- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 26, 2006

ALIFORNIA

Arsonist suspected in deadly fire

CABAZON - A wildfire near Palm Springs that engulfed a fire engine yesterday , killing four firefighters, was started by an arsonist, officials said.

One other firefighter in the fire engine was critically injured, said Pat Boss, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman.

Fire Chief John Hawkins said the arson “constitutes murder.” The firefighters were trying to protect a house as hot Santa Ana winds drove flames through the desert hills northwest of Palm Springs.

The fire also trapped many as 400 people in a recreational vehicle park when flames blocked the road.

COLORADO

Storm dumps 18 inches of snow

DENVER - A powerful snowstorm dumped 18 inches of snow in parts of the Colorado mountains and spread eastward yesterday , snarling traffic and shutting down dozens of school districts.

The National Weather Service said that at one point, snow was falling at a rate of about 3 inches an hour in the southeastern Denver area. A 125-mile corridor from Colorado Springs to the New Mexico border was under a blizzard warning.

The storm began Wednesday, creating slushy highways in cities from Pueblo to Colorado Springs. A jackknifed tractor-trailer blocked part of I-25 near Colorado Springs, where snow snapped trees, bringing power lines down with them. As many as 80 outbound flights were canceled at Denver International Airport.

FLORIDA

Rapist receives 5 straight life terms

MIAMI — A man charged with a string of sexual assaults got five consecutive life prison sentences without the chance of parole yesterday for raping an 11-year-old girl three years ago.

Reynaldo E. Rapalo, 35, is accused of raping seven women and girls in 2002 and 2003 in two Miami neighborhoods, but has been tried only for the June 2003 attack on the 11-year-old. He was convicted in August on several counts, including sexual battery, molestation and kidnapping.

Prosecutors said he stalked the girl as she came home from school and repeatedly raped her for more than an hour in the apartment that she shared with her mother.

Rapalo sat expressionless as the girl, now 14, read a statement in court calling him an “evil person.”

“Even though I have every reason to hate you, I don’t,” she said, adding that she will “remember every day of my life” how Rapalo brutalized her.

INDIANA

Driver fails test after office crash

PORTAGE — A young woman’s goal of getting her driver’s license crashed this week — right into the Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch.

The 20-year-old woman was pulling into a parking spot outside the branch when she hit the accelerator instead of the brake, Assistant Fire Chief Mike Bucy said. Her driving teacher was in the passenger seat.

The car jumped a small curb and went into the building about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, tearing out a large glass window and damaging a door and low brick wall.

The driver and examiner, who weren’t identified, were not injured. Chief Bucy said a person in the building sustained a hip injury and was examined by emergency medical personnel but declined to be taken to the hospital.

The young driver failed the test.

IOWA

Fire burns warehouse of oil distributor

COUNCIL BLUFFS — A motor oil distributor’s warehouse caught fire early yesterday, sending flames 30 feet into the air and pumping thick black smoke over the surrounding fields.

The 11,250-square-foot Stern Oil Co. building was engulfed in flames. It housed cases of motor oil, bulk oil and air filters, said company President Gillas Stern. He said no employees were injured, and he did not know what sparked the fire.

KANSAS

Deputy shoots suspect after sheriff is killed

HOXIE — A county sheriff was fatally shot in his office yesterday by a 36-year-old man he was interviewing, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said. The suspect was then fatally shot by a deputy.

Sheridan County Sheriff James L. Johnson was talking to Steven Paul Reitcheck about commitment to a mental health facility when Reitcheck pulled a handgun and fired, KBI deputy director Kyle Smith said.

Sheriff Johnson, 54, was elected to the post in 1988 after serving as a Hoxie police officer. He was married and had five adult children.

KENTUCKY

Suspect says he killed social worker

HENDERSON — A man who with his girlfriend is accused of kidnapping her baby and killing a social worker admitted to the slaying as he walked into a Kentucky police station and apologized to his family and friends.

A throng of reporters had gathered Wednesday evening when police escorted the couple back to Kentucky from Illinois, where they had been arrested Oct. 19, three days after the social worker’s body was found in the woman’s home. The social worker, Boni Frederick, 67, had brought the baby to Renee Terrell’s home for a visit with his mother.

When one reporter asked Christopher Wayne Luttrell, 23, whether he had killed the social worker, Luttrell replied: “Yes, ma’am.”

The baby, Saige, was found unharmed and has been returned to his foster parents, authorities said.

OREGON

Man sets fire in church, injures 2

SALEM — A man ranting about “the blood” burst into a church sanctuary during a service, sloshed fuel onto people and started a fire, police and church officials said yesterday.

Some parishioners were able to smother the flames with their coats while others tackled the man, said the Rev. Scott Erickson, pastor of the People’s Church. Two older women from the congregation were burned when their clothing caught fire.

The man’s identity was not released, and the Marion County District Attorney’s Office declined to discuss information about charges yesterday morning.

TEXAS

Alien describes smuggling ordeal

HOUSTON — The tractor-trailer was to be the last stage on Jose Juan Roldan Castro’s long journey to Houston. He had been smuggled safely over the border from Mexico, and he didn’t think these last four hours would put his life in danger.

At a secluded Harlingen field, the Mexican national climbed into the back of the trailer with more than 70 other illegal aliens.

There was an air-conditioning system, but the driver never turned it on. Inside, the trailer quickly began to feel like an oven, Mr. Roldan 30, testified yesterday at the retrial of Tyrone Williams, who drove the vehicle. The aliens peeled off their clothes. They punched holes through the back doors for air as their body temperatures rose as high as 113 degrees. Mr. Roldan said he used his fists to punch a hole that day in May 2003.

Four hours later, after the driver abandoned the trailer at a truck stop 100 miles southwest of Houston, 17 persons in the trailer were dead of dehydration, overheating and suffocation, and two more died later.

WEST VIRGINIA

Passer-by paints bridge pink, told to repaint it

HUNTINGTON — His intentions may have been good, but Jason Sansom probably should have asked permission before painting a Huntington bridge pink.

Mr. Sansom, 26, said he was walking by the bridge over Fourpole Creek in Ritter Park last weekend when he noticed it needed a paint job.

He decided then and there that he wanted to do something to help clean up the city, so he bought $50 worth of paint and went to work making it pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

He got about an hour into the paint job, before a park official stopped him.

Jim McClelland, executive director of the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, asked Mr. Sansom to finish painting and to return when the weather is warmer to repaint it, this time with white paint.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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