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June 2006

1 June 2006

A homeowner in San Bernardino County, California, rang the police to report that the grass in his front yard, his sprinklers, and bushes were missing. Witnesses told the man, whose home is still under construction, that they saw someone taking the sod, plants, and irrigation system to a nearby home. Sheriff's spokeswoman Staci Johnson said that's where the wayward garden was found. Rogue landscaper David Roger Bowers, 34, was arrested.

A motivational speaker at a Pennsylvania school's all-school assembly told final-year honours student Corey Johnson that he looks like Osama bin Laden. Johnson said that after two days of teasing from fellow students at New Brighton Area High School, he told schoolmates that if he were Osama he'd have 'pulled a Columbine' by this point. A teacher overheard the statement and reported it to the school principal. Johnson was expelled, in keeping with the school's zero-tolerance policy. However, following a meeting with Johnson's family, school officials admitted that his remark was an off-hand comment and not a threat. He is being allowed to return to classes and is also to receive an apology from the motivational speaker.

Police in Omaha, Nebraska, received a call from a woman who said a stranger had driven up to her home, handed her a baby and a bag of nappies and supplies, then drove off. The baby was placed in foster care. About eight hours later, Lynn Carter heard that her baby had been on the news. After she showed up at the police station to claim the child, the case was solved: the baby's grandmother, Kathy Nelson, took the child to day care that morning but had stopped at the wrong house. No arrests are expected in the case.

In December, British tourist James Farrow went hiking with a friend in a remote area of Australia's Blue Mountains National Park. Disoriented and exhausted, the two men failed to make a scheduled rendezvous, so a search was mounted, and a rescue helicopter winched them to safety from a steep escarpment. The police told Farrow that, in accordance with procedure, his personal belongings had to be left behind and would be collected later. Impatient and wanting the papers in his backpack, he returned to the area a week later - with a map, rope, water, and no food. After finding the backpack, he again became exhausted, and he started walking in the wrong direction. He was again rescued, and again his belongings were left behind. He was charged with risking the safety of a person in a park and was recently ordered to pay an amount covering the cost of the second rescue.

A postman in Fukuoka, Japan, found a paper bag and plastic bag atop the postbox by Kyushu University's pharmaceutical faculty's administrative office. Because the packages bore a message warning 'It will blow up if you open it', he contacted the police, who called in more than 50 officers from its explosive ordnance disposal unit. The bags contained chocolate cake and underwear. A student explained that she and a friend, planning to present the items to a 22-year-old student at the department as a birthday gift, had left them on the postbox the previous night and 'jokingly wrote that it would blow up [...] so that they wouldn't be stolen'.

Defence attorney Bruce Carroll said that client John Gomes, standing trial for murder in Boston's Suffolk Superior Court, probably 'just didn't like the way some of the rulings the judge was making was going' last Tuesday. Accordingly, Gomes blamed Carroll and tried to strangle him with his own necktie in front of the judge. Several officers intervened to separate Gomes from Carroll. District attorney Daniel F. Conley later said: 'This type of conduct in court certainly won't be tolerated.'

Shane Torrence of Wellington, New Zealand, had his right leg amputated due to complications of diabetes. He couldn't bear to part with the tattooed limb - 'maybe it's because I'd had it for 42 years' - so put it in his freezer. A little over a year later, he decided to sell it on an online auction site in order to raise money to help his daughter, who has inherited the disease. The site administrators withdrew the leg, calling the auction 'distasteful'. Police are looking into the relevant law concerning the sale of body parts.

Stevie Spencer of Denver, North Carolina, was doing some painting work in his home when he took a cigarette break. He decided to put out the cigarette in the bowl he'd put on his coffee table before his break. Now he doesn't have to finish the painting work. After his house burned down, he said: 'I forgot paint thinner was in the bowl. I thought it was water.' He estimated that the fire destroyed his house in about 15 minutes.

Two New Jersey boys, aged 14 and 15, decided that US Mother's Day was a good time to ask their 31-year-old mother for money to buy expensive jeans and shoes. She later said; 'We were sitting there watching TV and they started asking me for $100 sneakers, jeans. When I said no, they started cursing me, telling me they hated me. Then they mushed me into that wall.' She says her sons punched and kicked her until a neighbour called the police. When the police offered to return the boys to her, she refused, citing her fear that the boys would harm her five-year-old son. Upon their release later in the afternoon, the boys returned to their mother's apartment and tried to kick down the door. After arresting them, officers released them into the custody of a sympathetic aunt, who explained the boys' actions: 'She didn't give them anything. They didn't have their own TV, nice clothes.'

