Originally created 10/11/00

Across the area



AUGUSTA
Emergency team cleans toxic spill

Augusta emergency officials needed about 90 minutes to clean a small chemical spill at a local plant Tuesday afternoon.

About 40 gallons of the corrosive hexamethylenediamine, or HMDA, leaked from a rail car at BP Amoco Polymers off Tobacco Road, said David Dlugolenski, director of the Augusta-Richmond County Emergency Management Agency. The spill occurred shortly before 2:30 p.m. and was cleaned by 4 p.m., he said.

The Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department and a hazardous-materials team responded to the spill, Mr. Dlugolenski said. The chemical posed no threat to the nearby public, and no workers were injured during the cleanup, he said.

The liquid solidified on contact with air, helping to control its spread, Mr. Dlugolenski said. HMDA is used to manufacture nylon.

The industry reported that the faulty gasket on the rail car has been replaced.

AUGUSTA
Man indicted in friend's death

An Augusta man accused of shooting a friend to death in August was indicted Tuesday on murder charges.

A Richmond County grand jury issued a murder indictment against Leon D. Murphy, 23, in connection with the Aug. 14 shooting death of Christopher Beckford, 26.

The grand jury issued another, unrelated indictment Tuesday that accuses a personal-care home patient of causing the death of an older patient. In that indictment, Ryan P. Antonoff, 24, is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Mr. Antonoff is accused of hitting 64-year-old Robert V. Bilton in the head July 5. Mr. Bilton died a week later. The injury, considered a misdemeanor battery offense, led to Mr. Bilton's death, District Attorney Danny Craig said Tuesday.

AUGUSTA
Ex-manager faces theft charges

The former manager of an Augusta restaurant was indicted Tuesday, accused of stealing more than $14,000 from her employer.

In addition to the cash, the Richmond County grand jury indictment accuses Gayle P. Humphries of stealing bottles of wine and liquor, valued at several hundred dollars, from Sweet Basil Grille.

Ms. Humphries faces three felony theft charges and one misdemeanor theft charge. According to the indictment, she converted company checks to cash from Dec. 4, 1998, through Dec. 23, 1999, and wrote company checks to cover personal expenses from Sept. 1, 1999, through Dec. 22. The checks added up to about $14,662.

AUGUSTA
Pair indicted in two robberies

An Augusta teen-ager accused of attacking an elderly neighbor was indicted on a number of charges Tuesday along with a second man.

A Richmond County grand jury indictment accuses Nicholas L. Lanham, 17, not only of burglary, armed robbery, rape and terroristic threats in connection with a Sept. 6 assault on a 73-year-old woman, but also of a burglary in connection with a Sept. 3 break-in.

Mr. Lanham is accused of breaking into a Deans Bridge Road home Sept. 3 along with Jason S. Ycasa. Mr. Ycasa also faces a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of a law enforcement officer for allegedly resisting arrest Sept. 3.

Mr. Ycasa is also charged in the indictment with burglary: the Aug. 26 break-in at a Covington Place home.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Deaf, mute woman hit by train

SUMTER - A Sumter woman who was deaf and mute has been run over by a train, partially amputating her legs, officials said.

Michelle Johnson, 34, was trying to cross the tracks under the stopped train and had crawled under the locomotive when it began moving, police Chief Harold Johnson said.

She was taken to Tuomey Regional Medical Center in serious condition.

Scott Lupori, a Sumter County Emergency Medical Services supervisor, said the woman's legs were partially amputated. A friend who was with the woman summoned help, Mr. Lupori said.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Two men charged in kidnapping

CHARLESTON - Two men have been charged with kidnapping a man who was held captive in the trunk of his car until he was able to unlatch the lid and jump from the moving vehicle.

Tee Jerome Harley, 24, of Charleston, was held captive for about 25 minutes Sept. 21, police said.

Luther Campbell, 28, of Charleston, and Gernardo Montarence Cato, 22, of North Charleston, were charged with kidnapping. Police said the incident resulted from a dispute about money.

