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September 2003

6 September 2003

Misty Quackenbush, due to be sent to prison for distribution of methamphetamines, faked her own death in a truck accident near Montezuma, Colorado. The 27-year-old Quackenbush moved to Shamrock, Texas - where former Montezuma County, Colorado, sheriff's deputy Brandon Brown recognised her. Also, he had read of her death in an online Colorado newspaper. Brown said: 'I think she recognized me too.' After a panicking Quackenbush tried to leave town but 'missed all the right turns, her comment to me was "I must have been meant to get caught because what are the odds?"' She has now been given her prison sentence.

Pennsylvania's Patricia M. Johnson wanted her son to have a happy birthday. When she, her son, and three of his friends were unable to rent go-karts, the 34-year-old mother bought a 30-pack of beer and took the youths to a hotel. According to police, she then gave the boys $1 notes and told them she wanted to be a stripper. She also asked them to spank her. After they declined the prescription pills she offered them, she laid waste to the room. In the morning, she asked them to get her breakfast, though they weren't old enough to drive. Finally, she drove them home - at speeds of up to 160 km/h.

In slightly older news, Carlos Alberto Canuto of Sao Paulo, Brazil, reported to police that someone had broken into the house where he lived with his parents and had killed them. The 44-year-old Canuto admitted under questioning that he killed them, attacking his father, Manuel, with a machete and asphyxiating his mother, Iracema. The motive, he explained, was his parents' disapproval of him keeping an inflatable doll in the house. According to Folha Online, his sexual behaviour had led to several arguments with his parents in the past.

Harold David Goldstein of Orange County, Florida, represented clients in criminal and civil cases. He claims he took on clients that other lawyers didn't want. The problem is that he pretended to be a lawyer, fooling court officials and clients. What legal knowledge Goldstein possesses comes from 12 years of writing legal appeals while in prison on a variety of fraud charges. He now faces up to five years more in prison.

In Pilot Point, Texas, an art dealer has for the moment avoided being charged with distributing harmful material - the mural on the side of his building. After consulting with the artist, Justine Wollaston, he draped a strip of yellow canvas saying 'crime scene' across Eve's bare breasts. Police sergeant James Edland said: 'I think he's covered it enough to stop a majority of the complaints. I feel he's in compliance with the law.' Of the laws involved, Miller stated: 'We discovered it wouldn't be illegal if we painted the breasts five times larger but covered them partially with a string bikini.'

Lem Lom of Janesville, Wisconsin, probably didn't know what he had when he took the $2,500 electronic device that a woman left on her porch. The brick-sized box was a GPS tracking device, used to monitor the location of the woman, who was on home detention, and to ensure that the tag around her ankle didn't stray more than 100 metres from it. Rock County correctional officer Tom Roth says the device was easy to track to a nearby block of flats. Lom placed the device in some bushes when officers told it to start beeping.

John Bothe is an unemployed man in Buffalo, New York, who had an idea of how to showcase his talents and perhaps get a job. 'I thought if I get on the radio maybe somebody will hear me and I'll pick up some work', he said. He paid about $1,000 to be allowed to host a Saturday sports programme. The state's labour department has ruled that this counts as a job, so Bothe's unemployment benefits have been cut off and he is supposed to return $605 in previously paid benefits. Bothe said that 'mMy definition of work is doing a job and getting paid for it, not paying them'. He has lost his first appeal.

15 September 2003

After Arizona's JoAndrea Peeler ran out of drug money and was evicted from her flat, she began prostituting her 13-year-old daughter for drugs and money. According to a police report, the girl 'does not feel comfortable right now because of all the people coming over wanting to have sex with her'. Peeler also left the girl addicted to crack. The 36-year-old mother explained that she had figured the girl would try the drug anyway and that it would be safer to smoke it together. Peeler added that 'I need the rock and so did she. It sounds worse than it is'.

Charles McKinley got a workmate's help shipping a wooden crate shipped by air from New York to Dallas, where delivery worker Billy Ray Thomas took it to the 25-year-old's parents' home. When Thomas 'noticed a pair of eyes between the slats of the crate', he feared that a corpse was inside. McKinley, inside the crate, opened it with a crowbar and shook Thomas's hand. Thomas called the police, who arrested McKinley on several outstanding warrants. He has not yet been charged with a crime in connection with the incident.

