Woman returns $20,000 find
LAKE HAVASU CITY — A woman who works as a makeup artist and deli clerk found $20,000 at a bank's drive-up depository, then calmly walked into the bank and turned over the cash.
Linda Hatch said her mind raced in the seconds after she found the two $10,000 bundles in a plastic deposit tube on June 25. "Am I in the middle of a bank robbery ... a drug bust, is someone going to pick up the money?" she said. "I was like, 'Oh, my gosh. What do I do?' "
Ms. Hatch said the bank teller she approached was just as confused about what to do. Ms. Hatch said she filed a police report in the days after turning over the cash and hasn't been told by the bank whether the rightful owner has ever surfaced. Bank employees declined to comment.
Ms. Hatch said she was "shaken for five hours" after the discovery. But she says she had no second thoughts about turning in the cash and laughed while recalling the scenario.
"It's not enough money to move to Mexico," she said.
Tahoe fire fully contained
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Firefighters have fully contained a weeklong fire in Lake Tahoe after it destroyed more than 250 homes and consumed 3,100 acres of bone-dry forest, officials said yesterday.
About 400 firefighters of the 2,000 working last week remained on site to fully extinguish the fire, considered the worst to hit the area around the resort town of South Lake Tahoe in a century.
The blaze forced more than 3,000 people to evacuate homes, and many who have returned in recent days have found little remaining. Losses are expected to exceed $150 million.
Keith Cooney combed through the debris of his home, saying the conflagration claimed all his possessions.
"I feel like I have to make the effort. It helps me so I know what to claim," Mr. Cooney said. "I had a Lionel train from the 1940s that I thought would make it. It just melted."
Device explodes at Disney; no injuries
ORLANDO — A device similar to a pipe bomb exploded in a trash can early yesterday at a remote parking lot at Walt Disney World, authorities said. No one was injured and no serious damage was reported in what officials called "an isolated incident."
Orange County sheriff's deputies responded to a 12:30 a.m. call from Disney. An employee heard a loud noise and saw white smoke coming from the can near the Downtown Disney shopping and entertainment district, Sheriff Kevin Beary said.
"Because of the time and location of the event, we do not believe this incident was designed to cause significant property damage or injury. We also believe this is an isolated incident," Sheriff Beary said.
He said federal authorities also looked into the matter, but his office remains the lead agency.
Judge opens pretrial hearing
ATLANTA — The judge who wanted to close the pretrial hearing of one of four black persons accused of murder in the deaths of six Mexican immigrants reversed himself yesterday, agreeing with several news outlets that petitioned to keep the courtroom doors open.
In addition to overturning his own June 1 oral order, Tift County Superior Court Judge Gary McCorvey also agreed that motions filed in the case should remain open, instead of being sealed as defense attorneys had wanted.
Jamie Underwood faces the death penalty on murder charges stemming from a series of at least four home-invasion attacks on Sept. 30, 2005, in and around Tifton, about 170 miles south of Atlanta.
The brutality of the killings — in which the victims were beaten, shot and, in at least one case, raped — shocked the thousands of immigrants who have flocked to southern Georgia to pick vegetables, tobacco and peaches, and stirred local speculation that the attacks were racially motivated.
The judge also ruled that television and still-photography cameras will be allowed in the courtroom during the trial, again reversing a previous order. In his ruling, Judge McCorvey wrote that the U.S. and state constitutions require extraordinary measures "to ensure the reliability of decisions regarding both guilt and punishment in a case in which the government is seeking to punish a human being by extinguishing his life."
Replica Patton vehicle allowed in parade
COEUR D'ALENE — Officials are allowing a World War II replica of Army Gen. George S. Patton's command vehicle to take part in the July Fourth parade tomorrow as long as its gun remains silent.7
The prop gun was banned after parade watchers complained last year about the blasts. The city attorney said the gun violates the city's noise ordinance.
Pig parts spill closes expressway
CHICAGO — A busy section of highway was closed for seven hours Sunday after a truck overturned and spilled pig ears, pig feet and grease.
The greasy pig parts created slippery conditions and forced the closure of northbound lanes of the Edens Expressway, which connects downtown Chicago to its northern suburbs. The lanes were reopened Sunday afternoon. No injuries were reported.
Hassan Ware, 39, of the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, was cited for driving too fast for conditions and spilling his load onto the highway, state police said.
A sudden shift in the truck's load caused it to tip onto its side near an entrance ramp in Skokie, said Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey.
Sex offender vows to stay in office
EDWARDSVILLE — A City Council member in this Kansas City suburb vowed to remain in office and even run for re-election despite the revelation that he is a registered sex offender in Wisconsin.
Councilman Patrick Isenhour, whose second term ends in April 2009, said he didn't tell city officials about his 1992 conviction for having sex with a minor because it was so long ago.
Body recovered from gold mine
WINNEMUCCA — The body of a gold miner was recovered yesterday, 13 days after the ground gave way while he was working in an underground mine, officials said.
