Monday, May 14, 2012


Man who cared for famed old tree dies at 103

PORTLAND | Frank Knight’s decades-long battle to save New England’s tallest elm served as an inspiring tale of devotion, so it is fitting that he will be laid to rest in a coffin made from the tree he made famous.

Mr. Knight, who died Monday at 103, had affectionately referred to the 217-year-old elm nicknamed Herbie as an “old friend.” The massive tree finally succumbed to Dutch elm disease and was cut down two years ago.

Wood from the tree was made into a casket, a secret that was kept from Mr. Knight.

“To have them together like that is a wonderful thing. I feel like Frank took good care of Herbie. Now Herbie will take good care of Frank,” said Deb Hopkins, a close friend who succeeded Mr. Knight as the town’s tree warden.

Mr. Knight already was middle-aged and running a logging business in 1956 when he became the volunteer tree warden in Yarmouth, 10 miles north of Portland, just as Dutch elm disease was killing trees by the hundreds.

He realized he couldn’t save the town’s elms, so he focused his efforts on one tree, a giant with a canopy that could be seen from miles away.

When Herbie became afflicted, Mr. Knight couldn’t bear to cut down the tree so he instructed workers to selectively prune away diseased limbs. Later, pesticides and fungicides were applied. For five decades, Herbie survived 14 rounds of Dutch elm disease, thanks to Mr. Knight’s efforts.


Homework found at crime scene leads to teen’s arrest

OREM | An 18-year-old Utah man was arrested on suspicion of burglary after police say he left his homework at the crime scene.

Police in Orem say they tracked a USB drive found at the burglarized home to Dallas Naljahih. They say the computer hard drive contained his homework and was in a backpack abandoned in the backyard.

A 75-year-old man told police he was woken up by a light in his office, and found a man who was looking through a desk. The suspect punched the man and fled on foot.

Police say that Mr. Naljahih was found asleep at his house along with evidence connecting him with the burglary.


Dog custody battle costs more than $60K

NEW YORK | A New York City man has spent more than $60,000 in lawyers’ fees trying to win custody of his dog after his ex-girlfriend took the pooch to California.

Craig Dershowitz, 34, told the New York Post that he’s gone through his life savings but it’s worth it.

Mr. Dershowitz considers his dog, Knuckles, his “son.”

In papers filed earlier this year in Manhattan state Supreme Court, Mr. Dershowitz said ex-girlfriend Sarah Brega “kidnapped” Knuckles after they broke up.

Ms. Brega says Mr. Dershowitz gave her the puggle pup - half pug, half beagle.

The Post says Mr. Dershowitz has started a website to raise money for the custody fight. For $250, contributors can “play fetch with Knuckles.”

The drive is off to a slow start. Mr. Dershowitz raised $85 in the first week.


Police think killer of 2 may have posed as lawman

HERNANDO | Two shooting victims along Mississippi highways may have been killed by someone who posed as law enforcement officers and pulled them over late at night, authorities said Monday.

Investigators were not releasing many details, including whether they think a single gunman is responsible or what type of weapon was used.

Thomas Schlender, 74, of Raymond, Neb., was found in his car on Interstate 55 in Panola County on May 8 about 1:30 a.m. Three days later, Lori Anne Carswell, 48, of Hernando, was found near her car on Mississippi Highway 713 in nearby Tunica County about 2:15 a.m.

Authorities were investigating whether the killer was impersonating an officer and that is how the people ended up on the side of the road, said Mississippi Bureau of Investigation chief Larry Waggoner.


Airport security supervisor used fake ID for years

NEWARK | A Nigerian man used the identity of the victim in an unsolved killing to hide his status as an illegal immigrant while working undetected for two decades as a security guard and then a security supervisor at one of the United States’ busiest airports, authorities said Monday in announcing his arrest.

The arrest of Bimbo Olumuyiwa Oyewole came on the day a federal report found the Transportation Security Administration’s handling of security breaches at the airport, Newark Liberty International, deficient.

Mr. Oyewole, 54, worked at the airport, starting in 1992, under the name of Jerry Thomas, who was killed that year in New York City. He was arrested, after an anonymous tip, at his home in Elizabeth on Monday.


Grand jury indicts right-to-die group

HASTINGS | A Minnesota grand jury has indicted a national right-to-die group and several members for their actions in the 2007 suicide of a suburban Minneapolis woman.

The 17-count indictment unsealed Monday charges the medical director of Final Exit Network, Lawrence Egbert of Baltimore, and three other officials with felony counts of assisting suicide and interference with a death scene, a gross misdemeanor. It also charged the New Jersey-based group in its corporate capacity.

Dakota County prosecutor James Backstrom said the investigation is an effort to bring to justice a group that helped Doreen Dunn of Apple Valley take her own life in May of 2007.

Ms. Dunn was 57 and had suffered through a decade of intense, chronic pain when she used helium and a plastic bag to kill herself.


State seeks to deny spouse burial rights

ALBANY | New York lawmakers are trying to change a state law that allowed a man who murdered his wife to deny release of her body to her outraged family for months, then bury his victim near his favorite fishing hole.

A new bill would prohibit spouses charged with murder or subject to restraining orders from dictating what happens to the bodies of the wives or husbands they’re accused of killing. It would end what victims’ families call abuse beyond the grave.


Man bitten by rattlesnake at Wal-Mart garden aisle

LEWISTON | A man says he reached down to pick up a stick lying in the gardening aisle of a Wal-Mart in Idaho, only to discover that it was a rattlesnake that then bit his hand.

Mica Craig said the snake latched onto his hand and that he screamed and managed to shake loose the snake before stomping it to death.

The Lewiston Tribune reports a bystander drove Mr. Craig to a local emergency room. Mr. Craig says he was treated with six bags of anti-venom and was told that his hand could be permanently disfigured.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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