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December 2001


1 December 2001

According to the New York Daily News, Jack Schreiner made a mistake after robbing a branch of Chase Manhattan Bank in Woodhaven, New York. He left no fingerprints and made sure to have the teller give back his "This is a holdup. I have a gun" note. But he didn't stop to think it might be a bad idea to return to that same branch to open an account. One of the tellers recognised him from security camera footage and requested a second opinion from the teller who had given Schreiner $7,791 four days earlier. The police were called.

Ohio's Nandor C. Santhu had a mobile 'phone and a dog. He also had a bunch of marijuana plants. When the dog, in the truck with the cell 'phone, pressed the speed dial button for 911, operators told police it sounded like a woman crying or whimpering in distress. A houseguest let them into Santhu's home, where they found the plants in the basement. When Santhu, 46, returned home from his hunting trip and saw police surrounding his house, he sped away in his truck but was quickly caught.
Santhu claimed the plants were for his own personal use. The Columbus Dispatch quotes Detective Gary L. Sigrist as saying the 150 plants are "a lot of dope for personal use".

Craig Alan Buckley, hailing from Ocala, Florida, died in a fight between two groups of three men on the Claude Varn Bridge. "The entire altercation stemmed from an argument over a fishing spot", said St. John's County Sheriff's Deputy Chuck Mulligan. Eyewitnesses said the fight began when one man left his fishing spot to see if he would have better luck in another spot on the bridge. When he returned and saw another man in "his " spot, the two began to argue and then pulled out knives. Soon all six were fist-fighting. Buckley hit his head, and another man was knocked out. Charges were filed against three of the men.

An Australian court heard earlier this week that Wayne Collings, 53, sought penis enlargement surgery and instead ended up with a "shorter, painful, and deformed penis". Collings claimed that surgeon Peter Haertsch didn't warn him that the procedure had risks. The doctor disputed this claim and the claim that he promised Collings a length increase of 5cm. Collings's counsel told District judge James Black that the phalloplasty and dermal fat graft, carried out in March 1997, led to two months of sleepless nights due to constant erections, a 2-3 cm shorter penis, and $4000 in psychiatric treatment.

Secret Formula
Dr. Allen P. Smith didn't notice anything odd in his Coca-Cola until the semi-solid mass slid down his throat. In the inquiry in the two months since Smith swallowed the yellow sludge, it has been ascertained that some of the Central States Bottling Company's machinery lubricant ended up in his drink. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the company said the lubricant is harmless but refused to disclose the contents of Lubriplate. Smith said he would be happy merely to know what it was, without having to trust the company. Bottling company representative Ashlie Brown said she can't disclose how the lubricant ended up in the Coke but said "What I can tell you is we have very sophisticated bottling and filling processes that are the safest..."

London's Mike Madden, 48, is a "part-time inventor" who decided to test a bird feeder hat. On Monday, he went into the woods near his house. A grey squirrel, interested in the contraption's contents, leaped from a tree and landed on Madden's head, giving him whiplash. He said he wished he had known squirrels can go after bird feed aggressively; now that he does know, he says, he has decided not to build a replacement for the hat, which was destroyed in the incident.

After David Dearing was released from prison, his grandmother picked him up, bringing him new clothes and planning to take him to her house. She took him to lunch at McDonalds, where he said he wanted to change into the clothes, which were in the car. After stealing the car, Dearing sold the clothes to buy crack. He was caught after he robbed a bank in Toledo, Ohio, and got the car stuck in a field shortly after hitting another car with it. Police found Dearing sitting in the car, which had money scattered on its floor, and smoking crack... 29 hours after his release.
The 77-year-old grandmother said "I sent him money for food and toiletries [in prison] two times a month, and this is what I get?". She told the Toledo Blade that Dearing has stolen her car in the past.

