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Latest from Steven Ponson

    Jacksonville Beach Police need your help identifying a woman accused of stealing shoes from someone’s house on Ocean Drive South over the weekend. Police say the woman walked up to the victim’s porch and stole a pair of shoes from the box. If you’ve got any information on who this person could be you’re asked to call police at 904-247-6339 or you could email them at tipline@jaxbchfl.net.
  • WOKV’s Consumer Warrior Clark Howard is out with a new warning for anyone giving gift cards this holiday season. Clark says this year there have reportedly been a rise in the number of hackers that have been able to compromise retailers gift card systems. He says they do it through a program which allows them to get the codes on the gift cards and the card number combinations which allows them to use the money on the card before you can. “The problem is when a gift cards compromised, the retailers never make good on the money pretty much. That’s been our experience.” Clark says. Clark says if you do plan on giving a card this year, find one that gives you bonus money when you buy it.
  • Thousands more Floridians are expected to travel this year for Thanksgiving compared to last year according to AAA Florida. More than 85,000 more are expected and most of them are forecast to hit the road. “76,000 more people on the roads means more congestion, means more slowdowns.” Mark Jenkins spokesman for AAA Florida says. Overall AAA says nearly 2.9 Million Floridians are expected to travel this year. He says the busiest day for travel will be Wednesday regardless of if you are driving or flying. If you are looking to avoid any potential pressure points on the roads, Jenkins says leaving in the morning or a few days before will be your best bet.  If you are flying, Jenkins says expect long TSA lines at the airport with more and more people flying out though Wednesday. Jenkins suggests the best day to travel if you can will be Thanksgiving Day.
  • The Navy is investigating the cause of a fire on USS Iwo Jima at Naval Station Mayport.  The fire started in a cargo hold just before Midnight. The ship’s crew, as well as Sailors from USS The Sullivans, federal firefighters, and the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department responded.  The fire was extinguished by 4:35 am, according to Mayport Naval Station public affairs.  In all 11 Iwo Jima Sailors reported minor injuries, reported as heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. They were treated at the scene and released. Iwo Jima was completing a maintenance availability and did not have any weapons or munitions aboard. Mayport says there was no damage to any adjacent ships or to any of the infrastructure where the ship was at on the base.
  • After hearing feedback from the community, the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners says access to Mickler’s Landing Beachfront Park will now be open Monday through Friday from 11AM until sunset while dune restoration continues along the beach. WOKV reported earlier this week when commissioners changed the schedule to just Friday through Monday. Commissioners say dune restoration efforts will continue during weekdays from 6AM until 11AM when access to the park is opened to the public. Beach access will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday from sunrise to sunset. The new schedule will begin this upcoming Friday. If you’ve got any other questions on the dune restoration project you can call 904-209-0333.
  • The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is working to identify a woman, whose body they found floating in the Intracoastal Waterway in the southern part of the county Monday morning. Deputies say before 8:30 AM Monday morning, they received a report that someone was floating near The Riverview Club near St. Augustine Shores. We’re told the St. Johns County Major Crimes detectives are in the early stages of figuring out who the person is and the circumstances for how they got there. At this time, deputies say they don’t have any recent reports of suspicious circumstances or missing persons, so they’re asking anyone with information to reach out. The woman is described as a black woman in her late teens to late 20’s. She’s described as being 5’7’’ tall and weighing around 140 pounds. Deputies say she also has a rose tattoo on her upper right thigh.   
