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June 14, 2003

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Nebraska

Wife freed after two years of captivity in own home

An Omaha man was arrested Friday for allegedly locking his wife inside their house for two years and threatening to kill her if she stepped outside.

David E. Mitchell Sr., 35, was charged Friday with false imprisonment and making threats.

Police rescued the 28-year-old woman and her four children -- ages 2, 3, 7 and 8 -- on June 2 by pulling them out the house through a partially opened window, said Sgt. Cathy Cook, a police spokeswoman.

Mitchell apparently kept his wife inside the house by using locks on the doors that were accessible only from the outside, and by nailing boards across the basement door. The house did not have a phone.

It did not appear the children were under the same restrictions because the older children went to school, Cook said.

Czech Republic

Czechs vote in referendum on EU membership

Czechs began voting Friday in a two-day referendum on whether to join the European Union, a move supporters say will finally bring the nation back into the Western fold and improve living standards for future generations

An exit poll completed several hours after voting began indicated that a majority supported entry. That reflected earlier opinion polls showing most Czechs favored the idea, but the support was far from overwhelming.

After decades of communist rule, many Czechs are reluctant to hand over the nation's fate to outsiders -- even if it means making the country an island in the center of the continent.

Others worry the bureaucratic EU will hamper more than help the economy. There are also widespread fears prices could rise steeply after joining the 15-nation bloc.

Florida

Fire kills four young sisters

Fire engulfed a one-story house Friday morning in an Orlando suburb, killing four young sisters and injuring their parents and 5-year-old brother.

The home was engulfed in flames when a passing motorist spotted the fire about 6:15 a.m., authorities said.

"There are no words for the devastation of this," said Seminole County public safety spokesman Alan Harris.

Firefighters were unable to save the daughters of Alfonso and Chandra Barnes-Marimon: Thyler, 10; Donna, 6; Tykeirn, 5; and Shaundra, 2.

The surviving 5-year-old, Jonathan, was treated for minor burns, officials said. The parents were in stable condition at a hospital.

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