- - Saturday, July 19, 2008

MISSOURI

Woman pleads to snatching teen

INDEPENDENCE — A 20-year-old woman pleaded guilty Friday to snatching a pregnant teenager she met online in a foiled plot to steal her unborn child.

Lauren Gash, of Odessa, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, assaulting and restraining Amanda Howard, 18, inside a Blue Springs motel room a year ago.

Co-defendant Alisa Betts of Atchison, Kan., is charged with kidnapping, assault and felonious restraint.

Prosecutors say Gash planned to cut Ms. Howard’s baby from her womb, but the Kansas City Star reported on its Web site Friday that Gash and her attorney said in court that the plan was to steal the baby after Ms. Howard delivered the infant.

Gash faces 15 years in prison each for the kidnapping and assault charges and seven years for felonious restraint. Sentencing was scheduled for Aug. 26.

FLORIDA

Officer, suspect killed in shooting

FORT MYERS — A missionary-turned-police-officer was fatally shot along with a suspect after police were called to a disturbance outside a downtown nightclub early Friday.

Rookie Officer Andrew Widman, 30, was shot in the face at close range after he stepped in to break up a dispute between a man and his girlfriend at 2 a.m., police Maj. Doug Baker said.

The suspect — identified as Abel Arango, 26, of Naples — ran from the scene while firing at other officers, Maj. Baker said. Four officers returned fire, killing Arango.

NEW YORK

Chain restaurants must post calories

NEW YORK — A new rule requiring New York chain restaurants to post calorie information on their menus took effect Friday, marking a first for a U.S. city.

Starting Saturday, health inspectors can slap fines of up to $2,000 on fast-food and casual-dining chains if calorie counts are not displayed on their menus in the same font and format as the name or price of food items.

The move follows the city’s 2003 ban on public smoking and a ban on artery-clogging trans fats that began July 1.

TEXAS

Crane collapse kills 4, hurts 6

HOUSTON — The largest mobile crane in the nation collapsed at a Houston oil refinery Friday, killing four workers and injuring six others, a company vice president said.

The crane, capable of lifting 800,000 pounds, fell over at a LyondellBasell refinery in southeast Houston about 2 p.m. The large crane fell on or bumped a smaller, nearby crane.

The casualties were in the area of the crane, but officials still aren’t certain whether they were on the crane or under it, said John Roecker, the company’s vice president for refining.

Three of the injured were treated and released at the scene, said Houston Fire Department Assistant Chief Omero Longoria. Two severely injured workers were taken by helicopter to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center hospital and the other injured worker was taken to a hospital by ambulance.

The crane, whose exact dimensions were not immediately available, belonged to Deep South Crane & Rigging. Mr. Roecker described it as the nation’s largest mobile crane.

WISCONSIN

Humane Society to close ‘puppy mill’

MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin Humane Society says it will buy and close one of the nation’s largest dog-breeding facilities.

Cory Smith of the Humane Society of the United States says the effort may be the first time a chapter has dealt with the issue of so-called puppy mills by buying one of them.

The Wisconsin society said Friday it will find homes for the more than 1,100 dogs at the Puppy Haven Kennel in Markesan.

American Kennel Club spokeswoman Daisy Okas says the club suspended and fined the kennel’s owner in 2006 over the facility’s conditions.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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