- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2002


Police seek linksto other disappearances

OREGON CITY Police say they don't believe there are any more bodies at the property where the remains of two missing teenagers were found, but they will check to see if the man who rented the house is linked to other disappearances, the police chief said yesterday.

Authorities said Monday a body recovered from a barrel buried under a concrete slab in Ward Weaver's yard was that of 12-year-old Ashley Pond. The body of 13-year-old Miranda Gaddis was found during the weekend in a backyard shed.

Mr. Weaver, 39, who has been in jail since Aug. 13 on an unrelated rape charge, has not been charged in either death and has denied any involvement in the teens' disappearances.<TEXAS


Screeners in place at Love Field

DALLAS At 4 a.m. yesterday, 130 federal screeners began work at Southwest Airlines gates at Love Field, signaling a major step toward federalizing the airport's checkpoints, reports the Star-Telegram.

The screeners will be trained on the job during the next two weeks, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials say that lines may be sluggish.

In an attempt to repair TSA's shaky reputation, Love Field Federal Security Director Michael Restovich announced that he is adopting a customer-friendly approach to security somewhat modeled after the service goals of Southwest Airlines, even going so far as adopting a slogan: "Safer passage with a smile."


Schools: Ban on soft drinks unlikely

PHOENIX Soft-drink sales are big business for Valley schools, and they're not about to prohibit them in light of an expected ban on sales by the Los Angeles Unified School District board this week, the Arizona Republic reports.

Arizona schools use soda proceeds to fund everything from athletic equipment to band uniforms. Some even supplement their cafeteria budgets.

Paradise Valley Unified School District has a contract with Coca-Cola that's expected to generate $2.2 million over five years. Peoria Unified School District's contracts with Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Gatorade are likely to yield about $3 million from now to 2007.


Schools may lose funding

ARKADELPHIA Arkansas schools will lose nearly $200 million in funding if the statewide sales tax on food and over-the-counter drugs is abolished.

Arkadelphia School District Superintendent Tony Prothro said the district will lose more than $465,000 a year if the tax is abolished, the Siftings-Herald reports.

And, if a clause in the proposed amendment is not clarified prior to the November election, the sales tax on food served in restaurants may also end.

This would mean an additional $88 million decrease in funding for Arkansas schools and an additional $200,000 loss for Arkadelphia schools.


City to pay for death of teen 'snitch'

BREA The city has agreed to a $1 million settlement with the mother of a teenager who was tortured and killed because of his undercover work as a police drug "snitch."

City Manager Tim O'Donnell said the settlement would be paid by an insurance company to Cindy MacDonald, mother of 17-year-old Chad MacDonald.

"This is a number that will send out a message to all police departments that they can't use juveniles as drug informants," Mrs. MacDonald's attorney, Lloyd Charton, said of the settlement.

Using Chad as an informant violated Orange County guidelines. A state law passed since Chad's 1998 death limits the use of teenage drug informants.


Crematory operator jeered upon release

LaFAYETTE A crematory operator accused of dumping hundreds of human remains was released from jail yesterday as about a dozen people, mostly family members of the dead, jeered and shouted at him.

Ray Brent Marsh, 29, walked straight to the car of his attorney, who took off for the home of Mr. Marsh's parents. He will be confined there while he awaits an indictment and trial on 398 felony counts, based on accusations that he took money for cremations he never did.

The operator of Tri-State Crematory had received death threats in the months since his incarceration. Even so, Sheriff Steve Wilson said they wouldn't protect him beyond the parking lot of the jail and courthouse.

"Every time he eats, drinks and sleeps, I want him to see our faces," said Melissa Crawford, whose uncle was supposed to have been cremated.


Problems mirror poverty on Big Island

HILO Hawaii County, which ranks as the poorest county in the state, also has a higher rate of social and mental health-related problems, according to a recently released survey.

The 10th Survey of Social Indicators prepared by the Mental Health Association of Hawaii County was released last week. The association's annual reports have consistently linked poverty to the prevalence of social problems on the Big Island.

Hawaii County, with 148,677 residents or 12.3 percent of the state's population, is the poorest in the state, said Beverly Grogan, branch manager for the Mental Health Association.


