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50 years later: Astronaut Michael Collins returns to the Apollo 11 launch pad: 'It's a wonderful feeling'

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iStock(BREVARD COUNTY, Fla.) — Astronaut Michael Collins, 88, returned to where it all began — the spot where Apollo 11 launched into space 50 years ago Tuesday. He reflected on the mission that brought man to the moon and what he hopes to see for space exploration in the future.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to be back at Launchpad 39A,” Collins told Robert Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Once referred to by some as the loneliest man in the universe, Collins appeared on stage as he was in the command module 50 years ago — without fellow Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.

During the mission, while Armstrong and Aldrin made man’s first steps on the moon, Collins stayed in the command module.

Had the mission failed, Collins could have been faced with the prospect of riding back to Earth alone across a quarter-million miles of space.

“I want to turn and ask Neil a question, maybe tell Buzz Aldrin something, of course I am here by myself, but I know they would enjoy joining in to this sort of a conversation as much as I’m looking forward to it,” Collins said.

Collins recalled the training and preparation that went into the Apollo 11 mission, when he spent more than 600 hours in a simulator preparing for the unprecedented journey.

“No matter how well things are going for you, you can’t just relax and pat yourself on the back and say, ‘isn’t this wonderful?’”

“Apollo 11 … was serious business. We, [the] crew, felt the weight of the world on our shoulders,” said Collins. “We knew that everyone would be looking at us, friend or foe, and we wanted to do the best we possibly could.”

When asked where we go from here, Collins said that he “loved” the name Artemis, but his ideal space pursuit would be to go to Mars.

Artemis 1, according to NASA, is “America’s moon to Mars approach for human space exploration.”

The program’s stated goal is to land “the first woman and the next man” on the moon by 2024.

“I think women can do anything that men can do in space, perhaps they can do it better,” said Collins. “But I don’t want to go back to the moon, I want to go direct to Mars, I call it the JFK Mars express.”

Artemis 1 launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson said she enjoyed listening to Collins reflect on his experience and said she “couldn’t help but feel the goosebumps come up on [her] arm as [she] saw the final seconds tick off the countdown clock in the video.”

Blackwell-Thompson’s launch team joined the original Apollo 11 launch group in Firing Room 1 to celebrate and share lessons learned from one launch team to another.

After his interview, Collins also visited the Launch Control Center and Firing Room 1 to reconnect with the launch controllers from the Apollo 11 quest and meet with those who will launch the Artemis missions.

As the 50th anniversary of the moon landing approaches on Saturday, July 20, there are a host of other events to commemorate the historic feat.

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will project the image of a 363-foot Saturn V rocket onto the Washington Monument, while a 17-minute show, “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon” detailing the mission, plays on screens nearby. The simple projection of Saturn V will light up the Washington Monument starting Tuesday, and the “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon” show will play Friday and Saturday.

The National Air and Space Museum also displayed the spacesuit astronaut Neil Armstrong wore during his ‘giant leap for mankind’ on Tuesday morning for the first time in over a decade.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Instagram faces criticism after leaving gruesome images of teen's corpse on platform for hours

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iStock(NEW YORK) — A man suspected of murdering 17-year-old Bianca Devins alerted police to the killing by posting photographs of her dead body on multiple social media platforms, police said.

Now, Instagram is facing criticism from social media users for allegedly failing to swiftly remove the gruesome images.

“I have seen the pictures. I will FOREVER have those images in my mind when I think of her,” Devins’ stepmother, Kaleigh Rimmer, wrote on Facebook on Monday morning. “When I close my eyes, those images haunt me.”

Instagram users took matters into their own hands by posting photos of pink clouds in Devins’ honor to drown out the images of her untimely death, technology and business magazine Fast Company reported.

Police in Utica, New York, say that 21-year-old Brandon Clark — who Devins met on Instagram two months ago — killed her with a knife in the early hours on Sunday, and then posted photos of Devins’ corpse onto Instagram, Snapchat and gaming site Discord.

Clark has been charged with second-degree murder, police said.

The Utica Police Department confirmed the authenticity of the images in a press release.

When social media users reported the images, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, sent a reply saying that the images had been reviewed, and they did not violate its community guidelines.

A spokesperson for Facebook told ABC News that the photos were later removed from the platform. But the company did not immediately say how long the images had been allowed to stay up, or why users had been told the images were in keeping with its content policies.

“Our thoughts go out to those affected by this tragic event. We are taking every measure to remove this content from our platforms,” the Facebook spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Discord said in a statement to ABC News: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by this terrible situation. We are working closely with law enforcement to provide any assistance we can. In the meantime, our hearts go out to Bianca’s family and loved ones.”

