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Illicit affair prompted ‘calculated, planned’ murder-suicide that left 2 women dead, police say

Two women are dead, including a 2016 candidate for a Delaware State Senate seat, in a Pennsylvania murder-suicide that investigators said was sparked by one woman’s affair with the other’s husband. 

Radnor Township police officials reported Tuesday that Jennair Gerardot, 47, of Wilmington, Delaware, broke into the rental home of 33-year-old Meredith Sullivan Chapman on Monday and waited for Chapman to return home from work at Villanova University, where she was recently named an assistant vice president. 

According to the Villanovan, the university’s newspaper, Chapman started her new job a week before she was killed. She lived in the house where she died about the same length of time. 

“Couldn’t be more excited...,” she wrote online Monday, about two hours before she was killed. “Just a week on the job and I’m already feeling the love from #NovaNation.”

When Chapman arrived home Monday evening, Gerardot shot her once in the head before turning the gun on herself. Gerardot also died of a single gunshot wound to the head, Radnor Township Deputy Chief Christopher Flanagan said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. 

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A Taurus Tracker .357 Magnum revolver was found at the crime scene, with two of its seven rounds missing. 

Investigators believe Gerardot took a train from Delaware to Chapman’s home – while wearing a wig and clothing later found discarded in a bag at the scene -- and broke in through the front door, cleaning up the glass so her target would not notice anything wrong when she came home. 

“It’s not a love triangle. You had a man who was married that was having an affair with this other woman,” Radnor Township Police Superintendent William Colarulo said during the news conference. 

“The wife knew about it. And this was a calculated, planned attack,” Colarulo said. “She broke into the house. She was lying in wait, and she shot her as soon as she walked in, and then she shot herself. 

“There were emails and text messages indicating what she planned to do. Detectives are still sorting that out.”

Flanagan said Tuesday that officers were called to Chapman’s home just after 7 p.m. Monday after receiving a 911 call reporting two people down and blood inside the residence. They were met in the driveway by Gerardot’s husband, Mark Gerardot, who said he believed his wife might be inside the house. 

The officers went inside the home and found both women dead in the kitchen.

Flanagan said that Mark Gerardot, 49, told police officers that he and his wife were having domestic problems that also involved Chapman. Investigators said he had been led to believe that Chapman would be meeting him nearby for dinner. 

The Courier-Express in DuBois, Pennsylvania, reported that Mark Gerardot was waiting for Chapman to show up when he began receiving disturbing text messages from his wife. He went to Chapman’s home because of those messages and found the bodies. 

See the entire Radnor Township police news conference, streamed live Tuesday by the News Journal in Wilmington, below. 

Chapman’s neighbor, Melissa DeJoseph, told the Inquirer she saw the victim drive up between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. and, with a bag over her shoulder, walk toward the door. A few seconds later, she heard sharp noises from inside the house.

“In my head, I was, like, ‘Is that a gunshot? No, it can’t be a gunshot,’” DeJoseph told the Inquirer

Other neighbors also reported hearing the gunshots. 

Chapman was married to Luke Chapman, a former Newark city councilman, but they were no longer living together, the Inquirer reported. Luke Chapman announced earlier this year that he would not run for a fourth term in office. 

Prior to her position at Villanova, Meredith Chapman served as senior director of marketing for the University of Delaware, where she also got her college degree. She also taught at the university as an adjunct professor. 

She worked on several political campaigns, as well as on Capitol Hill, where she collaborated with former Vice President Joe Biden when he was a Delaware state senator, according to her Facebook page. She served as communications manager for then-U.S. Rep. Mike Castle in 2007 and 2008, the News Journal reported

Chapman ran unsuccessfully for a Delaware State Senate seat in 2016, losing the election to opponent Dave Sokola.

Sokola expressed shock at the news of Chapman’s slaying.

