Columns » Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

Authorities who arrived at a Chicago apartment to arrest Ronald "Boobie" McIntyre, 35, for unpaid child support said he tried to evade them by jumping from a third-story window onto what appeared to be grass but turned out to be artificial turf covering concrete. Even though McIntyre broke both legs, Cook County sheriff's deputies said he continued his escape by crawling until they arrested him. (Chicago Sun-Times)

When Nathan Wayne Pugh, 49, showed a Dallas bank teller a note demanding money and warning that he had a "bom," the teller told Pugh she needed to see some identification before giving him any money. He presented his bank debit card. When she asked how much he wanted, he answered "two thousand," so she asked for further identification. Pugh handed her his Texas ID card. She pressed the alarm button while informing him she had only $900 in her cash drawer and would get the rest from the vault. He said he'd settle for the $900, which he took, along with his debit card and ID.

As he turned to flee, Pugh noticed uniformed police officers at the bank entrance, so he grabbed a woman holding a baby, apparently to use as a hostage, according to FBI agent Mark White, who reported the woman wrestled Pugh to the ground. Officers rushed over and arrested him. (The Dallas Morning News)

Mindless decisions

Humans are as easily duped as brainless slime mold, according to Australian researchers who experimented with decision-making in the single-cell, amoeba-like Physarum polycephalum. Presented with two food choices, one containing 3 percent oatmeal in a dark setting or 5 percent oatmeal in a bright setting, the slime, which favors dark over light, showed no food preference. When Tanya Latty and Madeleine Beekman of the University of Sydney added a third food source that was clearly inferior, containing only 1 percent oatmeal in a dark environment, 80 percent of the slime suddenly favored the 3 percent oatmeal in darkness. Latty and Beekman noted this style of decision-making, called "comparative valuation," is common among humans, who might, for example, choose a cheaper version of a product over a costlier version, until a third, much more expensive version is introduced, prompting their decision to buy the previously costlier version, believing it now to be a bargain. (Discover Magazine)

Gun goofs

A 52-year-old hiker in Chelan County, Wash., decided to move his .40-caliber handgun from its holster to a more comfortable position in his back pocket, according to the sheriff's office, but the gun accidentally fired, wounding the man in his left buttock and leg. (The Wenatchee World)

Human combustion

When a witness startled a man and a woman trying to siphon gas from a Salvation Army van in Tacoma, Wash., it suddenly erupted in flames, which spread to a second vehicle. Both suspects caught fire, too, according to police official Mark Fulghum, who reported the man was able to put out his own flames and fled. The witness used a garden hose to douse the 20-year-old woman, who was taken to a Seattle hospital. (Tacoma's News Tribune)

Slight provocation

Stanley Neace, 47, killed five people in two mobile homes outside Jackson, Ky., then turned the shotgun on himself when police arrived. The shooting spree began because Neace didn't like how his wife cooked his eggs, according to Sherri Anne Robinson, a relative of two of the victims. "He just got mad at his wife for not making his breakfast right, and he shot her," Robinson said. "She tried to run to tell my family, and he shot them, too, because they found out about it." (Associated Press)

The name game

Police investigating the murder of Samuel Boob in Centre County, Pa., arrested suspect Kermit Butts, 26. (Central Pennsylvania's WTAJ-TV)

Chimney sweeping

Three days after Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac, 49, was reported missing in Bakersfield, Calif., her badly decomposed body was found in the chimney of the house of a man with whom she had an on-and-off relationship. Police Sgt. Mary DeGeare said Kotarac had gone to the house and tried to force her way inside with a shovel, but the homeowner left unnoticed "to avoid a confrontation." Investigators concluded from the evidence that Kotarac climbed a ladder to the roof, removed the chimney cap and slid down the flue feet first until she became stuck wedged about two feet above the top of the interior fireplace opening. A house sitter discovered the body, which firefighters spent five hours dismantling the chimney and flue from outside the home to recover. (The Bakersfield Californian)

Police reported that Kevin Michael Harley, 23, tried to break into a restaurant in North Charleston, S.C., but got trapped in the grease vent he was using to enter the building. He was rescued six hours later when an employee heard his cries for help and called police. They found Harley stuck vertically in the vent and noted he was wearing socks on his hands to avoid leaving fingerprints. (Charleston's Post and Courier)

Anti-social network

Roy Williams, 46, set up a Facebook account using the fake name of John Smith to befriend his ex-girlfriend, Traci Dishman, 41. Three days after they met online, she agreed to go on a date with him and met him at an apartment building, where, according to prosecutors in Lincoln, Neb., she started up the stairs and was shot three times. Williams pleaded no contest to attempted murder. (Nebraska's York News-Times)

Nearly a third of the teenagers on Facebook are ready to unfriend their parents for nagging chats and clueless comments, left mostly by mothers, on their children's online profiles, according to an AOL study. "The moms like to overshare about things like menopause that their kids want nothing to do with or know anything about," said Jeanne Leitenberg, 27, who launched a website called "Oh Crap! My Parents Joined Facebook" with Erika Brooks Adickman, 28, who observed that mothers tend to use Facebook "as a way to reattach the umbilical cord." (Los Angeles Times)

My bad

Florida authorities charged Amber Lee, 21, with murder for running over a man she thought raped her, but the Florida Highway Patrol said she killed the wrong guy. After Lee mowed down Timothy Bualkmann, 32, with her car in Hendry County, her attorney said the man accused of raping Lee had been arrested but was released for lack of evidence. "I'm sorry for the man's family and everything," Lee said of Bualkmann, "but what happened was an accident." (CNN)

Add a comment

Clicky Quantcast