St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on February 15, 1998 · Page 37
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 37

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Sunday, February 15, 1998
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E5FEB15B98. P u y in $1.25 Vol. 120, No. 46 1998 Sunday, February 15, 1998 6 I Teen-ager is accused of killing 5 in Illinois Suspect is half-brother of 1 victim By Colleen Carroll Of the Post-Dispatch NOBLE, 111. Residents of this small town struggled Saturday to absorb the shock of a killing spree that left one adult and four children dead in their home. Police were holding a 16-year-old boy on charges of first-degree -t murder. He , Chicago f was taken to a juvenile detention center in Indiana. He is the half-brother of John Churchill, one of the vic-tims, residents said. ILLINOIS St. Louis , 4 Noble Neighbors V have identi fied the five victims as Debby Smith, a woman in her 30s, and her three children: Jennifer, a sixth-grader, Kory, a fourth-grader, and Kenneth, who was in kindergarten. Also killed was Smith's live-in boyfriend John Churchill, 17, neighbors said. Police refused to confirm the, names of the dead or the suspect. They also declined to discuss a motive. Noble is eight miles west of Olney in southeastern Illinois, about 110 miles east of St. Louis. Police discovered the bodies around 10:15 p.m. Friday in a white frame home at 448 North Noble Avenue after a group of teen-age boys told them to check See Teen, PageAU NAGANO 19 9 8 Todd Eldredge falls short of figure-skating medal Coverage in Sports, Section F The Olympics on TV 6-7 p.m. On TNT Event coverage: curling. Review: hockey, figure skating, speedskating, nordic combined. 3-5 p.m.; 7-10 p.m.; 10:35 p.m.-11:35 a.m. On CBS (KM0V- TV Channel 4) Men's ice hockey, figure skating, ice dancing, two-man bobsled, men's speedskating, men's ice hockey game and men's ice hockey game with Canada. Our Sunm Best I Colonial Williams- I burg provides a passport back in time. The capi tal of colonial Virginia was rebuilt through the efforts of two men -the Rev. Dr. WAR. Goodwin, who supplied the dream at the start of this century, and John D. Rockefeller, who supplied the cash r in the 1920s. Through their efforts travelers have an opportunity to tour America at a time when the colonists' loyalty to England was unraveling. Tl , Obituaries, C 12-13 Movies, Dll Classified, Gl Editorials, B2 fc rti lx 999 ; i -rziA n o iispr 9 it. 7 THE KILLER: Michael Taylor (with defense attorney Nancy Ferrick) a special-education student diagnosed with behavior disorders, transferred to McCluer North the day before he killed Christine Smetzer. Monsanto starts field trials to jazz up genes in potatoes In the United States, genetically engineered crop acreage has expanded rapidly since 1995. A few examples of such crops, with the percent of acres planted that has been genetically engineered: : t y :A .ft CORN SOYBEANS BYBILLLAMBRECHT Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau WASHINGTON - Monsanto's upcoming field trials with genetically engineered crops could leave Mr. Potato Head dizzy with change. The company already has incorporated a gene to ward off insects into its commercially available NewLeaf potato. Now it has informed the government of research to stack potatoes with a half-dozen more genes to: Protect them from fungus. Change their metabolism. Prevent bruising. Add solid content so that french fries cook with less oil. , "We are improving Americans' favorite vegetable," trumpeted Alyssa A. Hollier, of NatureMark, the Monsanto unit in charge of transgenic potatoes. Some would argue that altering food does something other than improve it. Nonetheless, Monsanto and rivals in the life-science industry are moving swiftly with research and new plantings that promise to make 1998 a pivotal year in biotechnology. Records at the Department of Agriculture show that since Dec. 31, Monsanto has given notification of 75 field trials with genetically Kli I I when Academy Award nominations were announced last week. Its 14 nominations tied the Academy's record for most ever in a year in which, once again, their were few surprises. Winners will be .... x announced The palace is outlined in this aerial photo of Iraq's presidential compound. 1w COHON engineered crops at 400 sites, four times the number of trials planned by its nearest rival. These trials are designed to improve transgenic crops now available and to pave the way for a new era of designer foods. (Transgenic plants are those that have had genes transferred from other plants to breed different characteristics.) Arnold S. Foudin, deputy director of the Agriculture Department's biotechnology unit, described the number of field trial notifications as "a tidal wave that has reached a plateau." As recently as 1995, the United States had no cropland whatsoever planted with genetically engineered seeds. But this year, acreage of genetically altered crops could double in 1998 to about 60 million acres in the United States according to industry predictions. About half are crops with Monsanto-supplied genes. In November, Monsanto and DeKalb Genetics Co. won approval to begin selling herbicide-tolerant corn that allows fanners to spray chemicals directly on the plant. This spring, Monsanto is expected to get the go-ahead from the Agriculture Department to sell the first tomato genetically altered See Genes, Page A8 "Titanic" sank the competition March 23. Dl 40 1 : Community is still haunted by the brutal school crime Laws for transfer students were changed after killing BY PHYLLIS BRASCH LlBRACH Of the Post-Dispatch People can't always remember her name. Or where she went to school. But three years after Christine Smetzer was raped, beaten and drowned in a restroom stall at McCluer North High School, her memory still rattles parents and students across the area. They talk about "the girl who was killed in