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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 10, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: ADS encouraged after Mid-Penn meeting    Life:    Westsylvania    Arts    and    Heritage    Festival    set    DIAltoona mirror © Copyright 2001THURSDAY, MAY IO, 2001 500 newsstandTwo more arrested in Blair murder Custer Speicher By Tiffany Shaw Staff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG — State police Wednesday arrested a Somerset County couple who investigators said are the last people involved in the murder of a young Blair County woman this week. Amanda B. Speicher, 20, 637 Kircher Place, Boswell, and Scott A. Custer, 23, 641 Kircher Place, Boswell, were arraigned late Wednesday night by District Justice Elizabeth Doyle. They are charged in connection with the death of Shari Lee Jackson, whose body was found early Sunday morning along Janesville Pike in Snyder Township. Jackson was beaten with a baseball bat then had her throat slit before her body was set on fire several hours later, the Blair County coroner ruled. Speicher is charged with criminal conspiracy to hinder apprehension or prosecution. She was trying to meet a percentage of $25,000 bond Wednesday night. Custer is charged with abuse of a corpse, hindering apprehension or prosecution and criminal conspiracy to hinder apprehension. He was committed to Blair County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bond. On Monday, Kristen Edmundson, 20, of Duncansville and Marie Seilhamer, 19, of Ashville were charged with the murder less than 24 hours after the discovery of Jackson’s body. Edmundson later admitted that Speicher played a part in help ng her cover the body while Custer set it on fire, state police Sgt. Tim Mercer said. Please see Arrests/Page A3 OXYCONTIN MISUSE Action against abuse Drug maker tries to stop painkiller problem with plan By Tiffany Shaw Staff Writer The manufacturer of a prescription drug popular with local abusers is trying a nationwide program of education and prevention to help stop the drug’s misuse. OxyContin grabbed local attention several years ago when heroin users discovered ways to use the synthetic morphine drug to gain a similar high. The time-release drug was developed by doctors for pain sufferers with chronic medical problems and is extremely’safe when used properly, according to its maker. While local drug task forces are battling OxyContin abusers, the drug’s maker, Purdue Pharma, said it’s fighting to stop the problem. Officials from the pharmaceutical company and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration met in March to discuss the abuse and diversion of OxyContin. The company outlined an extensive program of educational ideas and started a 10-point plan to reduce abuse. The drug is being abused in specific areas across the country, investigators said, including Blair and Cambria counties. Executives from Purdue Pharma sat down last month with members of Attorney General Mike Fisher’s staff and talked about the problem in Pennsylvania. Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has developed a 10-step strategy to stop abuse of the drug: 1. Mail educational brochures to more than 400,000 physicians and 60,000 pharmacists on ways to prevent drug diversion; 2. Distribute tamper-resistant prescription pads to doctors in Maine, Virginia and Alabama and eventually other states; 3. Sponsor more than 300 continuing medical education programs tor health-care professionals to teach pain management, appropriate uses of pain medication and techniques to prevent people from illegally obtaining controlled substances; 4. Change packing on products shipped to Mexico and Canada, making it easier for law enforcement to identify illegal reimportation of the drug across the borders; 5. Produce radio ads targeting teen-agers in six states about the dangers of drug abuse; 6. Sponsor education programs for law enforcement to combat prescription drug abuse; 7. identity the IOO counties in the United States where abuse of OxyContin exists; 8. Develop a curriculum to retrain 180 sales people to work with health-care providers to prevent the spread of drug diversion and abuse in these counties; 9. Provide placebos to law enforcement for buy and bust" operations in areas of heavy drug abuse IO. Underwrite a study of state prescription monitoring programs to develop a national program that would prevent drug abusers from “doctor shopping" in an effort to get more prescriptions for drugs. Please see Plan/Page A6 Woman blames daughter’s beau for overdose that killed her child By Phil Ray Staff Writer Thelma McConnell lost her daughter, Bobbie Jo, to a fatal dose of OxyContin earlier this year. She thinks her daughter’s boyfriend provided the drug and should be charged with murder or manslaughter. Thelma McConnell is learning, however, that the justice system in such cases is not as open and shut as a grieving mother might like it to be. Police and Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman said their investigation into the death is ongoing, and there are many complex factors involved in deciding what charges, if any, will be filed. , The boyfriend, Michael Colbert, 37, called Bobbie Jo’s death “a terrible, horrible accident.” He said he had nothing to do with her death. Please see Overdose/Page A6 B. McConnell Unions, Pa. want workers covered ■ Petition