- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002


Car dangles off interstate bridge

SANFORD A woman was trapped for almost an hour Wednesday before she was rescued from a sport utility vehicle that dangled precariously over an interstate overpass.

Fire rescuers attached cables to the wheels of the vehicle to prevent it from falling from the Interstate 4 overpass onto the road below. A cherry picker then was moved to the hanging car, and three rescuers helped the driver out. She did not appear to be injured.

The vehicle appeared to hang by one wheel from the overpass' guardrail. After the woman's rescue, the car was pulled off by a tow truck.


Fire hits $45 million mansion

DALLAS A massive fire swept through one of the largest homes for sale in the United States yesterday, destroying the main section of the unoccupied Dallas mansion that was on the market for about $45 million.

Three firemen were injured in the six-alarm blaze that was battled by more than 100 firefighters. Arson investigators were on the site, fire officials said.

The main residence, located in north Dallas, sprawls over 43,000 square feet.


Man, 92, kills self after release from jail

OROVILLE An ailing, 92-year-old man who had pleaded to be allowed to stay in jail jumped to his death from a bridge less than two weeks after his release.

The body of Coval Russell was found Wednesday under a 40-foot bridge over the Feather River. Officials say he may have been California's oldest county jail inmate.

Mr. Russell had served 14 months while waiting for sentencing on an assault charge for stabbing his landlord. He was put on three years' probation and released from the Butte County Jail on June 26. A judge had denied Mr. Russell's request to stay in jail, saying that it was not an appropriate place for a man of his age.

"He was in constant pain, and he was running out of living options," said Jim Pihl, a private investigator who talked to Mr. Russell.


Reward increased in murder mystery

WILMINGTON Friends and family of slain liquor store owner Jimmy L. Lester are offering an additional $5,000 for information that helps solve the 3-year-old case, the News-Journal reports.

The amount brings the total reward to $15,000.

"We need someone to come forward and identify the killer," said Mr. Lester's father, Jimmy Lester Sr. "It's hard for us to go on with our lives."

State police detectives said they still hope to find the killer. "The case is still active and remains focused on several suspects," state police homicide Lt. John Evans said Wednesday at Fox Point State Park.

Mike Dore, of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Lodge 74 and a friend of the victim, said an anonymous donor offered the money.


Topless car washers raise cash, tempers

MOSCOW If you drive up to Daisy Mace's carwash, you'd better roll up your windows and prepare for the tops to come down.

Miss Mace and her friends run a successful automobile cleaning service that some might object to as being anything but good, clean fun. Here, topless women wash the cars.

Moscow, home of the University of Idaho, is a liberal anomaly in a staid state. Still, the City Council is hastily trying to enact a law to prevent such carwashes. The debate is over how much of a breast can be legally uncovered.


Mailbox-bomb suspect seeks trial delay

CEDAR RAPIDS The attorney for a college student accused of planting pipe bombs and anti-government letters in mailboxes in five states wants more time to prepare for the trial.

Luke Helder's trial in U.S. District Court was scheduled for Sept. 16. Defense attorney Jane Kelly filed a motion asking for a delay.

Mr. Helder, 21, pleaded not guilty June 7 to federal charges of using a pipe bomb to destroy Delores Werling's mailbox in rural Tipton on May 3. The 70-year-old woman was injured in the face and arms by flying shards of metal.

A conviction could bring up to 40 years in prison. He also is charged with using a bomb in a crime of violence, which could result in life in prison.


Home to be built for former hostage

ROSE HILL Former hostage and missionary Gracia Burnham says she wants to call Rose Hill home, so people in this small city plan to build her one by Christmas.

"We're not trying to build her a mansion. She doesn't want one," said Steve McRae, who is organizing the effort. "We just want to give her a home where she can feel comfortable raising her kids."

Mrs. Burnham and her husband, Martin, were missionaries in the Philippines, when they were kidnapped and held hostage in the jungle for more than a year. Last month, she and another hostage were rescued, but Martin Burnham was killed during a shootout between Philippine troops and rebel kidnappers.


Crawfish processors to share $8 million

BATON ROUGE About 27 crawfish processors will share in $8 million collected by the federal government from importers who illegally dumped cheap Chinese crawfish into the market in the 1990s, Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom said yesterday.

The recipients will be those who filed an anti-dumping petition in 1996, contending that the importers did not abide by the tariff law.

Nearly $200 million in tariff invoices were sent to importers, but Mr. Odom said he was pleased that $8 million was collected.

Louisiana crawfish processors are getting the tariff money as a result of the Byrd Amendment in Congress, which says anti-dumping petitioners are to receive funds collected by U.S. Customs Service for their industry.