Two more die of West Nile virus

SPRINGFIELD Illinois' death toll from the West Nile virus has doubled to four, state health officials said yesterday, the latest indication that the mosquito-borne virus, once focused on the South, is increasingly infecting people farther north.

If confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the deaths would raise the human toll to 22 nationwide.

The latest Illinois fatalities were an 83-year-old man from Chicago, who died Aug. 21, and a 92-year-old woman from the suburbs north of the city who died Saturday.

Both had West Nile encephalitis an inflammation of the brain and the man also had other conditions that may have contributed to his death, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.


Bishop proposes more parish mergers

SOUTH BEND The Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is considering another church merger to deal with a lingering shortage of priests.

Bishop John D'Arcy proposed a merger of the traditionally Polish St. Adalbert Church with its predominantly Hispanic neighbor St. Stephen at a St. Adalbert parish meeting Sunday evening, the South Bend Tribune reports. The bishop also told members of St. Stephen at a meeting on Monday.

If the plan goes through, the congregation at St. Stephen will have to move out of their 102-year-old church home.

In recent years, Bishop D'Arcy has avoided closing parishes by pairing them to share clergy. Most recently in South Bend, he paired St. Patrick with St. Hedwig and St. Stanislaus with Holy Cross. Last week, the bishop formally merged St. Patrick and St. Paul parishes in Fort Wayne.


Neighborhood objects to angelic melodies

CEDAR RAPIDS People who live near a church heard angelic voices in the middle of the night last week because of a technical glitch.

The church plays music in the neighborhood from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. But the old tape system had broken and a new system had been installed, said the Rev. Jim Turner, pastor of St. James United Methodist Church.

"What happened was the new system missed the time by 12 hours. It was playing from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.," he said.

Mr. Turner, who lives in a parsonage next to the church, said the music neighbors heard that night was Celtic Christian music.

"When I finally went outside, it was pretty loud and it did sound angelic," he said.


Drought hits farmers hard

LAWRENCE There are a lot of dry counties in Kansas this year. But Greeley County is one of the driest.

From August 2001 to this July, just 6.18 inches of rain fell here. That's 2 inches less than fell during the fabled Dust Bowl years of 1934-1935. Then, there were 8.84 inches.

And although 6 inches is the official county total, not everyone has been so lucky, the Journal-World reports.


Plant cited for bathroom policy

CLERMONT Employees at the Jim Beam bourbon distillery are getting sour over restrictions on bathroom breaks.

Workers on the bottling line are fuming about being limited to four breaks per 8½-hour shift, only one of which can be unscheduled. Extra trips to the bathroom can result in reprimands. Workers with six violations can be fired.

The United Food and Commercial Workers local said some of the 100 affected employees have urinated on themselves because they were afraid to leave the line. Some wear protective undergarments and others have feigned illnesses to go home and avoid getting violations, said Jo Anne Kelley, president of the union local.


Priests charged in sex crimes

DETROIT Four Roman Catholic priests who worked in the Archdiocese of Detroit have been charged with criminal sexual conduct in cases that date from the 1960s to the 1980s, the Wayne County prosecutor said yesterday.

The charges are unusual because the reported crimes occurred so long ago, but prosecutor Mike Duggan said the priests can be tried because they left Michigan before the statute of limitations ran out.

The charges include multiple counts of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving boys 14 and younger. The most recent case involves a 13-year-old reportedly molested in the mid-1980s at St. Robert's in Redford Township.

The priests are Harry Benjamin, 60, of Virginia; Robert Burkholder, 82, of Hawaii; Edward Oleszewski, 67, of Florida; and Jason E. Sigler, 64, of New Mexico.


Campaign raises eyebrow of U.S. Mint

DULUTH Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tim Penny is giving away pins made from pennies a play on his name that may break a few laws.

Federal law restricts the attachment of advertising to U.S. bills or coins.

"We are not an enforcement agency, but his attorneys might want to take a look at the statute," Michael White, a spokesman for the U.S. Mint, told the Duluth News Tribune.

Mr. Penny's campaign said they got clearance from the mint before gluing posts to pennies to make the pins. The posts are attached with a water-based adhesive that won't damage the coin or the environment, said Jennifer Moire, a campaign spokeswoman.


Fourth victim of lightning dies

SPRINGFIELD A fourth person died from a lightning strike last week at a rural graveside funeral service, hospital officials said yesterday.

