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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- An evangelical Christian college located near the southwest Missouri resort town of Branson is making it difficult, if not impossible, for students to obtain any loans.

The Springfield News-Leader says the College of the Ozarks has stopped certifying private student loans. It's barred state and federal loans since the 1990s.

Longtime President Jerry C. Davis says "the driving force behind this is that debt is bad."

Of the school's 1,350 students, 250 to 300 of them currently receive a loan, often from a hometown bank. The college is taking steps to help students adjust. They include expanding summer work opportunities and freezing room-and-board costs.

The college itself is debt free. It makes sure it has cash in hand before doing things like building a residence hall.
Sunday, 17 March 2013 10:13
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A St. Louis man faces criminal charges in a crash that killed a 53-year-old man and seriously injured two others.

Forty-one-year-old Robert A. White was charged Friday with first-degree manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault and three counts of armed criminal action.

Police said White was driving a sport utility vehicle that T-boned another vehicle Thursday. Marcus Dorsey was killed and two passengers were hospitalized.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that White was treated for minor injuries and arrested.

Officials said White had fled the scene of an earlier accident with a St. Louis City License Collector's vehicle. Police said the driver of the city vehicle called 911 and followed the SUV.

The second crash was one or two miles away from the first.
Sunday, 17 March 2013 10:07
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - A St. Louis County man has pleaded guilty to sex trafficking for forcing two women into prostitution, including a mentally disabled woman.

Federal prosecutors say 26-year-old Carl Mathews of Breckenridge Hills pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court and faces sentencing June 12. His sister, 27-year-old Carla Mathews, also of Breckenridge Hills, is awaiting trial on similar charges.

Mathews forced the women into sex in the St. Louis area from 2010 through October 2012. Authorities say the mentally disabled woman was forced to sleep and use the bathroom in a closet, and was supplied with little food. The woman was also beaten and set on fire.
Saturday, 16 March 2013 11:03
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A Missouri couple accused of keeping their severely autistic, 6-year-old son in a makeshift cage soiled with urine and feces was charged Friday with endangering the welfare of a child.

The charges come more than two years after an anonymous call to a state hotline sent authorities to the O'Fallon home of Victoria and Terry Smith. Their son and his siblings were removed from their parents care, but later returned, according to court documents.

St. Charles County prosecutor Tim Lohmar did not immediately respond to a message asking for information about the delay in filing charges and why the children were later returned to the home.

The Smiths, who have since moved to Elsberry, do not have a listed phone number or an attorney on record. Arrest warrants have been issued, and Lohmar said both are expected to turn themselves in.

Lohmar said authorities received the tip in December 2010, when the boy was 6. When police, paramedics and a case worker went to the home, the child's grandmother showed them to the basement, where the child was in a 3-foot-tall, 3-foot-wide and 6-foot-long crib covered with a plywood top and held together with bungee cords, tension straps and zip ties, he said.

The boy's parents were shopping at the time, and his grandmother was watching him and his five siblings, ages 11 months to 8 years.

The child was naked, sitting in urine and feces, Lohmar said. According to court documents, the siblings told police their brother was often kept in the cage and they fed him hot dogs and chicken nuggets through the bars.

"We certainly understand that any parent is going to have stressful times, especially parents with severely developmentally disabled children," Lohmar said. "But our view is that this was a completely inappropriate way to handle this particular situation."

When the Smiths came home, they told investigators that they fashioned the cage for the boy's protection - it was the only way to keep him from hurting himself when left alone, Lohmar said. They said they did their best to keep the cage clean and kept him naked so that he wouldn't accidentally hang himself with clothing.
Saturday, 16 March 2013 11:00
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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A body found in the Little River in eastern Tennessee has been identified as a Missouri man last heard from in February.

Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong said Friday that the cause of death for 29-year-old Lance Michael Larson O'Fallon, Mo., remains under investigation.

Berrong said investigators are searching for O'Fallon's tan 2003 Kia Spectra, 4-door, with a Missouri registration CF1S9R.

Larson traveled to Lynchburg, Va., in February from his home in O'Fallon, Mo. Berrong said his last known contact with family was around Feb. 20, when he told his parents he was headed back to Missouri. It is not known why Larson was in the Rockford area.

Larson's body was found in the Little River Thursday downstream from the Roddy Branch boat access area in Rockford.
Saturday, 16 March 2013 10:58
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Patriot Coal Corp. has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to modify collective bargaining agreements with the United Mine Workers of America, allowing the coal company to cut health care coverage for retired miners.

St. Louis-based Patriot said in the filing on Thursday that the action is necessary to save more than 4,000 jobs. Patriot also seeks to change wages, benefits and work rules for existing workers in an effort to make the company more competitive.

Union leaders have been anticipating the move for some time, holding protests in St. Louis last month that drew more than 1,000 people. UMWA President Cecil Roberts says the loss of benefits would cause financial ruin and threaten the health for thousands of retirees.

Patriot filed for bankruptcy in July.
Friday, 15 March 2013 15:57
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HANNIBAL, Mo. (AP) — Officials in Hannibal now say foul play is not suspected in the death of a man found at a hotel.

The body of 63-year-old Howard Miller was discovered Wednesday morning at the Best Way Inn, just a few blocks from the Mark Twain historic sites in the northeast Missouri town.

The Hannibal Courier-Post reports that the cause of death remains a mystery after a preliminary autopsy. Marion County Coroner Darrell McCoy says it may be several weeks before the cause is known.
Friday, 15 March 2013 15:56
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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The 18-year-old triggerman in a 2011 shooting death in St. Joseph has been sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Elijah Pickett was sentenced Friday for killing 28-year-old Brian Ulmer during a robbery attempt at Ulmer's home. He was convicted in January of second-degree murder and several other charges.

Prosecutors say Pickett shot Ulmer three times at point-blank range.

The St. Joseph News-Press reports Pickett said he planned to appeal because he was unhappy with the effort of his attorney.

Two other defendants, Kasey Hall and Xavier Johnson, were each sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. A fourth defendant was found not guilty. A fifth defendant is in federal prison and no date has been set for his trial.
Friday, 15 March 2013 15:54
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A review of a terrible case of child abuse from 2010 in O'Fallon, Missouri, has led to felony charges.

The story dates back to an anonymous tip of child abuse in 2010. When police arrived at the home named in the tip, they found a six-year-old boy with autism locked in a cage in the basement. The boy was naked and sitting in urine and feces. Police also found five other children living in the home. All the children were taken into protective custody, but later returned to the home.

St. Charles County prosecutor Tim Lohmar assumed office at the beginning of the year and made child safety a top priority. When he reviewed this case, he determined that although the parents may have felt overwhelmed, it was no excuse for the dangerous neglect they subjected their son to. The parents, Victoria and Terry Smith now face charges of child endangerment, but they are not in custody.
Friday, 15 March 2013 14:20
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Teens are being targeted in a crack down to enforce seat belt laws in Missouri.

Police say on 66 percent of Missouri teens wear their seat belt when driving or riding in a vehicle. Under the graduated driver's license law, all passengers in a car being driven by someone 16 to 18 years must wear their seat belt. Otherwise, police can pull the driver over and issue a ticket.

Safety officials say eight out of 10 teens killed in traffic crashes are unbuckled. And wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes.
Friday, 15 March 2013 14:17
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