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Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011

Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

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Prison Is Safer

Three men visiting Philadelphia in December were charged with a robbery spree that allegedly spanned several stores. Perhaps luckily for them, they were quickly arrested. The police report noted that one of the victims (who had a gun waved in her face) was Terri Staino, 38, the owner of John Anthony Hair Styling for Men. Staino is the wife of Anthony Staino—reputed to be the No. 2 man in the South Philadelphia mob, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

The Continuing Crisis


Beloved Banker: (1) In December, JPMorgan Chase abruptly ended a program that had allowed military personnel to defer payments on Chase-owned student loans while on active duty. (2) Three weeks later, NBC News reported that Chase's mortgage division had long been ignoring a federal military protection law by charging 4,000 active-duty personnel higher mortgage-interest rates than permitted (and improperly foreclosing on 14 of them). (3) That same week, Chase was found to be advertising (through an agent) a foreclosed-on house in Rexburg, Idaho, without adequate notice that it was infested with "thousands" of garter snakes. (This month, Chase reinstated the student-loan deferments and apologized for ignoring the federal law.)

Least Competent Criminals


  • Failed to Think It Through: (1) In November, Kyle Eckman, 22, was charged with theft in Lancaster, Pa., after he was stopped leaving a Kohl's department store, mostly still in his own clothes but also wearing the pair of Elle high-heel shoes he was allegedly trying to shoplift. (2) Jimmy Honeycutt was arrested in Pawtucket, R.I., in October and charged with five recent robberies of liquor stores. Among the items reportedly found on Honeycutt was a telephone-directory listing of liquor stores, with the ones recently robbed marked off.
  • Recurring Themes: (1) At a traffic stop, yet again a passenger climbed into the driver's seat as the officer approached, trying to save a drug-impaired driver from a citation. But, yet again, it turned out that the passenger was just as drug-impaired as the driver, and both were cited (Gastonia, N.C., December). (2) Once again a woman tried to conceal drugs by stuffing them down her pants, and once again, when police found them, the woman immediately denied that the pills were hers (Manatee, Fla., December).

Bright Ideas

  • Edward Hall III, 24, a Columbia University researcher, was arrested in January for trespassing at JFK Airport in New York after he reportedly disobeyed United Airlines personnel and tried an alternative method to board a plane. Allegedly, he told ticket agents he badly needed to be on the flight to San Francisco even though he had forgotten to bring a photo ID. Frustrated that agents wouldn’t let him board, Hall reportedly stepped behind the counter and crawled onto the luggage conveyor, where his next stop, minutes later, was the tarmac where bags were being loaded—and where he was arrested.
  • In January, a health-class instructor for a suburban Chicago high school caught the ire of the Illinois Family Institute religious organization over her technique for teaching students the names of female reproductive parts. To some of the kids, teacher Jacqulyn Levin's "game" was nothing more than a mnemonic to help students memorize the anatomy, but at least one student complained about the fact that Levin's play on words could be chanted, could be set to the tune of the "Hokey Pokey" and was referred to by several students as "the vagina dance." Said a complaining parent, "It is disrespectful to women and removes modesty about the reproductive parts."


Undignified Deaths

In January, a 21-year-old man was stabbed to death and three others were wounded at a party in Bristol, Conn., apparently because they had been making derisive comments about another man's flatulence. The allegedly gaseous Marc Higgins, 21, was charged with the crimes.

2011 Chuck Shepherd