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October 2001


6 October 2001

By now you have probably all heard about the Colorado man who found a three-inch segment of penis when drinking from his bottle of Ora Potency Fruit Punch. When Juan Sanchez-Marchez showed the drink to his boss, he [IMG: The non-penile bacterial mould] was told to report the matter to the Commerce City police, whose pathologist reported that it was indeed a penis. However, police spokeswoman Elaine Rowe says the pathologist was going by the shape alone and has since conducted tests which show the specimen to be bacterial mould. A smaller specimen was found in another bottle of the drink. Rowe says "We worked off the best information we had. We didn't have any clue that it could be anything else. It's very strange. I've never seen anything like this in law enforcement".

Just as Vermont state trooper Mike Sorenson pulled over a vehicle for speeding, Herbert Pearson, 72, and his son Brian Lamont Pearson, 39, stopped his Lincoln Town Car in front of the speeder's vehicle. After completing his business with the speeder, Sorenson asked the Pearsons what they wanted, whereupon they explained that they were trying to get from their home in Connecticut to Waterbury, also in Connecticut. They were in Dummerston, Vermont, 100 miles away from Waterbury. Both men were intoxicated.
On further questioning, Brian gave a false name and said he was born on 31 September, but police were able to determine that he was Herbert's son and was wanted for felony possession of narcotics and resisting arrest.

Dayton, Ohio, was the scene of another run-in with a drunk, this one not driving a car, fortunately. Ethan James Herron arrived at hospital unresponsive and was found to have a blood alcohol level of .318 percent (three times the legal limit for driving). He had bruises on his body. Herron, two years of age, had been drinking rum and Coke at home. Police report that his mother's boyfriend William S. Porter, 20, was responsible.

A North Yorkshire grammar school student died after other pupils showed her an issue of FHM magazine. This particular issue of the lads' magazine included pictures of human deformities as part of a feature on the culture of circus freaks. On seeing the pictures, 14-year-old Odette Coulson collapsed, hit her head on the concrete floor of Ripon Grammar School's cricket pavilion, and fractured her skull. At the inquest this week, a coroner said he couldn't rule out the possibility that the images contributed to her death.
Coulson had previously fainted during a biology lesson's video of people being injected.

Escapologist David Merlini spent 33 hours sealed in a block of ice in Budapest, Hungary. When assistants cut the ice open with flame throwers and chainsaws, Merlini collapsed, but he jumped up a few seconds later to release himself from a strait-jacket. To help him survive the -40 degree temperature in the ice, the strait jacket was specially lined for warmth. Wouldn't it have been easier to use a normal strait jacket and warmer ice?

It happens all the time. This time it was a 21-year-old Finn who went elk hunting with his elder brother at the weekend. The younger man showed up early for his hunting group's rendezvous in a field. When the rest of the party showed up later, the older brother mistook him for an elk and fired at him, despite his wearing the obligatory red cap and vest. It was dark out. The brother sought help in a nearby town about 30 miles away, but help arrived too late.

An Albany, New York, ice cream truck driver pleaded guilty to felony endangerment after he drove onto a sidewalk to scare a 12-year-old boy. Raymond Delgado, 20, saw the boy as he was walking his scooter to the store, so he crossed the opposite lane with his Mr. Ding-A-Ling Ice Cream truck and jumped the kerb, stopping on the sidewalk in front of the boy, who ran away. Delgado told the boy's mother he was joking around and that ice cream truck drivers do this all the time, but the court didn't buy it. He will spend six months in jail and be on probation for five years.

This item is from about a month ago, but most of you probably haven't seen it yet. Kristopher Huie, 22, decided to steal a fully loaded freight train from its yard. He climbed aboard, managed to start the engines, but couldn't figure out how to release one of the brakes. So he radioed Union Pacific dispatchers to get help. A passing conductor and engineer heard the call and held Huie until the sheriff arrived. Sheriff Bob Alford told Reuters "I asked him what he wanted to do with the train. He said he wanted to visit his family and friends".

