- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2008


Granite industry seeks King memorial bid

ATHENS — Granite-industry leaders in Martin Luther King’s home state are criticizing a plan to use Chinese stone for the King memorial planned for the National Mall in Washington.

The Georgia granite officials are demanding equal bidding rights to provide the stone for the memorial.

“It should be a job that’s done in America by Americans,” said Thomas Robinson, executive vice president of the Elberton Granite Association.

The 4-acre memorial plaza will sit along the edge of the Tidal Basin, where the civil rights pioneer delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. It will feature a large stone sculpture by a Chinese artist of King emerging from a block of granite and stone walls engraved with quotes from King.


Police search for gunman in store killings

TINLEY PARK — A massive manhunt was under way yesterday for a gunman who killed five women in the back room of a suburban Chicago clothing store during a botched robbery attempt.

A man was seen leaving the Lane Bryant on Saturday morning before police found the store’s manager and four customers fatally shot. Authorities have released few details about the brazen killings in the busy shopping center.

The victims were identified yesterday as Connie R. Woolfolk, 37, of Flossmoor; Sarah T. Szafranski, 22, of Oak Forest; Carrie H. Chiuso, 33, of Frankfort; Rhoda McFarland, 42, of Joliet; and Jennifer L. Bishop, 34, of South Bend, Ind.

Chicago-area Lane Bryant stores were closed yesterday in honor of those who died.


Giraffe fitted for custom coat

OAKLAND — Like many a lady of a certain age, Tiki feels the cold these days.

So workers at the Oakland Zoo are having a custom coat made to keep the giraffe cozy this winter.

At 18, a venerable age for giraffes, Tiki is subject to the vicissitudes of age. She already gets regular visits from a chiropractor, a masseuse and an acupuncturist.

But, coping with the effect of Bay Area winter chills on the African mammal had baffled keepers.

At 13 feet tall, Tiki is too big to be herded into a stall, and regular horse blankets are too ill-fitting to be left on without supervision, lest she get into a tangle.

The zoo staff got in touch with a horse-blanket designer who agreed to donate her services to tailor a coat for Tiki. The jacket will be a tasteful forest green and feature a removable liner for those in-between days.

To get precise measurements for the tailoring, zoo keeper Melissa McCartney had to scramble up a ladder. The result? A 40 extra, extra long.


Teen charged in parents’ deaths

LOGANVILLE — Police have charged an 18-year-old college student with killing his parents.

Darryl Spearman, 55, and Cherri Spearman, 52, were found dead in their Loganville home by relatives Friday. Investigators said they were beaten to death.

Their son, Joshua Spearman, was charged with two counts of murder Saturday. The freshman at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville was being held without bail.

Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman said authorities received “domestic-type” calls about Mr. Spearman in the past, but he declined to give any details because the suspect was a juvenile then.


Baby products eyed for health risks

CHICAGO — Baby shampoos, lotions and powders could expose infants to chemicals that have been linked with reproductive problems, a small study suggests.

The chemicals, called phthalates, are found in many ordinary products, including cosmetics, toys, vinyl flooring and medical supplies. They are used to stabilize fragrances and make plastics flexible.

In the study, they were found in elevated levels in the urine of babies who had been recently shampooed, powdered or lotioned with baby products.

The study offers no direct evidence that products the infants used contained phthalates and no evidence that the chemicals in the babies’ urine caused any harm.

“The bottom line is that these chemicals likely do exist in products that we’re commonly using on our children and they potentially could cause health effects,” said Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a University of Washington pediatrician and the study’s lead author.


Parade float driver runs over brother

MARKSVILLE — A driver towing a float in a Carnival parade ran over his 16-year-old brother, killing him, state police said.

Clay Michael Sayer was standing between Kain N. Sayer’s pickup truck and the float behind it, talking to riders on the float during a brief stop about 5 p.m. Saturday, Trooper Scott Moreau said. The teen was pinned by the float when the truck started moving again, Trooper Moreau said.

Mr. Sayer, 21, was booked with vehicular homicide, drunken driving and careless driving, state police said.

A deputy at the Avoyelles Parish Jail said Mr. Sayer posted bail, but he did not know the amount.


Parolee charged in journalist’s slaying

CHESTERFIELD — A recently paroled burglar was charged yesterday in the rape and slaying of a former writer and editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, prosecutors said.

Brian Michael Walters, 27, is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Nancy Miller, whose body was found Friday.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch said authorities did not know whether Miss Miller and Walters, who was staying with his parents in the same subdivision, knew each other.

Walters also is charged with armed criminal action, burglary and rape in warrants filed yesterday, the Post-Dispatch reported on its Web site. He was being held without bail.

Mr. McCulloch said a neighbor provided information that led to Walters’ arrest.


Sheriff arrested on extortion charges

CHATTANOOGA — The sheriff of a southern Tennessee county was arrested Saturday in an FBI sting and charged with extorting money from video gambling operators.

Between April and mid-December, Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long accepted $17,400, which he was told were payments from store owners “to protect their video poker business and other illegal activity,” according to a federal affidavit.

Sheriff Long, 55, promised to inform them when he became aware of any investigation focused on their involvement in illegal activities, including selling ingredients used to make methamphetamine, the court record said.

Then the FBI set up a sting, introducing “the sheriff to what he believed was a money laundering and drug trafficking operation,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit said Sheriff Long also accepted $6,550 in cash as “his payoff to a cooperating witness supposedly laundering $625,000 in drug trafficking proceeds.”

Sheriff Long was given $1,000 by the confidential informant, money provided by the FBI, and told that drug-trafficking money “would be hidden in the cremation urns to a funeral home in Mexico.”


Mayor resigns over dog theft claims

ALICE — A small-town mayor accused of secretly keeping her neighbors’ dog after telling them that the pet died has resigned, and a judge is set to decide custody of the Shih Tzu.

Grace Saenz-Lopez apologized Friday to Alice residents and said she thought her actions were in the dog’s best interest.

A custody hearing today is expected to decide who gets Puddles, whom the mayor renamed “Panchito” after taking the dog last summer.

A neighboring family accuses her of refusing to return the dog after leaving it in her care while they went on vacation. A day after her neighbors left, she called to tell them Puddles died.

Three months later, a relative of the neighbors saw the pet at a dog groomer. When Miss Saenz-Lopez refused to return the dog, the family filed a criminal complaint and a civil lawsuit against her.

Homero Canales, who represents Miss Saenz-Lopez, said his client thought the dog would die if returned to her neighbors.


French-fry ‘missiles’ get girls suspended

LARAMIE — Three 13-year-old girls accused of throwing french fries during lunchtime at their school were cited for “hurling missiles,” an adult infraction covered by city ordinances.

The principal of Laramie Junior High and a police officer warned students during an assembly the day before the french-fries incident that if they threw food, they would suffer the consequences, Police Chief Bob Deutsch said. The warning was issued after school officials heard rumors of an impending food fight.

“They saw it as really the planning of a riot, when you think about it,” Chief Deutsch said.

Now, some observers are saying police and school officials went overboard, and even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) weighed in.

“It certainly seems that this was an overreaction to a situation that could have been handled differently,” said Linda Burt, Wyoming director of the ACLU.

The girls were suspended for three days.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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