Ohio News Briefs


Ohio pastor, family members enter pleas to reduced charges

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A pastor and two family members accused by police of robbing a Sunday school teacher at gunpoint at their Ohio church have pleaded no contest to reduced charges.

The Blade reports 50-year-old The Rev. Anthony Morris of Toledo’s St. Paul’s AME Zion Church entered a plea Thursday to misdemeanor assault. His wife, 46-year-old Zelda Morris, entered a plea to criminal endangering and their 18-year-old daughter, Kamali, to disorderly conduct.

The three faced aggravated robbery charges after police said Zelda Morris took items from the teacher’s purse during a confrontation in February.

Defense attorney Neil McElroy says the pastor’s wife and daughter only fought with the victim, and the pastor pulled the gun to break it up.

Anthony and Zelda Morris could receive six months in jail during sentencing May 21.

Suspect steals conservatory’s rare, colorful butterfly

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati police are seeking the public’s help in tracking down a butterfly thief.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports a woman walked out of the Krohn Conservatory last Sunday with a blue morpho butterfly.

The butterfly is neon blue in color and its wings have black edges with white dots. It is native to Central and South American rainforests and has a life cycle that lasts about 115 days.

The group Rainforest Alliance says the blue morpho’s beauty attracts artists and collectors from all over the globe. A framed blue morpho can sell online for as much as $60.

Detectives had no new information about the theft on Thursday.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call police.

Investigators focused on family of 4 in unsolved killings

WAVERLY, Ohio (AP) — A prosecutor says the investigation of the unsolved killings of eight Ohio family members nearly two years ago remains focused on a family of four that left the state for Alaska.

Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk also tells the Cincinnati Enquirer two agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and a member of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office work full-time on the case.

The two-year anniversary of the slayings is Sunday. The case involves seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family found shot to death at four homes near Piketon in southern Ohio.

The family of four that moved to Alaska were long-time friends with the Rhodens. They have never been named as suspects and their attorney says they weren’t involved.

Ohio unemployment rates drops in March

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — State officials say Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent in March, but remained higher than the national rate.

The state unemployment rate decreased from 4.5 percent in February and was lower than the 5.1 percent rate in March 2017.

The national rate was 4.1 percent in March, unchanged from February, and down from 4.5 percent in March 2017.

The state’s Job and Family Services Department says Ohio’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased by 10,800 jobs in March.

Ohio reported job gains in sectors that include trade transportation and utilities; educational and health services; financial activities; leisure and hospitality; and other services. Those gains exceeded losses in professional and business services and information.

Government employment in Ohio increased by 3,600 jobs in March.

Bus leaves Cleveland for New York, ends up in Toledo

CLEVELAND (AP) — Greyhound says it is investigating how a bus meant to take passengers from Cleveland to New York ended up in Toledo.

WEWS-TV reports that the bus left Cleveland several hours late on Thursday and was headed east through Pennsylvania when it started experiencing problems. The company says the driver was instructed to head back to Cleveland and get a new bus, but instead drove about two hours past it, to Toledo. The driver then turned around and went back to Cleveland.

Passenger Morgan Staley says they spent about seven hours “just going in a circle.”

The company says passengers interested in a refund can contact customer service.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush had deep roots at Miami U

OXFORD, Ohio (AP) — Former First Lady Barbara Bush had ties to Miami University long before she was a wife and a mother of presidents.

WLWT-TV reports Bush’s parents, Pauline Robinson and Marvin Pierce, met at the university’s Oxford campus.

Robinson was a member of the sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma, the university orchestra and choir. Pierce, also known as “Monk,” was class president, a member of the mustache club and an accomplished athlete.

Photos of the two are in the university’s 102-year-old yearbook. University representative Carole Johnson says the couple was among “the original Miami mergers.”

Barbara Bush was later named an honorary alumna. She died Tuesday at age 92.

Man died after leaving nursing home, getting ride from cop

CANTON, Ohio (AP) — Police officials say a man who wandered away from an Ohio nursing home had not been reported missing when an officer gave him a ride to the gas station where he was found dead two days later.

The Canton Repository reports Canton Police Capt. David Kurzinsky said Thursday that the officer picked up 56-year-old Mark Billiter Sunday night and drove him to a gas station about 4 miles (6 kilometers) from the nursing home.

Billiter was found dead Tuesday sitting against the station.

His family reported him missing Monday morning. Police then contacted the nursing home, which has declined to comment. Billiter’s family says he suffered from dementia following a heart attack.

Canton police and the Stark County Sheriff’s Office are investigating Billiter’s death.