Showing posts with label Florida. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Florida. Show all posts

02 November 2014

Florida News, Crime and Politics Edition


by Leigh Lundin

Florida postcard
The Murder that Wasn’t

Orlando, FL   After rescuers pulled the body of Miss Hien Tran from her car, police investigators believed she’d been stabbed and her throat cut. It would turn out not to be a murder case at all. When the mail arrived a week later, the homicide investigation turned into a different case altogether.

The mail came from Honda, the manufacturer of her car and it announced the Japanese maker of the airbags, Takata, was making a recall because of bodily injuries. That may come as some small comfort to her family.

Oddly, the recall isn’t universal, but based on geography. The hypothesis is that the airbags may be affected by heat and humidity. That’s a relief because Northerners, aka snowbirds, never drive their Toyotas and Hondas to Florida.

Old Flame

Clearwater, FL   In the heat of alcohol-fueled passion, the light of his life set Carlos Ortiz on fire… literally. Using nail polish remover and a lighter, the saucy but incensed woman lit a fire under her smokin’ hot man in a case of spaghetti scorned.

Too Hunky to Resist

Deltona, FL   The fat hit the fire when a very naked quarter-tonner fan of quarter-pounders found himself under arrest after his girlfriend called police to report he was drunk and abusive. The 500-pound man was too big to fit into a police car. Instead, he sat on the ground and refused to move. Police are no dummies. They somehow wrestled him into a transport van. No word if a forklift was required.

Pam Bondi, Attorney General
Pam Bondi, Attorney General
The Irony Maiden

Tallahassee, FL   No matter which side of the same-sex marriage debate you’re on, you’ve got to find this headline head-spinningly paradoxical:


See, our governor, legislature, and pin-up Attorney General Pam Bondi strongly oppose gay marriage. But… they even more vociferously oppose gay divorce. Not good for family values, see.

I get it, but it makes my head hurt. Oh, by the way, Pam Bondi is the politician who postponed a scheduled execution so she could hit the campaign trail, putting duty second or third or fourth. This could seriously jeopardize Florida's claim as The Execution State.

The Largest Medicare/Medicaid Fraud in History

Tallahassee, FL   Typically when people claim this politician or that is a crook, they mean it more or less figuratively. In the case of our Florida governor Rick Scott, it’s literally fact, as noted by the FBI and attested to by Rudy Giuliani and reported by (gasp!) Fox News. Why this election is neck and neck or that Scott won election the first time beggars belief, but after the $1.7-billion fine for Medicare and Medicaid fraud (he's only opposed to heath care if he can't profit from it), Rick Scott needed a job and had personal millions left over to buy himself a governorship with Tea Party support that steamrolled over Florida's GOP. And he may do it again.

If at first you don’t secede…

Eve Fisher or David Edgerly Gates might provide pithy insights (no, I’m not lisping), but I find it amazing those who brag the loudest about their fulminating love of America are the same folks who want to break up the Union when they don't get their way. (See Eve’s recent articles on revolutions.) Here in Florida, we have two proposals.

Pensacola, FL   The first proposal is to annex Georgia and South Carolina, the heart of the Old South, and break away into a confederate nation called Reagan, as if the great communicator himself wouldn’t be horrified. Longitudinally, at least, they couldn’t get much farther to the right.

Miami, FL   The other proposal is to split Florida into two states, diagonally (sort of). The impetus comes from the inattentiveness and failure of Tallahassee (read: governor and legislature) to take global warming seriously. The City of South Miami has set forth a resolution that before Miami and the Keys sink beneath the waves, they take their own measures and let Tallahassee do what it will– or won’t. I live a few hundred metres from the new state line, which could make things interesting.



As usual, suspects and accused are deemed innocent until proven guilty.

22 June 2014

There was a Crooked Village


Little Stomping

Picture a village whose reason for being is a criminal enterprise. Imagine its entire raison d’être, its very existence hinges upon fleecing the public. Typical of such towns, as many as one in fifteen to twenty of residents– men, women, children and chickens– are part of its politico-judicial machinery: crooked cops, municipal machinators, and corrupt clerks.

And not ordinary crooked cops, but heavily armed with the latest in high-power assault weaponry and shiny pursuit vehicles. Police– poorly trained but still police– yet some may not have been certified officers at all. One fancied himself Rambo and stopped tourists with an AR-15 slung across his chest like that inbred couple in Open Carry Texas.

