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Wife Discovers Trove of Letters From Husband After His Death


iStock/Thinkstock(LONGVIEW, Texas) -- Even after his death, Mitchell Whisenhunt has found a way to surprise and bring comfort to his wife and young daughter, with a trove of letters he designated to be opened on certain dates.

Whisenhunt, who would have turned 27 next week, lost his battle with Marfan syndrome last Saturday. The rare genetic disorder affects the body's connective tissue, which is used to hold together organs, cells and tissue.

Ashley Whisenhunt, 22, cared for her husband until his death, but said she was astonished when she discovered the 30 letters he left for her and their 18-month-old daughter, Brynleigh.

The little girl will grow up with a letter every year from her second to 18th birthday from a man she didn't get to spend much time with but who left no doubt that he loved her unconditionally.

"Through his testimony, there is so much she is going to learn," Whisenhunt told ABC News.

One letter was also addressed to their Longview, Texas, community, thanking them for their support.

"It just blows my mind," Whisenhunt said of her husband's secret gesture. "He thought about everybody else instead of himself."


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Whisenhunt said she would respect her husband's wishes and open each letter as he planned. However, there was one special surprise left for her that she said hit her the hardest.

In a spiral notebook that Whisenhunt used before she dropped out of college to care for her husband, he wrote a letter to her asking that she publish a book of poetry he had had written.

"He is all I ever had," Whisenhunt said of the man she fell in love with as a teenager. "We have been together since before we knew what love and life was about."

Mitchell Whisenhunt planned his own funeral, and as his wife raises money to pay for it, she said she can't help but wonder what other surprises her husband has in store.

"There are ones we still don't know about," she said. "The funeral director said he couldn't tell me. It was Mitchell's plan and secret."

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Indiana Serial Killer Suspect Refuses to Speak in Court


iStock/Thinkstock(CROWN POINT, Ind.) -- The accused serial killer who police say confessed to murdering at least seven women in Indiana refused to speak to a judge in court Wednesday, forcing her to cancel the arraignment.

Suspect Darren Vann was silent as Judge Kathleen Sullivan asked him to swear to tell the truth at the Lake County Jail in Crown Point. Instead of speaking, Vann stared straight ahead.

Sullivan postponed the hearing until next week.

Vann's silence comes after he cooperated with police, confessing to seven murders and showing police where to find the bodies.

Vann, 43, was arrested in the Friday murder of a 19-year-old woman at a motel in Hammond, Indiana. She was later identified as Afrikka Hardy, who had recently moved to Indiana from Aurora, Colorado. Police say she was involved in a prostitution ring and Vann met her, along with other alleged victims, through listings on Backpage.com.

Vann helped authorities locate the bodies of six other victims, all stashed in abandoned homes in Gary, Indiana, because "he was looking for a type of deal with prosecution," Hammond Police Chief John D. Doughty said at a press conference this week.

Vann indicated to police that his murders date back two decades, and police suggested there could be additional victims.

The Lake County coroner said Wednesday that they have identified four of the women and are seeking the public's help in identifying the remaining three. Seventeen families have called the coroner's office to make missing persons reports to see if the victims were their family members.

The coroner said at least one other woman was strangled, and the cause of death of the remaining five was not yet determined.

At least three of the victims were skeletonized by the time they were found, a process that could take between two weeks and months depending on the environment, a spokeswoman for the coroner's office said. Two of the skeletonized bodies were found together.

The office asked that anyone with information about the victims to call 219-755-3267.

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Texas Woman Gives Birth 20 Hours After Home Burns Down


iStock/Thinkstock(HITCHCOCK, Texas) -- Newlyweds in Texas are rebuilding their lives after a fire burned down their home -- just 20 hours before they welcomed their son into the world.

Chad and Leslie Hunt, of Hitchcock, Texas, were out to dinner Saturday night, celebrating their two-year dating anniversary and one-month wedding anniversary, when they got a phone call from a friend that their apartment was on fire.

“I thought it was a joke but realized it was real,” Chad Hunt, 24, told ABC News. “We were focused on getting home and getting our dog, but by the time we got there it was too late.”

The couple’s dog died and they lost all of their belongings in the electrical fire that started in the ceiling of the apartment below theirs and shot straight up into the nursery they had spent months creating for their then-unborn son.

“We just had what we were wearing and had go-bags packed for the hospital and that’s it,” said Hunt.


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As the couple stood outside their home speaking with firefighters and Red Cross officials, Leslie’s water broke.

The couple raced to the hospital and, after 20 hours of labor, Leslie, 21, gave birth to a son they named Casey.

