NewsQuirks 681

Curses, Foiled Again

When a bank robbery suspect being chased by high-school students tripped and fell beside his getaway car in Toledo, Ohio, the driver panicked and drove off. The stranded suspect jumped into the first car he saw, waved a gun at the driver and passenger and demanded that they drive away. The car turned out to be an unmarked police car being driven by Officer Anthony Duncan, who climbed into the back seat and wrestled the loaded gun away from Eric Davis, 31.

A cell phone taken from one of two men killed in a drug dispute led Baltimore police to two suspects when one of them mistakenly pressed a button, which automatically placed a call to a relative of one of the victims. The relative was not home, but voice mail recorded the two men discussing the killings. The relative called police to report the telephone message, and witnesses recognized the voices as belonging to Shelly Wayne Martin and Willie E. Mitchell, both 24. "We got lucky," police Lt. Errol Etting said. "I thought it only happened on TV."

When Guns Are Outlawed

Two former members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were convicted of assault with a weapon after attacking Winnipeg police with fresh produce. The police arrived at a downtown apartment building to investigate a break-in when David Dauphinee, 52, and Daniel Dauphinee, 51, spotted them on the street below from a 19th-floor suite and began hurling oranges, apples and onions at them. The police officers testified they feared for their safety, adding that when they went to the suite to investigate, the Dauphinee brothers, who were reportedly in a drunken stupor, hopped into bed and pretended to be asleep.

James R. Thompson, 37, died while trying to rob a convenience store in Camp Springs, Md., when a customer sat on him. Police noted that Thompson was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 150 pounds; the customer found atop Thompson was 6 feet 2 inches and weighed 280 pounds.

The Lord Giveth

After receiving repeated assurances from their bank that a mysterious $251,197 deposit in the bank account of their financially strapped tile-installation company was from an anonymous donor, John and Patricia Foote decided the money was a gift from God and began using it for religious purposes. But a year and a half later, federal authorities informed the Delaware, Ohio, couple that the deposit had been a clerical error and ordered them to repay the money or be charged with bank fraud. During that time, however, their company had gone out of business. "You can't get money out of a dead company," the couple's attorney, Michael T. Gunner, said, adding that since the couple used most of the money for religious work, "the government would have had a tough time convincing a jury that these people were criminals."

When Willie and Tawanda Anderson took their $2,200 federal tax refund check to an H&R Block office that operates an ATM that cashes refund checks, the machine spit out $72,000 in $100 bills before an employee saw what was happening and shut off the power. Witnesses said the West Philadelphia couple grabbed up as much money as they could carry and took off. Police Lt. Michael Chitwood said the Andersons went on a spending spree, partying with champagne and beer and passing out cash gifts to friends before eventually calling police and turning in $15,500 of the missing money. Police said H&R Block employees may have taken some of the money, but they believe the couple took about $35,500 and is responsible for most of the $18,000 still missing.

Drudgery

Joseph and Evelyn Djoumessi of Farmington Hills, Mich., were arrested and charged with enslaving and abusing Pridine Fru, whom they brought from Cameroon to care for their three children but who ended up assuming all the other household duties. Evelyn Djoumessi was convicted of third-degree child abuse, but instead of receiving up to two years in prison as prosecutor Cheryl Matthews had requested, she was sentenced to do all her own housework for the next three years.

End of an Error

Lithuania's Health Ministry announced in May that women applying for a driver's license no longer would be required to undergo a gynecological exam. The rule was a holdover from the Soviet era.

That Solves Half the Problem

A Japanese company said it has developed a karaoke machine that can make even the most tone-deaf user sound on key. The device from karaoke sound-system provider Taito Corp. monitors the singer and automatically adjusts the key and tempo of the musical accompaniment to those best suited to the performer. Eventually, according to Taito's Hidehito Kitamura, the technology may reconfigure a singer's errant tones to the proper pitch without otherwise altering the sound.

Leaps of Faith

Two days after a 32-year-old Miami woman failed to commit suicide by overdosing on pills, she jumped from a 14th-story condo. She landed on the roof of a Honda CRV, shattering its windows and crumpling its metal roof but otherwise walked away with only a broken arm. "You're trying to take your life away, you fall from the 14th floor, and you survive," police Officer Mike Fresco said after talking to the woman. "This is an awakening that this is not your time."

When Mark Waters, 40, locked himself out of his condo in Orange Beach, Ala., he decided to go to the roof of the 14-story building and climb down from balcony to balcony to his balcony on the 10th floor. He had barely started down when he lost his grip and plummeted nearly 200 feet. He landed in 4 feet of water in the swimming pool below, suffering only three broken ribs, a punctured lung and a few bruises. "A few feet either way," police representative John Mudra said, "and that would have been it."

United We Stand

A popular brothel in Perth, Australia, had to close for a day because American sailors on shore leave wore out the prostitutes. "They'd been in the war zone," Mary-Anne Kenworthy, the madam of Langtrees, said. "And they were a lot more agitated sexually because they'd been at sea so long." She added that some of her workers were refusing to have sex but still wanted money just for taking their clothes off, insisting, "I'd rather take nothing than offer a poor service."

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

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