Originally created 12/25/05

Across Georgia



Man is charged after grave is disturbed

COLUMBUS - A man dug up his mother's grave early Friday morning and pulled out a canister filled with his mother's ashes, police said.

Jason VanDaam, of Salem, Ala., was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

Columbus police received a call at about 4:30 a.m. Friday that someone was in the cemetery digging up a grave.

When officers arrived, they pulled over Mr. VanDaam. He told them he was there to "visit his mother's grave," police said.

Mr. VanDaam, 33, then led officers to the grave, which police found disturbed. Officers also found the urn in the bed of the man's truck.

Mr. VanDaam was released on bond from the Muscogee County Jail on Friday afternoon.

Savannah fire chief post remains vacant

SAVANNAH - Three months after longtime Savannah Fire Chief Paul Taylor announced his resignation, the department is still without a permanent replacement.

But the city is getting closer to a hire.

Assistant City Manager Chris Morrill said the city received 89 applications for chief before the job posting closed Dec. 15.

City Manager Michael Brown must now start weeding out unqualified applicants, then narrow the list to finalists.

In September, he said Savannah's new chief would likely be hired sometime between January and March.

In the meantime, department veteran John Rintoul has been serving as interim chief.

Chief Taylor, the department's first black chief, had served for 33 years before stepping down.

It's been a busy December for Savannah Fire and Emergency Services. The department has responded to large fires at an eastside church, a Dawes Avenue home, an Ott Street duplex, a scrap metal pile and a Georgia Ports Authority crane.

Teen inmates are all out of state prison

ALTO - The last of 13 teenage inmates have been moved out of a north Georgia prison that was the site of many violent incidents among young inmates.

The inmates, who were between 13 and 16, were moved from Lee Arrendale State Prison in Alto after the state Department of Corrections decided to turn the facility into a prison for women.

Prisons Commissioner James Donald had planned to leave the juvenile inmates in a segregated area of the 20-acre prison compound, but he later decided to move them to the Al Burruss Correctional Training Center in Forsyth, Ga.

Nude woman is found walking along road

ATHENS - Athens-Clarke police called emergency medical technicians to treat a 25-year-old woman for exposure after she was found wandering naked on Spring Valley Road at about 6 a.m. Friday.

Temperatures were in the low 20s at the time.

The woman told police that two men had raped her and stolen $100 in cash and a $35 gift certificate, but police investigating the case said the rape claim was unfounded. Police did not explain why the woman was walking naked in the road.

- From wire reports