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July 2004

11 July 2004

Zachary Lee Foust of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, appears to have a bad habit. The 19-year-old Foust was arrested on suspicion of breaking and entering and theft. At the lock-up, the arresting officer heard Foust's leg make a 'beep' sound and realised that his mobile phone was missing. The officer's wayward telephone was found in Foust's shoe. Foust has had another theft charge added to the charges against him.

Christina Dunn has sued the Indianapolis school where her eight-year-old daughter was allegedly fondled by teacher James K. Manuel. The 56-year-old Manuel told police after his arrest that he did it because he had suspected that someone might be molesting the girl. He explained that 'I was teaching [the girl] never do that for anyone [...]. It was wrong for me to do, and it was wrong for any person to do that.'

Carlice Nash-Taylor and daughter Danyale, of Merrionette Park, Illinois, claim they asked for jambalaya at a local restaurant but found it too hot to eat. When they tried returning the food, which they had ordered 'spicy', a manager told them that they would have to pay anyway. When they refused to do so, a police officer showed up. They were detained until one of their husbands produced a receipt indicating payment for the food. The Taylors have now filed a civil lawsuit against the restaurant and are claiming that they were falsely arrested, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. They say the restaurant is using the police as a private security force.

In Versailles, Illinois, we have Gordon A. Bryant, who decided to rob a bank that has already been robbed once this year. Ever since the robbery, bank employees have used a system whereby each customer is buzzed in. Employees refused to let Bryant into the bank when they noticed the stocking over his face. Brown County Sheriff Jerry Kempf said: 'When you're going into a bank, you usually don't wear those in there. It's not Halloween.' Bryant left the bank in his car but was soon arrested.
Kempf said Bryant has been in prison for bank robbery before. Also, 'He's 70 years old; you would hope he would have learned by now'.

Australia's Channel Ten television reported that US tourist Matt Weirich climbed over a safety barrier at a Morton National Park canyon in order to retrieve a lost shoe. The 21-year-old Mormon missionary fell 70 metres and couldn't be reached by rescuers until the next morning. He is in critical condition and has sustained serious head and spinal injuries.

It's probably not worthy of note that a handcuffed man escaped from the back of a police cruiser. What is noteworthy is how Anthony Jones, a 20-year-old Swansea man who was supposed to be heading to jail for cannabis possession and burglary, managed to evade the police for five months after his escape. He picked the one place the cops were sure never to look: his own home. Jones managed to escape his shackles in a 2002 incident as well.

In 1997, William Arksey, a 53-year-old Connecticut man, wanted to avoid being arrested on a misdemeanour charge of driving while drunk, so he filed a death certificate for himself. He disappeared until after he was arrested about seven years later in Pennsylvania, when his fingerprints were taken. Standing before Putnam County Judge Robert E. Miller, he said 'I was a different person then [...]. That was, like, eight years ago.' After initially deciding to fight the new charges, Arksey decided to plead guilty. He will be jailed for one year.

Blood-covered, Sheddrick Deon Bentley entered a Wal-Mart at around 4:00am and bought rubbish bags, bandages, and clothes. He paid with an apparently bloodstained $100 note and left in a pickup truck. After he left, employees rang the police. Bentley was arrested after authorities found the stabbed body of Bentley's friend Cory Brightman in a rubbish bin near a bloody pickup truck three kilometres from Bentley's hotel. In the rubbish bin was also a pair of blood-stained trainers that matched footprints in the Wal-Mart. Bentley is charged with murder, grand theft auto, and various other things.

In Tennessee, state trooper Angelinette L. Crawford began arguing with her younger brother, 19-year-old Jaison Bilbrew, who shared a home with her, after he lent the butter to a neighbour. She soon told him to find another place to live, and the argument escalated into shoving near the top of a staircase. Crawford then fetched her service revolver from her bedroom. She says the gun discharged by accident when she was later wrestling with Bilbrew on the floor. He was wounded in the leg. Crawford has not been charged with a crime. She is on administrative leave.

