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Two people have been charged with assaulting a Capitol officer who died in a riot.

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Two people have been charged with assaulting a Capitol officer who died in a riot.
Two people have been charged with assaulting a Capitol officer who died in a riot.

Two people have been charged with assaulting a Capitol officer who died in a riot.

 

Officials in the United States have arrested and charged two men with attacking U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick with bear spray during the riot on January 6, but they have yet to determine if the officer’s death was caused by the bear spray.

George Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, West Virginia, and Julian Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, were arrested on a number of charges on Sunday, including assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy, and other offenses. In recent weeks, a new hypothesis in the case has surfaced: Sicknick died after being sprayed with a chemical irritant.

The arrests are the closest federal authorities have come to finding and charging those involved in the riot deaths. A woman was shot by a police officer inside the Capitol, killing five people. However, several rioters face charges of assaulting police officers, who were struck with bats, irritants poured on them, punched and kicked, and rammed with metal gates intended to keep the insurgents out of the Capitol.

According to two people familiar with the case, investigators originally suspected Sicknick was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher based on statements taken early in the investigation. However, as more information has been gathered, authorities suspect Sicknick may have consumed a toxic agent — probably bear spray — that may have led to his death, according to officials.

When the crowd marched on the Capitol on Jan. 6, Sicknick and other officers stood guard behind metal bicycle racks.

According to court documents, Khater said, “Give me the bear piss,” before reaching into Tanios’ backpack. Tanios said, “Not yet,” because it was “too early,” but Khater retorted, “They just f—-ing sprayed me.” Prosecutors say Khater was then seen carrying a can of chemical spray.

Khater pushed his way through the throng to the bike rack fence. Authorities said Khater was seen with his arm in the air and the canister in his hand while standing just 5-to-8 feet away from the officers when rioters started pulling on one of the racks.

According to court documents, video footage shows the officers responding one by one after being sprayed with the spray, putting their hands to their faces and running to find water to wash out their eyes.

Authorities said another officer finally found Khater using the drug and sprayed him.

On Monday, the men appeared in court via videoconference from jail and will remain incarcerated awaiting further proceedings. Tanios has a detention hearing set for Thursday.

Tanios’ lawyer was contacted via email for comment. A individual who answered the phone at Khater’s lawyer’s office said they didn’t have anything to say.

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman called the attack on the Capitol and its officers “an attack on our democracy” in a statement released Monday.

“Those who committed these heinous crimes must be kept accountable, and — let me be clear — this Department will not accept these illegal actions,” Pittman said.

The FBI had collected video of the incident and released photographs of both men, but they were not listed as wanted in connection with Sicknick’s death on wanted posters. According to court records, Khater was discovered by a former employee, and the FBI received a tip from Tanios’ former business partner, who also believed he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from their company.

Tanios owns and runs Sandwich U, a greasy spoon in Morgantown, the birthplace of West Virginia University.

He has referred to himself as the “Sandwich Nazi” on social media and has engaged in public debates with consumers and former employees. He gleefully promoted a one-star Google rating in 2019 on Instagram, saying, “If Donald Trump were a restaurant boss, this is who he would be.”

In a photo quoted in his charging document taken at the Capitol, he is wearing a sweatshirt with the logo of his restaurant.

Sicknick died after protecting the Capitol from a crowd storming the building as Congress voted to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Donald Trump. It came after Trump told supporters on the National Mall that he would “fight like hell” to avenge his loss.

The circumstances of Sicknick’s death are uncertain, and the cause of death has yet to be determined. He died after being wounded “when physically interacting with demonstrators,” according to Capitol Police, and the agency’s acting chief said authorities consider it a line-of-duty suicide.

Sicknick later collapsed and died in a hospital on January 7. According to officials, the Justice Department has launched a federal murder investigation into his death, but prosecutors are still determining whether other possible charges might be brought in the case, and the investigation is ongoing.
Capitol siege is covered in detail.

