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June 2003

3 June 2003

In a story that has probably hit the news in your area, a two-year-old girl in Pomona, California, is recovering from injuries sustained at the hands of a washing machine. Her mother, Erma Osborne, had placed her in a washing machine at Lucy's Laundromat, then removed her from that machine and tried another, which locked and started running when the 35-year-old Osborne closed the door. The police freed the child after Osborne and bystanders' efforts to free the girl failed.
'I don't believe what the [security] camera says', said Osborne's grandmother, Mary.

Peter Hallinean of Rochester, New York, was arrested for supplying heroin to his wife at her workplace, the school where she taught. Principal Timothy Cliby said that assistant principal Kathleen Wiecorek called his attention to a suspicious foil-wrapped package inside a Happy Meal that Hallinean, 31, had apparently dropped off at the school office for his wife, Correy. Cliby said he found alcohol swabs, a syringe partially filled with a brown fluid, and a well-used oversized rubber band inside. Cliby, who said he had already suspected Correy of drug use, called the police. Peter said his wife has been suspended from her teaching duties.

Elsewhere in New York, Highland Falls police officer Matthew Lawrence was in full uniform and driving a police car when he decided to investigate a locked utility garage at James I. O'Neill High School. Lawrence stole a $600 leaf blower from the garage. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 250 hours of community service. Lawrence now works at a Lowe's Home Improvement store, where leaf blowers sell for $49 and up.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Joseph Kalady, 62, planned to avoid doing time for running an identification fraud scheme. To that end, he decided to fake his own death by luring homeless ex-convict William White to his home, suffocating him with a bin liner, and leaving the body in his home. His friends and relatives helped him carry out the plan. White weighed half as much as the diabetic Kalady, who was quickly found, arrested, and jailed. He died while being held at the US Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.

Florida's Sandra Garner complained that her husband, Darryl, made too much salad for their Memorial Day party, so he ordered the guests to leave, then punched holes in the walls. When the police arrested Sandra for repeatedly slapping him, Darryl was 'understanding', said Tarpon Springs police Sergeant Mike Trill, but he became angry when his wife was handcuffed and taken away. A few minutes later, an inebriated Darryl headed off for the police station on foot, carrying a handgun. Officers disarmed and arrested him.

Alabama's Anjail Durriyyah Muhammad has been charged with aggravated battery in connection with an argument with another woman at a petrol station. It is unknown what started the argument, but it ended with Muhammad pouring two litres of petrol on Nodiana Antoine, causing burns covering two thirds of her body. She is in critical condition. Muhammad could face up to 20 years in prison.

Utah's Salt Lake Tribune reports that a motorist called police at 3:00am to report that he had to swerve to avoid a child who was crawling westbound through multiple lanes of traffic. The motorist stayed with the child until officers arrived to fetch the one-year-old boy, who was clad in only a soiled nappy. Police Lieutenant Doug Edwards said that 'a baby on State Street is not what you would expect to see, regardless of the time of day'.
It appears that the child's aunt and grandmother, who had several children to look after, left a door open. One theory is that the child crawled out of the house while the two adults slept. Edwards said the aunt told officers conducting a door-to-door search that 'we're not missing any here, I don't think'. When the child's mother returned home, she found the officers and corrected this information.

Reuters reports that two nine-year-olds in London were videotaped as they hurled bricks at cars from a bridge. The girls were caught after a driver complained to police that a brick had shattered his windshield while he was driving on the M25. The girls were taken home. Due to their age, they could not be charged with a crime.

The security chief at Pittsburgh's airport said he was 'extremely upset' to discover that 23-year-old Louis Esquivel had made his way onto a parked commuter aeroplane, where flight attendants found him asleep the next morning. Esquivel, described as a parnoid schizophrenic who had disappeared from a small care facility, told police he had evaded security personnel by ducking behind a closed ticket counter near the end of the work day. He said he went through a tunnel and, once on the tarmac, found a van with the keys in the ashtray, drove to a gate, went up an enclosed ramp, and boarded the plane, which wasn't locked.
Esquivel's mother, Maria, said: 'He wasn't trying to blow up a plane or something like that.' Police said the man told detectives he wanted to pilot the plane to his boyhood home in St. Louis.

On Sunday, 22-year-old Albert Dowdy tried to break into a home in Grant's Pass, Oregon, by shattering a sliding glass window with a paint can. When he threw the can, it bounced off the glass and fell onto the floor, according to police. Dowdy did get into the home and stole a can of tuna and a box of oatmeal, but he was captured easily due to the trail of white-paint footprints Dowdy left. Officers followed the trail to a nearby motel, where Dowdy was arrested. He has been charged with burglary, theft, and criminal mischief.

