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Thursday, June 26, 2008

N.C. Autistic Boy, Mom Kicked Off American Eagle Plane

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A 2 1/2-year-old autistic North Carolina boy and his mother were kicked off an American Eagle flight taxiing to a Raleigh-Durham Airport Monday after the crew deemed the child "uncontrollable," WTVD reported.

"If they just would have been a little more understanding I think that none of this would have been a problem," the boy's mother, Janice Farrell, told the station, adding that the flight attendant made things worse.

"She kept coming over and tugging his seatbelt to make it tighter, 'This has to stay tight.' And then he was wiggling around and trying to get out of his seatbelt. And she kept coming over and reprimanding him and yelling at him."

Farrell said she was doing everything to keep her son calm, but after one of the pilots came back to the cabin and gave her and her son, Jarrett, a stern warning, the situation got worst.

"The pilot made an announcement that there was a woman and her child on the plane and the child is uncontrollable," as he was turning the plane around, Farrell said.

A representative for American Airlines, the parent company of American Eagle, apologized to Farrell when she called, but a spokesman for the company told WTVD a different story.

He said Farrell was not "complying with FAA regulations" and "this was the right decision," explaining she wouldn't put her bag in the overhead compartment.
Farrell denied those accusations.

By Ed Crump

CARY (WTVD) -- The mother is telling her story exclusively to Eyewitness News.
An American Eagle flight taxiing to a Raleigh-Durham Airport runway was turned around Monday, but not because of a terrorist threat.

The crew was kicking an autistic Cary toddler and his mother off the plane.

As the American Eagle flight headed down the taxiway, two-and-a-half-year-old Jarett Farrell wasn't a happy traveler. His mother says she was doing all she could to calm the autistic boy, but got no sympathy from the flight crew.

"If they just would have been a little more understanding I think that none of this would have been a problem," Mother, Janice Farrell said.

But it became a big problem for everyone on the plane. Farrell says that's because the flight attendant was indignant.

"She kept coming over and tugging his seatbelt to make it tighter, 'This has to stay tight'. And then he was wiggling around and trying to get out of his seatbelt. And she kept coming over and reprimanding him and yelling at him," Farrell said.

One of the pilots came back to the cabin with a stern warning and Farrell says the frustration level escalated. She says Jarrett picked up on that and things only got worse.

"He just melted down. He saw me getting upset. He was upset. He was on the floor rolling around," she said.

The pilot returned to the cockpit, turned the plane around and headed back to the terminal.
"The pilot made an announcement that there was a woman and her child on the plane and the child is uncontrollable. And at that point I just broke down," Farrell said.

Farrell says when she got back to her home in Cary she called her husband and they decided that she should call American Airlines corporate. She says a company representative apologized and said the incident should never have happened.

But that's not what American Airlines told Eyewitness News.

A spokesman in Dallas says Jarret was pitching a "raging fit".

And that Janice, who was in a front-row seat, refused to allow her bag to be placed in an overhead compartment, even though there was no under seat stowage.

He says that with a "passenger not complying with FAA regulations, this was the right decision."
Farrell says even though her travel bag had things to calm Jarrett, she did indeed give it to the flight attendant.

"She took my bag and put it up top," Farrell said.

Farrell is taking the train to see family in New Jersey and she and her husband say they will never fly American again.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin 1937-2008

George, thanks for the laughs.
Rest in Peace.

Another Chicago Predator; bicyclists, pedestrians report attacks

By Melissa Patterson Tribune reporter
June 21, 2008

There's a predator lurking in Chicago-area bushes these days. He strikes from behind, when victims are least aware. And the worst part, says ornithologist Doug Stotz: He could be almost anywhere.
Nesting season is in full swing for the red-winged blackbird, making the males extremely aggressive. Walk or bike too close to one's nest and expect to hear its high, menacing squawk overhead. Then comes the peck-peck-peck on your head, victims say, or claws rustling your hair.
It happened to Holly Grosso. The businesswoman was on her cell phone, walking along West Grand Avenue near Rockwell Street on Wednesday, when the bird—dubbed "Hitchcock" by area workers—made its move.

