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November 2008

10 November 2008

Charles Bizilj explained that his eight-year-old son Christopher was comfortable enough around guns that he had no problem giving permission for Christopher to fire a 9 mm Micro UZI machine gun at a pumpkin as part of a pre-Halloween shooting event at the Westfield Sportsman's Club in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, Christopher did have a problem with this activity - while his father was preparing to photograph him using the gun, Christopher lost control of the weapon on account of the recoil and shot himself in the head. He died in an area hospital.

Further information has been released on events surrounding Czech woman Barbora Skrlova, who fled to Norway in the guise of a 13-year-old to avoid testifying against Klara Mauerova in a child abuse trial (see 21 January 2008 Clippings). Mauerova's two sons - along with a seemingly innocent Skrlova - had been freed from Mauerova's home by police officers after images from the home's child monitor reached a similar system owned by a neighbour.
A court in Brno has heard that relatives had partially skinned Mauerova's eight-year-old son, Ondrej, and ate the raw flesh. He was made to eat some himself as well. Ondrej and his 10-year-old brother described having cigarettes stubbed out on their skin by Mauerova and other relatives, being kept locked in a cellar, being forced to cut themselves with knives. etc. Mauerova has been sentenced to nine years in jail, and several others have been given shorter prison terms in connection with the affair.

Japan's Tatsuhiko Kawata agreed to wed his mistress. On the night before the ceremony was to take place, he splashed oil on the floor of the wedding venue, in a resort hotel in Hokuto, and started a fire. When he didn't show up for the wedding, his mistress rang him, whereupon he told her that he'd not invited any guests. The woman cancelled the wedding, which prompted the hotel to link the fire with the couple.
Kawata later explained to the police that 'I started the fire because I didn't want to break up with my wife [...] and I didn't want to split with my mistress either'.

In a routine traffic stop, police near Szigetvar, Hungary, noticed a dozen pigs stuffed into a minivan. The pigs, which weighed around 25 to 30 kilos each, came from a nearby farm, from which 35 pigs had disappeared in the days leading up to the traffic stop. Reuters reports that a police spokesman said the pigs 'were really squashed into the car very tightly'.

Vipul Sharma, 22, met a woman at a New Zealand bar and drove her to a park, where he raped her in the back seat. He then fell asleep, whereupon the woman drove his car to the Auckland Central police station. He was arrested and has now been found guilty of abduction and two charges of rape.

Jim O'Neill, 65, suffered a stroke while flying a small aircraft from Glasgow to Essex. He asked for assistance because the dials seemed to be dazzling him. When instructions from the ground proved inadequate to guide him to the ground, it became clear that he had gone blind, and the RAF base at Linton-on-Ouse sent its chief flying instructor to fly alongside O'Neill's plane and guide him to the ground while flying alongside. 'I owe my life - and those of dozens of people I could have crash-landed on - to the RAF,' said O'Neill, who has since recovered some of his sight.

Workers in the back of the police station in a suburb of Adelaide, Australia, heard the glass of the station's front door being smashed in the wee hours of Monday. They decided to investigate. In the front hallway was a 16-year-old boy, who had just caused about 1000 euros in damage. The South Australia state police Web site reported that 'the quickest way of getting arrested is to break into a police station'. Alcohol may have been involved in the incident.

Authorities in Evanston, Illinois, have discovered a 90-year-old woman living with her three siblings, all of them deceased. Each was in a different part of the house and covered with blankets. One is believed to have died in the late 1970s, while the others departed in more recent years. The sole living occupant of the house, Margaret Bernstorff, would tell people who asked simply that her brother had gone to live with relatives and that one of her sisters was agoraphobic. The 90-year-old woman was taken for observation at a geriatric hospital. Autopsies showed that her siblings had died of natural causes.

Michelle Felicetta was jogging on a trail in northern Arizona when a fox approached her in a clearing. The animal lunged at her as she began backing away from it, and it buried its teeth in her feet. So that it could be tested for rabies, Felicetta grabbed it by the neck. With its teeth now in her arm, she ran back to her car, a couple of kilometres away, then prised the fox's jaws open, threw the animal into the boot of her car, and drove to a hospital. When the car boot was opened later, the fox bit an animal control officer. Both the officer and Felicetta are undergoing a course of anti-rabies injections.