Village authorities arbitrarily moved town limit signs beyond the actual town’s boundaries in a bid to increase exposure to radar patrol… and revenues. When cops sat in lawn chairs aiming their radar guns and sipping from their open containers, they turned a blind eye to the citizens who dried their marijuana in the convenience store’s microwave. Oh, and those shiny police cars? The town often didn’t bother to insure them, this in a village where the police department wrote more tickets than Fort Lauderdale but still outspent its budget.

speed trap
First of three speed traps in
a 20 mile stretch of US 301.
AAA believed to sponsor sign.
Speed Trap

Set this supposition aside for the moment.

When I was a kid who couldn't yet drive, a short story left an impression on me. The plot centered around a man traveling to Florida who was caught in a small town speed trap. The police tossed him in jail.

Andy Griffith they weren't: they kept him imprisoned as the authorities systematically drained his assets like a spider sucks juices from a fly. Who do you turn to when the law is corrupt?

Florida sunshine has always attracted northerners during the icy winter months. In the first half of the 20th century, snowbirds filtered south through the highways and byways of America. Before the 1950s, towns and villages in the arteries of early tourism discovered they could make money fleecing tourists  passing through their area.
Lawtey, Hampton, Waldo
Lawtey, Hampton, Waldo speed traps
 
US 301
US 301: Jacksonville ↔ Gainesville
Atlantic at right, Georgia border at top


Some places in the Deep South considered northern travelers carpetbaggers and therefore fair game. Even so, town fathers and others found it easy to offset moral compunctions when considering the sheer profit involved. Could they help it if a Yankee ran a stop sign obscured by tree branches or failed to notice the speed limit abruptly changed from 55 to 25?

Where’s Waldo?

In the tiny towns of Lawtey, Hampton, and Waldo, that’s exactly what happens as the speed limits bounce every block or so from 55 to 30 to 45 to 25 and back again. If you have the time and patience, you might try locking your cruise control in at 25mph, hoping to beat the system. But they have an answer for that too– tickets for failing to maintain a safe speed.

In the early 1990s, it dawned on Hampton that nearby US 301 was an untapped piggy bank with the emphasis on piggy. The highway had been a source of resentment when it passed within a few hundred metres of the town limits, but devious minds found a way to make the road pay. The village annexed a strip of land 420 yards (384 metres) along the federal highway and began hiring candidates for police officers. Hampton’s speed trap was born.
(See maps below.)

In a state with a governor who committed the largest Medicare/Medicaid fraud in history, it takes a lot to outrage the Florida Legislature, but over time, Hampton succeeded. Their downfall started when they had the audacity to ticket State Representative Charles van Zant. Thanks to him, Florida lawmakers drew up plans to revoke the city's charter and revert the village to an unincorporated plat of county land.

Hampton with annex
Hampton with annex
Hampton with annex
Hampton
The events that set Hampton above (or below?) its speed trap neighbors, Lawtey and Waldo, is the corruption that took place off the highway. The village can’t account for monies in the high six-figures while at the same time failing to provide basic maintenance and repairs. Under one free-spending family that ‘managed’ the little city, it ran up large debts at local stores and on the municipal credit card.

While the town failed to properly bill residents for the water utility, the clerk collected cash– Sorry, no receipts. The water department can’t reconcile nearly half of the water actually distributed, telling auditors the records were “lost in a swamp.” And if residents complained about inefficiency and corruption, their water supply was cut off altogether, prompting Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith to refer to the situation as “Gestapo in Hampton.

As CNN suggested, the town became too corrupt even for Florida to stomach. State and federal auditors agreed and wheels started turning to unincorporate the town and strip it of its charter. The road to perdition seemed inevitable.

Road to Recovery

But not everyone saw it that way. Once corrupt authorities slunk back into the shadows, good citizens of Hampton stepped forward. A former clerk took over the reins. A new resident made plans to run for mayor, replacing the current mayor who resigned from his jail cell. Volunteers put together a plan to bring the town into compliance and moreover, they acted upon it. Among other things, the town plans to de-annex the strip of land encompassing US 301 although the ‘handle’ part of the town’s griddle shape will remain.

At present, efforts to revoke the town’s charter remain in abeyance and it looks like the town may have saved itself. We can only wish legislators had the political gumption to rid the state of speed traps altogether in places like Waldo, Lawtey, and Windemere.

Short Story Bonus

And, in case you were wondering, Jacksonville is probably not named after Shirley Jackson, despite her [in]famous short story about a small town. Read it on-line | download eBook PDF | download audiobook.

15 June 2014

Reptilian Florida


Albert and Pogo
Albert and Pogo
A couple of incidences have caused me to connect again with my first published story, ‘Swamped’.

For one thing, I caught an alligator. Over my dock spreads a marvelous shade tree. I enjoy meals there watching the animals and the birds– herons, anhingas (snake birds), ducks and egrets. An amazing delegation of white pelicans visited, first combing the lake in a straight line and then moving into the canal, tightly bunched, fishing as a coordinated group. Not long ago, a fish eagle, an osprey plunged into the water a few feet from me, carrying off a bream for lunch.