“I think that if she would have gone into labor earlier and she had been at home with the baby, all three of us would have died,” Chad said. “It really is a blessing that it happened while we were out.”

The family of three is now staying in a room in Leslie’s mother’s house while they try to find a new place to live.

With no homeowners’ insurance, the couple is starting completely over, according to Chad, who works for a local air conditioning company. Despite the circumstances, he says they have been touched by the generosity of others.

“Randomly people stopped by the hospital with clothes for us and clothes for the baby so we have stuff to make do for right now,” he said. “I’d like to say thank you to everyone and their generosity.”

Friends have also started a GoFundMe page for the family. Donations have soared to above $6,000 in just the two days since it was created.

“It’s such a blessing to have all this help,” Chad said. “It could have been a lot worse."

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Eric Frein Lookalike Stopped by Cops 20 Times in Manhunt


iStock/Thinkstock(CANADENSIS, Pa.) -- A Pennsylvania man says he's been stopped by police more than 20 times as authorities continue to search the area where he lives for accused cop killer Eric Frein.

James Tully's walk to work crosses right through the manhunt area near Canadensis, where police have been searching the woods for Frein for more than five weeks.

Once, he said he was even ambushed at gunpoint by authorities who thought he was the suspect, Tully recalled.

"Because I'm walking and I'm carrying a book bag, and for some reason people seem to think I'm the one they're looking for," Tully told ABC News affiliate WNEP, adding that he's been stopped by police too many times to remember.

"I've lost count after 20 in total," he said. "The most on one round trip stretch was about seven times."

Tully, who works for a metal manufacturing factory, has started wearing his employer ID card around his neck and a reflective vest on his walks.

"The one they're hunting for, he's not going to stand out," Tully said. "He's going to try and blend in. I want to stand out so I can let them know; look, I'm not the one they're looking for. Just let me go on my way."

Pennsylvania State Police did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Increased police presence has hurt businesses in the Pocono Mountains and put locals on edge, residents have said. In press conferences about the manhunt, Lt. Col George Bivens has repeatedly thanked people who live in the area for their support.

Pocono Mountain Schools were closed on Tuesday after a reported sighting of Frein near the school campus, but reopened on Wednesday.

Frein, a self-trained survivalist, is accused of shooting two troopers, killing one and injuring another, at the Blooming Grove police barracks on Sept. 12, and then fleeing into the woods.

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What Supreme Court Did (and Did Not) Reveal About Three Hot Button Issues


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Without uttering a word from the bench, the Supreme Court acted on major hot button issues in the last month concerning voting rights, abortion and gay marriage.

The cases weren’t on the Court’s argument calendar. Parties were either asking the Court to act on an emergency basis to freeze a lower court decision, or requesting that the Court step in and take a case for later in the term.

The Court responded by issuing orders that were usually only a few sentences long. We never got the majority’s reasoning, but in some cases a few of the Justices released a public dissent.

Here’s some of what we know, and what we don’t, about the hot button issues:

Voting Rights:

The court sent a strong signal that it didn’t like voting changes made too close to an election. It allowed voting restrictions to remain in effect in North Carolina, Texas and Ohio. It stopped Wisconsin’s Voter ID law from going into effect.

But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most senior member of the liberal wing of the Court, had a couple of things she wanted to make clear: the country, she believes, is now feeling the impact of the Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County that invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

In two separate dissents, she pointed out that voting restrictions in Texas and North Carolina would most likely not have been able to stand in pre-Shelby days.

She said the Texas Voter ID law “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5% of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification.”

Abortion:

The Court blocked part of Texas’ abortion law from going into effect pending appeal. Pro choice groups praised the court’s order saying that several abortion clinics -- forced to close because of a lower court ruling -- would be able to reopen while the merits of the case were argued.

What’s interesting in this case is that while Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas publicly dissented, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy were publicly silent.

The court’s action was not a ruling on the merits; it simply granted an emergency application from pro-choice groups fearful that the state would be left with just seven clinics. But the silence on the part of Roberts and Kennedy gave the groups some hope that they might be able to get five votes down the road to permanently strike down provisions of the law.

Gay Marriage:

The justices cleared the way for gay marriage in several states when the Court declined to step in and review seven cases from three appeals courts. President Obama went as far as telling the New Yorker that the Court’s action was as “consequential” as anything the Court has done.

We may never know what went on behind closed doors when the justices made their decision. It would have taken four votes to grant any one of the cases. Every justice knew that if the Court chose not to take up the cases, in short order 35 states would allow gay marriage.

