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Homeland Security Employee, 2 Family Members Murdered in ‘Witchcraft’ Killing

Blue Moon/Wikipedia

Blue Moon/Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Three family members in Florida, including a Homeland Security employee, were beaten with a claw hammer and their throats were slit in a triple murder that appears to be tied to “witchcraft” and the blue moon, The Washington Post reports. 

Law enforcement said the gruesome attack near Pensacola, Fla., was being investigated as a “ritualistic killing.” Killed were Voncile Smith, 77, and her sons John William Smith, 49; and Richard Thomas Smith, 47, a Homeland Security employee who also was shot in the head.

“The elements of this case are odd, at best,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said at a news conference, as Reuters reported. “We have a very reclusive family. Obviously we’ve canvassed the neighborhood, spoken to people who’ve lived there for years and years. Neighbors have related to us that they’ve never met members of this family.”

Police said they have an person of interest “with ties to witchcraft.”

“Initial research has led us to believe it was a ritualistic killing,” Morgan also said, as the Pensacola News Journal reported. “The method of the murder — blunt force trauma, slit throats, positioning of bodies — and our person of interest has some ties to a faith or religion that is indicative of that. The time of the death on Tuesday also coincides with what’s referred to as a blue moon, which occurs every three years.”

Reform Efforts Continue in Secret Service with Selection of New COO

secret serviceBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service continued the process of reform by appointing its first chief operating officer.

Good Morning America reports that George Mulligan, a former director of the White Military office, took the job.

“George is a proven leader who will bring broad management experience, knowledge and initiative to the Secret Service as our first COO,” Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy said.

The COO position was announced in March following the recommendation of an independent review panel charged with improving the Secret Service.

The job places Millgan in charge of overseeing, planning and directing program activities.

Good Morning America wrote:

Mulligan comes from the Department of Defense, where he spent 29 years as both a senior civilian executive and a former naval officer. He most recently served as chief of staff to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and Deputy director for the Washington Headquarters Services and Director of Enterprise management.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Mulligan as the Director of the White House Military Office, where he worked closely with the Secret Service.

Other Stories of Interest

William F. Sweeney, Jr., Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Philadelphia Office

William Sweeney

William Sweeney

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

William F. Sweeney, Jr., who most recently served as special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division of the New York Field Office, has been named as the new special agent in charge of the Philadelphia Office, the FBI announced Monday.

FBI Director James B. Comey made the appointment.

Sweeney launched his career with the FBI in 1998 as a member of a public corruption squad in the Newark Field Office.

Since 2004, Sweeney has worked primarily on terrorism cases and was among members of a team that received the 2010 Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service and the National Intelligence Exceptional Service Medal.

Sweeney returned to Newark in October 2010 as assistant special agent in charge in October 2010. A year later, he took the helm at the National Security Branch within the division. He also served a sting as special assistant to the FBI’s deputy director at FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Border Patrol Office That Protects North Dakota, Minnesota Gets New Leader

Grand forks sectorBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol sector that covers North Dakota and Minnesota has a new leader.

Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke has been named as the new chief of the Grand Forks sector in North Dakota, the Associated Press reports. 

Heitke takes over on Wednesday, replacing Austin Skero, who was transferred to Virginia as part of a promotion.

The sector has 200 agents covering 861 miles of border in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Gun Production More Than Doubles Under President Obama’s Presidency

gun rugerBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The number of guns manufactured in the U.S. more than doubled under President Barack Obama, according to a new ATF report. 

In the past four years beginning with 2010, gun production increase from 5.4 million to 10.8 million, AL.com reports. 

Guns manufactured in the U.S. grew 18% under George W. Bush and declined 9% under Bill Clinton.

The National Association of Gun Rights attributes the rise in gun ownership over fears that Obama wants to take away guns.

“President Obama has made it very clear he wants to strip away our gun rights, so people are going out and purchasing more firearms and ammunition,” said Joe Neville, director of political affairs at the National Association for Gun Rights.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Faces Enormous Hurdles in Crackdown Against Proliferation of Hackers

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Cyber security experts are facing incredible hurdles as they try to crack down on an increasing number of hackers worldwide.

Business Insider reports that the underground market for cybercrime is thriving and includes a range of people from experts to amateurs. Complicating the effort are the myriad barriers to overcome, including extradition, when conducting global investigations.

Hackers are from all over the world, and many are sophisticated crime rings.

“We need to know that the criminal is in a territory that we can do the arrest or that we know that some of the criminal infrastructure we’re going to disrupt is in a territory that we can exercise jurisdiction,” said Ilias Chantzos, senior director of government affairs EMEA at Symantec. “Some of it will not be there and we need to accept that so often the effectiveness will be as good as it possibly can be.”

Also complicating the effort is getting enough cyber security employees. A recent report found that the FBI was struggling to fill job openings because of relatively low pay and the thorough background checks.

Terrorism Threats in Alabama? It Can Happen Anywhere in Age of ISIS

ISIS flag

ISIS flag

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The attack on a military camp in Chattanooga was a stark reminder that not even America’s rural areas are safe from terrorist attacks.

It’s why every FBI field office nationwide has a joint terrorism task force, reports ABC 30.

To combat the threat in Alabama, Chris Hoffman, Supervisory Special Agent for the Birmingham Field Office, said no place in America is immune to an attack, and it takes vigilance to monitor and prevent an atrocity.

“The threat of terrorism is growing in the homeland, it’s an unfortunate time, but it’s a fact,” Hoffman said.

“There are ISIS investigations in every state in the United States,” Hoffman said. “Alabama has been touched by that, there’s been recent news stories about persons who have traveled from Alabama, females particularly to Syria. We also have domestic terrorism events. We have a long history here unfortunately.”

For more information on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, click here. 

FBI Passes Up Another Opportunity to Re-Open Civil Rights Cold Case

Lloyd Gaines/Wikipedia

Lloyd Gaines/Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Soon after winning a landmark legal battle to become the first black student in the University of Missouri’s law school, Lloyd Gaines vanished in 1939.

The FBI declined to investigate in 1940 and 1970.

Records obtained by the Associated Press show that the bureau again declined to investigate the case between 2006 and 2013, despite reviewing more than 100 others as part of the Department of Justice initiative and Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Act.

“They should have done more way back when,” said nephew George Gaines, a retiree who lives in San Diego. “I don’t believe there would have been much uncovered more recently. People die, memories fade, records are destroyed. And some people choose not to remember.”

In 1938, the Supreme Court ruled that Gaines, who grew up in St. Louis, must be allowed into the law school or the university must establish a separate law school for black people.

What happened to Gaines remains unclear. Some believe he was killed; others believe he moved to Mexico.

Other Stories of Interest