  • It’s one of the largest Veterans Day Parades in the country and its right here in Jacksonville. Monday morning at 11, tens of thousand of people are expected to come out and honor veterans in all branches of the military during the parade which begins at the Sports Complex and will snake its way through downtown and end at the Prime Osborne Convention Center.  This year’s Grand Marshall is Staff Sergeant John Connelly who joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 when he was inspired by Uncle Sam Posters. The Director of Military Affairs and Veterans for the City of Jacksonville Bill Spann says Connelly is the real deal. “He’s a true American hero and we’re proud and honored to have him.” Spann says.  During the war, Connelly was also a POW in Germany and survived a 500-kilometer, 52-day brutal forced march to another prison camp. Spann tells WOKV that Connelly and two other prisoners were able to evade another forced march by hiding in a Polish barrack until the country was eventually liberated.  Connally won’t be the only World War Two veteran in the parade. Spann says he will be joined by three of the oldest veterans in Jacksonville. Kathleen Smith will also be there, and she is in her 90’s and served in the Woman’s Army Corps in 1943. William Tomka and Sollie Mitchell will also be there and they are both 101 years old. There are also road closures associated with this parade. The city says from 6 AM to 3 PM Gator Bowl Blvd. from A. Phillip Randolph Blvd. to Adams Street will be closed. And from 11AM through 2 PM the following streets will be closed: Bay Street from A. Phillip Randolph Blvd. to Newnan Street Newnan Street from Bay Street to Independent Street Independent/Water Streets from Newnan Street to Lee Street Lee Street from Water Street to Adams Street Bay Street from Lee Street to the I-10 Entrance ramp on Bay Street The city says Liberty and Market streets will remain open to access and exit the Berkman Plaza and the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel. If you’d like you go to the parade you’re encouraged to wear red, white and blue and bring your American flags.
  • UPDATE: 11/12/19 6:00 PM: The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says the mother of missing 5-year-old Taylor Williams has been arrested on felony charges of child neglect and giving false information to investigators.   JSO Sheriff Mike Williams says 27-year-old Brianna Williams has been absentee booked into jail, after being admitted to a local hospital following an apparent overdose. He says Brianna Williams is currently in serious condition.   As for the human remains found in Alabama, Sheriff Williams says early indications are that this may be Taylor Williams, but an exact identification will require further forensic analysis.   State Attorney Melissa Nelson says despite the arrest, this investigation is far from over.   'Obviously, at this time, many questions still loom and our office's work is just beginning. The information we have is, frankly, staggering and the legal implications complicated. This will require the systematic investigation of every piece of information,' says Nelson.   When asked whether any other people were involved in this case, JSO says they will continue to investigate every lead. Currently, police say no one else is in custody.  Police are also not yet giving any information on how long that they believe Taylor Williams has been missing. If you have information on this case, you are still urged to reach out to the sheriff's office. UPDATE: 11/12/19 1:00 PM: The Demopolis Police Department in Alabama says human remains have been uncovered in a wooded area between the cities of Linden and Demopolis.   This area has been the focus of the search in recent days for missing 5-year-old Taylor Williams. Demopolis police say victim identification on these remains is pending at this time. Demopolis police say the search effort in that area was a massive operation and included both Alabama agencies and multiple units out of Jacksonville, including the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue, as well as the State Attorney's Office.   Demopolis police say JSO will await confirmation as forensics tests are completed. It adds that operational efforts will now shift to secure and process the evidence at the scene. Taylor Williams was first reported missing on November 6th. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office named her mother, Brianna Williams, a person of interest during a press conference on Monday. UPDATE 11/12/19 10:00 AM:  Action News Jax Reporter Bridgette Matter reports from Demopolis, Alabama, where JSO and JFRD crews have gathered in the search.  UPDATE 11/11/19 2:00 PM:    Jacksonville Police now consider the mother of missing 5-year-old Taylor Williams a person of interest in the case as the search for the missing girl is expanding. Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams says Taylor’s mother Brianna still isn’t cooperating in the investigation and she hasn’t talked to police since last Wednesday.  “We still need her cooperation in our efforts.” Sheriff Williams says.  