14 October 2001

Helsingin Sanomat reported on the first ever bank robbery in the Åland Islands, a self-governing province of Finland whose official lanaguage is Swedish. When the bank robber said "Give the money here!" in Finnish, an old lady in the queue reminded him that he should be speaking Swedish. After obtaining 20,000 Finnish markkaa (not a huge amount) he was apprehended by police within three minutes.

In the Philippines, Nicolas Sivellejo decided to name his son Osama bin Laden. The devout Catholic explained that he chose this name because bin Laden is a hero for showing that the US is not invincible. Tarlac civil registrar Carlos Gatdula took the parents aside to tell them of the implications of their decision and that Osama bin Laden Sivellejo might have problems earlier and later in life on account of his name. At least the baby thus named was a boy.

Iowa's Lawrence Joel Waterman was arrested after he threatened an acquaintance with a shotgun while drunk. Nicole Ann Schroeder, 17, who met the 54-year-old Waterman at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, said Waterman invited her to celebrate his third anniversary of being sober. She said the celebration included rum and Coke, vodka, and Bud Light. Schroeder and another female called police shortly after 3am after Waterman broke out one of his windows and brandished a shotgun. After a two-hour standoff with Des Moines police, Waterman was arrested.

When William Stewart was arrested for driving drunk, sheriff's deputy Todd Hicks looked in the rubbish bags in the back seat and saw freshly scrubbed body parts. When asked "Who's in the bags?", Stewart said "That's my wife", referring to Joyce Stewart, mother of convicted killer Mark DiMarco. William was dumping limbs on rural roads.
A neighbour of the Stewarts, Laura Steele, said she was doing yard work two months ago when Joyce told her "If you hear me screaming, call the police. I'm in fear for my life". She said she regrets not reporting the four gunshots she heard on the day Joyce was killed.
After he was put in jail and placed on suicide watch, William was found hanging by a bed sheet. He is now unresponsive and on a breathing machine.
Police recall Joyce trying to intimidate jurors and concoct false testimony to protect her son. William spent a year in prison for stealing a woman's coat and purse when visiting DiMarco in jail on Christmas Eve.

A Palo Alto, California, man got into an accident, whereupon police found his driver's licence invalid and prepared to have his RV towed. The man, Alan Martin, then "became agitated and basically threw himself in the roadway", according to police Sergeant David Mackriss, who claimed that police couldn't persuade Martin to move. They used their police cars to block the lane where Martin was sitting from oncoming traffic, but Martin - and one of the police cars - was hit by a Nissan Maxima which was being chased by a San Francisco police car for disobeying a road sign.
The driver then put the Nissan into reverse and ran over Martin again, despite police firing in an attempt to stop the car. The Nissan driver was caught a short time later, and Martin was taken to hospital with multiple broken bones. He said the Nissan driver "could have killed me".

A 30-year-old man hadn't been taking his anti-psychotic medication when he travelled with his father on American Airlines, according to FBI agent Ross Rice. The younger man jumped out of his seat yelling "We're going to die! Save the [Sears] Tower!". Five passengers and crew members chased him as he ran up the aisle. After the man kicked in the cockpit door and apparently struggled with the pilot, the man was caught and bound with the safety demonstration seatbelts. The plane landed in Chicago with F-16 escorts requested by the pilot.

Merced, California, police responded to a call from Jerry Brown, who reported his Burmese python and pit bull terrier missing. After 25 minutes, the police found the 200-pound python under Brown's dwelling. The 30-pound dog had been eaten by the snake. Sergeant Andre Matthews said "It's hard to believe the pit bull didn't rip the snake to pieces". Police say the python, now back in its pen, swallowed the dog whole.

