Spain’s tragedy hits home

The Spanish community in Columbia was in shock Thursday after learning that terrorists had blown up three trains in Madrid killing more than 190 people.

Arturo Guillen Moreno, an MU doctoral student in computer sciences from Madrid, was listening to the radio Wednesday night when he first heard.

Suspects arraigned in local slaying

Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane said he will wait until the preliminary hearing to decide whether or not to seek the death penalty for Ryan William Ferguson, one of the two suspects charged in the murder of former Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt.

Ferguson, 19, and Charles Timothy Erickson, 19, were arraigned Thursday in Boone County Circuit Court by video link from the Boone County Jail, where they are being held without bail. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for March 30, when the men will have an opportunity to enter a plea.

Timeline of events since Heitholt’s death

Nov. 1, 2001

Deaths ruled accidental

After the Medical Examiner's Office found signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, Columbia Police have classified the death of three women found Wednesday night as accidental.

3 people found dead in northwest Columbia

Three people were found dead last night in northwest Columbia. The cause of death was unknown as of 9 a.m. Thursday, and Columbia Police have turned the investigation over to the Major Crimes Unit.

A relative called police at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday because she was concerned about her sister and her niece who had missed work and school respectively. Police found the sister, 34, and her daughter, 10, dead at the home. The female owner of the residence, 71, was also found dead.

Teens charged in '01 killing

Since Kent Heitholt was murdered on Nov. 1, 2001, in what detectives described as a “sloppy crime,” Columbia police have followed hundreds of leads, coming up empty handed at each turn.

Until now.

Permits for guns nearing reality

Residents of Boone County will be able to apply for concealed-gun permits through the Ashland or Hallsville police departments under agreements being finalized with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.

Boone County Sheriff Ted Boehm said he expects the agreements with Hallsville and Ashland police to be finalized soon and the issuing of permits to begin May 1.

Radio consolidation hits home

Last July, at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on media ownership, Arizona Sen. John McCain questioned Cumulus Media Inc.’s president Lewis Dickey about the company’s decision to ban the Dixie Chicks from its 50 country radio stations.

“This is remarkable,” McCain said to Dickey on July 9. “You restrained their trade because they exercised their free speech.”

Bond bill delayed in committee

JEFFERSON CITY — Amid accusations of regional divisiveness and pork-barrel politics, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday delayed action on a bond aimed at higher education construction projects by at least two weeks.

Most of the projects in the now $350 million bond bill directly involve University of Missouri system campuses.

Poor miss out on food aid

Many low-income households do not take full advantage of food assistance available to them in their communities, according to a new study conducted by two MU researchers.

The study, conducted in the Kansas City metropolitan area from 1998 to 2001, indicates that although many low-income households qualify for both federal and private food assistance, few use both simultaneously.

Trial team heads to nationals

It was not Professor Plum in the billiard room with the candlestick this time, but rather Michael Harmon in the ice arena with a hockey stick.

Harmon, a pro hockey player, was angry in the days leading up to playoff game in which he would face rival player and rising star Tony Sturmanis, the same man he had learned was having an affair with his wife.

State leaders struggle to find funding for waste cleanup

Looking out for Missouri’s environmental health is a contact sport, especially in the case of hazardous waste cleanup.

Officials with the state Department of Natural Resources last year worried that the fees they collect to cover the state’s share of cleanup costs would go the way of the dinosaur — like the newly expired waste-tire collection fee did earlier this week. Their concern centered around debate within the legislature about how to most equitably assess the waste-disposal fees.

Help available for taxing paperwork

Tax season is here, bringing sounds of paper shuffling, pen scribbling, computer keys clicking, and frustrated taxpayers sighing. Here are some places to go to make the task a little easier.

Free Services

Suspects to be tried as adults

The two men charged in connection with the murder of Kent Heitholt, former sports editor at the Columbia Daily Tribune, will be tried as adults, Boone County prosecutor Kevin Crane said at a press conference Thursday.

Ryan William Ferguson and Charles Timothy Erickson were 17 at the time of the crime. Ferguson has been charged with first-degree murder and Erickson with second-degree murder. Both have also been charged with first-degree robbery.

Fingerprints sticky issue in gun permits

JEFFERSON CITY — At least 220 Missourians had applied as of Wednesday for concealed gun permits, but state law enforcement officials declined to reveal how many had passed background checks because of uncertainty over whether that information must be kept secret.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol, which helps process the state and federal fingerprint checks required under the concealed guns law, has received applications from numerous counties led in quantity by Audrain, Lincoln and Phelps, said spokesman Capt. Chris Ricks.

State debates budget limit

JEFFERSON CITY — Another limit on Missouri state government spending would be put in place by a measure under consideration in the House.

The measure is expected to be debated today.

Tradition of talent

Five minutes. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Megan Larsen regrets wearing a black shirt today as she sweats because of the studio lights. She and her Stephens College classmates are taping a three-minute video called “Meet Your College Neighbor.”

This is the first time the Introduction to Broadcast Production class has worked together on the ungraded project. Larsen is waiting for her classmates to get it together.

Bill would penalize people for being high

Missourians under the influence of drugs could be arrested for being high if a proposed House bill is passed.

Reps. Brian Baker, R-Belton, and Therese Sander, R-Moberly, proposed House Bill No. 983, which would make it a Class A misdemeanor to be under the influence of a controlled substance. Current law prohibits only the possession, purchase, distribution or manufacturing of a controlled substance.

911 service enhanced by digital mapping

The office that handles emergency dispatching for Columbia and Boone County has added real-time digital mapping to its arsenal of blinking and beeping gadgetry, integrating yet another expensive piece of equipment into a system that relies more on high technology than some might think.

The mapping program is the latest in a quickly evolving line of emergency tracking gizmos that help dispatchers pinpoint and display the origins of 911 calls, even if they come in on cellular phones. The whole package cost $197,000, about $161,000 of which came from the county’s phone bill surcharge for 911 service. The rest was covered by a grant from the Public Safety Foundation of America.

New technology can pinpoint calls

The new mapping system employed by Columbia/Boone County dispatchers could not have authenticated an infamous autumn call reporting that a helicopter had gone down in a rural area, said Jim McNabb, director of the dispatch agency, but it would have helped them quickly pinpoint the origin of the call.

In early October, dispatchers received a cell-phone call from an area west of Columbia claiming a helicopter had crashed. Rescuers combed the area for more than two days before calling off their search.