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He wrote that he never wanted his mother to have to bury a son. Then he was killed by police.

He wrote that he never wanted his mother to have to bury a son. Then he was killed by police.

(CNN) - "I see mothers bury their sons. I want my mom to never feel that pain."

Two years ago, Antwon Rose wrote those prescient lines in a poem for his 10th grade honors English class. He titled it, "I am not what you think."

He refused to be "just a statistic," the African-American teenager wrote.

On Tuesday, an East Pittsburgh police officer fatally shot the unarmed 17-year-old, who ran as police stopped a vehicle suspected of being involved in a shooting in a nearby community, the Allegheny County Police said. The officer was placed on administrative leave as the department investigates, police said.

In a few days, Antwon's mother will bury him.

His family released the poem Thursday through the Woodland Hills School District, where he attended school.

Antwon's mother wanted the world to read the poem her son wrote. He wrote about being "confused and afraid," wondering about the path he would take in life. The poem was read aloud at a rally Thursday in front of the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh.

"I understand people believe I'm just a statistic," Antwon wrote. "I say to them I'm different."

He dreamed, he wrote, "of life getting easier."

Police kill an unarmed teen running from a car that was linked to an earlier shooting

Police kill an unarmed teen running from a car that was linked to an earlier shooting

(CNN) - Hours after being sworn in on the local force, a suburban Pittsburgh officer fatally shot an unarmed 17-year-old who ran when police stopped a vehicle that was suspected to be involved in an earlier shooting, authorities said.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office and a family attorney identified the victim as Antwon Rose II of Rankin. Antwon, an African-American, died at a hospital. He had been a passenger in the car, which authorities suspected of being involved in a shooting earlier Tuesday in a nearby community, Allegheny County police said Wednesday.

Protesters on Wednesday converged on East Pittsburgh, the borough southeast of Pittsburgh where the shooting occurred.

Sometime before 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, someone fired nine .40-caliber rounds at a 22-year-old in North Braddock borough, Allegheny County police said. The victim, who returned fire, was struck and taken to a hospital. He was treated and released.

Witnesses, including one who flagged down a police officer, described the vehicle in the shooting. Thirteen minutes later, an East Pittsburgh officer saw a silver Chevy Cruze, which matched the vehicle's description, police said. The officer stopped the car around 8:40 p.m.

The officer ordered the driver out of the car and onto the ground, police said. Antwon and another passenger "bolted" from the vehicle, and the East Pittsburgh officer opened fire, striking Antwon, Allegheny County police said.

Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said Thursday it appears the East Pittsburgh officer "disregarded the basic humanity of this boy."

"Fleeing from a scene does not give law enforcement the right to indiscriminately shoot young boys or anyone. No one, especially children, should ever fear death at the hands of police. Lethal force should be an absolute last resort, not a first option," his statement said.

In a news conference, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said the shooting could be justified if the officer thought there was an imminent threat of death -- to the officer or others -- or if the fleeing suspect posed a threat. But, he said, the district attorney will ultimately decide if it was a justified use of force.

The officers involved weren't wearing bodycams, he said.

'All they did was run'

A witness to the shooting captured it on video that was posted on Facebook.

In the video, a police SUV is seen stopped in the middle of the street as another police car pulls up behind it. Two people are seen running from the Chevy Cruze. Within seconds three shots ring out. The runners appear to drop to the ground.

The woman recording the video says, "Why are they shooting at him?"

"All they did was run and they're shooting at them," the woman said.

The 20-year-old driver of the vehicle was later released, police said. Authorities are still searching for the other passenger.

Antwon was unarmed, McDonough told reporters. Two semiautomatic firearms were recovered from the floor of the vehicle, he said.

McDonough said he was "very confident" the car carrying Antwon was the one involved in the shooting, pointing to "ballistic damage to the rear window."

Based on witness statements, McDonough said, he believes officers gave Antwon verbal commands, but he didn't know the specific command.

Police: Officer fired 3 times, victim struck 3 times

The East Pittsburgh officer fired three times, hitting Antwon three times in various parts of his body, McDonough said.

Allegheny County officials on Thursday identified the officer as Michael Rosfeld, according to an email from the county's director of communications, Amie Downs. CNN has attempted to reach Rosfeld numerous times, but has not been successful.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave, police said. McDonough said on Wednesday that he had not been interviewed.

Asked if the officer is white, McDonough said, "I don't understand what that has to do with the situation."

The officer had worked with other local departments for seven years, CNN affiliate WPXI reported. He had been sworn in that day on the East Pittsburgh police force, Mayor Louis Payne told the station.

Family attorney S. Lee Merritt said Antwon "posed no immediate threat to anyone" because he wasn't armed.

"These facts, without more, simply leave very little room to justify the use of deadly force by this officer," he said in a statement.

East Pittsburgh Police Chief Lori Fruncek, who leads a force of eight patrol officers, couldn't be reached Wednesday.

McDonough said he understands that "in today's atmosphere, any time a young man is killed, there's cause for outrage ... in some areas." He asked for patience with the investigation.

"Some of the initial postings on social media that came out directly after this incident were inaccurate and inflammatory," he said. "I would urge that people in the community give us a chance to conduct an objective investigation."

In a joint statement, Payne, East Pittsburgh police and council, said they were saddened by Antwon's death.

"This is a very stressful time for our community. We are seeking truth and answers but the process takes time. We hope that everyone can respect this process. We will get through this together as a community," the statement said.

'He had this million-dollar smile'

During the Wednesday protest on a rainy evening in East Pittsburgh, people shouted, "Justice now!"

The Woodland Hills School District confirmed Antwon had attended Woodland Hills High School.

