- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2006


Federal agencies to aid river cleanup

Efforts to control pollution and promote recreational use of the Anacostia River are getting a boost from the federal government.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Highway Administration have earmarked about $1 million for local government agencies and a nonprofit environmental group for projects on the river and its tributaries.

The District Department of Transportation is getting nearly $500,000 to improve storm-water runoff. Prince George’s County will get $100,000 for storm-water control projects near highways.

The Anacostia Watershed Society is getting a separate grant of more than $400,000 for a study of the Paint Branch and Little Paint Branch tributaries which feed into the nearly 81/2-mile river.



Plane crash leaves two dead

Two persons were killed yesterday afternoon when a single-engine airplane crashed at Tipton Airport.

Fire officials said the plane went down about 3:45 p.m. in a wooded area at the end of a runway just after takeoff.

The plane was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. It took about 15 minutes to put the flames out with foam and water, officials said.

The bodies of the two victims were found after the flames were extinguished. There was no one else on board.

Lt. Russ Davies, a fire department spokesman, said witnesses saw the crash and said they thought the plane was trying to land again just before it went down.

The names of the victims were not released.

The plane was a Piper PA46, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said. It is registered to Eberhardt Air Inc. of Downers Grove, Ill., according to FAA records.

Tipton Airport is a former Army airfield near Fort Meade that is now operated by a state-chartered airport authority.


Flammable material blows manhole cover

Baltimore County fire officials suspect someone at a Catholic school poured flammable materials down a drain yesterday afternoon causing a manhole cover to blow off and the school to be evacuated.

Battalion Chief Michael Robinson, a fire department spokesman, said a hazardous-materials team detected flammable materials in the sewer system. They worked to flush the system with water and biodegradable foam.

About 350 students were evacuated from St. Clement Mary Hofbauer School, which has classes from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.

No one was injured.

Teacher Grace Byerly said students complained about a strange smell in two bathrooms, and some boys said they heard a boom and felt the ground shake.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said natural gas was not involved, Chief Robinson said.


Hostages released at Haitian carryout

A hostage standoff at a Haitian carryout restaurant Wednesday night ended with the release of the hostages and the arrest of the second suspect, Anne Arundel County police said.

The incident began with a robbery attempt about 6 p.m. at the Chez YonYon Restaurant in the 7800 block of Riggs Road.

Two suspects were confronted by a police officer on routine patrol. The suspects took six persons — including two children — hostage.

Darren Johnson, 19, of Landover, came out of the building and was arrested.

The other suspect refused to come out and held the six persons hostage for about five hours. After all the hostages were released, Oliver Tunstall, 26, of Lanham, was flushed out with chemical spray just after midnight, police said.

Both men were wearing body armor. They are charged with multiple assault counts and armed robbery. Mr. Tunstall also is charged with false imprisonment.

Three handguns were recovered.


Lawsuit filed in police rape case

A woman who has said she was raped by a Baltimore police officer has filed a $1 million lawsuit against him and two other members of a police unit that has brought scandal to the department.

Officer Jemini Jones, a member of the department’s flex squad, was indicted in May for the events described in the woman’s civil complaint.

The woman says she was at her boyfriend’s home Oct. 24, 2005, waiting for him to come back with takeout food, when she said Officer Jones arrived with other flex-squad officers and searched the home.

She said Officer Jones said he found a gun in the kitchen and threatened to arrest the woman unless she had sex with him.

Fellow flex-squad Officers Brian Shaffer and Steven Hatley are also named as defendants in the suit.

In January, Officer Jones was indicted on a rape charge after another woman said he made a sex-for-freedom deal with her at a police station.


Raids at five homes yield arrests, cocaine

Joint raids by local, state and federal law-enforcement agents at five Frederick homes netted multiple arrests and the seizure of a large amount of powder cocaine, authorities said.

The raids Wednesday after-noon were at homes near Waverley Elementary and Rock Creek School.

The Frederick News-Post reported that five men were seen in handcuffs near police vans along Peachtree Court off McCain Drive. One man was chased through a neighborhood and was said to be still at large Wednesday night. The Freder-ick County sheriff’s office would not give details because the investigation is continuing.

Federal immigration agents also were involved in the raids.


Child-sex journals likely fantasies

Most of the accounts of sex with children contained in the journals of a pedophile suspect are thought to be fantasies, police said.

The journals were found this month during an investigation of James M. Thomas, 29. He was charged last week with two counts each of second-, third- and fourth-degree sex offense, assault and perverted practice related to a 1997 incident, and one count of possession of child pornography. Mr. Thomas is being held on $500,000 bail.

The journals were found during searches of his apartment and his mother’s home in Severn, according to charging documents. The journals describe sex acts with children, a list of about 100 possible victims and 17 elementary-school schedules.

