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October 2002

8 October 2002

In an update on a December 2000 story - see - Nathaniel Bar-Jonah will not face charges that he kidnapped 10-year-old Zachary Ramsay and fed his body to neighbours in 1996. This is because the victim's mother, Rachel Howard, believes her son is still alive. Police contend that the boy in a post-1996 video offered by Howard as evidence is not her son.
Bar-Jonah spent 11 years in a mental hospital after, authorities claim, he tried to kill two boys. Before that, he forced an eight-year-old boy into his car and choked him with his belt. He was sentenced for other assaults on boys earlier this year.

The AP reports that a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Pittsburgh International Airport encountered a snag when no scissors were available. Sharp objects such as scissors had been banned from the airport as an anti-terrorism measure. The ceremony, to dedicate a replica Tyrannosaurus rex at the airport, climaxed in the tearing of the ribbon.

In White Cross, North Carolina, nine-year-old Katilyn Ann Plante died in hospital after attempting to move a turtle out of the way of oncoming cars...
The girl had been riding with her father when she saw the creature in the road and asked whether he would let her rescue it. He assented and pulled over. In the middle of the road, Plante was struck by an SUV driven by Barbara Strickland, who swerved unsuccessfully to avoid her.
Strickland crashed into a utility pole, snapping it in half and dropping power lines onto her SUV. Officers reported that she escaped after the vehicle burst into flames. The father's name was not released, and no charges have been filed.

Four-year-old Devon Booth's 10-year-old sister beat him to death, allegedly on the orders of stepfather Louie Guerrero, 38. Las Cruces [New Mexico] Police spokesman Mark Nunley said the children's mother, Natasha Guerrero, was arrested for permitting fatal child abuse, allegedly watching television throughout the incident. Booth died in an Albuquerque hospital after his punishment for bed-wetting and drinking from the toilet. Both parents have been taken into custody, as have the three remaining children in the home.

In news from when I was on holiday, two Indian Navy planes crashed as they flew in formation to celebrate the Goa naval air squadron's safety record. All 12 aboard the I-38s were killed, as were construction workers at the house hit by one of the aircraft, according to the state of Goa's general inspector of police, Karnal Singh. Anant Salkar, an on-scene Tarun Bharat reporter, stated that one of the planes must have hit a high-tension-wire electrical tower, whose top could be seen on the ground along with aeroplane debris.

Also while I was gone, Madison, Wisconsin, 26-year-old Jonathan S. Guidici decided to get rid of his head lice by dousing a towel with rubbing alcohol and placing it on his head. He then lit a cigarette. Others in his hotel room extinguished the fire, and Guidici was taken to University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics for treatment of second- and third-degree burns over 50 per cent of his body.

Jim Zimmerman of Saginaw, Michigan, said that 'it was a mid-age crisis thing' when he decided to have a local dealership deliver a brand new Harley-Davidson to his door. He hoped to impress the ladies with the bike. Seconds after he climbed aboard, he hit a neighbour's utility trailer at 65 km/h, breaking several ribs and damaging the trailer. Zimmerman sold the Harley, with a tenth of a mile on the odometer, at a loss. Zimmerman's free mailings from the Harley Owners Group remind him that he 'didn't look at the obvious, that I hadn't been on a bike in 30 years and probably didn't remember much about it'.

Officer Jessie Watts kept watch over a car park for the South Shore Railroad after several commuters reported stereos, cash, and other items missing from their cars. From his surveillance minivan, the officer saw two men get out of their car and then turn to the minivan and open its door. So Officer Watts jumped out and arrested them. The pair, Robinson Morales, 25, and Fiore Petrassi, 20, were charged after police found stolen stereo equipment and burglary tools in their car.

John Moscatello, Jr, is suing the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark in a 'wrongful life' claim asserting negligence on the part of genetics specialists who failed to detect his mother's rare chromosomal problem before his birth. The 20-year-old severely retarded man says he should never have been born and wouldn't have had to live as a 'multi-handicapped' adult if the doctors had done their job properly. He is getting a $2.4 million settlement. 'The money will go strictly to care for the child, so that he can remain home and be taken care of', said Moscatello's lawyer, Bruce Nagel.

