Decarbonization: The Divestment Death Cycle

Rob West, founder of Thunder Said Energy – an energy consulting firm, understands that the total decarbonization of the energy industry will be fueled by political attitudes around the world over the next few decades. However, West argues that proponents of ESG investing fail to understand that this transition will involve massive investment in fossil fuels and cooperation with villainized oil majors. He explains his framework for total decarbonization of the energy industry by 2050, and highlights the new technologies and investment vehicles that will be necessary to drive the transition. Filmed on October 18, 2019 in New York.

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Sports and General News

Death toll climbs in worsening measles outbreak in Samoa

Wellington, New Zealand — Authorities said Monday that a measles epidemic sweeping through Samoa continues to worsen with the death toll rising to 25, all but one of them young children. 

“We still have a big problem at hand,” Samoa’s Director General of Health Leausa Take Naseri said in a video statement.

He said more than 140 new cases of people contracting the virus had been recorded within the past day, bringing the total to about 2,200 cases since the outbreak began last month. He said there are about 20 critically ill children who remain in hospital intensive care units.

Trending News

Samoa declared a state of emergency nine days ago, closing all its schools, banning children from public gatherings and mandating that everybody get vaccinated. Teams of people have been traveling the country administering thousands of vaccines.

The government also shut down a private clinic and is investigating how hundreds of vaccines were taken without authorization and then sold for a fee.

The median age of those who have died is 13 months, according to government figures. The deaths include 24 children under the age of 5, 11 of whom were infants under 12 months. The other person who died was in their 30s.

In all, 679 people have been admitted to Samoan hospitals with the disease, accounting for two-thirds of all recent hospital admissions. A majority have been discharged, with about 183 remaining in hospitals.

“These hospitals are not designed to deal with this,” Dr. Scott Wilson told Newshub in the capital, Apia. “The minute you get hospitals running at 200 to 300 percent capacity – I think it speaks for itself. It’s incredibly serious.”

Figures from the World Health Organization and UNICEF indicate that measles immunization rates among Samoan infants have fallen steeply from over 70% in 2013 to under 30% last year.

Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccine expert at New Zealand’s University of Auckland, said the Samoan government halted its immunization program for several months last year after two infants died from a medical mishap involving a vaccine.

Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand have also reported outbreaks of measles but on a smaller scale than in Samoa. American Samoa, which has declared a public health emergency, is requiring that travelers from Samoa and Tonga prove they have been vaccinated or are immune from measles before being allowed into the U.S. territory.

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World – CBSNews.com

White House and U.S. official’s wife over teen’s death in U.K.

Nearly three months after Harry Dunn was killed in a head on collision in England, lawyers for his family are suing the White House in the 19-year-old’s death. The family told CBS News they’re pursuing a civil suit against the Trump administration, as well as Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an American official who admitted to causing the car crash.

Harry’s stepsister, Larna Harber, explained why the family is taking it to court, a step they hoped they would never have to take, CBS News correspondent Imtiaz Tyab reports.

“In simple words: get her back on the plane to the UK. Donald Trump has the authorities to do that and I can’t understand why they’re not,” she said. “She’s a mom of three children — what example is this setting to her three children? … It just seems wrong. I don’t understand why when something seems so simple to us.”

Sacoolas’ immunity is, of course, a complex issue — one that reached the highest levels of government in the U.K. and led Harry’s parents all the way to the White House, where they say they were “shocked” when President Trump asked them to meet with Sacoolas who was in an adjoining room.

They declined that meeting, saying they would only meet with her in the U.K. and only in the presence of grief counselors. That of course still hasn’t happened.

The family said it will accuse the administration of “lawless misconduct” and will also be seeking damages. CBS News reached out to Sacoolas’ lawyers and is waiting for a reply.

This legal battle is the latest chapter in what can only be described as an extraordinary campaign led by Harry Dunn’s parents. A campaign for justice that isn’t over.

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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World – CBSNews.com

The search for answers in Colo. mom’s shooting death

Produced by Lindsey Schwartz, Lauren Clark, Alec Sirken, Chuck Stevenson, Chris Ritzen and Doug Longhini

[This story previously aired on October 22, 2016. It was updated on August 24, 2019.]

EVANS, Colo. — “It is incredibly unbelievable to see your kid lying in a bed with a bullet hole through them,” said Jenna Fox.

The pain is always there for Jenna Fox and adoptive father Joel Raguindin over the death of their daughter, 28-year-old Ashley Fallis, in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2012.

“After she died, even the day after she died, I — in my mind, I couldn’t comprehend that I would not speak to her every day,” Fox said of the daughter she described as “vivacious — full of life, funny.”

Ashley Fallis and her children
Ashley Fallis and her children Joel Raguindin

Ashley, they say, would never leave her three kids — Madelynn, Jolie, and Blake, all under 10 years old. It’s unimaginable.

“She just loved her family, and she loved life,” Fox told “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty. “She would never do anything like this.  

Fox says that she and her daughter were extremely close.

“To be honest, they were like best friends,” said Raguindin.

Ashley married her high school sweetheart soon after graduation. They had two daughters, but that marriage quickly fell apart. In April 2007, she met Tom Fallis. He seemed responsible, and ready for a family.

“And it seemed like their relationship progressed really quickly,” said Raguindin.

Just months into their relationship, Ashley became pregnant.

“I think– it was a way for them to feel more connected to each other in too short of a period of time,” said Fox.

They had a son, Blake. Two weeks after he was born, the couple married. Soon, Tom Fallis also adopted the girls after their birth father gave up his parental rights. Ashley’s family felt it was all moving too fast.

“We were not happy about that, and we had actually tried to talk Ashley out of it,” Raguindin said.

Tom and Ashley Fallis
Tom and Ashley Fallis Jenna Fox

Ashley and Tom Fallis had only known each other a short time. Her parents say they began to notice disturbing aspects of Tom’s personality.

“I didn’t like — his mentality of — being right all the time and fighting all the time and — the aggression,” said Fox.

Tom and Ashley settled in the small town of Evans, about an hour north of Denver. Ashley worked as a respiratory therapist, and Tom took a job as a corrections officer with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, working at the local prison.

“Joel and I were like, ‘Pfff, that’s the perfect job for someone who has an ego that needs to tell people what to do,'” Fox said. “I think he was a very insecure person and he wanted total control of her.”

“Do you think you were a threat to Tom?” Moriarty asked Fox.

“Absolutely,” she replied. “I was the one person that he could not isolate Ashley against.”

Ashley was caught in the middle and the pressure on her only increased when Blake — still a toddler — was diagnosed with a chronic brain condition that required Ashley’s constant attention. It all took a stressful toll on Ashley and their marriage.

“At any time during that, did you feel your daughter was depressed?” Moriarty asked.

“No, I think she was anxious and she was concerned and she would — had a lot on her plate and — I think overwhelmed,” Fox replied.

“I would say that they were definitely going through some hard times,” said Raguindin.   

The stress was so great that they even considered divorce. But when talking to police after Ashley’s death, Tom Fallis insisted that things were on the mend as the holidays approached:

Tom Fallis to police [crying]:  We were doing so good.

They were planning to host a New Year’s Eve party, and Ashley even thought she had recently become pregnant.  

Tom Fallis to police: When we found out, when she had that positive test, it was like, all right, it’s like we finally, like, got over everything.

She stopped taking medications out of precaution, and then, on the day of the party, Fallis says Ashley began to bleed and believed she had miscarried.

Tom Fallis to police: So she was kinda down today.

But Fallis says they forged ahead with the party and as the night went on, Fox  says that the friction between her and Fallis began to surface.

“I always knew that Tom hated me,” she said.

As the party was winding down, Fallis flew into a rage when he overheard one of the guests, Fox’s brother, offering Ashley marijuana:

Tom Fallis to police: I told Ashley, I was like, “You don’t need to get high.”  I was like, “If whatever happened today with the miscarriage,” I was like, “It happened.” … I was like, you know what? F— your mom. F— everybody. Let it go.

As Fox and Raguindin were leaving the party, they saw Fallis, still upset, go into the bedroom and slam the door. 

Ashley followed them outside. It was around 12:40 a.m. when they said goodbye.

“And what was Ashley’s demeanor like?  Was she upset?” Moriarty asked Fox.

“No, she’s kinda, like, ‘Whatever.’  Like, ‘This is normal. This is Tom,'” she replied.

“We were the last ones to see Tom Fallis in a fit of rage,” Raguindin said. “A fit of rage. Our daughter giving us hugs and goodbye kisses, and her standing on the front porch waving goodbye, and that’s the last we saw of our daughter.”

Ashley’s autopsy shows that she didn’t smoke marijuana that night, but Fallis says that after she put the kids to bed, Ashley came into the bedroom defiant.

Tom Fallis to police: She’s like, “F— you.  If I want to get high, I’ll get high.” …I’m like, “Do whatever you want to.”

As Fallis tells it, he was in their closet to change clothes, when suddenly he heard the sound of a gun being loaded from across the room.

Tom Fallis to police: She has a .9mm Taurus.  She keeps it under her mattress.  …she was behind the side of the bed. She was low.

