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April 2021

26 April 2021

Though normally keeping to himself, Dominican Republic resident Marc Feren Claude Biart decided to share his knowledge with the world: the former chef posted Italian-cooking tutorials to YouTube. To shield his identity from mass consumption, he hid his face. His failure to conceal 'distinctive body tattoos', however, provided a breakthrough for Italian authorities, who had ordered his arrest back in 2014 for international cocaine trafficking. Biart is now among the defendants in the 'Ndrangheta mafia trial, whose names took more than three hours to be read out in court.

A mother duck was seen leading a dozen ducklings across the grounds of California's Chabot College when 11 of the ducklings fell through a storm-drain grate. Passers-by heeded the mother duck's quacks for attention and summoned maintenance staff. However, the workers' removal of the grate prompted the small birds to retreat into the pipe system and out of reach. This is where city animal-control officers were called in. Their Susan Perez climbed into the storm drain and played 'mama duck sounds' to lure the ducklings toward her. They were soon reunited with their mother.

A motorist in Delray Beach, Florida, rang the emergency services when she saw the source of screams she's heard through her car window: a woman at the bottom of a storm drain, 2.5 metres below street level. While an emergency crew with a ladder and harness rescued the 43-year-old woman in question, members of the public held up bed sheets to shield her nakedness from view. A representative of the fire and rescue service later stated that the woman, whose boyfriend had reported her missing three weeks earlier, claims that she'd been swimming in a canal when curiosity led her through a door and left her lost in the tunnel system. She survived on a can of unopened ginger beer encountered during her sewer sojourn.

T[IMG: Bee-mobile]he Las Cruces, New Mexico, fire department had a slightly different rescue to perform: that of a Buick in an Albertson's supermarket car park. Returning with his groceries, the car's owner had noticed a swarm of bees behind the driver's seat. Though off-duty firefighter Jesse Johnson was soon on the scene to put his skills as a beekeeper to use. Armed with a hive kit, lemongrass oil, and suitable attire, he spent about two hours removing the roughly 15,000 insects. They are now in a more hymenopteran-friendly location, at Johnson's home.

Shortly after crowning Pushpika De Silva as 'Mrs Sri Lanka' on national television, prior winner Caroline Jurie (Mrs World 2020) announced a 'small request': 'There is a rule that y'all have to be married and not divorced, so I'm taking steps [...] that the crown goes to the first runner-up'. W[IMG: Anna's screengrab from the Game of Crowns]hile suited guards looked on from the wings, she wrestled the crown free from the pins in De Silva's hair. While the runner-up was giving her acceptance speech, De Silva stormed backstage. She later reported that she'd gone to hospital to be treated for head injuries.
Declaring the incident 'very embarrassing for us', Mrs Sri Lanka World national director Chandimal Jayasinghe stated that the pageant organisers will re-crown De Silva, who is separated but not divorced. Her husband asked not to be involved and stated that the couple are 'facing an ongoing divorce case'. If a divorce is granted this year, the first runner-up will wear the crown once more, to represent Sri Lanka in December's Mrs World pageant.

Sydney Therriault is a 22-year-old Maryland woman who decided to enjoy life and visit Florida. In the course of enjoying herself, she lost her hotel key. 'Determined to solve the problem with that fearless confidence of hers', as her mother later put it, she decided to climb back into her room via its bathroom window. That's where Monroe County Sheriff's Office personnel found her the next morning. The window had fallen closed while she was halfway through. She died of asphyxia.

Summoned to Florida's Dupont Middle School to discuss her daughter's violent outbursts, 34-year-old Edith Riddle showed up with a boxing glove on one hand. No, she didn't punch the vice-principal; Riddle explained that the glove had accidentally become glued on.
After the meeting, she accompanied her daughter to the school canteen, allegedly to serve as her daughter's champion in a fight against a rival female student. According to police reports, Riddle's daughter pushed the student to the ground and both females punched her until the school's safety officer arrived to break things up.

