The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee on May 28, 1994 · Page 1
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The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee · Page 1

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Nashville, Tennessee
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Saturday, May 28, 1994
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SATURDAY aw i 1 C Jazz back in it, tip Houston 95-86 Malone leads balanced attack TODAY'S HIGH: TONIGHTS LOW: Jordan finds out about new slump Never this bad in basketball 80 LWI 55 Complete weather forecast on 6B NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE A GANNETr NEWSPAPER Volume 90, No. 148 15 sections U S Copyright 1W4 Second Class postage paid in Nashville, TN . .v ,1 ' ft iT I jr-i TRJF&SFAN Poll shows Tennesseans crime weary 'Conceal and carry' law disdained by the majority By LARRY DAUCHTREY Staff Writer Tennesseans generally take a hard line on violent criminals, but a majority opposes a new state law allowing citizens to get permits to carry concealed handguns across the state. By a margin of 56-33, voters say they are against the new "conceal and carry" law, one of the most controversial issues in the General Assembly this year. Among women, 63 are opposed, while 21 support it 'IMA ties sisuect to death PoEl method Conducted May 21-24 by Mason-Dixon PoliticalMedia Research Inc. of Columbia, Md 805 regular voters across Tennessee were phoned at random. The sample was balanced to reflect the state's racial, gender and geographic composition. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5, meaning there is a 95 statistical probability that a survey of the state's population would fall within that margin. Those are among the findings of a Mason-Dixon PoliticalMedia Research Co. poll conducted last weekend for The Tennessean, WSMV and other media organizations in the state. After numerous incidents involving firearms in public schools in Nashville and elsewhere, a whopping 93 of Tennesseans favor the use of metal de tectors to find weapons at schools. Given a choice between punishment for students who do bring guns to school, two-thirds of Tennesseans want them expelled, placed in a juvenile facility, or fines or jail time levied on parents, or a combination of those. For adult violent criminals, most voters want to abolish a parole system that allows many felons to go free after serving as little as 20 of their sentence. Of 805 voters questioned in a random but scientific sampling, 55 favored the end of the parole system, while 35 were opposed. A plurality of 44 said they were willing to pay more taxes to handle the increased prison population Turn to PAGE 2A, Column 1 I ?-i Newlywed raped before killings By BRAD SCHMITT Staff Writer Kelli Phillips' beauty probably cost her and her husband their lives. Police yesterday charged computer salesman Thomas E. Steeples the target of several sexual misconduct accusations with the March 8 beating deaths of California newlyweds Kelli and Rob Phillips. The two were found in a blood-soaked room at the Econo Lodge Motel at 970 Murfreesboro Road that day by a motel housekeeper. Police yesterday also charged Steeples, 49, of 1835 S. Mount Juliet Road in Mount Juliet with raping Kelli Phillips. "He is a cold-blooded man," said murder squad detective Bill Pridemore Jr. Police linked Steeples to the slayings after body fluid samples taken from him with a search warrant were matched through DNA to evidence found in the hotel room. The primary investigators in the case wouldn't talk about the motive. But those familiar with the probe said they believe Steeples went to the Phillipses' motel room after meeting them at a nearby bar because he wanted to have sex with Kelli. It was not Steeples' first accusation of sexual wrongdoing. In 1975, Steeples was arrested on a rape charge in Memphis. The woman told police he beat her after a date and forced her to have sex in a van next to his apartment police records show. The woman chose not to prosecute for rape, so the charge was reduced to assault Steeples pleaded guilty to that and was sentenced to a year in jail, records show. In addition, his wife, Tillie Ruth Steeples, charged in a 1991 divorce petition that she witnessed her husband beating and attempting to rape a young woman in a makeshift teepee behind the couple's house. Mn rriminnl rharpes were filed after that incident. Rick Musacchio Staff In tne divorce petition, Tillie Steeples also Murder squad detectives Pat Postiglione, left, and Billy Pridemore escort Thomas E. Steeples charged that her husband bragged about hiring pros- into police headquarters. Steeples was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two titutes routinely. She said her husband contracted counts of felony murder and one count of aggravated rape in the fatal attack on California venereal diseases several times and passed them to newlyweds Kelli and Rob Phillips. I Turn to page 2A, Column 5 olzhenitsyn: No more books Russian expatriate returns to help revive his homeland By ALAN COOPERMAN Associated Press VLADIVOSTOK, Russia To the traditional greeting of bread and salt and the emotional cheers of thousands, Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to his homeland yesterday after 20 years in exile and said he will never write again. "I have already written all of my books and fulfilled my literary task," he told the ITAR-Tass news agency in an interview. "Now I don't have any time for writing. It's time to start the hard