News of the Weird
Bizarre but true stories about real people collected by syndicated columnist Chuck Shepherd.
Amazingly, criminals on the lam for serious crimes still can’t stop calling attention to themselves for the silliest of reasons (such as minor traffic infractions like having expired tags or a broken tail light). In San Diego in March, Larenzo Dixon, 22, was arrested at a downtown transit station during a police crackdown on jaywalkers. A routine check of the illegal street-crosser turned up a murder warrant on Dixon from Louisiana.
Nigerian Internet scams were thought for years to be so transparently fraudulent that they would work only on the very gullible, who would send thousands of dollars overseas in the naive expectation of receiving millions in return. However, it was also too good to pass up for a professional money manager, the longtime treasurer of Alcona County, Mich., Thomas Katona, who admitted in court in January 2007 that he had lost $1.25 million of taxpayer money, plus his own life’s savings, in a Nigerian scam.
Wrongly convicted defendants are freed from prisons regularly now, some after many years’ incarceration, and lawsuits against the legal system that put them there are proliferating. Three men in Birmingham, England, who were recently freed after, respectively, 18, 18 and 11 years in prison for murders, were (in separate trials) awarded a total of 2.16 million British pounds (about $4.2 million), but the Court of Appeal ruled in March that they will have to give 25 percent back to the government as compensation for their “room and board” i.e., tiny cells and prison food, during all those years.
High-Tech Pet Care: The Japanese company Medical Life Care Giken said it will begin marketing, later this year, a device that measures pets’ stress levels. The tiny patch on the bottom of a dog’s or cat’s paw changes color depending on the amount of sweat secreted, according to the researchers at Toyama University who developed it.