He says it all happened so quickly. He was on his way out of the closet — closing the door and asking Ashley what she was doing — when he heard a “pop.”

Tom Fallis to police:  I heard that and there was smoke.  I just ran over to her and I just grabbed her head.  And I was holdin’ her head and I reached up and I grabbed her phone and I dialed 911.

Tom Fallis to 911: “You’re staying here! You are not leaving me! You are not leaving me!”

Tom Fallis’ panicked call to 911

That 911 call came into the dispatcher at 12:50 a.m.

Tom Fallis to police [crying]: And I opened her eyes and I started talking to her.  I was like, “I — I’m right here. You’re not leaving. You’re not leaving me.”  

It was just 10 minutes after Ashley’s family had left.

“Literally there was two squad cars coming into the neighborhood. We were between the two when we did a U-turn.  It was shocking.  And everything was happening so fast,” said Raguindin.

Joel Raguindin and Jenna Fox didn’t see Ashley again until they got to the hospital. Ashley had severe brain trauma from a gunshot wound to the head.

“Did you get to say goodbye?” Moriarty asked.

“Yes.  Yes.  Yeah, I don’t know how you say goodbye,” Fox replied.

“I’m just gonna ask you point blank, do you believe your daughter committed suicide?”

“No. Not at all. No,” said Fox.

“From the minutes we last saw her alive, we’ve always known that Tom Fallis murdered her,” said Raguindin.

QUESTIONING TOM FALLIS

In the early morning hours of New Years Day 2012, officers from the Evans Police Department responded quickly to the call from the Fallis home. Video of the scene was shot by first responders.

Evans is a peaceful, low-crime community, says Police Chief Rick Brandt.

“I don’t think we’ve had an armed — maybe one or two armed robberies here since I’ve been here in almost eight years,” said Chief Brandt.

Even though Tom Fallis had called in the shooting as a suicide, police brought him in for an interview early that morning, while his parents watched the children.  Investigators were suspicious right away, because neighbors said they heard yelling. Fallis was questioned by Detective Rita Wolf:

Det. Wolf: Then she’s telling you to get off of her.

Tom Fallis: I wasn’t on her.

Det. Wolf: So somebody’s just making that up, Tom?

Tom Fallis: My wife never told me to get off of her.

Det. Wolf: And so, when you went upstairs and you were arguing with her. The wound on the back of her head isn’t where she could do it herself, Tom. It’s not.

Tom Fallis [pounding table]: Oh bulls—!  Bulls— Bulls— Bulls—! I didn’t shoot my wife!

Investigators also searched his body and noticed scratches on his chest. Fallis says he scratched himself:

Tom Fallis to police: Because I just shaved my chest. I just shaved it, because I’ve never done it before … I’m sitting there going like this with my shirt. Because it itches, it scratches.

Fallis gets increasingly agitated as Wolf continues her questioning:

Tom Fallis: You’re accusing me of killing my wife.  I’m not supposed to get upset? That doesn’t make sense…

Det. Wolf: You were upset before this.

Tom Fallis: Yeah, ’cause I’ve been here the whole time. 

Det. Wolf: You are known to blow off the handle, is what they’re saying.

Tom Fallis: I did not shoot Ashley. I did not shoot my wife. I didn’t shoot the mother of my kids.

Colorado man questioned by police following wife’s shooting death

Police also found evidence that raises questions about Tom’s version of events:  pictures seem to have been ripped off the wall, indicating a struggle, divorce papers were found on the dresser, Ashley had bruises on her legs, and Fallis had been angry at the end of the party.

“How angry was he at that point? Moriarty asked Fox.

“He was very angry, very angry.  I mean he said, ‘I wish you would all f—ing die,'” she replied.

Det. Wolf: You were mad at the fact that she was listening to her mom. 

Tom Fallis: I’ve already told you that. 

Det. Wolf: Yeah.

After he was questioned that first morning, Fallis was released without charges.

“Were you expecting Tom to be charged? Moriarty asked.

“Yes. Oh yes, we were shocked. We were shocked that they let him go,” Raguindin said.

Despite their concerns and evidence pointing to possible homicide, the coroner ruled Ashley’s death a suicide on January 5 — four days after it happened and before forensic testing was completed. The case was officially closed two months later. 

“…the fact is, if there was evidence to support a probable cause finding on Tom, we would have arrested him,” Brandt told Moriarty.

Ashley’s parents could hardly believe it.

“She would never do anything like this,” Fox explained. “She has a mission for Blake.”

With Tom Fallis free of any charges, he moved with his children to Indiana to attend graduate school.   Ashley’s parents had lost their daughter, but they didn’t want to also lose their grandchildren.  So they maintained a relationship with Tom.

“He’s in another state with my grandkids. It’s crazy,” Raguindin said. “And we continue to do what we need to do because our love for our grandkids is much, much greater and more powerful than the hatred we have for Tom Fallis.”

But then, two years later, came an unexpected twist.  A local television news reporter began his own investigation.

“It’s not very often that you hear someone confess to murder and get away with it,” said Justin Joseph.

CASE CLOSED? 

In early 2014, Jenna Fox and Joel Raguindin were still convinced their son-in-law, Tom Fallis, murdered their daughter, Ashley, after the New Years party in 2012.

“How would you describe the last two years?” Erin Moriarty asked Fox.

“It’s definitely a roller coaster.  It’s hard to grieve,” she replied.

“But why would he kill her?” Moriarty asked.

“Out of anger,” Fox explained. “I think it’s a high possibility because of the divorce papers, because of everything that was going on.”

But the Evans Police Department did rule Ashley’s death a suicide and closed the case. And it remained closed until reporter Justin Joseph got a call.

“I had a source with law enforcement who called me and said, ‘Something isn’t right about this case,'” said Joseph, who is also a CBS News consultant.

Joseph spent months investigating and interviewing neighbors who had initially spoken to police. In April 2014, he got a major break:

A young next door neighbor, Nick Glover, told Joseph something about Tom Fallis that was not in the police reports.

“I saw him walk out, so we all ducked underneath the window sill, and his parents were standing outside and he’s saying, ‘Omigod I can’t believe I did it’, three or four times…. And then his parents said, ‘What? What are you saying?’  And I remember I heard him … say, ‘I shot her,'” he told Joseph.

Nick Glover said he told that to Evans Police Officer Michael Yates. 

“And he said, ‘Detective Yates sat right here where you’re sitting and heard my story and wrote everything down,'” Joseph told Moriarty.

And then Joseph reported corroboration of Glover’s story. A sheriff’s deputy at the scene came forward, two years later, to tell investigators he also heard Fallis say he shot Ashley.

Nick Glover’s mother, Kathy Glover, also spoke to Joseph, telling him she had gotten a call that night from another neighbor– a teenager named Chelsey Arrigo.  

“And she said, ‘Yeah, Chelsey called me that night right after it happened and said, “Tell me you called police, your neighbor just shot his wife.”‘”

This came as shock, because in Yates’ official police report, he writes that Kathy Glover told him that Arrigo said, “Your neighbor just shot herself” — a major discrepancy.

“So, the Glovers were never presented an opportunity to review their statements. They thought for two years that their statements were correctly recorded.  And they thought that the Evans Police Department simply declined to prosecute. And so they were as shocked as everyone was to learn that the statements were omitted and the statements were changed,” Joseph explained.

“I think it’s a question of one individual’s word against another,” Chief Brandt told Moriarty.

“To this day, Officer Yates insists that Nick Glover never told him that he actually overheard Tom Fallis saying he shot his wife?” Moriarty asked. 

“That’s correct,” said Brandt.

“What about Kathy Glover’s claim, who says that she got a call saying, ‘I hope you’ve called the police, your neighbor just shot his wife.’  Did, in fact, the witness say that to Officer Yates?”

“Not according to Officer Yates,” Brandt told Moriarty.

Still, Chief Brandt can’t explain why his officers failed to do a follow up interview with Chelsey Arrigo. They knew from the very first night she had heard Ashley yelling “get off me.”

“But Chelsey Arrigo was an earwitness,” said Moriarty.

“She was,” Brandt agreed.

“And you didn’t go back and interview her. Why not?” Moriarty asked.

“I can’t answer that.  But I think that was an error,” Brandt replied.

“A serious error, wasn’t it?” Moriarty pressed.

“I would agree with that,” said Brandt.

Ashley’s parents believe the omissions are part of a cover up by Evans Police.   

“Evans Police Department decided to cover up her death as a suicide from the very beginning,” Raguindin said. “Now the big question is, why?”

Chief Brandt insists there was no cover up— that his officers just made some mistakes.  

“There’s this allegation that there was some kind of cover up. OK, if that happened, somebody’s gonna find it,” he said. “To my knowledge, none of that happened.” 

fallisclues.jpg
Inside the couple’s bedroom after the shooting

But Brandt can’t really explain why his department concluded so quickly — just days after Ashley’s death — that she committed suicide, especially when there was so much circumstantial evidence pointing to foul play. 

The pictures, the divorce papers — numerous witnesses at the party reported that he was angry that night. 

