Associated Press | KBIA

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A sweeping review has found that close to 90% of Missouri rape kits have never been tested.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Wednesday that only 830 of about 7,000 total kits were previously tested.

Rape kits are DNA samplings and other evidence secured via medical procedures conducted immediately after an attack. They can be used by law enforcement and prosecutors to catch and convict rapists.

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Republican legislators and Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Tuesday laid out legislative priorities for 2020 aimed at fighting violent urban crime, but they made it clear that those priorities don’t include stricter gun laws.

Legislative leaders said they’ll push for strengthening Missouri’s carjacking statute and removing the requirement that forces St. Louis police officers to live in the city in hopes of boosting officer recruitment and retention.

Police asked hunters to be on the lookout for evidence in the case of a missing Chinese woman as deer season began in Missouri. 

The Columbia police department said in a news release that hunters should remain vigilant while out in rural areas as the search continues for Mengqi Ji Elledge. 

She’s been missing since last month, and her husband, Joseph Elledge, has been identified as a suspect. The couple has a 1-year-old daughter.

Washington University has contributed $250,000 to an effort to place a Medicaid expansion question on Missouri’s November 2020 ballot.

Reports say that the university contributed the money Friday to the political action committee Missourians for Healthcare. On Nov. 4, Washington University’s chancellor and its medical school dean issued a joint letter endorsing the ballot initiative. 

A university spokeswoman says the $250,000 came from funds within the School of Medicine.

Missouri officials are stepping up enforcement of laws that ban selling vaping products to minors.

The move is part of a state campaign launched Monday to deter young people from vaping. Missouri’s health department so far has reported two vaping-related deaths.

Alcohol and Tobacco Control agents are prioritizing inspections at stores that sell vaping products. The division’s state supervisor, Dottie Taylor, says about 83% of stores are currently checking identification cards and refusing sales to minors.

Missouri health officials say a woman’s death is the second in the state associated with the use of vaping products.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said Friday that the unidentified woman was in her mid-50s. The department says that it concluded through discussions with the woman’s doctors that vaping contributed to a chronic lung condition.

The agency says that since August it has found 35 cases of lung injury from e-cigarettes or vaping.

President Donald Trump has announced plans to nominate the executive director the Kansas City Public Library to lead an independent federal agency that the White House has tried to shutter.

The Kansas City Star reports that Crosby Kemper III will become director of the Institute of Museum of Library Sciences, pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Federal prosecutors will seek additional charges in the 2017 attack of an undercover St. Louis police officer who claimed he was beaten “like Rodney King” by his own colleagues.

St. Louis officers Randy Hays and Bailey Colletta have pleaded guilty in connection with the attack of undercover Officer Luther Hall. Two others, Dustin Boone and Christopher Myers, go to trial Dec. 2.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 52-year-old Kansas City woman has been sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison without parole for embezzlement.

Kathleen Frederico was an accountant at Saint Luke's Foundation when she embezzled the money. During her sentencing Tuesday, Frederico was ordered to pay $546,603 in restitution. She pleaded guilty in June to wire fraud.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — NASA says a meteor seen streaking through the sky behind the Gateway Arch in St. Louis was a basketball-size hunk of rock that broke off from an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that experts used hundreds of eyewitness accounts from as far away as South Dakota and Minnesota along with two videos to calculate information about the meteor.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is asking people interested in honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to submit ideas to the city’s parks board within 90 days.

Lucas’ announcement on Tuesday comes a week after voters chose to restore The Paseo name to a boulevard named last year for King. Lucas said the Parks and Recreation Board will hold public meetings to evaluate ideas for a new way to honor the civil rights icon.

A 52-year-old Kansas City woman has been sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison without parole for embezzlement.

Kathleen Frederico was an accountant at Saint Luke's Foundation when she embezzled the money. During her sentencing Tuesday, Frederico was ordered to pay $546,603 in restitution. She pleaded guilty in June to wire fraud.

Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

Another school district is suing leading e-cigarette maker Juul, claiming that its devices create "enormous distractions for students."

The Springfield News-Leader reports that the Ava R-1 School District in southwest Missouri filed an 80-page lawsuit on Oct. 31 in federal court. The suit claims that the company marketed its products to teenagers and got a new generation of young people addicted to nicotine.

Ava Superintendent Jason Dial says the district has rolled out a comprehensive prevention plan to stem the rise in e-cigarette among students.

Missouri regulators have fined the Doe Run Co. $1.2 million for dozens of clean air violations over several years at a lead battery recycling center in southeast Missouri.

It was reported Monday that it is one of the largest monetary penalties the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has issued in the past five years.

Wintry weather in mid-autumn is causing plenty of trouble in parts of Missouri.

Several slide-off accidents were reported Monday after blustery wind and snow began falling. Northern and eastern Missouri were especially hard-hit. The Missouri Department of Transportation listed several major highways and interstates as "covered" or "partly covered" with snow, including parts of Interstate 70, U.S. 36 and U.S. 63.  

There were no immediate reports of fatal accidents.

A judge has found that the University of Missouri knowingly violated the state's open records law by overestimating the cost to provide records of dogs and cats used in research to an animal rights group. 

Boone County Judge Jeff Harris sided Friday with Animal Rescue, Media & Education, also known as the Beagle Freedom Project, which was initially told it would cost $82,000 to get records for 179 animals used in university research. The group sued in 2016, alleging that the cost was so high that it effectively prevented the public from accessing information.

