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February 2020

13 February 2020

T[IMG: The skeleton]he Arizona Department of Public Safety reports on a case in which an officer noticed a passing vehicle whose passenger was tied into the seat with yellow rope. That passenger was a camouflage-hat-wearing fake skeleton that the 62-year-old driver had enlisted for aid in using the high-occupancy-vehicle lane. Stating that the driver has been given a penalty ticket, the department summarised thus: 'Think you can use the HOV lane with Skeletor riding shotgun? You're dead wrong!'

While on bail in a murder case, Uttar Pradesh's Subhash Batham hosted a birthday party for his one-year-old daughter. However, this was merely a pretext for taking more than 20 children, ages 0.5 to 15, hostage at his home in the Farrukhabad district. A 10-hour standoff began, during which Batham expressed a desire for revenge at the locals he deemed responsible for his arrest, made bomb threats, and reiterated his frustration with conditions such as his elderly mother's lack of access to an indoor toilet.
In the end, India's special forces stormed the building. Batham was killed in the ensuing shootout, and his fleeing wife - whose level of involvement remains unclear - was attacked by locals with bricks and stones. She died later in hospital.

It is unclear what led Yukon, Oklahoma, resident John Stafford to sicc his Roomba on the fence with the property next door, but we do know what happened next. Neighbour David Baird responded to the floor-cleaning robot's attack by warning Stafford: 'If you break through this fence, I will have to shoot you.' Stafford responded by flinging faecal matter over the property line but did break off the attack. He returned to his home and proceeded to ring the emergency services six times, making threats. A highlight of one call is Stafford ejaculating 'I am going to run you guys into the fucking ground' and the dispatcher responding 'OK; have a nice night'.
Twelve hours of SWAT team standoff later, matters were resolved with pepper-spray cannisters. Stafford, whom Baird described as never having presented any problems previously, is now in custody on a charge of planning an act of violence.

Harves Hardner is a 32-year-old Ohio man who had a serious problem that merited multiple calls to the emergency services: he had lost his hooded sweatshirt. A report on one of the earlier contacts states: 'When police arrived, defendant only wanted rides around town to find his hoodie that he lost.' As the evening wore on, a 'highly intoxicated' Hardner kept ringing, from various locations, despite exhortations for him to go to bed. Having racked up more than 25 911 calls, he was arrested and charged with felonious disruption of public services.

A[IMG: Some of the mail delivery]lso in Ohio, there is the story of Dan Cain, who didn't detect ominous undertones when a postal carrier told him that his mail wouldn't fit through the letterbox of his Twinsburg home. This postal delivery, occupying 79 plastic bins of about 700 letters each, consisted of reports on the loan that Cain and his wife had taken out for their daughter's education. College Avenue Student Loans have blamed a 'system glitch' for the 55,000 identical statements. They also told Cain that they had used the wrong interest in their calculations. A corrected statement is forthcoming.

Trouble arrived when a Colorado girl picked up a plastic water bottle that had been left on a table. When five-year-old Sophia Larson pronounced the contents 'Yucky!', mother Stephanie Alvarado and two of Alvarado's cousins put 2 and 2 together: the bottle was a water pipe they had used earlier when smoking methamphetamine.
Larson soon started seeing 'monsters and demons', according to affidavits filed later. As her condition grew worse, the family tried to treat her themselves - by wrapping her in a blanket, praying, and finally taking her to a nearby flat to use a neighbour's oxygen tube - allegedly because Alvarado feared losing Sophie 'in the system'.
Instead, the girl was lost to the Grim Reaper, with her father racing to the hospital in vain while wondering how on Earth a healthy young girl could have suffered cardiac arrest. Alvarado and her two cousins have been arrested.

In other water-related news, residents of a block of flats in Kerala, India, were left puzzled by their water taps starting to dispense a curious cocktail - literally. When they complained to the authorities about the smelly brown substance, it turned out to be a mixture of beer, brandy, and rum: officials had confiscated 6,000 litres of illicit booze on court orders and placed it in a pit near the residents' well. Leaking may have been inevitable.
The owner of the building, Joshy Malyiekkal, said that authorities are supplying the 18 flats with about 5,000 litres of water daily, which is proving inadequate, while the well is being pumped clean.

Fire crews were called to an Oak Bay, British Columbia, home to free a man who had suffered a mishap while working on his drain system.
After he'd removed the sump pump to repair it, the man's mobile phone and glasses fell into the pit. Fumbling while attempting to retrieve them, he ended up wedged upside down but within reach of his phone. He rang his wife, and she, in turn, rang 911.
According to Assistant Fire Chief Cam Thomson, a police constable was holding the hapless man's head just above water level when fire crews arrived. They lifted him out by his feet, and he emerged unscathed.

In case the story about the mystery brown substance above didn't turn your stomach, this one might. A.J. McCrady and Evin Schultz summoned maintenance workers to deal with the foul-smelling tar-like goo that had been oozing down the walls of their Minneapolis flat. McCrady later recounted that one stymied member of the team 'wiped off a little [...] and still really couldn't determine anything' so 'went upstairs into the apartment above to see if they had the same problem and that's when the body got discovered'.
The resident of the flat above had died in his sleep about a week earlier, and it took a while for fluids from the decomposing body to seep below.

AsiaWire carries a report on a family who visited a Guilin, China, Audi showroom with a friend. That family included a Mr Zhao, who paid no mind to their three-year-old daughter between the moment she left the group and the discovery of her artwork on 10 luxury cars. She had used a pebble to scratch patterns into, for example, an Audi A8 valued at well over 50,000 euros.
According to Lingui People's Court, the dealership has sued Zhao for the equivalent of 20,000 euros, with the possibility of the figure growing since the post-repair cars must now be sold as second-hand. Zhao has offered to pay about a third of that amount.

A[IMG: Some of the phones]fter Belgian police reported thefts of 50 mobile phones at a Sum 41 gig in Antwerp, there was a large turn-out, of police officers at least, at the Canadian band's following concert in Amsterdam. Sure enough, phones started disappearing there too. The exits were blocked, and a 34-year-old man matching descriptions by pickpocketed concert-goers was apprehended with 30 phones secreted in his cycling shorts. Although this Romanian national is thought to be part of a roving gang of thieves, no connection with the thefts in Antwerp has been proven.

Several pilots at Florida's Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport were treated to the harmful antics of a man wielding a green laser pointer. For example, a Cessna student pilot ended up with persistent blurred vision. The culprit, about 400 metres from the runway approach, revealed his location by targeting the sheriff's office helicopter sent to investigate. He hit the helicopter with the laser but failed to hit it with rocks.
[IMG: The suspect, as seen from the helicopter][IMG: A laser strike, as seen from the helicopter] Officers found the man, 41-year-old Charlie James Chapman, Jr, on a forklift truck and achieved a 2-0 victory in Taser vs. laser.

Finally, Florida mother Heather Chisum expressed outrage online upon discovering a message written by day-care centre staff on her one-year-old son's belly. The note, in green permanent marker, says: 'Mom I'm out of diapers pls read my report.' This refers to a daily report, tucked into the child's lunchbox, that advises on any need for nappies or other supplies.
Chisum, who responded with the comment 'SUE ME FOR NOT READING THE REPORT EVERY SINGLE DAY' and with a police report, admitted that this is not the first time the staff have resorted to writing reminders on her children. This time, Children's Education Center of the Islands have fired the person responsible, for breaching the facility's professional ethics.

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