Briefs from Tribune news services
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Worker surrenders to face charges in building collapse

Philadelphia • A heavy equipment operator with a lengthy rap sheet who is accused of being high on marijuana when a downtown building collapsed onto a thrift store, killing six people, surrendered Saturday to face charges in the deaths, police said.

Sean Benschop faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of risking a catastrophe. A warrant had been issued for his arrest and police had been searching for him.

Authorities believe the 42-year-old Benschop had been using an excavator Wednesday when the remains of the four-story building under demolition gave way and toppled onto an attached Salvation Army thrift store, killing two employees and four customers and injuring 13 others.

Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said a toxicology report showed evidence that Benschop was high on marijuana. That finding, combined with witness statements and evidence from the scene, led to the decision Friday to raid his North Philadelphia home and later seek an arrest warrant, he said.

Benschop's attorney, Daine Grey, said his client was not at fault. "This was an accident, but Mr. Benschop is not responsible," Grey said Saturday. "And we believe that, in time, the facts will show that he is not responsible."

Body believed to be missing Iowa girl

Boone, Iowa • Residents of a small central Iowa city say they're saddened at the discovery of a body in a river believed to be that of a 15-year-old girl who was abducted more than two weeks ago.

Along streets and businesses in Dayton, purple ribbons on trees, plants and utility poles signified hope for finding Kathylnn Shepard alive.

But hope dwindled after authorities announced a body was discovered Friday night in the Des Moines River near Boone, about 20 miles away. Authorities completed an autopsy Saturday and identification is pending.

Michael Klunder is suspected of kidnapping Shepard and a 12-year-old girl in Dayton on May 20. The younger girl escaped, and Klunder committed suicide.

Authorities say clothing and other evidence match what Kathlynn was wearing the day she was taken.

Man who fled murder charge in '79 arrested

Chicago • A former Chicago store owner who fled the U.S. in 1979 after being accused of killing a shoplifter was arrested at O'Hare International Airport while trying to return to the country to attend a graduation ceremony, authorities said Saturday.

Ata Yousef El Ammouri, 65, was taken into custody Friday after arriving on a flight from Jordan, where he has been living, the Cook County sheriff's office said in a statement.

In his visa request from a couple weeks ago, El Ammouri stated that the reason for the visit was to attend a grandchild's graduation, said sheriff's spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis. El Ammouri is accused of shooting Joe Harris, 31, in 1979, after Harris walked out of El Ammouri's store on Chicago's South Side without paying for a can of beer.