Altoona Mirror, May 9, 2001

Altoona Mirror

May 09, 2001

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Issue date: Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Pages available: 80

Previous edition: Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Next edition: Thursday, May 10, 2001 - Used by the World's Finest Libraries and Institutions
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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 9, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAY SPORTS: Straka's OT goal sends series to Game 7 Bl__________ NATION: New study concludes that gays can turn straight with therapy Cl__________ LIFE: Most food allergies can be traced to eight problem foods Dl Altoona iWtmnr Copyright 2001 State pension increase passed General Assembly approves bill that will affect state workers, teachers, lawmakers. BY GEORGE STRAWLEY The Associated Press HARRISBURG State lawmakers boosted the pensions of state workers, public schoolteachers and themselves Tuesday despite dissent from a small minority. Without a word of floor debate after hours of closed-door negotiations, the House voted 176-23 to approve a plan that increases pensions by 25 percent for more than state workers and teachers, taking advantage of a surplus in the funds used to support the retirement plans. Lawmakers improved their own plans by half. The Senate quickly endorsed the bill, 41-8, and sent it to Gov. Tom Ridge. Ridge has said he would support the bill as long as lawmakers passed his budget proposals, including a package of education reforms approved by the General Assembly Monday. Lawmakers are counting on the state's two pension systems, which together have about billion in sur- pluses, remaining vigorous enough in the future to support the higher pay- ments. "There's always a chance that some- thing could go wrong, but we don't see said Rep. John M. Perzel, R- Philadelphia, the House majority leader. State workers and teachers have not seen their base retirement plans increase since a major overhaul in 1974. The General Assembly also low- ered lawmakers' pensions that year as part of a reform measure. Legislators long have complained that their plan was inadequate. The new version would give them pensions equal to those of local district justices. Under the bill, a lawmaker earning per year for 20 years would qual- ify for a pension of per year, compared with previously. The number is arrived at by manipu- lating a rate, known as a multiplier, used to calculate the pensions. Please see A3 WEDNESDAY, MAY 9, 2001 newsstand BLAIR COUNTY MURDER Jealousy turned deadly? The events surrounding the death of Shari Lee Jackson as described in court documents for the case: Oenlie County County LMay2-10pjn. Marie Seilhamer and Krislin Edmundson arrive al Ihe Tyrone residence of Seilhamer's If lend, Nichole Zimmerman. The pair ask Zimmerman to go for a ride. Zimmerman said they drive into Ihe mountains above Tyrone on Route 453. A! one point, Edmundson stops her Dodge Neon, gets out ol the car and walks to the guardiail and explored the terrain. Ziminefman said when Edmundson returns, she says the spot is "perfect" because il drops oft lo nowhere. They return to Zimmerman's residence, and Seilhamer and Edmundson leave a short lime later, only to return again. The say Ihey couldn't do what tney had planned. pjn Seilhamer and Edmundson arrive at Zimmerman's residence. They go upstairs, pull their hair up and put on bandannas. Zimmerman goes outside and sees a woman in the front seat of Edmundson's vehicle, a white Ford pickup. In the back of the truck are a shovel, a sheet, a box-cutting knife and a baseball bal Edmundson tells Zimmerman Ihe girl's name is Shari and that Shari has been "trying lo get on" Edmundson's girlfriend. Edmundson takes of) her rings and gives them to Zimmerman lo hold. Seilhamer tells Zimmerman, "I! I donl see you again, I love you." Edmundson and Seifarier drive the gill, Shari Lee Jackson; back up Route 453 and poll on just inside the Cleariield County line. Seilhamer feigns sickness, and she and Jackson ge! out Seiiharner then takes ttie 'baseball bal and strikes Jackson in the head. Edmundson and Ihe victim Jackson slrikes Edmundson and biles net Seilhamer hils Jackson Ihe bat again. Edmundson then lakes the knile and slashes. JacksonS throat 1 Sunday -1230 un, approximate Edmundson and Seilhamer load the body into the back ol the truck and drive il up a side road, now in Blair County, and dump it, covering it wish leaves and a mattress. 4. Sunday-lam. The pair return to Zimmerman's house. As Edmundson and Zimmerman talk in the yard, a Tyrone police car drives by. Zimmerman notices that Edmundson is bloody. Edmundson asks Zimmerman to take credit foi beating heiil anyone asks. 5.Suiday-Later Edmundson returns to her home in Allegheny Township and burns the clothing she and Seilhamer wore, along with the knife and the baseball bat. G.Stnday-Evemg Edmundson returns to the siie where the body was dumped and burns it. 7. Monday-lam Stale police in Cleartield get a phone tip about a body in Ihe woods along Route 453. 