Ben N. Rogozensky was awaiting trial in Georgia's DeKalb County Courthouse. He was granted leave to visit the loo. From there, he climbed into the ceiling crawlspace, according to sheriff's office spokeswoman Mikki Jones. The 31-year-old inmate fell through a ceiling tile into the judge's chambers. While the judge wasn't there at the time, others were. Samantha Whaley, who was on the telephone, shouted into the receiver: 'There's an inmate coming through the ceiling.' He then hung up. Rogozensky was apprehended in the hallway.

At about 3:30am, Florida's Tanya Joseph reported her eight-year-old son, Jaleel, missing. The Tampa police say that when they visited Joseph and searched the house to make sure Jaleel wasn't inside, the trash filling the building obscured the fact that he was still there. When Jaleel woke up at 9am and emerged, he showed the police where he had been, sleeping in a pile of clothing and debris in a corner of his 24-year-old mother's bedroom. The boy and a six-year-old sibling are in the custody of the Department of Children and Families, and Animal Services removed 27 cats, a rabbit, and two dogs from the house.

Reuters reports that police in Germany stopped a 52-year-old motorist who wasn't holding onto the steering wheel while driving down a busy highway at 130 km/h. Traunstein police spokesman Johann Bohnert said the motorist 'was leaning back in the seat and steering the car with his knees and feet - he looked like he'd had practice'. The driver, who had a flute in his hands when he was pulled over, insists that he was merely practising fingerings and not actually playing the instrument. He faces a 50-euro fine.

An Athens, Georgia, woman went to a local tyre dealership, Tires Plus, and left again because the tyres she wanted were too costly there. Enterprising employee Gregory Wade Mulligan, 42, later rang the 25-year-old woman to say he would give her the tyres at no cost if she would come to a motel and have sex with him. According to the Athens Banner-Herald, he has been charged with solicitation of prostitution and pandering.

Two Canadian children wanted to go to McDonald's. The five-year-old Edmonton, Alberta, girl and four-year-old boy took the keys for the family sedan. They left their parents in the flat and started the vehicle. Backing it out of its parking space, they hit another car, several wooden posts, a tree, and some shrubs. The car mounted a kerb and came to rest on a lawn. Police sergeant Peter Koersvelt said the children were shaken since, for one thing, 'the time frame involved is not even a minute'. He said they learned their lesson.

In a similar incident - this one in Tampa, Florida - two-year-old Rex Davis somehow exited his mother's hotel room while she was in the shower, went downstairs, got into the family car, and drove it into the motel, causing $2000 in damage. His mother, Ginna Hopkins, had left the car in first gear. 'It's almost unbelievable that a two-year-old could have done that', said Hillsborough County sheriff's office representative Lieutenant Rod Reder. While an officer was investigating the accident, the boy again left the locked hotel room and climbed into the car.

In another story from Tampa, three men drove up to a tollbooth at speed and informed the armed guards there that they were lost. However, the tollbooth was really the gate at MacDill Air Force Base, and officers taking a report on the incident noticed a suspicious plastic bag inside the car. A search of the vehicle revealed about $3,000 worth of crack cocaine. Matthew C. Dail, Jason Michael Sharp, and Simon Joseph were jailed pending trial for drug trafficking.

According to Norway's Bergensavisen, a woman fell asleep while on a night bus from Bergen to her home in Fyllingsdallen. She says that when she woke up, she found that a male passenger had placed her hand down his trousers and she was holding his penis. She pulled her hand away and ignored the man's attempts to talk to her just before he got off the bus. Bjørn Eide of the Fyllingsdalen police said: 'This is unusually maliciously done. We are taking this very seriously.' A description of the man has been released.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on what happened when 15-year-old Michael C. Aubuchon hit himself in the forehead with his skateboard in front of about five boys at a parish picnic. Aubuchon dared the other boys to hit him on the head with the skateboard. An approximately 200-pound 14-year-old who had known Aubuchon for a day or so took up the challenge. When Aubuchon fell down, the boys thought it was an act, but the blow had rendered him unconscious. He later died. Police sergeant Joe Bova Conti said police police the injury wasn't intentional. The 14-year-old has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Cardiff Crown Court recently heard that Michael Carter is not a typical child-minder. The 19-year-old forced a six-month-old charge to smoke cannabis at least three times. He also dropped the girl, which fractured her skull and broke some of her ribs. Carter later also admitted to punching the child. Attorney Hugh Wallace said his client's actions were not intentionally harmful. Judge David Wynn Morgan sentenced Carter to four-and-a-half years in an institution for young offenders.

