Category Archives: Weird Crime

Rats on a plane. Drunken rats.

Every now and then I get the urge to write a thriller scene set on an airplane. I’ve long loved books and movies about dangerous, high-speed, edge-of-the-seat flying — everything from The High and the Mighty to Airport to Snakes on a Plane.* And, of course, I revere the twin titans of films about flight: The Right Stuff and Airplane.

Maybe I feel this way because I’ve flown so much, and generally love it. Or because, over the years, I’ve had lots of interesting experiences with commercial air travel. I used to fly from Santa Barbara on Apollo Airways, which flew planes the size of my sofa. When you checked in, they would ask, “How much do you weigh?” I’ve been on a United flight to London that had to dump fuel and return to San Francisco, where fire engines chased us down the runway. I’ve awakened at midnight over equatorial Africa, when our Virgin Atlantic A340 turned on its landing lights at 36,000 feet — and I realized we’d crossed a border into a country that had no flight radar. We were in a sky where jumbos lit themselves up in hopes that they’d see each other in time to keep from colliding. I’ve taken off from LAX, shouting, Where’s the plug for my computer? Oh my God I need to power my laptop don’t you realize I have a book due tomorrow and it’s trapped inside this motherboard and to get it out I NEED ELECTRICITY. (Note to the Husband: Thank you again for showing me that my seat included not only a life vest and oxygen mask, but an electrical outlet.)

In my books I’ve included fighter pilots — Brian Delaney and Marcus Dupree. I’ve written scenes that feature crashing helicopters and a race between an SUV and a 757 that’s traveling at takeoff velocity.

But in my wildest, twisted imagination, I have not written a scene anything close to this:

Fired Research In Motion execs ‘chewed through restraints’ on flight.

The pair seemed heavily intoxicated from the start of the flight, according to one passenger. They drank, passed out, and woke up to continue consuming alcohol and yelling at one another.

Campbell was described as a “rowdy and abusive” passenger who at one point warned that he would “off people when they left the plane,” according to the Crown prosecutor.

A flight attendant said that Campbell also lay belly-down in the aisle during the ordeal, and began kicking the floor.

This might have been the point at which the Air Canada Toronto-Beijing flight diverted to Vancouver.

One of the men “assaulted a flight attendant and threatened to punch another,” the prosecution told the court.

Crew members eventually handcuffed the two unruly passengers with plastic restraints and then with tape. But they eventually “chewed their way through their restraints.”

The men have been placed on parole and ordered to pay $72,000 in restitution. They were fired by Research In Motion, makers of BlackBerry.

What kind of teeth do you need, or how drunk do you have to be, to chew through plastic handcuffs?

*Other good books/movies about flying: Alive, United 93, The Wild Blue, Seconds from Disaster, All Fall Down, Die Hard 2, And yes, while writing this post I have checked the TV schedule to see when the next episode of Air Crash Investigation is on. If you know of other good stories about flying, please tell me.

Sunday links: Mimes fight crime, turkeys drop, Amish feud

Weird stories for a placid Sunday.

Rich writes: “A practical use for mimes… or a clever way to get rid of them?”

Mimes tackle traffic chaos in Venezuela.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A part of Venezuela’s capital is giving dangerous drivers the silent treatment, sending mimes into the streets to do what police alone have not: tame the lawless traffic.

About 120 mimes dressed in clown-like outfits and white gloves took to the streets of the Sucre district this past week, wagging their fingers at traffic violators and at pedestrians who streaked across busy avenues rather than waiting at crosswalks.

Next, some Amish folks wig out.

Four arrested over hair and beard attacks on Ohio Amish.

Police in the US state of Ohio have arrested four men suspected of assaulting a 74-year-old member of the Amish community.

He is one of several Amish people in the state who have had their hair and beards forcibly removed in apparent efforts to humiliate them.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdallah said two more people were being sought.

Suspicion has fallen on a breakaway Amish group rejected by the mainstream community.

A splinter cell. The Amish have a militant wing — who knew?

UPDATE: The suspects in the hair cutting case have been named. They include Lester and Johnny Mullet. Yes, that’s their name.

Finally, WKRP in Cincinnati’s most iconic episode comes to life.

FAA says it’s ready for Arkansas turkey drop.

YELLVILLE, Ark. – No one in the northern Arkansas town of Yellville will say if they expect wild turkeys to fall from planes for this year’s Turkey Trot festival. But the Federal Aviation Administration says it is watching.

Organizers of the festival long ago disavowed the tradition of letting wild turkeys fall from low-flying airplanes as spectators watched them glide to the ground…But someone continues to drop the turkeys.

The FAA is on alert. “If a plane flies over and a turkey comes out of it, we’re going to be talking to somebody,” a spokesman says.

As God is my witness, people are nuts.