Gregorio Zamarripa, the mayor of a town in central Aguascalientes, Mexico, said that a suspect who had paid a fine for causing a disturbance in the street 'returned and said that a music player and a bottle of wine were missing from his van'. After this was reported, a police officer found the objects in the car of his partner, who'd been keeping an eye on the suspect's van. The officer arrested his partner and turned him in. The officer is to be rewarded for his honesty, according to Zamarripa, who added that 'although some of his colleagues were annoyed by his action, that is how the police should always act'.

Domenico Magnoli, a wanted Mafia member, entered a liposuction clinic in Consenza, Italy, where he had fat removed from his stomach and thighs. He had hoped not to be recognised ever again. While he was unconscious, however, the police entered the clinic in the disguise of nurses and visitors bringing flowers for him. When he woke, his guests told him he had been caught. Magnoli initially worried that they were assassins from rival gangs, and he became more relieved when served with the arrest warrant.

Lars and Shelly Brosdahl of Ramsey, Minnesota, were concerned by what they found in their seven-year-old son's candy from trick-or-treating; clear rock-candy-like crystals and $85 in cash. Their concerns were justified; the substance was methamphetamine, which had been dropped into their son's bag on Halloween night. Lars Brosdahl said: 'He said some bigger kid ran by him and asked if he wanted some candy. He said "Sure" and the kid dropped it into his bag.' Police believe the young man was a suspect fleeing the police after an assault earlier in the evening and wanting to get rid of incriminating evidence.

An Alaska state trooper stopped Charles J. Schultz for driving a stolen Ford Escort. Schultz explained to the officer that everything was fine, as the car was his own - the same Chevy Cavalier he had driven to a gentlemen's club earlier in the evening.
The 27-year-old Schultz swore he had no memory of getting into the wrong vehicle outside the club. In addition to auto theft, Schultz faces felony charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and misdemeanour charges of drugs misconduct.

Oklahoma City police said that a 23-year-old man drove his car at a patrol car driven by police captain J.D. Reid. The idea was to play 'chicken', and Reid lost, as he swerved out of the way. Then he gave chase until the other car crashed. The driver was found in the car, a 22-year-old man was lying on the ground, and a third man was hiding poorly behind a traffic sign. Two of the men were hospitalised, and the third was jailed more immediately. According to the police, the driver hadn't realised the car was a police vehicle when he decided to drive at it.

At the end of last month, California hairstylist Tony Van was due to receive the jury's verdict in a case filed against him for auto theft. The 37-year-old man has now been charged with arriving at the courthouse in a stolen Lexus SUV. The police had found their attention drawn to the vehicle when they noticed several Yorkshire terriers around it. Van had left the dogs in the car, but some had escaped. In addition to the new crop of car-theft-related charges, he is being charged with animal cruelty and leaving animals in an unattended vehicle. He was convicted in the prior case.

Frisco, Texas, police officer Jerry Varner said that he was directing traffic outside a concert near Dallas when he noticed his own truck - which he had parked about 100 metres away - heading toward him. Varner ordered the driver to pull over, whereupon the man put the truck into reverse gear and tried to make his escape. The driver, 22-year-old Matthew Herring, hit several cars during this attempt and was eventually surrounded by police cars. Herring's attempt to flee on foot didn't work either. He faces charges of theft and evading arrest.

Trudi Watson, an accident and emergency nurse at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital, handled the case of a clergyman in his fifties. She said the vicar 'explained to me, quite sincerely, he had been hanging curtains naked in the kitchen when he fell backwards onto the kitchen table and onto a potato'. He underwent surgery to have the spud removed from his posterior. While the vicar had emphasised that he'd not been playing 'sex games', Watson took the opportunity to advise anyone tempted to use such objects in sex games to think again.

In the days leading up to the US Presidential election, electrical engineer Shawn Turschak became annoyed with the constant theft of McCain--Palin campaign signs from the yard of his North Carolina home. Accordingly, he hooked up his latest sign to the power source for an electric pet fence and also installed a surveillance camera. It wasn't long before a nine-year-old boy with an Obama--Biden sign grabbed Turschak's sign and received a shock. The boy's father, Andrew Noble, complained to Turschak and said that the boy had just wanted to see how the sign was put together. Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass said that Noble doesn't plan to press charges.

23 November 2008

When police in Wellington County, Ontario, responded to a report of a single-car crash, they found a 21-year-old woman wearing milk and breakfast cereal. Louise Light had been eating a bowl of cereal behind the wheel when she lost control of her vehicle on the icy roads and crashed into guide posts. She has been charged with careless driving.

