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September 2002

4 September 2002

I know it's time to send an Anna's News Clippings when someone sends me a pointer twoard an item I already have. So if you want these to be more frequent, you'd better send me those pointers, people.

Our first items comes from Detroit, where an unidentified man tried to sell his six-year-old daughter to customers at a party store. One customer told WDIV TV that the man was hoping to get money for alcohol and was asking $50 for the child. A customer informed a worker at the store of the unauthorised sale attempts, and the worker in turn called police.
By the time officers arrived, the witnesses had left. While charges will not be filed, WDIV TV reports that the girl has been placed in foster care.

Aspen, Colorado, police report that Carlos Musso was pulled over for driving 69 kilometres per hour in a 40-kilometre-per-hour zone. The excuse Musso offered is that he had arrived in town the day before and his dog was used to a lower altitude. While the judge was, according to the AP, sympathetic to Musso's desire to get the animal home quickly, this did not save him from a fine of over $50.

S.A. Balderson, 81, of Richmond County, Virginia, was ordered to get counselling after recently being convicted of having sex with cows in a Westmoreland County pasture. In response to complaints about Balderson's activities in the pasture, detective Merile Jones had gone to the field with a video camera; the tape, in which Balderson goes from cow to cow while wearing only a t-shirt, shoes, and sunglasses, was shown in court by attorney Peggy Garland. The police said Balderson had been to the same pasture many times in the past. Regarding the issue of sentencing, Garland said: 'What do you do with an 80-something-year-old man who would do something like this?'

David Vassallo, 46, allegedly walked into the first-class cabin of a plane preparing to depart from Philadelphia International Airport for Charlotte, North Carolina. This was not a problem. The problem was that he then proceeded to brag to another passenger that he was an undercover federal sky marshal. Lieutenant Michael Chitwood said that the passenger asked Vassallo for identification, whereupon he claimed to be a postal inspector on loan to the sky marshals. Vassallo finally admitted to being a postal worker from Virginia. The passenger to whom he had decided to brag was an undercover federal sky marshal. After Vassallo left the plane, authorities cancelled the flight and searched the airport for Vassallo, who was found in the men's loos.

In Covington, Florida, Tara Smith, 32, tried to ring her drug dealer, 'Scooter', in order to trade prescription medicines for crack cocaine. But Smith accidentally rang a sheriff's deputy's mobile phone. James Hartman of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office said the deputy 'assured her that he would fill in for Scooter". Hartman added that investigators will attempt to identify 'Scooter' and "see what he's been up to'. This isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened - see - and probably won't be the last.

Stephen Schroeder, a 41-year-old Indianapolis man, admitted to being the one who had repeatedly stolen bronze arms from the statue of Pan in University Park. He said he used a sledgehammer to remove the three arms, explaining that he is upset that a pagan deity is on display on public property. He further explained that his attacks are helping avert a war between Protestants and pagans. Schroeder adds that he is not delusional and that he has merely received that label from mental health personnel.
Schroeder appears to be an equal-opportunity statuary vandal. He was also responsible for toppling a statue depicting the Ten Commandments on the Statehouse lawn, in 1991. He was arrested for this; ironically, some time later, a lawsuit successfully challenged the statue's placement on public property.

California's Marcello Kendall was born with his 18-year-old mother's heroin addiction. He spent six weeks in an intensive care nursery, receiving morphine injections at first and gradually gaining strength under the care of nurses and volunteers. As the child's father was also a drug addict (in his mother's words) and drug paraphernalia was visible in a photograph Marcello's mother had left in his crib, the child was released into the care of his grandmother, 48-year-old Bretta Kendall, who had visited him twice in the nursery.
Two weeks later, Bretta left Marcello in her car while she worked her shift at a warehouse. She told police she thought she had dropped him off with a child minder. The Alameda County district attorney's office is considering whether to charge her in connection with the death. 'This was our baby', said one nurse, and 'his death just hit us in the gut'.

