Region briefs 3/26/04

Woman charged after body found under home

BELLFLOWER, Mo. -- An eastern Missouri woman was arraigned Thursday on charges stemming from the discovery of a corpse in a cistern under her house. Patricia Landrum, 53, is charged with abandoning a corpse. A preliminary hearing was set for May 3. Last month, police found the body of Landrum's 51-year-old housemate, Jeffrey Maher, in a cistern beneath the home the two shared. Investigators still haven't released the cause of Landrum's death. That ruling could change the charges against Landrum.

Jailed priest seeking information on accuser

CLAYTON, Mo. -- A Roman Catholic priest serving three years in jail for sex abuse is seeking information on his accuser as part of an effort to remain a cleric, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday. "If you are aware of my accuser and his personal and family history, please leave a daytime or evening telephone number where Rev. Bertrand can contact you for a confidential testimonial statement," the Rev. Bryan Kuchar said in a letter sent this month to his supporters. The victim, now 23, was 14 when Kuchar was associate pastor at Assumption, in south St. Louis County, in 1995.

Former firefighter charged with arson in two counties

MOUND CITY, Mo. -- A former firefighter has been charged with arson in two northwest Missouri counties. Scott Vergith, 22, a former Mound City resident now living in Maryville, was charged in Holt County on Wednesday with felony arson in connection with two of a series of eight fires in the Mound City area from July through December of last year. Greg Carrell, an investigator with the State Fire Marshal's Office, said that at the time of those fires Vergith lived in Mound City and was a member of the city fire department. The fires involved mobile homes, cars, houses and the community's only grocery store.

-- From staff, wire reports