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August 2006


14 August 2006

Iowa's Des Moines Register reports on local woman Hillary Ann Snyder, who took a sleeping pill and awoke the next morning with discomfort in her right ankle. It didn't take long for her to notice the cause: a tattoo of a five-pointed star there. Snyder explained to the police that her boyfriend, with whom she had recently argued over his failure to pay the rent, had asked her some time earlier whether she would like a tattoo matching his own. She had, she said, made her refusal clear.
Nonetheless, she said, she doesn't like the police report's description of the tattooing as domestic assault, as 'it's not like he beat me up. ... I'm just not going to see him again.' Of the tattoo she is quoted as saying: 'At least he didn't flub it up.'

Transport authorities in New Zealand are cracking down on motorists who seek to reduce their car registration fees to a third of the normal fee by claiming their vehicles are noncommercial hearses. The scam came to authorities' attention when a Christchurch woman called in to a talk radio station and described explaining at registration time that her car was used to carry dead animals. She explained that this wasn't a lie, as she brings frozen chickens home from the supermarket.
Andy Knackstedt, spokesman for Land Transport New Zealand, said that there are about 1,500 registrations for noncommercial hearses/ambulances, with authorities estimating that about 900 of these seem to be bogus. Knackstedt also felt the need to explain: 'The dictionary definition of a hearse is a vehicle used to convey coffins, not to convey groceries.'

Bellevue, Washington, police spokesman Greg Grannis said that a city employee reported someone staking out vehicles, and it was soon discovered that various police cars had been burgled. The culprit was found a few hours later when two members of the police SWAT team collected their van from maintenance. When they opened the door, the suspect, a 25-year-old transient, was asleep in the back. He was arrested.

Joseph Colella approached a woman in a study room at a Youngstown, Ohio, public library and told her he was conducting a sociology project in which he had to kiss people's feet and judge their reaction. She said she agreed, so that he would stop badgering her. After kissing the bottom of her foot, she said, he began sucking on her toe. When she pulled her foot away, he asked for her reaction, and she said she was freaked out. She left the library in short order, as did he, and she reported the incident. Detective Michelle DiMartino said Colella, 28, is also suspected of kissing and fondling a woman's feet in 2000, then asking her to give him or let him buy her socks. Colella has been indicted on a felony charge.

Several months after ending a month-long relationship with a man she met at a party, a 24-year-old Japanese office worker received e-mail from him. The 42-year-old Takuya Muramoto asked her to visit him. She agreed, then vanished, in early February. A week later, her family reported her missing, telling detectives that they didn't trust the Ibariki man and that the day after she met him she text messaged a friend to say she wasn't allowed to go to work. The detectives concluded that she was with a boyfriend and that no crime was involved.
Five months later, a beaten and malnourished woman asked Muramoto to let her visit a hospital. He accompanied her, saying of her iron burns and scars: 'I met her on the street about a week ago .... Her injuries were caused by someone hitting her before she moved in.' He took her back to his home after the hospital visit.
Later in the month, a connection was drawn to a 2004 incident in which he sought help with the illness of an emaciated woman at his home (at death a few days later, she showed signs of serious internal bleeding). The Ibariki condo was raided. The office worker was found wearing only disposable diapers and sporting a hole in a lung. When rescued, she was able to tell officers little more than: 'My master hurt me.'
Muramoto has been arrested, and several other women have come forward to report their experiences as his captive.

Guests at a wedding in Sete, France, became upset when the happy couple used shredded euro notes as confetti during the lavish ceremony. Several of the 200 guests attempted to gather bits of banknotes. One resident told Liberation newspaper, 'People chucking money away in the street for everyone to see, when there are so many struggling to get by!' After a local co-operative was formed and complained to police, as destroying money is a crime in France, the couple explained that a friend of the bride's family, which earned its fortune in the textile trade, procured banknotes that were defective and destined for the incinerator anyway.

According to Deutsche Welle, Berlin's Neuköllner opera house is encouraging the audience of its upcoming production of The Oriental Princess to smoke cannabis during the drug opera's performance. Artistic director Bernhard Glocksin said that the opera experience will be 'improved with a few joints'. Members of the cast are to smoke pot onstage as well. Glocksin also said: 'It's a test to see what we can get away with.' Smoking pot in public places in Germany is illegal.

Paul Murphy of Worcester, Massachusetts, applied for a licence to sell liquor from his home in Springfield, Vermont. 'We determined that the application was incomplete,' said Town Manager Robert Forguites. They also noticed that Murphy's home address is that of a state prison, where he is serving time for aggravated assault, escape, and passing bad checks. The prison does not review inmates' outgoing mail.

In March, Pennsylvania prosecutor Stephen S. Snook received a threatening and 'goofy' letter from Jeffrey Riddell, opposing counsel in a drugs case. He then began getting phone calls from Riddell almost daily. On finally seeing Riddell in court, Snook became highly suspicious and investigated the attorney. He discovered that Jeffrey A. Riddell had deactivated his state law licence and moved to Russia.
Jeffrey P. Riddell, who has a criminal record and has never held a licence to practise law, has been jailed for practising law without a licence. Snook hopes to file identity theft charges against him as well. He said that Riddell plans to represent himself in court.

Chinese state newspaper the Beijing Times reports that two officials with the power company in Hunan province were upset at not being invited to a hotel's opening party, so they cut off the electricity supply to the hotel and the surrounding area. The two men said that they would decrease the downtime by one hour for each bottle of baijiu drunk by two female managers. The managers complied, downing an unspecified quantity of grain spirits. According to the newspaper, the men were later found to have 'severely harmed the image of the electricity bureau' and 'caused a depraved social disturbance'. They were then fired.

