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February 2002

14 February 2002

Our first story is a sweet one for Valentine's Day.
Terry Leblanc is a well-known gambler who has apparently earned over $6 million in the Canadian lottery. His girlfriend Josee Dubreuil, a stripper, stands accused of stealing $124,000 of that, giving winning tickets to her sisters and misrepresenting them as a gift from a 'customer'. She claimed he gave her the tickets, and one of the sisters, Nathalie Harb, said she remembered Leblanc visiting her and eating chicken for dinner but doesn't remember if he asked for the money back.
The Edmonton Journal-Canadian Press reports that a judge in Hull, Quebec, has ordered her to sit in the back of the courtroom after her previous flirting from the defence table flustered Leblanc to the point where he had difficulty testifying. Leblanc, 34, said he remains smitten with Dubreuil, 26, who took his virginity and was his first real girlfriend.

London's Richard Cooper, 40, believed his wife was having an affair, so he placed a tape recorder under a table at her house - they had decided to live apart - in order to get proof. He later came home in a rage and felt he didn't need to hear the tape. He was sure she had cheated on him. It has emerged that he forgot that the machine was still recording. The tape features the sounds of Cooper strangling his wife, Teresa, and shouting 'You are the weakest link! Goodbye', a reference to a popular quiz programme. After Judge Andrew Patience's courtroom heard the tape, Cooper was sentenced to life in prison.

The Detroit News reports that Mikki Newberry, 19, was visiting a friend in Commerce Township, Michigan, when she needed to extinguish her cigarette. Detective Dan Flynn said she 'grabbed a pop can off a bedside stand and dropped her cigarette in it'. The can contained gunpowder.
The resulting explosion blew a 14" x 10" hole in one of the house's walls. Newberry, six months pregnant, ran from the house with her hand and hair on fire. Two friends ran outside to catch her and put out the flames. At last report, she was being treated by the University of Michigan burns unit.

Florida's Joseph Rich, 56, and room-mate Johnny Haynes, 68, had been drinking. They then got into an argument, during which Rich hit Haynes over the head with a machete. Rich called paramedics, but it was too late. Broward Sheriff's Office spokesman Jim Leljedal said Rich confessed that 'Haynes switched the lights off, and Rich wanted them on because he was trying to do something'.

Duane Palmer was playing fetch with his dog in Greenburg, Pennsylvania, when the dog came back with a wallet rather than the ball. The police recognised the address where the wallet was found; the woman living there had reported that a man was peeping through her living room window. Indeed, Patrolman Theodore Kukich said there appeared to be an impression left by someone lying in the snow outside the window. When police showed her the driver's licence photo that had been left outside her flat, she indicated that it was the same man.

The unusual part isn't that 41-year-old Gail Bergman stabbed live-in boyfriend Warren Frendell during an argument after the pair had been drinking. Nor is it that she used two small paring knives, whose 5 cm blades she left completely buried in Frendell's buttocks. Fairbanks, Alaska, Detective Aaron Ring said Frendell reported on the knives 'Yeah, she's picked them up all the time; she's just never put them in' that location. The funny part is Bergman's story. She claims the naked Frendell showed up on the doorstep with the knives already inserted. When Ring pointed out that the knives matched Bergman's set, she said that 'I've been asking him where those knives have been for the last three weeks', he reported. After Bergman pulled the knives out, Frendell rang emergency services from a neighbour's home, then went back home to wait for an ambulance.

Judge Jesse Gunther ruled that being naked in the street is not an indecent act for a woman, according to Maine law. University of Maine undergraduates Debra Balloua and Kathryn Mann, who were caught jogging naked, had no lawyer or complex defence. Ballou simply asked arresting officer John Ewing whether he saw the pair's genitals, to which he replied: 'Not that I recall.' Gunther said what is illegal is to 'knowingly expose their genitals in public' and women's genitals are primarily internal. He added that 'I would assume the Legislature will probably be addressing this issue.'

And another student's stunt is in the news. Penn State University architecture student Christopher J. Rzomp's class project was to turn a toilet stall into a confessional. He cut a hole in the wall and put a screen over it, adding red velvet curtains and gold tassels for the full effect. Rzomp described himself as a Catholic and said no blasphemy was intended. His teacher, Michael Mussotter, gave him an 'A' for 'the courageous intervention and its artistic quality'. The project was to interpret metaphoric uses of garages.
The university says it plans to bill the architecture department about $800 to pay for repairs. The loo had just been renovated last summer.