In Australia, Sydney's Sam Youssef used a replica pistol to carjack a BMW 'on a whim'. He programmed his father's address into the car's GPS unit, then drove to a Brisbane bank, which he proceeded to rob. The 21-year-old Youssef, who had studied criminal justice at university, left his fingerprints in the car before abandoning it. He spent the money at a local casino and turned himself in to the police two days later.
His defence lawyer, Mal Harrison, said: 'He would have to be one of the
most inept armed robbers to come before a court. He left evidence all over the place.' Youssef has been sentenced to six years' jail time.

A college student working at Furniture by Thurston in Gross Valley, California, had been in a booth where furniture is sprayed with a flammable finishing chemical, and his trousers had become saturated with the substance. Business manager Dan Slayton said: 'He put a lighter to his pants to see if they would ignite, an EMT told me.' The employee suffered minor burns. The building wasn't so lucky: when the fire was extinguished half an hour later, quite a bit of furniture was charred.

Pingue and Otilia Ayala of Philadelphia are accused of approaching people on a beach and asking if they would like to buy the four-month-old baby the couple were carrying around in a black doctor's bag. Four people on the beach refused, and at least one contacted the authorities. While the pair have been charged with child endangerment, police spokesman Lieutenant David Mayer said the offer must not have been authentic since the Ayalas apparently didn't specify a dollar amount when approaching the beachgoers.

City elders in Nussdorf, Austria, held a collection for a family who were left homeless after they lost their house and possessions in a fire. A decade later, a new mayor, Andreas Pfurner, was elected. He wanted to know the purpose of the savings book in the office safe. The cash, the equivalent of about 15,000 euros, was finally handed over to the family, with interest.

Deutsche Welle reports that US tourist Hank Edwards had read and re-read the guidebook Beautiful Bayreuth as a child and only recently had the chance to visit Germany to see the sights mentioned in the book, which his father had purchased in 1914. After Edwards hadn't been seen at his hotel for two days, the alert was raised. The 79-year-old Edwards was found in his rental car, stuck in the mud in a forest. He had become lost because he was using the guidebook of his youth, which didn't take into account the effects of a reforestation programme and two world wars on the region. 'It's still very beautiful here even if it's not what he expected,' said a police spokesman.

Shawn Mayo, a 20-year-old Daytona Beach, Florida, man, stole Judge John Watson's wallet from the judge's chambers in the courthouse where his girlfriend, Kisha Smith, worked as a cleaning woman. The pair used the judge's credit card to spend over $1000 at Wal-Mart stores. Mayo was caught because he signed his own name rather than Watson's on a credit card receipt. He has pleaded no contest to grand theft.

A North Platte, Nebraska, mental health practitioner who works for the state's department of health and human services grew upset when he received a memo saying that only the office manager would have the key to various supply drawers. Professional counsellor Robert Powers took the memo home, shot it a few times with a .22-calibre handgun, and returned it to the office. Two days later, he apparently rang the office secretary to report that he 'might shoot somebody' if he came in to work. Several co-workers sought protective orders on account of this comment. The state has revoked the counsellor's licence on grounds of unprofessional conduct.

Three home-care nurses in Trenton, Tennessee, reported that Thomas and Debra Schmitz abused the 18 children in their care, who ranged in age from 13 months to 17 years. One said 'children were forced to dig their own graves' in the back yard. The couple told the children that they could be killed and buried there without anyone caring. An investigation revealed that the 18 children in the Schmitzes' care, many of whom were disabled, were punished by having their leg braces or crutches taken away. Beatings were commonplace, and at least two children were made to sleep curled up in a cage without a mattress or blankets. Sheriff Joe Shepard said one nurse left after two nights at the home, in part because 'one girl had to sit on the floor with her nose up against the wall [...] from the time she got home from school until past 10:30 at night'.
It isn't clear who has custody of some of the children, as the Schmitzes were in some cases providing 'respite care' arranged online. The couple had adopted at least nine of the children and were in the process of adopting another.
Debra, 44, and Thomas, 45, were investigated four years ago on account of similar accusations in Wisconsin.

