- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2007



Animal hoarder ruled not responsible

A Harford County District Court judge has accepted a psychiatrist’s testimony that a 60-year-old woman charged with 118 counts of animal cruelty isn’t criminally responsible for her actions.

The psychiatrist told Judge John Dunnigan that Donna Lee Bell suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Miss Bell was arrested after more than 100 dogs and cats were found amid carcasses and large piles of feces on properties she owns.

After yesterday’s hearing, sheriff’s deputies transported Miss Bell to Spring Grove Hospital Center. Her attorney said she was trying to help the animals, but her behavior spun out of control.

When authorities raided two homes owned by Miss Bell, they found rats feeding on the carcasses of dogs and cats. Many of the surviving animals were ill from neglect.


Man pleads guilty to staging child porn

A 60-year-old Manassas man pleaded guilty yesterday to child-pornography charges after his Maryland employer found video and pictures he had made of a 12-year-old girl performing sex acts on herself in a shed behind his home.

Jack DuFrain used a variety of makeshift backdrops and outfit changes, and instructed the girl to pose certain ways while making the videos, federal prosecutors said.

He stored the pictures and videos on his home computer and transferred them to a thumb drive so he could download them to his work computer, prosecutors said.

The images were discovered on DuFrain’s work computer by his employer during an internal investigation. The Silver Spring company’s investigation also found that DuFrain had digitally altered some of the photos to make them more sexually explicit.

Authorities said they are in touch with the victim and seeking help for her.

DuFrain is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 2 in U.S. District Court.


Guard member honored for valor

A Maryland National Guard member who helped people injured in a fatal car crash in Talbot County was awarded the Maryland Medal for Valor.

1st Lt. Amy L. Matthews of Cambridge was on a highway June 9 near Easton when she saw a car accident.

“Without regard for her own personal safety, she immediately took control of the situation, administered medical attention to those seriously injured and kept everyone at the situation calm,” the citation says.

Lt. Matthews served as a combat medic in Iraq. She is a clinical nurse assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters Medical Detachment at Camp Fretterd Military Reservation in Reisterstown.

The Maryland Medal for Valor is the second-highest state award a member of the Maryland National Guard can earn. It is presented for acts of heroism clearly beyond what might have reasonably been expected under the circumstances. The act of heroism must have been voluntary and placed the nominee in personal jeopardy.


Local surfer wins Maryland title

An Ocean City man was named Maryland’s best surfer after competing against 45 of the region’s best.

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life hosted the Maryland State Surfing Championships last weekend.

Travis Knight, who competed in the 15-to-17 age group, won the open surfing division against all ages and the junior men’s division title.

The competition at 47th Street included a special ceremony where each of the surfers paddled out into the water and tossed roses in honor of cancer victims.


From fishing to fight, 3 men charged

A day of fishing ended in an argument, a drunken fight and assault charges against three men, state police said.

The fight happened Tuesday after the men returned to a home on Mount Vernon Road. Police found George Wilson bleeding from a head wound. Police say he had been fighting with his father, Collie Wilson, and John Schlick.

Collie Wilson is accused of striking his son with a hammer, and George Wilson is accused of stabbing Mr. Schlick in the back three times.

George Wilson and Mr. Schlick were at a hospital and booked by police in Somerset County. Collie Wilson is being sought in a warrant.


Aqueduct funding still short of goal

A fundraising effort to restore a C&O; Canal aqueduct in Frederick County is $300,000 short of its goal just nine weeks shy of the deadline.

The nonprofit C&O; Canal Association said donations are needed by mid-October to match a $1.7 million grant from the state’s Transportation Enhancement Program.

The money would help fund restoration of the Catoctin Aqueduct, a severely damaged structure that once carried the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal over the mouth of Catoctin Creek at the Potomac River.


Town Council looks at raising hotel tax

The Town Council has authorized the drafting of an ordinance increasing the hotel room tax.

Under the proposal from the Ocean City Hotel Motel and Restaurant Association, the tax would increase from 4 percent to 4.5 percent. A portion would be earmarked for advertising the town as a vacation destination. All revenue from the current tax goes to the town’s general fund.

