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THIS is TRUE: 15 March 2009 Copyright This Is True

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I'LL BE DAMNED: Parents of 10-year-olds attending a school near Cambridge, England, were shocked when they looked through the kids' notebooks and found lists of abusive, racist, and otherwise derogatory words, each ranked for how offensive it was. "Obviously some [children] were more streetwise than others," said one parent. "Some of the words used were so bad, I'd never heard them before." The lesson was devised by teacher Fred Laband to illustrate how kids are bullied at the Great and Little Shelford Church of England Primary School. A Diocese spokesman was unavailable for comment. (London Telegraph) ...Right. He was too busy studying his new vocabulary lessons.

COME FOR THE FOOD, STAY FOR THE SHOW: A janitor at a Qdoba restaurant in Madison, Wisc., arrived at work at 10:45 p.m. and grabbed a beer. When the manager told him he'd have to pay for it, Ravone C. Jones, 35, allegedly threw a $5 bill at her -- and then started chatting up female customers, who complained. The manager told Jones to leave, but instead he threw food on the floor, the manager says, and then went into the kitchen and threw pots and pans around. When police arrived, Jones told officers he just wanted to get fired, since he wouldn't get unemployment benefits if he quit. He was jailed on disorderly conduct charges. A few days later, another man was arrested at the restaurant when he walked in and urinated on the floor. (Madison Capital Times) ...I hope they had hired a new janitor by then.

HALT IN THE NAME OF THE LAW: Ontario, Canada, Provincial Police pulled over a car speeding at 165 kph in a 100 kph zone (102 mph in a 62 mph zone). Speeding more than 50 kph over the limit automatically triggers a street racing charge, officers say -- even though the driver, Heidi Fischer, is a police officer and she was driving an unmarked police car, since she was not on a call that would justify her speeding. "That's the new statute, and it requires a seven-day licence suspension," confirms an OPP spokesman. (Toronto Star) ...She doesn't need a license to drive a desk.

SMOOTH OPERATOR: Yvonne Morris, a veterinary technician at an animal hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, saw a man pass by her window and thought to herself, "That man really looks like no good." When she then heard a car alarm go off in the parking lot, she looked out to see the man sitting in another employee's car. She told the receptionist to call 911 and rushed outside to confront him. When the man ran, she chased him. She grabbed his clothing, but he just undid his shirt and jacket and kept going. When Morris caught up to him again, she grabbed him by his underwear and yanked -- hard. "I gave him a good wedgie," she said. "That was the only thing available to grab on to." She then put him in a headlock and held him until police arrived and took Frederick Baze, 21, into custody. She learned bad guy control techniques from her husband, who is a Special Forces soldier in Iraq, despite the fact she "tries not to pay attention. Apparently I must have learned them somehow." (Deseret News) ...Of course, she "tries not to pay attention" during dog neutering operations too, but I'll bet she easily could have managed one that day.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: "Father, Son Arrested Bailing Out Mom, Sister" -- Hartford (Conn.) Courant headline

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THIS is TRUE: 22 March 2009 Copyright This Is True

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IN HIS IMAGE: "He wanted to go to the church," said Bay City, Mich., Police Sgt. Gordon Cameron. "I don't know why." Officers were called when the unnamed man tried to enter the St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church without a stitch of clothing on, interrupting a funeral Mass. He was not arrested, but was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Once it was all over the Rev. Craig Albrecht concluded, "It is a little odd." (Bay City Times) ...No shirt, no shoes, no salvation.

THE DEFENSE DEFENSE: Police in Fort Pierce, Fla., were called to a truck stop for a reported shoplifting. When an officer confronted Eric T. Ambrose, 31, he "could clearly see the pocket on the right side of the defendant's pants were bulging and M&Ms packages could be seen," he said in his report. Officers starting emptying Ambrose's pockets and found three packs of peanut M&Ms, two black T-shirts, a 20-ounce can of beer, Circus Peanuts candy, chewing tobacco, Wonka Nerds candy, Planters cashews, Reese's Pieces, Sour Patch candy, two Snickers candy bars, and two packages of beef jerky. On his way to jail, Ambrose "was screaming out the window that he had served in the military over in Iraq so he could steal all the M&M's he wanted," the officer reported. (Fort Pierce Tribune) ...Dude! "Land of the free" means something else entirely.

BEATS THE OLD BOMB THREAT GAMBIT: Mark Rimkufski, 49, was late for his flight from Miami, Fla., to Los Angeles, Calif., and arrived at the gate after the doors were closed. He allegedly whipped out a badge reading "Fisher Island Chief of Police" and told airline employees he was a federal air marshal, so the doors were opened and he boarded the flight. But there were actual air marshals onboard who demanded to inspect the badge; there is no police department on Fisher Island, which has fewer than 500 inhabitants. After Rimkufski was tossed back off the plane, he retired to an airport bar where he was heard complaining about his treatment. He faces state charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer, and federal charges of impersonating an air marshal. (Miami Herald) ...And Internet charges of being an obliviot.

WHAT, THROUGH YONDER WINDOW BREAKS? A family in Garran, ACT, Australia, was lounging on the bed in their home's master bedroom when an animal smashed through their 3m (10 ft) high window, landing on the bed. "My initial thought when I was half awake was: it's a lunatic ninja coming through the window," said homeowner Beat Ettlin. "I was under the covers," said his wife, Verity Beman, "thinking this is a very big possum." It ran around the room and on the bed, spreading blood everywhere, but the family was spared any injury. The confused critter then went into her son's room. "There's a kangaroo in my room!" the 10- year-old boy yelled, finally identifying the beast. Worried for his son's safety, Ettlin, dressed only in briefs, ran into the room and wrestled the 40kg (88 lb) raging 'roo out of the house. "I think he's a hero," Verity said. "A hero in Bonds undies." But wait: "a lunatic ninja"? "It seems about as likely as a kangaroo breaking in," Ettlin said. (Canberra Times, AP) ...Maybe, but there was only one guy running around in his underwear.

ON THE ROCKS: "Alcoholic Hand Gels Removed from Hospitals after Patients Use Them to Get Drunk" -- London Telegraph headline

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THIS is TRUE: 29 March 2009 Copyright This Is True

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ACTIVIST JUDGE: Christopher Keim, 33, was charged with felonious assault after throwing a burning container of gasoline under a car as it drove by his home in Reading, Penn. It got stuck under the car and the driver barely managed to get out with minor injuries before it was completely destroyed. In a plea bargain, Keim pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of attempted aggravated arson to Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Norbert Nadel. The judge spared Keim a jail term, but put him on probation for three years, and then tacked on a $2,500 fine. "We'll call that an idiot tax," the judge said, adding that it would go to the victim if his medical costs weren't covered. (Cincinnati Enquirer) ...Now there's a precedent other courts need to hear about.

SNIFFING OUT CRIMINALS IS OUR JOB: When a convicted criminal failed to show up to serve his sentence, police in Haderslev, Jutland, Denmark, went looking for him. They searched the house where he was reported to have been hiding, but didn't find him -- until a "horrible smell" alerted officers to a closet. It was the 29-year-old man's "uncontrollable flatulence" that led them to dig through a pile of clothing to find him hiding underneath. "It was probably the excitement that caused him to pass wind and it was the smell that led us to the man," said Chief Inspector Jens Peter Rudbeck. The man is now serving his two-month sentence. (Copenhagen Post) ...And his cell mate is claiming "cruel and unusual punishment".

DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY: After being charged with drunk driving, Scott Allan Witmer, 44, of Easton, Penn., representing himself while clad in a "Bud Light" sweatshirt, offered the judge his defense. State laws don't apply to him, Witmer said, because "I live inside myself, not in Pennsylvania," and therefore he's a sovereign country who can't be prosecuted. "I'm alarmed you may be a danger to yourself and the community," Northampton County Judge Leonard Zito replied, ordering Witmer held until he undergoes drug, alcohol and psychological evaluations. "I'm not insane," Witmer said. "I've already had like five of them done in prison." (Easton Express-Times) ...They have to keep doing them until they get one right.

WHY THINKING IS HANDY: Rescue crews in Filer, Idaho, rushed to aid a man who was stuck in a sewage tank at a highway rest stop. The unidentified traveler had used the toilet, and then couldn't find his car keys. He figured he must have flushed them, and climbed into the sewage tank to look for them. After the rescue, obliging fire crews hosed him off, and "That's when he discovered the keys were still in his back pocket," said Filer Police Chief Cliff Johnson. (Twin Falls Times-News) ...Obliviot: someone who climbs into a sewage tank as a first choice, leaving a search of his pockets for later.

