New England in brief

Hoax by truant prompts wide search

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May 23, 2008

Boston police say they were the victims of a hoax yesterday when they launched a major search for a 14-year-old Dorchester girl who was simply skipping school. Police Superintendent Daniel Linskey said that Alexus Clarke text-messaged her mother, saying that she was in trouble and being held against her will, when she had decided to hang out with a friend. The girl's mother reported her missing at about 9:30 a.m., after the McCormack Middle School notified the mother of the absence. Dozens of police officers and detectives, many reassigned from other active cases, scoured neighborhoods in Dorchester and Roxbury. A fugitive unit found her at about 5:30 p.m. at the corner of Quincy Street and Warren Avenue, across from Boston Latin Academy. "As a father, I feel happy a 14-year-old girl is safe and unharmed," Linskey said. "As a police officer, I'm a little upset we wasted some time." Police have not decided if they will pursue charges.

Legislation on nurse staffing advances
The House voted 115 to 35 yesterday to approve legislation instructing the Department of Public Health to establish limits and standards for nurse staffing levels at hospitals, thrilling nurses who filled the public gallery for the debate. The bill will go to the Senate, where it died in the last session. Hospital executives have opposed the bill, saying its mandates will add to healthcare costs. Nurses say the mandates are needed to ensure patient safety. The House turned back efforts to study the bill's costs further. (State House News Service)

Senate approves $21.1 billion budget
The Massachusetts Senate passed a $21.1 billion budget late last night that includes amendments affecting regional transit authorities, funding for the probation commissioner, higher public payer hospitals, special education, METCO, and an education aid shortfall reserve. The passage of the budget is the culmination of two days of debate over 897 amendments. In all, the Senate added $8 million to its budget. Also last night, the Senate unanimously approved a measure that would change the name of the state's Department of Mental Retardation to the Department of Developmental Services. (State House News Service)

Man kills father and then self, officials say
A man attacked his father and killed him before taking his own life at the father's home in Norfolk Wednesday, according to Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating's office. The father was identified as Edmund J. Brabants, 68, and his son as Edmund J. Brabants Jr., 48, of North Attleborough. The bodies were found inside the elder Brabants's home Wednesday around 4:30 p.m. The younger Brabants had a history of mental illness, authorities said.

Woman hit by car on I-95 after a crash
A Lynn woman crashed her car on Interstate 95 north in Wakefield early yesterday and then was struck and killed by another car, State Police said. Lauren Casey, 24, lost control of her car about 2:45 a.m. The car left the road to the right, crashed into a guardrail, and came to rest at the bottom of an embankment, police said. Casey was struck in the middle travel lane, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Chiropractor accused of molesting clients
A Revere-based chiropractor has been accused of molesting two of his female physical therapy clients. Jeffrey Keller, 53, of Peabody was charged with four counts of indecent assault and battery. Revere police said they found evidence that he had inappropriate physical contact with two women in his office on Shirley Avenue in Revere, according to a press release from Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. One woman, a 26-year-old from Medford, contacted authorities earlier this month. Authorities found the report similar to one made earlier this year by a 37-year-old woman from Lynn. Keller pleaded not guilty in Chelsea District Court Tuesday and was ordered to stay away from and have no contact with either victim. He will be back in court on July 16.

Man arraigned in sexual assault on child
A Halifax man was arraigned in Plymouth District Court yesterday on a charge of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl last year. Norman J. Finizio, 46, pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and battery on a child under age 14. He is being held without bail until a dangerousness hearing Wednesday.

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