NATION IN BRIEF: Texas day care operator pleads not guilty in fire

Texas day care operator pleads not guilty in fire

HOUSTON — A woman who fled to Nigeria after a fire killed four children at her Texas home day care center pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and other charges Wednesday, two days after she was returned to the U.S.

Jessica Tata’s attorney entered the plea during an arraignment hearing in Houston. Tata, who didn’t speak during the court appearance, is facing 14 charges related to the Feb. 24 blaze that also injured three children. Authorities believe she left all seven children alone while she went shopping.

The 22-year-old, who is being held without bond at a Houston jail, also faces injury to a child and child abandonment charges. The manslaughter and injury to a child charges each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Woman finds dog alive in her burned home

BOSTON — A Boston woman who thought her beloved dachshund was gone forever after a fire destroyed her apartment a month ago found the pet Monday living in the wreckage of her burned-out home.

Terisa Acevedo moved in with relatives after the Feb. 23 fire. She returned to the apartment Monday when her landlord asked her to turn off the alarm on a vehicle in the driveway.

The 24-year-old Acevedo heard scratching, pulled away the plywood covering the doorway and found the year-old pup, Lola.

She said Lola jumped into her arms and set off a flood of tears. She says the dog was a little skinnier than she remembered.

1st national spelling bee winner dies

WASHINGTON — Frank Neuhauser, who in 1925 won the first national spelling bee with the word “gladiolus,” and went on to become a patent lawyer, has died. He was 97.

Neuhauser died March 11 at his home in Silver Spring, Md., Francis J. Collins Funeral Home verified on Tuesday.

He was 11 years old when he won the championship. His prizes included $500 in gold and a trip to the White House to meet President Calvin Coolidge.

Neuhauser said he got ready for the contest by copying words from a dictionary into a blank book, and having his father quiz him each night.

After winning, he returned home to a parade and crowds bearing bouquets of gladioli.