When a man in India claimed that his under-aged daughter had been pressured into eloping with a neighbour, radiologist S.S. Thorat conducted an age test on the girl. One of Thorat's colleagues was asked to read out the report at the Bombay High Court hearing, but this proved impossible. Accordingly, judges S.B. Mhase and R.V. More had Thorat pledge that she will henceforth 'issue medical certificates and write case papers in legible handwriting, which can be read by any person easily'. Her superiors received copies of the undertaking, in order to see that she complies with it.

Teachers at a primary school in Lund confiscated invitations to an eight-year-old boy's birthday party that had been handed out at school, since not all of the children had been invited. The office of the Swedish parliamentary ombudsman said: 'The teachers had no right to collect the invitations against the students' will'; however, the school is not to be punished for its action.

A few months ago, the Church of Christ's Resurrection, a 200-year-old two-storey building in Komarovo, Russia, was found to be structurally sound, and the Ivanovo-Voznesenskaya and Kineshemskaya diocese began preparations for resuming services there. However, a snag has appeared. Thieves visited the isolated church in early October and removed all of the bricks, except a few sections of wall and the foundation work.

The sheriff's office in St. Lucie County, Florida, has reported that a 41-year-old woman got into an argument with her 11-year-old son when he refused to take his medication. After the argument, the boy went to another residence, where he began hitting a tree with a saw. His mother caught up to him, whereupon the boy hit her in the head with the saw. He then said he would give her $5 if she wouldn't call the police. She didn't accept the offer, and the boy faces a charge of aggravated battery.

Montana state trooper Darvin Mees pulled over a motorist for suspected drunk driving and asked the driver to step out of the pickup truck to perform a field sobriety test. When the driver did so, his passenger slid into the driver's seat and started to drive off. Mees described running after the vehicle and yelling at its new driver to stop. He did. Mees said that both men failed field sobriety tests and are being charged accordingly.

According to Lieutenant Scott Laird of the Springettsbury, Pennsylvania, police, a man entered a Susquehanna Bank branch and demanded money. The teller responded by fainting. The next teller showed the would-be robber an empty cash drawer. So did another. When he realised that all of the tellers were waiting for their cash drawers to be filled, the robber threatened to file a complaint, and then he left. A 48-year-old suspect was arrested nearby and has been charged with criminal attempt to commit robbery.

In Botucatu, Brazil, by contrast, people know how to get what they want. A group of men wanted drugs and machine guns, so they used dynamite to blow apart the local police station and liberate the contents of the evidence room - including 23 kg of cocaine and 100 kg of marijuana - along with bullet-proof vests and police-issue pistols. They set fire to the files in the building and then left. Police chief Carlos Antonio Juliao Filho said: 'The station was completely destroyed. It was a very audacious act.'
In an audacious act with fewer fireworks, thieves broke into the headquarters of Norway's criminal police in Oslo. The smashed window was discovered three hours later. Police representative Pia Solhaug reported that several computers were taken.

In Münchengladbach, Germany, a 22-year-old man decided to kill himself after his girlfriend rang him to break off the relationship. He turned on the natural gas taps in his flat and waited for death. Before it could arrive, his ex-girlfriend did, to collect her belongings. At this point, the young man lit a cigarette, igniting the gas and blowing up about half of the building. Both he and his ex-girlfriend survived, but 15 others were injured and a neighbour died. Court spokesman Ralf Walters said that the 22-year-old has been charged with murder, attempted murder, and grievous bodily harm.

It is tradition for rival dance/cheerleading teams at two Texas schools to exchange gifts, especially baked goods. Earlier this month, three members of the Chapin High School dance team were suspended from high school for three days for maintaining this tradition, in the form of brownies they baked for the Andress High School Dance Team. In addition to the more usual ingredients, the treats allegedly included bleach, rat poison, laxatives, and other household products.

In January, a motorist turned onto the railroad tracks in Bedford Hills, New York, later explaining that his GPS unit had told him to. More warning signs and safeguards were therefore put in place. They did not deter Jose Silva from taking his passengers on the same route recently. Silva explained later, after a train had hit his car, that the GPS unit had told him to turn right so he had. Silva has been cited with traffic violations.
Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said: 'You don't turn onto train tracks. Even if there are little voices in your head telling you to do so. If the GPS told you to drive off a cliff, would you drive off a cliff?'

