Diamond in the Rough

Aug. 5, 2009
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A 20-something man was being sought as the robber of the Black Diamond Equipment store in Salt Lake City in June—even though the man didn’t exactly get what he wanted from the crime. He made off with some gear from the ski and climbing accessory store, but had originally demanded jewelry. Apparently, he thought he was knocking off a “diamond” store.

Least Competent Criminals

Motorist Zackary Johnson was arrested in Athens, Ga., in June after pulling over a passing police car to inquire about whether he had any outstanding warrants against him. The officer performed a computer check and told Johnson that there were no warrants issued for his arrest. However, the officer noticed that Johnson’s driver’s license had been suspended, and Johnson was arrested.

People With Issues

(1) Todd Hall, 36, was sentenced to six years in prison after his conviction in Bentonville, Ark., in June for habitually biting the toes of his son. Hall said he bit his son’s toes up to the age of 6 as part of routine discipline. (Hall had earlier been on probation for biting his 10-month-old daughter.)

(2) In June in Muncie, Ind., in his second such conviction in seven months, Robert Stahl, 64, was found guilty of resolving a dispute with a man in his 50s by reaching into the man’s mouth and yanking out his dentures.

The Continuing Crisis

  • The New Age movement certainly isn’t an exclusive club, and this is causing a few problems among some of its members, according to a July report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. According to the newspaper, “Chiropractors want out of the New Age movement. Channelers wonder if they belong at all, and pagans feel jilted. Organic farmers don’t want to be near pet psychics.” Said one St. Paul merchant, “I have customers who completely believe in fairies and will laugh at you if you believe in Bigfoot.” But, said a New Age magazine editor, the movement should encompass “anything on a spiritual path—Bigfoot, Jesus, Buddha. Even worshipping a frog is sort of OK.”

  • A young copperhead snake entered a building near Poolesville, Md., in June and delivered several venomous nips to the hand of Sam Pettengill. Snakes don’t often survive such encounters because victims usually kill them after being bitten. Fortunately for this snake, it had wandered into a Buddhist temple, and Pettengill did not want to harm the snake, according to a Washington Postreport. Before he set out for the hospital to receive treatment, Pettengill took the snake in his throbbing, increasingly pain-wracked hand, circled a prayer room for about three minutes to bless it, and released it back into the woods.

  • World's Toughest Job: Farah Ahmed Omar was recently appointed as chief of Somalia’s navy. Ordinarily, the navy might be expected to deal with the throng of pirates operating off the country’s coast. That could prove difficult, however, as Somalia’s navy currently does not have a single boat or a single sailor. Omar himself has not been to sea in 23 years. However, he told a reporter he was optimistic that the piracy could be stopped.

It’s the Shoes

In June, Palm Beach County, Fla., defense lawyer Michael Robb resisted a courtroom motion that would have forced him to discard his well-worn Cole Haan loafers and wear a new pair. The plaintiff’s lawyer, Bill Bone, complained that jurors would see the holes in the bottoms of Robb’s shoes and be unfairly sympathetic to Robb’s clients. The motion was denied. According to a Palm Beach Post story, Robb later said that he has a renewed enthusiasm for the shoes.

A Classic (2000)

Rarely has a city experienced a “better” year of weird news than Akron, Ohio, in 2000. A father was indicted for repeatedly abusing his gifted teenage daughters to encourage even higher achievement (including threatening to kill one for misspelling “cappelletti” in the National Spelling Bee). A man was found living with his father’s corpse for 11 years, and this was discovered only when the man’s mother died (because he failed to bury her as well). A 69-year-old man sued a woman for tricking him into marrying her when he had intended to marry her mother. A woman defended a charge of sexually molesting her 7-year-old son by claiming that the family dog had raped him. A 10-year-old boy, trying to avoid leaf-raking chores by hiding underneath them, was hospitalized when his mother accidentally drove over the leaves and, subsequently, the boy. A high-school track coach was caught cheating when he sneaked in to run the second leg of his school’s 4x100 relay at a track meet.

c. 2009 Chuck Shepherd


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