The Boston Globe reports that the owner of a small shop, Ayman Moawad, looked up from cashing a cheque to see a BMW heading through the wall of his establishment. The police report that the driver was already dead when the accident occurred. He had apparently shot himself in the torso while sitting across from the shop, while the vehicle was idling. Authorities surmise that his foot either fell off the brake or hit the accelerator pedal when rigor mortis set in.

Helsingin Sanomat reports that an intoxicated man in Kokkola, western Finland, was run over by his own car in the car park of a store. Having problems getting his car started, the man opened the bonnet to jump-start the engine. The car was apparently in gear and lurched forward, running over the man's legs before hitting two parked vehicles. Though he was not behind the wheel, he qualified for a charge of aggravated drunken driving, with a blood alcohol level of .24%.

Reuters reports that Japanese journalist Hiroke Gomi has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for his unsuccessful efforts to show a security guard at Amman's international airport that a cluster bomblet detected in his luggage was harmless. Before handing over the explosive souvenir from the Iraq war, the 36-year-old Mainichi Shimbun photographer tried to demonstrate that it couldn't explode. It exploded, killing Sergeant Ali Sarhan and wounding four others. The president of Mainichi Shimbun met with Jordan's King Abdullah to apologise in person for the incident.

Brazil's Maria Rodriques, who had been married for 35 years, was surprised when her bank in Santa Catarina told her that her husband, Luiz Gonzaga, had a joint account with another woman. She said that she went to the bank to withdraw her husband's pension and 'they told me I wasn't my husband's wife and even showed me on the computer screen the name of another woman who would be his real wife.' Rodriques filed for divorce. Gonzaga hired a lawyer, and the bank has now - five years later - admitted to being at fault and been ordered to pay the equivalent of GBP 10,000 in compensation. Rodriques says she might stay divorced anyway.

14 June 2003

Tokyo's Kiroyuki Mori, who has often been told his voice sounds like that of a woman, pocketed over 10 million yen in a telephone scam in which he posed as a dominatrix. The 33-year-old Mori, who admitted to fooling over 450 men since December 2000, was arrested after a 25 May incident in which he arranged a meeting with a Yokohama man, telling him: 'I'll test whether you can be a good boy and obey my orders. Now place 30,000 yen at a location I am going to tell you so we can stay at a hotel and buy some sex toys.' The duped businessman alerted police when no dominatrix showed up at the rendezvous point.

Philadelphia's Perry Vedder, 32, worked as a guard at an armoured car company. One day in May, more than $400,000 disappeared from the Cinnaminson, New Jersey, firm. Four days later, Vedder drove a $53,000 Corvette to work. A review of security camera footage showed Vedder entering and leaving the vault near the time of the theft. When questioned by company officials, Vedder admitted to the theft.

Reuters reports that Anthony Kaleb Phillips interviewed for a position at a Stillwater, Oklahoma, construction company. He didn't get the job. Employees recognised the 20-year-old Phillips from the previous day's security tapes. He allegedly had stolen a $100 tool from the company and about $1000 worth of items from an employee's car. Payne County Undersheriff Kenneth Willerton explained that 'when he went out there [the first day] to apply for the job, there was no-one there. So he just helped himself to some items and left'.

Tennessee's Denza D. McGee, 19, was in court to face charges of criminal homicide in connection with an attempted robbery. A witness was there, and so was Gerald Cunningham, McGee's friend. The witness spotted Cunningham among the audience in the courtroom and identified him as the actual gunman. Murder detective Derry G. Baltimore said that 'today we just happened to get a lucky break'.

A teacher at a Utah junior high school broke no laws when he hid 30 pornographic videotapes above the ceiling tiles in his classroom, but he resigned and is now the centre of an investigation. After school personnel found the tapes, 'some select items were found on his school district computer, meaning Internet sites; none of them appeared to be illegal either', said Lieutenant Darren Falslev of the American Fork Police Department, who added that the teacher's problems will merely involve 'dealing with the administrative issues with the junior high'.

In Texas, Jose Guadalupe Perez's wife Beatriz accused him of having an affair. They spoke of reconciliation. Beatriz made him a tuna sandwich, and the next day his 15-year-old daughter persuaded her friends to take the groggy and semi-coherent Jose to hospital. Beatriz, 43, told police that she had ground up eight sedative pills 'because I wanted to kill him'. She said she used only three pills when she'd tried the same thing two years earlier. That time, 'all he did was sleep all day', said her affidavit.
Ernest Perez said he plans to get a job so he can bail his suicidal mother out of jail; after all, 'nobody wants their mother in jail'.

Ertha Augustin teaches 'at-risk' students in Newburgh, New York. After a confrontation with one of her students, she rang the 12-year-old boy's mother, Jamie Lynn Mereness, whereupon the boy spat in Augustin's face and pushed her. Augustin told Mereness of her intention to suspend the boy from school. Merennes allegedly became abusive and the mobile phone was handed to the school security guard.
Later in the day, after the guard went home, Mereness and her two sons broke into the church basement where Augustin works and beat her unconscious with fists, a desk, and a telephone receiver. Mereness's 10-year-old son escaped to summon help from a pay phone outside.
According to police, Mereness had called the school district's administrative office before the attack and expressed a desire for violent confrontation. Minutes before the beating, the director of the 'at-risk' students' programme called a co-ordinator to address matters, and the co-ordinator assured her that a meeting would be scheduled with Mereness.
Mereness's police record includes being charged with stabbing her boyfriend. Three of her children have been taken into custody and the 12-year-old released to a neighbour's care.

A jury took less than an hour to find former Missouri jailer Justin K. Hastings guilty in connection with his urination on four inmates in 2001. The 23-year-old Hastings admitted in court that he had urinated through a grate into a jail recreation room where inmates were playing basketball, but he stressed that he didn't intend to urinate on anyone in particular. 'I don't have an explanation; I had to urinate', he said. He remembered hearing inmates comment that liquid was falling. Hastings, who plans to join the Marines, was with a first-day jailer at the time.
Since one of the jurors read part of a newspaper article about the case, the verdict might be reconsidered by another Greene County jury.
Each inmate received $25,000 from the county as a settlement.

Reuters reports on a case in which rap artist Andrew Alcee was upset by Heartless Crew's remix of a song by his band. He claimed the remix included 'derogatory treatment' of his copyright due to the lyrics' references to violence and drugs. The judge concluded that 'this led to the faintly surreal experience of three gentlemen in horsehair wigs examining the meaning of such phrases as "mish mish man" and "shizzle my nizzle".' He said that after extensive searching of the Internet for hints as to the meaning of such phrases, he couldn't determine what the words did refer to and that they may as well have been in a foreign language.

North Carolina's Charlotte Observer reports that Steve Giannikas saw blood dripping down the wall of the kitchen in his restaurant. When he climbed the roof to investigate, he noticed that the covers to two air vents had been removed. Legs and feet were sticking out of one of the vents. The apparent would-be burglar, 35-year-old Paul DeMarco Hinson, was unresponsive. Giannikas said: 'I knew right then something was wrong.'

Enginners on a train in Washington discovered an intoxicated woman hanging upside down from a ladder at the back of the train. Lieutenant Mike Whittaker of the Hoquiam Police said that 'she was hanging upside down, topless from a moving train'. The 31-year-old woman yelled at the engineers when they approached. She threw a rock at one of them, then climbed onto the roof of the train. Whittaker said the woman was highly intoxicated and resisted arrest.

The New York Post reports that Tonya Jones, 30, was arrested for driving with a suspended licence. She is now suing the city for $18 million. After her arrest, she was mistaken for Tanya Jones, who was wanted for allegedly violating parole. From a jail cell, Tonya protested her innocence. Also, another inmate remembered the other Jones. Tanya's parole officer recognised that the police had the wrong woman, but it was still 15 days before Tonya was released and could go back to her work as an amateur boxer.

Andrew D. Scott, a 22-year-old student at St. Cloud State University, in Indiana, emerged rather drunk from a friend's birthday party to discover an ambulance parked nearby at a shopping centre. The keys were inside, so Scott took it for a short drive, leaving it two levels higher in the parking garage. The paramedics, whose patient didn't require treatment at the hospital, were told where to find the vehicle after a dispatcher received a call explaining where it could be found. Scott was arrested.

Inhong Song of Anchorage, Alaska, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December. Unbeknownst to him, his wife Wan Song, borrowed $50,000 from friends and relatives in the US and Korea, to pay for his treatments. To keep the money safe, she wrapped it in foil, cut open the back of an old teddy bear, and sewed the money inside. She stowed the bear in the back of a closet, where her husband found it in his search for more items to donate to the church jumble sale.
Wan Song put up posters describing the bear as a nine-year-old girl's favourite toy and asking the older woman and two girls who bought it for a dollar to return it. Weeks later, she followed a friend's advice and aired the whole story. She is still awaiting the return of the bear.

In Kansas City, Missouri, a car with flashing blue lights tried to pull over a car driven by Matt Bandler. Bandler, a police officer on his way to work, determined that the other vehicle, while the same type of car as many squad cars, didn't have the requisite red flashing lights in addition to the blue ones. The hunter became the hunted, with the 30-year-old suspect, Clifford Holloway, leading police on a 10-kilometre chase before crashing into a utility pole. Police found handcuffs and a badge in Holloway's car.

