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July 2003

7 July 2003

Barry Alan Mattes taped 113 grams of marijuana to his thighs, then attempted to enter Illinois's Cook County Jail. After he was searched and the drugs found, the 49-year-old Mattes admitted that he had planned to pass the dope on to the inmates he was defending in his capacity as an attorney. To preserve confidentiality, meetings between inmates and their lawyers are not monitored, and inmates are typically not searched afterward, according to Cook County sheriff's spokesman Bill Cunningham.

Florida's Herald Tribune reports that convicted rapist Dale W. Weeks began his 15-year prison term by requesting copies of photographs taken during the rape investigation - pictures of his victim's genitalia. When prosecutor refused to release the images, Weeks successfully sued them on the basis of a state open records law. Afterward, his victim said: 'I thought everything was basically in a secret vault [...] to find out that he could have access, as if it were a trophy, it all came flooding back.' When the photos arrived, prison officials deemed them contraband and kept them from Weeks.
A bill is in the works to exempt images of sexual assault victims from mandatory production. Autopsy photos are already an exception.

Also in Florida, an Astatula man lassoed a five-foot-long alligator near Tavares Elementary School. Michael McCormick claims the animal was threatening a woman and four children when he jumped out of his truck, rope in hand. He kept the alligator corralled near a nearby chain-link fence while a friend called the police. The police had him cut the rope, then summoned state game officer Monty Hinkle. Hinkle called for a trapper to catch the newly released gator and fined McCormick $180 for alligator possession.

Vietnam's Pham Thi Hanh was arrested after she poured a pot of boiling cooking oil over her sleeping daughter's face. According to police, the 49-year-old Pham was angry that daughter Vo Thi Thu Tram, 22, had ignored her ever since she became a famous model and married a foreigner. According to the Tien Phong newspaper, Pham said she had worked as a street scavenger to support Vo and that she hoped to become close to her daughter again once Vo's face was destroyed.

The San Francisco Examiner reports that someone tied 150 helium balloons to a chicken in imitation of a Fox promotional spot for the television programme Banzai, which spoofs Japanese game shows. After the floating hen was spotted 12 metres or so above an intersection, sharpshooter Lieutenant Mark Swendsen used a pellet gun to pop most of the balloons. The hen became tangled in power lines and was retrieved by a lineman. Meanwhile, more than 1,800 homes went without power. The hen is recovering and the balloons being checked for fingerprints.

The BBC brings us the story of Richard Markham, who killed drinking partner Tristian Lovelock. A jury at Winchester Crown Court heard that Markham fled to the US after leaving messages on friends' answering machines that boasted about the murder. Lovelock's head and other body parts were strewn across parkland in Basingstoke, Hampshire. A trail of blood led police to Markham's home, where they found Lovelock's partially cooked arm in a roasting tin next to a plate and eating utensils.
In a statement, Markham claimed that he had left the oven on and the arm was cooked by accident. As for the scattering of limbs - one of which a man found while trimming his hedge - he said he'd planned to dump them in the park in an orderly fashion but 'pieces kept falling out of the bag'.

In Pontiac, Michigan, city firefighter Lavoisier D. Washington's wife found him looking at a pornographic Web site while his children were sleeping in the same room. She caught him again the next day, and this time she told him she would cut the cable to the computer if he didn't stop looking at the porn. So he fetched a gun. While he was pointing it at her, the children woke up and Washington fled to hid mother's home to hide the weapon. He has been suspended without pay and is being charged with assault and carrying a concealed weaspon.

A trucker called the police to report that a woman was breast-feeding a baby while driving on the Ohio Turnpike. The Portage County Prosecutor's Office offered to fine 29-year-old Catherine Donkers $100 for driving without a licence and was prepared to drop the charges of child endangering and failure to comply with the order of a police officer. However, that didn't satisfy her husband, Brad L. Barnhill, who said any court's punishment would be unacceptable since he should be the defendant. The basis for his claim is that, under Old Testament law, the husband is the only one allowed to punish the wife for a public act. He said he will take this to court.