In a bizarre crime spree, someone is stealing bicycles in Lower Moreland and Upper Moreland, Pennsylvania, and leaving in their place a different bike of the same general type. Since the start of August, there have been four such incidents reported, but Detective Rick Small said: 'I actually think we've had more than that. It had been going on sporadically during the spring of this year, but they've become more aggressive this summer.' Only sometimes are the stolen bikes worth more than those left behind. The police have been confiscating the replacement bikes on the assumption that they too were stolen.

The Gainesville Sun reports on Florida's Dr Joseph James Warner, 49, whose wife, Debra, called the police to report that he had punched her in the face and thrown her against a glass display case. Debra said the body parts Warner kept in the house had become a source of more and more arguments. She had insisted that her 12-year-old son's room not contain any body parts, but he still encountered a human head when the boy took a bucket from under the kitchen sink to take fishing. When she said that 'I'm not cooking anymore if you keep bringing [heads] in the kitchen', Warner set up an extra lab for this. In a similar compromise, 'I told him [the heads next to the couple's bed] really bothered me and he covered them with a blanket'. Debra added: 'He told me he couldn't keep housekeepers. He couldn't understand why they kept quitting.'
Warner is being charged with domestic battery and illegal preservation and storage of human remains - apparently from the University of Florida College of Medicine, where he taught neuroanatomy. Debra and one of Warner's ex-girlfriends both report that he force-fed them drugs.

Canada Customs spokesman Mark Butler said a woman was arrested at Pearson International Airport for attempted drug smuggling. Butler said officers noticed that she was walking funny as she pushed a one-year-old in a stroller. She was found to have sewn a pair of fake buttocks into her tights. In these she had stashed 2.2 kilos of cocaine. Butler said: 'We have never seen this sort of body packing before.' The woman planned to go to the US from Canada, where border controls are less strict than at US airports.

An Oxnard, California, man will go to trial in October for dissecting his daughter's pet guinea pig because he thought government agents had placed it in his home to spy on him. Benny Zavala, 34, had called a neighbour over to his home and was poking the animal with a utility knife. He told her it had a camera in the back of its head, reported Deputy District Attorney Tom Connors, who added that Zavala called her the next day to report that he had then killed the animal and found that it was not a robot. She contacted mental health officials, who contacted the police. Zavala is being charged with cruelty to animals and use of meths.

In Louisiana, Tron Hughes asked for directions from an off-duty detective who was working a second job as a security guard at a Greyhound terminal. Hughes wanted to find a taxi rather than a squad car, but the uniformed detective, Bernard Crowden, recognised Hughes as the man who murdered 32-year-old Shannon Williams on 17 August. Crowden, who had been involved in the initial investigation of the murder and who had put out the warrant for Crowden's arrest, was one of the only people who knew what the suspect looked like.

El Comercio Web site reports on a 24-year-old woman who stabbed her boyfriend because he kept calling out his ex-girlfriend's name, Veronica, during sex. The Monterrey, Mexico, woman stabbed Jorge Armando Flores in the neck and chest and then called police to tell them what she had done.
The police claim she told them she grabbed a knife from his trousers and asked Flores to keep his eyes closed 'in order to fulfil one of my sexual fantasies'. She then attacked him. At last report, Flores was listed as in serious condition.

In West Palm Beach, Florida, four men have been indicted on federal fraud charges for a work-at-home scam in which they promised over 11,000 people payment for beaded necklaces they would assemble at home from kits costing $3,000 each. Buyers of the kits, which contained enough materials for 30 necklaces and had an estimated total worth of $100, were promised only $60 per piece of jewellery. Some early subscribers to the plan were paid from the money provided by later subscribers, but most were not paid for their work. According to Reuters, the plan was endorsed by a 'popular Miami television psychic', who suggested that the beads had healing powers.
Enrique Pirela, president of Unique Gems international Corp., is being charged as the ringleader of the operation. While $4.5 million has been seized from the operation, the indictment alleges that some of the proceeds headed to Switzerland via Lichtenstein.