Man acquitted in sleepwalking case

BOSTON He was a drunk college student prowling for sex, prosecutors said, an unwelcome visitor who slipped into 10 dorm rooms in the quiet hours after the parties ended, rousing women and grabbing odd souvenirs: a bottle of vitamins, a bikini bottom, a pair of scissors.

One woman said he began cutting off her shirt; another awoke, she said, as he was trying to yank off her underwear.

Adam Kieczykowski, now 19, doesn't deny that his body may have moved through the dormitories of University of Massachusetts at Amherst. But Mr. Kieczykowski said in court that he cannot remember anything other than falling asleep early Sunday morning during Spring Fling weekend in May 2001, the Boston Globe reports.

His body may have done what his mind cannot fathom, he said, because he was sleepwalking.

After only an hour of deliberation, a Hampshire County jury found Mr. Kieczykowski not guilty of 18 charges that he entered the rooms, sexually assaulted women and stole from others.


Nuclear utilities running out of storage space

LINCOLN Nebraska's two nuclear utilities say they will run out of storage space for spent nuclear fuel rods much before 2010 the year the Yucca Mountain repository is set to open.

Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville will run out of room in its spent-fuel storage pool by 2006, said John McClure, governmental-affairs spokesman for Nebraska Public Power District.

Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, about 18 miles north of Omaha, faces a similar fate by the same year, said Jeff Hanson, a spokesman for the Omaha Public Power District.

The utilities say they are looking at storing their spent fuel in dry casks at their respective plant sites until they can ship it to Yucca Mountain in Nevada, according to the Journal Star. But there is worry that the opening could be years beyond the 2010 scheduled date.


State has high readings of carbon monoxide

DURHAM Forest fires blazing in Quebec have boosted carbon monoxide readings in New Hampshire to their highest level in at least two years.

University of New Hampshire professor Robert Talbot said the concentrations reached their highest points since they began a monitoring program two years ago.

Carbon monoxide readings on a normal day are 100 to 200 parts per billion. On Monday, the readings were 750 parts per billion because of smoke from the Canadian fires.


Most 9/11 detainees deported or released

NEWARK The government said yesterday that it has released most of the detainees it picked up as part of its investigation into the September 11 attacks.

Of the more than 1,100 detainees, only 74 remain in custody, Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said. Most have been deported, though some were released after being cleared of criminal involvement in the attacks.

Russ Bergeron, a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said 38 of the remaining detainees are on the verge of being deported.

"These numbers speak for themselves," said Sohail Mohammed, an immigration lawyer who has represented dozens of detainees held in jails in northern New Jersey. "Ninety-five percent have been released, and not a single one has been charged in the World Trade Center attacks. Not one."


Teens' attorneys deny murder plot charges

Attorneys for Michael Eicher, 17, and Brandon McKinney, 15, denied the charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery and conspiracy that the teenagers face.

The Albuquerque, N.M., youths are accused of plotting to kill Mr. Eicher's family in a scheme to collect insurance money, according to the Albuquerque Tribune.

Michael Eicher said he heard tapping on his window and his father, Anthony Eicher, went outside to check, according to police records. His mother, Sharlene Eicher, went into her oldest child's bedroom. Brandon, wielding a hammer, purportedly jumped from a closet and struck the 51-year-old woman several times in the head.

Michael Eicher later told police that he and Brandon had been planning for two weeks to kill his parents and his sister, records show. He also is said to have attempted to poison his father on July 4 and collect insurance money.


Jewelry, cash swiped from Versace store

NEW YORK More than $1.5 million in cash and jewelry was stolen from a vault inside a Versace boutique in midtown Manhattan, police said.

Police were searching early yesterday for an unidentified man who took the rings, necklaces and money from the store on Fifth Avenue.

There were no signs of forced entry and no one was injured in the heist, which occurred Tuesday, said Officer Jennara Everleth, a police spokeswoman.


Education officials reject low writing scores

RALEIGH North Carolina yesterday threw out the disappointing results of a statewide writing test for schoolchildren, in part because the exam wasn't written clearly enough.

The 9-1 vote by the state board of education will ensure that teachers and schools are not penalized for the bad marks. The state has the authority to clean house at schools that get low ratings.

The test was given to more than 200,000 fourth-graders and seventh-graders.

Only 47 percent of fourth-graders passed the single-essay test, compared with 69 percent the previous year; 63 percent of seventh-graders received passing scores, a decline of 10 percentage points.

The drop for the fourth-graders was attributed, among other causes, to poor wording of the essay question.


State sees first case of West Nile Virus

GRAND FORKS North Dakota has its first recorded case of the West Nile virus infection.