Jeffrey J. Harris, 39, was upset that one of his sons was getting more plays than the other in their homecoming American football game in Clearwater, Florida. At halftime, "the coach was trying to bring the guys inside [the locker room] with the team. And the parent said 'I want to talk to them and nobody tells them what to do but me'", according to assistant principal Kevin Gordon. Gordon told Harris he could take the boys home but asked that they change clothes in the locker room or leave in their football gear. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Harris refused. All eyes were on the drama by the time Harris was ordering his sons to remove their trousers.
When Harris "took a fighting stance" in response to police officers' efforts to defuse the situation, officers and school police subdued him with pepper spray. The boys, both starting players, sat out the rest of the game, which turned around and saw the opposing team win.

A Tyler, Texas, schoolboy left his science project in the mailbox while he played outdoors. He forgot it there overnight. After a mail carrier found the device - which included batteries, wire, and green duct tape - the next day, postal, ATF, and FBI officials converged on the location. After nearby houses were evactuated and streets blocked by police, Cindy Powers asked an officer what the problem was. She eventually figured out, when questioned, that the commotion surrounded her eight-year-old son's homemade flashlight.
The boy, Andre, said "I've got to have a bunch of science stuff", but he will need even more now that his experiment is the property of federal authorities.

The Chatanoogan reports that Tennessee's James Lusk Jr. was angry at his estranged wife and son for not attending his baptism at the Community of Christ Church. According to the younger Lusk, this is why James attacked his wife with a claw hammer in front of her seventh-grade class at Brown Middle School. After the attack, he visited a church friend and asked the man to drive him to the police station. Speaking to the police hours after the attack, "he was making statments about doing further harm to her when he did not know if she was dead or alive" said Judge Richard Holcomb.
James said he hid the hammer under his shirt and had a student knock on Donna Michelle Lusk's locked classroom door. He followed the student into the room, and Donna told her students to "run, run" and get the principal. Her injuries included a brain hemorrhage. James Jr. had also gone to his son's work site to, in his son's words "beat his brains out", but 20-year-old James Harold Lusk was working elsewhere.

In the interest of fairness, I present some comments made by someoen who has satisfied me that (s)he is in a position of knowledge concerning the story. These comments should help the reader get some small sense of why I have not taken my informant's vacuous threats of legal action seriously. My informant, to whom I shall refer as TAKE THAT OFF OF THERE,......NOW!!!!, disagrees with the younger Lusk as quoted, saying that his father was not upset because the family members didn't attend the baptism but rather because he didn't want a divorce and his wife did. TAKE THAT OFF OF THERE,......NOW!!!! adds the additional information that, when with the church friend, Lusk went to other places before the police station. Finally, TAKE THAT OFF OF THERE,......NOW!!!! disagrees again with the accused's son, explaining that Lusk wasn't going to 'beat his brains out' but had planned to shoot him.

In contrast, Pyotr V. Shmelev said he didn't plan to kill his wife but acted in the heat of passion. After he argued with his wife, Svetlana Pedash, about such issues as clothes on the bathroom floor, she and their four-year-old daughter left the Eden Prairie, Minnesota, apartment. The argument continued when all three returned home. This time Pedash said she had been with another man. So he stabbed her several times. He bought a saw the next day and cut up the body while his daughter slept. He took the girl with him when he drove to Missouri to get rid of the body parts. However, he "just couldn't" dump the head, so he kept it in the trunk, where police found it about two weeks later.
Shmelev said he didn't kill himself because of what his daughter would find on waking up.

22 October 2001

Stephen Millhouse, 20, may have been able to get away with his burglary of a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, apartment, but he made a small mistake or two. One mistake was obliging when a 21-year-old single mother who lived in the apartment asked him to remove the blue bandana he had around his face. Another mistake was his insistence on having sex with the woman. He was so desperate that he apparently said, at one point, "if you won't have sex with me, will you take off your clothes so I can see you naked?" Millhouse couldn't take a hint, so he took down the woman's 'phone number and rang her later in the day to ask for a date. The call led to his arrest.

