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Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - December 15, 1999, Alton, Illinois SERVING THE RIVER BEND SINCE 1836 THE TELEGRAPH Today's ('win Alton Optical Optometrist team opens    ; color counts new business    | Berries, sweet potatoes    add i glow to winter Page DI•    Page    Bl Cloudy, rain j Edwardsville or snow show- I rolls by ers. High 39; j Jerseyville , low 25. Page CIO :    page    Cl No. 334 - 50 cents Wednesday, December 15, 1999 www.thetelegraph.comWoman charged in ’96 killing By LINDA N. WELLER Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE - The Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office charged a sixth suspect Tuesday in the 1996 killing of Antonio L. Ray of Alton. Talia Charita Pittman, 24, of the 900 block of Tremont Street in Alton, faces charges of concealment of a homicidal death for cleaning up Ray’s blood from the floors of the home of another suspect, Eddie Alexander, authorities said. Detective _ Jason Pittman Simmons of the Alton Police Department Accused of concealing homicide said police were searching Tuesday for Pittman, who was believed to be in Alton. She was not in custody Tuesday night. A judge set bond for Pittman at $50,000. Simmons said Pittman was uncooperative with police dur ing their investigation of Ray’s death, which also contributed to the concealment charge. “At the party, she saw the beating and saw the victim thrown in the trunk of the car She could have helped us," Simmons said. Five men are suspected of beating Ray, 20, inside Alexander’s house in the 2100 block of Humbert Street in Alton. Police said the men used a pistol, baseball bat, feet and fists to beat Ray at a party. Two of the men then drove the victim — who was placed inside a car trunk — across the Clark Bridge and dumped his body on the northbound lanes of U.S. Route 367 in West Alton, Mo., authorities said. An Alton motorist hit Ray’s body, which was lying in the dark roadway and clad in dark-colored clothing. Authorities are not sure when or where Ray died ■ See KILLING, Page A9 Vol. 164, Fire guts East Alton home’s second floor Rest of house, occupants safe By KERRY SMITH Telegraph staff writer EAST ALTON - A dozen firefighters — half from East Alton and half from Wood River — doused a blaze in less than IO minutes that destroyed the interior of a home’s second story but spared the ground floor. East Alton Fire Chief Larry Ringering said the call came in at 4:16 a.m. and firefighters from both departments were on the scene at 509 East St. Louis Ave. within three minutes. Although an investigation into details of the cause continues, Ringering said it has been ruled accidental. “The home was occupied at the time of the fire,” he See FIRE, Page A9 Good Morning Area/Illinois........A3-7 Bulletin Board....... . A8 Classifieds ......... .C6 Nation/world........ A10 Obituaries.......... . A5 Chappell, Collins, Crawford, Elledge, Emrich, Hendrix, Likes, Longman, Miller, Schneblin, Scyoc, Welch Television .......... . D6 \ shopping days *tU Christmas CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC.Legislature takes up firearms billSpecial session called to rewrite overturned law By DEBORAH L. BATES •Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE — Illinois legislators will meet again today to address a controversial law that could make illegal transportation of a firearm a felony. After waiting for seven hours, the Senate took the floor about 4 p.m. Tuesday. House members were told they’d lake the floor at ll a.m. today. Sen. Evelyn Bowles said she has not yet taken a stand on the issue. “I want to see the compromise,” she said. “I want to see what they are proposing before I take a stand on it. It would be untoward at this point to say." Gov. George Ryan called legislators to special session this week to re-write a 1994 law that was overturned by the Supreme Court. The gun transportation law, which made illegal transportation of a firearm a felony, was deemed unconstitutional because it addressed several unrelated topics. Legislators must decide if the law should make illegal transportation of a firearm a felony or if it should be a misdemeanor, as it was until 1994. “That was adequate as far as I am concerned,” said William Haine, Madison County state’s attorney. But, he said, he isn’t against ■ See FIREARMS, Page A9 Collecting goods me leiegrapn/junn tj«umaim tudents at North Middle School pack up some of the 3,000 canned goods collected for donation Tuesday to the Crisis Food Center in Ron. Story, Page A7 CLOSED Employees stunned by Big Boy closing The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN The Alton Big Boy restaurant was one of many Big Boys in the area that closed its doors last week. By LINDA N. WELLER Telegraph staff writer ALTON — Last Friday’s unexpected closing of the Big Boy Restaurant in Alton stunned its employees and cast a cloud over their Christmas. “At 3 p.m. Friday, corporate came in and closed us,” said Usa Barker, former general manager of the restaurant at 181 E. Homer Adams Parkway. “None of us had any idea this was coming.” Barker, of Brighton, said the corporate officials offered no explanation as to why they were closing the Alton restaurant and 21 others in the St. Louis, Kansas City and Jefferson City, Mo., areas. “They asked four people to stay behind and do an inventory of the food items that were still in the store,” Barker said. “They closed it for us and changed the locks, the whole nine yards.” Barker said the officials have not offered assistance in finding new employment for the laid-off workers or said whether any of the employees « None of us had any idea this was coming.” Lisa Barker former general manager will receive severance pay. It was particularly upsetting for the workers to be laid off two weeks before Christmas, she said. The Alton restaurant had two managers and 20 employees. Barker said officials at the Big Boy corporate office in Michigan have not returned her calls. “We don’t know anything,” Barker said. She said business at the Alton restaurant had been increasing recently. Tony Michaels, executive vice president of marketing and public relations for Elias Brothers Corp. of Warren, Mich., did not return calls from The Telegraph Monday or Tuesday .    ___ ■ See CLOSING, Page A9 ;