In the past two weeks, 25 teenagers in Central Florida have been sickened after chewing or brewing the lovely but deadly angel trumpet flower, a wild backyard plant used to get high. Six were hospitalized. Two teens had heart attacks. Drinking angel trumpet tea or chewing its seeds can cause reactions ranging from pupil dilation to death. Teenagers who take it to get the hallucinations usually don't know it can kill them. "Whenever I'd see a person and I'd go to touch them, they'd disappear. I seen snakes all over me. It looked like a rattlesnake to me _ they were on my arms and stuff," said 17-year-old Jonathan Snyder, who tried a tea made from the plant two weeks ago after hearing about it from friends. Although the plant is common in Florida, abuse of it is not. Police are just learning about it themselves. And they are so alarmed by what they have discovered that they want to get the word out _ despite fears of creating copycats. Orange County Sheriff's deputies, who have investigated 10 cases in the past two months, have petitioned the Florida attorney general to make ingesting the plant a crime.
Man charged in second broadcaster death
MIAMI _ A man already charged with the murder of one Little Haiti radio broadcaster has been accused in the slaying of a second Haitian disc jockey. Jean-Claude Olivier and Fritz Dor were shot and killed with the same gun within a month of each other in early 1991. They were the first of four pro-democracy activists gunned down in Miami in the past three years. Miami police initially charged Hitler Fleurinord with first-degree murder in the Olivier case based in part on information from a drug dealer who said he was in the car during the hit. Prosecutors got an updated indictment Oct. 18 that charged Fleurinord with the first-degree murder of Dor and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. "Now we've received additional testimonial evidence Mr. Fleurinord was involved" in Dor's killing, said Assistant State Attorney John Kastrenakas, who did not elaborate on the new information. Fleurinord is suspected of driving the car of the killer who shot both broadcasters. No one has been charged as the triggerman.
Lawyer fears for man accused of child's slaying
WEST PALM BEACH _ The man accused of beating to death his 7-year-old stepdaughter then helping his wife concoct a wild story of the girl's abduction was ordered Saturday by a judge held without bond. Walter John Zile also was remanded to the mental health unit of the Palm Beach County jail by Circuit Judge Richard Wennett after his attorney said her client's life has been threatened by other inmates. Public defender Iola Mosley said she felt Zile would be safest in the unit because he would be kept in isolation and checked often by guards. She said inmates often target suspects accused of crimes against children. The immense publicity surrounding the death of Christina Holt _ a little girl that had been shuttled between several homes in her young life _ also has taken its toll. "Right now he is an emotional wreck," Ms. Mosley said after Zile's initial appearance. "The public perceives him as monster. He is a human being and he is scared." The 32-year-old was arrested Thursday after his wife, Pauline Zile, told authorities she and her husband made up the story of the girl's abduction from a Fort Lauderdale flea market.
State questions claims
of evangelist's company
TALLAHASSEE _ Florida's attorney general is investigating allegations a marketing company owned by television evangelist Pat Robertson deceptively recruited distributors with inflated promises of profits. The probe, prompted by information uncovered by the ABC news magazine Prime Time Live, is focused on KaloVita, a Virginia-based multilevel marketing firm that sells vitamins, skin creams and other personal care products. Assistant Attorney General Les Garringer said Friday ABC provided information about one out-of-state distributor who claimed in a letter to other potential distributors that he earned $15,800 in one month and that his ultimate goal was a seven-figure annual income. Garringer said such claims, if made in Florida, would violate the state's deceptive and unfair trade practices law. "I just don't believe the average person can make that kind of money," he said. "It needs to be demonstrated to me." Nelson Rogers, chief operating officer at KaloVita, said Friday the letter uncovered by ABC included a disclaimer indicating $15,800 a month is not the earnings of a typical distributor and that financial success is "strictly dependent on individual effort."