Morning headlines: Monday, March 7, 2011
- A Pennsylvania man has been charged with three counts of child molestation and one count of statutory sodomy after he allegedly forced his way into a hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Clayton and molested a 9 year-old girl. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that after returning to the hotel intoxicated at around 4 a.m. Sunday morning, 42 year-old Daniel T. Hughes went to the wrong room. When his key didn’t work, the clerk issued him another one for the room number Hughes provided without checking to make sure that was the right room. The Post-Dispatch reports that the room was actually being occupied by a St. Louis-area family. The door to the room was chained, and Hughes forced his way in. The girl eventually alerted her parents, and police apprehended Hughes in the lobby. The desk clerk has reportedly resigned.
- Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is encouraging Illinois families to take advantage of a college tuition tax credit. The American Opportunity Tax Credit lets families claim a credit of up to $2,500 per student on their 2009 and 2010 tax returns. The U.S. Treasury Department reports that less than half of all eligible Illinois families claimed the credit on their 2009 taxes. Durbin says state families are leaving more than $1 billion in tax credit unclaimed. He says it isn't too late to claim the credit for 2009 or 2010. The average award is more than $1,800 in tax savings. The average student who graduates this Spring will have more than $20,000 in student loan debt.
One of two U.S. airmen killed last week in a shooting at a German airport will be laid to rest in his native southwestern Illinois. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that visitation and services for 21-year-old Airman 1st Class Zachary Cuddeback will be Saturday at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in O'Fallon. Cuddeback will be buried at nearby Scott Air Force Base, next to his grandfather. Cuddeback and another airman were killed when a man opened fire on a busload of U.S. airmen at Frankfurt's airport. Cuddeback was assigned to the 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. A public memorial service for Cuddeback will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday in Virginia, where he'd moved in 2003. He joined the Air Force in 2009.