work of rebuilding and reviving Russia." Solzhenitsyn's criticism of Josef Stalin sent him to the labor camps as a young man in World War II, and his powerful writings on the cruelty of the communist system got him expelled from the Soviet Union in KGB handcuffs in 1974. His books among them One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisov-ich and The First Circle also won him the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970 and acclaim as Russia's conscience and greatest living writer. Some Russians question whether he has been away too long to have much impact in a Russia changed radically by the fall of communism. But about 4,000 people stood in the rain for hours at Vladivostok's central square waiting for Solzhenitsyn. When he arrived in a white Japanese minivan from the airport, shouts of "Hurrah!" rose from the crowd. Solzhenitsyn, 75, looked pale and tired after a 38-hour trip from Cavendish, Vt, where he lived the past 18 years. Evincing an occasional smile, he said he was overwhelmed with emotion at his long-awaited homecoming. "I know I am coming to a Russia that is torn, discouraged, disoriented, changed beyond recognition, convulsively searching for itself, for its own true identity," Solzhenitsyn said in a 10-minute speech. "I hope in meeting with many people to verify my impressions, and I am ready to revise them. - ...4 Hi- I Mi 1:( 1 AP Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn speaks to reporters, on arriving with wife, Natalia, and son Yermolai, left, at Vladivostok. He returned to Russia after 20 years in exile. But I would like during these meetings to help to find together with you a true path out of our 75-year-old quagmire, to find a future so that our people, our children, our nation, finally will discover the light and spiritual peace." Solzhenitsyn, who was born as the Bolsheviks seized power and long predicted communism would not last his lifetime, stood with his sons Stephan and Yermolai and his wife, Natalia, who clutched a handful of white flowers. A sign held up in the crowd read: "We ask for forgiveness. Welcome to your homeland. All of Mother Russia is waiting be- t Turn to PAGE 2A, Column 1 Rabbit massacre stuns Pigeon Forge 88 of mini golfs mascots found dead By JOE ROGERS Staff Writer It's not the standard mass murder the victims are rabbits but it has the attention of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., police nonetheless. Bunnyland Mini Golf advertises live bunnies wandering its courses. But as many as 88 furry employees have been found dead in the past two months, including 58 last week and a reported 15 more earlier this week. Police Chief Jack Baldwin isn't sure of the killers yet but it looks like humans were involved at least in the larger attack. "These animals were in a building," he said. "It appears they had been beaten some hit in the head. Others, according to what the vet at UT said, some had apparently died from fright" Some also had been skinned and mutilated. The Sevier County Humane Society is offering a $625 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible. "We're all shocked and angry," said Jayne Vaughn, executive director of the society. "I've never seen "It appears they had been beaten some hit in the head. Others . . . had apparently died from fright." JACK BALDWIN Pigeon Forge police chief anything like it The thing so appalling and shocking was the mass of animals there were so many." Baldwin said police have increased patrols in the area of the course and have had an officer walking through the course at night. They're also following leads from people who have phoned the department, though so far there's been little but suspicions and speculation. "Some people are taking it as a joke and some people are taking it quite seriously," Baldwin said. "We think it's quite serious. Anytime somebody harms one of God's creatures, it's a serious matter." MOVIES erlck are dressed to the nines on screen, and some of their cowboy fashions are spilling Into real life. Costume designer April Ferry tried to tweak the traditional Western by adding style and humor to the clothes of Gibson and Jody Fos-' ter. On 3D. ' : In Mav- it , i i f DAYBREAK 35ld I'! 3 CONTENTS n in n AmonSilyseclionS. I featuring news of interest ) 1-4E Horoscope 2D GIBSON A monthly section featuring news of interest to those over 50. X- Classified 4-32E Comics 6D Crossword 2D Dear Abby 2D Deaths 5B Editorials 14A Entertainment 3D Living 1-8D Local News 1-6B Movies 2-7D Newsmakers 3A Scoreboard 5C Sports 1-6C Television 5D On 2A: The World In 5 Minutes CONSUMERS Shoppers are nOW getting an extra message with their ground meat: A mandatory label tells them how to avoid illness from undercooking and improper handling. "This label does not affect our continuing responsibility to improve the meat and poultry inspection system," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy. "It also does not relieve industry from the responsibility to sell safe products." The label says the meat may contain bacteria "that could cause illness if the product is mishandled or cooked improperly." OnfcA. YOUR MONEY The future could be grim for women who don t plan for retirement. The group Women Workl found that 42 of displaced homemakers stay-at-homes unexpectedly divorced or widowed were impoverished. And widows 65 and older make up the largest group of elderly poor. One reason: Social Security and private pension plans discriminate against women. On 1E. J,

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