NOW THAT'S DRUNK! "Drunk Woman Falls Through Apartment Floor: Police" -- Windsor Star (Ont. Canada) headline

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THIS is TRUE: 5 April 2009 Copyright This Is True

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SCHADENFREUDE: "A few years ago we did a study that showed that non-Germans consider Berlin a place full of grumpy and boring people," said city spokesman Richard Meng. "We need to show the world that this is not true." To do that, the government has assigned 4,000 city employees, including police officers, to train citizens to be "good mood ambassadors" for the city. The 200,000 euro (US$268,500) effort is providing postcards with "ironic" Berliner Schnauze (Berlin snout) phrases as "What do you think you're looking at?" and "Do I look like an information desk?" which are "fantastic," Meng said. Berlin wants to "show the world that we are a friendly and worldly capital city at the heart of Europe." (Germany Local) ...Then how about dumping the post cards and opening up a few information desks?

WHY IS THIS FUN, AGAIN? A woman in Mansfield, La., told police that her boyfriend was "acting strange" all day -- wandering around a housing complex they were visiting and eating dog food. "She said he was a regular user of PCP," a hallucinogen, said a DeSoto County sheriff's spokesman. When deputies checked out Terence Lloyd, 32, they found a vial of PCP, a half-pound of "high grade" marijuana, and some crack cocaine. Lloyd was found crawling, growling and eating mud. "He was covered in mud when he was brought in," the spokesman said. "In fact, he had ingested so much mud that he was throwing up mud." When deputies arrived, Lloyd ran and hid inside an apartment, but was "coaxed" back outside to be arrested. (Monroe News Star) ...By officers patting their thighs and saying "Here boy! C'mon!"

THE PHONE BOOTH: A man walked into a fire station in Hyannis, Cape Cod, Mass., at 4:30 a.m. for help -- he had burned himself, he told firefighters. They treated him for burns and smoke inhalation while waiting for an ambulance, and got the story. Patrick Larue, 24, explained that he had been sitting in his car a few miles from home chatting on the phone when the car ran out of gas. So he set a fire to keep warm -- inside the car. Firefighters said the car, a rental, was "heavily damaged." Larue said he put the fire out when he "started getting dizzy" from the smoke. (Cape Cod Times) ...It's just a guess, but I think he was fairly dizzy long before he set the fire.

D'OH! Game wardens in Vermont were fairly suspicious of a trophy buck that Marcel Fournier, 19, had shot. It wasn't a buck, but rather a doe. So how did it come to have a 10-point rack on its head? Fournier had bolted it to the slain deer's head, and had a photo taken with him and the "buck". When confronted, Fournier admitted the deed. "He used epoxy and lag bolts recessed into the rack," said game warden David Gregory."There were enough people with experience around here who could see that [it was fake]," he said, and turned him in. Fournier was assessed a $400 fine, jailed for 10 days, and lost his hunting license for at least three years. (Burlington Free Press) ...And will be infamous online for life.

IT WAS EITHER THAT OR THE GUN SHOP NEXT DOOR: "Man Unwisely Tries to Rob Tae Kwon Do Studio" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 12 April 2009 Copyright This Is True

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ROUTINE TRAFFIC STOP: A speeding vehicle was stopped by police in Lehigh Township, Penn. The driver appeared intoxicated, so the officer asked the driver to perform an on-the-spot breath test. As the officer gave directions, the driver allegedly pulled a gun on the officer. "You ruined my plans!" the driver complained -- he was on his way to rob a market and use the money to go to a strip club, he said, and wait for the cops to track him down there. The officer convinced the driver, Stephen Garger, 34, to drop the gun, and arrested him on charges of assault, drunken driving, and carrying a gun without a license. His blood alcohol measured 0.17 percent. (Allentown Morning Call) ...Not quite enough for alcohol poisoning, but more than enough for lead poisoning.

AND THE TIDE BEGINS TO TURN: "P.P." is an eighth-grader at one of the schools in the Pinelands Regional School District in Little Egg Harbor Township, N.J. The honor student volunteers at the local library, and has never been in trouble. Yet when school officials searched his locker, they found an over-the-counter allergy pill. He was suspended for five days under the district's "zero tolerance" drug policy, which forbids any "illegal or dangerous item, product or commodity" -- yet no one in the district was able to explain how an allergy pill that anyone can buy was illegal or dangerous. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the district on the grounds that the policy denies students due process. (Press of Atlantic City) ...Honor students are often the victims of dishonorable administrators.

ROUTINE POLICE MATTER: A homeowner in Arbuckle, Calif., called the sheriff to report that a man was exposing himself from the window of his home -- every Wednesday. Colusa County sheriff's deputies went to look and sure enough, they say, the man was displaying his wares in the window. They asked Andrew Sweet, 31, what the Wednesday afternoon show was about. Sweet said that's the only time during the week he had the house to himself. His wife confirmed that: she "made a statement that she was gone every Wednesday," a sheriff's investigator said. Sweet was arrested on four counts of indecent exposure. (Sacramento Bee) ...Good thing they didn't find out about the Monday matinees.

NOW KNOWN AS "THAT DAMNED NEWSPAPER": The Daily Universe, the student newspaper of the Mormon-church-run Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, published a typo. On its front page, a photo caption identified the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostates" of the church, rather than "Apostles". All 18,500 copies were pulled from newsstands, and the paper was reprinted. The newspaper blamed a copy editor using a computerized spell checker, which found "apostles" misspelled; the editor chose the first alternative, rather than the correct word. (Provo Daily Herald) ...She will no doubt take great comfort that the resulting "You'll never be hired at a real newspaper!" wasn't a threat for getting it wrong, but rather a statement about the health of the newspaper industry as a whole.

OH, IN THAT CASE, CARRY ON: "Man Denies Stealing FBI Car: 'Just Here To Buy Cocaine'" -- Tampa (Fla.) Tribune headline

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THIS is TRUE: 19 April 2009 Copyright This Is True

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MORON OF THE MONTH: Jerome Marquis Blanchett, 19, is not particularly good at robbery. While out on bail awaiting trial for four robberies, he allegedly followed a man into the restroom at a hotel in Harrisburg, Penn., pulled a gun on him, and got away with $138. The robbed man happened to be a retired police chief, who pulled his own gun and went after the robber. He was aided by other men from the convention he was attending at the hotel -- for undercover police officers. Blanchett was quickly apprehended and the judge ordered his bail increased to $1 million. When asked to comment on the case, Blanchett told a reporter, "I'm smooth." (Harrisburg Patriot-News) ...About as smooth as a $3 quart of gin.

WHEN YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU PLAN TO FAIL: Two burglars had a hard time breaking into a house in St. Petersburg, Fla., which we know because a security camera caught the whole thing. The two men worked on a sliding glass door with a crowbar for 15 minutes without success. In desperation, one of the burglars backed up and rushed the door like a football linebacker. He bounced right off, and rolled around the home's back yard, holding his head in apparent pain. After walking it off for a few minutes, the criminal conspirators then threw a brick through a window and got in -- but left empty-handed when they didn't find anything they wanted to steal. (Tampa Tribune) ...Huh: I would have thought the skinny linebacker would have gladly paid $100 for the bottle of ibuprofen on the kitchen counter.

THE LAW OF EXPONENTIAL PENALTIES: Marcus Einfeld, 70, should have just pleaded guilty. The Woollahra, NSW, Australia, man received a speeding ticket from a photo radar system, but it was dismissed when he swore a friend had been driving his car that day. But when a newspaper reporter looked into the case, he discovered the woman Einfeld claimed had been driving had been killed three years before. The reporter was interested because of who Einfeld is: a federal judge. Well, he was: Einfeld was stripped of his Queen's Counsel title and was sacked after pleading guilty to perjury and perverting the course of justice. "I don't think I'm the slightest bit dishonest," he said after being sentenced to three years in prison -- he "just made a mistake" by telling some lies. He is in the process of being disbarred, and his Order of Australia, one of the country's highest honors, will likely be revoked. The fine he was avoiding: A$77 (US$50) for driving 10 kph over the limit. (Sydney Australian) ...Yeah, it takes a lawyer to look at all of that and argue it doesn't meet the test of "dishonest".

FREAKS OF NOMENCLATURE: A man from Copley, Ohio, was incensed when he was sent home from a restaurant in a taxi because he had too much to drink. He then went to the local police station to demand that officers give him a breath test. Sure enough, the reading was 0.12 percent, well over the limit. Officers arrested him because he had driven to the police station in his daughter's car. Erik T. Salmons, 39, was sentenced to six months in jail with all but three days suspended, which he must spend in an alcohol treatment program. His license was suspended for six months, and he was levied a $375 fine. The judge's name: David Fish. (Akron Beacon Journal) ...I predict an appeal claiming "interspecies rivalry".

