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Emails show funding discussions before former superintendent’s resignation

Channel 9 obtained hundreds of pages of emails sent by former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison on Monday.

Morrison resigned in November and the district has yet to name his replacement.

During the month of October, the month before his sudden resignation, everything seemed to be business as usual, at least according to emails. On Oct. 6, Morrison sent an email to his deputy superintendent Ann Clark and other district leaders looking ahead to next year’s budget.

He wrote: "As we get ready to enter into budget season for next year, I would like us to discuss as a cabinet the process we use to review all strategic investments and ROI."

Channel 9 has reported extensively about the confusion and cost overruns at the early college program that opened at the University of North Carolina Charlotte last fall.

The cost of that new school has been linked to Morrison’s sudden departure. On Oct. 30, just four days before Morrison announced his resignation, UNC Charlotte Chancellor Phil DuBois sent an email to Morrison.

He wrote: "Assume you've heard that I'm sending some funding your way. In the end, it was pretty difficult to sort out exactly how the costs ended up being what they were."

Morrison resigned Nov. 3, citing family reasons.

Between then and now, Channel 9 learned about an internal report which investigated Morrison’s alleged misconduct and improper spending while at CMS.

However, Morrison told reporter Paige Hansen more than once that one of the main reasons he left was due to his mother’s illness.

On Oct. 31, a Harvard professor and apparent friend of Morrison’s said in an email: "Your mother is in my prayers. I lift her up as I do you and all who love her."

Morrison did not respond to that email. The school district said Morrison stopped sending emails from his CMS account on Oct. 30.

Channel 9 is expecting more emails from CMS on Tuesday and will continue to go through the new information.

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:59:34 -0500

CMPD: Man wanted after armed robbery

The Violent Criminal Apprehension Team is looking for Mark Ellis who is wanted on outstanding warrants following an armed robbery that happened at a Dundeen Street home on Jan. 18, according to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department news release.

Police believe he could be in the Rock Hill area in South Carolina or in the Beatties Ford Road area of Charlotte.

Another suspect, James Watson, was charged in the case, police said.

Call 704-336-VCAT or 911 with any information on this case.

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Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:40:49 -0500

Blizzard 2015: Nightmare commute home

For New Yorkers Monday, the commute home was not for the faint of heart. Those traveling via Penn Station and the Staten Island Ferry were met with crowds and delays. The photos could rattle even those who suffer from the slightest claustrophobia -- or impatience.

Here are some of the craziest commute photos from Monday.


Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:38:32 -0500

Craigslist full of personal ads for snowstorm cuddle buddies

Remember that trendy video from last year where 20 strangers kissed for the first time, as part of an art project?

Apparently, that was not such a crazy idea, or maybe it made that crazy idea an acceptable way to ride out an epic snowstorm, because New Yorkers are clamoring for cuddle buddies on Craigslist.

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Take a look at some of the teases for the personal ads:

  • People, it's just snow. 35 men seeking women
  • Any cuties want to get out in the snow? 36 (Midtown West) pic men seeking women
  • cabin fever in the snow - m4w 37 (Midtown West) pic casual encounters
  • snow is cold, falafel is best hot 40 men seeking women
  • Seeking snow bunny for makeout party 28 (Downtown) men seeking women

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:22:33 -0500

Clover HS teacher resigns after allegations of sexual battery with student

A Clover High School teacher resigned Monday after he was arrested and charged with sexual battery of a student, officials said.

Michael P. Landreth, 24, was charged with sexual battery with a student 16 or 17 years of age and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to the arrest record from the York County Sheriff’s Office.

The school received a report Thursday that Landreth, a math teacher, was behaving inappropriately towards a student, school officials said.

An investigation into Landreth's actions was immediately launched.

“The district takes any incident like this very seriously,” the Clover School district said in a statement. “CSD’s primary concern is always the health and safety of our students.”

Return to and watch Eyewitness News at 10 & 11 p.m. for more on this developing story.

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Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:10:34 -0500

3 families homeless after apartment fire

Jamille Moore walked through the yard, strewn with sopping-wet drywall and insulation, to gaze into the shattered back window of her apartment.

"Everything that I've had, that I’ve owned, is in this house. I don't have anything else," Moore said.

