- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Bullet casings found in missing boaters case

MIAMI — Investigators found bullet casings on a charter boat whose four crew members are missing, and one of the two men being held in the case had blow gun darts and knives when he was plucked from a life raft near Cuba, federal prosecutors said yesterday.

The details emerged as a judge ordered the two men held without bond in the mysterious disappearance of the crew of the fishing yacht, found adrift Sept. 25 in a remote area of the Bahamas.

Kirby Logan Archer, 35, is charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in connection to the robbery of an Arkansas Wal-Mart where he was a manager.

Guillermo Zarabozo, 19, is charged with lying to the FBI when he reportedly said he was not on the yacht.

Defense attorneys said no evidence has been presented to link their clients to a crime.


Amish privately mark anniversary of massacre

NICKEL MINES — Amish families kept to their homes yesterday as they privately marked the anniversary of a schoolhouse attack that killed five girls a year ago.

In keeping with Amish custom, no public observances were held on the anniversary. A day earlier, local Amish families gathered to sing hymns, pray and share a meal in remembrance.

“They just don’t wish to play out their personal stories in the public limelight,” said Herman Bontrager, a spokesman for a committee formed to distribute donations that poured in after the attack.

West Nickel Mines Amish School, the scene of a gunman’s massacre that also left five others wounded, was razed. No classes were held yesterday at the new Amish school that replaced the site of the attack.


Judge resigns amid probe of complaints

MONTGOMERY — A judge once considered for a prominent federal appointment has resigned amid investigations of potential judicial and sexual improprieties, including accusations that he spanked male inmates in a private courthouse room.

The resignation of Circuit Judge Herman Thomas ends what was once viewed as one of Alabama’s most promising legal careers, although his legal problems continue.

“We do have a criminal investigation going on,” Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson said after Judge Thomas’ resignation Monday.

Judge Thomas had been suspended with pay since March when a state judicial panel filed the first of a series of charges accusing him of unduly helping relatives and friends with their legal troubles and taking cases away from other judges — without permission — to change the defendants’ legal status or reduce sentences.

He resigned shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, which was the deadline for judicial prosecutors to file any additional charges before his Oct. 29 trial. His resignation probably means there will be no trial before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary because the harshest punishment it can hand down is removal from office — an action that last happened in 2003 when Alabama’s Ten Commandments judge, Chief Justice Roy Moore, was removed from office.


Official stops Shakespeare show

MESA — It was supposed to be a two-hour Shakespearean comedy show attended by 700 sixth- through 12th-graders.

But it was not to be.

About 40 minutes into a touring company’s performance of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” a Higley Unified School District official halted the show Monday at a performing-arts center.

“We stopped the show because we feel that this was inappropriate,” said Tara Kissane, the district’s director of visual and performing arts. She declined to give specifics but said “there was inappropriate language and the content was very suggestive.”

The play was produced by a New York-based touring company, Windwood Theatricals. Paul Bartz, the producer, said he was surprised to learn the performance was stopped.

“It’s a matter of interpretation, but they’re surely not seeing anything on that stage that they’re not seeing on television,” Mr. Bartz said yesterday. “You might liken it to a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch on Shakespeare.”


Simpson ordered to surrender Rolex

SANTA MONICA — O.J. Simpson must hand over a Rolex watch and other assets to satisfy a civil judgment that found him liable for the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, a judge ruled yesterday.

Any future royalties from a sports video game featuring Simpson also must be delivered to Mr. Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, Superior Court Judge Gerald Rosenberg ruled.

Simpson also must surrender any of the disputed memorabilia items recently seized by Las Vegas authorities that are found to be legally his.

The items would then be auctioned by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the money they bring in given to Fred Goldman. His attorney, David Cook, estimated the watch’s value between $5,000 and more than $20,000.

Simpson’s attorney, Ronald Slates, said his client had already handed the watch over to him, and he planned to give it to Mr. Goldman’s attorneys yesterday afternoon. He questioned whether it’s a real Rolex.


Forecaster predicts 2 more hurricanes

FORT COLLINS — Hurricane expert William Gray slightly downgraded his forecast yesterday, calling for four named storms in October and November, including two hurricanes, one of them major.

Mr. Gray’s team at Colorado State University had predicted five named storms in their earlier forecast for the two months.

“We expect October-November to be very active,” said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the hurricane forecast.

In April, Mr. Gray had predicted a “very active” 2007 season, with 17 named storms, including nine hurricanes, with five of them major hurricanes.

As of Monday, 13 named storms had developed, including four hurricanes. Two of the hurricanes were major.

Mr. Gray’s team revises the forecast throughout the hurricane season, which lasts from June through November.


School bans hugs between students

OAK PARK — If you need a hug, you won’t get it at Percy Julian Middle School.

Principal Victoria Sharts banned hugging among the suburban Chicago school’s 860 students inside the building. She said students were forming “hug lines” that made them late for classes and crowded the halls.

“Hugging is really more appropriate for airports or for family reunions than passing and seeing each other every few minutes in the halls,” Miss Sharts said.

Another reason to institute the no-hugging policy was that some hugs could be too long and too close, she said.

“There is another side to the issue when a hug is either unwanted or becomes inappropriate as judged by one of the students involved,” Miss Sharts wrote in a statement to parents. “On occasion, we do deal with those incidents. The goal is always to promote safe and orderly hallways where everybody can get by, be safe, and be on time.”


Search for Fossett returns to standby

CARSON CITY — Search teams that had resumed looking over the weekend for missing U.S. adventurer Steve Fossett have again been put on standby, a spokesman for the search effort said yesterday.

