Trust fund created for orphaned 911 caller

Published April 1, 2005|Updated Aug. 25, 2005

A trust fund has been established for Tia Hernlen, the 5-year-old who called 911 after an accused stalker shot her parents three days ago in the family's home.

Family friends said Tia was doing well, staying with grandparents in Central Florida.

A trust has been set up for Tia at Gulf States Credit Union. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 945110, Maitland, FL 32794.

Tia's father, Aeneas Hernlen, 29, died late Tuesday at a Daytona Beach hospital. His wife of nearly a decade, Julie Morgan-Hernlen, died in their bedroom after an acquaintance, David E. Johnson, broke in and shot both of them with a 9mm pistol in the early hours of Monday morning before returning home to kill himself, police said.

Friends said Tia Skye Hernlen was the center of her surf-loving parents' world. When the couple went to the movies, they always picked one Tia could watch so they could bring her along.

Many family members are outraged that police and the court system did not do more to protect the young family. Morgan-Hernlen had sought help from authorities and even predicted Johnson might kill the couple.

Johnson thought they had told authorities about his marijuana-growing operation, officials said.

Faith-based mentoring to help young offenders

TALLAHASSEE _ The nation's first federally funded faith-based mentoring program for juvenile offenders is starting in Florida, Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings announced Thursday.

Participation is limited and requires the consent of the youth and his or her parents. Children and volunteer mentors of any faith may sign up, but the administration is Christian-based.

The $3.5-million, three-year effort will serve 200 youths a year at six residential programs.

Each mentor will be trained to work with a detainee and the child's family during detention and until at least one year after the youth's release.

"The reason to do this is not to convert these kids," said Tom Denham, a Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman. "The reason to do this is because the faith-based community has in place the tools and the kind of people that can help these families mend. A lot of these families are broken."

Proponents of church and state separation have questioned the constitutionality of such programs, but organizers say its voluntary nature makes it legal.

Florida also is home to the nation's first faith-based adult prisons for men and women, both opened in the last two years.

Court upholds no-fault medical claims deadline

TALLAHASSEE _ A state law that gives doctors 30 days to file claims on a patient's no-fault auto policy is constitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Lawmakers added the deadline in 1998 for doctors and other health care providers. Hospitals were exempted.

A State Farm customer and his doctor challenged the deadline, arguing it violated the constitutional rights of health care providers to equal protection, due process and access to courts.

In Thursday's unsigned opinion, a 4-2 majority rejected those claims and agreed with the 5th District Court of Appeal that the law was constitutional.

_ Orlando Sentinel and wire reports