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Archive for July, 2013

(Bonne Terre) (AP) – Human remains found in an eastern Missouri septic tank have been identified as those of a Cape Girardeau tattoo artist missing since December.

The Southeast Missourian reports authorities in St. Francis County made a positive identification Friday of 38-year-old Samuel Francis.

The decomposed remains were found Thursday on unoccupied property near Bonne Terre, about 70 miles north of Cape Girardeau. Officials said the discovery followed a lengthy missing-person investigation.

County coroner James Coplin says it could take weeks to determine how Francis died.

His father, Gary Francis, told the Southeast Missourian earlier this year his son left Cape Girardeau for St. Francois County in December with members of a motorcycle gang demanding tattoo work.

(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

(Washington) (AP) – The Obama administration remains opposed to legislation that would add President Franklin Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer to the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.

As U.S and allied troops launched the invasion that led to the defeat of Nazi Germany, FDR asked the nation to join him in prayer. He then asked God to give the allied troops courage and faith, saying, “With thy blessing we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy.”

At a Senate hearing Wednesday, Ohio Republican Rob Portman said adding a plaque or inscription of the prayer Roosevelt read on a radio broadcast to the nation on June 6, 1944, would remind Americans of what they have in common.

But Stephanie Toothman, associate director of cultural relations for the National Parks Service, said it’s rare to allow additions to a completed memorial. She also suggested that adding a prayer to the World War II Memorial could attract a lawsuit.

Portman’s bill calls for the plaque or inscription to be paid for with private donations.

(Greene Co. Sheriff’s Office)

(Springfield) (AP) – A Greene County judge has upheld a child rapist’s conviction and denied him a new trial.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that Jeffery Allen Dickson’s post-conviction appeal was rejected Tuesday. Dickson of Springfield is serving four consecutive life sentences for the 2008 kidnapping and rape of a 7-year-girl.

Prosecutors said he sexually assaulted the child and forced her to smoke drugs before setting a fire to cover up his crimes.

Dickson’s state-appointed public defender argued authorities overlooked a second house fire one block away from the purported crime scene. The fire’s location is significant because prosecutors argued that Dickson intentionally set the fire to cover up the assault.

The defense also argued that evidence unavailable at trial showed that one of Dickson’s DNA samples was tainted.

(Kansas City) (AP) – The last child still hospitalized after a car came crashing into a Kansas City day care center is being released.

Children’s Mercy spokeswoman Jessica Salazar says the child was going home Wednesday after staying overnight for observation. Two other children were treated and released.

The children were among 40 inside the Christian Academy Child Care east of downtown Tuesday when a sport utility vehicle knocked an unoccupied car into the building. Police said the SUV’s driver was “approximately 80″ years old. He was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Police spokeswoman Marisa Barnes said Wednesday that there was no new information about the cause of the crash that left a giant hole in the side of the day care facility. A utility pole also was struck.

(Washington) (AP) – When President Barack Obama ran for re-election last year, he and his advisers were quick to condemn comments from Republicans that were deemed offensive or demeaning to women.

But now, with two prominent members of Obama’s Democratic Party admitting to lewd online behavior and facing allegations of sexual harassment, the White House is conspicuously silent.

Republicans say that smacks of hypocrisy. But White House officials draw a distinction, saying Obama’s comments last year were in response to the policy implications of the controversial views espoused by the two Republicans who were, at the time, running for Senate.

White House spokesman Jay Carney fended off questions Wednesday about both San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who is facing numerous sexual harassment allegations, and Democrat Anthony Weiner, the former congressman currently running for New York City Mayor. Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 after admitting he sent racy pictures and messages over the Internet to women he did not know. Earlier this month, Weiner acknowledged that he engaged in similar behavior even after resigning.

“I don’t have any comment on that any more than I’ve had comment on other similar issues,” Carney said of Filner.

He responded similarly when asked about Weiner, saying “there’s plenty of coverage, plenty of stuff to cover without us commenting.”

