Originally created 06/27/99

Across the area



Police capture escapee in house

Police apprehended an escaped inmate early Saturday after finding him hiding in the kitchen cabinet of a friend's home.

Jack Delmar Jones, 35, escaped Friday night from the Augusta-Richmond County Law Enforcement Center shortly after he was arrested for stealing a power drill from Sears at Augusta Mall.

Mr. Jones was waiting to be processed for his arrest when the jailer released five other inmates whose bail had been posted. As the inmates walked by, Mr. Jones blended himself into the group and exited the jail, Sheriff's Chief Deputy Ronald Strength said.

"He was unnoticed by our people until he was outside," Chief Deputy Strength said. Police deputies -- acting on an anonymous tip -- located Mr. Jones around 6 a.m. Saturday at a south Augusta home off Ivey Road, Investigator Ralph Odum said.

"The resident said that he was there when the deputies asked," Investigator Odum said.

Sheriff's deputies found Mr. Jones hiding in the lower kitchen cabinets.

"He is back in custody and charged with an additional charge of escape," Chief Deputy Strength said.

Inmate escapes from patrol post

The escape of a 39-year-old inmate from the Georgia State Patrol Post in Thomson had police searching McDuffie County throughout the day and night Saturday.

George Kittle, who was serving a nine-year sentence for theft by taking at Augusta State Medical Prison, last was seen Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on job duty at Thomson's state patrol post, said Scott Stallings, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Corrections.

Patrol Sgt. Ernie Bolden said Mr. Kittle was cleaning the post's grounds when he walked away and disappeared.

Agents from Georgia's State Patrol Metro Fugitive Squad and a canine unit from Augusta State Medical were brought in to conduct the search. Mr. Kittle is white, and is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 168 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a prison uniform with blue and white stripes. Police expect to find him in the Thomson area.

Although Mr. Kittle is believed to be unarmed, he is considered dangerous, said Mr. Stallings.

"We are asking that anyone who may have information on his whereabouts call 911 immediately and not approach him," Mr. Stallings said.

Arson suspected in church fire

TIFTON -- Only hours after members celebrated its 91st anniversary, Macedonia Free Will Baptist Church in Tifton burned Friday night.

State Fire Commissioner John Oxendine said Saturday that arson is suspected and an investigation is continuing. He said the church was damaged heavily, although it is still standing.

"We have classified the fire as suspicious," Mr. Oxendine said.

If arson is confirmed, a $10,000 reward will be given for information leading to a conviction. The arson tip line telephone number is (800) 282-5804.

Lack of citizenship costs girl title

ATLANTA -- The title of Miss Georgia Teen USA was stripped from an Alpharetta 17-year-old after it was learned that she is not a U.S. citizen.

Jane Kim learned this week she will not be going to the Miss Teen USA finals in Shreveport, La., in August. She will be replaced by Keely Wright of Powder Springs, the runner-up in the Georgia contest held in October, Dara Arbeiter, a publicist for the Miss Teen USA contest, said Friday.

"I prepared so hard for it. It's a sad loss," said Jane, who was born in South Korea but came to the United States 15 years ago with her mother and father.

They are permanent U.S. residents with proper documentation, but they had not become American citizens.

"I thought if I lived here that long, I was American," Jane said.

Pair guilty in Beanie Baby scam

ATLANTA -- A Gwinnett County couple has pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud charges in connection with an Internet scam that offered nonexistent Beanie Baby toys to eager buyers.

William Davis, 28, and Kelly L. Williams, 25, formerly of Duluth, entered their pleas Friday and could receive up to five years in prison.

They are expected to make similar pleas in Florida to separate charges stemming from the scam, while sentencing on these charges is scheduled for Oct. 13.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Langway, the couple posted available Beanie Babies on their World Wide Web site beginning last July.

One shopper sent a cashier's check for $19,000 for several of the miniature stuffed bean bags, and someone from Michigan wired $4,999 directly to the couple.

A Nevada woman, who had wired $2,950, began complaining, and the couple told her that "no one has a clue who we are or where we live. You'll never be able to find us," Mr. Langway said.

Grant to reduce state's class sizes

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina has been awarded a $14.5 million federal grant to hire 373 new teachers to reduce class sizes in first, second and third grades.

The U.S. Education Department announced the grant Saturday as part of a Clinton administration program to hire 10,000 new teachers in the next six years.

"These funds will enable schools to lower class sizes immediately," said U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley, a former South Carolina governor."That means that students returning to school this fall will get more individual attention, teachers should face fewer discipline problems and have more orderly classrooms, and students can benefit from a better learning environment."

Each state will receive a grant, with funds targeted to the poorest school districts, where administrators face limited resources and high teacher turnover.

Representative fined over sign

COLUMBIA -- U.S. Rep. John Spratt has been fined $2,000 by the Federal Election Commission because a 1996 campaign sign did not have the mandated disclaimer.

Mr. Spratt said Friday he paid the fine.

Three years ago, his campaign got a batch of "Spratt for Congress" signs without the words about who paid for the material. Mr. Spratt said the printer suggested they use a stamp to mark the signs. The campaign did, Mr. Spratt said, but must have missed some.