- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2009

Koresh’s mother slain; aunt held

HOUSTON | The mother of infamous Branch Davidian sect leader David Koresh has been fatally stabbed, and Mr. Koresh’s aunt was in custody on a murder charge Saturday.

Mr. Koresh’s mother, Bonnie Clark Halderman, 60, was found Friday afternoon at the home of her sister, Beverly Clark, in a rural area near Chandler, Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt said.

“It’s still under investigation, and we really don’t know what the motive was or what caused this to happen,” Sheriff Nutt said Saturday.

He said deputies were called to the home Friday, and the two women were the only people in the house when deputies arrived. A knife thought to be the murder weapon was found. Miss Clark, 54, was being held without bail pending a court appearance.

Mrs. Halderman wrote a 2007 autobiography, “Memories of the Branch Davidians: The Autobiography of David Koresh’s Mother,” that described how her son, born Vernon Howell, came to lead a sect that held off the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in a 51-day standoff in 1993 that ended when the complex caught fire and burned to the ground, killing Mr. Koresh and nearly 80 of his followers.

New N.Y. senator attends event

NEW YORK | Senator-designate Kirsten Gillibrand started her statewide “listening tour” Saturday in the urban heart of Harlem - far from the upstate farmlands she represented as a congresswoman.

A day after Gov. David Paterson named the centrist Democrat to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vacated Senate seat, Mrs. Gillibrand began introducing herself to her new downstate constituents by appearing at a weekly rally held by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Mrs. Gillibrand, showing political aplomb, looked for common ground and quickly found it; namely, disgust with Wall Street and the sinking economy.

“It’s a very serious and sad time,” she told the audience. “Every time you hear about what’s happening to these financial institutions, the first thing you’re reading is the number of layoffs. And the layoffs are the people from this community.”

She told the crowd that her “No. 1 issue” is the economy, and that she’ll tackle it using her 15 years’ experience as a securities lawyer on Wall Street.

Mrs. Gillibrand, who comes from a family of hunters and had a 100 percent record backing the National Rifle Association, also expressed flexibility when asked whether NRA positions on gun ownership might contradict the needs of an inner-city community like Harlem.

Alaskan inlet rattled by quake

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | A moderate earthquake has rattled Alaska’s Cook Inlet, but there have been no reports of damage.

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said numerous callers reported the earthquake just after 9 a.m. Saturday. The earthquake was centered about 175 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The U.S. Geological Survey rated the quake at magnitude 6.1, and the Alaska Earthquake Information Center gave it a preliminary magnitude of 5.7. No tsunami warning was generated.

$78,000 ring found after being flushed

PHOENIX | Just a case of plumb luck.

It took a plumber to retrieve a woman’s 7-carat diamond ring after city workers failed in efforts to flush the gem out of the pipes of a restaurant toilet.

The $78,000 engagement ring fell from Allison Berry’s hand when she flushed the toilet in the restroom of the Black Bear Diner on Jan. 14. The ring plopped in, and the water whisked it away, said Elena Castelar, the restaurant’s shift manager.

City workers opened a pipe outside the restaurant and continuously flushed the toilet, hoping to push the ring out to the opening. When that didn’t work, the city called the office in suburban Tempe of Mr. Rooter.

Mike Roberts, general manager of Mr. Rooter, guided a tiny video camera into the pipe with an infrared light attached. He eventually spotted the ring just 3 feet down and 5 feet over from where it was flushed.

Then it took an hour-and-a-half of jackhammering and pipe removal before Mr. Roberts and a technician could recover the ring, eight hours after it fell in the toilet. The Mr. Rooter bill came to $5,200, and the city’s bill was $1,000.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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