Quebec student Yvan Tessier was not allowed to participate in an English immersion course at the University of New Brunswick because his guide dog, Pavot, had been trained only to understood instructions issued in French. During the five-week course, students are required to use only English. A university spokesman said that Tessier was turned away because there wasn't time to teach Pavot English in advance. Following adverse publicity and Tessier's threats to file a complaint with the human rights commission, the university has issued a statement saying Tessier can participate in the course and may use 'essential commands in his native French language to his guide dog'.

University of South Florida student Theresa Hall returned to her house to find a strange man asleep in her laundry room. He was wearing her clothes. Hall said the man 'drank half my liquor, made himself at home, and pulled things out of my underwear drawer' before passing out drunk in the laundry room. She locked and barricaded the room, then had police pick up the miscreant.

21 July 2004

Sergeant John Barker of the Salt Lake County, Utah, sheriff's office said Adam Weber, 24, was riding in a car driven by Jared Williams when the pair 'lit a large mortar rocket firework', which they planned to throw out the window of the car. 'The passenger threw it out the window, but he forgot to roll the window down. It bounced back in his lap,' said Barker. Weber was admitted to hospital with second- and third-degree burns to his arms, chest, and torso. Williams suffered minor burns to his back.

Employees at a Pennsylvania car rental company found 88 bags of heroin under a layer of serviettes in the console of a car after its return. A wallet had been left behind as well. Detective Daniel Baranoski contacted the wallet's owner, Robert Laguerre, in the guise of a man who had found the heroin and wanted a reward for returning it. Laguerre was arrested when he arrived to meet with Baranoski.
In another story of drug transport gone wrong, police in Portland, Oregon, say Washington's Harvelle Earle, 36, and Cleveland Bartley, 38, called attention to themselves by smoking marijuana on an Amtrak train. A search of the men's backpacks revealed nearly eight kilos of cocaine.

Sadly, such stories as this one are almost becoming too commonplace to be weird:
In 1998, a three-year-old in New York was looking after her newborn sister when step-father Howard Harris returned home with three friends. The 52-year-old Harris encouraged the three men to take turns raping her, saying 'Come on, come on, she won't die'. Several weeks later, both girls were removed from the home by child protection authorities and the girl was found to have severe gonorrhea. In 2003, investigators asked the girl whether a sibling had been abused, and she told her story. Harris has now been sent to prison for 37 1/2 to 75 years. The girl had intended to watch his sentencing but quietly left the courtroom when Harris insisted that he was innocent.

In Chelmsford, Essex, a man tried to sell 100,000 pirate DVDs to workers in an office. He apparently failed to notice that it was the local Trading Standards Office. When he realised where he was, he fled, leaving behind his sample DVDs and some cash. He was later arrested and questioned by the officers to whom he'd offered the pirate DVDs. Peter Martin, Essex County Council's cabinet member in charge of Trading Standards, said 'It would be great if all pushers of counterfeit goods would come to our offices to try and sell their wares.'

Barbara Sparkman was called for jury duty in Kansas City, Missouri. During the murder trial for which she was serving as an alternate juror, the 54-year-old woman left a message on a court answering machine to say she was too stressed to continue. Circuit Judge Thomas Clark ordered deputies to bring Sparkman to court to explain. She told Clark and the other jurors that she didn't want to view autopsy photos, had had an asthma attack earlier in the week, and was concerned about her mother, who was in a nursing home. Clark told the jury to choose from among three punishments for Sparkman: a day in jail, being returned to the jury pool the following week, or sitting in the courthouse for the rest of the trial. They chose the last two of the three. From the jury room, where she was sitting alone, she said 'I don't think this is fair'. Under state law, a juror's non-appearance is punishable by fines and jail time.

