- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2008


Conjoined swallows attract attention

LITTLE ROCK | An apparent set of conjoined twin birds - an incredibly rare find - has been discovered in Arkansas, authorities said.

The pair of barn swallows, attached at the hip by skin and possibly muscle tissue, is being sent to the Smithsonian Institution for examination and confirmation, Arkansas wildlife officials said Friday.

“I can’t even say it’s one in a million. It’s probably more than that,” said Karen Rowe, an ornithologist with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. “There’s just very little to no records of such a thing.”

The birds, found by a landowner in White County, fell out of a nest as a healthy sibling flew off to learn how to hunt with its parents, Ms. Rowe said. The birds first appeared to have only three legs, but further examination found a fourth leg tucked up underneath the skin connecting the pair.

Ms. Rowe said the landowner likely kept the birds for a day before calling wildlife officials. By the time officials arrived, the birds were not eating. One died early Friday and a veterinarian later euthanized the other.

Finding conjoined birds is rare because they likely die before being discovered, Ms. Rowe said.

X-rays of the pair found each bird was fully formed, Ms. Rowe said. She said the birds would have had to come from a double-yolk egg.

Barn swallows can live for several years, though the conjoined twins might not have lived that long even if they had been separated. Ms. Rowe said it would have been difficult to teach the birds to fly.


Search continues for missing soldier

EL PASO | A missing Fort Bliss soldier sent a text message about leaving her husband two days before she vanished, her sister said Saturday.

“Hey sis he’s gone so when my check comes I’m going to buy a futon,” Army Pfc. Jeneesa Lewis wrote in the text message Wednesday, said her sister, Tammy Skelton. “Yeah, he’s gone. Had police go with me yesterday, it’s all clear.”

Authorities say that by Friday morning, Clinton W. Lewis had come back and taken off with his wife. Now her family is worried about the 29-year-old air-defense artillery soldier and mother of three children.

Army officials reported Pfc. Lewis missing Friday morning after she didn’t show up at work and no one appeared to be in her locked apartment. When El Paso police arrived and went into the apartment the couple had shared, the place was a mess and there was blood, Ms. Skelton said.

El Paso police Officer Chris Mears said Friday that officers found “evidence of foul play” inside the apartment but declined to give specific details.

Officer Mears said Pfc. Lewis is considered missing and endangered. He said police believe she may be with Mr. Lewis, who has not been charged and also is missing.


Firefighters seek rain to help curb fires

JUNCTION CITY | Firefighters are looking to scattered showers forecast for California’s northern mountains to help rein in the last wildfires still keeping people from their homes.

Residents of Junction City remained under mandatory evacuation orders for a third day Sunday as a huge blaze crept across the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

The month-old fire had spread across nearly 87 square miles by Sunday and was 49 percent contained.

Fire officials said cool, moist coastal air was bringing falling temperatures and a possibility of rain for late Sunday.

All but 34 of the nearly 2,100 fires started by lightning across the state last month have been contained after charring almost 1 million acres.


Boy dies after being left in hot car

WEST PALM BEACH | Authorities in Florida say a 4-year-old whose mother left him in a hot car in West Palm Beach has died.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office says the 29-year-old mother may not have known the boy was in the car. She dropped off children at a relative’s house before going to a nail salon Saturday.

It’s not yet know how long the boy was left in the car.

Someone made a 911 call later in the day to report the boy was not breathing. He was taken to Palms West Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The victim’s name had not been released as of Sunday evening.


No sagging pants allowed in suburb

LYNWOOD | Be careful if you have saggy pants in the south Chicago suburb of Lynwood.

Village leaders have passed an ordinance that would levy $25 fines against anyone showing three inches or more of their underwear in public.

Eugene Williams, the mayor of Lynwood, says young men walk around town half-dressed, keeping major retailers and economic development away. He calls the new law a hot topic.

The American Civil Liberties Union says the ordinance targets young men of color.

