- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 12, 2004

MICHIGAN

Anthrax scare shuts mayor’s office

PONTIAC — City offices were locked down yesterday and people were taken to a hospital for decontamination after a letter containing white powder and a message claiming it was anthrax showed up in the mayor’s mail.

Georgette Johnson, press secretary for Mayor Willie Payne, said the letter was opened around noon when some members of the city staff were at lunch. It contained a white powder and a message indicating that the substance was anthrax, she said.

It was not clear whether the letter had been dropped off or sent through the mail, Miss Johnson said.

MISSOURI

Man charged with suffocating his children

ST. LOUIS — A father was charged with murder Tuesday for purportedly suffocating his two toddlers on a muddy bank of the Mississippi River the day before, authorities said. Anthony Moore was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and was being held on $3 million bail.

Mr. Moore, 25, is accused of killing 2-year-old Toni Moore and her half brother, 10-month-old Kanya Anderson. The father remained in police custody Tuesday, after being hospitalized Monday for psychiatric observation.

The bodies of the toddlers were found Monday afternoon next to Mr. Moore’s car, which was parked on a boat ramp at North Riverfront Park. A muddy Moore was picked up by police shortly afterward outside a relative’s home.

CALIFORNIA

Death penalty sought in family shooting

FRESNO — Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty against a man charged with fatally shooting nine of his children in his Fresno home. The announcement was made Tuesday after “a careful review of the facts and applicable law,” District Attorney Elizabeth Egan said.

A hearing yesterday discussed delaying the trial from Sept. 14 until mid-December. Marcus Wesson is charged with shooting nine of his children, ages 1 to 25, on March 12. Officers were called to his home by two women who were trying to retrieve their children from inside the house.

Mr. Wesson, 57, also is accused of 13 sex crimes, including rape, with each of the victims believed to be family members. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

ILLINOIS

Pakistani’s tapes show no terror link

CHICAGO — Investigators scrutinizing videotapes of U.S. cities taken by a Pakistani man arrested in North Carolina last month have found nothing to connect him to terrorism, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said yesterday.

“There’s nothing we know today, as we speak, that connects him to any terrorist activities,” Mr. Ridge said in answer to a question posed at a Chicago conference on communicating in a crisis.

Authorities announced Tuesday that Kamran Akhtar, a resident of Elmhurst, N.Y., was being held on immigration charges after he was detained July 20 in downtown Charlotte, N.C., while videotaping.

Mr. Ridge said the videotapes — depicting banks, public transportation systems and a Texas dam — were taken in Las Vegas, Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston and Austin, Texas.

MONTANA

Bear boozes up on fermented fruit

KALISPELL — A bear apparently bumped over barrels at a former brewery and filled up on fermented fruit waste. It seems the bear gorged itself on the remnants of fermented fruit, part of the debris dumped on the country property of Bill Arkush, formerly doing business as Glacier Valley Brandy.

Mr. Arkush said he arrived home Monday evening to find a pile of debris, equipment and barrels at the entrance to his driveway. Some of the barrels were inadvertently toppled, and that’s when the grizzly bear showed up.

Before finding the fermented waste, officials said, the bear tore a door off a neighbor’s chicken coop and rabbit hutch and tried to get into a building containing grain.

NEW YORK

Empire State Building pays tribute to Wray

NEW YORK — In a rare personal tribute, the Empire State Building dimmed its lights Tuesday night for Fay Wray, the actress famously carried to the top of the skyscraper in the 1933 classic “King Kong.” The actress died on Sunday in her Manhattan apartment. She was 96.

The building’s lights were dimmed for 15 minutes in her memory. The famous Empire State Building’s illuminations change color regularly to mark everything from national days around the world to major sporting events, but personal tributes are few and far between.

Although she took part in scores of movies, Mrs. Wray will forever be remembered for her role in “King Kong” as the helpless blonde carried up the landmark skyscraper in the hands of the giant ape from Skull Island.

NORTH CAROLINA

Trusted ‘investor’ arrested in scheme

GREENEVILLE — Investor Gary Lee Von Oesen bragged that he never lost money trading commodities, so a woman known as “CF” gave him her trust.

Mr. Von Oesen, federal authorities say, promised a 25 percent annual return on investments. CF gave him her life savings — $490,000 made from the sale of her home, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported yesterday.