Nashville's Aretha Oneal pleaded guilty to ripping off one of Dennis Ross's testicles with her fingernails while he was sleeping last year. Oneal, whose attack came after Ross returned home after having sex with another woman, has been sentenced to 81 days in jail and anger management counselling. Ross, 38, whose testicle has been reattached, plans to marry Oneal, with whom he continued to live after the June 2001 incident. Ross didn't press charges against the woman he calls 'my heart, my soul, and [...] my better half', but the District Attorney did.

A Florida teller recognised the man who had robbed the bank once before. The teller saw John J. Papacosta, 45, in the queue - wearing the sunglasses and jacket he wore for the robbery - and pressed the panic button. When police arrived, they arrested him. In his jacket pocket was a note saying 'This is a robbery. I am armed. Give me the cash now' and a toy revolver.

Leaving a disappointing business meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Mohamad Ridhuan Mat Rejab, 31, let off steam by kicking the hotel-owner's pet dog. The Bernama news agency reported that the owner's wife, who witnessed the incident, began yelling at the businessman. Her husband heard the commotion and emerged with a sword. Bernama reports that the businessman jumped off a fourth-floor balcony as he tried to escape. He died in hospital. The owner of the hotel, Bong Kok Hua, fled.

In St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, an eight-year-old boy was stopped when he tried to leave a store with a cart of stolen groceries and cases of beer. He said his father, outside, had a receipt. Outside the store, Herbert Toney and Latisha Washington told security personnel that they didn't know the boy and walked away. The child told officers that his parents had asked him to steal the items and that it wasn't the first time. Sheriff's deputies then found Toney and Washington, who eventually admitted to knowing the boy. Washington finally acknowledged that he was her son. He was released to a grandmother. The parents are being held.

Kimberly S. Walker, left handcuffed in a rookie police officer's cruiser in Akron, Ohio, added to her problems when she drove the car about two blocks, then abandoned it and hid in a van parked in her neighbour's driveway. Officers Adam LeMonier and James Carmany had arrested Walker on an assault call, but Carmany left the car running while he got out to talk to two people. Walker's charges now include grand theft auto and theft of the handcuffs.

A Franklin, Indiana, couple punished a nine-year-old by shutting him in a room with no furniture but plenty of cat faeces. Deputy Police Chief David Lutz said the boy's mother, Hope Lee White, 35, said the boy had been in the room, eating there and sleeping on the floor, for at least a week. Both she and the boy's stepfather, Jason Wayne White, 29, unemployed, await charges. The child and his 10-year-old brother were placed in foster care. Interviewed in jail, Hope said: 'I don't know what I did wrong', and he pointed out that the boys - 'the most precious things to me in this world' - had been allowed to use the loo. She added: 'They're supposed to be sitting there until...  They're just grounded'.

Also in Indiana, health investigators found Karen McCann's three grandchildren in her care with faeces stuck to their limbs. Health officer Betsy Swearingen said that, when officers showed up, McCann, carrying the baby into the house, slipped on the Greenwood house's excreta-slickened floor and fell. The house, with cat-urine-soaked carpet and piles of faeces, was condemned. Officer Brian Swisher reported that the children, ages 1, 3, and 4, had head lice and the youngest had been drinking from a bottle of spoilt milk. Swearingen added: 'And that bottle had bugs in it, too.' On their first visit, animal control officials removed 28 cats.
Medics told the parents that their children should be examined at hospital. Brandon McCann said the condition of his mother's home was normal and 'how it was when he was growing up', according to Swearingen.

