Former boyfriend arrested 27 years after mother of two goes missing

The former boyfriend of a young mother who disappeared 27 years ago in Northern California has been arrested in connection with the cold case, authorities said.

Richard Pyle, 55, who was described by deputies as a transient, was taken into custody in Stockton on Thursday, according to a news release from the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.

Pyle lived with Tracy Zandstra in November 1991, when the then-29-year-old disappeared from the home they shared in Stirling City, authorities said.

Zandstra’s body was never found, but detectives have uncovered evidence indicating she had been killed and her body disposed of, sheriff’s officials said. A Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, however, declined to say what that evidence was.

“She was a mother of two young children,” Megan McMann, the spokeswoman, said of Zandstra. “We didn’t think that a mother would just up and leave.”

Zandstra also left behind her purse and other belongings, McMann said.

Detectives have continued to investigate the case over the years and last week worked with the district attorney’s office to obtain an arrest warrant for Pyle, sheriff’s officials said.

— Los Angeles Times

Man exposes himself, falls to death at Atlanta hotel, police say

ATLANTA — After allegedly exposing himself to a housekeeper, a man fell to his death Monday attempting to escape from the Hyatt Regency Atlanta hotel, according to police.

Police were called shortly after noon to the iconic hotel, known for its blue dome, after the man attempted to jump from a 10th-story balcony to one below, Investigator James White with Atlanta police said. The man died from the fall, White said.

Tuesday afternoon, investigators with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office were attempting to locate the man’s next of kin before releasing his name. He was not a guest at the hotel, police said. No information was released on why the man was inside the hotel.

The housekeeper reported the alleged incident to hotel security, White said. When hotel security officers attempted to confront the man, he ran.

According to investigators, the man fell to the ground and died from his injuries. The death is believed to be accidental and no criminal charges are expected, White said.

— The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Las Vegas man allegedly flew to Kentucky and tried to kidnap girl in school parking lot

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Las Vegas man was arrested Monday after he flew to Kentucky with hopes of convincing a high schooler to have sex with him, according to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

Benjamin Margitza, 18, flew from Las Vegas to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport Saturday night to make contact with a girl he met online around four years ago, according to the sheriff’s office. Margitza and the victim had a minimal amount of communication until recently, when he had contacted her making explicit, sexual statements and also saying he wanted to marry her, the sheriff’s office said.

Without the victim knowing, Margitza traveled to Northern Kentucky, where he knew she went to school at Conner High School. He found the victim in the school parking lot Monday and grabbed her arm, according to the sheriff.

The girl screamed and began running away but Margitza followed her. A male student then intervened by not allowing Margitza to follow the victim any further, the sheriff said.

The victim made contact with a school resource officer and Margitza was found by the officer trying to leave the school in the back of an Uber, the sheriff’s office said.

— Lexington Herald-Leader

Great Smoky Mountains park gets an unusual apology in the mail — with a rock

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rangers at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park say they received an unusual letter, and it included a piece of the park stolen by a tourist: a rock.

The sender, a girl named Karina, offered an apology.

“Deep Creek was awesome! I especially liked Tom Branch Falls. I loved it so much, I wanted to have a souvenir to come home with me, so I took a rock. I’m so sorry and want to return it,” the letter said.

The National Park Service posted her penciled letter on Facebook, partly because of Karina’s adorable innocence (she misspelled some words) but also because it underlies a growing threat to one of the nation’s most popular parks.

Stealing rocks from streams and rivers — or even just moving them — is a legitimate concern, the park says, because fish and endangered salamanders nest among pebbles in streams.

This is particularly true in August, when male hellbenders make nests under rocks, rangers say. Disturbing stones can keep eggs from hatching, park officials said in a Facebook post. It’s also against federal law to remove anything from the park, including picking flowers.

“Thank you for recognizing that what is in the park should stay in the park,” rangers wrote in a response to Karina’s letter. “If every visitor took a rock home, that would mean 11 million rocks would be gone from the park every year! The park would definitely not be as beautiful as it was before.”

— The Charlotte Observer