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American Scene: After stop at airport, shuttle goes to sea

- - Sunday, June 3, 2012

NEW YORK

NEW YORK — The prototype space shuttle that arrived in New York City by air earlier this spring is on the move again, this time by sea.

The Enterprise had been parked at John F. Kennedy International Airport since it flew from Washington to New York atop a 747 jet.

The shuttle was placed on a barge Saturday and readied for a slow journey through the harbor to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Manhattan's West Side.

The barge was on its way Sunday across New York Harbor to Port Elizabeth, N.J.

Then, on Tuesday, a tugboat is to move the Enterprise to the Intrepid, a decommissioned aircraft carrier.

Plans are in place for a floating crane to lift the spacecraft onto the flight deck.

ARIZONA

Five bodies found in burned SUV

An Arizona sheriff said five bodies found burned beyond recognition inside the shell of a charred SUV were likely the result of drug cartel violence.

The bodies and vehicle were found in the Vekol Valley, a rugged, mountainous desert area that's a well-known smuggling corridor for drugs and illegal immigrants headed from Mexico to Phoenix and the U.S. interior.

The bodies were so badly burned that investigators couldn't immediately determine their gender or ethnicity. While it's unclear whether the victims were from Mexico, the sheriff's office has notified the Mexican Consulate.

A Border Patrol agent first spotted the white Ford Expedition driving at around 4:30 a.m.

The vehicle disappeared despite an effort by federal and local authorities to track it down. Why the vehicle first drew attention from authorities is unclear.

At daybreak, an agent spotted tracks leading from Interstate 8 into the desert. The vehicle that left the tracks had apparently launched off the highway, going airborne for a short distance before landing in the desert. The tracks continued for a couple of miles.

Agents could see the smoldering vehicle from a distance through binoculars.

NEW JERSEY

3 injured, 4 homes destroyed in fire

PERTH AMBOY — Authorities said an intense, fast-moving fire destroyed four connected homes in Perth Amboy, N.J., and seriously injured three people, including an infant.

Forty-seven people were left homeless by the five-alarm blaze, which was reported around 3:45 a.m. Sunday. Two residents - a father and son - initially were unaccounted for, but authorities later learned they weren't home when the fire occurred.

A couple and their baby daughter suffered burns. They were hospitalized in serious but stable condition.

Roughly 75 firefighters battled the stubborn blaze, which damaged several other homes and burned for several hours before it was brought under control.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Witnesses said it appeared to be "raining ashes" as crews worked to extinguish the flames.

WASHINGTON

Seattle wants to attract willing but wary bikers

SEATTLE — As the city of Seattle is preparing to overhaul its five-year-old bike plan, some want to make the city safer and friendlier to those not so accustomed to navigating the streets on two wheels.

There's a new push to get "willing but wary" cyclists on their saddles with separate bike lanes buffered from traffic, bicycling boulevards where walkers and bikers have priority, and traffic calming features like speed bumps.

The city is planning to build seven miles of walking and biking boulevards in five neighborhoods this year. So-called neighborhood greenways modeled after ones in Portland, Ore., are designed to make it safer for walkers and bikers to get between their home and school, the grocery store and park.

The city expects to have a new plan by next year.

PENNSYLVANIA

Sandusky strategy may pivot on accuser credibility

BELLEFONTE — Legal experts say the case against Jerry Sandusky could boil down to a simple question: Will jurors find credible the testimony by the young men who claim the former Penn State assistant coach sexually abused them?

The Sandusky trial is set to get under way on Tuesday morning, with jury selection in a central Pennsylvania courtroom.

The credibility of prosecution witnesses is always important, but it could be pivotal in this case, where the allegations date back years and there may be little or no forensic evidence.

Legal analysts say the fact there are multiple accusers might benefit the prosecution.

Mr. Sandusky, 68, faces charges he sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years, allegations he's repeatedly denied.

TENNESSEE

Body of kidnapper goes unclaimed

MEMPHIS — Mississippi officials are trying to determine what to do with the body of a man who abducted two young Tennessee girls after he killed their mother and oldest sister.

Police believe Adam Mayes killed Jo Ann Bain and her 14-year-old daughter, Adrienne Bain, on April 27 in their home in Whiteville, Tenn. Bain's two younger daughters were found and taken home after Mayes fatally shot himself when police tracked him down May 10 in Union County, Miss.

Mark Golding, the medical examiner for Union County, told WMC-TV that Mayes' family won't accept the remains, which are currently located in the state crime lab in Jackson.

Mayes' wife and mother remain in jail in Hardeman County, Tenn., on charges related to the kidnapping and slayings.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports