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News from Tampa Bay  and beyond.

Published June 7, 2006

Teen charged after escape via toothbrush

Armed with only a toothbrush, pen and an unidentified metal object, a 17-year-old escaped a Land O'Lakes detention center by tunneling through plaster and insulation. The 6-foot, 145-pound boy cleared a path large enough to squirm through and make his break. On the loose for days, he made it to Pinellas County before he was picked up. Already facing a grand theft auto charge, he also was charged Monday with escaping the juvenile facility.

Body used in 'crime scene' was no dummy

The crime scene was fake. The body, unfortunately, was real. A Fort Lauderdale high school criminology class was investigating a fake crime scene set up by its teacher Monday. She has used fake skeletons and other evidence for 20 years to give her forensics students a firsthand feel. One 15-year-old student described the moment of discovery: "The first thing we thought was, 'That's a real good dummy she set up.' " Except it was a 45-year-old homeless man who died of natural causes. Said the teacher: "What are the odds?"

Postal Service says move would cut costs

Is it worth $1.3-million a year to keep processing certain types of mail in St. Petersburg? A U.S. Postal Service study has found that moving most of the processing from 3135 First Ave. N in St. Petersburg to Tampa would save about that much every year. Retail services and some processing would remain at the facility. A St. Petersburg postmark still would be available. Postal headquarters still must decide what to do. Comment at a meeting June 14 at 7 p.m. at the St. Petersburg Library, 3745 Ninth Ave. N.

Hillsborough schools abandon tax initiative

Remember that half-cent sales tax initiative for Hillsborough County schools? Forget about it for now. The Hillsborough School Board on Tuesday officially dismissed any plan to ask voters to raise taxes to pay for new classrooms. Board members knew it would be a tough sell this fall. The Hillsborough County Commission recently agreed to raise impact fees on new homes from $196 to $4,000. And state lawmakers in Tallahassee threw a lot of cash at public schools this year.

Typo directs insurance customers to sex line

The 74-year-old called her new Medicare provider. A woman cooed: "In the mood for some stimulating conversation?" Yep, a sex line. UnitedHealthcare blames a typo and says the mistake was caught before pamphlets were distributed, but that a few must have gotten out, including the one this woman picked up at a seminar in Inverness. Her view? "I want to know how to get to my insurance, not some sexy line."