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March 2007


10 March 2007

Responding to a complaint of a disturbance, police officers in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, confronted 48-year-old Eugene Hansen. Questioning him in his bedroom, they asked whether a particular item was for smoking marijuana. Hansen allegedly responded: 'That's not a dope pipe. It's my bomb.' He explained that he uses bombs to explode toilet paper rolls. Facing a felony charge of possessing improvised explosives, he could spend up to six years in prison and be subject to a $10,000 fine.

Rosie Costello of Tacoma, Washington, has admitted in court that she has collected more than $200,000 in welfare benefits over the last 20 years as a result of coaching her two children to fake mental retardation. Costello, now 46, began coaching her daughter to feign retardation when the girl was four years old, and her son from age eight. The situation came to light after Costello's now-26-year-old son, Pete, contested a traffic ticket in court without difficulty. His sibling has not been located, and his mother has pleaded guilty of conspiracy to defraud the government.

Roman Catholic parishioners attending Ash Wednesday Mass in Santa Fe, New Mexico, were in for a surprise when sexually explicit language blared from the pews. Staff members at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi discovered three compact disc players duct-taped under pews, containing recordings of foul language. Staff took the machines into the church basement. After detonating two of the three CD players, a city bomb squad determined that the machines did not pose a threat. Authorities kept the third to aid in their investigation, according to Police Captain Gary Johnson.

Samuel Sanchez of Brandon, Florida, got out of bed to answer the door. So doing, he discovered three would-be burglars, one of whom was still trying to open the door with a pocket knife. The men had rung the doorbell by accident. When they saw the 35-year-old Sanchez, they took off running; however, officers in the area soon arrested the three men, all teenagers, one of whom was found hiding in a rubbish bin.

Official Chinese news agency Xinhua reports that Han Shigen of Shulan in Jilin province earned a living by extracting bile from captive live bears - highly rewarding for him but highly painful for the bears. Han recently was attacked while cleaning the cage of his six bears, which proceeded to eat him. Two hours elapsed before the bears had calmed down enough that it was deemed safe to remove his body.

In Portland, Oregon, a panicking Edgar Dieguez-Lopez rang emergency services to report an emergency at the Caribe nightclub. The 911 dispatcher summoned a translator to help with the call, and the problem soon became clear: the nightclub wouldn't let him inside. Police responded to the call, and he was arrested for inappropriate use of the emergency telephone number and possession of drugs.

In Mungallala, Australia, three teenagers apparently used cover of darkness as an opportunity to steal petrol from a fuel shed at a sawmill. When they were done, they decided to see how much fuel they had scored - so they flicked a cigarette lighter for illumination. Indeed, they soon were enlightened, by means of a blaze that destroyed the fuel shed and the sawmill. The teens, aged 19, 17, and 15, have been charged with arson. One of the three young men was injured.

The Arizona Republic reports that 19-year-old Jonathan Zaletel apparently was using a toaster oven to cook methamphetamine in his bedroom closet when the toaster caught fire. After unsuccessfully trying to put out the blaze with water and a window-cleaning solution, he drove to Wal-Mart to buy a fire extinguisher. Upon returning with the extinguisher, he discovered that the condominium's sprinkler system meanwhile had activated and the fire department had arrived. Maricopa County authorities are having a word with him.

Perhaps they do things differently in Gary, Indiana, or it might be only Kevin Russell who thinks this way. The 21-year-old man went to a bank and tried to cash a cheque that had been given to him by 'his father'. Hobart Police Detective Jeff White said that the cheque, for $50,000, was signed 'King Savior, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Servant'. When picked up by authorities, Russell was carrying several other cheques with the same signature, for amounts of up to $100,000.

Japan's Mainichi Shimbun reports that Takashi Kanai died in his car from carbon monoxide poisoning on account of what is believed to be a genuine accident. While at a lake for a fishing trip last Sunday, the 64-year-old Kanai had used briquettes in a portable clay cooking stove in the vehicle to boil water. Officers also found an opened instant noodle meal in the car. Kanai's body was found later by his eldest son.

Howard Carlton, the warden of Tennessee's Northeast Correctional complex, said that two inmates who took a guard hostage lowered their demands as negotiations wore on. Six hours on, inmates Billy Grubb, 32, and Bradley Johnson, 25, said that they would return to their cells if given tobacco. The prison is smoke-free. They were supplied with cigarettes, then quietly locked themselves back into their cells. An investigation is being conducted into how they managed to leave those cells.