I flip scraps to the fish, especially the minnows, although bigger fish and turtles pull themselves up to the table. Recently, an uninvited visitor began showing up whenever I stepped out on the dock.

It was an alligator, a juvenile a little less than four feet long. A couple of people suggested my neighbor was feeding gators and others said teens flipped them food near the bridge. Someone obviously was feeding the beast because it not only showed no fear, it arrived with a dinner napkin.

Floridians are instructed never to feed gators because they come to associate people with food. An alligator fifteen inches long might seem cute, but when it’s fifteen feet and hungry, that’s another matter. Pets and people have been killed by gators that lost their instinctive fear of humans. Unchallenged backyard gators could cause bigger problems later.

The alligator continued to visit and aggressively shouldered aside turtles to get close to the pier. On Mother’s Day, I carried lunch out to the dock and there he lounged, serviette tucked under his chin ready to celebrate.

East meets West

Setting down my tray, I picked up a rope. I lassoed the guy and pulled him out of the water despite unpleasant protests and naughty words about my ancestry.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of handling alligators, one has to be careful of both ends– the powerful jaws are only half the story. The tail is armored muscle, part whip, part club. In or out of the water, a twist of the tail can roll a gator faster than a person can move. The claws can be nasty too, so one has to act with certainty.

A guy who should have known better.

With the help of the lasso, I grabbed him behind the shoulders, letting him thrash his tail until he tired. Opening a large trash can, I lowered Fuzzy inside. I poured in a couple of litres of water so he wouldn’t dehydrate and phoned Wildlife Services.

Albert
Pausing for a moment, readers of the Dell Magazine Forum may remember my saga with my pet reptile, Albert. When I was a teen, I brought home an alligator and it lived in our living room for twenty-five years. Named after a character in Walt Kelly's Pogo comic strip, he was a good pet and loved my dad. Albert proved particularly beneficial keeping salesmen away from the door. Over the years, he appeared in ads and our high school play. I hasten to add this was up north and not in Florida.
Actually, I called Animal Control first, the cat and dog people. They said, “You got a what? Really? On purpose? What’s it’s name?”

“Fuzzy,” I said. Apparently their forms have a slot that require a pet’s name.

“Really? How big is he?” she said. “Does he bite? We don’t handle alligators. You’ve got to call Wildlife Services.”

So I phoned Wildlife Services. To my surprise, they sent an earnest, very competent officer on Mother’s Day to pick up Fuzzy. He taped Fuzzy’s mouth shut, which muffled the cursing. He seated Fuzzy in the back of his truck. I like to think Fuzzy is basking in the sun in a secluded marsh with lots of girlie gators to flirt with.

And then… and then about a week later, TWO of Fuzzy’s siblings showed up for breakfast. I’d like to say they wore fedoras and shoulder holsters, but they were about the same size as Fuzzy, a little over a metre long. I spotted a five-footer cruising the middle of the canal although it ignored the local hospitality. He could have been smoking a ‘see-gar’ like Pogo’s Albert. I’m certain I’m in an alligator reality show.

Other Reptiles

If you think Fuzzy might have been a scary creature…

Transcript
Judge: If I had a rock, I would throw it at you right now. Stop pissing me off! Just sit down! I’ll take care of it. I don’t need your help. Sit… down!
P.D. : I’m the public defender, I have the right to be here and I have a right to stand and represent my clients.
Judge: Sit down. If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass.
P.D. : Let’s go right now.[In corridor, judge sucker-punches PD; scuffle]
Judge: You wanna ƒ with me? Do ya?
When I wrote the story ‘Swamped’, I worried readers might not think the mad judge was realistic. He was based on an actual Orange County judge whose bizarre behavior made the news. The incidences of citing people in a diner for contempt and ordering a cop who stopped the judge for DUI to appear before him in court truly happened. Throughout, the powers that be seemed powerless to stop him.

Although that situation proved weirder than most, other judges have slipped the rails including one who harangued jurors and threatened them with jail. Often other judges will set matters right after the fact, but it shouldn’t have to be that way. With a state as punitive as Florida, who wants to take chances?

Now another central Florida judge has lost it, swearing at and slugging a lawyer. I hear some of you applauding the judge for pummeling the lawyer, doing what most of us want to do at one time or another, but remember virtually all judges are lawyers. Anyone other than a judge would be arrested for punching and verbally abusing any citizen. But in Florida, at least, judges act as if they're immune from such mundane concerns, merely cajoled to seek treatment for 'anger management'. Ironically, the defendant was in court for assault charges.