State Veterinarian Dr. Larry Schuler announced yesterday that preliminary tests have confirmed that a horse in Grand Forks had been infected with the virus.

Tests performed at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, and at North Dakota State University are positive, Dr. Schuler said.


Four swimmers presumed drowned

HURON A Lake Erie beach where four friends are believed to have drowned had been closed to swimmers earlier in the day because of strong current.

The four disappeared after they waded into the pounding surf Wednesday to rescue the one of the men's fiancee, because she was struggling to stay afloat. Firefighters rescued the woman, Amy Renee Anderson, 22, police said.

The U.S. Coast Guard and divers said the search for the four was complicated that day by the 5- to 8-foot waves. It was called off after five hours. It resumed yesterday with a Coast Guard helicopter.

"We hope there's some miracle that they swam ashore someplace, but we doubt it," Huron Fire Chief John Zimmerman said.


Eateries urged to ignore anti-smoking regulations

OKLAHOMA CITY The Oklahoma Restaurant Association is urging its members to "completely ignore" new anti-smoking regulations, despite state Health Department pleas to begin complying with the new measures from this month, the Oklahoman reports.

Opposing stances about the regulations that took effect July 1 were made Wednesday after a Tulsa federal court hearing on the legality of the rules.

U.S. District Judge James H. Payne said he will decide before Tuesday whether the case will be heard in a Tulsa federal court or in a state district court in Sapulpa, where the restaurant association's lawsuit was filed.


Governor steamed over plan for budget

SALEM Gov. John Kitzhaber strongly hinted Tuesday that he may consider vetoing bills in the legislature's budget-rebalancing package that violate his "pay-as-you-go" principles a move that could force cuts of up to $335 million to public schools and community colleges.

Lawmakers came up with their plan to close the $860 million state shortfall using "extraordinarily complicated actuarial maneuvers that make the kind of accounting you saw with WorldCom and Enron seem relatively simple in comparison," Mr. Kitzhaber said in his first public appearance since the third special session adjourned.

He released his list of possible vetoes yesterday, the Register-Guard reported.


Student pleads guilty in AIDS case

HURON An HIV-infected college student whose arrest on charges of having unprotected sex with a woman spread fear on campus and prompted the testing of hundreds of people for AIDS pleaded guilty yesterday and could get up to 15 years in prison.

Nikko Briteramos, a 19-year-old SiTanka-Huron University basketball player from Chicago, is the first person prosecuted in South Dakota under a 2000 law against knowingly exposing someone to the AIDS virus.

Health officials became alarmed when Mr. Briteramos and three other persons in and around Huron, a town of 12,000, were diagnosed with the virus. He was arrested in April.

Because Mr. Briteramos reported multiple sex partners, and many of those people also had several partners, 237 persons were tested for the virus.


Burglary, theft charges filed against handyman

SALT LAKE CITY Burglary and theft charges were filed yesterday against a handyman who once worked in the home of Elizabeth Smart.

Police said the charges against Richard Albert Ricci are not related to the disappearance of 14-year-old Elizabeth. On June 5, the teen was taken from her bedroom at gunpoint as her younger sister watched, authorities say.

Mr. Ricci faces one count of theft for reportedly stealing $3,500 worth of items jewelry, a perfume bottle and a wine glass filled with seashells from the Smarts' home in June 2001. They were found during a search of Mr. Ricci's home last month, according to charging documents.

In addition, he is charged with one count of burglary and another count of theft for taking jewelry and about $300 in cash from another home in the Smarts' wealthy neighborhood in April 2001.

Because Mr. Ricci is considered a career criminal, he faces up to life in prison for the charges. He is in prison now on parole violations.


Restoration starts for WWI memorial

KIMBALL Restoration work has begun on the Kimball War Memorial, which was built in 1928 to honor 1,500 black World War I veterans from McDowell County.

Workers began razing buildings next to the memorial this week. The memorial, which features four large columns and a community building, was gutted by fire in 1989.

A federal grant of $700,000 is financing the restoration, officials said.


Runaway caught; airman arrested

CHEYENNE A 16-year-old runaway girl from California who escaped from a local crisis center last week was found here by authorities Tuesday night.

The girl, whose name was not released to the Tribune-Eagle by the Laramie County Sheriff's Department, escaped from Attention Homes Inc. and was supposedly harbored by Benjamin Wetz, an airman stationed at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, sheriff's Sgt. Terry Bohlig told the Tribune-Eagle.

Authorities were tipped off Tuesday night that Airman Wetz, 20, was with the girl at Travel Centers of America, on Hillsdale Road off Interstate 80 Exit 377, Sgt. Bohlig said. A deputy said Airman Wetz appeared unstable.

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