Originally created 02/05/06

Across the Southeast



Woman says deputies failed to stop shooting

FORT MYERS, FLA. - A woman said her estranged husband killed her boyfriend after Lee County sheriff's deputies failed to respond to her 911 call reporting he had shown up in violation of a no-contact order.

However, the sheriff's department said Ruthie Mendez, 29, didn't give them enough information to act, and computer problems prevented them from finding the order.

Ms. Mendez called 911 on Wednesday night and told the operator her husband, Pedro Mendez-Morales, 31, had just been at her home with a gun.

No deputy responded, and Ms. Mendez called back a half-hour later to say her husband had shot her boyfriend, Miguel Angel Cobos-Gonzalez, 17, a few hundred feet from her home.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Ileana LiMarzi said authorities didn't respond because they couldn't locate Mr. Mendez-Morales' name in the computer system that tracks no-contact orders.

She said the woman gave her husband's last name as Mendez, and it was in the system under Mendez-Morales.

"She was on hold, but when (the call taker) came back to get more information, (Ms. Mendez) wasn't on the line anymore," Ms. LiMarzi said. "This can sometimes happen with hyphenated names."

$10,000 offered in arson investigation

BRIERFIELD, ALA. - Rewards totaling $10,000 were offered Saturday in the investigation of the fires that damaged or destroyed five rural churches along winding country roads south of Birmingham.

Gov. Bob Riley said $5,000 was being offered by the state, and a $5,000 reward was posted by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Mr. Riley and other officials spoke at a news conference in front of the ruins of Ashby Baptist Church, one of three houses of worship destroyed by the fires early Friday.

One or more arsonists apparently drove along rural roads and stopped to ignite the fires in sanctuaries one after the other, investigators said.