Pennsylvania's Robert Milner won a sheriff's auction where he bid $17,000 for a codominium, sight unseen. On arriving, he found a pile of mail and a corpse which had been there for three years. When mail carrier Judy Kuhn told her supervisor in late 1998 that homeowner Robert E. Barnett's mail was piling up and that there was a stench, the post office contacted police, who didn't investigate since, in the words of Police Chief James Gorczynski, "it wasn't like the guy was seen every single day and then the guy disappeared". Barnett was a recluse who lived alone. More than two years ago, Barnett's car was towed when the registration expired. In 1999 his condo association fees went unpaid for the first time. All the warning notices were returned when Barnett didn't sign for them.
In a slightly different "home alone" case, Kelly Sue Hein had been taking care of her elderly neighbour in Carson City, Nevada, for over two years when she became overwhelmed by a break-up with her boyfriend and her sister's death, turned to drugs, and forgot to feed 79-year-old Iris Barton. Her body was found months later.

Larry Ross was jailed for being at fault in a hit-and-run accident. He tried to outrun a freight train in Augusta, Georgia, but his 1986 Chevrolet Caprice ended up being dragged about 45 feet after Ross ran into an engine. Ross then sped off. He was fined $1,615 in Richmond County Court, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. County prosecutor Sheryl Jolly said "I've always wondered about people in hit-and-run accidents who abandon their cars and expect to get away [with it]".

A Beijing court sentenced Dr. Li Quang to death for blowing up a public bus on which his wife was riding. Li told police that he gave his wife a plastic bag which contained a homemade bomb. She didn't die in the explosion, but three others did and more than 40 were injured. Li explained that he wanted to kill her because she was pregnant and he didn't have enough money to support a family.

Deerick Van, 36, was burgling a home in Fulton County, Georgia. Meanwhile, Christopher Daniel was cowering under his bed and holding a telephone receiver and a .357 Magnum. The quaking Daniel was being careful not to be noticed, but he did fire the gun when Van bent down to pick up some coins he had dropped on the floor. Daniel then fired five shots, hitting him in the ankle, thigh, and groin. Police spokeswoman Wenda Phifer said "He could have just walked out the door, because the guy under the bed was too scared to confront him".

Brenda Lee Sawyer was arested for drink-driving, 10 days after she completed a jail term for her ninth drink-driving conviction. This time, the Sykesville, Maryland, woman was caught after, driving under a revoked licence, she hit the back of a State Police car and ran into the woods to hide. She emerged from the woods 20 minutes later and told police she had only been a drunk passenger. The Baltimore Sun reports that she said of her convictions, "They would all be DWIs ... eight - I'm sorry - nine. I believe this started in 1980 [when she was 18] and I can't remember all the dates, years and things."

The Detroit Free Press describes a man who called for help from inside a locked trunk in a General Filters factory parking lot. Factory employee Becky Chambers came to his aid. The man explained that he had been in the trunk since Thursday. But Chambers said the car had only been in the lot for six minutes before the yelling started.
Novi police said the man vanished just before he was due to deposit receipts for the petrol station where he is an assistant manager. Sergeant David Malloy said "He admitted that the robbery and kidnapping and being locked in the trunk were all a lie". The man, whose name was not released, used the $6000 for a gambling spree.

Bobby White and Keenan Stokes argued with McDonalds employee Noseche Gaillard, 19, when she couldn't understand their order at the drive-through window. White, 23, later explained that he was irate because he was in a hurry to get food for his sons, one of whom - a one-year-old named Brycen - was sitting on his lap. Stokes, the driver, threw money at Gaillard, and she threw his change back into the car. While the two men were still cursing at her, Gaillard pulled off her headphones and quit her job. When the car reached the pick-up window, she threw a cup of coffee into the front seat. Stokes leaned back, and the coffee hit White and Brycen. The one-year-old was treated for second-degree burns.

And finally an update on James Cripps (see 4 November's Clippings), whose spur-of-the-moment Las Vegas marriage upset his girlfriend back in England: although his girlfriend dumped him as a result of the incident, he pointed out that he was "too drunk to consummate" his marriage with the Australian woman he had just met.

