- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 21, 2004

Beheaded contractor honored at funeral

PORT ST. JOHN, Fla. — Family and friends of a U.S. contractor kidnapped and beheaded in Saudi Arabia gathered for a funeral yesterday, more than two months after the engineer disappeared.

About 100 people attended services for Paul M. Johnson Jr., 49, who once lived in Florida and had worked in Saudi Arabia for Lockheed Martin for more than a decade. Mr. Johnson was kidnapped June 12 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, by militants who demanded the release of al Qaeda prisoners in exchange for his life.

Photographs and a video of the beheading were posted later on the Internet. Not all of Mr. Johnson’s remains have been recovered, but the family thought it was time for a funeral.

“This is not a full closure, but it is some closure,” said Mr. Johnson’s son, Paul M. Johnson III.

Mr. Johnson’s remains will be cremated and sent to Thailand, his widow’s native land. The couple had planned to move there after his contract expired.

Woman found 3 days after fall

LUFKIN, Texas — An 89-year-old woman fell outside her house while putting out the trash and apparently survived for three days before neighbors found her lying in the grass, police said.

Percy Lee Mantooth was covered with ants but conscious when emergency crews arrived at her home Friday.

“She’s a pretty tough lady to withstand all that,” police Lt. Mike Shapaka said.

More resort illness victims surface

PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio — Health officials yesterday said that they have confirmed more than 100 additional cases of an illness that’s causing cramps, diarrhea, nausea, fever and chills among visitors to this resort area.

The number of people suffering from the gastrointestinal illness has risen to 510, up from 378 documented cases Friday, a state health spokesman said. Interviews with 168 more persons are pending.

Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are helping officials in their attempt to pinpoint the cause of the illness on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island, sometimes called the “Key West of the Midwest.”

The health department has confirmed cases of salmonella, norovirus and campylobacter among the victims.

Would-be Dr. Seuss extorter sentenced

PORTLAND, Ore. — Charles Augustus Steen III of Portland, who admitted he tried to extort $2.5 million from the widow of Theodor Seuss Geisel, has been given probation.

Steen said that he meant no harm to the widow of Dr. Seuss but that he was frustrated because he believed the children’s book author’s estate plagiarized a play he wrote in 1990 and copyrighted in 1991, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported yesterday. Steen sued the estate, but a New Mexico judge dismissed the case.

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