Archive for Tuesday, August 20, 2002

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August 20, 2002

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New York

Bear kills 5-month-old

A bear killed a 5-month-old girl Monday after knocking her out of a stroller and dragging the infant into the woods, police said.

The baby had been near the porch of a vacation bungalow in Fallsburg with family members when the black bear approached, said Fallsburg Police Chief Brent Lawrence.

The mother shuttled her 4- and 2-year-old children inside, Lawrence said. When she returned outside, the infant was gone.

Witnesses told police the young bear had little Ester Schwimmer in its mouth as it ambled into dense woods 20 feet from the bungalow.

"It may be the first season that it may have been on its own, and it may very well have perceived this infant as a food source," Lawrence said. "I wouldn't categorize it as an attack as far as a running, snarling attack."

The bear dropped the infant, but she had severe injuries to her head and neck, and was pronounced dead at a hospital, Lawrence said.

Virginia

Murder, kidnap case yields few clues

The search for 9-year-old Jennifer Short stretched into a fifth day Monday as frustrated authorities said they had found no signs of a struggle in the home where the girl's parents were slain.

Sheriff Frank Cassell also confirmed that phone lines to the home had been cut some time before last Thursday's slayings and kidnapping in Collinsville. He has said the culprit likely knew Michael and Mary Short.

Separately, a search warrant released Monday revealed that officers had found a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle, a 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun, shell casings and boxes of ammunition in the home.

But there were no signs that the couple or Jennifer resisted the intruder. Their red brick ranch home was notably uncluttered in the wake of the crimes early Thursday, Cassell said.

"Bedcovers were thrown back and that's about it," he said on NBC's "Today" show. "Rooms were clean, neat, well-maintained. That's what's frustrating about this investigation."

California

Construction fire causes millions in damage

A fire on Monday gutted a 6-acre section of Santana Row, an expansive $500 million retail, commercial and residential development in San Jose.

The blaze spewed 100-foot-high flames and billowing black smoke that could be seen for miles. Cinders blew onto nearby apartments where residents straddled roofs and tried to douse flames with garden hoses.

The blaze destroyed the largest of nine buildings which was to open next month and include 36 retail shops and 246 rental housing units, said Tom Miles, a spokesman for Federal Realty Investment Trust.

The rest of the 40-acre project, which was slated to resemble a lushly landscaped San Francisco street, was designed to include 1,200 luxury residences, a shopping area the size of 14 football fields, a hotel, a farmer's market and many outdoor cafes.

Salt Lake City

Assailant captured in attack on girl

An 11-year-old girl was kidnapped from her bedroom Monday by a man who raped and beat her in her back yard before he was captured, police said.

Javier Sickler, a former high school classmate of the girl's father, was arrested after authorities found him attacking the girl in suburban Midvale, police Sgt. John Salazar said.

The girl, who police said was probably beaten with a hammer, was in critical condition.

Salazar said he didn't know of any connection between Sickler and 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted in June from a bedroom she shared with her 9-year-old sister in their Salt Lake City home. Elizabeth has not been found.

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