- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2006


Arrests made in mayor’s stabbing

McNEIL — Authorities investigating the stabbing death of an 83-year-old small-town mayor have arrested his granddaughter and her boyfriend on murder charges, officials said yesterday .

Nena Bolton, 50, and her boyfriend, Shaunte Smith, 27, were arrested Tuesday night in the death of Mayor Ralph Ward, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said.

Miss Bolton recently was released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for killing her estranged husband, Larry Bolton, a former county deputy sheriff and city waterworks manager.

Mr. Ward was found stabbed to death in his living-room recliner last Thursday. He had been mayor of McNeil, a southwest Arkansas town of about 650 residents, for 38 years.


Two Pluto moons named Nix, Hydra

LOS ANGELES — Meet the newcomers in the solar system: Nix and Hydra.

The pair of moons orbiting Pluto officially were christened last week by the International Astronomical Union, which is in charge of approving celestial names.

Until last year, scientists thought Pluto was accompanied by only one moon, Charon. But the Hubble Space Telescope spotted the two satellites — more than twice as far away as Charon and many times fainter.

The duo had been known by the tongue-twisting names S/2005 P 2 and S/2005 P 1. Earlier this year, the moons’ discoverers, led by Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., submitted their choices to the IAU.

The names, with roots in Greek mythology, were selected in part because their first letters, “N” and “H,” were a tribute to the New Horizons spacecraft, Mr. Stern said yesterday. Nyx is the Greek goddess of darkness, and Hydra is the nine-headed serpent that guarded the underworld. Pluto is the Roman god of the underworld. But since a near-Earth object was already called Nyx, the IAU decided to tweak the spelling to “Nix” to avoid confusion.


Book: Finance firm aided FBI, CIA

GREENWOOD VILLAGE — First Data Corp., a credit-card processing company and the owner of Western Union, offered federal agents access to its vast database of customer information after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a new book.

The claims were detailed in the book, “The One Percent Doctrine,” by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind, who said First Data “wanted to help in any way it could,” newspapers reported yesterday.

Mr. Suskind wrote that First Data contacted the FBI within two days of the September 11 attacks and offered help. Federal agents later checked the last names of terrorists against First Data’s records of credit-card transactions at an Omaha, Neb., processing facility, Mr. Suskind said. He also said Western Union let the CIA monitor transactions in real time in early 2003.

A First Data spokesman declined to comment yesterday and referred to a statement that First Data released earlier saying that it has not worked with Mr. Suskind and its officials have not read the book.


29 arrested in drug crackdown

CHICAGO — U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and Chicago police yesterday arrested 29 persons thought to belong to the Mickey Cobras street gang who are suspected of trafficking fentanyl-laced heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana in parts of Chicago’s Southside.

DEA spokesman Garrison K. Courtney said more than 400 law-enforcement officers participated in the raids that seized more than 220 pounds of heroin, five firearms, four vehicles and an undetermined amount of cash. The seized heroin is being sent to a lab to confirm that it was mixed with fentanyl.

Mr. Courtney said a criminal complaint charged members and associates of the street gang, including James Austin, 29, of Akron, Ohio — the reputed “king” of the Mickey Cobras — of operating a sophisticated, long-running narcotics-distribution organization.


Governor nixes early inmate release

LINCOLN — Gov. Dave Heineman decided against ordering the early release of some inmates to relieve prison crowding.

The state’s prison system recently reached 140 percent of capacity, which allows the governor to declare an emergency and order some inmates released.

Mr. Heineman will monitor prisoner numbers, but the prison director advised him that operations are continuing safely at this time. The state’s prison system is designed to hold 3,175 inmates and reached 4,448 on May 19.


Power problems halt train service

NEWARK — Power problems temporarily halted train service between New York City and New Jersey during yesterday morning’s commuter rush, causing delays along the Northeast Corridor.

New Jersey Transit’s Web site blamed the delays on “Amtrak power problems” along the Northeast Corridor, but offered no other details.

Cliff Black, an Amtrak spokesman, said there was a brief power fluctuation at 8:05 a.m. in the New York area. He said trains were stopped briefly but were moving again by 8:33 a.m.


Man pleads not guilty in wife’s suicide

STONY POINT — An architect accused of helping his wife commit suicide by stepping aside as she drove the family minivan off a 300-foot-high cliff with their two daughters inside has pleaded not guilty.

Victor Han, 34, entered the plea Tuesday to charges of promoting a suicide attempt, reckless endangerment and endangering children.

Police said Mr. Han drove his wife and family to a scenic overlook last Wednesday at Bear Mountain State Park, 40 miles north of New York City, knowing that his wife wished to kill herself. He got out and walked away while she got behind the wheel of the minivan and drove it over the edge, police said.

The girls, ages 5 and 3, suffered only minor injuries.


Guilty plea expected in campus attack

HILLSBOROUGH — A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate charged with running down students on a campus plaza to avenge the deaths of Muslims told a judge yesterday that he plans to plead guilty.

Mohammed Taheri-Azar, 23, is charged with nine counts each of attempted murder and felonious assault. He was in custody on $5.5 million bail.

Nine persons were hit March 3 when Mr. Taheri-Azar drove a rented sport utility vehicle through “the Pit,” a popular campus gathering spot. No one was injured seriously. Mr. Taheri-Azar has said he did so to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world.


Monument to honor Flight 93 crew

SOMERSET — A flight attendants group said it plans to erect a 16-ton granite monument honoring crew members of United Airlines Flight 93, who died September 11, 2001.

The 11-foot tall monument will be erected next month in the “Heroes Garden” at the Flight 93 Memorial Chapel, the Cause Foundation announced Tuesday.

The church is a short distance from where the hijacked airliner crashed, killing all 33 passengers, seven crew members and four hijackers on board.

The monument is separate from a $58 million memorial planned for the 1,700-acre site where the plane crashed.

The Aurora, Colo.-based foundation, which helps United Airlines flight attendants and their families, plans to dedicate the monument at a ceremony on the fifth anniversary of the crash.


Woman to be medicated for trial

SALT LAKE CITY — The woman charged in the 2002 abduction of then-14-year-old Elizabeth Smart can be medicated forcibly in an attempt to restore her competency for trial, a judge ruled yesterday .

Wanda Barzee, 60, initially was declared incompetent to stand trial and ordered held at the state psychiatric hospital, where she has refused to participate in therapy.

Third District Court Judge Judith Atherton ruled yesterday that Mrs. Barzee meets all the requirements outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court in determining if a defendant can be forced to take medication.

Both Mrs. Barzee and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, also declared incompetent to stand trial, face charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping in the case.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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