National Transportation Safety Board investigator Robert Gretz says there are reports of two or three people killed who were in the plane, and two or three more who died on the ground in the East Haven crash. Among those dead is believed to be pilot Bill Henningsgaard.
EAST HAVEN, Conn. — The National Transportation Safety Board says four to six people are believed dead after a small plane crashed in a working-class Connecticut neighborhood near an airport and engulfed two houses in flames.
NTSB investigator Robert Gretz says there are reports of two or three people in the plane and two or three on the ground. He says local and state authorities are at the scene looking for victims.
George Harasz, 49, and Douglas Wirth, 45, of Glastonbury, withdrew a deal with prosecutors that would have given them suspended prison sentences and probation, according to reports. The surprise move comes as new allegations by three more adopted children surfaced Friday.
The case of a same-sex Connecticut couple accused of repeatedly raping and abusing two of their nine adopted boys is headed for trial.
By Erik Ortiz / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Married couple George Harasz and Douglas Wirth of Glastonbury were supposed to be sentenced Friday in Hartford Superior Court under a plea deal, but instead withdrew from their agreement with prosecutors. The men had already pleaded no contest in January to one felony count each of risk of injury to a minor — a reduction from even more serious charges related to sexual assault.
But in a surprise turn, the couple’s attorneys pulled them out of the plea in a bid to fully clear their names, according to CBS affiliate WFSB-TV.
If Harasz, 49, and Wirth, 45, had continued with the deal, they would have been given suspended prison sentences and probation, WFSB-TV said.
But more allegations came to light Friday in the explosive case, and prosecutors said they also want to go to trial.
“I think the only proper resolution of this matter is to try it,” said prosecutor David Zagaja, according to the Hartford Courant.
Judge Joan Alexander agreed that a trial would be “in the interest of justice. The facts must be shown and must be shown publicly.”
Harasz and Wirth adopted nine children — three sets of male siblings — beginning in 2000, and ran a home-based dog breeding business called The Puppy Guy.
The couple was arrested in November 2011 following a police and state investigation of sex-abuse allegations. The children were removed from the home.
Police said two boys, ages 5 and 15, accused Harasz of sexually assaulting them. Harasz was initially facing first-degree sexual assault and other charges, while Wirth had been charged with third-degree sexual assault of the 15-year-old boy.
Their arrest warrants claimed the couple not only sexually and physically abused the children, but also forced them to sleep in closets.
Other children in the home told authorities that they weren’t abused, and prosecutors had agreed to a plea deal because they said a lack of forensic evidence would make it difficult to prove all of the allegations.
But now, three other children are claiming they were also abused, although no new criminal charges had been filed Friday, the Hartford Courant reported.
One of the victims who spoke during the court hearing said sexual assault began when he was 6.
“They took turns raping me over and over,” he said. “Anyone who would do this to a child is a sick, demented person.”
Supporters of Harasz and Wirth also spoke Friday in defense of the couple. One of their children, Carlos Harasz, said the accusers were lying and that the abuse suffered was under previous foster parents.
Carlos Harasz added that the state Department of Children and Families “took the word of an angry, damaged, disturbed boy and destroyed a family.”
Police have been ordered to investigate the latest accusations, and the parties are set to appear in court again June 5.
“ … and that is why we must look at the pictures of the 20 dead children laying (sic) with what’s left of their bodies on the classroom floor in Newtown, Connecticut.”
Moore predicted a parent of a child killed in the horrific elementary school massacre or another high-profile mass shooting would make pictures available, adding “and then nothing about guns in this country will ever be the same again.”
“For the families and the community, we just want to get back to a normal life and that would be a horrendous offense to the families.”
– Dorrie Carolan, Newtown Parent Connection
Jeremy Richman, whose 6-year-old daughter Avielle was killed in the attack by gunman Adam Lanza — a 20-year-old, mentally-troubled local man who later killed himself as police responded — said Moore’s idea is off-base.
“I would be very strongly against that,” an incredulous Richman said when being informed of Moore’s idea.
Another parent of a 6-year-old boy killed in the attack, in Newtown, Conn., was upset that such an idea would be proposed.
“You can imagine what my reaction to that is,” the outraged mom said, declining any further comment.
Several other parents of young victims declined to comment when reached by FoxNews.com. Attempts to reach Veronique Pozner, who took Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy by the hand to show him her son’s body at his open-casket funeral in December, were unsuccessful.
Pozner later told a reporter that she “owed it” to her son, the youngest of the Newtown victims, when asked why she wanted Malloy to see the damage to Noah Pozner’s body.
“I owed it to him as his mother — the good, the bad, the ugly,” Pozner told the Stamford Advocate. “It is not up to me to say I am only going to look at you and deal with you when you are alive, that I am going to block out the reality of what you look like when you are dead. And as a little boy, you have to go in the ground. If I am going to shut my eyes to that I am not his mother. I had to bear it. I had to do it.”
Moore’s proposal would be a “horrendous offense” to relatives of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Dorrie Carolan, co-president of the Newtown Parent Connection, told FoxNews.com.
“For the families and the community, we just want to get back to a normal life and that would be a horrendous offense to the families,” Carolan said. “There’s no need for any of that.”
Carolan, who knows several of the victim’s families, said she could not imagine anyone connected to the mass shooting who would consider Moore’s idea to be a “positive” development.
“It’s going to be a long healing process and to dredge up pictures of the crime scene would not be a good thing,” she told FoxNews.com. “We want to remember the little angels as they were, with their happy expressions and faces and you want to think of the teachers trying to hold them safe and not to see the pictures of their bodies. I think it would be terrible.”
Most of the families in the “very, very close” community have begun participating again in activities in and around Newtown, Carolan said, but the cyclical grief process is far from over.
“When you see the families, you want to acknowledge them, you want to hug them, but you don’t want to pry,” she said. “You don’t want to bring it up to them. So nobody really knows what to do. Nobody really knows what we should be doing … But to dredge up pictures would just take us backwards.”
In the weeks following the attack, several parents spoke out on the gun debate, with many saying the shootings cried out for new gun control laws and others saying such measures were not the answer.
When Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse was among the victims, spoke at a Connecticut legislative hearing on gun control, he challenged those in attendance to explain why citizens should be allowed to own assault weapons.
“Not one person can answer that question,” he said, after beseeching the crowd to reply.
When a member of the audience answered: ”Second Amendment shall not be infringed,” several media outlets reported that the distraught father had been “heckled” by gun rights advocates, though the videotape showed that was not the case.
FoxNews.com’s Perry Chiaramonte contributed to this report.