But the FBI says Mr. Von Oesen violated her trust and absconded with her money in a Ponzi scheme that has grossed an estimated $12 million since 1996. Federal agents arrested Mr. Von Oesen and his girlfriend, Geneva Retha Houston, this week.

He faces charges of conspiracy to launder money, wire fraud and securities fraud. Miss Houston was charged with conspiracy to launder money.

OKLAHOMA

Storms kill woman, cause outages

OKLAHOMA CITY — Thunderstorms struck Oklahoma with heavy rain, large hail and wind up to 90 mph yesterday, knocking out power to thousands of customers and contributing to one death.

Oklahoma City firefighters were sent to rescue people who became stranded in their stalled cars after driving into high water. Oklahoma Gas and Electric reported nearly 10,600 customers without power in central Oklahoma. Most of the outages were in Guthrie, where about 3,900 customers were in the dark.

Wind up to 88 mph was reported at Guthrie, just north of Oklahoma City. Power lines and trees were blown down, some on top of cars, state officials said.

A woman was killed in Tulsa when she was hit by a van while she examined damage to the car in which she had been riding. The car had hydroplaned on wet pavement and hit a retaining wall, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.

TEXAS

‘Passion’ confessor pleads guilty

HOUSTON — A man who said Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of The Christ” led him to confess that he killed his girlfriend pleaded guilty to the crime in a Texas court yesterday.

“I assume full responsibility for my actions,” Dan Leach told Judge Brady Elliott just as his trial on murder charges was set to start. “I plead guilty.”

A jury that had been selected to hear the case now will decide his punishment, which could be up to life in prison. Leach, 21, said he killed girlfriend Ashley Nicole Wilson in January because she said she was pregnant and he wanted nothing more to do with her.

Leach set up the murder to look like a suicide by getting Miss Wilson, 19, to write a list of all the things wrong in her life and place a pillowcase over her head as a “trust exercise.” An autopsy showed Miss Wilson was not pregnant, officials said.

Police interpreted the list as a suicide note and ruled the death a suicide until March, when Leach saw Mr. Gibson’s movie about the crucifixion of Jesus and felt compelled to confess.

UTAH

Woman in Smart case ruled incompetent

SALT LAKE CITY — The woman accused in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping is still not competent to stand trial and must receive another year of treatment, a judge has ruled.

Wanda Barzee, 58, who first was ruled incompetent in January, remains incompetent, but there is a “substantial probability she may become competent in the foreseeable future,” 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton said Tuesday. She ordered another evaluation on Aug. 10, 2005.

Mrs. Barzee, and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, are accused of kidnapping the girl, who was 14 at the time, at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City home June 5, 2002, and holding her captive for nine months. Authorities said Mr. Mitchell, a self-proclaimed prophet, wanted the girl for his second wife.

The couple are charged with kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated kidnapping in Elizabeth’s disappearance. The judge said Mrs. Barzee still had ongoing “revelations” tied to her own religious beliefs and those she shared with her husband. A competency hearing for Mr. Mitchell is set for Aug. 31.

WASHINGTON

Suspicious package closes terminal

SEATTLE — The downtown ferry terminal was closed for nearly two hours and a bomb squad called after a suspicious package was found, but officials determined that the package was not dangerous.

The package was found by a ferry worker just after 8 p.m. Tuesday in an area where cars are held before boarding. About two hours later, a bomb squad determined that it might have been part of construction work, ferry system spokeswoman Pat Patterson said.

Several hundred Seattle Mariners fans were left waiting for boats after officials shut down the terminal. The boats were returning to pick up fans leaving a game at nearby Safeco Field.

WEST VIRGINIA

Ungraded tests mistakenly destroyed

CHARLESTON — Nearly half of the standardized tests administered to students in one West Virginia county to comply with federal regulations were inadvertently destroyed by the scoring company before being graded, officials said yesterday.

Of the 2,096 tests administered in Wyoming County in April, no results are available for 1,070 students, state Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said. The missing tests had come from 12 of Wyoming County’s 13 schools, Miss Cordeiro said.

The West Virginia Educational Standards Test was designed by West Virginia teachers and business and community representatives, and developed with CTB/McGraw-Hill. It is administered to third- through eighth-graders and high school sophomores.

Miss Cordeiro said Wyoming County would be accountable only for the students whose tests were scored. Students will not be retested unless their parents request it.

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