NewsQuirks 593

Curses, Foiled Again

Federal authorities charged Neal Webb Provisor, 41, with robbing a bank in Ohio's Miami Township after investigators found the holdup note had been written on the back of Provisor's pay stub from a restaurant where he worked. FBI Special Agent Timothy A. Shaw said the suspect's name, address and Social Security number had been blacked out but not enough to prevent investigators from deciphering them.

Larry E. Higgins, 51, was charged with robbing a dry-cleaning shop in Albuquerque, N. M., after the clerk gave police the license number of his getaway car. Alyssa Gross said the car's plates had been covered with duct tape but not enough to keep her from making out the plate's letters and numbers.

True Confessions

While New York City police were questioning Thomas Bryant, 20, about a burglary, he suddenly confessed to the unsolved murder of a 12-year-old girl two years ago. "He just brought it up himself," police spokesperson Alan Krawitz said. "Maybe he felt guilty or thought they knew."

Asking for Trouble

After Robert Jones of Adel, Ga., bought Liquid Fire drain cleaner, he doubted the sturdiness of its spill-proof container and poured the caustic contents into a container that he made himself. The drain cleaner eventually oozed from the homemade container and got all over his legs, causing "extensive, excruciating burns and destruction of flesh," according to a lawsuit Jones filed against Liquid Fire's maker because he insisted the original container looked too flimsy to be safe.

Two 10-year-old boys were killed and another seriously injured after they climbed a tree in Whittlesea, South Africa, to pick a hand grenade they spotted hanging from the branches, and it exploded.

Fun Land

The Iowa Department of Transportation printed 1.7 million maps identifying a place just off Route 20 south of Fort Dodge as the "Fort Dodge Recreational Facility." It is actually the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility.

Thanks for Nothing

British mountain climber Michael "Bronco" Lane, 55, presented the National Army Museum in London with the five fingers and 10 toes he lost to frostbite while climbing Mount Everest in 1976. "I don't think it was quite what they were expecting," Lane said. "But I haven't got any use for them anymore."

Rescue Me

A woman in her 60s was trapped in her windowless bathroom for 28 hours in Perth, Australia. She said she was in the bathroom when the phone rang. As she left to answer it, the doorknob on the inside of the door came off in her hand. She set it down, then answered the phone. When she returned to the bathroom, she closed the door behind her, only to realize that without the knob she couldn't open the door. She said she spent all day and night in the 5-by-5-foot room yelling for help before a friend, who suspected something might be amiss, followed her intuition and found the trapped woman.

Rachel Chandler, 73, fell 20 feet down an abandoned well in her daughter's back yard in Perris, Calif., and was trapped for three and a half hours before someone spotted her. She had to stay in the 40-inch-wide well another three and a half hours while firefighters tried to get her out. "Nobody knew the well was there," said Capt. Andrew Bennett of the Riverside County Fire Department. "There was 6 inches of dirt covering it."

Gregory Roberts, 43, called 911 from a pay phone in the lobby of a library in Las Cruces, N. M., at 2 a.m. to say he was trapped. Officers who rescued him also arrested him on suspicion of breaking and entering after finding his shoe prints on broken glass from a window where they said he gained entry. Police Sgt. Joel Cano said Roberts was wandering around the library when he got trapped between the inner and outer doors of the foyer.

Gustavo Rivera, 39, spent eight hours stuck inside a grease-lined ventilator at a diner in Hialeah, Fla., with his arms outstretched and his legs dangling between iron security grates, which the owner installed to prevent burglars from using the shaft to enter the diner. After a passerby heard Rivera's cry for help and called 911, Rivera admitted to his rescuers that he had been trying to break in.

Variation on a Theme

Hungarian police arrested a 23-year-old volunteer fire fighter who admitted committing arson at least nine times, causing nearly $600,000 in damage to pine woods and houses around the village of Ruzsa. Usually fire fighters who set fires do so because they seek recognition for putting them out, but in this case, according to the national news agency MTI, the fire fighter told police he acted because he felt an irresistible urge to set dry leaves on fire.

Fulfilling His Destiny

Police investigating a report of noises coming from a pasta shop in Bologna, Italy, that was closed for lunch found Stefano Spaghetti, 38, helping himself to tortellini. USA Today reported that after his arrest, Spaghetti admitted to the officers, "I don't even like tortellini."

Little Lotta

New Mexico officials took a 3-year-old girl into custody because she weighed 120 pounds. A social worker declared the 3-1/2-foot-tall girl would die unless she went on a special diet, exercised more and used a breathing machine when she slept. The state also accused the girl's parents, Adela Martinez and Miguel Regino, of feeding the child solid food after a doctor recommended a liquid diet.

Coitus Interruptus

A couple who picked a meadow near the Czech Republic village of Brnicko for a romantic interlude one night were run over by a tractor whose driver was taking a short cut through the field on his way to a party. The woman suffered injuries to her chest and the man to his buttocks. Police charged the driver of the tractor with causing the injuries, even though he insisted he didn't see the love-making pair.

Language of Diplomacy

Prior to meeting President Clinton, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who doesn't speak English well, was advised to ask the president how he was, wait for an affirmative response, then add, "Me, too." According to the Asahi Evening News newspaper, Mori asked instead, "Who are you?" When Clinton replied, "I'm Hillary's husband," Mori added, "Me, too."

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