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NATION IN BRIEF: Joke's on North as April Fools' snow nears

Joke’s on North as April Fools’ snow nears

BOSTON — A no-joke April Fools’ snowstorm swirled toward the Northeast Thursday, a cruel prank on a region that was finally seeing a reprieve from its long, white winter.

The spring snowstorm was expected to hit late Thursday and last into Friday morning — April Fools’ Day — dropping up to a foot of snow in some areas including northwest New Jersey, eastern New York and around New England.

The timing could make for a messy morning commute.

Storm warnings were up around the region, and parts of New Jersey and New York’s Hudson Valley and Catskills could see 5 to 10 inches. Up to 8 inches were possible in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.

Bronx Zoo cobra found in its reptile house

NEW YORK — The missing Bronx Zoo cobra has been found.

Zoo officials say the snake was found Thursday morning in the zoo’s Reptile House, nearly a week after it went missing. The Egyptian cobra was found coiled in a dark corner of the reptile house and zoo director Jim Breheny says she is in good health.

The zoo’s Reptile House had closed last Friday after the snake disappeared and zoo workers couldn’t find it.

In less than a week, the snake has become the stuff of urban legend. Someone even started pretending to be the cobra on Twitter and sent fake updates to legions of followers.

Zoo officials have said they were confident the snake was hiding in the Reptile House but conceded that finding it would be difficult.

Mass. DA shows evidence in ’09 Craigslist killing

BOSTON — Amid the thousands of pieces of evidence released Thursday against a man accused of killing a woman he met through Craigslist, one stands out: a photograph of a pair of brown leather shoes stained with the blood of his alleged victim.

Prosecutors said Philip Markoff was wearing the shoes when he killed Julissa Brisman, a masseuse from New York City who was fatally shot on April 14, 2009, after she agreed to meet Markoff in her room at a Boston hotel.

Markoff took his own life in jail as he awaited trial, which had been expected to begin this month.

Authorities say Markoff beat Brisman when she resisted his attempt to rob her, then shot her three times. Six days later, he was wearing the blood-stained shoes when he was arrested.

175 tons of dead sardines scooped from Calif. marina

LOS ANGELES — Three weeks after a huge fish die-off in Southern California, officials said Thursday they have a body count but still can’t say what drove 175 tons of sardines into the marina where they died.

As many as 2.5 million sardines created a silvery blanket on the surface and floor of King Harbor Marina on March 8, said Dave Caron, professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California.

Several theories have been offered about the unusual behavior. Some said the sardines were lost. Others suggested the fish had been chased by marine predators or ingested toxins that confused them.

NY police say new remains not missing woman

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — The remains of a fifth body found along a remote New York beach highway are not those of a missing New Jersey prostitute last seen in the area nearly a year ago, police said Thursday.

Suffolk County Police said in a statement that the family of Shannan Gilbert has been notified that forensic testing determined the remains found Tuesday along Ocean Parkway on a narrow barrier island leading to Jones Beach on New York’s Long island were not those of the missing Jersey City, N.J., woman.

They did not say whether they had identified the latest victim, its gender, or whether this death is connected to the deaths of four women found nearby in December.

Oil hits highest since 2008 on Libya conflict

NEW YORK — The price of oil rose to a 30-month high on Thursday as fighters loyal to Moammar Gadhafi pushed back rebels from key areas in eastern Libya.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose $2.45, more than 2 percent, to settle at $106.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. At one point it hit $106.83, the highest it’s been since September, 2008. In London, Brent crude rose $2.25 to settle at $117.20 per barrel.