The FBI were investigating Officer Joseph Miedzianowski when they recorded Miedzianowski and 45-year-old Chicago shooting range instructor William Jarding singing a duet. To the tune of Walt Disney's 'Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho', the two officers boasted of their theft of ammunition from the department's firing range. The 45-year-old Jarding has been sentenced to 16 months in prison. Miedzianowski had bigger things to worry about, as he was sentenced to life in prison for running a Chicago-to-Miami cocaine pipeline.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that several police officers in Chengdu, south-western China, arrested a woman in Tuanjie village for theft and left her three-year-old daughter behind. The woman asked the officers to get the girl's aunt to care for her, but officers could not reach the aunt. They turned for help to a local police station, where the cadet assigned to contact the aunt had no luck either and forgot to inform the station of this. The child, Li Siyi, was found dead when neighbours reported a stench two weeks later. Several officers have been disciplined in connection with the case.

Amid a budget crisis, city officials in Mesa, Arizona, spent $32,000 to install two bus shelters on Broadway Road. Only part of the road is served by buses - a different part. Signs have been posted in the shelters that say no buses pass by, but 'we see people there daily waiting for a bus until they [...] realise it's not a working bus stop', said Rene Scharber. Jeff Kramer, Mesa's deputy engineer for design, said the shelters' locations weren't reviewed beforehand by the transportation department because they were only a small portion of a large road project.

In news from Canada, an Edmonton man's Chevy Blazer was stolen, but he soon received a telephone call telling him he could have it back for $50. He arranged to meet the caller at a liquor store to buy back the sport utility vehicle, then he called the police. Officers arrested 38-year-old Robert Gorman, the man who arrived at the liquor store in the stolen Blazer.

Jermaine Graham didn't exactly steal a 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer. Accompanied by a car salesman, he decided to go for a long test drive rather than take a taxi from Goshen, New York to Newburgh, 27 kilometres away. About 20 km into the journey, the salesman jumped out at a stoplight and called the police. Graham was found walking away from the car. The 28-year-old miscreant has been charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, unlawful imprisonment, possession of marijuana, and - for trying to hide the marijuana in his waistband - tampering with evidence.

The New Zealand Press Association reports that Bindie Redden won a nightclub's gay beauty contest amid jeers for looking too straight. Reddeen dressed as a Barbie doll and a Playboy bunny for the contest, which she said she entered to show that not all gay women are average lesbians, who 'look like boys [...], don't shave under their arms [...], have short hair'. One of the judges, drag queen 'Polyfilla', said that 'the queer community as a group gets discriminated against so much, we don't need it from within our own ranks'.

Mary Rowles and Alice Jenkins, a lesbian couple in Akron, Ohio, locked three boys in a bedroom closet, opening the door only to feed them. After two months, the thirsty boys forced open the door of the urine-soaked closet and jumped from a second-storey window to freedom.
The boys had three other siblings, who were not immune from abuse by their mother and Jenkins. The children told police that they were sometimes forced to hold each other down during beatings and kickings. Only the sole girl appeared healthy, while the six-year-old boy weighed 13 kg and the 10-year-old only five kilos more. The children said they were forced to eat cat and dog faeces if they tried to take extra food, sometimes leaving them hungry enough to eat their own vomit.

On the Poospatuck Indian Reservation in Mastic, New York, a 54-year-old woman offered Joseph Bullard boxer shorts in exchange for crack cocaine. He declined the offer, so she offered him her 15-year-old grand-daughter instead. Bullard allegedly raped and sodomised the teenager while she screamed for her grandmother. He denies the charges. The grandmother faces identical charges as she is deemed to have acted in concert with Bullard.
Shortly before the incident, the grandmother, who was homeless, had moved in with her daughter and grand-daughter, according to authorities.

In Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, the Prince Charles Hospital apologised to Beth Parfitt for stitching her three-year-old daughter's tongue to her gum during an operation to remove milk teeth. Parfitt said that, after a week of the girl complaining 'my tongue, my tongue!' and not eating, she looked in the child's mouth. She said 'the part they had stitched was towards the back of the tongue - but it was pretty big', adding that the hospital hadn't even mentioned using stitches.