The ordinance will have to go through two readings before final approval. If approved, the higher tax would take effect Jan. 1.

The hotel association said the town’s advertising budget has been virtually flat for years, even as the cost of advertising is rising.


Jail officer charged with using Taser

A Frederick County jail officer has been charged with assaulting an inmate and threatening him with a Taser.

Sgt. James Fowler, a 13-year veteran of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Bureau, was charged Wednesday in a criminal summons, Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said.

The unidentified 18-year-old inmate said Sgt. Fowler, of Hagerstown, physically assaulted him and threatened him with a Taser while in a supervisor’s office at the jail July 24, Cpl. Bailey said.


Inmates stabbed in jail yard fight

Seven inmates were stabbed in a fight at the Metropolitan Transition Center last night, corrections officials said.

Maj. Priscilla Doggett said the fight broke out in the yard about 7:40 p.m. The inmates received stab wounds severe enough to require treatment at hospitals outside the facility, she said. Five transported by the fire department were in serious but stable condition; the conditions of the two taken by corrections staff were not known. No staff members were hurt.

The facility was locked down.


Search ends for man seen walking into sea

The Coast Guard suspended a search for a man reported seen entering the Atlantic Ocean near 49th Street early yesterday morning.

Ocean City police alerted the Coast Guard around 1 a.m. after clothes were found on the beach. A witness saw the man take off the clothes before going into the water, they said. No identification was found in the clothing.

Coast Guard crews conducted a search throughout the morning.


Pastor gets 8 years for child sex abuse

A Baltimore County judge sentenced a pastor to eight years in prison for child sexual abuse, a sentence he will serve concurrently with a 15-year term he received recently in Howard County.

Gerald F. Griffith, 41, pleaded guilty Wednesday to child sexual abuse.

The abuse of youths he was supposed to be counseling for emotional problems occurred from November 2002 to October 2005 in Griffith’s office at Redemption Christian Fellowship Church in Woodlawn, according to court documents. Griffith molested them and ordered them to perform sex acts, according to charging documents.

The youngest accuser was 15 years old, and the victims included one girl and four boys.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors dropped numerous other charges against Griffith. The agreement called for a 20-year prison sentence, with all but eight years suspended.

Circuit Judge Robert N. Dugan said there was no doubt about Griffith’s guilt. “If there ever was a false prophet, he sits there,” Judge Dugan said.

Griffith was sentenced last month in Howard County after a jury there found him guilty of sexual abuse.



TB tests offered to bus riders

Loudoun County health officials are offering free tuberculosis tests to anyone who may have been exposed to the disease on any one of three commuter buses.

A Loudoun County resident who frequently rode the buses is “most likely” sick with TB, officials said.

Loudoun County’s health director, Dr. David Goodfriend, says the chance of anyone being infected on the bus is very low since it takes at least eight hours of close contact to transmit TB to others. He said the disease can’t be spread from handles, seats or other surfaces.

Two of the buses run from the Dulles North and South transit centers. The LC25 bus runs from Washington to Leesburg, Hamilton and Purcellville.

The free TB tests are being offered at the Loudoun County Health Department in Leesburg. Two special testing sessions will be held the evenings of Aug. 20 and 27.


Metro train runs over woman on track

A woman who apparently jumped in front of a Metro train yesterday afternoon is expected to survive, officials said.

Four of the train’s six cars rolled over the woman, but she made it out with some lacerations, fire department spokesman Alan Etter said.

Witnesses saw the woman jump in front of the train at the Georgia Avenue-Petworth station on the Green Line, Mr. Etter said. It took some time for rescuers to get her out from under the train.

Mr. Etter said the woman, who appeared to be about 35, was semiconscious when taken to a hospital.

Job fair slated for next week

A citywide job fair is scheduled for Wednesday at the Convention Center.

The event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and more than 150 employers from the District’s public and private sectors will be at the fair, including the Metropolitan Police Department, the Grand Hyatt Washington, Home Depot, the FBI and others.

Officials expect to provide information about at least 3,000 available jobs for residents to consider.

Residents can find more information on the job fair and view information about available positions at www.dc.gov.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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