“Aren’t all those inconsistencies very troubling?” Moriarty asked the police chief.

“I’m not informed to that level of detail on cases. I get kind of overviews, briefings. Where we’re at. So much of the detail that you’re talking about now, in hindsight, after reviewing it, yes — those draw questions,” said Brandt.

Chief Brandt says his less-experienced officers called in the CBI, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, for assistance, and then, later, closed their own investigation.

“So, I mean that’s a really important question.  Why would you close the case when you still have lab results pending?” Moriarty asked Brandt.

“I think that was a mistake. I don’t think you do close a case when there’s lab results pending,” he replied.

“So why was it closed?”

“I can’t answer that question,” Brandt replied.

“But this is your department,” Moriarty noted.

“It is my department, but I don’t run investigations,” he said.

In fact, Chief Brandt says he didn’t know there were questions about the investigation until Justin Joseph’s reports two years later.

“You know, the first time I became aware of problems or issues with this case was when Fox 31 called me for an interview.  And that’s frankly the first time I started even reviewing the report in any kind of detail,” he said.

Justin Joseph’s reporting got the case reopened and reinvestigated by a larger, neighboring police department in Fort Collins – all with the full cooperation of Chief Brandt.

“This new information includes alleged eye and earwitness accounts, that we were previously unaware of, and are of a serious enough nature to warrant further investigation of this case,” Chief Brandt addressed reporters.

“I feel like it’s a relief.  It’s been a lot of work, but I’m really relieved by it,” Fox said. “I mean, it doesn’t bring Ashley back by any sense at all, but I think I just want the truth out there.”

What did Tom Fallis think of the developments? Joseph surprised him during a return trip to the area:

Justin Joseph: Wonder if we could talk to you about the death of your wife.

Tom Fallis: I’m not talking to you about this — the investigation was already done and the investigation was already ruled she committed suicide.

Curiously, more than two years after her death, Fallis produced for police what he said were suicide notes that Ashley had written. One said:

“Dear Tom…. I’m sorry for your pain… I am a failure at everything…  I find myself not even liking my children. I do love them; I just can’t take this life any longer.” 

“I think the most curious thing about those letters is that when … we were told it was a suicide, these letters never appeared. These letters just came recently,” Fox said. “If there was an investigation that was going on for me, and I had information, I would … give it to the police at that point.”

“What I would like to see happen is truth and justice,” Raguindin added. “I would like to see Tom charged with the murder of my daughter.”

Tom and Ashley Fallis
Tom and Ashley Fallis Family photo

In November 2014, a grand jury indicted Tom Fallis for the murder of his wife. The next day he was arrested in Indiana. After three years of freedom, thinking this was all behind him, Fallis suddenly found himself in jail and separated from his children, who were now being cared for by his parents.

“…it was like an answered prayer and a weight just being lifted off,” Raguindin said of Fallis’ arrest. “And to just feel that sense of justice has taken place.”

In March 2016, the trial begins. Tom Fallis is ready to put on a vigorous defense.

CONFLICTING THEORIES

With her first words to the jury, Tom Fallis’ defense attorney Iris Eytan came out fighting for her client.

“Tom Fallis did not kill his wife and mother of their three children,” she told the court. “Ashley Fallis committed suicide on January 1st, 2012,” she addressed the court. “Ashley Fallis was a beautiful woman, but she had a terrible pain inside … She had documented mental illness, was impulsive and self-destructive and shot herself in the instant of her crisis with her own handgun.”

And surprisingly, the defense used the prosecution’s own witnesses to make their case: that Ashley, already a volatile personality, was drinking heavily the night of the party.

“She was intoxicated, she had just suffered a miscarriage, she was a pressure cooker,” Eytan continued in court.

Ashley’s uncle, cross examined by another defense attorney, admitted there was a history of suicide in the family:

Dru Nielsen: Both your mother and your brother died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head.               

John Schmitzer: That’s correct.

However, Ashley’s therapist, Dr. Russell Johnson, told the jury that he did not consider her to be a danger to herself:

Prosecutor Ben Whitney: When you met with her in December 2011, did she seem depressed to you?

Dr. Russell Johnson: No she did not.

Prosecutor Ben Whitney: Did she seem suicidal to you?

Dr. Russell Johnson: No she did not.

But when pushed by the defense, Dr. Johnson acknowledges that he was unaware of all the medications Ashley was taking — including prescriptions she received from other doctors.

Defense attorney Iris Eytan: …you didn’t actually know how many pills of Seroquel, and how many milligrams she was taking in December 2011, do you?

Dr. Russell Johnson: No.

Ashley had apparently withheld other crucial information from the doctor, including those alleged suicide notes she had written to Tom:

Defense attorney Iris Eytan: And you didn’t know… that she had written a second suicide noted dated July 24, 2011, correct? She didn’t tell you that, did she?

Dr. Russell Johnson: No.

Defense attorney Iris Eytan: Would all these things, Dr. Johnson, change your thinking about Ms. Fallis’ state of mind?

Dr. Russell Johnson: Yes.

But, when Jenna Fox was questioned by prosecutor Ben Whitney, she repeated what she and her husband, Joel Raguindin, have said all along:  that Ashley was fine throughout the party and that Tom was the one who erupted at the end the night.

Jenna Fox: He came up the stairs and came right in front of me, and told me he “f——g hated us all and wished we would all die.” And went into their bedroom and slammed the door.

Prosecutor Ben Whitney: What was Ashley’s demeanor like?

Jenna Fox: She seemed fine. She just seemed frustrated, maybe embarrassed.

And, there are those key witnesses that Justin Joseph spoke to following Ashley’s death: Nick Glover, the next-door neighbor who said he heard Tom Fallis confess, tells the jury he remembers it all very clearly.

Nick Glover: What I heard him saying, “Oh my god. Oh my god. What have I done? Oh my god, what have I done?” …And he proceeded to say “I shot my wife.”  

Prosecutor Anthea Carrasco: How certain are you, or are you not, that the voice that you’re hearing is Tom Fallis’ voice that you’re seeing standing in that quadrant of your driveway?

Nick Glover: I — 100 percent. …I wouldn’t forget, or not hear something like that and not remember it.

But Tom’s parents deny that conversation ever happened.

Defense attorney Dru Nielsen: Did you ever hear Tom confess at that time, to shooting Ashley?

Jim Fallis: Never.

And others who were right there with Nick that night say they also didn’t hear it. Nick’s mother, Kathy Glover, then tells the jury about that 1 a.m. phone call she got from neighbor Chelsey Arrigo.

When I answered the phone, she said ‘Please tell me you called the police. …Because your neighbor just shot his wife,'” Kathy Glover testified.

But her story is undercut when Chelsey Arrigo herself takes the stand and says she doesn’t even remember the call:

Chelsey Arrigo: All I remember was hearing some arguing. But that’s it.

Prosecutor Ben Whitney:  Do you recall any particular statements?

Chelsey Arrigo: No.

Prosecutor Ben Whitney: Do you recall telling Kathy Glover in a phone conversation that same early morning, “I heard her screaming, ‘Get off me. Get off me.’?”

Chelsey Arrigo: I do not.

She admits that she was intoxicated that night, and fails to corroborate any of the significant statements that investigators say she gave after the shooting. Still, Weld County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Graves also says he overheard Tom Fallis confess to killing Ashley.

“I heard him screaming, ‘I can’t believe I shot her.’ And ‘I can’t believe she’s dead,'” Graves testified.

But his reliability as a witness is also put in doubt when he admits that he didn’t notify his superiors until two years after the shooting—after the case was re-opened: 

Prosecutor Anthea Carrasco: …do you draft a report about what you heard?

Chris Graves: No ma’am. …It was Evans’ case.

Prosecutor Anthea Carrasco: Is that something you feel like you should have done?

Chris Graves: Absolutely.

The forensic testimony from the night of the shooting is crucial. The state’s expert, Dan Gilliam, who spent 400 hours examining the case, explains to the jury where Ashley’s head had to have been when the fatal shot went off.

“She has to be down in this position – somewhere like this,” Gilliam explained as he bent to his knees in a model of the Fallis bedroom. “…the rod going through my head has to line up with this rod.”

But on cross examination, his conclusion seems to favor not the prosecution’s case, but the defense:

Defense attorney Iris Eytan: The most probable result of Ashley Fallis’ shot to her head was a result of it being self-inflicted, correct?

Dan Gilliam: I believe so.

Defense attorney Iris Eytan: So, suicide? Correct?

Dan Gilliam: Yes.

To counter this, the prosecution calls a second, nationally-renowned forensic expert, Jon Priest, who tells the jury that he concluded the opposite— that Tom had to be near Ashley when she was shot.

“My ultimate opinion is that at the time the shot was fired, Tom and Ashley Fallis were in contact with each other, or near each other,” Priest testified.

Priest suggests to the jury that the evidence shows the two of them could have been struggling as the gun went off.

“We could be struggling over this firearm, to where I’ve got it up against her head, threatening yelling, whatever,” Priest explained, demonstrating in the model of the bedroom. “I could have it here, she could be reaching up and grab it at the time of the discharge. Firearm goes off, I could drop the firearm, pull her into my hip turning to create this stain and then come back down here onto the floor.”