Ashley Dawn Dover was trying to pay for $120 worth of merchandise at an Arkansas Wal-Mart, but the electronic card scanner didn't co-operate. After Dover failed in several attempts to swipe the card, the clerk offered to help. She noticed that the card was her own, which was among items stolen from her vehicle in the store's car park three days earlier. Bentonville police chief James Allen said: 'The clerk looks up at her and says: "This is my stuff and I want it back." The suspect reaches in her purse, hands everything over, and then runs out the door.' The 20-year-old Dover was arrested as she drove away from the store.

Norway's Bergensavisen newspaper reports that three drug dealers were partying with their wares when things got out of hand and they rang the police for help. They rang from a cabin in Fusa to request protection because several tiny, white men were rising out of the fjord to get them. The police arrived to find three that the hallucinations had fled, leaving just three confused Bergen residents, the three-year-old daughter of one of them, about 24 kilos of hashish, about 9,000 Rohypnol tablets, and some amphetamines.

Patrick Krause was disappointed when his nine-year-old son struck out twice in a youth league baseball game. He is accused of punching the boy for this offence, leaving him with a black eye and swollen lip. Also, the boy's mother is seeking a protection order against the 37-year-old Krause. The city prosecutor's office says he faces a pre-trial hearing in June.

Canada's Burnaby RCMP say a British Columbia man entered a bank and successfully robbed it, fleeing on foot. Perhaps he worried that someone might recognise his clothes. He removed them, then tried to hail a passing taxi. The driver refused to stop, leaving the man to streak toward the Gilmore SkyTrain station. Officers spotted the 27-year-old man with ease and tackled him. He is due to appear in court soon.

Homeowners in Brawley, California, heard noise coming from next door and rang the police. They found 27-year-old Matthew Allen trapped near the bottom of the chimney. Allen, eager to be rescued, had been waving his trousers about to set off the home's motion detectors. Fire workers lowered a chain ladder to him. He was taken to hospital, and detained there when trying to flee. He explained to police that he was on the roof of the home simply to do some stargazing and that he had fallen into the chimney. He is being charged with residential burglary anyway.

Bobby Irvin of Peoria, Illinois, was unhappy to find his wife sprinkling a powder from a small plastic bag onto his sandwich. When she refused to say what the powder was, he grabbed the bag and rang his parents to request advice. They told the 41-year-old Irvin to call the police, so he did. Rose Irvin, 46, said she was trying to deal with a rough spot in her marriage by following the advice of a psychic doctor, who sent the powder to her by post for use on the couple's food. Police are testing the powder.

Three burglars freed a Syracuse, New York, convenience store of six packages of lottery tickets and some Little Debbie Coffee Cake snacks. Officer James Johnson investigated, following a trail of snack wrappers to a nearby block of flats. He arrested Curtis Hudgins, Adrian Huddleston, and a minor there. Police spokesman Sergeant Tom Connellan said: 'This was a combination of good police work and a stupid criminal.'

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that 41-year-old Marjorie Thompson was annoyed with the disruption caused by a police helicopter flying over her house late Thursday night. She set up a bottle rocket launcher and was launching her second bottle rocket at the helicopter when officers caught her. She faces a felony charge of shooting or throwing a deadly missile into an aircraft. The helicopter pilot said the unit was never in danger.

Chaz R. Watkins, 18, told the proprietor of a petrol station in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, that he had no money to pay for the $36.50 worth of petrol that he'd just pumped into his car. When Watkins tried to leave, owner Nardeep S. Bhullar fired a shot into one of the vehicle's tyres. When Watkins re-entered the car park, it received a shot in a second tyre. Bhullar, 25, was booked with aggravated assault, criminal damage to property, and illegal discharge of a firearm, and Watkins was booked with theft of gasoline.

Jason Sepulveda was training for military deployment in Iraq when he was killed in a car accident. His mother, Elis, knew that the funeral was paid for in full by the Marine Corps so investigated when she discovered that the probate court had sent the contents of his savings account to the Lupton, Colorado, funeral home, run by mayor Jim Bostick. She said the mayor 'just kind of really blew me off a lot', keeping the money, so she sued him. The judge 'gave damages, interests, court fines, everything', but Bostick refused to pay the judgement. When accused by a reporter of not making the repayment a priority, he said: 'Yes, it is a priority, and I feel that it's money that I do not owe them.' He did claim to be trying to repay money from before his 2001 bankruptcy filing.