6 December 2001

Abel C. Acosta, an illegal immigrant in Pueblo, Colorado, at first denied charges that he rear-ended a motorcycle driven by Steve Luther, 38, causing Luther's death. Acosta, 25, drove 14 miles with the motorcycle embedded in the grill of his truck. He then abandoned the truck and fled on foot. A day later he surrendered to police. In the face of this physical evidence, he eventually pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal accident. In the plea deal, charges of vehicular homicide and driving under restraint were dropped.

According to Singapore's Straits Times, someone shoved Miskon Haji Taib and covered his trousers in faeces as he was queuing at a bank, where he planned to deposit the equivalent of US$30,000 for his employer. Two men offered to help Miskon clean himself up, providing tissues. The three men stepped outside to do this. After Miskon, 71, re-joined the queue, he found that the money was missing from his pocket. The pickpocket team has not been found.

Two months after Donald Church underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumour, he was still in pain. Although the surgeons told him that the pain, which occurred when he bent over, tried to do lifting at his job, walked, or tried to use the loo, was a natural part of recovery, he thought he was dying. Church, who sometimes felt a bulge in his abdomen; at other times, the pain was higher in his body, finally went to his family doctor, who suggested a CAT scan. The scan revealed that Dr. David Byrd, an associate professor at the University of Washington, left a 13-inch malleable retractor (used in wound closure) inside Church.
It is standard for surgical personnel to keep track of the number of sponges and suturing needles before and after an operation, but even the American College of Surgeons, which compiles these statistics, does not keep track of the number of larger instruments left in patients.
Church, 49, was given $97,000 in a settlement with the Center.

A member of the opposing team, Francisco Gallardo, was among those "congratulating" Jose Antionio Reyes as he fell to the ground in celebration of a goal he scored for Real Valladoid against Seville. Reyes thought nothing of the "pinch" he received until later when he realised Gallardo had bitten his genitals. In response to charges raised by the Spanish soccer federation, Gallardo said "It really was nothing at all". Seville won the game 4-0.
After the incident, Reyes said "The worst thing about it is the teasing I'm going to get from my team-mates".

Cincinnati, Ohio, police say Darrin Stafford, 30, and his friend Frederick Shipman, 43, from Alabama were responsible for the death of a 15-year-old boy. Stafford, a paraplegic from Indiana, was driving Shipman's car because Shipman was too drunk to drive. However, the car lacked the steering and other controls mandated by Stafford's driver's licence. With Stafford unable to reach the brake pedal, the car hit six pedestrians at a crossing. Shipman is also being charged with vandalism, as he tried to kick out the windows of a police cruiser after his arrest, according to The Plain Dealer.

The same newspaper reports that Kimberly Hericks, the manager of a Cleveland, Ohio, pizzeria, boosted her sales records by ordering pizzas herself and claiming they were for various customers. She insisted on delivering the pizzas - which amounted to $45000 in "sales" over three months - herself. She set up fake accounts, damaged a fax machine to cover her tracks at one point, and sent flowers to herself with a 'thank you' note from a local hospital which was one of her fake customers. Hericks was caught when the pizzeria's owner, helping her move house, discovered 400 rotting pizzas in her garage.
Hericks told prosecutors she wanted to be mentioned in her company newsletter.

Detroit Lakes police chief Kelvin Keena said the cause of Takako Konishi's death is unclear. What he does know is that the 28-year-old Tokyo woman flew to Minneapolis, Minnesota, then took a bus to Bismarck, North Dakota, where she left clothing behind in a hotel, claiming it was rubbish. A man found her wandering around the city landfill the next day and took her to see police, who couldn't find any Japanese interpreters. She showed police a map drawn on typing paper. She was trying to find money buried in the film Fargo. Police, unable to find a Japanese interpreter, let her go, as she had committed no crime. She took a bus to Fargo, then went to Detroit Lakes by taxi. It was there Konishi's body was found, a week after her arrival in the US.

