- - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

COLORADO

WESTMINSTER — A teenager who lived just a mile from a 10-year-old Colorado girl who was abducted and killed earlier this month has been arrested in her death, along with a May attack on a runner, authorities said Wednesday.

Police said they arrested Austin Reed Sigg, 17, on Tuesday night after receiving a phone call, apparently from his mother, that led them to Mr. Sigg.

Police announced the arrest as agents searched Mr. Sigg’s home, but they have released few details about the investigation. Court documents have been sealed, but a police custody report said Mr. Sigg was cooperative when he was arrested and waived his rights.

Jessica Ridgeway disappeared Oct. 5 while walking to school. Her body was found five days later in a field at a park.

The break in the case came a day after police said Jessica’s abduction was linked to the May 28 attempted kidnapping of a 22-year-old runner at another park, the Ketner Lake Open Space.

GEORGIA

Ex-megachurch worker sought in fatal shooting

COLLEGE PARK — A volunteer leading a prayer service at a Georgia megachurch was fatally shot Wednesday morning, and authorities were searching for a former church employee suspected in the shooting.

The shots were fired just before 10 a.m. inside a chapel on the campus of World Changers Church International, which says it has 30,000 followers and is located in College Park, a suburb south of Atlanta.

The church’s well-known founder and leader, the Rev. Creflo Dollar, was not at the church at the time of the shooting, Fulton County Police Cpl. Kay Lester said.

Authorities identified the suspect as Floyd Palmer, 52, a former facilities maintenance employee at the church. Cpl. Lester said Mr. Palmer, who should be considered armed and dangerous, had resigned from his job at the church in August for “personal reasons.”

The victim was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Cpl. Lester said. He was described only as a 39-year-old volunteer and member of the church.

TEXAS

Chief: State’s battered $3B cancer effort endures

AUSTIN — An embattled $3 billion cancer-fighting fund in Texas will recover from a controversy that led two Nobel laureates and others to resign over allegations that politics trumped science in spending decisions, state officials told stakeholders Wednesday.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas opened its annual meeting under a cloud of scrutiny brought by the mass resignation of nearly three dozen scientists, some of whom criticized the fund for “hucksterism” and “suspicion of favoritism” on their way out the door.

All were out-of-state peer reviewers who served on the first line of choosing which proposals were worthy of taxpayer dollars.

The state is trying to reverse the damage this week and kicked off the agency’s conference with a vote of support from Dr. Brian Druker, who is behind the breakthrough cancer drug Gleevec and among the world’s most foremost cancer researchers.

REGION

Panel: Pregnant women need whooping cough shot

An expert panel is urging every expecting mother to get a shot preventing whooping cough, preferably in the last three months of her pregnancy to help protect her baby.

The advice follows a frightening resurgence of the dreaded childhood disease. More than 32,000 cases, including 16 deaths, have been reported so far this year, and 2012 is on track to be the nation’s worst year for whooping cough since 1959.

It’s only the second time a vaccine has been advised for all women during pregnancy. Flu shots were first recommended for them in the 1990s.

The new advice was approved in a vote Wednesday by the government’s vaccine advisory panel. Federal health officials usually adopt the group’s guidance and promote it to doctors and the public.

OKLAHOMA

U.S.: Judge must deny store birth-control case

OKLAHOMA CITY — The U.S. government is urging a federal judge to deny a Hobby Lobby Stores request to block the enforcement of a new health care law that requires employers to give staff insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar drugs.

Last month, the arts and crafts supply chain filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City that alleges the mandate is unconstitutional.

The company wants an injunction to prohibit the law’s enforcement. The Oklahoma City-based store says the mandate will force its owners to violate deeply held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines.

Government attorneys say Hobby Lobby cannot claim to exercise religion in an effort to avoid laws designed to regulate commercial activity.

A hearing is set for Nov. 1.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports