State briefs

Church stuns workers with $3,500 tip

CELINA (AP) — Employees of a Waffle House restaurant have received a huge tip of over $3,500 from Ohio churchgoers whose pastor preached about generosity at Christmas.

A Dayton newspaper reports that five women working at the Wapakoneta restaurant were stunned when congregants from Grand Lake United Methodist Church in Celina delivered the cash after a Christmas Eve service. The workers were told they could split the money, amounting to over $700 apiece.

Church member Barb Vorhees says several dozen churchgoers drove to the restaurant, a popular Southern chain, and packed inside to see the surprise.

Man donates home run ball to memorial wall

CINCINNATI — A man who snagged a Joey Votto home run ball during a Cincinnati Reds game in August has fulfilled his promise to give it to the family of a 6-year-old boy who witnessed the big hit weeks before dying of cancer.

WXIX-TV reports that Trey Jones and his 3-year-old son, Keegan, handed over the ball to Wally Herbert last week so it could be added to a memorial wall for Herbert’s son, Walter.

Votto had high-fived Walter, who was known as “Superbubz,” and gave him the home run bat and a No. 19 Reds jersey during the Aug. 31 game.

Jones, of Anderson Township, says he’d wanted to give the ball to the Walter’s family since the game and realizes it means more to them than to him.

Woman convicted in teen’s murder released

DAYTON — An Ohio woman who drew celebrity support for her claims of innocence in the slaying of a teenage girl has been released after 22 years in prison.

A Dayton TV station reports Tyra Patterson, now 42, was freed Monday, Christmas Day.

Patterson was convicted in the 1994 murder and robbery of 15-year-old Michelle Lai. She was one of five people charged with killing Lai and robbing her sister and three other girls.

Patterson did not fire the shot that killed Lai, but under Ohio law accomplices can get the same punishment as killers.

Celebrity supporters of her innocence claims included documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, actress Alfre Woodard and “Mad Men” TV show creator Matthew Weiner.

Patterson was granted parole in October. She was being held at the Northeast Pre-Release Center in Cleveland.

Package drop at Ohio prison not from Santa

MANSFIELD — A man bearing gifts visited an Ohio prison on Christmas Eve, but it wasn’t Santa Claus.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that someone approached the Richland Correctional Institution around 9 a.m. Sunday and tried to throw four packages containing tobacco, cellphones and marijuana over the fence.

WEWS-TV in Cleveland reports troopers caught up with the man a short time later.

They arrested 21-year-old Avery Ingram, whose home city was not identified.

Ingram faces charges of illegal conveyance of drugs onto the grounds of an institution, illegal conveyance of electronics onto the grounds of an institution and criminal trespassing.

‘Chilly Willy,’ experimental aircraft arrives at Ohio base

DAYTON — A Marine Corp aircraft dubbed “Chilly Willy” for its experimental winter flights in icy Canada will now take up residence at an Ohio Air Force base for research purposes.

Aerospace researchers will use the MV-22 Osprey for ergonomic and musculoskeletal studies on crew members at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, U.S. Navy Capt. Rees Lee. The Navy is interested in seeing how the aircraft may cause injuries to passengers as a result of its tilt-rotor, a Dayton newspaper reported.

Citing the need for human testing inside the experimental aircraft, “there’s no substitute to understanding how a human being integrates into an aircraft without the actual aircraft,” Lee said. He noted a recurring medical complaint of MV-22 crew members is neck and back pain.

The Ohio State University Spine Research Institute will work with the Navy on ergonomic research aboard the ground-based MV-22, Lee said.

The plane landed Tuesday at the airstrip next to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The aircraft arrived from Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland — the end of nearly 15 years of experimental flight testing and including three winters in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

The MV-22 is the first aircraft the Navy research unit has brought to Wright-Patterson, Lee said. The unit relocated from the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida several years ago.