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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pennsylvania's Criminal Mastermind

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In March, when retired NYPD officer John Comparetto was approached at gunpoint in a men’s room at a Holiday Inn near Harrisburg, Pa., he quietly handed over his wallet. But once the robber left, Comparetto summoned some of the 300 narcotics officers attending a convention in the hotel and gave chase, quickly capturing the man, who Comparetto described as “probably the dumbest criminal in Pennsylvania.”

People Different From Us

  • Nelson Blewett, 22, was treated for serious burns in Port Angeles, Wash., in May after playing a game in which he and his friends spritzed each other with body spray and then struck matches to ignite small flames. Then, allegedly inspired by too much beer, one friend decided to add lighter fluid to the game. Blewett remained afire for 30 to 45 seconds, until he leaped from a second-story porch and rolled on the ground. (He survived, but suffered "excruciating" second- and third-degree burns.)

  • (1) Charles Williams, 37, and his wife, Gretchen, 33, were arrested in Greenville, S.C., in April after a domestic dispute culminated in a gunfight in which they shot each other. (2) Two fathers (Enrique Gonzalez, 26, in Fresno, Calif., in April and Eugene Ashley, 24, in Floyd County, Ga., in May) were charged with forcibly tattooing their young sons. Gonzalez allegedly held down his 7-year-old while a tattooist inked a gang symbol, and Ashley allegedly inked "DB" (for “Daddy's Boy”) on his 3-year-old's shoulder.

Cultural Diversity

Kailash Singh, 63, who lives in a village near Varanasi, India, told reporters in May that he had not bathed in the last 35 years. Apparently, Singh believed that remaining free of water would improve his chances of fathering a male instead of a female. (It hasn’t worked, however, as he has seven daughters, so he has moved on to a new reason for not bathing: Singh said that he would continue to shun baths until India’s social problems are resolved.) Singh previously owned a shop, but became a farmer after customers increasingly declined to approach him.

Sci-Fi Movie Comes to Life

In May, entomologists in San Antonio said that the “Raspberry ant” (whose colonies produce billions of members and cover everything in sight) had migrated north to within 75 miles of the city and would arrive by year’s end, posing a “potential ecological disaster.”

Least Competent Criminals

The Right to Remain Silent: Timothy Williams’ lawyer had a good defense worked out in Williams’ murder trial in Pittsburgh in May: When Williams fatally shot the “other” man in the love triangle with Williams’ girlfriend, it was a “crime of passion,” said the lawyer, befitting manslaughter rather than first-degree murder. But Williams insisted on taking the stand, and by the time he was done, he had openly bragged that he was a “swinger” with many girlfriends and that this particular woman meant “nothing” to him. Verdict: first-degree murder.

Update

The long-running battle between Alan Davis, 53, and officials in Altamonte Springs, Fla., began anew in May, upon Davis’ release from prison after serving a year for his latest defiance of court orders to clear the “junk” out of his yard (“felony littering”). It was his third prison stretch in five years, and he said he is not done yet. Just before his latest stretch, he had placed a giant sculpted derriere in front of the Seminole County Courthouse. In May, he told reporters that he would rejoin the battle by ringing his yard with 42 smaller, similar sculptures.

Readers' Choice
 A 27-year-old woman in Lexington Park, Md., was injured in March during sex play. Her partner placed a sex toy over a saber saw, apparently to act as a souped-up vibrator, but the blade cut through the toy and caused serious lacerations. A helicopter rushed the woman to Prince George's Hospital Center.

 A News of the Weird Classic (June 1997)
 In 1993, India Scott dated both Darryl Fletcher and Brandon Ventimeglia while living in Detroit. In 1994, the woman moved in with Fletcher shortly before she was due to give birth. Neither man knew about the other, and she had told each man he was the father. For two years, Scott somehow managed to juggle the men's visitations. But in March 1997, when Scott announced that she was leaving the area, both Fletcher and Ventimeglia filed for custody of "his" son. Only then did the two men find out about each other. They took blood tests to determine who was the real father of the boy—in May 1997, the blood test revealed that neither was.

c. 2009 Chuck Shepherd
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