- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006


Train bomb scare prompts evacuation

OAKLAND — A bomb scare shut down a commuter train station during rush hour yesterday, causing major delays throughout the eastern San Francisco Bay area, authorities said.

The incident occurred shortly after 8 a.m. when two men at an Oakland station shouted that there was a bomb on the train that had just left, said Linton Johnson, a spokesman for Bay Area Rapid Transit.

The train arrived about one minute later at the West Oakland station, where BART police evacuated the station and searched the train with a bomb-sniffing dog, Mr. Johnson said. They did not find anything suspicious and gave the all-clear about an hour later.


Man hangs himself outside VFW post

WINCHESTER — A man hanged himself outside a Veterans of Foreign Wars post early yesterday, just hours after he apparently burned American and POW-MIA flags in the same place, authorities said.

A passer-by found the man about 1 a.m. yesterday. He was dressed in civilian clothes and found hanging by the flagpole rope, Detective James Hall said.

Detective Hall said he thinks the man burned the flags late Tuesday before returning to hang himself. Post 2728 Commander Ray Christy said last night that the flag burnings appeared to be “some kind of protest.”

The dead man had not been identified as of last night. Clark County Coroner David Jacobs said he appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s but was not carrying identification.


Twin convicted on rape charge

BOSTON — A rape suspect who twice won mistrials because key DNA evidence could have come from either him or his twin brother was convicted yesterday in his third trial.

Darrin Fernandez, 31, was convicted in an April 2001 attack on a Boston woman who said she was raped repeatedly by a man who climbed up a fire escape and broke into her second-floor bedroom while she slept.

Jurors in the previous trials deadlocked, saying afterward that they were unable to agree on whether Fernandez was guilty because DNA from semen found on the woman’s pillowcase could have come from either him or his identical twin.

During the third trial, prosecutors urged jurors to consider a “pattern of behavior” they said would distinguish Fernandez from his brother. Prosecutors introduced evidence that they said showed Fernandez committed a series of home break-ins, sexual assaults and attempted sexual assaults with characteristics similar to the rape in 2001.


Schools closed by teacher sickout

DETROIT — Hundreds of Detroit teachers stayed home yesterday, forcing more than 50 schools to close in what school officials described as a sickout to protest a temporary pay cut.

The teachers are upset because some principals are getting raises while teachers are giving up five days of pay to help balance the district’s budget, district spokeswoman Mattie Majors said.

School officials estimated that 1,500 of the district’s 10,000 teachers were out sick yesterday. Administrators and substitutes were sent to fill in, but 53 schools had to close, officials said.

The teachers union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, did not sanction the sickout but was aware of rumors that it would take place, President Janna Garrison said.


Two workers killed during demolition

GULFPORT — Two construction workers were killed during a demolition project at the hurricane-ravaged Grand Casino Gulfport, authorities said.

The men were pumping water out of a portion of the casino that collapsed during Hurricane Katrina. Officials think the two, working in water about 6 feet deep, became trapped in a tight space Tuesday. The cause of death was not clear, Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said.

The workers, employed by Dominion Marine Group Ltd. of Norfolk, were part of a marine team working with PRC Environmental Inc., a Houston company that is dismantling the barge.


Bouncer charged in student’s death

NEW YORK — A bar bouncer with a long criminal record has been charged with murder in the slaying of a graduate student who was raped, strangled and dumped last month in a desolate area of Brooklyn, a law-enforcement official said yesterday.

An announcement of an indictment against Darryl Littlejohn, 41, is expected today, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the indictment was still sealed.

Police have said that blood found on the plastic ties used to bind Imette St. Guillen’s hands behind her back matched Mr. Littlejohn’s.


Missing family found after 17 days in wild

GLENDALE — Inside their snowbound recreational vehicle, the family’s supplies and fuel were running low, and press reports indicated that a search for the six missing relatives had been called off.

“We had fuel and food, but we were running short. We were rationing,” said Elbert Higginbotham, one of the missing.

The family sent out two members for help, hoping to end more than two weeks of being trapped in the snowy wilderness. It worked. On Tuesday, 17 days after they vanished during a trip to the Oregon coast, they were rescued.

All six — Pete Stivers, 29, and Marlo Hill-Stivers, 31; their children, Sabastyan, 9, and Gabrayell, 8; and Mr. Stiver’s mother and stepfather, Mr. Higginbotham and Becky Higginbotham — were reunited in Glendale.


Anthrax victim dances to highlight recovery

SAYRE — A dancer and drum maker who became infected with anthrax danced for reporters yesterday in a hospital auditorium, showing off his remarkable recovery from a rare and usually fatal form of the disease.

Vado Diomande, a 44-year-old New York City resident, collapsed more than a month ago during a dance performance in Pennsylvania. Health officials think he may have inhaled anthrax spores from the African animal hides he uses to make drums.

“I just want to say thank you to my doctors; they do very good job,” Mr. Diomande, a native of the Ivory Coast, said at a press conference, choking back tears. “If not for them, maybe I’m not here today.”


No clues found in search for boys

MILWAUKEE — Police walked shoulder to shoulder through wooded areas and dive teams searched the sewers yesterday in an escalating search for two boys who disappeared while playing together Sunday.

Officers also have been searching empty houses, vacant vehicles and the homes of registered sex offenders in the area where the boys were last seen, but there has been no sign of them, said police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz.

“We haven’t gotten calls from people who’ve said, ‘I’ve seen them here or there,’” which is unusual, she said, adding that 11-year-old Purvis Parker and 12-year-old Quadrevion Henning don’t have a history of running away, either.

With no trace of the boys and no evidence of a crime, divers were called in yesterday to search the neighborhood’s sewers and a nearby lagoon to rule out a drowning. Police officials said at a press conference yesterday afternoon that there was no indication that the boys’ families had anything to do with their disappearance.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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