Gannett Co. and USA Today's new corporate headquarters includes a $100,000 sculpture outside the two CEOs' offices. Going to see the sculpture, a spherical installation by Lita Albuquerque, USA Today writer Karen Allen and editors Denise Tom and Cheryl Phillips noticed fingerprints on it, so they traced "Kilroy was here" in the dust - which turned out to be pigment that had not yet received a coat of sealant. Caught on a security camera, the women were given an "irreversible" firing by USA Today's president on Monday, after they apologised and offered to pay for repairs.
Albuquerque said "I think it's a terrible thing, firing people from a lifetime job for what is essentially graffiti, and I'd be willing to write a letter to the president of the company". Allen worked at USA Today since its inception and for Gannett before that and Tom at Gannett for 26 years. Phillips was named an "Enterprise All-Star" last year.

10 December 2001

Los Angeles judge Marsha Revel sentenced Richard Minsky to 146 years to life in prison for raping and robbing women over the last 20 years. Minsky would select women from a telephone book. He called them, leaving a mumbled message such as "It's me and I'm in trouble. I'm in jail. Listen carefully and do what my lawyer says". He would then tell the women to give sex and money to a supposed witness to prevent him testifying. Eight of the women Minsky, 57, had hoodwinked with this approach were in the courtroom. Minsky was arrested shortly after he was profiled on America's Most Wanted.

The Southern Standard reports on a Treemont, Tennessee, toddler who told her mother there was a monster in her room. McMinnville Police Captain Bryan Denton reports that the mother, lying next to her daughter to help her get to sleep, noticed that the window was open though it was closed earlier. Then, noticing a figure standing behind the curtain, she screamed. The intruder jumped out the window and ran off. Denton said police found Landon Ty Martin, 18, walking down the street near the woman's apartment. The black-clad Martin said he was out exercising and was carrying a large blue fly swatter because he found it by the road. Police couldn't hold him since the woman had provided no description.
But, visiting her again, police were informed of the theft of a large blue fly swatter. Half an hour later, police saw Martin again, but he was without the fly swatter so police felt they had to let him go.
In the evening, police saw Martin again. He was carrying the stolen fly swatter. He was arrested and charged with aggravated burglary.

St. Paul, Minnesota, was home to a flower war. County officials banned red poinsettias from City Hall's 2001 flower arrangement, explaining that some people had complained that the red flowers are a Christian symbol. On Friday morning, some red-leafed poinsettias had been inserted in the display. No-one has taken credit for sneaking the new flowers past the "tightened security checkpoints" overnight. County Manager Paul Kirkwold said he won't remove the new flowers.

For the school yearbook, the seniors at New Hampshire's Dover High School were asked to vote for a male and female in each of 20 categories, including "most changed since freshman year", "best friends (male)", class rebels, and class sweethearts. The yearbook committee asked the principal for advice after they found that the latter category was won by two females, Nicole Salisbury and Ashley Lagasse. Salisbury, who has been with Lagasse for two years now, said "I was surprised at how many were so open-minded. Then the adults came, and they took that away."
In response to Principal Robert Pedersen's advice that "according to the ballot, the first couple which qualified, i.e., male-female, ought to be declared the winner", the committee eliminated the category altogether.
Since then, the school superintendant "reversed" the principal's ruling/suggestion, and the girls will in fact be listed.

Reuters reports that the cabinet of Cyprus wants to fine motorists approximately $1500 (about twice a Cypriot's monthly salary) if they are caught smoking while driving. This is part of a plan to cut down on traffic accidents. Members of parliament, however, seem less than likely to pass the measure. One opposition MP, Doros Christodoulides, called it "social racism". Others say it is a sign that the government's anti-smoking crusade has gone too far. Health Minister Frixos Savvides, a smoker, said the proposal is a "pioneering" one.