So, was it murder? Or did Ashley Fallis take her own life? Faced with conflicting theories, the jury will have to weigh the often contradictory evidence.

“Had she struggled at points in her past? Sure. Have a lot of people? Absolutely. Does that mean she committed suicide? No,” Prosecutor Anthea Carrasco addressed the court. “She was fine … He’s in a rage. …That’s the man that was in that house. That’s what’s going on in his head, that’s what’s going on in his heart, and that is the person that was in that bedroom with Ashley Fallis.”

“They have to prove that he had her gun, beyond a reasonable doubt. Held a gun to her head, beyond a reasonable doubt. And pulled the trigger, beyond a reasonable doubt. You all must be convinced of that,” Iris Eytan told jurors.

Tom Fallis’ future hangs in the balance.

A VERDICT

“To see him in the courtroom I felt like I had — we had a shot of hope that justice would be served,” said Joel Raguindin.

Tom Fallis in court during his trial
Tom Fallis during his trial for the 2012 murder of his wife, Ashley

As key witnesses for the prosecution, Ashley’s parents were not allowed to view much of the trial outside of their own testimony. But from what they heard from those inside the courtroom, the case against Tom Fallis might not be the slam dunk they thought it would be.

But Jenna and Joel remained hopeful as the case went to the jury; however, they soon got a jolt.

“The jurors were out how long?” Moriarty asked.

“Three-and-a-half hours,” Fox replied.

“Three-and-a-half hours, and an hour of that was their lunch,” said Raguindin.

“Did that seem right, three-and-a-half hours?” Moriarty asked.

“No,” said Raguindin.

Four years after Ashley’s death, the judge read the jury’s decision:

Judge: We the jury find the defendant Thomas Fallis not guilty of murder in the second degree and all lesser included offense.

Tom Fallis was free.

“Tell me that moment when you heard the verdict,” said Moriarty

“Shock,” said Raguindin. “I was just, like, here – ‘Tom just got away with murder again,'” said Fox.

For Ashley’s parents, the speed of the verdict made it even worse.

“To me, they’re talkin’ about the — the life of my daughter and the well-bein’ of my grandchildren. And for them to make that decision — ” said Raguindin.

“That quickly—” Moriarty said.

“–is sickening to me. It really is. It’s– it’s– it’s haunting,” he continued.

“It is a lot of information. That you could spend three-and-a-half hours not — I don’t get it. I really don’t get it,” said Fox.

Two of the jurors, Dillon Pierce and Davana Mijares, were willing to explain their verdict.

“I did realize immediately that — there are lives at stake here. Not only Tom’s life, but the children as well,” Mijares told Moriarty. “…if he was guilty I was looking for that. …I looked at him, I studied him and I just couldn’t see it. But I did want to find him guilty if he did it … I wanted to be that voice for Ashley if he did it.”

Jurors describe their verdict in the Tom Fallis murder trial

But jurors say that in the isolation of the courtroom, the case seemed straightforward. They believed Ashley Fallis was in a dire mental state, which led her to take her own life.

“Was this a case of reasonable doubt for you all? Is this just there wasn’t enough evidence to go, or are you absolutely convinced you know what happened?” Moriarty asked the jurors.

“I’m convinced,” said Dillon Pierce.

“I think it was a perfect storm just waiting to happen,” said Mijares.

Mijares believes, though, that the truth of what happened may not have been what either side presented in the courtroom.

“I think that the argument that they had that night was probably a little bit more intense. …But I don’t think that he did it. …I don’t think that he actually pulled the trigger,” Mijares continued. “There was nothing there that said Tom was holding the gun. I just – I — I just couldn’t put it there.”

And, they question how the case even made it to trial.

“I don’t think there was enough evidence to reopen the case. I think the case was reopened just due to … pressure from the media,” said Mijares.

“I feel that’s what Jenna Fox and Joel Raguindin were out to do,” Pierce said. “They were out to get justice for Ashley. …They needed some media attention to reopen the case.”

“For me, my job as a reporter were to get as many facts out there and to get those to the jury. …And I certainly have no regrets about the integrity of our reporting,” Justin Joseph said. “But in the end … the police department and the Weld County Sheriff did not do their jobs the night this happened … they didn’t have what they needed to … be able to decide whether or not Tom Fallis pulled the trigger. …And from that standpoint, the jury made the right decision.”

Fallis case: Local reporter on becoming part of the story

Tom Fallis declined to speak with “48 Hours.”

The verdict changes nothing for Ashley’s family. They still believe Ashley would never take her own life and leave her children behind.

“Is it at all possible that she just — after her husband got so angry with you she just couldn’t handle the stress and she took her life?” Moriarty asked Ashley’s parents.

Jenna Fox and Joel Raguindin
Jenna Fox and Joel Raguindin speak out to “48 Hours”

“No way,” Raguindin replied. “Absolutely not.”  

“I don’t think so,” Fox said. “No.”

As they wrestled with their frustrations after the verdict, Ashley’s parents could barely contain their emotions during their interview with Moriarty …

“I know you’re pissed, but don’t…” Fox said to Raguindin.  “I’m f—–g pissed goddamnit,” he replied and left the room.

…especially because of how they believe their daughter was portrayed in court.

“They made her look bad by callin’ her a spitfire, and this jury fell for it?” Fox said in tears. “They were up there callin’ her a spitfire like it was this bad thing. And it just — that’s what he used to call me — ‘My spitfire—'”

“It’s a person—it’s a person who loves life, has a passion for life,” said Raguindin.

“I think Jenna Fox is– is angry, understandably,” said Mijares.

“She doesn’t have any power in this situation. She keeps looking for this — for a way to take back control of what’s happening. And there’s no power… and that — that sucks,” said Pierce.

“I mean, I’m going to say — we’re not parents in denial. I mean, that’s just not the case,” said Fox.

“Every day this is the battle, is that — we live with — we’re having to live with what the jurors came up with and it is not easy. But we are also — we, me and Jenna, are both fighters.  And the truth is the truth. And it always will be in our minds, in our hearts,” an emotional Raguindin said.

Ashley and Blake Fallis
Ashley and Blake Fallis Joel Raguindin

What lies ahead for their relationship with their three grandchildren – now back in Tom’s care – remains unclear, but they are committed to preserving Ashley’s memory in the childrens’ minds.

“Madelynn, Jolie and Blake, I wanna talk to you about your mother. She loved you guys wholeheartedly—wholeheartedly,” Joel Raguindin said. “She loved life … And that — because she loved life so much, Erin, that’s why I know that my daughter would never take her own life.”          

The children remain in Tom Fallis’ custody in Indiana.

Jenna Fox and Joel Raguindin now have visitation rights.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

U.S. – CBSNews.com

Mysterious S.C. death probe reopened after “48 Hours investigation

Produced by Liza Finley and Ryan N. Smith 

[This story first aired on March 2. It was updated on Aug. 3.]

In 2015, a team of “48 Hours” producers were filming in Charleston, South Carolina, on another case when they met a mother who told them a story they couldn’t stop thinking about — a mystery that has haunted the small town of Moncks Corner since 2008.

Kadie Major, who was married, was found dead alongside a section of railroad tracks. Her little daughter was found drowned in a pond 100 feet away. Back in 2008, Rick Ollic, then with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, was in charge of the investigation. Ollic believed it was a murder-suicide and says a note found in Kadie’s pocket was a piece of compelling evidence showing that she was delusional at the time.

Kadie’s family never believed she was delusional or that she would take her own life.

Her mother, Vicky Hall, vowed to get to the bottom of what happened and pressured investigators to the point where she says they “absolutely avoided me.”

Hall embarked on her own investigation — determined to show her daughter did not throw herself in front of a train.

“I remember, I was just walking outside by myself, and I just looked up and I said, ‘Kadie and River, I promise you I will do whatever it takes to find the truth,'” Hall tells correspondent Peter Van Sant.

Over the next several years Hall and “48 Hours” stayed in touch and started investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding the two deaths — which ultimately led to the reopening of a closed case.

A decade after her daughter’s death, Hall finally got her chance to talk with detectives about her case and “48 Hours” was there.

THE MYSTERY BEGINS

Vicky Hall: Before I fell asleep … I remember … that train goin’ by and … for some reason, that just burned in my head. And I never knew that my daughter … and my granddaughter … would have been laying there, dead.

Every night for the past 11 years, that train has come barreling down the tracks behind Vicky Hall’s horse farm in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, near Charleston. And every night the forlorn cry of its whistle brings her grief roaring back.

Vicky Hall:  It’s just still hard for me to have to believe that that happened to them. … and the hardest thing, I guess, is to know how much they suffered.

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“Kadie just loved River Lynn with all of her heart. She was so proud of her, she loved being a mother,” Vicky Hall says of her daughter, seen in home video with River Lynn. “She was just a person that was so full of life.” Vicky Hall

From day one, Hall did not believe her daughter Kadie, 5 months pregnant, drowned her baby daughter, River Lynn, then jumped in front of a train.