Jason Flores, in a Tampa, Florida, prison for car theft and burglary, will not face battery charges for beating his cellmate. Florida authorities explain that Flores was inadvertently placed in the same cell as a man who had raped and strangled him 13 years ago. Kevin Kinder pleaded guilty to lewd acts involving four boys, including Flores, who was 10 years old at the time.

Erik Hobbie planned to propose marriage to girlfriend Pamala Gahr by presenting her with his grandmother's heirloom diamond ring. Hobbie, an ice fisherman, woke early one morning at his family's cottage near Ely, Minnesota, and drilled holes in the ice on Burntside Lake. He erected a tip-up, a spring-loaded device that indicates that a fish has taken the bait. On the end of the line he tied the ring. With Gahr later, he pulled up the line. In her words, 'When he got to the end, he just looked at it in kind of horror'. She didn't believe that the ring had been fastened to the line until Hobbie showed her the empty jewellery box. 'There was nothing we could do but laugh. Then we just stood there staring at the hole for quite some time trying to figure out what to do,' said Gahr, who agreed to marry the 44-year-old Hobbie anyway.

Steve Clark of the Frankfurt, Kentucky, police department described an attempt to exhume stabbing victim Katherine Tatman's body for DNA samples that could prove she was sexually assaulted. Clark said that workers used photographs taken at Tatman's funeral in order to find her unmarked grave at Greenhill Cemetery. They were within a metre of the target. It is unknown whose casket the workers removed from the ground. The wrong corpse reached the state medical examiner's office before the mistake was noticed. Tatman's grave has since been found, and the other body re-buried.

After South Yorkshire's David Walker, 28, drank 15 pints of beer, he got into an argument in a pub with lifelong friend Stuart Simpson about whose turn it was to buy beer. He then fetched his sawn-off shotgun from his home and walked back to the pub with the gun in his trousers. He was unaware that the pub had closed in the meantime. The gun went off as he neared the pub, leaving several pellets lodged in his groin area.
Prosecuting lawyer Andrew Hatton told the court that, after shooting himself, Walker placed the weapon in a rubbish bin and crawled back home. Doctors were forced to remove the remainder of Walker's testicles during emergency surgery. He was later sentenced to five years in jail for possession of an illegal firearm.

The New York Daily News reports that 34-year-old stroke victim Charmaine Babb followed her husband's advice to seek help from her pastor so she could walk again. The ensuing faith healing attempt at the Great Deliverance Spiritual Baptist Church in Crown Heights involved members of the congregation singing and praying while husband Curtis Babb, pastor Junior Mitchell, and his wife called on her to walk. When she kept falling, the pastor sliced her feet with a razor blade, covered them in hot wax, and set them on fire. On the fifth day at the church, Curtis propped her in a chair and left her to sit in her own filth. On the ninth day, the pastor told her she could leave. Paramedics found her later in the day after a social worker began looking for her. One of her legs had to be amputated. She had been able to shuffle along with a walker before the nine-day ordeal.

It was Michael Murray's 18th birthday. He was playing poker with three other teenagers and dealer Anson Paape, 38, in the basement of Paape's home in Elmhurst, Illinois. With the cards, Paape also passed out bullets. The idea was that the winner of the game would place his bullet in a gun, point the weapon at the head of the person to the right, and pull the trigger. Murray won the first hand but refused to be first to use the gun. DuPage County State's Attorney Joseph Burkett said Paape loaded the gun with a single bullet, spun the cylinder, and shot Murray, killing him. Paape has been charged with murder, obstruction of justice, and violating the weapon-related terms of his bail in connection with attacking his wife in May.

