American Scene: Police seek Ohio man in deaths of 2 Mich. Sisters

BLISSFIELD — A nationwide search was under way Sunday for a 38-year-old ex-convict from Ohio suspected of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend and her sister, and wounding their mother in southeastern Michigan.

State police Lt. Mardella Horhn said Thomas J. Fritz, of Sylvania, Ohio, hasn’t been charged but is wanted for questioning. Mr. Fritz was released from an Ohio prison in 2008 after serving a one-year sentence for criminal sexual conduct.

Fritz may be en route to Ohio,” state police Detective Sgt. Marc Moore said in a statement. “He is believed to be armed and dangerous. Citizens should contact police immediately and not approach him.”

Lisa Gritzmaker, 24; Amy Merrill, 34; and their mother were shot at Ms. Merrill’s home about 11:40 p.m. Friday in Blissfield, located about 20 miles northwest of Toledo, Ohio.

“Blissfield police responded to a 911 call from one of the victims,” Sgt. Moore said. “When they arrived, they found that three people were shot; two fatally and the third victim is hospitalized.

LOUISIANA

Fortunetelling ban overturned by judge

ALEXANDRIA — A federal judge has struck down a central Louisiana ordinance banning fortunetelling, palm reading, astrology and similar activities in the city of Alexandria.

U.S. District Judge Dee Drell’s ruling Wednesday concurs with a magistrate’s conclusion that the ordinance is unconstitutional.

Rachel Adams is a fortuneteller who says she accepts donations but doesn’t charge for her services. She sued the city after a police officer issued her a court summons in 2011 for violating the ordinance. A violation can result in daily penalties of up to $500.

The city argued the business of fortunetelling is a fraud and inherently deceptive, but U.S. Magistrate James Kirk concluded that fortunetelling is free speech protected by the First Amendment.

Miss Adams told the Town Talk newspaper last year that she is a fifth-generation psychic.

CALIFORNIA

Ways to curb plasticwater bottles mulled

SAN FRANCISCO — The city that regulated Happy Meal toys and banned plastic grocery bags has a new target in its health-conscious, eco-friendly crosshairs: plastic water bottles.

City officials are considering an ordinance that would require owners of new and renovated buildings with water fountains to install special bottle-filling taps. The law’s designed to encourage thirsty people to refill containers instead of reaching for another bottle of Evian or Aquafina.

“This is the appropriate next step to make it easier for San Franciscans to get out of the bad habit of using environmentally wasteful plastic water bottles and into the good habit of using reusable water containers,” said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who introduced the legislation in June.

Bottle-filling taps like the ones that would be required if Mr. Chiu’s measure passes already are found at San Francisco International Airport and at some city parks and schools. Installed behind a drinking fountain’s regular faucet, they dispense chilled water in a quick-streaming vertical jet that is high enough to accommodate most water containers.

Advocates say having bottle-specific spigots encourages the reuse of water bottles by eliminating long waits to fill them and removing concerns about germs. Some people squirm at the thought of drinking from a fountain exposed to so many mouths, although city officials say water fountains are no less hygienic than bottle taps.

Skeptics question whether the ordinance is necessary, since the proposed taps pour the same highly regarded public water that comes out of every other faucet and drinking fountain. Businesses often complain that San Francisco lawmakers are too quick to impose bans or restrictions that affect their bottom lines.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Dark-matter detector has new home

LEAD — Scientists in Lead have moved the world’s most sensitive dark-matter detector to its new home a mile beneath the earth.

Case Western Reserve University physics professor Tom Shutt says it was a painstakingly slow two-day move from the earth’s surface down to a cavern within the now-closed Homestake Gold Mine. It’s been revamped into the state-of-the-art Sanford underground laboratory.

The Large Underground Xenon detector, known as LUX, is meant to detect elusive matter that scientists can’t see but think make up about 25 percent of the universe. If the matter is discovered, scientists say it could help explain the origins of the universe.

Yale professor Dan McKinsey says the detector will be cooled to -100 degrees centigrade in October. Data should start flowing by December.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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