SHERIFF: SC TEEN OFFERED $5,000 TO KILL GRANDMA: COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Investigators say a South Carolina teen offered to pay his friends $5,000 to kill the grandparents who raised him because they were too strict.
Chester County Sheriff's Maj. Bill Murphy said 17-year-old Clayton Watts waited with two friends for his grandparents to come home Tuesday evening, then ambushed 59-year-old Jimmie Paul and killed her with three gunshots in the chest.
Deputies say the suspects also planned to kill the teen's grandfather, but he went to work on his boat in a shed and didn't come inside. He found his wife's body a few minutes later and called 911.
Investigators say the grandson, along with 19-year-old Shaderius Cohen and 18-year-old Marquaes Buchanan, are all charged with murder and will be prosecuted as adults.
HARVARD: DOZENS DISCIPLINED OVER EXAM CHEATING: BOSTON (AP) — Harvard University said Friday it issued academic sanctions against approximately 60 students who were forced to withdraw from school for a period of time in a cheating scandal that involved the final exam in a class on Congress, drawing criticism from a high-profile alumnus.
The school implicated as many as 125 students in the scandal when officials first addressed the issue last year.
The inquiry started after a teaching assistant in a spring semester undergraduate-level government class detected problems in the take-home test, including that students may have shared answers.
In a campus-wide email Friday, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith said the school's academic integrity board had resolved all the cases related to the cheating probe.
He said "somewhat more than half" of the cases involved students who had to withdraw from the college for a period of time.
STAND-OFF CONTINUES WITH SCHOOL BUS DRIVER KILLER: MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — After four anxious days, only the slimmest of details has come to light in a police standoff with an Alabama man who is accused of holding a 5-year-old boy hostage in a bunker, a sign of just how delicate the negotiations are.
Police have used a ventilation pipe to the underground bunker to talk to the man and deliver the boy medication for his emotional disorders, but they have not revealed how often they are in touch or what the conversations have been about. And authorities waited until Friday — four days after the siege began — to confirm what was widely known in this age of instant communication: The man accused of killing a school bus driver and abducting the boy Tuesday was 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, a Vietnam-era veteran who was known to neighbors as a menacing figure.
While much of what is going on inside the bunker remains a mystery, local officials who have spoken to police or the boy's family have described a small room with food, electricity and a TV. And while the boy has his medication, an official also said he has been crying for his parents.
SCOTT BROWN SAYS HE WON'T SEEK KERRY'S SENATE SEAT: BOSTON (AP) — Former Sen. Scott Brown said Friday he would not run in a special Senate election in Massachusetts, dealing a setback to Republican hopes of winning the seat being vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Brown, who electrified his party with an upset win in a 2010 special election but lost his re-election bid in November, ended weeks of intense speculation about his future with a written statement announcing his decision.
"I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time," he said. "And I know it's not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me."
GOP officials in Washington and Massachusetts widely considered Brown the strongest possible Republican candidate in a state that traditionally favors Democrats.
CATTLE RANCHING MOVES NORTH, WEST AMID DROUGHT : WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The severe drought that scorched pastures across the Southern Plains last summer helped shrink the nation's herd to its smallest size in more than six decades and encouraged the movement of animals to lusher fields in the northern and western parts of the U.S., a new report shows.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Friday that the U.S. inventory of cattle and calves totaled 89.3 million animals as of Jan. 1. That was down by 1.5 million cattle, or 2 percent, compared with this time a year ago.
The agency says this is the lowest January cattle inventory since 1952. It does two counts per year, in January and July. The January report had been anxiously awaited because it shows the impact of the drought as it spread across the nation last summer and provides a state-by-state breakdown documenting the shift of animals north.
Texas, the nation's largest cattle producing state, saw its herd shrink 5 percent to 11.3 million head amid a multi-year drought. Nebraska's herd shrunk 2 percent to 6.3 million animals as the drought spread north this summer. In Kansas, another hard hit state, the number of cattle shrunk 4 percent to 5.8 million animals as ranchers sold off animals as pastures dried up and the price of hay skyrocketed.
SECRET SERVICE CHIEF TO STEP DOWN THIS MONTH: WASHINGTON (AP) — Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan announced his retirement Friday, bringing to a close a turbulent period for the law enforcement agency that included a South American prostitution scandal and a pair of White House gate-crashers.
In nearly seven years as director, Sullivan had to answer serious questions from lawmakers on two occasions about his employees' actions on the job and off.
Last May, in testimony before Congress, Sullivan apologized for the conduct of Secret Service employees caught in a prostitution scandal in Colombia. Thirteen agents and officers were implicated after an agent argued with a prostitute over payment in a hotel hallway in Cartagena, Colombia.