Police have begun visiting schools and day care centers to determine whether Mr. Thomas has been seen near them.

Mr. Thomas was charged with molesting a 3-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy in 1997 while visiting a friend, but the charges were dropped when the victims refused to testify. Detec-tives reopened the case after Mr. Thomas admitted himself to a hospital saying he was having dreams about raping and killing young children.


Catholic school closed by Norwalk-like virus

A Catholic school was closed yesterday and will be closed again today because dozens of students and some staff members have become ill with what authorities think is a Norwalk-type virus.

More than 50 students at Our Lady of Lourdes School stayed home with nausea, vomiting and other stomach problems. Prin-cipal Patricia McGann e-mailed parents to explain the situation.

A disease specialist at the Montgomery County Health Department said the symptoms are consistent with a Norwalk-type virus.

The school will be professionally cleaned and sterilized over the weekend, and sick students are being advised to stay home until the illness runs its course. The symptoms usually last 24 to 48 hours.



Charge dismissed in self-abortion case

A judge in Suffolk dismissed a charge yesterday against a woman who shot herself in the stomach last winter, killing her unborn child.

The judge threw out the felony charge against Tammy Skinner of producing an abortion or miscarriage.

Miss Skinner’s attorney has argued that the charge could not be used to prosecute a woman who ends her own pregnancy.

The case was dismissed in a lower court, and prosecutors took their case to a grand jury and charged Miss Skinner through a direct indictment.

Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Marie Walls said prosecutors are out of options in the case.

Miss Skinner, 22, called police from a car dealership before dawn Feb. 23 and said a man had shot her in the stomach and pushed her out of the car. She later changed her story and said the baby’s father shot her.

Eventually, she told police that she shot herself in the stomach after contractions began.


Suspect charged again, but not in slaying

A suspect in the disappearance of a University of Vermont student later found dead was back in court yesterday to face more charges that are unrelated to the woman’s abduction.

Police have yet to link Brian L. Rooney, 36, to the disappearance or death of Michelle Gardner-Quinn, an Arlington woman who vanished Oct. 7. She was found dead nearly one week later.

For the second time in less than a week, Mr. Rooney entered not guilty pleas to sex charges brought as a result of the probe into Miss Gardner-Quinn’s disappearance. The new charges, aggravated sexual assault and inciting a felony, accuse him of repeatedly sexually assaulting a former girlfriend and soliciting someone to have her killed.

In a hearing that lasted less than two minutes yesterday, a public defender entered not guilty pleas on Mr. Rooney’s behalf to both charges, as he stood silently, handcuffed and shackled.

Vermont District Court Judge Michael S. Kupersmith ordered Mr. Rooney held without bail on the charges pending at an Oct. 24 bail hearing.


Teacher charged with indecent liberties

An Annandale High School teacher was arrested yesterday on charges of touching a 16-year-old girl inappropriately on two occasions, Fairfax County police said.

Kregg Bertram Stovner, 49, of the 5200 block of Stonington Drive in Fairfax, was arrested at his home. He reportedly grabbed the student’s buttocks on Sept. 26 and Oct. 4. The victim reported the incident to school administrators, and police were notified.

Mr. Stovner is being held in the Fairfax County jail.


DNA databank may not be complete

There might be “thousands” of felons who have not provided samples to Virginia’s DNA databank, a Charlottesville police officer said.

Capt. Chip Harding said officials in Charlottesville and Albemarle County found this year that 125 out of 600 felons on probation in those areas were not in the state’s huge DNA databank. He said he thinks it is a statewide problem and said one reason might be that the process is not centralized.

Police take genetic evidence from crime scenes and compare it with the about 260,000 DNA samples in the databank to help solve crimes. There have been about 3,600 “cold hits” since the databank was created in 1989.

Paul Ferrara, the head of the state’s Department of Forensic Science, said he does not know the extent of the problem in getting DNA samples from felons.

Mr. Ferrara said the state has trained local authorities to take DNA samples at jails or probation offices. But he said they cannot tell whether that training is effective.


Federal aid sought for flooded Franklin

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine is asking the U.S. Small Business Administration to help homeowners, renters and businesses in Franklin who had major damage from recent heavy rains.

The governor requested assistance from the SBA because the extent of the damage does not qualify for help from the Federal Emer-gency Management Agency.

Franklin’s infrastructure damage of about $3 million does not qualify for FEMA public assistance for localities, the governor’s office said.

The SBA can offer low-interest loans to residents and small businesses.

Downtown Franklin was flooded by the Blackwater River earlier this month after a storm dumped up to a foot of rain in some parts of southeastern Virginia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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