I doubt the applause in the courtroom will get defendants very far.

A judge who should have known better.

Reporting from Florida…

Pogo and Albert

12 January 2014

Florida News– Officialdum


Florida postcard
Not Just California

Last month, I wrote about a California kid who, after killing four people in a drunk driving accident, was deemed too rich for prison. A reader brought to my attention that something very similar happened not so long ago here in Florida.

Jewelry scion Ryan LeVin killed two British visitors with his Porsche 911, then fled the scene and later attempted to blame a friend for the deaths. Apparently, LeVin paid off the widows and, instead of a thirty-year term, a judge sentenced him to two years home confinement in his parents’ ocean-side homes. (That’s homes, plural.) As The Pulp reported at the time, "He got grounded."

Get-Out-of-Jail Card

You may have read about convicted murderers Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins who used law library-forged release papers to walk out of prison. To further the deception, they actually registered as ex-felons at the Orange County Jail.

This was not the first time it's happened in Florida. In fact, the mastermind behind the escape, Nydeed Nashaddai, engineered his own short-lived escape five years earlier.

Icy Day in Hell / Hellish Day in ICE

With multiple airports and seaports, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) expend a lot of resources in Florida. Unfortunately, some agents are open for business.

Pay-Your-Own

I nearly missed a re-election footnote and plan to write more about this later. One out of every 14,600 citizens of Duval County is on death row, the highest of any county in America. Like other counties around the nation with staggering death penalty prosecutions, this court district also has high incidence of prosecutorial misconduct.

You may not have heard that Florida elects public defenders, yet Matt Shirk ran for (and won) re-election with three planks in his platforms: (a) pledging not to take a confrontational stance with law enforcement, (b) cutting public funding for the defender’s office in a district in a state with one of the highest number of capital cases, and (c) billing defendants who are acquitted for legal services. In other words, the state prosecutes an innocent person and then sends that person a bill if they’re not guilty. And if a defense attorney isn’t supposed to challenge authorities, who is?

But Matthew Shirk did one thing more. One of his first acts in office was to fire attorneys who’d exposed public corruption. I might express dismay, but it’s a bit overshadowed by our dear governor.

From the Governor’s Office


It’s ironic the man who committed the largest Medicare/Medicaid fraud in history worries about welfare fraud. No one wants to give hand-outs to drug addicts, but the Florida governor and legislature decided it would be a fine idea to skip probable cause and make pay-in-advance drug-testing mandatory for welfare recipients. Politicians intimated they would weed out at least 20% and possibly more than 50% of recipients. If you’re indigent, you might not have a spare $25-45 to pay for the test, even though the governor promised to reimburse those found drug free, which turned out to be a much greater amount than insinuated.

When opponents weren’t able to defeat the bill, they moved to make drug-testing of candidates for state office mandatory. Politicians and drugs? Oddly enough, lawmakers and the governor decided testing politicians was not a fine idea. One legislator said requiring him to pee in a cup like everyone else would violate his constitutional rights.

The much ballyhooed double digits figure of drug-infested welfare queens turned out to be less than 2%, far below the average population (8.9%) and 18-to-25-year-olds (21.5%).. A U.S. District Court has now ruled the law unconstitutional. Naturally, the governor will waste more money in appeals.

13 October 2013

Florida News: Rich in Irony


by Leigh Lundin

I haven't been writing about Florida in recent months, not because weird stuff stopped happening here, but because the news had grown morbid and lost its humor. There's nothing funny about a grown man who ran over a young girl who'd refused him or the poor Tampa girl bullied into suicide.

But remember, this is the home of irony, where our governor, Rick Scott, who originally opposed Obamacare, still refuses to allow Affordable Care 'Navigators' into the state. The irony? Rick Scott engineered the largest Medicare/Medicaid fraud in our nation's history. His fines alone were $1.7-BILLION. But with the billions left over, he purchased a governorship, always for sale in Florida.

Following are a few tidbits from the Sunshine State.

Attack of the Giant Snails

For centuries, ships have brought invasive– and terribly destructive– foreign species to Florida. I personally feud with fire ants, vicious Formicidae that don't simply bite, they use acid to burn holes through the skin and kill a human when attacking en force.

Some of the most destructive plants and animals have come from hobbyists' aquariums– hydrilla, walking catfish, Asian carp, and now, straight out of 1950s scary movies… voracious snails the size of a large man's fist. Miami-Dade decided it was time to call in the dogs.

Bang-Bang, You're Suspended

The very funny Irish comedian, Dave Allen, had his index finger missing since childhood. When he was a child and played cops and robbers with his mates, chasing each other and shouting "Bang, bang!" Some of the boys challenged his stubby index finger, telling him he couldn't shoot with that. "Sure, I can," he said. "Ever hear of a snub-nose .38?"

