News for Wednesday, July 7, 1999

Couple back in Romanian capital, still unable to leave

by Troy Graham
Alderson-Broaddus College students Samuel and Sorina DeWolfe spent their Independence Day back in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, but are they still unable to leave the country where they have allegedly been held captive by Sorinaís aunt, a Romanian judge who objects to her marriage to an American.
"Weíre right back where we started, afraid that theyíll be kidnapped," said Samuelís mother, Mary Jane DeWolfe.
Samuel and Sorina met at college and were married in January.
They went to Sorinaís native country a month ago. Samuel wanted to set up computers and teach the people in Sorinaís village how to operate them. However, a week after they arrived in the town of Medias, Sorinaís aunt placed them under house arrest and took their passports and other paperwork, according to Mary Jane DeWolfe.
The couple escaped to Bucharest, where Samuel got another passport from the American embassy, his mother said. Sorina then was told that she would have to get her old passport and her paperwork back, Mary Jane DeWolfe said.
They returned to Medias at the end of last week. An American embassy official sent Bucharest police officers to escort the couple home with their belongings. Some Romanian government officials who lean toward the West aided the couple in getting their papers back, said Raymond DeWolfe, Samís brother.
Mary Jane DeWolfe said she spent a frantic weekend because she was unable to contact the embassy. The couple finally made it back to Bucharest on Sunday, she said.
"Our children are telling us that they have gone from one group of police officers to another," she said.
There has still been some confusion about allowing Sorina to leave the country on her American passport. The couple made it to the airport where she was turned away, Raymond DeWolfe said.
"We waited another 10 hours before we found out they werenít in New York," he said. "This is getting frustrating."
Samuel and Sorina are going to try and board another plane this morning, he said.
"Weíre just crossing our fingers," Raymond said.

Five officers among 40 paintballers

by Troy Graham
One Weston police officer, four Bridgeport officers and a member of the FBI security force were among more than 40 people who played paintball in the old Weston State Hospital in May, covering several floors with paint, said Lewis County Sheriff Robert Rinehart.
The sheriff said he will hand his report on the incident over to the prosecuting attorney on July 9. It will be up to the prosecutor to decide what charges to file and whether to release the officers' names, Rinehart said.
Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Wagoner was in court Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
Rinehart said warrants will not be issued for the arrest of any of the paintball players. If the case is presented to the next grand jury and "if they are indicted, yes, they'll be arrested," the sheriff said.
The state may file a civil case to recover damages and the cost of cleaning up the hospital, which is on a national historic registry, he said.
"I think cleaning it up is the bottom line," Rinehart said.
Eighteen people played paintball in the vacant, state-owned hospital on May 22, and 24 people played there on May 29, he said. Four officers were involved in the first incident, and three were involved in the second, Rinehart said.
On both occasions a security guard at the hospital let the players into the building because he knew the Weston police officer, Rinehart said.
The officers have cooperated  with the investigation. They are attempting to supply him with the names of more of the players, the sheriff said.
"We're missing a few," he said. "It was just an informal network. They simply didn't know all the names."
Weston Police Chief Robert Clem and Bridgeport Police Chief Jack Clayton both said they will wait and see how the case is resolved before deciding what action to take against their officers.
Bridgeport has 20 officers, while Weston is already four officers short, Clem said. Clem said he can't afford to lose an officer now, with only five officers and himself left in the city.
The police chiefs said they could not comment further on the case.
Rinehart said he released the information Tuesday "to lift the cloud of suspicion that hangs over all police agencies in this area."
The officers were off duty and the war games were not sanctioned by any police departments, the sheriff said.
The other paintball players were from Clarksburg, Buckhannon and Fairmont. Some of those players have refused to give statements to the police, Rinehart said.
"I hope the citizens are patient," he said. "As soon as legally possible everyone will know all the facts."

Weston police to acquire bomb sniffing canine

by Shawn Gainer
A bomb sniffing dog at the Weston City Police Department will soon help clear school buildings more quickly following bomb threats.
"We have an officer in training with the dog," Weston Police Chief Rob Clem said Tuesday. "We should be up by the beginning of September."
While Brian Kunkel of the Weston Police Department will handle the dog, the unit will serve the 12 counties of the Regional Education Service Agencyís Region VII, said Ronald Dellinger of the RESA Region VII office in Fairmont.
 The canine unit will be funded primarily through federal grants, but Clem and Lewis County Schools officials asked Dellinger to send letters to all school systems in RESA VII, asking them to contribute $500 to the project, said William Parker, president of the Lewis County Board of Education.
"I think theyíre progressing rather well," Parker said. "If all counties in RESA VII contribute, it will be a major amount of funding."
"Schools could call and the Weston police would respond to their inquiry. They would be no extra monetary charge, though Iím sure they would respond to schools who had not paid anything to start with," Dellinger added.
Members of the Lewis County Board of Education voted unanimously to approve $500 for the canine bomb detection program, as well as donating a surplus vehicle, said Joe Mace, Lewis County superintendent of schools.
"The board did it partly in response to events around the country. Safety is a big issue now, and not just in cities," Mace said. "With no more than that cost, we thought it was worth it."
The main benefits of the canine unit to school systems will be quicker response time and better availability, Mace said. Currently, the nearest bomb detecting canine unit is in South Charleston.
"It will have a two-hour response time at the most. To me it makes sense to have one in our region," he said. "If it doesnít do  anything but make people feel better, it will be worthwhile.
The 12 counties in RESA Region VII are: Harrison, Lewis, Monongalia, Marion, Doddridge, Gilmer, Upshur, Randolph, Tucker, Preston, Taylor and Barbour counties.

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