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Suspects in Planed Chased Across 6 Counties Marijuana Transfer Interrupted by Police By TIM TUCKER Pott Staff Writer Two men, surprised as they unloaded an estimated half-ton of marijuana, fled in a pair of airplanes, leading deputies in six counties on a wild air chase before escaping into the darkness yesterday. The two planes were slightly damaged as they took off from an airfield in St. Lucie County with a sheriff's deputy in pursuit and were said to be low on fuel, but still led law enforcement agencies on an extensive search. Police arrested two others. Much of the chase took place over Palm Beach County. Police agencies from Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Broward, Brevard, and Palm Beach counties took part in the search, which covered an estimated 100-mile long stretch of the coast. The search area in- At one point, a Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy thought he had discovered one of the planes. "The plane touched down and then took off," the deputy said. "He must have spotted me. He saw me and then took off." A Sheriff's Office spokesman later said the plane in question was another craft, whose pilot was practicing "touch and go's." Police said the planes attempted to land on an unopened portion of 1-95 at one point, but left the area after spotting police units on the ground. Police said one plane had problems staying aloft. The last reported sighting was at 5:30 p.m. near Loxahatchee, where a Sheriff's Office deputy reported the two planes flying low and communicating with each other. Officials said they were discussing their fuel supply and the plane's damage. The planes, were lost as nightfall approached. That led to the search, which one police spokesman described as "wild." Police agencies were "trying to bring down every small plane in the state," the spokesman said. Several civilian planes joined the search. Planes from the Fort Pierce Flying Service, and similar services in Martin and Indian River, searched for the planes, with no success. The planes were described as two yellow and white Piper Aztec twin-engine planes, both with blue and red striping on the wings. One plane suffered damage to about two feet of its left wing tip, during the takeoff collision. Cassens arrested Joseph Murphy, 31, of Coral Gables and James Erp, 27, of Dun- eluded Brevard to the north, Boca Raton to the south, Loxahatchee to the west and parts of the East Coast. Late last night, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said the department ended its search at nightfall and believed the planes were no longer in the county. The search began about 1:30 p.m., when St. Lucie County Sheriff's Deputy Jerry Cassens, while on patrol in western Port St. Lucie, discovered two planes beside a U-Haul rental truck and suspects transferring marijuana from the planes to the truck. When the suspects spotted the deputy's car, they fled in the two planes, colliding as they took off. nellon, as they stood beside the truck, after the planes took off. The U-Haul truck, which was later impounded and taken to a county barn to be checked for fingerprints, contained 10 bales of marijuana, estimated at 1,000 pounds. Cassens also found six five-gallon cans of aviation fuel and police said they believed the planes were unable to refuel before their hurried takeoff. Despite being low on fuel and having slight damage to both planes, the fugitive pilots led police agencies on a baffling chase through six counties. After leaving Port St. Lucie, the planes flew north to Brevard Airport, where they decided not to land, turned around and headed south, with pursuit planes close behind. Awards PalmTBeach POStTij02e h Jhh E Rain VOL. X NO. 20 Pyle Kenned Pulitzer 36 PAGES-: -PRICE FIFTEEN CENTS WEST PALM BEACHr FLORIDArSATURDA Y MORNINGrJANUARY lr 1911- Puerto Riefcv Proposed As New State Ford Plan Welcomed By New Island Governor Editorial, A8 Washington Reaction, A9 From Post Wirt Strvicot VAIL, Colo. In a surprise announcement. President Ford proposed yesterday that the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, now a U.S. commonwealth, be admitted as the 51st state. A White House spokesman said Ford's action "might be interpreted as an indication to Cuba's Fidel Castro that we value Puerto Rico and won't allow any tampering there." Ford later said "I have long felt that they had made tremendous progress very significant economic and social and political progress . . . it seemed to me we ought to take an initiative in Washington for full support of statehood." Puerto Rico Governor-elect Carlos Romero Barcelo yesterday thanked President Ford for proposing statehood for Puerto Rico and said the action supports the right of island residents to full citizenship. Ford's statement caught Puerto Rico by surprise and the new governor gave no indication whether he had been informed previously of Ford's intentions. In a two-paragraph statement, Romero said: "The people of Puerto Rico must be grateful to President Ford for the interest he has shown in defending 'I have long felt that they had made tremendous progress very si g- nificant economic and social and political progress ... it seemed to me we ought to take an initiative in Washington for full support of statehood.' President Ford our right to equality of citizenship. "The news the President will be sending to Congress a recommendation urging to admit Puerto Rico as the 51st state flies in the face of the allegation, made so many times in the past here in Puerto Rico, that the United States would not grant statehood to Puerto Rico, even if Puerto Ricans were to request it democratically through a