In Largo, Florida, police officer Andy Hill was driving in traffic when the Lexus in front of him signalled a left turn. According to the police chief's daily report, Hill said he thought: 'Please don't tell me that you are going to turn left when there is a very obvious NO LEFT TURN sign facing you and a marked police cruiser right behind you.' When the driver made the illegal turn, Hill pulled him over. The driver explained that he had been 'forced' to turn left. When asked to explain further, the driver indicated the car's GPS navigation system, which was speaking the words 'turn left and continue 500 feet.' The chief's report said Hill did not issue a ticket.

Reuters reports on a case in Florida that Miami-Dade Detective Joanne Duncan called a fluke. Several friends were racing radio-controlled boats at a park north-west of Miami when one of the mini-vehicles stalled. Its owner hopped onto an inflatable raft and paddled out to the middle of the lake to fetch it. Another toy boat punctured the raft, and the 31-year-old victim, who was unable to swim, drowned.

In Indiana, a van wrecked while carrying a dining services employee and four student workers to the inaugural banquet for Taylor University's new president. Most in the van died, but one student remained in a coma. On Monday, after weeks of sitting at Laura VanRyn's bedside, her parents reported online that she was recovering but: 'While certain things seem to be coming back to her, she still has times where she'll say things that don't make much sense.' When she awakened fully, they found out why. The girl in their care was Michigan's Whitney Cerak, another blonde student who had been in the accident. The Cerak family had buried Laura VanRyn weeks earlier.

13 June 2006

George King decided to steal some Pop-Tarts from a convenience store in Salt Lake City. As he tried to leave, the clerk confronted him and, in a tussle, ripped his shirt off. He ran outside, into the car park, whereupon he was struck by a pickup truck. He got to his feet and began running again. This time he was knocked to the ground by a minivan while crossing the street. Police captain Tracy Tingey said that King again stood up and began running once more, but police officers had arrived by this point and arrested him.

The Spanish press report that when José Luis and Elisabeth G. were divorced, they made a visitation agreement. When José Luis began showing up without warning for visits, Elisabeth refused to admit him any longer. Although he won a court battle last summer in Granollers and visiting hours were set up, the decision was overturned earlier this month by a Barcelona court. Magistrate Pascual Ortuño Muñoz denied José Luis visitation rights to see golden retriever Yako. Muñoz said in his ruling: 'Visiting rights concerning an animal are unprecedented.' He stated that such arrangements would have set a precedent for pets to be treated with the same status as humans in divorce cases and added that 'common sense and reason dictate that people should not take such cases to court'.

The BBC report that a 58-year-old unemployed man entered a Saitama Resona Bank branch in Kumagaya, Japan, and asked a clerk: 'Any idea how you rob a bank?' The teller summoned another member of staff, who asked the man to leave and escorted him out. The staff member noticed blood on the would-be robber's trousers. He was carrying a knife in his pocket and had managed to stab himself in the leg. He was arrested for illegal possession of a weapon.

For the last 20 years, Florida secondary-school teacher Sue Messenger has set up fake crime scenes, including fake skeletons and various types of evidence for forensic investigation by her criminology students. She did the same this year for a field trip to Holiday Park in Ft. Lauderdale. One of the 29 students, 15-year-old Juan Cantor, said the group were looking around when they saw what they assumed was 'a real good dummy she set up'. The group soon realised, however, that they had come across a real corpse. The police determined that it belonged to David Wayne Bodie, a 45-year-old homeless man who apparently died of natural causes.

In Oklahoma we find veterinarian James Risch, who says he found a barking puppy on his porch and gave it vaccinations, a bath, treatment for ear mites, a neutering, and - with the aim of making the apparent stray more adoptable - 'a simple procedure that reduces the volume of the bark but does not inhibit the dog's ability to bark'. Nancy Miller, who lives next door, claims that he took the 10-week-old animal from her fenced yard. 'He maimed my puppy,' she said.
In a letter of apology, Risch wrote: 'I would like you to know that I have sought counseling to understand and correct my impulsive behavior.' He added that he does not dislike the Millers' other dog, Phil, 'but rather it is the barking at nothing that can be like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I have made progress recently and have been more able to tune out the barking.'

Police in Fleming, New York, said it wasn't difficult to figure out who was responsible for knocking over 53 headstones in a local cemetery. A trail of blood revealed that the culprit had left behind part of a finger, stuck between two tombstones. Shortly thereafter, officers arrested Adam C. Warner, 26, who happened to be missing the end of his right middle finger. He is charged with criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and desecration of a cemetery. He had been drinking at the time.