the bathroom." "That murder stuck out in our minds," said Barbara See-beck of Mehlville, the mother of six children. A jury in St. Louis County Saturday found Taylor, 18, guilty of first-degree murder and rape in the Smetzer case. Taylor, a special-education student diagnosed with behavior disorders, transferred to McCluer North the day Regulating romance in the workplace puts employers in middle of 'minefield' By Kyung M. Song Of the Post-Dispatch Bill Gates did it. So did billionaire Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp., and he got sued. Frederic Brussee, the No. 2 executive at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri, got fired for it. And Wal-Mart Stores Inc. once banned it. Romance with a co-worker is nothing if not potentially turbulent Long before President Bill Clinton ever heard of Monica Lewinsky, amorous relationships on the job were causing plenty of heat and not just for the couples themselves. "When a relationship is just about Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall with Verdell, a neighbor's Brussels Griffon, in "As Good As It Gets." Dsn TTieU.S. appears to be gearing up for a flawed campaign against Iraq. It lacks an objective. There are a range of possibilities, from destroying weapons to killing Saddam Hussein. But relying on air power to deliver the message, whatever it may be, makes success unlikely. Bl v. -A 1 J V. H - t f t '. . V t THE VICTIM: Christine Smetzer was a 15-year-old freshman. before he murdered Smetzer by drowning her in a toilet bowl. Teachers and administrators at McCluer North say they never knew Taylor had a juvenile record nor that he had been suspended when he was transferred from McCluer High, another school in the Ferguson-Florissant district. Theoretically that shouldn't happen today. In reaction to the Smetzer killing, Missouri lawmakers passed the Safe Schools Act in 1995, requiring among other things that a student's violent behavior records follow him or her from school to school and district to district. But this school year an elementary-school teacher in north St. Louis County found some children still arrived without a paper trail. And some parents fail to find comfort even when the paperwork accompanies students. "We don't have access to those records; they are private and confidential," said Donna Angiel, who lives in Affton. See Slaying, Page AS Bill Gates Larry Ellison Frederic Brussee .- J Microsoft chairman Oracle Corp. chairman Formerly of Blue Crost : to bloom and everyone is happy, they don't see the downside that might be down the road," said Pat Mathews, vice president of human resources for Argosy Gaming Co., which operates the Alton Belle floating casino. "If the relationship goes sour, thafs when the trouble starts." With men and women working in almost equal numbers, sexual entanglements on the job pose an increasing hazard for employers. Although one survey shows that a I On Oct. 23, 1992, two men took nearly $1 million in what's considered the largest armed robbery in the city's history. The holdup was daring and flawlessly executed. The case remains unsolved more than five years later, despite more than 700 interviews and an award of more than $100,000 offered. Police aren't actively pusuing the case, but they haven't closed it, either. CI fpwtlnM o lliliilllll j : 1 L -' " ii ' - ! 111 Teen attacked, drowned girl in high school restroom ; Life in prison is only option BY WILLIAM C. LHOTKA Of the Post-Dispatch A jury in St Louis County Circuit Court convicted Michael Taylor Saturday of beating, raping and drowning Christine Smetzer in a ; third-floor restroom at McCluer North High School in Florissant, where both were students. The sequestered jury of five men and seven women deliberated less than three hours before finding Taylor, 18, guilty of first-degree murder and the rape of the 15 year-old freshman. Judge Larry L. Kendrick set sentencing for April 3. Because Taylor was 48 days short of his 16th birthday when Smetzer was killed on Jan. 24, 1995, the state couldn't seek the death penalty. The only punishment available to the judge for first-degree murder is life in prison without parole. The jury also recommended life in prison on the rape conviction. After the verdict, Smetzer's mother, Mary Kay Harries of Florissant, said: "I wish he could have gotten the death sentence, to be honest with you. He sentenced her (Christine) to death for no purpose." Harries sat in the front row during closing arguments, surrounded by family members and friends. On the other side of the courtroom sat Taylor's family. Both sides heard prosecutor Carrie Costantin tell the jury that Taylor committed "a premeditated, cold-blooded not just cool reflection but cold-blooded murder. Christine Smetzer was a victim of opportunity; she was in the wron place at the wrong time" , "This was his time to kill and his; time to rape; there was no othe? reason to walk up those stairs arid into that restroom." J Citing the testimony of 27 prosecu tion witnesses over the past four days, Costantin said physical evi-I dence showed that Taylor had bro-J ken into the last stall in the restroom,' punched Smetzer in the face to disable her, shoved her head in the toilet and raped her as she was dying. ; The prosecutor said five finge prints police found in the restroom See Taylor, Page AS quarter of all workers have had a romantic relationship with a coK league, few companies have writi ten policies on dating among em- ployees. And when the relationship is consensual, setting limits can be a very tricky task, experts say. . J "It's a minefield," said Raymond, Hilgert, professor of management and industrial relations at Wash ington University. Office romancg See Romance, PageAfy Weather Today: Cloudy and breezy. SE wind 1 at 1 2-22 mph. High 48. Low 40. - Monday: ; Showers de-J veloping. Jt High 46. Other weather Page B8 Seers j "" ! V , e

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