NATIONAL NEWS

Small-town Colorado newspapers stolen after running story about rape charges at police chief’s house

Jan 19, 2024, 3:12 PM

Nearly all the copies of a small-town Colorado newspaper were stolen from newspaper racks on the same day the Ouray County Plaindealer published a story about charges being filed over rapes alleged to have occurred at an underage drinking party at the police chief’s house while the chief was asleep, the owner and publisher said Friday.

Mike Wiggins vowed to get to the bottom of it, posting Thursday on X, formerly Twitter: “If you hoped to silence or intimidate us, you failed miserably. We’ll find out who did this. And another press run is imminent.”

The newspaper posted the story on social media and removed its website paywall so people could read about the felony sexual assault charges filed against three men, including a relative of the police chief, for actions that allegedly occurred at a May 2023 party in Ouray where drugs and alcohol were used, according to court records. The suspects were ages 17, 18 and 19 at the time, and the person who reported the rapes was 17, records said.

By Thursday evening, someone had returned a garbage bag full of newspapers to the Plaindealer, and supporters had donated about $2,000 to the paper, something Wiggins called “extremely heartening and humbling.”

About 250 newspapers filled the racks Friday morning in Ouray County, a mountainous area in southwestern Colorado that is home to about 5,000 people.

“If somebody was going to try to make it so the public couldn’t read this story, we were going to make sure to counteract that,” Wiggins said.

The Ouray County Plaindealer is published on Thursdays and delivered to racks late Wednesday. Subscribers receive the paper in the mail.

The rack price for the weekly newspaper is $1, so someone spent $12 opening racks and removing all the newspapers, Wiggins said. They missed one newspaper rack at a coffee shop, so about 200 papers were stolen. Wiggins was glad that the racks themselves weren’t damaged.

He believed the person who returned the newspapers was the person who took them and that only one person was involved in the theft. Wiggins declined to identify the person, but he did report that information to police. Officers also had surveillance video of some of the thefts, Wiggins said.

Ouray Police Chief Jeff Wood did not return a phone message from The Associated Press on Friday seeking comment.

The newspaper plans to have a story in next Thursday’s edition about the theft of the papers and possibly a column explaining why they took it so seriously and reprinted the paper, Wiggins said.

“It’s strange to be writing about ourselves,” Wiggins said. “We work very hard to make sure we are not the story.”

Mike Wiggins and his wife, Erin McIntyre, have owned and published the paper for nearly five years. The only time they had something similar happen was about three years ago when McIntyre wrote about a local campground that was flouting restrictions on lodging put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Someone taped over the coin slot on the newspaper rack at the campground and covered the plexiglass window with a sign asking them to remove the rack, he said.

National News

Associated Press

Virginia lawmakers repeal restrictions on popular tuition waiver program for military families

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to legislation that will repeal new restrictions on a tuition waiver program for military families. The House of Delegates and state Senate each voted unanimously to fully restore the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program, which offers free college tuition at state schools for […]

15 minutes ago

North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson listens during a meeting of the N.C. State...

Associated Press

NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson announces his retirement after nearly 15 years in the role

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Another chancellor in North Carolina’s public university system has announced plans to step down — this time at the state’s largest university by enrollment. North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson declared his retirement plans at the university’s trustees meeting Thursday, capping off nearly 15 years in his role. His term […]

43 minutes ago

Associated Press

Kansas won’t force providers to ask patients why they want abortions while a lawsuit proceeds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas isn’t enforcing a new law requiring abortion providers to ask patients why they want to terminate their pregnancies, as a legal challenge against that rule and other older requirements makes its way through the courts. Attorneys for the state and for providers challenging the new law along with other requirements […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Salman Rushdie’s alleged assailant won’t see author’s private notes before trial

MAYVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Author Salman Rushdie does not have to turn over private notes about his stabbing to the man charged with attacking him, a judge ruled Thursday, rejecting the alleged assailant’s contention that he is entitled to the material as he prepares for trial. Hadi Matar’s lawyers in February subpoenaed Rushdie and publisher […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, R-Ark., speaking during the Republican National Convention Tues...

Associated Press

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announces trade mission to Europe

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday said she’s traveling to Europe for her second trade mission there as governor, which will include a visit to an air show in the United Kingdom. The Republican governor announced she’s traveling to the Farnborough Air Show, which begins July 22, to pitch […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally...

Associated Press

What to know about the Secret Service’s Counter Sniper Team

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. Secret Service sniper killed the would-be assassin of former President Donald Trump in a split-second decision, taking out the man perched on an adjacent rooftop. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle has publicly praised the sniper’s quick work on Saturday. But the Counter Sniper Team is now subject to a review […]

1 hour ago

Small-town Colorado newspapers stolen after running story about rape charges at police chief’s house