A representative for Snapchat did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Clark’s accounts on both Instagram and Facebook were removed after police identified him on Monday, and the hashtags #yesjuliet, #yesjulietpicture, #checkyesjuliet and #yesjulietvideo, which may coincide with Clark’s Instagram handle, @yesjuliet, have been blocked to stop the spread of the images, according to Facebook. The platform is also using technology that allows them to proactively find other attempts to upload the image and automatically remove them before anyone sees them, Facebook said.

The platform says they are currently in touch with law enforcement.

Devins graduated from high school in June and planned to attend the Mohawk Valley Community College in the fall. The pair had become acquainted with each other’s families, but a mutual friend described their relationship to Rolling Stone as strictly platonic.

On Saturday, Devins and Clark went to a concert in New York City and headed back to Utica around 10 p.m., police said. Investigators believe the two had an argument, which led to Clark allegedly killing Devins with a large knife in the early hours on Sunday.

Police learned of Devins’ murder after receiving several 911 calls Sunday morning detailing that a man had posted to multiple social media platforms, and stated he killed his girlfriend and was threatening to harm himself, according to a press release from the Utica Police Department.

Clark also called 911 and made “incriminating statements with respect to the homicide” and suggested he planned to harm himself, police said. As an officer approached, he began to stab himself in the neck with a knife, police said.

After Clark called police, investigators tracked his location and found him lying on the ground in a wooded area next to a black SUV. Police then noticed what appeared to be a body lying beneath a tarp and, when asked about Devins’ whereabouts, police said Clark pulled out his phone and attempted to take a selfie of himself next to Devins’s body.

As an officer approached, he began to stab himself in the neck with a knife, according to authorities.

Clark was taken into custody and brought to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery for “severe injuries,” police said. He is still recovering from his injuries at the hospital and has not yet been booked into jail.

In a statement issued by police, Devins’ family described her as a talented artist and “wonderful young girl.”

“Bianca’s smile brightened our lives,” the statement read. “She will always be remembered as our Princess.”

A vigil for Devins was held in Utica on Tuesday afternoon.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Police: Man arrested in murder of Louisiana African-American museum founder Sadie Roberts-Joseph

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iStock(BATON ROUGE, La.) — A Louisiana man has been arrested in the murder of a beloved 75-year-old community activist whose body was discovered asphyxiated in the trunk of her car, police said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

The death of Sadie Roberts-Joseph, who founded an African American museum in Baton Rouge and teamed up with police on an anti-drug and violence program, was ruled a homicide by “traumatic asphyxia, including suffocation,” according to an autopsy report.

Ronn Jermaine Bell, 37, a convicted sex offender, was taken into custody Tuesday on a charge of first-degree murder, police said.

Bell was living in one of the homes Roberts-Joseph was renting out and it is believed he was several months behind in rent payments, police said. Authorities estimated Bell owed Roberts-Joseph $1,200.

“On behalf of the family of Sadie Roberts-Joseph we would like to express our sincere appreciation to all of the entities that came together in this tragedy to bring this person to justice,” Roberts-Joseph’s daughter, Angela Machen, said during Tuesday’s news conference.

Police said numerous leads came in from community residents and helped police identify and arrest Bell in the slaying.

“All my mother ever wanted was for this community to come together. It’s ironic that that happened in her death,” Machen said.

Roberts-Joseph was found slain Friday afternoon when police were directed by an anonymous 911 caller to her car parked behind a vacant house northeast of downtown Baton Rouge, said the city’s police Chief Murphy Paul.

“Our detectives immediately began following up on leads, interviewing witnesses and searching for evidence during the midst of a hurricane,” Paul said at Tuesday’s news conference. “We say we can’t do this without the community and this is an example of when a community steps up and does their part we’re able to put these bad actors away.”

During an interview with homicide detectives, Bell denied seeing Josephs-Roberts on the day she was killed, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

But detectives obtained surveillance video that showed Bell “in the same exact area the victim’s vehicle was abandoned at the same exact time the vehicle was abandoned,” according to the affidavit.

Bell matched the description from a witness of a man seen abandoning the vehicle and walking away, the affidavit reads.

The suspect’s DNA was also found on the victim’s body, according the affidavit.

Roberts-Joseph was last seen alive visiting her sister about 11 a.m. on Friday. Her body was discovered in her car a little over three miles from her home about 3:45 p.m. on Friday, police and relatives said.

There was a 90 minute time frame that investigators focused on, from the time she was last seen alive to the time her body was found, police said.

A warrant was already issued for Bell on unrelated charges, including failing to comply with probation regulations and failing to register as a sex offender.

Bell was previously convicted for sexual assault against an 8-year-old girl, said East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III, adding that Bell pleaded guilty in 2007 to sexual battery and received a seven year sentence, which was completely served.

