- The Washington Times - Friday, April 1, 2005


Activists seek probe of 1946 lynching

MONROE — Activists are seeking a new investigation of a 1946 lynching at the Moore’s Ford bridge, when a white mob pulled four black sharecroppers from a car near the river’s banks and fatally shot them.

Politicians and relatives of the victims plan a rally tonight at the courthouse and a march across the bridge tomorrow. They are urging a local prosecutor to use the FBI’s original investigation to seek indictments against the few surviving suspects in the deaths.

District Attorney Ken Wynne says he will not seek indictments unless new evidence is presented.


Joan Kennedy still hospitalized

BOSTON — The neighbor who found Joan Bennett Kennedy lying on a sidewalk this week said she had no idea the woman she helped was a member of one of America’s best-known families.

Constance Bacon, 35, said she was returning home Monday evening when she saw a well-dressed woman sprawled on the sidewalk in the rain.

The former wife of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was recovering yesterday at Massachusetts General Hospital after suffering a concussion and broken shoulder. Mrs. Kennedy, 68, has battled alcoholism for years.


Church, wholesaler to buy seafood plant

ANCHORAGE — A group affiliated with ChangePoint, an evangelical church, and a food wholesaler have agreed to buy a vacant 202,000-square-foot seafood plant for $24.5 million, about half the building’s original cost.

Grace Alaska plans to convert part of the plant into offices and a 2,000-seat hall for Sunday services. A second nonprofit group is planning a domed, indoor sports complex while the food wholesaler Sysco Corp. would use an adjacent cold-storage unit as its main distribution center, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

“It’s going to be a real community-development endeavor,” said Carl Klauson, ChangePoint’s lead pastor.

Grace Alaska and ChangePoint joined the secular company in negotiating a deal that should be finalized within several months after public notice and scrutiny of the contract.


Great white shark released into ocean

MONTEREY — A great white shark in captivity for a record six months was released into the Pacific Ocean yesterday after it attacked and killed two smaller sharks in its tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The female shark — not quite a year old — was starting to act like a hunter in the huge display tank where she had lived 198 days with a number of smaller sharks, tuna and other fishes and turtles, aquarium scientists said.

She bit and killed a soupfin shark in late February and another earlier in March, but the aquarium staff did not see clear hunting behavior until Monday, said Randy Kochevar, a marine biologist at the aquarium.

The young shark was also growing too large for the exhibit, reaching 6 feet 4 inches and 162 pounds since she was caught in a fisherman’s net off Southern California in August 2004, the scientists said.


Girl, 5, calls 911 after parents shot

NEW SMYRNA BEACH — As her parents lay mortally wounded, a 5-year-old girl called 911, telling an emergency dispatcher, “I think they’re dead.”

Police said Aeneas and Julie Hernlen were fatally shot early Monday by a man who mistakenly thought the couple had turned him in for drug possession. Their daughter, Tia, was not harmed.

Investigators said the gunman, David Edward Johnson, 33, committed suicide later Monday. The Hernlens had nothing to do with his drug arrest late last year, authorities said.

Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said Tia is being cared for by other relatives.


McGraw joins push for blood donations

BLOOMINGTON — Red Cross officials hope Grammy-winning country singer Tim McGraw’s star power will help them increase the nation’s blood supply.

Mr. McGraw is fronting the “Neighbors Give Life” blood drive scheduled to begin yesterday and run through Sept. 5. The drive is sponsored by the American Red Cross and State Farm Insurance Co.

“I’m just a big fan of the organization,” Mr. McGraw said of the Red Cross. “They’re always on the front line of any disaster.”

Red Cross officials said there is less than half of the seven- to 10-day blood supply needed in the event of a national disaster. Only 5 percent of Americans who are eligible to give blood donate, organization officials said.

As part of the effort to raise awareness about the need for blood donations, the sponsors are offering sweepstakes prizes, including a free trip to a McGraw concert.


Legislators boost aid to schools

TOPEKA — Lawmakers sent a compromise plan increasing annual aid to public schools by as much as $127 million to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Some expressed doubt that it would satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court’s mandate to improve public education. Mrs. Sebelius said she doesn’t endorse the bill, but will let it become law without her signature so the court can review it.


Hunley papers stolen; ex-clerk charged

COVINGTON — A man who once worked in the St. Tammany Parish Clerk of Court’s Office has been accused of stealing historical documents — including the handwritten will of Horace L. Hunley, the inventor of the famed Confederate submarine.