Shawn Perkins of Laurel, Indiana, was struck by lightning as he and his family left Paramount's Kings Island amusement park in Ohio. The Perkins family claim the amusement park, which has its own weather station and frequently warns patrons of inclement weather, failed to notify them of the electrical storm. This is cause for a lawsuit, feels Perkins. His lawyer, Drake Ebner, said Perkins has yet to recover fully, as 'a lot of voltage passed through his brain'.
In other lightning-related news, the BBC reports that Reading's Becky Nyang, 26, was left blistered and unable to talk after lightning bouncing off a nearby archway in Corfu hit her in the face. It was conducted by her tongue stud.

Two teenaged girls said Tyrone Henry of Tucson, Arizona, paid them to be part of an ad campaign for White Dew facial cream. They said Henry showed them pictures of women with white cream on their faces, then blindfolded them. The girls said they heard heavy breathing and Henry saying that 'it's coming' before they saw camera flashes and felt a thick, warm substance being applied to their faces. They later thought something didn't seem quite right about this and contacted police.
Henry, who represented himself in court, said he was framed and that the semen on one girl's sweater is explained by her having played with everything in his apartment, including his laundry. Henry has been sentenced to seven years in prison for 'fraudulent scheme and artifice'.

Angry parents of students at Livingston Middle School in Nashville, Tennessee, have sued the school system because it placed hidden security cameras in boys' and girls' locker rooms. The lawsuit claims that the school kept the images on an Internet-accessible computer and that the system's factory default password had been left unchanged. The images were accessed 98 times over a six-month period, sometimes late at night and early in the morning, via various ISPs. Mark Chalos, the lawyer representing the parents, said he didn't know if the cameras were still in use.

Officials have confirmed that the French air force nearly shot down a French helicopter early last month after a Swiss air traffic controller jokingly put an 'al-Qaeda' label on the aircraft, which had entered restricted airspace. Speaking for air traffic firm Skyguide, Patrick Herr said the French military, seeing the label, sent out Mirage fighter jets, whose pilots realised at the last minute that the 'al-Qaeda' aircraft was a French transportation helicopter.
Oswald Sigg, spokesman for the Swiss Defence Department, said the incident was 'certainly something bad'. Herr said the now-suspended air traffic controller has admitted that the prank was 'absolutely stupid'.

Bob Sam Castleman and his son Robert Jerrod Castleman have been charged with mailing a poisonous snake to another man. The package, intended for Albert Coy Staton, was opened by his wife instead. The snake was killed by police, and the Castlemans have been charged with mailing a threatening communication and mailing non-mailable matter with intent to injure or kill. While the elder Castleman is a lawyer in Little Rock, Arkansas, there are no firm leads as to a motive.

Finally, a Paris gun shop was the site of an attempted armed robbery. A 26-year-old Mauritanian man entered the Armurerie Gare de l'Est, but his weapon, a fake gun, was quickly identified as harmless by those in the shop, according to the Le Parisien newspaper.

21 July 2003

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that a 79-year-old woman noticed that someone had tampered with the lock on her apartment door. A few days later, she found a photo of a man's penis under a chair. She recognised the penis as belonging to Joseph Muench, 39, a neighbour who she said showed her the photo previously. Muench was sentenced to six months in jail. He told Judge Steve Martin that leaving the photo in the Cheviot apartment was 'a very, very, very stupid mistake'.

Ramona Shepheard, a 44-year-old Detroit police inspector, was arrested after she drove an unmarked police car for several kilometres without a left front tyre. Officers followed the streak cut in the road by the tyreless rim. When they stopped the car, they found gashes down its left side and a drunken Shepheard behind the wheel. Shepheard, a 16-year veteran of the force, said that an off-duty homicide sergeant had been chasing her, a report backed up by a witness.

A report from South Carolina describes how Thomas G. Davis died. The 61-year-old Pelzer man stored weed killer in a Mountain Dew container, which ended up in his refrigerator after he and a female friend cleaned up his trailer. After he drank from the container, Davis realised his error and rang 911. Deputy coroner Kent Dill stated that 'the family thinks that this was an unfortunate accident'.

Nancy Blanchard yelled at her 16-year-old son, George, to step back from a cliff, so he decided to scare her. Having noticed a ledge about 1.5 m below the top of the cliff, the St. Paul, Minnesota, teenager decided to jump down onto the ledge, then place his hands on the edge of the cliff and cry out as if he were about to fall to his death. George's friend James Johnson said he refused to wish him luck in his plan 'because you won't do it'. Johnson watched as George jumped - and as he fell to the ground 60 metres below.

Nicholas Roethle of Richfield, Wisconsin, was somewhat drunk when he towed some friends in a golf cart at 80 km/h. The cart flipped over, injuring two of the men in the golf cart. The others, including Michael Ludwig, jumped out, escaping harm. When the police arrived, they found the 21-year-old Roethle looking for Ludwig in a cornfield. According to the police report, the group had planned to take the cart to a nearby garage 'and put in a snowmobile engine to make it a "hot rod"'.

Reuters reports that 49-year-old Park Yong-Ju was angry at his 29-year-old daughter for failing to greet him when he returned to his 12th-floor flat in Seoul. She was busy playing an online game. When she refused to let him join the game, he threw the monitor out of the balcony window. It hit four-year-old Han Jung-In, causing severe facial injuries. A warrant has been issued for Yong-Ju's arrest.

In a story left over from 4 July, two teenaged girls were having an argument about fireworks and began throwing lit firecrackers at each other. The Pensacola, Florida, girls completed the fight when Christine Rogers, 13, slashed the throat of Ashley Harvey, 15. Neighbours tried to staunch the flow of blood with a beach towel, but Harvey died anyway.

At about 2:30am, four friends decided to go to the Casino Windsor in Canada. When his car was pulled over as it crossed the border from the US, Michael Allen tried to hide his .40-calibre pistol under the front seat. He ended up shooting himself in the leg. 'The guy mangled his leg pretty badly', according to Marie-Claire Coupal, local union president for Customs officers. Customs officials administered first aid until an ambulance arrived. His friends were sent back to the US.
Allen is a Detroit police officer. There is an unofficial policy for US police officers to check in their guns at the border and reclaim them on the way back.

In East St. Louis, Illinois, 20-year-old Latosha Peltier left her one-year-old son in her van when she went into a hospital to visit her mother with her two-year-old son. She reported that she was gone for 'only five minutes', then returned to the van and noticed that the boy, Daveaion Tillman, was missing.
With temperatures in the 30-degree range, a passing woman had decided to remove the child from the unlocked van. She was arrested after telling a police officer that the baby's name was Beverly Green. Peltier has been charged with endangering the life of a child and Felicia Trotter, 44, with aggravated kidnapping.

German zoo-owner Joery Schlechte stands accused of eating animals in the zoo. When new owners took over the zoo in Meissen, some rabbits, donkeys, raccoons, a wild boar, parrots, three Shetland ponies, and other animals were unaccounted for. He claims to have given the animals to female helpers, but witnesses describe eating suspicious meat at various of his barbecues. Schlechte has already been fined for roasting some pot-bellied pigs for a barbecue.

A Nicaraguan man was caught when he tried to sign up another wife in the Managua municipal registry. Registrar Ernesto Castillo said that Miguel Gutierrez, 38, married 14 times from 1998 to 2000. He is being tried for polygamy. He told local newspapers that 'it's normal to be a womaniser' but insisted that he only married once after he divorced his first wife. His lawyer claims the registry is in error. Castillo said the multiple marriages hadn't come to light earlier because the registry wasn't computerised until recently.

San Antonio, Texas, man Antonio Aragon is accused of punching ex-girlfriend Jill Garza's eye shut, then dragging her to the side of the road and running over her three times with his car. At his trial, Garza, a mother of three, insisted that she still loves him and that prosecutors 'don't know him'. The 24-year-old Garza said 'it wasn't him that day' and explained that his anger had been sparked when he locked himself out of his car and had to break a window to retrieve his keys.

Interviews with 25 attendees of a children's 4-H camp in Virginia have corroborated a 10-year-old's allegations that teenaged camp counsellors had arranged fights between the children, charged admission, and served as bookmakers for the bouts. Forest resident Poppy Rawls said her 11-year-old son fought in five fist fights arranged by the volunteer counselors at the Smith Mountain Lake 4-H centre. The fights were allegedly limited to boys in one cabin.

Glenn Geist heard what he thought was a kitten in an air duct in his home in Hobe Sound, Tennessee, so he contacted animal control officers. Responding to the call, Laura McIntosh surmised that the sounds coming from the air duct were a frog in distress. A snake was the culprit. She climbed a ladder outside the building to coax the snake out the other end of the vent, into a net being held by Geist.
Geist soon heard a shriek. The snake's head had hit McIntosh in the face. She fell off the ladder, hitting an air conditioning unit on the way down. The snake escaped to freedom.
Afterward, Geist said: 'I'm grateful that they came at all, but I feel so terrible she hurt herself. But who are you going to call?'

Three years ago, a drunk man in Aberdeen lay down on a busy road at night after an argument with his girlfriend. He didn't move when his girlfriend, Nicola Todd, told him that a car was coming, so she jumped up and down in the road to alert the driver. The drunk, Jack Scollay was struck as he started getting up.
Scollay claims the driver, Fat Kwai Cheung, was negligent so sued him for £20,000 in damages. The case was thrown out of Aberdeen Sheriff Court. Scollay admitted in court that he had been stupid.

The AP report on a wrestling match in Tbilisi, Georgia, between Georgy Bibilauri and Dzhambulat Khotokhov. Both are pre-schoolers - five and four years old, respectively. Khotokhov weighs 56 kilograms and is 119 cm tall. Bibilauri is a couple of centimetres taller and five kilos lighter. The two proved evenly matched, and the tie was celebrated with ice cream and chocolate. Referee and Georgian wrestling champion Levan Tediashvili said that he admired the boys' sportsmanship.

Nashville's Zenobia Newell Gordon is the owner and operator of the Small Wonders Child Care Center. She took the children in her care to the UniverSoul Circus, but she left her 22-month-old son in the car. The child died. She later said she thought he was at the day care centre. The district attorney's office hasn't yet indicated how the case will be pursued.

Australia brings us a court decision in which a sperm donor has been found liable to pay child support to two lesbians. The man, from Victoria, had come to an agreement with a lesbian couple that he would donate sperm in the 'usual and customary manner' without him retaining any rights or responsibilities concerning the child. However, the Family Court decided that he was responsible because the child was conceived via sex, explaining that 'one parent could not waive a right to seek child support from another parent'.

A case of attempted bank robbery in Manatee, New York, was solved quickly. When tellers didn't give 41-year-old Kevin Tison any money, he walked across the car park and fell asleep behind the bushes. Manatee County Sheriff's Detective Bobby Lewis had spent nearly an hour searching for the would-be robber when he nearly tripped over him about 15 metres from the bank. Tison reportedly appeared confused as he was placed in handcuffs.

In a Phoenix, Arizona, neighbourhood, all homes' mailboxes sit on the same side of the street, and the houses aren't well-marked with identifying numbers. When one of Jenny Lopez's neighbours spotted heavy construction equipment in her yard, they alerted members of her family, but it was too late to save the house, where Lopez had lived for 30 years before using it to store household goods.
Across the street, a boarded-up vacant house still stands. Demolition man David Gomez didn't comment on the incident but did tell a television station that he would probably lose his job.

Jose Maldonado, a 31-year-old New York City resident, was trying to help a 'tipsy' friend make it home safely, but Maldonado fell off a subway platform at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station when he leaned out to see if a train was coming. He fell onto the tracks, where he was run over by four subway cars. He was taken to St. Vincent's Medical Center, where he remains unconscious but is in stable condition.