Missouri's health department wants to ban medical marijuana businesses from paying taxes in cash, a move that industry advocates say could shut out small businesses from the field.

Missouri voters in 2018 made medical marijuana legal but sales are still prohibited under federal law.

Democrat Trish Gunby has won a hotly contested Missouri House race in a western St. Louis County district.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Gunby beat Republican Lee Ann Pitman on Tuesday. Both parties invested in the race because Republicans and Democrats have won in the district. Donald Trump carried it in 2016. Two years later, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill won it, while losing statewide to Republican Josh Hawley.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's process for certifying juveniles as adults is unconstitutional and discriminates against African Americans, a public defender for a black 16-year-old boy told Missouri Supreme Court judges on Wednesday.

Public defender Tim Honse said the minor, identified only as D.E.G. in court documents, was 15 at the time of the alleged offense and 16 when he was certified as an adult.

A Jackson County grand jury later indicted him for first-degree assault and armed criminal action. His trial is slated for March.

Meiying Wu / KBIA

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office has not audited his compliance with conflict-of-interest rules since he took office in January, despite a policy calling for such a move.

An office policy bans the attorney general from accepting campaign contributions from anyone under investigation by the agency. The policy also calls for regular internal audits to ensure compliance with the rule, according to records obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Columbia Police Department logo on CPD car.
Meiying Wu / KBIA

After spending eight days in a tree to protest construction of a mid-Missouri nature trail, activist Sutu Forte has been arrested.

The Columbia Missourian reports that Columbia authorities on Tuesday removed Forte from the tree by using a fire truck's hydraulic bucket. She was handcuffed and taken to jail, but released a short time later.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office has not audited his compliance with conflict-of-interest rules, despite a policy calling for that.

A spokesman for Schmitt confirmed Monday that the office hasn't conducted an internal audit since Schmitt took office in January.

The office policy bans the attorney general from accepting campaign contributions from anyone under investigation by the agency. Records obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch show the policy also calls for regular internal audits to ensure compliance with the rule.

Missouri's top tourism official is out of a job, days after a complaint accused him of excessive taxpayer-funded travel and improper acceptance of gifts from a state vendor.

The Missouri Division of Tourism announced Director Ward Franz's departure Friday but didn't say if he was fired or resigned.

An Oct. 25 letter from an investigator in Democratic state Auditor Nicole Galloway's office outlined allegations from a whistleblower complaint. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch obtained the letter through an open-records request.

Newly obtained records show that the Missouri attorney general is investigating whether the longtime former top general of the Missouri National Guard "misused his office."

Reports say that documents obtained through an open records request show that the investigation centers on whether two-star general Stephen Danner pressured state officials to award about $14 million in low-income housing tax credits to a nonprofit foundation that contracted with a real estate business that was co-owned by his son.

An activist has been told that she has until Friday to climb down from a tree and end her protest against extending a Columbia nature trail.

According to reports Sutu Forte climbed the red oak Oct. 28 and has stayed there amid her concerns about forest destruction.

On Monday, Tom Reddin of the Boone County Sheriff's Department climbed into the tree and told Forte of the Friday deadline. Meanwhile, police brought her a sandwich. She thanked officers for treating her with kindness.

A man who caused panic at a Missouri Walmart when he walked inside wearing body armor and carrying loaded weapons in what he described as an effort to test his right to bear arms pleaded guilty to making a false report Friday after initially being charged with a more serious terrorist-related felony.
Dmitriy Andreychenko, 21, pleaded guilty to an amended misdemeanor charge after originally being charged with making a terrorist threat.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is suing a Florida-based company and its president for alleged violations of Missouri's no-call list.

The lawsuit filed in St. Louis County Wednesday accuses Allied Health Supply, based in West Palm Beach, Florida, and its president, Claudia Sullivan, of calling Missourians on the state's no-call list to sell them orthopedic braces.

Schmitt said in a news release the company implied it was with Medicare and the orthopedic braces were a new Medicare benefit. Instead, the braces were billed to the individual's insurance or Medicare.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Mayor of Kansas City is proposing an ordinance aimed at helping police keep firearms away from those with a history of domestic violence.

The Kansas Star reports that the ordinance Quinton Lucas unveiled Wednesday would allow police to take firearms from domestic violence offenders or those who are the subject of restraining orders. A similar federal law exists but backers say a local law would help police and prosecutors pursue the cases.

ST. LOUIS - A top Missouri Democrat is calling for an investigation of the health director, who said he tracked menstrual periods of Planned Parenthood patients.

State House Minority Crystal Quade on Tuesday said Republican Gov. Mike Parson must immediately review if patient privacy was compromised.

Quade added that she's not sure if Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams is fit to serve.

Williams testified Tuesday that he requested a spreadsheet that included the dates of the last periods of a St. Louis clinic's patients.

Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

A medical marijuana trade group wants Missouri health officials to issue strict vaping regulations as the number of people in the United States suffering from vaping-related lung illnesses continues to rise.

In a letter Monday, Andrew Mullins, executive director of the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, asked Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, to help it "diminish the black market" by issuing rules on vaping additives, testing and labeling before legal medical pot sales begin in 2020, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.