Now comes the story of an eight-year-old Harmony boy who was playing bang-bang-shoot-em-up with his fully-loaded pretend finger pistol in this great state with the deadly Shoot First / Stand Your Ground proudly on its books.

His Osceola County school suspended him for playing bang-bang with his brother and friends, but threatening no one. As his mother pointed out, he was actually empty-handed.

Bang-bang, You're Arrested

As discussed in this column, Florida has an insane collection of gun laws ranging from the infamous Shoot First / Stand Your Ground to mandatory sentencing. More than one critic have observed that the laws were written by whites for whites and seldom work in favor of black folks.

Take the admittedly murky case of a Jacksonville mother of three, Marissa Alexander, who fired a warning shot to keep clear of her ex-husband. If she'd killed him, she might have defended herself with the Shoot First / Stand Your Ground law, at least if she'd been white. But since she didn't kill him, the state's mandatory sentencing kicked in, subjecting her to a twenty-year prison term, which even non-supporters feel is excessive.

Now, an appeals court has sent the case back for a retrial on a technicality. Let's hope a jury finds a way to make this right. And just in case you think Florida has left its racist roots behind with all the Northerners who've immigrated, let me remind you Florida still honors the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Civil War criminal, brilliant cavalryman and possibly racially rehabilitated Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Sing-Sing-Singultus

Remember Jennifer Mee, the Florida teenager who appeared on talk shows because she couldn't stop hiccupping? She hit a little hiccup of her own.  She's been sentenced to life imprisonment for masterminding a robbery and murder

iOpening: What the…?

Some people will do anything to get the latest Apple gadget. In this case, a woman walked into the Boca Raton Apple store with a strap-on device… nobody knows quite what it was. My guess it probably violated Apple's warranty, not to mention a possible law or two.

In the meantime, welcome to Florida, folks. No irony deficiency here.

14 July 2013

Florida News


Illegal Blogging

Be advised: In posting this article, I am violating one of Florida’s most recent laws. Signed by our illustrious Medicare governor, it bans internet cafés… and computers and tablets and smart phones. Yep, I’m a criminal. This comes two years after Florida banned sex. I can’t get away from my criminal past.

Florida bleeding
George Zimmerman Trial

Two stories dominate the news here in central Florida. First is the George Zimmerman trial which went to the jury Friday.

I happen to know one of the defense attorneys, Don West, his wife and family, although I haven’t seen him in some years. He’s a decent man and it was from him I learned that even male criminals have a back story, that most were dysfunctionally forged in childhood, some by events so terrible most of us cannot imagine.

After doing my small part to bring the Sanford shooting to the attention of readers, I haven’t written about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman in quite some time. Opinions appear to be as polarized as the prosecution and defense: Some see Zimmerman as a hero defending his neighborhood from marauding criminals ‘who always get away’ and that he merely defended himself against a violent teen who ambushed him. Using eMail blasts and doctored photos, the neo-nazi StormFront.org has partially succeeded in polluting opinions, so that casual followers might imagine Trayvon was a gang-tattooed, gold-toothed, junkie with a criminal record.

As brought out in testimony, yes, he wore two tattoos: One honoring his grandmother and the other a depiction of praying hands.

The state’s case is simpler: An innocent teen boy, minding his own business, was stalked and then waylaid by a Neighborhood Watch ward captain and wannabe cop operating outside his purview.

I suspect the truth is that George Zimmerman isn’t a vicious person and I don't conclusively intuit he’s racist. Instead, Florida’s Shoot First / Stand Your Ground law disfavors the black community and defies common sense, but in Florida, that’s no reason to change a bad law.

The news media here referred to the ‘racially charged’ testimony of Trayvon’s friend, Rachel Jeantel, sneered at by Sean Hannity. To my mind, the scene wasn’t so much racially charged as it was sadly funny, exposing the gap between a 60-something white man and a teenage black girl. A baffled Don West simply couldn’t fathom what the girl was saying. I kept thinking of the scene in Airplane when Barbara Billingsley pops up, “Oh stewardess, I speak jive.

The prosecution handed the defense several gifts, including most of their witnesses exploited by Mark O’Mara and Don West. I couldn’t believe prosecutors put Zimmerman’s best friend, Mark Osterman, on the stand, giving him a platform to present Zimmerman’s claims virtually unchallenged. WFTV’s local legal analyst, former criminal attorney Bill Sheaffer, scathingly criticized the state’s ongoing gaffes, mostly for putting forward Zimmerman’s testimony making it unnecessary and even risky for him to testify.

