Homeless Couple Robs

Man Who Took Them in

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A homeless couple taken in by a stranger on Christmas Eve stole the man's van, presents and groceries while he slept, sheriff's deputies said.

James Dixon was remorseful when he and Venus Dixon were arrested Wednesday, deputies said. They said he told them, "A man took me and my wife into his home last night, treated me as a person and a brother, and I did him wrong."

James Dixon, 48, was charged with burglary and auto theft. He told deputies he left his wife at a gas station, where she was found with a shopping cart of stolen goods.

Venus Dixon, 43, was charged with burglary, auto theft, possession of cocaine, resisting arrest and possession of a crack pipe.

The Dixons were jailed yesterday and had not yet gotten attorneys appointed, a jail spokeswoman said

Child Homicide Rate

Doubles in Detroit in '02

DETROIT -- The number of children killed in Michigan's largest city has doubled this year. The city is projected to finish the year with a child homicide rate higher than that of Los Angeles, Chicago and other large cities checked by the Detroit Free Press. Twenty-six children 16 and younger were killed in the city of 950,000 this year. Seventeen died from gunshots, Wayne County medical examiner records show. Detroit's child homicide rate is 9.2 per 100,000. Last year's rate was less than half that.

The rates per 100,000 for other cities through Dec. 13 were: 7.3 in Houston, 5.7 in Chicago, 5 in Los Angeles, 4.4 in Philadelphia, 3 in Phoenix, 2.6 in San Antonio, 2.5 in San Diego and 2 in Dallas.

* HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A man awaiting trial on charges he molested his two daughters was taken into custody for questioning in the execution-style murders of the daughters and their mother. Documents detailing the sexual abuse charges against Ernest Wholaver say the sisters were afraid to come forward because they feared he would harm them. Autopsies showed that Jean Wholaver and her daughters, Victoria, 20, and Elizabeth, 15, each died of a single gunshot wound to the head at their home in Middletown. The coroner said the women were apparently shot Tuesday and found Christmas.

* CHICAGO -- A 6-year-old girl was beaten to death when she tried to break up a fight between her mother and her mother's boyfriend, police said. Alma Manjarrez suffered bruises over much of her body in the beating early Wednesday, police said. Alma died at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn. The mother's 24-year-old boyfriend was being questioned by investigators.

* MIAMI -- The Coast Guard rescued 36 Cubans on a desolate island in the Bahamas after they were abandoned by immigrant smugglers on Christmas Eve, officials said. The 25 men, nine women and two girls were left on Elbow Cay, which is uninhabited and has no food or water, Coast Guard spokesman Luis Diaz said The Coast Guard picked up the Cubans on Wednesday. They were reported in good health.

-- From News Services