Something just came down, pecked me in the head, took my hair and started flying away," she said. "It's so bizarre. It's this little bird."
Enough of Grosso's colleagues at the marketing firm All Terrain have been struck that they're taking precautions.
After Tara Soltow was attacked a second time Wednesday, she had to find a new route home. Clare McDermott never rides near work without her helmet."This happens every year," said Stotz, conservation ornithologist at the Field Museum.
The male red-winged blackbird, about 8 inches long with distinctive red shoulders, becomes fiercely territorial during nesting season, which runs roughly from late May through mid-July.
One of the most common birds in North America, it typically nests in marshes, fields and bushes. Beware of these dive-bombing daddies near city parks and large vacant lots, around ponds and especially along the lakefront, Stotz said.
Once male blackbirds become aggressive because of nearby nesting, they usually stay that way for about a month. And when they feel threatened, they've been known to follow targets for up to 100 yards.Animal Control Supervisor Andreas Morgen said the agency occasionally gets calls about aggressive birds.
Hitchcock repeatedly swooped near and squawked at a Tribune reporter and photographer Friday near Grand and Rockwell, across from Smith Park.
But the bird's favorite targets appeared to be passing bikers, who flailed helplessly as they were pecked and scratched for more than 50 yards along Grand.
Soltow sees potential for danger."It's making people so they're not being alert when they're biking," Soltow said. "Bikers are going to fall off and maybe get hit by traffic."Jesse Rendon, a Smith Park staff member, said he's been watching for two weeks as bikers fend off Hitchcock while struggling to control their bicycles.
One cyclist toppled over onto the sidewalk, he said.Anyone under the blackbird's radar should stay alert and look directly at the bird, Stotz said.
And when all else fails and dignity is not a factor, McDermott said, the bird will shoo if you bark like a dog.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Human Feet in found in British Columbia

Linking severed feet to missing persons a challenge, experts say.

1. August 20, 2007, Jedediah Island, right foot, male, in sock and size 12 running shoe, no tool marks on bones.

2. August 26, 2007, Gabriola Island, right foot, male, in sock and size 12 running shoe, no tool marks on bones.

3. February 8, 2008, Valdes Island, east side, right foot, male, in sock and running shoe, no tool marks on bones.

4. May 22, 2008, Kirkland Island in Fraser River, several kilometers from Westham Island, right foot, male, in sock and shoe, no tool marks on bones.

5. Monday, June 16, 2008, left foot, female, on shore of Westham Island, south of Vancouver.,

6. Wednesday, June 18, 2008, British Columbia, south coast, Tyee Spit beach, right foot, male, Adidas black men’s shoe , size 10... PERPETRATED HOAX.

June 19, 2008

CBC News

The disturbing discovery on Monday June 16 of the remains of a left foot in a running shoe in the water near Westham Island in Ladner, B.C., may not seem like much to go on for forensic investigators.

But the remains, one of five feet discovered in the last year and a half in the same region, could potentially contain deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), bone minerals and trace evidence, forensic experts say, while the shoe itself might provide some history on the time and place when a person may have gone missing.

The difficulty, they say, is in turning such evidence into something that can identify an individual and help families looking for information on missing persons.

The problem was exacerbated by the news that a sixth shoe, found near Campbell River, contained a skeletonized animal paw packed with dry seaweed in what the B.C. Coroners Service called "a reprehensible hoax."

The discovery of the hoax highlights the first investigative tool at the disposal of the coroners service: a simple examination of the shoe and bones it contains.

Pathologists and anthropologists can better estimate everything from the height of the person to their age based on that study, B.C. chief coroner Terry Smith said.

But to glean more information, DNA evidence is often required.

The process of raising DNA profiles based on the remains can be a painstaking process, Smith told CBC News, but that's only the beginning of the work.

"The [DNA] profile itself really is nothing more than something which looks like a barcode, and it really means nothing until you have something to compare it to," he said.

"If we know that a given profile belongs to a particular person, then comparing the profile we raised from the found remains then allows us to make a definite match."

Finding that match isn't as easy, he said, because of the vast numbers of missing persons, not all of whom have DNA samples available for comparison.

Dean Hildebrand, head of the forensics program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, said the process of extracting DNA from a sample such as a human bone can take as little time as a week or two.

The process involves cleaning the sample to eliminate potential contaminants and then isolating a few cells to look for relatively clean DNA strands. These strands are then replicated in a laboratory to create larger samples to work from, so that even a DNA sample that has degraded over time can be turned into something usable for study, he said.

That replication process is particularly important given that the remains in these cases have been found near water, because moisture is — along with temperature — an important cause of genetic degradation.

Exposure to water

Exposure to water is also likely why the feet broke away from the rest of the body, said Lynne Bell, a forensics professor at Simon Fraser University.

