anna's archive anna's archive anna's archive

January 2001

1 January 2001

A Rye, Australia, 16-year-old received a new longbow sight for Christmas and was practising firing into a bale of hay on the back fence. One of his arrows missed the target, pierced a corrugated iron fence, and killed a 58-year-old neighbour who was preparing a holiday lunch. The man was found next to the barbecue with an arrow protruding from his back.
'It appears to be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time', a police officer stated. Ron Iddles of the homicide squad said the teenager is in shock following the death. Area resident Kellie Boyle said that she 'would't be very impressed right now if that was my grandfather' who'd been hit and killed by that arrow.

In Aurora, Colorado, a little game went a little wrong when a man failed in his attempt to shoot a plastic cup off a friend's head. Manuel Dominguez-Quintero died in this backyard party game, and not-so-sharp-shooter and host Lorenzo Quintana-Galindo fled the scene (without his car) after the other man's head was hit.

In a similar category we can place two Swan River, Manitoba, men. One man was 'curious about how valid this bulletproof vest was', in the words of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Steve Saunders. So he had his friend shoot him with a .22 rifle and then with a 12-gauge shotgun. For the latter feat, they put a telephone book under the vest for padding. The vest-owner ended up with cracked ribs and a potential ban from owning firearms.

In the 'stupid criminals' file we have Edward Johnson and an accomplice, who were arrested for stealing a safe from the Albany, New York, Bame Insurance Agency. The bloodied burglers were rather conspicuous at 3:00am as they tried to open the safe they had lugged down the stairs and then helplessly watched descend through a window on account of momentum that the men hadn't reckoned for. Police caught the men easily.
At this point, I must share an anecdote about a happening about 30 years ago in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was told of burglars who spent most of the night trying to open a safe. After drilling failed, they decided to try nitroglycerine but over-estimated the amount they would need. They ended up blowing themselves through the wall of the store's back room and out the front window. The police found them where they landed at about 5:00am. To the illiterate burglars, the 'records vault, contains no money and is unlocked' sign on the safe might as well not have been there.

According to the Ottawa Sun, police are not charging a Finch couple for leaving their five-month-old child in a van overnight. The baby was left sleeping when the couple parked the van in their driveway. The child survived six hours of winter temperatures, which dropped to -22 degrees C, before his father found him the next morning.
Investigators were told that the couple had several children and simply forgot to bring in the baby, who was strapped into a seat in the back of the van.

In Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, someone got in trouble for not abandoning a baby. Theresa Lea, 19, faces charges of public mischief for falsely claiming that she had a baby and threw it into a skip (dumpster). After a six-day hunt for the child, medical tests indicated that the girl had not given birth.
When arrested for another offence, she had produced the story. Lea's neighbours had spoken of a woman who had been pregnant but hadn't been seen with a baby.

In Indiana, firemen had an interesting time when someone delivered baked goods to the Elkhart central station. Eleven firefighters - half the force - became high on marijuana as a result of the incident. Two firefighters became 'so sick [...] they had to be treated at a hospital', according to news reports. Additional men were brought in from holiday leave. Detectives are developing a composite photograph of the person who brought the food to the firehouse.

Here's a good idea. A CP report describes a buxom 168 cm blonde who has posed as a prostitute. Well, more precisely, she has flashed a badge and fined would-be tricks $200 each after they picked her up. Police are sure she is not a police officer. They are less sure about her gender, especially after examining ATM camera footage from another incident. Detective Gary Ostofi said the brassiere may have been holding in padding. The jaw and shoulders also struck photo technicians as masculine.

In Mitchell's Plain, South Africa, rescue workers emerged from a gunshot victim's house to find their fire engine missing. Its driver and his assistant had to get a ride back to headquarters with the three ambulance workers who arrived separately. (The wounded man had refused treatment.) Divisional Officer Sebastian Martin said: 'When our guys went inside the house there were many people outside. But when they stepped outside, the vehicle was gone - and so was the crowd.'

Willie James Hall of Birmingham, Alabama, sneaked up on Barry Kennamer, a policeman who was questioning driver Christopher Colbert. Kennamer noticed Hall and ordered him to drop his firearm. The 43-year-old Hall responded by shooting him and making off with his patrol car. He eventually crashed it into a tree.
Meanwhile, Colbert, who had recently been released from state prison, left the scene. He was arrested after his mother persuaded him to talk with the police.

In Karlsruhe, Germany, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that the widow of an auto-erotic asphyxiation accident victim has no right to claim insurance money. The man accidentally strangled himself when hanging from a door handle by his wife's scarf. A court statement said that 'as he took this action to limit his supply of oxygen in order to heighten his orgasm, he intended to diminish his bodily functions'. This therefore counts as self-inflicted injury rather than accident, according to Reuters.

Following a trend in Bucharest, a Tokyo club offers special prostitute service for the equivalent of $1000. The customer visits a brothel that is decked out as a 'home' fantasy, including a beautiful 'wife' who cooks him a meal, has sex with him, watches the television programmes he wants to watch, and listens to him describe his day at work. Hmm.

This is slightly older news, but I kind of like it. The Los Angeles Times describes a Westminster home where a group of five to eight male trick-or-treaters turned out to be robbers. They tied up the family and trawled the home for loot. They did take breaks, however, to answer the door and give candy to trick-or-treaters, according to police lieutanant Bill Lewis.

Remember, kids: don't hit people with your false leg or it might be taken away from you. Derrick Echols may have forgotten this when he attacked fellow inmate Rick Grant. Peoria, Illinois, county sheriff Chuck Schofield said Echols's leg fell off during the two men's struggle, which is when he got the idea to use it as a weapon. His office is treating it as a weapon - the same as a homemade knife - because that's how it was used.

In Ravenna, Ohio, Michelle Zonko Bica, 39, kidnapped Theresa Andrews after she pretended to be interested in the Jeep the Andrewses were selling. Bica took the nine-months-pregnant woman to her home, where she killed her and performed a simple Caesarian section. She then buried the woman's body in the dirt floor of her garage and placed gravel over the evidence there. Bica then claimed the baby to be hers.
For nine months Bica had fooled neighbours and, apparently, her own husband Thomas. They had thought she was pregnant so accepted newborn 'Michael Thomas Bica' with little difficulty. She explained to her husband that she went into labour shortly after he left in the early morning for work. She said she was discharged early from hospital because of a tuberculosis scare.
A month earlier the Bicas met the Andrews family in the local Wal-Mart's baby department, where they discussed their due dates and their homes' proximity. Shortly thereafter, Bica started telling people she was due near the due date mentioned by Andrews. She encouraged relatives to feel the baby kick and showed them ultrasound pictures.
When police came to the Bica home a few days later, hoping to find out about a telephone call made to Andrews shortly before the woman's disappearance, they heard Thomas Bica screaming his wife's name. She had shot herself with the gun she had used on Andrews.