We move all the way to Illinois for this next story. Frank and Marylynnette Barney, foster parents of a 15-year-old mentally disabled boy, are charged with brutally beating him. The Barneys used a wireless video camera to keep an eye on him when he was in his room. And a neighbour's home security system used the same frequency. It taped Frank hitting the boy more than 30 times with a tape-wrapped stick and punching or slapping him in the face when he cried out in pain. On the video, Marylynnette can be heard encouraging Frank. The beating apparently occurred because the boy had taken an extra hot dog at a meal without permission. On-scene, police found a blood-spattered, broken stick and notebooks containing 'I will not disregard my mother' and 'I will not steal food from my house' written thousands of times.

When Nakia Burgess decided to leave a well-paying job in Trenton, New Jersey, for job opportunities in Atlanta, Georgia, she took her three-year-old daughter, Asan'te, with her. The child's grandmother, Mary, who had been caring for her on weekdays and taking night classes to learn how to teach a child with Down syndrome, asked that Nakia leave the girl with her until she had found a job and settled in in Atlanta. Nakia refused. In Atlanta, she was fired from two jobs because of her 'problems finding child care' - Asan'te's father, Darryl Burgess had been was sent to prison for selling crack cocaine at about the time the child was born.
In her third new job, she was told she needed to show up the next day or be fired. So Nakia left Asan'te in her car and checked on her while at work. Her second check revealed an unconscious child, who soon died.

In another child-raising story, police in Conway, Arkansas, have charged Evelyn Ticey and her twin 13-year-old children with beating a woman on a city street until she died. Althellia Givan, 42, was apparently chased down the street by the three after a fight or argument. Police spokesman Lieutenant Chip Stokes said witnesses described Givan being beaten with pieces of lumber or tree limbs.

The Times-Picayune reports that a 20-year-old New Orleans man, whose name has not been released, was shot by a man thought to be Derrick Kirton, still at large. The attacker fired a handgun at the man. When it was empty, he emptied a second weapon into the victim, then produced a third and began firing, hitting the victim's stomach area for the most part. The victim, shot 25 times in all, is being treated in hospital. 'Preliminary investigation indicates the (shooting) motive may stem from some type of argument,' New Orleans police spokesman Sergeant Paul Accardo said.

In another story from Illinois, John Pope, 39, robbed a bank in Moline and a short while later ordered a limousine from his hotel. He paid $335 in cash to be driven to Chicago. The limo driver, retired police officer Don Madsen, used cryptic language to report to police that he had a suspicious passenger and let them know his location. State troopers arrested Pope at a LaSalle truck stop.

State assembly candidate Gail Neira was probably hoping good publicity would come of her appearance in a parade in San Francisco's Chinatown. But the driver of her limousine, Jeff Rubi, a.k.a. Jeff Cabrere, 44, ensured a different outcome by hitting three pedestrians at the parade, a celebration of Taiwan's independence. Police Sergeant Neville Gittens said officers heard Rubi say 'I hope somebody's dead'. Police said Rubi tested positive for drugs and is thought to have intended to kill someone.

In an AP report from Ludington, Michigan, a police officer and two off-duty Michigan Department of Corrections employees apprehended a 20-year-old man at a petrol station, bound his hands with duct tape, then searched him. After authorities assured the officers that he wasn't an escaped convict, he was released. His mistake was to dress in what more or less matched local prison uniforms - blue shirt and blue trousers with orange stripes down the side. Mason County Sheriff's Department officials said they would ask prosecutors to determine if the man's detention violated any laws.

In Tehran, Reuters reports, drug dealer Mohammad Hadi, 55, was convicted of killing one of his customers last year and was recently due to die by hanging. After the noose was placed around his neck in the main square of Khomeini Shahr, he had a heart attack. He was taken to hospital for treatment. When he has recovered, he will be hanged, reported Qods.

In Horseheads, New York, Nicholas Lanzillotto, 53, was on his riding lawnmower when his neighbour allegedly shot him with a pellet gun. State police said Kevin E. French, 45, was upset with Lanzillotto over his mowing frequency and admitted to shooting his family's house and car in the past. Lanzillotto, in hospital, has been upgraded to fair condition. French is being held in Chemung County Jail.