Sicknick’s death report is incomplete, and no cause of death has been made public. According to Capitol Police, toxicology reports are pending.

Around 250 photographs of people wanted for attacking federal law enforcement officers during the riot have already been released by the FBI. Some have already been detained, and the Justice Department has announced that about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes in connection with the riot.

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Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Jurors must decide if she was Epstein enabler or pawn

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Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Jurors must decide if she was Epstein enabler or pawn

NEW YORK (AP) — Ghislaine Maxwell spent the first half of her life with her father, a rags-to-riches billionaire who looted his companies’ pension funds before dying a mysterious death. She spent the second with another tycoon, Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while charged with sexually abusing teenage girls.

Now, after a life of both scandal and luxury, Maxwell’s next act will be decided by a U.S. trial.

Starting Monday, prosecutors in New York will argue that even as she was sipping cocktails with the likes of Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Maxwell, 59, was secretly abetting Epstein’s crimes with girls as young as 14.

A key question for jurors: Was Maxwell an unwitting pawn of Epstein’s manipulations or an opportunist who knew all about his sex crimes?

Ian Maxwell says his sister is being railroaded by a U.S. criminal justice system intent on holding someone responsible for Epstein’s crimes.

“And she is paying a heavy price, a blood price for that,” he told The Associated Press.

Ghislaine Maxwell grew up at Headington Hill Hall, a 51-room English country mansion where politicians, business leaders and newspaper editors attended lavish parties punctuated by trumpeters and fireworks. BBC images from the time show Ghislaine as a child with a kid-size plate of food, circling in a party dress, learning how to be a master networker.

Her father, born Jan Ludvik Hoch, was one of nine children of Yiddish-speaking parents in a village in what is now southwestern Ukraine. Escaping the Holocaust, he ultimately joined the British Army, rising to the rank of captain and transforming himself into Robert Maxwell.

After the war, Maxwell built on his military connections to buy the rights to German scientific journals, the beginnings of a publishing empire that ultimately included the Daily Mirror, one of Britain’s biggest tabloid newspapers, as well as the New York Daily News and the book publisher Macmillan.

Along the way he married, fathered nine children and was twice elected to Parliament. He also earned a reputation for boorish behavior and bullying subordinates.

Ghislaine was Maxwell’s youngest child, born on Christmas Day 1961. Her brother Michael was severely brain damaged in a car accident just days later at age 15, although he lived for another seven years.

Her mother, Elisabeth Maxwell, wrote in her memoir that she and Robert were so focused on their injured son that their baby daughter was overlooked. So neglected was Ghislaine that at the age of 3 she stood in front of her mother and said, “Mummy, I exist!”

“I was devastated,’’ Elisabeth Maxwell wrote in “A Mind of My Own: My Life with Robert Maxwell.’’ “And from that day on, we all made a great effort with her, fussing over her so much that she became spoiled, the only one of my children I can truly say that about.’’

While studying history at the University of Oxford in the early 1980s, Ghislaine Maxwell began building contacts of her own, including Prince Andrew, who would later invite her and Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth II’s country estate.

After graduating, she worked for her father in a variety of roles. In 1991, at age 29, she became his U.S. emissary after he bought the Daily News amid efforts to compete with fellow media tycoon — and New York Post owner — Rupert Murdoch.

Later that year, Robert Maxwell fell off his yacht — the Lady Ghislaine — in the Canary Islands and died in what some saw as an accident and others a suicide. Investors would discover his wealth was an illusion: He had diverted hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies’ pension funds to prop up his empire.

Soon after her father’s death, Ghislaine Maxwell was photographed sitting next to Epstein during a memorial at the Plaza Hotel.

John Sweeney, a longtime U.K. journalist and creator of the podcast “Hunting Ghislaine,” told the AP he believes that “after the monster her father died, she found a second monster.”