7 January 2001

I suppose most of you know by now of the unwilling sacrificial sheep who butted Egyptian owner Waheeb Hamoudah off a three-storey building. Well, there is more animal fun to be found in a village in Assam, India, where a man fled from wild elephants, only to be pulled from his arboreal hiding place by one of the animals. Reuters quote a forest ranger who said that the pachyderm 'must have got even more irritated as the villagers were trying to free the man', who suffered a broken leg. After trampling the unlucky man, the elephant continued carrying the corpse around, according to police.

[IMG: Grammatical chaos] Washington, DC, public schools paid the Metro $41,000 to display an anti-truancy message aimed at Washington's children. No-one caught the errors in the message until the foot-high letters adorned more than 75 buses. City council member Sharon Ambrose said: 'The message is, unfortunately, probably going to be that someone in DC public schools doesn't know how to write.' The message, shown here, is a great reminder of what school-leavers are missing. Superintendent Paul L. Vance told The Washington Post that this 'reinforces the perception that we're less than competent'.

Darla Prestwich of Albany, Oregon, has been indicted for mail fraud after she sold various nonexistent items on eBay. The 36-year-old mobile home dweller sometimes didn't deliver items, and other times she sent ones that didn't match the description she had given, according to federal prosecutors. She was caught when trying to sell a rare coin that had garnered bids of up to $230,000.
The auction service notified the Secret Service after the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) alerted bidders that the coin's PCGS seal was a fake. Prestwich allegedly replied to a PCGS e-mail message by asking 'WHO IN THE HELL MADE YOU GOD?', adding 'I don't know how you sleep at night, telling everybody on eBay before you tell me'. She 'was only offering an item for sell', she said. A coin service representative replied: 'We are not claiming to be God. We are, however, the company whose product is being misrepresented.' The bogus seal was an alteration of one created for a coin worth about $45.

This may not be surprising, but it could have interesting results. A team from Machida, Tokyo, have produced the first laboratory-grown sperm, which would help infertile men propagate themselves (and perhaps their infertility). The team claim they will soon be able to program male cells to produce eggs. This would allow gay men to be biological parents together.
The world of inventions brings us a Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands) team who triumphantly announced a solution to the problem of serving draft beer at zero gravity, making it much easier to mix the carbon dioxide with the liquid. There is a minor bug: the beer comes out in balls, approximately the size of a table-tennis ball.

Inmates who kill themselves aren't doing anything unusual. However, Dennis Larson may be a little different. His background involved pushing his first wife into a Montana stream and knocking his third wife off a cliff at Acadia National Park a few weeks after he had married her. He too took a leap. He leapt through the third-storey craft room window. His mouth was covered by duct tape, which had 'Geronimo' written on it. He had a clothespin on his nose, probably to stop that whistling sound as he fell. As far as dignity goes, his trousers had caught something, perhaps a rock, and were found around his knees. Warden Jeffrey Merrill said: 'All indicators are that it was suicide.'
Larson recently admitted to killing his first wife, Leslee, in 1975. He had originally claimed that he jumped into the water to save her, though the first officer on the scene had noted that his clothes were dry. In the more recent wife killing, Larson had taken out a life insurance policy on Kathy and himself the day after they married.

NBC reported on Tom Greene, who has 30 children and five wives. Greene supports them from tax dollars and from selling magazine subscriptions. He claimed to have thought polygamy legal in Utah, but even the Mormons outlawed it some time ago. He married most of the women when they were under 15 years of age. Greene claimed his actions didn't have to do with sex.

On Friday, 18-year-old Austin Roberson forgot to wash his hands, according to an AP report. In Van Buren, Arkansas, someone used blue spray paint to write threatening messages on a residence and a McDonald's. When Roberson's vehicle was stopped because it matched the vandalism witnesses' descriptions, he denied knowing anything of the incident. However, he didn't bank on police noticing his blue hands or the blue fingerprints on the bill of his cap. Searching the car, police found a can from blue paint, a stolen stop sign, and bottles of booze.

The world of dumb criminals has a new member. Columbus, Ohio, police arrested Reginald Chineme Ogbuehi for robbing a bank. After the morning armed robbery, the man hid his loot in a drugstore toilet after police began closing in. Employees saw a man enter the loo and leave with different clothes on, minus the bag. They assumed he was a shoplifter. They questioned Ogbuehi and released him. After he left, they reported to police the clothes, cash, and a toy gun in a bag they found in an overflowing toilet tank. Meanwhile, Ogbuehi was ringing the drugstore to say 'I was just in there and left my bag in the restroom. Can I come back in and get it?'. The manager told him he could.

When 39-year-old Indle King, Jr, strangled Anastasia, his 20-year-old mail-order bride from Kyrgyz, the Everett, Washington, man was not too clever. It seems he thought that he could conceal the woman's identity by removing the woman's clothing and cutting off her long, blond ponytail. He buried her in a shallow grave. By the way, will I ever read a story that says 'he buried her body in a deep grave'?

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, six armed bandits hijacked a medical lab worker's car while he was traveling to the airport from the state of Rondonia. The worker's mission was to ship blood samples for testing, but the samples never made it to their destination; two of the car thieves drank them, thinking they were small containers of yoghurt drink. A spokesman for Rondonia's security secretariat told Reuters, 'The blood samples came from AIDS patients.'
The thieves had stopped for a few drinks at a bar before choosing to imbibe the blood, and they 'told reporters here that they were drunk and confused and didn't know what they were doing', said the spokesman.

This sounds like a winning scenario for a getaway. A Washington man, Murial McDowell, tried to evade police and ended up rolling his car, a Kia (cheap cars often described as lemons). His five-months-pregnant wife Suzie McEowell, daughter, and fetus died. Four other children, ranging in age from two to eight, were thrown from the car and are in hospital.
In another encounter with traffic, San Francisco Catholic senior Brian Cotter met his match in a Municipal Railway streetcar. One witness told police that the 18-year-old high-school student, who aspired to be a lwayer, 'ran past us into the street and started playing chicken... and he got caught'. Cotter flew metres into the air as witnesses looked on. His girlfriend, who was retrieving her mobile phone when she heard 'a horrible crunch', said it wasn't like Cotter to play chicken, echoing his father's sentiments that this 'was not in his character [...] he was not above horseplay, but he was kind of a serious kid'.

[IMG: Snow sculpture] The city of Columbia, Connecticut, received a complaint about a snow sculpture on Commerce Drive. A staff member at the Windham Early Childhood Center said: 'It was so perfect. It was like artwork. It was so real.' Preschool director Mary Jane Crotty went to investigate the reported phallic object, saying she would kick it over and end the problem. When she arrived, she found an ice-hardened snow penis that was taller than she was. The sculpture was on a vacant lot next to businesses that had been closed over the holidays.
Crotty's complaint resulted in state trooper Shane Hassett being dispatched. Another trooper came to the scene and used his hands and feet to eventually knock down the 'public nuisance' so 'the young eyes of the school would not view it' on their way home.

Reuters reports on other games. The game was played in a laundromat in Tenby, Wales, where children, 10 years old and up, took turns paying 20 pence for a chance to test who could remain in a running tumble dryer the longest. The laundry's owner, Stuart Fecci, later explained that the gas-fired dryer raised his suspicion after eight expensive nylon cogs needed replacement within a span of two weeks. These cogs, which usually last years, respond unfavourably to a dryer being overloaded. Once the children were caught on a security camera, the laundromat's hours were restricted. Fecci explains that this is because 'the potential risk to life is just not worth thinking about'. The children were not convinced to upgrade to Russian roulette.

In case that isn't fun enough, the Los Angeles Times reports on another game. Following the example set by the WWF and other professional organisations, these boys have used such weapons as steel folding chairs and baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire. Backyard wrestling federations have cropped up all over the country over the last two years or so. These games teach creativity with such tools as fire and thumbtacks. A popular tactic is to fling mousetraps at one's opponent. Videotapes of particularly interesting matches are traded online.
Chris Jackson, 19, said: 'Yeah, sure, we're getting hit in the head with chairs and getting cut and everything and bleeding, but, you know, we walk away.' Veronika Vester, the 17-year-old girlfriend of backyard wrestler 'Kidd Krayz', stated that supporting her boyfriend is enough, although she has swatted people with the barbed-wire bat and did 'cheese grate' another girl's forehead.
Most of the wrestling is unsupervised. An exception is the tyre-, plywood-, and carpet-padding-filled back yard of mother Pam Adams. She gets into her role as 'Pam Powers', with blue makeup around her eyes and boots covering more of her legs than her shirt dress does. She figures that supervised wrestling is better than unsupervised drug use. While using her sink sprayer to clean the head wounds of Matt Heersink, 16, Adams pointed out that 'none of these kids are made to do anything that they don't want to do'.
The towel-turbaned Heersink described this as 'a great reaction from the crowd'. His younger brother's priorities were different: 'You better hide that from Mom.'
Professional wrestling organisers know the choreographed nature of their programmes is often lost on teenagers, and they have added more 'these are professionals' reminders. WWF spokesman Jayson Bernstein said: 'If you wanna go down the path of becoming a WWF superstar, there's a lot that goes into it first. One is being a responsible person - and jumping off your roof into a ring is not being responsible.'

In the wake of recession in Taiwan, men are jumping on the sex-change bandwagon as a way to ease their financial hardship. An association that provides care and information for men with 'gender identity problems' reported that the quantity of such men, now at three per cent, is rising, with most people going to Thailand for cheap sex-change operations (200,000 New Taiwan dollars, about US$10,000). Some such men end up being prostitutes, but most wish to become female entertainers or 'guest-relation officers'. Only a few of these men have found happiness, the association reported in an attempt to discourage more financially motivated sex changes.

Hong Kong sales manager Lui Siu-chung sued McDonald's after he supposedly found a small piece of paper in his hash browns and didn't get the response he wanted from the store manager. He also wanted a pathologist's report on a sore throat he claimed to have received as a result of the incident. This story ends with Magistrate Siu Lai-chow saying it was 'not sensible to bring the matter to court' and ordering Lui to pay $30,000 to McDonald's.

Reuters reports on Vincent Bethell's campaign to legalise public nudity. Rather than support 'sexual' nakedness or naturism, which he sees as segregating nakedness from everyday life, he promotes the 'Freedom to be Yourself'. The Coventry man has been flouting anti-public-nudity laws for over two years, adding his naked body to the vista at Covent Garden, Euston Station, and Picadilly Circus. Since August 2000, when he declared he would don clothes only after nudity becomes legal, Bethell has been held in Brixton prison, naked. In November he appeared, naked, in a Southwark courtroom, and he now appears there again to stand trial.
He says on his Web site, 'I have lots of faults and I am ugly (I am very unhappy). My realization of this is so profound that I cannot restrain myself in trying to become truer to myself, truer to humanity-love-beauty: life.'

Olusegun Mayaki is pastor of the Rock of Ages Gospel Church in Ondo, Nigeria. Tawa Ahmed is a 30-year-old woman who followed his suggestion to tell the other parishioners that she had been pregnant for five years and finally given birth to a tortoise, which she took with her to the service. Nayaki defended her from a reporter, claiming she was 'tired', reports the AFP.

Swissair air stewardesses are now allowed to defend themselves against annoying passengers. If they are sexually harrassed, they may slap the pest in question. Other unruliness may merit tying passengers up in their seats. Planes are now being equipped with plastic handcuffs for such incidents. 'We do not recommend it, but we accept it if our staff reacts when assaulted and will defend our staff in court', said airline spokesman Erwin Schaerer, who cited alcohol consumption as the cause of one third of aggression incidents and and the ban on smoking as the cause of another third.

In another item from Brazil, a rapist in Sao Paolo cut off his penis with a razor in order to become closer to God. Reuters reports that Flavio dos Santos Cruz flushed the organ down the toilet in his cell before guards arrived in response to the 23-year-old's screams. He will now have to urinate through a tube, said Aerton Barbosa Neves, the urologist who operated on him.
Santos Cruz explained to the Agencia Estado wire service, 'It is written in Bible that if a part of your body distances you from God, and makes you commit a sin, you should cut it off'.

Ariana Swinson died in her parents' Michigan flat almost five months after child welfare officials determined that they no longer needed to supervise the care of the girl and her three siblings. Parents Linda Paling and Ed Swinson insist that a nearby bottle of Five Star whiskey had nothing to do with the death. Instead, they described hearing noises from the bedroom where the three oldest children were playing. He told police that he then stood the lightly crying girl up and she 'threw her hands up into the air and let out a terrible screm and started to collapse', hitting her head on the floor. He ran to a pay phone across the street and rang emergency services (when deputies asked, Ed wasn't sure how to spell his daughter's name). The eight-months-pregnant Linda said she was in the bathroom at the time and heard her boyfriend ask 'What's going on?' before asking for her help. She said she did her best as a trained nurse's aid.
One of the living children told a similar story, saying that he jerked backward too hard whilst playing 'choo-choo train', causing her to hit her head on the lightly carpeted concrete floor. Sergeant Richard DeShon said the boy's 'statements weren't very consistent and it did appear to be somewhat rehearsed'.
Nobody tried to explain Ariana's blackened, scaled feet; puncture wounds to the head; dehydration; and weight of 12 kilograms. Emergency room physician Geoffrey Mills said: 'You could pretty much see the entire skeleton structure, which I rarely have ever seen in a child of that age.' Police found half the girl's blood under her mattress and a bloody t-shirt. Cause of death was listed as repetitive abuse with head and brain injury as well as drowning. Linda, when asked to describe the cause of each wound, blamed the older children for playing roughly, but she added that she may sometimes have picked Ariana up roughly. She later admitted that she had on occasion hit the girl; for instance, a few days earlier she bruised Ariana's face when trying to hit her mouth as punishment for swearing. Ed's comment, after further questioning, was, 'Well, take me in'.
Four months earlier, the parents had been told that although two rooms were not enough for so many people, they had made commendable progress on learning to become better parents.