HIS CONTRITION WAS AS PLAIN AS THE NOSE ON HIS FACE: "'Inner cannibal' got Better of Convicted Edmonton Nose-Biter" -- Edmonton (Alta., Canada) Journal headline

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THIS is TRUE: 26 April 2009 Copyright This Is True

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I MEANT TO DO THAT: "This will be really cool," said an unnamed 26-year-old cab driver in Normal, Ill. What will, his two passengers wondered. The driver explained that if he goes fast over a bridge it would make their "stomachs jump". When he hit the dip at high speed he lost control, ran off the road, and crashed into a utility pole, breaking it. One passenger was partially ejected and his arm was trapped under the taxi until passersby helped lift the vehicle enough to free him. All three were checked at a hospital and released, and the driver was cited for reckless driving. (Bloomington Pantagraph) ...Cool!

THESE THINGS CAN TURN AROUND AND BITE YOU IN THE BUTT: Inez M. Starks, 55, claims she was bitten on her buttocks by a police dog in Warren, Mich., causing damage to a nerve so that she can no longer work. She sued the city -- and the police dog, "Liberty". That didn't sit well for Macomb County Circuit Court Judge David Viviano, who fined Starks $500 for frivolously including the dog itself in the suit. Her attorney, Lawrence Radden, admitted to the judge he named Liberty in the suit as an "attention grabber," but Viviano declared he was against suits filed "with the intention of gaining media attention," and actually had to based upon the law. Radden paid the fine for his client. (Macomb Daily) ...In other news, Hell froze over in Macomb County this month.

DOWN AND DIRTY: A police officer in Saanich, B.C., Canada, was dispatched to a parking lot to investigate a report of "suspicious persons." When he arrived there was no one to be seen, but he could hear noises in a trash dumpster. He looked inside to find a couple "intertwined" among the trash and "oblivious to his presence." The 30-year-old woman and her 26-year-old companion were ordered out. The man was arrested on an unrelated warrant, and the woman was told to go home. (Victoria Times Colonist) ...So she shrugged and got back into the dumpster.

YEAH, LIKE THAT: A couple in Surrey, B.C., Canada, were watching the news -- and got into an argument. The fight escalated when the husband slapped his wife, and she retaliated by smashing a jar over his head. So what spawned such a rage? "The violence on the news was disconcerting to the woman," said an RCMP spokesman. (Surrey Now) ...Don't let either one of them watch the news in jail, then -- especially when this story is reported.

THEY HAVE AN OINTMENT FOR THAT NOW: "Burning Wok Caused Sex Shop Fire" -- New Zealand Herald

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THIS is TRUE: 3 May 2009 Copyright This Is True

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UM, HOW DO YOU SPELL "RAH RAH RAH"? "It's overzealous that [students] have to carry very high scores through every class," complained a parent of a student athlete at Eastern York (Penn.) High School. Parents are lobbying the school to relax its requirement that student athletes must maintain a minimum grade in each class to be eligible to participate in athletics. York's standard requires a 70 percent or "C" grade to participate in athletics. Parents want that dropped to the minimum state requirement, which is 60 percent, or a "D" grade. (York Daily Record) ...So it's official: the parents get an "F".

USUALLY AN INSTANT CURE: While drunk on vodka, Alexei Roskov, 22, jumped out the window of his Moscow, Russia, apartment. Despite falling from his fifth-storey flat, Roskov was not at all injured, and managed to stagger back upstairs to his apartment. And then he did it again. An ambulance crew who was summoned for the first call asked him why he jumped. "I have no idea why I jumped the first time," Roskov said, but he knows why he jumped the second time: to escape his wife's nagging over the first jump. "When I came back up and I heard my wife screaming angrily at me I thought it was best if I left the room again," he said. He says he has now given up alcohol. (PA) ...Of course, he was drinking to help him deal with his wife's nagging, so....

FEELING BETTER NOW? Derick A. Culberson, 22, told sheriff's deputies in Palm City, Fla., he had been robbed at gunpoint. They found him tied up hand and foot. But there were inconsistencies in his story, and they noticed that he had the same kind of "zip ties" in his car that he had been bound with. After further questioning, "Culberson admitted to tying his own hands and feet, and further inventing the suspects' vehicle and weapon descriptions that he gave to sheriff's office dispatch and deputies," the resulting report notes. He admitted he made up the robbery "in an attempt to make his girlfriend feel bad for leaving him." He was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of making a false report. (St. Lucie News Tribune) ...At least his former girlfriend feels bad now: she regrets not leaving him sooner.

CHARACTER ASSASSINATION: A man in Houston, Texas, has been arrested on felony charges of practicing law without a license. The Harris County District Attorney's office says there's no record that the 43-year-old man has been admitted to the Texas Bar, but has allegedly been working as an attorney. He faces 2-10 years in prison. His name: Perry Mason. The character "Perry Mason" was the protagonist of a series of novels that were published from 1933 to 1973, which were adapted to movies (spanning 1934-1993), a radio series (1943-1955), and a popular TV series (1957-1966), which typically presented Mason as a scrupulously honest and ethical lawyer. (Houston Chronicle) ...Yeah, well, it was fiction.

AND NOW THEY'RE STUCK WITH EACH OTHER FOR LIFE: "Couple Charged after Fight in Which They Cover Each Other in Glue" -- Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Sun News headline

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THIS is TRUE: 10 May 2009 Copyright This Is True

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FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: An unidentified 11th-grade student in Pelham Manor, N.Y., was called into the office for a chat with the assistant principal -- and the police. The boy was reportedly researching how to conceal a gun. After interviewing the student, the police and the principal determined that there was absolutely no threat, and in fact the report was wrong: the teen was actually researching the state's laws on guns. A school spokeswoman said the boy was not disciplined, and remains in school. So who turned him in? The Pelham Public Library. "It is not our procedure to notify somebody" about patrons' book choices, said library Director Patricia Perito, but she "had to" look into the matter by informing the school. (White Plains Journal News) ...In other news, Perito has set up a security camera on the library's copy of the Constitution, so she can catch anyone who wants to research their rights as a citizen.

THEY CAN HAVE MY TEASPOON WHEN THEY PRY IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD HAND: "It's most likely a mix-up with the bar codes," offered the manager of an Asda chain store in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. A shopper had purchased a set of teaspoons and, when rung up, the register ordered the clerk to check the buyer's identification to ensure she was at least 18 years old. Why, asked the shopper. The clerk informed the woman that someone had once been murdered with a teaspoon, and therefore identification was now required. "I'm not aware of an age restriction for spoons," the manager said. (London Telegraph) ...When teaspoons are outlawed, only outlaws will have teaspoons.

THE SMELL OF VICTORY: A Salt Lake County, Utah, sheriff's deputy had just gotten home after his shift, and was sitting in front of his Centerville house talking to another deputy on the phone when he spotted someone trying to get into his wife's car. There had been a rash of vehicle burglaries in the area, and Dep. Chad Taylor figured he had the suspect right there. "I was in my personal vehicle, but I was in uniform," Taylor said. His wife's car was locked, and the man moved on to his car. "Right as his hand goes to check my handle, I kick the door open," Taylor said, and identified himself as a police officer. The prowler was so startled that he ran out of his shoes, with Taylor in hot pursuit and backup on the way. Once officers caught up with the suspect, a 16-year-old boy, "He told us, 'Yeah, I crapped my pants'" when Taylor surprised him. But the suspect didn't need to admit it: "You could smell him," Taylor said. The boy and a 16-year-old accomplice were charged with vehicle burglary and theft. (Deseret News) ...If a 16-year-old kid can't outrun a cop, he just might be weighed down by his pants.

SNIFFING OUT SUSPECTS II: When Hatim Gulamhusein, 48, of Scarborough, Ont., Canada, arrived home from a trip to Argentina, he "presented as a swallower," said Cpl. Cathy McCrory of the RCMP. He was arrested on charges of being a drug courier, having allegedly swallowed a kilogram of cocaine "pellets" to smuggle the drug into the country. X-rays and CAT scans showed 76 pellets, including several that had lodged in his bowel and wouldn't come out. "He is lucky to be alive," McCrory said. If one of the pellets broke, it would kill him, but Gulamhusein refused surgery. "We didn't need any more evidence -- he was pooping dope, so we were good to go," but he needed to get the last three packets out of his body to get him out of medical danger. It took three weeks before the last pellet finally emerged. (National Post) ...Maybe if the jail fed him some vegetables instead of poutine, it wouldn't have taken three weeks.

NATURALLY, IT GOT AWAY: "Man Set House on Fire While Trying to Kill a Spider with a Lighter" -- London (U.K.) Telegraph headline

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THIS is TRUE: 17 May 2009 Copyright This Is True

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SOMEONE OUGHT TO PAY: Fran MacLaren saw a homeless man outside a McDonald's restaurant in Nashville, Tenn. She bought the man a cheeseburger, but when MacLaren handed it over the man said he didn't want a burger, he wanted money, and threw the sandwich at her. "I told him he was an ungrateful bastard," she admits, and the man responded by beating her, breaking several bones. David Craig was arrested for assault, but that's not enough for MacLaren. She is suing, but since a vagrant isn't likely to have much money, she's suing McDonald's -- and a nearby liquor store that had asked Craig to leave -- on the grounds they "knew, or should have known, that their mode of operating their particular stores attracted persons prone to criminal acts and provided an environment to crime." The suit demands $2 million. (Nashville Tennessean) ...Yet an adult shouldn't "know" that it's inviting trouble to curse bums in the street?