“Kathy and I are stunned by the news about Meredith and I’m deeply, deeply saddened to learn that such a promising young woman’s life has been cut so short,” Sokola wrote on Facebook. “I’ve always respected my opponents and Meredith was certainly no exception. She was sharp, hard-working and motivated by a sincere desire to serve her community. She was bound for great things and it’s tragic for that light to go out so soon.

“I’ve also had the privilege to work with her husband, Luke, over the years, and he especially is in our hearts today. We wish him strength, peace, and privacy in what we know is an incredibly difficult and painful time."

Like Sokola, Chapman’s friends expressed shock on social media. 

“I’m absolutely floored,” Richard Wisk wrote. “Meredith, RIP, you will be missed tremendously.”

Colleen Auer-Smith described Chapman as a bright light and a “ray of sunshine.”

“Why of all people? I don’t understand,” Auer-Smith wrote. 

A family spokesperson described Chapman as a “beacon of light” to all who knew her in a statement obtained by the News Journal.

“She loved her family fiercely, was a compassionate friend and among the most talented and innovative professionals in her field,” the statement read. “Her death was sudden and tragic, but will not define who she was to the thousands of people who loved her. Her family is devastated, heartbroken and requests privacy and respect as they grieve.”

Mark Gerardot worked as a creative director at the University of Delaware until earlier this month, when he left that position. Before her move to Villanova University, Chapman was his supervisor, the News Journal reported

He and his wife also previously ran their own marketing and design company, the Inquirer reported. 

Jennair Gerardot also spent five years as marketing manager for a South Carolina-based marketing company, Circor Instrumentation, before leaving that job in December. 

According to a post she wrote on the NextDoor neighborhood app in February, she left her position at Circor because of her husband’s new job at the University of Delaware. 

The Inquirer, which tracked down Gerardot’s post, reported that she went on NextDoor pleading for help with her marriage.

“I just transferred to Delaware in December for my husband’s new job, and he’s telling me he wants a divorce,” she wrote, according to the newspaper. “I don’t know anyone and am completely clueless to the area.”

She asked for a recommendation for a reputable, successful and driven divorce lawyer. 

Gerardot returned to NextDoor in March. 

“Please recommend an EXCELLENT marriage counselor for couple on the brink of divorce,” she wrote. 

The Inquirer reported that the posts did not make clear whether the couple ever sought counseling. 

Suspected 'Golden State Killer' identified as ex-cop decades after serial rapes, murders

A 72-year-old California man has been arrested after authorities said DNA tests pegged him as the Golden State Killer, a serial murderer and rapist who terrorized the state in the 1970s and 1980s.

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‘There’s blood everywhere’: Teen accused of premeditated murder of 11-year-old brother

An Ohio teen has been charged with aggravated murder in the fatal shooting of his 11-year-old brother, an act that police officials said was premeditated. 

Streetsboro Police Department officials said that officers and city fire medics responded just after 9:30 p.m. Monday to the boys’ home, where they found the 11-year-old with a single gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital, where he later died. 

“The victim’s 13-year-old brother was taken into custody in what appears to be a premeditated shooting,” police officials said in a statement

Police and Streetsboro school officials identified the victim as Caleb Lishing. The older brother has been identified as Elijah Lishing, a student at Bio-Med Science Academy in Rootstown. 

News 5 in Cleveland reported that the Elijah Lishing fled the scene on foot, but was found nearby. He was arrested and booked into the Portage County Juvenile Detention Center. 

The boys’ were with a babysitter when the shooting took place. News 5 reported that the sitter frantically called 911 to get help.

“Something terrible has happened,” the woman said in the call, which the news station obtained. “I’m babysitting two kids. There’s blood everywhere.”

The caller told police that Caleb Lishing went to bed around 8:30 p.m. and his brother, a short time later. When she heard a ‘pop,” she ran into the younger boy’s bedroom.

“The other boy came out and said, ‘What was that?’ and I ran in here,” the babysitter said. 

Caleb Lishing had a hole in his neck and the room smelled of gunpowder, News 5 reported

“He’s got blood just pouring out of his mouth,” the caller said. “I don’t think he’s breathing.”