The slaying of Roberts-Joseph, who was well known in Baton Rouge, came as a complete shock for her family and the community.

“We’re devastated that someone has actually killed her and put her in the trunk of her own car,” Roberts-Joseph’s niece, Pat McCallister-Leduff, told ABC News.

The victim’s sister, Beatrice Johnson, told The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge that Roberts-Johnson stopped by her house around 11 a.m. on Friday. She said her sister lived near her in the Scotlandville neighborhood of Baton Rouge and would check in with her daily.

“Friday, she came by [because] she had mixed some cornbread, but her oven went out, and she brought it here to put in the oven,” Johnson told the newspaper. “The bread is still there. She never came back to get it.”

Roberts-Joseph founded the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African-American History Museum in 2001. The museum, now known as the Baton Rouge African-American History Museum, is housed on the campus of New St. Luke Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.

She also organized the city’s annual Juneteenth festival at the museum, commemorating the day slaves were belatedly freed in Texas more than two years after Emancipation Proclamation was signed. She also partnered with Baton Rouge police to launch a Community Against Drugs and Violence program.

In a recent interview with ABC affiliate station WBRZ in Baton Rouge, Roberts-Joseph said her work at the museum and the annual Juneteenth event was meant “to celebrate, to embrace” African American history and to “learn of our past and to be able to move forward in unity.”

Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome described Roberts-Joseph on Tuesday as “one of the standout matriarchs of Baton Rouge.”

“She was a part of the fabric of Baton Rouge and that is why you see so many people concerned about her death,” the mayor said. “We will make her legacy a priority here in Baton Rouge … because of what she gave to so many here.”

East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said he personally knew Roberts-Joseph.

“I’m heartbroken that our community has lost such a kind and selfless soul in such a violent, tragic manner,” Gautreaux said. “I’ve known and loved Ms. Sadie for years and admired and respected her dedication to education and our community. I’m grateful for the swift action of the Baton Rouge Police Department and the Louisiana State Police in finding her alleged killer and putting him behind bars.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Police: Dad dies trying to save kids swept away by wave at North Carolina beach

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iStock(WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C.) — A North Carolina father died while trying to rescue his children from rough waters at the state’s Wrightsville Beach, according to police.

Two of Johnny Lee Vann Jr.’s kids were walking on a jetty wall on Sunday afternoon when they were swept off by a wave, Capt. Jason Bishop of the Wrightsville Beach Police Department told ABC News.

Vann was able to rescue one of his children, but when he went back into the ocean for the other child, he couldn’t stay above the water, Bishop said.

Vann was underwater for about 30 seconds before he and the other child were rescued, witnesses said, according to Bishop.

CPR was performed, but Vann, 35, of Durham, could not be resuscitated, Wrightsville Beach town officials said in a statement on Monday.

Vann’s wife, Dawn Vann, told ABC Wilmington affiliate WWAY-TV, “You couldn’t ask for a better person.”

“You could have took anybody else,” she said. “I would’ve preferred to take me than him.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Cyberbullying is on the rise among middle and high school students, report finds

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iStock(NEW YORK) — While overall rates of bullying in schools across the country have not changed, a new federal report released Tuesday revealed that online bullying has increased among middle and high school students.

Among the 20 percent of students who said they were bullied between the ages of 12 and 18 during the 2016 school year, 15% said they were bullied online or by text, according to the report by the National Center for Education Statistics. This is a 3.5% increase from the 2014-2015 school year.

Furthermore, the report found that roughly 41% of students between the ages of 12-18 who reported being bullied thought the bullying would happen again.

Cyberbullying can include anything from sending hateful messages to sharing harmful or defaming content about someone else online, according to StopBullying.gov, and it can be “persistent, permanent, and hard to notice.”

The report found that girls were more likely to be bullied and that 21% of girls who reported being bullied were singled out online or via text messages.

In 2018, a 12-year old girl took her own life after her parents said she was severely cyberbullied by peers and adults at her Florida middle school.

The parents of Gabbie Green, told ABC News that the bullying began on social media, though it eventually escalated to offline incidents as well.

“There were memes, they put memes out of her figure,” her mother, Tanya Green, said.

Shane Green, Gabbie’s father, added that there was even “a picture with a gun to her head.”

The parents said they went to the school for help, but the bullying only grew worse online and even became physical.

On the day Gabbie killed herself, the Greens said she had been receiving harassing text messages.

“They were saying that they were going to spread rumors about her,” Tanya Green said of the messages. The texts “were telling her that she should just kill herself” and that “nobody liked her.”

The federal report found that students who reported being bullied online varied by gender, race and grade level.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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