Bob Dylan's tour security director stressed to managers of the Jackson County, Oregon, Exposition Center that the singer is a stickler for high security. Show manager Chris Borovansky recalls that "he said no exceptions. Absolutely none". When the guards later intercepted a man trying to get backstage without credentials, the security director intervened to explain that it was Dylan who lacked credentials. The director insisted that the three guards be removed. After the incident, Borovansky showed the new guards publicity photos of Dylan and explained that "there's no exception, except for one". He also said "I told [the old guards] they did a great job."

A Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, man had to reschedule his honeymoon because he punched a guest at a wedding reception, causing a skull fracture. Jeffrey A. Maytum was not a guest of the groom who punched him; he was attending another wedding reception in the hotel. Police Captain Mike Babe's report states that the groom was trying to convince Maytum's wife to come back to the groom's hotel room. When Jeffrey Maytum approached and said "Hey", the groom punched him. The Maytums' son, Don, said the groom said "What are you going to do about it?" and laughed. When Don wrapped his hands around the groom's throat, the assembled throng defused the situation.
The bride says she is sure her husband acted in self-defense.

A Fallon, Nevada, 59-year-old reacted with suspicion when he received a package containing love letters and women's underwear. Worried about the lack of return address and wondering how anyone in Reno, where the letter was postmarked, would know his address since he had just moved to town, he feared that he may have contracted anthrax when sniffing the paper to determine if it carried perfume. So he turned the package over to sheriff's deputies, who stored it in a biohazard barrel until a woman contacted the sheriff and explained that she sent the letter and was interested in the single man. Sheriff Bill Lawry said "We returned the letter and the underwear".

A student at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, decided to cheat on his Modern World History final examination, so he wrote 150 key facts on a piece of paper which he taped inside his baseball cap. The teacher saw the cheat sheet and reported him. After principal Jerome Marco decided that the student, a junior, should fail the course and be suspended from his position as student government president, community school superintendant Frank Stetson overturned the failing mark and the suspension, but that wasn't the end of it. The student government voted 51 to 19 to keep the president. Just as the furore died down, the boy's father, Carl Lavin, asked the school to stop distribution of the school newspaper and delete part of a student television programme referring to the incident. Lavin, an editor at the Washington bureau of the New York Times, said the important thing here is that he, as a parent, feels his son's privacy is the most important thing.
The student who cheated is now leading a push for students to be trusted more, under an honour code.

Consmo Cavallaro's artistic vision is to cover a house in cheese, inside and out. On Tuesday the New York "artist" began spraying pepperjack cheese into a Powell, Wyoming, home which is scheduled for demolition. The goal is to have 10,000 pounds of cheese in and on the house. After all, "It's milk. It's life". Jim Montoya, who lives 12 feet from the soon-to-be Wyoming Cheese House, fears the cheese will smell and will attract mice, birds, and annoying tourists. He also said "I don't consider painting something with food art" and expressed concern for the reputation his state might gain as a result of the stunt. Mayor Jim Milburn took a peek and concluded that "It looks like a work in progress ... the color gives it a nice texture".
Cavallaro's past projects have included filling a hotel room with cheese and covering the model Twiggy with cheese.

The Boston Globe reports that single mother Jarcente Poisson found her youngest child, Shalena Robinson, unresponsive after being beaten and strangled while in the care of her boyfriend, Bobby Robinson. Robinson said he would come to the hospital but never did. The child died three days later. Robinson is accused of the first-degree murder of his own niece - Poisson split up with Shalena's father shortly after her birth. She started going out with her ex's brother, Bobby, shortly after his release from prison.
Community members who helped feed and clothe Poisson's children noticed bruises on the mother's face, but many said she could have done little to prevent the death. One said "She was just a little lost", another "She just trusted the wrong person". Neighbours said Poisson's other daughter, aged 9, didn't go home when Robinson was alone there.