Dana Point, California, officials are annoyed at Arthur Warren, who wanted an unobstructed view of the area from his multimillion-dollar home. To that end, he hired workers to climb seven pine trees at Heritage Park and trim them. City arborist Ron Morrow, who said the trees in the city's showcase park had been professionally pruned two weeks earlier, described the trees as essentially cut in half and 'growing sideways instead of up'. Warren's clear view of Dana Point Harbor could cost him triple the $50,000 'replacement cost' per tree. He said he was surprised at all the fuss.
Some local residents agree with him, as it's pretty much accepted that people near the California coast protect real-estate values by trimming or poisoning neighbours' trees. Park visitor Peggy Stein, 62, who holds a different view, said 'The trees were there before he built'.

New Jersey's Nira Nevins robbed a bank in 2002 and kidnapped the head teller. Her lawyer, Paul Edinger, said at her trial that she shouldn't be held criminally responsible, as the robbery was committed by an alternate personality - a 13-year-old boy named Jimmy. Edinger said 'Jimmy' didn't know 'he' was doing anything wrong. Prosecutors say the heavily indebted Nevins is using an insanity defence inappropriately and that she is an intelligent woman who knew exactly what she was doing.

Maryland's Myron Tereshchuk, 42, was annoyed at a competing patent firm, so he delivered demands to the Connecticut-based company and threats to its customers via unsecured home and corporate wireless networks in the Washington, DC, area. He demanded a $17 million ransom in exchange for not publishing proprietary information he obtained from the company. It appears that Tereshchuk was intelligent enough to avoid being caught by the firm's use of a 'Web bug' to track him, but it might not have been so bright a move to instruct the company to 'make the check payable to Myron Tereshchuk'. After that, it was only a matter of time before an FBI surveillance team caught him in the act of sending threatening e-mail to the company.

Australian police raided several homes in connection with the disappearance of teenager Daniel Morcombe. Apparently, no information on Morcombe was found in the raids, but data on seized computers led to the suspension of one police officer and the investigation of two others for possession of child pornography. Police commissioner Bob Atkinson said no charges have yet been filed.

Joanne Webb holds Tupperware-type parties in women's homes, at which she sells vibrators and other 'marital aids'. The former primary-school teacher was arrested under the state's anti-obscenity law in November after a couple consulted her and then bought two products. The pair turned out to be undercover officers. Johnson County Attorney Bill Moore has now asked the judge to dismiss the charges in order to prevent wasting of county resources. Adult toy shops in Texas currently get round the law by selling their wares as novelty items.

David Havenner and girlfriend Nancy Monico had an argument in their Port Orange, Florida, trailer. Monico, 39, said the 41-year-old Havenner punched her a few times and then grabbed his metre-long alligator from the bathtub and swung it at her, hitting her at least once as she tried to leave. He is also accused of throwing empty beer bottles at her. Havenner, who is charged with misdemeanour possession of an alligator and with battery, said Monico started the altercation. He told investigators she bit his hand because she was upset that there was no more alcohol in the mobile home.

Two Czech art students said they expected their 'public art pieces' to stimulate discussion and that they didn't expect these 'sculptures' in the country's second-largest city to lead to a police investigation. According to Brno police spokesman Mojmir Popp, the students, aged 21 and 24, claimed that two imitation bombs placed in the heart of Brno formed part of an assignment on visual communication. Each fake bomb consisted of used electronic components placed in a box, with a large sign saying that explosives were inside. The students have been charged with hooliganism.

Mircea Cinteza, chairman of the Romanian College of Physicians, said the body is trying to decide how to deal with a urologist who allegedly cut off a 34-year-old patient's penis during testicle surgery at a Bucharest hospital. Some reports say the penis was cut into three pieces. Dr Ioan Lascar, who performed an operation to help the man urinate, said the patient would undergo reconstructive surgery over the next few months. The urologist, who has not been publicly identified, has been suspended from duty pending an inquiry.

