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A judge has sentenced an East Tennessee couple to 35 years in prison each in the death of his 5-year-old daughter after she was forced to drink grape soda as punishment. The Kingsport Times News said 41-year-old Randall Lee Vaughn and 58-year-old Mary Lavonne Vaughn of Surgoinsville were sentenced Monday in Hawkins County Criminal Court. The Vaughns pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and aggravated child neglect. According to Local8now, officials said that on Jan. 1, 2012, the Vaughns forced Alexa Linboom, who formerly lived in Rock Falls, Illinois, to drink about 2.4 liters of soda and water over one to two hours as punishment. The massive liquid intake caused her brain to swell and herniate, and she died two days later.
To prevent insect infestations that threaten the forests of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are proposing new rules regarding firewood brought into the park. Local8now reports that the new rules would only heat-treated firewood to be brought into the park. If the proposal is adopted, beginning in March 2015, only firewood that is bundled and displays a certification stamp by the USDA or a state department of agriculture will be allowed for use in park campgrounds. Heat-treated wood will be available to purchase from concessioners in many of the campgrounds as well as from private businesses in the communities around the park. In addition, visitors may still collect dead and down wood in the park for campfires. A final decision on adopting the new regulation is expected by the end of the year.
Local authorities are investigating an iPhone return scam. City Police were called to Walmart in Crossville after an unknown man returned two iPhones that he claimed were purchased in Hayes, Kansas. The phones appeared to still be sealed in the factory plastic and the suspect received two laptops and $400 in return. Upon closer inspection, Walmart employees discovered the iPhone boxes were filled with wood. Police report the suspect got away with the same scam at the Walmart in Putnam County shortly before he struck the Crossville Walmart. The man was seen driving a red sedan and investigators are working to identify him and any possible accomplices. Loss was just under $2,400.
Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the Westel BP for an attempted break-in. According to reports, someone left a ladder against the back wall of the business and climbed onto the roof and broke through the ceiling. The phone lines had also been cut and the security light was busted. At this time, nothing appears to be missing from the store.
Crossville police were called to the Habitat For Humanity Store on McLarty Lane after the manager reported the theft of 2 deep cycle batteries from the store’s box truck. The thrift store’s surveillance camera captured possible suspects in the vicinity early Friday morning and the investigation is ongoing. Loss was estimated at almost $253.