The clerk on duty at a 7-Eleven store in Mishawaka, Indiana, said two men left their items on the counter and left the store for a five-minute conversation. When they returned, one of the men asked to borrow her pen. He then handed her the cheque book he was carrying, in which something was scrawled on a carbon copy of a cheque. The clerk became confused by the note, which said 'put it in the bag' and something vaguely threatening. She said she asked the man 'what is this?', whereupon he replied that he wasn't sure, as the other man had written the note. She said the pair began to argue about the note and left the store. The pair, who had successfully robbed other stores, did take the cheque book with them.

In a disturbing story from Merlin, Oregon, police say a 13-year-old girl was repeatedly bound, gagged, beaten, and raped by her father, half-brother, and another man, 53-year-old registered sex offender James Sparks. Police say the girl was raped at least 11 times in the course of a year. The father - 40-year-old Thomas Vanburen - and the half-brother - 24-year-old Frank Schmitz - were charged with sodomy, rape, and incest. When Sparks was arrested, he was in bed with a four-year-old girl.

An overweight 37-year-old woman showed up at Australia's Royal Darwin Hospital complaining of abdominal pain and high blood pressure. She said she was 38 weeks pregnant. When staff tried to perform an ultrasound, she had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest, according to the hospital's Len Notaras. After she was resuscitated, specialists performed an emergency C-section to save the baby. But there was no baby. The woman spent several days recovering in hospital.

Mobile, Alabama, water system employee Tom Jennings was fired for having pornographic images on his work computer. Jennings, whose job was that of public affairs manager, suggested in a hearing before the county's personnel board that an intern could have downloaded the images. As to why a co-worker saw them on his screen, he said another possibility is that they were part of pop-up ads. Also on the machine was a photograph of his buttocks, which he explained that he had taken accidentally.
His firing was upheld, but further appeals are still possible.

A woman on a train in Tokyo complained that a man had groped her, so other passengers apprehended alleged perpetrator Yujiro Sano. When the train pulled into the station, security guards took over. As they were leading the 32-year-old Sano away, he wriggled free. He jumped off the train platform, landing on the tracks. He was hit and killed by an oncoming train.

A Clearfield, Utah, woman wanted to send her husband, a serviceman in Iraq, a reminder of home, so she took pornographic pictures of her daughters, aged seven and nine, and e-mailed them to him. In court, Dee Dee Williams said: 'I knew it was wrong when I done it, but I didn't stop it.' Her defence attorney begged District Judge Ted Stewart to be lenient, as 'prior to this, she was a very good mother'. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In July, the girls' stepfather, Paul Jeffery Williams, was given 27 years in prison for sexual abuse. Stewart said this of Dee Dee: 'It's apparent that she simply was doing whatever was necessary to satisfy her husband.'

Pittsburgh's Demetrius Murrell bungled his attempt to evade charges of committing murder in a barroom shooting. The 24-year-old pleaded guilty to third-degree murder after a letter to a friend was returned to the jail due to insufficient postage and read in court. Murrell's letter says in part: 'I'm home free. Or almost. I need you to come and say you were there and that you know it wasn't me.' Also, the address on the letter wasn't correct. Robert Mielnicki, Murrell's attorney, said the case involved 'many, many issues, and I think sometimes this is the way cases have to be resolved'.

In 1992, Craig Kraft bought an old firehouse in Washington, DC, and moved in. This summer, he was informed that the driveway is owned by the city. When he came back from holiday, he found that a kerb had been added and the driveway removed. A sidewalk was in its place. City officials say he can apply for a permit to build a new driveway if he likes.