FREAKS OF NOMENCLATURE -- MAY EDITION: An employee from the Kissimmee Utility Authority working at an electrical substation in Buenaventura Lakes, Fla., received a severe shock and was hospitalized in stable condition. His name: Robert Crisp. Meanwhile, a Roman Catholic priest has been removed from his duties after he admitted he has had a two-year affair with a woman. The 40-year-old priest, known as "Father Oprah" because of his role as head of the Miami, Fla., Archdiocese's international radio network, where he gave advice on relationships, admits celibacy is something he "struggled with for a long time." His name: Fr. Alberto Cutie. (Orlando Sentinel, AP) ...What a shock.

A NAME SO BAD, IT'S CRIMINAL: Alderman Bob Fioretti is steaming mad at a new hot dog stand coming to his district in Chicago, Ill. It's not so much the stand as its name, "Felony Franks" -- which will hire only ex-cons. "It's a great concept for ex-offenders," Fioretti says, "but it's a poor theme for a restaurant." He adds that the stand's slogans ("Food so good, it's criminal" and "Home of the misdemeanor wiener") will "glamorize criminal behavior." But the stand's owner, Jim Andrews, says he has already received more than 50 applications from ex-cons, and is "not afraid to use the name felony to turn a negative into a positive." He vows to stick with the name. (Chicago Sun-Times) ...The alderman is just upset since he knows it's likely that someday, that will be the only place where he'll be able to find a job.

OOPS: Employees in an office building in Rosebank, South Africa, were watching as crews demolished the building adjacent to theirs. "I was interested because I wondered how they would drop that section," said Kenneth Jones, who watched the operation day after day. "They had pushed out the walls and only the supporting pillars were left. When they were chipping away at the pillar they were directly underneath the slab and it was already sagging." Sure enough, he watched as the excavator broke away the last support pillar -- from underneath the slab. "Did those guys not realize it was going to happen?" Jones asked. "I cannot believe they did not foresee this." But sure enough, when the final support for the slab was removed, the slab fell, crushing the excavator and killing the operator inside. Officials promised "a very technical investigation to determine if all safety concerns were addressed." (Johannesburg Times) ...OK, all together now: "Nope!"

IN THIS ECONOMY, IT MAY BE THE ONLY Thing PhDs CAN GET: "Burger Chain Wants McPhDs to Complement McJobs" -- AFP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 24 May 2009 Copyright This Is True

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WHAT A DUMMY: Kenny Tessel, the owner of KT's Barbecue restaurant in Reading, Ohio, may continue to keep his mannequin, "BarBe", outside his restaurant, after a ruling by the town's Design Review Board. The Board was asked to rule on the unusual advertising gimmick after complaints about the dummy's skimpy clothing, leaving little to imagine about the life-sized doll's ...uh... physical attributes. "Yeah, she's got big boobs," Tessel admitted during the hearing. "That's why I bought her." The Review Board ruled the mannequin can stay, but the skimpy bikini top and Daisy Duke shorts have to go. Tessel described Barbe's outfit as "tasteful", and vows to appeal the ruling, saying BarBe "should be allowed to wear what she wants." (Cincinnati Enquirer) ...Though she has yet to express any preference.

SHE'S NO DUMMY: "Normally, no one can see the store, and this gets attention," says Sonja Echt, owner of a gift shop at a mall in Portsmouth, N.H. Echt was addressing the city council, asking for permission to put a mannequin on the sidewalk outside her store to attract the attention of passers-by. "Have we allowed a chair with a mannequin on city property before?" asked town Councilor Eric Spear. "Because it kind of freaks me out actually." He's not the only one. "It kind of freaks me out, too," agreed Councilor Esther Kennedy. "Let's do it for three months," suggested City Manager John Bohenko. "If it appears to be a problem with people, who have a phobia or something, we can probably ask her not to put it out there." The council agreed to the trial period. (Portsmouth Herald) ...People with "mannequin phobia" go to malls?

NOT IN MY BACK YARD: "People are already calling it Deadwood Rd.," complained one resident on Redwood Rd. in Doonan, Qld., Australia. "What impact is that going to have on house prices?" Neighbors are objecting to a free charity-run hospice in the semi-rural town, which would only house two terminally ill patients. "I don't want to be sitting there saying, 'There goes another coffin, and another, and another'," said another neighbor. (Queensland Sunday Mail) ...Well, maybe he'll be lucky enough to be the first resident of the hospice.

PUMPING IRONY: The Belgian bodybuilding championship in Brussels was canceled when officials from an anti-doping agency came in to test the competitors for illegal substances -- and all 20 of them ran. Last year, three-quarters of the contestants tested positive, said official Hans Cooman, "and this incident didn't do its reputation any good." He added he hoped "never to see anything like it again." (AP) ...Which is how most people feel about the entire sport.

JUST LIKE EVERY YEAR: "Hooker Named Indoor Athlete of the Year" -- Australian AP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 31 May 2009 Copyright This Is True

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SELF INCRIMINATION THE EASY WAY: William J. Reese, 58, is a civilian who works in the jail at the Benton County, Iowa, Sheriff's Office. While on duty, he was driving a marked sheriff's unit when he apparently decided to have some fun: he allegedly tried to pull a car over, even though he was not a police officer and had no authority to do so. The car he happened to target was driven by an off-duty Benton County sheriff's deputy, who recognized Reese and knew he was not a lawman. The deputy didn't pull over, and Reese allegedly pursued him with lights and siren -- as the real cop was on his cell phone calling for backup. When the deputy finally pulled over, Reese jumped out and berated him, but the deputy responded by arresting Reese for impersonating a police officer. The best part is, there's plenty of evidence available for Reese's criminal trial: the car he was driving was equipped with a video camera, and the entire incident was recorded on tape. (Cedar Rapids Gazette) ...Meanwhile, remember that he knows about all the security weaknesses at the jail.

HALT IN THE NAME OF THE LAW: Red light enforcement cameras in Ottawa, Ont., Canada, are catching unexpected prey: cops, firefighters and paramedics. The resulting C$180 tickets stand since province law requires emergency vehicles to stop at red lights before passing through, and slowing down to a crawl isn't good enough. The city won't back down, and has required the agencies involved to pay C$11,000 (US$10,000) so far. (Ottawa Citizen) ...Well sure: those cameras are all about revenue no matter where they are.

WHAT SCHOOL BULLIES GROW UP TO BE: Residents called police in Port St. Lucie, Fla., to complain about a troublesome neighbor walking around the street in his underwear. When an officer arrived, he noticed a car with a flat tire and a smashed windshield. An ax handle that appeared to have been used to smash the windshield was left behind; written on it were the words "Walking Small -- Your Face Here." When the officer found the underwear man, Nicholas T. Doud, 42, "He stated that he likes to walk around in his underwear and that he does this often," the officer wrote in his resulting report. Doud denied knowing anything about the damaged car, but admitted his fingerprints would "probably" be found on the ax handle. After being placed under arrest, Doud told the officer his neighbors were "being a bunch of crybabies." (Port St. Lucie News) ...Then maybe it's time to give Doud something to cry about.

SPELLING BEAT: A cell phone company called the FBI in Monroe, La., after they got a suspicious order -- to be delivered to the FBI office in Monroe. The company had received a cashier's check for 50 phones, but knew the check was a forgery because it said in big letters, "Cahier's Check". The FBI had the company send the phones, and then followed the delivery truck. Sure enough, a man flagged down the driver before he made the delivery to ask for the boxes, and FBI agents stepped in. Clifton C. Wright, 44, was arrested on forgery charges. Wright was also a fugitive on a warrant out of Georgia, where he was wanted for a similar crime. (Monroe News Star) ..."Damn," Wright said. "I'm in a hitload of trouble."

RESULTING INJURIES REQUIRED PAIN MEDICATION: "Priest Fired for Beating Drug Addicts" -- Reuters headline

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THIS is TRUE: 7 June 2009 Copyright This Is True

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UNHAPPY GILMORE: After police in Gainesville, Fla., arrested Steven Gilmore Jr., 21, they wondered what his violent robbery was about. Gilmore allegedly tried to rob a convenience store, and when the store clerk resisted, Gilmore shot him in the head. But the clerk wasn't seriously injured: Gilmore's gun was a BB pistol. Gilmore explained he was a rapper, and he needed to pull off a robbery to give himself "street credibility." He was charged with attempted armed robbery and aggravated assault. (Gainesville Sun) ...That does sound like typical rapper credibility.

