- The Washington Times - Friday, February 13, 2009

CALIFORNIA

Threats against octuplet mom probed

LOS ANGELES | Police said Thursday they will investigate death threats against octuplet mom Nadya Suleman and advise her publicist on how to handle a torrent of other nasty messages that have flooded his office.

Word that the 33-year-old single, unemployed mother is receiving public assistance to care for the 14 children she conceived through in vitro fertilization has stoked anger among many people.

Police Lt. John Romero said officers were meeting with Miss Suleman’s publicist Mike Furtney about the flood of angry phone calls and e-mail messages against Miss Suleman, her children and Mr. Furtney.

Mr. Furtney said 500 new e-mails were received early Thursday.

FLORIDA

Investigators: Girl was abducted

SATSUMA | Investigators treated the disappearance of a 5-year-old north Florida girl as an abduction and continued searching for the child Thursday.

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said investigators assume Haleigh Cummings was abducted because house-to-house searches of the neighborhood Wednesday found no evidence that she wandered away.

Haleigh’s father, Ronald Cummings, also said he didn’t think she left their home in the middle of the night.

“I know somebody took her. I know for a fact she didn’t wander off - she’s afraid of the dark,” Mr. Cummings told NBC’s “Today” Thursday.

Haleigh was last seen Monday night in her father’s mobile home in a heavily wooded area north of Satsuma, a community along the St. Johns River about 70 miles north of Orlando.

ILLINOIS

Babies who gesture have more words

CHICAGO | Babies who use many gestures to communicate when they are 14 months-old have much larger vocabularies when they start school than those who don’t, U.S. researchers said Thursday.

They said babies with wealthier, better-educated parents tend to gesture more and this may help explain why some children from low-income families fare less well in school.

“When children enter school, there is a large socioeconomic gap in their vocabularies,” said the University of Chicago’s Meredith Rowe, whose study appears in the journal Science.

Gestures could help explain the difference, Miss Rowe told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago.

Vocabulary is a key predictor of school success. Earlier research showed that well-off, educated parents tend to talk to their children more than their poorer, less-educated peers.

MISSISSIPPI

Athlete’s death ruled accident

LUCEDALE | A Mississippi grand jury has ruled that the shooting death of a star high school football player during a traffic stop was accidental.

The ruling Thursday tracks the conclusion of the initial investigation that Billey Joe Johnson shot himself with a 12-gauge shotgun.

The 17-year-old’s death has inflamed suspicion since Dec. 8. That’s when the standout running back at George County High School was killed after a deputy stopped him for running a red light.

The athlete’s family and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had rejected suicide as the cause of the death. They have said he had too much to live for, including possibly playing in the NFL.

NEW YORK

Lincoln manuscript brings record price

NEW YORK | A handwritten manuscript of an 1864 Abraham Lincoln speech sold for $3.44 million on the bicentennial of his birthday Thursday, setting a new auction record for any American historical document.

The manuscript was sold to an anonymous phone bidder after spirited bidding in a crowded Christie’s auction house room. Proceeds from the sale will go toward a new wing for a library in New York’s Finger Lakes region, where the document has been since 1926.

Thursday’s price was just slightly higher than the previous record of $3.40 million set last year at Sotheby’s, also for a Lincoln document - an 1864 letter the 16th president wrote to a group of youngsters who asked him to free America’s “little slave children.”

The manuscript that sold Thursday is a speech Lincoln delivered at the White House after he was re-elected in the midst of an unpopular Civil War that both he and his opponents thought might cost him his job.

PENNSYLVANIA

Woman accused in lost dogs sale

COLUMBIA | A 27-year-old central Pennsylvania woman is in the doghouse after purportedly selling her neighbors’ two West Highland terriers on Craigslist for $150.

Brandi Anderson of Columbia said she found the tagless purebred dogs last week and didn’t know the owner. She maintains that she kept the two dogs for a few days, then sold them so they would have a good home.

Police charged her with theft of lost property. They said she didn’t take reasonable measures to find the owner.

The owner told the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal that she and her family live on the same block as Miss Anderson.

Miss Anderson wrote in her ad that she inherited the dogs. She told police she lied because she didn’t think people would want to buy strays.

A family friend perusing Craigslist recognized one of the dogs and notified the owners. One terrier has since been returned, and police are working to track down the second dog.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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