demands that Norfolk Southern compensate car shop workers if the facility closes. By Jay Young Staff Writer If the federal government doesn’t direct Norfolk Southern Corp. to continue to operate and invest in the Hollidaysburg Car Shop, then workers should be offered wages and benefits as if they were dismissed, attorneys for rail unions and the state of Pennsylvania stated in a filing Wednesday. The union seeks to have provisions of the New York Dock imposed on Norfolk Southern, even if the railroad offers jobs to car shop workers in other locations. The dock agreement provides up to six years of pay and benefits for rail workers who lose their jobs and are not offered positions elsewhere as a result of mergers. The payment proposal was offered in the latest in a series of filings with the federal Surface Transportation Board in Washington, D.C. The board is considering a request by the Transportation Workers Union and the state to force Norfolk Southern to keep the car shop open. The railroad has said it will close the facility on or about Sept. I. The STB is an independent regulatory agency with authority over railroads. Norfolk Southern spokesman Rudy Husband, contacted Wednesday evening in Virginia where he is attending the company’s annual shareholders meeting, said he couldn’t comment on the most recent union response because the company hadn’t received a copy of it. If the STB doesn’t force Norfolk Southern to continue operating the shop as the union says the railroad promised to do during the 1998 breakup of Conrail, then the federal government shouldn’t allow Norfolk Southern “to walk away from its commitments without consequence and without recompense for the members of the unions and the Altoona communities.” Please see Workers/Page A9 Cast votes carefully, election officials say By Robert Igoe Staff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG — With just days left before the special election to fill the vacant 9th Congressional District seat and the spring primary election, Blair County Bureau of Elections officials are reminding voters to mark their ballots carefully to ensure an accurate count. “The voters need to accept some responsibility when they go to the polls,” Elections Director Janice Blair said. “They should read the directions carefully and ask questions if they don’t understand something. That’s why we’re here.” Blair County uses the same punch card system that was used in Florida during the hotly contested presidential elections last year, but Blair said the system is not to blame. “Please do not compare what happened in Florida with what hap pens here,” she said. “We do not have those problems here. Our elections have always run smoothly.” Voters simply should run their hands along the back of the ballot when finished to clear any hanging chads, but Blair said that when done properly, the ballots should have no problems. Please see Votes/Page A5 Project: Vote^ Smart STARTING FRIDAY It’s one of the basic freedoms that our country was founded upon, yet many people don’t participate in this rite of democracy or fully understand the process. It’s voting Beginning Friday, Mirror Staff Writer Robert Igoe begins a five-part series on Voting 101. He’ll touch upon how a person becomes a candidate, how the ballot for an election is developed, what those poll workers do and what happens after you cast your ballot. Look for it beginning Friday and continuing until Election Day in the Mirror. Shooting spree suspect convicted of killing five BY JEFFREY BAIR The Associated Press PITTSBURGH — A jury took less than three hours Wednesday to find Richard Baumham-mers guilty of five counts of first-degree murder in a racially motivated shooting spree. Baumhammers — a white, 35-year-old nonpracticing immigration attorney — also was convicted of eight counts of ethnic intimidation in the April 28, 2000, rampage that killed five and left a man paralyzed. Baumhammers stood and displayed no emotion as a juror read the verdict in Allegheny County Court. “No comment now. No comment later. No comment, period," said Baumhammers’ father, Dr. Andrejs Baumhammers. Baumhammers killed his Jewish neighbor, two Asian men, an Indian man and a black man as he fanned northwest in his black Jeep from his suburban Pittsburgh home. Another man of Indian descent was critically wounded. Baumhammers started read- _ing racist and anti immigration Baumhammers literature in 1999 and saw himself becoming as well-known as Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Adolf Hitler, prosecutor Edward Borkowski said in closing arguments earlier Wednesday. Please see Suspect/Page AIQ ■■■■MHI DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7 b,229 0 00050 a BIG FOUR • I * 0 ■ Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Mostly sunny, 78° ■ Forecast, A2 i Altoona iHtrror THE GREAT COMBINATION Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEDS and ii GT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547_ QLOCAL Business Hospitals Obituaries Opinion (TJ SPORTS Local Scoreboard A9 A11 AU A8 B4 B5 « Q NATION Comics Classifieds Q LIFE Movies Night Life Planner Television C4 C5-12 D3 EM D2 D5 INSIDE IN NATION Nurses brought hundreds of well-worn shoes and lined them along the steps of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to dramatize the growing shortage in their ranks. PAGE Cl \ ;

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