mortuary scandal broadens: reports

Two cemeteries in Michigan incurred multiple violations related to fetuses and fetal remains found in their facilities, reports said.

Both cemeteries' fetuses with documentation violations were improperly handled by Perry Funeral Home, according to the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press.

DECADES-OLD FETAL REMAINS DISCOVERED IN MICHIGAN FUNERAL HOME, 3RD TIME IN WEEKS

Authorities discovered that remains at Gethsemane Cemetery in Detroit and Knollwood Cemetery in Canton had documentation issues and discrepancies, Fox 2 Detroit reported.

Knollwood, in Canton, was ordered shuttered for demonstrating "a lack of integrity to protect the public and a lack of good moral character," the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said in a news release.

At Gethsemane, investigators found 104 fetuses and cremated fetal remains inside of containers in a crypt, the station reported.

Seventeen of those fetal remains had improper documentation and were removed from the cemetery, the Detroit Free Press reported.

"I never would have imagined a case like this, and it's not over." Detroit police Chief James Craig told the paper. "Where's it going to take us next?"

The actions against the cemeteries follow an investigation launched into the Perry Funeral Home in Detroit over its handling of fetal remains — resulting in its shutdown in October.

TASK FORCE PREPARING TO INVESTIGATE DETROIT FUNERAL HOME

At Knollwood, 345 fetuses and cremated fetal remains and one adult body were found inside crypts, in which 27 of them had paperwork violations, the station reported.

The 27 containers' improper documentation includes death certificates, forms and burial transit permits, according to the Free Press.

"The documentation supports that there is a discrepancy or a body, or remains, were inappropriately disposed of," Craig said.

Due to these violations, state regulators have issued a cease-and-desist order against Knollwood, shutting down portions of its operation, and issued it a $135,000 fine.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said the cemetery violated the state's Cemetery Regulation Act, posing "an imminent threat to the public health and safety," the Detroit News reported.

The remains from both cemeteries were taken to a facility in Flint, the report said.

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.