Police in Hornell, New York, believe a drunk Garrick Matthews, 35, decided to leave an Independence Day party and take a 12-pack of beer home with him. James Burkhart, 45, also drunk, apparently was upset by this so kicked Matthews in the head and punched him in the face. Matthews died of his injuries a couple weeks later. Burkhart is charged with first-degree assault.

Japan's Mainichi Shimbun reports that Nagoya Prefecture's Akihiro Yoshida, 26, was upset at an Australian woman, so he posted messages in the woman's name on a well-known chat site. He wrote 'I'm going to blow up the Diet building on the day of the election', among other things, on the site's message board. After the unemployed Yoshida was caught, he explained that 'the woman refused to give me English lessons; I was out to get some revenge', according to police.

Jailers at Tennessee's Hawkins County jail left cellblock doors unlocked on Thursday night, and a faulty control panel failed to issue an alarm regarding this. Two of the 36 inmates in the cellblock borrowed street clothes from other prisoners - there aren't enough orange jumpsuits for everyone - and left via a fire exit, which they propped open with a Bible. They came back with beer from a local market. When the beer ran out, two other inmates fetched more. Sheriff Warren Rimer said 'At least they came back'. The four men were charged with escape and bringing alcohol into a jail.

In Glenview, Illinois, Ken Johnson was packing moving boxes into a U-Haul van he had hired when the vehicle's rear door swung shut. A small lever, invisible when the door is closed, had been flipped to enable the child safety lock. After half an hour, Johnson's mother left her house and heard Johnson banging from inside the vehicle. Later, Johnson said it never occurred to him that the cargo area of a moving van might be equipped with locks to prevent children opening the door from inside. Chicago-area U-Haul spokesman Patrick McFarland said this was the first complaint the company has received about the feature and that the child safety lock feature would be disengaged on all such vans.

Joseph Manuel Augusto, 37, was annoyed at how long he had had to wait for 52-year-old Andres A. Diaz to use the loo at a Stratford, Connecticut, Burger King. When Diaz emerged from the loo, Augusto accosted him, and an argument ensued. It eventually turned into a fight. The men apparently bumped chests, then chased each other around the establishment, with Augusto brandishing a razor pocket knife and Diaz bearing a straw dispenser. No-one was injured. Both men have been issued a court summons.

Speaking for the Czech Ministry of the Interior, Petr Vorlicek said an officer in Plzen is being investigated for allegedly shooting at a jaywalker. When a man disregarded a red traffic light on a busy street, the officer shot into the air and shouted, according to the newspaper Pravo. When the pedestrian didn't react, the officer allegedly aimed at him and fired two more times, with one bullet hitting a passing car.

In Jackson, Michigan, a 24-year-old man broke into TJ's Dairy Freeze. He apparently knocked over a large container of strawberry syrup at the ice cream shop, slipped in the mess, and dropped his wallet. 'It was kind of a giveaway', said Jackson County sheriff's Captain David Luce. A deputy investigating the break-in used information in the wallet to arrest its owner, who Luce said 'still had strawberry syrup all over him'.

Connecticut's Thomas Dorsey told police that his foray into bank robbery belonged on a television programme called World's Dumbest Criminals. The 36-year-old's first mistake was not trying to hide his identity. Assistant Public Defender James Sward explained Dorsey's other mistake to the court: 'It's the bank he goes to every day'. Judge Mark H. Taylor sentenced Dorsey to a 2 1/2-year prison term.

An officer spotted New York's Byron Haynes running a stop sign. In the ensuing car chase, Haynes drove on the sidewalks and against traffic on a busy street. Police spokesman Tom Connellan said officers broke off pursuit because the situation had grown too dangerous. Haynes was arrested later.
Haynes had ignored the stop sign because he wanted to escape quickly after setting off alarms at a library at Syracuse University. He had stolen five books related to Judaism. He is now charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, petit larceny, and a wide range of traffic infractions.

