Sunday, October 20, 2002

Local Digest

Former prosecutor featured on `Dateline'

Five years ago, Melissa Powers talked racist serial sniper Joseph Paul Franklin into confessing to six murders, including two in Cincinnati.

On Tuesday, the Cincinnati lawyer and former Hamilton County assistant prosecutor will be featured on an hourlong episode of NBC's Dateline.

Ms. Powers said Saturday that the episode was filmed weeks before the sniper in the Washington, D.C.-area began his spree.

"That it happened to coincide is a coincidence," she said. "I am talking about my role when I talked to Joseph Paul Franklin."

Mr. Franklin, 52, who authorities say is responsible for 18 race-related deaths in 10 states, is on Missouri's death row. He is also responsible for shooting civil rights leader Vernon Jordan and Hustler Publisher Larry Flynt, who had dedicated an issue of his magazine to interracial sex.

In June of 1980, Mr. Franklin killed teenage cousins with a rifle as they walked along Reading Road in Bond Hill.

Ms. Powers said it was widely suspected that Mr. Franklin had been the shooter, but there was little evidence linking him to the crime. In a jailhouse interview, he confessed to Ms. Powers about the killings here, two in Pennsylvania and two in West Virginia.

Coroner doesn't say if cause of death ruled

COLERAIN TWP. - The Hamilton Coroner's office declined to say Saturday whether a cause of death had been determined for a man who was found in a house here Thursday afternoon.

Authorities were called to the home at 2448 Schon Drive after the body of James E. Castleberry, 32, was found there around 1 p.m. Thursday. The death appears to be an accident, Hamilton County sheriff's deputies said.

"They saw nothing there that would make them rule it a homicide," sheriff's spokesman Steve Barnett said, adding that authorities do not think the man committed suicide either.

The body was found by a maintenance worker for a mortgage company that is reportedly foreclosing on the property, deputies said. Hamilton County real estate records list Mr. Castleberry as the owner of the five-room house.

No new leads found in Pepper abduction

Cincinnati Police continue to investigate the robbery of City Councilman David Pepper.

A sketch, a surveillance video and possible name of the one of the suspects failed to generate any new leads or suspects Saturday, police said.

Mr. Pepper, 31, of Mount Adams reported being kidnapped at gunpoint outside his home Thursday evening. The men robbed Mr. Pepper, made him drive around town and forced him to withdraw $400 cash, the limit from an automated teller machine. The two abductors let Mr. Pepper go about an hour later.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers, 352-3040.

Police search yard of woman who vanished

SPRINGFIELD TWP. - Nearly two weeks after police detectives spent two days searching the yard of a woman who disappeared 14 years ago, prosecutors and detectives remain tight-lipped about what prompted the search or what, if anything, was found.

Hamilton County prosecutors and Springfield Township detectives on Friday again said they could not comment.

Detectives on Oct. 7-8 searched the yard of the Hamilton Avenue home where Linda Bowdre lived with her husband. Mrs. Bowdre was 39 when she was reported missing Feb. 16, 1988.

As part of the search, police dug a 3-foot-deep hole near the foundation of a detached garage.

Ohio to observe school bus safety week

Ohio schools will observe National School Bus Safety Week today through Oct. 26 by reminding children to stay away from the "danger zone" while boarding and exiting the school bus.

The "danger zone" is a 10-foot perimeter around the bus, especially near the front and the right rear tires.

Other tips offered from the Ohio Department of Education:

Take 10 giant steps back from the curb while waiting for the bus and 10 steps when exiting the bus.

Never try to get anything left on the bus after exiting.

Always follow the driver's directions for crossing the street.

For information,

Man accused of trying to seduce teen on 'net

A Lexington, Ky., man was arrested Saturday in Kenwood after he allegedly attempted to seduce an underage girl in an Internet chat room.

Police say Frank Hall, 47, arranged a noon meeting in a parking lot at Montgomery Road and Interstate 71 with whom he believed to be a 14-year-old girl - actually an undercover Cincinnati police officer.

Detectives with the Regional Electronic and Computer Investigation Task Force said that during the past month Mr. Hall had repeated computer conversations with the officer posing as the girl.

They say he discussed specific sex acts and arranged the meeting to consummate their relationship.

Mr. Hall was transported to the Hamilton County Justice Center for arraignment on two counts of importuning and one count of attempted unlawful sexual contact with a minor. All are felonies.

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