Officer Vanessa Carter-Moragne went to the Imani Education Circle Charter School in Germantown, Pennsylvania, to pick up her son at the end of the day. She took part in show-and-tell. The students asked her to show them her badge, which she did, then her gun. She removed the clip and let the students pass the gun around.
'When she attempted to place the magazine back into the Glock, her gun accidentally discharged', said Acting Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson. Nine-year-old Aatiqah Johnson said: 'She accidentally pulled the trigger.' A round was in the chamber. It bounced off the floor, and a fragment ricocheted, grazing James Reeves, 10, who had to receive five stitches in his face.
The acting commissioner said: 'I cannot give you a logical explanation for Officer Vanessa Carter-Moragne's poor judgment.' She has been removed from street duty and is to be the subject of an investigation.

Florida's Joy Lynn Tedesco, 33, was trying to hitch a ride outside the Short Stop convenience store at 11pm. She was naked, and the police were summoned. Cpl. J.W. Snow arrived on-scene and, figuring she could be a rape or assault victim and worrying that she might freeze to death, went to get a blanket out of the boot, leaving the car running so Tebesco could get warm. She crawled through a small hole in the partition between the front and back of the car. She drove off.
After a four-minute chase during which she rammed another cruiser, Tebesco was cornered in a car park by five police cars. Police say they believe she was on drugs and added that she received a jumpsuit at the county jail.

In Ottawa, Ohio, Marvin Martin II explained that he didn't shoot at Linda Breckler and fatally shoot her son, 15-year-old Charles, while the boy was sleeping on the sofa at his sister's house. The sister had been married to Martin for under two years, but that was long enough for a custody dispute to be born. Police believe such factors were Martin's motive.
Martin, on the other hand, told Deputy Harry Berger that one of his three clones committed the crimes. Martin claimed he was cloned while in the army and that he and the clones are part of a death squad. Deputy Mark Brecht gave similar testimony. A judge denied defence attorney Bill Kluge's motion to prohibit references to cloning and the military. So Kluge suggested that Martin was fooling around when he made the statements.

Michael Jacobs, 18, and new acquaintance 'Dion' decided to rob a convenience store. Mesa, Arizona, police reported on their arrest interview with Jacobs, the one who didn't get away. While trying to get away after spraying the clerk with pepper spray, he had an asthma attack and stopped to use his inhaler. He also managed to break his toy gun while fleeing.
Making his way to the back of the store to his getaway car, which he had borrowed from his sister, he realised that he had locked his keys inside. He bashed out the driver's window and escaped. His distinctive hat and the broken-out window helped police establish that he was their man.

Edmonton police spokesman Dean Parthenis puts it at the top of his bizarre crimes list. A man called the Homemade Steak and Pizza restaurant to order a vegetarian pizza. When he heard it would take half an hour, he became angry, and both parties swore at each other before the caller hung up. About 20 minues later, a man walked into the restaurant with a handgun and, after finding that the employee he had spoken to on the phone wasn't there, ordered the staff to make him a vegetarian pizza. He was joined at some point by two acquaintances, who assisted him in eating the pizza. One of them also took $400 from one of the three employees who were being held at gunpoint. Jahanzeb Babur, 26, and two teenagers from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are being charged in connection with the crime.

The Des Moines Register reports that Mike Singh found a sleeping man upon arrival for work in the morning at the convenience store where he is manager. The man told Singh that he had been locked in the store the night before. He handed Singh a $20 bill for the beer he had drunk, and Singh made change and let him leave. 'It just didn't click that he was paying me with my own money', Singh said later, after discovering the theft of thousands of dollars in cash, merchandise, and lottery tickets. Singh said that 'the police know who he is' after seeing the photograph of a suspect. No arrests were reported as of Monday.

And lastly we have the death of Cynthia Ganss, whose ex-husband Donald stabbed her to death. Quela D'Ambrosio, 15, said she heard her aunt scream for help. Going outside, she saw Ganss's body hanging out of the car. She said: 'She [still] had her seat belt on. My uncle came in [...] he had a bloody knife, and I asked him "What happened?" He goes "Nothing".'" Donald didn't get away, as he fell into a diabetic coma after the incident.

18 February 2002

New Zealand's James Storrie discovered an unexpected charge on his phone bill from Telecom. The $337.50 charge, appearing under 'Rental and activity', was itemised as a 'penalty for being an arrogant bastard'. Spokesman Andrew Bristol said Telecom were 'absolutely aghast', so much so that they agreed to give the Auckland businessman a confidential compensation package. Consumers' Institute chief executive David Russell stated that it is not against criminal law to call a customer an arrogant bastard, although it might be considered defamatory.