The babysitter did CPR on the victim until paramedics arrived. The Record-Courier in Kent reported that the woman screamed for Elijah Lishing, but he didn’t respond.

“He’s 11 years old and I don’t know where his brother went,” the woman said of Caleb Lishing. “I heard a pop and there’s blood in his chest.”

>> Read more trending news

Elijah Lishing is accused of shooting his brother with a .357 Magnum stolen from his grandfather’s home. The Record-Courier reported that the teen had to break into a locked gun cabinet to get the weapon. 

He is accused of taking apart part of the cabinet when he couldn’t find the key, which the grandfather kept at a different home, the newspaper reported

Monday’s shooting isn’t the first time police were called to the Lishing home. Police reports indicate that officers were called to the house four days before the homicide after Elijah Lishing’s stepmother reported that he was being “unruly.” 

The teen, who expressed thoughts of harming himself, was taken to a behavioral health center for evaluation, News 5 reported. It was unclear what treatment he may have received. 

The boys’ parents were out of the country at the time of the shooting, but were on their way home after being contacted by investigators, the Record-Courier said

Caleb Lishing’s slaying is the first homicide in Streetsboro in nearly 20 years. 

“It doesn’t happen here,” Lt. Patricia Wain, a police department spokeswoman, told News 5. “It’s traumatizing. A lot of our officers here have kids that age, so to have to walk into that and see that and take that call, it’s very difficult.”

A statement from Streetsboro City Schools administrators said that the school community was “shocked and saddened” by the death of Caleb Lishing, who was in the fifth grade.  

“Caleb was a well-liked student by his peers and teachers, and (he) loved coming to school each day,” the statement said. “He was a gentle soul who loved to read and talk to the adults around him.”

More than 20 grief counselors were on hand Tuesday to talk with students, faculty, staff members and parents about the loss. The counselors were also offering advice on how to recognize warning signs of potential trouble in children. 

Children who are depressed may complain of feeling sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent or caregiver or worry excessively that a parent may die,” officials said on the district website. “Older children may sulk, get into trouble, be negative or grouchy or feel misunderstood. Youth are more likely to respond to treatment if they receive it early in the course of their illness.”

Police officials asked for respect and kindness toward the family in a statement on the department’s Facebook page

“We ask that you keep the family in your thoughts during this difficult time,” the police statement said. “While we respect that everyone may have strong feelings about the incident, we request that you keep your comments positive with respect to the family and our community as they grieve their loss.”

Elijah Lishing was due in juvenile court for an initial appearance Wednesday afternoon. A judge issued a gag order in the case to protect the teen’s identity, but the ruling was handed down after police had already released his name and details of the case, the Record-Courier said

Deputy shot, killed in Maine; suspect at large

Authorities are searching for a man believed to have shot and killed a sheriff's deputy in Maine early Wednesday.

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WATCH: Woman pulls gun on would-be robber, saves husband, family says

Police in Memphis, Tennessee, are searching for a man who allegedly attempted a robbery outside a Whitehaven home in broad daylight.

>> Watch the news report here

A surveillance camera captured the weekend incident.

>> Watch the surveillance footage here

One of the victims, who asked not to be identified, told WHBQ that his niece, who was visiting from Florida, took his gun and scared off the bold criminal after she saw that her husband was in trouble.

“She’s bold," he said. "She ain’t scared of nothing.”

In the video, the suspect has his right hand in his waist band as he stands behind the woman's husband. The victims said the man’s hand was on a gun.

Memphis police said Sunday afternoon the man in the blue jacket came to the Whitehaven home and asked to use one of the victims’ phones and then asked for a ride.

>> Read more trending news 

While the incident was unfolding outside the house, the woman and her uncle reportedly were inside the house.

Police said that after the woman saw her husband in trouble, she came out the front door with a gun and fired a warning shot.

The uncle told WHBQ: “She said she didn’t want to kill him, but when he fired back at us after she fired the warning shot, she said she was trying to hit him then but didn’t.”