JSO also is asking for some different information in their search. Police say if you’ve seen Taylor and her mother Brianna together anywhere between Jacksonville and Alabama in the last two weeks to give them a call. They believe Brianna was driving her 2017 Black Honda Accord that had tinted windows and black rims.  Search efforts are also moving to Alabama. Sheriff Williams says resources from JSO and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue are heading to the Demopolis area in the western part of the state to help with search efforts there.  Sheriff Williams is still hopeful they will find Taylor alive. UPDATE: 11/7/19 4:00 PM:  As the search continues for missing 5-year-old Taylor Williams, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says more than 300 of their officers have responded to help, knocking on more than 600 doors in the last 30 hours, in hopes of getting any information. Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams says Taylor's mother, Brianna Williams, was initially cooperating with the investigation, but since then he says she has stopped cooperating.   Sheriff Williams says Brianna Williams stopped cooperating, when detectives were trying to talk with her about some 'inconsistencies' in her statement.  He did not elaborate on what those included. 'Here's what we know: We know that Brianna Williams was the last person to see Taylor and we need for her to cooperate with us in this investigation. So, we remain hopeful that we will find Taylor. We're not going to stop in our efforts to locate her,' says Sheriff Williams.   Sheriff Williams says the sheriff's office has received hundreds of tips from the community in the search for Taylor, but they specifically want anyone that has seen Brianna and Taylor Williams together in Jacksonville within the last 6 months to reach out.   He also confirmed that JSO is working with law enforcement in Alabama, but would not comment on the nature of that.   Without any new information, Sheriff Williams says search efforts in the Brentwood area and the Southside area will be winding down, but not stopping.   At this time, he says Taylor's mother is not facing any charges and is not in custody. UPDATE 11/7/19 11:00 AM: Search efforts continue after Taylor Rose Williams was reported missing by her mother in their Brentwood home on the northside. The 5-year-old is the subject of statewide AMBER Alert.  Taylor was last seen in the area of the 600 Block of Ivy Street. She was last seen wearing purple and pink short-sleeve pajamas. Taylor is 3 feet tall and 50 lbs. She has brown eyes and black hair.  If you see her, call 911 or the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500.   UPDATE 11/6/19 6:00 PM:  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says it plans to search through the night for missing 5-year-old Taylor Rose Williams, who is at the center of an AMBER Alert. Police say their search is focused on two locations, including Williams’ home in Brentwood where her mother says she was last seen, as well as an apartment complex on Southside Boulevard where they used to live. “We’re hoping she’s not alone. We hope that if she is with a family member or a friend, we’re begging, we’re asking that you would reach out to us at (904) 630- 0500, 911. Just give us a call and let us know that Taylor is safe,” said JSO Chief T.K. Waters, during a 5:15 PM press conference on Wednesday. JSO says at this point in time, they have nearly 200 of their officers involved in the search with help from the FDLE, the FBI, mounted units, drone units, and their air unit. Police say Williams’ mother is cooperating with the investigation. ORIGINAL STORY: The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is searching for 5-year-old Taylor Rose Williams in the Brentwood area on the northside.  Taylor was reported missing from a home on Ivy Street. She was wearing a purple shirt and pink pajama pants and no shoes.  According to police, Taylor was last seen in her home around Midnight. But she was not found in her room this morning and the back door was unlocked.   The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued an AMBER Alert just past 11 am.  To activate an AMBER alert the following five (5) criteria must be met:  -The child must be under 18 years of age.  -There must be a clear indication of an abduction.  -The law enforcement agency's preliminary investigation must conclude that the child's life is in danger.  -There must be a detailed description of child, abductor and/or vehicle to broadcast to the public.  -The activation must be recommended by the local law enforcement agency of jurisdiction. Call 904-630-0500 immediately with information about Taylor Rose Williams. This is a developing story, refresh for updates. 
  • It’ll be a record hot Halloween in Northeast Florida and we could even see a few afternoon or evening showers.  Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh says we’ll get into the upper 80’s today.  “The record for today, 86. We should beat that, and if we manage to get to 90, it would be the latest 90-degree temperature ever recorded in Jacksonville.” Mike says. With the rain today, Mike says it won’t be widespread. But some relief from the heat is on the way, Mike says we won’t get out of the 60’s all day long on Friday. He says its going to be 20+ degrees cooler Friday afternoon compared to Thursday.