James Van Iveren of Waukesha, Wisconsin, heard a woman's screams coming from neighbour Bret Stieghorst's apartment. Believing she was being raped, he grabbed a 39-inch sword, broke down the door to Stieghorst's upstairs flat, and demanded: 'Where is she?'. After Van Iveren, 39, searched the flat, it became clear that the screams were coming from a porn DVD, not from a woman being raped. Van Iveren, who is being charged with criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, and criminal damage to property (the door), said: 'Now I feel stupid.'

The key line from the story of an Indiana woman who stole more than $40 in petrol and then led police on a high-speed chase is what she told the officers who finally caught up with her. 'She said she wasn't going to stop 'cause she had jury duty', said South Bend Lt. Scott Ruszkowski. The South Bend Tribune reports that the woman, who was on break from jury duty at the county courthouse, had removed the (expired) licence plates from her car before the theft. She is now in jail.

Katie Martindale and James Olwine were wedded in Las Vegas on 4 March and were still on their honeymoon, in Utah, when the police received a call indicating that Olwine had run over Martindale. Lt. Paul Jaroscak, a spokesman for the Salt Lake County sheriff's office, reported that the couple apparently were arguing in their car. The 29-year-old Martindale alighted from the vehicle and was walking away when Olwine hit her with the car and pushed her into a snow bank. She may have a broken leg. Olwine was booked into the county jail. Both bride and groom apparently have served time before.

Police in Michigan were called to the Westlund Child Guidance Clinic, a school for disabled children, after a boy told a teacher that another boy there had tried to sell pot to him. The marijuana concerned was found in a box of Lego toys belonging to the eight-year-old dealer, who subsequently was turned over to his parents. It is unclear whether charges are going to be filed in connection with the incident.

Last fall, Mario Sims, accused of first-degree sexual assault of a child and of child enticement, cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and skipped town, missing a court date. The getaway vehicle was a limousine supplied by The Jerry Springer Show. Sims was not about to miss his appointment to appear on the programme, which was given this billing: 'Returning guest Mario is a proud father and is ready to marry his baby's mother -- who's also his half-sister.'
On Friday, Judge Emily Mueller set bail for the 21-year-old Sims at $50,000, explaining: 'A significant bond is legally necessary given the fact he absconded, admittedly for one of the more unique reasons I've heard in my time on the bench.'

22 March 2007

Canadian police pulled over Kristopher Lind for weaving along the road in Vancouver, British Columbia. He explained that, although he had drunk 10 beers and a double cocktail before getting into the car and did fail a roadside breath test, he was not intoxicated. His wife had purchased a sex toy earlier in the day and was having trouble opening the package, so she handed it to him to open. He said that he used his knee to aid in steering the car while he opened the package and again while putting in the batteries. A verdict in the case is due on 28 March.

Elsewhere in Canada, psychiatrist Juan Ernesto Tejeda Rosario has retired from the profession, thus heading off a disciplinary review related to allegations of sexual impropriety with patients both inside and outside the office. Among the accusations against the 63-year-old are that he sexually assaulted two male patients - using a toilet brush in one case and chasing a patient around the office with a riding whip in another. He also is accused of having sex with patients since 1991, and even assisting one man in retracting a statement concerning these goings-on. He allegedly paid the girlfriend of one of the men CN$3,000 in 'hush money'. A court case is under way.

Joseph Eric Renno took magazines and women's clothing into a dressing room at a Richland Township, Pennsylvania, Wal-Mart. When he left the dressing room later without the merchandise, the loss prevention officer suspected him of shoplifting. However, she found that the merchandise was still there, along with what appeared to be semen on the clothes and the dressing room mirror. Renno, 20, got away with it but returned to the Wal-Mart later. He declined to answer police questions about his motives.

Authorities in Bettendorf, Iowa, said that the evidence pointed to Robert Alan Fry of Rock Island, Illinois, when a jug containing about $400 in change was stolen from a local flat. The police said that Fry had used his Illinois Department of Corrections identification card to jimmy the lock and left the state-issued prison ID at the scene of the crime. The 43-year-old Fry, who had completed a prison term for burglary in January, was arrested at a local motel and has been charged with third-degree burglary, possession of drug paraphernalia, and interference.

According to the Costa Mesa, California, police blotter, a woman woke up to discover that a burglar had fallen asleep on her sofa. The man was identified as 36-year-old Michael Bonnie. Although he was naked, he had pulled a blanket over himself. Nonetheless, police arrested him on charges of indecent exposure as well as residential burglary.

Also in California is Thomas Alan Hinds Jr., 28, who allegedly met a 14-year-old girl via a telephone service that is popular with Long Beach teenagers, then enticed her to meet him in person. Covina Police Lieutenant Scott Pierson said: 'What she didn't know was that Mr. Hinds Sr. was listening in too.' The elder man allegedly picked the girl up, and the father and son sexually molested her for the next seven days. The men eventually allowed the girl to ring her grandmother to report that she was okay. The grandmother traced the telephone number and then contacted the police, who freed the girl and arrested both Hindses.

