Search Narrows for Gun in River

Police said yesterday that they have narrowed their search of the Choptank River for a gun they believe a Laurel man used to fatally shoot his two children before telling police that he had been carjacked and thrown from an Eastern Shore bridge.

Destiny Array Spicknall, 3, and Richard W. Spicknall III, 2, were found Thursday morning not far from the Frederick C. Malkus Jr. Memorial Bridge.

They were still strapped in their safety seats in the Jeep their father had been driving. The boy was dead, and the girl died Friday.

The father, Richard W. Spicknall II, 27, is being held without bond at the Talbot County Detention Center. He has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Services for the children are set for 11 a.m. tomorrow at the McCully-Polyniak Funeral Home in Pasadena.

Maryland State Police Sgt. J.S. North said yesterday that the divers' search will resume today or tomorrow. Investigators met with Spicknall's wife, Lisa Marie, on Saturday, North said.

Pedestrian Killed in Takoma Park

Police are investigating the death of a pedestrian who was struck by a car in Takoma Park early yesterday.

Police said they believe the man was Hispanic. He was hit in the 1300 block of University Boulevard East about 2 a.m. He was pronounced dead shortly after being transported to Washington Hospital Center, police said.

The man had not been identified as of yesterday afternoon, said police dispatcher Michelle Reid, who declined to say whether the vehicle that struck the man had left the scene of the accident.

The rate of pedestrian fatalities among Hispanics in the Washington area is disproportionately higher than their presence in the population, especially in the suburban counties, where they are three times as likely as other people to be fatally struck by a car.

In Montgomery and Prince George's counties, about 21 percent of pedestrian deaths since 1995 have been among Latinos, though they make up only 8 percent of the population.


Speeding Cars Start Fatal Accident

A man was killed early yesterday in a three-car accident on New York Avenue NE, and the road was closed for several hours as police investigated.

D.C. police said two cars were traveling toward downtown at a high rate of speed when, in the 500 block, one struck the other in the rear.

The two vehicles then collided with a third car. A man pulled from one of the cars was pronounced dead at Washington Hospital Center.

A police spokesman said last night that he did not know the name of the victim or whether he was a driver or passenger in one of the cars.


Complaints Take Off Around Air Base

Neighbors of Oceana Air Base in Virginia Beach have been complaining bitterly to the Navy, city officials and each other about noise recently at Oceana Naval Air Station, where Navy pilots from at least nine squadrons have been practicing takeoffs and landings at night as well as during the day.

The base has been extra noisy this month, according to military officials, because eight additional squadrons have been assigned from elsewhere to the Tidewater air station for training. Then more than a week of foul weather associated with Hurricane Dennis cut into training time. Now pilots must try to squeeze in the necessary hours of flight time before assignments are made in a couple of weeks.

Virginia Beach resident Robert Sigler said jets started flying before 5 a.m. one day recently. "I know because they woke me up," he said. "I feel like it is a war zone."

Oceana's base commander, Capt. William C. "Skip" Zobel, and his staff are looking into ways to ease the impact on neighborhoods.

They include altering runway use and changing landing approach altitudes and takeoff climb-outs.

For Farmers, the Cotton Is High

Virginia cotton farmers could set production records this year, according to agricultural analysts. Farmers in the state are expected to produce 186,000 bales of cotton this year, a yield that would break the modern record of 159,000 bales, set in 1996. A bale is about 500 pounds.

The acres of cotton planted in Virginia increased from 91,000 in 1998 to 109,000 this year, said Spencer Neale, assistant director of commodities for the 130,000-member Virginia Farm Bureau Federation in Richmond.

One reason for the projected abundance is that until now, the summer has been dry, and cotton, while it likes rain, tolerates dry conditions very well.

Temperatures have also been warm, another factor favoring cotton production.

But high acreage and yield this year have not been accompanied by high prices.

Cotton now sells for about 50 cents a pound, about 15 cents less than it brought last December. And many farmers say that price won't allow them to make a profit.

Wrong-Way Driver, Second Motorist Killed

A man driving the wrong direction on Interstate 64 caused a three-car collision that killed him and another driver and injured three men, Virginia State Police said yesterday.

Joseph W. Wood, 41, of Henrico County, was going east in the westbound lanes of I-64 near the Goochland County rest area about 11:30 p.m. Saturday when he struck head-on a car driven by Darrell K. Woodward, 30, of Stanardsville. Wood's car then struck a car driven by Willis E. Parlett, 66, of Stanley.

Wood and Woodward died at the scene, state police said.

Parlett and two passengers in Woodward's car were hospitalized with injuries.

Westbound I-64 was closed near the accident scene until 4:30 a.m. yesterday.

State police were awaiting results of an autopsy on Wood to determine whether he had been drinking.


"It's an impossible situation to do things quickly, and we are not as effective as we should be. If databases could [interact with] each other, we'd save time and effort."

-- Prince George's County School Superintendent Iris T. Metts, on the sad state of technology in the county school system.