Gary Ross Dahl, Pet Rock Inventor, Dead at 78

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. (AP) — Gary Ross Dahl, the creator of the wildly popular 1970s fad the Pet Rock, has died at age 78 in southern Oregon. Dahl’s wife, Marguerite Dahl, confirmed Tuesday that her husband of 40 years died March 23 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The smooth stones came packed in a cardboard box containing a tongue-in-cheek instruction pamphlet for “care and feeding.” Dahl estimated he had sold 1.5 million of them at roughly $4 each by the time the fad fizzled. Continue Reading

Man Killed by NSA Police had Lengthy Record

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Court documents show that a cross-dressing man killed during a violent encounter at the National Security Agency had a history of theft and assault, and was mistaken at least once for being a woman. The records show that 27-year-old Ricky Shawatza Hall was charged with assaulting a woman and stealing a bottle of methadone from her pocket in 2013. The documents show Hall had been wearing a yellow dress at the time of the assault and was mistaken as a woman. Last year, Hall was charged with robbery after stealing a vest and skirt from a Baltimore clothing store. Continue Reading

Eight Dead, Ten Injured in Florida Van Crash

MOORE HAVEN, Fla. (AP) – The Florida Highway Patrol says eight people died and 10 others were injured when a van from a church ran through a stop sign, crossed all lanes of U.S. 27 and landed in a canal in rural southwest Florida. The crash happened around 12:30 a.m. Monday in Glades County at an intersection. Glades County is west of Lake Okeechobee. Lt. Gregory S. Bueno says the van was heading back to Fort Pierce, which is north of West Palm Beach on Florida’s Atlantic coast, after a weekend convention in Fort Myers. Continue Reading

Boston Woman Charged with Marathon Injury Fraud

BOSTON (AP) — A Boston woman has been indicted on charges of fraudulently receiving tens of thousands of dollars in benefits by claiming she was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing. Joanna Leigh was indicted on charges of larceny and making a false claim to a government agency. Prosecutors say she received $8,000 from The One Fund, a charity established to help bombing victims; $18,000 from a state victims’ compensation fund; $9,000 from an online fundraiser; and $1,700 raised by students at a Boston school. Authorities say she was at the marathon in April 2013, but was not injured. The 41-year-old Leigh says she suffered traumatic brain injuries, and the charges are retaliation for her criticism of The One Fund for not benefiting people with such injuries. Continue Reading

Explosion Partially Collapses New York City Building, Dozen Injured

The Fire Department of New York says four people are in critical condition among a dozen injured in an explosion, building collapse and fire in Manhattan’s East Village. Officials initially said three were critically hurt in Thursday’s blast. Firefighter Ed Long says the tally is up to four. Mayor Bill de Blasio says preliminary evidence suggests a gas-related explosion is to blame. He says plumbing and gas work appear to have sparked the problem inside one building. Continue Reading

Judge says Hearing will Continue in Running Death Case

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — A judge says a sentencing hearing will continue for an Alabama woman convicted in her granddaughter’s running death, but he has not announced a ruling on a defense motion to throw out the case over allegations of juror misconduct. After meeting with prosecution and defense lawyers, Etowah County Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree said the hearing for Joyce Hardin Garrard would continue Wednesday afternoon. However, spectators could see that one juror is no longer present. The judge made no comment on the juror’s departure. Continue Reading

Shia LaBeouf’s Case to be Dismissed if he Avoids Arrest

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has told actor Shia LaBeouf that a disorderly conduct case against him will be dismissed and sealed if he avoids being arrested in the next six months. A prosecutor told Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Ann Scherzer on Friday the “Transformers” star has completed a treatment program following a June arrest at a Broadway show. Authorities charged LaBeouf with a violation after he smoked cigarettes, yelled at actors on stage and cursed at security guards while watching a “Cabaret” revival. Representatives for the 28-year-old actor have said he’s been treated for an alcohol problem. LaBeouf said nothing to reporters as he climbed into a black SUV following his brief court appearance. Continue Reading

Truck Hauling 30,000 Pounds of Lobster Overturns in Maine

BENTON, Maine (AP) — Authorities say a tractor-trailer hauling 30,000 pounds of live Canadian lobster has overturned on an interstate in Maine. Maine state troopers say truck driver Horst Puff, of Greenfield, Nova Scotia, reported that he swerved early Wednesday to avoid striking a car that had spun out in front of him on Interstate 95 in Benton. Puff’s truck ended up on its side in the median, but he wasn’t hurt. State police spokesman Steve McCausland says the fate of the lobsters is not immediately clear. A crane was dispatched to hoist the truck upright so the cargo could be inspected. Continue Reading

Air Force Vet Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Terrorism Charges

NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. Air Force veteran who authorities say wanted to join the Islamic State group in Syria has pleaded not guilty to federal terror charges in New York. Former airplane mechanic Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh entered the plea before Judge Nicholas Garaufis in a Brooklyn federal courthouse Wednesday. He appeared in court with an attorney and was wearing a short-sleeved, blue prison-issued shirt. Prosecutors say the 47-year-old man’s last known U.S. address was in Neptune, New Jersey. They say he was stopped at a Turkish airport in January with a laptop containing information on border crossings into Syria. Continue Reading