CBS reports on a New York City landlord who is trying to claim money because a tenant did not give three months' notice that she was leaving. Ten days after signing the lease for the flat, Cantor Fitzgerald vice president Denielle Kousoulis was killed when a hijacked airliner hit her workplace. The landlord, Denis M. Lyman, has therefore threatened to take the dead woman's family to court and has kept the furniture that Kousoulis moved into the flat. Kousoulis's mother, Zoe, said Lyman had also refused to let the family into the residence so they could get a DNA sample from a hairbrush (in the end, the police helped them with this).
Lyman also claims that rent on the flat is still accumulating and has now reached over $27,000. New York state common law states that a lease ends only when both parties - or, in such cases as this, representatives thereof - agree to its surrender. Might Lyman's moving into the flat be considered evidence of a surrender?

Identified in the Taiwanese media as Mr Hsueh, a penis-enlargement enthusiast decided that qigong virility exercises were no longer enough. The man, 48, had been using his penis to lift weights but hadn't tried lifting a 16-kg weight with it before. When he did, he tore tissues in his scrotum, whereupon his wife rushed him to hospital for stitches, according to the United Daily News. Urological surgeon Chen Kuan-yung said that people should not believe in methods that have no scientific basis.

We turn to Vancouver, Washington, for this week's silly death. In a van with four friends, John E. Reynolds was throwing rocks out the sliding door at mailboxes and cars. While doing this, Reynolds, 23, fell out of the van and hit his head on the pavement. He died of head injuries at the scene. 'Ultimately, it's a tragedy of something stupid and juvenile', said Sergeant Craig Randall of the Clark County Sheriff's Office.

8 September 2002

According to Aftenposten, two teenagers in Oslo looked inside a box they found abandoned on the street. Inside was some paperwork and a plastic container holding a preserved human brain. The box was stolen from Ullevål University Hospital and apparently abandoned when the thieves discovered that it contained only an autopsy report, journals, a death certificate, and a pickled brain. Ruben Steinung, 18, said they called the hospital, whose address was on the box. Acting information director Alf Boehler at Ullevål said this is the first time anyone has taken one of their brains.

Kimmell Hart Finley's electricity company cut the power to his home near Cedar Grove, North Carolina, so he tried to reconnect it. Responding to a call, investigators found Finley's truck, with a ladder, backed up to a power pole, and climbing spikes in the pole. Finley was found dead - apparently electrocuted - on the ground, where he landed after falling nine metres, according to Orange County Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass.

Theresa F. Wright, 38, decided to help her 12-year-old neighbour and the girl's friends. The Oswego, Illinois, woman is charged with taking a neighbour's car and letting the pre-teen and her two 16-year-old friends to take it for a ride. Running a stop sign at about 1:30am, the girl crashed the vehicle into another car, injuring four people. The driver of the other car, Jerry A. Fahrlander, was charged with drunken driving.

The Omaha World-Herald reports on a man who was thought to have robbed American National Bank. The suspect wouldn't pull over; instead, he stopped his car, climbed over a fence, and ran across a golf course. Two officers borrowed golf carts in order to chase him. 'He eventually ran out of steam, and we pulled up and arrested him', said police spokesman Sergeant Dan Cisar. He had left the money and a toy gun near the bank.

After giving birth in her fifth month of pregnancy, Brazil's Maria do Socorro Morais Amador was told that her baby was stillborn. Now, three months later, the Assis Chateaubrian maternity unit in Fortaleza report that the baby was treated and can now go home. A DNA test proved that the baby is Amador's. What the unit told the press is a 'serious mistake' could cost them, as Amador said she will sue them.

In Pennsylvania, Warrington Ambulance Chief Brian Kraft happened upon heart attack victim Charles W. Krieble, 75, and began to administer first aid after calling emergency services. When the ambulance showed up, it ran over Krieble's left ankle, said Kraft. The emergency vehicle also hit Kraft's defibrillator, and the monitor hit Krieble in his side. The ambulance driver didn't acknowledge the accident; police only became involved after a doctor wondered what caused Krieble's broken toes, broken ribs, and bruised kidney.

It is pitch black in a new theme restaurant in Berlin. The 'unsicht-Bar', run by the German organisation for the blind and visually impaired, wants to make guests concentrate on senses other than sight. Blind waiters - 22 of the 30 staff members are blind - guide the customers to the tables and allow them only to ask for a fish, meat, or vegetarian option. Beyond that, the type of food is left a surprise.