11 January 2001

In Victoria, British Columbia, Mounties are investigating the death of RCMP drug awareness officer Barry Schneider. Although an initial post-mortem found that Schneider had coronary disease, blood samples revealed that he most likely died of a heroin overdose. Traces of cocaine were also found in his blood. The constable toured area schools to warn children that illegal drugs can be dangerous.

[IMG: National Machete Association photo, from The Onion] In Castries, St Lucia, two men entered a Roman Catholic church during Mass, set some in the congregation on fire and hacked at others with their machetes, killing a nun and injuring several others.
Kim John and Francis Phillip described themselves as Rastafarians who were sent by God to combat corruption in the Church. When the men entered the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, one of the men doused people in the Communion line with a liquid witnesses thought to be petrol before the other man employed a blowtorch.
The priest who runs the basilica described things slightly differently, saying that the intruders hit people with pieces of wood rather than machetes. He said Sister Theresa Egan was hit with a piece of wood while giving Communion, but others described her as having been hacked with a machets. The men went to the altar, which they lit alongside St Lucian priest Rev. Charles Gaillard.
The congregation held John until police arrived, and Phillip was found later, hiding in bushes in a nearby suburb.

Videl Herrera, who owns '1-800-Autopsy', has upset some people in Tujunga, California. It wasn't a problem when he responded to the trend of hospitals contracting out autopsies, but when he decided to abandon his 'lab on wheels' in favour of an autopsy shop. This isn't just about other shop-owners' concern about corpses being trundled through a front door near them (the shop has no back door). Merchant Charlotte Lee stated: 'He went in for a big toe tag for the outside of his building. All I know is that's not appropriate.'
After Herrera had made extensive changes, including installing the three separate drains his shop needs and installing toilets for the disabled, angry business-owners protested to city leaders. The city, which had given support at every stage of the project, has now buried the storefront lab on grounds that it conflicts with the spirit of a recent 'revitalization plan'.

The Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Argus Leader tells of inmates feeding faeces to other inmates. Developmentally disabled inmates at the sheltered centre in Redfield were given coffee by 'nonviolent' prison inmates who live in minimum-security housing at the centre as part of their work in maintenance, laundry, and food service (work that saved the state about $350,000 in 1998). At least one of the patients, whose problems range from cerebral palsy to autism, became ill as a result of the ingestion, which state attorney general Mark Barnett called 'terribly gross and offensive'. There are several potential suspects who could face 'sliming' charges.
Barnett said: 'We have recovered the offending material.' Yum.
The incident follows a September 'drugs and sex party' held at the governor's mansion by two female prisoners on work detail there. State Senator Gary Moore, a member of the state Corrections Commission, said the committee were told sex offenders would be omitted from the programme, but 'I've been told by both inmates and staff that we do indeed have sex offenders working at those facilities'.
Consortium of Developmental Disabilities Councils government relations director Ed Burke wrote: 'Basically, you have two very needy groups, and it never works to mix these groups together. If it's OK to have prisoners working with the developmentally disabled, why not have them work in day-care centers?'

A Fort Pierce, Florida woman appears to have forced her 16-year-old daughter to check in to an abortion clinic, telling a nurse the daughter would die if the fetus were not aborted.
The girl, filling out a form at the clinic, wrote that her mother was forcing her to have an abortion. Workers told her she didn't have to comply with this.
When police were called in, they found a gun in mother Glenda Dowis's car. Because her daughter refused to testify, prosecutors accepted a plea. Part of the agreement is that the woman not possess a firearm in the next five years. Contact with her daughter is to be limited to approved visits.

That happens all the time, you say. How about this? Amber Turner testified that her ex-boyfriend Rae Carruth told her that he would send an assassin if she didn't get an abortion. Turner's mother Barbara spoke in court of the 'power' exuded by Carruth, speaking of him in glowing terms. She also told Carruth 'I love you' from the witness stand.

The hair of Hungarian pop star Jimmy 'the King' Zambo, was stolen from the hospital where the star died after accidentally shooting himself. He had fired his 9 mm Beretta out the window of his Budapest home but 'failed to realise a bullet was still in the chamber' when he pulled the trigger again. Fans have said they would pay a lot of money for Zambo's hair, which was shaved off prior to brain surgery, so keep an eye on eBay.

And, finally, Ukrainian candy company AO Odessa offers the best of both worlds: chocolate-covered pork fat. The sweets, called 'Fat in Chocolate', make reference to salo, salted pork fat that is traditionally eaten with pickles or other sour foods. A company spokesman felt the need to add that the sweets are intended less as a food and more as a self-deprecating joke for Ukrainians. According to AP reports, the foil-wrapped bars, which show a Ukrainian Cossack eating a piece of fat, were selling briskly in Kiev on Tuesday.

14 January 2001

Barry Darrell Freeman saw a police car's flashing lights and left the abandoned house where he was about to rape a woman. After eight years in prison, he tried rape again. The 20-year-old woman, when ordered to undress, said 'You're going to rape me, so you take off your clothes'. Freeman complied. The woman, realising he has no weapons on his naked body, fled. The Pennsylvania not-quite-rapist muttered something about not being able to trust women, according to Assistant District Attorney Vernon Chestnut. Freeman, who was recognised by the not-quite-victim on the subway four days later, was recently convicted.

In Kenora, Ontario, Canada, Julie Sherlock was found guilty of slicing her husband's scrotum open with a diamond ring after an evening at the pub. The victim said he went to sleep and later felt a sharp pain when he groggily woke up to use the toilet. He testified, 'I was groggy and didn't know what happened' but he did dispute the defence's claim that the 7–10 cm gash was accidentally inflicted when his wife tried to help him after he fell on the floor: 'Why would she have picked me up by the testicles?' The man, who required eight stitches, said the incident made him realise that his relationship with the 57-year-old woman was not working.

