National Roundup

Ohio

Remains of girl missing since '99

found in house

LIMA, Ohio (AP) -- The skeletal remains of a 14-year-old Ohio runaway who went missing in 1999 have been found after the home where she was last seen was demolished, according to police.

The Lima News reports that Lima police on Saturday said the remains of Nicholle Coppler were found in a crawl space as the home's foundation was being dug out. Allen County Coroner Gary Beasley said they were identified through dental records.

The home was owned by Glen Fryer, who had been suspected in Coppler's death. The newspaper reports he was 55 when he killed himself in 2002 while awaiting sentencing for raping a girl.

The home was demolished after the state took possession due to unpaid taxes. Coppler's remains were the only ones found.

"I knew in my heart it was Nicholle," said the girl's mother, Krista Coppler, who now lives Florida. "I knew in my heart she never left that house."

Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin said the discovery means the homicide investigation is reopened. The newspaper reports that police have said Fryer had a link to human trafficking.

Lt. Jim Baker said detectives believe Fryer was involved in the death but that there also were other people. Police said other people knew the girl was in the house, and Lima police Maj. Richard Shade said at least two other people lived in the home with Fryer.

Krista Coppler said she doesn't feel the investigation was handled properly in 1999 but that police have since changed policy on runaways.

"If, in Nicholle's name, she can save some other girls, some good can come out of this," she said.

California

Scouts to turn over their files

in sex abuse case

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) -- A judge overseeing a lawsuit brought by the family of a California boy molested by his troop leader in 2007 has ordered the Boy Scouts of America to hand over confidential files detailing allegations of sexual abuse by Scout leaders around the nation.

The Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge said last month that the Irving, Texas-based organization must turn over the last 20 years' worth of records by Feb. 24, with victims' names removed, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. The files will not be made public.

Known as "ineligible volunteer files," the documents have been maintained since the 1920s and are intended to keep suspected molesters and others accused of misconduct out of Scouting. Scouts officials have resisted releasing them and won't discuss their contents, citing the privacy rights of victims and the fact that many files are based on unproven allegations.

The officials deny that the files have been used to conceal sexual abuse.

"These files exist solely to keep out individuals whose actions are inconsistent with the standards of Scouting, and Scouts are safer because of them," Deron Smith, public relations director of Boy Scouts of America, told the Times.

The Santa Barbara case is significant because it seeks to unlock files that have never been turned over by the Scouts, including all since 2005. It also alleges wrongdoing that took place relatively recently, even as the Scouts have stepped up protective efforts.

The trial is scheduled for April, nearly five years after the boy, then 13, was molested by volunteer troop leader Al Stein at a Boy Scouts Christmas tree sale in Goleta. Stein pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment in 2009.

He was sentenced to two years in prison but was paroled early and is living in a Salinas motel with other sex offenders, his attorney Steven Balash told the newspaper.

The victim's name has not been released. His mother claims that David Tate, then the Los Padres Council Scout executive, asked her not to call police after she reported her son's claim of abuse.

"He said that wasn't necessary, because the Scouts do their own internal investigation," said the woman, whose name the Times withheld to protect her son's identity. "I thought that was really weird... I thought it was really important to call the sheriff right away."

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, contends the Scouts knew or should have known that Stein had put the boy at risk and cites Tate's reluctance to call police as evidence of an effort to conceal widespread sexual abuse.

The boy's lawyers contend the files will expose the Scouts' "culture of hidden sexual abuse" and its failure to warn boys, their parents and others about pedophiles in the ranks of one of the nation's oldest youth organizations.

Some of the estimated 5,000 files have surfaced in recent years as a result of lawsuits by former Scouts accusing the organization of failing to exclude known pedophiles, detect abuses and report offenders to police, and allowing predators to remain at large.

New Mexico

Woman heads

to trial for $2 pumpkin theft

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- A 23-year-old college student from New Mexico is scheduled to go to trial for allegedly stealing a small pumpkin worth two dollars.

KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, N.M., reports that Lauren Medina will go before a jury and Moriarty Magistrate Judge Steve Jones on Tuesday. She is accused of taking the pumpkin in October 2011 from McCall's Pumpkin Patch in Moriarty.

Her sister, Annette Atencio, says Medina spent $75 on food that day but forgot to pay for the pumpkin she picked up as she was leaving. Atencio says her sister offered to pay but was refused and then handcuffed.

Atencio says she's in disbelief that the theft charge against her sister was not dropped.

She says her sister could have pleaded guilty and been given probation, but refused.

New Hampshire

Trial set to begin in Rwanda

genocide case

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A New Hampshire federal courtroom is about to become a laboratory for analyzing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and what role-- if any -- a Manchester woman from Rwanda played.

Prosecutors say 41-year-old Beatrice Munyenyezi (moon-yehn-YEH-zee) lied on applications to enter the United States in 1995 and obtain citizenship in 2003. They say she ordered the rapes and murders of Tutsis in Butare during the 3-month genocide that killed about 800,000 people. She denied any involvement.

Most of the witnesses will travel from Rwanda and speak no English. Three Kinyarwandan interpreters have been hired and housed. Court officials will not reveal their names or how far they have traveled.

Identities of the Rwandan witnesses also are sealed.

Jury selection begins Wednesday.

Published: Tue, Feb 21, 2012