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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 9, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAY SPORTS: Straka’s PT goal sends Penguins/Sabres 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 / DIAltoona Mirror © Copyright 2001 WEDNESDAY, MAY 9, 2001 500 newsstand 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 300,000 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 $16 billion in surpluses, remaining vigorous enough in the future to support the higher payments. “There’s always a chance that something could go wrong, but we don’t see that,” 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 lowered 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 $61,980 per year for 20 years would qualify for a pension of $37,188 per year, compared with $24,792 previously. The number is arrived at by manipulating a rate, known as a multiplier, used to calculate the pensions. Please see Pension/Page A3 NKS ■■■■■ BLAIR COUNTY MURDER Jealousy turned deadly? The events surrounding the death of Shari Lee Jackson as described in court documents for the case: THE VICTIM, THE SUSPECTS Roommates insist they had no idea 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. Rim 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 friends for the past eight months, Wertz said. A witness told police that on the Saturday before the killing, Edmundson said, “Shari was trying to get on her girlfriend.” Edmundson and Marie Seilhamer of Ashville RD I 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 me,” 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 involved,” said Knepp, who lived with the other two for the past month in the small house with sagging blinds, well used furniture and cardboard strewn on the front porch. Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington ll/Ray Eckenrode/Jason Sipes/Kelly Bennett Please see Roommates/Page A7 L May 2 - IO p in. Marie Seilhamer and Kristin Edmundson arrive at the Tyrone residence of Seilhamers friend, Nichole Zimmerman The pair ask Zimmerman to go for a ride Zimmerman said they drive into the mountains above Tyrone on Route 453. At ore point, Edmundson stops her mother's Dodge Neon, gets out of toe car and walks to the guardrail and explored the terrain Zimmerman said when Edmundson returns, she says toe spot is "perfect* because it drops off to nowhere They return to Zimmerman’s residence, aid Seilhamer and Edmundson leave a short time later only to return again The say they couldn't do what they had planned Saturday - ll p.m 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 toe front seat of Edmundson's vehicle, a white Ford pickup. In toe back of the truck are a shovel, a sheet, a box-cutting knife and a baseball bat Edmundson tells Zimmerman the girl's name is Shari and that Shari has been “trying to get on" Edmundson's girlfriend. Edmundson takes off her rings and gives them to Zimmerman to hold Seilhamer tells Zimmerman, “lf I dont see you again, I love you.'' 2. Saturday - 1L30 pjn, approximate Edmundson and Seilhamer dove the girl, Shan Lee Jackson back up Route 453 and pun off just inside toe Clearfield County line. Seilhamer feigns sickness, and she and Jackson gel out. Seilhamer then takes the baseball bat and strikes Jackson in the head Edmundson and toe victim scuffle Jackson strifes Edmundson and bites her. Seilhamer hits Jackson with toe bat again. Edmundson then takes the knife and slashes Jacksons throat 3. Sunday -12:30 am, approximate Edmundson and Seilhamer ioad the body into the back of the truck and drive it up a side road, now in Blair County, and dump it, covering it with 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 for hearting her if anyone asks. 5. Sunday - 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 6. Sunday - Evening Edmundson returns to the site where the body was dumped and burns it. 7. Monday -1 am. State police in Clearfield get a phone tip about a body in the woods along Route 453. 8. Monday - 2 am State police from Hollidaysburg arrive at the scene and discover the body 9. Monday - 2:45 am State police interview Zimmerman, although officials won't say how they knew to talk to her so soon atter finding the body XL Monday - Morning Stake police advise both Seilhamer and Edmundson of their rights and interview them They subsequently are charged with criminal homicide. Edmundson Seilhamer MORI INSIDE ■ Suspect, victims dealt with justice system before ■ Blair coroner remembers the victim PAGE A7 ■ Jackson’s obituary PAGE A13 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, 20,3200 Old Sixth Ave., Duncansville, and Marie L. Seilhamer, 19, Box 154, Ashville RD I, are charged with homicide and criminal conspiracy 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-cutting knife. Edmundson told police a slightly 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 unconscious, she still was breathing when her throat was slit, Ross said. Ross said the killing “was really vicious,” 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 bums, Ross said. Please see Probe/Page A7Shuster campaign receives White House endorsement By Robert Igoe Staff Writer 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 me,” 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 Shuster/Page All Bush Shuster COMING SUNDAY: 9th District Congressional seat issues chartConvention Center Boulevard access under county’s control By Ray 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 control of the right of way to Blair County’s newest highway stretching between Logan Boulevard and Plank Road, making a former area of brush, trees 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 petitioned 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 Norman 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 Control/Page AIQ DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7 '22910 00050 a Ut    r BIG FOUR |2§3 I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER B Cloudy, warmer, 71° ■ Forecast, A2 VLl HOT-ADS.GomAltoona iMtrror [the gre at combin ation I Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEDS and HOT YDS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547_ □ local H NATION Business A9 Classifieds C3-14 Hospitals A1 2 Obituaries A13 Opinion AS 0UFE QJ SPORTS Comics D5 Community news D2 Local B4 Puzzles D4 Scoreboard B5 Television D4 INSIDEBUSINESS A dispute between relatives of a supermarket chain heir has been resolved with Weis Markets Inc. spending more than $434 million to acquire stock held by family members. PAGE A9 VY    "v ;

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