- The Washington Times - Friday, April 15, 2005

ALASKA

Octopus’s eggs finally hatching

ANCHORAGE — Aurora — with all eight of her arms — held tight to her dream of motherhood.

Even when most any other expectant mom would have become discouraged, Aurora the octopus persevered. The aging giant Pacific octopus, a resident of the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, embraced her maternal instinct and was rewarded this week.

Her eggs finally began hatching. The first of thousands have burst out into pearly white, tear-shaped babies with huge eyes and stubby appendages. As of Wednesday, there were nine baby octopuses in a rearing tank.

Aurora began her long march toward motherhood in May, when she was introduced to J-1, a long-in-the-tentacle bachelor. To the delight of aquarists, the two hit it off. A month later, Aurora laid tens of thousands of eggs.

CALIFORNIA

2 killed as metal debris strikes minivan

LOS ANGELES — Metal debris smashed through the windshield of a minivan on a busy freeway yesterday morning, killing two passengers.

The debris appeared to have struck the van by accident, but investigators have not determined where it came from, California Highway Patrol spokesman Alex Delgadillo said. He did not know what the object was, but it was “the size of a large grapefruit.”

The victims were the front-seat passenger and the man sitting behind him, the Highway Patrol said. The driver and three other passengers in the back seats escaped injury.

ARIZONA

Balloon crash kills anniversary celebrant

MARANA — A hot-air balloon crashed, killing an elderly man who was taking a ride with his wife to celebrate their wedding anniversary. She and the other nine persons on board were injured.

The balloon, with nine passengers and a crew of two, clipped Twin Peaks Mountain on Wednesday, breaking supports for the balloon’s basket. The bottom part of the balloon then caught fire, police Sgt. Bill Derfus said.

Because of high winds, the pilot struggled to land the balloon in the desert, said Katy Heiden, a spokeswoman for the Northwest Fire/Rescue District. The balloon, with the basket hanging askew, bounced along the desert floor for about 200 yards.

FLORIDA

Three arrested in deadly spree

MIAMI — Three men have been arrested in a crime spree that included 12 robberies and three homicides in the Miami area, police said yesterday.

Detectives working off a description of a vehicle used in convenience-store robberies stopped a Lincoln Continental on Monday. Inside, police said, they found a shotgun, a semiautomatic handgun, and a mask and a jacket linked to the robberies through video surveillance.

Samuel Wade Wright, 21, and Alton Moses, 19, were charged with three counts of first-degree murder and multiple counts of robbery and drug violations. They appeared in court yesterday. Jeremy Smith, 19, was charged with one count of armed robbery and drug possession.

GEORGIA

Teen girl, friend admit killing grandparents

FAYETTEVILLE — A 15-year-old girl and her ex-girlfriend pleaded guilty yesterday to stabbing her grandparents to death last summer so the young couple could be together.

Holly Harvey told the judge that while she was knifing her 73-year-old grandmother, “my eyes were closed the whole time.”

Harvey pleaded guilty to two counts of malice murder and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. She will not be eligible for parole for 20 years. Sandy Ketchum, 16, was sentenced to three life terms, to be served concurrently.

Sarah Collier and her husband, Carl, 74, were stabbed numerous times Aug. 2 inside the couple’s house.

ILLINOIS

Dead man found in plane’s bathroom

CHICAGO — Chicago police were attempting yesterday to contact relatives of a 66-year-old man found dead in the washroom of an American Airlines flight from Tokyo.

A cleaning crew made the discovery Wednesday afternoon an hour after Flight 154 arrived at O’Hare International Airport. The man was declared dead at the scene.

The man apparently suffered a heart attack, police officer Matt Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times.

His ticket showed he was scheduled to board another flight to Indianapolis, his final destination.

MAINE

Low rate reported for identity theft

PORTLAND — Though Maine is among states with the lowest rate of identity theft, authorities say residents still should take steps to protect themselves.

Authorities received 424 reports of identity theft in Maine last year. That compares with about 246,000 reports for the entire country. Only North Dakota and South Dakota have lower rates of identity theft, federal records show.

MINNESOTA

Council defends aid to shooter’s family

MINNEAPOLIS — Tribal leaders yesterday defended a $5,000 victims-aid grant given to the family of a teenager who killed nine persons before killing himself, saying his relatives had “a double burden.”

Red Lake Tribal Secretary Judy Roy said the tribal council had decided unanimously that shooter Jeff Weise should be considered a victim of the March 21 violence centered on a high school and that his family should receive help paying for his funeral and burial.

Some relatives of others who were killed denounced the council’s decision to award the check. It was one of 15, $5,000 checks handed out on Wednesday in the first distribution from a memorial fund that has received more than $200,000 in donations.

Donna Lewis, mother of 15-year-old victim Dewayne Lewis, stormed out of the meeting where the donation was discussed, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. “He ain’t no victim in this,” she screamed. “He was a murderer.”

MISSISSIPPI

Legislature shelves B.B. King museum

JACKSON — A planned $10 million museum honoring blues musician B.B. King has been stifled by lawmakers, at least for now. It was among more than 50 bond projects listed in a bill that died in Mississippi’s 2005 legislative session.

Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, is expected to summon lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session with bonds on the agenda.

NEVADA

Fingertip probe finds no link to leopard

LAS VEGAS — Authorities investigating the origin of a fingertip found in a bowl of fast-food chili said yesterday they have uncovered no link to a Nevada leopard attack that cost a woman part of her index finger.

Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said the chance of any connection is “diminishing.” San Jose, Calif., police Sgt. Nick Nuyo said investigators there also were skeptical.

Sandy Allman, 59, lost a three-quarter-inch fingertip Feb. 23 in the attack by a spotted leopard being kept at her home in rural Pahrump, about 60 miles west of Las Vegas.

Las Vegas resident Anna Ayala claimed she found a 11/2-inch fingertip March 22 while eating at a Wendy’s restaurant.

SOUTH DAKOTA

High school student wins city council seat

HURLEY — A high school senior has won a spot on the Hurley City Council. Robert Wilson, 18, defeated incumbent Ray Sherard by a vote of 52-11 and will represent the town’s 1st Ward.

Mr. Wilson, who works at the local gas station, said he will remain in the community after his high school graduation by commuting to either Augustana College or the University of South Dakota.

TEXAS

Ex-boyfriend kills three, then himself

CASTROVILLE — A man apparently disgruntled over a breakup fatally shot his ex-girlfriend, her mother and her 6-year-old brother before committing suicide, authorities said.

The 27-year-old man also wounded two other family members of the ex-girlfriend, said Castroville Police Chief R.L. McVay.

Police say the man broke into the family’s home in a wealthy subdivision near San Antonio late Wednesday, possibly through a kitchen window, and opened fire with his shotgun. He killed the 22-year-old former girlfriend, her 44-year-old mother and her 6-year-old brother, Chief McVay said.

The wounded included the girlfriend’s 13-year-old sister and 41-year-old stepfather, who was in critical condition.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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