In brief | Nation & world | 031514


Killer who escaped from Army prison in 1977 recaptured using face-recognition software

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — In the nearly 40 years after he escaped from the maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, convicted killer James Robert Jones carved out a new life for himself in Florida, living under an assumed name, getting married and working for an air conditioning company.

It all came to an end this week when Jones — or Bruce Walter Keith, as the former Army private was known in Florida — was recaptured with the help of technology that was more sci-fi than reality when he broke out during the disco era: facial-recognition software.

“The first words out of his mouth were, ‘I knew this would catch up with me someday,’” Barry Golden, a senior inspector with the U.S. Marshals Service, said Friday.

Jones, 59, was one of the Army’s 15 most-wanted fugitives after his 1977 escape from the Kansas prison dubbed “The Castle” for its large walls and tower keeps.

He was convicted of murder and assault in the 1974 killing of a fellow soldier at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

NTSB: Tests detected natural gas underground near site of NYC blast, pipe evaluation underway

NEW YORK — Federal investigators say underground tests conducted in the hours after a deadly New York City gas explosion detected the presence of natural gas.

NTSB team member Robert Sumwalt says the latest information seems to support the hypothesis that the explosion, which killed eight people, was caused by a gas leak.

Sumwalt said Friday that the utility Consolidated Edison dug 50 holes about 18 to 24 inches deep around the blast site and measured gas levels in those cavities soon after the explosion.

He says the gas concentration was up to 20 percent in at least five spots. He says normal levels in New York City soil should be zero.

He says workers have begun the process of pressure testing pipes to identify possible holes.

Malnutrition grows among Syrian children as poverty, lack of heath care take toll

KAB ELIAS, Lebanon — Trapped in her northern Syrian village by fighting, Mervat watched her newborn baby progressively shrink. Her daughter’s dark eyes seemed to grow bigger as her face grew more skeletal. Finally, Mervat escaped to neighboring Lebanon, and a nurse told her the girl was starving.

The news devastated her. “They had to hold me when they told me. I wept,” the 31-year-old mother said, speaking in the rickety, informal tent camp where she now lives with her husband in the eastern Lebanese town of Kab Elias.

Her daughter Shurouk has been undergoing treatment the past three months and remains a wispy thing. The 9-month-old weighs 7 pounds (3.2 kilos) — though she’s become more smiley and gregarious. Mervat spoke on condition she be identified only by her first name, fearing problems for her family in Syria.

Her case underscored how dramatically Syrian society has unraveled from a conflict that this weekend enters its fourth year. Such stark starvation was once rare in Syria, where President Bashar Assad’s autocratic state ran a health system that provided nearly free care.

That system, along with most other state institutions, has been shattered in many parts of the country where the fighting between Assad’s forces and the rebels trying to overthrow him is raging hardest. The war has killed more than 140,000 people and has driven nearly a third of the population of 23 million from their homes — including 4.2 million who remain inside Syria and 2.5 million who have fled into neighboring countries. Nearly half those displaced by the war are children.

By wire sources