NewsQuirks 716

Curses, Foiled Again

When Janie Sidener came to work at a store in Fort Worth, Texas, she noticed that someone had scattered change from the cash register on the floor, used the store's toilet without flushing it and left a large black pistol on the bathroom counter. Then she heard someone snoring in a big bed that is part of a sales display and called police. They woke the man and arrested him for breaking into the store, which is owned by the wife of the county district attorney. "I think he was a pretty dumb burglar," Sidener said. "Of all the places in town he has to break in to, he picks the DA's wife's shop."

Getting to Know You

Atlanta-area authorities accused Jeffrey Bernard Fuller, 35, of "taking sexual liberties" with men during routine medical exams. DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan said that Fuller performed unnecessary prostate and pelvic exams "for his own sexual gratification" while conducting exams for insurance companies. The screening exams typically involve only drawing blood, taking blood pressure and asking a few health-related questions, Morgan said, telling the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Fuller's victims could number in the hundreds.

Police in Scotland warned people to be on the alert after an Edinburgh woman reported that a man poured baked beans over her feet. The man, whom she said was in his early 30s and had an educated accent, entered a store where she works and claimed to be raising money for charity by performing bizarre stunts. He then poured the beans and other canned goods over her feet, took some photographs of her feet and left. The victim called police after realizing that the man had not brought any witnesses to his charitable stunt. The Charlotte County, Fla., Sheriff's Office reported receiving at least six calls about a short, dumpy man faking choking episodes in Punta Gorda to get attention from women. According to sheriff's representative Bob Carpenter, the man flails his arms, coughs and sputters, then when a woman rushes over to help, he recovers and showers her with gratitude, hugs and kisses. Authorities aren't sure of the man's motives and, beyond alerting the public, aren't investigating the incidents. "There's been no crime," Carpenter told the Charlotte Sun Herald. "Our hands are kind of tied here."

Reactionaries

The day after a 60-year-old Australian man who received a liver transplant at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital was sent home, he ate some cashews and developed a life-threatening allergic reaction. His doctors concluded that he had acquired a nut allergy from the new organ, which came from a 15-year-old boy who died of an allergic reaction to peanuts.

After a 20-year-old woman with shellfish allergies went into severe anaphylactic shock, Dr. David Steensma of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., concluded that her reaction was caused by kissing her boyfriend, who had just eaten a few shrimp.

Virtual Crisis

After a maintenance worker at an apartment complex in Boulder, Colo., reported a 32-year-old man screaming threats and waving what appeared to be a handgun in his apartment, police evacuated the man's building, rerouted traffic and called in a SWAT team to help defuse the situation. When police contacted the man, he explained that he was upset at his computer, calling it a "bitch" that he "wanted to kill," and threatened it with a plastic pellet gun. "It was alarming and concerning and expensive for us," Deputy Police Chief Dave Hayes said, "but the man's conduct didn't warrant any criminal charges."

Litigation Nation

Miami's Aventura Hospital and Medical Center filed a lawsuit against a 76-year-old patient who refused to leave. The suit claims that after four months' treatment for respiratory problems, the patient is well enough to go to a nursing-care facility, but he won't budge, and his wife and daughter won't give the hospital permission to discharge him. Insisting the case is not about money, hospital CEO Davide Carbone told the Miami Herald, "It's clear this is not an appropriate use of the hospital."

Making Tracks

Lila M. Smoger, 85, of Kenosha, Wis., was returning from a vehicle emissions test, followed, since she hadn't driven in months, by her family. They lost sight of her and notified the authorities. She was found eight hours later, about 70 miles from where she and her family had been separated, when a police officer in West Bend recognized her car from a missing-person description.

Way to Go

Two ambulance service workers bringing Melvin P. Miller, 67, home from the hospital in a wheelchair were carrying him up the steps to his home in Coal Township, Pa., when one of them lost his balance and fell on him. Miller died less than an hour later.

After professional snowboarder Jeffrey Anderson, 23, of California arrived in Nagano, Japan, for a competition, he was sliding down a spiral staircase at his hotel when he lost his balance and fell about 50 feet. Police said Anderson died from head injuries.

Backfirings

Ashamed of his test grade, a 14-year-old boy in Massapequa, N.Y., set the papers on fire and threw them out a second-floor window. He noticed smoke rising from the ground, then went outside to investigate and saw smoke pouring from the upstairs window. By the time firefighters extinguished the blaze, the second floor was badly charred, and the entire home had suffered extensive smoke and water damage. After investigators concluded that embers from the burning test blew back inside and started the fire, the boy was charged with arson. "His motivations were not to set the house on fire and burn it down to the ground," police Lt. Kevin Smith told Newsday. "But he intentionally set the papers on fire."

Police in Novato, Calif., said that Ulysses Davis, 44, was furious about being jilted when he doused his 1990 Ford station wagon with a flammable liquid, set it on fire and drove the flaming vehicle into his estranged girlfriend's home, hoping she would die in an epic inferno. The car rolled into the woman's bedroom and stopped a few feet from where she was sleeping, but she and three other people in the house escaped uninjured. Davis jumped out of the car and ran off, but police found him nearby, arrested him and took him to the hospital with severe burns on his face and hands.

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

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