It does appear Trayvon took Zimmerman to ground and straddled him. After all, Zimmerman was an armed guy following Martin in the dark (against the instructions of the police 911 operator). The defense made an issue whether the pistol was pressed against Trayvon’s chest or not, whereas I’m not certain that’s critical. Indeed, the key to the defense was to portray Trayvon as the aggressor and Zimmerman the victim.

Other problems with the gun disturb me. The defense echoes Zimmerman’s contention that Trayvon grabbed Zimmerman’s weapon and yet Zimmerman somehow wrested it from Trayvon’s grasp despite the boy’s purported overwhelming strength. The big problem: How would Trayvon know about a concealed pistol in a waistband holster under George’s rain jacket in an unlit area on a rainy night? If, as Zimmerman claims, Martin managed to get him on the ground and pummeled him, I can’t imagine the boy knew Zimmerman had a gun. Either Zimmerman had already announced or even pulled out his pistol whereupon Trayvon defended himself, or Zimmerman didn’t pull out his Glock until he was already under Martin, which implies Trayvon couldn’t have known he had a pistol. To me, that’s the biggest hole obscured in the defense’s case. The state asks another question: If Trayvon straddled a supine Zimmerman and the gun was in the waistband holster as Zimmerman claims, wouldn’t Trayvon have had to climb up off the man to reach for the concealed pistol?

One other issue dismays me although it doesn’t affect the other facts of the case. Not for a second do I believe the comic book dialogue Zimmerman attributes to Trayvon: “Tonight you die, MF.” And later, after Zimmerman fired, he claims Martin stood and gasped, “You got me!” Beyond the bad B-movie lines, the medical examiner testified that after the Martin boy was shot through the lung, drowning in his own blood, he wouldn’t have been able to move, let alone stand or speak. To be clear, Mark O’Mara managed to slightly dislodge the ME’s certainty, but the overall gist remained– the shock would have prevented Trayvon from moving.

Note: We haven’t been told why, but local channel 6’s WKMG has been banned from the courthouse amid Twitter speculation it may have something to do with their interview of Sanford’s ex-police chief who’s openly critical of the mayor and city manager. WKMG was the dominant all-Casey-Anthony all-the-time news station and had been a major news source following the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Note: The trial is over. Two hours before this article went to press, the jury announced their verdict: Not Guilty.

Shooting for Fun

We don’t know many details yet, but for weeks a number of random shootings of houses and cars have plagued Kissimmee and nearby Saint Cloud, which included at least one killing and possibly two. This week, Osceola sheriff arrested four youths: two 20-year-old males, a 17-year-old girl, and the primary shooter, a 15-year-old boy.

On 24 June, Lothar Schafer bought himself and his teen son a .45 calibre Hi-Point carbine. The following day, the shootings began when the quartet of friends rode around Osceola County from midnight to dawn, shooting at houses and cars. At six one morning, the 15-year-old decided to shoot a young man at a bus stop ‘for fun.’ The same boy also stands accused of stabbing a robbery victim in the throat.

Jorge Muriel, the anguished brother of one of the accused said, “I wish I didn't grow up when guns were so common. … If people didn't have guns this wouldn't have happened.” ‘People’ in this case were all less than 21.

Details how investigators zeroed in on the youths remain sparse. We do know the Osceola Sheriff’s Department called in the local Florida Metal Detecting Club which proved its, er, mettle by finding the shell from the bus stop shooting, which linked the murder to the other shootings.

Remember the chief prosecutor in the Casey Anthony trial? Jeff Ashton announced a few hours ago he’ll prosecute the shooters. Stay tuned, my friend.

12 July 2013

The Crazy Crawl


I’m busy today, so I’m stealing a page from Leigh’s book on Florida News, but crumpling it up my own way.


I’m sometimes rather disappointed by television news. Many of the stories are interesting – at least on network evening broadcasts – but, with the exception of the NewsHour on PBS, I find most stories seem to get a bit short-changed.

Few bits, however, are less informative than the “crawl” on the morning news broadcast of a local station here in The Valley of the Sun.

The “crawl” I’m talking about, of course, is that strip of text, which slides slowly by along the bottom of the screen, as an anchor or reporter covers the day’s stories. It doesn't often have much to do with the story being reported, but is instead, I believe, supposed to serve as a sort of televised headline, letting folks know what major stories have transpired since the last news broadcast.

Evidently the idea had its origin with the thought that some viewers might tune-in after a major story had already been covered, and the newscasters wanted to be sure all viewers got at least a clue about what happened.

At any rate, that’s how the crawl seemed to make its debut.

And, these days, I’m hard-pressed to find a televised news broadcast that doesn't include a crawl. Even sportscasts tend to have recent game scores sliding inexorably by along the bottom of the screen.