  • Northeast Florida is expected to see near record high temps today as our stretch of hot and humid weather continues.  Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh says today we’ll reach the mid-to-upper 80’s in Jacksonville. “The record is 86 for this date, set back in 1951. Looks like we may very well break that as long as we don’t get any showers over the airport too early because we will see a couple of showers maybe an isolated thunderstorm develop.” Mike says.   Mike says the rain today won’t be as widespread as it was yesterday. Tomorrow, Mike says it’ll be hot as we’ll get up to 88 which would easily break the record high, but finally relief will be on the way tomorrow night as a cool front moves in. We’ll start to feel cooler Friday and on through the weekend.
  • Steven Ponson


    Steven Ponson is the morning reporter for Jacksonville’s Morning News. He has been with Cox Media Group since the summer of 2015, and been living in Florida for over 20 years. Steven is an alumni of the University of Central Florida where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television and a minor in Sociology. It’s a dream come for him to work in the radio business and has a family legacy in Florida radio. When he is away from WOKV, he likes to spend time with family and friends and is an avid football and hockey fan.

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  • Police in Jacksonville Beach are investigating after more than a dozen cars were broken into over the course of a few days. It started last weekend along 5th Street South where several of those burglaries took place.  Police reports said there were 14 burglaries that happened Saturday through Monday.  Joseph Rennie said he’s hoping this weekend they don’t see a repeat.  “All in all, this is a pretty safe neighborhood. But occasionally, you have things like this happen and come up, but it’s definitely a little bit unnerving,” Rennie said.  Police said someone was going around smashing out windows of vehicles and looking for valuables inside. Wallets, credit and debit cards were taken.  Some people had nothing taken, but were left with a broken window. It happened to 6 cars on 5th Street, 4 cars on 12th, and several others on the surrounding blocks.  Rennie, like many others who live in the area, said he’s thankful he wasn’t a victim, but was surprised it happened to so many people in the area.  “There is a sense of just making sure you’re being smart about it, not leaving stuff of value in your car, kind of anywhere. But yeah, its really unfortunate to see that that’s happened, especially around the holiday season,” Rennie said.  As always, police are urging people not to leave valuables in their cars.
  • Florida, along with 29 other states, has been accepted for membership into the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), according to Governor Ron DeSantis' office. ERIC is a multi-state partnership that uses a data-matching tool to help enhance election security and make voter rolls more accurate.  The governor's office says through ERIC, member states can share information from voter registration systems, motor vehicle databases, social security death records, and US Post Office records, to help identify voters who have moved, passed away, or changed their name.  Additionally, the governor's office says ERIC will help boost voter registration as it will provide member states better information on how to contact potentially eligible, but unregistered voters.  Governor DeSantis says he has set aside an estimated $1.3 million in his 2020-2021 recommend budget to conduct outreach to these unregistered voters with a direct mailer prior to the 2020 general election.  But the governor's office says Florida's full participation in ERIC will be contingent on the state legislature signing off on his budget. Being a member of ERIC requires annual dues of around $75,000.
  • In response to a smash-and-grab burglary at a Fernandina Beach gun store where thieves stole 57 guns in 60 seconds, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the National Shooting Sports Foundation announced a reward of up to $5,000 for tips leading to the arrest of suspects or recovery of stolen guns. The burglary happened Sunday, Dec. 8 at TNT Firearms and Accessories off State Road 200 in Nassau County.  Security footage shows 3 suspects smash through a glass door before breaking glass display cases and ransacking the store of 57 rifles and handguns.  The ATF is offering a reward of up to $2,500, which will be matched by the NSSF for a total of up to $5,000.  The ATF and NSSF are working together in a national campaign to fund rewards in cases involving guns being stolen from federally licensed dealers.