Thomas Valois reportedly admitted the thefts and was charged with possession of stolen property and injuring public records Wednesday, according to sheriff’s spokesman James Hartman.

Capt. Hunley died Oct. 15, 1863, when his submarine, the CSS H.L. Hunley, sank in the harbor of Charleston, S.C., during a test dive. Four months later, Capt. Hunley’s submarine made naval history when it rammed a torpedo attached to a spar into the side of the USS Housatonic and sank the Union warship. The Hunley went down in history as the first submarine to sink an enemy warship.

Sheriff’s deputies recovered the documents from the estate of Mr. Valois’ ex-wife, who died Feb. 28. Mr. Valois worked as an archivist for the clerk’s office from 1988 to 1993 and was an amateur historian.

Mr. Hartman said Mr. Valois told deputies he took the Hunley documents and other parish records — enough to fill a four-drawer filing cabinet — from the 1800s and early 1900s for his writing projects.


Lawmakers OK new gay-rights bill

AUGUSTA — State lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday night to a bill to protect homosexuals from discrimination. It was expected to be signed yesterday by Gov. John Baldacci.

The bill would amend the Maine Human Rights Act by making it illegal to discriminate in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and education based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The state Senate approved the bill 25-10; the House voted 91-58. There was no debate in either chamber. A previous homosexual-rights law was repealed in a referendum.


Student arrested in school bombing plot

BUFFALO — A 15-year-old boy who had shown strong interest in the Columbine school shootings has been arrested for reportedly plotting to blow up his high school, authorities said yesterday.

The high school sophomore had assembled bomb-making materials, including gunpowder and fuses, and a search of his home showed that the boy was seemingly fascinated with the Columbine massacre, officials said. Authorities found downloaded autopsy reports on Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, crime-scene photos and pictures of the weapons.

The student talked about his plans with other students, who alerted officials at his high school outside Buffalo. He was arrested March 23.

The student’s name was withheld because of his age. He is charged in Family Court as a juvenile and is not eligible for prosecution as an adult, District Attorney Frank Clark said. He could face up to a year in a residential treatment center if found guilty.


Woman gives birth in car

KETTERING — A woman rushing to a hospital to give birth hit a few stops along the way — first at a gas station parking lot, where she delivered the baby herself, then when confused police ordered her out of the car at gunpoint.

Debbie Coleman, whose 3- and 4-year-old daughters were asleep in the back seat, pulled over at a gas station just after midnight Tuesday.

A customer at the gas station in suburban Dayton tried to alert police to her situation, but a mixup involving the license-plate number had them thinking the van was stolen. Police straightened out the license-plate issue. But another caller mistakenly reported someone trying to throw a baby from a van.

Mrs. Coleman said she noticed several cruisers following her before one cut her off. With guns drawn, officers ordered her out of the van with her hands up.

But then officers sent Mrs. Coleman on and let the hospital know she was coming. She was discharged Wednesday. Her 6-pound, 8-ounce son, Richard Lee Coleman Jr., remained in intensive care.


Mother charged in toddler’s shooting

HOUSTON — The mother of a 4-year-old boy who shot his 2-year-old brother in the head with a handgun has been charged with a weapons count, police said yesterday.

Tameka Michelle Jones, 29, is scheduled to appear before a judge today to answer a misdemeanor charge of making a gun available to a minor.

The 2-year-old was shot after an argument with his brother over a toy on March 12, and he remains in critical condition. He has shown signs of improvement this week, said Child Protective Services spokeswoman Gwen Carter. The 4-year-old is being cared for by his grandparents and is receiving counseling.

The 4-year-old apparently got his mother’s gun — a .25 caliber pistol — from her purse after the younger brother threw a toy at him and bit him.


Legislature considers Muslim burials

BURLINGTON — The Vermont General Assembly is considering a bill to accommodate the Muslim tradition of burying the dead in a shroud rather than a casket.

Some of Vermont’s 210 Muslim families are upset that current state law requires the dead to be buried in a casket sealed in a concrete vault.

“I was shocked the first time I went to a funeral,” said Muhaideen Batah of Waitsfield, a Palestinian native of Israel. “Really, personally, it bothers me,” the Burlington Free Press reported.

Waell Murray, the Palestinian-born owner of Burlington’s Global Markets, said a Muslim burial that strictly follows Shariah law calls for the body to be washed soon after death and never embalmed or adorned with makeup. The shroud-wrapped body should be placed directly into the grave, Mr. Murray said, resting on its side and facing Mecca.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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