Indiana's Francis Franklin, 18, let five children - ages nine to 12 - drive her car in a supermarket car park one day. The last of those five drivers, nine-year-old William Wright, hit the gas pedal rather than the break and trapped Rico Oquendo underneath the vehicle. Oquendo suffered a broken hip, fractured skull, and internal bleeding. So Oquendo's family filed a lawsuit against the Double Eight Foods store for not preventing youths from using the car park for driving practice. Shop-owner Isaiah Cooperstein was puzzled by the lawsuit, which was filed because 'a reasonable store owner should be aware that this activity was going on for a period of time [...]. A parking lot is not a testing ground for kids to learn how to drive'.

A Jackson, Mississippi, man couldn't find a child-minder. So Caleb Laforrest Pete, 41, took his three-year-old son with him to rob a Community Bank branch. After the teller handed over the money, Pete ran off, but the boy wasn't so quick to budge and, according to police spokesman Robert Graham, slowed Pete enough that he was seen making his getaway in a cab. Police shopped the vehicle short while later. The cab also contained Pete's wife and five-month-old daughter. Pete is accused of holding up the same teller last month. His children have been taken into care by state officials.

No names in this one, alas. The Edinburgh Evening News reports that a 33-year-old man has been charged with breach of the peace after police received reports that he was trying to have sex with a traffic cone on Lalton Road, an area known for open-air sex. Officers from Gayfield police station found the man still engaging in the offence. A report has been submitted to the procurator fiscal.

Ex-deputy Robert Bouslaugh, 56, is a candidate for sheriff of La Plata County, Colorado. He also was wearing women's clothes when he left an Albuquerque, New Mexico, adult bookstore and then fatally shot an 18-year-old man he claims was a gang member who had kidnapped him. The shooting occurred at about 2am, when the two went to Bouslaugh's hotel room - allegedly to fetch money. Bouslaugh said he mentioned money because he wanted to get his gun from the room.
Bouslaugh also mentioned a secret undercover operation that evening, in which he went into gay bars in the guise of 'just a guy in drag that would do anything'. Sergeant Doug Shawn said this story is in many ways similar to what Bouslaugh told police but that, for instance, the tale of an undercover operation is 'not what he told us'. Bouslaugh said he fears for the safety of his wife and children due to the gang element.

Along the Columbia River in Washington, a woman found a basketball-sized item with a fuse protruding from its casing. So she carried it into the Woodland police station. The police then evacuated a two-block area downtown and had bomb squads deal with the homemade explosive, which they took to a pit and detonated. Officer Blayden Wall asks that citizens who find such devices simply leave them where they are and call 911.

In Winnipeg, Canada, Jehovah's Witness minister Ethel Mannetje apparently didn't think Piotr Skawinski's 'Beware the Dog' signs applied to her. She walked into his back yard, and the dog 'knocked me down and bit me in the bum', said Mannetje, whose leg required skin grafts. The judge agreed with Skawinski that 'for the court to put my dog to sleep because he was in his own boundaries and somebody stepped into it, not paying attention, I think that [would be] just bad'. Skawinski also said: 'For a lady that's been going door to door for I don't know how many years and still hasn't learned to look for a Beware of Dog sign - I don't know what the lady was thinking.'

13 September 2002

In Cyprus, several men broke into the dog shelter in Polemidia, Limassol, and raped three dogs. Now allegations have been made that several more dogs have been raped because 'it cures chlamydia'. According to the daily Phileleftheros, a guard 'hired' the dogs out to people with the disease for a fee. The shelter has been shut down and demolished, prompting Limassol District Veterinary Officer Christos Ploutarchos to say that while 'these kinds of incidents are the bleeding wounds of our country [...] we have taken our precautions here. We built and paid for the dog shelter with money from our own pockets. They demolished our work just in two hours'.