24 September 2003

David Smith pedalled a bicycle decorated with knickers, gloves, and rubber straps onto Pennsylvania's Youghiogheny River Trail and was spotted a short while later performing a sex act on a nearby rock. One witness described a naked Smith lying atop the rock and thrusting against it in a simulation of sexual intercourse. Another saw Smith merely stand atop the rock exposing himself. When police asked him his name, he provided his driver's licence number.
The Hempfield Township man has been charged with indecent exposure, open lewdness, public drunkenness, and disorderly conduct.

Khim Sakhorn, a former Cambodian military policeman known to police as a regular extortionist, visited an amphetamine dealer in Phnom Penh to demand money and pills from him. When Sakhorn, 38, threatened the drug dealer with a hand grenade, he handed over the money. According to police, Sakhorn then put the grenade back in his pocket and got on his motorbike. 'He forgot to put the pin back into the grenade. He was drunk', according to a police spokesman.

Joan W. Harris of Port St. Lucie, Florida, asked her husband to prepare for Hurricane Isabel. However, he was watching an American football match and insisted the matter could wait until half-time. His 70-year-old wife took issue with this and allegedly attacked him with a butcher's knife. When he feld into a bedroom, she stabbed at the door until gaining entry. She threw the knife at her husband, catching him in the lower leg. Harris faces a charge of aggravated assault.

An 81-year-old woman failed her driver's test in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Officials say the woman, who had made five unsuccessful attempts to pass the test, was asked to back out of a parking place. She did so but went about 25 yards too far. The car headed over a steep embankment and into a river. Neither the woman nor the examiner was injured. No decision has been made as to whether charges will be filed in connection with the incident.

New Jersey's Edward Charles Mills, 29, often climbed into his home through a window when he didn't have his keys with him. He tried to do so when he returned from a bar on Sunday night, climbing onto barrels to reach the window. When he didn't show up at work the next morning, friends contacted the police. Friends eventually got inside with a key and discovered the 300-pound Mills halfway through the window, dead. Authorities said the window frame had apparently cut off his air supply.

San Francisco police lieutenant Greg McEachern said a baseball spectator's sunglasses fell off his head during a recent Giants game at Pacific Bell Park. The sunglasses fell to the pavement below the arcade, where a homeless man picked them up for the man. The non-bespectacled spectator climbed over a railing and tried to climb onto a light post to slide down to the sidewalk to collect the glasses. When reaching for the light post, he fell about 10 metres, and his head hit the pavement. He died.

A burglar fell through the ceiling of a Las Vegas woman's home as she was getting out of the shower. In what the police said they believe to have been a justified response, the woman shot the man, killing him. Lieutenant Tom Monahan said the woman had purchased a gun after her flat was burgled in April. Police suspect that the same man - a 31-year-old neighbour - committed the earlier crime. According to the police, he had climbed into the crawlspace to evade plain-clothes police at his front door.

If you're going to wink at women in Wal-Mart as you walk past them with your penis exposed, you might be less likely to get away with it if you not then use your bank card to make a purchase at the store. David E. Jones of Emery, South Dakota, discovered this the hard way. He is due to face public lewdness charges. When the Patton Township Police Department contacted Jones, he admitted to exposing himself to the women, according to court documents.

According to Douglas County, Oregon, sheriff's office spokeswoman Pam Frank, John L. Nunes wasn't sure if it was a bee or a yellowjacket that flew into his mouth when he was singing along to Justin Timberlake's 'Rock Your Body' on his car radio. That's the story he told police anyway, after his car went down a 15-foot embankment and hit a tree. Nunes, 19, said: 'I kind of panicked and went off the road.' He had to get a stitch in his tongue, which Nunes explained was necessitated by his teeth clamping down and not by the bee.

Ananova reports on what happened after Alison Smith of Angus, Scotland, discovered her husband of 10 days, 21-year-old George Greenhowe, in bed with her 44-year-old mother, Pat Blair. Smith, 20, filed for divorce. She said later: 'At first I was disgusted. But I gradually fell out of love with George and realised how happy he and Mum were. He never apologised for what he did but everyone makes mistakes.' She agreed to be her mother and ex-husband's bridesmaid. As Scots law prohibits a man marrying his ex-wife's mother if the ex-wife is still alive, a humanist ceremony (without legal force) was held.