Had these feet not been in shoes, the bones of the foot would likely have broken away from the rest of the body in the water, said Bell, who is not involved in the investigation. Human remains recovered in forests can also have a similar separation of shoe-clad foot from the rest of the body, although that process would take much longer, she said.

That the shoes were running shoes also meant they would float, she said, allowing them to travel downstream while the rest of the remains sank.

Bell said DNA is the best source of evidence for investigators attempting to link the remains to a person, because it can positively identify a single individual. However, there are other methods for getting more general information about a person, she said.

The shoes could be a source of potential information, she said, starting with the most basic information — the size and the brand of the footwear. While both could provide a potential match with an individual, the brand, if new enough, could help investigators figure out when the person might have gone missing.

More advanced study, such as examining to see whether pollen from trees and other plants has hitched a ride on the footwear, might provide information on a particular geographical region, she said.

Oxygen isotopes offer clues

Similarly, studying the minerals in the bone itself could provide a geographical marker of where a person might have lived, Bell said. She said the study of oxygen isotopes found in the bone could place a person at a certain latitude, as the oxygen value of drinking water changes depending on the location's distance from the equator.

"That would help narrow a missing person search, but it won't give you an address," she said.
As investigators work on the case, online comment boards have offered possible explanations on how the discovered remains may be linked.

Bell said investigators will likely call on water current experts to see whether the locations of the discoveries are linked, but she said she suspects the unusual appearance of five different feet in the same region over a short span of time makes it "highly plausible" they are.

"It could either be a known incident, such as a plane or boat crash, or it could be something we don't know about, such as a criminal incident," she said.

Bell said she feels confident investigators will eventually be able to solve the mystery, linking the remains with each other, but she said the greater challenge remains identifying whom the feet belong to.

"It's incredibly challenging from the forensic point of view, because even if we find the DNA, we don't know who these people are and why their remains are being recovered from the water," she said.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Texas death row inmate Charles Dean Hood granted reprieve. Terry Lyn Short not so Lucky.

Right: Charles Dean Hood
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
By MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press Writer

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A former topless-club bouncer condemned for a double slaying almost 20 years ago won a reprieve Tuesday just over an hour before he could have been put to death, while Oklahoma executed its first death row inmate since last August.

Charles Dean Hood cried Tuesday when informed he could live.

"I just thank God," he said. "I just walk by my faith. If it didn't happen, I was going home to the Lord."

State District Judge Curt Henderson did not give a reason for lifting the death warrant. He later recused himself from the case.

Hood's attorneys lost several last-day appeals, including one in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in which they claimed the now retired judge who oversaw Hood's 1990 trial, Verla Sue Holland, was having an affair at the time with the prosecutor assigned to the case, then-Collin County District Attorney Tom O'Connell.

After that appeal was rejected, lawyers from the Texas Defender Service filed a motion in Henderson's court seeking all correspondence from the prosecutor's office that may be related to the alleged affair.

Holland and O'Connell have declined to address the allegations.

Hood, 38, was convicted of murder for the 1989 slayings of Ronald Williamson and Tracie Lynn Wallace at Williamson's home in the Dallas suburb of Plano.

When arrested in Indiana, Hood was driving Williamson's $70,000 Cadillac but insisted he had Williamson's permission. Hood says he's innocent. Tuesday's was his fifth execution date.

Meanwhile, Terry Lyn Short, an Oklahoma man convicted of killing 22-year-old Japanese exchange student Ken Yamamoto in 1995, was put to death by lethal injection Tuesday evening.

Short, seen at right, was pronounced dead at 6:08 p.m., said Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie.

Yamamoto, a student at Oklahoma City University, lived one floor above Short's ex-girlfriend and died after Short threw a gasoline-filled bottle into her apartment that ignited the building.

Short acknowledged during a clemency hearing last month that he threw the firebomb, but claimed he did not intend to kill Yamamoto, whom he did not know.
A de facto moratorium on executions was lifted when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures in April.

Woman pleads not guilty in MySpace suicide case

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A Missouri woman has pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles federal court to charges in an Internet hoax blamed for a 13-year-old girl's suicide.

Forty-nine-year-old Lori Drew, a neighbor of the dead teen, stood quietly beside her attorney Monday.

She pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress. She is free on bond.
The charges were filed in California where MySpace is based.

MySpace is a subsidiary of Beverly Hills-based Fox Interactive Media Inc., which is owned by News Corp.

Drew, of suburban St. Louis, Missouri, allegedly helped create a fake MySpace account to convince Megan Meier she was chatting with a nonexistent 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans.