An angry crowd in Johannesburg, South Africa, hung seemingly blood-stained diapers outside the magistrates court building to express outrage at Martin Dlamini, 25, and a 17-year-old, who are standing trial for raping a 5-month-old baby. They demanded the harshest sentence possible. The number of infant rapes in South Africa is on the rise, due to the widespread belief that having sex with a virgin will cure a man of HIV. Faith Nazibuko, chairwoman of the ANC Women's Caucus, said "It's like we have a sick society". Last month, six men raped a 9-month-old baby in Johannesburg.

And a San Carlos, California, woman reversed direction on Interstate 208, causing at least five collisions. On Tuesday evening, Gina Bevilacqua, 34, was driving while intoxicated, with her three-year-old daughter in the sport utility vehicle with her. According to California Highway Patrol sergeant Alex Radich, she first hit a Toyota Tercel head-on, injuring the driver. Later, a car sideswiped a station wagon while swerving to avoid Bevilacqua. She is then believed to have sideswiped a sheriff's patrol car and hit a Volkswagen Jetta head-on, injuring the driver. Bevilacqua finally came to a stop when her SUV hit a Ford Expedition side-on and suffered major front-end damage.

17 December 2001

According to the Connecticut Post, 14-year-old Douglas Joseph Haggerty plans to sue the town of Fairfield because he broke his arm at Tunxis Hill Park. Haggerty was swinging from a rope tied to a tree branch in the park - it is unclear whether or not he tied the rope to the branch himself - when he lost his grip on the rope and fell 25 feet into a ravine. He claims that the town should have cut the branch off. His lawyer, Matthew S. Hirsch, said town recreation officials should have known that children swing from that branch and that it was the only suitable branch in the vicinity.

You have probably heard about Martin Creed being awarded the Turner Prize for his installation featuring flickering lights in an empty room. Creed, whose past artwork has included crumpling up pieces of paper and attaching Blu-Tack to a wall, received UKP20,000 for this latest work. Creed says his work is about the qualities of nothing. A group of annoyed traditional artists, called The Stuckists, demonstrated as guests arrived. They flashed torches on and off to mock Creed's showpiece. A member of the group, Charles Thomson, said "The only people who cannot see how ridiculous this whole thing is are the organisers themselves".

In Ohio's Plain Township, five-week-old Chuong D. Nguyen's baby-sitter collapsed on top of him after suffering a massive stroke. When the boy's father, Dang, returned home, he found the baby partially covered by the sitter's body. The child could not be revived; sitter Lan Bac is in critical condition and unable to speak to police.

Another Ohio resident, Springfield's Steve Lowry, also returned home to find a collapsed person. Police believe Robert H. Miller, 54, suffered a heart attack after cleanly removing one of the Lowry home's windows. The burglar didn't have time to disturb anything before his collapse. Miller was lying in a hallway, dead, when Lowry discovered him. Police found Miller's truck, containing more than $15,000 in Hummel figurines stolen from a second home that day. Sergeant Matthew Hayton, crime scene investigator summarised the incident by saying "Justice is served".

Another attempted burglary failed recently, this one in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where a man walked into a used-book store and, after asking if the shop sold comic books, told clerk and owner Erin Moul to open the cash register. She said "No". When the would-be robber persisted, she showed him the 9mm pistol she kept in her handbag and suggested "Why don't you try robbing somebody who doesn't have a gun?" The man, identified as Charles W. Hinton, 35, was freaked out, according to Moul, and apologized. He said his friends put him up to the robbery.

The Portland, Maine, chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is objecting to a proposal to erect a bronze statue of the city's founder, George Cleeve, on a state pier. The NAACP said it is offensive to memorialise "a man who may have introduced slavery to the city", said NAACP chapter vice president Winston McGill. It isn't even known that Cleeve owned a slave. Little is known of the man. Nonetheless, City Councilor Nathan Smith said "There are deep concerns about whether or not it's appropriate to put this statue in a public place".