  • A Virginia mother is wanted on abduction charges after authorities say she took her four children on vacation six months ago and never brought them home. The woman alleges she is saving the children from sex trafficking by their father and grandfather. Along with four misdemeanor abduction charges, Melody Bannister, 34, of Stafford, is charged with felony violation of a court order and filing a false police report, a news release from the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office said. A warrant was issued for her arrest Aug. 23, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Her children are identified as Genevieve Bannister, 13; Janelle Bannister, 12; Vivienne Bannister, 11; and Peter Bannister, 7. Genevieve is described as 5 feet, 3 inches tall and 110 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes, according to the NCMEC. Janelle is described as 5 feet, 1 inch tall and 115 pounds. Like her older sister, she has brown hair and hazel eyes. Vivienne is listed as 4 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 95 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. Peter is described as 4 feet, 1 inch tall and 90 pounds. He also brown hair and blue eyes. Bannister is described as 5 feet, 2 inches tall and 110 pounds. Like her two youngest children, she has brown hair and blue eyes. The children and their mother were last known to be traveling in a blue-green 2002 Honda Odyssey with Virginia license plate number VBH7123, Stafford County Sheriff’s Office Detective James Wright said during a segment about the case on “Live PD” on A&E. Finding Bannister and the children has become more urgent after “recent developments in the investigation have led investigators to believe the children may now be in danger,” the Sheriff’s Office’s statement said. Wright, who is lead investigator on the case, said on “Live PD” that authorities believe the missing family might be in danger due to the “clandestine nature” of the religious organization they belong to. “We’re concerned about the welfare because they are unable to take care of themselves. They don’t have any means to take care of them. Melody doesn’t have means to take care of them,” Wright told host Tom Morris Jr. Sheriff’s Office spokesman Amanda Vicinanzo said investigators believe Bannister has had help along the way from members of a religious group of which she is purportedly a member, according to the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg. The newspaper reported that the family’s pets, a white Great Pyrenees dog and white ragdoll cat, were left at one of the stops Bannister has made since leaving Virginia. “After months on the road, we had to say goodbye to our beloved pets: Our giant, bounding bundle of puppy-faced joy and our fluffy cat, whose soothing whirr often assuaged our soreness of heart,” Bannister wrote on her blog. “It is a comfort to know they are in good, loving hands, since they can no longer be in ours.” “Live PD” pointed out that Bannister has written about her religion previously, describing it as a “cult.” According to a blog she began in 2016 called Lady Adelaide’s Realm, Bannister grew up in a Quiverfull household. Followers of the Quiverfull movement believe that the men with the most children will earn the most favor from God. They shun all forms of contraception, believing that it is only God who “opens and closes the womb,” follower Kelly Swanson told NPR in 2009. The movement advocates stringent gender roles, and women are not allowed to question their husbands’ authority. They cannot work outside the home, wear pants or cut their hair. According to some of Bannister’s friends -- and a second blog the missing woman appears to have written since going on the run with her children -- the danger toward the children lies not with their mother, but in their father’s home. Bannister’s blog devoted to the allegations is subtitled “American Outlaws: The Plight of Child Sex Trafficking Victims Living Underground.” Her most recent blog post on Lady Adelaide’s Realm, dated June 28, names six men, including her father-in-law, as her children’s alleged abusers. The men are not being named because they have not been charged with a crime. ‘Will justice triumph over lawlessness this Christmas?’ A Change.org petition begging for help from Virginia and Alabama officials claims that the children’s father “conspired with (Bannister’s) father-in-law to perpetuate some of the most horrifying sexual and physical abuse imaginable upon her children.” “When local law enforcement failed to protect these children, ordering them back to live with their abuser, Melody chose to live on the wrong side of the law. What else could a truly desperate mother do?” the petition reads. Bannister has accused her husband of “deliver(ing) the children up for torture to the barn of his father.” She has accused her father-in-law of not only sexually abusing the children, but of offering them up for abuse by his friends. “The children have spoken of being given strange substances in the barn that made the world swim before their