18 October 2002

The Toronto Star reports on the demise of a labyrinth at Whittamore's Berry Farm. Made of stacked hay bales, the popular attraction was set ablaze, it appears, by matches. As smoke poured from the massive hay maze, farm employees standing atop the bales shouted directions and made sure everyone escaped. A 13-year-old boy, whose identity is protected under the Young Offenders Act, faces charges of starting the fire.

Following the discovery of mercury contamination from old gas regulators in several Chicago-area homes, Alanna Weber-Fritz, 39, reported the mercury in her Arlington Heights, Illinois, home. The Nicor gas company paid cleanup costs and provided three weeks' worth of hotel and other allowances for her and husband William Fritz, 45. After Nicor discovered that the house never had one of the offending gas regulators, Weber-Fritz admitted to contaminating her own home, which hadn't appeared contaminated when first checked for mercury. Described by her attorney as destitute, she will not have to pay any of the more than $300,000 shelled out by Nicor. Special prosecutor Brian Crowe said probation is sufficient because the Fritzes are raising four children.

When Roger and Shirley Labelle of White River Junction, Vermont, returned from out of state, the contents of their home were mostly absent. It later emerged that neighbour Stewart Fuller, 41, convinced others to help him remove the items and then hold a three-day yard sale to dispose of the property, including a satellite dish and stuffed animals. The Labelles' neighbours now have about $30,000 worth of their property. The proceeds from the sale totalled a little under $500.
Michael Marro, who helped remove a boat, trailer, and other items from the home, said Fuller was helping the couple raise money so they could avoid eviction. The Labelles, denying Fuller's version of events, said they thought he would just be taking care of their dog.

In Te Rapa, New Zealand, five people used a more direct approach to furnish their home at the expense of a neighbour. Constable Joe Paea said other neighbours saw the group make several trips to steal the contents of a house, from the tinned food to the bed, clothes dryer, and dining room table. These witnesses directed police to the house containing the ill-gotten gains - an an adjoining street and not more than 10 houses away. Police found a 12-year-old there and are looking for others who were involved.

Singapore's Lau Seng Fatt, 63, was arrested following neighbours' complaints about him throwing things out of a second-floor window, according to police spokeswoman Audrey Ang. The items included a lamp, a clock, folding camp beds, an armchair, an urn, and metal and wooden stools. No-one was hurt. Lao, a rag and bone man, faces a maximum sentence of three months in jail time or a fine $S250. Also, the Housing Development Board has been granted the power to seize the apartments of 'killer litter' offenders.

[IMG: The clock] Indiana's Lafayette Journal & Courier reports on an evacuation due to a bomb scare near Purdue University. A maintenance worker saw what looked like a bomb in electrical engineering student Robert Bennett's apartment. It was in fact an alarm clock Bennett made several years ago to look like a bomb, with several flares tied together and several fuses. Discovered shortly after 2:00pm, the clock displayed military time, causing those present to worry that it would explode in 14 minutes. After 14 minutes of the clock counting upward, 'we all felt a lot better', said flat manager Mike Thomas.
Police Captain Mike Francis said the clock fooled police, including the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department bomb detection squad.

Florida's Charles Haffey decided to change his name, but a judge rejected his request to become 'God'. So Haffey, drawing on the Bible he had to hand, decided to try for 'I Am Who I Am' as his full legal name. With his request approved, the 55-year-old man said: 'My first name, of course, would be "I Am".' He explained that the name change, which followed his conversion to Christianity in April, was to bring peace after his old self died in Vietnam.

Witnesses say a burglar in Fairfield, Illinois, used a riding lawnmower as a getaway vehicle. And it worked. The intruder escaped with more than $1,000 in jewellery. Police Sergeant Steven Sons said that 'we believe he rode the mower to the crime scene as well'.

Juston Kyles said he and a friend were watching the MTV programme Jackass (well, he actually called it 'Donkey' to avoid cursing) when he allowed the friend to set Kyles's arm on fire after wrapping it in kitchen roll as the stuntman on the programme had. The Dickinson, Texas, nine-year-old was left with second- and third-degree burns from his fingertips to his elbow. MTV spokeswoman Marnie Malter said: 'They could not have been watching Jackass... because, factually, that show has not aired in a year and a half, and that show has never had anything even close to that', although a cast member was once covered in steaks and set on fire. Kyles, in a programme for the gifted at his school, said this wasn't his smartest move ever.