Convenience stores usually feature in the news only when someone wants some quick cash. The perfect example is this couple who wanted money for cinema tickets: Allen Powell, 18, wearing a Scream mask, performed the robbery, and his 17-year-old wife Jessica drove the getaway car. The Arkansas couple were arrested 32 minutes later.
But this pattern doesn't always hold. A convict escaped from a work detail in north-western Oklahoma, stealing a Correction Department van. When he reached Garden City, Kansas, the man, 38-year-old Romanld Thomas, realised that he was lost, so he stopped at a convenience store and called police, to ask to be returned to prison.

Katica Crippen is in trouble. The Denver woman didn't think think anyone important would notice her appearance on pornographic Web sites, where the convicted felon posed with firearms. Among the terms of her parole were that she not possess weapons and that she wear an electronic ankle bracelet (shown on some of the sites). The photos were posted when she was living with her boyfriend. On searching the house, three rifles and seven handguns were found.

A Lexington Park, Washington, man testified yesterday that he was trying to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the 20-month-old son of his then-room-mate when the toddler died. Daniel Harold Fowkes, 39, said Collin Gabriel Horridge vomited and passed out, leading him to try breathing into the boy's lungs. Then 'I pressed on him. I squeezed. I did what I thought was CPR. I stepped on him until I heard the air come out of him [...]. I wanted Collin to breathe'. The 84-kilo Fowkes admitted that, 'scared that I had hurt Collin', he changed shoes after giving the boy to rescue personnel. Defence attorney David Densford said Horridge died because his mother abused him while using marijuana, alcohol, and antidepressants, and that 'that footprint did not kill that child'.

According to Bloomberg News, MicroSoft is collaborating with La-Z-Boy to make an 'e-cliner' for couch potatoes. The armchair comes with a fold-out 'tray table'-style keyboard that sends infrared signals to the user's WebTV receiver. The left arm also contains a surge-protected 120-volt outlet and ports for high-speed and standard Internet access lines. The right arm has a drink holder and space that La-Z-Boy envisions as perfect for a remote control and an issue of TV Guide. The chair will cost $1,049, or $250 more in vinyl.

18 January 2001

A Malakwa, British Columbia, crack user is suing his dealers for selling him crack. In the suit, Jay Donald Martin claims that Dennis and Lois Dober should not have let him become dependent on crack cocaine. His dealers of 11 years violated the 'duty of care' they owed him, he claimed. Martin wrote, 'The defendants knew their activities were illegal and that very serious harm could come from their selling of cocaine to the plaintiff [...] [who] could not exercise free will in regard to his cocaine-consumption choices'. Martin claimed it was the dealers' fault that he could no longer support his partner, Shelly Tessier, or their children, or his car, or his son from a previous marriage, or his human dignity. The Dobers, who were arrested almost two years ago, were released and paid for giving authorities information on a suspected marijuana grower.
The Canadian Bar Association's Kieran Bridge asked: 'If people are suing cigarette manufacturers, why not sue drug pushers?'

A teenage mother put her newborn in a garbage can in Minneapolis last winter. She is now regaining custody of the girl. A judge ruled that the girl, now age 16, has had an appropriate and loving relationship with her daughter since her birth and has done nothing to indicate that the child's well-being is in jeopardy. After all, a social worker saw her kiss and hold the baby during visits.
The girl had testified that she gave birth at home without realising she had been pregnant. She said she thought the baby died when falling from her mother's arms. It was only then, she said, that she placed the towel-wrapped baby in a neighbour's rubbish bin. The girl's family found the baby later.
Experts testified that the girl had a 'temporary dissassociative [sic] episode' at the time of the birth.

By contrast, the son of Tony Lamont Bragg, Sr, did not survive inattention. As the Tampa, Florida, father tried to continue playing the role-playing computer game Everquest, he squeezed the boy to quiet him. He returned to the game. Later he squeezed the child into a utility closet, where the child cried, off and on, for a day or so before dying.
Bragg's ex-wife Brandy L. Rozier had left the boy and his step-brother with Bragg when her home lost electricity. (The woman's other two children are in state custody.) When he was supposed to deliver the boy to a relative's home, Bragg found his son by his playpen in the closet. His heart had been punctured and he had bled to death. The child had also been malnourished.

Daniel F. Everett, 38, claims he merely wanted to play a joke on his girlfriend. In most US cities, there are several places one can make photocopies; howver, the clean-cut mechanic chose the photocopier in the St. Louis, Missouri, county courthouse. As several witneses looked on, police security stopped him as he was making the third photocopy of his buttocks. Everett repeated 'What did I do?' and, after he was handcuffed, offered a resigned 'Well, I guess you're going to arrest me', according to witnesses. Police siezed the two photocopies, valued at 10 cents each and described by police chief Richard T. Morris as 'a big black blob' except for the label on Everett's trousers.

Brian Boone of Virden, Illinois, is known for collecting girls' socks, the dirtier the better. He became known as 'Sock Man' after offering various young women $100 for their used socks. He also has a 'thing' for girls' chewing gum, getting in trouble for allegedly asking two girls, ages 17 and 13, to spit their gum into a cup. Boone was sentenced for trying to get three girls to take a ride in his pickup truck after he saved their gum for ostensibly fixing a flat tyre. He has recently been sentenced for violating the terms of his probation. He has not yet sought counselling for his gum fetish.

Edwin Sandoval of Manchester, Connecticut, is also in trouble for his sexual antics. Five days after his girlfriend told him she was pregnant, the 35-year-old man put an ulcer medicine in her vagina in an attempt to cause vaginal contractions with misoprostol and induce an abortion. The woman, who consulted a doctor when she began bleeding, has now delivered a baby, and Sandoval faces up to 95 years in prison, where he won't have to care for a baby.

When London's Anna Climbie, 8, died of starvation and hypothermia, she had 128 bruises. Her French great-aunt Marie Therese Kouao and Kouao's boyfriend Carl Manning (a London bus driver), were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Manning admitted to responsibility for only about 'a third' of the girl's injuries, including a head wound from a bicycle chain. He did point out that Climbie 'could take the beatings and pain like anything', without crying at all.
The girl, deemed a nuisance by the couple, was sometimes left tied in the bath for 24 hours or so. The fun part is that Kouao insisted that the girl's problems were caused by witchcraft. She took Climbie to various churches, asking pastors to pray that the child be freed of demons.

Uttar Pradesh police arrested a man for eating human corpses that weren't completely burned at a cremation ground in Bijnore. The man was implicated when another man, Tota Ram, told his family that he was part of a group of corpse eaters. He was explaining to relatives why he did not want to be cremated at that particular site. The man admitted that he and his companions would drag remains from pyres that hadn't contained enough wood.

Two men sent themselves through a sliding glass door after they were denied group sex. Two couples returned to a Lawrence, Kansas, flat at about 3am, whereupon the two women 'became friendly with each other', in the words of police sergeant Mike Pattrick. The men asked to join in in, but they were told to leave. Naturally, the men began to fight in the living room. At this point, one of the women left the bedroom to break up the fight with a knife. One of the men, whose names have not been released, was treated at hospital.