Megan Meier hanged herself at home in October 2006, allegedly after receiving a dozen or more cruel messages, including one stating the world would be better off without her. Drew has denied creating the account or sending messages to Meier.

U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said Drew is expected to enter a plea in federal court, then have her case assigned to a judge and be given a trial date. He said she would then be allowed to return to her home state pending trial.

Drew's lawyer has said he will legally challenge the charges. And experts have said the case could break new ground in Internet law. The statute used to indict Drew usually applies to Internet hackers who illegally access accounts to get information.

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien has acknowledged this is the first time the federal statute on accessing protected computers has been used in a social-networking case.

Rebecca Lonergan, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at the University of Southern California, has said use of the federal cyber crime statute may be open to challenge.
Lonergan, who used the statute in the past to file charges in computer hacking and trademark theft cases, said the crimes covered by the law involve obtaining information from a computer, not sending messages out to harass someone.

"Here it is the flow of information away from the computer," she said. "It's a very creative, aggressive use of the statute. But they may have a legally tough time meeting the elements."
James Chadwick, a Palo Alto attorney who specializes in Internet and media law, said he has never seen the statute, known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, applied to the sending of messages.

He said it was probable that liability for the girl's death would not be an issue in the case. "As tragic as it is," he said, "You can't start imposing liability on people for being cruel."

Missouri police didn't file any charges against Drew in part because there was no applicable state law. In response to the case, Missouri legislators gave final approval to a bill making cyber harassment illegal

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Nonprofit established in remembrance of slain hiker

Right: Meredith Emerson
Below: Ella
Below right: a trail on Blood Mountain

Published on: 06/12/08 by

Friends, family and co-workers of Meredith Emerson have established a nonprofit organization to promote causes important to the 24-year-old Buford woman who was abducted while hiking and later killed.

Right to Hike Inc. will kick off its program June 25 with a metro-wide fund raiser involving 40 Applebee's locations. The restaurants are allowing 15 percent of the total bills of participating diners that day to go to the non-profit organization.

The organization initially is focusing on three objectives:

• To provide hikers and outposts with GPS devices that allow emergency personnel to locate hikers in distress;

• To provide micro-chipping for domesticated animals at organization events, and

• To help students study abroad in France, as Emerson did, through the Meredith Hope Emerson Memorial Award for Study Abroad, which was created by the University of Georgia.
"We want to ensure other hikers can feel safe while doing what they love by giving them access to Satellite Personal Outdoor Trackers, known as SPOTs, so they can send messages for help and be located if lost," said Julia Karrenbauer, Emerson's co-worker and close friend. Karrenbauer is a board member for Right to Hike Inc.

The micro-chipping initiative evolved from Emerson's love for her Lab-mix, Ella, who was with Emerson hiking, but later found near a grocery store in Cumming.
"Meredith's dog Ella's micro-chip played a key role in helping us find her, and it's so important to make sure all pets have one in the event they're ever lost," Karrenbauer said.
Anyone wishing to participate in the fund raiser may print out an invitation for Applebee's at www.righttohikeinc.com. An invitation is required for the money to be routed to the non-profit organization.
Emerson was abducted from a trail in Vogel State Park, held captive for three days and then killed in Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area, five miles southwest of Dawsonville.
Authorities charged Gary Michael Hilton with the crimes. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Georgia to life in prison. Hilton is currently in Florida, facing charges for a similar slaying there.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Drew Peterson will soon face wrongful-death suit, attorney for Kathleen Savio's family says

By Erika Slife and Matthew Walberg

Tribune reporters
April 17, 2008

Drew Peterson's legal team suffered defeats on two fronts Thursday, when one judge named new executors to the estate of his third wife, permitting her relatives to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against him, and another judge declined to order the return of his 11 guns.

Will County Judge Carmen Goodman determined that the finding of the most recent autopsy showing Kathleen Savio had been murdered in 2004 was enough reason for her estate to be reopened.

The judge replaced Peterson's uncle, James Carroll, as executor of the estate with Savio's father, Henry, and sister, Anna Doman.Henry Savio and Doman now have the power to file a wrongful-death suit against Peterson, 54, the former Bolingbrook police sergeant who is a suspect in his fourth wife's disappearance. Kathleen Savio was found dead in March 2004 in the bathtub of her Bolingbrook home weeks before their divorce settlement was finalized.

At the time, a coroner's jury ruled the death an accident, but authorities decided to take another look after Stacy disappeared Oct. 28. In February, State's Atty. James Glasgow announced that a new autopsy determined she had been murdered.

