Crash on I-44 in Joplin slows traffic to a crawl at MM6

JOPLIN, Mo. — A crash on I-44 just west of Exit 6 at Main Street, has traffic in the westbound lanes down to a stand-still. Avoid the area if possible. The Missouri Department of Transportation reports delays should be expected for the next hour and a half. The crash happened around 11:15 this morning.

You can see the crash and traffic backed up on MODOT’s traffic cameras. Traffic cameras can be accessed in the bottom left of MoDOT’s map key and by then clicking on a camera icon on the map.

Man hit & killed by train north of Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Sarcoxie man was identified as the victim in a train versus pedestrian crash on Christmas Day.

According to Missouri State Highway Patrol, 26-year-old Ranon Chiles was walking along the railroad tracks west of Missouri 43 just a mile north of Joplin where he was struck by a KC Southern train.

The southbound train struck Chiles around 9:45 PM and he was declared deceased two hours later by the Jasper County coroner.

This is Troop D’s 134th fatality for 2022.

Joplin man assaults mom, flees from police & crashes

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Joplin man is charged after police said he assaulted his mother and then crashed her car into the Joplin Police Department.

Officers with JPD responded to a domestic assault call Wednesday shortly before 4:00 PM in the 400 block of S. Ozark Ave. The caller said her 42-year-old son was attacking her and threatened her with a knife.

When officers arrived they said William Jenkins got into his mother’s car and sped off. Officers chased Jenkins eastbound on 4th Street and the chase came to an end when he crashed into a gate at the Joplin Police Department.

Jenkins was removed from the vehicle and booked into the Joplin City Jail. Investigators said Jenkins was intoxicated.

Jasper County Prosecutors filed charges of Domestic Assault (4th Degree), Tampering with a Motor Vehicle (1st Degree), Resisting Arrest, Property Damage (1st Degree), and BAC. He remains in jail without bond.

This is not the first time Jenkins is accused of assaulting his mother.

In 2018 Jenkins pleaded guilty to beating him mother with an aluminum baseball bat, knocking out some of her teeth. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. Court records show he was released from prison in 2019, and put on supervised probation. In May the State of Missouri revoked Jenkins’ probation and he was sent back to jail for 120 days. He was released from jail in August.

Former Joplin youth minister sentenced for Child Pornography

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A federal judge sentenced a former Joplin youth minister to six years in prison for exchanging pornographic images and videos with a child under the age of 18.

Nicholas Lane Stephens, 25, pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography in March. He was a youth minister at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Joplin.

A Children’s Division investigator launched an investigation into Stephens after receiving a hotline call reporting that the youth minister was inappropriately involved with young girls at the church.

Court documents identified one 17-year-old victim as “Jane Doe.” The girl told investigators she sent nude images to Stephens over Snapchat in December 2019, and received nude images of him as well. This included pornographic FaceTime videos.

A dozen images and a video of child pornography of the girl were found on Stephen’s cellphone, along with multiple back and forth conversations between the two.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller prosecuted the case. The FBI, Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department all assisted in the investigation.

Early morning house fire destroys Joplin home

JOPLIN, Mo. — Around 5:30 Friday morning fire fighters responded to a two-story house at 832 S. Pennsylvania Ave. When they arrived they said flames were all through the structure.

The Joplin battalion chief said there was a man inside who managed to escape the flames. He was taken to an area hospital, but his condition is unknown at this time.

“The building is going to be a total loss,” said John Hubbard, Joplin Fire Department Battalion Chief. “We called in Public Works from the City to help tear down the structure.”

Fire fighters need the structure torn down in order to find and get to any hidden pockets of fire that could reignite. They are still investigating the cause.

Student loan forgiveness: Millions mistakenly told their debt relief was approved

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJBF) — A corrected email will soon be sent out to millions of student loan borrowers after they received an email last month with the wrong subject line telling them their student debt relief had been approved.

According to Business Insider, the emails were supposed to say that the applications were received. Around nine million student loan borrowers who had applied for relief had received incorrect emails between November 22 and November 23, 2022.

The error was made by a federal contractor in charge of sending out email communications on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education.

Both the U.S. Department of Education and the contractor, Accenture Federal Services, are investigating the error and working on quality control to make sure that there are no issues moving forward.

“Communicating clearly and accurately with borrowers is a top priority of the Department,” an Education Department spokesperson told CBS in an email. “We are in close touch with Accenture Federal Services as they take corrective action to ensure all borrowers and those affected have accurate information about debt relief.”

A representative told the outlet that Accenture Federal Services “regrets the human error” that led to an “inaccurate subject line,” and Accenture is now working with the Department to review quality control measures.

Nexstar reached out to both Accenture and the U.S. Department of Education but did not immediately receive a reply.

More than 26 million people have already applied for relief, but the Education Department stopped processing applications last month due to legal challenges and the plan has been put on hold. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in the case in February.

If the legal hurdles are cleared, the Biden Administration’s plan would forgive $10,000 in federal student debt to those with incomes under $125,000 or households making less than $250,000. Recipients of the federal Pell Grant would be eligible for an additional $10,000 forgiven.

While the plan is on hold, President Joe Biden extended the pause on student loan payments through June 30. If the lawsuits are resolved before the end of June, the pause will end sooner.

Trump Organization found guilty of tax fraud

A New York jury on Tuesday found the Trump Organization guilty of tax fraud following a more than monthlong trial.

