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November 2005

8 November 2005

In Australia, the mayor of Maroondah council said of a parking ticket issued to a car outside a shopping centre: 'The local laws officer did not notice anything unusual regarding the vehicle, and is extremely distressed to have learned of the situation'. The situation referred to by Mayor Paul Denham is that the vehicle's driver was slumped at the wheel when the ticket was slapped on the windscreen. The 71-year-old driver, who had been reported as missing some days earlier, was dead.

London's Telegraph reports that someone found a foetus in a Liverpool alley. Someone placed flowers in the alley. Five days later, the alley behind Oakfield Road, Anfield, was lined with plush toys and bouquets of flowers. A spokesman for Merseyside police reported that the cops' investigation of the reported 'suspicious sudden death' had been concluded. The foetus was that of a chicken.

Brooklyn's Joaquin Laguer, a 27-year-old security guard, model, and aspiring rapper, decided to add a tattoo of his daughter to his collection, but he found the custom design too expensive. According to the New York Daily News, he then opted instead for a tat called 'Last Rites'. Before unlicensed tattoo artist Julio Ramos could complete the work, Laguer fell into a glass counter. He was killed and nearly decapitated when the glass sliced into his neck. Laguer's girlfriend, Shanequa Neal, said the name of the design showed that 'it was like it was his time'.

The BBC reports that Tony Price, managing director of the IT firm WStore UK, had banned chewing gum in the office, and following the ban 'it ended up on one of my directors' trousers'. Price, 33, sent a memo demanding that his 80 staff submit to DNA testing in order to determine who was responsible. When the press got wind of the plan, Price claimed he was only joking. He is now focusing on his plan to use lie detector tests to find out who alerted the press.

Last year, Quebec cheese company La Fromagerie Boivin sank 800 kilos of cheese 50 metres underwater in the Saguenay fjord in an attempt to create a cheese with a unique taste. After using divers and tracking equipment this summer in an attempt to locate the cheese, the company gave up. Cheesemaker Luc Boivin said: 'It got too expensive; at some point, you can't be crazy'. It is unclear whether the cheese could have been sold anyway; the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in July that Boivin was breaking food safety laws anyway, on account of the cheese not having been inspected at various stages in the ageing process.

Police in Bridgeport, Connecticut, said they responded to an alarm at the Bridge Academy school one mid-October morning to find William Hoskins at an office computer. Hoskins was in his underwear and apparently downloading pornography when caught. Near him was his clothing, a wallet with his ID, and a bucket of urine. Police said Hoskins told them he had simply entered the school to use the toilet.

In 2003, Bob Dougherty sat on the toilet in a Louisville, Colorado, Home Depot hardware store. When he couldn't get back up, he thought he was having a heart attack, but then he realised that glue had probably been placed on the toilet seat by three teenagers a short while earlier. He explained his plight to a store employee visiting the loo, but staffers assumed Dougherty was joking. After waiting 20 minutes, Dougherty received assistance. He has now filed a lawsuit alleging negligence, in which he explains that post-traumatic stress has left him with diabetes, heart complications, and dreams about being locked in a dark room with no windows or fresh air.

A slightly longer toilet break was enjoyed by Bruce W. Snyder, 51, who fell asleep in a Painesville, Ohio, CVS Pharmacy's loo at about 7:30pm, after an afternoon of drinking. A supervisor didn't notice him when locking the building. In the morning, a motion detector picked him up. An empty beer can and uneaten chocolate bar were found in the stall where he'd slept the night. He has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. A charge of criminal trespassing was dismissed.

In a story from Canada, Jason Shinkarik of Winnipeg found that his home had been burgled. He was working at his business the next day, the Ponderosa Pawn Shop, when a man walked in wearing a track suit Shinkarik had bought as a Christmas present for his brother. The man and two others placed three large bags on the counter. Shinkarik said: I knew they were my bags, and then I recognised all of my stuff inside: DVDs, a DVD player, watches, clothes. Most of it was there.' He flipped a switch to close the shop's gate, grabbed his baseball bat, and rang the cops. The man in the track suit, Alphonse Traverse, pleaded guilty to possession of stolen goods.

