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Suspect in family’s slaying in custody

Authorities investigating the slaying of a family of four alongside a Florida highway said Friday that the father was probably involved in drug trafficking and that the suspected killer was in custody.

The suspect was among three men and a woman who were arrested Wednesday on drug charges and are “persons of interest” in the killings, Sheriff Ken Mascara said. None had been charged with the slayings, he said. Another man is being sought, he said.

The couple and their two young sons were found shot to death Oct. 13 off a desolate stretch of Florida’s Turnpike near Port St. Lucie, about 50 miles north of their home in the Palm Beach County city of Greenacres.

Police searching the home after the killings found evidence that the father, Jose Luis Escobedo, was involved in drug trafficking, Drug Enforcement Administration agent David Weeks said in court papers filed Friday. The items were said to include “suspected drug ledgers” and plastic packaging used to wrap illegal drugs.


Rescuers end search for manatee

Would-be rescuers ended their search Friday for a manatee that strayed an unprecedented 700 miles up the Mississippi River, leaving the warm-water mammal to an uncertain fate far north of its natural range.

The manatee, which had been spotted several times since Sunday along the Memphis riverfront, eluded a rescue team that had hoped to haul it by truck to Florida.

Biologists were unsure if the animal could find its way back to warmer waters or how long it could survive so far north.

Manatees, an endangered species, generally cannot thrive below 66 degrees, and their natural range is the coastal waters of the southeastern U.S. Water along the Memphis riverfront was 60 degrees or lower in recent days.


Amish family sues over passport rule

An Amish couple filed a lawsuit – something that runs counter to their principles of nonresistance – to safeguard another cherished belief, that having their photo taken is against the Bible.

The couple are suing the federal government because immigration officials require photos. In the case of the Amish couple, the photos are required so the husband – a Canadian citizen – can become a permanent resident and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship.

The Old Order Amish believe having one’s picture taken violates the biblical injunction against making “graven images.”

The couple’s attorney, Michael Sampson, who is taking the case without charge, said they could be excommunicated if the Amish community learned of the lawsuit, so he asked a federal judge to let them proceed anonymously. The judge has not ruled on the request.

The U.S. government sometimes allowed immigrants to waive the photo requirements for religious reasons. Because of more recent anti-terrorism efforts, there are no longer any exceptions based on religion.


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