Peterson has not been charged in either case and maintains he is innocent.

John Kelly, a New York attorney representing the Savio family who was the lawyer for Nicole Brown Simpson's family in the successful civil suit against O.J. Simpson, said the wrongful-death case would be filed within a couple of weeks.

Joel Brodsky, representing Peterson and Carroll, said he planned to appeal Goodman's ruling.He argued in court that the Savios had two years under the statute of limitations to challenge the probate proceedings. Brodsky said he will base part of his appeal on that argument.

Attorneys for the Savio family argued their clients didn't have the grounds to file a challenge in probate court because Savio's death had been ruled accidental. And they didn't have the authority to proceed with a wrongful-death lawsuit because they were not the executors.

Reached after the hearing, Doman said the family didn't receive notification that Peterson's uncle had been made executor of Savio's estate. Since Savio died, her family has voiced its suspicions that Peterson may have been responsible.
Later in the afternoon, another judge blocked Peterson's efforts to force state police to return his eight long guns and three handguns seized from his home last fall in the investigation of Stacy's disappearance.
Brodsky filed a motion in December seeking the return of Peterson's firearms, vehicles and other items taken through a series of search warrants. In February, Judge Richard Schoenstedt ordered the return of all the items, including the firearms—provided Peterson had a valid Firearm Owners Identification Card.
After the order, state police revoked his card. This month Brodsky suggested the weapons be placed in the custody of Peterson's adult son, Stephen, an Oak Brook police officer.
But Thursday, with Stephen Peterson in the gallery, Schoenstedt said Peterson's reasons for wanting his weapons returned were not compelling enough to override the right of police to hold potential evidence in a criminal investigation.
He noted Peterson offered no argument for the return other than it is his personal property, and Peterson and his lawyers have not expressed a desire to sell the guns or do anything with them that necessitates their return from police custody.
The judge left open the possibility Peterson may find a reason that could reverse his decision."If you find a specific reason why Mr. Peterson wants these guns transferred, I will be willing to reconsider the motion," Schoenstedt said.
Brodsky said his client would now transfer ownership of the weapons to his son, rather than just give them to him for safekeeping."Put it in writing," Schoenstedt responded.

Texas capital murder suspect caught in Wichita

A Texas man on the run for capital murder is in jail in Wichita after U.S. marshals were notified he might be in the area.

The U.S. Marshals Service said Jerome Overstreet had had been wanted on a Terrant County warrant issued June 6 out of Fort Worth for the death of Vicki Overstreet.

U.S. marshal's spokesman Logan Kline said authorities in Wichita are uncertain about the relationship between the suspect and the victim. Jerome Overstreet has used many identities and authorities are trying to determine which one is his.

He had blended in with the community and reported having a job with a local aircraft manufacturer, which Kline declined to identify.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Drew Peterson offers reward for wife Stacy

It's easy to offer a reward for something that can never happen. Note that it states "info leading to Stacy's return". His inner circle may eventually turn on him rather than face charges of disposal of body, or the interference of evidence concerning the investigation. But only he knows where he put her body in the 3-day "clearing his head" trip after Stacys murder, uh, I mean disappearance.

BOLINGBROOK $25K for info leading to Stacy's return
Originally published May 1, 2008
Six months after Stacy Peterson vanished, Drew Peterson has put up a $25,000 reward for information that leads to the safe return of his missing fourth wife.

The former Bolingbrook police officer -- labeled a suspect in her disappearance -- said Wednesday he wants to find his 23-year-old wife because their children miss her and he wants to clear his name. "Maybe the money will prompt someone to come forward with a lead," Peterson said in a statement.

"Her children miss her, and people believe I have something to do with her disappearance."
Stacy Peterson's relatives -- who already are offering a $35,000 reward for information -- immediately dismissed Drew Peterson's reward as a ploy.

"Offering $25,000 this late in the game is nothing more than Drew seeking media attention," said Pam Bosco, a spokeswoman for Stacy Peterson's family.
Stacy Peterson vanished last Oct. 28 from the Bolingbrook home she shared with her husband.
Drew Peterson, 54, has said he thinks she voluntarily left him, possibly for another man. But Drew Peterson was named a suspect by investigators last November. Police also are reviewing the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

He couldn't be reached Wednesday for additional comment on the reward.
Tips are to be sent to stacytips@yahoo.com. This reminds me of the tip line set up by the Scott Peterson family in search of Laci Peterson. Of course no tips went to law enforcement.