In a story from July, Tareyton Williams, 33, entered a Manhattan metro station at about 3am, grabbed two cordless power saws from a construction crew's workbench, and began revving them. He then chased a 64-year-old postal worker along the train platform, sliced open his chest, and stole his wallet. Williams's 60-cm toy gorilla was found at the scene, and the power tools were left in a rubbish bin. Williams was arrested two hours later after he punched a man who was out walking his dog.
Williams, whose prior police record consists of three drug sales arrests, later said he was unable to remember the attacks. He was taken for psychiatric evaluation. The postal worker was released after a week in hospital and doubts he'll return to his job.

Jerry Baruffi of Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, was attending a family reunion at an area resort when he apparently wanted to get others to join him in the swimming pool. The 32-year-old man banged on a window near the pool to get people's attention. The glass shattered, severing a major artery in Baruffi's arm. Despite the efforts of family members, including a nurse, he died en route to the hospital.

According to police in Muskegon Heights, Michigan, an area mother was afraid to lose her boyfriend while she recovered from 'tummy tuck' surgery, so she persuaded her 14-year-old daughter to sign a contract to have sex with the 37-year-old man, Michael J. Fitzgibbon, in exchange for clothing and body piercings. All three signed the contract, which was subsequently fulfilled. Detective Calvin Mahan said that authorities later discovered that the man had given his 12-year-old daughter packs of cigarettes in exchange for sexual services. The woman's children have been removed from her home while the case is investigated further.

Debbie Phillips contacted the police in Charleston, West Virginia, after she came home one day in June to find that her house had been cleaned, rugs moved, and some items rearranged. She said that the officer 'just laughed'. Phillips asked her husband and neighbours for leads but came up with nothing. A month later, her son rang her at work to report that a cleaning lady had come to the door. It turned out that the neighbours across the street had hired a cleaning service. The house number was similar, the number of rooms was the same, and the two homes had a house key hidden in roughly the same location outside.

Three robbers in Bukit Mertajam, northern Malaysia, tied rope around a bank machine and pulled it free from its mountings with a pickup truck and lorry. They then dragged the machine through a glass wall and down a flight of stairs with a net and rope. According to national news agency Bernama, they then discovered that they had liberated a cheque deposit machine. Police district investigation chief Chor Ah Sing said that a security guard chased the men away.

The German press report that a retiree exited his savings bank in Darmstadt with 13,000 euros in his pockets and in plastic bags. He sat on a bench near the bank and began handing money to passers-by. The AP quotes police spokesman Dieter Wüst as saying that police approached the 63-year-old man, who 'said he didn't care because he had plenty of cash. He'd had a bit to drink and was in a good mood.' Police had the remaining money counted in the bank - he had given away 1,505 euros - and confiscated the funds. They told him to collect the money when sober.

It is fairly commonplace for listeners to visit Radio 101.9 FM in Alto Paraná, Brazil, but a recent 2am visit was different. Romualdo Fernandes, 35, and an adolescent entered the studio and brandished knives. Deejay Thiago Amorim Da Silva began broadcasting events in the studio rather than music. The men with knives asked him whether he was recording, and he indicated that he wasn't. The seemingly intoxicated men had him disconnect the computer used for musical programming, just to be safe, and asked for money and his car keys. Meanwhile, about 100 listeners rang the police, who took the two men to the police station.

Anthony Donald, 39, of Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, decided to scare his 13-year-old son into no longer bullying schoolmates and teachers. The father took Anthony, Jr. to a Pittsburgh juvenile detention centre where four friends worked as guards. The boy's one-hour visit included being yelled at and made to clean a sink with a toothbrush. The teenager told his mother about the incident later. Five guards were fired. The elder Donald and his four friends were acquitted of child endangerment and other charges, with Judge David Cashman saying their conduct was 'stupid, maybe. Immature. But not criminal.'

The China Daily reports that the Rising Sun Anger Release Bar in Nanjing allows visitors to break glasses and to hit and yell at specially trained staff members. Twenty workers are available to take punches from boxing-glove-wearing patrons and to dress up as the actual target of a visitor's rage. Bar owner Wu Gong said that the most popular target is the boss. Visitors are charged the equivalent of five to 30 euros to release their anger. Counsellors are available to offer advice if the visitor is still upset.

Pat Niples, 75, has not been allowed to renew the personalised licence plate she has had for the last decade. The Huntington, Ohio, woman explains that the plate is a tribute to the family business she ran with her late husband: Naplewood Tree Farm. When Department of Motor Vehicles officials informed her that the 'NWTF' initialism is 'inappropriate', she asked her children and grandchildren to explain why. They didn't know, so 'I asked the woman at the DMV what the problem was. She whispered to me: "Apparently, 'NWTF' also stands for 'Now what the', and the last word began with an 'f'."'
Fred Strattman, speaking for the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, said that requests for plates are reviewed by a socially and ethnically diverse group that uses a slang dictionary. Niples said 'Goodness gracious, you could take any letters in the alphabet and come up with something inappropriate.' She is appealing the decision.

Montana Highway Patrol officer Frank Nowakowski saw a vehicle go past him at more than 150 kilometres an hour. He took off in pursuit, reaching 190 kilometres per hour in his attempts to catch the speeding driver. He said he had just decided to stop pursuing the man when one of his cruiser's tyres blew out. His car went through a barbed-wire fence. According to Trooper David Braggs, the man Nowakowski had been chasing saw a cloud of dust in his mirror and knew there had been an accident. The man turned around and pulled over to help the victim. Braggs said the driver was apparently unaware that Nowakowski had been trying to stop him.
The man later confessed to being late for an appointment and agreed to provide a statement to officers, apologising therein.


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