The Detroit Free Press reports that a Mt. Clemens, Michigan, boy is accused of sexually assaulting four female classmates in May. The girls are seven years old, and the boy is eight. The Macomb County Prosecutor's Office announced that it might also bring charges against an ex-boyfriend of the boy's mother, for watching pornography and having sex with another woman in front of the boy, who was six at the time, and his sister, then three.

Florida's Michael Matakaetis was arrested for driving while drunk and having an open bottle of rum in his car. The 23-year-old Matakaetis, whose father owns several Dunkin' Donuts stores, allegedly offered the arresting deputy a pile of doughnut coupons in exchange for the officer merely letting him park his car and walk home. He was taken to jail, where he angrily told the arresting deputy: 'You're gonna get a bullet [...]. You should've let me go.'

A man staying at the Capri Motel in Kansas City, Missouri, complained about a foul odour in his room. He was told nothing could be done about the smell. Three days later, the man checked out because he couldn't tolerate the small any longer, according to police captain Rich Lockhart. Workers at the motel were cleaning the room later in the day when they found a dead man under the mattress. Detectives believe the body had been in the room for several days before it was discovered.
Officer Darin Snapp said the motel has been closed several times in the past on account of code violations and that it's likely it will soon be closed again.

In Washington state, Anderson Black was on trial for slitting the throats of his two children. When a prosecutor told the judge that anger was what motivated Black to kill his children, the accused screamed: 'That's not true! That's not true!' and then used his shackled hands to flip over the prosecution's table. Its glass top and two legs broke. Family members seated behind Black asked that court officers be careful with him because 'he's just angry'. He has now been given two concurrent life sentences.

In Zrenjanin, Yugoslavia, Milan Djokic was charged with attempted murder after he attacked his neighbour by throwing a hand grenade at him to settle an argument. The neighbour, 70-year-old Slavko Grujic, caught the grenade and threw it back at Djokic, also 70. When Djokic threw it a second time, it severed Grujic's arm. Djokic is being charged with attempted murder and illegal weapons possession.

Pennsylvania state police say a Mini Mart clerk was taking out the rubbish when a man approached her and said he had a gun. He told her to go back inside and bring him all the money. She followed his first instruction but, once inside, locked the doors and called police. The would-be robber fled, according to AP reports.
By contrast, two men did manage to escape with the loot after robbing a Melbourne, Australia, petrol station attendant. An armed man with his face covered emerged from a van and demanded the bags the clerk was carrying. 'He told them it was only rubbish but they took it anyway', said police spokeswoman Bronwen Kelly.

A clerk at the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles told 45-year-old Charles Weinstein that he wouldn't get a new driver's licence until he signed his name 'right'. He habitually signs his name so that it appears to be upside-down. The clerk threw him out of the office and refused to either give him a new licence or return his old one, bearing an 'upside-down' signature. When Weinstein wanted to send a notarised copy of a letter of protest to the DMV, he didn't have a means of photo ID.
Delaware Department of Transportation spokesman Michael Williams said that Weinstein's old driving licence will be returned to him once it is found. The state attorney general has been asked for clarification regarding the granting of a new licence with Weinstein's preferred signature.

Jury duty can be hazardous to your health. Manhattan's Geraldine Goldring, 53, found this out the hard way when confronted outside the courthouse by a woman whom she had just helped find guilty of stealing $160 from a woman's handbag. Octavia Williams, 44, shouted out 'I'm guilty, bitch?' and hit Goldring in the face. Goldring told Court Officer Tommy Lyons of the incident, and officers chased Williams for a few blocks.
Back in court before the same judge, she was ordered jailed until her sentencing. When she incredulously asked why, Judge Charles Tejada told her: 'There are consequences when you do things.'

Over the past couple of years, New Jersey's Marc Snyder has received 157 prescriptions for sciatic pain in his leg. To make a statement about the high cost of prescription drugs, the 51-year-old is covering his house with photocopies of prescriptions he couldn't afford to fill. They cover the windows, surround the door, and cover the tarps he has draped over the house. A large sign declares the display 'The Great Wall of Prescriptions' and requests that Congress help.

