Mr. and Mrs. Claus

During the past few years, Nelson and Patricia Richter have become accustomed to the whispers.

It happens in grocery store aisles, at restaurants and just about everywhere in between. Children usually notice first, but adults soon catch on.

Jobless rate in Missouri rises to 5.8%

Joe Speichinger isn’t worried about crowded parking lots or long lines at airport security this holiday season. He just wants

to eat.

Webcam unites soldier with family for Christmas Day

With leaves rustling in the wind, Catherine Guilford hurries across the back lawn, across the small metal bridge crossing the creek, through a clearing and into her beloved woods. She holds a phone to her ear, listening as her husband’s voice help her re-create the memory of their walks together.

“Walk me through the woods,” he tells her. “Have you reached our tree yet?”

Monks peddle prize-winning fruitcake

Some people believe the only uses for fruitcake are those that deal with feeding birds or with weighing something down.

Others think like Johnny Carson, who once joked: “The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.”

Raking in the pot

People can watch practically anyone gamble on TV, from professional poker players to celebrities to Hollywood film stars. In the last week there were 39 poker shows on nine TV stations, according to

Columbia, like other parts of the country, has apparently succumbed to the poker craze.

Children’s agencies unite to seek funds

Fifty children’s advocacy groups and the state Department of Social Services have joined in an effort to increase financial support for some of Missouri’s neediest citizens.

The state Department of Social Services has teamed with the Missouri Coalition of Children’s Agencies to determine how much money is needed to keep these programs running and to develop innovative ways of getting that money.

Slaying suspect being moved to Missouri custody

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A woman accused of killing an expectant mother and cutting the baby from her womb waived her right to a preliminary hearing in Kansas on Thursday and is being moved to federal custody in Missouri.

Federal prosecutors in Missouri charged Lisa Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, Kan., with kidnapping resulting in death. She is accused of strangling 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, in her Skidmore, Mo., home on Dec. 16, then cutting her baby from her womb.

Up to the challenge

There’s always uncertainty when a player is elevated to the varsity team.

For Brett Gifford, a 6-foot-9 junior center at Rock Bridge, the increased competition has showcased his skills.

Tigers’ improvement shows

ST. LOUIS — The Missouri men’s basketball team is not playing at the level coach Quin Snyder said he wants them to, but the Tigers came closer against Illinois on Wednesday night in the Braggin’ Rights game at Savvis Center.

Entering the game, few believed the Tigers could compete with No. 1 Illinois (11-0). Missouri, though, stayed in the game and in the end came close to winning, but the Fighting Illini held on for a 70-64 victory.

Bulger says he will play

ST. LOUIS — Marc Bulger said Thursday he is ready to return from a bruised shoulder, good news for a suddenly feeble St. Louis Rams’ offense that totaled one touchdown during the two games he missed.

“When you’ve got your best players on the field, you feel a lot better, no question about it,” defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson said. “He’s a Pro Bowl quarterback in my opinion.”