Detroit's James Green, 30, decided to perform the baggy-trousered shoplifter routine, stealing about half a dozen DVDs from a video shop in Ferndale, Michigan. He attempted his escape on a bicycle but abandoned his two wheels when spotted by officers. His trousers fell to his ankles, and he fell down. After Green had tripped twice on account of bagginess, Detective Sergeant Patrick Jones said, 'finally, he kicked off his pants and shoes' and then jumped a fence into a home's back garden, where he was arrested.

For nearly 13 years, James Lewis worked for Tennessee television station WSMV. A recent piece he wrote about an undercover prostitution sting ended with him telling the newsreaders in the studio 'In one case, they even arrested a McDonald's employee because the police officer pressed the button and said: "I'm a prostitute. I want a Big Mac." They sold it to her and busted [the employee] because it's against the law to give nutrition to a prostitute.' Anchor Dan Miller asked for more information: 'James, a little more on that: what kind of crime is that, to provide food to a police decoy?' Lewis's source - a column called the 'Fabricator', which he came upon via a Google search - didn't go into detail on that point, though it did quote Police Chief Ronal Serpas as saying: 'It wasn't just a Big Mac; it was a combo, with fries and a Coke'. Lewis resigned.

Wayne Goldsberry of Bentonville, Arkansas, heard glass breaking at his daughter's home. A bedroom window was broken, and a whitetail deer was 'jumping back and forth across the bed' in another bedroom. He spent about 40 minutes wrestling the deer bare-handed before finally twisting its neck. Goldsberry 'was walking bow-legged for a while' after the fight, according to Deputy Doug Gay.

The Associated Press reports that Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliot had planned to accept the plea agreement that Eric James Torpy's defence and the prosecution had worked out for charges of robbery and shooting with intent to kill. The agreement included a 30-year prison term. However, the plan left Torpy unsatisfied. Elliot said Torpy wanted his sentence to match the '33' on basketball player Larry Bird's jersey. Elliot said: We accommodated his request and he was just as happy as he could be'.

New Jersey's Newark City Council awarded the Newark Weekly News a $100,000 no-bid contract to run positive news about the city. The newspaper's owner, Howard Scott, said: 'Do we have critical reporters on staff? No. Do we have investigative reporters? No. Our niche is the good stuff.' Under the contract, the paper is to publish only stories based on leads from the city council, which unanimously approved the contract, and the mayor's office. John O'Brien, executive director of the New Jersey Press Association, said that using tax dollars this way is bad public policy and undermines the role of the press as a watchdog.

Steven Terrell wanted to impress the ladies. He can now impress them by being in the news. The method he used for both was to tell Christine Gray that he was an undercover officer for the Batesville, Arkansas, sheriff's department. He was wearing a jacket with a sheriff's badge on it. He didn't have a badge so showed her his driver's licence instead, as well as his tattoos. He then asked her on a date. Gray rang dispatchers to see whether Terrell, really was working undercover. Sheriff's Captain Bill Lindsey said: 'An undercover officer won't [...] wear anything to indicate his being a policeman.' Terrell was arrested for first-degree criminal impersonation.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that a three-year-old boy was admitted to the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital after a two-year-old boy shot him in the hip and thigh. The scene of the shooting was an in-home day-care centre. The owner of the gun was convicted felon Juan Ramirez, 21, the son of the day-care centre's owner. He had left the weapon on a bed in his room, one of the areas in which children regularly play.

Oregon's Leigh Nowning said she watched a tape from her son's school bus, in which the bus stopped when children told the driver that Nowning's son, a type-1 diabetic, was vomiting. The child then told the driver he was ill, and the driver told him to 'Get off the bus, then'. The 12-year-old boy was left about six blocks from his home. He used a mobile telephone to contact his mother, who noted that he was passing out when he stood up and therefore took him to the local hospital's emergency room. She announced that she plans to take action in court. Salem-Keizer School District spokeswoman Simona Boucek said the bus driver, whose censure initially consisted of a simple reminder to follow the illness policy, no longer works for the district.