plebiscite." Romero, currently the mayor of San Juan, will be inaugurated as governor Sunday. The President said he decided to recommend statehood because "it seemed to me that the people of Puerto Rico had spoken in the last election, with a candidate for governor, (Romero) and a candidate for the house of representatives." "Both candidates prevailed, and they both were sympathetic (to statehood), which would be a good reflection of the attitude of the Puerto Rican people," he said. "So it seemed to me that we ought to take an initiative ... in Washington to indicate our full support for statehood for Puerto Rico." Romero said "We will talk. We will educate. We will try to convince people this (statehood) is best for them." Romero said he favors statehood as the best solution to Puerto Rico's "status dilemma," but added, "I have a commitment to not push for statehood until we are well on the way to economic recovery." Puerto Rico currently suffers from over 20 per cent unemployment, declining local and foreign in- Turn to FORD, A9 Nursing a hangover? Need some 'best wishes?' You'll find help on those counts plus Happy New Year! some post-bicentennial news in today's Poster section. Stories, Bl Panel Unsure About Assassination Plots 1 within 60 days of President Kennedy's assassination. "These witnesses had never been sought out before by any investigative body, notwithstanding the fact that they had important information" about Oswald's statements, the report said. The report said that on Nov. 26 "committee staff questioned extensively an ex-CIA agent regarding his personal knowledge of conversations between Lee Harvey Oswald and per- Torn to COMMITTEE, A9 ness that the alleged King assassin, James Earl Ray, had told him he fRay) was contacted in Europe by "another person from whom he received further instructions to aid in his continuing flight." The report said this witness had never been interviewed before by any investigative agency. In its second example of new leads, the report said staff investigators had been sent to Mexico to interview witnesses about statements made there by Lee Harvey Oswald Polls show many Americans reject the conclusions of investigatory bodies that the killers acted without accomplices. The committee said it is looking "into new and previously unpursued leads" in the assassinations. Two examples of the new leads, previously disclosed, were cited in the committee's progress report. Rep. Thomas N. Downing tD-Va.), the committee chairman, said they were regarded as "highly significant." As new evidence the committee cited a statement attributed to an unidentified wit From Pott Wirt Sorvical WASHINGTON - The House Select Committee on Assassinations said yesterday it cannot rule out the possibility of conspiracy in the shootings of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., but neither can it say there were conspiracies. The panel, established in September, asked to be reconstituted by the 95th Congress to pursue unresolved indications of conspiracies in each killing and try to "resolve the growing doubts" among Americans about why Kennedy and King were assassinated. t a H 7 The Chase Woman's Screams Answered As Citizens Foil Muggers Inside Today Confetti fills the air (left) at the close of the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. The market closed out the year over the magic 1000 mark, gaining 19 points for the week. Year-end .1976 quotations will appear in Sunday's Business section. Market Story, A3 Dow Review, D7 Indonesia splits with OPEC on the size of its oil increase, indicating another chink in the armor of the oil cartel. Story, A6 Amusements B4,S Business A3 Classified CS-9 Comics B6,7 Editorials A8 Letters A8 Obituaries C4 Religion A6,7,B2 Sports D1.4 Stocks D5.7 TV Listings B8 Wiggins B1 , MIAMI (UPI) Rose Yernell's courage is exceeded only by her power to sway men's minds, police say. Miss Yernell, 50, was window-shopping outside a Sears, Roebuck store on Biscayne Boulevard Wednesday night when she was knocked down by two muggers, who seized her purse. She got up and gave chase. "The victim was a real spunky lady," said police Maj. Philip Doherty. "She was yelling, 'Help, help, help'," said Sears Automotive department salesclerk Thomas Hill, 25. "She had a set of lungs." Hill, a onetime high school track star, joined the chase. So did Rudolph Shoucair, a pedestrian on the other side of the boulevard. Miss Yernell continued to run and shout and other pedestrians joined the chase. The pursuit continued westward and then south along Miami's N E 1st Avenue, to a rooming house where 30 residents lounged on a porch. One looked up and shouted the fugitives were the same pair who had robbed him a short time before. The 30 roomers joined the ipromptu posse. ( Finally, the fugitives reached a cul-de-sac against a fence under Miami's Dolphin Expressway. "They were cut off at the pass," Doherty said. One of the two fugitives hurled Miss Yernell's purse over the fence just as the first of the pursuers reached him. "An old man with a chain got to the big one first. He whirled away from the old man and ran right into me," said Hill, who explained, "I can't see anybody ripping off a woman like that. "I grabbed him by the feet and the old man wrapped the chain around his neck. They sat on him and I went and grabbed the other one," Hill said. When Doherty arrived, he found Johnny Battle, 19, and a 14-year-old boy whose name was withheld, lying on the ground with as many of the 30 as could find space sitting on top of them. "It was heart warming," Doherty said. "The robbers were glad to fcee me." . ..... . . jt . 1 It; AP Wlrophoto Floor Men Celebrate Year's End at Exchange JE-.