- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 8, 2009

ALABAMA

4 found dead in rural home

PRICEVILLE | A man facing a divorce trial shot and killed his estranged wife, their teenage daughter and two other relatives in rural northern Alabama before returning to his home in a nearby town and killing himself, authorities said Tuesday.

Kevin Garner's body was found Tuesday afternoon near his Priceville home, which burned to the ground overnight. His divorce trial was to start Wednesday.

Garner apparently shot himself in the chest, said Travis Clemmons, chief investigator for the sheriff's office in Lauderdale County, where the four bodies were found earlier in the day in a home in Green Hill, a small community near the Tennessee line.

The victims were identified as Mr. Garner's estranged wife, Tammy, 40; their daughter, Chelsie, 16; Mr. Garner's sister, Karen Beaty of Illinois; and Mrs. Beaty's son, 11, whose name was not released.

Investigators said the four were shot, apparently with a handgun, about midnight Monday. They did not know if Mr. Garner was licensed to carry a firearm.

It was one of eight mass shootings around the country - and the third in Alabama - in the last month that have left grief-stricken communities in shock.

ARIZONA

Offender sentenced for posing as boy

PRESCOTT | A youthful-looking sex offender, who posed as a 12-year-old boy to enroll in Arizona schools, has been sentenced to 70 1/2 years in state prison.

Neil Havens Rodreick II, 31, pleaded guilty last year to seven criminal charges. Most charges involved child pornography, but two stemmed from his two-year charade.

He was sentenced Tuesday at a hearing in Yavapai County Superior Court in Prescott. He had faced 28 counts but pleaded guilty to a quarter of them in a plea deal.

Authorities didn't find any victims of sexual abuse at the schools Rodreick attended. But when Rodreick's ruse was discovered in January 2007, they found an extensive collection of child pornography at his home.

CALIFORNIA

Girl's body found in suitcase

TRACY | The body of an 8-year-old girl was found stuffed into a suitcase that had been dumped into a pond, and police planned to search a church as they investigated her death.

A massive search for Sandra Cantu ended a few miles from her home Monday, when farmworkers draining the pond to water nearby fields found the suitcase. She was last seen March 27, skipping down a street near her home at Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park.

At a news conference Tuesday morning, Tracy police Sgt. Tony Sheneman said Clover Road Baptist Church had been cordoned off and would be searched later in the day. He said investigators interviewed the church's pastor Monday and before the body was found.

Sgt. Sheneman did not say why the church was being searched.

GEORGIA

CDC reports mild flu season

ATLANTA | The flu season is winding down and turning out to be one of the mildest in years, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC officials said one explanation is that the flu vaccine generally was well-matched to the circulating flu viruses.

The CDC compares flu seasons by looking at adult deaths from the flu or pneumonia in 122 cities and at reports of flu-related deaths in children. Both were down significantly this year compared with the severe 2007-08 season.

The flu causes 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths annually, according to official estimates. The elderly, young children and people with chronic illnesses are at greatest risk.

Vaccination is the best protection, health officials say. A record 146 million doses of flu vaccine were distributed for the 2008-09 season, although the CDC doesn't have data on how many people received them.

NEW YORK

N.Y. sees bucks in gay tourism

NEW YORK | New York City officials are turning to gays and lesbians to help reduce a projected $4 billion budget deficit.

The nation's largest city unveiled a marketing campaign Tuesday to attract more gay and lesbian tourists from around the country and the world as other U.S. cities compete to strip New York of its title of No. 1 vacation destination for gays and lesbians.

The Rainbow Pilgrimage campaign comes as state and city officials grapple with diminishing revenue resulting from the global economic meltdown, which is forcing many people to forgo leisure travel plans or take so-called “staycations” near home.

The campaign kickoff also comes months in advance of the 40th anniversary in June of the Stonewall riots in Manhattan, considered the start of the modern gay liberation movement.

NEW YORK

Hospital releases Cardinal Egan

NEW YORK | New York Cardinal Edward Egan was released from the hospital where he was being treated for stomach pain.

Archdiocese spokesman Joe Zwilling said Cardinal Egan's pain subsided enough that he was able to go home Tuesday.

Cardinal Egan, the face of U.S. Roman Catholicism, was taken to the hospital Saturday and was found to have a heart condition.

Mr. Zwilling said Cardinal Egan, 77, will have a pacemaker installed. Doctors have determined that it is not an emergency.

It was not clear whether Cardinal Egan will be able to celebrate any of the Holy Week Masses at St. Patrick's Cathedral this week.

The cardinal is retiring April 15. He will be succeeded by Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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