“Robert Maxwell stole hundreds of millions of pounds from people who were dependent upon his good word; Jeffrey Epstein turned out to be a darker figure, a worse human being,” Sweeney said.

Ian Maxwell said his sister’s relationship with Epstein developed after the family advised her to remain in the U.S. because the Maxwell name was “in the dirt” at home. Amid the family’s reputational and financial woes, she had to make her own way in New York and forge new friendships, he said.

One of those was with Epstein, a onetime teacher who built his own fortune on the back of contacts like the former CEO of the parent company of lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret.

“My father was a powerful man — you know, an alpha male, really. And when you have that kind of experience, all of us, all of the brothers and sisters have had to somehow deal with that,” Ian Maxwell said. “Ghislaine was no exception. But clearly to then say, ‘Well, you know, he dies, then she moves along to the next rich man.’ I just don’t buy that.”

In sworn testimony for an earlier civil case, Ghislaine Maxwell acknowledged that she had a romantic relationship with Epstein but said she later became his employee, tasked with things like hiring staff for his six homes.

“I hired assistants, architects, decorators, cooks, cleaners, gardeners, pool people, pilots. I hired all sorts of people,’’ Maxwell said during a deposition in April 2016. “A very small part of my job was to find adult professional massage therapists for Jeffrey. As far as I’m concerned, everyone who came to his house was an adult professional person.”

But in 2005, Epstein was arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, and accused of hiring multiple underage girls — many students at a local high school — to perform sex acts. He pleaded guilty to a charge of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and served 13 months in jail.

Years of civil litigation followed, in which women accused Epstein and Maxwell of sexual abuse. Prosecutors in New York revived the case and charged Epstein with sex trafficking in 2019, but he killed himself in jail before he could face trial.

The indictment against Maxwell is based on accusations from four women who say she recruited them to give Epstein massages that progressed into sexual abuse. One was just 14 at the time. Maxwell sometimes participated in the sexual encounters and was involved in paying at least one accuser, prosecutors allege.

Annie Farmer alleges she was 16 when she was tricked into visiting Epstein’s New Mexico ranch under the guise of attending an event for college-bound students. But when she arrived, there were no other students. She said Maxwell tried to groom her by taking her to the movies and shopping, and giving her an unsolicited massage while the teenager was topless.

The AP does not identify people who say they were victims of sexual abuse unless they come forward publicly. Although she is not identified by name in court documents, Farmer has described her experiences in interviews with ABC and The New York Times. When Maxwell — a citizen of the U.S., U.K. and France — sought bail, Farmer asked the judge to deny it, calling her a “psychopath.”

“I do not believe that … any of the women she exploited will see justice if she is released on bail,” Farmer wrote in a letter to the court. “She has lived a life of privilege, abusing her position of power to live beyond the rules. Fleeing the country in order to escape once more would fit with her long history of anti-social behavior.”

Virginia Giuffre, who has filed a related civil lawsuit against Britain’s Prince Andrew but isn’t part of the criminal case, has described Maxwell as a “Mary Poppins” figure who made young girls feel comfortable as they were being lured into Epstein’s web.

Giuffre alleges she was 17 when she was flown to London to have sex with Andrew at Maxwell’s house. Other encounters with Andrew occurred at Epstein’s homes in Manhattan and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to her lawsuit. Andrew denies the allegations.

Prosecutors say Maxwell went into hiding after Epstein’s suicide, moving into a gated New Hampshire home she bought for $1 million — with a husband her lawyers have declined to publicly identify — and wrapping her cellphone in foil to ward off hacking.

Maxwell was just protecting herself from the press, her lawyers said in court papers — a notion U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan rejected.

Nathan repeatedly denied Maxwell bail, deeming the risk of her fleeing too great. The judge’s decision has left Maxwell isolated at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, confined to a small cell equipped with a toilet and a concrete bed. Ian Maxwell said imprisonment is preventing his sister from receiving a fair trial.