Memphis police told WHBQ that the suspect ran toward the back of the house before getting away.

Police said they are reviewing this surveillance video to get a positive ID on the suspect. If you have any information on who that suspect may be, call CrimeStoppers at 901-528-CASH.

Read more here.

WATCH: Car thieves abduct 6-year-old from day care parking lot

A 6-year-old child was abducted early Tuesday after two car thefts at a Georgia day care, authorities said. 

>> Watch the video here

About five minutes after the car thefts, the child was seen on surveillance video walking back to the Childcare Network Daycare, Clayton County police Sgt. Ashanti Marbury said. It’s not known where he was abandoned. 

Three men are sought in connection with the crimes at the day care, located in the 6000 block of Fayetteville Road in Riverdale, police said. 

About 7:25 a.m., Clayton County police were called to the day care in reference to two stolen vehicles left running and unattended. 

Surveillance video showed a silver Nissan Altima parking next to a gray 2016 Chrysler 300. A man in the front passenger seat of the Nissan jumped into the Chrysler’s front passenger seat. Moments later, the Chrysler drove away. 

Not long after the theft, the Nissan drove to another location in the day care parking lot and made an abrupt stop at a white 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe, Clayton County police said. The Hyundai, which had a 6-year-old inside, was also left running and unattended.

A person in the back seat of the Nissan hopped out, got into the Hyundai and sped away, police said. 

>> Read more trending news 

In under a minute, all three cars were seen on surveillance video leaving the day care parking lot. 

Shortly after, the child was seen walking back to the day care and was reunited with his mom. He was not injured. 

Police later found the Hyundai Santa Fe at the intersection of East Faytetteville Road and Evans Drive — less than a mile from the day care. The Chrysler 300 has not been found

Earlier this year, Clayton County police rescued two girls after someone stole an SUV with them inside from a gas station. A baby and her 4-year-old sister were dumped on the side of the road miles apart in freezing temperatures. Authorities arrested Khyree Swift and a 16-year-old in connection with the crime. 

Anyone who may have information on Tuesday’s case or the identity of the suspects is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 404-577-8477. 

Rapper Meek Mill released from prison after 5 months

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered the immediate release of rapper Meek Mill.

TMZ reported that the 30-year-old, whose birth name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, was denied bail last week by Judge Genece Brinkley. Brinkley had been criticized for having what some considered a bias against Meek.

>> Read more trending news 

In November, Meek was sentenced to two to four years in prison after violating probation for a drug and weapons case when he was 21.

The Associated Press reported that Meek will be on bail while he appeals the gun and drug convictions.

Related: Meek Mill sentenced to at least 2 years in prison for probation violation

Activists and celebrities, including JAY-Z, T.I. and Kevin Hart, have shown support for Meek. At the time of the sentencing, JAY-Z said Brinkley’s sentence was “unjust and heavy handed.” Hart visited Meek in prison earlier Tuesday with 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin.

Related: ‘Welcome home’: Meek Mill attends Philadelphia 76ers game after prison release

“We are thrilled that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has directed Judge Brinkley to immediately issue an order releasing Meek on bail,” Meek’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said in a statement. “As we have said all along, Meek was unjustly convicted and should not have spent a single day in jail. We are also pleased that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has noted that Judge Brinkley may opt to remove herself from presiding over any further proceedings in Meek’s case in the interests of justice. Meek is excited to be reunited with his family, and we, along with Meek, intend to continue to shine the light on a justice system in need of reform to prevent any other citizen from being put through what Meek has endured.”

Related: JAY-Z, T.I., and others slam Meek Mill sentence as ‘unjust and heavy-handed’

Meek himself issued a statement that was posted on his Twitter page. He thanked his supporters and advocates while voicing plans to bring attention to people of color in prison and move on with his career.

“I’d like to thank God, my family, and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time,” the statement said. “While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive.