"From all accounts, he was a generous, hard-working and highly promising student," Merritt said. Assistant Superintendent Licia Lentz of the school district said Antwon was "a very bright young man" who took advanced placement classes.

"He had this million-dollar smile," she said. "He was gifted and teachers were really trying to mentor him."

Gisele Barreto Fetterman, who owns the Free Store in nearby Braddock, where her husband is mayor, said Antwon volunteered at the shop during the summer of 2015 and regularly came back on Saturdays. She described him as an attentive, mature young man with "such great energy."

The store provides food, toys, clothes, backpacks and other items to members of the community, and Antwon would offer to entertain kids while their parents picked up what they needed, she said.

"He was just a really great kid. He had these really intense, big eyes. He was very smiley, very goofy," Fetterman said.

Antwon also worked at a gym where Fetterman's children took gymnastics classes, she said.

"I just expected he would always pop in and update us on what's going on. I think about how his life was cut short and all the things we won't see him do and all of the dreams we will never see him achieve and it's a really sad day," she said.

New York facility tries to ease immigrant kids' anxiety while separated from parents

New York facility tries to ease immigrant kids' anxiety while separated from parents

DOBB'S FERRY, New York (CNN) - Twenty children who had been separated from their parents after crossing the US-Mexico border recently arrived at a foster care facility just outside New York City -- an ... Continue Reading
The Facebook campaign reuniting immigrant families won't stop -- despite Trump's policy reversal

The Facebook campaign reuniting immigrant families won't stop -- despite Trump's policy reversal

(CNN) - A California couple who started a Facebook campaign to reunite immigrant families will not stop raising money -- despite President Donald Trump's recent reversal on separating families that cross the US border.

Dave and Charlotte Willner have raised over $17 million from more than 460,000 donors since they started the campaign Saturday. The money goes to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES.

"This is a reminder of the power we have when we all stand together against injustice and now RAICES' work becomes more important than ever. However, a change in policy doesn't automatically reunite these innocent children with their families or erase the trauma our government inflicted. These families will need legal representation, counseling and other crucial services that RAICES will be able to provide to more people and at a greater and faster scale than ever before because of these funds," said the Willners in a statement.

They've already reunited families

RAICES will use the money to help reunite families and provide legal services, as well as to start a joint reunification fund. This fund will allow them to work with other local organizations to make sure the donations reach as many people as possible.

The organization has already reunited families and provided funds for fathers to call their kids in detention centers. They're also hiring more lawyers.

"Make no mistake that the administration is changing course because people spoke out," the fundraiser's Facebook page said.

"You spoke out. You showed that you're not okay with this, that none of this okay, and that you won't stand for it."

The Willners began their campaign, "Reunite an immigrant parent with their child," after seeing a viral photo of a 2-year-old girl crying, looking up at adults around her after crossing the border.

The girl, her mother and others had rafted across the Rio Grande, and they were stopped in Texas by US Border Patrol Agents. The initial aim was to raise $1,500, but a flood of public support caused them to raise that goal. They now hope to raise $20 million, according to the fundraiser's Facebook page.

"What started out as a hope to help one person get reunited with their family has turned into a movement that will help countless people," the Willners said.

The couple encourages people to donate to other organizations that help reunite immigrant parents with their children as well.

After she was separated from her daughter, the child's cries were heard across the country

After she was separated from her daughter, the child's cries were heard across the country

LOS FRESNOS, Texas (CNN) - "Can you play it?" Cindy Madrid asked. In the audio recording, children can be heard sobbing desperately after being separated from their parents at the border -- and among them is Madrid's six-year-old daughter.

She had heard part of it on the news, after investigative nonprofit ProPublica obtained it and published it online. "I want to hear the whole thing," she said.

Children wail inconsolably. The words "Mami" and "Papá" are heard over and over again. They are cries no parent should ever have to hear.

"We have an orchestra here," a man says in the recording. "What's missing is a conductor."

"It's sad they would say that about a suffering child," Madrid told CNN Thursday in a phone interview from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Port Isabel detention center in Texas.

"I'm grateful, though," she said. "No one would know what the children are going through if not for the audio."

Then she heard the only voice she recognized. It's her daughter Alisson, whom Madrid last saw 10 days ago at a Texas detention center. An immigration official called out the girl's name and took her away without explanation.

Alisson can be heard begging for someone to call her aunt. With ease, she recites the phone number -- which her mother said she memorized during the 17-day journey from their native El Salvador to the US border.

"Mommy says I'll go with my aunt and that she'll come to pick me up as quickly as possible," Alisson said.

As painful as it was to hear Alisson's pleas, Madrid said she found solace in knowing the audio recording exposed the childrens' anguished cries to the world.

"It's so sad to listen to so many children," she said. "So many children who had never been separated from their moms. What is happening is so unfair."

At the Port Isabel detention center, Madrid shares a large room with nearly 40 other mothers who have also been separated from their children by immigration authorities.

"There are many more rooms full of women going through the same thing," she said. "The majority are from Honduras. Four of us from El Salvador."

As Madrid spoke Thursday afternoon, first lady Melania Trump made an unannounced and hastily planned trip to a children's shelter in McAllen, Texas, to get what the White House described as a firsthand look at the migrant crisis.

"As a mother she must understand," she said when told of the official visit. "Perhaps she has never been separated from her children, but she should understand that a mother will do anything for her children."

Her daughter is only one of the 2,300 children already taken from parents awaiting prosecution as part of the Trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy. On Wednesday, the President appeared to cave to political pressure on the issue by signing an executive order intended to keep more families together at the border. The order didn't say anything about whether the 2,300 children already separated from their families would be reunited with them.

The government initially said those families would remain apart; officials later said that the families would be reunited, but there is little clarity as to how.