A passenger was upset at the service on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Nizhnevartovsk and asked to be served by a sober and competent flight attendant. Speaking for Aeroflot, Irina Dannenberg said the passenger, A. Chernopup, was then beaten up by two male flight attendants. Another passenger, who said Chernopup left the flight with a black eye, indicated that half the food served by the crew ended up on the aisle floor. Dannenberg said the plane and crew belonged to another airline, Aviaenergo as part of an outsourcing agreement. The crew have been suspended.

29 July 2004

Detroit's Gene Davis said his neighbour called out 'Gene, come over here and give me a hand [...]. I need some help putting this trash in the trunk'. After Davis agreed, he saw that the load of rubbish was shaped like a human body, with a leg visible. Davis said he'd need to get help because of his bad back. He went back into his home and contacted the police. When the officers arrived, 'he was still trying to put the body in there', said Davis. Police Lieutenant Billy Jackson said the dead man appeared to be the neighbour's father.

Dentist John Hall of Raleigh, North Carolina, told a 33-year-old patient to lie back, open her mouth, and swallow. She later said: 'When I swallowed it, I tasted it, and it was semen [...]. He told me it was cleaning solution.' Months later, Hall's former assistant, Cheryl Lynn MacLeod, reported that Hall would ask her to leave the examination room to retrieve items that he never used. When an investigation of the dentist was launched, a total of six women, one of whom was 14 years old, reported being told to swallow a semen-like substance. After 10 syringes of semen were found in Hall's office, his lawyer told the state board of dental examiners that the dentist was collecting his semen there in order to monitor the side effects of an anti-baldness medicine he was taking.
The dental board told Hall he may not be alone with female patients.

After a 14-year-old girl had a miscarriage at Bishop Auckland Hospital in County Durham, staff gave her a plastic specimen jar containing the stillborn baby. They told her to bring the 11-week-old foetus back the following morning to deliver it to the gynaecology department. The teenager's mother, Clare Brown, said: 'When we got home, all we could think of to do was to put [it] in the fridge. We are all upset about it, especially as I lost a baby myself recently.' Hospital staff will receive instruction on how to handle such matters in future.

Takashi Ogawa, 40, robbed a convenience store in Japan's Chiba Prefecture, stealing 38,000 yen from a cash box at knifepoint. Less than a week later, an employee who had seen the security camera footage of the incident noticed a familiar face in the shop. Ogawa had returned to buy food. The employee contacted the police when Ogawa left the shop. Officers were sent to speak with the employee. They noticed Ogawa when he returned to buy more food, and he was arrested.

Robert F. Johnson, a 55-year-old Ohio man with emphysema, arrived at the Southwest General Health Center in Middelburg Heights and stayed on the couch in the hospital lounge overnight rather than return home to his wife, with whom he had argued earlier in the evening. After at least 17 hours, nurse Lynette Chihil noticed a cold and discoloured Johnson on the couch. Police Chief John Maddox said Johnson most likely died of natural causes.

Robert Buzzell, 31, was wearing only pyjama bottoms when he took a baggage tractor at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and headed out an exit door designated for employees only. The alarm sounded, but no security personnel were nearby to stop Buzzell from driving onto an active runway. Buzzell was taken into custody after mechanics asked to see his employee ID card and he couldn't produce one. Police said he appeared mentally unstable.

Sheriff's Deputy John Hedrick saw a car travelling at about twice the speed limit, so he gave chase, with lights flashing and siren blaring. The car screeched to a halt outside the sheriff's department, and driver Daniel Clark ran into a nearby building. Hedrick captured Clark, who explained that he was late for a court hearing. After Clark's hearing for wanton endangerment, he was taken to the sheriff's department and given a ticket for speeding and driving with a suspended licence.

Leland Laird of Appleton, Wisconsin, likes to 'flip off' trains. He says this is because their loud horns annoy him at home and elsewhere. He recently pulled his wheelchair alongside a set of tracks near Fremont to do this and was surprised when part of a locomotive engine hit the chair, causing him to fall out of it and injure his arm. Laird, 54, was confined to a wheelchair in 1989 after the car he was driving was struck by a train.

