- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005


Wildfire threatens houses near Phoenix

CAREFREE — Firefighters used roads, ridges and other natural barriers to make a stand yesterday against a wildfire that threatened multimillion-dollar houses near Phoenix. In California, firefighters gained ground against a blaze that burned several homes in the Mojave Desert.

The windblown Arizona blaze burned at least 30,000 acres and forced the evacuation of about 250 homes. About 300 firefighters battled the blaze, with help from aircraft dropping flame retardant.

In California, a wildfire that burned 3,000 acres of desert brush was 30 percent contained early yesterday. Firefighters hoped to have it surrounded by today.

Fire crews in Utah and Idaho continued battling lightning-caused fires yesterday.


Authorities search for 3 missing boys

CAMDEN — Police searched block by block yesterday in a neighborhood where three boys have not been seen since playing outside the night before, and fire officials planned to use boats to search the nearby Delaware River.

Officials said they think the boys, ages 5 to 11, are too young to have wandered very far since last being seen Wednesday evening. The river is about three blocks from the home where they were playing.

Police have used helicopters and search dogs to scour the neighborhood, and volunteers handed out fliers to passing cars displaying photos of Jesstin Pagan, 5; Daniel Agosto, 6; and Anibal Cruz, 11.


Sex offender says girl alive when police came

BROOKSVILLE — A registered sex offender accused of kidnapping and murdering a 9-year-old girl said she was alive inside his home when authorities came to investigate her disappearance earlier this year, according to court documents released yesterday.

John Couey, 46, said he fed Jessica Lunsford for three days in a closet in a Homosassa mobile home where he was staying before burying her alive in February. During that time, authorities visited the home but never searched it, Couey said.

A medical examiner determined she died of asphyxiation; investigators said her hands had been tied with stereo wire and two of her fingers poked through the bags.


2 men arrested in stabbing case

ATLANTA — Two men were arrested in the 2001 stabbing death of the husband of Ashley Smith, the woman who led authorities to Atlanta courthouse shooting suspect Brian Nichols.

The arrests happened Wednesday after witnesses came forward with new testimony in the four-year-old murder case of her husband, officials said.

Mrs. Smith said yesterday she is relieved that police made the arrests.


Contest winner sues over candy bar

LEXINGTON — A woman who won a radio contest that promised the winner “100 grand” sued after the station gave her a candy bar — a Nestle’s 100 Grand — instead of $100,000.

Norreasha Gill filed a complaint Wednesday in Fayette District Court against Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, which owns WLTO-FM in Lexington. Mrs. Gill, 28, says the station and its parent company breached a contract to pay $100,000 to the contest winner.

Night host DJ Slick sponsored the station’s contest to “win 100 grand,” Mrs. Gill said in the lawsuit. She won by listening to the radio show for several hours and being the 10th caller at a specified time.

DJ Slick did not return an e-mail from the Lexington Herald-Leader, but he said on his Web site that he had left his job.


Police chief indicted on corruption charges

OPELOUSAS — The police chief in this southern Louisiana city has been indicted on charges he misappropriated more than $200,000 and threatened to kill an officer subpoenaed to testify against him.

Chief Larry Caillier could still face more charges, Assistant Attorney General Burton P. Guidry said after the 21-count indictment was handed down Wednesday.

Chief Caillier was charged with obstruction of justice, criminal conspiracy, forgery, money laundering and public payroll fraud. He has not been suspended and has ignored calls for his resignation.


Boy attacked by tiger, lion

MINNEAPOLIS — A 10-year-old boy was attacked and critically injured by a tiger and a lion that were among a dozen large animals kept by a businessman, authorities said.

Russell LaLa of Royalton was injured Wednesday when he and his father visited Chuck Mock, who authorities say is the owner of 11 large cats and a bear. The boy was in critical condition yesterday at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

Authorities said Mr. Mock opened the door of a cage and a tiger pushed its way out to attack the boy. When the owner was pulling off the tiger, a lion bit Russell, Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said.


Climate scientist dies at 77

HAMILTON — Charles D. Keeling, a scientist whose measurements showing a carbon-dioxide buildup in the atmosphere helped trigger fears of global warming, has died at 77.

Mr. Keeling, who died this week after suffering a heart attack, was a pioneer in demonstrating that emissions of greenhouse gases could change climate.

Beginning in 1955, he collected air samples to measure their carbon-dioxide content. His measurements over the decades that followed showed that carbon-dioxide levels were steadily rising — a finding that shattered the conventional wisdom that Earth could soak up rising fossil fuel emissions without harm.


Robbery suspect left job application behind

LAS VEGAS — A man accused of holding up a pizza parlor gave police a road map to his door when he accidentally left behind a job application with his real name and address, authorities said.

Alejandro Martinez, 23, of Las Vegas was being held Wednesday at the Clark County jail pending a Monday appearance in Clark County District Court. He faces felony burglary and robbery with a weapon charges in the May 25 heist.

Authorities said Mr. Martinez ordered a pizza and started filling out the application before displaying a gun and demanding money. The clerk handed over $200.


FBI releases tape in child killings

CONCORD — Hoping to find two slain youngsters and solve a two-year-old mystery, the FBI released an audiotape yesterday of their father describing the spot somewhere along Interstate 80 in the Midwest where he buried the bodies.

The FBI posted the tape and a transcript on its Web site, hoping the shock of hearing Manuel Gehring’s account might bring forward people who recognize the spot he described.

Gehring told authorities that he fatally shot his 14-year-old daughter, Sarah, and 11-year-old son, Philip, and buried them by the side of the road after wrapping them in plastic, sticking duct-tape crosses on their chests and saying a prayer.

But Gehring could not remember the exact spot, and last year he strangled himself in jail while awaiting trial.

On the tape, Gehring recalled walking through tall grass near an old-fashioned water pump and wire fence, within sight of a tan or yellow building.


‘Last Don’ sentenced for mob murders

NEW YORK — Joseph Massino, who went from the New York Mafia’s last old-school don to its highest-ranking turncoat in a betrayal that rocked organized crime, was sentenced to life in prison yesterday after admitting his involvement in eight mob murders.

Massino received two life sentences after he admitted ordering the slaying of Bonanno family captain Gerlando “George from Canada” Sciascia and waived his right to appeal his conviction last year for seven other slayings.

Massino, 62, who took over the Bonanno family in the early 1990s, became known as “The Last Don” for his strict enforcement of discipline that allowed the family to dodge law enforcement while the heads of New York’s other four mob families sat behind bars. He reigned from his Queens restaurant, CasaBlanca.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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