"It's maddening because at every moment I ask myself, 'How is she? Has she eaten? Are they taking care of her? Do they shower her?'" Madrid said.

When the news of the order appeared on the detention center televisions Wednesday, the dormitories erupted with applause.

"All the women were thanking God," she said. "There were tears of joy from the hope that we can soon be with our children again."

But Madrid said the mothers have received little information about how they might be reunited with their kids.

"They told us that based on the order the President signed we would be reunited with our children, but that we needed to have patience because there was a lot of paperwork for the children and they needed find an adequate place to be with them," she said.

There isn't much for the detained mothers to do except to yearn for a glimpse of their children. They watch television, including news reports about their plight. They sleep, pray or sit around chatting. Few know anything about where their children are or how they're doing, Madrid said. She has made numerous calls to the shelter housing Alisson.

"No one answers," she said. "I have lost count of how many calls."

Looking back, Madrid said she never would have made the journey from El Salvador to the US-Mexico border if she knew this would happen. She wanted to offer her daughter something more than the poverty and violence of her homeland, where Alisson was once nearly taken from her arms during a kidnapping attempt at a market.

On May 25, they left for the border, she said. The usually perilous trip was mostly uneventful. That is, until they crossed the Rio Grande into the United States at the Mexican border city of Reynosa on June 11. Within minutes, they were in federal custody.

Madrid recalled spending the day with Alisson in la hielera -- the Spanish word for "freezer" that migrants and guards use to describe the frigid government holding cells. They covered themselves with Mylar blankets in a room with a concrete bench. They were fed a piece of bread with a slice of ham.

About 8 hours after their arrival in the United States, Madrid said, she heard an immigration official call out her daughter's name. Alisson was taken away. Madrid asked why. There was no explanation.

The next time Madrid heard Alisson's voice was on the audio recording of the weeping children at the migrant shelter.

"God put an angel in her path to record that audio," she said. "That started everything. That person will be blessed more than any of us. My daughter helped bring positive change for the mothers. ... She stood up for all of us."

Foster mother describes trauma of kids separated from parents at the border

Foster mother describes trauma of kids separated from parents at the border

(CNN) - The screams were guttural. Terrified. Inconsolable. Different from those the family was used to hearing from the dozens of foster children that, for a short while, had become part of their lives for the past five years.

Two-year-old Nicole couldn't stop crying and would only repeat two words in Spanish over and over again: "mama" and "grandma."

"This one was different. The overall sheer terror of the screaming was different," foster mother Michelle said. "It was pretty horrific"

The little girl with big brown eyes and floppy curls had come from El Salvador with her mother. They had been separated by US authorities sometime after crossing the US border with Mexico.

Suddenly, Nicole found herself being sent hundreds of miles away to a stranger's home in a strange place called Michigan. She is one of the more than 2,300 children who were caught up in the Trump administration's "zero tolerance policy" toward undocumented immigrants. The policy effectively forced immigration authorities to separate children -- even babies -- from their parents.

CNN is only identifying the children and their foster mom by one name for privacy and security concerns.

When the family initially met Nicole, she was "shell shocked." But the next day the fear welled up inside the child and erupted whenever her foster mom left her side. Even if she moved just a couple of feet away.

'One of the most traumatized'

"She was one of the most traumatized." Michelle said. "We pretty much couldn't do anything without holding her. It was intense screaming and crying, more of a terror screaming. Very freaked out that I wasn't going to come back."

The little girl was afraid of losing everything all over again, Michelle said. Just like she has done dozens of times before, Michelle began to form a bond with the child. So did the three US-born children Michelle and her husband adopted.

Nicole began to relax into her new but temporary family life. If she was held just right, in a certain position, her tense little body would unfold and she'd become a typical cuddly toddler.

She kept calling Michelle "Leyla" -- which the family figured out was actually abuela, the word for grandmother in Spanish. Then Nicole began to mimic and pick up words. The family discovered Nicole loved being in the water. The toddler would completely calm down when they took a dip together.

But the trauma was always present.

The first time Nicole's mom called, foster mom Michelle wished she wasn't there listening. "I could have lived a lifetime without hearing this," Michelle said, her voice cracking with emotion. As soon as the mother and toddler were connected, Nicole's mom was "uncontrollably sobbing and crying. She was just saying 'I love you, I love you.'"

But Nicole shut down. She couldn't face her mother's sorrow. She looked away in silence. Still, her mother kept trying to make sure her toddler knew that she wanted her back desperately. "That was horrible for me as a parent to hear," Michelle said, her voice shaking with emotion.

Family bonds broken

Michelle and her husband have been foster parents for five years. She was a teacher who decided her calling was to take care of children in a different way. The family began taking part in the foster care system with children from the United States. They adopted three children who are now 18, 15, and 11.

Just when they were about to walk away from the foster care system, they got a call. "It was a blessing." It was Bethany Christian Services asking if they would like to begin fostering refugees and immigrant children.

They now know the drill well. The phone rings. Someone from Bethany Christian Services is calling. The organization helps provide for foster children, including matching them with families.

The voice on the other end of the phone asks, "Will you take a child?" The age of the child is given. And the child's expected arrival time. Usually you only have 24 hours' notice. For Michelle and her family, the answer is almost always "yes."

Five years, 107 children

"Sometimes they come in with no way to contact their family. Other times they have little pieces of paper with numbers and names written on them so that they can make contact. The papers are sometimes tucked away in their shoes," Michelle said.

In five years, Michelle and her husband have fostered 107 children, 13 from the United States, the rest from other countries. Each time, the children react differently to their new surroundings and their temporary home.

But some things stay the same: they all need comfort, love, and assurance that everything is going to be alright. In the past few months they have noticed a change in the level of the children's trauma.

