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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California • Page 3

Los Angeles, California
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LOS ANGELES TIMES A THURSDAY, MAY 6, 1999 A3 Second Front Page Detective May Be Close to Solving Missing Teen Case p' Evidence: He awaits DNA test results to see if man who allegedly confessed to killing four other people is linked to girl's disappearance. Capitol Journal GEORGE SKELTON Phone Access Still a Hang-Up for Our Teachers year. Posters of the oval-faced, green-eyed 17-year-old still hang in shops, and tips still come in to the Police Department. Local media highlighted the case again recently, after two other Eureka residentsCarole Sund and her daughter, Juliana disappeared on a Yosemite trip and were found murdered in Tuolumne County. Mitchell has never been found, but Parris believes that he may finally have a solid lead in the case.

The mystery may have begun to unravel in November, Parris said, when a trucker named Wayne Adam Ford walked into the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department and allegedly confessed to killing four women. He brought with him the severed breast of one victim as proof of his crimes. Ford told investigators that he picked up his victims on the street. They were hitchhikers or prostitutes, whom he told detectives died during "rough sex." The first killing Ford allegedly con- SHAUN WALKER For The Times Something Det. David Parris found in a car he can't say what may be an important clue in the disappearance of high school student Karen Mitchell.

By MARY CURTIUS TIMES STAFF WRITER EUREKA, Calif For 17 months, Police Det. David Parris has combed underbrush, searched swamps, banged on doors and run down hundreds of tips including ones from psychics in a frustrating search for Karen Mitchell, a high school junior who vanished in broad daylight from a downtown street. The detective's almost immediate conclusion that Mitchell had been kidnapped sent a wave of fear through this North Coast town of 28,000, where no one can remember another teenager being snatched off a city street and there are only about three murders a fessed to happened one month before Mitchell disappeared while walking to work at a day-care center Nov. 25, 1997. Mitchell was neither hooker nor hitchhiker, but she was walking down the street when last seen, and three witnesses eventually came forward to say they saw her get into a car that stopped to pick her up.

The witnesses, however, differed in describing the car, and the only description of the driver sounded nothing like Ford. Please see MISSING, All Crippled Craft Will Resume Mapping of Red Planet Science: Officials hope Mars Global Surveyor will transmit as much data as possible despite jammed antenna. .5 mil 1 mi Reuters A bus in Bridge Creek, was tossed into a field during Monday's tornado. Below, a book by evangelist Billy Graham was one of the items salvaged from the trailer home of Harry and Helen Sutton in Haysville, Kan. From Grass to Trucks, Tornado Left Little Intact Disaster: In path of F-5 twister, Oklahoma townsfolk sift through shards of their homes, if they're lucky enough to have anything left.

SACRAMENTO Of all the indignities suffered by schoolteachers, perhaps the worst is being denied a telephone. Their pay is insulting it starts at roughly $27,000 and tops out in the Working conditions often are depressing: No central air, leaky roofs, busted faucets, dust balls everywhere, bland lunches, long lines at the copy machine. They're harassed publicly by politicians who create scapegoats to cover their own failure to invest adequately in education. (California still ranks 35th in the nation in per-pupil spending.) But for sheer inconsideration, it's hard to beat refusing somebody a phone call. How many other professionals do you know who don't have a phone on their desk? For most teachers, there isn't even one in the room where they work.

"It's a matter of treating people like professionals," says Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin (D-Duncans Mills), an elementary school teacher for 24 years. "It's an embarrassment." For years, Strom-Martin has pushed legislation to require a telephone in each classroom of every new school starting in 2000. Her bill is strongly backed by state Supt. of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin. But twice it passed the Legislature and was vetoed by former Gov.

Pete Wilson. With Democrat Gray Davis as governor, she's more optimistic. In fact, "now that we've got everybody's attention" with the Columbine High School killings, says Strom-Martin, she may amend her bill to require teacher phones even in existing schools. Lack of classroom phones at Columbine hampered communication with law officers. "But the phones are needed for more than safety," Strom-Martin adds.