Four Jiffy Lube employees went to a Chapel Hill, North Carolina, bank to cash their pay cheques. Their supervisor, Terence Rodriquez Ingram, gave them a folded note for the teller before they left for the bank, according to police. The note demanded money and mentioned a weapon. When Richard Joseph Seevers, 19, said he had a note from his manager and passed it to the teller, the men were given a box. After they left the bank, 'smoke [from a dye pack] started coming out of the box and I said "Man, drop that box; there's money in it." I went around front to go into the bank to let them know it was a mistake', said Ron Nagele. Police spokeswoman Jane Cousins said the men and the $4,511 were waiting in the bank's car park when officers arrived. An investigation of the apparent prank is ongoing.

In North Wales, Keith Young rang estranged wife Samantha and told their seven-year-old son to say goodbye to his mother. Young provided a running commentary as a lawnmower pumped carbon monoxide into the car where he and the pair's four sons were sitting.
Harris, 38, had first begun talking of killing himself and the children last year, but he didn't carry out the threat until he found out that Samantha was pregnant by another man. On the telephone, he told her that 'I hope you have a grudge against that baby for the rest of your life'. Samantha told him she would have an abortion and they could try to make their relationship work, but one of the children was already dead and Keith declared that there was no turning back. After the five perished, Samantha had a miscarriage.
The pair's relationship had begun when she was 14 and he 24. They kept it a secret because he had just moved in with another woman at the time. After they were married, an inquest was told, Keith assaulted Samantha a number of times but she kept returning for the children's sake.

About 42 minutes after prisoner Vothy Chhay was released pending trial in Vancouver, Washington, a Juvenile Court worker saw a man try to open the door of her car and offer to buy it for '30 large along with something on the side'. A deputy found Chhay, 19, nearby. He was arrested for car prowling, the offence for which he had been jailed until earlier in the morning. He has been convicted of possessing stolen property, forgery, violating a protection order, second-degree theft, permitting a minor to consume liquor, unlawful possession of a firearm, and a drug offense.

Rene Castillo, 34, was arrested in connection with a bank robbery in Houston, Texas. Witnesses gave police a description of the car the bank robber was driving, as well as its licence plate number. The car had been reported stolen after a man test drove it but didn't return it to the dealership. Bank personnel identified Castillo in a photo lineup including the driver's licence he left at the dealership. After Castillo summoned a wrecker to return the car, the dealership contacted police, who arrested Castillo when he left his block of flats in a different car.

A construction worker in Denver raped and kidnapped a jogger at stun-gunpoint, then took her back to his trailer, where he raped her five more times over a 24-hour period. He finally freed her after she agreed to pretend to enjoy having sex with him on videotape. He went to Sears to buy a camcorder before making the recording. After watching the tape, he left her at a motel with $2 in quarters. Police were able to track down the man - Michael Jesso - because the 45-year-old jogger memorised the man's name and address, which she saw on a magazine label in the pornography-littered trailer. Jesso, 29, had told the woman he was 'a nice guy but a pervert'.

Animal control officers in Milwaukee removed 130 cats from the home of a woman who died in 1997. In the years since Irene Kustra's death, her adult son, Marvin, had been returning regularly to fill sinks and bathtubs with cat food. Toilets and a leaky pipe were providing water for the animals. Trash and cat faeces formed a layer about a metre deep, and the two cars in the garage were destroyed. Other animals in the home included a dog and a large quantity of bugs.

Friends of Evan Walters are quick to point out that he did more than just paint graffiti when bored, but it was painting graffiti that made the biggest impression on him recently. The Pittsburgh 24-year-old was painting away under a railway bridge when a CSX freight train struck him. 'How he didn't see or hear the train coming I don't know', said city homicide sergeant Tim Westwood. Ten minutes later, police and paramedics found his remains and a backpack containing identification and several cans of spraypaint.