"I have to tell the children, whenever I have to go somewhere and drop them off, that I will be back. I have to reassure them," Michelle said.

In past years it was very rare to foster very young children, Michelle said. But a few months ago the ages of the foster children dropped, and their trauma seemed far more acute. There was 2-year-old Nicole, and 4-year-old Mauricio, and 3-year-old Paula. All showed up at the border with parents but were separated from them.

Forming ties that must be broken

When 3-year-old Paula arrived, she didn't seem to speak English or Spanish. She spoke an indigenous language. No one in the house could understand her, except that she would cry out for her mother all the time.

She also wasn't eating much at all, Michelle said. With the help of a translator Michelle figured out Paula was still being breast fed.

"We communicated by pointing for a while," Michelle said. "She would just stare out of the window and want to go outside all the time. She thought if she was outside her mother could find her more easily."

But when fluent Spanish speakers would come into the foster home, suddenly the little girl would light up. "She would immediately go to them and start talking. 'They take me from mom, please take me back to my mom.' She would cling to them. When she realized that they weren't going to take her, she would come back to me and go quiet."

Eventually Paula was reunited with a parent.

Praise and judgment

Then there was 4-year-old Mauricio. He handled things differently. He was a ball of fun and energy when they first picked him up.

"He had a huge personality. It was like a party waiting to happen the minute we picked him up," Michelle said. But as the weeks went by and his mom still wasn't around, things changed.

"He was like 'okay I am done, I am ready to go with my mom now.' The behavior was starting to change when he realized this was not a summer vacation."

The little boy began having outbursts, like every single child who's hurting and confused and scared. Mauricio was extremely resilient, though -- and he was eventually reunited with family.

When Michelle and her husband first started fostering children, the local community reacted with praise and kindness. But as the political climate has changed, so have the comments. Not from everyone, but enough that it stings.

"We will get comments that 'you should be taking care of American kids.' Kids that are here already. That is true," Michelle said. And they have. But the comments don't stop there.

"They will start rattling off stuff on their opinion on Trump or the wall or their opinion on illegal immigrants," she said. "Or they comment that the kids should be learning English."

Michelle has decided to be more selective about who she tells now. She wants to protect the children and her own emotional well-being.

She is careful about what she reads and how much news she watches. In the end, she says she has to be emotionally and physically present for the kids, and for her family that is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of cultures, languages, and most of all, love. That is her mission. Everything else can be pushed aside.

'These are children'

"Our faith plays a huge role in what we have been doing from the beginning," Michelle said. But she has a message for those who try to talk to her foster children harshly.

"No matter how you feel about immigration, these are children," she said. "Keep your adult comments to yourself."

Michelle still believes deeply in what she is doing. She has a booklet that the family keeps with the names and something special about each child she has fostered. It gives her peace and joy to look at it sometimes.

She believes in her mission, her Christian faith, and the power of love for children who are caught in the middle of a political fight. Her latest arrival is a 5-year-old boy who came in just a day ago. She still doesn't know his whole story. A typical stay is a couple of months, sometimes shorter. One child has been at the home for a year and is in school.

Michelle has had to say goodbye to dozens of children she has come to care so much about -- including Nicole. She rejoices that families are reuniting. But it isn't easy to see a child traumatized one more time before they are back with their loved ones.

When she handed Nicole over, she felt a flash of fresh pain go through her heart. All the fear flooded back into the toddler's body. All the trust vanished when she realized she was being left -- again.

Handcuffs, assaults, and drugs called 'vitamins': Children allege grave abuse at migrant detention facilities

Handcuffs, assaults, and drugs called 'vitamins': Children allege grave abuse at migrant detention facilities

(CNN) - A year before the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy resulted in more than 2,300 children being separated from their families at the border in a mere five-week period, a ninth-gra ... Continue Reading
Separated from her son, she sued to get him back

Separated from her son, she sued to get him back

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Her lip trembled as she stood outside a federal courthouse in Washington Thursday. Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia had just gotten the news she'd been waiting a month to hear.

Authorities are planning to release her 7-year-old son, Darwin, from a shelter in Phoenix, Arizona. He could be back in her arms by late Thursday night, according to Mejia's legal team.

The 38-year-old Guatemalan mother says she and her and son were separated at an immigration holding facility in mid-May, just a few days after they crossed the US-Mexico border.

This week, Mejia filed a lawsuit against several government agencies and top Trump administration officials to get Darwin back. Lawyers announced in court Thursday that an agreement had been reached just minutes before a hearing in the high-profile case was to start.

Even as they celebrated what appeared to be a victory, members of Mejia's legal team said their fight wasn't over as long as immigrant parents and kids remained separated as a result of the Trump administration's policies.

"This child is not the only child," attorney Mario Williams said. "There's thousands of children similarly situated we have to do something about."

Mejia told reporters she was happy to hear the news, but still had only one thing on her mind.

"I just want to have my son," she said.

'A knife in your chest'

Mejia told CNN this week that she'd been trying to learn her son's whereabouts for weeks. But no one had given her a clear answer.

"It's not fair for a mother," she said. "It's like they're putting a knife in your chest and killing you."

Meija's case isn't the only lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's months-long practice of separating kids and parents at the border, but it appears to be the first filed by an individual since officials announced their controversial "zero tolerance" policy.

On Wednesday a group of detained immigrants filed a similar lawsuit asking a federal court to reunite them with their children. And the ACLU has filed a class action lawsuit over family separations.

In an executive order Wednesday, Trump said he was reversing course and would be moving toward keeping families together in detention rather than splitting them up. But it's unclear how the executive order could affect families who were already separated. Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have said they're awaiting guidance.