Newmont Mining Corp. said the body of Dan Shaw, 30, was recovered at the company's Midas underground mine in northeastern Nevada.
Mr. Shaw was working with a blasting crew 200 feet below the mine's portal when the ground caved in beneath the loader he was operating June 19. No one else was injured.
His body was located Saturday, with the assistance of the Nevada Air National Guard, using night-vision technology.
Widow gives birth after car stolen
ALBUQUERQUE — Alia Dahl got a little rest after her epic week reached its climax.
Last week, the 19-year-old gave birth to a son, Kaiden, five days after her husband, Army Cpl. Joel Dahl, was killed in Iraq.
Between those two life-altering events, Mrs. Dahl's car was stolen.
Police found the car in a school parking lot, without many of the precious items Mrs. Dahl was hoping to recover. Taken from the 1998 Honda Civic were a disc of wedding songs her husband compiled and a quilt his grandmother made for the baby.
The theft sparked an outpouring of offers from people throughout the city. In 24 hours, Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said, deputies recorded cash, checks and monetary pledges totaling $18,000.
Mrs. Dahl found the response overwhelming.
"I can't be more relieved because of all the things I'm going through right now," she said shortly before going into labor.
Nifong submits new resignation letter
DURHAM — Disgraced prosecutor Mike Nifong submitted a new letter of resignation yesterday, agreeing to leave office immediately.
The letter is a formality. Mr. Nifong was disbarred, suspended from office and replaced by his old boss as Durham County district attorney for his handling of the discredited Duke lacrosse rape case. He submitted a resignation letter last month that was to take effect July 13.
Officer waives preliminary hearing
CANTON — The police officer accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend and her unborn daughter waived a preliminary hearing yesterday because his attorney didn't want evidence to be disclosed publicly.
Forgoing the hearing for Bobby Cutts Jr. will help ensure his right to a fair trial, attorney Bradley Iams said. He plans to do everything he can in "not allowing bits and pieces of the evidence out," he said after a brief court appearance.
Mr. Cutts, 30, is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Jessie Davis and her unborn girl, who was to be named Chloe. Mr. Cutts is the father of Miss Davis' 2-year-old son, and her family says he was the father of the unborn baby.
Missing priest, friend found dead in car
PORTLAND — The search for a Jesuit priest and a female friend missing since June 8 ended with the discovery of their bodies in their car in a ditch off a highway in northwestern Oregon.
The Civil Air Patrol spotted the car Sunday afternoon about 25 miles east of Seaside, said Tillamook County Sheriff Todd Anderson.
A Clatsop County deputy then found the bodies of David Schwartz, 52, and Cheryl Gibbs, 61, a longtime friend and traveling companion. Sheriff Anderson said it appeared that Mr. Schwartz and Miss Gibbs were traveling east toward Portland when they veered off the road, rolling once or twice.
Attack survivor jumps from ship
HOUSTON — A teenager who survived a brutal beating and later testified before Congress in support of a hate crimes bill died after jumping from a cruise ship into the Gulf of Mexico, his father said yesterday.
David Ritcheson, 18, was pronounced dead Sunday after being pulled aboard the Ecstasy, a Carnival Cruise Lines ship en route to Cozumel, Mexico, from Galveston.
A man at Mr. Ritcheson's home who identified himself as the teen's father confirmed the death to the Associated Press.
Mr. Ritcheson, a Mexican-American, was beaten unconscious and sodomized with the plastic pole of a patio umbrella by two men shouting, "White power," during a drug-fueled party in April 2006. He also was stomped, burned with cigarettes and doused with bleach before his attackers left him for dead.
Progress made battling wildfire
NEOLA — Authorities battling a wildfire that has burned more than 47 square miles allowed residents of a small town to return yesterday while calmer winds helped firefighters in northeastern Utah.
The fire was 5 percent contained, but that could improve if the fire lines are successful, said Brenda Bowen, spokeswoman for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team.
"They made a lot of really good progress getting [fire] lines tied in," Miss Bowen said. "It's just going to take time to see if those lines will hold."
The fire, which killed three men Friday, was burning on a mosaic of private and public lands and the Uintah and Ouray Indian reservations. The flames spread north of Neola, about 100 miles east of Salt Lake City, and in Ashley National Forest, which was partially closed to the public.
Man charged in festival beating
MILWAUKEE — Police charged a man Sunday with battery in connection with a beating after the city's Juneteenth Day festival that left another man with a broken eye socket and other head injuries.
A large group, leaving the area after last month's festival commemorating the end of slavery winded down, attacked at least two cars, and one of the drivers was pulled from his vehicle and beaten, police said.
The criminal complaint said Marcus Chisolm, 19, jumped atop a car and smashed the front windshield before kicking Pat Kasthurirangaian in the face.
If convicted of the aggravated battery charge, Mr. Chisholm faces up to 15 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
From wire dispatches and staff reports