The White House’s silence has drawn criticism from Republicans. Party officials say the president’s team is being hypocritical given how quickly Democrats jumped on controversial comments about rape made by GOP candidates last year.

“Interesting how we’re hearing crickets from the Democrats when it comes time to condemn activity from some of their own,” said Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

Indeed, Obama and his campaign advisers quickly denounced Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s assertion last year that women’s bodies have ways to prevent pregnancy “if it’s a legitimate rape.” The president said the Republican congressman’s comments were “offensive” and underscored a significant difference in approach to women’s issues between Democrats and the GOP.

Obama’s campaign was also highly critical of Richard Mourdock, who ran for the Senate from Indiana and said if a pregnancy results from rape, it is “something God intended to happen.” The president’s campaign said Mourdock’s comments were “outrageous and demeaning to women.”

Akin and Mourdock lost their respective races, while Obama ran up big margins among female voters in his contest against Republican Mitt Romney.

While the controversies surrounding Akin and Murdock focused on words, the spectacles involving Weiner and Filner center on actions.

Weiner, who is married, has vowed to stay in the New York mayor’s race despite new revelations about sexually explicit messages he sent to several women. Filner, the mayor of the nation’s eighth-largest city, says he will enter two weeks of “intensive” therapy as he battles a sexual harassment lawsuit from his former communications director, as well as detailed account of alleged advances by seven other women.

While the White House has stayed silent about both Democrats, other party leaders have not. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rebuked Weiner and Filner for “reprehensible” behavior and said both men should “get a clue.”

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has also called for Filner to resign, saying his alleged misconduct is “reprehensible and indefensible.” The chairwoman also backed Weiner’s resignation from Congress two years ago.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Federal agriculture officials have told members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation that China has stopped imports of the state’s poultry products.

Sen. Mark Pryor decried Tuesday’s decision, saying an “isolated incident” led to the ban. Pryor didn’t say what the incident was, but birds on a Scott County farm tested positive for a low-pathogenic strain of avian flu in June.

Pryor said Arkansas poultry products are “safe, healthy and nutritious” and that his family would continue to eat them.

The USDA had a statement on its website that said Arkansas exports to China were stopped effective July 22.

Pryor spokesman Michael Teague said Tuesday the USDA contacted members of the state’s congressional delegation about the ban. Arkansas is the nation’s second-largest poultry producer. Pryor said he hopes for a quick resolution.

(Murfreesboro) (AP) – A Missouri man has found a 2.05-carat brown diamond at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.

Steve Vehige was on his fourth visit to the park when he found the marble-shaped diamond on Saturday.

Vehige, of Flint Hill, Mo., named the diamond for his hometown and for the Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ song “Flint Hill Special.”

So far this year, visitors have found a total of 327 diamonds at the park. The Flint Hill Special is the third diamond weighing more than two carats found in 2013.

More than 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the diamond site since the first diamonds found in 1906.

varnell(West Plains) – An Oregon County man has pled guilty to the murder and dismemberment of an Alton woman.

After spending over a year in prison for murder charges, 47-year-old Guy Varnell has pleaded guilty to the murder of 51-year-old Narda Pranke.

Prosecuting Attorney Fred O’Neill announced the plea deal on July 29, the day before Varnell’s trial was set to begin in Howell County.

Varnell has been sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder and seven years for gun theft.

On March 8, 2012, Varnell pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance. In April, a change of venue was granted to Howell County.

Varnell will be transported to the Missouri Department of Corrections to serve his life sentence.

(West Plains) – Howell County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Mike Coldiron told Ozark Radio News the Department’s statistics from last week:

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(West Plains) – People that heard the storm sirens sound in the West Plains area Wednesday morning can take solace in knowing the sirens work.

But today’s sounding wasn’t a test. And there was no severe weather.

West Plains Emergency Management Director Kent Edge told Ozark Radio News that a new dispatcher is being trained at the West Plains Police Department, and the sirens were accidentally activated during the training.

Edge says that the sirens were cancelled immediately, however, many of the sirens across town run for a standard 3 minutes.