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Passenger Arriving at Newark Evaluated for Possible Ebola


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UPDATE: Officials say the United flight 998 passenger evaluated for Ebola symptoms does not have the virus.

"There have been no positive indications of Ebola, including the passenger taken to the hospital in Newark last night," Pat Foye, head of teh Port Authority said Wednesday morning.

(NEWARK, N.J.) — A passenger who arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport from Brussels on United flight 998 Tuesday was being evaluated for possible symptoms of Ebola, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The passenger was taken by ambulance to University Hospital in Newark, N.J., which was designated as the facility for any passengers flagged by health screeners at the airport, the CDC said.

"During the enhanced screening process for individuals arriving to the United States from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, an individual was identified as reporting symptoms or having a potential exposure to Ebola," the CDC said in a statement Tuesday night. "The passenger is being transported to a local hospital for further evaluation."

The CDC said that if it is determined that the other passengers were in any risk of exposure they will be contacted by CDC or state or local health officials.

United said in a statement: "Health officials examined a passenger. The other customers were cleared and deplaned normally."

Additionally Tuesday, an adult and a child, both of whom began their trips in Liberia, were taken from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago to hospitals to be evaluated for Ebola, although in both cases the CDC decided not to test for Ebola.

Enhanced screening measures for passengers arriving from the three West African countries went into effect just this week. According to those measures, passengers arriving in the U.S. from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia can only disembark at five airports, including Newark and O'Hare.


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Samantha Greenlee, Pregnant 22-Year-Old, Found Dead in Ohio


Columbus Division of Police(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The body of a missing pregnant 22-year-old Ohio woman was found and her boyfriend is under arrest, charged with her murder, authorities told ABC News.

Samantha Greenlee had been missing since Oct. 8.

Her boyfriend, Jacob Ferrero, 22, who’s also the father of her unborn child, was arrested by the Columbus Police Department Wednesday morning. He’s charged with murder and aggravated arson, and he is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday, according to the arrest report.

Ferrero gave a full confession to a fire investigator before leading police to the location of Greenlee’s body, authorities told ABC News.

Greenlee was last seen working her waitressing shift at a local restaurant before heading home, police said. Two days later, she missed a doctor’s appointment –- and a fire broke out in the apartment, with Ferrero telling police that their dog kicked over a candle, igniting the fire.

He later confessed to starting the fire as a way to cover up Greenlee's death, authorities said.

The developments in the case come hours after family and friends held a vigil, hoping for Greenlee’s safe return.

“She was a caring person. She always thought about other people,” her father Douglas Greenlee told ABC News on Tuesday. “She would do stuff for others before she would think about herself.”

Greenlee’s mother Winnie Chutes said it was uncommon for her daughter to go so long without contact.

“Samantha would have contacted us by now. There’s a reason why she’s not contacting us,” Chutes said.

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Ben Bradlee, Top "Washington Post" Editor During Watergate, Dies At 93


Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  Ben Bradlee, the legendary executive editor of the Washington Post during the Watergate era, has died, the newspaper reported on its website Tuesday night. He was 93.

A native of Boston, Bradlee began his career at the age of 20 in a grand fashion. He graduated from Harvard, got married to his first wife, Jean Saltonstall, and joined the U.S. Navy, serving in the South Pacific.

He went on to work for Newsweek, first in postwar Paris and then in Washington D.C., where he counted then-Senator John F. Kennedy as a friend. Bradlee was promoted to managing editor of the Washington Post in 1965 and rose through the ranks to become executive editor in 1968. It was a post Bradlee held until his retirement in 1991.

During his tenure, Bradlee steered the newspaper to national prominence, in part by reporting on the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

While Bradlee was known as a top editor in Washington, he became a household name when the movie All the President's Men, detailing the Watergate scandal, hit the big screen in 1976.

Bradlee was portrayed by actor Jason Robards, who starred alongside Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, who played reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.

The Washington Post credits Bradlee with helping to expand its coverage by opening bureaus around the world, leading to it becoming one of the most preeminent newspapers in the United States.

Bradlee's wife, Sally Quinn, said in a recent television interview with C-SPAN that her husband of 36 years had dementia and suffered a decline in health in recent months.

Seeing her husband's decline was "the most horrible experience I have ever had," Quinn said.

However, she said her ability to care for him was something she held "sacred."

Bradlee was awarded the Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2013 for his reporting and leadership during the Vietnam War and Watergate. He also still loved catching up with old colleagues -- something Quinn said her husband did until recently.

"He was going to the office once a week to have lunch with the guys," Quinn said. "They would talk about the good old days and journalism."