In Pontiac, Michigan, school officials suspended a third-grade boy for bringing to school a 2.5-centimetre gun-shaped charm for a charm bracelet. The item, which the boy found in a snow bank, has no hole where the barrel would be but, according to Donna Poag, the school district's director of primary education, it could frighten someone who didn't get a good look at it. Poag said: 'The little boy feels very bad. He was very honest about it.'
State law requires that primary-school students who bring weapons to school must be suspended for 60 days. The boy didn't threaten anyone with the item. Some parents, hearing of the incident, kept their children home from school until knowing more.
Police sergeant Terry Healy said: 'I think it's basically a toy.'

In the throes of a 3am argument, Iowan Michael Hepner and his girlfriend left the disco on their Carnival cruise in order to be alone. An hour from docking in Florida, they went to the 10th-deck promenade, where Hepner climbed over the railing, possibly to scare his 20-year-old girlfriend. Losing his grip and saying, 'I can't hold on', he hit the water, where he was found surrounded by four floating life rings.

What's in a logger? California's Dona Nieto, known for her environmental activism, has appeared topless at various logging sites in a demonstration called 'Striptease for the Trees'. Giant redwood trees and loggers looked on during the recitation of 'nudist guerrilla poetry'. Some loggers simply appeared embarrassed while others recited Bible verses in self-defence.

'When I'm rich I will...' There are many ways to complete this sentence, and many of them are silly. Yet I feel I ought to report on Tom and Cindy Sanocki's answer. The Palm Heights, Chicago, couple, whose licence plates read 'T ELVIS', are building their own Graceland, complete with white marble lions, a fire hydrant painted in the image of RCA dog Nipper, and everything else. The building is set to begin on the anniversary of Elvis's birth and end on the anniversary of his death. Cindy's aunt felt the need to point out that the digits in the couple's wedding date add up to 2001, which is Elvis's theme song too.
After pulling strings, Tom had proposed marriage to Cindy at Graceland, yet he points out that 'we are not Elvis freaks'. Cindy added, 'We're normal people with a hobby'. It's just that Cindy's father happened to win $64 million in the lottery and agreed to buy new homes for his four children and two of his wife's sisters, as well as giving to charity and helping renovate a Lithuanian church that was damaged in World War II. The houses will all be building their homes in the same area.

21 January 2001

William Henry Faulkner (apparently referred to elsewhere in news reports as Michael Anthony Faulkner) decided to rob a Linden, South Carolina, Kwik Shop. At 5:30am, he smashed through the front doors with a Bobcat loader machine. After manager Samantha Odom alerted police to the theft of beer, cigarettes, and cigarette lighters, her husband noticed the forklift's tracks and followed them to Dig It Backhoe company, where a Bobcat's bucket still contained pieces of the shop's steel door frame.
When deputy Deric Reed arrived at the backhoe company, he asked found Faulkner and asked him who owned the machine. Witnesses then watched as, in Odom's words, 'The guy gets back in the Bobcat and drives it back [to the shop]. He was so drunk he about fell out of it when he was getting out and he pointed at the floor and said, "Where's your doors at?".' After buying a bag of crisps, he left the shop and was booked by Reed when he attempted to restart the Bobcat.

After Garry Dwyer saw girlfriend Donna Dempster wearing another man's pyjamas, he slit his throat and wrote in blood on the walls of his home, bequeathing his car to his eldest son. He then went to hospital to have his gash sewn up. On the way there, the 48-year-old ran a red light and crashed into a middle-aged couple's car. The couple died. Dempster told the Melbourne, Australia, court, 'He loved that car as much as he loved me'.

LaDonna Jo Tucker cared for children at the recently licensed Pygie Wuggie's daycare in Indianapolis. Her care included molesting most of the 11 children in her care, who ranged in age from four months to two years. To raise money for a trip to Chicago, Tucker asked her new boyfriend, Melvin Riding, to give her $200 for letting him watch and having the children perform sex acts on him. Riding notified police of the 40-year-old mother of four's activities and participated in a sting operation. The arresting officer's disguise as a delivery man was intended not to upset the children further.

The Miami Herald reports on the case in which Lionel Tate, 13, is charged with murdering six-year-old playmate Tiffany Eunick. The defence argued that Tate didn't mean to kill the girl when he bear hugged her and dropped her on a table in imitation of professional wrestling moves he had seen on television. As three-foot-high enlargements of autopsy photos were shown to the jury, Tate wrote a birthday wish list.

An AP report describes investigation of a Hamilton County, Ohio, mortuary where a photographer took pictures of corpses posed with sheet music and other props. A girl's corpse's hand rests on Alice in Wonderland in some of the pictures. Photographer Thomas Condon, whose home and studio were searched in an attempt to prepare for possible corpse abuse charges, has a portfolio that includes paintings with animal blood. County Coroner Dr Carl Parrott, Jr, reported that Condon had been given access to the morgue because he was making a documentary video.

Also in the US, a Woodstock, Georgia, couple went to the bank to close their cheque account after their car and cheque book were stolen. When they noticed their car in the bank's drive-through lane, they alerted police, who chased and caught Roderick C. Chatman and Juli Marie Levinge. But a sheriff's spokesman said that 'he was doomed from the start', for Chatman left his driver's licence with the teller. Also, the forged cheque the couple were trying to cash was made out in Chatman's name.

In Tampa, Florida, Jill Kalish, 25, was trying to reach her family's housekeeper when she accidentally dialled Luella Chester, a 92-year-old woman who was having a heart attack at the time. When Chester said 'Lord have mercy. I'm so sick. I need help', Kalish asked whether this was her housekeeper. When Chester screamed 'No!', Kalish hung up. Later the young woman became worried and asked the housekeeper what to do. The two kept trying to dial the wrong number until Chester weakly answered and provided her address. Kalish then summoned emergency services. After being admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of congestive heart failure (the Alka-Seltzer her 73-year-old nephew had purchased for her didn't help), Chester didn't remember the phone calls. She is now to be placed in a nursing home.

According to the Associated Press, truck driver Ernie Myers stole a truck and crashed it when being chased in Pennsylvania. Allegedly, Myers was aware, when he stole the truck, that it contained toilet paper. Perhaps he planned to do as he had with the last toilet-paper-filled truck he stole. After the earlier theft, he was seen trying to sell the goods on the street. Myers was taken into custody in a nearby wooded area.

27 January 2001

[IMG: Backyard wrestling, flaming card table style] Andrew Tausch decided to jump from the roof of his front porch onto a burning card table. The 16-year-old's father Douglas Harrington allegedly watched this imitation of a professional wrestling stunt. Twenty per cent of the boy's surface area was burned. The Tuscarawas County prosecutor's office said Harrington is being charged with child endangerment. The incident was videotaped by one of the teenaged spectators.