27 July 2003

Oscar Herrera of East Elmhurst, New York, died because of a television aerial. The 53-year-old man was fighting with his room-mate, 51-year-old Hector Castillo, about which one of them had broken the antenna. Castillo allegedly used his hands and fingernails to gouge out Herrera's eye. Herrera died of a heart attack at the hospital.

Police believe North Seattle, Washington, man Louis G. Carnaghi was annoyed that his wife hadn't left his medicines in the pill box and that he had had to answer one too many early-morning phone calls for her. The 87-year-old Carnaghi rolled his wheelchair behind his 86-year-old wife, Arline, and hit her several times with a steel pipe. Prosecutors allege that he then bit chunks out of her arms as he fell out of his chair. A neighbour rang 911 after finding the blood-covered couple on the floor.

An hour before Sheketa Simmons was due to take her baby, Amirona, home from Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando, the child was injured during its final check-up. The staff member who tried to remove the ID band from the child's ankle slipped and cut off the girl's toe. Surgeons at a different medical facility have reattached the toe. Simmons is considering legal action.

A seven-year-old blind girl drowned while swimming in a Minneapolis, Minnesota, lake at an eight-student camp designed to teach blind children basic life skills. She died shortly after getting permission to return to shore from one of the camp's three counsellors, who are also blind. 'There are many sighted children who also drown', said Joyce Scanlan, executive director of Blind Inc., the National Federation of the Blind affiliate that runs the camp. The girl's father, Carl Nelson, said that 'there's no blame here - it was just her time to go'.

In Buena, New Jersey, several people reported seeing a child driving around town in a school bus. After being stopped by the police, the nine-year-old boy explained that he had stolen the bus in order to visit relatives in another town. According to police records, he was joyriding in a stolen Ford Taurus less than a week earlier. In the last year, he has racked up over 60 'incidents involving police'.

Lifeboats and a rescue helicopter were mobilised to rescue six teenagers who had become trapped by rapidly incoming tides at Easington, in east Durham. The teenagers, aged 14 to 15, were found clinging to a cliff. One of the boys explained that he had become trapped by the tide because he was afraid his new Rockport shoes would be damaged if he got them wet, according to Sunderland lifeboat coxswain Ernie Laws. The teenager was airlifted to hospital. The cost of the rescue operation was approximately UKP 25,000.

The Los Angeles Times reports on a man who got off to a flying start when taking his driving test. According to the California Highway Patrol, the unidentified 85-year-old man was told to move his car into the test lane from the car park. Instead of backing out of his parking space, he depressed the accelerator and struck a support column of the Van Nuys Department of Motor Vehicles building. His vehicle received minor damage, but he won't be allowed to drive it in the immediate future.

An Elmhurst, Delaware, man was at home watching a movie with some friends when he heard pounding noises. It was Jonathan Rodriguez, 17, who was trying to break down the door with the butt of a handgun so he and his friends could steal marijuana from the house. A shot rang out, and the boys fled. According to county police spokesman Trinidad Navarro, the gun went off during the pounding, shooting Rodriguez in the groin. Officers found him at Christiana Hospital.
'This is one you'll hear about in the bizarro files about one of the world's dumbest criminals', stated Navarro.

A man from Wulong, Congqing, Hong Kong, didn't like his neighbour, Lin Ling, so he named his new dog after her and shouted at it in public, cursing it. According to China Daily, Lin Ling has now filed a lawsuit against the man. Claiming that the man's actions are damaging her reputation, she is asking for the equivalent of about $120 in compensatory damages.

The New York Post reports on NYPD Deputy Police Commissioner Fredrick J. Patrick, who has been charged with using almost $113,000 from a jailhouse charity that raises money to improve prisoners' quality of life. Patrick used the money to finance inmates' collect calls to his home, where he would patch the prisoners - men he knew from his work in the Corrections Department - through to phone-sex lines, then listen in on the sessions.
Searching his home, investigators found that a bed and stacks of pornographic tapes were his only furniture. The investigators believe that nearly all of his savings and his $132,000-a-year salary was used to pay giant telephone bills and buy the porn tapes.