"They're needed for Internet connection and for teachers to connect with parents. It's really a professional question as much as a safety question. "You go to school, get your degree, get your teaching credential and yet you're put in this box without any connection to the outside world." A significant step was taken Tuesday when Davis announced he had persuaded AirTouch Cellular to donate 10,000 cell phones to high schools in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Sacramento counties. AirTouch also agreed to pay the air time for three years. Davis said he'll lobby other phone companies to do the same.

"By the time I'm through," he vowed, "every high school teacher will have a cell phone." That will require another 55,000 phones. But there's a big hitch to this deal. These portable phones will be programmed to dial only one number: a law enforcement agency in an emergency. "That's very generous," says Strom-Martin, "but I really think the phones should be used for purposes other than emergencies. teacher, I had to stand in line at 20-minute breaks to call a parent." There's no disputing the safety need, however.

Strom-Martin has collected a two-inch-high stack of single-page, handwritten personal horror stories from teachers who needed a phone when none was around. Just one L.A. example: A kindergarten teacher, doing extra work on Saturday, was sexually assaulted by five boys ages 12 to 15. All the school staff had left, locking the gates. So she had to climb a fence to find a phone.

"In this age of technology," she wrote, "it seems criminal to expect teachers to operate in an environment of antiquity." Annie Webb, principal at Locke High School in Watts, can tell stories too: A fleeing bank robber ducked into the typing class and the teacher had no phone. A shooting suspect ran into a shop class; a phone was there, but it didn't work. "A few teachers have their own cells, but they're kind of expensive," she says. "It's crucial I have one because I'm out and around the campus, so I pay for it myself about $55 a month." What other CEOs have to pay for their own cell phones? Webb was excited about the newly donated cells until told they'd work for only one number. "That's a lot of money to spend just to call one place," she says.

"When you tell teachers they can only call the police, you're undermining their credibility and professionalism. They'll say, 'Keep your I know my teachers." Of course, we must guard against these teachers making any purely personal calls on their office phones like everybody else in America does. It's not like Sacramento doesn't have enough money to cover some air time. Next week, Davis is expected to announce that the state treasury is overflowing with roughly $2 billion in unexpected income tax revenue. A cell phone is a nice gesture.

But a teacher should be allowed to actually use it. Otherwise, it's just one more insult. 1 By ROBERT LEE HOTZ TIMES SCIENCE WRITER After vain attempts to free a jammed antenna, the Mars Global Surveyor resumes the mapping of the red planet today in an effort to eke out as much of its original mission as possible. The equipment problems that have crippled the craft's ability to communicate with Earth could eventually cause the JPL-run mission to lose half the data it was designed to produce, officials said. During the next 30 days, mission managers expect to use the surveyor's six on-board instruments to systematically image the entire orb of Mars in color stereo.

By a stroke of luck, the $250-million spacecraft still will be able to transmit its full scientific findings to Earth until February. During the next nine months, the probe and the planets will continue to be in the right orbital positions for Earth to receive the craft's high-speed transmissions, although the antenna is stuck. After February, however, mission managers aren't sure exactly what they will do. How much data they wind up losing will depend on how they choose to proceed. "They are keeping their fingers crossed," one JPL official said.

Earlier mechanical problems with a solar power panel that cropped up after the craft was launched in 1997 had already delayed the ambitious mapping mission by 18 months and added $11 million to its cost. Even so, mission planners have collected a trove of technical data about the Martian atmosphere, topography and geologic history, as the damaged craft hovered in orbit around Earth's mysterious neighbor. The data revealed, among other things, traces of ancient plate tectonics surprisingly like those that drive the movement of continents on Earth today. The surveyor's current difficulties stem from a jammed gimbal on the craft's high-speed antenna, which prevents it from properly tracking Earth as it swings away from Mars during its annual orbit around the sun. The craft needs the antenna to transmit data as fast as it is collected.