“To the Philly District Attorney’s office, I’m grateful for your commitment to justice. I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues. In the meantime, I plan to work closely with my legal team to overturn this unwarranted conviction and look forward to reuniting with my family and resuming my music career.”

Father punches woman trying to kidnap his son, police say

Police in Tennessee say a father's quick actions stopped his 5-year-old son from being kidnapped Monday.

>> Read more trending news

A man called authorities Monday to report that a woman had grabbed his son and tried to run away from him.

The father punched the woman and got his child back, according to police.

Authorities identified the attempted kidnapper as Gina A. Ricard, 53. Officials said after the incident, she went to a nearby fire station and told them that she tried to stop a kidnapping.

According an arrest affidavit, Ricard was incoherent and said that she “believes God told her (to) help.”

She was arrested and charged with attempted aggravated kidnapping.

Judge gives man 50 years over $1.2 million in stolen fajitas

An unexpected doctor’s appointment -- and 800 pounds of fajitas -- proved to be Gilberto Escamilla’s undoing.

Escamilla, 53, of Brownsville, Texas, was sentenced Friday to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to theft by a public servant, according to the Brownsville Herald. Escamilla is a former employee of the Cameron County juvenile detention center. 

Prosecutors said Escamilla spent nine years scamming the county by ordering fajitas for the Darrel B. Hester Juvenile Detention Center, then intercepting the orders and selling them to his own customers. He was caught in August 2017 when he missed a shipment due to a doctor’s appointment. 

Other employees of the detention center were baffled when a delivery driver showed up with 800 pounds of fajitas, a dish that is not served in their kitchen. The driver told them he had been delivering the Mexican specialty to the facility since 2008.  

“It was selfish,” Escamilla said during his sentencing hearing on Friday, according to the Herald. “It started small and got bigger and out of control. It got to the point where I couldn’t control it anymore.”

>> Read more trending news

Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Peter Gilman requested the stiff sentence to send a message to public servants willing to steal from taxpayers, the Herald reported. 

“We feel a strong message should be sent,” Gilman said

Under Texas law, Escamilla faced up to 99 years in prison for the first-degree felony, NBC News reported. Theft of property becomes a first-degree felony when a person steals property valued at $200,000 or more

An additional theft charge against the defendant was dismissed as part of an earlier plea deal. 

Escamilla was fired Aug. 8 and arrested at his home, where investigators found packages of fajitas in his refrigerator. The detectives were able to track down some of his customers, who cooperated with the investigation. 

Escamilla was given a moment to tell his family goodbye before being escorted from court Friday, the Herald reported. He was taken to the Cameron County Jail to await transfer into the state prison system. 

Teen accused of murdering mother with help of two friends

A 15-year-old and his friend drugged, strangled and stabbed his mother to death at a home in Maine, according to court documents.

>> Read more trending news

Kimberly Mironovas, 47, was found stabbed and strangled to death at her home in Litchfield, Maine, early on Sunday morning. 

Police say the woman, originally from Ashland, Massachusetts, was killed by her son and his 15-year-old friend. 

A third teenager, a 13-year-old friend, allegedly helped plan the murder.

According to prosecutors, the 13-year-old came up with a plan to kill Mironovas by crushing prescription pills and mixing them into a glass of wine, but court documents show the boys' attempt to secretly mix in the pills failed.

Mironovas’ son and his friend entered her bedroom wearing gloves and armed with a knife early Sunday morning, according to prosecutors.

Mironovas was found shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday, and police say she had been strangled and stabbed in the neck.

All three boys were arraigned at a juvenile court in Maine on Monday.

The 15-year-old suspects were charged with one count each of murder, and all three were charged with criminal conspiracy to commit murder.

Mironovas and her son had moved to Maine from their home in Ashland, Massachusetts, where former neighbors told Boston 25 News they hope her son gets help. 

"She was a quiet person," said Jim, a former neighbor. "I think her son was troubled a little bit, she had him in a special school."

Mironovas moved from Ashland to Maine about a year ago to attend cosmetology school.

Authorities continue to investigate the case.

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