03 June 2012

Florida (mostly) Crime News

by Leigh Lundin

Sometimes articles are contributed or suggested by readers. We owe most of today's articles to ABA, Yoshinori 'Josh' Todo, and the ever-popular anonymous. There's a lot here; let's get started, but first…

Chowchilla bus The Chowchilla Children

Livermore, Ca.  The word Chowchilla tugs at the memory, a word touching on one of the most bizarre crimes in North American history. On 15 July 1976, twenty-six children from the small town of Chowchilla, California and their schoolbus vanished off the face of the earth.

Fortunately, the good guys won and all the children and the driver survived. The driver organized the escape and was celebrated as an unassuming hero. This past week the driver, Ed Ray, died in his home town.

The event reminded readers of a Hugh Pentecost story published in the 1969 fiction anthology Alfred Hitchcock's Daring Detectives, "The Day the Children Vanished". The crime was dramatized in the 1993 ABC TV movie They've Taken Our Children: The Chowchilla Kidnapping.

Chowchilla van

Dirty Cop

AVALON, Pa.  From anon, just to prove not all the crazies live in Florida, a citizen thought his utility bills were unusually high. It turns out his neighbor, a Pittsburgh policeman, was breaking into his home to use his washing machine. I'm not sure soft-soaping the court will work in this case.

Hot Cop

Scottburgh, SA  From ABA, we have the tale of the lady cop who had the urgent need to conduct an 'in-depth investigation'… with a prisoner in a holding cell. I'd say 'under cover' investigation except there were no covers, only oral testimony. Stark naked in flagrante delicto, they were caught by fellow officers.

Donut Do-Not

Orlando, FL.  From Yoshinori Todo comes a couple of cons (in Florida, naturally) that seemed clever on the surface but fell short. First is the fellow who successfully convinced an Orlando Dunkin' Donuts that the corporate office had sent him to perform a surprise audit. They pulled the cash drawer so he could take it into a back room… so far, so good… I mean bad. Then he got into a bit of a rush, grabbed the cash and tried to take off, but customers foiled him before he got too far. My guess is he'll be spending time in the hole.

Debit Debut

Sarasota, FL.  If you or I were to steal a credit or debit card, we'd be screwed when the clerks realized the card was blocked. However, a party of five figured out a way around it. The 'customer' with the card pretended to phone the 'credit card center', which 'gave permission' for the clerk to complete the transaction 'off-line'.

Except this clerk remembered hearing of a similar scheme. She contacted police while stalling the customer. The cops picked up three scammers in the store and arrested two more in the parking lot, one who'd pretended to be the credit card 'call center'.

The $1 Crime

Naples, FL.  Normally if you commit a crime, even petty theft, you'd be wise to make haste outta there. But a Collier County man, somewhat inebriated, helped himself to free drink at a McDonald's soda machine. Employees called him on it, but instead of leaving when asked, he stuck around giving police time to arrive and arrest him. Word has it he's been arrested a second time. Still, he's not as crazy as the men who tried to steal an entire coke machine.

The $1,000,000,000 Crime

Fort Myers, FL.  Florida has long been notorious for its scammers, but a Lee County woman took matters to new depths. She claimed to have a billion dollar inheritance arriving any day now… she just needed a little help. Hey, I vote for sending her to Nigeria.

Time on His Hands

Panama City, FL.  Cops arrested two men in possession of a stolen shopping cart and what police believed was stolen camping equipment. While in police custody, one of the men stole a clock off the wall and tried to hide it in his back pack. I'll bet he'll be serving time.

Capital T Right Here in River City

Weston, FL.  Town fathers, sickened by all the rampant crime of soda-stealing and doughnut dipping figured out the solution of crime: They banned skating rinks, dinner-dance clubs, and just plain fun. They go a long way to proving Puritanism is alive and well in America, unlike the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser who sends porn to his Director of HR. But hey, this is the state where a Christian pirate radio station once interrupted air traffic control towers trying to blast music into Havana.

In Your Face

Miami, FL.  Some crimes are almost too awful to contemplate. It was bad enough when a high-school cross-country runner was partially blinded by an egg thrown by teens from a car at 50mph, leaving him with a fractured eye socket, a concussion, and fragments that punctured his pupil. But, our own mad Hannibal Lector wannabe took matters farther. A Miami Herald camera captured an 18-minute video of a naked Rudy Eugene who attacked Ronald Poppo, chewing off the victim's face until police arrived and shot the perpetrator. Before the week was out, HistoryMiami museum's Mystery, Mayhem, and Vice announced they're including this Zombie Attack venue in their crime tour.

Baltimore, Md.  Lest we conclude Florida is unique in cannibal attacks, a Maryland Morgan State University student apparently murdered his roommate and dined on his brain and heart.

Murderous Porn Queen

New Port Richey, FL. 
And finally, tattoo parlor owner Dennis "Scooter" Abrahamsen hired porn actress Amanda Kaye Logue for a sex party. Unfortunately Logue, described as "an evil being" who "planned and schemed" texted her boyfriend, Jason Andrews, she wanted to have sex with Andrews "after we kill" their victim in their premeditated scheme. The court sentenced Andrews to life and gave a tearful Miss Logue a reduced sentence of forty years. With luck, she'll serve every day of it.

A Nod to Josh

Yoshinori Todo might shy away from being labelled an 'expert', but he's the closest thing I know to an Agatha Christie authority. With this in mind, ABA sent the following to share with Josh.

Greenway House, Devon Coast, UK  Mathew Prichard, "the only child of the only child of the prolific author known as the queen of crime" talks about his famous grandmother while revealing letters from her ten month world travel with her first husband, Archie Christie. Read on!


  1. Yoshinori Todo03 June, 2012 04:43

    You can't make the stuff up, Leigh! Idiot stupid criminals are always fun (if they are brought to justice later on, that is), but some of these stories are straight out of a Stephen King story . . . and, now that I think about it, maybe that's why King owns a second home in Florida! LOL

    Thanks a lot for the AC article, ABA and Leigh. I really enjoyed it, and I didn't know about the book "Grand Tour." I'm gonna have to order that.

  2. You're welcome, Yoshinori.

    I didn't know Stephen King spends part of his time in Florida! Be afraid, be very afraid.

  3. Herschel Cozine03 June, 2012 13:57

    Here in Calif. the crazies aren't always criminals, but just plain nuts. And their actions are often criminal if their intent isn't.
    Example (from today's paper): A mother was stopped by police because she was driving with her baby in a baby seat on the top of the car.

    And you thought Mitt Romney was bad.ape

  4. Herschel Cozine03 June, 2012 14:02

    I beg your pardon. This happened in Arizona. I should have known that it couldn't possibly have happened in Calif. My bad.

  5. The donut hole story reminds me of Terry Pratche6tt's report that the first thief in the history of Discworld stole fire from the gods. It turns out he couldn't pawn it because it was too hot, so he really got burned on the deal.

    By the way, Leigh, where exactly is Scottburgh, SA?

  6. Thanks to your entertaining articles on crime Leigh, I've begun searching my local newspaper for stories on the stupid things criminals do and some not so stupid.

    Last month, thieves stole an entire tin roof off a house while the owners were away. The price of metal has gone up and desperate thieves want to take advantage while they can.

  7. Louis, metal thieves irritate the hell out of me. The can do thousands and thousands of dollars in damage for a pitifully small payoff from unethical metal buyers. It's infuriating.

    Rob, I'm told Scottburgh is on the eastern littoral of the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


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