NYC breaks a snow record, quick thinking by a 911 operator saves a woman from her abductor, and a castaway says he survived adrift at sea for 13 months on faith and fish.
Welcome to the Tuesday edition of "5 Things to Know for Your New Day."
1. ESCAPED MURDERER
A 911 operator got a bright idea, and it ended up saving a woman from a convicted killer who carjacked her. Her instructions? Tell him you need to go to the bathroom. Michael Elliot's a deadly, dangerous man. He was sitting in jail for 20 years for killing four people, but this past weekend, he busted out. Then he grabbed a hammer and a box cutter and used them as weapons to hijack a jeep in Michigan, and he abducted the woman driving it. But he made a mistake. He got out of the car to pay for gas, and his hostage sneaked in a call to 911. The operator told her to plea for a bathroom break, lock herself inside and not come out. It worked. Elliot banged on the door at first, but then he just drove off without the hostage. Police caught up with him in Indiana.
2. WINTER WEATHER
Thank you, sir. May I have another?
First, a record amount of snow smacks New York City and parts nearby yesterday -- that includes a record 8 inches in Central Park. Then a second winter storm starts dishing out punishment, and it may get even worse. It's hitting the Plains States this morning, and it's supposed to race through the Midwest later today, dumping about 6-10 inches. And tomorrow? Yep. NYC and its neighbors get it again -- 9 inches on top of those 8 from yesterday. Here come those flight cancellations all over again, and in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has already declared a state of emergency.
3. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN
The final hours:
A four-shot espresso over ice with milk. That's how Hoffman started his day Saturday -- with his usual drink at his regular coffee shop, Chocolate Bar on Eighth Avenue. He chatted up the staff as usual -- never made a big deal out of being a star -- and seemed to be in a good mood. Next morning, he was dead in his own apartment, and it looked very, very much like a drug overdose. A friend found him there with a needle in his arm, and as it turns out Hoffman had a collection of syringes, envelops of white powder -- maybe heroin -- and a good many prescription drugs in his place. What happened between that cup of coffee and his death comes across as a bit of a hodgepodge. Some people said he seemed just fine; others -- his ex-wife, for example -- said he was pretty stoned and out of it.
4. KNOX'S BOYFRIEND
Guilt by association:
It's because he was Amanda Knox's boyfriend. Raffaele Sollecito told CNN yesterday that that's why he was convicted of murder. To get things straight, Italian courts first convicted them, then acquitted them, then convicted them again in the murder of Meredith Kercher. She had been found stabbed to death in the house she shared with Knox in Perugia, Italy. Police nabbed Sollecito near the border with two other countries after the second guilty verdict came down. He says that he had been out of the country and was heading back to Italy at the time to fight the guilty verdict, which he really wasn't expecting.
Faith, fish, rain and urine:
It may sound hard to believe, but that's what Jose Salvador Alvarenga says kept him alive for the 13 months he was lost at sea. He told CNN he was adrift in the Pacific Ocean that long, then his broken-down boat hit a coral atoll not too, too far from Australia. That's where he was found -- pretty darn far from Mexico, where he lives. There were times when Alvarenga wanted to take a knife to himself and end it all. But he says he was too scared to do it. Besides, his faith told him he was going to make it. The Mexican government said he is who he claims he is, but it's still checking out that story. He looks awfully healthy for what he says he's gone through.