20 June 2003

Toronto police say a 38-year-old woman was upset that the Children's Aid Society took custody of her four children, and she believed neighbour Madeliene Monast had reported her to them. Just minutes after the children were led away, the mother used a machete to chop off the hands of the 44-year-old Monast, said Detective Chuck Vanderheyden, adding: 'It's freaky.'

Ethel Smith of Boise, Idaho, died after she was run over by a car at her home. The car was the nonogenarian's own, and she had put it in reverse gear rather than in park when she stopped the car. The vehicle rolled backward and hit her. The paramedics said they thought that the tyres were turned such that, after it rolled over her shoulder and pelvic area, the car continued in a circle and backed over Smith a second time. A bystander was then able to stop the car.

This story isn't that weird, but it's 'Pick on Canada Week'... A 53-year-old Regina, Saskatchewan, farmer caught his hand in a rock picker and couldn't attract his neighbours' attention. About 60 hours later, he cut off two of his fingers with a pocketknife in order to free himself. He then drove his tractor back home, where he was found by his wife and his friend Beverley Kanciruk.

A seven-year-old boy had apparently been locked in a Phoenix, Arizona, closet since January by his parents. After Isaac Loubriel's grandmother called the police to ask them to investigate, officers Ben Baltzer and Christi Carlton found Loubriel huddled in the closet, surrounded in his faeces and urine. According to Carlton, he weighed 16 kilograms, his hair was falling out, and his skin was falling off.
Loubriel's mother, Melanie, had initially told Carlton and Baltzer that there was no-one else in the house. During the search for the child, she insisted that the lights didn't work, then tried to bat Baltzer's torch from his hand. After the officers found the barricaded closet and its occupant, the parents later explained that they kept Loubriel in the closet because he was misbehaving.
Samantha Lagarda, the family's former landlord, said she had reported them to Child Protective Services four times over five years. She said that 'the kids always looked hungry, but both the parents were fat'.

The Associated Press report that a shoplifter in Sedalia, Missouri, used a clever diversionary tactic to make his getaway with about $60 worth of compact discs, perfume, batteries, and scissors. When Kmart security spotted him shoplifting and followed him to the loo, the man released approximately 100 honeybees. Police Commander John DeGonia said: 'He probably started yelling "Bees! Bees!" or whatever the case may be, then created that big diversion, then got out.' Employees used some of their stock of bug spray to kill the bees.

Carl Jensen's home in Provo, Utah, was proclaimed a 'McGruff [the Crime Dog] Safe House' - a safe haven for children - after the police received two reports claiming that Jensen had sexually abused children. He has now been sentenced to three years to life for molesting two children, and four other children's allegations have yet to be addressed.
'We flat out screwed up', said Orem Police Lieutenant Doug Edwards. He said Jensen's application for safe house status was flagged for attention but the application was misplaced, the status granted, and a safe house sign placed in Jensen's window.

New York's WABC reports that Paul Kushnick wanted to end his 38-year marriage with an inexpensive divorce procured via the Internet. A judge has ruled that the Mexican divorce is invalid, so Kushnick is now married to two women. Judge Anthony Falanga, State Supreme Court Justice said that 'there was no basic entitlement to the divorce from what we could see. No notice, no appearance in Mexico, just fill out some forms on the Internet and "poof, I'm divorced". It doesn't work that way.' The Internet-based firm, 'Global Associates', is not responding to telephone calls at this time.

A teenager from Great Falls, Montana, told the 15-year-old passenger in his car that he would run over a woman jogger and have sex with her corpse. The passenger did not believe him, so, saying 'watch this', 16-year-old Daniel Lee Robbins drove onto the pavement and struck the woman, 40-year-old Patty Emanuel. She was seriously injured. As soon as Robbins dropped the distraught passenger off at his home, the authorities were alerted. The boy, a long-time friend of Robbins, told the police that he had gone home. Officers found him there and took him into custody.

Police in Phoenix, Arizona, say that three armed men walked into the Mr. Insurance building and demanded money. After the men and their getaway driver sped away, the store's co-owner chased after the suspects in his Hummer. He eventually caught up with them and rolled his Hummer over their car. Two of the suspects were in critical condition, and the others escaped, to be captured later by the police.

Oleg Perkov lost his bid for mayor of the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia. He told reporters that garnering fewer than 100 votes was a humiliating defeat, by way of explaining why he castrated himself following the election. Interfax reports that the 49-year-old head of a research institute has been operated on to repair the damage.

Abagail, a six-year-old Naples, Florida, girl, learned valuable business lessons by running a small lemonade stand. A neighbour called the police and reported her for not having a temporary business permit. City official Al Hogrefe said: 'Normally we don't get involved in it but once we do get a formal request we must take action.' The city did not impose a fine on Abagail. In the end, Abagail's mother bought the permit, which cost $35; she described it as 'basically a blank check to have as many lemonade stands as we can stand'.

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