Vicky Hall: A pregnant woman doesn’t walk three-fourths a mile down a railroad track in pitch dark night. … There’s no way Kadie would have ever, ever killed River or herself. … I believe this is a cold-blooded murder.

Rick Ollic, who led the investigation back in 2008, didn’t see it that way.

Peter Van Sant: You believed that she was walking along these railroad tracks carrying her daughter River with suicide on her mind?

Rick Ollic: That’s what we believe.

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Rick Ollic says the note found in Kadie Major’s pocket was a piece of compelling evidence showing that she was delusional at the time. Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office

Ollic says they found a note in Kadie’s pocket which he believes is compelling evidence that she was delusional — obsessed with reading about end of the world conspiracies on the internet. Among the scribblings was this: the Antichrist could be a woman.

Rick Ollic: There were some things that were in that note that made me believe that she was buying into this spiritual warfare that she had going on in her life.

Vicky Hall: I just remember them looking at me in the eye and saying, “Your daughter had a mental illness, and she did this.”

Officially, the manner of 10-month-old River Lynn’s death was undetermined.  But unofficially, investigators believed Kadie murdered her — a branding that almost destroyed Hall, says her brother Chad Dillinger.

Chad Dillinger: She’d call me in the middle of the night. … She’d just scream for hours … like the worst death scream that you can — you can’t even imagine.

Vicky Hall: I couldn’t hardly function, couldn’t keep running the farm well. I didn’t want to go to the grocery store because everywhere I would go to I would see them. . it just made no sense that they weren’t here. Nothing made sense.

Desperate for answers, Hall started her own investigation: gathering documents, keeping meticulous notes — anything to find the truth. 

Chad Dillinger: She kept fighting and fighting and fighting and fighting … She wouldn’t let anybody tell her different. It’s really took its toll on her.

Vicky Hall: I turned to alcohol. … trying to numb my pain … but actually all it did is make everything worse

With the help of some good friends and a strong dose of faith, Hall stopped drinking.

Vicky Hall: I remember saying, “OK, Vicky, you can either let this kill you and destroy you … or you can try to … make Kadie and River proud of you and pull it together.”

Hall got her horse business back on track, then did something she never thought she’d do with the paperwork from her private investigation.  

Vicky Hall:  I couldn’t fight no more for a while. I had to grieve and take time for me for a while. Some friends just said, “Vicky, just put everything in the box. Put all your papers in a box and stop looking at it and put it in God’s hands.”

Vicky Hall: So, I put everything back in the box and I closed it and I locked it. … and I put it in my closet.

But Hall never forgot that promise to clear Kadie’s name and show the world who her daughter truly was: a kind-hearted 26-year-old who loved horses and her family.

Ken Dillinger | Kadie’s uncle:  It was a smile, I mean there was a perma-grin on her face, and … It was always lit up, always lit up.

Sarah Watford: She was better than most people — just had a giving heart, just a true genuine person.

Sarah Watford is Kadie’s little sister. Kadie, 12 years older, was like a second mother.

Sarah Watford: I just think of what a good mom she was and how I want to be a good mom like her. …And she’s the person that I want to be.

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Kadie, holding River Lynn, and Aaron Major. The couple, who were high school sweethearts, married in 2003. Vicky Hall

Peter Van Sant: What were Kadie’s dreams in this life?

Vicky Hall:  She was living the perfect life for her. That’s what Kadie wanted to be, was a mother, have children, be a wife, take care of her house, cook, garden … She was livin’ her dream. She really was.

Kadie had married the love of her life in 2003, her high school sweetheart Aaron Major.

Vicky Hall: they really were just like best friends.

Aaron went to work for Kadie’s dad, who was a housepainter.  She settled in as a homemaker. In 2007, they welcomed River Lynn.

Vicky Hall: And she had this beautiful little smile that made her just look like an angel.

Hall says Kadie had never been happier.

Vicky Hall: She was so excited about having children and she wanted a big family.

Not long after River was born, Kadie got pregnant again; this time, she learned, with a son. She was so excited, she gave the unborn child a name:  Aadon.

Peter Van Sant: What was her reaction to that?

Sarah Watford: She just couldn’t stop smiling.

But, just one day later, that perfect world came crashing down.

Hall and her husband Jeff were awakened at 1:44 a.m., when Aaron suddenly showed up at their home.

Vicky Hall: I remember telling myself, “Oh My God … what is wrong? Why is Aaron here sitting on the porch?  He’s never come in the middle of the night.” 

Hall says he told her when they arrived home after Aaron finished working, Kadie started acting paranoid and stood in the doorway with River, refusing to enter.

Vicky Hall: He said when Kadie got home she said she had a premonition that someone was gonna kill her … He said, “She’s standing there shaking and trembling … And she wanted to go get a hotel.”

Vicky Hall: And he said, “I told her let me go take a shower. … and then I’ll bring you wherever you want.” … he said he went and took a shower.” He heard her truck start … and she’s gone.

Then, Hall says, out of the blue, Aaron suddenly started going off on a string of bizarre conspiracy theories.

Vicky Hall: Like the world’s coming to an end and, you know, the government blew up the Twin Towers. … I … asked him … why are you talking about this?

Vicky Hall: … that’s the moment everything changed — that moment.

STRANGE BEHAVIOR

Kadie and River Lynn had now been missing for more than 12 hours in stormy, icy conditions. Vicky Hall and Kadie’s husband, Aaron Major, set out searching for her truck at local motels and on the back roads of Moncks Corner but Hall says, something seemed off with Aaron.

Vicky Hall: I’m looking at every car coming … trying to see her truck. … and he’s just not looking … and I’m like to myself, “Why is he not looking? Why is he not looking?”

Then, the usually quiet Aaron started talking — not about Kadie, but about those same strange theories. 

Vicky Hall: Still that same stuff about the Twin Towers just being a conspiracy.

Back at Kadie’s house, Sarah Watford was waiting alone in case her sister came home. She noticed a highlighted Bible passage on the kitchen table.

Peter Van Sant: What did you read in those papers?

Sarah Watford: The thing that that stands out that I read that I will never forget is that the first born son is to be sacrificed. … I knew something wasn’t right.

Frightened, Watford immediately called her mom to come get her. When Hall and Aaron picked her up, both mother and daughter noticed something that would become etched in their memories: Aaron’s hand.  

Vicky Hall: He had lifted his hand up … And I’m like, “Oh my God, why is his hand so big?” … What I didn’t know at that moment is Sarah saw it, too

Sarah Watford: It just almost looked like a monster’s hand, you know? It just looked fat. His whole fingers was swollen.

Was it connected to Kadie’s disappearance? Hall filed that detail and the other red flags in the back of her mind and went out searching on her own.  Then, at 11:31 a.m., came a call from Aaron that would alter the course of her life.

Vicky Hall: He said … “I heard on the radio that there’s, uh, an accident. A train hit a vehicle on Oakley Road and two people are dead.”

Hall headed straight to Oakley Road, but there was no train, no vehicle, no sign of a collision. Then, as she was leaving, she spotted Kadie’s truck – undamaged — about 500 feet from the tracks.

Vicky Hall [at railroad tracks]: And I just fell on my knees and collapsed,’ cuz I knew it wouldn’t make any sense. Her truck should never be here, right here.

Aaron was her first call.

Peter Van Sant: You tell him that you have found the pickup truck. Does he cry out?

Vicky Hall: No. Not at all.

major-tracks-hero.jpg
Investigators at the  scene where Kadie’s body was found beside the train tracks; her little daughter was found drowned in a pond 100 feet away. Kadie’s truck – undamaged — was found about 500 feet from the tracks. Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office

By then, a forensic team was at the death scene over half a mile down the tracks.  A railroad worker had discovered the bodies around 8:20 that morning. Kadie, they believed, had been struck on her side by some object hanging off the train. She had deep lacerations across her lower abdomen and right thigh.

Rick Ollic of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office delivered the shattering news.

Vicky Hall: Captain Ollic is right there and I’m just looking him in the eye, and I just remember his face. And he told me they were dead. … I’m numb … just totally broken, just totally dead, totally devastated. Totally devastated.

That night, Aaron was asked to give a written statement to authorities. Claiming he was too emotional to write, a detective wrote it for him. There was no mention of a swollen hand.

In his statement, Aaron said she was acting so paranoid “that I couldn’t reason with her… just wanted to leave the home feeling that someone was out to kill her.”  

Aaron told a version of that story to Kadie’s uncles, adding that she was suffering from postpartum psychosis.

But with every telling, crucial details changed. In one story, Aaron said Kadie refused to enter the house because she was panicked, in a state of paranoia. In another version, he says she did go in to feed the baby.

Peter Van Sant: What does that suggest to you, the fact that he’s told different stories?

Ken Dillinger: Pretty much cut and dry that he doesn’t have his stories together of what really happened, and every time he thinks about it, he doesn’t remember what he said.

major-couple.jpg
Kadie and Aaron Major, parents of daughter River Lynn, were expecting a son. Vicky Hall

The family was suspicious. And Sarah Watford, remembering that swollen hand, was convinced that Aaron broke it while killing her sister.