Rescuers think Mr. Fossett disappeared after his small plane crashed a month ago. But search teams found no evidence of a crash over the weekend and will remain at base until they receive better information to justify an active search, said Gary Derks, a spokesman for Nevada’s Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management.

“The search mission itself is still open,” he said.

Mr. Fossett, a millionaire holder of several aviation records, vanished with his small plane after taking off from a private airstrip in western Nevada Sept. 3.

Daily aerial searches by the Civil Air Patrol and National Guard were suspended Sept. 19, but authorities have kept air and other search crews ready to explore potential crash sites.

On Saturday and Sunday, search crews focused on roughly 50 to 60 square miles of rugged terrain in western Nevada just north of Death Valley National Park in California, looking for evidence of a crash.


Cops: Thief left boots behind

YONKERS — He’s a shoo-in for Burglar of the Year.

A man who broke into a home but was chased away by a barking dog left his boots behind, police said, and he was arrested when an officer saw him walking shoeless.

John Lyles climbed through the home’s window about 4 a.m. Friday and took off his boots, probably so he wouldn’t make any noise while sneaking around, police said. But the homeowner’s dog started growling and barking at him, they said, and he ran away empty-handed — and barefoot.

Later that morning, an officer spotted Mr. Lyles walking without shoes in a nearby apartment building hallway, questioned him and arrested him, police said.

Mr. Lyles, 36, was charged with second-degree burglary, a felony.


House demolished despite repair effort

CLEVELAND — A house that had recently undergone more than $19,000 in repairs was torn down last month as part of a city campaign against urban blight. All that’s left is a vacant lot.

The house had been painted, and repairs had been made to the roof, gutters and foundation. But city officials said they had no idea it was being fixed up because the owner, Wells Fargo Bank of Minnesota, had not filed permits for the renovation.

As part of an effort to end blight, Cleveland has adopted an aggressive demolition strategy, said Ed Rybka, the city’s building and housing director. Mr. Rybka did not immediately return a call yesterday seeking further details on the house’s demolition.

Wells Fargo had foreclosed on the property, and in August, Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka threatened a $20,000 fine if the bank didn’t fix the code violations. The bank hired contractors, and a neighborhood group hoped to buy the house and finish the renovation, Judge Pianka said.

Now, Wells Fargo will probably give the lot to the city, said James Sassano, the bank’s attorney.


Artist gets probation for secret apartment

PROVIDENCE — The leader of an artists’ cooperative has been sentenced to probation for setting up a secret apartment inside a shopping mall’s parking garage as part of a project on mall life.

Michael Townsend, 36, said he and seven other artists built the 750-square-foot apartment beginning in 2003 and lived there for up to three weeks at a time.

The artists built a cinderblock wall and nondescript utility door to keep the loft hidden from the outside world.

But inside, the apartment was fully furnished, down to a hutch filled with china and a Sony PlayStation 2 — although a burglar broke in and stole the PlayStation last spring, Mr. Townsend said. There was no running water — instead they used the mall bathrooms.

Mr. Townsend said plans to make the apartment “super-sweet” with laminated wood flooring and other perks fell apart last week after he and a visiting artist from Hong Kong walked into the room and were greeted by three security guards.

He pleaded no contest to a trespassing charge.

“I was surprised at what he was able to accomplish,” Providence police Maj. Stephen Campbell said. “But what he did was clearly criminal. The mall is private property.”


Firefighter’s family sues furniture store

COLUMBIA — The family of one of nine firefighters killed in a furniture store blaze sued the store’s owner Monday, along with contractors who worked on the building and the makers of furniture inside the showroom.

The lawsuit filed in county court on behalf of the estate of Melvin Champaign is the first since the June 18 inferno at the Sofa Super Store in Charleston.

His relatives seek unspecified damages for negligence, saying thick, toxic smoke from the fire combined with locked doors and the store’s confusing layout left Firefighter Champaign knowing he couldn’t escape and was going to die.

Autopsies showed the firefighters died from burns and smoke inhalation. It was the nation’s single worst loss of firefighters since the 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.

An attorney for Herb Goldstein and his family, who operated the Sofa Super Store, said they had not seen the lawsuit.


Escapees picked wrong man to tie up

MANILA — Two escaped prisoners who tied a retired police officer to a bedpost before stealing his Ford Explorer and guns made a promise to the 79-year-old man.

“They said, ‘We’ll have somebody come up and untie you in a couple days,’ ” Bill Johnson told the Salt Lake Tribune in yesterday’s edition. “I didn’t dare ask who that would be.”

Mr. Johnson didn’t wait. He freed himself from duct tape and sheets inside his trailer, ran to a road and flagged down a passing car Saturday night. It led to a 911 call and the subsequent capture of the two convicted killers who had escaped from a Utah jail almost a week earlier.

Danny Martin Gallegos, 49, was in critical condition at University of Utah Hospital with a gunshot wound related to the capture. He was shot when police feared he might fire at them.

Juan Carlos Diaz-Arevalo, 27, waived extradition to Utah during a brief court hearing yesterday in Sweetwater County, Wyo., sheriff’s Detective Dick Blust said.

The men escaped Sept. 23 from the Daggett County jail, 120 miles east of Salt Lake City on the Wyoming state line.


Teller tells robber she only had candy

STONE LAKE — A man who pulled up to a bank’s drive-up window on an all-terrain vehicle and demanded money on Monday was not happy about the sweet response: The teller only had candy.

Even though the suspect had held up a bag that he said contained a bomb, the Stone Lake Bank teller explained the money had already been removed from the till and all she had were suckers, Sawyer County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle said.

Deputy Zeigle said the suspect, who wore camouflage clothing and a black helmet and face mask, fled in frustration and had not been caught.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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