- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Foster parents accused of child abuse

MIAMI — A 4-year-old foster child whose unsolved disappearance rocked Florida’s child-welfare agency two years ago was caged and tied up before she vanished, authorities said yesterday in announcing abuse charges against her two former caregivers.

Geralyn Graham, 59, was charged with kidnapping and three counts of aggravated child abuse causing great bodily harm for actions in the months leading up to the 2001 disappearance of Rilya Wilson. Graham already is serving a prison sentence for fraud.

Her roommate, Pamela Graham, was charged with child abuse causing no great harm and child neglect. The charges stop short of the date of Rilya’s suspected disappearance, which remains unsolved.


Growing fire forces more evacuations

DRYDEN — A windblown wildfire that had forced hundreds to flee their homes grew to more than 11,000 acres early yesterday as it moved into dry brush and grass in central Washington.

The blaze, 20 miles northwest of Wenatchee, had destroyed one home and damaged another residence and an outbuilding, fire information officer Robin DeMario said yesterday. No one was injured.

The fire has forced hundreds from their homes, and residents had been told to leave two more canyons threatened by the fire. More than 1,500 firefighters were assigned to the human-caused blaze, which has been burning since Aug. 8.


Confederate flag banned from T-shirts

WETUMPKA — Elmore County students can no longer wear T-shirts bearing images of the Confederate flag, Malcolm X or other emblems that could be considered offensive.

The county board of education voted to change its dress code to adhere to its harassment policy, said Assistant Superintendent James Myers. It defines harassment as anything that distracts students or faculty from work.


Hiker dies in fall at national park

ANCHORAGE — A 19-year-old resort worker died while hiking at night in Denali National Park when she slipped on loose terrain and fell 45 feet onto rocks.

Bethany Pate of Cleveland, Tenn., had been trying to retreat along a narrow ridge leading to the summit of 4,500-foot Mount Healy on Monday night when she lost her footing and fell, said park spokeswoman Kris Fister.

The hiker and her two climbing partners worked at the McKinley Chalet Resorts. The Denali National Park is a popular destination for summer workers.


Student plants trees near Clinton library

LITTLE ROCK — A University of Arkansas student began planting 94 trees and shrubs on an island in the Arkansas River near the Clinton Presidential Library.

Jon Raney has spent the summer researching the state’s flora and organizing tree plantings for the 30-acre park, where the presidential library is to open Nov. 18.


Professor convicted of faking hate crime

POMONA — A psychology professor was convicted yesterday of falsely reporting that her car was vandalized and spray-painted with racist and anti-Semitic slurs while she was speaking at a March campus forum on racial tolerance.

The report by Kerry Dunn, 39, prompted college officials to cancel classes at Claremont College’s five undergraduate campuses the next day as thousands of students took part in demonstrations calling for tolerance.

Dunn was convicted of one misdemeanor count of filing a false police report and two felony counts of attempted insurance fraud. She faces up to 3 years in prison, when she is sentenced Sept. 17.

Her attorney, Gary S. Lincenberg, issued a statement saying his client would appeal the attempted insurance-fraud convictions.


Test scores may fetch teachers cash

BOISE — A state education committee is considering paying teachers a bonus if students improve their test scores.

Ideas discussed at a brainstorming session included cash awards for teachers or entire schools whose students show improvement on standardized tests. Committee members say they’ll seek legislative approval of a pay-for-performance pilot program.


Feds called to probe leaky luggage

CHICAGO — A regional airport was closed early yesterday after six workers were sickened by a liquid that spilled from an unaccompanied piece of luggage, officials said.

A baggage handler and other airport personnel at Indiana’s Fort Wayne International Airport who came into contact with the liquid developed nausea and rashes and were sent to a hospital shortly after 2 a.m.

Authorities closed the airport and delayed all flights in and out while FBI agents and hazardous-material teams worked to identify the substance, FBI spokeswoman Wendy Osborne said.

The substance came from a bag belonging to a local doctor, who had become separated from his luggage.


Police officer slain in gunfight

INDIANAPOLIS — A man suspected of killing his mother emerged from his house yesterday firing a rifle at “anything and everything,” killing one police officer and wounding four, authorities said.

The gunman was killed about two blocks away after an exchange of gunfire with one of the officers, who was wounded, police Lt. Paul Ciesielski said.

Officers went to the house to investigate reports that a man had killed his mother and was shooting what sounded like a machine gun, Lt. Ciesielski said. The first officer to arrive was wounded by Kenneth Anderson, 33, before he even got out of his car. In the shootout that followed, Patrolman Timothy Laird, 31, was killed.


Tribe ends attempt to claim land

KANSAS CITY — The Wyandotte Nation has ended its pursuit of more than 19,000 acres of industrial land in Kansas City. The tribe announced that it would not appeal a federal judge’s decision to dismiss its claim.

The Wyandottes sued for the land in 2002, citing tribal treaties from the 1800s. The move was part of an effort to build a casino in Wyandotte County. The judge ruled that the tribe had waited too long to press its claim.


Mother of 20 dies in car crash

FRASER — Eugene Wright, of Warren, Mich., was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder and driving while intoxicated in a crash that killed a mother of 20 children.

WDIV-TV in Detroit reported Tuesday that Mr. Wright had been driving his car southbound on Interstate 75 and is thought to have swerved off the road. He apparently hit a discarded couch on the side of the road and then drove at high speed into a car, police said.

Stella Demeniuk, 81, was killed instantly when her car overturned. The crash injured her son-in-law John Grimes and her daughter Rita, the Macomb Daily reported.

Police said Mr. Wright’s blood-alcohol level was .18 — more than double the legal limit in Michigan of .08.


Strike that disrupted city services is over

BILLINGS — A 11-day-old strike by about 350 union workers that idled buses, disrupted garbage collection and sidelined other city services ended Tuesday with a tentative contract.

City personnel director Rick Harden said Teamsters Local 190 members would vote on the proposed pact within two days, “and they are going to recommend ratification.” The City Council will vote Monday.

Teamsters job steward Dan Bryan said the agreement came after the city agreed to rehire 13 seasonal and probationary employees who were not union members and were fired when they refused to cross picket lines.


New eatery is designed for cats

NEW YORK — Dressed in a tuxedo, Simba sat at the front of one of Manhattan’s newest dining establishments and nodded at people who greeted him.

Then he yawned, began to roll on the floor and lick his paws. That’s acceptable behavior at the Meow Mix Cafe, a new eatery designed for cats and their human owners.

Simba, an 8-month-old kitten, was joined by about two dozen other tabbies, Persians and Burmese for a feast at the grand opening Tuesday of the cafe, which is owned by the Meow Mix Co., a Secaucus, N.J.-based cat food maker.


Ex-wife identifies bank robbery suspect

MIDDLETOWN — A bank robbery suspect’s getaway was abruptly cut short by an unusual witness — his ex-wife, authorities said.

Police accuse Daniel Waggoner, 31, of robbing a bank branch in a Kroger grocery store on Tuesday. Police and witnesses said he passed a note demanding money, received cash from tellers and fled.

Detective Frank Hensley said Waggoner’s ex-wife later saw him driving on state Route 122 and wondered what he was doing in Middletown.

When the woman reached the Kroger, she learned that the bank branch was closed because of the robbery. She went to another branch and told the teller that her ex-husband had been in Middletown shortly after the robbery and that he had gotten out of prison a year ago after serving a sentence for bank robbery.

The ex-wife identified Waggoner from a photograph taken by the bank surveillance camera, and authorities took Waggoner into custody.

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