A thief with a heart:
The poster dog for Baltimore's Pets on Wheels program, an 11-year-old Bichon Frise stolen from her home near Catonsville in a burglary last Monday, was recovered unharmed by her owners last week. The burglar called Friday and directed the owners to a used-car lot in Remington, where the dog, Taffy, was left in a pet carrier.
"I apologize for stealing your dog," the burglar wrote on a torn scrap of envelope left with the dog. "It was out of order and totally out of my profession. I definitely can't return your property -- materials, that is. But I can return Taffy, which is something very loved and treasured in your family."
The burglar closed his note, "Respectfully . . . Let's just say, 'Kind-hearted.' "
Nearer a recession:
The government's chief economic forecasting gauge dropped 0.8 percent in September for its second straight monthly decline, the government said Friday. The September drop followed a 1.2 percent plunge in August.
Three consecutive declines in the Commerce Department's Index of Leading Economic Indicators are viewed as a fairly reliable sign that a recession is imminent.
Sinai cutting 200 jobs:
Sinai Hospital in northwest Baltimore plans to cut at least 200 jobs because of a declining occupancy rate. Leonard Marcus, a Sinai spokesman, said last Monday that Sinai, which posted a $7.8 million deficit in operating revenues last June, will reduce its work force because the occupancy rate dropped from 80 percent this time last year to 70 percent this year.
10 sailors, Marine die in gulf:
In the Persian Gulf region Tuesday, two accidents claimed the lives of 11 American military men.
Seven American sailors died and three were severely injured when a pipe ruptured and released searing heat in the boiler room of the USS Iwo Jima as it sailed in the Persian Gulf, the Navy said. The three injured men died later.
In a separate accident, one Marine was killed and three others were injured when the vehicle in which they were traveling overturned in the Saudi desert.
Bush sees brutal ploy:
President Bush, who waged a war of words last week with Iraq from the campaign trail, advised American hostage families to ignore Saddam Hussein's invitation to visit loved ones in captivity, calling it a brutal ploy.
"I think those people should come home to visit with their families. I think they should be released from captivity," Bush said Thursday.
Pierce said to 'misled':
Former Housing Secretary Samuel Pierce directed federal grants to political friends and later misled Congress about his involvement, congressional investigators said Thursday.
Their report stopped short of concluding that Pierce committed perjury before a House panel or that he and others at the agency violated criminal laws. It said those questions would be left to the special prosecutor now investigating Pierce.
The report, released by the House Government Operations Committee, said that Pierce concealed the extent of his involvement in the steering of federal housing grants.
"At best, Secretary Pierce was less than honest and misled the subcommittee about his involvement in abuses and favoritism in HUD funding decisions," the report said. Baltimore County police said a 20-year-old Towson State University student was raped at knifepoint Thursday after she was abducted from a campus parking garage and driven about 20 miles from the campus.
* The parents of three girls, one 17 and the other two in their 20s, pleaded guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court last Monday to rape and sexual child abuse charges stemming from the nine years in which the three sisters were beaten and raped by their father.
Under the plea agreement, the father, 43, agreed to three consecutive life sentences and must serve 30 years. The mother, also 43, agreed to a 25-year sentence and must serve 15 years.
Husband, wife found slain:
The owners of a horse farm were found slain last Monday at their home in a remote area near Patapsco Valley State Park and Interstate 70 in Baltimore County.
John George Dietz and his wife, Lillian Ann, both 63, had each been shot once and were found in a bedroom of their home, in the 7700 block of Inwood Ave., Baltimore County police said.
The discovery of a defective gene that causes a common vascular aneurysm -- a balloon-like swelling in the aorta, the largest artery of the body -- was reported Thursday by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
"Our study proves for the first time there is a genetic cause for aortic aneurysms. . . . Our discovery means that we can identify people with aneurysms before they burst," said Dr. Darwin J. Prockop, who led the research team.
Guilty in rock-throwing:
An 18-year-old Prince George's County resident was convicted of 36 charges related to a rock-throwing incident May 27 on the Capital Beltway that left 30 people hurt, including a teen-age girl who had her brain damaged.
John Burgess, 18, of Forest Heights, was found guilty Thursday of eight felonies, including seven counts of assault with intent to disable, as well as 28 misdemeanors. Sentencing was set for Dec. 17.