- - Thursday, December 27, 2012


NORTH LAS VEGAS — Police investigating the week-old disappearance of a 10-year-old Las Vegas girl said Thursday they think they found the child’s body in an undeveloped housing tract in North Las Vegas.

Authorities couldn’t immediately confirm the body was Jade Morris pending positive identification and notification of family members by the Clark County coroner, Las Vegas police Capt. Chris Jones said.

But, “I can tell you that the likelihood is that this is our victim,” Capt. Jones said, though positive identification was not expected until Friday.

Jade was last seen by her family at about 5 p.m. Dec. 21, when Brenda Stokes, a trusted friend of the girl’s father, picked her up for a shopping outing, police said. Ms. Stokes, 50, was later arrested after she was accused of slashing a co-worker with razor blades at a resort casino. Capt. Jones said she has not aided the probe into the girl’s whereabouts.


Officer who shot UT sniper,
 ending fatal rampage, dies

AUSTIN — The Austin police officer who helped stop Charles Whitman’s 1966 sniper rampage from atop the University of Texas tower has died.

Houston McCoy fired two blasts from his shotgun to bring down Whitman, who killed 16 people during nearly two hours of terror on the UT campus. Wayne Vincent, president of the Austin Police Association, said Mr. McCoy died Thursday in the rural West Texas town of Menard.

Mr. McCoy, 72, had been battling a terminal illness for the past year.

Whitman wounded dozens of others before Mr. McCoy and fellow officer Ramiro Martinez made their way to the observation deck. Mr. Martinez also fired on Whitman.


Man pleads guilty 
in dinosaur fossils dispute

NEW YORK — A Florida man has pleaded guilty in New York to smuggling dinosaur fossils into the United States, admitting that he lied to U.S. customs authorities.

Eric Prokopi entered his plea Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. The plea deal requires the 38-year-old fossils dealer to give up claims to a 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton the government seized earlier this year.

He also must give up claims to two other Tyrannosaurus bataar skeletons, three more dinosaur skeletons and various unassembled dinosaur pieces.

In return for his cooperation, prosecutors say they will recommend leniency. The charges carry a potential penalty of up to 17 years in prison.

Prokopi, who lives in Gainesville, Fla., pleaded guilty to conspiracy, the fraudulent transfer of dinosaur bones and making false statements to customs authorities.


Drought unrelenting despite
 recent winter snowstorms

ST. LOUIS — The snowstorm that pummeled the upper Midwest last week is helping ease dry conditions in Iowa but hasn’t done much to relax the overall grip of the worst U.S. drought in decades.

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows that roughly 62 percent of the continental U.S. remains in some form of drought, unchanged from the previous week. That number has been above 60 percent largely since July.

Nearly 22 percent of the lower 48 states are in extreme or exceptional drought, the two worst categories. That also is unchanged from the previous week.

All of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota are in drought. But thanks to last week’s snow, the amount of Iowa in extreme or exceptional drought fell 9 percentage points to 32 percent.


DUI issued for driving
 on AA co-founder’s lawn

DORSET — A man faces a drunken driving charge after driving onto the lawn of the historic home in Dorset once owned by the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Vermont State Police say.

Donald Blood III of Marlboro, Mass., was ordered to appear in court in Bennington on Jan. 14.

Police say Mr. Blood, 55, thought he was driving into a parking lot, but actually it was the lawn of the Wilson House, built in 1852, the birthplace of AA co-founder Bill Wilson.

The Wilson House’s website describes it as a “place of sanctuary where people can come to give thanks to God for their new lives.”

It still hosts several AA meetings each week.


UAE naval officer must pay
 $1.2M to former employee

PROVIDENCE — A federal judge has ordered a naval officer from the United Arab Emirates to pay $1.2 million to a former domestic worker for his family in Rhode Island who accused him of forcing her to work long hours for little pay.

U.S. District Court Judge John McConnell in August ruled that Col. Arif Mohamed Saeed Mohamed Al-Ali was in default for failing to appear in court in a lawsuit brought by Elizabeth Ballesteros, who cared for Col. Al-Ali’s family in East Greenwich when he was studying at the U.S. Naval War College.

On Wednesday, Judge McConnell ordered Col. Al-Ali to pay Ms. Ballesteros for forcing her to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and for what he called outrageous and inhumane conduct.

Col. Al-Ali previously was acquitted of criminal charges.


Michigan I-96 shooting 
suspect faces arraignment

HOWELL — A man suspected in a shooting spree that targeted motorists along the Interstate 96 corridor in four southeast Michigan counties is facing fresh charges, including terrorism.

Raulie Casteel, 43, of Wixom, is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon in Livingston County’s 53rd District Court in Howell.

The charges filed last week came after Attorney General Bill Schuette announced he was taking over the cases at the request of prosecutors in Livingston, Ingham and Shiawassee counties.

Defense attorney Charles Groh says the charges are nothing new and are based on allegations already made by authorities in Livingston County.

The attorney general’s charges replace the charges filed earlier in Livingston County.

Mr. Casteel still faces separate charges in Oakland County.

Howell is 35 miles east of Lansing.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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