When the Salinas, California, fire department's administrative centre caught on fire, the blaze was noticed by a late-working employee and was quickly extinguished. The building, the site of fire marshal Norcliff Wiley's office, had neither a sprinkler nor an alarm system, let alone smoke detectors. Although Wiley recognised the ironic fact that 'I'm the fire marshal and it's my office', he said he is only in charge of enforcing the code and that the building wasn't in violation of regulations. It was built before fire-prevention equipment was required - and thus grandfathered - and isn't a home, retail building, or place of assembly. Wiley suggested that the city didn't - and still doesn't - want to spend money on unrequired safety systems.

Also in California, Debbie Szpanka, spokeswoman for the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, said that a Hilton Head Island woman is being charged after she stabbed her room-mate for using the Internet. Verona Smith, 35, had been waiting for a telephone call when she found her room-mate, Kay Lyons, 25, trying to connect to the Internet. Smith pulled the cord out of the wall in her room-mate's room and stabbed Lyons with a kitchen knife when she returned to her room.

In news from Seattle, Kenneth Bianchi, dubbed the 'Hillside Strangler', is suing Whatcom County for several hundred-thousand dollars. Bianchi, serving a 118-year prison sentence, said he had confessed to seven murders because Bellingham police didn't tell him that someone claimed to have seen two of the victims alive after Bianchi had been seen returning home. Bianchi unsuccessfully tried to convince Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Steven Mora that he had had a false impression of the strength of the case against him. The judge ruled that Bianchi presented no new evidence.

Marcos Cabezuela, a New Mexico 18-year-old, called 911 from his pickup and told sheriff's deputies that he had accidentally shot himself in the hand. An ambulance and deputies were sent to meet him when he arrived in Carlsbad. A short time later, the pickup ran out of petrol. The ambulance found the vehicle, and Cabezuela was rushed to the emergency room, where the wound in his right palm was treated.

Michael Steven Pavlich, 48, of Martinez, Georgia, allegedly entered a convenience store, punched a hole in a styrofoam cooler, and placed it on his head. According to the clerk, he said something in a muffled voice. When she couldn't understand him, he then came around the counter but was disarmed by a witness who was not impressed with the pellet pistol the man was carrying. The witness and the clerk reported the getaway car's details to the sheriff's office, and the pair in it were taken into custody. The woman who was driving was released, as she appeared not to know of the robbery attempt.

The Boston Herald reports on two gunmen who tried to rob a Pizza Hut, taking the employee there hostage... and four more people and a pit bull as they showed up. The gunmen did let employee Wilfredo Rodrigues go, since he said his girlfriend was waiting in the car, after they made him promise not to call the police. He called the police.
Alleged perpetrators Johnathan Ortega and Miguel Angel Correa were waiting for the restaurant's time-delayed safe lock to open when the police arrived. Manager Orlando Reyes, 20, said that, noticing the cops' arrival, 'they were telling us: "Oh, please, help us! Tie us up!" [...]. One of them said: "I've got kids, I don't want to go to jail!".' Police handcuffed Reyes, who was wearing his uniform, but let him go when they got a feel for the whole situation. Ortega and Correa's attempts to pretend to be hostages and tie themselves up didn't work.

Reuters reports on a confrontation involving former astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin and independent filmmaker Bart Sibrel. Sibrel, whose films put forth the theory that footage of US moon landings was faked in order to fool the Soviet Union, said: 'I approached him and asked him again to swear on a Bible that he went to the moon and told him he was a thief for taking money to give an interview for something he didn't do.' Aldrin's lawyer said the incident, videotaped for Sibrel's latest film, shows that Sibrel was not letting Aldrin, 72, and his daughter pass and that the astronaut could be heard asking for police to be called. Aldrin punched the larger Sibrel in the jaw. Witnesses have stated that Sibrel, 37, had poked Aldrin aggressively with a Bible and had misrepresented the 'interview'.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that one 16-year-old fatally shot another at a crack house after the victim winked at the suspect's girlfriend. According to the complaint, Andrew C. Morton shot Justin J. Simpson in the head after both smoked some marijuana and discussed Morton's belief that Simpson was having sex with Morton's girlfriend. The pregnant girlfriend told police that she tried to tell Morton that an incident in which Simpson had allegedly been 'feeling' on her merely involved a touch on the arm when to get her attention at a store. After the homeowner told the youths gathered at the house that they had to leave for the day, Morton shot Simpson three times and then started crying.
The girl at first blamed the shooting on the man who had dragged the body out of the house (leaving a bloody trail that police followed inside), but she changed her story upon further questioning.