Seeking a reunion, and damages

Mejia says she and her son came to the United States seeking asylum, fleeing death threats and domestic violence from her husband in Guatemala. They crossed the border May 19 near San Luis, Arizona, according to the lawsuit, and were immediately approached by Border Patrol agents and taken into custody.

In her lawsuit, Mejia accuses US officials of violating her rights when they took Darwin from her at an Arizona immigrant holding facility just a few days after their arrival.

She asked a judge to order officials to reunite them and said she was seeking damages for pain and suffering.

It's unclear whether the case will proceed once the mother and son are reunited.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have not responded to CNN's requests for information on Mejia's immigration case. And the HHS Administration for Children and Families, which runs shelters that house unaccompanied minors and children separated from their parents, hasn't responded to a request for comment on her son's case.

The Department of Homeland Security and US Customs and Border Protection declined to comment, citing their policy of not discussing pending litigation.

Their last days together

Mejia pointed to two photos of her son earlier this week as she spoke with reporters and pleaded for help with her case: a smiling selfie she said she snapped at their church in Guatemala, and a black-and-white photo US immigration authorities took after taking them into custody.

In that photo, Mejia is carrying her son on her back. She's smiling. He's sleeping, his head resting on her shoulder.

It was just a few days later, she says, that their world turned upside down.

Mejia says she never expected officials would take Darwin from her. The day they did, she says, they offered no explanation. They simply called his name, took him away and wouldn't answer any questions, she says.

According to the lawsuit, when officials took away her son, "he was screaming and crying and did not want to be taken away from his mother."

Mejia says that was the last time she saw him.

'They don't give anyone any answers'

Mejia was held for weeks at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, where she says she met many other women who were also frantically searching for their children after being separated at the border.

"They don't give anyone any answers," she says, though she says she did hear one official respond with a question: "Who sent you to come to my country?"

At one point, according to the lawsuit, an officer at Eloy told Mejia her son was being held at a facility in Phoenix, but Mejia says officials provided no additional details on his whereabouts.

Mejia was released from custody June 15 after an immigration bond company, Libre by Nexus, paid her $12,500 bond. A legal division of the company is representing her in court.

The bond payment and legal representation are being provided pro bono as part of a program for indigent clients, Nexus Services CEO Mike Donovan says.

Speaking outside the federal court Thursday, Donovan said he hoped to turn Mejia's case into a class action lawsuit to help other parents reunite with their children.

"It is time to put this very dark and sad and sick and disgusting chapter of American history behind us," he said.

Libre by Nexus has faced accusations of exploiting immigrants and is reportedly under investigation in several states over its practices.

Asked about the allegations earlier, Donovan says Mejia's case is just one example of how his company's actions speak louder that any words.

"I care about people. I want mass incarceration in this country to end. And I want incarceration without justification, and incarceration of little kids, especially, to end," he said.

His voice on the phone sounded different

Mejia says she's been living with a friend in Austin, Texas, since her release from custody, but traveled to Washington this week for the court hearing. She was accompanied by her lawyers and representatives of Libre by Nexus when she spoke to CNN.

Mejia says she's afraid something has happened to her son during their time apart. They were only able to speak on the phone once while she was detained, she says. That day, she says, an official helped them get in touch after she passed her credible fear screening -- a step that cleared the way for her to continue with her asylum case.

The voice on the other end of the line, she says, didn't sound like her son at all. Her normally vibrant child didn't call her Mami like he usually does, she says. In fact, he didn't say much at all.

"I didn't recognize him, because he didn't talk to me like that before, with sadness, a knot in his throat," she says.

She asked how he was. "Fine," he told her. But right away, she says she sensed that he wasn't.

"He is already different. I don't know what's happening," Mejia says. "I don't know if he's being threatened or what is happening with them, because my son was not like that."

Mejia says she tried repeatedly to call the number officials gave her to track down her son. It rang and rang, she says, but most of the time, no one answered.

On Wednesday evening, she was able to get through. She told her son the ordeal would be over soon.

She told reporters Thursday she's starting to plan for their life in the United States. She wants to buy him a soccer ball and a bicycle. And she'll keep fighting for her son.

Her goal, now that he'll soon be back by her side: to give him a good education.

This serial murder case has been cold for more than 40 years. Now police say they have a suspect

This serial murder case has been cold for more than 40 years. Now police say they have a suspect

(CNN) - A young serial killer stalked San Francisco's gay community in the mid-1970s. He would sketch strangers in bars, strike up conversations, leave with those strangers and then, police say, stab them to death. He became known as "The Doodler." His last known victim died in the summer of 1975: The decomposing body was found near the 16th tee of a picturesque golf course that borders the Pacific Ocean. The victim's pants were unzipped. His face was eaten by maggots.

Police released a sketch of a suspect a few months later. They repeatedly questioned one man. But the Doodler was never caught. Now, more than 40 years later, the San Francisco Police Department says it has a suspect.

Three men were assaulted but somehow managed to escape the Doodler's clutches, the lead inspector on the case at the time told reporters: a well-known entertainer, a European diplomat, and a third man who left the city and didn't respond to police calls. They gave police descriptions of the Doodler.

"We have a suspect in the assault that spawned the sketch," Inspector Dan Cunningham says. Police at the time were convinced that assailant was the Doodler, but Cunningham is now working to confirm the details. "I'm still connecting the dots," he said. "I'm working to see if that assault is actually connected to the murders." And Cunningham is now looking for the diplomat. "I'm waiting to determine if this person is still alive," he says.

In the 1970s, detectives said the Doodler might have butchered as many as 14 people. "I'm looking at five murders," says Cunningham, who recently took charge of the department's cold case unit. "But I'd be a fool to say he didn't do more."