Junior Lee Gray, 70, died yesterday morning. He and three others were standing under an umbrella beneath a tree at Clear Creek Cemetery on Friday when it was struck.

Mr. Gray's wife, Joretta, 71, Leroy Hendrix, 82, and Billy Burgess, 66, all of Springfield, were killed.

Witnesses said some of the 30 to 40 people attending the graveside service took cover under trees when it started raining.


Police say mother killed children

AUGUSTA A mother shot and killed two of her four children while they slept, then waited for police to arrive at their Montana ranch, authorities said.

Jeanette Swanson, 46, reportedly shot her 14-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter early Monday and then called 911 asking for help. Relatives said the woman had been treated for depression just last week.

Two other children, asleep in the home, were uninjured. Her husband, Gene, was sleeping in a camp trailer outside the residence.


Fire sparks more evacuations

FENTON LAKE STATE PARK Another small community was evacuated early yesterday as a wildfire grew in the ponderosa and pinon pine forest of northern New Mexico's Jemez Mountains.

Smoke from the fire, which had grown to 3,300 acres, could be seen at least 50 miles away in Albuquerque. The blaze destroyed four summer homes.

Fire information officers said crews had contained about 15 percent of the blaze by yesterday morning after burning off fuel north of Fenton Lake State Park and working fire lines by hand during the night.


City adds two days to school year

NEW YORK The city's new schools chief wasted little time in starting to revamp things, ordering that the school year be lengthened by two days.

In his second week on the job, schools Chancellor Joel Klein on Monday told principals that two days set aside for teacher training, one in September and one in December, would be regular school days instead. And even the teachers union likes the idea.

This means students will be in school 184 days this year four more than the state requires.


Man charged in beer-bottle assault

FARGO A Minnesota man has been accused of trying to kill another man by stabbing him with a broken beer bottle, according to the Fargo Forum.

Prosecutors say Jeremy J. Johnson, 22, smashed the bottle over the victim's head Saturday, repeatedly stabbed him then robbed him outside a bar in Dent, Minn.

Mr. Johnson was charged Monday in Otter Tail County District Court with attempted murder, robbery and assault.


Admitted counterfeiter rams into school bus

JIM THORPE A man sentenced for falling asleep behind the wheel and crashing into a school bus told the judge he dozed off because he was up late the night before making counterfeit checks.

Charles Digiglio, 34, received a two- to four-year sentence Monday for causing the accident in Penn Forest Township on Nov. 20, 2000. Police filed 26 charges against Digiglio, including eight felony charges for the most serious injuries suffered by victims of the accident. He pleaded guilty.

Digiglio gave Carbon County Judge Roger N. Nanovic the unusual excuse for the accident, saying he had been very groggy.

"I was up all night," Digiglio said.


Political paper chase picking up speed

PROVIDENCE Pawtucket Rep. Antonio Pires has taken up Gov. Lincoln Almond's suggestion, made to Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse, that court action be taken to obtain the records pertaining to the $75,000 Workers Compensation/wrongful termination cases brought by Wendy Collins, a former legislative researcher, as well as to the new $28,000-a-year job created for her at Rhode Island College.

The Pawtucket Times reports that two weeks ago, Miss Collins told WHJJ talk show host John DePetro that she would have been "very successful" if she had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against House Speaker John Harwood.

She also told Mr. DePetro she had been "tortured and tormented" at her Statehouse job.

But last week, she told Channel 10 reporter Gene Valicenti that she was never sexually harassed.


Polygamist gets 5 years for child rape

NEPHI A polygamist was sentenced yesterday to spend five years to life in prison for a child rape that occurred when he took a 13-year-old girl as his "spiritual" wife more than a dozen years ago.

It was the lightest possible sentence for raping a child. The judge said he could have set the minimum at 15 years in prison. Green already has served one year of a five-year sentence for bigamy and failing to pay child support. This latest sentence will run concurrently with the bigamy sentence.

Before the sentencing, Tom Green cried as he told the judge he did "recognize, under the law, she was not capable of consenting to marriage," Green said.

Both Linda Kunz and the couple's 15-year-old son, Melvin, took the stand in Green's defense.

"I don't consider myself a victim of my father or the product of a crime," the boy told the judge.

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