Stranger Than Fiction

| October 12, 2000
When Stanley B. Gibson, 18, and Dwayne A. Taylor, 17, accosted a pizza delivery man in Nashville, Tenn., police said Gibson hit the victim over the head with his gun. When he did, the gun fired, killing Taylor. The delivery man escaped injury.

William J. Waldron, 27, was on his way home to Illinois from Camp Lejeune, N.C., after his discharge from the military when he stopped at a Baltimore bar to buy drugs. Undercover police Lt. Michael Tabor offered to sell the drugs if Waldron would follow him to the nearby Central District police station. "I told him the police station was the safest place in town to do business," Tabor said, noting that a uniformed officer was five feet away when Waldron handed over the money. He added Waldron seemed genuinely surprised when Tabor identified himself as a police officer.

Water-quality experts hoping to determine where treated waste water flows when it enters Puget Sound abandoned plans to use caffeine as a tracer after finding caffeine already abounds in the sound. "It's all over the place," said Scott Mickelson, a water quality planner with King County, which includes Seattle. He told the New York Times that a major source is the region's outdoor coffee vendors. "We have an awful lot of sidewalk baristas out here," he said, "and at the end of the day, the dregs go into storm drains."

When the American Cancer Society began receiving calls from people who had mailed contributions and were concerned that their checks hadn't been cashed, investigators discovered a bank employee was deliberately throwing checks into the trash because she felt overworked. Postal inspector Thomas E. Boyle explained the woman was supposed to process hundreds of checks a day and deposit them in the society's account. Instead, she took home any checks she didn't finish by the end of the day and threw them away.

Niko Veizi, a Socialist Party candidate for mayor of Vlore, Albania, courted voters by promising to permit brothels to open for the first time in 60 years if he won the election. Veizi didn't explain how he intended to keep his promise since prostitution is illegal in Albania.

Police at a substation in China's Jiangsu province opened a brothel in a restaurant where prostitutes would lure customers to back rooms, then police would raid the rooms, haul the customers to the station, fine them and pocket the money. "Depending on how much money the police station pulled in, they would issue a performance bonus to the girls," Shanghai's Xinmin Evening News newspaper reported. The get-rich scheme organized by deputy chief Gao Mingliang was uncovered when police at a neighboring substation arrested the restaurant owner and sentenced him to a year at hard labor for running a brothel. Upset at the sentence, the man notified officials of Gao's operation.

Alpna Patel, 28, was convicted in Baltimore of stabbing her husband to death after he fell asleep while she was presenting a list of 39 demands for improving their marriage.

Eric Shackelford, 81, who used an electrically powered oxygen system to help him breathe, died when the local power company, ComEd, shut off service to his home in Aurora, Ill., because he was behind in his bills. "When they shut the lights out, they shut his oxygen down," Shackelford's daughter Renia Thomas told the Chicago Sun-Times.

After Lucia Lopez, 28, accepted Rafael Rodriguez's marriage proposal, he said he wanted to show her something and took her to the Phoenix, Ariz., landscaping business where he worked. Lopez said Rodriguez told her to close her eyes and lie on the conveyor belt of a wood chipper, then he started the machine and jumped on the conveyor belt with her. "He lays down next to her, and she says the next thing she knows is he is through the machine, apparently grabbing her wrists to bring her into the machine, too," police Lt. Mark Zingg said, noting that before he succeeded, the wood chipper automa tically stopped, and Rodriguez died from head injuries.

Frederick Ford, 48, who is serving an eight-year prison term for planning to kill two former clients he thought could implicate him in a kidnapping plot, said he wants the government to return the $11,000 he admitted paying a Labor Department undercover agent. The money was to be used as evidence at Ford's trial, but Ford pleaded guilty, so his attorney argued that since the trial never took place the government has no reason to keep the money.

When Philadelphia police started questioning Brian James, 34, in connection with the robbery of an elderly man, the suspect began chewing his fingertips. "What he was trying to do was ruin any possibility for fingerprinting," Detective Lt. Joseph Lynch said. "All he did was injure himself. We quickly stopped him."

Vice Adm. John B. Nathman, the Navy's head of Pacific fleet aviation, endorsed a proposal to remove urinals from the service's 11 aircraft carriers and replace them with "gender neutral water closets." The Washington Times reported the change, which was outlined in a memo from Navy Pacific air command to naval headquarters, is being considered for reasons of cleanliness and sex equity. "They won't be happy until we all have to sit down to pee," one aviator told the newspaper. "This is the continuing feminization of the Navy."

After an Arapahoe County, Colo., sheriff's deputy pulled over Mamileti Lakshmihart, 36, gave him a warning and returned to his patrol car, Lakshmihart "became confused," according to the deputy, put his truck in reverse and backed into the front of the patrol car.

When government inspectors cited Israel's McDonald's franchise for violating labor laws by employing Jewish teenagers on the Sabbath and levied fines totaling $20,000, the franchise owner, Omri Padan, placed half-page ads in Israel's three largest newspapers attacking the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry and Shas, the Orthodox political party that controls it. "Stop the surrender to Shas or Israel will turn into Iran," read the ads demanding an end to "religious coercion." The party responded by noting Padan's real concern is that the policy may raise McDonald's labor costs since teenagers can be paid less than adults.

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