- - Monday, October 8, 2012

NEW YORK — Health officials say the number of people sickened by a deadly meningitis outbreak has now reached 105.

The number of deaths rose to eight with a fatality in Tennessee.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the count Monday. Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio previously reported cases.

Officials have tied the fungal meningitis outbreak to steroid shots for back pain. The steroid was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. The company has recalled the steroid, which was sent to clinics in 23 states.


Man dies after winning live-roach-eating contest

DEERFIELD BEACH — Authorities say the winner of a roach-eating contest in South Florida died shortly after downing dozens of the live bugs as well as worms. The grand prize in Friday night’s contest was a live python.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office says in a news release that it is waiting for an autopsy to give the official cause of death.

The release Monday said Edward Archbold, 32, became ill soon after winning and collapsed in front of the Ben Siegel Reptile Store where the contest was held. Mr. Archbold was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Police say several contestants ate insects but no one else became ill.


Man dies during brawl at wedding receptions

PHILADELPHIA — A man was charged after a large brawl broke out among people attending two different wedding receptions in downtown Philadelphia during the weekend, police said Monday.

The fight, which was caught on video and quickly spread online, happened early Sunday at a hotel in the Society Hill neighborhood and involved dozens of people in their formal attire. A 57-year-old suffered a fatal heart attack outside the reception, police said, but authorities don’t know if he was involved in the fights. Dozens of police were called in to attempt to control the melee.

One of the people involved, Matthew Sofka, 26, of Westfield, N.J., was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and other counts in connection with the fight, said Lt. Raymond Evers, a Philadelphia police spokesman. Two other people were cited for disorderly conduct.

The investigation is continuing and police expect more arrests, Lt. Evers said. Investigators don’t know what started the brawl, but said alcohol was involved.


Police, community search for missing 10-year-old girl

WESTMINSTER — Authorities searched fields and along highways in suburban Denver on Monday for signs of a 10-year-old girl who has been missing since leaving for school on Friday and whose backpack may have been found miles away.

The effort to find fifth-grader Jessica Ridgeway also focused on the area around the home in Westminster where she lives with her mother, and a neighborhood 6 miles to the north where the backpack thought to belong to her was found Sunday.

Jessica was last seen Friday walking to a park where she meets classmates before school. A police flier with her photo was posted on the front door of her two-story home.

The FBI was assisting the investigation, and investigators have been in contact with relatives in Missouri.


Feds won’t act against journalist in U.S. illegally

MINNEAPOLIS — Immigration authorities said Monday they won’t take action against a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was arrested in Minnesota for driving without a valid driver’s license.

Jose Antonio Vargas attracted national attention last year when he revealed that he is an illegal immigrant. He was scheduled to speak at Carleton College in Northfield on Friday but never made it.

When a trooper stopped him in Minneapolis for driving with headphones on, Mr. Vargas produced a canceled Washington state license, said Lt. Eric Roeske, a spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol.

Mr. Vargas was booked at the Hennepin County Jail and released on his own recognizance Friday pending a court appearance set for Oct. 18. The state patrol contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Lt. Roeske said, but the federal agency did not block his release.

An ICE spokeswoman in Washington said Monday that the agency intends to leave Mr. Vargas alone because he is not a high priority.


Ex-NFL cheerleader admits to sex with a student

COVINGTON — A former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader pleaded guilty Monday to having sex with a 17-year-old former student while she was a teacher at a northern Kentucky high school, a move that will allow her to avoid jail time.

In a tearful admission in Kenton County Circuit Court in Covington, Sarah Jones, 27, pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct and custodial interference, a misdemeanor, in place of more serious charges as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Ms. Jones said the relationship began in February 2011 when the boy was 17, saying that the two had sex, that she sent him sexually explicit text messages and lied about the relationship to police.

The teen had been in Ms. Jones’ freshman English class in 2008, and she was his peer tutor in 2010 and 2011, according to the plea agreement, signed by Ms. Jones.

She won’t have to register as a sex offender.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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