Teen convicted in dog extortion case
PHILADELPHIA , March 11 (UPI) -- A Philadelphia court has found a teenager guilty of extortion and other charges in the case of a still-missing dog.
Victor Rodriquez, 15, was convicted of theft by extortion, conspiracy, terroristic threats and harassment/stalking for allegedly calling a man who put up posters seeking the return of his lost dog, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Tuesday.
Witnesses testified Rodriquez and a second young male called Bill Whiting and demanded $600 in exchange for the return of his dog, Edna. The number was traced to Rodriquez's aunt's house.
Edna, a brown beagle mix, disappeared from Whiting's home Oct. 31.
Whiting said he received a second call the next night from a man who said Edna had been killed. The call came from a disposable cell phone and authorities have yet to identify the caller.
Rodriquez is due to be sentenced March 31.
Indians blinded looking for vision of Mary
KOTTAYAM, India, March 11 (UPI) -- Reports in India of a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary in the sky have led about 50 people to blind themselves by staring at the sun.
The visions are said to appear over the former home of a hotel owner in the Kottayam area in southeast India, The Daily Telegraph reported. One hospital in the district reported 48 patients had been admitted with burned retinas since last week, the British newspaper reported.
Churches have warned their congregations that looking at the sun will cause permanent blindness and have told them the supposed miracle is not one.
Before moving out, the hotel owner reportedly had also claimed to have statues of the Virgin Mary that cried honey and bled oils and perfumes.
Family fights off rabid mountain lion
GLENDALE, Ariz., March 11 (UPI) -- An Arizona man says an attack by a rabid mountain lion in the Tonto National Forest was not enough to shake his grandson's unflappable calm.
Newton Smith of Glendale said his grandson, Paul John Schalow, 10, walked away from the attack with only cuts and scratches after the beast was shot by the boy's uncle, The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.
"Paul said to himself, when the lion was on him, 'I know he's trying to push me, and I wasn't going to let him,'" Smith said.
The victim and five family members who were exposed to the lion are receiving post-exposure rabies shots after the animal tested positive for the disease, said Randy Babb, a biologist with the Arizona Game & Fish Department.
Babb said the incident marked the first reported rabid mountain lion attack in his 20 years with the department.
"It's very unusual," Babb said. "You see rabies in mostly rats, foxes, skunks, other species. It's an unusual occurrence when you see rabies in a lion."
Mayoral candidate endorses opponent
HUDSON, Wis., March 11 (UPI) -- A candidate for mayor of Hudson, Wis., has dropped out of the April Fool's Day election, insisting his opponent is more qualified for the job.
Candidate Todd Erskine said that after getting to know opponent Dean Knudson and his positions, he decided to drop out of the race, however, his name will remain on the ballot for the April 1 election, the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reported Tuesday.
"I think he's more qualified for the job," Erskine said of Knudson. "So I'm supporting him."
Erskine's exit opens the door for Knudson to succeed current Mayor Jack Breault, who is retiring.
"I want to express my thanks and gratitude to Todd Erskine for his kind words," Knudson said after his opponent endorsed him.
Erskine said he initially entered the race to make sure a qualified leader won the position.
"I love this little town and was afraid some knucklehead might run it. I didn't know much about Dean before the filing deadline, but he's a good man," he said.