Young adults in the village, like 21-year-old Joe Klomes, say the new law infringes on their personal style. He says leaders should instead spend money on making the area look nicer.


Man kills wife, sister-in-law and self

ST. LOUIS | Police in Missouri say a man killed his wife and her sister and brutally beat his brother-in-law before taking his own life in a community outside St. Louis.

St. Louis County police say Boris Shotekoff, 57, drove from place to place to attack his three victims on Friday.

Police say Shotekoff shot himself Saturday morning.

Authorities say Shotekoff’s wife, Iva T. Shotekoff, was found dead at their home near Creve Coeur.

Her body was discovered after police found her sister beaten to death at an office in nearby Overland.

The sister’s husband was found beaten at their home. He is hospitalized in critical condition.

Motive for the attacks was not immediately known.


Suspect held in stolen statue case

CHERRY HILL | Police say a bronze horse statue stolen from a now-defunct New Jersey racetrack has been broken up and sold to a salvage yard for a fraction of its value.

At the going rate, the bronze from the 1-ton statue sells for about $4,000. As a piece of art, it was worth about $500,000.

The statue was cut off its base outside the old Garden State Park horse racetrack. Part of it was found nearby, the rest at a Camden salvage yard.

Police say a tip led to Saturday’s arrest of Ian MacDonald, 33, on theft and conspiracy charges. Police are seeking three other suspects.

Mr. MacDonald is being held in lieu of $55,000 bail.


Emergency landing interrupts air show

DAYTON | A Northwest Airlines airplane made an emergency landing at Dayton International Airport, temporarily halting the Ohio city’s air show, an airport official said.

Dayton aviation director Iftikhar Ahmad said the twin-engine Boeing 757 was en route from Tampa, Fla. to Detroit Sunday when one of its engines failed. Mr. Ahmad said the crew made an emergency landing at Dayton as a precaution.

Nobody was injured.

The Dayton air show was temporarily halted while the plane landed but resumed less than an hour later.

Officials do not yet know what caused the engine to fail.


Woman identified in baby mystery

PITTSBURGH | The woman whose body was found with her uterus cut open and who appeared to have been pregnant has been positively identified as an 18-year-old, the Allegheny County medical examiner said Sunday.

Dr. Karl Williams, the medical examiner, said the identity of 18-year-old Kia Johnson was confirmed with dental records. She is from McKeesport, just outside Pittsburgh.

Ms. Johnson’s body was found Friday in the Wilkinsburg apartment of Andrea Curry-Demus.

Investigators are trying to verify whether Ms. Johnson was the mother of a baby boy that Ms. Curry-Demus, 38, took to a Pittsburgh hospital Thursday.

Police say Ms. Curry-Demus falsely claimed the baby was her own, then later said she had bought the baby.

The medical examiner had said there were indications that the victim was pregnant.

The baby was “apparently doing well,” Dr. Williams said Saturday. The hospital would not release any information about the boy’s condition.

Ms. Curry-Demus was charged with child endangerment and dealing in infant children, and ordered jailed in lieu of $10,000 bail and a psychiatric exam.


Volunteers needed for sandbag removal

JEFFERSON | About 100 volunteers showed up Saturday to remove some of the thousands of sandbags used to keep a Wisconsin city above floodwater.

About 250,000 sand bags were stacked in Jefferson, on the Rock and Crawfish rivers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“I have a feeling some of the volunteers today are going to be too pooped out and worn out to work tomorrow,” said Alderman Bill Braudel.

During the flooding in the Midwest, thousands of volunteers turned out to stack sandbags in temporary floodwalls, move library books to safe locations and help in shelters.

City officials say they hope to get most of the bags out of residential areas this weekend. They say others stacked around places like the sewage-treatment plant can wait for a while.

The rivers were still above flood stage Saturday, but it was by inches, not feet.

Another problem is what to do with all that sand - something city, county and state agencies are still debating. Mr. Braudel said that since it has been in contaminated water, it can’t just be dumped in sand pits and sandboxes.

From combined wire reports

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