WEDNESDAY EVENING UPDATE

FATAL HOUSE FIRE MAY BE LINKED TO CAR FIRE

Tankers were on the scene of a house fire in Griswold on Wednesday morning.(WFSB)

Tankers were on the scene of a house fire in Griswold on Wednesday morning. (WFSB)

GRISWOLD, Conn. (AP) – State police say one person has died following an early-morning house fire in Griswold that is apparently connected to a car fire in another Connecticut town. Firefighters responded to what was called a “fully-involved house fire” at Kenwood Estates shortly after 5 a.m. Wednesday and later found one unidentified person dead inside the residence. No other injuries were reported. Trooper Kelly Grant, a spokeswoman for the state police, says detectives were also called to a fire in an abandoned car in Glastonbury Wednesday morning. He says an initial investigation found that vehicle to be associated to the house fire in Griswold but no other details were immediately available. A state police spokesman says the department’s fire and explosion investigation and Eastern District major crime units are continuing the probe.

PLAINFIELD DEATH A SUICIDE

Police were searching for an armed man in the Central Village section of Plainfield (WFSB)The death of a Plainfield man Tuesday night in the woods of Central Village has been ruled a suicide. Medical examiners say 37-year old James Benoit, Junior shot himself in the head, after exchanging gunfire with police. Residents in the area of Deibler Lane and Black Hill Road were told by police to stay inside their homes Tuesday afternoon and evening while state police searched the area using a helicopter and drone. Benoit was later found dead. He was facing charges of third-degree larceny after he was found driving a vehicle he apparently took without the owner’s permission in Old Saybrook. This after disappearing for awhile after his Canterbury home burned down in March.

ARREST WARRANT TO BE ISSUED IN FATAL STABBING

new-london-policeAn arrest warrant has been obtained in connection with a fatal New London stabbing. Police say 28-year old Jerome Hudson is accused of killing 27-year old Travon Brown Sunday afternoon. Police found the victim in a house near the intersection of Grand and Elm Streets. He was later pronounced dead at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital. Hudson is already being held on 250-thousand dollars bond on unrelated charges. The murder charge warrant is expected to be served soon.

JEWELRY FRAUD

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – A Connecticut man has pleaded guilty to what federal authorities described as a $5 million fraud scheme using his Rhode Island jewelry store. The U.S. attorney’s office in Rhode Island says 52-year-old Gerald Kent, of Groton made a plea deal Wednesday with prosecutors. Kent owned Kent Jewelry, which sold jewelry online primarily to Groupon and Zulily. He pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The identity theft charge has a mandatory minimum two-year sentence, which will be consecutive to his sentence for wire fraud. Prosecutors say Kent made a deal with a firm in Chicago that buys unpaid invoices. Prosecutors say he sold approximately $5 million in fraudulent invoices and made about $3.6 million through the scheme. Kent is scheduled to be sentenced March 9.

MANSON HOUSING UNIT TO CLOSE

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says his administration is closing one of 10 housing units at the Manson Youth Institution, a juvenile detention facility in Cheshire. The Democratic governor said Wednesday the planned closure will save the state of Connecticut more than $600,000 in annual operating costs. The Manson Youth Institution, a high-security facility, currently houses 490 offenders under the age of 22 who have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing. At its peak, the facility once held 700 inmates. Malloy credits recent juvenile justice reforms and declining arrests for the reduction in inmates. His office says the number of inmates between the ages of 18 and 21 in Department of Correction custody has dropped by 62 percent since 2009. The administration has also closed other facilities in recent years.

GROTON UTILITIES PROPOSING RATE CHANGES

Groton UtilitiesRatepayers aren’t expected to see much of a change in how much they’re charged for electricity, under a new proposal from Groton Utilities. It’s looking to increase the monthly base charge residential customers pay, while lowering usage charges. G-U officials say it’ll provide a more stable income for the utility. The three-year plan would boost rates by a half-percentage point in year one, and lesser increases after that. The city’s utilities commission will schedule a public hearing and vote on the plan, which would then go to the city council.

AIRPORT RUNWAYS TO STAY THE SAME

WESTERLY, R.I. (AP) – A Rhode Island town council has voted to retain the current runways at the Westerly Airport. Toward the end of a nearly seven-hour-long meeting that started Monday night, the Westerly Town Council voted five to two to oppose displacement or shortening of runways at the airport. The Westerly Sun reports that the Rhode Island Airport Corporation has said it will use the vote to guide future decisions at the airport. The council will draft a letter on about their decision through the town attorney. The letter will inform the corporation that the council will not get involved in disputes between residents and the corporation. The Rhode Island Airport Corporation is waiting for a report from a surveyor it hired to inspect the airport and the approach zones to its runways.

LOTS OF HOOTING

Snowy owl (Westerly Sun)

Snowy owl (Westerly Sun)

WESTERLY, R.I. (AP) – New England is seeing a large number of snowy owls arrive in the region this winter due to an irregular phenomenon called an irruption. Avian officials in Rhode Island say there are approximately 18 of the large white owls currently in Rhode Island, with a number seen on Westerly’s shore. The birds are from a far-north region of Quebec and the current irruption is one of the largest in years. The reason for the irruption is due to a previous boom in lemming populations – snowy owls’ primary food source – that leads to more owls being hatched, causing owls to fly south in search of more food in subsequent years. The owls are expected to head back north in March.

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