VALEDICTERRORIST: Students at Southern Lehigh High School in Allentown, Penn., say the school's reaction to a harmless prank has gotten out of hand. Students said their plan was to be "as harmless as possible": they and camped overnight in the school's courtyard. But administrators reacted by suspending 17 students for five days; three of the students lost their memberships in the National Honor Society. When two other students alerted the local media, the school suspended them for five days, too. When more than 70 students marched in protest, the students who alerted the media got their suspensions lifted, but the penalties against the original 17 students remained. It's a sign of the times after the Columbine High School shooting, says Mel Riddile, a director with the National Association of Secondary Schools. "Breaking into schools and letting animals loose was a prank in the 70s and 80s," Riddile said. "Today, that could be considered a terrorist act." (Allentown Morning Call) ...That's not a justification, that's a statement of the problem.

EXCESSIVE ESCALATION: When a police officer in Fox Lake, Wisc., saw Bob Shurpit, 50, mowing the lawn in front of his house, the officer stopped to talk to Shurpit about a warrant for his arrest. But Shurpit wasn't in a mood to talk: he "lunged the mower toward the officer to keep the officer away from him," said police chief Randy Martin. Then Shurpit's girlfriend joined the scuffle and handed him a rifle, so the officer backed off and called for help as Shurpit ran into his house to barricade himself. After a 7-hour standoff, Shurpit finally surrendered to face the warrant: a civil charge of failing to pay child support. (Beaver Dam Daily Citizen) ...A classic case of the "If I'm going to be in trouble, it may as well be for something big." response.

PONG: After a rousing game of beer pong in Bridgeport, Penn., Joseph Jiminez, 24, and Scott Riley, 25, got into a dispute. They took it outside to an alley, witnesses say, and an irritated Riley started shouting at Jiminez and his companion. "Shoot me, shoot me," Riley dared. When he got to "You guys ain't got the --", Jiminez pulled a gun and shot Riley before he could finish his sentence. Jiminez has been charged with murder. (Philadelphia Inquirer) ...Remember, kids: "He started it!" doesn't work with your parents, and it doesn't work with the judge or jury.

WIN OR LOSE, HE HAS A FOOL FOR A CLIENT: "Former Fresno Lawyer Makes Case for His Insanity" -- Fresno (Calif.) Bee headline

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THIS is TRUE: 14 June 2009 Copyright This Is True

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NEXT, MY PINOCCHIO IMPRESSION! Timothy Wayne Martin, 44, was arrested in Federal Way, Wash., after residents of an apartment complex spotted him standing above an air conditioner intake. Martin, who was only wearing a shirt, had a string tied to his genitals and "was apparently manipulating it with the string like a puppet," police say. Martin has been charged with indecent exposure -- a felony, since this is his third arrest on similar charges. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) ...Now there's a guy with his world on a string.

ART CRITIC: Chicago, Ill., Alderman Jim Balcer ordered the city's "Graffiti Blasters" team to paint over an outdoor mural on a wall. The mural was a "threat to the community," Balcer decreed, because it "could have" created a "gang problem" -- but couldn't say why because "I don't know what all the gang affiliations are." The mural, which was located on private property, was commissioned artwork -- a commentary on the surveillance cameras used by Chicago police to watch public areas. Yet covering it was justified because "everything in it was death," Balcer reasoned -- in addition to the cameras, the mural depicted Chicago P.D. insignias and a skull. (Chicago Sun-Times) ...The next mural will be about a much more serious threat to the community: a portrait of Ald. Balcer.

GOT A MATCH? Moussa Tiegboro Camara, who has been appointed by the National Council for Democracy and Development to head the serious crime unit in the Republic of Guinea in West Africa, has a new solution to the plague of robbery in the country. "The prisons are full and cannot take more people," he announced, "and the situation cannot continue like that." Therefore, "I'm asking [all citizens] to burn all armed bandits who are caught red-handed committing an armed robbery." (Reuters) ...Next we'll hear from the new government minister appointed to address the country's petrol shortage.

TANTRUM: Andrew Mizsak Sr. of Bedford, Ohio, was fed up and called police on his son, Andrew Jr. His son wouldn't clean up his room, he said, and when told to, Andrew Jr. threw a plate of food across the room. The police report noted that the father told the responding officer "Andrew [Jr.] is 270 pounds and he can't fight him, that they do everything for Andrew and he doesn't even pay rent." However, the report continued, "Andrew ...was crying uncontrollably and stated he would comply." -- and case closed. Andrew Sr. is 63 years old. His son is 28 -- and is a member of the Bedford School Board and a freelance political consultant. Andrew Sr. refused to press charges because "I don't want to ruin his political career." Andrew Jr. commented: "I know this looks bad." (Cleveland Plain Dealer) ...Well, at least he's not completely delusional.

NOT VERY WELL: "Woman Was Teaching Boy, 11, to Drive When She Was Run Over" -- Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune headline

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THIS is TRUE: 21 June 2009 Copyright This Is True

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INFORMATION, PLEASE: The City of Bozeman, Mont., wants to know about people who apply for jobs with the city. Included on the application is this: "Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc." That's not all: it also requires the applicant's user names and password information for all those sites. "We have positions ranging from fire and police, which require people of high integrity for those positions, all the way down to the lifeguards and the folks that work in city hall here," said city attorney Greg Sullivan, defending the intrusive questions. "So we do those types of investigations to make sure the people that we hire have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the City." (KBZK-TV Bozeman) ..."The right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest." --Article 2, Section 10 of the Montana State Constitution.

THOUGHT POLICE: Max Yarmolinsky, 25, a physics teacher at South Shore Public Charter School in Norwell, Mass., doodled on a sheet of paper to pass the time while he was showing his students a video. One of the students stole the paper and gave it to his parents, who in turn gave it to school administrators, who in turn called police. The content of the paper was not disclosed, but it was described by the school and police as "a violent doodle." School officials and police both declared there was nothing threatening about the doodle, and no danger to students or staff. Still, Yarmolinsky was summoned to principal James Connolly's office, fired, escorted off school grounds by police, and warned he would be arrested for trespassing if he returns. He also faces misdemeanor charges of disturbing a school assembly and disorderly conduct. (Norwell Mariner) ...They were suspicious of him from the start: science teachers are taught to think logically.

FAIR SHARE: JoAnn Watson, a Councilwoman in Detroit, Mich., only paid $68 in property taxes on her west side home this year, and the bill has been in that range since the year 2000. Neighbors in comparable homes pay $2,000 to $6,500 per year. When a newspaper discovered the shockingly low assessment, it called her for comment. "All I know is I had a big drop when my house got hit hard by a tornado," she said. A tornado? When was that? In 2002, she said -- or maybe it was 1993. Watson admits she noticed when the tax bill dropped dramatically, and said she "was kind of insulted" by the city's valuation of her house at $1,658, but "came to the natural conclusion my house isn't worth much any more." Still, in 2002, she managed to get a $60,000 mortgage on the property, and still didn't question the assessment. The city blames a "clerical error," and according to state law can only recover three years' worth of underpayments. (Detroit Free Press) ...Hopefully that will still be enough to fund a recall election.

PARTY TIME: Police in Syracuse, N.Y., watched as a drug deal went down: the buyer got a $50 bag of crack cocaine, and paid for it with $10 in cash and half of a slaughtered pig. When confronted, Angelo Colon, 45, admitted that he had paid for drugs before with pig meat, and that the current buy was to help celebrate since a relative had just been released from jail. He was charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. (Syracuse Post-Standard) ...The pig.

DA GETTING ON THIS ASAP: "Woman Allegedly on Way to AA Charged with DUI" -- Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette headline

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THIS is TRUE: 28 June 2009 Copyright This Is True

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PICTURE THIS: The magazine Paris Match announced its annual prize for student photojournalism. The winners, Guillaume Chauvin and Remi Hubert from the Strasbourg School of Decorative Arts, were handed their prize: a check for 5,000 euros (US$7,050), for their investigative report on student poverty. The magazine published the photos, showing how students had to resort to prostitution, or digging in the trash for food, to survive. "We pushed the cliches to the limit," Chauvin and Hubert said. "We thought the whole thing was so hackneyed that it could never win." The real subject of their project, they announced at the award ceremony, was to use staged photos "to call into question the inner workings of the attitude of the kind of media which portrays human distress with complacency and voyeurism." The "crestfallen" judges still managed to applaud, reporters say -- but Paris Match stopped payment on the prize check. "There was nothing in the rules of the competition to say that rigged photos were banned," Hubert told a reporter. (London Independent) ...No worries: the project should easily qualify to win the 10,000-euro Striking the Match Prize.

