- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2008


Shooting survivor praises slain women

CHICAGO — The lone survivor of a shooting at a suburban clothing store commented publicly for the first time yesterday, calling the victims “five of the bravest women I have ever met.” Police also said one of the women was molested.

The weekend killings occurred during an apparent botched robbery at the Lane Bryant store, and authorities were still hunting for the assailant, who they said wore a knit cap pulled over thick braided hair during the rampage.

The survivor, who issued a statement through police, called the attack “an unspeakable tragedy” and a “horrific crime that ripped our worlds apart.”

The survivor of the attack at the strip mall southwest of downtown Chicago was in protective custody, Tinley Park Mayor Edward Zabrocki has said.

The Associated Press is not naming the woman because authorities have not confirmed the details.


Snowstorm slows highway, air travel

MILWAUKEE — A major storm piled snow more than a foot deep across parts of the Plains and Midwest yesterday, closing schools and businesses, grounding more than 1,000 airline flights and making highways hazardous.

A foot of snow had fallen in parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and Kansas. The National Weather Service said up to 18 inches was expected in southern Wisconsin.

One Wisconsin traffic death was blamed on slippery pavement, and hundreds of businesses and schools were closed across the southern part of the state.

Nine inches of snow was forecast for Chicago, where airlines canceled about 1,000 flights at O’Hare International Airport by midday and about 50 flights at Midway Airport, said Karen Pride, spokeswoman for the city’s aviation department.

Remaining flights had 45-minute delays, she said.


Law enforcement sparse in villages

ANCHORAGE — In the four hours it took Alaska State Troopers to arrive at the Eskimo village of Nunam Iqua, a man choked and raped his 13-year-old stepdaughter in front of three younger children.

He already had beaten his wife with a shotgun and pistol-whipped a friend after an evening drinking home brew.

Across the remote, frozen reaches of Alaska, scores of native villages have no full-fledged police officers at all, and help in an emergency can be a long way off.

Alaska’s villages are often desperately poor, with people subsisting on hunting and fishing. Many communities cannot afford police forces. As a result, when serious crimes are committed, many villages must rely on troopers based in towns far away. It can take days for help to arrive if the weather is bad or troopers have more pressing cases.

During the attack in Nunam Iqua more than two years ago, locals in the village of 200 had to call troopers in Bethel, 155 miles away. The troopers’ aircraft was being serviced, so they had to charter a plane to get to the community on Alaska’s western coast.

Since then, tribal leaders in the village have hired a single public safety officer, but she has no law-enforcement training and is unarmed.


Bond revoked for school shooter

FAYETTEVILLE — Jonesboro school shooter Mitchell Johnson was turned over to federal marshals yesterday after a judge revoked his bond on a recent gun and drug conviction because he had been arrested over the weekend.

Johnson, 23, was arrested by Bentonville police Saturday on a marijuana charge, and police added a theft charge Tuesday stemming from the use of a debit card at a convenience store where Johnson had worked.

A federal jury convicted Johnson last week of possessing a gun while being a user of or addicted to a controlled substance stemming from a New Year’s Day arrest last year in northwestern Arkansas. His $5,000 bond was revoked yesterday, said Debbie Groom, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Bob Balfe at Fort Smith.

Johnson was 13 when he and Andrew Golden, then 11, shot at students and teachers at Jonesboro Westside Middle School in northeastern Arkansas in 1998 after Golden pulled a fire alarm. They were found guilty in juvenile court of killing four fellow students and a teacher.

Johnson was incarcerated in an Arkansas juvenile detention center and served time in a federal prison before he was released upon turning 21.


Billionaire investor accused of assault

WEST PALM BEACH — A woman filed suit yesterday accusing a New York billionaire of sexually assaulting her when she was underage.

The woman said she was 16 when she was brought to Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion and paid $200 to give the money manager a massage. Instead, she says, he abused her.

The lawsuit seeks more than $50 million in damages from the billionaire money manager.

Mr. Epstein’s attorney, Guy Lewis, said the lawsuit is defamatory and the accusations are false.

Another teenage girl made similar claims against Mr. Epstein in a lawsuit filed last month.

She also is at the center of a criminal case against Mr. Epstein in West Palm Beach, where he is charged with one felony count of solicitation of prostitution. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted. A hearing in that case is set for next month.

He faces a similar sex abuse lawsuit in New York.


Front-page photos get suspect jailed

LEWISTON — A man identified in a front-page newspaper photo has been sentenced for what he was doing when another photograph — shown on the same front page — was taken.

Michael Millhouse, wearing a blue and black checkered coat, is painting decorative Christmas greetings on storefront windows in one photo published Dec. 13 in the Lewiston Tribune. The other image was taken from surveillance video footage that reportedly showed a man slipping a women’s wallet into the pocket of that same coat and walking away.

