Air Force Leaders Write

To New Cadets' Parents

DENVER -- Air Force leaders responding to criticism of the Air Force Academy's handling of rape allegations are sending parents of incoming cadets letters saying they are doing everything possible to protect their children.

"We are absolutely committed to supporting victims and prosecuting offenders when criminal acts are reported," said the letter, signed by Air Force Secretary James G. Roche and Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper.

Parents of about 1,000 cadets who arrive at the academy this June will begin receiving the letters Monday, said Lt. Col. Dewey Ford, spokesman for two Air Force groups investigating claims that academy officials improperly handled female cadets' complaints.

The letter said: "We have made it clear to the cadets that all perpetrators, those who fail to act to prevent assaults, those who knowingly protect perpetrators after the fact, and those who would shun or harass anyone with the courage to come forward and report those criminals will be brought to justice and disciplined appropriately."

* CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A New Jersey bus company owner was convicted of first-degree murder yesterday in his third trial in the 1996 slaying of a business rival whose body has never been found. Jurors deliberated for two days before finding Alan Mackerley guilty in the death of Frank Black, a competitor for decades on school bus route contracts in northern New Jersey. Mackerley, 59, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

* WARNER ROBINS, Ga. -- Brothers Tremaine James, 4, and Tyrin James, 3, drowned Friday in a neighbor's partially uncovered septic tank filled with 4 feet to 5 feet of water. The boys apparently wandered off while their mother was asleep, police said.

* JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. -- A tarantula, 67 dogs, nine cats and two painted turtles were seized from a house where human remains were found in a trash can, authorities said. Richard Travis Jr. and his girlfriend, Randy Masten, were charged with grand larceny and forgery for allegedly cashing Social Security checks sent to Travis's mother, Helen, and are being investigated in her disappearance.

* ANCHORAGE -- To increase the number of moose where villagers rely on game for food, the Alaska Board of Game voted to kill wolves and move brown and black bears from a 520-square-mile area in interior Alaska. An animal rights group has pledged a tourist boycott.

-- From News Services