eyes and caused the taunting faces of their abusers to converge together in a dizzying blur,” Bannister wrote. She wrote on the blog that her only crimes were “believing (her) children when they disclosed a lifetime of ongoing abuse” and “reporting (it) to the Stafford, Virginia, police.” Stafford County officials said that an investigation into the allegations brought to them by Bannister in June found no evidence of abuse against the children. “A joint investigation with Stafford County law enforcement and Child Protective Services determined the allegations were unfounded,” according to the statement from the Sheriff’s Office. “Shortly after the conclusion of the investigation, Bannister left Virginia with the children on a planned vacation and never returned.” Bannister wrote on her blog that she and the children left town for a vacation June 14, the day after she reported the abuse, in part out of fear of reprisal from the accused. She said she called the Sheriff’s Office detective, Wright, a few days later to check up on the investigation. “We spoke briefly once, when he told me that he had interviewed my husband and would soon interview my father-in-law,” Bannister wrote. “After that, he stopped answering my phone calls.” She wrote that Wright and a CPS caseworker chalked the sex abuse claims up to children’s “vivid imaginations.” She described fleeing Virginia with the “rancid hot breath of child predators” on her back. “We left home with barely a week’s worth of summer clothes and are practically penniless, living off the kindness of friends who, one by one, have taken us under their wings,” Bannister wrote. She said her husband drained their joint bank account and cancelled her credit cards when she did not bring the children back to Virginia. Read Bannister’s entire, five-part blog here. Warning: It includes graphic details of alleged child sex abuse. Stafford County’s Juvenile, Domestic and Relations Court granted sole custody of the children to their father the following month, Stafford County authorities said. Their father, identified in court records as William Joseph Bannister, filed for divorce last month. “(Melody) Bannister refused to return the children and subsequently petitioned the courts in Alabama requesting custody be issued to her there,” a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said. “The courts in Alabama heard the case and also ordered Bannister to return her children to their father back in Virginia. “Bannister absconded from the state of Alabama with her four children and has not been seen since.” Bannister and the children were last seen Aug. 20 in Moulton, a small city in northwest Alabama. “We set up residence in Alabama and made it our new home, where we obtained a protective order against the man formerly known as Daddy,” Bannister wrote on her blog. “This was swiftly snatched away when the judge deferred to the Virginia ruling, which ordered me to return the children to him.” Bannister wrote that a family court hearing was held in Virginia without her presence Aug. 19, with a judge ruling in her husband’s favor. She claimed she was never served with a summons for the hearing. She and the children vanished from Alabama the next day. US marshals issue alert Aside from Alabama, potential sightings of the family have been reported in Wisconsin, Colorado, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas. The U.S. Marshals Service and the NCMEC have been involved in the case over the past few months, the Sheriff’s Office said. The Marshals Service issued an alert this week seeking help from the public in finding Bannister and the missing children. A friend of Bannister, Julie Lampkins, shared a story on Facebook about the missing family, saying it was “with a heavy heart” that she shared the link about the mother’s alleged abduction of her children. “We all have questions, but no answers,” Lampkins wrote. “Help the authorities find her and her (four) kids.” Meanwhile, Bannister is appealing for help on the state and federal levels, according to the Change.org petition. It quoted additional portions of Bannister’s blog. “The mental health and credibility of my children and me have been assessed and verified by two of the most prestigious forensic psychiatrists in the country: Dr. Michael Stone and Dr. Carole Lieberman,” Bannister wrote on her blog. “Naturally, the abusers did not take kindly to such a development and are seeking to have the reports stricken from the record. ‘Eliminate all threats’ seems to be their motto. Hence our position of living underground.” Followers on her blog wrote this week that they believed her and her children. “Many people believe you and are praying and sharing the news and asking God to vindicate and protect. Praying that true justice will be served,” Carrie Brownell wrote. A friend, identified as Lana, told Bannister she was praying for her, as well as sharing her story and contacting a list of law enforcement officers listed on the blog on Bannister’s behalf. Another friend named Rachael offered similar well wishes. “Oh Melody…my heart