New Zealand's Otago Daily Times reports that Mark Daniel Patton, a 21-year-old from Dunedin, was arrested for possession of cannabis. In the prisoner compartment of a police truck and wanting to avoid further charges, he contemplated how to get rid of the marijuana he had on his person. He decided to smoke it. After police noticed the rather strong smell, Patton admitted to smoking pot in the vehicle. Judge Stephen O'Driscoll described Patton's actions as 'unbelievable'.

Franklin, New Hampshire, dentist Joseph Roper, Jr, noticed that patient Tricia Thompson had listed a female as her spouse when filling out a 'get-acquainted card', so he confronted her in the waiting room of his practice and told her that he refused to treat her. With other patients present, he went on to ask Thompson if she had AIDS. The Board of Dental Examiners have suspended his licence.

A woman from Nanaimo, British Columbia, ate her daughter. Laurina Marie Aune slit the two-year-old Kyla's throat and cut up the body for soup. Aune explained that she'd cannibalised the girl 'so Kyla would be with me forever'. Justice James Taylor has ruled that Aune, a schizophrenic, was not criminally responsible since she didn't know her actions were morally wrong. She has been taken to the Forensic Psychiatric Institute.
Aune's family explained that they didn't suspect her of having a mental illness because 'that's Laurina'. She'd begun hearing voices at age 12, and her illness worsened with childbirth. Ex-boyfriend Scott May had told social workers that she was unstable and that she thought Kyla's three fathers kept changing bodies. May later noticed Kyla's absence.

Los Angeles landlord Sandra O'Neale has been ordered to fix health, fire, and safety violations in the 135-unit apartment building for which she is responsible. However, she has already ignored a similar order, and the vermin and nonfunctional smoke detectors remain in the building. So Judge Dennis A. Aickroth has also ordered her to live in the building for the next three months, with electronic monitoring to ensure compliance.

The Apple Daily reports that a man in Taipei county, Taiwan, became depressed that his girlfriend was dating someone via the Internet. Huang Tzu-heng, 20, had decided to prove his girlfriend's faithfulness. Convinced that Hsiao Lan wouldn't leave him, he contacted her online in another guise. After 'Mr. J' had wooed her by e-mail for a while, she told Huang face-to-face that she wanted to break up with him in favour of her online amour. A devastated and confused Huang killed himself by burning charcoal in his bedroom. He left two suicide notes offering explanations.

A six-year-old boy in Cost, Texas, missed his mother, so he stole his child-minder's car keys and set off in search of her. He drove about 48 kilometres, hitting three other cars as he sped along the highways. He finally ended up in a store car park in the town of Luling. Tracking the boy's location on the basis of witnesses' telephone calls, the police found the child in the store manager's office, where he was crying. Deputy Police Chief David Creed of Luling said that 'the fact that he didn't kill anyone to me is completely amazing'. The boy was released to his mother. Police said no charges will be filed against the child-minder.

Police didn't have to do much detective work to find out who held up a Wells Fargo bank in Fort Worth, Texas. Apparently, Frederick McDowell didn't have extra paper available when drafting his hold-up note. He wrote it on the back of his réesumé and simply taped black construction paper over the identifying information. He then didn't retrieve the note when leaving the bank. A tip led the police to a motel, where McDowell was arrested.

Kathleen Wortman Jones of Barnegat, New Jersey, stopped at the Sun National Bank, where her twin 14-year-old daughters used a toy pistol to acquire some money. The 34-year-old Jones served as the getaway driver. Her husband, Kevin, and her 16-year-old daughter were also involved in this attempt to save the family home from foreclosure and fund the care of Kevin and Kathleen's various children.
After the robbery, the family were tracked to Atlantic City, where the parents were gambling. Kevin explained that 'it was the children that thought this up [...]. She woke up and caught them stealing my car to do a robbery. She drove that car to make sure her kids were safe'.

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