THIS DOESN'T REFLECT WELL ON THE TOWN: The Town Council in Indian Trail Town, N.C., is fed up with the town's mayor. Mayor John Quinn has been critical of the Council, and when he turned in his comments for the latest town newsletter, the Council declared them "whiny" and "horrible". Quinn's editorial "doesn't mention anything positive since the last newsletter went out," complained Councilman Dan Schallenkamp. In response, the Council has passed a resolution, voting 4-1 to ban the mayor from writing in the newsletter or posting on the town's official web site, saying only comments that "reflect well on the town" will be allowed. Further, Quinn is not allowed to communicate with any town employee unless he goes through the town manager, and the mayor cannot enter any non-public portion of town hall without the town manager's permission. (Charlotte Observer) ...Warning to Quinn: we've seen this behavior before, and the next step is them screaming "Off with his head!"

CRYSTAL BALLS CAN SOMETIMES PROVE FRAGILE: Chandrasiri Bandara, an astrologer in Sri Lanka, has been arrested by the state police. "He is being questioned over a political statement he made" in a reading, said Criminal Investigation Department spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara. Bandara, a popular astrology columnist in Sri Lankan newspapers, predicted political changes that President Mahinda Rajapaksa definitely wouldn't like. Family members say that police have been questioning him for three days -- so far. (Reuters) ...Boy: anybody should have been able to see THAT reaction coming.

CLEVER TACTIC: Police in Oak Ridge, Tenn., are investigating a coordinated robbery of a market. The first robber went in and got the clerk's attention by putting $2 on the counter. Then his partner dashed in with a gun and demanded money. The clerk complied -- by handing over the $2 the first robber put on the counter. Apparently satisfied, the men then ran. Investigators have no suspects yet. (Oak Ridger) ...But it's the police's job to know everyone in town who's that stupid.

TEA AND STRUMPETS: "Canterbury is Sufficiently Gay, Council Inspectors Rule" -- London Telegraph headline

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THIS is TRUE: 5 July 2009 Copyright This Is True

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FREAK OF NOMENCLATURE, AUTOMOTIVE DIVISION: "I am a victim of the handling characteristics of the car," explained an attorney from Portland, Ore., to a judge in Clatsop County Court. The "prominent" lawyer brought a PowerPoint presentation to show why he should be found innocent of speeding when he passed a slow motor home. "I decided I was going to move from the last spot in this line to the first spot in this line," and punched the accelerator on his BMW 535xi, which goes from 0-60 mph in about 5.6 seconds. That's when he was able to "immediately perceive" he had gotten the attention of a state trooper, who cited him for driving 76 mph in a 55 zone, which he said was "a big disappointment." At the end of the two-hour trial, Clatsop County Circuit Court Judge Philip Nelson remained unimpressed and fined the attorney, C. Akin Blitz, $182. He had been cited by Trooper David Corkett. (Astoria Daily Astorian) ...C. Akin. C. Akin Blitz. Blitz, Akin, Blitz! C. Trooper Corkett. C. Judge Nelson Gavel "Guilty!" And C. Everyone Smile.

SAY WHAT? Dave Chapman doesn't know why he did it, though he admits he had been drinking with friends. The man from Waipopo, in Canterbury, New Zealand, decided to change clothes. He didn't find any clean underpants so, while wearing only a shirt, he looked in the dryer for a pair. He not only stuck his head inside the dryer, but also both arms -- and he got stuck. "I thought my undies were there, but obviously not," Chapman said later. "I was panicking because there was no air" in the still-hot machine. Then, "I fell over with it on my head" -- and that's how his friends found him, but they couldn't separate him from the dryer and called for rescue. Firemen, aided by a female police officer, managed to free him from the machine with nothing but bruises and a "smack on the swede." It was only after his rescue that he realized that the clothes in the dryer weren't his. (Timaru Herald) ...At least, that's how he explained the lingerie.

DECEIVING DIVERSITY: The city of Toronto, Ont., Canada, published a brochure on things to do around town. The "Fun Guide" showed a family having fun on the cover, but it was a family of "indeterminate ethnic background" -- the family "looks maybe Latino," said city spokesman Kevin Sack. To be more "inclusive," the city pasted a black man's face over the father figure. "You won't find a more inclusive organization than us," Sack said. (National Post) ...And black people are welcome to have fun in the city, as long as they only visit virtually.

BUCKLE DOWN: Police in West Hazleton, Penn., got a grant to set up special patrols under the "Buckle Up" program to enforce the state's seatbelt law. During a grant-sponsored crackdown, they noticed a speeding car, weaving from lane to lane without using turn signals. They stopped the driver, Ryan Neaus, 21, who told them he was speeding "because he was chasing the person who just robbed him of his Apple iPhone and three bags of marijuana," the resulting report says. Officers noticed a bong sitting on the front seat, and a search turned up multiple illegal drugs. Neaus was arrested on drug charges -- and failure to wear a seatbelt. (Wilkes Barre Times Leader) ...Investigators note that not using a seatbelt is a "gateway crime" to more serious offenses.

PROFESSIONAL COURTESY: "Critically Endangered Marsupial Leads Police to Missing Python" -- Western Australian headline

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THIS is TRUE: 12 July 2009 Copyright This Is True

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SADDLE UP! Deborah Yvette Parker, 38, of Houston, Texas, is charged with manslaughter after accidentally shooting her common-law husband, Broderick Craig Crachian, 58, to death. "She loves him, and this is just a terrible accident," said Murray Newman, Parker's court-appointed attorney. Prosecutor Marcy McCorvey says Parker "did admit to being in possession of the handgun and using it as a toy during foreplay with the victim's acquiescence and request for it to be used in that manner." They were, Parker allegedly says, playing "Dirty Cowboy" when the gun accidentally went off. (Houston Chronicle) ...They were playing what?! Oohhhhh... Texas. Got it. Never mind: fully explained.

TRADE FOR A BOX OF ROCKS? Two men aged 26 and 31 thought they were getting a great deal. Three men sitting in a car in Braunschweig, Germany, showed them piles of laptop computers, mobile phones, and digital cameras. After negotiating for two laptops and several phones, the men handed over 620 euros (US$860), and ran off with a loaded satchel. "When the buyers wanted to proudly present their purchase to a friend, they found only potatoes in the bag," a police spokesman said, and realized they had been conned. (Der Spiegel) ..."Dumb as a sack of potatoes" personified.

REALLY GOT HER GOAT: Cooking spray doesn't help get goats out of trees. That's the lesson learned by Alysia Krafel, 59, of Red Bluff, Calif. Krafel arrived home to find "King George", her 215-pound goat, hanging from an oak tree by a hoof, after apparently climbing up in the tree to eat leaves. "I sprayed Pam all over everything to try and grease it," she said, but that didn't help him get free. Krafel and a neighbor had to cut the tree down to release the animal. A reporter asked her if the goat learned a lesson from the ordeal. Well no, she said -- "He's a goat." (Red Bluff Daily News) ...Dumb reporter! Why didn't he ask the goat directly?

500 CHANNELS, NOTHING'S ON: A homeowner in Zurich, Switzerland, called firefighters for help because her television was on fire. Crews raced to the house but found no smoke. Instead, they found that the elderly woman had tuned to a German station that showed a fire in a grate for people without a fireplace. "The fire was extinguished with the press of a button," authorities said -- they simply changed the channel. (AP) ...Please summon the police: I've just witnessed a murder!

WHO COULD HAVE FORESEEN THAT? "Man Charged with Twice Failing to Appear in Court Fails to Appear in Court" -- Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald headline

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THIS is TRUE: 19 July 2009 Copyright This Is True

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SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT: When Brad Young, 44, the softball coach at Walkersville (Maryland) High School, hosted an end-of-season party for his team, his house became an extension of Frederick County Public Schools property, the school district says. And since some of the parents brought beer to the party -- no students drank it, Young didn't have any, and no parents became inebriated -- the coach violated the district's "zero tolerance" drug-free, alcohol-free and tobacco-free policy for having alcohol on "school property" and has been fired. Young was a coach at the school for five years, and since he has another job as a financial planner, donated his school salary to his team -- buying them uniforms and jackets, equipment, and throwing parties. In that time he said he was never given a copy of the school policy that would have made his house school property because he was engaged in "official duties." Young says such a policy could apply just about anywhere. "The superintendent could be at a Chamber of Commerce meeting sitting next to someone with an alcoholic beverage," Young said. "She's there in her official capacity as school superintendent and she's representing the school system. Is she in violation of this policy and will she get fired?" A district spokeswoman refused to consider the scenario, saying only "I'm not going to interpret policy." (Frederick News-Post) ...Then I will: Yes, and No.

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? The information processing systems for the City of Los Angeles, Calif., are old and out of date, the city says. Records software and e-mail is slow and inadequate "Pac-Man-era technology," says the mayor's spokesman. So the city is considering a $7.25 million proposal to move its e-mail and records -- including arrest records and other sensitive data -- to Google. The online giant says other cities are thinking of using Google services too, and one has already made the switch: Washington D.C. (Los Angeles Times) ...Is that supposed to be comforting, or terrifying?