Children under ten years old shouldn't be subjected to the indignity of being called losers. So teams in the South Buckinghamshire Mini Soccer Conference are not to tell local newspapers who won or lost a game. The title "first team" is also considered hurtful to children's feelings and has been subjected to a ban. League secretary Trevor Saunders explained "If you lose 15-0 it really hurts these boys. It does them no good at all."

In a report from Montpelier, Vermont, Mark Delude, 39, was reported missing from the St. Johnsbury minimum security prison where he is sersving an eight- to 30-month sentence for various minor offences. When state troopers arrived at the facility, they found that Delude had crawled back in under the fence. He apparently walked 1.5 miles to the nearest convenience store, where he purchased beer and cigarettes, which he brought back to the prison. According to Correctional Service Director Dick Turner, the fence is not intended as an impenetrable barrier but as a reminder that there is a barrier. His beer run could earn him two more years behind bars.

Authorities believe Foster, Rhode Island, hunter Jose Henriques, 43, shot his son Derek because he had removed the red hunting vest the law requires. The 19-year-old Derek stuffed his vest under his jacket when he tracked a deer onto private property in an attempt to flush out the animal in his father's direction. Derek, shot in the chest from 80 yard away, did not survive.

Florida's St. Petersburg Times reports on Chad Phillips, whose mother described him as a daredevil. After drinking and dancing with friends overnight, the 27-year-old Phillips, along with his best friend and a woman, decided to take an all-terrain vehicle for a ride at about 4:30 in the morning. Phillips was standing on the seat when, according to his mother, "the brakes locked" and he went over the handlebars. The ATV landed atop Phillips, who was pronounced dead a short time later.

The family of Joyce Link Darville were not soothed and comforted by her funeral. Winnfield Funeral Home used too small a casket for the 450-500 pound woman, charge Darville's husband, mother, and brother, who watched funeral home workers try to hammer her casket closed at the end of the funeral service. Darville's husband Arthur said "I asked the man why he was hitting on the coffin like that. He told me it was because it wouldnt latch shut". His son Arthur Jr. said "It really hurt me to see them hitting on the coffin with a hammer". In the end, the funeral home delayed burial services because the coffin wouldn't close. The family claim they ordered a 36-inch-wide casket but received a 32-inch one instead.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Jacquess Dyer Patton-Ugan was arrested after one of her grandsons heard people screaming in her basement. The grandchildren, aged 10 and 12, also "had seen their grandmother having sex with people other than their grandfather", according to police. Patton-Ugan is suspected of using her web site to solicit business for her basement bonddage den. The site asks visitors to "explore the erotic world of controlled domination" safely in "Madame Venus Du Plaisir's Paradise". Posing as a potential customer, an undercover officer was led to the "dungeon", whereupon officers stormed the home and arrested her and her husband for keeping a house of prostitution. Officers also took "an extensive array of sexual devices and bondage contraptions" and 63 whips as evidence.

A Hampton, Virginia, 14-year-old tried to hijack his school bus on Tuesday. When he held a steak knife to the bus driver's throat, two other students wrestled him off the bus, one chasing him while the bus driver radioed for help. The same boy tried to rob a petrol station earlier in the week. He was armed with an aluminium stick and a pair of scissors for that escapade. The boy, who has been arrested, attends Woodside Academy, a day school for troubled youth.

Daniel W. Searfuss, who was sentenced to probation after using a sneaker-embedded video camera to look up female shoppers' skirts, used the same method to catch illicit glimpses of women at the Plant City, Florida, church he attends. Assistant State Attorney Dean Tsourakis, describing this violation of probation, said Searfuss was even "doing it at the probation office, for instance, the cashier at the probation office". When Searfuss, 42, raised his hand for attention, Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Walter R. Heinrich said "Put your hand down - you don't think anybody's gonna believe you?" It was almost a year ago when Searfuss was first charged with voyeurism for using his "sneakercam", wired to a video recorder he carried in a bag. Investigators are reviewing 45 videotapes.