President Obama released a statement on Tuesday night calling Bradlee a "true newspaperman."

"The standard he set – a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting – encouraged so many others to enter the profession," the statement continued, offering thoughts and prayers to Bradlee's family.


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Three American Girls En Route to Syria Tracked Down by FBI


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI has tracked down three American teenage girls in Germany as they were en route to Syria to join militant groups, a law enforcement official told ABC News Tuesday.

The girls, who are from the Denver area, were trying "to fulfill what they believe is some vision that has been put out on a slick media campaign" by radical groups in Syria, including ISIS, the official said.

This is part of a worrisome trend of "disaffected youth" who are being radicalized, the official said, pointing to the wider phenomenon of foreign fighters converging on the conflict in the region. While these girls were 15 or 16 years old, there are other cases of high-school-age kids trying to get to Syria that haven’t been made public, the official said.

The girls were persuaded to travel overseas and were in contact with someone in Germany, the official said, noting that someone close to them notified authorities.

They were turned around and sent back to the United States, the official said, noting that because they are minors, it's not clear whether they will be charged with anything or be "arrested."

According to a federal law enforcement source briefed on the case, two of the girls are sisters, ages 15 and 17, and the third girl is 16 years old.

The sisters are believed to be of Somali nationality, and the third girl is believed to be Sudanese, though the citizenship and immigration status of all three girls is unclear.


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Wireless Store Robbed of $100K Worth of Phones and Computers


Apple(GARDEN GROVE, Calif.) -- In what could be described as the modern day equivalent of a jewelry store heist, thieves in Garden Grove, California, broke into a wireless store early Tuesday morning and made off with what cops say was about a $100,000 worth of phones and computers.

The robbers apparently knew what they were looking for because Oztec Wireless said that around 100 Apple iPhone6s were taken along with 20 iPads and a bunch of laptops.

A surveillance video spotted three hooded men, assumed to be in their 20s, breaking into the store and then using bolt cutters to shatter glass cases containing their ill-gotten gain.

Store owner Vu Bui first learned what happened when he was awakened by security company ADT and then viewed the video of the heist on his phone.

By the time he arrived, the crooks were long gone but left a trail of electronics around the back of the store that led to their escape route.

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Dallas Ebola Nurse Nina Pham Upgraded to Good Condition


The Pham Family(BETHESDA, Md.) -- Nina Pham, the first nurse who contracted Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, was upgraded from fair condition to good condition on Tuesday.

Pham was transferred to the National Institute of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda on Oct. 16. Prior to departing the Dallas hosital, Pham had been listed in good condition, but was downgraded upon arrival in Maryland. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH's Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, declined to say why she was listed in fair condition following the trip, but said she had endured a long trip from Dallas.

According to an NIH statement, Pham "has expressed her gratitude for everyone's concerns and well wishes."

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Coach Suspensions Continued in NJ High School Football Hazing Scandal


ABC News(SAYREVILLE, N.J.) -- The Board of Education at the New Jersey high school embroiled in a football hazing scandal continued the suspension of the team's coaches with pay during an emotional meeting Tuesday night.

Among the teachers suspended at Sayreville War Memorial High School were five with tenure, including head football coach George Najjar. The board said it would continue its investigation of the incidents, which allegedly involved older members of the team brutalizing freshmen players.

Seven football players at the school accused in the hazing scandal face a variety of criminal charges as investigators try to determine the depths of the alleged abuse. Three students face sex-crime charges, and others face charges including aggravated sexual assault to conspiracy and criminal restraint.

The players were charged after four victims were allegedly held against their will in four separate incidents, while the defendants improperly touched them in a sexual manner, police said.

The seven suspects have all been suspended from school, with the football season canceled indefinitely amid the hazing investigation. There have been no official statements on any involvement by the coaches in the hazing.

Authorities with the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office have not announced whether they intend to charge any of them as adults.

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Times Square Bus Driver Goes From Suspect to Hero


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- No charges will be filed against a New York bus driver who was arrested after he smashed into a lamp post in Times Square this summer, after an investigation into the crash determined that the driver was actually a hero.

William Dalambert was at the wheel of a Gray Line bus in August when the bus slammed into a lamp post, knocking it down. Several people were injured. Dalambert was arrested and police initially said he had failed a sobriety test.

A full drug and alcohol screen test was performed later, which cleared Dalambert of being impaired.

"As part of the two-month-long investigation, prosecutors interviewed numerous eyewitnesses, including the only witness on the bus, a tour guide riding with Dalambert at the time of the crash," a statement from the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said.

