Single mother's simple error earns her $14 million lottery prize

At the intersection of Fate and Lotto, Thuan Le made a very fortunate error. The California single mother of four is thanking her lucky stars after mistakenly slipping an extra dollar into the self-service Lotto machine at her local CVS store in Mission Viejo. That superfluous dollar wound up getting Le the SuperLotto Plus ticket holding the five winning numbers — 5, 33, 25, 46, 32 — plus the Mega number, 26, selected randomly in the April 24 drawing. In all, Le won a $14 million jackpot. “Thuan Le is a hardworking single mother of four sons,” according to a release from the California Lottery. Continue Reading

California police seek neighbors' help in murder of 8-year-old Leila Fowler

California sheriff’s officials say investigators were knocking on the doors of hundreds of homes as they try to find possible witnesses in their search for the killer of 8-year-old Leila Fowler. A sheriff’s spokesman says investigators were canvassing homes in the Valley Springs and Rancho Calaveras area Saturday in the hopes of locating new witnesses or refreshing the memories of other residents who may have seen something. Sgt. Chris Hewitt of the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office says investigators expect to find more people at their homes on the weekend to answer questions. Leila was found stabbed in her family home last Saturday. Continue Reading

District hit over prayer session at Georgia high school

A Georgia school district has ignited controversy after about 50 students took part in a prayer session that lasted more than two hours, cutting into their class time. According to My Fox Atlanta, the spontaneous prayer last week at Lumpkin County High School was started by a student in a coach’s office at about 7:30 a.m.

Some teachers reportedly participated in the prayer revival that went until 11:30 a.m.

“It was a student-led initiative. The student showed up at the coach’s office and the coach did pray with them and it went into the school day, over into the first period of the day,” Schools Superintendent Dewey Moye told the station. Moye said that some parents called to complain, and he realizes that in the future procedures and policies must be followed. According to WSBTV, three of the teachers who participated in the prayer meeting had assistants in their class, but one teacher left his classroom unattended to go the gym. Continue Reading

Damp ocean air aids fight against Calif. wildfire

A flow of damp air from the Pacific Ocean helped firefighters in their battle against a huge wildfire burning through coastal mountains in Southern California. Fire crews on Saturday worked to create miles of containment lines as the high winds and hot, dry air of recent days were replaced by the normal Pacific air, significantly reducing fire activity. The 43-square-mile blaze at the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains was 56 percent surrounded. The progress made led authorities to lift evacuation orders for residences in several areas. “The fire isn’t really running and gunning,” said Tom Kruschke, a Ventura County Fire Department spokesman. Continue Reading

Soccer referee punched by player in Utah dies

A 46-year-old soccer referee who was punched by a teenage player during a game and later slipped into a coma has died, police said. Ricardo Portillo of Salt Lake City passed away at the hospital, where he was being treated following the assault last weekend, Unified police spokesman Justin Hoyal said Saturday night. Police have accused a 17-year-old player in a recreational soccer league of punching Portillo after the man called a foul on him and issued him a yellow card. “The suspect was close to Portillo and punched him once in the face as a result of the call,” Hoyal said in a press release. The teen, whose name hasn’t been released because of his age, has been booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault. Hoyal said authorities will consider additional charges since Portillo has died. Continue Reading

5 die in limousine fire on California bridge, official says

A limousine traveling on a major bridge in the San Francisco area burst into flames, killing five female passengers who were trapped inside and injuring four others who escaped, authorities said Sunday. The limo was carrying nine female passengers and a male driver when it caught fire late Saturday on the San Mateo bridge, California Highway Patrol officer Art Montiel told The Associated Press. Five occupants became trapped, while four others suffered injuries but managed to get out after the vehicle came to a stop on the bridge, the patrol said. The driver escaped uninjured. Montiel said that the victims were all in their 30s. Continue Reading

New York murder suspect thought dead after wilderness escape may be alive, police say

A 73-year-old man who police believe escaped into a vast New York forest after allegedly gunning down his daughter-in-law seven months ago and was widely believed to be dead, may be alive and on the run, authorities tell Eugene Palmer, of Stony Point, N.Y., is wanted in the Sept. 24 shooting death of his daughter-in-law, Tammy Palmer, in what authorities described as a “cold-blooded” and “premeditated” murder. Palmer waited for his 39-year-old daughter-in-law to place her to two children on a school bus before shooting her three times with a bolt action shotgun as she walked up the driveway toward her home, police said. Palmer, a retired part-time park ranger, then fled into Harriman State Park — a 46,000-acre stretch of woodland filled with caves, root cellars and abandoned mine shafts that borders the man’s home, according to police. Continue Reading

Supremacist gets 26 to life in killing of molester

A Northern California white supremacist convicted of killing a child molester has been sentenced to 26 years to life in prison, while his wife — convicted of being an accessory — will be released from jail in about two months, The Sacramento Bee reported ( ) Saturday. Charles Francis Gaskins, 48, was sentenced Friday after pleading no contest in March for the killing of Neil Hayes in 2009. A probation report said Gaskins was a member of a supremacist group that required its members to attack anyone with a history of child molestation. Gaskins and his wife — Sandra Sheaves — was living in a home she owned in Carmichael, a community outside of Sacramento, when they allowed the 66-year-old Hayes to move in. Gaskins had met Hayes while they were both serving time in prison, The Bee said. Continue Reading

9/11 museum officials say admission fee needed

Faced with hefty operating costs, the foundation building the 9/11 museum at the World Trade Center has decided to charge an admission fee of $20 to $25 when the site opens next year. The exact cost of the mandatory fee has not yet been decided. Entry to the memorial plaza with its twin reflecting pools will still be free. The decision to charge for the underground museum housing relics of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has been met with dismay by some relatives of 9/11 victims. Memorial foundation head Joseph Daniels said Saturday that the museum has little choice. Continue Reading