Curses, foiled again
Police were able to identify two people who snatched a purse from an 82-year-old woman in New Castle, Pa., because the victim's 89-year-old friend banged the getaway car with her cane as it pulled away. Police Chief Thomas Sansone said officers found the car by matching the dent to the cane and arrested Jerry Brown Jr., 27, and Tatiana Vargas, 21. (Associated Press)
While Pittsburgh police Detective Robert DiGiacomo was looking for an assault suspect, a man climbed into his unmarked car and ordered him to get out. DiGiacomo reported he pulled his gun and identified himself to Micah Calamosca, 21, who explained "he was filming the movie Batman, and that him taking my vehicle was part of the script." DiGiacomo added, "At no point did I think that was the truth." In addition, DiGiacomo noted Calamosca fit the assault suspect's description. (Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV)
Power of suggestion
William Melchert-Dinkel, a former nurse from Faribault, Minn., persuaded two people he met online to commit suicide. Prosecutors said he posed as a suicidal female nurse to win the trust of a 32-year-old Englishman and an 18-year-old Canadian woman, then pretended to enter into suicide pacts with them and offered detailed instructions how to take their own lives. (Associated Press)
After Wesley McKinley, 16, committed suicide, Sarasota, Fla., school officials placed North Port High School principal George Kenney on administrative leave upon learning he hypnotized McKinley the day before his death. Kenney reportedly has been hypnotizing students for the past two years and had permission from McKinley's parents to use hypnosis on their son. (Tampa's WTSP-TV)
After an elementary school in Channelview, Texas, suspended a pupil for uttering the phrase "poo-poo head," the boy's mother, Tammy Harris, demanded the school library ban the book The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby because it contains the same phrase. A committee rejected Harris's complaint. She appealed and won. (Houston's KTRK-TV)
The Crowne Plaza hotel chain introduced "snore monitors" at six of its hotels in Britain to combat noisy sleepers. The monitors patrol the hotels' designated quiet zones and knock on the door to warn guests who snore too loudly. "Repeat offenders will be offered an alternative room away from the quiet zone for their next stay," said Laura Simpson, snore monitor at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Leeds.
The hotel chain also is testing "snore absorption" rooms at 10 hotels in Europe and the Middle East. The rooms feature soundproofing on the walls and headboards, anti-snoring pillows and white-noise machines. (Reuters)
When Charles Harris tried disposing of his dead Rottweiler's body by burning it in his backyard, he used gasoline to intensify the fire, which then spread to the house, causing $70,000 worth of damage, according to Prince William County, Va., fire and rescue Battalion Chief Joe Robertson. Harris was charged with illegal outside burning. (Associated Press)
When a pit bull jumped a fence in Jackson, Miss., and lunged at some children, Robert Walker Sr., 53, held the dog with both hands while his wife took the children inside and returned with a .38-caliber revolver. Betty Walker fired two shots, the first of which struck her husband in the chest. He was rushed to the hospital but died. (Jackson's The Clarion-Ledger)
A Finnish researcher has identified a link between economic development and penis size. Examining figures between 1960 and 1985, Tatu Westling of the Helsinki Center for Economic Research concluded that the smaller a country's average penis size, the faster its economic growth. Every centimeter increase in penis size, for example, accounted for a 5 to 7 percent reduction in gross domestic production. GDP was highest in countries with average-sized penises and fell at the extremes of penis length, with a collapse in economic growth occurring where the size of male organs exceeds 16 centimeters (6.3 inches). Westling acknowledged his study began "as a half-serious attempt," but turned serious once he saw that statistical correlations were "so robust." (GlobalPost online news agency)
When witnesses reported a motorcycle rear-ended a minivan in Victorville, Calif., but that the motorcyclist's body had disappeared, San Bernadino County Sheriff's official Karen Hunt said the minivan driver discovered the motorcyclist in the backseat while turning around to return to the scene of the accident. Investigators concluded the collision's impact sent the motorcyclist through the minivan's rear window. Neither the driver nor the motorcyclist required medical attention. (Victorville's Daily Press)
The latest threat to national security is "paperwork terrorists," according to officials in several states from New Jersey to California. People claiming to follow an obscure religion called Moorish Science have been filing bogus legal documents, often written in confusing legal jargon and making outlandish claims about being exempt from U.S. laws. "These are people who engage in the most bizarre leaps of logic," said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. "They literally believe that if you lowercase the "u" in the phrase United States, you will break the bonds of government tyranny and become a free man."
Their motives include financial gain, causing a nuisance and maliciously targeting enemies. The bad filings include deeds, liens and other documents. Their latest ploy is moving into foreclosed homes and changing the locks. Pursuing theft or fraud charges is complicated by state laws that vary on whether filing sham paperwork is in itself a crime. (Associated Press)
Who needs Medicare?
Police responding to a call from a woman in Glendale, Calif., found her 63-year-old husband lying naked on a lounge chair with the handle of a 6-inch butter knife protruding from his stomach. The man apparently had attempted surgery on himself to remove a hernia, according to police Sgt. Tom Lorenz, who noted that as officers waited for paramedics to arrive, the man pulled out the knife and shoved a cigarette he was smoking inside the open wound. (Glendale News-Press)
Guns for all
When Charles W. Sykes Jr., the District of Columbia's only licensed gun dealer, lost his lease, he couldn't find another location because of strict D.C. zoning limitations. But federal law requires the city have at least one federally licensed gun dealer to handle lawful transfers of guns from other states. In response, the zoning commission approved an emergency proposal that let Sykes set up shop inside police headquarters and pay just $100 a month rent. (The Washington Times)