American cancels nearly 300 more DFW flights

FORT WORTH - American Airlines canceled another 296 flights Friday as repairs continued on planes grounded by hail damage in Texas, but it hoped to be nearly back to normal operations today.

Spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said the cancellations Friday affected flights in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, American's biggest hub.

Since Tuesday's storms, American and its American Eagle affiliate have canceled about 1,900 flights. Huguely said they expected only 27 cancellations today.

Of the original 108 planes hit by hail, 55 were still out of service. They are one-aisle planes, mostly MD-80s, that American uses for flights within the United States and to nearby international destinations such as Mexico. Huguely said the airline was finding planes to operate all international flights, and all the remaining cancellations were domestic trips. Some international flights were canceled in the storms' immediate aftermath.

Huguely said American's two-aisle or widebody planes used on longer international flights were either already in the air or parked in hangars when DFW was hit by storms that also spawned about a dozen tornadoes in north Texas.

The airline has not estimated the financial damage from the storm and canceled flights. Frontier Airlines lost $10 million last year after hail damaged 22 planes in Denver, and it suffered far fewer canceled flights than American.

Authorities seeking 'high risk' sex offender in Houston

HOUSTON - Texas Department of Public Safety authorities said an ex-con they describe as a "high risk" sex offender has fled a Houston halfway house.

Police said 42-year-old Michael Elbert Young was last seen Thursday night at the Southeast Texas Transitional Center, a halfway house in east Houston. Authorities said Friday he climbed over a barbed wire-topped fence and detached an electronic tracking monitor from his ankle.

Young was released from prison after serving eight years for two aggravated assault convictions. Both were sex related. He also served a 20-year term for sexual assault of a child and attempted aggravated sexual assault.

Authorities said he may be mentally unstable if not taking medication. He's not believed armed but has a history of using weapons, primarily knives, during his assaults.

Leader of Dallas arson scam ring gets 20 years

DALLAS - Prosecutors said the leader of a Dallas arson ring that scammed the Red Cross was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced 37-year-old Marthella Broadus and ordered her to make more than $1.7 million in restitution. Broadus last May pleaded guilty to wire fraud and arson in an investigation of three home fires since late 2008.

Investigators said Broadus was the last of seven Dallas residents to plead guilty and be sent to prison.

Authorities said the individuals removed personal property from the residences before the fires were set, then sought financial help from the Red Cross.

Longview man jailed for hammer attack on couple

TATUM - A Longview man is being held on $4 milliion bond after authorities said he used a claw hammer to bludgeon an East Texas couple during a burglary of their home.

Police in Tatum, about 135 miles east of Dallas, described the scene as gruesome but said the man who was attacked was able to call police and describe the assailant. Schools in Tatum were locked down Thursday until Michael Ferris was apprehended about three hours later.

The injured couple is hospitalized in stable condition.

Tatum Police Lt. Tony Almengor told Tyler television station KLTV the intruder left empty-handed. Ferris was arrested while trying to steal a motorized scooter from a 26-year-old man. He's charged with two counts of attempted murder and two charges of injury to elderly.

Houston home invasion suspect allegedly attacked 3

HOUSTON - Houston police said a man was arrested on charges he forced his way into a home and helped sexually assault three people.

Police said a second man accused in the March 26 attack remains at large.

Harris County Jail records show 25-year-old Philip Don Oliver Jr. was held without bond Friday on charges of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and aggravated sexual assault. Online records did not list an attorney for Oliver.

Police said a man, his wife and his mother-in-law were sexually assaulted at the couple's apartment. Police said the attackers demanded $200,000 from the male victim, who recognized one of the suspects.

Oliver was arrested Wednesday at another apartment complex.

- Herald wire reports

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