Looking inside, she could only see darkness and melted fixtures. Most of the furniture and her belongings had been reduced to ash.

Her son, Derrick Starks, was in bed asleep when he heard a noise. He was the only one in the house.

"I heard this popping noise downstairs, and I ran downstairs and the kitchen over the stove was on fire," Starks said.

He ran out of the house to wake up the neighbor.

The woman next door was also alone in her apartment asleep. She didn't want to give her name.

"If he hadn't come and told me, I’d be dead," she told Channel 9.

Moore said they had not been using the stove and thought the fire might be electrical. Fire investigators did find two pots on the stove. However, it was so badly damaged they couldn't tell if the stove had been left on or not.

The manager at Chesterfield Eula Apartments told Channel 9 Monday that she had not received any complaints about electrical issues. She also said the apartment had passed an inspection just last month.

Moore said the hardest part for her is knowing that her neighbors also face losing their homes.

"It's a bad feeling when you know you don't have somewhere else to go, but then when you know everybody is out, it's just overwhelming," she said.

Lancaster Fire Chief Chuck Small said investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire.

The American Red Cross is assisting the families and will provide hotel rooms for them for several nights.

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:50:43 -0500

Surveillance image released after man robs Publix store

Police said a man robbed the Publix grocery store in Rock Hill Monday afternoon.

According to the Rock Hill Police Department, a white man wearing a black sweatshirt and white baseball cap robbed the pharmacy section of an undetermined amount of prescription drugs.

The store is located on North Cherry Road.

The suspect said he had a gun, but did not show one and kept his hand in his pocket the entire time.

Police released a photo from the store’s surveillance system.

Anyone who can identify the suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers of York County at 1-877-409-4321.

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:19:08 -0500

Friendship 9 changed history 54 years ago in Rock Hill

Sitting at the very location where they were arrested 54 years ago -- their names now engraved on the seats -- four members of the so-called Friendship Nine recounted the moments of that January day in 1961.
"We were snatched up off these stools and arrested and taken to the back of this building, and that's where the jail was," Willie Massey said.
"The only thing we feared was the possibility of being killed, but after while we didn't let it cross our mind," David Williamson said.

The restaurant in downtown Rock Hill is now called Five and Dine, but in 1961 it was a McRory's convenience store with a lunch counter that was off-limits to blacks. 
A group of nine black students from nearby Friendship Junior College and their advisor decided they would be the first protesters to use a new jail no bail strategy.  When arrested for sitting at the counter they would spend 30 days in jail instead of paying a $100 fine into a system they said devalued them.  
"The jail doors slammed shut, and we're average age 18, so that was really devastating," said Massey.

PHOTOS: Friendship 9 changed history 54 years ago in Rock Hill
Once they served their 30 days on a chain gang, the men were released, but didn't really talk about the historic sit-in for years. 
Recently, the group attracted the attention of author Kimberly Johnson. She documented their story in a children’s book called “No Fear for Freedom.”
"And this really has become my passion," Johnson said.


She pressed the York County solicitor to throw out the men’s convictions, which will officially happen Wednesday.
"I can't wait until Wednesday comes, and I can take the stripes off my back," said Williamson.
"We know that a lot of the folk in the state are not happy about this, so there is that little look over your shoulder feeling that we had even in 1961," said Clarence Graham, a Friendship Nine member.
"It was something that was done at the right time," Graham said. "I do believe that heaven smiles on this movement."

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:00:00 -0500

Google officials, Charlotte leaders to make announcement Tuesday

Google and Charlotte city leaders will hold a news conference Tuesday to discuss "What's in store for the people of Charlotte,” according to an email sent Monday afternoon.
The news conference will be held at 1 p.m.

LINK: 10 things to know about Google Fiber

Charlotte is one of a select group of metro areas being considered for an expansion of Google Fiber. One of the other cities, Nashville, will also hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
"I think it's going to be a long rollout that's going to go neighborhood by  neighborhood," said Brian Baute, chief information officer for Queens University.
Baute said that if Google Fiber is coming to Charlotte, don't expect the service immediately.
In other cities, Google surveyed neighborhoods to determine the demand for deciding which neighborhoods become a "Fiberhood" first.
However, if your neighborhood isn't selected as a Fiberhood, you might still reap the benefits.
"We've seen in other cities that that competition has an impact on the service levels and the pricing for other providers," Baute said.
Stay with Channel 9 Eyewitness News and for coverage of Tuesday's announcement.