Fly the friendly skies, or Bandits at Mile High O’Clock

This morning I’m hitting the road for Bouchercon 2011 in St. Louis. Okay, hitting the skies. Actually, not hitting anything, Mr. Air Marshal, so you can put that Taser away, please…

While I’m in the air, here are a couple of news items for you to ponder.

First, Rich sends this link, and writes: “Had The Remnant been a bit more open minded maybe they wouldn’t have been so cranky.”

Arizona church is house of prostitution, police say.

(CNN) — A church called the Phoenix Goddess Temple has been accused of being a house of prostitution, and a six-month undercover investigation has resulted in the arrests of 20 women and men who worked there, Phoenix police said Friday…
During a Wednesday search of the Phoenix temple and two church-related sites in nearby Sedona, police seized evidence showing that “male and female ‘practitioners’ working at the Temple were performing sexual acts in exchange for monetary ‘donations,’ all on the pretense of providing ‘neo tantric’ healing therapies,” Phoenix police said.

No word on when, during their services, the temple gods and goddesses passed the collection plate.

And in other news, joining the Mile High Club now comes with a fighter escort:

Airplane bathroom sex blamed for terror alert.

With security officials on edge for the tenth anniversary of 2001’s World Trade Center attack, even something as trivial as passengers spending too much time in an airplane bathroom proved sufficient to cause fighter jets to be scrambled and bomb squads called in.

… According to law enforcement sources cited by ABC, however, the “suspicious behavior” in that case turned out to be two people “making out” in the bathroom.

The local ABC affiliate in Detroit, WXYZ, was a bit more explicit in its language, noting that “the ABC News National Security team is telling Action News that their sources say the flight was disrupted by two people having intimate relations in one of the bathrooms.”

To quote Dana Haynes: “I’m a believer in safe sex but a Tomcat with weapons-hot status seems like overkill.”

Today in stuffed shorts: lobsters

The epidemic of trouser-stuffing by thieves enters a snappy crustacean phase.

Shopper arrested with live lobsters in shorts.

A man in southern Mississippi is accused of trying to walk out of a D’Iberville grocery store without paying for food items he’d stuffed into his cargo shorts including live lobsters.

Police Chief Wayne Payne says 35-year-old Nathan Mark Hardy was arrested Saturday after allegedly being caught stuffing food into his cargo shorts — two bags of jumbo shrimp, a pork loin and two live lobsters.

Payne says Hardy, of Biloxi, tried to escape by throwing the pork loin at employees at the local Winn Dixie but fell while running away.

Pants lobsters. The codpiece of choice for the modern felon.

(Via Bill Crider.)

Soon after, In-N-Out was overrun by a hungry mob

“Drivers scramble for free weed after drug smuggler wrecks truck.”

A truck carrying a large quantity of marijuana wrecked in San Jose earlier this week, scattering its cargo across a roadway and creating a feeding frenzy as drivers passing by scrambled to collect as much as possible.

After the wreck, which San Jose police say took place near Oakridge Mall at around1 a.m. on Wednesday, the driver immediately fled.

Once police arrived on the scene, very little marijuana was left.

And at the mall, not a single Dunkin’ Donut or pizza slice was left untouched.

I supply the headline. You supply the snark.

Man nabbed at U.S. airport with snakes in his pants.

Good times in Miami:

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said the man had seven exotic snakes and three tortoises wrapped in nylon bags that had been stuffed into his pants.

He was discovered as he went through a body scanner at one of the airport’s security checkpoints on Thursday and arrested by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials for violating animal trafficking laws.

Authorities declined to identify the man or offer any explanation for his botched attempt at reptile smuggling.

“Reptile smuggling.” Is that what we’re calling it this week?

“If she’d known it was her last one, maybe she would have dressed better.”

Wig-Wearing ‘Bad Hair Bandit’ Was Prison Nurse, Officials in Idaho Say.

She had a penchant for clumsy wigs, traveled with her cat and worked as a prison nurse in Idaho — when she was not crisscrossing the Pacific Northwest robbing banks.

But after a string of successful hits on at least 19 banks in four states, Cynthia Van Holland — who law enforcement officers believe is the suspect known as the Bad Hair Bandit — ran into bad luck.

Van Holland and her husband were arrested after a bank robbery in Auburn, California. Besides the money, “A cat was found in the back seat of the car with ‘a litter box, toys and all the things a cat would need,’ said Dena Erwin, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department.”

Van Holland is suspected of robbing 20 banks in Washington, Oregon, and California, “wearing a series of raggedy black, blond, red and brown wigs.”

I bet she wishes she’d gone with a balaclava instead.

‘Cause nothing says fun like a stripper on the run

I cannot stop myself from posting this. The headline is impossible to ignore.

Fugitive Stripper’s Wild Ride.

