Woman Who Had Dogs Cloned Linked to Abduction Case in UK

August 15, 2008

A woman who made headlines by having five pups cloned and was linked to an abduction case in England is also wanted in Tennessee on charges she tried to plan a burglary in 2004, a defense attorney and prosecutors there said.

Joyce Bernann McKinney was charged in Carter County with criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and failure to appear in court, said attorney David Crockett, who represented her in the Tennessee case. Authorities there said she instructed a 15-year-old boy to break into a house, and Crockett said she needed the money to buy a false leg for a beloved horse.

Crockett said Thursday he hasn’t heard from her since she skipped a court date, but after seeing television coverage of the cloning case, he’s certain she’s the same person known to the world as dog lover Bernann McKinney.

Prosecutors are reviewing charges against the 58-year-old McKinney to decide whether to pursue the case, said Melanie Widener, an assistant district attorney for the county in the northeast part of the state near the North Carolina state line.

“It’ll depend on where she is now, how important the case is, how much it would cost the taxpayers and whether witnesses are still around,” she said.

McKinney declined comment when reached by phone Thursday.

McKinney was arrested in November 2004 in Tennessee in a van with the 15-year-old, according to a Carter County Sheriff’s Department arrest report.

McKinney, then living across the state line in Avery County, N.C., needed money to help her three-legged horse, Crockett said.

“She loved it dearly,” Crockett said. “She was a rather bizarre character, and seems to have a strange circumstance now.”

He recalled that McKinney had two or three dogs in her car when she conferred with him about her case.

“There was a strong aroma about her, and I told her this needed to be taken care of before I went to court with her,” Crockett said.

McKinney made news around the world this summer when she had five pups cloned in South Korea from her beloved pit bull Booger.

She later confirmed she was Joyce McKinney, who in 1977 became a British tabloid sensation over the kidnapping case. She faced charges of unlawful imprisonment after she was accused of abducting a Mormon missionary in England, handcuffing him to a bed and making him her sex slave. She jumped bail and was never brought to justice.

“She is bold to put herself on worldwide television,” Crockett said. “She must know she’s a fugitive in at least one state.”

Article by Joe Edwards

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CDC Report Says Mississippi Is Most Obese

July 17, 2008

Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee lead the nation when it comes to obesity, a new government survey reported Thursday.

More than 30 percent of adults in each of the states tipped the scales enough to ensure the South remains the nation’s fattest region.

Colorado was the least obese, with about 19 percent fitting that category in a random telephone survey last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2007 findings are similar to results from the same survey the three previous years. Mississippi has had the highest obesity rate every year since 2004. But Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia and Louisiana have also clustered near the top of the list, often so close that the difference between their rates and Mississippi’s may not be statistically significant.

Why is the South so heavy? The traditional Southern diet – high in fat and fried food – may be part of the answer, said Dr. William Dietz, who heads CDC’s nutrition, physical activity and obesity division.

The South also has a large concentration of rural residents and black women – two groups that tend to have higher obesity rates, he said.

Colorado, meanwhile, is a state with a reputation for exercise. It has plentiful biking and hiking trails, and an elevation that causes the body to labor a bit more, Dietz said.

Obesity is based on the body mass index, a calculation using height and weight. A 5-foot, 9-inch adult who weighs 203 pounds would have a BMI of 30, which is considered the threshold for obesity.

CDC officials believe the telephone survey of 350,000 adults offers conservative estimates of obesity rates, because it’s based on what respondents said about their height and weight. Men commonly overstate their height and women often lowball their weight, health experts say.

“The heavier you are, the more you underestimate your weight, probably because you don’t weigh yourself as often,” Dietz said.

Overall, about 26 percent of the respondents were obese, according to the study, published this week in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

A different CDC survey – a gold-standard project in which researchers actually weigh and measure survey respondents – put the adult obesity rate at 34 percent in 2005 and 2006, the most recent years for which there are data.

Article by Mike Stobbe

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