- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 2, 2007



Children found after mother slain

Three children who were missing after their mother was found slain in their home early yesterday were found unharmed last night, Montgomery County Police said.

Officer Melanie Hadley said that Elijah Emeruwa, 4; his sister, Tochi Antinnoe, 6; and brother, Jaachi, 8, were found by police after a resident spotted the car their father was driving near Georgia Avenue and Prince Philip Drive in Olney about 6:15 p.m.

Police pursued the car, but the driver rammed several cruisers before he was stopped on a dead end on Viburnum Way.

The children were turned over to state custody, Officer Hadley said.

Police arrested the father, Kelechi Charles Emeruwa, 41, on a first-degree murder warrant in the death of Chidiebere Omenihu Ochulo, 36.

She was found dead about 2:30 a.m. inside the home on Dunwood Terrace after police responded to a report of an unconscious woman.


Burning body found in row house

Baltimore police yesterday were questioning the death of a man whose body was found burning inside an East Baltimore row house Sunday.

A police spokesman said detectives are waiting for an autopsy.

Fire department spokesman Kevin Cartwright said firefighters responded shortly after 8 p.m. to the home on Pitman Place, near Greenmount Cemetery.

Neighbors were trying to break down the door to get inside. Firefighters were able to enter and found a man’s body on fire.

Nothing else was burning.

Mr. Cartwright said it was not clear whether the blaze was accidental or deliberately set.

The home was unoccupied, but neighbors told investigators that the victim frequently took care of the house for the owner.



4 killed, 2 injured in car crash

Four persons were killed and two others injured after a van veered into oncoming traffic Sunday, authorities said.

A van driven by Lori Marie Johnson, 29, of Sanford, was heading north on Route 779 in Accomack County when it ran off the road, Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. D.S. Carr said.

Mrs. Johnson overcorrected and ended up in the southbound lane, striking a station wagon head-on.

Mrs. Johnson’s 4-year-old daughter, Samantha Thorton, and Preston M. Bradford, both passengers in the van, died at the scene.

Mrs. Johnson and her 5-year-old daughter, Tabitha Thorton, were flown to a hospital. Their conditions were not available.

Both the driver and passenger in the station wagon were killed.

Betty Harris, 64, of Hallwood, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her husband, Fred Harris, 67, was taken to a hospital, where he died, Sgt. Carr said.

Mrs. Harris was not wearing a seat belt and Samantha was thrown from a child restraint that was not secured properly, Sgt. Carr said.

Alcohol was not a factor in the crash, Sgt. Carr said.


Rains swell river, flood parts of city

Drenching rains and runoff swelled the Dan River yesterday, flooding businesses and forcing residents from their homes.

About 15 people were evacuated along Water Street, on the east side of the city, when floodwaters about 3 feet deep threatened their homes, said Doug Young of Danville Emergency Management.

The flooding was caused by a creek that went over its banks because it couldn’t feed into the cresting Danville River, Mr. Young said.

“We are going door to door and notifying people that emergency services can’t reach them,” said Robbie Woodall, a lifesaving-crew chief.

Rachel Broadie was evacuated along with five family members.

“I didn’t know it was so bad until my son tried to bring my grandkids to me this morning and couldn’t get in,” she said. “I never dreamed it would get this bad. This is so much excitement for a New Year’s.”

Numerous businesses in strip shopping malls were flooded and several mobile homes had to be evacuated, Mr. Young said.

The National Weather Service in Blacksburg said an average of 2 inches of rain had drenched Danville in the past 36 hours, although rainfall of up to 5 inches was reported in some spots.

Runoff from higher elevations pushed the Danville River above flood stage. It was to crest later yesterday.

“In my memory, I don’t ever remember the river rising as fast as it did today,” Mr. Young said.

One rescue personnel worker was injured when his vehicle hydroplaned on a flooded road and hit a utility pole. He was treated and released.


E-mails hard to find in localities

E-mail communications among elected officials can be hard to obtain in Virginia, even though the law says they are public.

Virginia newspaper employees in September requested e-mail records from elected officials in all 134 of the state’s cities and counties, and they were successful 42 percent of the time.

The press representatives asked to see the most recent two weeks of e-mails.

In 10 percent of localities, the newspaper representatives were denied records, either because of a failure to respond to requests, high costs or unfamiliarity with the law.

In 48 percent of localities, requesters came back empty-handed because e-mail was not used or because the office they visited said it did not have e-mails kept on private computers.

Maria Everett is executive director of the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council.

She says that by staying away from e-mail, public officials can ensure that their deliberations stay in the public realm because there’s less confusion over how to keep track of paper records.


Port security rules find few fans

A federal plan to screen port workers is unpopular in Hampton Roads.

The region’s industry officials say the rules could drive up the cost of building and repairing Navy ships while doing nothing to improve security.

Under the new system, longshoremen, truckers and other transportation workers who need access to secure port areas will undergo FBI background checks and submit fingerprints that will be embedded on biometric cards.

The federal law mandating the system also extends to some shipyards, including Navy shipbuilder Northrop Grumman Newport News. That is the region’s largest private employer with 19,000 workers.

Ship repair yard officials are confused about the law: Some say their companies fall under the law; others say they do not.


Visitor center to offer gateway to Monticello

A $50 million visitor and history center at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home is scheduled to open late next year.

The center will feature five pavilions built around a courtyard that will offer exhibitions, dining, shopping and educational classrooms.

“It’s been in the master plan for a decade,” said Daniel P. Jordan, president of the nonprofit Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates the mountaintop attraction. “The dream will soon be a reality. The end result should be stunning.”

The Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith History Center will be built with natural materials such as fieldstone, brick and cedar.

The history center is named for the late Carl W. Smith, who founded Amvest Corp., and his wife, Hunter.

Amvest is a Charlottesville company that specializes in energy.

“It’s designed to be a gateway to Monticello and not a competing attraction,” Mr. Jordan said.

Excavation will start later this month.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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