After eight days on the lam, the Dougherty Gang are trapped on the side of the road, their car nearly flipped on a speed break, with flashing police car lights all around. In a futile attempt to escape, Grace Dougherty runs through a dusty Colorado field, a Walsenberg police officer on her heels. She turns to shoot, but the cop’s bullet hits her leg first. The mayhem ends.

The Central Florida siblings—Ryan Edward Dougherty, Dylan Dougherty Stanley, and Lee Grace E. Dougherty—led authorities on a 2,000-mile, cross-country chase, collecting ammo, and a surprising number of fans, along the way.

Of course they collected fans. To quote one of Grace Dougherty’s Facebook admirers: “What’s better than a stripper with a Ak and robin (sic) banks…”

Sounds like Dougherty took The Nightmare Thief adventure role-playing idea just a little too far.

Maybe the reporter should have worn a disguise

This reporter for CBS Baltimore may have second thoughts about posting a police artist’s drawing of an assault suspect so close to his own head shot.


W for Wacko

Kate writes: “There are no words.”

Man Named Guy Fowlkes Blows Up Florida Fireworks Stand.

“The Orlando Sentinal reports that Fowlkes got into a fight about a storage unit with his girlfriend, who he then “struck [on] the left side of her face.” Then he started blowing stuff up.

He went into the tent and began to light up fireworks, directing some of them at other employees. He also lit the fuse of two firecrackers and placed them inside the gas tank of an employee’s car.

“When police arrived at the scene, Fowlkes ‘seemed to be having a seizure [and] said he did not know what was happening and did not remember anything.'”

No word on whether he’s been imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Woke up this morning, got myself a gun

The vortex of weird crime has burrowed deep through the planet from Kitsap County, and emerged in South Yorkshire. Add this story to the Mind-boggling Dumb-assery Top Hits of 2011.

Man blasts away wart, and finger, with shotgun.

For five years Sean Murphy was driven to distraction by a painful blemish that no amount of creams, ointments or doctors’ appointments could cure.

So he came up with his own radical and permament procedure to remove the stubborn wart forever – he blasted it with a 12-bore shotgun.

Murphy “found the Beretta under a hedge earlier in the year. Having decided to use the Beretta, he administered the ‘anaesthetic’ of Yorkshire bitter.” Then he pulled the trigger. That got rid of the wart. And when the smoke cleared, he discovered, to his surprise, that it had also gotten rid of his finger.

Murphy denies that the beer affected his aim.

He’s not bitter. And he doesn’t blame it, either. A good Yorkshireman.

This guy is the astral twin of the Kitsap man who tried to loosen lug nuts on his Lincoln with a shotgun. What makes people think that when something won’t budge — nuts, warts — the only logical solution is twelve-gauge buckshot?

Murphy “pleaded guilty to theft of the shotgun by finding, and a second charge of possessing a firearm without a valid certificate.” South Yorkshire Police “are still trying to discover how the Beretta found its way to the hedge where Murphy found it.”

Check the vortex.

“It’s not a weasel, it’s a marten.”

Man with dead weasel accused of assault.

HOQUIAM, Wash. — Police say a man was carrying a dead weasel when he burst into a Hoquiam apartment and assaulted a man.

The victim asked, “Why are you carrying a weasel?” Police said the attacker said, “It’s not a weasel, it’s a marten,” then punched him in the nose and fled.

The attacker was apparently looking for his girlfriend and had gone to her former boyfriend’s apartment Monday night where the victim was a guest.

The attacker left the carcass behind. He was later arrested.

The Husband points out: “Clearly we have two cases of mistaken identity.”

Via Snart Man, who wonders: “Is Hoquiam near Kitsap?”

It’s about 60 miles away, judging by how my thumb fits against the map.

Today’s criminal mastermind: fake money in the ATM

And by “mastermind” I mean “idiot.”

ATM repairman accused of loading fake money.

An employee of an ATM servicing company has been charged with swapping $200,000 in fake bills for real cash at machines in Daly City and San Francisco, a prosecutor said Thursday….

[Samuel] Kioskli was an employee of Diebold, which services ATMs for Bank of America. On July 4, Kioskli went to six bank branches in San Francisco and one in Daly City and stole about $200,000 by replacing cash in the machine trays with counterfeit or photocopied $20 bills, Wagstaffe said.

“Kioskli used his work card key to access the ATMs and was captured on video at all seven locations, authorities said.”

What was he thinking? I’m serious. Did he actually think he’d get away with it?

Would-be rock hustler gets mooned

California woman touting moon rock for $1.7 million stung by NASA.”

A woman who tried to sell what she said was a rare piece of moon rock for $1.7 million was detained when her would-be buyer turned out to be an undercover NASA agent, officials said Friday.

The gray rocks, which are considered national treasures and are illegal to sell, were given to each U.S. state and 136 countries by then-President Richard Nixon after U.S. moon missions and can sell for millions of dollars on the black market.

Who knew that NASA has undercover agents?