News briefs from Augusta as well as across Georgia and South Carolina.
Armed man robs
AIKEN - An armed man robbed Domino's Pizza on U.S. Highway 1 in Langley on Friday night.
The robber entered the store about 9:15 p.m., pointed a small caliber semiautomatic handgun at the clerk and swiped cash from the register, Aiken County Sheriff's Office spokesman Don Bierman said.
The man fled on foot, but could not be found in a search of the area by deputies and bloodhounds, Mr. Bierman said.
The man was described as white, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, between 150 and 160 pounds, and was wearing a dark-colored jacket, jeans, black and white tennis shoes and a gray ski mask.
Anyone with information about the robbery should call the sheriff's office at (803) 642-1761 or (800) 922-3211.Escaped prisoner is capturedA Burke County prisoner who escaped from Georgia Regional Hospital on Friday by slipping through an air vent has been found and returned to the facility, officials said.
The man was found by Richmond County Sheriff's deputies on Friday night, said Brian Mulherin, personnel director at the hospital. Mr. Mulherin did not release the man's name, citing patient confidentiality.
The man was a Burke County prisoner who had been jailed on a parole violation and was supposed to be in a drug treatment program, Burke County officials said.
He climbed into the ceiling and crawled through an air vent to freedom Friday afternoon, reports said.
Savannah woman is gunned down
SAVANNAH - A 31-year-old Savannah woman was gunned down Friday on the historic downtown square made infamous as the scene of the pivotal murder in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Tour buses making their usual spin around Monterey Square to see the site of a famed Savannah slaying - the death of Danny Lee Hansford in Mercer House - passed crime scene tape marking the spot where Jill M. Medola-Faraci died.
Ms. Medola-Faraci, 31, was shot once in the chest Friday morning near the steps of the United Way building.
Her cellular phone, purse and a can of Mace were near her body.
Ms. Medola-Faraci's slaying was the sixth murder reported in the city this month.
Detectives theorize the slaying could have occurred during a robbery attempt. Nothing was taken from Ms. Medola-Faraci, and officers found no indication that she had sprayed the Mace.
Across the square from Friday's homicide sits the Mercer House, home of the late Jim Williams, an antique dealer charged in Mr. Hansford's 1981 shooting death. The book details the four trials and Mr. Williams' eventual acquittal. Mr. Williams admitted shooting Mr. Hansford but claimed self-defense.Man's remains brought homeNEWNAN - Welcome home, William Thomas Overby.
Buried more than 132 years ago in a friend's family cemetery in Virginia, the remains of a man called the "Nathan Hale of the Confederacy" have been brought back to be buried in Newnan, where Mr. Overby grew up and his descendants still live.
Mr. Overby was hanged Sept. 23, 1864, near Front Royal, Va., because he refused to tell Union troops the whereabouts of his commander, Col. John Mosby of the legendary Mosby's Rangers.
In a ceremony featuring period costumes, Mr. Overby will be buried Sunday in a plot underneath a pole waving the Confederate flag.
Children found unhurt in Texas
LUTHERSVILLE - The three missing children of a slain Georgia woman have been found unharmed in Texas, while the search for their father continues, authorities said.
Federal authorities had been conducting a nationwide search for Aldaberto Rodriguez, 36, and the three children - two girls ages 4 and 6, and a 2-year-old boy - since the body of his estranged wife, Gretchen Rodriguez, was found in her mobile home in Luthersville on Tuesday.
The children have been turned over to authorities in Brownsville, Texas.
The mother's body was found a day after she failed to report for duty at Fort McPherson near Atlanta, where she was stationed.
The pregnant woman had telephoned her neighbor a few days earlier and told her she was afraid for her life.
"She was afraid her husband was going to kill her," next-door neighbor Sherry Mireles said in a telephone interview Friday. "I told her to get out of there. She wouldn't listen."
Autopsy results have not been released, but Luthersville Police Chief Paige McNeese said the death was "very, very brutal."
Bank to require thumbprints
ATLANTA - Beginning Jan. 1., First Union banks in Georgia will require people without accounts to be thumb-printed to cash checks drawn on accounts of its customers.
First Union deposit account holders are not affected by the thumbprint requirement, bank spokeswoman Donna Stockon said. Non-customers who object to the thumbprint will be given the "option" of opening a First Union account.
First Union is the first major bank in the state to join the Thumbprint Signature Program, endorsed by the Georgia Bankers Association.
All non-deposit account holders will be asked to apply their right thumb to an inkless fingerprinting device that leaves no ink stain or residue. The print will then be placed on the check.
The biggest obstacle will be psychological, according to Robert Heady, publisher of Bank Rate Monitor.
"It makes people feel like a cross between a felon and culprit," Mr. Heady said.
Banks annually lose more than $850 million to check fraud, according to the American Bankers Association.
Coyote population increasing
UNION - South Carolina is getting a little taste of western wildlife as the coyote population grows.
The animals resemble German shepherds, but they are lower and leaner with longer snouts. First seen in 1979, coyotes have been confirmed in 32 of the state's 46 counties, officials say.
Gerald Moore, a wildlife biologist with the state Natural Resources Department, said so far there haven't been many complaints from livestock owners of coyotes preying on herds. But he said he anticipates some problems as the coyote population increases.
"It's just something we are going to have to deal with," he said. "Lambs and sheep would probably be easy prey. They may also attack cattle, particularly cows that are calving or have young calves."
- Compiled by Tom Corwin
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