Thursday, July 31, 2008


Officers shoot bear with jar stuck on head

ST. PAUL | Minnesota wildlife officials tried for six days to capture a bear that had a plastic jar stuck over its head, but ended up killing the animal after it wandered into a city during a festival.

The wild black bear, whose head got stuck inside a 2 1/2-gallon clear plastic jug presumably while foraging for food, ambled into the city of Frazee, about 200 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, during the town’s busy Turkey Days celebration.

“When it got into town, our main concern was public safety,” said Rob Naplin, the Department of Natural Resources’ area wildlife supervisor in Park Rapids.

The bear was first reported near the town of Lake George, about 60 miles east of Frazee, on July 21.

While the bear could breathe, it couldn’t eat or drink and was likely suffering from dehydration and hunger.

There was no evidence the bear was baited by hunters, Mr. Naplin said.


Suspect in pregnant soldier’s death was baby’s father

FAYETTEVILLE | The Fort Bragg sergeant charged in the death of a pregnant soldier was the father of her unborn baby but married to someone else, police said Wednesday.

Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine said during a news conference that Sgt. Edgar Patino, 27, admitted fathering Spc. Megan L. Touma‘s baby. Spc. Touma, 23, was seven months pregnant when she was found dead in a motel bathtub last month.

Sgt. Patino, who was arrested at his home Tuesday, acknowledged being in Spc. Touma’s hotel room June 13, the last day her hotel room key was used, police said. He was given a court hearing Wednesday.

Police also think Sgt. Patino was the author of a letter sent to the Fayetteville Observer from a person who claimed to be a serial killer responsible for Spc. Touma’s death. Sgt. Patino purchased a typewriter the day before the letters were sent, police said. The newspaper gave the letters to police.


Home freezer holds body of a woman

MOBILE | Police think a body found in a small-time evangelist’s home freezer is his wife and a mother of eight and arrested him on a murder charge as he preached at a south Alabama church.

Anthony Hopkins, 37, was being held in the Mobile County jail Wednesday awaiting a bond hearing and appointment of an attorney.

Police said no one reported Arletha Hopkins, 36, missing, even though she hadn’t been heard from in three years. The body was discovered covered in a freezer in a utility room during a police search of the home in Mobile after a relative of the preacher contacted police.

Mobile Police Chief Phillip Garrett said Mr. Hopkins was arrested Monday night at a revival in Jackson, a town in rural Clarke County where he has roots. The pastor of Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, Beverly Jackson, told reporters that Mr. Hopkins told her he was a single parent because his wife had died in childbirth.


Body found in plane bathroom

ATLANTA | Delta flight attendants found the body of a 61-year-old woman in the restroom of a plane that landed in Atlanta early Wednesday morning, a spokeswoman for the company said.

The crew noticed the restroom was occupied on final approach, spokeswoman Keyra Johnson said. Flight 950 from Los Angeles landed at 5:51 a.m. at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and Delta officials have not said how long the woman may have been in the restroom.

Atlanta police were notified and met the plane at the gate, Miss Johnson said.

The body was taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in suburban Atlanta for an autopsy, said GBI spokesman John Bankhead. Authorities were awaiting the results to determine the cause of death, Mr. Bankhead said.


Gun charges upheld against ex-cop

JOLIET | A judge in Illinois has refused to dismiss gun charges against former police officer Drew Peterson.

Will County Judge Richard Schoenstedt said he found no legal basis to support the defense argument that Mr. Peterson was immune from prosecution on the charges because he was an officer at the time he had the guns.

A grand jury indicted Mr. Peterson on two felonies related to a semiautomatic rifle seized by authorities investigating the disappearance of his wife, Stacy. Authorities contend Mr. Peterson possessed an assault rifle with a barrel shorter than allowed by law.


Men gets probation in toilet case

NESS CITY | A man whose girlfriend sat on a toilet for so long that the seat adhered to her body will spend six months on probation.

Kory McFarren pleaded no contest last month to a misdemeanor count of mistreatment of a dependent adult. A judge sentenced him Tuesday to six months in jail but granted the probation after the victim, Pam Babcock, asked for leniency.

Miss Babcock’s plight became known in February when Mr. McFarren called the Ness County sheriff, expressing concern about his live-in girlfriend. When authorities arrived, they found Miss Babcock physically stuck to the toilet.

Mr. McFarren told police Miss Babcock had refused to come out of the bathroom for two years. Medical personnel estimated she had been sitting on the toilet for at least a month and said the seat had adhered to sores on her body.

She is now under the protection of a guardian who was appointed through the legal department at the hospital where she received treatment.


Amber Alert issued for four children

BOSTON | State police issued an Amber Alert on Wednesday for four children taken with their mother from an apartment where another woman was found fatally stabbed.

The children range in age from 11 months to 3 years. All five are thought to be with the children’s father, Rodlyn Petitbois, 25. Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said his office was seeking an arrest warrant for Mr. Petitbois on a first-degree murder charge.

Police in Lynn, about 15 miles north of Boston, went to the apartment early Wednesday after receiving a report of a stabbing.

They found Greenland Etienne, 33, with stab wounds to her face. She was pronounced dead a short time later at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Authorities said the mother of the children, Louna Eveillard, 26, may have a stab wound to her hand and may be wearing a bandage.

The children were identified as: Ryan Petitbois, 3; Lyndsey Petitbois, 2; Lauren Petitbois, 22 months; and Roddick Petitbois, 11 months.


44-pound kitty needs new home

BLACKWOOD | Talk about New Jersey’s fat cats.

A 44-pound feline was found waddling around Saturday without a collar in Voorhees, and officials at the Camden County Animal Shelter hope she gets a nice - hopefully, diet-friendly - home.

Shelter officials are calling the cat Princess Chunk.

The largest tabby on record weighed 46 pounds, 15 ounces. That cat, who lived in Australia, died in the 1980s. The Guinness World Records has since dropped the category, fearing cat owners might harm their animals in an attempt to break the record.

Princess Chunk’s owner has until Saturday to reclaim her. After that, the pet will be eligible for adoption.


Worker killed in crane collapse

SMITHVILLE | A crane removing steel beams while dismantling an old bridge over a central Texas river became overloaded and toppled Wednesday, killing one worker and injuring another, officials said.

The crane smashed into a manlift basket where the two men were working, knocking one off and killing him, Bastrop County Sheriff Rosanna Abreo said. The bridge in Smithville is about 75 feet above the Colorado River, but it was not clear how far the man fell or whether he landed in the water or the riverbed.

The workers were trying to loosen the joints of a beam, or girder, when another beam also became loose and caused the crane to topple, said Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Marcus Cooper said.

The injured worker was taken to a hospital and his condition was not available. It was not clear whether the worker operating the crane was hurt. None of the workers’ identities were released.


Bouncer turns away governor from bar

OLYMPIA | Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire is taking it as a compliment: She was turned away from a bar in the state capital because she couldn’t prove she’s of legal age to drink.

The governor and her staff had served burgers at the annual Capital Lakefair last weekend and afterward went to a downtown Olympia bar called Hannah’s to celebrate.

Mrs. Gregoire, 61, said the man checking identifications at the door told her she couldn’t get in without ID, even when others pointed out she’s Washington’s governor. So she went home, but her husband, Mike, went in.

The governor tells Seattle’s KING-TV she feels complimented the bouncer thought she might be under 21.

Hannah’s owner, Todd Ruzicka, said his part-time bouncer, 23, needs more training.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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