Thieves attempted a smash-and-grab of an ATM at Mike and Reggie’s Beverages in Maple Heights, Ohio, in spite of the fact that the owners had left the ATM’s door wide open and put up a sign reading “ATM emptied nightly.” Police are investigating.
In Cleveland, an unidentified man dressed as a road worker wandered along Franklin Boulevard in March, removing more than twenty “35 mph” speed limit signs and replacing them all with official-looking “25 mph” signs that he presumably financed himself. Residents along those two miles of Franklin have long complained. But the city kept rejecting pleas for a lowered speed limit.
On the morning of March 20 in Winter Park, Fla., Charles Howard stood outside his home as he was interviewed live by a WFTV reporter. He denied he had committed a crime in leaving a widely reported series of voicemail messages for a U.S. Congressman. The messages contained threats to “wrap a rope around your neck and hang you from a lamp post.” He boasted that “proof” of his having done nothing wrong was that if he had, he would have already been arrested. “Three minutes later,” according to the reporter, agents drove up and arrested Howard.
— In March, Ghanian soccer player Mohammed Anas earned a “man of the match” award after his two goals led the Free State Stars to a 2-2 draw. But he botched the acceptance speech by thanking both his wife and his girlfriend. Reportedly, Anas “stumbled for a second” until he could correct himself. “I’m so sorry,” he said, attempting to clarify matters. “My wife! I love you so much from my heart.”
Everybody’s A Victim
— Royce Atkins, 23, told the judge in Northampton County, Penn., that he was sorry he didn’t stop his car in 2015 and help the 9-year-old boy he had just hit and killed. However, Atkins was recorded viciously trash-talking the boy’s family with jail mates. He scolded the child’s family for “reacting like they’re the victims. What about my family? My family is the victim, too.” Atkins got a four-year sentence.
— In February, in a Wayne County, Mich., court during sentencing for a DUI driver who had killed a man and severely injured his fiancee, Judge Qiana Lillard kicked the driver’s mother out of the courtroom for laughing at the victim’s sister, who was tearfully addressing the judge. Lillard sentenced the mother to 93 days for contempt, but later reduced the sentence to one day.
The Passing Parade
— A 23-year-old Albuquerque woman performed cartwheels instead of a standard field sobriety test at a DUI stop in February. But she did the cartwheels poorly and was charged anyway. On the other hand, student Blayk Puckett, stopped by University of Central Arkansas police, helped shield himself from a DUI by juggling for the officer.
— Two convicted murderers imprisoned in Nepal married each other in February, even though it will be at least 14 years before they can consummate the marriage. Dilli Koirala, 33 (serving 20 years for killing his wife), and Mimkosha Bista, 30 (with another four years to go for killing her husband), will be allowed to meet — just to talk — twice a month until Koirala’s term ends. A lawyer involved in the case said the marriage, though odd, was perhaps the last chance either would have to meet a suitable match.
The U.S. House of Representatives enhanced vets’ civil rights in March by removing a source of delay in vets’ gun purchases. A 2007 law had required all federal agencies to enter the names of any mentally ill clients into the National Instant Criminal Background Check database for gun purchases. The new bill exempts veterans (including 19,000 schizophrenics and 15,000 vets with severe post-traumatic stress syndrome). At present, an average of a dozen veterans a day commit suicide with guns.
Fine Points of the Law
Police and prosecutors in Williamsburg, Va., are absolutely certain that Oswaldo Martinez raped and killed a teenage girl in 2005. But though he was quickly arrested, they have — 12 years later — not even put him on trial. Martinez, 33, is deaf, illiterate and almost mute. The undocumented Salvadoran immigrant has such limited intelligence that test after test has shown him incapable of understanding his legal rights, and therefore incompetent to stand trial. Police made multiple “slam dunk” findings of Martinez’s DNA on the victim’s body and also linked Martinez via a store camera to the bottle of juice left at the crime scene.
