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Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

After Luis Del Castillo, 45, pushed Noemi Duchene, 44, in a wheelchair to a jewelry store in El Paso, Texas, security cameras caught Duchene outside the store getting out of the chair and pulling a large black trash bag with two eyeholes over her head and upper body. She went inside, showed a hunting knife and demanded "everything." Storeowner Linda Bradley refused and trumped Duchene's knife with a stun gun, then chased the robber around the store. "I knew I could outrun her, because she was obviously not very quick," Bradley said, noting, "You cannot be terrified when someone cannot run and has a black bag on their head." A customer tackled Duchene and held her until police arrived. They found Del Castillo waiting outside with the wheelchair. Investigators said the couple lives across the street from the store. (NBC News)

Police tracking a burglar from a home in Ladue, Mo., closed the case after finding the body of Donald Zakrzewski, 42, at the bottom of a rock quarry, having fallen 50 to 60 feet to his death. Police also found stolen jewelry in his pocket and a bag nearby containing electronic equipment from the home. "He was probably trying to escape the crime scene, running at full speed, when he ran off the edge," police Chief Richard Wooten said. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

When Condoms Aren't Enough

Laptop computers with Wi-Fi can damage DNA and decrease sperm motility after only four hours' exposure, according to a study by the American Society for Reproduction, which blames microwave radiation. The findings prompted Conrado Avendano, research director at the Nascentis Reproduction Medical Center, to warn men trying to have children not to work with a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop near their lap and instead connect to the Internet with cables. (Denver's KUSA-TV)

Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in plastic bottles, soda cans and other everyday products, adversely affects sperm in men, according to a study of factory workers in China. Those who were exposed to BPA were more likely to have lower sperm counts and poorer sperm quality. "The higher your exposure, the lower your sperm quality is," said De-Kun Li of Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., who conducted the study, which was reported in the journal Fertility and Sterility. (The Washington Post)

Judge Judy justice

A debt-collection agency set up a room in its office in Erie, Pa., to look like a courtroom, complete with a raised area where a judge would sit, attorney's tables and legal books on bookshelves, according to Pennsylvania's Bureau of Consumer Protection. The agency's lawsuit charges that Unicredit Debt Resolution Center used people dressed as sheriff's deputies to summon consumers to "the courtroom," where a person dressed in black would preside over fake proceedings "to deceive, mislead or frighten consumers into making payments or surrendering valuables to Unicredit." The lawsuit is seeking restitution for victimized consumers. (Associated Press)

To tell the truth

Leon Murray, 25, told police in Boynton Beach, Fla., that two men pistol-whipped him at an automated teller machine and stole $400 cash, his bankcard and his .45-caliber handgun. When police questioned him, Murray admitted making up the robbery story, explaining he owed his mother $400 and needed an excuse because he didn't have the money. (Southwest Florida's Sun Sentinel)

Washington State Patrol criminal records manager Heather Anderson was arriving for work in Olympia, Wash., when she noticed a book on the seat of a parked car about "how to beat the lie detector." She called Human Resources to see if any job applicants were taking a polygraph test. One was. Authorities matched the candidate to the car and promptly rejected him. Past misdemeanors don't automatically disqualify job applicants, patrol official Dan Coon said, but lying does. (Associated Press)

Ye of little faith

James Solakian, a shareholder of Inc., sued the company's board members, accusing the ordained ministers of failing to profit from the corporation's Internet property. The website features ads and a verse of the day, and offers links for biblical answers to questions on voting and masturbation. Citing the company's business plan, which states "it is the goal of the board of directors of to become very, very profitable," Solakian's suit claims the directors refused to run the company in a profitable way or sell the site, which he described as a "goldmine." The suit notes a valuation by a potential purchaser that estimated could be worth more than, whose recent sale topped $100 million. (Reuters)

Jason Michael Carlsen, 25, filed a lawsuit against two drinking partners who failed to call police after he fell — or, as some suggest, was pushed — off a 200-foot cliff in Redding, Calif. Instead, Sarah Elisabeth Koivumaki and Zachary Gudleunas, who later said they thought Carlsen was dead, tried, according to the suit, to pray Carlsen back to life. The two were students at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, whose members believe prayer can heal people and revive the dead. The suit claims that when Carlsen remained still, the two spent hours debating whether to call the police before they decided to cover up evidence that they'd been there and flee. After lying in the open for six hours, Carlsen spent more than a month in a coma and, two years later, is a paraplegic. (Redding Record Spotlight)

Cwazy wabbits

Cars parked at Denver International Airport have had their wiring chewed through by rabbits, according to reports from returning travelers. "We've seen rabbits, and we've seen mice, and they're eating up the newer cars," said Robert Bauguess, owner of Bavarian Autohaus, which services Volkswagens. He said the rodents favor 2002 and newer models, many of which use a soy-based compound in the wiring. "We are aware of the problem," traveler Dexter Meyer said airport officials told him after he reported that rodents had chewed his wires "and that they were thinking about increasing patrols" of the lots. Meanwhile, he was told, "well, there is a fence." (Denver's KWGN-TV)

Barney Fife-rs

Three guards and a sheriff's deputy at the jail in Greene County, Ark., were searching a holding cell for contraband when inmate Jacob Rodden ran out of the cell, shut the door and inserted the security pin, trapping the officers with some of the inmates they were searching. A jail matron came to their rescue. Sheriff Dan Langston blamed the mishap on a lack of training. (Paragould Daily Press)

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