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Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:38:09 -0500

'Three-breasted' woman charged with DUI

A woman at the heart of a hoax about having a third breast implanted last year has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, according to WTSP.

Alisha Jasmine Hessler, also known as Jasmine Tridevil, got many reporters (including this one) believing that she may have had an extra breast implanted to make herself "unattractive" to men.

As part of the hoax, a news station found an incident report she had filed, claiming her prosthetic breasts had been stolen with her luggage.

Hessler's blood alcohol content was over 0.15, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office records. She was previously arrested and charged with fraud in 2013, but was later released.

Read the full story about her arrest here.

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:27:52 -0500

1 arrested, another loose after robbing victims at gunpoint

According to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, a suspect has been arrested after robbing two men at gunpoint.

Demarcus Stalling was charged with two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon for an incident that happened last weekend.

Two victims were returning home on Jan. 18. When they pulled into their driveway and exited the vehicle they were approached by two men wearing ski masks and all black clothing. Officials said the suspects pointed handguns at both victims and demanded that they got on the ground.

While holding the victims at gun point, the suspects took both of their cellphones. The suspects also took nearly $1,000 from the two victims.

Officials said the suspects then took off running into the woods. During the robbery, one of the suspects adjusted his mask. Officials said the victims saw it was Stalling. The identity of the second victim remains unknown.

Stalling remains in the Rowan County Detention Center on a $10,000 bond.

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:05:27 -0500

Celebrities tweet about the mega storm

As the Northeastern snowstorm rolls in, everybody is talking about the storm on social, even celebrities. Here's what some of your favorite stars are saying about Snowmageddon 2015.

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:00:51 -0500

KFC releases the Double Down Hot Dog

Have you ever been eating a hot dog and thought, 'Gee, I wish I had some fried chicken to wrap this dog in?" Well, Kentucky Fried Chicken is answering your artery-clogging prayers.

The latest crazy food concoction is the Double Down Hot Dog. So what does this entail? Let me break it down: it is a hot dog wrapped in a cheese-stuffed chicken breast. According to Business Insider, the Double Down appears to be a hot dog version of the infamous "Double Down," a sandwich that uses chicken patties in place of bread.

Apparently if you want to try it, you'll have to hop on a flight to the Philippines because that's the only place it's being offered so far and there are reportedly only 50 pieces left, says one advertisement.

Sure, it's weird. But KFC is probably enjoying all of the free advertising on social media from people that can't stop talking about it.

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:40:56 -0500

740 pot plants worth over $1M found in west Charlotte home, warrants say

Channel 9 learned new information Monday about a massive marijuana bust in west Charlotte.

Police first started looking into the home on Lundy Lane after an anonymous neighbor reported a strong smell of marijuana coming from the home all day.

IMAGES: Massive pot plant bust

Investigators seized 740 pot plants worth more than $1 million from five different rooms of the home on Thursday.

According to just-released search warrants, officers seized more than $600 in cash and more than 100 items considered to be drug paraphernalia, including grow lamps, ceramic heaters, light fixtures and chemicals.

STORY: CMPD seizes $1.1M worth of pot plants from NW Charlotte home

Police arrested Quang Cao, who they said was living inside the house with another adult and two teens.

Cao is facing charges including drug manufacturing, possession, trafficking and maintaining a dwelling for marijuana.

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Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:04:56 -0500

Charlotte-area Chick-fil-A restaurants to give away free breakfast

Participating Chick-fil-A restaurants in the metro Charlotte area will give away free three-count Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Minis on Tuesday, Feb. 3 from 6 to 10:30 a.m.

The giveaway is available both in the restaurant and the drive-thru at participating restaurants.

In addition, customers can receive a free cup of the restaurant’s new specialty-grade Thrive Farmers hot or iced coffee during the month of February.

Breakfast is limited to one free entrée per person per visit.

Click here to see a list of Charlotte-area Chick-fil-A locations.