Ghislaine Maxwell has remained mostly silent about the Epstein allegations over nearly two decades, but in a 2016 deposition in a civil case, she said she learned about the allegations against him “like everybody else, like the rest of the world, when it was announced in the papers.’’

She said she never saw Epstein getting massages from anyone under 18 and that no one ever complained to her that Epstein demanded sex.

“Never,” she declared.

With Epstein gone and no apparent recordings of alleged incidents that occurred two decades ago, the trial will likely hinge on the women’s allegations and Maxwell’s denial.

A jury will soon decide who it believes.

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Secret boyfriend: A Missouri family’s outrageous con that ended with a 2015 murder

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Secret boyfriend: A Missouri family’s outrageous con that ended with a 2015 murder

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – In October 2005, after Hurricane Katrina destroyed multiple areas of New Orleans, Claudine “Dee Dee” Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard moved to a home in Aurora, Missouri. Dee Dee claims Gypsy’s medical records were destroyed in the flooding.

According to Blanchard, Gypsy was diagnosed with leukemia and muscular dystrophy. She was wheelchair-bound, used a feeding tube, and had an oxygen tank. This would later be discovered as untrue.

Taking advantage of charities

In March of 2008, Habitat for Humanity built a small house in Springfield for the Blanchards. The home was specifically designed with accessibility features like lower light switches, a large bathtub, wide doorways, and a wheelchair ramp.

During this time, news outlets, the public, friends, and neighbors were fooled by their con. An outpouring of support came from charity organizations, donations, and even celebrities. They received free flights, lodging, and trips.

The Blanchards went on charity trips to Disney World and through the Make-a-Wish Foundation met Miranda Lambert. According to Tara Sullins, a friend of Blanchard, they received a large sum of money from Lambert and Blake Shelton for medical treatment in Paris.

Dee Dee’s legal name was Clauddine Blanchard. She uses various aliases and misspellings over the years such as DeDe, Claudine, and Deno. According to Michelle Dean’s BuzzFeed article, Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom Murdered, by the time she reached Missouri, she went be Clauddinnea and always added an “e” to her last name.

Gypsy’s father, Rod Blanchard, met Dee Dee while in high school. He was 17 years old and she was 24 when she got pregnant. They would soon get married, but he left the marriage before Gypsy was born. He remained involved with his daughter early on. He would later remarry and continue to make monthly child support payments, sent gifts, spoke to her on the phone. But according to Michelle Dean from BuzzFeed News, Dee Dee told neighbors Rod was an abusive drug addict and alcoholic who had never come to terms with Gypsy’s health issues and never sent them any money.

Dee Dee was convinced Gypsy suffered from a wide range of health issues. They spent a lot of time with various specialists throughout Louisiana. With her insistence, she managed to get treatment for her daughter’s ailments, including prescriptions for anti-seizure medication and surgeries.

Dr. Bernardo Flasterstein, Gypsy’s neurologist, became suspicious of her muscular dystrophy diagnosis. He ordered MRIs and blood tests, which found no abnormalities. After contacting Gypsy’s doctors in New Orleans, he learned that Gypsy’s original muscle biopsy had come back negative, which undermined Dee dee’s self-reported diagnosis as well as the claim that all of Gypsy’s records had been destroyed by flooding.  

He suspected the possibility of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. A condition in which a caregiver creates the appearance of health problems in another person, typically their child. 

Flasterstein did not report Blanchard to social services. He said he had been told by other doctors to treat the pair with ‘golden gloves’ and doubted the authorities would believe him anyway. 

A secret boyfriend

According to Michelle Dean’s BuzzFeed article, in 2012, Gypsy Blanchard met Nicholas Godejohn online. He was from Big Bend, Wisconsin, and had been diagnosed with autism.

The pair met online on a Christian singles dating site. They hit it off immediately. Blanchard and Godejohn spoke of eloping, naming future children they would have together, and sexual exchanges.