Mr. Harley told police he was placing items in his Cadillac when two armed men approached and forced him into the trunk. As the car moved away, he called police from inside the trunk on his cell phone.

He later found a way to unlatch the lid and jumped out near the Dorchester County line. His hand was run over by an oncoming car, police said.

GEORGIA
Principal resigns after reprimand

MARIETTA - A Cobb County high school principal has resigned after he was reprimanded for inappropriate relationships with three female students.

Joseph Bergin, 58, resigned Monday after a year as principal of Pope High School.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission placed him on probation Thursday, citing "inappropriate" relationships including giving a necklace to one student, suggesting another meet him for lunch when they were both in Seattle on vacation and making suggestive comments to the brother of another.

GEORGIA
Man charged in fire truck theft

MOULTRIE - A sheriff checking on a disabled Jeep led investigators and bloodhounds to a man charged with stealing a fire truck from a volunteer fire department.

Jeffrey Paul Hires, 31, who told deputies he is homeless, was arrested on burglary and theft charges after a daylong search Monday. Mr. Hires was charged with taking a 1978 Ford tanker fire truck Saturday from a station in Autryville, about 10 miles south of Moultrie.

Investigators believe he entered through a broken window, opened the station's bay doors and drove away. The truck was found in a cotton field, missing its radio, battery and other equipment.

On Monday morning, as Colquitt County Sheriff Jack Lanier was driving to work, he stopped to check out a broken Jeep. Inside, he saw fire department equipment and alerted his deputies.

MCDUFFIE COUNTY
Driver surrenders after chase

A gray Chevrolet Caprice that was pulled over on Interstate 20 sped away from a McDuffie County sheriff's deputy late Tuesday.

The Georgia State Patrol and the Columbia County Sheriff's Office soon joined in the brief chase before the driver pulled into the eastbound rest stop in Columbia County and surrendered.

According to McDuffie County dispatch, the driver and a passenger were taken into custody at 10:30 p.m.

Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said their flight was likely drug related.

The men were being taken back to McDuffie County, where they will be held pending charges.

AUGUSTA
Shooting sends man to hospital

An ongoing dispute between two men sparked gunfire Tuesday on a south Augusta roadway.

One man was shot through a buttock and is expected to recover, according to Richmond County Sheriff's Department.

The shooting occurred at 4:22 p.m. on the 2400 block of Windsor Springs Road. Orantes Dishman, 23, and Marquel Jones, 21, were stopped in traffic in a Nissan Maxima when words were exchanged with Christopher Young, 23, who was driving a white Cadillac, Investigator Greg Newsome said. The Cadillac driver fired three rounds into the other car with a pistol, the investigator said.

The men in the Maxima flagged down a deputy on Rosier Road. Mr. Dishman was shot once and was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

Warrants have been issued for Mr. Young's arrest. He is charged with two counts of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

He is believed to live in Burke County. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's department at 821-1080.

BURKE COUNTY
Suspect in slaying denied bond

WAYNESBORO - A 17-year-old Waynesboro man accused of murder has been denied bond in Burke County Superior Court. Willie Allen, charged with killing Theodore Hicks, 29, then burning the body, remains in the Burke County jail in Waynesboro.

His cousin, Ronnie Allen, was granted $52,550 bond in a court hearing Tuesday. Ronnie Allen, 21, is charged with concealing the death of another, and was still in jail Tuesday evening.

He was allegedly present when Mr. Hicks' car was set ablaze behind an unoccupied house in southern Burke County late Sept. 28. The flames spread to the house and destroyed it.

Firefighters discovered Mr. Hicks lying near his car, shot in the chest. An autopsy showed he died of single gunshot wound to his heart.

Sheriff Greg Coursey said Willie Allen confessed to his part in the crime, telling investigators he dumped Mr. Hicks' body behind the house off Munnerlynn-Alexander Road, threw the gun in Brier Creek, then returned the next night with his cousin to set the fire.

Willie Allen is also charged with criminal trespass.