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Shopping Trip Goes Wrong & more Weird


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Shopping Trip Goes Wrong

Monday, September 13, 2004

A Tennessee trio's weekend excursion turned into a harrowing 60-hour road trip when the driver got lost.

Floyd Edwards, 78, Ruth Stancil, 62, and Edwards' son, Clifford, left Erwin, Tenn., at around 11 a.m. Saturday, reports the Press of Johnson City, Tenn.

The three planned to drive the elder Edwards' Nissan Maxima about 50 miles south down U.S. Route 19 to Asheville, N.C.

They "routinely cash their government checks the first of every month and drive over to Asheville, Elizabethton, Weaverville [N.C.] or Mars Hill [N.C.] to shop and eat," explained Unicoi County (search) Sheriff’s Department administrative assistant William "Brushy" Lewis.

Instead, the wayward trio headed north into Virginia, then got on Interstate 81and drove hundreds of miles south to end up in Marietta, Ga., just outside Atlanta.

"Their family became obviously concerned because they hadn't spoken to them or seen them for some time," said Lewis. "It's just not like them not to call."

Sheriff Kent Harris said the three had medical problems, and relatives were concerned they had become victims of foul play.

"I got a sick feeling," Harris said. "We personally contacted all the highway patrols in Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina."

The trio apparently made it to Abingdon, Va., about 50 or 60 miles north of Erwin on Route 19, where they stopped at a Shoney's (search) restaurant.

Realizing they weren't where they were supposed to be, they turned around — but got on the interstate instead of the U.S. route.

Harris said Edwards may have gotten wrong directions, then became confused and afraid to stop.

Stancil described the panic as the three drove through metropolitan Atlanta late on Saturday night.

"I knew I couldn’t take much more ... the blowing of horns and the cars racing by," she told the newspaper. "Floyd [who was driving] was doing the best he could."

They were apparently stopped twice by Georgia police, but continued heading south anyway.

The car stopped at a gas station, where Floyd Edwards fell and hit his head, prompting the attendant to call 911.

"At 3:30 Sunday morning, we got a call from the Marietta, Ga., Fire Department saying the three had been found," said Harris.

Relatives and two sheriff's investigators drove down to Atlanta, and the three were back in Erwin at about 4:30 p.m. Monday afternoon — 2½ days after they'd left.

"I just want to thank the Lord above, because without his help, we may never have made it home," Stancil said Tuesday afternoon. "I can't thank him enough and of course all the neighbors and the sheriff's [department] for their help. It's just really good to be back home."

Asked if she would head back to Asheville again, Stancil replied, "Probably not any time soon ... maybe never."

— Thanks to Out There reader Rich O.

Alligator-Swinger Gets Six Months in Jail

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A man who swung an alligator at his girlfriend during an argument was sentenced to six months in jail.

David Havenner, 41, of Port Orange, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of battery and possession of an alligator, said Linda Pruitt, spokeswoman for the State Attorney's Office. He changed his earlier plea of not guilty, she said Wednesday.

He was sentenced to six month in jail with 48 days credit for time served during the Sept. 1 hearing, according to court records.

Sheriff's officials said Havenner was keeping the 3-foot gator in his bathtub and swung it at his girlfriend, Nancy Monico, 39, during an argument on July 16.

Monico told investigators that Havenner beat her with his fists, then grabbed the gator and swung it at her as she tried to escape. The gator struck Monico at least once, after which time Havenner threw empty beer bottles at her and then kicked her out of their mobile home, she told investigators.

Havenner told investigators that Monico bit his hand because she was upset that they had run out of alcohol.

The alligator was later released into the St. Johns River, wildlife commission officials said.

— Thanks to Out There reader Eric W.

Texas Municipal Stealing Spree Comes to End

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — You may not be able to fight city hall, but you can steal from it — at least for awhile.

John David Woods has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for stealing more than $100,000 from 24 city halls across Texas to pay off Internet gambling debts.

Prosecutors said Woods, 34, had developed a system during the three-year string of thefts: He would rent a car, drive to another town, sneak into the city hall and take all the money he could find.

"He said he felt like it wasn't stealing from people because it was money possessed by the city," Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said.

Woods, who agreed to the sentence Wednesday, was caught in December at the city hall in the Central Texas town of Cedar Park. A city employee saw him there at about 9 p.m. and called police, said prosecutor Doug Arnold.

Cedar Park police broadened the investigation to more than 30 cities after Woods confessed to similar burglaries.

Arnold said the burglaries began when Woods, a self-employed home appraiser, got into debt by playing craps on an Internet gambling site. His losses were electronically debited from his bank account.

Swift Thief Skates Through Hospital

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Police were searching Wednesday for a man who roller-skated into the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital (search) and stole the wallet of a patient.

Surveillance cameras caught the suspect on tape last week. He was seen skating through the maternity ward the morning of Aug. 30 before heading to the second floor and into the patient's room, police officer Sam Hasz said.

The man's wallet contained $800. He was not identified, but had been in town for a wedding and was hospitalized with neck pain. The man was not in his room when the burglary occurred.

The suspect is described as a white man between 18 and 21 years old and 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet tall, with light-colored hair and no facial hair, Hasz said.

Police did not know how the suspect knew the man had money and what room he was staying in.

Man Run Over by Train, Wakes Up

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) — A man who police say was intoxicated was unhurt after a train drove over him.

Shawn M. Polley, 44, of Bowling Green, Ky., was passed out between the rails of the train tracks last week, police said.

The train's engineer hit the emergency break and notified authorities that the northbound train may have hit a pedestrian. Two of the train's engines passed over Polley's body without hitting him, Officer Jay King said.

Authorities woke Polley and removed him from the tracks after the first engine was disconnected.

"He was sleeping, passed out, whatever you want to call it," King said. "He's just a lucky guy."

Polley was arrested for public intoxication and interference with official acts.

Fake Coyote Found, Boogie Board Still Missing

FAIR LAWN, N.J. (AP) — A coyote snatched from its guard post at a municipal pool last month has been rescued from a trash heap.

Police found the faux animal in a trash bag over the Labor Day weekend after nearly a month on the lam.

"We think he wants to come back to work next year," police Lt. Bob Kneer jokingly told The Record of Bergen County.

Police say the coyote, dubbed Wiley after the inept Wile E. Coyote in the Warner Bros. "Road Runner" cartoons, appeared undamaged.

Authorities declined to be more specific about how the animal was found, but police Chief Eric Rose said the borough stands by its offer of amnesty for the $700 coyote's return intact.

Wiley was last seen in early August, anchored to a boogie board in the middle of the pool, stationed there to scare away Canada geese.

At the time, parks Superintendent George Frey suggested the theft may have been a prank. Whoever took the animal "swam into the pool, cut the rope and grabbed him," Frey said.

The animal, made with a real coyote pelt, was placed at its post by a company hired to help the Bergen County town get rid of the nuisance geese.

The company, National Goose Management of East Rutherford, employs a variety of techniques to harass geese, from noisemakers and lasers to stuffed coyotes, such as Wiley, who stood guard over the pool during off hours.

The pool is closed for the season, so there's little left for Wiley to do. He's now at police headquarters. His boogie board remains missing.

Compiled by FOXNews.com's Paul Wagenseil.


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