In HBO’s documentary, Mommy Dead and Dearest, Blanchard revealed Godejohn was into BDSM, sexual activity involving such practices as the use of physical restraints, the granting and relinquishing of control, and the infliction of pain. Blanchard was taught how to roleplay characters each with names and personas. Using secret social media accounts, she would dress up in costumes and share photos of herself with Godejohn.

In 2013, Godejohn pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct for allegedly viewing pornography on his laptop at a McDonald’s and touching himself inappropriately.

Their relationship would be a secret for two and half years before confiding to Blanchard’s friend, Aleah Woodmansee in 2014. Woodmansee found their relationship alarming due to the sexual nature and that she believed Blanchard was still a minor. She tried to talk her out of continuing contact with Godejohn, but Blanchard appeared to be completely smitten.

Blanchard confessed she wanted to be more like girls her age and date but knew Dee Dee would have to approve first.

At Godejohn’s trial, Blanchard revealed she arranged and paid for him to meet her mother in Springfield. She hoped that Dee Dee might allow them to date if she thought they met for the first time in person. They decided to meet at a movie theater to see Cinderella. Blanchard said her mother hated him. Regardless, she was able to sneak away and lose her virginity to Godejohn in a bathroom stall.

The murder

In an interview with 20/20, Blanchard said her mother got jealous that she was giving Godejohn too much attention and ordered her to stay away from him. They fought for weeks over the event. Gypsy said her mother called her names like slut and whore.

After the failed attempt, Blanchard and Godejohn began planning Dee Dee’s murder. “It was not because I hated her. It was because I wanted to escape her,” she said.

On June 2015, the day of the murder, per ABC News, Godejohn traveled to Missouri, checked into a motel, and waited for a confirmation text from Blanchard. Once Dee Dee fell asleep, he went to their home where Blanchard gave him a knife. She hid in the bathroom with her hands over her ears while Godejohn stabbed Dee Dee to death.

In an interview with 20/20, she said, “I honestly thought he would end up not doing it. I heard her scream once, and there was more screaming but not like the kind in a horror film. Just like a startled scream, and she asked, ‘Who was it that was in the bedroom?’ And she called out to my name about three or four times, and at that point, I wanted to go help her so bad, but I was so afraid to get up. It’s like my body wouldn’t move. Then everything just went quiet.”

Blanchard and Godejohn admitted they had sex immediately after the murder, according to ABC News.

On June 14th, 2015, a pair of disturbing posts appeared on Dee Dee’s Facebook page. Many wondered if the account had been hacked, but the second message made it clear something was wrong. 

On the run from the law

Blanchard and Godejohn stayed overnight in his motel in Springfield. They left on a bus to Big Bend, Wisconsin, on June 14th.

It was that afternoon when she made Godejohn create the Facebook posts. “I couldn’t stand the thought of her just there because what happens if it would have taken months to find her, so I wanted her found so she could have a proper burial,” Blanchard told 20/20.

In Springfield, when police found Dee Dee’s body, Woodmansee told police about Blanchard’s secret online relationship with Godejohn. With help from Facebook, authorities were able to find his IP address and track him and Blanchard down in Wisconsin.

Police from Waukesha County, Wisconsin, were dispatched to Godejohn’s family home. He and Blanchard were taken into custody on charges of murder and felony armed criminal action. The pair were extradited back to Missouri and were held on a one million dollar bond.  

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott held a press conference to warn the public about donating money to any of the fundraiser accounts associated with the Blanchards.

Gypsy’s trial

While the charge of first-degree murder can carry the death penalty under Missouri law or life without parole, county prosecutor Dan Patterson announced he would not seek the death penalty for either Blanchard or Godejohn, calling the case, “extraordinary and unusual”.

Investigations into the crime revealed a series of texts between them that appeared to discuss and plan Dee Dee’s death. It read, “Honey, you forget I am ruthless, and my hatred of her will force her to die,” Godejohn texted Blanchard. “It’s my evil side doing it. He won’t mess up, because he enjoys killing.”   

