Wandering Fla. gator winds up on doorstep

TAMPA, Fla. - Florida alligators are known to roam in springtime when they search for mates, but a Tampa woman was mystified to find one parked on her doorstep.

Belinda Donaldson got a call Thursday morning from a neighbor who warned her to stay inside because an 11-foot alligator was lounging on her front stoop. She looked out the window and there it was, just outside her door.

Donaldson says gators sometimes wander away from one of the many lakes in her suburban neighborhood of tidy lawns and neat, 1-story homes just west of Tampa, but she'd never seen one that big.

Mother charged with trying to sell infant son

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A West Virginia mother was in jail Friday, accused of trying to sell her 5-month-old son for $10,000 to get money for a new apartment.

Rebecca Sue Taylor, 19, of Charleston offered to sell her baby to another woman identified as Leigh Burr after saying she was unable to bond with the infant and needed money for a new apartment, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

Burr, no age or address available, said Taylor later cut the asking price to $5,000.

The women had been talking about Taylor serving as a possible surrogate mother for Burr when Taylor offered to sell her the baby she already had, police said in the criminal complaint.

Ill. official who got 'midnight raise' fired

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois has fired a transportation official who saw his salary nearly double in five years, including an 8 percent bump in the final days of ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration.

Transportation department spokeswoman Paris Ervin said personnel manager Scott Doubet was fired Friday. Doubet was among 12 department employees who received what Gov. Pat Quinn has called 'midnight raises' weeks before Blagojevich was removed from office over corruption allegations.

Doubet's salary was $55,000 in 2004 but reached $106,000 this year.

Craigslist suspect linked to RI hotel

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Rhode Island authorities said Friday they have evidence linking a medical student accused of killing a masseuse in Boston to a hotel near Providence where a third crime occurred.

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that fingerprints belonging to Philip Markoff were found on a wall of the Holiday Inn Express in Warwick, where a stripper has said she was assaulted by a man she met through Craigslist. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

Markoff, a Boston University medical student, is charged in the April 14 killing of Julissa Brisman, a 25-year-old masseuse he met through Craigslist. He is also charged in a robbery of another masseuse that police say he met through the online classifieds site.

Woman charged with trying to extort Pitino

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - An equipment manager's estranged wife has been charged with trying to extort Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court Friday also accuses Karen Sypher of lying to the FBI. She appeared in court but did not enter a plea, and was released on her own recognizance.

The complaint says Sypher's husband brought Pitino a written list of demands including a house, cars and money. It says Sypher wanted college tuition for her children, two cars of her choice, her house paid off and $3,000 per month.

The complaint says those demands were later withdrawn when she asked for $10 million instead.

It isn't clear why she was demanding the money. Court documents say only that Pitino believed it was related to an encounter in 2003.

Mother of Mich. girl found dead in bin charged

FLINT, Mich. - A 9-year-old quadriplegic girl whose body was found in a storage unit suffered from 'severe, ongoing malnutrition and neglect' before her death, a prosecutor said Friday after charging her adoptive mother with murder.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton charged 39-year-old Lorrie Thomas of Flint with six crimes, including second-degree murder, child abuse, tampering with evidence, removing a dead body and welfare fraud.