A police artist has updated the sketch: aging the Doodler, drawing him as he might look now. The updated sketch will be released, says Cunningham, "once I've got all my ducks in a row." If he's still alive, the Doodler will be in his early 60s.

Cunningham will also work with the SFPD crime lab, hoping modern forensic technology might manage to extract a usable DNA sample from evidence gathered at two Doodler crime scenes 43 years ago.

"We made a lot of effort to collect a lot of blood samples at that time," says Inspector Kenneth Moses, who worked at the lab in the 1970s. "If there's no moisture, there will be no decomposition," says Moses. "And it was standard procedure then to dry samples thoroughly."

Cold cases warm up

The Doodler is one of a number of cold cases now creeping back into the spotlight after a suspect in the so-called Golden State Killer case was arrested in April thanks to advances in DNA technology. He's accused of a string of robberies, rapes and killings committed across California in the 1970s and 1980s. The suspect, Joseph DeAngelo, was arrested six days after investigators surreptitiously swabbed his car door, collecting a DNA sample that reportedly matched samples gathered at crime scenes decades ago. DeAngelo, now 72 years old, is married with children and was living near the scenes of some of his crimes. At a court appearance in late April he did not enter a plea.

Authorities in Vallejo, California, also hope DNA technology might now lead them to the Zodiac Killer, who killed at least five people in the Bay Area in the late-1960s. Detectives have reportedly sent two letters written by the killer to a crime lab for analysis. The Vallejo Police Department and mayor's office did not return repeated calls for comment.

Across the bay, Cunningham, who grew up in San Francisco, remembers the Doodler case from his childhood. "Two of the bodies were found near where two of my aunts lived," he says.

A series of grisly killings

The first of the Doodler's alleged victims to be found was Gerald Cavanagh, a 50-year-old who had worked in a mattress factory. According to the coroner's report, he never married. Cavanagh's body was found early one January morning in 1974, lying at the water's edge on Ocean Beach where Golden Gate Park meets the Pacific. The coroner states that Cavanagh's corpse was, "Lying on the sand, in a supine position. ... There were multiple stab wounds. ... There was an apparent defense wound on the left little finger." Cavanagh had been stabbed 16 times.

"I know the case. I remember the case," says Cunningham, who in January began wading through the Doodler case files, cross-referencing details with the scant media coverage from the time.

There are four other corpses on Cunningham's list. Joseph Stevens, a 27-year-old drag queen, was the next to die. His body was found by a dog walker in Golden Gate Park early one morning in June 1974. Stevens had been stabbed five times. According to the coroner's report, "Approximately 10 feet west of the deceased's feet was a large disturbed area of brush, with a pool of blood. There were drag marks from this point to where the deceased was found, indicating that an altercation had taken place."

Less than two weeks later, another early morning walker found another body on Ocean Beach: Claus Christmann, a 31-year-old German. According to the coroner, "The deceased's pants were unzipped and open." The report details multiple stab wounds on Christmann's neck and shoulders, "In a manner which seemed as though the assailant had attempted to decapitate the deceased."

A police bulletin released regarding those first three killings reads, in part: "Victims one and two have homosexual propensities and due to underclothing and makeup in victim number three's pocket he also may have the same propensities." Police said the third victim, Claus Christmann, was wearing "orange bikini shorts" at the time of his death. According to the coroner, he was married.

In the summer of 1975 two more bodies were found. Frederick Capin, a registered nurse in his early 30s, was found stabbed to death beside the highway that runs parallel to Ocean Beach. The coroner notes, "There was dried blood smeared on the soles of both shoes, on the hands, about the face and upper torso, anterior, lateral and posterior." Capin was wearing a corduroy jacket and a striped "Picasso" shirt when he died.

A month later, the fifth and final corpse was found in bushes near the 16th tee of the Lincoln Park Golf Course, a little to the northeast of Ocean Beach. "Deceased had no underpants and his blue pants were unzipped," wrote the coroner. The dead man was Harald Gullberg, a 67-year-old Swedish sailor.

Five men had been found dead within 4 miles of each other, all within 18 months. "There was fear among gay men," says Randy Alfred, news editor at The Sentinel, a gay newspaper. "Particularly among men who were attracted maybe to the young hustler types."

The search for the killer

A few months after Gullberg's death, the SFPD released the artist's sketch and a description of the suspect. Inspector Rotea Gilford, the lead investigator on the case, told The Sentinel that the suspect "often sits in bars doodling caricatures and cartoons on napkins." Sometimes referred to as the Black Doodler, he was described at the time as African-American, between 19 and 22 years old, slender, a little shy of 6 feet, and frequently wore "a Navy-type watch cap."

The Sentinel was one of the few media outlets covering the story at the time. The Zodiac Killer was still big news. And in 1973 and 1974 the so-called Zebra Murders plagued the city: A group of black, Muslim men were killing white victims. Some in the gay community wondered if the police were taking the Doodler killings seriously. "There was a feeling they would have given it a lot more attention if the victims had been white society women from Pacific Heights," says Alfred.

"Baloney," says Moses, who worked in the SFPD crime lab. "I wouldn't say any case got less attention, was forgotten about," he said. "That's just not how the system works."

In January 1976, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story about the Doodler and two days later a suspect was arrested. According to The Sentinel, he was detained "outside a Tenderloin bar last Friday night after a bar patron called to report that a man fitting the composite drawing furnished by the SFPD had entered the bar and was offering to draw sketches of patrons." According to the paper, "The man was carrying a butcher knife and a book of sketches when the police nabbed him."

Police questioned the man repeatedly, The Sentinel reported at the time. The paper quoted an unnamed police source as saying the suspect had confessed the killings to a psychiatrist. "He's having difficulty with his sexuality," Gilford told The Chronicle at the time. "He's probably ashamed of what he's doing. Homosexuality has never been accepted in the black community. ... The guilt he is experiencing causes him to want to erase the acts he's committed."

