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Monday, October 6, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Across The Nation

Across The Nation

FACTION ANNOUNCES SPLIT FROM PEROT'S REFORM PARTY

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. - Rumbles of a split in the still nascent Reform Party became reality over the weekend when activists who favor independence from Ross Perot met in suburban Chicago and founded their own national party.

"We've created a political home for the millions of people who voted for Perot's ideas in '92 but could not bring themselves to vote for the man in '96," said Linda Witherspoon, a Tennessee medical doctor who chaired the three-day gathering of the new American Reform Party.

A split has been developing ever since September 1996, when representatives of the handful of states that formed parties after Perot's 1992 campaign made plans for a national party after Perot's anticipated defeat last November.

Many in the group were members of United We Stand America, and had supported former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm, who unsuccessfully competed with Perot for the Reform Party's presidential nomination in the summer of 1996.

They resented what they said was top-down management of the party from Dallas.

Van, driver, up to $15 million gone from armored-car firm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Authorities searched today for an armored-car-company employee and a company van after discovering as much as $15 million missing from a warehouse.

The same company - Loomis, Fargo - was stung in March by the largest armored-car robbery.

Police bulletins were issued yesterday for David Scott Ghantt, 27, of Kings Mountain, N.C., who officials said disappeared during or after his Saturday work shift at Loomis Fargo.

Ghantt is described as about 6 feet tall and 165 pounds, with blue eyes, strawberry-blond hair and a tattoo showing a pistol and a rose on his left arm. The van is a white Ford Econoline with "WF 82" in red letters on the left side and North Carolina license plates ZE-1144.

Loomis armored-car driver Phillip Noel Johnson was arrested Aug. 30 for the March 29 heist in Jacksonville, Fla. He has pleaded not guilty to armed robbery, kidnapping and money laundering. Most of the $18 million was recovered.

N.C. police seek two men in killings of five at house

MANGUM, N.C. - Authorities searched today for two brothers suspected of killing five of their housemates and wounding a sixth at a home used by migrant farm workers.

The suspects and the victims all worked at the same produce farm and lived in the house near Mangum, police said. Robbery was believed to be the motive.

The survivor was hospitalized in Charlotte.

Identities of him and the dead men were not released. Police identified the suspects as Alonzo Cruz Osorio, 18, and Jose San Luis Cruz Osorio, 28, of Austin, Texas.

Unabomber juror prospects answering questionnaires

SACRAMENTO - The long process of selecting a jury for the trial of Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski began this morning as hundreds of people reported to a convention center to complete jury questionnaires.

About 600 people were summoned to Cal Expo to complete preliminary surveys drafted by prosecutors and defense lawyers. Individual questioning of prospective jurors is scheduled to begin Nov. 12.

Kaczynski, 55, is accused of being the anti-technology terrorist known as the Unabomber. The 16 Unabom attacks between 1978 and 1995 killed three people and injured 23 others. He has been indicted in California in four of the bombings, and has pleaded not guilty.

E. coli outbreak sickens at least 9 at Iowa school

PARKERSBURG, Iowa - Food contaminated by E. coli bacteria made at least nine students ill at Aplington-Parkersburg High School, and health officials were trying to determine if cafeteria meals were involved.

Students began falling ill on Sept. 28. At least nine students were ill with symptoms consistent with E. coli contamination, and three were hospitalized for dehydration. All three have been released.

Results of tests done on the initial cases confirmed today that E. coli was present, school officials say.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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