Kent's Albert Cialis is trying to convince pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly to change the name of new anti-impotence drug Cialis, whose name ties in with the phrase 'the sky's the limit'. The retired accountant contacted the British Medical Journal with his complaint that 'it is like being called the Viagra family'.

Theo Ratliff, member of the Atlanta Hawks (basketball team), sent his four-year-old daughter upstairs to change into her bathing suit so he could take her swimming. Ratliff, his wife, and the cook were only some of the members of the search party who combed the 15,000-square-foot palace in search of the girl. Security monitors were also checked. Eventually, she was found asleep in one of the home's many guest rooms. Ratliff's friend Regina Lynch-Hudson said: 'I told him he was going to lose babies in a house that big.'

But it isn't always the children who can't be found.
The Des Moines Register reports on a Storm Lake woman who had left her 11- and 13-year-old daughters on their own for over a week before they were found by police. Cynthia Ann Lumsden, 38, left daughters Brooke and Autumn Lumsden a baseball bat and a dog for protection but didn't leave them or anyone else a key to the house or a way to contact her, according to Capt. Bob Swanson. Brooke told police that her mother had called to check on her daughters, but caller ID didn't show the number. Brooke told police that her mother was two days overdue, and a police report says the fridge contained just milk and juice and 'When asked what they had for supper the night before, both stated that they did not have supper'.
Ted Wesselmann, whom Cynthia - whose surname he didn't know - once gave a ride to work, checked on the girls a few times as she had requested, but he stopped after having an epileptic seizure. Brooke knew that her mother had left for a cross-country trip with a man. The girl said Cynthia worked for Smithway Trucking. Smithway said Lumsden had merely applied for a driving job and been rejected. The girls are now in foster homes.

Anthony Grant, the mayor of Eatonville, Florida, is suing Eatonville's city council for stripping him of his powers. The council voted in June to transfer control of day-to-day operations to the city's administrative officer, who happens to be the man who lost to Grant in the 2000 mayoral race. Grant states that he is 'totally shut out of government' and neither receives phone messages nor has permission to order office supplies. An unnamed council member said Grant was a control freak and had governed in a Napoleonic fashion.

So far, more than 400 people have signed up for a new dating service designed by psychoanalyst Frederick Levenson. To actually start operation, initally in New York and Los Angeles, Levenson would like to see his 'TheraDate' service reach 750 members. The idea is that the members' therapists will fill out confidential questionnaires that will be used for matchmaking. Levenson said those with similar experiences can use their history as building blocks for compatible long-term relationships.

A Rotterdam security guard was collecting shops' money to take to the bank when he tripped on a stone and fell into a canal. While he was changing his clothes in his car, a suitcase designed to mark banknotes in the event of a robbery exploded, covering the inside of the car with orange paint. Freek Overgauw, 41, told Algemeen Dagblad that 'I was all naked and covered with orange paint' from the booby-trapped suitcase. The proprietor of a clothing shop heard the explosion and ran to help the guard, offering him a bath, some new clothes, and a blanket on which to sit on the way home - after he finished laughing.

Last December, Lesley O'Rourke, of the Isle of Grain, Kent, drove over boyfriend Timothy Taylor, 19, with all four wheels of her car - allegedly because he ignored her. She had earlier thrown a pint of lager over Taylor and driven over his belongings. O'Rourke, 31, later said she hadn't noticed Taylor on the ground. The court was told of a 'chilling' emergency call featuring engine-revving sounds. Judge Gerrard Gordon told O'Rourke that she had used a car as a weapon but was otherwise a 'perfectly decent citizen'. Cleared of attempted murder, she has been banned from driving for two years.

You can't dust for vomit...
The taxi committee in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was hoping for a change of cab bylaws in order to allow drivers to impose cleaning and lost time fines for passengers who vomit in taxis. But Canadian lawyers say such fines are unconstitutional because they would prevent people from defending themselves in a legal forum and argues that it could be hard to prove who is responsible for the vomit if more than one person is in a cab.