"All e-mails that contain harassing, obscene or threatening messages are warned that such communications are illegal, and all such e-mails will be forwarded to law enforcement for prosecution," said Peterson's lawyer, Joel Brodsky.

Stranded divers chase off Komodo dragon on island

One more reason to not go in the water.

Associated Press Writer

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Scuba divers swept away in strong currents survived 12 hours in shark-infested waters before scrambling onto a remote Indonesian island where they faced yet another threat: a Komodo dragon.

The divers - three from Britain and one each from France and Sweden - came face-to-face with the giant, carnivorous lizard on Rinca's palm-fringed beach, and fought it off by pelting it with rocks and pieces of wood, Pariman, a port official said Sunday.

"Luckily, they were able to chase it away," said Pariman, who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name.

The beasts have sharp, serrated teeth and often come out when they smell something new, including humans - whom they've been known to kill, Pariman said.

The divers encountered treacherous currents after plunging from their wooden boat off Tatawa island on Thursday afternoon. They drifted 20 miles from their dive site before swimming to Rinca, their last chance to avoid being swept into the open ocean.

"We struggled against the current for several hours, but eventually stopped," Laurent Pinel, 31, of France, told The Sunday Times of London. The group tied their diving vests together to preserve energy, he said. Once on the island, they scraped mussels from the rocks for food, he said.

The divers ran into the Komodo dragon on Friday afternoon. The next day, rescuers aboard one of 30 boats searching the waters spotted them waving frantically on the shore and took them to Flores island for medical treatment.

The area where the diving trip took place is famous for its rich marine diversity, including sharks, manta rays and sea turtles. But it is also known for its treacherous and unpredictable seas.

Recommended only for experienced divers, it is in a place where the Indian and Pacific Oceans meet, creating currents that converge and separate. Whirlpools and eddies can pull divers downwards.

"We're safe, but absolutely exhausted and dehydrated," Charlotte Allin, a 25-year-old British diver, was quoted by The Sunday Times of London as telling her parents from the hospital where the group was taken.

Komodo dragons, which can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh as much as 365 pounds, are only found in the wild on Rinca and Komodo island. There are believed to be 4,000 left in the world.
Thousands of tourists visit the area in eastern Indonesia each year to see the lizards in their natural habitat. They are normally shown around the arid and rocky island by guides who carry large, forked sticks to ward off the animals.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wisconsin pair shoots 600 animals in 'thrill-killing' of rabbits, deer, turkeys, turtles: officials

June 1, 2008
PORTAGE, Wis. — The alleged thrill-killing of as many 600 animals in Columbia and Marquette counties is the worst case in the nation this year, officials said.

The Humane Society of the United States recently contacted authorities involved in investigating and prosecuting Josh Kerl, 21, of Portage, and Adam Stalsberg, 22, of Neshkoro.

Left: baby jack rabbit
The men are accused of using a high-powered rifle and spotlight to shoot animals from their vehicle over the past year, and the organization wants meaningful fines, permanent revocation of hunting licenses and restitution for the deaths of protected animals.

‘‘The amount of animals killed and the wide variety of animals involved in this case is unusual. It’s a blatant disregard for wildlife,’’ spokeswoman Casey Pheiffer said.
Right: punked out red squirrel
Kerl and Stalsberg are accused of killing mostly small game out of season, including hundreds of rabbits, squirrels and raccoons.

But the pair allegedly also killed deer, turkeys, crows, snapping turtles, ducks and protected species of owls, turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks and sandhill cranes.

The majority of animals killed were left to rot, according to officials.

Each man was charged with 82 citations in the counties combined, but the citations are not criminal in nature.
But each man will face two misdemeanor criminal charges that occurred in Columbia County for hunting deer during closed season and hunting deer at night with a spotlight.

For those charges, the men could face a $2,100 fine, 60 to 90 days in jail and having their hunting license revoked for three years. They make their initial appearance on Aug. 20 in Columbia County Circuit Court.

‘‘Thrill-killing lends itself to instant gratification, not the totality of the hunt, which includes everything from studying up on the animal, scouting and finding an ideal spot for a blind,’’ said Chuck Horn, a Department of Natural Resources conservation warden supervisor.
‘‘Trying to get people involved in legal hunting, we stress that pulling of the trigger, or releasing an arrow, are such a small part of the hunt.’’

The alleged thrill-killing by Kerl and Stalsberg is one of the biggest cases in Wisconsin within the last decade, Horn said.