Regan Thaw, a reporter for the Johannesburg, South Africa, 'Talk Radio 702', planned to deliver a gripping live report from a squatter settlement. News editor Katy Katopodis said she asked him a question on the air and 'just heard shuffling and muffled voices in the background'. A local had pulled a gun on Thaw. Thaw followed the orders to hand over his mobile phone and belongings, while the radio programme continued without his report.

Police in Milwaukee said they were at a downtown bank investigating its robbery when someone started banging on the window. Deputy Chief Brian O'Keefe said one teller kept telling the man 'Go away - we're closed' but that another then recognised the man as the one who had demanded money from her earlier and alluded to having a gun. The 35-year-old alleged robber asked to give back the money he'd stolen. He was arrested anyway.

Manuel de la Garza walked into a bank in San Benito, Texas, and demanded that a teller give him all the money in the vault. He approached the other two tellers as well, asking them to give him all their money. He then seated himself in the lobby to wait for the tellers to put all the money in bags. At one point, he told a passing bank supervisor that he was waiting for the money. When the police stormed into the building, the 41-year-old de la Garza was still waiting for his haul.

UK postal worker Sheena Gordon couldn't get mail through a letterbox, so she reached in to clear the blockage. It was 16-year-old Matthew Reilly's penis. The Selkirk teenager was fined UKP 100 after pleading guilty to public indecency. Reilly explained that he 'just thought it would be funny'.

The police in Kansas City, Missouri, have come under criticism for a new scheme that rewards drivers for safety behind the wheel. Officers stop motorists who are driving safely, then give them coupons for free ice cream. After being pulled over for yielding properly to traffic and wearing her seat belt, Paula Talley explained that she'd feared she would be late for work as a result and 'my job probably wouldn't have cared about free ice cream'.
Sergeant Don Jantzen said the division commander plans to revamp the programme within the next two weeks.

Two Toronto lesbians had been together for about 10 years when they married in June of last year under Ontario's newly passed same-sex-marriage scheme. Five days later, they decided to separate. Last month, one of the women filed for divorce on grounds of a year's separation. Lawyer Julie Hannaford said the other woman, her client, agreed to the divorce. However, the federal Divorce Act has no provisions concerning same-sex couples. A review of the relevant laws is expected.

Florida's Scott Teston wanted to start a day-care centre, so he applied to change his property's classification from agricultural to business. His neighbours complained that a day-care centre would increase traffic congestion and stormwater runoff. Teston decided to try agriculture instead - he is now raising 17 pigs in his yard. Concerns about the stench, vermin, slop runoff, and real-estate values led some neighbours to back down in their opposition to Teston's zoning proposal. The county offered a compromise allowing construction of the day-care centre but not most other businesses. But Teston declared that he had decided the venture would be too risky. He did indicate that he could supply 500 hogs if he did decide to re-file his request, however.

The local council commissioned British artist Tom Bloor to decorate a pedestrian subway as part of a visual arts festival in Birmingham. After Bloor spent nine hours pasting a collage of pop-art-style posters onto the subway, a resident complained. The council hadn't notified its cleaning division of the art project, so workers removed what they thought was illegal fly-posting. The Daily Telegraph quotes Bloor as saying 'When I saw my work in tatters, I was pretty horrified. The work is only due to be in place for six weeks because of the likelihood of it being vandalised. I never thought that the council would vandalise it before I even had a chance to finish it.'

Louisiana's Times-Picayune reports that Jesse Bryant approached a uniformed deputy sheriff at a petrol station in Slidell and began a conversation. The discussion turned to how 'there are some stupid people out there'. When the officer then asked Bryant about the plastic bag sticking out of his pocket, an embarrassed Bryant handed over the bag, which contained marijuana. The officer asked: 'What was that you were saying about stupid people?' Bryant was arrested.

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