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November 2001


4 November 2001

An Evansville, Kentucky, man succeeded in robbing the local Old National Bank but racked up failures after that. The masked Timothy Stewart, 28, placed his SKS rifle on the teller counter before jumping over the counter to collect the money. When he picked up the rifle again, he pointed it in the wrong direction; as he turned the rifle around. the barrel apparently became caught in his boot and the sights fell off. Police Captain Bill Welcher later said "He said he thought he was going to shoot his foot off".
Stewart fled in a car he had stolen earlier in the day but crashed the car when the dye packs with the stolen money exploded. So he took off on foot, running into full view of a policeman who had just arrived on the scene. Stewart then dropped all he was carrying and jumped the fence of a church parking lot. He may have escaped if it hadn't been the training day for the city SWAT team, complete with M16s and tracking dogs. Stewart was quickly captured.

The Kansas City Star reports on an attempted car theft at a coin-operated laundry. After putting clothes in a washing machine, Earther McCombs, 72, returned to her car to retrieve more clothes. A man asked her if she smoked, she replied that she didn't, and he appeared to lose interest. But before he walked away, he grabbed her car keys from her cardigan pocket.
When he tried to get into her car, she ordered him to return the keys, whereupon he refused and threatened to shoot her. Turning to her to see her reaction, he saw a jar of bleach briefly, before it hit him in the eye and shattered. McCombs said the man continued to try to enter her car, "so I hit him with the second jar", which also broke. The would-be thief, covered in bleach and liquid laundry detergent, was held for police by a man who was inside the laundry.

It is unclear what events led to the ten-minute shootout in Bloomington, Indiana. But Steven Brummett, 47, exchanged fire with Monroe Country sheriff's deputy Jeff Brahaum outside the former's house late Wednesday night. Brummett, using a pistol and rifle, refused to surrender but finally gave in when he was shot in the abdomen.
We do know why Brummett said he went on the "shooting spree". He told deputies that he was upset because he had been constipated for quite some time.

When Aarti Rishi, 20, was left in charge of Sensei Chris Cherchio's martial arts school in Bayonne, New Jersey, she decided to show students that she could catch an arrow that a student would shot at her. She failed. The arrow, deflected off her arm, hit her in the right eye. She and the students tried to remove the arrow themselves before calling emergency services, who were at first told that a woman had been kicked in the eye. She lost the eye.
Of the stunt, Cherchio said "That's not the kind of school we run". No charges have been filed against the school or the boy who fired the arrow.

City health officials in Nashville, Tennessee, designed their own "haunted house" for area youth to visit at Halloween. Instead of eerie music and images of ghosts, the "STD Free! Haunted House" features large projected photos of genitalia infected with such diseases as syphilis and gonorrhea. At the end of the haunted house is a casket, to remind peeople of the other dangers of unsafe sex. A registered nurse involved in the project, Elizabeth Frazier said "We want to scare their pants back on". The city health department's Lynnette Whitlow said "Guys would come up and say nothing scares them. Then...I could hear them screaming".
The haunted house was developed after Nashville was found to have the US's second-highest rate of syphilis.

Joshua Brissett of Cleveland, Ohio, worried that the shape of his baby's skull wasn't normal, so he decided to change it to make it look more like his own. The 19-year-old Brissett fractured the five-month-old Roosevelt Worsham's skull in this attempt. The baby's mother, Shiara Worsham, didn't report Brissett's actions until three days later, when she took the child to hospital because he was vomiting and refusing to eat. Both parents have been indicted on charges of child endangerment, although Brissett contends that he doesn't know how the child was injured.

The Houston Chronicle reports on two 17-year-olds who flew a borrowed Cessna 150 over the Friendswood, Texas, area festooning two school football fields - and players, coaches, and spectators - with paper towels and toilet paper. Christopher Patrick Cummings, who was flying the plane, had received his pilot's licence a week earlier. After spectators told police that the plane was trailing "an unknown substance", Cummings and accomplice Kevin Matthew Coker were charged with deadly conduct. Friendswood Police Chief Robert B. Wieners said "You don't play on people's psyche and anxiety in a time of crisis".

On Wednesday, two employees at Allen Press were fired for wearing Halloween-related clothing or accessories to work. Employees had received a memo stating that "anyone wearing costumes or modifying their appearance whether by makeup or change to their outward appearance to show defiance will have their employment terminated". Justin Erickson, who said he usually wears a t-shirt and jeans to work, wore slacks, a dress shirt, and a tie with a jack-o'-lantern tie pin. He said was trying to make the point that "I don't think anyone has the right to push their religious beliefs on anyone else".
Another employee said she was surprised to be fired after she wore striped orange socks and a t-shirt showing Snoopy trick-or-treating. She said "I didn't wear face paint, wigs or masks. ... If they didn't want us to wear orange or black or a shirt that said Halloween, they should've said that".