Benno Neumair, a 30-year-old fitness instructor in Bolzano, Italy, was not happy when his father, Peter, asked him to take the dog for a walk. Fearing an argument about household chores, he fled to his room and fell asleep while playing on his computer. The next time Peter spoke with him, it was to ask Benno to pay an equal share of the rent or move into the flat downstairs. An argument indeed began. Benno later said: 'Dad accused me of being a failure. I just wanted silence. So I shut him up.' He held a climbing rope around his 68-year-old father's neck and 'squeezed very tightly'. He wasn't sure what to do when his mother returned, but he 'felt like doing the same thing', so he did. Benno confessed to the murders a couple of months later, when the bodies were found in the local river.

When Sparta, Tennessee, handyman Nick Slatten discovered that the lottery ticket he'd purchased with his post-work drink the previous day was a million-dollar winner, he still had a full day's chores to do before claiming his prize. After all these errands, he discovered that he was no longer carrying the ticket. Knowing that anyone can claim an unsigned ticket, he frantically retraced his steps. The ticket was lying just outside the driver's-side door of a car outside the auto-supply store he'd visited in the morning. 'It's a million-dollar ticket, and someone stepped right over it,' a relieved Slatten said.

Noticing that the lights of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church were blazing late at night, a passer-by in Pearl River, Louisiana, peered through the window... and promptly contacted the police. Officers found pastor Travis Clark, two dominatrices, sex toys, stage lights, and recording devices. The threesome were charged with obscenity since their sex acts upon the altar were within view of the public, although the St Tammany Parish District Attorney's Office later announced lesser charges.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond, who visited the church to consecrate a new altar, stated that Clark, 37, will never again serve in Catholic ministry.

Wanting to capture a memorable moment between his two-year-old daughter and an African bull elephant, a 25-year-old visitor to the San Diego Zoo carried her into the animal's enclosure. This entailed breaching at least an electrified and a normal fence. According to police sergeant Ariel Savage, the pachyderm 'seemed a little upset' so charged at the humans who had violated its habitat. In response to either the accompanying trumpeting or shouts by witnesses who found him 'unaware what's going on', he scrambled to safety just before the animal head-butted a barrier.
The man is charged with child endangerment and trespassing in a zoo enclosure. And his daughter will have to be content with not photos but news stories reporting that her father dropped her while climbing out of the elephant habitat.

C[IMG: Ye canna take my fredom]anadian police sergeant Steve Koopman said that officers in Kingston, Ontario, noticed a motorbike with an unofficial-looking number plate. The 'Ontario'-issued plate was hand-painted and bore New Hampshire's [IMG: Previous bogo-plate] state motto in the mangled form 'Live Fre or Die'. Koopman reported that the rider has been 'charged accordingly and given an "A" for effort but an "F" for spelling'.
Just shy of two weeks earlier, another 'artist' stopped by officers in the Kingston locale was responsible for 'multiple issues including improper plates'.

Andreas Flaten recalled what happened when he gave his two-week notice of quitting his job with Peachtree City, Georgia, firm Walker Luxury Autoworks: company owner Miles Walker 'gets up, puts his hands on his head, walks out the door and disappears for like an hour'. When re-emerging, Walker told Flaten that his final pay queue, for $915, would be delivered to his home in January. It wasn't, so he rang the company to look into the matter. The response was that it would not be forthcoming, on account of 'damages', so he contacted the Georgia Department of Labor. This did the trick - where the trick was to cause 20-plus kilos of oil-covered pennies to be dumped in Flaten's driveway under cloak of darkness.
Walker responded that he cannot recall whether he delivered pennies to Flaten's house, adding: 'It doesn't matter. He got paid.' Flaten is storing the coins in his garage while he cleans batches of them for cashing in.

To honour the wishes of a relative who wanted a traditional burial after dying of cancer, a family in Shanwei, south-east China, hired someone to find a substitute body to undergo the cremation that is mandatory in the province of Guangdong. They did not reckon that the body-finder, surnamed Huang, would deliver on his promise by finding a man with Down syndrome who was picking up litter, luring that man into a car, and feeding him alcohol until he passed out and could be easily murdered.
The man's disappearance was eventually traced to Huang, who has been handed a suspended death sentence, which translates to life in prison if he does not reoffend. The family who hired him have been found guilty of 'insulting a corpse' and handed an unspecified punishment.

