The Associated Press

Associated Press

This content is either partially or entirely curated from St. Louis Public Radio's subscription to the Associated Press news wire.

(via Wikimedia Commons/J. Pelkonen)

Prosecutors in southern Illinois say they're prepared to file murder charges against the uncle of a 7-year-old girl whose body was found near her home in the small town of Watson.

Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler says he expects to charge 22-year-old Justin DeRyke on Wednesday with first-degree murder in the death of Willow Long. The girl went missing Sunday from her home as her mother napped. Four volunteers searching for Willow found her body Monday night. Watson is just south of Effingham.


A 65-year-old Vietnam War veteran from St. Louis County received a Purple Heart medal more than 44 years after he was wounded overseas.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill's office says it helped secure the award for Walter Sitzwohl after his wife contacted the senator's office this summer. McCaskill is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sitzwohl was first assigned to the A Company, 158th Assault Helicopter Battalion and deployed to Vietnam with that unit. He later transferred to D Company, 101st AHB in March 1969, based out of Phu Bai.

(via Flickr/woodleywonderworks)

A new report says fewer homeowners in the St. Louis area are struggling to keep up with their mortgages.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch, citing figures released Tuesday from real estate data company CoreLogic, reports that about 11 percent of St. Louis homeowners with mortgages owed more than their home was worth. That number is down from 16 percent in June 2012. 

(Erin Williams/St. Louis Public Radio)

A Florissant pastor nominated to the St. Louis County Police Commission has withdrawn his name from consideration.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Rev. Freddy Clark told County Executive Charlie Dooley Friday morning that he is no longer interested.  Clark is the founder of the Shalom Church in Florissant.

Governor Pat Quinn departs today for the annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference, where he will speak with Japanese business leaders. The governor says he's confident he can drum up support for Illinois business, despite the relatively poor condition of Illinois' economy. 

The most recent numbers, from last month, say 9.2 percent of Illinoisans who are looking for work can’t find it. That’s the second-worst unemployment rate in the U.S., behind only Nevada.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Supreme Court is considering whether laws restricting actions by sex offenders and felons can be applied to people who were convicted before the laws were enacted.

The court heard arguments on Tuesday on five cases dealing with sex offenses and guns.

Three people are challenging whether a law passed in 2009 applies to them because they were convicted of sex offenses before the law was made. The law prohibits sex offenders from being near public parks with playgrounds or swimming pools.

(via Flickr/woodleywonderworks)

The value of homes in the St. Louis region continues to increase.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, citing data released Tuesday by the real estate analysis firm CoreLogic, reports that St. Louis-area home prices rose 5.6 percent in July from a year earlier.

For homes not facing foreclosure or already foreclosed on, the increase was 5.9 percent.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says he’s frustrated and disappointed after learning a black officer received a racist letter through interdepartmental mail.

Dotson has ordered internal and criminal investigations after learning about the letter last week.

(Flickr/Cast a Line)

A Missouri teachers union says it is spending at least $100,000 on commercials urging state lawmakers to uphold the governor's veto of an income tax cut.

The Missouri chapter of the National Education Association says the TV and radio spots began running Tuesday and will continue for a week. The ads assert the tax cut would benefit "corporate special interests" while "stealing money from our schools."

Fergus Randall | Flickr

Laclede Gas Co. says it has finalized a $975 million deal to buy Missouri Gas Energy.

Laclede announced Tuesday that the purchase has been completed. The deal combines Missouri's two largest natural gas companies under one entity that will serve more than 1.1 million customers across the state.

St. Louis-based Laclede had served about 630,000 customers in St. Louis and 10 eastern Missouri counties.  Missouri Gas Energy had served about 500,000 customers in about 30 western and central Missouri counties, including the Kansas City, St. Joseph and Joplin areas.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The lead sponsor of a Missouri income tax cut wants Gov. Jay Nixon to call a special session so lawmakers can address some of the governor's concerns about the bill (HB253).

Republican House member T. J. Berry, of Kearney, said Thursday that he wants Nixon to call a special session to run concurrently with the veto session scheduled to start Sept. 11.

Nixon vetoed 29 bills this year, including Berry's bill cutting income taxes. Republican legislative leaders hope to override the veto.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Governor Jay Nixon is taking action against a radio ad in which Texas Governor Rick Perry encourages Missouri businesses to leave for his state.

Nixon’s campaign committee is running an ad that defends Missouri as a better place to do business than Texas on St. Louis radio station KTRS. The station previously refused to run Perry's ad. 

Courtesy of Groundswell Public Strategies

 The Democratic Party of Missouri has a new chairman.

On Saturday the state party committee picked long-time political strategist Roy Temple to replace Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, who is stepping down after less than two years and says he may be interested in running for attorney general in 2016.

Even though Democrats have fared well as of late in state-wide elections, Republicans hold supermajorities in both the state House and Senate.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation to protect consumers who buy a dog or cat and then learn the animal is seriously ill.

The Chicago Democrat signed the so-called "puppy lemon law" Saturday morning at a popular Chicago dog park called Wiggly Field.

The measure allows buyers to get a full refund or replacement if they buy a pet from a store and it dies within 21 days. Pet owners also could be reimbursed for the cost of veterinary care if they keep the animal.

It also requires pet stores to report any outbreak of diseases to the state.

Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

 Members of the United Mine Workers of America have voted to ratify a settlement with bankrupt Patriot Coal.

The union said in a statement Friday night that current or laid-off Patriot workers in West Virginia and Kentucky voted 85 percent to 15 percent in favor of the agreement reached late last week.

Some 1,800 members from 13 locals were voting.

Patriot said it wants the company to survive, and union President Cecil Roberts had said the deal may let that happen.