And in other Halloween news, a senior at Community High School in Michigan [IMG: The Halloween
costume] won the school costume contest after re-donning a costume he had been ordered to remove earlier in the day. As a result of the incident, Christian Silbereis, 17, was suspended for the rest of the week. The controversial costume, which used wig hair, a pink cape, and satin to convey the look of a vulva, was made by the boy's mother, midwife Rosalyn Tulip, for a party she attended last year. Silbereis said "It's just another body part. They teach us about it in school ... What if I was wearing an elbow costume?".

A Missouri nurse is suing her colleagues for drawing a heart on her buttocks while she was unconscious during a rectal exam. After the procedure, another nurse showed Phyllis DeForrest a photo of her buttocks which was taken with an endoscope. Her new "tattoo" also included "I love Dr Shaffer [the doctor performing the procedure]". DeForrest explains that she lost her dignity, saying, "It's not a practical joke when you're put to sleep. It's a bit like date rape as far as I'm concerned".

According to the Mercury News, Palo Alto, California, police are looking for a man who drove out of a car dealership with a $125,00 Porsche 996 Turbo. Police detective Dana de la Rocha explained that the dealership's general manager had just told an employee to wash the car because the customer who ordered the car was coming to pick it up after two years of waiting. A man wearing a business suit and carrying a hand-held computer approached the worker, said the car was his, and was given the keys. The real buyer arrived 20 minutes later.

James Cripps, a student at Bristol University, decided to have the complete experience when visiting Las Vegas. After an evening of drinking with Kristy Ladzik, an Australian woman he had just met, he decided to have a Las Vegas wedding. He explained "If you go to Las Vegas, you drink, you gamble, and you get married, which is what I did". The next day, the two went their separate ways. Although Cripps said he thought it would be funny, his girlfriend back in England was not amused. She refused to speak to him again. After having to enrol as a married student, Cripps has decided to try to have the marriage annulled.

And in news of other troubled relationships, Nimpha Orlino disapproved of her boyfriend's womanising, so she threw acid in his face, according to police in Caloocan City in the Philippines. Neighbours took the 49-year-old man to hospital, where Orlino threw more acid in his face. The 43-year-old Orlino is in police custody pending an investigation, according to the Philippine Star.

14 November 2001

William Stankevicz, who went into a school and attacked students and teachers with his machete, has been refused the death penalty by a Pennsylvania judge. The 56-year-old explained that he was angry about his divorce and accusations of molesting his step-daughters; he couldn't find his ex-wife's home so took out his frustration on her children's former school instead. Stankevicz attacked 11 children, the principal, and two teachers. The principal, who helped wrestle Stankevicz to the ground, suffered the most severe injuries, cuts to her arms and hands.

The Brisbane Sunday Mail reports that Australian widow Sandi Canesco has chosen a special way of storing her husband's ashes. After her husband Dustin was killed in a car accident, his 26-year-old widow had his ashes sewn into her breast implants. She said she did it so "I'd never really have to part with him at all".

In Belton, Missouri, Hector Robles held his girlfriend chained up in his apartment for four days, beating her when she tried to escape. He then told her to kill herself, providing her with sleeping pills. The 20-year-old woman said she refused to take them. She was found when police came to the apartment to arrest him for violating his probation in Puerto Rico.

A Florida health care worker has been charged with raping a paralysed and mentally disabled nursing home resident. At the Maitland Health Care Center in Orlando, Halinton Williams had what he claimed was consentual sex with the 36-year-old woman. This was discovered only when a nurse, changing the woman's undergarments, discovered a baby. DNA tests indicated that Halinton is most likely the father.

In Glasgow, a surrogate boyfriend scheme is being given a test run at Braenhead Shopping Centre. The idea is that women utilise "shopping boyfriends" while their real partners play computer games or otherwise relax at a "Men's Retail Re-charge Zone".
Brand manager Carol-Ann Stewart said "Our research reveals just how much of an energy-draining experience, not to mention a strain on relationships, shopping with a girlfriend can be for men." Alan Bryant, one of the "shopping boyfriends", said he loves shopping, especially with women, who have more shops available to them.

