NewsQuirks 632

Curses, Foiled Again

After a teen-ager grabbed a purse belonging to a 79-year-old nun at a shopping center in Dunedin, Fla., he flagged down a car to hitch a ride to a nearby motel. The driver who stopped to give him a lift was retired New York state Trooper John Coyne, 56. He had seen sheriff's deputies pulling into the shopping center when he picked up the youth, so after dropping him off at a nearby motel, Coyne returned to the scene of the crime and told deputies, who apprehended the 17-year-old suspect. "Anybody that steals from a nun needs to be caught," Pinellas County Sheriff's spokesperson Cal Dennie said. "It was a blessed ending."

When Guns Are Outlawed

Leola Freeman, 54, pleaded guilty in Camden, N.J., to assaulting her husband with a package of frozen meat during an argument. Police said James Freeman, 57, suffered a head wound that required 10 stitches to close.

Police in Dana Point, Calif., cited Sandra Guba, 36, for attacking Joy DuBord, 45, with a peanut-butter sandwich while the two argued over the affections of DuBord's boyfriend. "When I went out of the house, I still had it on the side of my head where she pounded it," DuBord said. Guba denied attacking DuBord with the sandwich, insisting all she did "was sprinkle some bread crumbs on her head" and suggesting DuBord may have put peanut butter on her own head to enhance her case. The boyfriend, Chris Allshouse, 29, said he regrets the animosity between the two women, noting, "I love everybody. That's my problem."

Party of One

Police in Northglenn, Colo., said James Wersen, 29, fired his shotgun at several of his neighbors' houses, then took his own life after failing to persuade his neighbors to throw a block party.

Litigation Nation

A Baltimore jury awarded Carolyn A. Carey, 56, $170,000 after deciding that a hair-care product caused her hair to ignite. Carey testified that she applied Kuza Hair Food before going to bed, then applied it again the next day before cooking dinner. She testified that when she placed a frying pan on a lighted burner on her stove, her hair caught fire.

A Texas appeals court ruled topless dancer Sarah Salazar, who was charged with driving while intoxicated after a car accident, may sue her employer for encouraging her to drink with customers. Salazar admitted she was impaired when she left work but insisted it was because Giorgio's Men's Club in San Antonio urged dancers to drink with customers so they would buy more overpriced drinks.

Identity Crisis

Ohio authorities accused Jeremy Henthorn, 20, of impersonating a state highway patrol officer so he could get free meals at restaurants. According to Lt. Gary Lewis, Henthorn never wore a uniform or showed a badge, but he ate free at least 20 times at different restaurants by claiming to be a trooper. His ruse was discovered after he got into an argument with a man at a softball game and claimed to be a trooper, and the man checked him out with the highway patrol. Noting troopers don't accept free meals, Lewis said Henthorn "wanted to vicariously feed off the respect that the division has obtained over the years."

Canadian authorities arrested Darrin Hway for posing as Janet Jackson's production manager in order to steal a monkey. Kristi Stoker, owner of a pet store in Whitehorse, Yukon, said Hway told store workers he was Dan Cowan, senior production manager for House of Blues Concerts Canada, and needed a monkey for the entertainer's new video, adding he would fly the marmoset to the set in Jackson's private jet. "This is a weird story that you think can't get any weirder," the real Cowan said, "and then it does."

When security guard Anis Ben Blal saw a car run a red light in Rouen, France, he slapped a flashing red light on the roof of his car and pursued the offender. He stopped the vehicle and told the two men inside he was a detective. They told him so were they and arrested Ben Blal.

Great Expectations

In 1999, Shawn Davenport, 26, cashed a check for $280,000 with the words "Pennsylvania State Lottery" printed on it, then bought a home in Turtle Creek, Pa., a car, computer equipment, jewelry and other items. Last September, authorities discovered the check was counterfeit and seized the goods. In November, Davenport tried to cash a check for $5.3 million, explaining the money was a settlement in a lawsuit. Bank officials determined the check was counterfeit and notified the police. This spring, Davenport pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud.

Butt Heads

A truck driver was admitted to a Berlin hospital with a 31-inch-long spear stuck in his rear end. The man told the Bild newspaper the spear was leaned up against a closet, and when he bent over and accidentally leaned backwards into it, its hooked tip penetrated 2 inches into his buttocks.

Darren Meehan was bitten 20 times on his right buttock by a redback spider, which apparently got trapped in his trousers while he was using an outdoor toilet in Alice Springs, Australia. He slept through the attack but discovered a cluster of bites in the morning. Professor George Jelinek of the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth said no one has been poisoned as much as Meehan and survived, noting the bites left twice as much venom in his system as the previous known most poisoned victim. After the incident, Meehan bared his injured buttock for the local paper but later declined to give any details of the incident, explaining he had signed a television deal to tell his story.

The British Dental Journal reported a 69-year-old man had to have a toothbrush surgically removed after using it to relieve the painful itch of hemorrhoids, then losing it in his rectum. When the man's general practitioner was unable to locate the toothbrush, the man was taken to a hospital emergency room, where X-rays revealed it had become stuck in his pelvis. It was recovered using biopsy forceps.

Weighty Matters

To prepare for the switch from marks to euros, the Volksbank Ostholstein Nord in Neustadt, Germany, paid for fitness-club memberships for its 200 workers. According to the Wall Street Journal, the currency changeover will mean the workers will need to carry about 44 tons of euro notes and coins into the bank building and haul out the old marks. "The bitter irony of it all," Volksbank's office manager Johannes Hadermann said, "is that bank safes always happen to be in the basement."

Compiled from the nation's press by Roland Sweet. Send original clippings, citing source and date, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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