ANOTHER CAREER TRASHED: A man called police in Jeffersonville, Ind., to say that there was a man sleeping on his property -- inside his overturned trash can. It was no street bum: it was his next-door neighbor, Larry Wilder, police say. Wilder was apparently intoxicated, they say, but said no crime had been committed, and officers walked him home. Wilder is a private attorney on contract to represent the city and the local school district at $100 an hour; he has resigned both positions. "I can't tell you what happened. I wish I could," Wilder said later -- the last thing he remembered was celebrating with a client. He thinks he only had "three or four" drinks, and "I take responsibility for my conduct." He is upset that photos of him in the trash can were leaked to the media, and accuses the police of doing it. "I think the police officer who leaked the photos should only apologize to my kids," Wilder said, but "I would defend that police officer if any effort is taken to discipline him." (Jeffersonville News and Tribune) ...For $100 an hour.

AN INTERESTING CONCEPT OF GOOD AND EVIL: An unnamed man in Melbourne, Fla., called police to say he had been robbed. He told officers he had agreed to buy 2 ounces of marijuana for $550, but the dealer pulled a gun, took the cash, and didn't deliver the drugs. Police quickly found the dealer thanks to the victim's description, and arrested Michael Parda, 20, for the crime. "I didn't want to rob a good person," Parda allegedly told officers. "I didn't think a guy buying drugs would call the cops." (Florida Today) ...Then apparently, there are good people who use marijuana.

EASY DOES IT: "Jewel Gang Caught after Getaway Driver Refuses to Break Speed Limit" -- London Telegraph headline

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THIS is TRUE: 26 July 2009 Copyright This Is True

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FRANKLY, A FREAK ACCIDENT: When Nick Krupp arrived at his home and saw that his house was severely damaged, he called the police. The responding officer knew what had happened. "He said, 'Man, you're not going to believe this even if I tell you'," Krupp said. Two women driving the 23-foot-long Oscar Mayer "Wienermobile" had crashed into his house. The women were heading to a public appearance for the hot-rodding hotdog when they made a wrong turn onto a dead-end street. The driver pulled into Krupp's driveway and the other woman got out to help her back up and turn around, but the driver hit the gas in forward, not reverse, and slammed the supercharged sausage into Krupp's house, located in Mt. Pleasant, Wisc. -- a suburb of Racine and just south of (yes!) Franksville. The foundation, deck, and garage door of Krupp's house suffered significant damage. One of the women "was almost starting to cry," a neighbor said. "She was getting emotional." (Racine Journal Times) ...Actually, her exact words were "This is the wurst day of my life!"

IF THEY WERE SORCERERS, YOU'D BE DEAD BY NOW: A meeting of Freemasons in Lautoka, Fiji, was interrupted "by a banging on the door and there were these village people and the police demanding to be let in," said an unnamed Mason from New Zealand who was present. The "dopey village people" had complained to police that the members of the secret society were engaged in "some strange goings-on" -- witchcraft and sorcery -- and police raided the lodge and arrested the 14 members present. After being held overnight, they were released on order of the Prime Minister. It was not reported whether the items the police confiscated -- "paraphernalia including wands, compasses and a skull" -- were returned. (New Zealand Herald) ...Funny, but that's the same list of items confiscated from the Harry Potter Fan Club meeting.

WHEN YOU PLAY WITH FIRE, YOU SOMETIMES GET BURNED: In 2005, Anthony Beninati of Los Angeles, Calif., attended his third Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. The culmination of the multi-day festival each year is a gigantic bonfire, and in 2005 Beninati carried a photograph of a dead friend to burn. He walked 7 to 10 feet into the burning embers before dropping the photo, then stepped forward, going deeper into the fire, before tripping and falling. He was badly burned -- and sued the festival organizers. When the suit was tossed by the trial court, he appealed. But the state appeals court unanimously refused to reinstate the suit. "By continuing to walk into the fire, Beninati assumed the risk that he might trip and fall," the court ruled. "The risk of falling and being burned by the flames or hot ash was inherent, obvious and necessary to the event." (San Francisco Chronicle) ...And from that tiny seed of common sense, a mighty tree will grow. But you can count on someone trying to burn it down.

ANOTHER FINE MESS HE'S GOTTEN HIMSELF INTO: A conservation officer from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources stopped a boater on the Geist Reservoir at 11:00 p.m. for failing to have working navigational lights. The boater "repeatedly" told the DNR officer he was a police officer and demanded "professional courtesy," the DNR officer said, but he gave a citation to Adam Goldstein, 37, anyway. Allegedly angered, Goldstein went home, changed into his Lawrence Township police officer uniform -- he was in training as an unpaid reserve officer -- grabbed a squad car from the station, and drove it to the Geist Marina to confront the DNR officer. The officer arrested Goldstein for public intoxication. Prosecutors have added other charges, including drunk driving in the squad car, and, because he was still in training and not yet commissioned as a police officer, falsely presenting himself as a police officer "with the intent to mislead and induce [police] to submit to official authority" -- a felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison. Goldstein has been fired by the Fortville Police Dept., but he still has a fall-back position: despite his legal troubles he remains on the Lawrence Township School Board. "We will let due process run its course before we decide anything," the Board president said. (Indianapolis Star) ...Good plan: this is a great "teachable moment" for the district's students.

AND THAT, MY DEAR, IS WHY WE MUST HIRE A PROFESSIONAL: "Man Fell into Lake, Drowned While Doing Yard Work" -- Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph headline

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THIS is TRUE: 2 August 2009 Copyright This Is True

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NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED: Frank Hatley, 50, failed to pay child support in the state of Georgia. But he was no deadbeat dad: the child in question wasn't his. Worse: the special assistant state attorney general knew that, and the judge in the case knew it too. Hatley tried valiantly to pay the state the money it said he owed. Even after he lost his job and was homeless, he gave the state a portion of his unemployment benefits -- even though DNA tests proved the boy wasn't his. Once the DNA test results came in, Cook County Superior Court Judge Dane Perkins ruled Hatley didn't have to pay future support costs, but ordered he continue paying toward what he owed from before the tests came in. After paying at least $9,500 toward the debt, Hatley fell behind in the payments when he lost his job; Judge Perkins ordered Hatley to jail. After more than a year, the sheriff where Hatley was jailed finally asked a lawyer to represent him, and with her help Hatley has been freed. Once the story hit newspapers the state asked Judge Perkins to waive the old debt, but he has not yet ruled. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) ...Let's go for real justice: Judge Perkins should pay it out of his state salary.

TAKEN FOR A RIDE: Cindy June Dilts, 34, of Comox Valley, B.C., Canada, was prohibited from driving because she had too many passengers in her car on a restricted license. Her reasoning? She had to drive, she told the judge, because everyone else was too drunk. Dilts still lost her license. She still didn't have a license when she was stopped again recently. She was driving, the court was told, because "she was the only sober one in the group." A sympathetic Judge Peter Doherty sentenced her to 14 days in jail and a C$300 (US$275) fine -- the minimum allowed under province law. (Comox Valley Echo) ...Maybe she should work on finding some better friends.

EVERYTHING'S BIG IN TEXAS: "They didn't know how much money was in the safe," said Euless, Texas, police Lt. John Williams about a house burglary. "But once they opened it, they hit the mother lode." The burglars got $59,000 in cash from the safe and got away, but Christopher Norman, the 18-year-old man who allegedly pulled the off heist, couldn't keep his mouth shut: he bragged about it so much that another man tried to rob him of the loot. At least 10 shots were fired in the resulting shootout. Norman survived the robbery attempt, but police tied him to the burglary and arrested him. "He went through a lot of that money," Williams said, "because we were able to find just $24,000." (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) ...A typical big dummy: he has a big mouth and is a big spender.

LOVE THY NEIGHBOR: The Church of England has published new guidelines urging that worshippers with "special needs" should be particularly welcomed in church to counter intimidation they have felt in the past. The church says that 90 percent of people who come to a church don't return because other worshippers are so unfriendly. The church identified the "special needs" group as the blind, the deaf, short people, breast-feeding mothers, bald people (who could suffer "trouble from those overhead radiant heaters some churches have unwittingly installed"), and those who read tabloid newspapers. (London Telegraph) ...Especially when they bring the paper to church, open to Page 3.

BETTER GO BACK TO DRINKING, THEN: "Anti-Anxiety Drugs Raise New Fears" -- Washington Post headline

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THIS is TRUE: 9 August 2009 Copyright This Is True

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THIS IS WHY THERE'S A RULE: Donna Munson, 74, fed dog food to bears around her mountain home near Ouray, Colo., despite 10 years of pleas from state officials to stop. "It got to the point where she never opened her door for us, allowed us on her property or answered her phone," a state Department of Wildlife spokesman said. Munson even built a wire fence around her porch so she could hand food through it directly to the bears. Munson's handyman arrived to find her outside her home -- being eaten by a bear. Responding sheriff's deputies killed it, but Munson was already dead. Several other aggressive bears in the area have had to be killed this summer, and wildlife officials say they'll likely have to kill about a dozen more: they've lost their natural feeding instincts and instead approach humans when they're hungry. "More bears are going to be killed because of what this woman did," said an angry local. "It's a bad situation, and people are not happy about it." (Ouray Plaindealer, Denver Post) ...A fed bear is a dead bear.