Musa Nyamonde claims to be divorcing his wife because her son's love life prevents him from getting to sleep. The Tanzanian man and his wife sleep in the sitting room, having given up their bed for the young man and the girlfriends he brings home, according to the Kasheshe weekly newspaper. Nyamonde added "When I ask for sex from my wife after the arousal, she refuses, saying that since we are sleeping in the sitting room the chances of being caught in the act are high".

Ten years ago, New Jersey's Harold Saber paid for his funeral. He had been ailing ever since. After his wife reported him missing one morning, police found Saber dead at the wheel of his car, in the parking lot of the Bernheim-Apter-Goldsticker Suburban Funeral Home in Maplewood. Saber, an 80-year-old retired pharmacist, had said more than once that he planned to drive himself to the funeral home when the time came. Robert Cimino, speaking for the Maplewood police department, said it didn't appear to be suicide; Saber appears to have driven to the funeral home after having a heart attack.

Japanese police performed a drugs arrest in Aichi and then let suspect Yutaka Watanabe drive away. They had arrested him for possession of illegal stimulants and placed him in handcuffs. He explained that he had some drugs in his car, but officers found nothing inside. The 20-year-old offered to retrieve the drugs himself. As the engine was still running, the escape was all the simpler. Police officials say the four officers involved in the arrest "had not been paying attention".

In Sarasota, Florida, the president of the MAD DADS anti-violence group, was arrested for punching a referee during his seven-year-old son's flag football game. Treavor Harvey, who also coached the team, complained that the game was getting too tough. The 270-pound Harvey later charged onto the field and had to be pulled off the referee.
Harvey said "That is not supposed to be the way that you channel your anger". His group is suppoed to steer young people away from crime.

On Thursday, Australia's Katherine Mary Knight, 45, was sentenced to life in prison for stabbing ex-lover John Price at least 37 times, skinning his corpse, and serving it to his son and daughter. Knight, a 45-year-old slaughterhouse worker, pleaded guilty but said she couldn't remember what happened in the house. Justice Barry O'Keefe said there would be plenty of chances for her to use her skills in the prison system.
Prosecutor Mark Macadam claimed Knight had earlier told her brother that she would murder Price and claim she was insane. Despite death threats from Knight, Price chose to continue the relationship.

A motorist called police in New Albany, Indiana, to report that a man and woman appeared to be passed out in a car at a petrol station. On arriving, police found several bags of methamphetamines; Robbie L. Griffin, 29; and Dwanna Rainbolt, 33, in the car. In the trunk were "all the ingredients needed to produce more of the drug", the Southern Indiana Drug Task Force's detective Gary Humphrey said.

Cassandra Willoughby worked on a programme aimed at keeping teens from drink-driving. Tony Durham, heavily involved in the "Every 15 Minutes" project, said Willoughby was dedicated to the project's concept rather than merely participating because it was her job. When she rolled her car, killing herself and her roommate, she was found to have been intoxicated, according to the California Highway Patrol. The "Every 15 Minutes" programme involves high-school students being shown a crashed car, seeing parents being notified of their child's death in an alcohol-related accident, and attending alcohol rehabilitation classes alongside simulated dead students.

Christie Rene Greenwood, 24, claims she was next door playing cards when her children, aged one to nine, died in her Independence, Misissippi, house, where they were apparently alone. Investigators said the family's wood-burning stove - made from a 55-gallon drum, sparked the blaze, which took the lives of Kenel Greenwood, 9; Ricky Crudupt, 7; Myron Greenwood, 5; twins Andria and Adrian Greenwood, 3; and LaParis Greenwood, 1. Firefighter Josh Criswell said "I believe that the kids were asleep. When we found them, they were all in their bedroom". The mother has been charged with negligent manslaughter.

Julie Herrukind described how she and her husband were annoyed at their three-year-old daughter Sylena for soiling her trousers. They wiped her bottom with a wire scouring pad, holding her head underwater so her screams wouldn't be audible. After the girl went cold, Julie said, "I thought we went too far this time ... I then called 911". She was arraigned in Staten Island criminal court last week.
The 24-year-old Julie and her husband were reported in 1998 for assaulting Sylena's older sister, but the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. In August of this year, Sylena was found to have a bruise under her eye, but investigators were satisfied by her parents explanation that her older sister hit her. There have been four other investigations of the couple for child abuse. The couple, both unemployed, are due to have their sixth child in less than a month.