"After obtaining phone records, video, and running tests on an identical bus, we have concluded that a mechanical failure caused the bus to lurch forward, at which time the driver steered the bus away from a crowded sidewalk, thereby averting serious injury to those on the sidewalk," the statement said.

The DA's office said Dalambert "voluntarily submitted to sobriety and toxicology tests, which came back negative."

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Jodi Arias Death Penalty Trial Begins with Shocking Photo


ABC News(PHOENIX) -- The death penalty phase of Jodi Arias' murder trial started Tuesday with both sides promising it would be just as lurid and grisly as last year's murder trial.

The prosecution began its case with a shocking photo. Prosecutor Juan Martinez showed a photo of Arias' ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander's throat slit within minutes of starting to make his case, saying, "This is how much she loved him."

And Martinez ended his opening statement by telling the jury, "The only just punishment in this case is death."

Arias' defense attorney Kirk Nurmi argued that she shouldn't be put to death because she has been diagnosed with both post traumatic stress disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, calling her a "troubled, mentally ill young woman."

The Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona was filled with supporters on either side, including Alexander's siblings on one side of the room and Arias' parents and brother on the other.

Arias, now 34, was found guilty of murder last year by a jury that rejected her argument that she shot Alexander, stabbed him numerous times and slit his throat in self defense. But the first jury was unable to agree on whether Arias should be condemned to death.

The current jury of 12 women and six men -- which includes six alternates -- will be asked to decide whether Arias is executed.

"It is up to you to write the final chapter of this story," said Nurmi, a state-appointed defense attorney who represented Arias throughout the nearly six-month trial last year.

Nurmi dedicated much of his nearly 45-minute opening statement issuing warnings to the jury, warning that there will be graphic evidence including autopsy photos, sexually explicit photos, and transcriptions of the X-rated text messages that Arias exchanged with Alexander in the months before his June 2008 murder.

Nurmi stressed how Arias had no prior criminal history, suffered alleged physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her parents, and then allegedly experienced more emotional and physical abuse from Alexander, a Mormon motivational speaker.

The lawyer characterized her relationship with Alexander as "one of lust, passion, forbidden sex."

The original trial included a flood of explicit descriptions about their sexual encounters. The murder trial was live-streamed, but the current judge has allowed a camera to be in the courtroom. However, the judge ordered that no footage of the proceedings can be released after the sentence is handed down.

Much of the evidence brought up in the original trial is expected to be raised once more, largely by the prosecution who will try to convince the jury that her actions before Alexander's death indicate the killing was premeditated rather than a crime committed in the heat of the moment.

Martinez started this effort Tuesday, telling the jury about how she bought gas out of state to allegedly avoid a credit card trail at gas stations close to Alexander's house.

He also showed photos of the crime scene retrieved from Arias' camera that police found in Alexander's laundry machine.

The court estimates that the sentencing trial could take two months.

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Creepy Clown Sightings Spread Across Nation


KOAT(NEW YORK) -- Days after several reports of spooky clowns alarming residents in California, pranksters in similar costumes are popping up in other states.

Sgt. Tom Weger of the Fishers Police Department in Indiana thinks his town is dealing with a copycat.

"We have had over the past week three calls of a suspicious person dressed in a creepy clown outfit," Weger told ABC News Tuesday. "We believe it's just one individual dressing up as a clown and kind of creeping people out a bit."

Police looked for the clown but never found him, he added.

"As of right now, he hasn't broken any law," Weger said.

The reports come after similar sightings this month in Bakersfield, California, and the launch of social media accounts using the name "Wasco Clown," showing a scary clown posing at different locations in Bakersfield and nearby cities.

Fishers, Indiana, isn't alone in the new sightings, days before Halloween. Residents of Albuquerque, New Mexico, were recently spooked when a scary clown posed for a photo in front of a local restaurant and posted it on social media. But the clown, Tickles, told ABC News affiliate KOAT-TV in Albuquerque that he didn't mean any harm by the scary photo.

"I haven't gotten any phone calls, but we've had several news outlets here in Albuquerque report on it," Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Tanner Tixier said of the spooky clown. "It has not become a police matter yet."

And clowns have also reportedly appeared in Jacksonville, Florida, popping up on security footage.

The World Clown Association says such spooky sightings are giving clowns a bad rap.

"People dressed as horror clowns are not 'real clowns,'" World Clown Association President-elect Randy Christensen said. "They are taking something innocent and wholesome and perverting it to create fear in their audience."

Clowns, he added, should promote "positive, family-friendly" enjoyment.

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