New York's Staten Island Advance reports that 11-year-old Gabriel Kabbani, after receiving four notices to appear for jury duty, is being targeted for civil and criminal fines. His father, Carl, had sent back the first notice with an explanatory letter and a copy of his son's birth certificate and, when more notices arrived, he called the county clerk's office. The office claims not to have the birth certificate on file, and the county clerk, Stephen J. Fiala, said he would remove the child's name on receiving proof of his age. The list of names came from state income tax rolls, for Gabriel's parents opened a savings account in his name.

Richard Prendiville, a Waterloo, Ontario, lawyer, launched a class action lawsuit against the operators of an electronic toll highway after he was charged a late fee of the equivalent of US$19.00 on a balance of 12 Canadian cents. According to Reuters, he is trying to force the provincial government of Ontario, where Highway 407 runs, and the highway's operators to refund all penalties charged to users since the expressway's toll system began operation in mid-1997. The maximum annual "criminal rate" of interest in Canada is 60 percent. The company, "407 International" calls itself the world's first open access toll highway.

A Pontiac, Michigan, jury acquitted Billie Jean Rogers, who was accused of suffocating her husband. Prosecutors contend that Rogers helped her nephew, Harry Titlow, smother Donald Rogers, 74, for the life insurance money. Billie Jean gave a car and $70,000 to Titlow, who claimed to need the money for a sex change operation. Titlow now goes by the name Vonlee Titlowz. His/her attorney claims Rogers died of alcohol poisoning; prosecutors contend that Rogers poured alcohol down the victim's throat before smothering him with a pillow. Titlow's trial begins in January.

In a slightly older story, a 32-year-old black woman from Bivins, Texas, claimed to have been attacked by two white men, who held her overnight and carved a "KKK" into her chest. After police questioned area residents, she confessed to using a pair of scissors to carve the letters into her own chest. Chief Deputy Ronnie Fincher said "She admitted it to the FBI agent and one of our deputies". Authorities say the incident may have been a cover-up for an extramarital affair the woman was having with a white man. She told police the man found her after her captors threw her from a pickup truck. She admitted to the deputy and FBI agent that she actually spent the night with the man, who she said was just a friend.
Chief Deputy Ronnie Fincher described one give-away: "The letters appear to be mirror images-as if someone did them while looking in a mirror".

22 December 2001

We have all heard of postal workers taking out their workmates in a spray of bullets; however, James M. Beal, 62, was original in his approach. He told a federal judge in Michigan that he was upset when, the day after he was fired from his position as relief postmaster, he emptied two five-gallon buckets of porcupine faeces and worms onto former co-workers and mail. "I let my anger with this, sort of, overrule my judgments" he explained. Before the incident, Beal went to the woods to gather the faecal matter, enough to cover three people. Postal workers spent the next day cleaning damaged mail items and packaging them with explanatory notes.

Penny Ortega of Menlo Park, California, was taking her dog, Corona, for a walk when, she claims, another dog came along and was causing problems. So Ortega took a tyre jack from a van left unlocked by a stranger, and she began to break nearby windows with it. When police officer Kevin Paugh showed up, Ortega ran off but did yell for her dog to attack Paugh. Both dogs attacked Paugh, according to police. Paugh chose not to involve his own dog. With the aid of another officer, he caught and arrested Ortega, 47.

A Carmel, New York, woman rang 911 when she feared a burglar had entered her house. Donna Bruno asked police to search her home, according to Detective Brian Karst. Officers didn't find a burglar, but they did come across over 10 pounds of marijuana in a garbage bag in the basement. Bruno's husband Joseph had been using the basement to grow marijuana hydroponically and conventionally with grow lights. He was arrested when he returned home shortly after the 911 call.

