- - Friday, May 8, 2009

CALIFORNIA

Thousands flee as fire guts homes

SANTA BARBARA — Dozens of homes have been destroyed by the wildfire raging in the hills above Santa Barbara, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Thursday as firefighters prepared for another round of howling winds and torrid temperatures.

The 2-square-mile fire has forced the evacuation of more than 13,500 people from more than 5,400 homes.

More fire crews were called in from around the state to battle the blaze. Ten firefighters were injured, at least three seriously, and the number of evacuees could double.

CONNECTICUT

Suspect held in student killing

MERIDEN — Police in Meriden said they have taken into custody the suspect in the slaying of a Wesleyan University student at a bookstore.

A police spokesman said Stephen P. Morgan, 29, was arrested 10 miles from the campus and turned over to authorities in Middletown who are investigating Wednesday’s fatal shooting of Johanna Justin-Jinich.

Earlier Thursday, anxious students at the university huddled in their dorms, and the city’s only synagogue was shut down as authorities said Mr. Morgan may now be targeting the school and Jews.

Miss Justin-Jinich, 21, was shot several times Wednesday by a gunman wearing a wig while at her job inside Broad Street Books, a student bookstore. Two years ago, she complained to police that Mr. Morgan stalked and threatened her.

Police told the university that Mr. Morgan expressed threats in his personal journals toward Wesleyan and its Jewish students, the school said. Miss Justin-Jinich, of Timnath, Colo., came from a Jewish family, said her former stepmother.

ILLINOIS

Ex-officer indicted in 3rd wife’s death

BOLINGBROOK — Former police Sgt. Drew Peterson, long suspected in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, was charged Thursday with killing his third wife, whose 2004 death had been deemed accidental before authorities revisited it when Stacy Peterson vanished.

The family of Kathleen Savio, whose body was found in an empty bathtub, has long voiced suspicions about the circumstances surrounding her death, especially after the October 2007 disappearance of Stacy Peterson, then 23.

Mr. Peterson, 55, was arrested Thursday evening during a traffic stop in Bolingbrook, a spokesman for the Will County state’s attorney said. In more than a year and a half since Stacy Peterson’s disappearance, Mr. Peterson has been under a media microscope, and at times he has seemed to relish the attention.

MASSACHUSETTS

Former tribe leader sentenced for fraud

BOSTON — A former chairman of a Massachusetts tribe whose ancestors attended what is considered the first Thanksgiving has been sentenced to nearly 3½ years in prison for embezzling tribal funds and violating federal campaign finance laws while working with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Glenn Marshall pleaded guilty in February to five charges, including making illegal campaign contributions to members of Congress. Once chairman of the Cape Cod-based Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Marshall was sentenced Thursday in federal court.

MISSISSIPPI

Mayor dies after losing primary

JACKSON — Frank Melton, the mayor of Mississippi’s largest city, died early Thursday, two days after losing a primary re-election bid and days before he was set to stand trial on federal civil rights charges. He was 60.

Mr. Melton died at a Jackson hospital with his wife by his side, city spokeswoman Goldia Revies told the Associated Press.

Mr. Melton had a history of serious heart problems, but officials have declined to say whether that’s what sent him to the hospital Tuesday, shortly after polls closed.

OHIO

High court denies deportation plea

CLEVELAND — Purported Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk lost his bid Thursday to get the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his deportation to Germany, where an arrest warrant accuses him of 29,000 counts of accessory to murder during World War II.

Justice John Paul Stevens denied, without comment, Mr. Demjanjuk’s plea to step into his case. The 89-year-old retired autoworker lives in suburban Cleveland, and he, his family and his attorneys say he’s in poor health and too frail to be sent overseas.

With his U.S. options dwindling, Mr. Demjanjuk’s attorney in Germany made a separate appeal Thursday to a German court to block the deportation.

There was no indication from Immigration and Customs Enforcement whether the agency would move promptly to deport Mr. Demjanjuk.

WEST VIRGINIA

Company moves to buy Greenbrier

CHARLESTON — A West Virginia company has acquired the Greenbrier and plans to ask a bankruptcy court to dismiss the resort’s case.

The Greenbrier and Jim Justice announced Thursday that Mr. Justice’s company, Beckley-based Justice Family Group, acquired the Greenbrier’s holding company’s stock. They didn’t provide transaction details.

Justice Family Group also acquired 80 percent of the Greenbrier Sporting Club, a private residential development on the southeastern West Virginia resort’s grounds.

From wire dispatches and staff reports