Ontario authorities arrested Ubaldo Vasquez Huizar, 39, on suspicion of sexually assaulting a Rottweiler. These suspicions were formed by detectives who were working to notify Huizar of the requirement that he register as a sex offender in connection with the exposure of his genitalia to an 11-year-old girl. The detectives heard from his neighbours that he regularly sleeps in a large doghouse behind his home, sleeping in the nude with his 10-year-old dog. Several neighbours described the Rottweiler's screams of pain and said Huizar has sexually assaulted the animal with his hand and a broom handle. Witnesses say they have also seen Huizar dancing naked in his garden while clutching the broom handle and wearing only women's underwear.

A distraught woman rang police dispatchers in Kansas and indicated that she planned to kill herself. Since the call came in on a non-emergency line, the caller's location wasn't automatically displayed. The dispatchers decided to trace the call manually. To be more exact, they rang directory enquiries for a reverse lookup on the number. The operator accidentally did the lookup using the last four digits of the dispatch centre's extension. As a result, three officers smashed down the door of 80-year-old Bernice Kennedy in Lawrence, Kansas. The caller, who lives in Oklahoma, meanwhile said she would be dead in five minutes in an idling car in her garage. She had placed similar calls to other states' law enforcement agencies in the past.

A 42-year-old Frederica, Delaware, woman used rope to hang herself from a tree early on the morning of 26 October. About five metres above the ground, her body could be seen clearly from passing vehicles. State police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Oldham and neighbors said people noticed the corpse but figured it was nothing more than a Halloween decoration. Authorities arrived on the scene at lunchtime. Fay Glanden, the mayor's wife, said the body 'looked like something somebody would have rigged up'.

Russell Allon Abernathy, 21, asked a few people in an El Paso County, Texas, neighbourhood whether anyone had seen his car. Residents grew suspicious because they recognised the car as one that had been stolen two days earlier (from a home one block away), then reclaimed by its owner the next day, after it was found parked in the area. Abernathy's questions prompted one resident to ring the police. Officers quickly collected Abernathy. A rucksack officers had found in the vehicle before returning it contained a Sheriff's Office citation bearing Abernathy's name, as well as some lock poppers and slim jim tools. Reflecting on the case, sheriff's spokesman Lieutenant Clif Northam said: 'You come back and say: "Hey, where's that stolen car I stole?"'

Police in Davie, Florida, said that Anthony Roberts forced a woman into his flat and asked whether she had any money. She indicated that she had no cards or cash, so Roberts said he would accept a cheque. Lieutenant Bill Bamford reported: 'She writes him a check for $1,400 in his own name. He then binds her with duct tape, brings her into a bedroom, and at some point he decides he's going to sexually batter this woman'. After this, Roberts fled the scene and the woman rang emergency services. Shortly thereafter, Roberts visited the Check Cashing Store, a couple of kilometres away. When a clerk rang the victim to verify the cheque's validity, officers responded. Roberts was arrested after a brief chase on foot.

John Abbott the Third was in his Galesburg, Illinois, home with his girlfriend and his baby when he was paid a visit by his former fiancee and her mother, Tina Rutherford. In the ensuing altercation, the 39-year-old Rutherford picked up a broadsword and hit Abbott in the neck with it. Abbott allegedly set down the baby and picked up another sword. The two fought, inflicting minor cuts and other injuries on each other, and on Rutherford's daughter. The police were summoned and removed 21 swords from the home.

Health workers sent India's Machal Lalung to a state-run mental hospital in Tezpur, Assam, 54 years ago, leaving his family unaware of his location. When a man from his village went to the hospital for treatment a few months ago and saw the now-77-year-old Lalung there, he told the man's nephew. Investigating for him, the National Human Rights Commission found that Lalung merely has epilepsy. Assam's home minister, Rokybul Hussain, said all legal formalities to secure Lalung's release were thereupon completed immediately. 'I am really sorry for him', he added.
Lalung, whose records and memories of pre-asylum days are mostly absent, said: 'It was very difficult to stay with insane people in the same room but gradually I got used to it. [...] I am just waiting for death.'

