Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cutting-Edge Indiana

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Until Mayor Sharon McShurley changed the protocol this year, fire stations in Muncie, Ind., had been delivering reports to the department headquarters located downtown by dropping them off in fire engines—at an estimated delivery cost of $1,500 per trip. McShurley ordered the stations to upgrade the process so as to send reports by e-mail.

Least Competent Criminals

Questionable Judgments: (1) Christopher Lister, 21, pleaded guilty to a home burglary in June in Leeds (England) Crown Court. He and two pals attempted to steal a plasma TV in broad daylight last year, but witnesses easily identified Lister. He is 7 feet 4 inches tall and lives only a few blocks away from the crime scene.

(2) Markeith Webb, who was wanted by police for a bank robbery in Easton, Pa., in June, left a string of indignant phone messages at a police station, angry that cops had released his photograph to the media. Just for that, he said, he would make sure they never caught him. He was captured six days later.

Can’t Possibly Be True

  • In June, the New York Police Department spent $99,000 on a contract for typewriter repairs, which will take on increasing importance since last year the NYPD bought thousands of new typewriters, manual and electric, costing the city almost $1 million. The NYPD still is not close to computerizing some of its daily-use forms, such as property and evidence reports.

  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was livid in June when he learned that inmate Tuvia Stern, housed in the city's notorious lockup known as “The Tombs,” had arranged a privately catered, 50-guest bar mitzvah for his son inside the facility's gym, officiated by a prominent rabbi and assisted by five jail guards. The caterers were even allowed to bring in knives for food preparation and dining. It should not come as a surprise that it was Stern who pulled it off, however, because at the time he was awaiting sentencing for running two business scams.

Family Values

(1) Thomas Stites, 25, was charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child in Manitowoc, Wis., in June, thus becoming the fourth Stites brother to face sex charges. (In addition, brother Michael Stites’ wife and son have also been charged with sexual assault.)

(2) Mykel Mendes, 13, was arrested in Hyannis, Mass., in March and charged with arranging for the murder of his 16-year-old half-brother, Jordan Mendes. According to police, Mykel wanted to take Jordan’s place atop the family’s prosperous Cape Cod cocaine distribution ring. (The boss’ job was open following the imprisonment of the boys’ father.)

Fetishes on Parade

In July in Bartow, Fla., former elementary school principal John Stelmack, 62, was sentenced to five years in prison for a collection of child pornography, although no child was directly involved. Without the aid of computer software (instead using old-fashioned scissors and paste), Stelmack had placed photos of the faces of young girls over the faces of adult women in sexual poses.

Update

News of the Weird reported in 2003 on San Francisco artist Jonathon Keats' project to sell "futures contracts" on his brain cells, provided that science discovers how to keep them alive after he dies. For $10, a person could buy a million of Keats' radically imaginative neurons. In a new project, which critiques today's hyperactive media, Keats has published a story in print that will take almost 1,000 years to read from beginning to end. The story, published in the interactive multimedia print magazine Opium, is only nine words long. But, according to the instructions, the ink will reveal itself, ever so slowly, as it is exposed to air and ultraviolet light, taking about one century per word.

A News of the Weird Classic (February 2005)

Michael Warner, 58, passed away in May 2004 of acute alcohol poisoning (with a 0.47 blood-alcohol level) in Lake Jackson, Texas, after ingesting 3 liters of sherry wine—which had entered his body by enema. Warner’s widow, Tammy, told authorities that he had been addicted to enemas since childhood, and even had favorite recipes, such as enemas by coffee, by Castile soap and by Ivory soap. Said Tammy, “I’m sure that’s the way he wanted to go out because he loved his enemas.” Tammy was originally charged with criminal negligent homicide for helping prepare Michael’s fatal wine dose, but the prosecutor dropped the charge.

c. 2009 Chuck Shepherd