Jurors began deliberating on Monday and returned the guilty verdict on Tuesday afternoon, according to The Associated Press.

Former President Trump himself was not on trial, but prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office showed jurors evidence that Trump had signed off on bonus checks and memos that helped top executives skirt reporting on taxable income.

Following the verdict, the Trump Organization could be fined up to $1.6 million.

The outcome in the trial, which began in late October, is considered a victory for the Manhattan district attorney’s office. It followed a three-year probe by the office into whether top executives at the company engaged in tax fraud from 2005 to June 2021.

Prosecutors rested their case in late November after just eight days of arguments. 

Much of the prosecution’s case had centered on the testimony of Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, and Jeffrey McConney, a senior vice president and controller.

Weisselberg was charged with 15 counts of tax evasion last year and pleaded guilty in August. Prosecutors said he evaded $1.76 million in taxes by receiving luxury perks such as rent-free apartments and cars.

Weisselberg, who earned a reduced sentence for testifying, said he worked with McConney to conceal about a decade’s worth of those perks from his taxable income.

And McConney said he helped hide those perks by issuing false tax documents or reducing salaries.

Trump and his two eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, signed off on bonus checks made out to independent contractors, Weisselberg testified, which he claimed helped him conceal taxable income.

Trump also signed off on a lease for a company-paid apartment awarded to Weisselberg, prosecutors said.

“Mr. Trump is explicitly sanctioning tax fraud,” Joshua Steinglass told jurors in closing arguments, according to the AP.

In its defense, the Trump Organization had argued that Weisselberg was the sole actor in the scheme and that he had betrayed the company’s trust. 

On the witness stand, Weisselberg had teared up and expressed remorse for his actions

“It was my own personal greed that led to this,” he said.

Prosecutors had also called up three other witnesses, an accounts payable supervisor for the company and outside experts, including a forensic accountant and a state tax auditor.

Updated at 4:35 p.m.

Amber Waterman pleads not guilty in Missouri federal court

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KNWA/KFTA) — The woman charged in the deadly kidnapping of a pregnant Arkansas woman appeared in federal court in Missouri and entered a plea of not guilty.

Amber Waterman, 42, was charged with kidnapping resulting in death and her husband, Jamie Waterman, 42, was charged with being an accessory after the fact to kidnapping resulting in death after the charred body of Ashley Bush, 33, was found near the Waterman residence in Missouri on November 3.

Amber Waterman appeared in the Western District of Missouri federal court on December 2 where she waived a formal reading of the indictment and entered a plea of not guilty. Her husband also entered a not guilty plea during a November 28 court appearance.

Court documents state that Amber Waterman abducted Ashley Bush, 33, “for the purpose and benefit of claiming Ashley Bush’s child as the defendant’s child,” and that she transported her across state lines, from Arkansas to Missouri. Bush was reported missing to the Benton County Sheriff’s office at approximately 6:30 p.m. on October 31.

Bush was 31 weeks pregnant and her unborn child was found dead at a different location on November 2. According to Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith, Bush died from an apparent gunshot wound.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas Clay Fowlkes said that the circumstances of the case could potentially carry the death penalty in federal court. The investigation is ongoing.

Amber Waterman’s federal trial is set to begin on January 9. There will be a pretrial hearing on December 14.

Sarcoxie man killed in crash

JASPER COUNTY, Mo. — A 20-year-old man was killed after pulling into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Emmanuel I. Lovell, 20, of Sarcoxie, was driving a 2013 Fiat with a passenger — Eden J. Sims, 19, of Sarcoxie — on Missouri State Highway 37 on Nov. 29.

According to a Missouri State Highway Patrol crash report, the Fiat pulled into the path of a 2002 Ford F-250 near the intersection of County Road 40 in Sarcoxie.

Lovell was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:50 p.m., Nov. 29. Sims was taken to a Joplin hospital with moderate injuries. Both were wearing safety devices.


JOPLIN, Mo. – The bridge on South Range Line Rd. is back open. The Missouri Department of Transportation says the opening is about one month early.

The re-opening comes just in time for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday shoppers.

Drivers using Davis Blvd. and other side streets, experienced serious congestion issues during the closure.

MODOT says this bridge is included in Gov. Mike Parson’s $351 million Focus on Bridges program, which will repair or replace 250 bridges across the state.

“The contractor, Hartman & Company, Inc. of Springfield, worked hard to get this bridge open several weeks ahead of schedule and in time for the Christmas shopping season,” said Southwest District Engineer Steve Campbell.

The original bridge, built in 1976, closed in early September for demolition. Contractor crews replaced the old bridge with a new structure that is two (2) feet higher and 15 feet wider than the one it replaced. The contractor also built new sidewalks on either side of the bridge.

“We want to thank drivers, area businesses and our partners at the City of Joplin for their patience and understanding while we worked to replace this important bridge in a busy part of Joplin’s commercial district,” Campbell said.

Approximately 24,580 vehicles cross the bridge daily, according to MODOT.

For more information about the project, click:

Project information:

  • Prime contractor: Hartman & Company Inc., Springfield
  • Total project cost: $6.2 million
  • Contract completion date: December 16, 2022

In coming years, MoDOT says it will replace bridges on North Main Street (Missouri Route 43) over the Kansas City Southern Railroad and Turkey Creek, along with building a new bridge over the Kansas City Southern Railroad on 32nd Street (Route FF).