On that local station I mentioned earlier, however, the crawl is something else entirely.

What is it?

Well, I’m not sure. But, I think it might be some form of odd advertisement.

Either that, or maybe somebody at the station has a problem that needs immediate attention.

Items entered in the crawl, on this station, tend to be completely disassociated with any reality that I’m familiar with. Often barely complete sentences, they usually fail to provide important information, almost invariably leaving a reader to fill in the blanks. 

Here are just a few examples, gleaned over a recent period:

The dog was found in a car at a downtown Phoenix Circle K. 

THE dog?

This begs the question: “Which dog?”

Was it this dog, or that one?

And, I’m confused: What was going on that caused its being “found” to be important? Was the dog missing, or did he do something wrong? Were the police searching for this dog, because it had committed a crime? Assaulting a Post Office employee, perhaps?

Maybe s/he (we don’t know the gender) was a circus dog with special training; perhaps s/he was driving the car, but when police tried to pull him/her over s/he sped away, only to stop at a local Circle K, with tongue lolling. Is that what happened?

OR…

Perhaps there was no dog. Maybe a woman with an abrasive personality was found in a car at a local convenience store (that’s what a “Circle K” is, for those who don’t know), and the witness who relayed events to the reporter described the woman in unflattering terms, and the reporter misunderstood what the witness said, thus concluding that a dog had been in the car instead of a woman.

I don’t know. There was no story about ANY dog, that I saw, on that morning’s broadcast. On the other hand, I didn't see any stories about a woman being found in a car, either.

The family was living in a rented home, when it burned down according to Mesa Police. 

No, I can’t tell you anything about this family. There was no story on the broadcast about a home fire, or a family that had been burned out by one. Not even the Mesa Police showed up on the broadcast – even though the way the sentence was written, it would almost appear that the police have been implicated in arson. 

The car fire has been extinguished and the city says the intersection will be open at 10:00 am today. 

Thank god this one was posted on a different day, or I might have been led to believe that the family above was living in their car. I wonder what intersection was closed for awhile?

Tito said Thursday, baseball’s drug agreement could be undermined by leaks to the media about whether players are cooperating with an investigation by the commissioner. 

TITO said???

THE Tito? The one who used to rule Yugoslavia?

Or, is one of Michael Jackson’s brothers perhaps involved in baseball negotiations?

And, just which drugs are they all agreeing to take, here?

The man and a woman approached an apartment near 29th Avenue and Camelback road, drew a gun and demanded to talk to someone they believed was inside. 

At least this one gave me a good visual. I mean, whoever opened that apartment front door must have been wearing a mighty surprised face.

“The man and a woman … drew a gun…” Well, that must have been awkward. Did they both reach into the top of his pants (or inside her jacket) at the same time? And, which one is left-handed? (I would think that’s an important consideration when two people are drawing the same weapon.)

I can’t help wondering: Why is it “THE man”? I read that, and I get the idea I should know who this guy is. 

And, why is he with “A woman”? That makes it sound as if there’s a certain distance between the two. Maybe they had an argument over breakfast that morning. Or, maybe they just happened to approach the apartment at the same time. After all, it doesn't say, “The couple approached…”.

The latter is doubtful, of course, because: How could two people know to draw the same weapon at the same time, if they’d never previously met? Drawing a weapon together, it seems to me, connotes a fairly intimate relationship.

Conversely, perhaps the reporter was simply being chauvinistic. “THE man and A woman… yeah, that’s how it should read! Gotta keep those women in their place(s).” To wildly misquote Rudyard Kipling: “The man is THE MAN, a woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a SMOKE!”

The President of Chattanooga State Community College said he didn’t know Federal Wildlife agents would kill the geese they removed from the campus.

As long as the geese were removed from the campus of Chattanooga State Community College at the behest of the school president, I think this one almost gets the green light.

Why almost?

Well, certainly Chattanooga State has a very pretty campus – even including a river walk – but, I can’t help wondering why residents in the greater Phoenix-Mesa-Metro area of Arizona would be interested in the ignorance of a guy who heads-up a small school in Tennessee.

On the other hand, Chattanooga is a fun word to write -- so maybe that’s why it wound up in the crawl this morning.

And, the geese– approximately 100 of them– were actually removed from the college campus, last week, and subsequently put down because no alternate location could be found for them. I know because I googled it.

And, that’s what makes me think this whole thing may be nothing but a form of advertisement.

I strongly suspect my local news station is putting incomplete and puzzling stories on their morning crawl in an attempt to make me google the story – hopefully including their station identifier in the info I type into google – as a way to drive more readership into their website.

