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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Thurs., May 13)

Fox4's Becky Oliver, WFAA8's David Schechter and CBS11's Carol Cavazos all excelled during Thursday's D-FW late night newscasts.

A trio of extended enterprise stories stood out during the course of Thursday's late night D-FW newscasts.

Let's get right to them after first briefly noting that Fox4 and NBC5 again couldn't resist leading off with yet more details on how it's going to rain on and off this weekend. But WFAA8 and CBS11 commendably resisted this urge and waited until their regular weather segments. So they get official unclebarky.com t-shirts that also can double as dart boards when the worm turns.

Fox4 investigator Becky Oliver has been really good lately. Her earlier May "sweeps" report detailed how easy it can be for accused criminals to eventually get their charges dropped because authorities can't find them. Even though some are "hiding" in plain sight.

Thursday's unrelated story centered on 68-year-old Henry Hardin of South Dallas, who's on Medicare but prides himself on his ability to get around under his own power.

"I can run, I can walk, I can squat," he told Oliver.

Hardin therefore was surprised to come home one day to find a newly delivered $6,000 wheelchair. He later was billed $882.28 for his portion of the payment while Medicare covered the rest.

But Hardin said he never asked for a wheelchair and wanted it returned immediately. Oliver then set out to find who delivered it and why. She encountered the usual batch of officious or uncommunicative suspects, including a guy named "Prince" who barked, "I don't know what your problem is."

"We're just trying to get some answers to some questions, sir. That's all," Oliver said in a manner that made her seem more like Little Bo Beep than Honey West. The jerk then told her, "When I am through with this, I am going to come after you. And when I am finished with you, you back off."

She kept at it, eventually landing at the offices of a seemingly shady doctor who otherwise couldn't be found. That's as far as she could get for the moment, but a followup likely is in the cards at some point.

Oliver ended her report with the big picture proviso that more than 4.5 million Medicare claims are filed daily and "roughly 130,000 are false," according to the Inspector General's office. All in all, this was an interesting, informative piece populated with the sort of colorful characters that reporters love to spotlight. Nothing wrong with that. And feisty Henry Hardin did end up not having to pay for a wheelchair he never wanted.

On WFAA8, reporter David Schechter had an intriguing "Paintings With a Past" story that starred dogged Robert Edsel, director of the Monument Men's Foundation. Edsel travels the world striving to right the wrongs of Adolf Hitler's Nazi underlings; he specializes in the recovery of paintings that were stolen from their original Jewish owners.

Two such paintings are displayed in SMU's Meadows Museum, which bought them at an auction. Edsel, who lives in North Texas, deduced this after seeing old pictures of the paintings while he did research for a book he's writing.

"The truth behind the paintings was found -- behind the paintings," Schechter said. Their identifying marks, often faded, are the Nazi code used to inventory stolen art.

Yet unresolved is whether the French government first returned the two paintings to their rightful owners before Meadows bought them. That's still being investigated. But the Meadows Museum has found that another of its paintings stolen by the Nazis in fact was returned to its Jewish owners before the purchase was made. The proof is in an accompanying receipt.

Schechter clearly and concisely told this decidedly out-of-the-ordinary detective story. He can be a little over-the-top at times. But not this time.

CBS11's Carol Cavazos had an eye-opening report on the dangers faced by tow truck drivers, particularly when they're removing illegally parked vehicles. One young operator, Jerry Splawn Jr., was shot five times three years ago. He didn't regain consciousness until three weeks later. Bullet scars still dot and bisect his body.

Cavazos also spotlighted Southwest Auto Tow, which lately has outfitted its nine trucks with $50,000 worth of camera equipment in order to document any violent altercations. The videos, some of which were played, showed the sometimes very risky side of a profession that heretofore seemed pretty cut and dried.

NBC5's most prominently played story, after the opening "Storm Watch" segment, came from the redoubtable Scott Gordon. This time he pounded the ever-fertile school dress code beat, with seventh grader Chyanna Stanton's pink-tinted hair at issue. The 13-year-old was sent home for non-compliance, but claim to be making a statement on behalf her grandmother (who died of breast cancer) and her cousin, who had cancer surgery the day Chyanna was sent packing.

Gordon's report was Peabody material compared to Ellen Goldberg's subsequent bit on a guy who wants to share his car for "a small fee" but supposedly mainly in the interest of the environment. Otherwise he's planning to sell it. The guy hardly represents a movement, and said that so far no one had responded to his web site come-on. This is a story?

NBC5's best effort of the night came from Ashanti Blaize, who interviewed "retired journalist" Larry Roberts of Nevada, TX about an interview he did with The Beatles. It supposedly was the first time that John Lennon addressed the controversy over his remark that The Beatles had become bigger than Jesus. Roberts dug up his film and audio of the interview after a California auction house claimed to have the only copy.

"I hope to get $10,000 out of it," he told Blaize.

Fox4 and CBS11 both piggybacked onto a story that WFAA8's Chris Hawes broke on Wednesday night. It's the one about the guy, Raymond Smith, who drove his brother to a Grapevine hospital at speeds of more than 80 mph after he supposedly hard a heart attack. Police confronted him in the hospital parking lot and charged him with evading arrest and driving while intoxicated after he flunked a field sobriety test.

Police said he should have called 911 or stopped his car to tell them what was going on. Hawes never asked Smith, at least in her on-camera report, whether he in fact was drinking. Nor did Fox4's Peter Daut in his followup, which included Thursday's release of the police cam video.

CBS11 anchor Doug Dunbar, who narrated his station's brief story on the matter, told viewers that "when Smith finally got to the hospital, he admitted to police also that he had been drinking that evening."

But the station otherwise provided no on-camera evidence of Smith admitting to this. He certainly wasn't shy about doing interviews with the media after the incident. But a very basic question -- Were you in fact drinking? -- never made it into the on-air reports.

In blooper reel activity, CBS11 displayed an "H1N1" logo (a k a swine flu) next to its brief anchor reader on a police officer who had been reinstated after being accused of falsifying tickets.

And Fox4's Shaun Rabb noted in a taped dispatch that Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins had appeared on what he pronounced as Comedy Central's "The COAL-BERT Report."

Ya gotta get with it, Shaun. It's The Col-BEAR Re-POR. And it has been ever since the show premiered in October of 2005.

Nine nights to go.