A stripper calling herself Gia sold $50 worth of marijuana to an undercover officer in Ohio. A warrant was issued for her arrest - or, rather, for the arrest of Tanya Robinson, the name the stripper had supplied. In late June, emergency room nurse Tanya Robinson, 31, was arrested after a match for the name was found in Bureau of Motor Vehicle records, partially on the strength of an agent's 'gut feeling' that Robinson's photo looked like that of a stripper. She was held in custody for 30 hours, within which time her mug shot had been included in a media montage for news conferences on gang-related arrests. Three weeks later, authorities summoned her again. It became clear that she was not Gia, and she was allowed to return to work, where she'd been placed on unpaid leave.

20 November 2005

According to WBAL TV, Megan Oglesbee, who worked as a nursing assistant at a nursing home in Westernport, Maryland, removed a 72-hour pain patch from an elderly resident and sucked out the medication. According to court documents, she then asked a co-worker to help her reattach the patch to the patient. The 21-year-old Oglesbee's co-worker became suspicious, and the authorities were called in. In a plea agreement, Oglesbee pleaded guilty to one count of neglect of a vulnerable adult. She was sentenced to probation and payment of court costs.

A police statement quotes Texas's Angela DiSabella, 21, as saying she was following a recipe she'd found online when she mixed chilli powder and water to put on her daughter's thumbs. When the five-month-old girl continued sucking her thumbs despite the remedy, 'I decided if that did not work to pour a little more on them', dipping the girl's hands in the powder. 'When she would put her thumb in her mouth, she would look at me really weird. Then, she would not put her thumb back in her mouth, so I thought it must be working,' DiSabella said. She rang emergency services when the girl began choking. Paramedics indicated that the child wasn't breathing when they arrived, and police said they saw chilli powder 'all over the kitchen'. DiSabella faces capital murder charges.

Updates on older stories:
- The case against Tokyo physician Hideki Nemoto, 37, has finally been presented. In late 2002, Nemoto pleaded innocent of being negligent in sending a four-year-old boy home without noticing that the boy's brain had been pierced by a chopstick through his throat (he had been eating candy floss on the stick). The incident, which led to the boy's death, took place in 1999. Prosecutors are seeking a jail term for Nemoto.
- Silvia Johnson, the self-described 'cool mom' from Arvada, Colorado, who for a year held almost-weekly parties in which she supplied drugs, alcohol, and her sexual favours to her children's high-school classmates, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. The 41-year-old Johnson, who said she 'was never popular with classmates in high school', was reportedly starting to feel like part of the group.
She received additional sentences in connection with harassment, violation of a restraining order, and assault in unrelated cases involving her children and husband, said prosecution spokesman Carl Blesch.

Uttar Pradesh state police inspector general Devendra Kumar Panda appeared in court wearing a yellow dress, dark red lipstick, and a nose ring. It was in this manner of dress that he gave interviews to several local television stations. State Home Secretary Alok Sinha said the government 'has initiated a probe into Panda's behaviour'. 'It is a real embarrassment for (the) police force if its senior officer behaves in such a manner,' he added.
The 57-year-old Panda said this is a freedom-of-religion issue, as he believes himself to be the reincarnation of Radha, a female consort of Krishna. Panda's wife, Veena, said: 'He is normal at home or when he is chatting on the Internet. (He behaves this way) to get into the company of other women, whom he calls friends.' She is suing him.

In California, Christian Leroy Lindblad, 37, has been sentenced to 20 years behind bars for shooting girlfriend Tina Marie Stebbins in the groin a little over three years ago. After the shooting, his parents tried to treat her with home remedies while he held her hostage in his family's garage for six days. Robert Leroy and Shirley Royann Samantha Lindblad threatened Stebbins's young sons and other members of her family, according to a sheriff's report. When Christian mentioned the shooting to a friend, Stebbins was airlifted to an area hospital. She has now said she prays he has forgiven her for thus deserting him.
In her victim impact statement, Stebbins wrote: 'I love Christian today as deeply as I loved him before this awful thing happened to us' - and she plans to continue the relationship, which has a history of domestic violence and substance abuse, by marrying him.