Sarah Watford: It just made me think, like, did he hit his hand on the train … pushing her into the train, or fighting with her? … that’s what made me know in my heart, in my head, that he was involved.

Both Watford and Hall say they had seen Aaron’s injured hand the morning the bodies were discovered. But Ollic’s investigation turned up another explanation: that Aaron injured it two days later at the funeral home when he punched a wall while choosing a coffin.

Rick Ollic: We inquired with the funeral director and she said, “Yes, I witnessed him punch a cinder block wall.”

At first, Aaron tried to make the funeral private, telling Vicky and her family they were not invited.

Vicky Hall: Everything was a fight from the very moment they died to have things done normally.

Mother and daughter were in the same coffin. Miraculously, Kadie’s face was largely undamaged and the family wanted an open casket for Kadie and River. But Hall says Aaron took it a step too far.  

Vicky Hall: He wanted Aadon, the unborn son, displayed publicly for viewing on top of Kadie. … I’m like “Aaron, no.”

That wasn’t the end of his bizarre behavior at the viewing, says Chad Dillinger.

Chad Dillinger: He was just sitting there nonchalantly on the front pew eating McDonald’s. … drinking out of his big McDonald’s cup. 

Peter Van Sant: The dead bodies of his family are right in front of him.

Chad Dillinger: He could reach out and touch ’em. … He never shed a tear, he never came and hugged anybody. It was the sickest thing I ever witnessed in my whole life.

Two days after the funeral, Aaron went in for surgery to mend his broken hand.

The next day, eight days after his wife and baby died under mysterious circumstances, Aaron, with a freshly bandaged hand, was finally brought in to the Sheriff’s Office for questioning:

Aaron Major recounts the night his wife and child vanished

DET. JERRY MERRITHEW: You have anything to do with your wife’s death?

AARON MAJOR: No.

DET. JERRY MERRITHEW: You have anything to do with your child’s death?

AARON MAJOR: No.

DET. JERRY MERRITHEW: If you knew what happened, would you tell us?

AARON MAJOR: Mhm.

But by then it was too late, says private investigator Jessica Sanders. The coroner had already issued a preliminary ruling of suicide, later made permanent.  

Peter Van Sant: How would you describe the quality of the original investigation done?

Jessica Sanders: Horrible … they dropped the ball in every way here.

OPENING PANDORA’S BOX   

By day, Jessica Sanders, the mom, is busy taking care of her children – all five of them. But by night, Jessica Sanders, the private eye, is at the gun range or on the road with cameras and disguises in hot pursuit.

Jessica Sanders: I catch cheaters and anyone who’s lying pretty much.

Peter Van Sant: Is that your specialty — cheating husbands and wives?

Jessica Sanders: Mostly, yes.

Peter Van Sant: How’s business?

Jessica Sanders: Good [laughs]. Business is good.

SANDERS WEB EXTRA

Vicky Hall met Sanders four years after Kadie’s death. She suspected her now ex-husband was having an affair and hired Jessica to investigate.

Jessica Sanders: We became very close.  You know, she had lost Kadie and I had actually lost my mom. And we just — we bonded.

Sanders says she saw Hall through some of her darkest years as she battled to get the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office to take another look at the case — and another look at Aaron Major.

Jessica Sanders: Vicky was really up against the department that had their mind made up. … she always had questions and none of them were answered.

That changed in 2015, seven long years after her daughter’s death. “48 Hours” producers got a tip about Vicky’s case and that box of evidence she had locked up so many years ago. They wanted to know more. 

Vicky Hall: I realized it was time to get started back on the case.

Hall asked her private investigator pal to help. 

Peter Van Sant: Did you open the box?

Jessica Sanders: I did … it was like Pandora’s box … it’s unbelievable at all the information that she had and how badly this case was handled. It didn’t take 30 minutes of looking at it to be in, like, shock.

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Jessica Sander and Vicky Hall in the “war room.” CBS News

Together Sanders and Hall built the “war room.” They covered the walls with timelines and facts about the case, determined to find the truth — whatever that might be.

Vicky Hall: If you can tell me I am wrong, and my daughter really committed suicide … tell me I’m wrong, please … the last thing I wanted was her to die at the hands of her husband.

Vicky Hall: … we could not exclude it, we tried.

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Rick Ollic explains his theory to “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant.  CBS News

Peter Van Sant [at the train tracks]:  So, is your opinion of what happened out here that this essentially was a murder/suicide?

Rick Ollic: That’s my theory…

Rick Ollic: We worked this case for months. We believed we unturned everything there was to unturn at the time.

Rick Ollic, now the chief of police at the Moncks Corner Police Department, maintains he considered Aaron Major a suspect.

Peter Van Sant: Did you suspect foul play?

Rick Ollic: I always suspect foul play until proven otherwise.

But he never found proof that Aaron killed his wife.

Rick Ollic: We were never able to connect the dots.

He says the evidence — Aaron’s statements and that note in Kadie’s pocket with scribblings about the Antichrist — all pointed to a woman in deep psychological turmoil. 

Rick Ollic: There was information that she was going through some type of spiritual warfare in her life.

He believed Aaron’s story that Kadie’s actions were driven by postpartum psychosis. 

Rick Ollic: She was alive when the train struck her … to me it was self-inflicted.

Two months after the suicide ruling, Hall hired a forensic psychologist in the hopes of proving Ollic wrong. But the psychologist’s report said there was not enough evidence to “overcome the presumption of suicide.”

Vicky Hall: I knew she wouldn’t do that, wouldn’t be capable of doing that. But Aaron’s behavior … he’s not acting normal, he’s not acting right. …He’s got a broken hand, talking crazy things that never once came out of Kadie’s mouth.

Kadie and Aaron Major
“She was very happy, she was very excited to have a boy,” says Vicky Hall of her daughter, who was 5 months pregnant when she died. Vicky Hall

As for that note in Kadie’s pocket, Hall believes Kadie was documenting her husband’s internet searches on their family computer.

Vicky Hall: I believe she wrote these notes down on this paper because she was seeing what Aaron was reading … and seeing what he was believing in and it was scaring her and she was just making notes of all the titles on the computer.

Hall and Sanders went to work determined to show that Kadie was not psychotic. They spoke to a dozen witnesses, including Kadie’s Obstetrician Dr. Christine Case who examined her the day before her death.  

Dr. Christine Case: I do not think is — in my professional opinion, that she had any depression or postpartum depression.

Back then, Ollic and his team did not speak to Dr. Case, and Hall says would not listen to what she had to say.

Peter Van Sant: She says she was never questioned about her daughter’s state of mind and what had happened in the hours on that day that she disappeared. How could someone not have interviewed the family about those things?

Rick Ollic: I don’t recall when she was interviewed, and they should have been interviewed for those things.

Peter Van Sant:  What I’m holding here, Vicky gave us. It’s dozens and dozens of pages of emails that she said that she sent to you during that time, and you didn’t answer one of these.

Rick Ollic: I don’t recall.

And Hall says, they should have been more suspicious of Aaron’s story about Kadie’s alleged paranoia the night she disappeared

AARON MAJOR [interrogation] She got more and more, like, paranoid about me, and started — completely not trustin’ me at all.

Jessica Sanders: in his story she’s shaking, trembling, scared.

But Sanders says phone records show during that time Kadie called her mom and Hall says she sounded perfectly normal.

Jessica Sanders: When she called Vicky, she was wanting to go eat dinner with her. This is not a person who’s frantic.

Sanders says, the more she dug, the guiltier Aaron looked.   Most ominously, a computer search he made early in the morning before the family was notified Kadie and River were dead. 

Jessica Sanders: That morning, he had searched “two dead in Berkeley County.”

Peter Van Sant: So why do you think he was Googling that?

Jessica Sanders: Well, I think he was Googling that because he was trying to find out if the bodies had been found yet. He’s trying to determine his next move.

They believe that next move was his call to Hall saying he heard on the radio that two people were killed in a train accident on Oakley Road.

Vicky Hall: I called every radio station, I went to the TV stations after they died … I searched and searched for years, not one person could tell me Oakley Road was ever on the TV or the radio.

Peter Van Sant: If there was in fact not a news broadcast … How would he have known that location, that there’d been an accident there?

Rick Ollic: I have no — I have no re — … I have no idea how he would know.

Peter Van Sant: Is this suspicious to you?

Rick Ollic: Absolutely.

Sanders says there’s only one reason he would have known.

Jessica Sanders:  He knew, because he’s the one that put ’em out there.

Hall and Sanders say there were more damning clues back at the house.

Vicky Hall: Some stuff was knocked off of River’s dresser. There was clothes on the floor. All of these drawers were all open in the whole bathroom.

Peter Van Sant: What does that suggest to you?

Jessica Sanders: There was a fight. I believe 100 percent there was a fight and she was trying to leave him.

Peter Van Sant: Do you believe that Kadie Major may have died inside her own house?

Jessica Sanders: I do. I think it’s very possible that she died at the house.

Their house – a potential crime scene – was never properly processed.  

Jessica Sanders:  There’s no photos.

Peter Van Sant: No forensic search of the house.