Amid the Washington, DC, area sniper attacks, the Baltimore Sun tells us of Arthur L. Schroen, who reported last Wednesday that someone shot at him at an intersection and the bullet shattered the window of his employer's van. After the CIA, FBI, NSA, BATF, and police descended on the scene and discovered the implausible trajectory for the bullet that supposedly left a hole in the seat, Schroen, 37, admitted to making up his story to cover up the fact that he broke the van window himself.

In Washington state, Vickie and Daniel Blum's house burned down about a month ago. Since then, they have grown tired of the undamaged items being stolen from their garage, so they were pleased to find a clue under of the garage windows, a wallet with a photo ID of the man Daniel Blum saw speed away on a neighbour's bike after one burglary. The wallet also contained pawn shop receipts and police detective Dan Ervin' business card. After calling the number on the card and asking Ervin to pay the man, William Winkler, a visit, 'the first thing he saw when he walked in was a big electric drill with our name on it', Daniel said. An arrest followed.

Six months ago, a drinking binge left Calgary school bus driver Marvin Franks, 44, at least three times over the legal blood alcohol limit when frantic students on board rang emergency services from a mobile phone. After police pulled over a cigarette-smoking Franks and ushered the staggering man into the cruiser, he promptly fell asleep. Franks, who pleaded guilty, has now been sentenced to six months in jail and five years without a driver's licence. On his job application, Franks had reported one of his three drunk driving convictions, but officials decided enough time had passed without any problems.

The Houston Chronicle reports that a four-year-old brought crack cocaine to the Early Childhood Campus preschool in Angleton, Texas. A teacher at Early Childhood Campus, saw the boy showing a prescription pill bottle to other children, according to Children's Protective Services spokeswoman Estella Olguin. It is unclear whether the child knew the bottle contained drugs or thought it had candy or rocks in it. He said he brought the bottle from home. The parents denied owning it. The boy and his two younger siblings have been placed in foster care pending further investigation.

In Kelowna, British Columbia, a male stripper at Flashbacks nightclub was using a flammable liquid as part of his stage show and some splashed onto four of the women watching the show. They ignited at the same time as the fluid onstage. Club-owner Billy Shepard said none were seriously injured but that he plans to be more careful about what he allows in future acts at his club, according to CP reports.

And Toronto gives us hospital worker Zachariah Scott, who the Associated Press report is being charged with sexual assault after falsely representing himself at a maternity ward. Scott, who worked in a nearby hospital, told women he was a lactation technician hired to help them breast-feed their newborn babies. The hospital indicated that it is only women who are hired in such a capacity. Scott, who was captured on security cameras, is accused of groping at least two women.

In July, Luton's Yasrub Hussain Shah, 23, arrived late for his flight to Pakistan and check-in staff refused to let him aboard, so he rang police to report 'Pakistan International Airlines, there is a bomb on it leaving at 8 pm'. After an overnight search turned up nothing and the threat was traced to Shah's mobile telephone, he was arrested when he returned to the airport for a flight four days later. He pleaded guilty and has now been sentenced to five years in jail.

Police officers in North Randall, Ohio, mistakenly placed a man and woman in the same jail cell, where they later admitted to 'attempting to have sex twice', in the words of Chief Daniel Dubsky. Marvin Willis was placed in a cell with the jail's only other prisoner, a woman, and remained there until breakfast was brought seven hours later. Four police officers have been suspended in connection with the incident. This includes personnel who conducted jail inspections overnight. Dubsky said officers obviously 'didn't check closely enough to notice one inmate was female'.

The Detroit Free Press tells us that off-duty police officer Glen Woods was approached by a man who wanted to steal his car. The 43-year-old suspect, whose name has not been released, apparently shot himself by accident and was whisked away to Henry Ford Hospital by his nearby friends, who police think planned to assist in the carjacking.