is so broken for you and your sweet kids,” the woman wrote. “I will be keeping you in my prayers and doing what I can. Locally.” A third friend named Petra Carden wrote that Bannister and her children have a place in her home “any time, day or night, no questions asked” if Bannister has to return to Virginia. Others who read her story offered her help in other locations throughout the country, including Alabama, where she and the children were last seen. Many people who believe Bannister’s allegations of abuse urged caution in reporting the family’s whereabouts. “If the news articles released regarding Melody Bannister’s children being in danger is all people know, they will report them when they see them and put them back in danger,” one woman wrote on Twitter. A cult? Bannister’s Facebook profile lists her as manager of a website called Recovering Daughters. The description of the site on its corresponding Facebook page states it is about “healing from Vision Forum, authoritarianism and the Quiverfull Movement.” The Recovering Daughters website is no longer available because the domain has recently expired. Vision Forum was a Texas-based ministry that promoted a patriarchal lifestyle, in which the husband rules the family, and home-schooling its children. The ministry was shut down by its board in 2013 after leader Doug Phillips admitted to an extramarital affair, the Huffington Post reported. Phillips has been a friend of and influence on Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, whose TLC show “19 Kids and Counting” focused on their beliefs against birth control and that large families are a gift from God, the news site said. The Duggars, who lost their show after their eldest son, Josh Duggar, was publicly accused of sexually molesting multiple young girls, including some of his sisters, have also been associated with the Quiverfull movement, though the Huffington Post reported in 2015 that the couple does not formally consider themselves members of the movement. The Quiverfull movement gets its name from a Bible passage: “Children are a heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Hännah Ettinger, a young woman raised in the movement who had left that world behind, told Cosmopolitan in 2015 that her first big break from the religion came when her father told her she “didn’t have the spiritual discernment” to choose her own boyfriend, a man she met at her Christian college. “Later, I got utterly fed up with the churches I’d grown up in because I kept finding out that they’d protected child abusers, rapists, and men who’d beaten their wives, all in the name of redemption stories, ‘biblical’ male headship and complementarian theology,” Ettinger told the magazine. Vyckie Garrison, another former Quiverfull member, told Vice in 2016 that, with no central leader, the movement isn’t a cult, per se. It’s more of a mindset “in which each family becomes a cult unto itself with Daddy enshrined as the supreme patriarch,” Vice reported. Garrison founded a website called No Longer Quivering, which is designed to help other women in her situation escape the movement. In April 2015, the American Atheists Convention named her its 2014 Atheist of the Year. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Bannister and her children is asked to call the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office at 540-658-4400, the U.S. Marshals Service at 877-WANTED2 or the NCMEC at 800-THE-LOST.
  • Money is helping put local veterans in Northeast Florida back to work. Hundreds of people filled the inside of a warehouse at a former Navy base to celebrate a milestone.  It was 20 years ago when the U.S. Navy handed over ownership of Cecil Field Naval Air Station to the city of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.  The air station is now being operated by Boeing Global Services.  Friday, Boeing made a $55,000 check presentation to Veterans Florida to help put local veterans back to work.  Samuel Leeca is a Navy veteran and was one of the first people hired by Boeing back in 1999.  “We first only had one aircraft. Then they started filtering in. It was rough at first, but then we started to get it rolling,” said Samuel Leeca.  “When I see the Blue Angels, I don’t even bother anymore because I was sharing with someone that all 6 of them, I’ve physically touched them. I’ve physically put the cell in and taken it out,” Leeca explained.  Boeing Cecil Field site leader Warren Helm says the site is one of the most successful closed bases in the country.  “We have a great mix about 70% veterans on this site. It’s a great mix between people who have been here since day one,” Helm said.  Leeca says after working here for over 20 years, he heads a team of mostly young people who disassemble and repair aircraft.  “I just look at it as, not so much someone has to do it, but someone always did it. We live in a world now where it is so dangerous, I said, ‘I can’t leave them, I have to keep going to help the newer guys keep the jets flying,’” said Leeca.

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