- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 22, 2005

MONTANA

Suspect denies Letterman kidnap plot

CHOTEAU — A man pleaded not guilty yesterday to plotting to kidnap David Letterman’s 16-month-old son and nanny and hold them for $5 million ransom.

Kelly Frank, 43, faces felony charges of solicitation and theft and a misdemeanor charge of obstruction. The judge ordered him to remain jailed on $650,000 bail pending his next court appearance, scheduled for April 5.

Mr. Frank, a painter who had been hired do to work on Mr. Letterman’s Montana ranch, was arrested last week after an acquaintance told investigators he had planned to kidnap the talk show host’s son, Harry Joseph, and the child’s nanny.

NEW JERSEY

Standoff ends peacefully

NEW BRUNSWICK ” Two men were in police custody yesterday after reportedly taking a teenage girl hostage in a home for six hours.

The men were led from the home in handcuffs after an apparently peaceful surrender. The 14-year-old girl was escorted from the house about 30 miles south of Newark. The girl had telephoned authorities earlier in the day to report she had been taken hostage.

Police Sgt. Thomas Keefe said it was not clear whether the girl knew the men. Their names were not released.

ALASKA

Fishing vessel rescued in storm

ANCHORAGE — A disabled fish-processing ship adrift in the stormy Gulf of Alaska with 204 persons aboard was taken under tow by a Coast Guard cutter yesterday.

The 325-foot Independence’s steering system failed Monday in 20-foot seas with blowing snow and wind as high as 60 mph. The weather calmed overnight, but the wind still was blowing at about 23 mph and the waves were running at 8 feet to 10 feet, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Roger Wetherell said yesterday.

Two Coast Guard cutters reached the Independence yesterday and one started towing it toward Juneau, about 300 miles away, the Coast Guard said.

ARKANSAS

Bicyclist charged with intoxication

OGDEN — A suspected drunken bicyclist wound up getting a ride to jail after a state trooper saw him take a clumsy spill at a state highway intersection.

Don Evans, 46, was riding where U.S. 71 and Grand Street intersect early Saturday when he fell from his mountain bike onto the highway pavement.

Trooper Jamie Gravier was about 50 feet away and took Mr. Evans to a hospital, where he was treated and released. Mr. Evans then was taken to jail and charged with public intoxication.

CALIFORNIA

Teen fleeing security falls to death

SAN BERNARDINO — A teenager fleeing security guards after reportedly shoplifting from a mall scaled a fence and plunged to his death in a dry flood-control channel.

The 15-year-old boy, whose name was not released, apparently misjudged the 18-foot distance and hit his head on the concrete-lined channel Monday night, authorities said.

Authorities would not say what he was accused of stealing.

GEORGIA

Kidnapped children found safe

ATLANTA — Two kidnapped children were found safe yesterday after their mother’s ex-boyfriend shot and wounded their grandfather and took off with the youngsters, authorities said.

The suspected kidnapper, Terrance McDowell, 27, remained at large.

The children, 5-year-old Jaquan Wright and 4-year-old Faith McDowell, were found with Mr. McDowell’s sister in Greensboro, N.C., said Clayton County Police Capt. Tim Robinson. The children had not been harmed, police said.

Mr. McDowell is accused of forcing his way into his 20-year-old ex-girlfriend’s home in suburban Atlanta about 3 a.m., raping her and shooting her 64-year-old father in the head and chest. He then fled with the children in her car, Capt. Robinson said.

Mr. McDowell is the father of the 4-year-old girl, but not the boy, he said.

The woman’s father was in critical condition. The children’s mother was treated at a hospital and released.

ILLINOIS

First-grader finds cocaine in school bag

CHICAGO HEIGHTS — School authorities say they don’t expect to discipline a first-grader who found 40 small bags of crack cocaine in his school bag and reportedly handed them out to his classmates, thinking it was candy.

Child welfare officials are investigating, and the child’s guardians are being sought. Police said no one was harmed.

IOWA

Governor signs anti-meth bill

DES MOINES — Iowa yesterday enacted the strongest state measure yet restricting the sale of cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used illicitly to produce the mild-altering methamphetamine drug.

Under the measure signed by Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, Iowans will be required to show identification and sign their names when buying common cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine.