A Savannah, Georgia, man had been drinking for three days and was arguing with his wife. She was pouring his booze down the kitchen sink. So Donald Chase, annoyed, went into his upstairs den and fired a pistol through the floor, into the kitchen. The bullet hit his wife, Jackie, in the top of the head, killing her. In a videotaped interview, Chase, 56, asks the police: 'It was right in the middle of her head? What are the chances of that?' On the tape, he claims that he'd thought she had left the house, and he adds: 'I think I killed her. You don't think I killed her when I did that, do you?' Prosecutors contend that the killing was intentional.

Last year, Faiz Chopdat, 23, of Blackburn, Lancashire, was flying back from his honeymoon when the cabin staff told him to turn off his mobile phone, on which he had been playing Tetris. In fact, he turned off the phone three times, each time following a warning from the cabin crew or a passenger, and turned it on three times. Judge Timothy Mort, recently sentencing Chopdat to four months' jail time, said: 'It must be in order to deter people from turning on their mobile phones while on a plane. It's a "clang of the gate" sentence.' Chopdat's lawyer, Roger Hedgeland, said that his client had been acting with 'some sort of bravado' on the flight.

Reuters reports that a scrap metal worker in Berdychiv, Ukraine, was cutting apart a 1940s howitzer, heating the metal, and caused the firing of a shell that no-one had noticed was inside. The Interfax-Ukraine news agency said the shell flew about 800 metres and destroyed two roofs. The worker's face was singed. The news agency said the scrap company paid for repairs to the roofs and that a criminal investigation has been launched.

19 September 2002

The Ottawa Citizen reports on convicted paedophile Ian Cheeseman. At his dangerous offender hearing, Assistant Crown attorney Robert Peltier reported that Newfoundland police had received roughly 20 complaints about several collect telephone calls made by Cheeseman from jail. It is alleged that Cheeseman, 34, posed as a disc jockey, persuaded young girls to ring him, and told them they would win Backstreet Boys tickets if they simply urinated in a cup near the telephone. Cheeseman pleaded guilty last fall to committing 16 sex crimes, mostly against pre-teen girls, over a 13-year period.

Jayme Allen, 28, bought a new set of gold teeth with money from one of his bank robberies. It is unclear whether the teeth will be confiscated now that Allen has been caught thanks to his leaving his wallet behind at the Bank Independent in Cherokee, Alabama. The wallet contained his driver's licence, among other things. Allen also left behind the gun he used for the holdup. The weapon belonged to his girlfriend, 25-year-old Tanesha Germany, who reported it stolen the day after the robbery.
Allen asked US District Judge Inge Johnson to ignore his guilty plea since Allen hadn't realised he could spend 41 years in prison. The judge wasn't convinced.

Rie Fujii, in Canada on an expired visa, is in trouble - to the tune of eight years in prison - for leaving her three- and 15-month-old children in an empty flat for 10 days while she spent time out of town with her new boyfriend, who believed a child minder had been hired. Fujii, 24, went home and threw one child's body into a skip. The other's body was left wrapped in a blanket on the floor. Fujii returned to her boyfriend's home. After her landlord found the blanket-wrapped corpse and she surrendered to police, Fujii was heard saying that the children had 'cramped [her] style'. The children's father, petty criminal Peter Brown, could not be located for the court proceedings.

In Atlanta, Georgia, three-year-old Alexis Headspeth was fatally injured in a bathtub while being bathed by her 11-year-old uncle. The child's mother, Beverly, who is being charged in connection with the incident, took her to hospital, where she died. Five days earlier, the child's grandmother had told a caseworker that she couldn't keep the boy from beating the children in the home. The AP reports that the child protection agency admitted that the caseworker didn't read the family's file, let alone talk to neighbours or question a boyfriend who reportedly used cocaine.