‘‘That’s quite excessive compared to other cases we’ve had,’’ Horn said. ‘‘I was a bit appalled.’’

Although poaching and thrill-killing of animals are both illegal, Horn said, poachers use some or all of the animal, such as meat, antlers or fur, while people who thrill-kill shoot animals and leave the body to rot.

Above: raccoon
Pheiffer, who works as the manager for the Humane Society’s Wildlife Abuse Campaign, said states with the tightest laws against poaching have the lowest occurrences.

‘‘It’s difficult to know what the individual motives are,’’ Pheiffer said. ‘‘Sometimes it’s people who participate in it as a way to impress their friends, or maybe it’s a symptom of a bigger problem.’’

Left: deer in the headlights.
Right: Sandhill Crane (a gorgeous one at that) on the endangered species list.

McPherson Kansas man arrested in capital murder case

Posted on Wed, Jun. 04, 2008

The Wichita Eagle

A 44-year-old McPherson Kansas man was arrested Tuesday and accused of capital murder in the May 18 strangulation death of an 85-year-old woman in a Buhler Kansas retirement home.

Marvin J. Gifford Jr. was arrested in McPherson County, where he is serving a two-year sentence for lewd and lascivious behavior. Jailers said he began that sentence May 29.

Law enforcement officials said Gifford also has been linked to a series of other attacks and attempted attacks on elderly women in recent weeks in Reno County.

Pearl Arthaud died May 18 at the Buhler Sunshine Meadows Retirement Community.

Prosecutors said Arthaud survived a March 21 attack in which she was sexually assaulted and strangled. They said Gifford allegedly returned to her apartment two months later and killed her.

Investigators said Gifford may have found elderly women through newspaper birthday or celebration announcements. They urged those who use such announcements not to include addresses or mention that a person is widowed or lives alone.

The suspect, who is being held in the McPherson County Jail, was arrested Tuesday on allegations of capital murder, attempted capital murder, rape, aggravated criminal sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated burglary.

A timeline compiled by a task force that investigated the case alleges that:

• On March 21, Arthaud was attacked in her apartment for the first time. She waited a week before telling a relative about the incident, and her family then reported the attack to Buhler police.

• On March 22, someone tried to enter the home of an 87-year-old woman at the Good Samaritan Village in Hutchinson. The woman refused to answer her door and was unharmed.

• Also on March 22, a man tried unsuccessfully to enter the residence of a 95-year-old woman at the same center.

• On March 30, someone entered the residence of a 90-year-old woman at the Mennonite Friendship Manor in South Hutchinson. She was sexually assaulted and strangled, but survived.

• On April 6, a man forced his way into a home on South Poplar Street in Hutchinson. Once inside, he sexually assaulted a 62-year-old woman and strangled her into unconsciousness. She survived.

• On May 18, someone again entered Arthaud's apartment, sexually assaulted and strangled her.

• On May 19, a task force was formed to investigate the attacks. Buhler police, Hutchinson police, South Hutchinson police, the Reno County Sheriff's Office, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Reno County District Attorney's Office participated.

• On May 22, the McPherson man became the prime target in the case, and investigators started conducting close surveillance to ensure that no other attacks would occur.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Drew Peterson's girlfriend testifies before grand jury

Oh good god. It had to have been extremely poor lighting and she had to have been very, very drunk. Could she not have known who he was? ew.

Right: Kim Matuska myspace photo.

May 29, 2008

Drew Peterson’s young love was hauled before the grand jury Thursday, and that was just the kind of thing that screwed up the affair.“You guys ruined it for me, again,” Peterson, 54, said of his romance with 22-year-old tanning salon worker Kim Matuska.

“It’s too much for her,” said Peterson, whose 24-year-old wife, Stacy, has been missing since October. “You got producers trying to get her on television shows, the state police, grand juries. It’s too much.”

So much, Peterson said, that he has become rather pessimistic about his prospects with the fairer sex.

Peterson faces a felony gun charge for possessing an assualt rifle with a barrel shorter than the state mandated length. He maintains he had permission from the police department to use the weapon while working with the SWAT team.

Peterson also has been named a suspect — the only suspect — in the disappearance of fourth wife Stacy, an investigation state police have classified as a “potential homicide.”On top of this, the state police have revisited the mysterious March 2004 bathtub drowning of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Savio’s death initially was ruled an accident, but postmortem testing conducted in the wake of Stacy’s disappearance led a forensic pathologist to conclude she was the victim of a homicide.But the fates of his last two wives notwithstanding, it was the unwanted attention paid to Matuska that blew it for Peterson with the aspiring veterinarian and College of DuPage student.