Ramona Williams, 42, of Colbert, Oklahoma, has a history with cocaine, and her son has faced drugs charges. Police lieutenant Mike Woodruff said that the mother 'was looking through her son's cell phone directory and found my number. Her son had told her that if she ever needed help with anything to give me a call. I think she misunderstood. She thought she was talking to a drug dealer.' Woodruff said he played along and set up a meeting between the woman and an undercover officer. She has been arrested.

Someone in Troutdale, Oregon, broke into five vehicles and two buildings owned by the city's parks and recreation department, making off with welding equipment, tools, generators, and six two-way radios. It wasn't enough that the thieves left blood, footprints, and fingerprints. Policeman Steve Bevens said that officers listening to the traffic on the city's secure radio network later in the evening heard two men joking around. 'They were chatting about a break-in, talking about meeting to get some beer at the Troutdale Plaid Pantry. I put two and two together,' said Bevens.
Two officers waited at the convenience store until two men walked in, each with one of the two-way radios on his belt. Danny Bristol, 38, and Lawrence Miller, 21, were arrested, despite the explanation they gave: 'We bought these from this guy.'

James Whipple, who took a one-hour flight on SkyWest Airlines on 7 March, said he had had three large beers before the flight and was dismayed when the captain announced that the toilet cubicle would be off limits since the light inside had stopped working. Accordingly, Whipple urinated in his airsickness bag. No other passengers noticed, but an air stewardess became suspicious and told the pilot, who in turn contacted the police at the destination airport. Upon landing in Salt Lake City, Whipple was questioned and then allowed to leave, with a flight voucher and an apology from the airline.

New Jersey state police said that 75-year-old Michail Makarenko was approached at a road services station by 26-year-old Brian White of Texas, who tried to sell religious materials to him. When the Russian immigrant said that he wasn't interested in buying a homemade religious CD, White picked up a rock and hit him in the head. The blows were fatal. A witness took off after White's white Camaro and alerted the police, who arrested White after a 145-kilometre chase.

Robert Theriault, formerly a security officer at the Franklin County, New Hampshire, district court, has been convicted of prostitution. A couple have testified that the 49-year-old Theriault convinced them to test bed sheets and condoms for an insurance company in exchange for $20. They said that they agreed to have sex in front of him because they needed the money to pay a speeding fine and that they trusted him since he was a court officer. They reported the incident after reading news accounts of Theriault making a similar offer to another man.

As part of a sentence for breaking the speed limit, an Indiana judge sentenced 18-year-old Ryan Henry to riding the bus to school. Recently, Henry was clocked at 150 km/h, twice the speed limit, while heading home in the morning. He explained to the police that he had needed to pick up an energy drink at a petrol station and realised that he might miss the school bus if he didn't hurry home.

Reuters reports that Canberra's Peter Bennett, 54, wore formal army officer's dress to gain access to an air-force-base dinner, where he chatted with Australia's air force chief. Bennett, a truck driver who was once jailed for armed robbery, also was allowed into high-level security meetings and managed to be issued a defence force ID card, a local magistrate's court heard. He has pleaded guilty to impersonating a public official and making a false declaration.

Officials in Barisal, Bangladesh, were ordered to demolish illegal buildings but had no heavy equipment equal to the task, so, said Barisal city corporation chief executive Abdul Mannan, 'our officers had to hire an elephant from the circus'. They asked the mahout to have the elephant shake the poorly built constructions until they collapsed enough that workers with pickaxes could complete the job.

In Virginia, auto mechanic Dean Blevins woke up underneath a Jeep at 2:30am. The vehicle had crashed through a wall of his flat and pinned him in his bed. The windscreen was stuck between two floors of the building, preventing Blevins from being crushed. He later said that, as antifreeze splashed onto his face, he was less worried about any injuries than about going after the driver. Wesley Dewayne Smith, 34, of Roanoke, was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Oregon wrestling coach Peter Porath has received a reprimand from the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission in connection with an incident during a 2005 practice session with his team. 'At least six wrestlers, weighing between 180 and 215 pounds each, came up to Mr. Porath from behind in an attempt to give him a "wedgie". In the process of getting the boys off of him, Mr. Porath bit the inside of a wrestler's leg leaving distinct teeth marks,' the commission stated. He has been placed on two years' probation for this 'gross neglect of duty', and he must take a course on appropriate behaviour and apologise publicly to the bitten student.


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