Jessica Sanders: No forensics at all. … If there was a fight that started there, Luminol test. Easy. They did nothing.

And Aaron Major, who Ollic admits was a suspect, was allowed home unaccompanied the night his wife and daughter were found dead.

Peter Van Sant: He could have altered a potential crime scene and no one went there to check that. Correct?

Rick Ollic: Possibly.

Peter Van Sant: Family members who had been inside that house claim it was in disarray, that things had been thrown about. 24 hours later it had all been cleaned up. Is that true?

Rick Ollic: I don’t have an answer to that cuz I don’t recall when we went. I mean, I’d have to review back to the case, it was 10 years ago.

But a lot can happen in 10 years. 

Det. Darrell Lewis There’s a new sheriff in town.

And a new cold case team.

Peter Van Sant: Do you believe today that Kadie Major committed suicide?

Lt. Dean Kokinda: No.

Det. Darrell Lewis:   No.

A NEW LOOK AT THE CASE

Things were changing fast in Moncks Corner. In 2015, new Sheriff Duane Lewis swept into town with a brand new attitude.

When two “48 Hours” producers called him asking about the Kadie Major case, he listened.

Sheriff Duane Lewis: I was not familiar with the case. … but I asked my cold case detectives to locate the file … so that when I did meet with Vicky we could … have some knowledge about the case.

After 10 years of heartache, Vicky Hall is finally getting the chance to talk to Berkeley County detectives about her case. And “48 Hours” was there to document it. 

Vicky Hall: For justice to happen would be the best news of what really happened that night.

Sheriff Lewis had assigned Lt. Dean Kokinda to take a second look. Hall, long the target of country gossip, first had to clear a big hurdle.

Lt. Dean Kokinda: Vicky … had a reputation … that she was crazy. … So I wasn’t looking forward to meeting with her. But … when she came in … I talked to her for a couple hours, I was like, “Well, she’s not crazy.”

Vicky Hall [to detectives]: And when she’s shaking and trembling how is she holding River?

Lt. Dean Kokinda: She had valid questions and they weren’t answered.

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Vicky Hall meets with Lt. Dean Kokinda and Det. Darrell Lewis, the new investigators on the case. CBS News

She also had a lot of information to share with Lt. Kokinda and a detective brought out of retirement to help him: the sheriff’s little brother, Darrell Lewis.

Det. Darrell Lewis: When I walked in the door, he goes, “I need you to look at this … something’s wrong with this case.”

To begin with, Lewis says blood and tissue spatter evidence show that the original investigators got the wrong train.

Det. Darrell Lewis:  Originally, they said a southbound train hit her. The evidence shows it was a northbound train. What else did they get wrong? … What else did they miss?

Lewis quickly answered his own question. They missed their one and only opportunity to ask Aaron the tough questions during their interrogation:

DET. JERRY MERRITHEW: What do you think happened?

AARON MAJOR: I don’t know what happened.

Det. Darrell Lewis: You call it an interrogation, we call it an interview.

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During questioning in 2008, the investigator never asked Aaron Major about his bandaged hand. Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office

The investigator never even asked Aaron about that hard to ignore bandaged hand and he never challenged Aaron’s version of events, including Kadie’s supposed breakdown:

AARON MAJOR [interrogation]:  She just got real paranoid, and, quit trustin’ people and stuff.    

Peter Van Sant: Are you buying Aaron’s story that she was out of her mind?

Lt. Dean Kokinda: No.

Det. Darrell Lewis: No. He’s the only person who’s said this.

Lewis and Kokinda did what Ollic and his team didn’t do — talk to Kadie’s closest friends and family.\

They discounted that psychological report because they say it was based largely on Ollic’s investigation. They quickly ruled out postpartum psychosis.

Lt. Dean Kokinda:  You can hide depression from your friends and family, but you don’t hide paranoia.

And they didn’t believe that Kadie could or would have made that 6/10th of a mile walk in pitch black on gravel in the rain and sleet carrying a 30-pound baby.

Lt. Dean Kokinda [walking where the bodies were found]: If she wanted to kill herself, she parked right here. She could walk right here. She does have to walk sixth-tenths of a mile down there to get hit by the train. She can get hit 10 feet from her car.

Lt. Kokinda thinks, like Sanders and Hall, the trouble started back at the house. 

Lt. Dean Kokinda: We believe that night there was a fight … Some argument whether it be … verbal or physical.

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The note and wedding rings found in Kadie’s pocket. Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office

Which may explain how Aaron injured his hand, says Kokinda. And why they found $ 1,000 in cash in Kadie’s truck and her wedding rings were not on her finger, but in her pocket.

Lt. Dean Kokinda: To me that is very symbolic of her ending the relationship.

Just weeks into their investigation, the cold case team became convinced it was not a suicide. But they still had a lot of questions.

Lt. Dean Kokinda: Why is she on the tracks in the first place? That’s the million-dollar question right now.

Among their many theories, maybe an answer to that question: that Kadie fled the house after a fight, drove her pickup truck to the tracks, got out and ran with Aaron giving chase. He caught her and threw her against the train.

Lt. Dean Kokinda: That’s a possibility.

Peter Van Sant:  She could have been thrown and struck by the side of the train?

Lt. Dean Kokinda:  Absolutely.

Another possibility, as Sanders believes, Kadie was killed elsewhere and dumped at the tracks.

Det. Darrell Lewis: I’ve never ruled out that it could be a staged crime scene.

Peter Van Sant: There’s a possibility she was in fact dead at the time this train struck her?

Lt. Dean Kokinda: I think that’s one of the possibilities, yes.

Another mystery: just how did River Lynn get in the water 100 feet from the spot where her mother’s body was found?

Lt. Dean Kokinda: We don’t know how River came into contact with the water.

Kokinda says the cold case unit has confirmed that Aaron told the original detective a huge lie — a potential game changer:

AARON MAJOR [interrogation]: That’s when I heard on talk radio 94.3 that there had been a person and a young child hit by the train in Berkeley County …

Lt. Dean Kokinda:  There was no radio report. 

Peter Van Sant:  There was no radio report? 

Lt. Dean Kokinda:  Uh-huh.

Peter Van Sant: Why would he have told a story about hearing this report, do you think?

Lt. Dean Kokinda: I think he wanted Kadie and River found.

The team would like to ask Aaron about those lies, but there’s a problem.   

Peter Van Sant: Aaron Major, is he cooperating with you guys?

Det. Darrell Lewis: No.

Peter Van Sant: Is that a red flag for you?

Det. Darrell Lewis: It is for me ’cause I’d wanna know what happened to my child, my unborn child, and my wife.

“48 Hours” would like to speak with Aaron Major as well.

FIGHTING FOR THE TRUTH

There have been many dark days, but one memory above all else has kept Vicky Hall fighting for Kadie and River.

Vicky Hall: The night they died … and Sarah was there, my daughter …  I looked out the window, we have a pond right there … and there is a cross on my pond.

Vicky Hall:  And every night me and Sarah would go stand in that door. And we’d look out, and that cross never came back. 

Hall believes Kadie and River will never be at peace until Aaron Major is brought to justice.

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Kadie and River Lynn Major Vicky Hall

She rarely sees the man she believes put her daughter and granddaughter in their graves, but she says he has harassed the family for years — even at the cemetery.

Vicky Hall: If we put something there … it would be thrown in the woods and destroyed, broken.

Hall called the authorities and they confronted Aaron, who then returned some of the items he had taken — including a toy version of Kadie’s favorite horse. 

Vicky Hall [holding the toy]: When he returned it, the tail was cut off, it was just very upsetting.

Hall suspects he also put a doll with a hole in its stomach at the makeshift memorial where Kadie and River’s bodies were found.

Vicky Hall: On the cross is this old, nasty-looking doll. And I just know Aaron put that there to freak me out.

Jessica Sanders: It’s disturbing. It’s almost like psychological warfare.

Out of all his alleged scare tactics, the most heartless, says Sanders, is video shot by Aaron 10 months after Kadie and River’s deaths and laid it on their grave.

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Video shot by  Aaron Major 10 months after the deaths of his wife and daughter shows River Lynn’s high chair pulled up to the table with a jar food on it. Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office

Jessica Sanders: He allowed it to look like they were still living there. Like he had River’s high chair pulled up to the table with jar food on it, a pillow stuffed in the bed where Kadie would sleep as if she’s laying in the bed. … Psychopathic behavior to me.

After his wife and child died, Aaron moved in with his parents in Charleston, about a 40-minute drive from Moncks Corner. He started his own house painting business. “48 Hours” found him at home washing out his fishing gear and in the church parking lot with his mother.

Sanders, who has been studying his movements, says he spends a lot of time alone outside.  

Jessica Sanders: This guy, he goes hunting, goes fishing, he’s living the life.

But life was about to get a lot harder.

Sheriff Lewis decided to let Aaron know he hasn’t been forgotten and announced the re-opening of the case in a very big, public way.

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Vicky Hall, center, is surrounded by investigators and family as the case into the deaths of Kadie and River Lynn is reopened. CBS News

SHERIFF LEWIS [to reporters]: Initially it was believed that Kadie was suicidal and had some psychological issues. I can tell you that that is not the case.

