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November 2004


2 November 2004

A 30-year-old worker at Detroit's Peerless Metals, a manufacturer of metal powders, complained that another employee had been bullying him. He decided to solve the problem himself. It apparently took him several days to fashion a sword at work. When the weapon was complete, the man used it to kill the alleged bully, nearly decapitating him, according to police spokesman James Tate. The killer fled the scene but had returned to the factory by the time officers arrived. He was having a beer.

Stephanie Cox runs a small toy shop in St. Helens, Oregon. She didn't know what to expect when two agents from the Department of Homeland Security arrived at the shop. One possibility was that something she sold could be considered a weapon suitable for use by terrorists. In fact, the officers were simply following up on a report that she was selling illegal Rubik's Cube knockoffs. After making sure she had removed the dangerous cubes from the shelves, the agents left. Cox then rang the manufacturers of the toy, who verified that the Rubik's Cube patent had expired. Commenting on the agency's concern for the nation's economy and financial systems, Cox asked 'Aren't there any terrorists out there?'

Australia's Joseph Saqu, 44, befriended women on Brisbane railway platforms and at shopping centres, using sleight of hand to convince them that he had magic powers. He went to each of the women's homes, where he performed a ceremony that he explained was designed to cure them of various ills and make them wealthy. In each ceremony, honouring a deity he called 'RW', he placed a coin on the woman's body, and eventually in her vagina. He has been found guilty of rape under Queensland law, and of stealing $250 from the last two women after promising that he could transform the money into $8500 overnight.

Normally when Japanese gangsters chop off their little finger, it is an act of atonement for a betrayal or a plan that went badly. Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, 36, is an unemployed former gangster who cut off his little finger and sent it by post to a 15-year-old girl's father in order to prove his commitment to her. Allegedly, enclosed with the digit was a note that said 'Please let us go out in exchange for this finger. I will send it again and again until you accept my request.' The father, who didn't particularly approve of Yoshikawa courting his daughter, sent the finger back. When it was posted to him a second time, he contacted the police, who arrested Yoshikawa.

During the Christmas Parade of Boats, held in September on New York's Seneca River, a couple participating in this charity event surprised spectators with their contribution. A woman wearing only a strand of Christmas lights on the upper half of her body marched along behind a bare-bottomed man, spanking him. Organisers of the event, which was geared toward children, received several complaints later. After the couple, from Brewerton, were arrested and charged with misdemeanour public lewdness, the parade organiser said it had never occurred to her that she should have to tell participants not to appear nude in a kids' parade.

Karen Stolzmann, a 44-year-old woman from Portage, Wisconsin, was arrested for being a grave robber. The grave was that of her boyfriend, Michael Hendrickson, who killed himself in 1992. His family recently discovered that his cremated remains had been stolen, along with the beer and cigarettes that had been buried with him. When sheriff's deputies searched Stolzmann's home, they found her hiding in the shower, and the urn was in her garage. It is believed that she drank the beer, possibly out of spite for not having been invited to Hendrickson's funeral. His family had not approved of his adulterous relationship with the married Stolzmann, nor of the substance abuse and domestic violence that characterised it.
Columbia County Detective Wayne Smith called the case 'twisted and bizarre'.

Steven Scott Soper, an 18-year-old Florida Marine recruit, was unhappy that his girlfriend was considering voting for John Kerry in the upcoming US Presidential election. He allegedly told Stacey Silheira 'You'll never live to see the election'. Sheriff's deputies who were summoned to the house found Soper threatening to stab Silheira in the neck with a screwdriver. A Taser was applied to him, and Soper was taken to jail, where he was awaiting psychiatric evaluation.

Wisconsin's William Dahlby claims that he threw a live electrical wire into his wife's bath simply to scare her. He said that he had hoped a near-death experience could save their marriage. He said the wire was hooked to a ground fault interrupter designed to cut the electricity when the cord hit water. His wife, who was unhurt in the incident, testified that she jumped out of the water when the wire joined her in the tub but that her husband had tried to push her back in. Prosecutors said he wanted to kill her so he could be with his mistress. A jury found him guilty of attempted first-degree intentional homicide.

Dawn Marie Perryman of Burton, Michigan, was surprised to hear, from a reporter for the Associated Press, that an apparent photo of her old driver's licence had appeared on an Islamic Web site that claimed she had been captured in southern Iraq and killed. Perryman, who was described as a US military officer on the site, said her only link with the Middle East is a relationship she had in the 1980s with a man who was in the Kuwaiti military. She said of the incident 'It's kind of scary'.

Polish locksmith Zbigniew Macewicz was summoned to a tax hearing, where he was told he owed the equivalent of about EUR 25,000 for failing to abide by the terms of a repayment agreement. He suffered a heart attack and died at the hearing. It later came to light that tax collectors had miscalculated one of the Bydgoszcz man's payments by about EUR 4, putting him in arrears on the repayment schedule. Deputy Finance Minister Stanislaw Stec said 'I express my deep regret at the taxpayer's death'. He ordered an internal audit of the city's tax authorities.