New Orleans police officers responding to reports of 'loud voices' were charged by an unexpected 30 kg dog outside the home in question. One of the officers fired his service weapon at it, instead hitting and killing an 18-month-old rescue puppy about half the size. A fellow responding officer was hit by shrapnel and treated in hospital.
On the positive side, the sound of gunshots did cause the dogs' owners, Derek Brown and Julie Barecki-Brown, to abandon the argument that had led to the police call-out.

Sheepish zoo-keepers in Löffingen, Germany, asked the police to open a missing-animal case for them. Hence, the police have asked the public to keep their eyes open for 20-25 Barbary macaque monkeys. The animals are thought to have escaped amid construction work at the zoo.
Meanwhile, there are monkeys going spare in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the police have received multiple reports of five monkeys on the loose in western parts of the city. Officers arrived too late to confirm reports of, for example, monkeys swinging in the trees at a cemetery in the East Prince Hill area. The police consider it likely that any monkeys on the loose are probably from a private collection, since no local zoos have reported any animals missing.

In a rather different tale of animals in unexpected surroundings, a woman rang the emergency services to report that something crashed through her windscreen while she was on a Florida motorway and hit her 71-year-old mother in the head. According to the Port Orange Police Department, a driver who stopped to assist during the emergency call identified the object as a turtle. The only injuries sustained were a non-serious cut above the elderly woman's eye and scratch marks to the turtle's shell. Police spokesman Andre Fleming said that the reptile, which may have been flung into the air by another vehicle, has been released into the nearby woods.

Among the heart-felt memorials to popular North Carolina teacher Barney Dale Harris were Union Academy school administrators' declaration that Harris's motto 'All Love ... No Fear' will be 'forever a part of who we are' and students' graffito '<3 YOU COACH'. A fuller picture of his contributions began to emerge as news spread of how he had died.
Authorities found his bulletproof-vest-clad body inside a non-mobile mobile home replete with shell casings and - as were three nearby homes - pocked with bullet holes. This was part of the aftermath of what Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson likened to 'an old Western shootout'. Harris and his brother-in-law had arrived to pay a visit to one of its residents, 18-year-old Alonso Beltran Lara, and allegedly steal drugs and cash from him. Lara, a drug runner for a Mexican drug cartel, wasn't home, so the pair decided to wait.
In the chaos that followed, someone killed Lara, 'execution style', and ransacked the trailer but failed to find $7,000 in cash and a kilo of cocaine. While Harris died, his brother-in-law managed to escape unscathed, and he was arrested on account of surveillance-camera footage of his vehicle. Johnson hastened to point out that being unscathed could well be temporary, since 'the Mexican cartel, they don't forget'.
An online fund-raising effort to honour 'the Life and Legacy of Barney Dale Harris' was frozen at $23,005.

Authorities responding to reports of gunfire at a 12-year-old's birthday party in LaPlace, Louisiana, found nine young people in need of hospitalisation for bullet wounds. Officers ascertained that a verbal confrontation between two rival groups of male juveniles had escalated into a gun battle involving at least two firearms. None of the roughly 60 teenagers and pre-teens present have come forward with information on how this occurred or who was responsible. 'Not one person has given a formal statement,' said Sheriff Tregre in an appeal for information.

In other news involving 12-year-olds, a Washington, DC, pre-teen has been arrested for perpetrating four armed carjackings in under an hour. In the first, the delinquent boy and an accomplice demanded that a motorist exit the vehicle they had their eyes on. Despite the handgun involved, the motorist fled the scene. About 45 minutes later, the same thing happened a few blocks away. The third failed attempt, five minutes later, was followed by a successful approach to a female motorist, where 'success' involved only a short time in the car before the cops arrived. Perhaps our young hero should find another hobby rather than trying to perfect this one.

