Thursday, July 29, 2004


Watergate ‘bagman’ dies at 75

BILOXI — Fred LaRue, a Nixon administration official who served a prison term for his role in the Watergate scandal and who denied rumors that he was Deep Throat, has died. He was 75.

His body was discovered Tuesday by a maid who entered his hotel room in Biloxi, coroner Gary Hargrove said. The coroner said he thinks Mr. LaRue died Saturday of natural causes.

Mr. LaRue was known as the “bagman” who delivered payoffs to keep participants in the Watergate break-in quiet, and served 4 months in federal prison for conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Mr. LaRue served as special assistant to John Mitchell, the former attorney general who later led the Committee to Re-elect the President.


Dogs search for missing jogger

SALT LAKE CITY — Police with cadaver dogs searched fruitlessly in the early morning darkness yesterday for clues to the whereabouts of a missing pregnant woman, while her family closed down a command post for volunteers.

The canine crews found “nothing of consequence” at the municipal landfill before breaking off for the day, but they have not finished methodically churning up 15 feet of garbage and dirt over a wide area, Detective Phil Eslinger said.

The families of Mark and Lori Hacking shut down their volunteer command post at a church meetinghouse after calling off an organized search. The voluntary community search for Mrs. Hacking, 27, had been called off Tuesday, eight days after her husband reported her missing.

Associated Press

Fred LaRue spent his last years retired in Biloxi, Miss. In a recent interview with the Sun Herald newspaper there, he denied being the “Deep Throat” informant of Watergate scandal fame.


Man punches gator in the nose

TAVARES — An 11-foot alligator attacked a man pulling weeds along the shore of a lake, but he saved himself by punching the beast in the nose.

Guy R. Daelemans, 43, suffered leg wounds in Tuesday’s attack on Lake Eustis, Lake County sheriff’s Lt. Todd Luce said. He was treated and released from a hospital.

A trapper summoned by wildlife officials later caught and killed the 385-pound alligator.

Last week, a 54-year-old landscaper died of an infection, two days after a 12-foot alligator dragged her into a pond and nearly tore off her right arm as she worked behind a home on Sanibel Island. That alligator also was trapped and killed.


Bales of marijuana found aboard rail car

BUHL — A railroad car used to haul fish meal from Mexico to a southern Idaho trout farm also contained four bales of marijuana worth $3.3 million.

Workers at the Clear Springs Foods facility, which prepares food for the hatcheries, discovered the bales weighing a total of 74 pounds.

State and local authorities are investigating. They doubt that the marijuana was supposed to be unloaded in Buhl.


Traveler fee ruled illegal

CHICAGO — Travelers setting out from O’Hare International Airport have been spared a $4.50 surcharge to help fund an airport-expansion project.

The fee on tickets sold at O’Hare was excessive, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) never should have approved it, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled Tuesday.

The city applied for permission to charge the fee in 2002. Officials said the money would pay for tests needed for an environmental study that the FAA must conduct for the proposed $15 billion expansion.

The court didn’t say how much of a fee would be justified, but sent the city’s application back to the FAA for further review.

The fee never was collected, pending the court’s ruling.


Teen jump-ropers win world competition

BREWSTER — Five teens from here have hopped, skipped and jumped their way into the record books.

On Sunday, they took first place in a jump-rope competition in Brisbane, Australia, where more than 600 athletes from 15 countries gathered for the World Rope Skipping Championships.

The four skippers and an alternate — Sara Douglass, Jessica Anderson, Kelsey Gilmore, all 18, and Danielle “Dee” Orman and Sarah Capparelli, both 17 — won first place in one of eight competitions. Their 70-second routine included 30 different tricks, combining gymnastics with nonstop jump-roping.

The teens are part of the Brewster Bayside Skippers, a program started a decade ago by Stony Brook Elementary School gym teacher Paul Mullin.


Honored teacher kills baby, self

ST. CLAIR SHORES — A woman who was honored this spring as teacher of the year killed her 5-week-old daughter and then herself after battling postpartum depression, officials said.

Daniel Moffitt found the body of his 37-year-old wife, Mary Ellen, on the couple’s bed on Monday. Police say she killed herself, apparently by putting a plastic bag over her head. The baby, Caroline, was found on the couch, tightly wrapped in a blanket and also dead of asphyxiation.

Mrs. Moffitt had been undergoing treatment for postpartum depression, police said. Police were waiting for toxicology reports from autopsies conducted Tuesday.

In May, the East Detroit School District named her teacher of the year. She taught first grade at Crescentwood Elementary in Eastpointe.


3 homes destroyed in fireworks blaze

RENO — A fire started by teenagers playing with fireworks raced up a dry hillside and destroyed three homes, but scores of firefighters quickly snuffed out the blaze and no one was hurt, fire officials said.

Three houses were lost, a fourth was heavily damaged and a fifth was slightly damaged after the fire was reported Tuesday night in a residential neighborhood a few miles north of downtown, said Reno Fire Division Chief Larry Farr.

Investigators located eyewitnesses, and two boys in their early teens promptly admitted their role in the fire, Chief Farr said.

Fire investigators will discuss the case with prosecutors. The boys remained in the custody of their parents on Tuesday night, Chief Farr said.


Postcard in mail for 37 years

SEELYVILLE — Talk about snail mail: A woman vacationing in New Jersey 37 years ago popped a postcard into the mail, and it just arrived at her mother’s house in Pennsylvania.

Dorothy Orth of Seelyville in northeastern Pennsylvania baffled her daughter when she called Saturday to thank her for the card.

“What card?” asked Janet Richards of Port Jervis, N.Y. When her mother said it was from Asbury Park, N.J., she remembered.

“I sent that postcard in August 1967, when my husband, Larry, and I were on our fifth wedding anniversary,” she said. Mrs. Orth received it on July 17, almost 37 years later.

The postcard was behind a machine that was recently moved, said Ernesto Perry, of the U.S. Post Office undelivered mail unit in Brooklyn. He said he added a ZIP code and a 23-cent stamp and sent it


Girl finds joint in yogurt parfait

SAN BENITO — A teenager says she found a partially smoked, quarter-inch-long marijuana cigarette in her frozen yogurt parfait at a McDonald’s in South Texas.

Valerie Valle, 16, of Round Rock, and seven other family members were returning home last week from a vacation on South Padre Island when they stopped for breakfast.

Valerie said she waited in line on Thursday to return the parfait. The restaurant refunded the money.

A San Benito police report said two McDonald’s employees made parfaits that morning. Restaurant management told police that the employees take drug tests. No charges have been filed.


Norovirus outbreak hits park visitors

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — A highly infectious illness sickened 134 persons at Yellowstone in June and early July, the National Park Service said.

The outbreak was blamed on a norovirus, likely the same bug that has sickened hundreds on cruise ships and caused earlier outbreaks at Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks.

Of those who became sick, 53 were visitors and 81 were employees. Many of the workers were infected while cleaning up after sick visitors room or living in close quarters at a dormitory, said Charles Higgins, director of the National Park Service’s Office of Public Health.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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