And in other child abuse news, Pittsburgh's Melissa Lynn Ashton, 22, was babysitting her nine-year-old niece, Taylor Nick, and became upset when the child wet her bed. As punishment, Ashton hit Nick's head on the floor repeatedly. Nick subsequently died from the brain injuries she sustained. Ashton has been charged with criminal homicide (a charge rather lighter than those faced by the Herrukinds). A mother of two, Ashton is due to have a child in a couple weeks.

17 November 2001

According to the Wichita Eagle, a man showed up at Kansas's Via Christi Regional Medical Center with the hooked end of a bent coat hanger stuck in his throat. When doctors cut the hanger so he could speak more easily, he said he was trying to snag a cocaine-filled balloon he swallowed the previous night. The man told police he swallowed the balloon by accident when someone slipped it into his drink. Police sergeant Jeff Davis said there was a lack of clarity to the man's explanation of how he knew he had swallowed such a balloon. After the man, in obvious pain, talked to police, a large incision was made in his throat to unhook the hanger. He could face drug possession charges if the balloon is found.

Christopher Allen Moske, of Verndale, Minnesota, and his two friends were filming a mock hit-and-run accident at a petrol station last Sunday. Moske's role was that of the victim. According to plan, he lay on the ground after landing on the hood and fender of his 17-year-old friend's car. Then, not according to plan, an unrelated vehicle, driven by a 17-year-old customer, backed over the injured teenager. Rescue services were able to extricate Moske from the vehicle's undercarriage. He did not survive.

The Pioneer Press reports on a Minnesota 19-year-old who was ordered to remove or alter one of his tattoos. Judge Robert King said he wanted a creative sentence for Michael J. Pigg, who, upon emerging from a KKK rally with co-defendant and friend Jarod L. Sparks, punched Sparks's girlfriend's four-year-old biracial child. Witnesses say Sparks lifted the child off the ground and spat slurs at him. The judge wants Pigg, of St. Paul, to see a human rights counselor, read To Kill a Mockingbird, and remove his "100% Honky" tatoo. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said he is hopeful about Pigg seeing the error of his ways, saying the young man has already begun removing some tattoos.

The head of a chain of California salvage yards ruffled PETA's feathers with a plan to let customers try catching a turkey in the yards after buying an auto part. After Pick Your Part president Glenn McElroy advertised the scheme, in which customers could take home a turkey for 25 cents, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent animal control officials after him, armed with a list of laws the promotion would violate. For a week he has been trying to find a charity which can accept live donations or would be allowed to kill the 320 birds. He said "I still don't see anything wrong with it. I've been treating them humanely. They're in a pen with shade and water. We've bought tons of food."
But Jackie David of Los Angeles animal services said "The turkeys could hurt themselves. It's very stressful for the turkeys." PETA campaign coordinator Bruce Frierich said "We attempt to speak up for turkeys".

Simon Stertzer, who performed the US's first coronary angioplasty and remains a respected cardiovascular surgeon, uses business investments to help finance his research for Stanford University. In the early '90s he co-founded a medical instruments company. But he is abandoning his latest scheme amid bad publicity, due to what he termed "adverse characterization". Stertzer will sell the three Las Vegas strip clubs, one of which - the Palomino Club - is apparently the last establishment in the area which legally offers both alcohol and totally nude entertainment. Stertzer said he hopes to retain ownership of the land on which the clubs are set.

Someone abandoned a vibrator attached to a 10-inch-long piece of plastic pipe in a men's loo at Coffee Time Donuts. The cleaning lady, leaving work at about 8 a.m. spied the mysterious item atop a toilet and, noticing the remote control attached to it by a wire, called police. Neither the cleaning lady nor the police officers noticed the label saying "Swedish Erotica". The bomb squad, who arrived after an evacuation of the area during morning rush hour, figured things out more quickly. Constable Ken Evans said "My partner didn't have a clue what the device was, so it backfired on me because I was the one who saw it and said 'Oh, I know what that is'". He says he is now the butt of office jokes.

25 November 2001

Japan's Takara Co. have launched a new Rika-chan doll (roughly the equivalent of Barbie) who has a rounded belly and wears a maternity dress. When the buyer returns a postcard to the company, a small "baby" is delivered by post, along with a special key that Reuters describes as deflating the doll's belly. A Takara representative said "We hope it will help show children the importance of ties between parent and child". As a bonus, the child may end up confused as to the facts of life.