A Nazareth, Pennsylvania, woman put her handbag atop her car while she struggled to put her baby into a carseat. Jose Rivera grabbed the purse and took off on foot. However, bystnder Shana Kresge saw Rivera's "look of pleasure" and, infuriated, chased the purse-snatcher in her SUV, barelling the wrong way down one-way streets and through alleys. Finally, Rivera tripped on some fallen apples, whereupon the 100-pound Kresge shouted "Stop! Police!" and tackled the 175-pound Rivera, pounding his head into a fence each time he tried to get away. Kresge, who wears a neck brace, told him "Don't be stupid", a refrain she repeated to the brother of the woman whose handbag was stolen when he wanted to beat up Rivera.

In Carmel, Indiana, Gabriel John Lajoye had a clever proposition. Knowing how much cocaine police must seize, he asked a police officer he knew if he could re-sell any large amounts of the drug which might be lying about the station. The officer told his superiors of this and later arranged to meet Lajoye to sell him 56 grams of cocaine. Police major Randy Schalburg said "This guy pulls up, gets in the police car, gives our [uniformed] officer a couple hundred bucks for the coke and tells him he will pay the rest when he gets done selling it. He said 'Thanks', hopped out of the officer's car and, needless to say, was arrested."

Laura Gilly worked at the Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage firm until her death in the World Trade Center on 11 September. Two weeks later, MasterCard told Gilly's grieving mother of $4,600 in suspicious charges to Gilly's credit card. Police are charging Gilly's friend Sandra Miranda, 35. It seems that Miranda, who got Gilly her Cantor Fitzgerald job before being laid off a few months ago, went to feed Gilly's cat after the attacks on the twin towers. While in the apartment, she took the credit card, which she used to buy a $2,600 bracelet, clothes, and $2,000 worth of religious statues, signing Gilly's name in the shops.

As Neil Godfrey headed through the security checkpoint for his flight from Philadelphia, a guard furrowed his brow in reaction to Godfrey's only unchecked baggage, the novel Hayduke Lives. After he sat down by the gate, a National Guard member took the book, about a saboteur of environmentally unfriendly projects, and asked why he was reading it. Ten or so officers examined the books for 45 minutes, taking notes and asking questions about Godfrey's trip and his recently dropping out of university. One of the officers finaly told Godfrey he could fly.
Ten minutes later, an airline employee told him he couldn't board the plane for three reasons: his book had a bomb on the cover, he bought his ticket on 11 September (just after midnight), and his driver's licence had expired (she pointed to the issue date). He was escorted from the airport. Godfrey booked another ticket later in the day, taking a Harry Potter book instead of the novel. After examining the book, officers patted down Godfrey and told him he could fly, but later Burt Zastera, supervisor of airport operations, said he couldn't fly, offering no explanation.
Godfrey's father was later told his son made "a joke about bombs". Godfrey contends that no-one told him that at the time and that he should have been arrested, per FAA regulations, if he had made such a joke.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that two Aurora students, 12 and 13 years of age, poured hydrochloric acid into their science teacher's coffee, causing him chemical burns when he sipped it. Their attorney said "They indicated they did not realize this was hydrochloric acid" and "They thought they were playing a prank on the teacher". Police say the teacher, Jeffrey Simpson, was preparing an experiment when the bell rang for changing classes. He told the studetns not to touch the liquid and went to monitor the hallway. Officer Ken Hester said the girls, honour students, said they thought the liquid was water.
Judge Thomas Mueller didn't allow the two Waldo Middle School students to be returned to their parents.

A Long Island man left his 3-month-old child atop the trunk of a parked Cadillac for over an hour. A woman saw the infant and asked the man napping inside "Do you know there's a baby on your trunk?" The man went to nearby stores in his attempt to find the parents, then rang police. About 90 minutes later, the unemployed Vincent Nuzzi, 36, showed up on the scene and asked if anyone knew where his son was. Nuzzi later tried to escape, fighting with a cop. The child was returned to his mother.