The Associated Press report that Jakarta, Indonesia, defeated gubernatorial candidate Mahfudz Djaelani has demanded that city council members pay him because he lost to the incumbent governor. To be more precise, he told reporters that he paid 40 of the 84 city councillors for their votes, an initial instalment payment, and he now wants those bribes returned. The Jakarta Post quotes him as saying that 'the fact is that my political rival could pay them more than me [...] I deplore those councilors who make statements saying there was no money involved. They are liars!'

At the prestigious Pasarela Cibeles fashion show in Madrid, models appeared in nooses and execution-style hoods, earning boos from the audience. Many left in protest. The designer who was responsible, David Delfin, apologised afterward, saying he didn't mean to trivialise the repression of women. Several models weren't able to see where they were going and tripped, so audience members began shouting directions to guide them. Going backstage during this portion of the show, its director had tried unsuccessfully to get the models to stop the show.

In Denver, alleged multiple murderer Edward Brown and Martin Brewer, who had testified against him, were placed in the same cell at Arapahoe County Jail while awaiting transport to state prison. Sheriff Grayson Robinson said Brown allegedly hit Brewer in the face after no more than 10 minutes in the cell with him, breaking his nose. Brown's hand was also broken. One of the men to whose murder Brown has pleaded guilty had implicated him in another murder.
This is the same prison where a 16-year-old girl had been placed in the same cell as a serial rape suspect earlier this year (see this story).

In other jail news...
Male and female prisoners have managed to have sexual encounters and conduct strip shows at North Carolina's Person County jail from 6 to 10 September. Sheriff Dennis Oakley said that it's 'because of a staffing shortage' - his requests for more staff members haven't been met - and 'Things happen'. Charges have been brought against 12 inmates for offences such as prostitution and breaking and entering. A.K. Pruitt, the jail's administrator, said an investigation revealed that prisoners had removed the screws that held a Plexiglass barrier in place, allowing them access to the canteen area and, from there, the females' area. Lookouts were used to spot guards arriving for random checks. The encounters became public when two women became upset that the men didn't provide the marijuana that they had promised them.

The Scotsman reports on Glasgow's David Mason, who tried to slide down a cable-car wire in the Italian Alps, perhaps to save time. As his 18-year-old son watched and after passers-by tried to intervene, Mason, 49, attached a mountaineering snap-link to the cable and started his descent. He then smashed into rocks and then hit a metal pylon. After being airlifted to hospital via helicopter, he was declared dead on arrival.

In Stillwater, Minnesota, Katie Dodd and two visiting friends were putting her garbage out at 2:30am when she noticed her neighbour taking pictures of her. The neighbour, Daniel Vivona, who police say had a camera in one hand and a handgun in the other, allegedly told her he could prove that she was putting her garbage can on his property. Dodd, 22, asked him to put down the gun and, when he didn't, ran inside and called the police. When police knocked on Vivona's door, 'he was on the phone complaining to the dispatcher that the woman was putting her garbage on his property', according to Captain Craig Peterson. Vivona told police he had stayed awake waiting to hear the garbage can roll down the driveway and that he had armed himself because he believed more than one person was involved. Police arrested him and confiscated three guns from his home.

Clearwater, Florida, twins Timothy and Matthew Feick, 17, broke into a home and stole a digital camera, which they pawned without removing the pictures they took of themselves. The teenagers' mother, Teresa Hoffman, used her real name to cash a second stolen cheque. Finally, Shamir Streater, the girlfriend of one of the men, panicked when she tried to cash a cheque the brothers stole in another burglary; when she ran away, she left her driving licence behind.
Detective Philip Jackson says Streater couldn't spell the surname of the twins who gave her the cheque to cash. But Jackson found their mug shots, which matched the pictures in the stolen camera.

In Wake Forest, North Carolina, two-year-old Ranika Dena Clifton was left in a van and forgotten about for over seven hours. This isn't just another 'child dies in van' story, though; the van belonged to the Corinth United Church of Christ & Daycare. Its driver left to take children in another van to school without removing Ranika from the first van, which he parked 15 metres from the front of the day-care centre. Ranika was the only child he picked up to take to the day care centre that morning. Major T.S. Matthews, of the Wake Forest Sheriff's Office, said: 'It was not until afternoon that he went back to get the other van and that he saw the child in the safety seat.' He was released without being charged.
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