Please see MARS, All By STEPHANIE SIMON TIMES STAFF WRITER BRIDGE CREEK, Okla. Folks here found out Wednesday that the monstrous black funnel cloud that pulverized their small community rated an F-5, a classification that outstrips "severe" or even "dangerous." The F-5 is known simply as "incredible." The tornado ripped acres of grass out of the ground, tossed a hefty dump truck a good quarter-mile down the road and blasted the doors off the storm cellar where Keith Fritzmeyer and his neighbors were huddled, praying. Through the gap where the doors used to be, Fritzmeyer watched the twister pick up the house next door, bat it around like a child's ball, then explode it into shards. If it hadn't been for that storm cellar, Fritzmeyer said, he and his family would have been killed. Everyone had their own stories to tell Wednesday: narrow escapes and lucky breaks, accounts of kittens found alive buried under plaster wallboard or squeezed under couches.

They told those stories often, as if to distract themselves from the grim task at hand. The task of sorting through the debris to see what could be salvaged. "The reality is just setting in today," Bertha Sue Olli-son said as she picked through the wreckage of her trailer home, emerging with a dirty but unbroken 31 Associated Press wine glass and a garbage bag full of clothes. "Every once in a while you'll cry, and every once in a while you'll laugh," said her husband, Earl, who looked at the moment to be much closer to tears. "I think we're still in shock." All along the tornado's deadly path, similar scenes played out as authorities allowed most victims to return to their ravaged homes for a first full day of cleanup.

Please see TORNADO, All Russian Immigrants Are Key Bloc in Israel Election Voters: Group is drifting away from Netanyahu, polls show, as he and rival vie for their support. voter survey." But with less than two weeks to go to election day, both Likud and Labor are scrambling after the Russians, launching massive telephone canvassing operations and courting Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet refusenik who heads Israel With Immigration. At a news conference Wednesday, Netanyahu announced new government benefits including municipal tax cuts and housing aid for 30,000 World War II veterans who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union. Standing beside Sharansky, who is industry and trade minister in Netanyahu's government, the prime minister said he did not rule out offering the sought-after Interior Ministry post to Israel With Immigration. The ministry, with authority over citizenship, residency and other matters of critical importance to immigrants, is the subject Please see ISRAEL, All to poll but suggest that Netanyahu's support among the Russians, traditionally one of his most loyal constituencies, has slipped from about 70 of voters surveyed several weeks ago to between 55 and 60 now.

Barak's share of Russian voters has climbed proportionately, and both trends are continuing. "If Netanyahu is to win, he needs at least 60 of the Russian vote," said veteran pollster Hanoch Smith of the Smith Research Institute, one of the top polling organizations in Israel. "If it's less, he's in deep trouble." Israel With Immigration pollster Ron Dermer, referring to the prime minister by his nickname, put it more starkly: "Frankly, Bibi cannot win the election with these numbers." A Likud spokesman declined to comment on the new figures, other than to echo recent Netanyahu statements that the election itself is the only "true Center Party candidate Yitzhak Morde-chai is dropping fast, the surveys show. If no candidate wins more than 50 of the vote May 17, a runqff election is planned for June 1. Pollsters note that Netanyahu still has a majority of the huge Russian vote, which is estimated to consist of 14 of Israel's 4.2 million registered voters.

And they caution that the race is far from settled, with at least 10 of poll respondents saying they are still undecided. But, according to surveys by independent polling firms, the Russian immigrant Israel With Immigration party and, reportedly, by Likud itself, the prime minister is slowly losing ground to Barak among those immigrant voters, in a shift that has helped the Labor leader open an overall lead of about 8 percentage points in most polls. The numbers differ slightly from poll By REBECCA TROUNSON TIMES STAFF WRITER JERUSALEM Russian immigrant voters, viewed by many as the decisive factor in the last two Israeli elections, are shifting support away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and toward his main rival in the May 17 vote, according to a variety of new polls. Analysts say the trend could spell the difference in what is increasingly a tight, two-man race between Netanyahu, the conservative Likud Party leader, and Ehud Barak, who heads the left-of-center Labor Party. Support for.

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