PAPER OR PLASTIC? Even though Roger Griffiths of Mapua, New Zealand, had been a customer of his bank for 25 years, and even though he had NZ$190,000 (US$128,000) in savings, the bank turned him down for an $80,000 mortgage when he tried to buy a new house. "If they don't have the trust in me after 25 years, there's a problem" for Westpac bank, he said. So Griffiths demanded his $190,000 -- in cash. After tellers counted out the entire amount in $20 bills, Griffiths took the money to the Nelson Building Society and put it on deposit there. But the NBS had no use for so much cash, so it took it over to the bank they do business with -- Westpac. (Nelson Mail) ...Yes, well, it's the protest that counts.

THEY'VE BEEN CLEANING UP FOR YEARS: Gary Pivoda, 48, a janitor for the state of New York, allegedly charged the state at least 250 hours of overtime while he smoked pot and slept in a "man cave" inside a garage in Albany. The hideaway, furnished with couches, a refrigerator, a TV with DVD player, and drug paraphernalia, has been used for at least five years, state officials say. Why didn't his boss know? Supervisor Louis Marciano, 50, allegedly charged at least 919 hours of overtime doing the exact same thing, according to the state's Inspector General. Both were suspended after the "cave" was raided by state agents. Marciano's attorney rejected the charges as "overblown," saying the spot was merely a "break room" -- needed because "that crew worked long hours." (Albany Times-Union) ...Of all people, an attorney should know that "charged for long hours" isn't the same thing as "worked long hours."

NICE TRY: A man identified only by his surname, Park, arranged for a date with a woman through a matchmaking agency in Seoul, South Korea. On their first date, Park, 32, finally persuaded the woman to let him demonstrate his profession on her: he's a hypnotist. The woman finally relented and, once in a trance, Park told her, "Black hole! You will plunge deeper into a trance. You will feel thrilled all over your body and if my hand touches your body, you will feel intense pleasure." He then tried to kiss her, but the 27-year-old woman shoved him away, went to the police, and pressed sexual harassment charges. Park was fined 3 million won (US$2,453). (AP) ...Typical man: they think women will fall under some sort of spell on a first date, when in reality most go into it with their eyes wide open.

SEE? I TOLD YOU IT WAS ALL HER FAULT! "Evaluation Ordered for Woman Accused of Biting Marriage Mediator" -- Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald headline

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THIS is TRUE: 16 August 2009 Copyright This Is True

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AUTO NEUROTIC: Coggin Pontiac, a car dealer in Jacksonville, Fla., was a bit suspicious of a check that a woman wrote for a new $70,000 car -- the check identified the account holders as "Mr. and Mrs. Jesus and Emma Christ". The dealer called the woman's bank, which said the check was not valid, so their next call was to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. Deputies found Emma Kim-Tashis Harrison, 25, had multiple credit cards in her purse, some in her name, and others bearing the name Emma Christ. She insisted she had the money to back the check, since she owns "a traveling Web site that people just deposit money into." Deputies arrested her on felony fraud charges. (Jacksonville Times-Union) ...It's unclear which is crazier: that anyone would "just deposit money" into her web site, or that anyone would want a $70,000 Pontiac.

AUTO EROTIC: Shoppers in Albuquerque, N.M., say they spotted a man in the parking lot of a grocery store with his pants around his ankles, "humping" the back end of his own car while waving his arms around and shouting. Police arrived to find Danny Brawner, 46, asleep next to the car. He was arrested and charged with aggravated indecent exposure -- a felony, because children witnessed the event. (KRQE-TV Albuquerque) ...And seeing that screws up their concept of where cars really come from -- the government!

COTTON TO IT: Cotton On Kids, a New Zealand clothing store chain, is refusing to pull a line of baby clothing with sayings on them after calls from "child advocates." The slogans include "I'm Living Proof My Mum Is Easy", "The Condom Broke" and "Mummy Likes it on Top". A store spokeswoman said few shoppers have been offended, and most are finding the line amusing. (New Zealand Herald) ...No problem: we're not teaching kids to read anymore anyway.

KNUCKLE SANDWICH, TO GO: When a 5'-11" robber weighing 235 pounds hit a Subway sandwich shop in Houston, Texas, the gal behind the counter wouldn't have any of it. "When the register opened, he lunged over and grabbed it," said clerk Yava Matthews. "My initial response was to hit him. So I hit him." The shocked robber fell back against a wall, but then realized he had the cash drawer in his hands and made a break for the door. "I jumped over the counter and then jumped on him," Matthews said. "A lot of people were standing around and I told them to give me something. Somebody brought me some handcuffs, so I got him and I handcuffed him." But the robber still struggled until someone handed her a Taser. "I am Tasing him and he says, 'I can't breathe. I can't breathe'," Matthews remembered. "I said, 'If you can talk to me, you can breathe. So be quiet before I Taser you again." At that, the robber started to cry, and about then police arrived and arrested Tracy Armstead, 29, for attempted robbery. (KHOU-TV Houston) ....He's 5'-11" and 235 pounds? You know, Subway has a wide variety of low-cal, low-fat choices.

BUT HEY, LET'S NOT RUSH INTO ANYTHING: "Texas Will Soon Make Sure That Competent Lawyers Handle Death-Row Appeals" -- Houston Chronicle headline

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These are all priceless. I love weird news.

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THIS is TRUE: 23 August 2009 Copyright This Is True

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CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR: Mytchell Mora, 39, a self-described "freelance entertainment news producer," admits he broke the law: the West Hollywood, Calif., man has gone to Cuba four times, and has even brought back goods from there, in violation of the long-standing federal ban. On the most recent trip he even had his passport stamped, and pointed that out to U.S. Immigration officials when he returned. "I am just so surprised nothing happened to me," he lamented -- the entire point was to get arrested so he could challenge the ban in court. A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection says his agency doesn't arrest people for violating travel bans: they just report the fact to the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, and it's up to them to prosecute, if desired. "What can you really do," Mora fumed, "when you're saying, 'take me to jail or give me a ticket,' and they do nothing to you?" (AP) ...Well, you can try coming up with a new and more compelling freelance entertainment news story idea.

PERFECT LANDING: Noel Atkins, 65, the mayor of Worthing, West Sussex, U.K., is afraid of heights, so it was a big gesture to do a parachute jump for charity. As the plane gained altitude, he sat in the doorway, "thinking 'how on earth did I ever get myself in this position?'," he said later. Atkins also thought his choice of lunch -- a greasy bacon sandwich -- wasn't the best idea either, but when the time came, he jumped. "It was a very comfy, soft landing," he said -- "in the biggest cow pat you can imagine." (Hollingbury Argus) ...In other words, it was bull.

THEIR SPECIAL DAY: "The officers on the scene said most of the people were intoxicated," explained Huntley (Ill.) Police Chief John Perkins, after officers responded to a melee at a wedding reception at a home in the town. "Different people started arguing and it got personal," with the bride's family on one side and the groom's family on the other. "There was a lot of pushing, shoving and yelling." After officers got things settled down, the groom, Sean Kelly, 26, said he needed to get something from the trunk of his car. As officers watched, he opened the trunk to reveal a half-dozen weapons. Officers immediately stepped in and arrested Kelly, who had previously had his right to own firearms revoked. He faces felony weapons charges and is being held on $50,000 bail. "The honeymoon is being delayed," Perkins said. (Chicago Sun-Times) ...It's always a good idea to take guns away from grooms: you wouldn't want accidental discharge on their wedding night.

YEAH, SHE COULD HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH THIS: When Megan T. Cullop, 33, and her 12-year-old son were allegedly caught trying to shoplift a shopping cart-full of merchandise from a Wal-Mart store in Elizabethton, Tenn., they were allowed to leave once the cart was secured in the store's customer service area. The next day, Cullop went back and allegedly sent her son in to retrieve the cart. The boy was apprehended trying to

leave the store with the cart, and this time, they called the police. By the time officers arrived, Cullop had fled -- leaving the boy behind. An officer found Cullop a short distance away, and she was arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, child neglect, theft over $500, drug possession, and driving with a revoked license after a previous conviction for driving under the influence. (Kingsport Times News) ...I can't think of anything more amusing than the actual cart contents: "several shower curtains, a large number of bath and hand towels, bath rugs and mats, pillows, poster frames, posters, candles and a bottle of Kaopectate."

HOLD STILL: "Police: Drunken Driver Hits Drunken Driving Enforcement Officer" -- Austin (Texas) American-Statesman headline

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