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Evidence disappears in unsolved LA cases



Published: Wed, April 3, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Evidence disappearsin unsolved LA cases

LOS ANGELES -- A forensic specialist is trying to find out exactly what happened to as many as 6,000 biological samples gathered as evidence in unsolved rape and murder cases but have disappeared and likely been destroyed.

The missing evidence, which includes semen, blood, human tissue and saliva, involves cases investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"Every one of these cases we can't solve now means a violent perpetrator remains on the street," said Lisa Kahn, the deputy district attorney in charge of the forensic science section.

The evidence probably was disposed of with the permission of investigators, police officials said.

"Did we lose 6,000 items? No. I doubt seriously the numbers would be anywhere near that high," said Peter Savala, who oversees the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's property and evidence facilities.

The cases were not under active investigation, but the statute of limitations for bringing charges in many of the rape cases had not yet run out. And murder cases have no statute of limitations.

Board upholds decisionin plagiarism dispute

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- While admitting they made mistakes, members of a school board refused to reverse their decision to force a teacher to change the grades of students she had failed for committing plagiarism.

The Piper school board, in charge of a rural school district 15 miles west of Kansas City, Kan., reaffirmed its original decision in a vote Tuesday. The board also agreed to pay fines for violating the state's open meetings law when it met in closed session in December to discuss the plagiarism case.

At the Dec. 11 meeting, the board reversed Piper High School teacher Christine Pelton's decision to flunk 28 students for plagiarizing a biology project. She said she suspected the students of plagiarism after discovering nearly identical material in their papers.

Pelton resigned rather than change the students' grades.

The teacher was among more than 100 people on hand Tuesday when board members voted 6-0, with one abstention, not to change their decision.

After the meeting, Pelton said she thought the board had undermined her as a teacher, and should have been more heavily sanctioned for violating the open meetings law.

McDonald's to importbeef for its burgers

WASHINGTON -- McDonald's is joining Burger King, Wendy's and other fast-food chains in buying beef from overseas, citing a shortage of the U.S. meat that's lean enough to make their burgers.

"The supply just isn't there," said McDonald's Corp. spokesman Walt Riker.

For now, McDonald's is testing the imported beef in about 400 of its 13,000 U.S. restaurants, all in the Southeast. Customers won't know the difference, he said. "We're running a small test using some beef that is top quality."

Hamburger chains make their patties by mixing lean beef -- meat that's no more than 10 percent fat -- with low-cost fat trimmings that are a byproduct of packing plants. The resulting product is similar in fat content to the ground beef typically sold in supermarkets.

McDonald's is the biggest single buyer of both U.S. and Australian beef, which the chain uses extensively outside of the United States.

Lean beef from Australia and New Zealand sells for 5 cents to 20 cents per pound cheaper than U.S. product.

5 Muslims slain

AHMADABAD, India -- Rampaging mobs set fire to homes, burning to death five members of a Muslim family in western India, where the worst religious rioting in a decade has killed 815 people over the past five weeks, police said today.

A Hindu mob burned three houses in Abhasana village, 50 miles south of Ahmadabad, Gujarat state's commercial hub, on Tuesday night. Two men, two women and a child from one family were killed and 42 other Muslims were hospitalized with burns, said Superintendent of Police Vikas Sahay.

Firefighters fought the blazes through the night, and the bodies were recovered this morning, Sahay said.

In Gujarat's Sabarkantha district, seven houses were set ablaze in the Vadali village Tuesday night. Five people were injured, said police, who did not immediately give the religion of the attackers and victims.

The new violence was reported a day before Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was to visit Gujarat, where the violence began Feb. 27 when a Muslim mob burned a train, killing 60 Hindus.




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