Widow of Anthrax Victim

Claims Wrongful Death

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The widow of an anthrax victim filed a $50 million wrongful-death claim with the government, alleging that lax security at a Maryland Army base allowed the theft of the deadly strain -- even though it has not been proved that the anthrax was stolen from Fort Detrick. The Ames strain of anthrax is kept there by the Army's Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Robert Stevens, a photo editor in a building owned by American Media Inc., publisher of six supermarket tabloids, including the National Enquirer and the Globe, died Oct. 5, 2001, after apparently inhaling anthrax from a tainted letter.

Stevens's death was the first known U.S. death from the inhaled form of the disease since 1976 -- and the first of five deaths nationwide from anthrax attacks in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. No one has been arrested.

Maureen Stevens wants more information about her husband's death -- including a copy of his autopsy report -- and is pursuing a financial settlement, her attorney, Richard Schuler, said Friday.

"There have been no arrests. There's been no information given to her, no indication that the investigation is progressing," Schuler said.

Schuler said he sent the claim to the Defense Department and the Army. If the government denies the claim, he has six months to file a lawsuit.

Six Found Shot

To Death in House

HOUSTON -- Six people, including three children, were found shot to death in a house northwest of Houston early yesterday after an eight-hour standoff in which a police officer was wounded.

Authorities believe the man involved shot his wife, girlfriend and three young daughters days earlier, then turned a gun on himself during the standoff.

Two of the children were found stuffed into a barrel inside the home, and investigators said the man had bought eight quarts of disinfectant, apparently to clean the crime scene.

Relatives of the gunman's girlfriend told police that she had broken up with him two weeks ago. The man's wife had filed for divorce, police said.

Threats Lead School

To Cancel Sharpton Talk

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. -- The Rev. Al Sharpton's appearance at a Corpus Christi high school in honor of Black History Month was canceled as a precaution after the school received threats. He spoke at a church instead.

Sharpton spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger said the civil rights activist would not be deterred by the threats.

Sharpton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, had been scheduled to appear at Miller High School, which received calls mentioning the Ku Klux Klan.

His speech Friday afternoon at the Church of God Pentecostal took place without incident, police said.

* BALTIMORE -- Democratic presidential hopeful John F. Kerry was released from a Baltimore hospital in good condition after surgery to remove his cancerous prostate, a hospital spokeswoman said. The Massachusetts senator underwent surgery last Wednesday at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

* SANTA FE, N.M. -- Authorities arrested an alleged former member of the Minutemen militia who is accused of placing a pipe bomb in the mailbox of Forest Guardians, an environmental group, and setting a forest fire that burned more than 5,000 acres. Raymond Kodiak Sandoval, 34, was indicted for allegedly violating federal statutes involving explosives and causing damage to federal land, an FBI agent said. Sandoval could face 70 years in prison if convicted.

* CLAYTON, Mo. -- Stefan Albrecht, 36, of Yonkers, N.Y., was charged with misdemeanor animal abuse for beating his ferret to death during a layover in St. Louis. Authorities said Albrecht smuggled the animal aboard an American Airlines flight from New York to Phoenix and had kept it in a carry-on cooler. When flight attendants realized he had the animal, they told him he was unauthorized to bring it on board and could not take it on his next flight. They offered to take the ferret to the Humane Society for him. Instead, he allegedly took the ferret to a Lambert Airport restroom, broke the ferret's neck, flushed it down a toilet and told airline workers what he had done.

-- From News Services