According to BuzzFeed, prosecutors also said they found social media evidence of Blanchard directly asking Godejohn to kill her mother, though these have never been made public. Documents from pretrial discovery show him telling a friend about Blanchard’s desire to murder her mother as early as May 2014.

On June 29th, Gypsy Blanchard pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

Mike Stanfield, Blanchard’s attorney, said he was able to uncover decades worth of abuse that Dee Dee inflicted on Blanchard as a part of an elaborate fraud scheme. For months, he traveled to Lousiana to try to recover her medical records. 

After the disclosure of how Dee Dee had treated Blanchard all those years, sympathy for her as the victim of a violent murder quickly shifted to her daughter as a long-term victim of child abuse.   

Blanchard revealed everything about the financial fraud scheme. She admitted she had been lying for years and that her mom made her do it. But even she didn’t know everything that happened. When Blanchard first spoke with the police she told them she was 19. Gypsy’s father, Rod Blanchard, had to clarify she was actually 23.  

According to the HBO documentary, Dee Dee told her she suffered from asthma, epilepsy, hearing and vision impairments, had to be fed with by a feeding tube, was paralyzed from the waist down, and suffered from intellectual disabilities. During medical visits gypsy was told to not move her legs and to just play with the dolls she would bring with her as Dee Dee did all of the talking.  

Gypsy kept the facade for years, but as she became older, she expressed feelings of wanting freedom and love.

Attorney Mike Stanfield told BuzzFeed that Gypsy was so undernourished that during the year she was in the county jail, she gained 14 pounds, in contrast to most of his clients who lose weight in that situation.

In July 2015, she accepted a plea bargain agreement of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Speaking with various media outlets, Blanchard says she was able to research Munchausen syndrome by proxy and said her mother had every symptom.

She also says she feels freer in prison than she was before with her mother.

Blanchard is now serving her sentence in Missouri’s Chillicothe Correctional Center.

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Bo Byram is back. Nathan MacKinnon is returning. The Avalanche’s NHL-leading scoring clip is bound to surge.

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Bo Byram’s return sparks Avalanche in victory over Nashville Predators

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said if rookie Bo Byram had shot quicker a couple of times on Saturday night, the dynamic young defenseman would have had three goals against Nashville.

Following Colorado’s 6-2 victory, Bednar also could have said if star center Nathan MacKinnon was in the lineup, the Avs could have reached seven goals for the fourth time in eight games.

Bottom line: Colorado proved in November that it is loaded offensively, and has the ability to become more dangerous when MacKinnon rejoins Byram in the lineup on Wednesday at Toronto. The Avs are 7-1 in MacKinnon’s latest absence and 5-1 without both MacKinnon and Byram this month.

They have averaged 5.4 goals in the past eight games to lead the NHL in scoring at 4.00. And their .750 winning percentage in November (7-2-1) is a club record.

What happens when MacKinnon follows Byram in rejoining the lineup in the next game on Wednesday at Toronto? Perhaps MacKinnon will realize he doesn’t have to be the superstar for this team to score more goals than it allows, and that diminished pressure will add to the team’s chemistry.

“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Mikko Rantanen, who had three goals and four points against the Preds, said of MacKinnon. “Getting one of the best players back to the team is only going to help us.”

Byram is certainly an important side piece, and he adds to what already is the NHL’s most multi-faceted blue-line corps.

Byram, who settled for the game-winning goal and four shots in logging 22:00 after missing six games with another concussion, was the second coming of Cale Makar against the Preds. That’s a big statement as Makar, the 2021 Norris Trophy finalist who is on an offensive tear, had seven goals and 12 points in his career-high six-game points streak.

Bednar had high praise for Byram for how quickly the 20-year-old returned to his dominant nature while coming off at least his third concussion of 2021.

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