- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006



Reward offered in arson probe

Prince George’s arson investigators are looking for leads in their investigation of a series of arsons since March 2004. The county is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

There have been a dozen fires set along Livingston Road in southeastern Prince George’s County. The fires have destroyed vacant or abandoned houses and some houses under construction.

A tip line has been started to generate new leads. People with information have been urged to call 301/772-7766.


Man charged with e-mail threats

A Baltimore County man was arrested yesterday on charges of e-mailing bomb threats to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Maryland Transportation Authority Police said.

Detectives identified the sender as George F. Spicka, 59, and arrested him at his Wood-lawn-area home, police said.

Officials at BWI received two e-mails with bomb threats about 7:45 a.m. yesterday. The sender tried to conceal his identity by calling himself “George Orwell” and using an anonymous remailer that forwards e-mails without revealing where they originally came from.

The e-mails were forwarded to the MTA police.

State charges against Mr. Spicka will include telephone misuse, making a false statement of a destructive device and interfering with security procedures, police said. Federal prosecutors will determine if federal charges are warranted.

No flights were delayed.


Man pleads guilty to killing wife

A Cecil County man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his wife.

Edward Hoffman, 75, admitted his guilt and entered the plea on what was to be the first day of his trial Tuesday. He will remain in the county jail in lieu of $500,000 bail until he is sentenced Dec. 1.

Hoffman fatally shot his wife, Jane, 72, inside their Elkmore home in April 2004. He told police that he feared she would discover their financial troubles. The couple had owned a dry-cleaning business in Philadelphia, but sold it a few years ago.

Family members said Mrs. Hoffman served as president of Philadelphia’s chapter of an international charity that helps women and children.

Prosecutors will ask that he serve 40 years in prison as part of a suspended life sentence. He would be eligible for parole after 15 years, when he is 90.


Pit bull mauls three horses

A loose pit bull mauled three horses early Tuesday morning at a farm east of Frederick, animal-control officials said.

A 5-month-old miniature horse foal was severely injured.

The dog was captured by animal-control officers after the attack. If the pit bull is not claimed after five days, it becomes county property and could be deemed potentially dangerous. The dog’s owner will be required to pay the foal’s medical bills.

Horse owner Karin Walden said the foal “was ripped from head to toe.” The foal had bite marks and puncture wounds on three of its legs, a deep cut on its head and a deep gash on its belly. Miss Walden said it might not survive.

The other two horses were treated with antibiotics.


Teen’s car smashed by flying outhouse

A Selbyville teenager was hit by an outhouse that fell off a delivery truck, Maryland State Police said.

The 17-year-old girl was driving on Route 575 near Ocean Pines in a Toyota sport utility vehicle last week when she approached a delivery truck hauling portable toilets.

One of the toilets came loose because of high winds, causing heavy front-end damage to her vehicle.

The girl suffered minor neck pain after the accident, police said.


No strip clubs in town’s future

The Wicomico County town council unanimously approved a six-month ban on adult businesses. Officials said they will use the time to tweak planning and zoning codes to prevent any future adult businesses.

The ordinance was approved after a Western Shore strip-club owner expressed interest in opening another location in Willards. That proposal has since been dropped.

After the vote Tuesday night, residents cheered, the Salisbury Daily Times reported.

Even with the proposed strip club unlikely, Chip MacLeod, the special counsel hired by the town to assist with the ordinance, said officials are planning for the next proposal.

“The town has decided it needs to be prepared for the next request,” said Mr. MacLeod, who serves as Caroline County’s attorney.



Search continues for missing student

Investigators have ruled out one potential suspect but are still investigating another in the disappearance of a University of Vermont student from Virginia.

Michelle Gardner-Quinn, 21, of Arlington, vanished after a night out with friends on Friday. She was reported missing Saturday night after she failed to meet her parents for dinner.

Burlington, Vt., police said they have ruled out as a suspect an unidentified man who had reportedly tried to lure another woman into his white Subaru hatchback.

That man explained his activities that night and is not now considered a suspect, police said.

Police are still investigating a man who Miss Gardner-Quinn was seen with early Saturday after asking to borrow his cell phone.


Inspectors assess flood damage

City inspectors began assessing buildings in Franklin yesterday to try to determine the extent of flood damage.

Heavy rains last weekend caused the Blackwater River to crest Tuesday, causing the second flood in the downtown retail district in seven years.

Officials said an estimated 120 businesses and 35 homes might have suffered at least some damage. Flooding from Hurricane Floyd in September 1999 damaged or destroyed all of the 182 businesses downtown and about 100 homes.

The downtown area has been closed since Monday, and at least 70 residents were evacuated from low-lying areas.

Water continued to recede yesterday. Officials said businesses and residents will be allowed to return to downtown when floodwaters are out of the city and streets and buildings have been inspected and determined to be safe.


Deer hunters fired upon

A Stafford man is facing felony charges after being accused of shooting at three deer hunters.

Keith Lake was confronted by the hunters in the woods near Stafford on Monday. He told the men he was lost, police said.

The hunters then told Mr. Lake he was trespassing and scaring the deer away and asked him to leave.

A short time later, the hunters became the hunted when Mr. Lake fired on the men from a nearby hilltop, police said.

None of the men was injured. Sheriff’s deputies arrested Mr. Lake at his home later that evening. He is being held in Rappahannock Regional Jail without bond.

Police said Mr. Lake has denied he shot at the hunters.


Art dealer buys panorama at auction

A painting depicting Harrisonburg in the 18th century has a home in New England.

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley and an unnamed Harrisonburg resident had attempted to buy the panorama, which was painted by a Harrisonburg nurse right after the Civil War.

But Connecticut art dealer David Schorsch, 42, outbid them Saturday. He announced Tuesday that he bought the 25-by-57-inch painting, “The Town Of Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1867” at a Sotheby’s auction for $168,000.

The Woodbury, Conn., man said he didn’t think he would be able to get the painting.

“I know there was a lot of interest in Virginia and, frankly, that’s why I thought it would end up there,” he said.

Mr. Schorsch said he plans to frame the painting and sell it.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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