"That was a very popular meme in police circles at the time," says Alfred. "And it was probably true. In some cases."

Police had a strong suspect, and they had three still-living witnesses. But those three men refused to testify. "My feeling is they don't want to be exposed as homosexuals," Gilford told the UPI wire service. An Associated Press headline read: "Murder suspect free because gays silent." Iconic gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk told the AP, "I can understand their position. I respect the pressure society has put on them." Gay sex was illegal in California until January 1976, and discrimination in jobs and housing was still rife. "There was still a long history of mistrust between gay men and the police force," says Alfred. "I mean, the homicide detective might have been in the vice squad two years ago when he busted you."

Many of the officers involved in the Doodler investigation, and many of the witnesses, have died in the 43 years since the Doodler's last suspected hit. Gilford died in 1998.

Cunningham is well aware the clock is ticking to solve this case. "The DNA is going to be important," he says. "A lot is going to have to depend on the crime lab."

California couple accused of torturing malnourished children to stand trial

California couple accused of torturing malnourished children to stand trial

RIVERSIDE, California (CNN) - The California husband and wife accused of abusing and chaining most of their 13 children will stand trial.

After hours of testimony Wednesday from several law enforcement witnesses, Riverside Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz determined Thursday there is enough evidence for David and Louise Turpin to face almost all of the charges brought by prosecutors.

The judge dropped one child endangerment charge for the couple's 2-year-old daughter.

The Turpins, from Perris, California, will be arraigned August 3. David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49, have pleaded not guilty. The Turpins' attorneys refused to comment on Thursday.

They each face 12 counts of torture, 12 counts of false imprisonment, eight counts of child abuse and seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult.

David Turpin also faces one count of a lewd act on a child and eight counts of perjury. Louise Turpin faces one count of assault.

Prosecutors say the couple beat and tortured 12 of their 13 children, kept them chained to their beds and starved them -- all while the family dogs were kept clean and well-fed.

They were arrested on January 14 after their 17-year-old daughter escaped from a window and called 911 on a deactivated cell phone. The Turpins have six minor and seven adult children, ranging in age from 2 years old to 29.

"What we would like the public to know is that our clients are presumed to be innocent, and that's a very important presumption," David Macher, a public defender for David Turpin, told reporters in January.

Investigators also testified that one child said the house the family lived in smelled so badly she could barely breathe, and she thought she and her 12 siblings might need to go to the doctor.

A doctor who treated the family said the 11-year-old girl was in the worst condition when he examined her, testified Patrick Morris, supervising investigator for the Riverside County district attorney's office.

She had a body weight percentile of .01 and her mid-arm circumference was equal to that of a 4.5-month-old baby, Morris testified. The doctor said she had psychosocial dwarfism, stunted growth due to living in an environment that is abusive or neglected.

These are the distant states where migrant children are being sent

These are the distant states where migrant children are being sent

(CNN) - Hundreds of migrant children forcibly separated from their parents were transferred thousands of miles away from the border and some already have been placed in foster care, officials said.

After crossing the southern border, some children were taken to facilities along the border, including a new temporary shelter in Tornillo, Texas, while others were sent to facilities as far away as New York.

The decision on where to send the children is based on which facility has the capacity to take them in.

"How they move through these systems is largely space available and resources," said David Thronson, Michigan State University law professor and co-founder of the Immigration Law Clinic.

President Donald Trump has reversed a policy that resulted in the separation of 2,300 children from their parents, but it's unclear if or how those children will be reunited with their parents.

In the past, more than 100 shelters in nearly 20 states have housed unaccompanied children. Some of those facilities already are helping children who were separated from their families.

Federal authorities have been tight-lipped about where exactly all the children are held, but here are a few states where they have been sent.


The Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Florida is a former Job Corps site that has been used as a shelter for unaccompanied minors since 2014. Photos taken this week showed boys and girls at the shelter.

On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar expressing concern over "unconfirmed reports" that the shelter is "potentially holding children who have been forcibly removed from their families."

In his letter, Scott demanded confirmation of reports that children separated from their families were being sent to the Homestead shelter. He also requested information about health screening protocols at the border and what, if any, health and education resources were being provided to children placed in Florida.


Children as young as 3 months old have been transferred to facilities in Michigan, according to the state's department of civil rights.

"We have received reports and are very concerned that the children arriving here are much younger than those who have been transported here in the past," said Agustin V. Arbulu, executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

At least 81 children have arrived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, since April, CNN affiliate WXMI reported.

Dona Abbott, director of refugee and foster care programs with Bethany Christian Services, said the children are in temporary foster care homes and group placements across the state.

Arbulu said the issue of separating families is a federal issue but his department is monitoring the situation because it "has a duty to make sure their civil rights are protected."

"While we commend the work of resettlement agencies in Michigan attempting to serve these children with dignity and compassion, nothing can replace the love, sense of security and care of a parent," Arbulu said.

New York

A total of 350 migrant children, including a 9-month-old, have been taken to New York since the practice of separating families began, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

At least 239 children are in the care of the Cayuga Centers in Harlem, which runs day programs for them. Some of the children are in foster care and some could be with relatives.

De Blasio said some of the children have bed bugs, lice, chicken pox and other contagious diseases. Some are too young to communicate and need significant mental health services.

"And this is just one of the centers in New York City," De Blasio said.

It's unclear how many separated children are in the city.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his office is aware of more than 70 immigrant children in federal shelters in New York. Cuomo plans to sue "to protect the health and well-being of children" held in New York and elsewhere, he said in a statement.