Elsewhere in New York, Mary Slaymaker took a seafood restaurant to court after choking on a piece of mussel shell. She said that her throat had been punctured by a 2.5 cm piece of shell and she suffered an infection as a result. Ruling on her $750,000 lawsuit, Long Island judge John Galasso said that Slaymaker should have had a 'reasonable expectation' that a meal containing mussels could have shells in it and that she failed to prove that the dish was 'defective'.

Leticia Cisneros said she thought she was simply suffering from cramps when she sat on the toilet. The 35-year-old California woman gave birth at this point, and another inmate at the Santa Barbara County Jail took the baby. An officer at the jail summoned a nurse to care for the child. Cisneros, who was jailed on 1 June on elder abuse and other charges, had told other inmates that she thought she had gained some weight recently.

Reuters reports on an escape from Athens Korydallos prison, a high-security facility where Vassilis Paleokostas, 40, was serving a 25-year sentence for bank robbery and kidnapping. His escape was made possible when another criminal, his brother, hijacked a helicopter and, with the aid of a hand grenade, persuaded the pilot to land in the middle of the prison facility. Paleokostas and Albanian convict Rizai Alket hopped aboard, and the pilot delivered the three men to a nearby cemetery, where they continued their getaway by motorbike.
A police official later said: 'The guards thought it was a surprise inspection by ministry officials and did nothing.

Canada's Supreme Court ruled in a trademark case that Barbie's Resto Bar, a bar-and-grill establishment, could retain its name despite Mattel's 'Barbie' trademark. Justice Ian Binnie wrote that there is 'no good evidence [...] that the Barbie trademark would be understood to guarantee "character and quality"', especially in view of the dictionary definition he cited, which describes a Barbie doll as 'attractive in a conventional way' but lacking personality.

Lacqetta Monroe, 23, said that 12 children attended her six-year-old son's birthday party at a Florida Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant. Only 11 left the restaurant, with birthday boy Michael James Emanuel, Jr, remaining behind. After employees at the restaurant contacted the police, the boy's relatives said they had each thought he was with another member of the family. Palm Beach County sheriff's spokesman Paul Miller said the boy has been taken into state custody.

Traffic signals at the main junction in Ashland, Wisconsin, enter a default mode when cars hit one of the poles. There was no such accident on the last weekend in May, when the lights started flashing yellow and red - and continued to do so for five days while city crews scratched their heads. In the end, the city called in the state Department of Transportation. A DOT official noticed that a paper clip had fallen behind the control panel for the signals, shorting out the system, according to city operations manager Pat Colgrove. The paper clip had been used to hold a card containing contact details for technicians who maintain the signals. Colgrove described his reaction as: 'You got to be kidding.'

The Canadian Press report that Daniel Moher, 54, walked into a Peterborough, Ontario, police station and asked the desk sergeant for a light. At this point, he produced a partially filled crack pipe. He was arrested and has been charged with possession of a controlled substance.

A 33-year-old Missouri woman said that she took her new puppy to a veterinarian when it became ill, and that the vet told her the dog was only four weeks old and needed to be returned to its mother. She said the dog died before she could return it. On Wednesday, she stormed into the home of the breeder who had sold the chihuahua to her. While the breeder was trying to go to the basement to fetch another puppy, the woman began fighting with her. When the fight reached the breeder's front porch, the other woman repeatedly hit the breeder on the head with the dead animal and then left, authorities said. According to court records, she later made threatening telephone calls to the breeder. She has been arrested.

Before joining a construction crew that was building the new FBI headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, Michael King had to pass a background check. When an agent discovered that there was a warrant out for King's arrest on drug-related charges, the wanted man ran away to a nearby church car park. King sought help from the construction workers who were chatting there, but they instead flagged down a helicopter. King was arrested.

In Pensacola, Florida, 18-year-old Tia Richardson accused ex-boyfriend Lavon Mars, 19, of domestic violence. After Mars was jailed, he rang another ex-girlfriend, Latodra Dees, and asked her to beat Richardson, who was pregnant with his child. While on the telephone, Dees attacked Richardson in her living room. Richardson defended herself with a steak knife, killing Dees. Authorities say she will not be charged, while Mars is in slightly more trouble. He has been charged with aggravated battery and obstructing justice, with a charge of third-degree murder possible also.

Police in Cleveland, Ohio, say that Tonya Edwards, 35, rang emergency services to report that her baby's father had assaulted her and fled with the 11-month-old child. A few minutes later, the man showed up at an area hospital and reported that Edwards had cut off part of the child's ear with a large kitchen knife. The severed portion of the child's ear was reattached, and Edwards has been arrested.


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