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From these notes, bring as much of the drama of what happened to your news story as possible by using the principle: “Show, don’t just tell.” Be sure to build the lead around the arrest, which is the latest spot news development. Use as many details as you can to create a word picture for your audience.
Two years ago, on Aug. 14, 12 teenagers were partying at the home of a friend whose parents were out of town. One youth was playing with a .22- caliber handgun when it went off. The bullet struck Erica Andersen, 12, daughter of Roger and Wilman Andersen, 1410 Maple St. She was a student at Lincoln Middle School. Roger Andersen is a foreman at the Bugsby Sheet Metal rolling plant. Wilma Andersen is an aide at the Riverside Village, a treatment center for the mentally handicapped. The bullet pierced Erica’s right cheek, traveled through her brain, and lodged in her brain stem. Doctors decided against removing the bullet because the surgery could cause more problems. She was in the hospital two months. Then her parents took her home, where they continued caring for her. Erica had been an active seventh grader who loved and swimming.
Last Friday, Wilma Andersen drugged Erica and smothered her to death. She then went to the Lackawana County Jail and, about 8 p.m., and told deputies she had killed her daughter. In the meantime, according to police later, the father Roger Andersen arrived home. He found a note from Wilma taped to the front door: " Roger, I have helped Erica, so don’t go in the house. I’m going to the police to turn myself in." Police said later that he went in the house and found Erica dead in her first-floor bedroom
Deputies retained WIlma Andersen and sent detectives to the house. She was charged with first- degree murder that night and released on $1,000 bond.
This morning in court, Prosecuting Attorney Jeraldine Sylvester described the death, mostly from detectives reports. Wilma Andersen sat tearfully, listening, her husband at her side. Her defense attorney, Kyle Lansted, said he would arrange mental health counseling within 72 hours. Lansted said: “;This is a terrible tragedy involving a child and an entire family of good people.” Judge Phyllis Jones agreed to continue bond at $1,000 and released Wilma Andersen on her own recognizance.
In an interview, Ericas’s grandmother, Juanita Andersen, said: “It was a mercy killing, thats what it was. Erica wanted to end her life, and Wilmie did it for. Wilmie helped her, I believe that. I talked to Roger the night before. All he said was she wasn’t eating very well and her brain was deteriorating. They fed her through a tube. She could barely move one leg and one arm and was so frustrated trying to communicate. Her head flopped from side to side. I just couldn’t stand to be around her. It made me sick”.
In an interview, a relative who asked not to be named in any story said: "Wilmie was a great mother. She was totally devoted to her kids”
Jay Lorillard, a neighbor, said: “Erica couldn’t swallow or move. She communicated only with hand signals- one tap for ‘yes’, two or ‘no.’ She couldn’t return hugs. Her quality of life was lousy. She was like a huge baby requiring care 24 hours a day. The family shifted her around from chairs to wheelchair to bed. They spoon fed her. They changed her diapers.”
In an interview, Karen Holden, the family’s attorney in a civil suit over the shooting, said: “Her mother was very caring and devoted to taking care of her. I just can’t imagine what happened. It sounds like she was trying to help out Erica, to do anything to relieve her pain.”
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