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Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

Miami police investigating the hit-and-run death of Ana Iris Perez-Hernandez, 25, identified Jose Santiago, 62, as their suspect after finding remains of the homemade spaghetti and tomato sauce she had been carrying underneath the grill of Santiago's gold Toyota Corolla and on the bottom part of the windshield. "There aren't too many vehicles with spaghetti on them," Detective Lorraine Rubio told the Miami Herald. She added that Santiago wasn't home, but police towed the car and arrested him when he showed up later at police headquarters "wanting to know when he could get his car back."

Someone smashed a 6-foot-tall hole in the wall of a clothing store in Tulsa, Okla., then spent the next six hours trying to break into a safe that contained several thousand dollars before giving up and fleeing empty-handed. Jime Breece, the clothing company's vice president, noted that the safe was unlocked the whole time.

Albanian native Jugert Haxhiu, 26, was ordered to leave the United States in 2004 but didn't. He was arrested in August when he applied for a job with the U.S. Border Patrol and claimed to be a U.S. citizen.

Rocket science?

Jim Akkerman, a retired NASA engineer trying to find an inexpensive way for people to travel to space, was working on a spacecraft his firm is developing when his rocket fuel exploded. There were no injuries or property damage. "It's just an experiment that went bad," Hitchcock, Texas, police Chief Glenn Manis told the Galveston County Daily News, explaining the explosion resulted from too much methane-oxygen fuel accumulating in the rocket engine when it wouldn't fire.

Aerial escapades

While officials awaited the arrival of skydivers to deliver the game ball to start a football game at the University of North Carolina, the two jumpers from Virginia-based Aerial Adventures landed 8 miles away where Duke University was supposed to face James Madison University. Raleigh's News & Observer reported the pilot carrying the jumpers thought they were over UNC's Kenan Stadium, not Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium. "In about five years," UNC athletic director Rick Steinbacher said, "maybe this will be funny."

Women in black

An Italian priest from Mondragone announced he was organizing an online beauty pageant to give nuns more visibility within the Catholic Church and to fight the stereotype that they are all old and dour. "External beauty is a gift from God, and we mustn't hide it," the Rev. Antonio Rungi proclaimed, adding contestants could pose with the traditional veil or with their heads uncovered. "We are not going to parade nuns in bathing suits."

Despite such assurances, four days later, Rungi called off the "Miss Sister 2008" contest, yielding to pressure from some Catholics, particularly the association of Catholic teachers. The group's president, Alberto Giannino, said the pageant "belittles the role of nuns."

When Bernadette Snyder, 29, became the first consecrated perpetual virgin in the 188-year history of the Richmond, Va., Catholic diocese in May, the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins, which formed in 1996, noted there are 200 consecrated virgins nationwide. Most of the group's consecrations have come in the past 10 years, according to the group's president, Judith Stegman, who herself is one of 500 consecrated virgins from 52 countries who met in Vatican City in May to discuss how to promote the order. Consecrated virgins aren't nuns and receive no financial support from the church, although Snyder works for the diocese as a geostatistician.

Who needs guns?

Police said wheelchair-bound Jesus Javier Ortega, 30, was being helped out of a car in the parking lot of a church in Cedar City, Utah, when he stabbed his brother-in-law in the face several times with a ballpoint pen. "The suspect had been in prison, and the victim has been helping raise his children," police Sgt. Jerry Womack said. "There was some dispute over the way the victim was raising his children."

When two men broke into a woman's home in Seymour, Tenn., she used part of a brass musical instrument to hit one of the men. Both men fled, according to Sevier County sheriff's deputies, who couldn't immediately determine what kind of instrument the woman used but noted she got a license number that led to the arrest of the two suspects.

Six people received minor injuries and citations for misdemeanor rioting after a brawl outside a 7-Eleven store in Spring Hill, Fla. The trouble started, according to a Sheriff's Office report, when Marshall and Gloria Corulla walked out of the store, and Phylliss Hoskin and Kathleen Infante exchanged words with the Corullas' daughter, Dawn Deleon, 38. As words gave way to action, the report said, Hoskin sprayed Marshall Corulla with Mace, and Infante struck at least two people with a can of boiled peanuts.

Police in Gainesville, Fla., charged Crystal McCook, 29, with throwing a "deadly missile" at a vehicle after they said she dropped a 15-pound duffel bag from the top of her stairs onto the car, followed by plates, spaghetti sauce and a glass candleholder.

Two men reported they were sleeping in a home in Fresno County, Calif., when a burglar rubbed spices on the body and in the face of one man and then used an 8-inch sausage to smack the other in the head. Deputies had no trouble identifying the suspect as Antonio Vasquez, 22, because he left behind his wallet with his identification, according to sheriff's Lt. Ian Burrimond, who said both the spices and sausage came from the victims' kitchen. Deputies recovered $900 that was stolen from the home but said a dog ate the sausage used in the attack. Without the weapon, prosecutors said they lacked sufficient evidence to charge Vasquez.

Cute but dangerous

Japanese police reported three men were hanging out on a Tokyo street corner dressed as a mouse, a panther and Winnie-the-Pooh, when the one in the Pooh costume, Masayuki Ishikawa, 20, objected to two people staring at them. He and his friends beat up the two gawkers and stole $160 from them, according to police, who said the group apparently donned the costumes because they had run out of clean clothes.

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