The 21-year-old man in our next story may have tried to do just that. His Dodge Durango was found with its rear tyres completely over the edge of a cliff in Montana. In the passenger seat was a 19-year-old man, passed out, with a case of beer at his feet. A fire truck kept the vehicle safe until a tow truck arrived to winch it to safety. The Durango's owner has been charged with felony criminal endangerment and misdemeanor driving under the influence.

A Muslim couple in France, wedded in 2006, mutually agreed to annulment of their marriage, following a wedding-night discovery that the woman had had pre-marital sex. A court in Douai granted annulment on grounds of misrepresentation. In the wake of public outcry, the government ordered that the case be reviewed, with state prosecutors arguing that the requirement of virginity for marriage discriminates against women. An appeals court reinstated the marriage. The couple have the option of divorce.

California's Marc M. Keyser faces 10 counts of hoax mailings and three counts of mailing threatening communication. Last month, the retired teacher sent out 120 letters containing the white powder known as sugar, in an attempt to alert the public that the US remains vulnerable to bioterrorism. The letters were addressed to government offices, media, and restaurants. Keyser, who had used his real return address on the mailings, faces up to 70 years in jail for each crime.

A man entered a Swifty petrol station in Indiana and demanded the money from the till. He then tied up the clerk and grabbed a carton of cigarettes as he headed out the door. After leaving the building, he realised that he had left the bag of money inside; however, the door's electronic lock had been triggered, and he couldn't get back in.

Not wanting to make a similar mistake, Robert McIntyre and Andrew Henshall, both 28, decided to take all of the loot with them when they broke into a Halfords in Torquay. They left with two tills. A police dog was able to follow the coins that trailed behind them, and the men were found hiding nearby, along with the remaining cash.

Britain's David Phyall was the last resident remaining in a block of flats scheduled for demolition by a development company. Phyall, 50, decided to kill himself rather than move into the alternative accommodation offered. After drinking a small amount of alcohol, Phyall tied a chainsaw to the leg of a snooker table, taped down the trigger, attached the tool to an electric timer switch, and plugged it in. He then lined his neck up against the chainsaw and waited to be decapitated. The blood-splattered flat was discovered when Phyall's parents couldn't reach him and contacted the police.

A banker decided to turn his dream of being a surgeon into reality. His new career was going well - he had taken part in 190 operations at the Erlangen University clinic as a trainee doctor - when his credentials were called into question. An anonymous tip-off led to the revelation that his Oxford University diploma was the fruit of his home printer. Police spokesman Johannes Eissing told the AFP that 'the head of the clinic never noticed anything out of the ordinary with his work'. The imposter has been given a three-year prison sentence.

Three inmates at Indiana's Greene County Jail used a shower drain grate to loosen the security screws on ceiling panels in a surveillance camera blind spot, then created a passage to the women's cell block. According to a male informant, the women would 'hang out, play cards, or have sex with some of the male inmates' in the passage. They also drank homebrew that previous prisoners had hidden in the male cell block. The male prisoners - ages 44, 38, and 17 - and the women - 27, 26, and 21 - met up at least a dozen times in September and October. All six have been charged with felony escape.

A school-bus driver in Pennsylvania was upset because a 10-year-old passenger would not remain in his seat. According to Harmony Township police sergeant Jim Essek, the driver told the boy to stop moving around and then said: 'If you do it again, I'll knock you down' - which he did, by braking suddenly. The boy's mother, who had claimed before that her son was 'singled out' for discipline when people on the bus became rowdy, had persuaded school officials to have a monitor sit on the bus. The monitor did not intervene in the braking incident. The driver is to be charged with child endangerment.

Kerry Rendall Wilson was in a hurry last November when he went to a hair stylist. The hairdresser, 39-year-old Henrietta Jones, was taking too long to plait his hair, he felt, so he shot her. She died. Wilson, 30, has now been sentenced to 24 years in prison. His defence attorney said that, while Wilson had been high on marijuana dipped in formaldehyde at the time of the killing, it was actually one of Jones's sons who had killed her.

Finally, we have a more clear-cut case perhaps. Rico Todriquez Wright and Chad Blue were not particularly friendly. The 28-year-old Blue told the police that Wright shot him in the thigh and groin in September 2006. There was little evidence to support Blue's story, until Blue recognised Wright's voice on a rap CD, in a song describing the shooting. 'Chad Blue knows how I shoot' is one line. A judge has sentenced Wright, 25, to 20 years in prison, for two counts of aggravated assault.

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