NewsQuirks 614

Curses, Foiled Again

A Belgian burglar, who was trapped in an Antwerp apartment building when police arrived, tried to fool officers by jumping into bed and telling them he lived there. Suspicious because they found him wearing all his clothes, officers called the concierge, who said he had never seen the man before.

When Antonio Tate, 19, stole a 1991 Oldsmobile on Chicago's South Side, he unwittingly became the center of a federal case since the car belonged to the Secret Service. The trunk contained two bulletproof vests, a chemical biohazard suit, a gas mask and an encryption radio. Authorities arrested Tate, who faces up to 10 months in federal prison, after an accomplice in the car theft was arrested with one of the bulletproof vests and implicated Tate.

Nichols Breidenstein was charged with deliberately setting fire to a store in Hamburg, N.Y., after he dialed a wrong number to boast about it. The person he called was fire chief Michael Guadango. "I answered Œhello,' and the guy on the other line says, ŒDude, it's lit. The whole corner's going,'" Guadango said.

Spit Happens

When three students at South Carolina's Furman University decided to hold a spitting contest on the balcony of their dorm about 1 a.m., Robert Austin Meythaler, 19, grabbed the balcony railing and hoisted himself up to increase his chance of winning. According to Furman public safety director Robert Miller, when Meythaler thrust himself forward to spit, he toppled over and fell 22 feet to the asphalt below. He died seven hours later.

After Robert Denney, 19, became a suspect in the 1998 stabbing death of his Jacksonville Beach, Fla., neighbor, Corey Parker, 25, he moved to Easton, Md. There, according to the Florida Times-Union, he suspected police were watching him and diligently avoided providing them with any evidence, even saving cigarette butts from work to dispose of at home. When authorities asked Denney for a saliva sample last July, he refused. Later that day, however, detectives saw him spit on the ground and collected the spit. DNA tests concluded it matched hair and blood found at the victim's apartment, prompting Denney's arrest.

Opportunity Knocks

Mad cow and foot-and-mouth diseases in Europe have boosted demand for exotic meats from other parts of the world. Kamthorn Temsiripong, marketing manager of the Sriracha crocodile farm in eastern Thailand, said major meat importers from Germany and the Netherlands have placed orders for crocodile meat. Eastern Europeans, meanwhile, are turning to kangaroo meat. Trade official Don Cairns said some people are surprised to see Australians allowing their national symbol to be turned into a meal, explaining, "We have to tell them we have a lot of kangaroo to go around."

21st-Century Sportsmanship

After a heated volleyball game at Kennedy Middle School in Rockford, Ill., led to the referee's disqualifying Rockford Environmental Science Academy, the RESA coach, Toni Gay, got into an argument with a woman about the match. Gay went to her car and got a meat cleaver, then stormed back toward the school before the area coordinator overseeing league games detained her until authorities arrived. "I made a mistake," Gay admitted afterward. "I had a really bad attitude."

The father of a 7-year-old wrestler in suburban Philadelphia was banned from watching matches for biting a coach after his son lost a match, then making an obscene gesture in front of the coaches and other children. "He just put his head down and bit me and broke the skin," victim Paul McGarrigle Jr. said. "I was hurt, and I could not go back to work that day."

After a youth basketball game in Fayetteville, Ga., during which one of the coaches complained about referee Oliver Lewis Wood's bad calls, Wood, who is a Baptist minister, pulled a knife and stabbed the coach. Police reported the victim needed 17 stitches.

Second-Amendment Follies

The best way to deter school violence in rural Texas is to allow superintendents and principals to carry concealed weapons, according to state Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp. The Republican lawmaker introduced a bill to let school officials with concealed handgun licenses carry their weapons on school property in counties with fewer than 20,000 people. Hupp's legislative director said the measure would apply only to rural schools because they cannot afford security guards and metal detectors.

The Honeymoon Is Over

After returning from their wedding in Stuart, Fla., Kathryn and Brett Patrick got into an argument over their wedding gifts. During the dispute, the bride hit the groom with the wedding cake, punched him in the face and kicked him as he lay on the ground. Police who charged Kathryn Patrick, 36, with battery, said they said the husband's body had bruises, scratches and icing.

Maria Alexandru divorced her husband because he never gets fat no matter how much he eats. She complained to a divorce court in Focsani, Romania, that Toader Alexandru made her jealous because he said she only had to look at food to put on weight. "He's down at the refrigerator every night," she testified, "and I'm sure he does it to provoke me."

Police in St. Paul, Minn., reported Emery S. Pluff, 59, pretended to leave for work one morning but instead put on a black cape and Halloween mask that his family kept in the garage. He returned to the house, surprised his wife and dragged her into a back room. According to investigators, the wife easily recognized her husband and kept asking him why he was doing this, to which he replied, "I'm not Emery." After taking some money from his wife, he left for work, where police arrested him.

Bella Sapir, 47, charged that her husband, Tamir, 53, disobeyed a court order barring him from spending more than $100,000 on anything without court approval when he used marital funds to gamble in Atlantic City. New York State Supreme Court Justice Judith Gische denied the wife's motion to cite Tamir Sapir for contempt, explaining that although he indeed had gambled, he ended up winning $1.4 million, which he deposited into a joint account.

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