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Tornadoes in southern Plains destroy homes, flip cars

Tornadoes raked the southern Plains on Wednesday, overturning cars on an Oklahoma City interstate and destroying dozens of homes.

No deaths were immediately reported from the tornadoes that hit Oklahoma and rural parts of Kansas and Nebraska.

The worst damage seemed to be in the Oklahoma City area. A twister destroyed homes at Bridge Creek, Amber and Blanchard, southwest of the city, and it appeared another tornado touched down later Wednesday evening when a second storm came through the area.

“We have damage reports, so we do strongly think there was a tornado on the south side of Oklahoma City,” meteorologist Michael Scotten with the National Weather Service in Norman said after the second storm that hit around 8:40 p.m.

That storm flipped vehicles on Interstate 35 and left power lines strewn across the roadway, Scotten said.

Lara O'Leary, a spokeswoman for Emergency Medical Services Authority, said late Wednesday that the company transported 12 patients from a trailer park in south...

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Hostage's online pizza order: Pepperoni, garlic, please help. Get 911

A central Florida woman helped save herself and her children by sending a message in an online pizza order that asked employees to call 911 because she was being held hostage.

The Avon Park Pizza Hut employees spotted what Cheryl Treadway wrote in the comment section of her online order. Employees recognized Treadway as a regular customer and called the sheriff's office.

Highlands County Sheriff's deputies went to the home, where they were greeted by Treadway, who was carrying a small child. She told them her boyfriend, Ethan Nickerson, 26, was inside the home, armed with a knife. Her other two children were also inside.

Treadway and the child were escorted to safety.

WFLA-TV reported that Lt. Curtis Ludden started talking to Nickerson through a closed door.

"His first words were, of course, `I'm not coming out because I know I'm going to jail,' " Ludden told the TV station.

It took about 20 minutes for Ludden to talk Nickerson into coming out peacefully. The children were not harmed.


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Chicago OKs $5.5 million in reparations for police torture victims

The Chicago City Council on Wednesday unanimously voted to approve a historic $5.5-million reparations fund for torture victims of the notorious Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his so-called midnight crew of rogue detectives.

"This is another step, but an essential step, in righting a wrong — removing a stain," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said of the reparations fund that he backed and advocates say is the first of its kind in the nation. "Chicago has finally confronted its past and come to terms with it and recognizing something wrong was done."

The vote came after an emotional debate in which some of Burge's victims looked on from the gallery in council chambers.

Alderman Howard Brookins, chairman of the council's African American caucus, noted that approval was a long time in coming. "We have shown today that that type of abhorrent behavior will not be tolerated in our city," Brookins said.

"Does it totally make up for what happened?" asked Alderman Joe Moore. "Absolutely not. But it's a...

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Nearly 56 years later, Ohio prison escapee caught in Florida

A man who escaped prison nearly 56 years ago was captured by U.S. marshals this week in Florida, where he had lived under an alias.

Frank Freshwaters, 79, was apprehended Monday in Melbourne, Fla., where he was using the name William Harold Cox, according to U.S. marshals. 

In 1957, Freshwaters was the driver of a car that struck and killed a pedestrian in Ohio. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to one to 20 years in prison. However, a judge gave him five years' probation.

Two years later, he was found guilty of violating that probation and was ordered to serve out his original term at the Sandusky Honor Farm, where in September 1959 he escaped, according to a statement released by U.S. marshals.

Freshwaters is being held in the Brevard County, Fla., sheriff's office awaiting an extradition hearing. A request for comment from U.S. marshals was not immediately returned Wednesday. 

In October 1975, Freshwaters was apprehended in Charleston, W.V., but then-Gov....

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Prosecutor to seek death penalty in Hannah Graham slaying

The man accused of abducting and killing a University of Virginia student has been charged with capital murder and a prosecutor said Tuesday she will seek the death penalty if the case goes to trial.

The indictment accusing Jesse L. Matthew Jr. of capital murder in the death of Hannah Graham is based on new forensic evidence, Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford told reporters after a hearing in which new defense attorneys with experience in death penalty cases were appointed. She declined to elaborate on the evidence.

Matthew, a former hospital worker and taxi driver, already was charged with first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile and is being held without bond.

Shackled and handcuffed, Matthew showed no expression at Tuesday's hearing. He had been served the new indictment earlier in the day, Lunsford said.

Lunsford said that while the new forensic evidence was crucial, many factors go into pursuing a death penalty case.

“I would consider the nature...

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Texas cartoon contest shooting: Why images of Muhammad are offensive to Muslims