Columns » Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction


Curses, foiled again Police investigating a break-in at a residence in Yonkers, N.Y., identified John Lyles, 36, as their suspect because he removed his boots to avoid making noise but then left them behind when he fled empty-handed after the homeowner's dog began barking at him. A few hours later, an officer spotted Lyles walking without shoes and arrested him.

Police who responded to an alarm at a liquor store in Athens, Ala., followed a trail of muddy footprints to a nearby motel room, where they found a pair of muddy shoes, four bottles of vodka, and Adam Wayne Blankenship, 23, and Robert Taylor Williams, 35. Gum-bombs Three lawmakers in Dover, N.J., warned that the town faces a serious homeland security threat from gumballs. During the first six months of their nine-month investigation, Aldermen Frank Poolas, Jack Delaney and Michael Picciallo reported uncovering more than 100 unlicensed coin-operated machines, many filled with gumballs, jawbreakers and other candies that they insisted are perfect weapons for potential terrorists, who could poison them to target the town's children. The concerned trio explained their goal is to create a registration process for gumball machines and find out where all the candy is coming from. "God forbid something happened," Delaney said. "There's just no record of anything." Felonious ennui After police in Carbondale, Pa., arrested Carl Wagner, 24, when they discovered him standing nude in a doorway, one of the detectives interrogating him said he recognized Wagner from a surveillance video of a nude man who tried to rob a convenience store two weeks earlier. According to the arrest report, when Detective Sgt. Thomas Heller asked him why he would do anything so bizarre, Wagner, who has multiple convictions for indecent exposure, replied that he was bored. Karma? Investigators concluded from evidence at the scene of a house fire in Basalt, Colo., that John Kenworthy, 50, tried to kill a woman he knew but accidentally ignited himself. When the pain became unbearable, police Sgt. Mark Langford reported, the man shot himself in the face to end his misery. As his body lay burning, the fire ignited about 20 rounds of ammunition, riddling the body with shrapnel. Indicating Kenworthy may have been planning a murder-suicide, Langford declared, "He was there to do evil."

Australian authorities reported that three male occupants of a dinghy stood up and "bared their buttocks" at a group of people on shore but then lost their balance and fell into the water. The engine continued to run in gear, causing the unoccupied vessel to circle in the waterway. Its rotating propeller struck one of the mooners, a 17-year-old boy from Kanimbla, in the face, causing serious injuries. Problem solved Responding to criticism that Indonesia has failed to stem deforestation, losing 5 million acres of forests per year, the government announced it would plant 79 million trees in one day. "We want to show the world that it's not true that Indonesia is only a country that carries out forest destruction," Forestry Ministry official Ahmad Fauzi Mas'ud said, explaining each of the nation's 71,000 villages and 8,000 other administrative areas was ordered to plant 1,000 trees on Nov. 28, five days before the country hosts a United Nations conference on global climate change. Being neighborly Australian officials accused Jamie Lacey, 27, of breaking into a neighbor's house while high on drugs, scattering pornographic magazines around the bathroom and fashioning a sex toy from a bottle of detergent, a piece of wood and a rubber glove. The Brisbane Times reported Lacey was arrested after police matched his DNA to that on the rubber glove. Judge Tony Rafter dismissed a defense motion that there was no proof a vacuum cleaner also found in the bathroom has been used for sexual purposes. "I'm sure," the newspaper quoted Rafter as saying, "that your client didn't hoover the carpets."

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