Think of the headlines. Thirteen people in Mankokotak, Alaska, were airlifted to hospital after eating fermented beaver feet and tails and noticing that they had blurry vision, trouble swallowing and beathing, and weak muscles. It turns out that the beaver was contaminated with botulism, apparently from the plastic containers that were used in the more modern version of the Yupik fermentation tradition (the older approach involves digging a non-airtight hole in the ground). Three patients - Lillie Pauk, Nancy Sharp, and Carl Gamechuck - were airlifted again, to Anchorage, for further treatment.

In the Ngong suburb of Nairobi, six children, aged two to 11, were found to have been malnourished for four weeks 'on God's orders', according to Reuters. All six suffered from skin infections and hair loss when police responded to a tip-off from neighbours. The children's father, Peter Kamau Mwangi, had quit his job as a university lecturer when he became a born-again Christian who wanted to spend his days praying with his family. Mwangi said God told him at Christmastime to fast with his family until he was told differently. The family apparently consumed only water during their fast. Mwangi and his wife Hannah were arrested and the children taken into custody.

Wolfgang Kaiser said he would burn down his house rather than have the state tax it on his death. He and his wife moved to Concord, New Hampshire, five years ago. After they built their retirement home together, they realised that the state's 18 per cent inheritance tax applies to them because they have no children and would be passing the house on to siblings or friends. (The law has also bitten family businesses owned by siblings, where the survivor liquidates the business in order to pay the inheritance tax.)

A 30-year-old Detroit woman (name not released until her relatives can be contacted) died after being stabbed by the man whose evil spirits she had claimed to exorcise. Services she had rendered included taking hair strands from the mentally ill man's mother and brushing them around his head. After collecting $100 from the man's father at a family reunion (the family claimed not to realise they would be charged at all for the exorcism), the woman went to collect $1000 more from the man's father.
The 22-year-old exorcisee, in the living room when the woman arrived, chased her with a butcher knife, the father said. He claims to have restrained his son until the woman left the house. However, she returned to he house to 'retrieve something', according to Detroit police officer Kevin Jones.

Kathy Ross is assistant manager of a Delaware County, Ohio, branch of National City Bank. When Harold P. Berry read his note to her: 'Give me all your money. I have a gun', she had to explain that the branch is a loan application office, where no cash is kept. Bank employee Tom Louters said the former Dublin policeman 'obviously didn't do his research' and wouldn't easily take 'no' for an answer. Louters said the man became more nervous as 'Kathy opened all the drawers to show him we didn't have any money'. The man ran away when Ross did offer, 'We hav a dollar left over from lunch'. Berry's minivan, described by bank employees, was stopped 40 minutes later.

If we are to believe reports from Moscow, a 10-year-old boy was killed at Penza zoo when he was strangled when a cord on his jacket became caught on a tiger's cage, onto which he had climbed. A zoo spokeswoman said there are few visitors on winter weekdays, but investigators concluded that the boy, who had removed one of the locks from the cage, was probably throwing things into the tiger's cage and tried to run away quickly when his jacket cord stopped him.

This AP story is better, and it has names attached to it. Ricardo Jose Davila and wife Josefa were sentenced this week for torturing their 12-year-old son. The boy's illness was causing him to vomit frequently, so his parents taped a bucket to his head before blindfolding him and locking him in the bathroom for a week. The parents, who run an ice cream truck business, admitted to the court that they forced the boy to eat his own vomit and dropped a sledgehammer on his feet. Ricardo, who begged for his children's forgiveness, has been given a few life sentences, and Josefa, who said 'I wanted to make him a good man to God and to society. Who has not made mistakes?', was given 89 years. The boy wrote, 'They wanted to correct my life and my mistakes'. The children have been sent back to their grandparents in Nicaragua.

An Upland, California, man knew how to resolve an argument with his girlfriend. The 34-year-old became upset during a conference between himself, a Catholic priest, and his girlfriend. The man left the church, stripped to his underpants, and began to vandalise cars with a hammer. When Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies arrived, the suspect found a Saturn with the keys in the ignition, then tried to run over a police sergeant. Spokesman Lieutenant Ray Peavy said the sergeant escaped as several deputies' shots appeared to wound 'the suspect'. The man stopped the car and slumped over the wheel, but he then 'drove towards another deputy or two, and more shots were fired to prevent him from striking any of these deputies', said Peavy. The man, whose name was not released, died.

A Texarkana, Arkansas, wrecking crew were sent to knock down a condemned house. Since the property had no condemnation signs, the city-hired crew rang the public works department to make sure they had the address correct. Johnny Mack Richardson, of Richardson Environmental and Excavation Services, said the city 'asked us if there were trees that were covering it up and we said yes. They said, "Then you're at the right place"'. Then the city realised that the correct house was on the other side of the street. Officials are working out a settlement with the homeowner, who lives in California.

The San Francisco Chronicle tells us of Terra Nova High School, where a boy's trousers caught fire during an improvisational drama skit performed in front of other drama students. The 15-year-old student's teacher, Leighton Ahpo, and fellow students extinguished the fire, but the boy did sustain second- and third-degree burns. Police speculated that the youth tried to create a special effect by dousing his shoes with a lighter fluid and setting it on fire after ordering a lighting blackout. Ahpo said the student had tried various pratfalls in the past and that 'I said to him just before he performed, don't do anything stupid, and don't do anything dangerous'. The student promised he wouldn't.
Ahpo said: 'I believe the best theater is subtle, but this generation of kids has a tendency to see things differently.'

A stripper from Jutland was told in Copenhagen that a 20,000 kr breast augmentation surgery would not be tax-deductible. The Danish tax authority claim that Lia Damén's operation was cosmetic and thus cannot be considered a professional expense. She is appealing the decision, claiming that better professional equipment could bring her higher pay, leading to more tax money for the government.

A Wayne, New Jersey, snowplow driver has been charged with aggravated assault after injuring two teenagers who had been throwing snowballs at his vehicle while he tried to clear snow from a private client's driveway. The boy and girl, both 14, retreated behind a small snow fort, so Douglas Bright backed into the yard across the street and then drove into the snow fort. The more severe injury was incurred by the 14-year-old girl, who required stitches. The 46-year-old driver stayed on the scene while the boy summoned police.

The latest item on eBay is serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's prison shaving kit, containing three razors, nail clippers, tweezers, scissors, and a pencil sharpener. The contact e-mail address belonged to a corrections officer, who gave back the kit when confronted. Hoping to gain a handsome profit, the man took the kit after Dahmer was killed in 1995 and then kept it, hoping for an appreciation in value. The item had reached $20.50 on eBay when the auction was terminated. Since the three-year statute of limitations had expired for a theft charge, the employee may be charged with possession of stolen property.
Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Clausius said: 'Typically the department does not comment on personnel matters, but I can say he's still working for us.'

