HAUPPAUGE, N.Y.

Officials split on whether single killer is responsible

A disagreement developed Thursday over who may be responsible for the deaths of 10 people found over the past year along a seaside parkway on New York’s Long Island.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota told county legislators at a hearing that he disagrees with Police Commissioner Richard Dormer’s latest theory that a single serial killer left the remains along several miles of highway between Long Island’s Jones and Gilgo beaches.

Spota said he was “shocked and surprised” when he received a telephone call from a reporter several weeks ago asking about Dormer’s change of heart.

Investigators say that a Maine woman was one of the victims. The body of Megan Waterman was found in the area after she disappeared during the first weekend of June 2010. She was last seen at a Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge, N.Y., on Long Island.

WASHINGTON

Former DOD worker suing over boss hanging noose

A black former Defense Department worker has filed a discrimination lawsuit alleging her complaints about workplace harassment prompted one of her supervisors to hang a stuffed ape from a noose across from her desk.

Mirlin Toomer, who worked at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency for six years, is seeking at least $300,000 in damages in the suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Washington. The action names Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as defendant, but Toomer’s lawyer, Donald Temple, said the list of named defendants could expand.

Ken White, spokesman for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, declined to comment Thursday “on ongoing legal matters.” Panetta was traveling abroad Thursday and was not immediately available for comment. A Pentagon spokesman referred questions to the agency’s legislative liaison, who also did not comment.

Toomer, 45, was fired in September. Before that, her lawsuit states, she had compiled a record of commendations and awards over more than 20 years with the government, including six given last year.

PHOENIX

Report: Discrimination clear in immigrant crackdowns

A scathing U.S. Justice Department report released Tuesday found that Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office carried out an blatant pattern of discrimination against Latinos and held a “systematic disregard” for the Constitution amid a series of immigration crackdowns that have turned the lawman into a prominent national political figure.

The government found that Arpaio’s office committed a wide range of civil rights violations against Latinos, including unjust immigration patrols and jail policies that deprive prisoners of basic Constitutional rights.

The findings will force Arpaio’s department to make major changes to carry out new policies against discrimination and improve training of staff and officers.

Arpaio faces a Jan. 4 deadline for saying whether he wants to work out an agreement to make the changes.

MADISON, Wis.

Organizers of effort to recall governor collect signatures

Organizers of an effort to kick Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker out of office said Thursday that they have collected nearly enough signatures to force a recall election next year.

The effort organized by the state Democratic Party, unions and disgruntled citizens grew out of anger over the Republican governor’s polarizing measure passed in March that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for public workers.

The United Wisconsin coalition said 507,533 signatures had been collected in 28 days.

The group is facing a Jan. 17 deadline to submit the 540,208 signatures needed to force the recall.

— From news service reports