Two brothers in Marlow, Georgia, are accused of raping their 68-year-old mother. A third brother and a girlfriend of one of the brothers were charged with elder abuse after the woman was found curled up on the bed in a bug-infested, smelly house. Officer Randy Johnson described finding human waste on the floor and a hole where the loo should have been.
The 24-year-old brother explained that she allowed him to have sex with her but didn't want her other sons to. He accused his 40-year-old brother of rape. The 31-year-old admitted to having sex with her and told Johnson 'he felt bad and knew that it was wrong', according to an affidavit.
The woman at first remembered slapping the 31-year-old son away during an attempted rape but later didn't recall the incident or her sons. Medical personnel said the woman's genital area was bleeding and that she could have been assaulted by as many as four people.

In Oakland, California, three-year-old Chazarus Hill was helped with his schoolwork by his father. If he didn't correctly identify the numbers on flashcards, his father would hit him with his fist or sticks or a belt. After the boy died of these injuries, one pathologist with the Alameda County Coroner's Office said that the injuries 'were like a boxer taking blows'. Chazarus Hill, Sr, 23, admitted his involvement and, according to Sergeant Mark Dunakin, 'showed absolutely no remorse; he said he was enforcing discipline'. Initially, he had said the boy was hurt while playing football and his wife said she couldn't remember how he was hurt.
Neighbours said they had alerted Child Protective Services several times over the last few months. Dunakin said of Hill that 'any time he got upset with his wife [the boy's stepmother], he'd take it out on his son'.

Aeroplane passengers on a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles subdued a man who was pacing the aisle and reading loudly from the Bible. They then duct-taped him so he couldn't escape. Brian Eager, 36, was handed over to authorities when the plane landed. The 36-year-old man will undergo a psychological evaluation, according to FBI Special Agent Matt McLaughlin.

In a follow-up to a story on a Miami Beach, Florida, police officer who drove over two French sunbathers on the beach, killing one of them and seriously injuring the other, the Miami-Dade state attorney's office said the officer will not be charged. An investigation found that there was no proof that George Varon ran over sisters Stéphanie Tunc and Sandrine Tunc multiple times. The incident occurred when Varon was looking for robbery suspects from behind the wheel of a police SUV. Assistant State Attorney David Gilbert estimated that Varon was driving at what works out to under 8 km/h.
He could not be charged with the considerably less serious offence of reckless driving because 'apparently, there is a glitch in the law that says if you drive carelessly in the sand, that's not a traffic violation', according to the Tunc family's attorney.
The robbery Varon was investigating turned out to have been a domestic dispute. A report said Varon didn't hear an updated report to this effect on his radio because calls in one zone 'cannot be heard by police units monitoring the other zone'.

An 18-year-old student from Halle, Germany, drank a tea made with angels' trumpet plants, which have hallucinogenic properties. He went into the garden of the house and cut off his penis and tongue with garden shears. His mother saw him wearing a towel and bleeding heavily, and a doctor was summoned. Dr Andreas Marneros, from the local psychiatric hospital where the student is now staying, said: 'Andreas will have to receive psychological help for years. Tea from angels' trumpets is extremely dangerous as the drug cannot be dosed.'

India's Tribune of Chandigarh reports that a Punjabi woman identified as simply Sulochna was admitted to hospital in Ludhiana for acute abdominal pain. Dr Tarlochan Singh performed surgery on the 24-year-old woman, liberating about a kilogram of hair from her abdomen. Her family said Sulochna routinely ate her mother's hair but didn't explain where the she got the hair from. Trichophagia (hair-eating) is most commonly reported in young girls, who typically eat their own hair rather than that of others.

Thailand's Lamphan Yinsuth had had unexplained stomach pains for several years before doctors discovered the cause. Medics recently discovered via an x-ray that six-by-29-centimetre forceps were left in her abdomen during a hysterectomy six years ago. After the 46-year-old woman complained to the Medical Council, a national association of doctors, the hospital agreed to compensate her the equivalent of $9,520 and to have surgeons operate on her to remove the medical instrument.

In California, Jesse Leonard Youngblood, 36, robbed a bank last August. He has now been sentenced to 33 years to life in prison. He was caught because he returned to the bank later on the day of the day of the robbery. He deposited some of the money using an ATM outside the bank, which struck the cashiers as odd because Youngblood always made his deposits in person in the past. Youngblood was also suspected early on because he was on parole after a previous bank robbery conviction and drove a car similar to the getaway vehicle described by witnesses.

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