December 9, 2010 in Nation/World

In brief: Robbery was motive of slaying


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – A transient ex-convict riding around Beverly Hills on a bicycle killed a Hollywood publicist as she drove home from a movie premiere in what police said Wednesday was a robbery gone bad.

The disclosure marked a major break in the investigation that has baffled detectives for nearly a month and stunned Hollywood after Ronni Chasen was gunned down in November.

It came a week after suspected gunman Harold Martin Smith killed himself in the lobby of a seedy apartment building as investigators acting on a tip closed in on him.

Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden said the gun used by Smith to commit suicide appears to have been used to kill Chasen.

“We believe that Mr. Smith acted alone. We don’t believe it was a professional hit,” he said.

Chasen was shot multiple times in the chest Nov. 20 as she drove through Beverly Hills while heading home after the premiere of the movie “Burlesque.”

Crop helicopters crash in Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Three helicopters crashed in west Palm Beach County early Wednesday as they tried to keep frost from damaging crops, authorities said.

Two pilots walked away unscathed, but one was flown in serious condition to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, according to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.

The helicopters were privately contracted by farmers to fly over vegetable farms and circulate the air to keep frost away from the crops, authorities sad. The overnight missions – where choppers fly about 15 feet over land – aim to bring up the temperature a degree or two to prevent frost, said Arthur Kirstein of the Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service.

By early Wednesday morning, temperatures dropped to a record low at 37 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The previous record of 43 degrees was set in 1937.

Library return is 74 years tardy

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A California woman is proving it’s never too late to make things right.

Ninety-five-year-old Hazel Severson of Sacramento says a friend found a book that Severson’s late husband had borrowed from an Amador County library in 1936 while sorting through things for a garage sale.

She knew what she had to do: return the book and offer to pay the overdue fee – $2,701.

Severson told the Sacramento Bee that she and her husband Howard were newlyweds back when he checked out “Seaplane Solo,” about Sir Francis Chichester’s 1930 solo flight across the Tasman Sea.

Luckily for Severson, the library didn’t charge her the fee, though it did accept a small donation when she stopped by on Oct. 13.

Librarian Laura Einstadter said it was just happy to get back the book.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email