Vicky Hall then stepped up to the microphone.

VICKY HALL [to reporters]: Thank you to this sheriff’s department. I wanna thank Charleston county. “48 Hours,” because we would not be standin’ here today if it wasn’t for them.

And she didn’t mince words when it came to Aaron Major.

VICKY HALL [to reporters]: I believe that Kadie and River and Aadon were murdered by Kadie’s husband, Aaron Robert Major. And that’s what I believe.

Investigators continue digging, but say, for now, they don’t have enough evidence to make an arrest. They are, however, for the first time publically naming Aaron Major the prime suspect.

Lt. Dean Kokinda: Right now, he’s the only one we’re looking at

Peter Van Sant: Is there anything you’d like to say to Aaron major right now if he’s watching?

Lt. Dean Kokinda: Yeah, come talk to us. Tell us what happened cuz what you told us before is not the truth.

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“48 Hours”‘ Peter Van Sant questions Aaron Major about the deaths of Major’s wife and daughter. CBS News

“48 Hours” asked Aaron Major to speak with us on camera, but he declined through his attorney. So “48 Hours” went looking for him and found him in the parking garage of an apartment complex.

Peter Van Sant: Hey, how you doing. Peter Van Sant CBS News. You are the only suspect in the deaths of your family. What do you have to say about that?

Aaron Major: I’m not going to comment on this.

Peter Van Sant: Why not? You can tell me whether or not you murdered your family

Aaron Major:  Because I don’t have any comments at this time.

Peter Van Sant: Nothing whatsoever?

Aaron Major: No.

Other worker: You need to leave please. Leave.

Aaron Major continues to live the life of a free man — something Hall blames on the original investigator, Rick Ollic.

Peter Van Sant: This beloved young mother was made out to be some depressed child killer. Would you be willing to apologize if it turns out you were wrong?

Rick Ollic: Always do the right thing, it’s always important at any time to do the right thing.

“48 Hours“ producers on how a chance meeting led to the reopening of a mysterious decade-old case

It’s been 11 years since that cold, wet January morning. No matter how long it takes, Vicky Hall will battle on until the truth is found.

Vicky Hall: You know, we can’t bring them back and that’s what I would love more than anything … but justice needs to be served. … I will fight for this till the day I die. … I know she’s up in Heaven sayin’, “You go, Mom. You go.” 


The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office was so impressed with the investigation by Jessica Sanders, she was offered a job. Sanders decided to continue working as a private investigator. 

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U.S. – CBSNews.com

200 reindeer starved to death in Norway due to climate change

More than 200 reindeer carcasses have been found in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard this year, and researchers are blaming climate change. According to scientists in the region, the reindeer starved to death due to a particularly harsh winter. 

Scientists at the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), Norway’s government institution for research and environmental management, spent 10 weeks investigating the population. They said a rainy season early last winter led to more reindeer deaths than usual, because when winter rain turns to ice, reindeer are unable to dig for food. 

A relatively large number of calves were born last year, which only made matters worse. “The animals starve and can die and it is the youngest and weakest animals that succumb first,” the institute said. 

NPI has been mapping wild reindeer on Svalbard, a collection of Norwegian islands just 800 miles from the North Pole, since 1978. “Never before have they seen so many carcasses at once,” Norway public broadcaster NRK said.

Scientists fear the reindeer deaths are just another sign of rapid climate change in the region. “It is scary to find so many dead animals,” researcher Åshild Ønvik Pedersen told NRK. “This is a terrifying example of how climate change affects nature.” 

It is not uncommon for reindeer to die of starvation in the winter. But the number of deaths and food shortages are alarming. “Some of the mortality is natural because there were so many calves last year,” Pedersen said. “But the large number we see now is due to heavy rainfall, which is due to global warming.” 

Reindeer can dig through snow for food, but not ice. So, during a typical snowy season, most of the reindeer population does not suffer. But a milder climate has led to more rain than snow, followed by more ice and less access to food, Pedersen said

According to NPI, Svalbard has been disproportionally affected by climate change, which has had major consequences for animals native to the region. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card for 2018, the region has been warming at twice the rate as the rest of the planet in recent years.

And climate change isn’t the only threat to Norway’s reindeer population. In 2017, freight trains killed more than 100 reindeer in the Helgeland region over a three day period. In 2016, more than 300 wild reindeer were killed by lightning in central Norway.

After being severely depleted by hunting in the early 20th century, the population of reindeer in Norway has significantly recovered since becoming a protected species in 1925. But climate change threatens to reverse the work that has been done. 

Reindeer can be found in almost all non-glaciated areas of the archipelago, according to NPI. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card for 2018, caribou and reindeer populations have declined 56 percent over the last two decades.

NPI estimates the population of Svalbard reindeer to be somewhere between 400-1,200, while the total reindeer population for all of Norway is estimated to be around 220,000.

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Family blames Uber after their 12-year-old daughter’s death

In January, 12-year-old Benita “BB” Diamond downloaded the Uber app one her mother’s phone while she was asleep. Then, she hailed a ride, and went to a closed parking garage, where she died by suicide.

She paid for the ride with a gift card she got for Christmas, her parents said during a press conference Thursday, CBS affiliate WKMG reported.

Now, Benita’s parents are demanding Uber takes action. Lisha Chen and Ronald Diamond said that the ride-sharing company should have done more to prevent their daughter from arriving at the secluded location in the middle of the night.

Trending News

“In her letter she said … that she thought she would get more hassle getting an Uber ride,” Diamond said, referring to Benita’s suicide note. “The second thing she said is basically that ‘I’m past the point of no return now.’ Uber took my daughter past the point of no return, they drove her there.”

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Benita “BB” Diamond WKMG

Benita jumped to her death from a parking garage located behind Orlando’s City Hall. The trip occurred despite Uber’s age guidelines, which dictate that drivers should check IDs of riders they perceive to be underage. 

Uber’s policy prohibits drivers from providing service to unattended minors. According to Laura Douglas, the family’s attorney, the driver never questioned Benita’s age.

“As a driver-partner, you should decline the ride request if you believe the person requesting the ride is under 18,” Uber’s website reads. “When picking up riders, if you feel they are underage, you may request they provide a driver’s license or ID card for confirmation. If a rider is underage, please do not start the trip or allow them to ride.”

The family has not filed a lawsuit. They are hoping Uber changes its policies to be more effective, and are not interested in financial compensation.

“They feel very strongly about what happened and the No. 1 goal is to work with the company or litigate against it, if need be,” Douglas said. “They have this generic policy against transporting children, but when you compare that rule with other driver rules, it’s kind of meaningless because the other rules have clearly defined penalties.”

Benita’s parents said their daughter was a bright, happy girl who got good grades in school, was an accomplished pianist and excelled at Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Months after her death, they still don’t know why she jumped. 

Uber has not returned CBS News’ request for comment. 

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Human traffic jam atop Mount Everest’s “death zone”

Last Updated May 24, 2019 7:39 PM EDT

Two more climbers died Friday on Mount Everest, becoming the eighth and ninth people to die there since last week. That’s more than all of last year.

The deaths come amid massive crowding near the summit of the world’s highest peak.

It’s a human traffic jam at the top of Mount Everest as hundreds of climbers wait hours for their chance to stand at the top of the world. Lukas Furtenbach reached the summit Thursday, he’s still climbing down.

“It was very crowded,” Furtenbach said. “We are here every year and I’ve never seen such a year. We lost about three hours waiting at the most difficult part of the rock.”

Climbers call the area above 26,000 feet the “death zone,” because the air is so thin. Most need supplemental oxygen.

“And that’s very dangerous if you run out of oxygen, you can die within a couple of hours,” Furtenbach said.

So far this season, at least nine climbers have died on everest, more than all of last year. Almost all died coming down from the traffic jam at the summit. 

Experienced Everest climbers said it’s particularly busy this year, because weather conditions provided only five days where the skies were clear enough to summit.

“Everybody is sharing weather forecasts,” said Alan Arnette.  “And in the end everybody goes for the summit at the same time.”

Arnette climbed everest in 2011 and he now chronicles climbers on his blog

“The human body was not designed to survive above 26,000 feet,” Arnette said. “You are just getting weaker my the minute. So in that respect the crowds are certainly a contributing factor to these deaths.”

Most of the bodies will remain on Mount Everest — a solemn reminder to future climbers.

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Mattel’s Fisher Price recalls all ‘Rock ‘n Play’ models due to reports of death

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Mattel company logo is seen at the 114th North American International Toy Fair in New York City © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Mattel company logo is seen at the 114th North American International Toy Fair in New York City

(Reuters) – U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Friday that toymaker Fisher-Price has voluntarily recalled all its “Rock ‘n Play Sleeper” products after reports of more than 30 infant deaths.

The regulator said consumers should immediately stop using the product and contact Fisher-Price for a refund or voucher.

“We stand by the safety of our products. However, due to reported incidents in which the product was used contrary to the safety warnings and instructions, we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall of the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper in partnership with the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Fisher Price-owner Mattel Inc (NASDAQ:) said.

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