Jeffery Keith Powell's mother brought a Bible for her son, who is doing time in the Muscogee County Jail in Ohio. Jailers, having read a letter Powell wrote to his girlfriend, in which he asked for more marijuana. Powell told his mother that the Bible she had brought him earlier didn't have large enough print, and the girlfriend arranged for her to pick up a large-print Bible from a friend of hers who had concealed marijuana and rolling papers in the book's binding. The Bible was seized when Powell's mother, unaware of the contents, arrived. The girlfriend was not charged.

A Delaware, Ohio, couple called and visited their bank to find out the origin of a $251,197 wire transfer into their tile-installation company's account, they decided the money was a gift from God and began to spend it, mostly for religious causes. Over a year later, Columbus judge James L. Graham told the Foote family that Tile-Crete Systems would need to pay Huntington National Bank the full amount of the transfer, which resulted from a clerical error. Their lawyer, Michael T. Gunner, says they are not liable, but the company has been closed down anyway.
Before the company was charged with bank fraud, the bank told the Footes that the money was a gift from an anonymous donor. Mr. Foote, 62, said "The people in the bank told us 'When they want you to know, they'll tell you'." They also checked with the bank of the transfer's origin.

Cell 'phone records show that Lazaro Leiva was engaged in a call when his sport utility vehicle hit a 79-year-old Miami, Florida, woman's car last spring. The victim, Alicia Bustos, has been on a respirator since the accident and has thus far amassed $1.7 million in medical bills. In his deposition, Leiva had denied being on the telephone just before the accident. The records showed that he was on the 'phone 46 seconds before he rang 911 about the accident. His lawyer argued that Bustos should not get much of a reward since she wouldn't have long to live anyway. The jury did not agree.

Reuters reports that Svein Froeytland of Oslo, Norway, swallowed the gold engagement ring which his girlfriend had hidden in his porridge for a surprise marriage proposal at a Christmas party. The girlfriend, Janne Grim, said she thought her proposal had been ignored, then she realised that it had been swallowed. He agreed to the engagement, borrowing a ring from another guest at the party for the occasion.

A Richmond, Virginia, towing firm employee did a little joy riding in a rap star's $311,000 Lamborghini Diablo, which was in his company's garage. Joseph Thomas Johnson lost control of the car, running into a speed limit sign and a tree three miles from his workplace. Rapper Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot asked the firm to take care of the last leg of the car's transport for a photo shoot. Employees reported the car stolen the next morning. Even though Johnson had left the scene of the crime, evidence in the car led to his arrest.
Court records show that he has a history of bad driving; he was declared a habitual offender in 1992 after infractions which included a conviction for driving while intoxicated. The damage to the car exceeds its value.

Silt, Colorado, police chief Paul Taylor responded to a call from Go-Fer Foods, where a woman was upset that condoms were visible from the checkout counter. The woman, Mary Ann Olson, asked the convenience store to remove the condoms, which she said promoted sex among children. When clerks refused, Olson, 53, threw the condom display on the floor. She told Taylor, who tried to calm her down, that he would suffer God's wrath for siding with the shop. She has been banned from Go-Fer Foods.

We don't have names for any of the participants in this, but neither do Reuters. In Sao Paolo, Brazil, a man dressed in a Santa suit was handing out candy to motorists who were stopped at a traffic light. Then, he pulled a revolver from his black Santa belt and shot a woman who was entering her car nearby. A police spokeswoman said the incident did not appear to be a botched robbery. She offered no other motive or explanation for the shooting, but local media reported that the deed may have had to do with a paternity suit. The Santa suit, including beard and gloves, was recovered by police, and a sketch of the man has been produced.

In Mumias, Kenya, Peter Amalembiye showed up to his wedding to find two entourages and two women decked out as brides. In addition to his intended bride, Lilian Anyango, former girlfriend Esther Atieno showed up, and her supporters raised objections during the wedding, one of them shouting out "Either Amalembiye marries Atieno or there will be no wedding at the [Shibale] church". The groom-to-be responded by hitting the man with a chair. The ensuing fight ended when police intervened.


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