Juan Carlos Alcaraz was sentenced to two life terms plus 38 years in prison after he shot an Anaheim, California, police officer in the face. When officer Thomas Geary stopped Alcaraz, who pulled him over for a minor traffic offence. Alcazar said he wasn't trying to murder the officer when he fired the gun, explaining that he "aimed at the officer's bullet-proof vest" and it was Geary's fault for ducking.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, Trent Bethel held a knife to his wife's throat, put duct tape over her mouth, and threatened to kill her and the children if she made any sounds. So she decided to stay at her Baptist pastor's house - where he forced his way through a sliding glass door and fatally shot her before killing himself. A news report quotes one of the Bethels' neighbours as saying "They seemed happy. He didn't look like he would do something like that".

Chicago's Enrique Nunez, 21, was ordered to spend 57 years in prison for shooting two of the teenagers who were teasing his step-brother about his haircut. When the step-brother, 18-year-old Ismayel Higuera, rang Nunez from a Burger King and said he was being hassled by four teenagers and was frightened because words had been exchanged, Nunez showed up with a gun and opened fire on the teenagers, wounding two of them.

A former volunteer firefighter decided he would like to see a "good warehouse fire". With the help of fellow firefighter Walter Dagostino, he got his wish. A jury sentenced Michael Inzitari, of Stanford, Connecticut, to eight years in prison. Dagostino, who pleaded guilty to arson, got only three years. Each of the two men claimed the other started a fire at the warehouse where Dagostino worked as a security guard. One firefighter was injured in the blaze, which caused $100,000 in damage.

Robber Stephen Hebron, 34, dropped his wallet in a Des Moines, Iowa, shop he had just robbed. So he returned to the shop to collect it. As cashier Harpal Singh described him on the 'phone to police, the robber corrected Singh's estimate of his height and age, hoping this would allow him to get his wallet back more quickly. Police arrived and arrested him.

A police trainer in Massachusetts has been fired for inviting a stripper to perform a topless dance during one of his criminology lectures at Massasoit Community College. Sergeant Glenn Pearson isn't facing any criminal charges. As special counsel Mark Fitzsimmons explained, to "invite a female person to a class and permit her to remove her clothing" has nothing to do with preparing students to become police officers.

A man died in Deerfield Beach, Florida, as he was crossing a lake at 55 mph on a "customised personal watercraft". Leon Resnick was testing a jet-propelled water bike when he apparently collided with a duck. One of Resnick's co-workers was watching; after he turned to pick up a radar gun for a speed check, Resnick was no longer aboard. The co-worker found his corpse, which was wearing a flotation device, in the water. The carcass of a 10- to 15-pound Muscovy duck was also found nearby, and feathers were found on the handlebars of the craft, which floated to shore. The Broward County medical office said Resnick, 31, died of a blow to the head.

St. Croix Falls, Minnesota, police caught James J. Casarez, 36, after Wal-Mart authorities noticed that he put a $70 price tag on a $200 toy all-terrain vehicle. Casarez, who had also taken pseudo-ephedrine, lithium batteries, a BB gun, and a flip 'phone, was released from jail the next day. When police chief Paul Lindholm arrived at work at 6:30am the day after that, he noticed that someone had broken a window with one of the police station's landscaping rocks. Lindholm said a burglar stepped on a brand-new $700 rifle in a box and passed up computers and radios in his quest for the box of items stolen from Wal-mart, the only thing taken.
Although a detective saw the toy vehicle in Casarez's yard a few days later, he was only asked about it when he was arrested for another burglary. Casarez "claims someone else had stolen it for his small child", Lindholm said.

The load shifted and a domino effect followed, explained David Ashenfelder, who was driving a tractor-trailer carrying 8,400 chickens from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania. Thousands of chickens were killed or maimed on a ramp on Interstate 83. Ashenfelder and Department of Transportation workers cleared the carnage and a few frightened survivors from the road and the train tracks running below the ramp. Traffic control technician Bob Conrad, who dealt with the chicken spill, said "If they were turkeys, we could have handed them out as [motorists] go by".

Richard Van Ness, 33, was hunting illegally at night in Toronto when he shot at what police say he thought was a bear. But it was a pony who lived as a pet on the small farm where the hunter was trespassing. Barb Matson said she probably would have buried the pony and things ended there, if the hunter hadn't cut off the animal's head to prevent the bullet being traced. Neighbours began ringing police with tips immediately, leading to Van Ness's arrest.

Lamont Samuel, 25, couldn't sleep on Wednesday night because his neighbours' one-year-old child was crying. According to witnesses, Samuel, exchanging words with the couple, decided to shoot both of them. Both are in hospital; the baby is unharmed. Samuel, himself a father, fled the scene and has not yet been found.


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© 2001 Anna Shefl