9 November 2004

Julia Bauer, a 21-year-old woman from Bochum, Germany, laid out a bowl, a packet of muesli, a pint of milk, and a spoon so she could eat breakfast before work. With these items ready on the passenger's seat of her car, she then headed off for work, preparing the breakfast while driving. When she reached out at one point to stop the bowl tipping over, she lost control of the vehicle. A police officer said that Bauer swerved, hitting a parked car and a lamppost. She caused about EUR 15,000 of damage in the wreck.

Officer David McCranie of the Tallahassee, Florida, police thought it would be funny to set off a canister of tear gas in the direction of another officer during training. The prank seemed a less good idea after the wind carried the tear gas to a row of homes where children were playing outside and adults working. About a dozen people were treated for tear gas inhalation. McCranie was suspended from the force without pay for three weeks. He was also thrown off the police tactical team.

Bryan Bridges, a 52-year-old substitute teacher from Northampton, Massachusetts, was found to have over 30 unregistered weapons in a wide range of locations in his home. Also discovered in the search of his home was a prosthetic arm, which a 15-year-old student at the local high school has since identified as hers. She had brought it to school to show to other students. It was stolen when she left it at school, according to Assistant District Attorney Michael Cahillane. Bridges has been sentenced to two years in prison on weapons-related charges. No charges have been filed in connection with the arm.

In the days after Halloween, it emerged that a 53-year-old Saskatchewan man gave some trick-or-treaters an unusual treat. Dave Kozicki of Saskatoon says his son and two other children, all nine years old, stopped at the man's house and were given cans of beer rather than the more usual chocolates or bubble gum. The homeowner, allegedly intoxicated at the time, then apparently told the children not to come back. Kozicki contacted the police, who charged the man, whose name has not been released, with distributing alcohol to minors.

Officers in Espoo, Finland, let a police dog out into an empty field to urinate. The German shepherd drew the officers' attention to a spot in the field where, it turns out, two plastic-wrapped glass jars of amphetamines had been buried. Espoo police inspector Jukka Paisio said the two kilos of drugs had apparently been hidden there for some time. An investigation has been launched.

Michael Lonsway, 43, saw a man hold up a petrol station in Warren, Michigan. Lonsway waited near the entrance, he says, and, when the robber left, tried to pin him with his car. When the robber shouted 'Let me go!', he refused and 'floored it'. With the robber on the bonnet, Lonsway's car smashed through a window. Merchandise in the petrol station was knocked over, and a fake pistol was knocked from the robber's hand. The robber fled. Lonsway says he thought he saw the man drive off in a Cadillac, so he rang the police to alert them. He was wrong about the Cadillac.
Lonsway's insurance company says it will not pay for the substantial damage to his car. Nonetheless, Lonsway said he would do the same thing again.

Four years ago, Canada's Susan MacIntosh moved in with Ray Lindley, now her common-law husband. The couple had a child and seemed happy. In January of last year, Lindley told MacIntosh he had cancer and needed to go to Montreal for treatment. He didn't have cancer but was indeed going to the hospital, for a sex-change operation. When he returned to Vancouver some months later, MacIntosh couldn't help but discover that Ray was in the process of becoming Cara-Anne. She decided to sever the relationship. An unhappy Lindley decided a few months ago to repay her by visiting her home and beating her 20 times with a tyre iron. She required major reconstructive surgery. Lindley has now been sentenced to five years in prison. Reports did not specify whether (s)he is to do time at a females' prison rather than a men's one.

Washington lawyer Kevin Y. Jung was shot and critically injured while parking at his office. Witnesses reported the licence plate number and a description of the shooter to police, who determined that another lawyer, former county deputy prosecutor William R. Joice, had rented the vehicle. Joice, who had worked on a case with Jung a few months earlier, had been scheduled to face him as opposing counsel in a civil hearing for contempt of court. When neither lawyer showed up for the hearing, 'I thought they'd resolved it', said County Commissioner Lester Stewart. Joice has been jailed while an investigation for attempted murder is conducted.

Michael Donald Marshall walked into the new Bank of America branch in Kennesaw, Georgia, and demanded $500 from the tellers. He said he had a gun. That didn't change the response of the employees, who reiterated that the bank was still under construction and not yet open for business. There was no money available yet. When the 39-year-old Marshall left the building, officers were waiting. He has been charged with armed robbery.

A vice president at Castle Metal Finishing Corp. told Kemarat Vathananand not to drink coffee in the company's shop area. Employees at the Illinois-based company later noticed a bitter taste in their coffee. New coffeepots didn't help. After a test of the coffee and the installation of a hidden camera a few weeks later, police arrested Vathananand and accused him of adding urine, lead acetate, and a heavy metal removal chemical to the coffee maker. Vathananand, a pollution-control operator who has worked at the company for 15 years, has been charged with unlawful tampering with food as well as attempted murder.

Sunderland's Jordan Barnes, 20, was drunk when he stole cash, alcohol, and two mobile telephones from a house. The police know it was Barnes because he was drunk enough to drop his key fob, bearing a head-and-shoulders photograph of him and his surname. He also dropped one of the telephones. When these items were turned in to the police, they rang the 'home' number on the telephone, ascertained that a burglary had occurred, and arrested Barnes. He admitted to burglary and was sentenced to three years in jail. A spokesman for the Northumbria Police said 'It was