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Nation in brief: Apartment fire kills women, kids

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Fire gutted an apartment in a rundown complex Monday, killing three women and six children.

The West Memorial Funeral Home identified the victims as India Williams, 25, and her three children, along with Williams’ cousin, Castella “Maria” Bell, 18, and her three children. The ninth victim was 20-year-old Lakesha Gillespie, identified by the funeral home as a friend. The children were ages 6 months to 6 years.

Latasha Brown, who lives downstairs, said a neighbor banged on her door around 4 a.m. to tell her to get out. She grabbed her 3-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter and ran barefoot into the cold.

Investigators did not know what caused the blaze, though they did not suspect it was set.

Sheen’s wife says he threatened her

DENVER – Charlie Sheen’s wife told police the actor pinned her on a bed, put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her in a Christmas Day fight in Aspen that began when she said she wanted a divorce.

An arrest warrant affidavit released Monday quotes Brooke Mueller Sheen as saying that the actor straddled her on a bed with one hand grasping her neck and the other holding the knife. She said Sheen told her: “You better be in fear. If you tell anybody, I’ll kill you.”

The 44-year-old Sheen denied threatening his wife with a knife or choking her, and told officers they had slapped each other on the arms and that he had snapped two pairs of her eyeglasses in front of her, according to the affidavit.

Charlie Sheen, who is listed in the affidavit as Carlos Irwin Estevez, told police he and his wife have been having marital problems and that she abuses alcohol.

Sheen was arrested on suspicion of menacing, second-degree assault and criminal mischief. The affidavit also lists a charge of domestic violence. Sheen is free on $8,500 bond.

Firm agrees to fine for lead in toys

WASHINGTON – An Illinois firm agreed to pay a $1.25 million settlement for importing and selling the popular Thomas & Friends children’s toys that contained lead levels above legal limits and risked sickening children.

In agreeing to the penalty settlement, RC2 Corp. denied that it knowingly violated federal law as alleged by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the agency said in a statement Monday evening.

The commission, which provisionally accepted the settlement, had charged RC2 Corp. of Oak Brook, Ill., and one of its subsidiaries, Learning Curb Brands Inc., knowingly imported from and sold Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys that had “paints or other surface coatings” containing lead levels above 0.06 percent by weight. The toys were imported from China.

That level violated a 1978 lead paint ban on toys.

Police: Homeless man stole plane

FREDERICK, Md. – Police in Maryland said a homeless man tried to leave town in a stolen plane but crashed the single-engine aircraft on a municipal airport runway before he ever left the ground.

Calvin Cox remained in custody Monday after his bail was set at $10,000 on felony charges including theft, burglary and trespassing. He did not have a lawyer with him.

Lt. Clark Pennington said a Frederick County Sheriff’s Office canine team found Cox unhurt in the woods near the airport after an airport worker reported the crash of the Piper Super Cub at about 2:15 a.m. Monday.


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