“The TV producers are relentless,” he said. “The state police were rude to her. They told her bad things.” do ya reckon?

For her part, Matuska said she and Peterson were not together. “We’re done,” said the young Darien woman, later adding, “I’m not seeing Drew.” Matuska would not discuss her testimony, but expressed her desire extricate herself from the case. “I’m trying to get out of this,” she said.

Besides Matuska, Stacy’s aunt Candace Aikin was flown in from El Monte, Calif., to testify before the grand jury. Her appearance was so wrenching and emotional it moved her to tears.

Police seize Savio bathtub

rot-roe. Not looking good for ole Drewsky. What's that old saying, Karma is a bitch? hehehe...

BOLINGBROOK To be used in future prosecution of homicide of Drew's 3rd wife, officials say

June 1, 2008

State Police investigators probing the death of Drew Peterson's third wife have custody of the bathtub where the woman was found dead in 2004, authorities said.

Investigators hauled away the tub in recent days for use in the future prosecution of the homicide of Kathleen Savio, said Charles Pelkie, a spokesman for the Will County state's attorney's office.

The bathtub removal was done with the full cooperation of the family that now owns the home, Pelkie said. The family was compensated, a source said.

Savio, 40, was in the midst of a nasty divorce from Drew Peterson, then a Bolingbrook police sergeant, when she was found dead in the bathtub of her Bolingbrook home on March 1, 2004. There was no water in the bathtub, and her hair was drenched with blood from a head laceration.

Her death was first ruled an accidental drowning, but investigators reopened the case after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared Oct. 29 from their Bolingbrook home.
A new forensic exam in November ruled Savio's death a homicide.

The Sun-Times has reported that Stacy Peterson told a clergyman her husband boasted he killed Savio but made it look like an accident. Drew Peterson has been named as a suspect in Stacy's disappearance...

Attorney: Drew deserves immunity on weapons

May 31, 2008By JOE HOSEY

Drew Peterson is above the law, at least the ones saying he can't carry a short-barreled assault rifle, his attorney said.

Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky, asked the court Friday to dismiss the felony gun charge facing his client on the grounds that as a former cop, Peterson is exempt from such restrictions.

"This definitely gives Drew immunity under federal law," Brodsky said, citing a statute that allows police to carry concealed weapons.

Charles B. Pelkie, the spokesman for the state's attorney's office, disputed Brodsky's claim, saying the federal law has "no bearing whatsoever on the charge filed against Drew Walter Peterson."

Pelkie was also dismissive of a photograph Peterson's publicist released that showed Peterson supposedly dressed in his SWAT team attire and carrying the weapon in question while receiving an autograph from movie star John Travolta. Brodsky maintains the photo proves the police department was aware Peterson was using the weapon and allowed him to do so.

"The picture of him receiving an autograph from John Travolta is irrelevant in this case," Pelkie said.

Brodsky also is attempting to subpoena police department records he says will show the department was aware Peterson was using the rifle as part of his police duties.

Peterson was arrested on the unlawful use of a weapon charge last week. State police also have named him their sole suspect in the Oct. 28 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, and are investigating the mysterious March 2004 bathtub drowning of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

The drowning was first ruled an accident but in the wake of Stacy's disappearance was determined to be a homicide.

In the first few days after Stacy vanished, state police seized 11 guns from Peterson's home and held them as evidence in their investigation, which they have classified a "potential homicide."
Prosecutors have two weeks to respond to Brodsky's motion to dismiss, as they do his motion to modify the terms of Peterson's bond. Peterson wants permission to leave the state so he can take his four children on unspecified excursions.

"This is summer vacation for Drew's children, and he wants to take them on various summer vacations," Brodsky said.

Brodsky said he has a good working relationship with prosecutors and discussed the possibility they would drop the gun charge.

"I'm hoping to sit down with the prosecutors next week and discuss this case," he said. "Hopefully I'll convince them that basically this case shouldn't move forward."

On this day...

On June 2, 1945, Alexandria, Virginia, in an unusually fearsome thunderstorm, was pelted with hailstones the size of oranges throughout a 20 x 40 mile area, shattering 14,000 window panes.

Hail Size Chart
Pea 0.25"
Penny/Dime 0.75"
Quarter 1.00"
Half Dollar 1.25"
Golfball 1.75"
Tennis Ball 2.50"
Baseball 2.75"
Grapefruit 4.00"