- The Washington Times - Monday, July 11, 2005


Two children missing after family slain

QUEEN CREEK — An Amber Alert was issued for two children missing from their home where the bodies of their grandparents and an uncle were found slain, police said yesterday.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said 18-month-old Brian Cervantes and his 3-year-old sister, Jennifer Cervantes, were thought to be with their father, Rodrigo Cervantes Zavala.

The grandparents and uncle found dead late Sunday were relatives of the children’s mother, who was not at home at the time of the slayings, investigators said.

Authorities did not immediately say how the three were killed or give other details. They described Mr. Cervantes Zavala, 34, as an “investigative lead” rather than a suspect.


Schwarzenegger signs state budget

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a $117.5 billion spending plan yesterday, avoiding a summer-long showdown with Democrats over the state budget.

The governor’s signature on the state budget bill had been expected since the Legislature last week approved a negotiated plan that largely reflected his priorities.

Democrats and Republicans now will focus on this fall’s special election. The governor, a Republican, is pushing ballot measures to cap spending, change how legislative districts are drawn and extend the time it takes teachers to receive tenure.

The budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year avoids the borrowing that has plagued the state in recent years and does not raise taxes. It sets aside money to pay off some of the state’s debt and increases funding to most programs, including $3 billion more for schools and $1.3 billion for road projects.


Grandmother arrested in toddler’s death

DENVER — Authorities arrested a Colorado woman Sunday after her 2-year-old granddaughter died inside a car on a day when the temperature climbed to nearly 100 degrees.

Yvonne Mabry was being held on investigation of child abuse resulting in death, police spokeswoman Virginia Lopez said.

Mrs. Mabry, 36, was baby-sitting Elizabeth Buchmiller and her 5-year-old sister when Elizabeth was left inside the car at an apartment complex Saturday. A neighbor walking through the parking lot discovered the toddler, but rescuers were unable to revive the child.


Majority of students lose scholarships

ATLANTA — Three out of four freshmen who start out with the HOPE Scholarship, which pays full tuition at state colleges, don’t retain it through their senior year, according to a study.

The University System of Georgia said it finds only about 35 percent of freshmen retain the funding by their sophomore year. Scholarship winners are required to maintain a 3.0 or “B” average.


State employees return to work

MINNEAPOLIS — About 9,000 state workers returned to their jobs yesterday morning after a vacation they didn’t request and that, in many cases, will be unpaid.

“It feels good to be going back,” said Stacey Burns, a librarian at the Department of Health. “It was a stressful week.”

The workers, nearly one-fifth of the state work force, were the most high-profile victims of the state’s first government shutdown caused by a budget impasse. The partial shutdown shuttered some agencies and services for more than a week.

It ended early Saturday, when Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, and legislative leaders agreed on a two-year budget and approved a “lights on” bill that reopened state government through midnight Thursday, giving the leaders time to finalize the deal.


Handcuffed suspect escapes in cruiser

HIGHLAND PARK — Being handcuffed behind his back wasn’t enough to stop a vandalism suspect from driving away in a Wayne County Sheriff’s Department cruiser.

Deputies answered a call about a man throwing rocks at a house in Highland Park about 5:50 a.m. Sunday, Deputy Chief Robert Dickerson said. They interviewed the reported victim, then placed bracelet-style handcuffs on the suspect and put him in the back seat.

The man managed to drive away, and the car was found abandoned nearly six hours later, sheriff’s spokesman John Roach told the Detroit Free Press. The suspect remained at large.


Probation revoked for sex offenders

FARGO — North Dakota is revoking probation on more sex offenders, partly because of increased scrutiny since the arrest of convicted sex offender in the death of a University of North Dakota student, state corrections officials say.

The state has revoked probation for 22 sex offenders so far this year, five more than in all of 2003.


Vanderbilt forgoes appeal on name

NASHVILLE — Vanderbilt University did not appeal a May 4 ruling by the Tennessee Court of Appeals that it must leave the name Confederate Memorial Hall chiseled in stone on a campus dormitory.

The university and the United Daughters of the Confederacy had tangled in court for years over Vanderbilt’s desire to remove the name from the building.

University spokesman Mike Schoenfeld said Vanderbilt saw no reason to continue pressing the issue in court and let the deadline to appeal pass last week.


Police seeking kidnapped aliens

HOUSTON — Four men kicked in the front door of a house and kidnapped six illegal aliens at gunpoint, including a 6-month-old baby, authorities said.

Sheriff’s Sgt. James Parker said a search was under way yesterday for the aliens, who recently arrived in the United States.

The owner of the house, who was related to some of the victims, returned from the grocery store Sunday night to find the door kicked in, Sgt. Parker said. One of the aliens was later freed, Sgt. Parker said. A motive was not clear.

Sgt. Parker described the missing as the 6-month-old, wearing a white jumper; her mother and father, who are between 30 and 40 years old; and another couple in their 40s. All were Hispanic.


School gym engulfed in flames

SALT LAKE CITY — Fire engulfed a junior high school gymnasium yesterday and windblown embers forced residents to evacuate nearby homes. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Five faculty members who had been inside Wasatch Junior High School escaped without injury, authorities said.

The gymnasium roof had collapsed, and the gym was consumed by flames as firefighters tried to prevent the fire from spreading to other parts of the 46-year-old school yesterday afternoon.

Principal Doug Bingham had called 911 shortly after noon to report the blaze, Granite School District spokeswoman Michele Bartmess said.

Fewer than 1,000 students attend Wasatch Junior High during the academic year. They are on summer vacation until August.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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