(Courtesy of the Missouri State Fair)

Updated at 5:31 p.m. with additional comments from Al Watkins, attorney for Mo. Rodeo Cowboy Assoc. Pres. Mark Ficken.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. with comments from Gov. Jay Nixon. Jacob McCleland contributed reporting from Cape Girardeau.

Updated at 2:50 p.m. with actions taken against the rodeo clown.

The Missouri State Fair has permanently banned a rodeo clown whose imitation of President Barack Obama has been widely criticized as disrespectful.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews)

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is predicting that voters will get a chance to decide whether to make Missouri the 25th state to enact a right-to-work law.

Kinder said while attending a Chicago conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council that he believes fellow Republicans in the Legislature will refer the measure to the ballot next year.

The measure would prohibit union membership or fees from being a condition of employment in Missouri.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Gov. Pat Quinn says a lawsuit over his decision to suspend lawmaker pay for failing to act on the state pension crisis will be a "landmark" case.

Quinn attended a court hearing Tuesday involving a lawsuit filed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton to force Quinn and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to issue paychecks.

(via Flickr/neil conway)

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation he says will help ex-offenders stay out of prison and get jobs so they can become productive members of society.

The Chicago Democrat says the measures also will give judges and prosecutors more options for sentencing non-violent criminals.

Quinn signed the bills Saturday at a church on Chicago's South Side.  

One measure increases a tax credit for employers who hire qualified ex-offenders to $1,500 per employee. It previously was capped at $600.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

National and state leaders broke ground Friday on the first phase of the CityArchRiver 2015 plan to revitalize the Gateway Arch grounds.

Two members of President Obama’s cabinet—Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx—were present at the ceremony. The first project is a park to be built over Interstate 70 to improve accessibility between downtown and the Arch grounds. Senator Claire McCaskill praised local officials for getting to this point.

File photo

Defense officials say the Pentagon's inspector general will investigate allegations of waste and misuse taxpayer funds by a military-led unit that's responsible for accounting for POWs and MIAs.

The investigation comes in response to an internal Pentagon report that said the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command's search for remains on old battlefields is so inept, mismanaged and wasteful that it risks descending from dysfunction to total failure.

(via Flickr/Roomic Cube)

Illinois has become the 20th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill into law Thursday at a new University of Chicago medical facility.

Illinois' law takes effect Jan. 1, but it'll take several months before medical marijuana will be available for purchase. The measure outlines a four-year pilot program for patients suffering from more than 30 serious illnesses or diseases.

Quinn says he's heard compelling stories from seriously ill patients - including veterans - and says medical marijuana will provide many people relief.

(From the Lt. Governor, State of Illinois, website)

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon officially announced Wednesday that she's running for Illinois comptroller, ending five months of uncertainty about which statewide office she'll seek in 2014.

The Carbondale Democrat made her announcement Wednesday morning in downtown Chicago. Simon announced in February that she wouldn't seek another term with Gov. Pat Quinn.

(Illinois General Assembly website)

A longtime Illinois state lawmaker says he's running for a southern Illinois congressional seat.

State Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro won't seek re-election in the state's 115th District and instead will pursue the 12th Congressional District seat. 

The Republican has been a state lawmaker for 18 years.

The U.S. House seat Bost will pursue is held by Democrat Bill Enyart, who was elected last November and announced in May he'll be seeking another two-year term.

The 12th District stretches from the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis to the state's southernmost tip.

(via Flickr/kcdsTM)

A federal judge is rejecting a legal bid by gun-rights advocates who wanted people to be able to immediately carry firearms in Illinois under the state's new concealed carry law.

East St. Louis U.S. District Judge William Stiehl threw out the lawsuit filed by Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association, siding with the state and saying the legal action is moot.

Shepard and the rifle group had argued it was unconstitutional to make people wait for the permit process to be outlined under the new concealed carry law that lawmakers passed July 9.

(via Flickr/Hakan Dahlstrom)

Gaming regulators in Missouri have approved Pinnacle Entertainment's $2.8 billion purchase of Ameristar Casinos, clearing one of the final hurdles in the acquisition.

The Missouri Gaming Commission voted 4-0 in favor of the deal Wednesday. Missouri was the last state to approve. The Federal Trade Commission must still give the go-ahead. Pinnacle spokeswoman Kerry Andersen says the company hopes to complete the transaction in August.

(via Wikimedia Commons/United States Senate)

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)  says he will hold a hearing on so-called "stand your ground" laws. 

About 30 states have some form of the law, which gives a person the right to use deadly force to protect themselves if they feel their life is in danger. 

A Florida version of "stand your ground" played a role in the trial of George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.  


Durbin is an Illinois Democrat and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.


(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A bipartisan group of senators is pressing forward with a reporter shield bill that includes new Justice Department guidelines for investigations that involve the media.

The guidelines announced Friday would make it harder for prosecutors to obtain journalists’ phone records without advance notice. Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri says the new bill will make it much more difficult for political appointees to stop reporters from doing their job.

Fergus Randall | Flickr

The Missouri Public Service Commission has given the go-ahead for St. Louis-based Laclede Gas to purchase Missouri Gas Energy.

Commission members placed a major condition on the purchase – Laclede Gas is barred from seeking a rate increase in its current service area until October of 2015.  Laclede spokeswoman Jessica Willingham says, though, they would be allowed to seek an increase in the areas currently served by Missouri Gas once the purchase becomes official.

(via Flickr/SenRockefeller)

Attorney General Lisa Madigan says she'll seek another term instead of running for Illinois governor next year.

In a Monday statement the Chicago Democrat says she's been considering the decision for months but that she enjoys her current job.  She says she considered the gubernatorial run because of the "need for effective management" and frustration from others about a lack of movement on major issues.

Madigan hadn't given any hints about her decision, telling reporters earlier Monday that she was still thinking it over.