Turning an eye to tabloid journalism, we find The Sun reporting an interview with Senghenydd, Wales, rugby fan Geoffrey Huish, a 31-year-old man who made the news for following through on a promise that he'd cut his testicles off if Wales won the match against England in February. The Sun quotes Huish as saying: 'I'd told my pal Gethin Probert before the game that Wales didn't stand a chance' and that 'I'd cut my balls off if we won'. After the match, Huish reportedly saw the wire cutters that Probert had left after repairing Huish's toilet and 'thought he had left them for me'. After getting up the courage, he performed the self-surgery, which the article says took about 10 minutes because 'the cutters were blunt so I had to keep snipping'. Huish brought his testicles in a plastic bag to the social club to show his friends, then collapsed from blood loss. The Sun reports that Huish, who is now seeing a psychiatrist, 'felt a bit down' at the time but otherwise isn't sure why he removed his testicles, which doctors were unable to reattach. As to his plans to have children, the tabloid quotes Huish as saying: 'I [...] still want a family - maybe I'll adopt.'

The Canadian press report that a woman from Peterborough, Ontario, received a call from her boyfriend complaining that a tape of them having sex was being shown around town. The woman thus discovered that her video camera had been stolen from her bedroom closet. Shortly thereafter, the woman's 18-year-old daughter admitted to stealing the camera and selling it to a friend for CN$200. She has pleaded guilty to theft, failure to appear in court, and breach of probation. Her lawyer, Robert Beninger, said she didn't know the tape was in the camera.

For $20, a 33-year-old Grafton, Wisconsin, woman agreed to tape herself vomiting for the sexual gratification of Sean A. Kobin, 20. Before drinking the emetic he gave her to use - concentrated drain cleaner - she asked whether it was safe, and he said it was. Two gulps of the caustic solution later, holes were burned in her digestive tract. The sodium hydroxide caused further damage on its way back up. Kobin rang 911. The woman was taken to hospital, he was arrested, and the video is being studied by the cops, who say it shows at least three other women drinking solutions of various types and throwing up.
Kobin was sentenced in 2004 to a one-year prison term for making several telephone calls and online contacts with a 13-year-old girl in an attempt to get her to drink harmful substances. She drank bleach while on the telephone with him, and hung up when she began shaking. Kobin reassured her afterward, saying her immune system would now be much more effective. She later refused to drink lighter fluid and urine, and to cut herself.

Andrew Uitvlugt, one of five candidates for mayor of Kelowna, British Columbia, has a proposal for solving the problem of drug-addicted homeless people in the city: offering them crack cocaine as a reward for doing work for the city, such as picking up litter. Once they feel satisfaction in a job well done, he reasons, they might not feel as much of a need for the crack.

The China Youth Daily reports that 47-year-old migrant worker You Guoying's husband and children took her to an undertaker's office in eastern Zhejiang province for cremation. The undertaker saw tears in her eyes and noticed that she was still moving. You had suffered a brain haemorrhage, and her family had been unable to afford further hospital treatment for her. The newspaper reported that her daughter said: 'Three days of treatment cost us more than 10,000 yuan' - the family's life savings. Sympathetic citizens donated funds for hospital care. It is unclear whether charges are going to be pressed against the family.
State media quoted Taizhou official Xu Yinghe as saying: 'The fundamental reason [for the incident] is the absence of a social welfare system'. Another case highlighting this problem occurred in August, when a Guangxi province security guard who had been lauded as a hero for fighting off a purse-snatcher couldn't pay his hospital bills so committed suicide by jumping from a hospital window.

James Michael Evans, 52, was jailed 27 years ago for failing to pay his bill at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. He has now been charged with phoning in a bomb threat against the same hotel last week. Special Agent Steven Gurley said that 'evidently he has harboured that grudge since 1978'.


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