South Carolina

Five migrant children have arrived in South Carolina since last month.

The children are ages 7 to 11 years old and most of them will be placed in foster care in the Columbia area, CNN affiliate WCIV reported.

"They don't understand what's happening, or why they have been separated from their parents," said Rebecca Gibson, a program coordinator for transitional foster care with Lutheran Services Carolinas. "The children don't know if they will be safe. They don't know where their parents are and no one has given them any information."

Gibson said only one child has been released to a sponsor in the United States.

"We don't know the circumstances of how the separation happened, or if the children were able to say goodbye," Gibson said.


Most infants and children are being held at several new and old facilities in several cities, including McAllen, Tornillo and Brownsville after they cross into the United States.

Some children under 13 are staying at newly built facilities such as a former private home about 20 miles from the US-Mexico border in the Texas town of Combes, operated by Southwest Key Programs.

Democratic Texas Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. said he toured a new shelter in Brownsville where about 40 children under age 10 are staying.

One room held four infants, two of whom were accompanied by their teenage mothers, he said. The children receive constant attention, Vela said. "People are doing what they can under the circumstances."


One facility for the children is in Bristow, Virginia, about 30 miles from the nation's capital. Youth for Tomorrow, a nonprofit founded by former Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, has been partially used as a shelter for unaccompanied minors for several years.

Photos released this week by Health and Human Services showed girls wearing uniforms sitting in an auditorium, a set of baby high chairs, a room with cribs and a woman carrying a baby.

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Tracking your child: how some apps for children may violate federal privacy law

Tracking your child: how some apps for children may violate federal privacy law

(CNN) - A recent study by computer scientists shows that many free apps designed for children collect and share identifying information in violation of a federal privacy law.

The study, “Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?” examined 5,855 of the most popular free children’s apps in the Google Play Store and was conducted earlier this year by researchers at the University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of California Berkeley, Stony Brook University, IMDEA Networks and International Computer Science Institute.

Researchers touted the project as the first study to monitor actual program behavior in real time and at scale. Of the 5,855 apps they tested, researchers found that:

-256 of them collected information sufficient to figure out one’s location

-107 of the shared the device owner’s email address

-1,100 of them sent persistent identifiers to third parties whose terms of service explicitly state it should not receive data from children’s apps.

The researchers chose to test Android apps, because the operating system is open source, and the source code for iOS apps is not accessible.

Researchers said a majority of apps they tested are potentially in violation of COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.

Dr. Eric Cole, author of Online Danger and founder of Secure Anchor Consulting, said the results do not surprise him. He said if law enforcement goes after some of these companies, they are likely to shut down and start a new company.

“A lot of these folks know they’re breaking the law, but they’re making $80,000-$100,000 over a few months, so they’re going to do it and they sort of stay one step ahead of enforcement,” Cole said.

Cole added that it’s very hard to enforce different child safety laws, because there are a lot of apps in the marketplace, and they change quickly. He said without a detailed study, it’s hard to know what personal information the apps are collecting.

In response to questions about certain companies named by the study, a member of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Public Affairs, Juliana Gruenwald Henderson, told CNN, “We vigorously enforce COPPA and have brought nearly 30 enforcement actions and obtained more than $10 million in civil penalties against companies for violation of the COPPA Rule since it was enacted. FTC investigations are nonpublic so we can’t comment on whether we haven an open investigation on any particular company.”

Cole said the good news is that none of the apps in the study are tracking information secretly. He offered the following advice for parents:

1. Go to your phone settings. Turn off location services for any apps which you do not want to track your location.

2. Buy the paid version of the app. Cole said, “One of the words I hate is ‘free.’ Because everyone thinks free is free. Free is not free. With free, you or your child is the product.” A free app can make money by taking personal information to create targeted ads. While a paid app could presumably still do the same thing, it is already making money from your purchase.

3. Let your child play on the device in “airplane mode.” Cole said that interactive games, which require connectivity, allow for the possibility for information to be transmitted. Sticking to games local to the device, or playing in airplane mode, prevents that from happening.

4. Stick with well-known developers with apps that have high ratings and a high number of downloads.

This particular study was focused on the most popular games. So, if they’re collecting personal information, it’s for the purpose of creating personalized ads. But there are also more nefarious actors on the internet.

Cole said child predators are “putting out games, they’re tracking your child’s location, but instead of pushing them to a toy store, they’re going to try to abduct your children or cause harm. So, this is a much bigger problem than what the study really highlights.”

The good news is that these bad actors are usually caught quickly and taken down, without having much of a chance to develop high ratings or a high number of downloads. Cole advises to stay with the apps that have a much bigger following.

CNN reached out to some of the companies named in the study, that researchers said were collecting information in possible violation of the law.

One developer, Jonas Abromaitis of Tiny Lab, contended that the company was falsely accused. He added that after the negative media attention, only one parent wrote to complain to the company.

Abromaitis said he had planned to release a statement, “I was thinking either not to do it at all or add a section with main message that parents don't really care about this.”

Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson, a mom and an aeronautical engineer for NASA, disagreed.

Ericsson said it’s not that parents don’t care; it’s that they don’t understand. She admitted she does not know what apps are doing in the background. Her nine-year-old daughter, Arielle, said she plays a lot of games on her phone and iPad that continually give her pop-up ads.

Ericsson also doesn’t know where to look for resources that guide parents on how to avoid apps that collect her daughter’s information.

“There’s got to be a better way,” Ericsson said. “How do I even begin to figure out which ones do and which ones don’t? I’m just not computer savvy enough or have the time to sit there and surf through and do the homework.”

The researchers of the study created a site that may begin to help.

They site, called AppCensus, allows parents to search for apps tested by researchers to see what those apps do.

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