The Chicago Tribune tells of a 23-month-old girl whose battered corpse was found in a rubbish bin. Unique Thomas and her other siblings had been staying with various family friends while her mother waited to give birth. Unique's mother, according to Rolling Meadows Cmdr. Dave Scanlan, 'was just off the wall because she was so upset'. The girl's body was found 15 metres from the building where she had been staying with a male friend of the mother. The police have no suspects yet, although Scalan said that 'we're not thinking this is just somebody out there grabbing kids and throwing kids in Dumpsters'. The girl's disappearance was noted by residents of the flat where the girl had been staying. People noticed that she wasn't following them around, so they contacted police. Several residents said the incident might lead them to move away.

Queenie Hollon has complained to the city about her noisy neighbour, Horace Smith. The Prattville, Alabama, man isn't loud himself, but he doesn't exactly think there is a problem with his 15 breeding goats making noise just outside her bedroom window. Last week, a city council vote to outlaw goats in the city limits fell short by one vote. The 81-year-old Smith said his goats aren't a problem, explaining: 'Right now, they are bringing babies. I got about 15 or something or another like that. They are my lawnmowers.'

The Boston Globe tells us of emergency medical technicians' discovery of the body of a 39-year-old woman, slumped in her bathtub. The state medical examiner's office told them it sounded like a suicide and to send her to the funeral home. When the funeral director went to get lunch for his father, the body bag in John Matarese Funeral Home made a noise. He heard the woman breathing and called a different team of EMTs. Town manager Dexter Blois said: 'She was in the right place at the right time. She appeared lifeless and there was more than one person who made the judgment that she was not alive'.
Police had originally responded to a noise complaint call several hours earlier, but they went away again until the property manager agreed to let them in.

An AFP report tells us of an interesting public relations ploy. Croatian president Stipe Mesic's Web site features a martial arts game wherein the visitor acts as an intruder who challenges the president to a nanbudo (a 20-year old Japanese martial art) match. Mesic has been practising nanbudo in real life. I haven't been to the URL provided ( ), so I can't attest to its level of suckiness.

Evangeline Austria is a Marine Corps corporal whose discount aeroplane ticket would soon expire, so she decided to fly back from her visit to family members in Connecticut. On the stopover on the way back to San Diego, she tried to ignore the pain she felt at the Detroit airport. After all, her baby wasn't due for another two weeks. So she boarded the next leg of her flight. Passengers were moved from her row as Austria lay down. An off-duty pilot helped with the baby. He said that 'I was about to listen to Jimmy Buffet and work on my taxes, but instead, this happened'. Apparently Austria's case was complicated, and the pilot brought the plane down at Colorado Springs. Austria commented that some people were doubtless upset about the unscheduled landing and added that 'My mom told me, "I told you not to fly"'. Airlines usually try to ensure that women don't travel by air if about to give birth.

A Lehighton, Pennsylvania, man managed to cut off his hand with a mitre saw while doing remodeling at Larry Lang's house. William Bartron, apparently trying to end his pain, shot himself in the head with a nail gun. When Lang came home in the afternoon, he found Bartron in the basement and rang emergency services. The hand, which Bartron's employer put in a sandwich bag, accompanied Bartron to hospital. At least 12 3.5-centimetre nails had penetrated Bartron's scalp.

In the 'dumb criminals' stakes, I was pointed to a Buffalo, New York, item, wherein a cab driver was being questioned in court. When the cabbie was asked who had robbed him at gunpoint, he identified the defendants and also pointed to gunman Antonio U. Jones, who was sitting in the back of the courtroom and wearing the same jacket he had worn on the night of the crime.

According to Suffolk, New York, police, Nelson Santana stole a Toyota Camry and took his picture with a camera he found inside. After the car was found stripped and abandoned a month later, the owner had the film developed. Police were unable to identify the culprit from the photograph so gave the picture to Crime Stoppers, who ask the public for assistance in solving such crimes. A Suffolk detective recognised the man as Santana, who was already serving time for another crime.

30 January 2001

A news item from Aiken, South Carolina, involves Tom Aaron Bennett's attempt at burglary. The 52-year-old allegedly entered a convenience store and left without paying for two cases of beer. He then started his truck and left the scene of the crime, as a store employee tried to chase him on foot. There was so little petrol in the truck's tank that the employee caught up with Bennett, who was arrested shortly thereafter.

A mystery from 1985 was recently solved in Natchez, Mississippi. Sheriff Tommy Ferrell said Calvin Wilson disappeared after he planned to burgle the Riverboat Gift Shop. Ferrell said the then-27-year-old probably fell head-first when climbing into the chimney, where his body was found by workers who were renovating the pre-Civil-War building. Identification was found on Wilson's remains.

Tokyo's Narita Airport was host to another ill-fated smuggling attempt. Juan Yung-chuan was stopped by customs officials, who demanded to see what was inside the 170-centimetre-tall man's rather large shoes. After 350 grams of heroin were found in his footwear, he said that 'I was only asked by a Thai man to wear the shoes at Bangkok airport, but I had no idea what was inside them'.

I may have mentioned before that South Carolina governor Jim Hodges was upset that two prison guards allowed inmates to have sex at the Governor's Mansion. Hodges, upset that his home had been defiled, fired the state prisons director and barred female prisoners from working at the mansion. Guard Freddie Priester, 49, allegedly left his post while Nancy Wulwee and Antoine Frazier had sex. Priester and fellow guard Demont Gilbert also stand accused of failing to report other sexual encounters, involving these prisoners and between others. Gilbert is also accused of advising inmate Michelle Mathias, whose liaison with inmate Todd Johnson was allowed, to drink bleach in order to terminate her pregnancy.
A dozen employees had already been fired after a guard had sex with Susan Smith, who was sentenced to life inprisonment for drowning her two sons.

Anthony Payne made sure the appropriate paperwork was completed before helping move a house in Auburn, Washington. The house and its truck driver were being escorted by a sheriff's car while he sat overseeing things from atop the house. As the house crossed the railroad track, Payne 'just screamed "Train!"'. The unscheduled Amtrak train didn't seriously injure anyone, but the house was destroyed.

In Willoughby, Ohio, Dante Jones was driving down the highway with his three children and his wife. After having an argument about his upcoming divorce, he allegedly stabbed his wife a few times before pushing her and the two-year-old girl out of the car. Without slowing down, the 27-year-old evaded police, nearly running off a cliff in the process. Police eventually caught up with Jones. The girl and her mother are expected to make a full recovery.

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