Originally created 05/06/02

Across the southeast



After disappearance, child agency reforms

MIAMI -Florida's child-protection agency is changing some of its methods because the disappearance of a 5-year-old girl in its care went unnoticed for more than a year.

Meanwhile, the Miami Herald reported Sunday that the agency waited six days to alert police about the child's disappearance, instead trying to find the girl on its own.

Rilya Wilson wasn't listed as missing until April, although caregiver Geralyn Graham said Rilya disappeared 16 months ago.

"We want people to know kids are safe," said Kathleen Kearney, the secretary of the department, said at a news conference Saturday.

From now on, every child's home must be visited by supervisors and caseworkers, and caregivers and children old enough to write will be required to sign a log after every visit, Ms. Kearney said.

Eight people remain missing after floods

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -Rescue crews searched Sunday for eight people reported missing after torrential floodwaters ravaged the central Appalachians, while relief agencies arranged food and shelter for the newly homeless.

Relief workers from the Red Cross and the Salvation Army distributed food and cleaning supplies to flood victims at 12 emergency shelters in West Virginia on Sunday. Some residents were disconsolate after being hit by flooding for the second time in less than a year, said Capt. Bob Mullions of the Salvation Army.

"McDowell County just looks like a war zone," Capt. Mullions said. "It was bad last year; it was catastrophic. But this is, believe me, up several paces from that."

Murder trial to start in 1963 race killings

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -A murder trial set to start today for a former Ku Klux Klansman could be the final chapter in one of the worst cases of violence against the civil rights movement - the 1963 church bombing that killed four black girls.

Bobby Frank Cherry, 71, is accused of helping other Klansmen plant the powerful bomb that blew a hole in an exterior wall of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on Sept. 15, 1963, killing the girls as they were preparing for church service.

The church had become a rallying point for protesters during months of civil rights demonstrations.

Mr. Cherry, who could face life if convicted, is the final suspect to stand trial in the case.

The trial "brings us a little closer to justice being done," said the Rev. John Porter, a civil rights leader and retired minister.