In relation to another carjacking case, this one in Maryland, Levon Adams, 25, was the only member of the jury who refused to convict the defendant, who was accused of forcing a woman to withdraw money from cash machines before she jumped out of the moving car. Adams's reasoning is that he himself wasn't present at the carjacking so 'I don't know if he's guilty'. Feeling under pressure from the other jurors, Adams left the courthouse during a break called by the judge, and he didn't come back. After a mistrial was declared, Adams was detained and was taken to task by County Administrative Judge William D. Missouri, not least for disregarding jury instructions to rule on the basis of the evidence presented. Adams apologised and the contempt of court charge was not pursued.

Arthur Pratt, 65, rang police to report that his wife, Kelli, 45, was repeatedly biting him. The Modesto, California, man suffered more than 20 deep bites, which are being investigated for their possible role in his death six days later in hospital. Kelli, whose attacks allegedly stemmed from Arthur's refusal to have sex with her, fought with the police who responded to the 911 call. Police Sergeant Al Carter said she 'tried to bite them too'.

24 October 2002

California's Richard and Jennete Killpack are charged with forcing their four-year-old adopted daughter to drink so much water that she died. The Springville couple were using forced water drinking as a form of therapy to help the girl, who had been abused before being adopted, bond with her new parents. The parents' defence claims that the Cascade Center for Family Growth recommends the therapy for teaching children to go to their parents for comfort, but director Larry Van Bloem said 'No, we never recommend it' and the police's Lieutenant Dave Caron said, after an investigation of centre records, that '[t]hese parents looked at [the water drinking] as kind of an offshoot kind of thing'.

Bryon Tharp, 42, of Noblesville, Indiana, hanged himself from a tree in the front yard of his home, and passing motorists thought he was a Halloween decoration. After a neighbour saw Tharp, with a television cable around his neck but still moving a little, police were called in. After CPR failed, Tharp was taken to hospital and placed on life support, which was unhooked some time later. Police said Tharp had tried to kill himself earlier in the day but a relative had stopped him.

The Independent Record tells of of Helena, Montana, 27-year-old Chad Calvin Porter, who was moving out of his wife's house when two men in masks entered the house and duct taped the couple together, ripped the upstairs telephone from the wall, and left. Porter left soon after. The woman told police that she recognised one of the two invaders as Porter's 17-year-old brother. The brother, a Blake Noy, is in custody, as is his friend and henchman. Police chief Troy McGee said the two entered the home as part of Porter's plan to convince his wife that she needed him.

Lithuanian television producer Arunas Valinskas has made a deal with the Panevezys Penal Labor Colony, the country's only women's prison, for holding a 'Miss Captivity' beauty contest to pick the most beautiful inmate there. Valinskas said: 'The prisoners are, after all, women first and foremost.' Local dignitaries are slated to serve as judges of the contest, due to air on LNK TV in mid-November. So far, 36 applications have been accepted. The women, whose costumes will be made by fashion designers, will compete for the equivalent of $2,500 in prizes (to be received at the completion of their jail terms).

A district football match between Mandarin and Oviedo schools in Jacksonville, Florida, went wrong when as many as 15 of the Mandarin Mustangs developed severe diarrhoea during the game. Mandarin coach Richard Burnoski said Oviedo filled his team's water coolers before the game. He reported that he 'got the same thing' himself after drinking the water and, while 'not trying to make excuses', concluded that laxatives might have played a part in his team's 29 to 26 loss, which left uniforms soiled and left Burnoski regretting not saving a bottle of the water for tests.

The Kingston Whig-Standard reports on a police call involving three men placing two bound people in the boot of a car. When three officers caught up with the Cadillac in question, they discovered that the kidnapping had been faked by a group of Queen's University medical students, who had continued driving around in the car after the two 'victims' had been replaced in the boot with tyres. Investigating officer Const. Chuck Douglas said that 'I asked if they were playing a game and they said yes'. Sergeant Mike Attwood added this: 'Obviously they weren't thinking.'