Millhouse, 43, of Clarkston, Wash., entered an Alford plea to third-degree theft Monday in Washington’s Asotin County Superior Court. Under such a plea, a defendant admits no wrongdoing but concedes that he or she would be convicted if the case went to trial.

Millhouse was sentenced to 365 days in jail.

Copy editors at the Tribune spotted the similarity of the person in the photos, and an employee the next morning called police in Clarkston. Prosecutor Ben Nichols thanked the northern Idaho paper after the sentencing.


Lawmaker released after heart incident

WHITE PLAINS — Rep. Nita M. Lowey has been released from a hospital, having recovered from a “minor” heart problem, her spokesman said yesterday.

Mrs. Lowey, 70, nearly fainted Saturday at a suburban New York City campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Spokesman Matt Dennis said she is at home and feeling well after what he called a “minor coronary incident.”

She will return to work the week after next.

Mrs. Lowey almost collapsed at the afternoon rally in White Plains after standing for nearly 90 minutes to deliver a speech in support of Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Lowey was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan after being referred from White Plains Hospital, which was not equipped to provide a test she needed.


Firefighters free boy from washer

DOVER — Talk about an oversized load: A 4-year-old boy got stuck when he climbed into his family’s top-loading washing machine, and firefighters had to use a metal cutter to slice into the appliance to free him.

Donovan Hasseman, who wasn’t hurt, was wedged against the agitator with a knee folded against his chest, while the machine was empty and not running Sunday night, Dover Fire Capt. Mike Mossor said.

Firefighters responding to a 911 call from the boy’s mother tried to help him wriggle out, but he couldn’t move, Capt. Mossor said. The owner of an appliance store was called for advice on how to disassemble the washer.

The fire department used its hydraulic “jaws-of-life” tool normally used to remove crash victims from wrecked vehicles to cut through the machine’s walls and plastic tub.

A hospital examined him and released him, and he was given a stuffed bear that the family has named Agitator.


Complaint leads to burglary arrest

SUTHERLIN — They say problem gamblers never quit while they are ahead, and one properly insured Oregon man apparently didn’t, either.

Authorities recovered a stolen antique slot machine worth $4,000 and arrested the 30-year-old who they said asked his wife to help file an insurance claim to cover damage done to his van during the heist.

The slot machine was reported stolen in a burglary Monday night at a home in Sutherlin, 47 miles south of Portland, Douglas County sheriff’s deputies said. Investigators learned that the victim’s housekeeper filed a police report a day earlier that someone had thrown a piece of sheet metal through the window of her parked van.

The sheet metal turned out to be from the back of the stolen slot machine, with the serial number attached. Deputies said the housekeeper’s husband stole the machine, which overturned as he drove away, breaking the van window.

The husband and a 25-year-old man were charged with burglary and theft, but the wife wasn’t charged.


Donors mail millions to Temple

PHILADELPHIA — The checks to Temple University really were in the mail — for $5 million.

It was a surprise for the school to receive the anonymous donations, which arrived in a pair of nondescript envelopes sent via U.S. mail from a bank in Arizona, said Stuart Sullivan, Temple’s senior vice president for institutional advancement.

One envelope contained a $1 million bank check for the university to use however it chooses, Mr. Sullivan told the Associated Press on Tuesday. The second held a $4 million check to endow a scholarship for women and minorities.

The envelopes were addressed to a development office staff member, who was stunned when she opened them last week, Mr. Sullivan said.

The school contacted the bank to try to find out more, but the donors insisted on remaining anonymous, he said. They just asked for the school to give them periodic reports on how the money is being used.


Mom sentenced for fatal crash

CLEBURNE — A woman who led police on a high-speed chase ending in a crash that killed her infant daughter was sentenced Tuesday to 28 years in prison.

Aimee Andrea Fisher-Riza, 37, of Keene, faced up to life in prison after jurors rejected her insanity defense Monday and found her guilty of murder and serious bodily injury to a child.

Jurors decided on 28 years for the murder charge and 20 years on the injury charge, both to be served at the same time. She must serve half of it before being eligible for parole.

Fisher-Riza drove up to 100 mph in April while fleeing police with her 9-month-old, Alexxus Riza, unrestrained in the sport utility vehicle’s front seat. When the woman crashed into a concrete embankment, her daughter was ejected and killed. In the wreckage was money stolen from the department store where Fisher-Riza worked.

Her attorney Bill Mason told jurors that Fisher-Riza thought officers were trying to kill her during the 40-minute chase. He said she did not know her actions were wrong because she was in a manic state of her bipolar disorder.


Education official calls for overhaul

MONTPELIER — Education Commissioner Richard Cate called for revamping the state’s education system because about half of all students either aren’t meeting standards or aren’t being challenged adequately.

Mr. Cate said underperforming students could be helped with out-of-classroom learning, and high performing students could be challenged with special courses, some offered on the Internet.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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