8. Monday- 2 m. Stale police from Hollidaysburg arrive at the scene and discover Ihe body. 9. Monday- m State police interview Zimmerman, allhough officials won't say how they knew to talk to her so soon alter find- ing the body. H Monday-Mortis State police advise both Seilhamer and Edmundson of their rights and interview them. They subsequently are charged with criminal homicide. THE VICTIM, THE SUSPECTS Roommates insist they had no idea Edmundson Seilhamer MORE INSIDE Suspect, victims dealt with justice system before Blair coroner remembers the victim PAGEA7 Jackson's obituary PAGEA13 Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington Bennett tL BY WILLIAM KIBLER Staff Writer The young woman who may have been the hinge on which the plot to murder Shari Lee Jackson turned had no idea what was going on, never asked for it to happen and is grieving at the result. Kim Wertz of Cross Keys, who has been accused killer Kristin Edmundson's roommate for the past year, had been the object of Edmundson's romantic interest for four years. But Wertz never reciprocated the interest and believed Edmundson had accepted that, Wertz said in her living room Tuesday. By contrast, Wertz and Jackson had been very close frienflsTof" the past eight months, Wertz said. A witness told police that on the Saturday before the killing, Edmundson said, "Shari was try- ing to get on her girlfriend." Edmundson and Marie Seilhamer of Ashville RD 1 are charged with killing Jackson in Clearfield County with a baseball bat and box-cutting knife and then dumping her body in the woods, with Edmundson later burning the body. "Everybody thinks she [Edmundson] did it for Wertz said. "I never asked." Wertz and a third roommate, Michelle Knepp, never suspected any such thing from Edmundson, who was shy and backward, Knepp said. "One of the last people you'd ever guess would be said Knepp, who lived with the other two for the past month hi the small house with sagging blinds, well-used furniture and cardboard strewn on the front porch. Please see A7 THE POLICE INVESTIGATION Accomplices sought; truck impounded BY TIFFANY SHAW AND PHIL RAY Staff Writers Autopsy results released Tuesday show a Hollidaysburg woman died from a massive head wound before her throat was slit and her body set on fire hours later. The body of Shari Lee Jackson, 20, was found early Monday morning in a wooded area along Janesville Pike in Snyder Township. Kristin M. Edmundson, Old Sixth Ave., Duncansville, and Marie L. Seilhamer, 19, Box 154, Ashville RD1, are charged with homicide and criminal con- spiracy in the incident. Seilhamer told police that Edmundson struck Jackson in 'the head'and side with a wooden baseball bat, then Seilhamer hit Jackson once in the head with the bat before Edmundson slit Jackson's throat with a box-cut- ting knife. Edmundson told police a slight- ly different story that Seilhamer beat Jackson with the bat before Edmundson slit her throat. Blair County Coroner Patricia Ross said the autopsy performed Monday shows the wound to Jackson's head was so large that she would have died from it. Although Jackson was uncon- scious, she still was breathing when her throat was slit, Ross said. Ross said the killing "was real- ly and the fact she knew the victim caused her to "take a step back." the autopsy took place at Lehigh Valley Hospital and was conducted by Dr. Sarah Funke, who has experience in doing autopsies of burn victims. The victim was not identifiable because of the burns, Ross said. Please see A7 Shuster campaign receives White House endorsement BY ROBERT IGOE StaffWriter President Bush's penchant for the malaprop has provided ample fodder for comedians as well as some new words for Webster to ponder. But Bush, who's even lampooned himself over the matter, didn't mince words or misspeak this week when he jumped into the fray for the open 9th District seat for the U.S. Congress. "We're changing the tone in Washington, and I need Bill Shuster there to help Bush says in a radio advertisement that began airing Tuesday. "Shuster is a good man. You can trust him to do the right thing for you and for America." The vote of confidence from the commander in chief is Shuster's highest-profile endorsement and comes on the heels of a visit to the district last week by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Please see All Bush Shuster COMING SUNDAY: 9th District Congressional seat issues chart Convention Center Boulevard access under county's control BY KAY STEPHENS Staff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG Blair County commissioners are in the catbird seat when it comes to deciding who gains access to Convention Center Boulevard. Commissioners adopted an ordinance Tuesday to take con- trol of the right of way to Blair County's newest highway stretch- ing between Logan Boulevard and Plank Road, making a former area of brush, frees and hills ripe for development. Along with managing the right of way for Convention Center Boulevard, the county will be responsible for maintaining the road and keeping it plowed and passable in winter months. So far, only half of Convention Center Boulevard is open from Plank Road to the Blair County Convention Center. Access from the convention center to Logan Boulevard is not expected to be finished until-mid-July. Blair County solicitor J. Michael Dorezas said Tuesday that he peti- tioned the Blair County Court of Common Pleas for permission to control access to Convention Center Boulevard so there are not a multitude of stop-and-go points along the 0.89-mile route. Blair County Judge Itorman D. Callan reviewed the petition and found no problems. Commissioners John J. Ebersole, John H. Eichelberger Jr. and Donna D. Gority said their intent is to limit boulevard access. Please see AID Subscription or home delivery questions: or (800) 287-4480 A 4 2 0 3 I Lottery numbers, A2 Cloudy, warmer, Forecast, A2 V Altnnna Mirror THE GREAT COMBINATION Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THK Git WAT COMBINATION of MI R HOR CLASS! FIEDS and HOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547_____ Q "MM. Business Hospitals Obituaries Opinion 13 KHUN; A9 i Classifieds C3-14 A12 j A13 i Local Scoreboard B4 B5 Jf i Comics D5 1 Community news D2 Puzzles D4 Television D4 BUSINESS A dispute between Of 2 S'lnnrmarVat chain heir has been resolved with Weis Markets Inc. spending more than million to acquire stock held by family members. PAGEA9 VY ;