Tyrone Bennett is charged with stealing dozens of lottery tickets from a store in Little Ferry, New Jersey. Several hours after the theft - and after state lottery officials had plenty of time to enter the tickets' serial numbers in their computer system - he took a winning ticket to another shop. The clerk saw the information in the store computer and asked Bennett to fill out a claim form in order to get his $12 prize. He complied, providing his address. He was arrested within an hour.

Flight attendants became suspicious of two men's multiple trips to the loo on a flight from London to New York. Airline spokeswoman Sonja Whitemon said 'a captain had requested that the local authorities meet the two passengers at the gate at Kennedy', but Air Force officials heard the pilot's communication with airline staff and sent two F-16s as an escort. The two suspicious British passengers were sleeping when the plane landed. After being taken into custody, they admitted to smoking crack and having sex in the loo. They were sent back to London the next day.

In Lowell, Massachusetts, a woman brought one too many items through a supermarket's '12 items or less' express lane. So the customer behind her, Karen Morgan, 38, allegedly muttered something about people not knowing how to count. When the first woman asked 'Do you have a problem with this?', Morgan replied in the affirmative and called her some expletives as she left. Later, as the unidentified woman was walking along with her 'personal shopping cart', a car pulled up and Morgan emerged, punching the woman. Morgan hopped back into the passenger seat, and the car went on its way. Given Morgan's licence plate number, police commenced a search. They found her hiding in a closet. She was charged in connection with this incident and also for writing three bad cheques.

Police in Humberside, Lincolnshire, hired Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan as 'poet in residence'. His duties include offering 'an alternative view of frontline policing' and raising its profile. His four-figure (per year) salary will extend through March 2003. A sample of his poetry, courtesy of Reuters, is this: 'Here's PC McMillan on the beat/ Policeman's boots on his poet's feet/ PC stands for Poetic Chap/ And on his poet's curls there's a copper's cap.'

A Brighton woman and her partner wre charged with smothering two of her babies and a baby nephew, but the charges didn't stick, as the court couldn't decide which of the pair was responsible for the deaths. The 40-year-old husband is serving 2.5 years for neglect, 3.5 years for rape, and six months for threatening a social worker's life. Well, after serving 2.5 years in Holloway Prison for cruelty to her five children, the 28-year-old woman has been released, although her name hasn't. And she is now six months pregnant with her ninth child.
Brighton MP Des Turner said enforced sterilisation is a tempting option but 'there are moral questions about people's civil liberties'. Her care of her previous children included ignoring them, feeding them roast dinners before they were weaned, and letting them sleep in their own filth, with flies for company. They didn't know what toothbrushes or cutlery were.

Karen Lee Huster of Hillsboro, Oregon, was found guilty of shooting her nine-year-old daughter and cutting up the corpse, then scattering the pieces from a whale-watching boat. Huster hid successfully for months, but someone discovered that her freezer contained the corpse of the man with whom she was sharing a Los Angeles flat. Huster told police that he died of a heart attack and she cut him up so authorities wouldn't discover she was wanted in Oregon. The man's head was found in a crock pot, with garlic and curry powder to cover the smell.
Judge Alan Bonebreak rejected the 42-year-old's insanity defence. She will be sentenced tomorrow.

The Boston Herald reports on Christopher Chamberlain, a Brockton, Massachusetts, man who became upset when ex-girlfriend (and the mother of his child) Jamie Davidson told his under-age drinking buddies to leave her house, where he had lived for five years. So he took the leash of Davidson's mother Sharon's poodle and whipped the dog against the deck, the side of the house, and Sharon's head. The dog's neck was broken. Chamberlain led police on a chase in his red Camaro and was caught when he jumped out of the car and tried to flee on foot. He told police Jamie Davidson was 'just mad because I killed her [expletive] dog'. She said: 'He's never done anything like that before.'

An Independence, Missouri, 15-year-old was shot in the chest in what appears to be an argument over a Nintendo video game that he'd been accused of either losing or hiding from his brother. After being shot, apparently by his elder brother, he is recovering but has refused to co-operate in the investigation. Two other boys were in the home but said they didn't know how the shooting occurred or who performed it. Independence Police Sergeant Doug Poole said the gun was not found at the scene. As a result of the investigation, the house was condemned on account of unsanitary conditions and an injured cat and an elderly invalid unrelated to the family were removed from the home.

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