The subject of our next item managed to get away with things for a while longer. He is Italy's Salvatore Scumace, a 66-year-old man employed as a civil servant in Calabria. Since 2005, when he was hired to work at the fire-emergency operations centre of the Pugliese Ciaccio hospital, he has taken home about 538,000 euros in pay without once setting foot on the premises.
The police report that Scumace allegedly threatened a manager who planned to report his chronic absenteeism, while her successor and the human-resources department never noticed his absence. Six managers are under scrutiny in connection with the case, and Scumace is being investigated for fraud, extortion, and abuse of office.

Spain's Alberto Sánchez Gómez took another approach to disposing of corpses. Police checking on his 66-year-old mother at a friend's behest found body parts in various locations in her flat, and the trail led to Gómez. His defence team indicate that he may have been influenced by drugs and a personality disorder when he visited her, in violation of a restraining order, and killed and dismembered her. While he has stated in court that he doesn't recall cutting her body up and eating pieces of her, he previously confessed to strangling her and eating some body parts while feeding others to the dog.

A[IMG: The culprit, from the article]fter 12 hours of worrying, a man arrived at Marrakesh University Hospital with a problematic erection and a four-centimetre-thick do-it-yourself cock ring. Medics had to turn to the hardware department for a solution to the man's 'swollen, blue and cold' scrotum and penis. They started with bolt-cutters but ultimately resorted to an electric saw. In the resulting Urology Case Reports article, Dr Abdel Latabi describes constant application of water to cool the area to prevent the rotating saw from cooking the area.

The Liverpool Echo reports on a woman who was pulled over during Britain's coronavirus 'lockdown' after crossing the Mersey to Liverpool. Louise Whelan, 30, stated that she needed to do some shopping aimed at solving problems she faced in Wirral. However, the kind of shopping she had in mind was not allowed. Constable David Cullen recounted that Whelan explained 'that Liverpool had loads of "fit fellas" and that she was driving around trying to find some.
He continued: 'I pointed out to her that this was not a valid reason to be out, to which she replied: "I wasn't even going shopping. That was a lie."' She has now appeared before magistrates and been fined the equivalent of 350 euros.

Courtney Wilson and Shenita Jones sent invitations for family and friends to join them at their 'dream home and estate' in Fort Lauderdale for their wedding celebration. The mansion's waterfall-inclusive swimming pool, tennis courts, bowling alley, and 250-metre-long bar might have provided an ideal backdrop, but there was just one hitch - when Wilson began setting up for the ceremony, the owner of the property, Nathan Finkel, was home. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that he told a dispatcher: 'I have people trespassing on my property. They say they're having a wedding here and it's God's message. I don't know what's going on.'
Wilson, who had toured the mansion a few months ago and been refused permission to hold his wedding there, left the property when officers told him to do so, and no charges will be filed. When asked for further information, he responded: 'I don't want to talk about it.'

A drunken man named Kevin Johnson was asked to leave a local gathering after following neighbour Francesca Wikoff and her husband there in aims of provoking a fight. When Wikoff noticed two of her tyres slashed the next morning, she knew who might be the culprit, but she now knows for certain, thanks to something else he slashed. A severed finger lay near her SUV, with a trail of blood leading from it to Johnson's home. Johnson has been arrested on multiple charges.
Wikoff opined that 'karma has a good way of working itself out'; however, Johnson's decisions may have helped it along. If nothing else, she noted, 'you would think if you're going to go to the hospital, especially if you just severed your finger off, that you would take said finger with you'.

T[IMG: The illegal tender in question]ennessee's Daily Times reports on the exploits of local woman Amanda McCormick, 39, and a 61-year-old relative at a Dollar General store near Knoxville. They attempted to purchase several gift cards there by using a million-dollar note. While such notes have only ever been circulated as art, not legal tender, that appeared to be news to McCormick, who told the police that the note had been sent to her by 'a church' whose details she didn't recall. The pair were given a verbal 'no-trespass warning', and the not-a-million was confiscated.

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