The house where Elian Gonzalez lived for five months during his famous international custody battle has been turned into a museum displaying the child's toys and other belongings. The Little Havana house which was served as the backdrop for various news footage and the child's seizure by federal agents is also crammed with tributes from Cuban Americans.

30 October 2001

The Associated Press reported on an anthrax scare at a loan-processing office in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Hazardous materials teams were summoned to the Sallie Mae office as a result of a Washington woman sending the company a bag containing about two teaspoons of grey-white powder. The woman, who in May had informed the office of her son's death, sent some of his ashes to make a point and get his student loans discharged more quickly.
Company vice president Joseph Bailey refused to identify the woman and said "She wasn't mad. It was just a bizarre response". The ashes are being returned to the woman.

The Charlotte Observer reports on a North Carolina housewife who in 1995 helped her 14-year-old daughter and her friends with witty remarks for a teen chat room, then later posed as her daughter. Flirting led to steamy 'phone calls to a 17-year-old. She sent photos of "herself" and begged her daughter to go with her to visit him and to play the character she had created online but with "laryngitis" to explain the difference in her voice. After more visits, the mother bought condoms for her daughter, then secretly watched events unfold. The mother later told Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Detective Valencia Rivera that she felt the person having sex was "the girl from the Internet" rather than her daughter.
Worrying that the boy would grow suspicious of her daughter's "laryngitis", she had the girl study up for meeting new, older men. The girl told police that "I was terrified ... of having to have sex and what would happen if [he] discovered I wasn't her". The girl said she cried and told her mother she hated the role but that her mother pleaded "This is the only way I can be somebody else". When her school work began to suffer, her mother said they could keep each other's secrets. On a friend's insistence, the girl finally told her father, who said they would "work this out as a family", but it wasn't until 1998 that the mother sent the girl to a psychologist.
The mother's counselor, Donna Travis, says she suffers from addiction and depression. She was sentenced to 16 months in prison, where she lost 100 pounds, and is now on probation. She said she understands why her daughter refuses to see her but adds that the girl "never refused". Her husband has divorced her. The three adult men were registered as sex offenders, although the mother insists that "They thought I was 18".

Dutch police arrested Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie in front of a hundred or so children at a fair in Bergen op Zoom. The masked actors, provided by a music hall agency, did not have permission from the Sesame Street licence holder to wear the costumes, so trading standards officers summoned police. Fair organiser Jos Dauphin said "They could have done it in another away". Although police wanted the actors to remove their masks immediately, they were persuaded to leave the children's sight first. The two were later released to wreak terror upon the world.

The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that Dutchess, New York, county officials have removed names from government buildings to help deter terrorists from attacking them. County Public Works Commissioner Paul Cassillo said county government buildings would probably be targeted, if anything would be, so it makes sense to make it harder for terrorists to find such places as the County Office Building. A highway department worker, Frank Carlos, said "It certainly makes them hard to find for some people who don't know where they are". Security consultant Philip Stern said "In the big cities, the threat level is much higher ...That being said, nobody expected Oklahoma City to be a target".

Cathay Pacific pilots were rebuked after their wives and girlfriends met for lunch at the company's headquarters all wearing yellow outfits. The meeting is thought to express solidarity with 49 pilots who were fired exactly three months before. The airline had told staff to stop wearing yellow ribbons on company property, even when wearing civilian clothes. John Findlay, general secretary of the Aircrew Officers' Association, said the rebukes were not needed and said of the 24 women's clothing "It's summer; yellow is very popular".

Dwight Pichette's books have ranged from a book on the Canada-US brain drain to, his latest, a children's book about squirrels. He also wrote The Diary of a Bank Robber. On Friday an Alberta judge sentenced Pichette to two life sentences for robbing two banks after having escaped from William Head Prison, where he was serving 14 other life sentences for bank robbery. Pichette has in his 49 years robbed 60 banks. Judge Gale Sinclair explained that Pichette, who will be eligible for parole in seven years, seems to be one of those people who, although obviously intelligent, can't function outside prison.


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