— Convicted murderer Philip Smith (a veteran criminal serving life for killing the father of a boy Smith had been sexually abusing) escaped from prison in New Zealand with the help of a disguise that included a toupee for his bald head. When he was caught, prison officials confiscated the toupee. Smith said that in jail, a shiny head made him feel “belittled, degraded and humiliated.” He sued for the right to keep the toupee. In March, in a rare case in which a litigant succeeds as his own lawyer, Smith prevailed in Auckland’s High Court.
— In March, star soccer goal keeper Bruno Fernandes de Souza signed a two-year contract to play for Brazil’s Boa Esporte club while he awaits the outcome of his appealed conviction for the 2010 murder of his girlfriend. He had been sentenced to 22 years in prison, but was released by a judge after seven, based on the judge’s exasperation with the years-long delays in appeals in Brazil’s sluggish legal system.
Latest Religious Messages
— In Spindale, N.C., former members of the Word of Faith Fellowship told the Associated Press that two state prosecutors (one a relative of the church’s founder) coached Fellowship members and leaders about ways to neutralize government investigations into church abuse; in other words, they coached the church members to do things that would violate state law. Fellowship officials have been accused of beating “misbehaving” congregants, including children, in order to “repel their demons.” Among the Fellowship edicts revealed in the AP report: all dating, marriages and procreation are subject to approval, and there is no wedding-night intimacy beyond a “godly” kiss on the cheek.
— Babies born on the Indonesian island of Bali are treated regally under an obscure Hindu tradition. They must not be allowed to touch the earth for 105 days. Carrying the infant in a bucket and setting the bucket on the ground is acceptable. Each birth is a re-birth, say parents, with ancestors returning as their own descendants. Accidentally touching the ground does not condemn the baby, but does leave questions about negative influences on it.
— Catholic priest Juan Carlos Martinez, 40, apologized shortly after he realized he had gone “too far” in celebrating Carnival in the Galicia area of Spain when he dressed as Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner and reclined on a red satin sheet on a parade float that featured men dressed as Playboy Bunnies. Despite public support for Father Martinez, his Archbishop asked him to attend a spiritual retreat and reflect on his behavior.
In March, jurors in Norfolk, Va., found Allen Cochran, 49, not guilty of attempted shoplifting. But he was nowhere to be seen when the verdict was announced. He had been charged with fleeing court during a previous case. The jury then re-retired to the jury room, found him guilty on the earlier count and sentenced him to the five-year maximum. Because of time already served, he could have walked away legally if he hadn’t walked away illegally.
Among the facts revealed in the ongoing criminal proceedings against U.S. Navy officials and defense contractor Leonard (“Fat Leonard”) Francis, who is charged with arranging kickbacks: in 2007, Francis staged a party for the officials at the Shangri-La Hotel in the Philippines during which (according to an indictment unsealed in March) “historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts.”
Peacocks are known to flash their 6-foot-high rack of colorful tail feathers to attract mating opportunities. But researchers in Texas recently found the display might not be important. Body cameras placed on peahens at eye level (to learn how they check out strutting males) revealed that the females gazed mostly at the lowest level of feathers (as if attracted only to certain colors rather than the awesomeness of the towering flourish).
Least Competent Criminals
Boca Raton, Fla., jeweler “Bobby” Yampolsky said he was suspicious that the customer who asked to examine diamonds worth $6 million carried no tools of the examination trade. After the woman made several obvious attempts to distract Yampolsky, he ended the charade by locking her in his vault and calling the police. They arrested her after they discovered she had a package of fake diamonds in her purse that she likely intended to switch.
A News Of The Weird Classic
“Supermodels are the one exception to U.S. immigration law that we all scratch our heads about,” said a Brookings Institution policy analyst in May, 2013. Foreign-born sports stars and entertainers are fast-tracked with American work permits under one system. But supermodels are excluded from that, and must thus compete — successfully, it turns out — with physicists and nuclear engineers to earn visas among the slots available only to “skilled workers with college degrees.” As such, around 250 beauties are admitted every year. The most recent attempt to get supermodels their own visa category was championed in 2005 and 2007 by then-U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York.