Richard J. Jacobson owns a strip club in Coates, Minnesota. The source of a decade of controversy, the club, due to close down, has not failed to disappoint in its final days. 'I knew somehow they were going to try to have extra people voting this year' in the words of Mayor Jack Gores. Indeed, 89 voter registrations forms arrived on the same day, all listing the strip club's address, prompting a visit from police, who looked for signs of residents at Jake's Gentlemen's Club. They did see 39 blank voter registration forms. The out-of-towners' votes might have been noticed anyway, as Coates has 163 residents, and 79 voted in the last election.

In Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, local man Jerry Nelson Hartley stabbed the family dog four times with a half-metre-long Civil-War-era sword. Hartley's wife later reported finding him attempting to clean the golden retreiver's wounds and staple them closed 'with a regular stapler'.
Police Chief Edward J. Kroll said that Hartley, 39, initially told officers that he'd stabbed the dog because it tried to bite him. But he changed his story later and admitted to having been annoyed that the animal urinated on the carpet. The dog is expected to recover.

James Jackson of Grand Rapids, Michigan, called the police to report his three-year-old son missing. Five hours earlier, Jackson had been in search of additional cocaine and visited a crack house - where he left the toddler behind. The problem was that Jackson couldn't remember where the crack house was.
A man and woman dropped the boy off at a church the next morning. Jackson, meanwhile, was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanour.

Over the course of a decade, Paris vet Henri Viatte, 59, left 76 dog corpses in the garden by his practice and in the basement, in his fridge, and by a medicine cabinet. Neighbours had been complaining for years about the smell to no avail. Viatte told the court he had simply put off having the remains removed by sanitation authorities, and he said: 'I collected everything and nothing. I can't say why I did that.' He is not allowed to practise for five years, and the court ordered him to pay fines to the municipality of Saint-Cyr-l'Ecole, former clients, and veterinarians' associations.

Karen Danielle Mako, a 19-year-old university student in Clarion, Pennsylvania, has been charged with homicide and leaving her newborn son, with the umbilical cord still attached, in a canvas bag in a rubbish bin. Authorities stated for the court that Mako said she left the baby in a duffel bag in her car while she attended a baby shower. She said she intended to bury the body but never got the chance. A note in an outside pocket of the bag said 'Little Davy Wavy sat on a wall, little Davy Wavy had a great fall. And all of the King's horses and the King's men couldn't bring Davy Wavy's best friend back to him again'. Mako had a boyfriend named Dave.

A New Jersey pet-shop employee heard shrieks and followed them to a man in the car park. Richard Mattia, 53, was squeezing the head of the hamster he had just bought. He had clipped the hamster's teeth and was busily pinching and hitting the rodent's head and pulling its paws, according to police Sergeant Robert Faust. Mattia told the police that his actions were intended to 'teach them to listen'. Officers found two more hamsters, one starving, in his home. Finally, when Mattia went to police headquarters to be charged, officers found 18 packets of heroin in his trousers.

Mumbling can be hazardous to your health. A St. Paul, Minnesota, man fatally stabbed his friend, 32-year-old Frank J. Thigpen in the chest after the latter whispered about something when the two were at an apartment. Thigpen grabbed the knife and ran to a neighbour's home, where he later gave the police his attacker's particulars. 'He told officers to follow the trail of blood' said police Sergeant Mark Kempe. Nathaniel Webb, 23, told the cops he was angry because Thigpen had appeared to be mumbling under his breath.

A 26-year-old Medford, New Jersey, man was beating his mother, Josephine Pituch, when his five-year-old niece struggled to free herself and alert neighbours that her grandmother was hurt. The police arrived after Josephine died and perpetrator Ronald Pituck escaped, to later kill an 11-year-old boy in the woods nearby. Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi said the boy's death was more or less random but that Ronald's 62-year-old mother apparently 'refused to purchase him a pack of cigarettes'. Ronald surrendered soon after the murders and is being held in the Burlington County Jail.

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