The medicines — which may include such well-known brand names as Sudafed, PediaCare, Sinutab, Dimetapp and Triaminic — will be banned from store shelves where they could be stolen, and placed in locked cases or behind pharmacy counters.

Legislators, who passed the measure unanimously last week, said although the bill would make it inconvenient for consumers, it would curtail methamphetamine production in the state.

KANSAS

Chinese classes gain popularity

LAWRENCE — China’s growing influence in economics, politics and culture worldwide has boosted the popularity of Chinese language classes at the University of Kansas, officials said.

Total credit hours for Chinese language classes taken at the university this academic year are up 35 percent from a decade ago.

MAINE

Use of explosives triples in state

AUGUSTA — The use of explosives in Maine has nearly tripled over the past decade, officials say.

The increase emphasizes the depletion of easily developed land in a state where stone often lies right beneath the soil. Even small subdivisions now require the use of explosives to clear land for development, said Bill Purington, president of Maine Drilling and Blasting in Gardiner.

MICHIGAN

CO poisoning blamed on birds

BEVERLY HILLS — Birds nesting in a boiler vent pipe probably caused an accumulation of carbon monoxide that sickened at least 48 members of an interfaith worship group in this Detroit suburb, investigators said.

The adults and children, members of the Sai Center of Southfield, became ill Sunday at Kensington Academy, a Roman Catholic school rented by the Sai Center for its services.

“It seems birds got inside one of three pipes that vent out of the building and thrashed around and knocked out a metal panel that forces the fumes outside,” Beverly Hills Public Safety Director Karl Woodard said.

The academy, which has 195 students from preschool through eighth grade, was closed Monday but reopened yesterday.

OREGON

Students petition for new school name

SALEM — Oregon State University students have taken their campaign to change the school’s name to the Capitol. Students want to rename Oregon State University “Oregon Student University” to reflect the shift in the funding burden from the state to students.

Oregon universities have raised tuition and fees an average of 46 percent since 1999, university officials say.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Youth charged in ‘truck surfer’ death

MYRTLE BEACH — Mark Bukala, 18, was charged with reckless homicide in the death of a friend who fell while trying to stand in the bed of a moving pickup truck, state troopers say.

Mr. Bukala was driving on private property when Benjamin Clark, 19, fell out while trying “truck surfing,” or standing up in the bed of the pickup truck, Trooper Sonny Collins said.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Town proposed around sign language

SIOUX FALLS — Plans are being debated this week for the creation of a town with hotels, a convention center, retail shops, churches and the other usual amenities. But one thing will be different: Sign language will be the preferred way to communicate.

The town is designed to make life easier and more practical for deaf and hard-of-hearing residents, said Terry Sanford, director of town planning for Nederveld Associates, a Grand Rapids, Mich., company that is overseeing the project.

The town would be named Laurent after Laurent Clerc, the French educator who pioneered sign language in the United States. It is the brainchild of Marvin Miller, who was born deaf, and his mother-in-law, M.E. Barwacz.

A week of planning sessions that involves prospective residents and others began Monday in Madison.

The town, to be located just west of Sioux Falls off Interstate 80, could welcome residents — deaf and hearing alike — as early as next year.

UTAH

Record infestation of crickets seen

SALT LAKE CITY — Mormon cricket sightings in Millard County have been reported to the state Department of Agriculture, which is bracing for what could be the state’s largest infestation on record.

Officials are predicting 2.8 million acres will be infested this summer. However, Global Positioning System technology is helping pesticides to be applied faster and more accurately.

WASHINGTON

Soldier arrives home in time for birth

RICHLAND — Army Pfc. Douglas Lambe got on a plane in northern Iraq on the day his son was scheduled to be born. As it turned out, he arrived with eight hours to spare.

In two days of flights through Kuwait, Germany and three U.S. cities, “I was calling constantly on the phone,” Pfc. Lambe said. “I was going nuts.”

Not to worry. He arrived at Tri-Cities Airport in nearby Pasco about 7 p.m. March 14. His wife, Nikki, had arranged with her doctor to induce labor the next morning but wound up going into contractions before that could happen.

“He waited around for me, I guess,” Pfc. Lambe said.

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