- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Feds can’t find suspect’s passport

ATHENS | The manhunt for a University of Georgia professor suspected in the shooting deaths of his wife and two men shifted away from this campus town Monday as the FBI revealed he has a plane ticket for the Netherlands later this week and left behind an empty passport wallet.

George M. Zinkhan has not been seen since the shootings near campus Saturday, and law enforcement agencies nationwide have been enlisted in the search for the marketing professor, authorities said. His relatives also have been working to help Athens-Clarke County police and the FBI to find him, his brother told the Associated Press.

“We are doing all we can to prevent any additional violence,” Chris Zinkhan said in an e-mail.

Gunfire erupted at a midday gathering of a local theater group at the Athens Community Theater. Killed were George Zinkhan’s wife, attorney Marie Bruce, 47, and two members of her theater group, Ben Teague, 63, and Tom Tanner, 40. George Zinkhan, 57, disappeared after the shootings in a red Jeep Liberty. Authorities said they don’t know what motivated the shootings.


Freighter sinks replica sailing ship

HONOLULU | A replica of a Ming Dynasty Chinese sailing ship sank off the coast of Taiwan after it was rammed by a freighter but its sailors were rescued, relatives of Hawaii-based crew members said.

The 54-foot Princess TaiPing, a replica of a Chinese junk built in Taiwan, was on the return leg of a trip that had taken it to ports on the U.S. West Coast. It sailed from Hawaii on Feb. 16.

The crew members clung to floating wreckage for up to five hours during a storm Saturday, about 20 to 30 miles off the coast of Taiwan, before they were picked up by Taiwanese Coast Guard helicopters, relatives said.

Crew members told relatives by e-mail and phone that they had established radio contact with a freighter which was moving on a parallel course in the dark. The freighter suddenly veered into them, slicing the Princess TaiPing in two and then continuing on without stopping, crew member Elizabeth Zeiger said by e-mail to relatives in California.

Jessica Lee, director of the Taipei Cultural Office in Honolulu, said she was told an official investigation of the collision was being conducted in Taiwan.


Maersk crew member injured in crash

BOURNE | The second-in-command of a ship seized this month by pirates off Africa has been injured in a car crash in Massachusetts.

Shane Murphy and his wife, Serena, were in the accident Monday. A spokesman for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy said they were not seriously injured but may have to spend the night in a hospital.

The crash forced the cancellation of a welcome-home ceremony at the academy, from which Mr. Murphy graduated.

Mr. Murphy was aboard the Maersk Alabama when it was briefly captured this month by Somali pirates. The crew retook control of the vessel, and the captain surrendered to the pirates to spare his sailors.

The captain was held in a lifeboat for five days before U.S. Navy snipers rescued him.


Commander faces suit in murders

OMAHA | A Nebraska crime scene investigator faces another lawsuit by a man who was wrongfully charged in a 2006 double-murder case.

Matthew Livers filed paperwork Monday to add David Kofoed and the Douglas County sheriff’s office to a 2008 federal lawsuit against investigators with the Nebraska State Patrol and the Cass County sheriff’s office.

Mr. Livers’ attorney, Locke Bowman, said the amended complaint claims that Mr. Kofoed falsely documented that he had found a speck of blood in a car driven by Nicholas Sampson.

Both Mr. Sampson and Mr. Livers spent months in jail after being wrongfully charged in the deaths of a rural Murdock couple who were found fatally shot in their farmhouse.


Trial for socialite’s son begins

NEW YORK | The son of Brooke Astor, matriarch of one of America’s most storied and wealthy families, was accused in court Monday of a heartless plot to defraud the socialite in her final years.

Anthony Marshall, a World War II veteran and former U.S. ambassador, leaned on his cane as prosecutors opened the high-society trial in New York.

He is accused of exploiting his mother’s increasingly severe Alzheimer’s condition to get her to change her will, securing for himself millions of dollars intended to go to charities.

Mr. Marshall, 84, and purported accomplice Francis Morrissey, 66, “literally pulled Mrs. Astor out of the arms of her nurse … and dragged her behind closed doors so she could change her will,” prosecutor Elizabeth Loewy said.

Mrs. Astor, who married into the clan of business tycoons, was one of America’s most beloved philanthropists and had given away about $200 million to New York institutions before dying in 2007, at the age of 105.


Drinking arrest sparked riot

KENT | A weekend brawl and riot near Kent State University in Ohio started with the arrest of a girl for underage drinking, police said.

Kent Police Chief James Peach said 50 people were arrested Saturday at the off-campus “College Fest.” The annual party marks the near-end of the school year but is not an approved Kent State activity.

Fires were intentionally set. Chief Peach said a large crowd chanted and challenged police and firefighters by throwing bottles, rocks and other items. Most of the people arrested were charged with misdemeanor counts of failure to disperse.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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