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:54:28 -0500

Police arrest woman accused of assault, burglary

A woman broke into a home on Irma Street early Friday morning and assaulted a 54-year-old woman, police said.
Police arrested Laquantis S. Brown, 34, on Saturday and charged her with assault with a deadly weapon-serious injury and first-degree burglary. 
The victim suffered serious injuries from the attack and was taken to Carolinas Medical Center.
 The suspect stole a handgun from the home and left about $250 in damage to the victim’s living room window.
The police said the suspect was not at the scene when they arrived.
The victim and the suspect did not know each other. 

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:46:57 -0500

9 Investigates: NC stalking laws leaving victims at risk

Tormented for years by an ex-boyfriend a woman told Channel 9 he stalked her online, at work and in her home.

“He has always said he would make me pay,” she said. “He called my cellphone 47 times in one day.”

A restraining order at first was denied.

“It felt as though no one cared,” she said.

Channel 9’s Erica Bryant investigates North Carolina stalking laws, which some say are leaving victims at risk.

“As a police officer I would be alarmed,” an officer said.

9 Investigates looks into what is being done to toughen the laws and protect the victims – Thursday at 5 p.m. on Channel 9.

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:35:28 -0500

You can't name your kid 'Nutella' in France

We're used to hearing about celebrity kids with unique baby names. 

Jermaine Jackson named his son Jermajesty. Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple. Beyonce named her daughter Blue Ivy. Kim Kardashian named her daughter North West. 

>> Read more trending stories  

The unique names aren't limited to Hollywood. Over in France, two parents have come up with something nutty. Pun intended.

They were hoping to spread the happy and name their child Nutella, like the Italian chocolate hazelnut spread.

The Local says a judge didn't think it was such a good idea and suggested the name Ella would be more appropriate. 

A judge ruled that it 'wasn't in the best interests of the child' and that she would risk 'being mocked,' The Local reported.

This all might seem a bit strange to American parents, but in France, if a child's name is, for lack of a better term, weird, their parents might not be allowed to go forward with it.

A judge can shoot the name down, as in the Nutella case. The Independent reports the same court ruled out the name "Fraise" for another child. Fraise typically means "strawberry" but can also mean something more derogatory as part of a slang phrase. 


Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:09:12 -0500

10 things to know about Google Fiber

Channel 9 has learned Google and city leaders will be making a major announcement Tuesday afternoon.

Charlotte is one of a select group of cities considered for an expansion of the high-speed internet service Google Fiber.

Google has already rolled out the service in Kansas City, Austin and Provo, Utah.

Here are 10 things to know about Google Fiber:

1. What is Google Fiber?

Google Fiber is offering an Internet connection speed 100 times faster than today's basic broadband, paired with crystal clear high definition TV.

2.  When did Google Fiber start?

In 2011, Google launched a trail in Palo Alto, California. On March 30 of the same year, Kansas City was selected as the first city to receive Google Fiber.

3.  Where is Google Fiber now?

Right now Google Fiber is only in three cities in the U.S.: Austin, Kansas City and Provo. 

4.  Is Google Fiber expanding?

Google Fiber is in discussions with 34 cities in 9 metro areas around the U.S. including Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose.

5. How fast is Google Fiber?

One gigabit per second (Gbps) is a 1000 megabits per second (Mbps) connection. A gigabit is 100 times faster than the Internet connection that most Americans have today, allowing you to get what you want instantaneously. With Google Fiber you may not have to wait on things buffering anymore.

6. What is a Fiber Space?

A Fiber Space is a storefront where customers can go to experience what a gigbit is like, ask questions about Fiber and sign up for service.

7. Are there any caps on data?

No. There are no caps or limits to the amount of data you can send or receive.

8. Can you use Wi-Fi with Google Fiber?

Yes. Both the network box and the TV box included advanced Wi-Fi to give you access to Google Fiber throughout your home.

9. How much is it?

Google has not disclosed pricing, but in Kansas City, the first city where it offered service, it charges $70 per month, plus local taxes and fees. HD cable TV is available in Kansas City for an addition $50 per month.

10. Does the TV service include DVR?

Google Fiber includes a DVR, which is called a “Storage Box,” that can record up to eight shows at a time and includes 500 hours of HD storage.

*Information provided by

Published: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:13:42 -0500