- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Suspicious package slows Metro trains

A report of a suspicious package Monday afternoon disrupted Metro service at the McPherson Square station.

Trains continued moving through the station on the Blue and Orange lines, and passengers were allowed to get off trains at the station. However, passengers were not allowed to enter the station until the package was found to be harmless, a Metro spokeswoman said.

A telephone threat was called into the station about 3:50 p.m., officials said. An unidentified package was found, but there was nothing harmful inside. The station was deemed safe by 4:30 p.m.

Security is heightened this week for the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Metro said.



Killer of girl, dad gets life terms

A parolee who killed a 9-year-old girl and her father in 2002 was sentenced Monday to multiple life terms.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Durke Thompson said Anthony Q. Kelly of the District is beyond rehabilitation and his actions have destroyed lives.

Kelly was convicted of the fatal shootings of Erika Smith and her father, George Gregory Russell, 47, during an Aug. 6, 2002, robbery at Mr. Russell’s Silver Spring home. Kelly also raped a college student and a grandmother during the six-month crime spree in Montgomery County.

Kelly, 44, fired his public defenders and acted as his own attorney.


Homes evacuated by natural-gas leak

Authorities in Hagerstown on Monday evacuated at least two blocks because of natural gas leaking from a high-pressure pipeline.

The Washington County Division of Fire & Emergency Services said there are a small number of homes in the mostly commercial district at the intersection of West Antietam Street and South Burhans Boulevard.

The location is at the western edge of the central business district. Authorities also are rerouting traffic around the leak.


Stores damaged by morning fire

Fire investigators said Monday they have not determined what caused a morning fire at the Edmondson Village Shopping Center.

The fire spread through three adjacent businesses - a women’s clothing store, a hair and beauty supply store, and a sandwich shop. Twelve other businesses were evacuated for safety reasons, a Baltimore Fire Department spokesman said. No injuries were reported.

The fire was brought under control about 12:30 p.m., roughly three hours after it was reported.

The spokesman said the first firefighters to arrive encountered heavy heat and smoke so they had to fight the blaze from the outside. The rear of one of the businesses collapsed, bringing down a power line. Electricity was shut off in the area.


Woman claims assault by guard

A woman serving time at the Frederick County jail has filed second-degree assault charges against a correctional officer.

Sherri Schmidt, 29, of Frederick, said in court documents that she had an affair with Officer Colby Covell, 28, and that he became jealous about her correspondence with a pen pal.

Miss Schmidt said Officer Covell assaulted her in her cell July 17. She sought the charges after the state’s attorney’s office declined to prosecute.

The News-Post in Frederick could not reach Officer Covell for comment.

The Frederick County Sheriff’s office says its internal affairs and criminal investigations sections looked into the allegation. The office says Officer Covell was fired Aug. 7 for inappropriate contact with an inmate.


Baltimore woman’s remains found

Police are investigating the death of a Baltimore woman whose decomposing remains were found in her sport utility vehicle, parked on a Frederick street.

No obvious signs of trauma were found on the body of Shneara Boone, 19, said Frederick Police Department Lt. Shawn Martyak. Police are awaiting the results of toxicology tests from the state medical examiner’s office.

Officers found the body Friday, after a caller said an odor was coming from the vehicle, which had been parked in the same spot for several days.

Lt. Martyak said Miss Boone was reported missing early last week in Baltimore.

Sgt. Bruce DeGrange said the victim has no known connection to Frederick.


More charges filed in standoff

The Dundalk man charged in a police standoff Thursday in Baltimore County is facing additional charges, according to authorities.

Roger Shifflett, 38, was charged with false imprisonment, assault, burglary and a gun crime in the standoff. Police say he is wanted on suspicion of violating his probation in South Carolina and is also being charged with stealing his stepfather’s car.

The standoff at Mr. Shifflett’s girlfriend’s home in Overlea lasted nearly 15 hours. The girlfriend escaped, but Mr. Shifflett held three others hostage at gunpoint.

Mr. Shifflett is being held on $250,000 bail.


Fatal apartment fire ruled accidental

An apartment fire Monday morning that killed a man appeared to be accidental, authorities said. However, they are not sure what caused the fire.

Firefighters found Vien Cao, 31, unconscious on a mattress in a bedroom just before 2 a.m. Mr. Cao died at a nearby hospital of smoke inhalation, said a Montgomery County fire department spokesman.

The fire started on the mattress and was confined to the bedroom, investigators said. A lighter and cigarettes were found nearby. However, the spokesman said the cigarettes were in compliance with Maryland’s new law requiring reduced ignition cigarettes.

The apartment had two smoke detectors that did not have batteries.

Mr. Cao was a new employee of the Lotus Cafe, a Vietnamese restaurant below the apartment in which he lived, authorities said.


Bay Bridge wall fixed; lane opened

Work crews have completed repairs to the left wall on the eastbound span of the Bay Bridge and the left lane has reopened, the Maryland Transportation Authority said Monday.

The lane reopened late Sunday night, after round-the-clock repairs that began Wednesday. The repairs are similar to those completed last week on the right wall. A brief right lane closure was planned for midday Monday for an inspection.

Full eastbound span closures are planned nightly through 5 a.m. Friday morning for crews to complete routine maintenance and inspections of the repairs. Two-way traffic will operate on the westbound span.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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