- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

ALABAMA

New search for Holloway to begin

The father of a teen from Alabama who went missing nearly four years ago in Aruba said Sunday that a private investigator will scour a retention pond for answers that have eluded the family throughout numerous false leads and fruitless searches.

Dave Holloway said tracker-dog specialist Fred Golba from Chicopee, Mass., will begin his latest search Monday for evidence into Natalee Holloway’s May 2005 disappearance. He said the tracker, who has searched for her eight times before, must be accompanied to the pond by Aruban police escorts, who delayed an anticipated weekend search.

Miss Holloway, from Mountain Brook, Ala., was 18 when she was last seen leaving a bar in the Aruban capital on the final night of a high school graduation trip. No trace of her has been found despite extensive searches.

But Mr. Holloway said a witness last year said he saw the only remaining suspect, Joran van der Sloot, coming out of the brackish pond in northwest Aruba with only one sneaker on after Miss Holloway’s disappearance. He said the witness has passed a polygraph test.

“I’ve been looking for [nearly] four years, and I intend to search all the evidence and every lead,” Mr. Holloway told the Associated Press from his home in Meridian, Miss. “[The witness] saw what he saw - or he believed he saw what he saw.”

Sections of the remote pond area were searched previously, and no evidence was found.

ALASKA

Alert level raised for volcano

ANCHORAGE, Alaska eased earthquake activity has prompted scientists to raise the alert level for Alaska’s Mount Redoubt volcano.

Geologists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory said Sunday that seismic activity had increased over the past two days. On Sunday morning, 40 to 50 earthquakes were being recorded every hour.

Scientists said conditions may evolve rapidly and culminate in an eruption within days to weeks at the volcano, about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.

A steam plume rising about 1,000 feet above the mountain peak was observed Saturday.

The observatory had warned in late January that an eruption could occur at any time.

CALIFORNIA

DEA looks for cash tossed onto freeways

SAN DIEGO | Federal drug agents plan to review video of a freeway chase in San Diego to identify motorists who haven’t turned over thousands of dollars in cash that fleeing suspects threw out of their truck.

Television and surveillance cameras captured the scene of two men throwing out fistfuls of cash while leading police on the chase Thursday.

Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Eileen Zeidler said police and DEA agents recovered more than $17,000 after the suspects were arrested.

Civilians also stopped to collect the cash. Several have turned it over to police, but investigators think some have not.

Ms. Zeidler said the money is considered evidence in a criminal investigation.

FLORIDA

Shuttle moves to avoid space junk

CAPE CANAVERAL | Confronted with orbiting junk again, NASA ordered the astronauts aboard the linked space station and shuttle Discovery to move out of the way of a piece of debris Sunday.

Discovery’s pilots fired their ship’s thrusters to reorient the two spacecraft and avoid a small piece from a 10-year-old Chinese satellite rocket motor that was due to pass uncomfortably close during Monday’s planned spacewalk.

Mission Control said keeping the spacecraft in this position for about three hours, with Discovery’s belly facing forward, would result in a slow, natural drag of about a foot per second, enough to get the complex out of the way of the 4-inch piece of junk.

Space junk has been a recurring problem for the space station, especially recently.

Last week, right before Discovery’s arrival, the space station almost had to dodge yet another piece of junk. The debris, from an old busted-up Soviet satellite, stayed at a safe distance.

MICHIGAN

Boy, 15, dies after cops Taser him

BAY CITY | A 15-year-old boy died after being Tasered by officers who were trying to break up a fight, police said.

Police didn’t release his name and said state police are investigating.

Officers answered a report of an early-morning fight Sunday, according to a Bay City police news release. The statement said two males were arguing in an apartment, and one of them “attempted to fight the officers.”

Police said officers Tasered the boy, and his reaction led them to call for emergency medical help. He was pronounced dead at Bay Regional Medical Center.

Deputy Chief Thomas Pletzke told WNEM-TV that the police epartment had placed one officer on administrative leave.

NORTH CAROLINA

School to confiscate cell phones

FAYETTEVILLE | Cell phones will be confiscated from students at a Fayetteville school this week after teachers caught them texting test answers twice this year.

The Fayetteville Observer reported that the ban at Fayetteville Christian School takes effect Tuesday.

School headmaster Tammi Peters told parents in an e-mail that students will put their cell phones into plastic bags marked with their name at the start of the school day. The bags will be collected and stored in the office, and students can reclaim their phones by revisiting their first-period teachers before leaving the building.

About 370 students will be affected by the ban. Those who violate it will receive a Saturday work day at school and a $25 fine. Recurring offenders could be suspended.

TEXAS

More ‘fight club’ claims at school

AUSTIN

Nine employees are under investigation over allegations of new fights among mentally disabled residents of a troubled Corpus Christi State School, a state lawmaker said Saturday night.

Abel Herrero said the workers are on leave while officials look into complaints that the staff members did nothing to intervene in the fights involving residents Wednesday and Thursday.

The new allegations follow six staffers being charged earlier this month with injury to a disabled person over separate fights allegedlyreportedly organized for the staff’s entertainment. Videos of those fights were found on a cell phone.

“Appalling,” said Mr. Herrero, Corpus Christi-area Democrat. “Completely unacceptable. It’s important that the state exhaust every resource to once and for all ensure the safety and well-being of our state’s most vulnerable population.”

Jay Kimbrough, chief of staff for Gov. Rick Perry’s office, told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that the recent incidents don’t include allegations that fights were encouraged by employees.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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