DECLARED DEAD: By order of a Chicago probate judge, millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett, who disappeared last year flying solo over the Nevada desert, was declared dead Feb. 15. The declaration followed an emotional appeal by Fossett's wife of 38 years, Peggy, who was also seeking to have her husband's will entered into probate. The 63-year-old daredevil set many world records and in 2002 became the first person to travel solo around the world in a balloon.
ADDED: Saying the country needs a "Jeffersonian revolution," Ralph Nader announced Feb. 24 that he is running for president as an independent. This is the fifth time the 74-year-old has launched a White House campaign. Sen. Hillary Clinton called Nader's decision "very unfortunate."
SENTENCED: A former Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to 63 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in a scheme that bilked parishioners out of more than $600,000. From 2002 to 2006, Rodney Rodis routed donations from St. Jude Church and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church into his personal account and then used the money to support a secret wife and three children. The 51-year-old Filipino native must repay the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Va., more than $590,000 and he could face deportation.
BORN: The widow of a Palestinian Christian bookstore manager who was kidnapped and murdered by Islamic radicals gave birth Feb. 4 to a healthy baby girl. Pauline Ayyad named her daughter Sama, which means "heaven" in Arabic, "because her father is in heaven." Rami Ayyad, 29, oversaw the Palestinian Bible Society store in Gaza and was found murdered last year. His killers remain at large. In addition to his wife and daughter, Ayyad is also survived by two young sons.
INDICTED: U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., faces charges of extortion, wire fraud, money laundering, and more in a Feb. 22 federal indictment that alleges he profited from an Arizona land swap scam. According to the indictment, the three-term, financially strapped congressman used his position on the House Natural Resources Committee to push the land swaps, earning $733,000.
DIED: Larry Norman, considered the father of Christian rock music, died Feb. 24 of heart failure. The 1969 release of the 60-year-old's first solo album, Upon This Rock, marked the beginning of an often contentious relationship with the Christian music industry. Norman was inducted into the Gospel Music Association's Hall of Fame in 2001.