NewsQuirks 620

Curses, Foiled Again

An armed gunman who threatened a post-office clerk in Bordeaux, France, and demanded $13,700 was not discouraged when the clerk told him the cash register did not hold anywhere near that amount. He lowered his demand to $6,800. When the clerk again refused to hand over the money, the would-be robber asked to withdraw a smaller amount from his own account. The clerk agreed and asked for the man's identity card to complete the withdrawal. Police arrested the man shortly after he left the post office.

Irony Exemplified

The only fatality in the March 17 crash of Amtrak's California Zephyr was Stella Riehl, 69, of Colorado Springs, who was riding the train from Des Moines, Iowa, because she thought airplanes were unsafe. "We took her to the train station because she was afraid of flying, with all the accidents she had seen on TV," Riehl's daughter, Christine Champlin, told the Denver Post.

First the Buddhists, Then the Hindus

When the demolition of two towering statues of Buddha in Afghanistan took nearly two weeks from the time Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar ordered them destroyed as idolatrous, Omar ordered that 100 cows be sacrificed to atone for the delay.

Hidden Treasure

When police in North Philadelphia pulled over a station wagon because of an expired registration tag and a broken vent window, Raul Galarza, who was riding in the back seat, attracted their attention by pulling a woman passenger onto his lap. Even though she wouldnt sit still, the officers noticed Galarza kept his left hand in his waistband. Officer John Connors patted down Galarza and discovered an unregistered 60-year-old .44-caliber Colt revolver worth about $15,000 in his trousers.

After police arrested a 50-year-old Tennessee woman for shoplifting in McLean County, Ill., authorities who processed her at the county jail discovered $32,212 in cash hidden in her brassiere. "The 'pat-down' must have been especially interesting in that one," Normal police Lt. Mark Kotte said.

While police were booking Regina Griffin, 35, for trying to cash a phony prescription in Beaver, Pa., they found 91 cents in her pocket and $2,141 rolled up in her vagina. "From what I understand," William Schouppe, the warden of Beaver County Jail, said, "when they were doing the search, this just kind of fell out of her."

After Carlton Meredith, 32, was arrested in Amarillo, Texas, for possessing marijuana, he was taken to the Potter County Correction Center. Officers performing a strip-search discovered $4,200 in postal money orders and $8,050 in cash "pinched between his buttocks," according to police Sgt. Randy TenBrink. "A lot of times we've got to be poking into places we'd rather not," TenBrink said, "but that's the way police work is."

Squeezably Soft Solution

Conservators at Colonial Williamsburg looking for a way to restore 18th-century buildings, whose bricks are deteriorating because they contain salt, believe toilet paper may be the answer. The salt comes from materials, such as beach sand, used to fill cavities in the bricks during construction. To test the theory, workers are using a mixture of 700 rolls of toilet paper and water on a smokehouse to catch salt water that's pulled through the bricks using a dehumidifier and a heater.

Lucky Loophole

Even though James Edward Heard wore a disguise and ordered a convenience store clerk in Davenport, Iowa, to empty her cash register, the Iowa Court of Appeals overturned his conviction because his actions were not threatening enough to constitute robbery. According to court records, Heard greeted the cashier, who was alone in the store at 4:30 a.m., then asked her to give him "the money." After she handed him $110 from the cash register, the man demanded the money stored under the cash drawer. She complied, and the man ordered her to lie on the floor, then fled with the cash.

Heard was arrested and convicted of second-degree robbery, which state law defines as theft committed during an assault or while putting someone in fear of "immediate serious injury." Heard did not deny entering the store to steal money, but he appealed the robbery conviction. The court ruled that even if Heard's actions implied the threat of bodily injury, they did not imply "serious injury" as defined by law.

Family Matters

Authorities in Troy, Mich., charged Billie Jean Rogers, 61, with murdering her husband, Donald Rogers, 74. Her motive, according to prosecutors, was to obtain money from their joint checking account to buy her nephew, Harry Titlow, 33, a new car and give him $70,000 to pay for surgery to turn him into a woman.

A Florida woman who hired a stripper to celebrate her son's 21st birthday was killed when she tried to break up a fight between father and son sparked by a jealous girlfriend. Witnesses told Miami-Dade County police that when the stripper hired by Merida Monteagudo, 42, began her performance, the son, Ricardo Monteagudo, joined in and playfully pulled down his pants, provoking a heated argument with his girlfriend. As the fight intensified, the father, Enrique Monteagudo, asked the girl to leave and grabbed her by the arm to show her the door. Ricardo Monteagudo objected to his father's treatment of his girlfriend, and the two argued. The enraged father went to his bedroom, grabbed a gun and returned to the party to confront his son. "At that point," police spokesperson Detective Nelda P. Fonticiella said, "the victim stepped in to break up the fight and was shot."

Authorities charged Caron Simmons, 46, with murdering her 48-year-old husband in Orange County, Fla. Investigators told the Orlando Sentinel the couple fought over the operation of their satellite television system, explaining the husband hid the device that operates the TV to aggravate his wife. While searching for it, she found a gun in a dresser. She pointed it at him, and it fired.

Wind Resistance

Science has finally figured out how to overcome the odor of dog flatulence. Reporting in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, British researchers from the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition in Leicestershire said feeding dogs treats containing activated charcoal, zinc acetate and an extract of the yucca plant significantly reduced the amount of hydrogen sulfide, believed to cause the unpleasant odor, in the canine emissions.

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