If so, the plan is brilliant in its conception, and confusing to the end!
(Note: No dogs, bow-tied men, or books were harmed in the writing of this blog post.  And, I'm not the one who did-in the geese.)

See you in two weeks,
Dixon

12 March 2013

Gone South (Again) -- Play Ball!


Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida --  Spring Training Home to the Washington Nationals
by Dale C. Andrews

    One of the things about posting articles for over one and a half years on SleuthSayers is that my annual habits begin to reveal themselves.  Nowhere is this more evident than during the winter months.  As I have written before, my wife and I, as we approached retirement, most looked forward to escaping the east coast during the months of January and February.  We are blessed with the fact that our elder adult son lives with us and his slightly younger brother lives close by, so there is no problem each winter with leaving the cats and the house behind along with the weather. 

    This year, like last year, we escaped for ten days in the Caribbean in January, and were under sail on the Island Windjammer ship Sagitta when my birthday rolled around.  Then we were back in the District of Columbia or two weeks before leaving for the Gulf Shores of Alabama, where we encamped for 5 weeks in a condo overlooking the beach and the Gulf.  We have spent most of a short twelve days back in the D.C, survived a final winter snow false alarm, and are now poised, once again, on the brink of our final winter trip – to watch the Washington Nationals in Spring Training in Viera, Florida.
Our Smart Car exits the Autotrain (to general laughter)

    As great as the prior winter escapes were, in many ways this one is my favorite.  Instead of driving our larger “road car” south, as we did when we travelled to and from the Gulf Shore, on this trip we drive our convertible two-seater Smart car the 20 miles to Lorton, Virginia, and then board the Autotrain for an overnight trip to Sanford, Florida, about 50 miles from the cottage we rent across the street from the beach at Cocoa Beach, Florida.  We will be there for one week, then catch a few days in Orlando re-acquainting ourselves with “the Mouse,” and head back to D.C. at the end of March, hoping to have finessed our way through winter once again.

Our rental cottage at Cocoa Beach
    But while the Autotrain and Cocoa Beach are terrific, what I truly love about this trip is its underlying theme:  the return of baseball, and the boys of summer.  It is difficult to understand what it is like to be a Washington, D.C. baseball fan without having lived through the last 40 years here.  Those years included a 33 year stretch without any baseball at all.  Remember that we lost the Senators twice:  First to Minneapolis, then to Texas.  In the intervening years there were repeated attempts to lure the nation’s pastime back to D.C. – one year it became so liklely that the San Diego Padres would relocate here that baseball cards were issued for that team, re-named the Nationals – but all of the previous attempts ultimately failed, generally as a result of a veto by Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, who persisted for decades in the smug belief that if he held us captive long enough Washington D.C. fans would embrace the Orioles as their own.  Sorry.  We didn’t.  There are some things that even hostages will not do.   

    All of this is background to explain how our household, and much of Washington, has embraced the return of baseball to the Nation’s capitol.  As Laura Ingalls Wilder observed, joy is always best when it follows sorrow.  Our thirst was quenched following a very long drought. 

    Last year in an analogous post I recounted some recommended readings that embrace the national pastime and that are great preparation, read in early spring, for what is to come with the boys of summer.  This year I thought I would add at least two more gems to the list, each by well-known authors who also apparently can’t get baseball out of their minds this time of year. 

    First up, Stephen King.  King is a long-time victim of baseball fever.  His 2004 non-fiction volume Faithful is based on his correspondence with fellow novelist and co-author Stewart O’Nan, both rabid Red Sox fans, throughout the course of the 2004 season and ending with Boston’s trip to the world series.  King has also penned two short works inspired by baseball, 2010’s Blockade Billy, about a mythical 1957 catcher who, for reasons best told by King, has been erased completely from baseball history, and 2012’s A Face in the Crowd, also co-written with O’Nan, a long short story recounting what happens to a baseball fan who begins to see long-departed acquaintances from his past seated around him at the ballpark.  But while each of these works can serve to establish King’s baseball credentials, to my mind his finest baseball-related work is the 1999 novel The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon, the story of a girl lost in the woods who is counseled, in her imagination, by Gordon, the real-life Boston closer from the 1990s, and is ultimately inspired to “close” the novel as Gordon would have a game.  A great read for spring.

    Batting second, John Grisham.  Long before attending law school Grisham dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals and to this day he is a big supporter of little league teams in Mississippi and Virginia.  His non-legal 2001 quasi-autobiographical novel A Painted House features a narration punctuated by family gatherings around the radio to listen to Harry Caray’s play-by-play of St. Louis Cardinal games.  (Yep, that’s where Caray was, paired with Jack Buck, prior to his Chicago days.)  Even though baseball is only a supporting character in A Painted House, the novel is a fine spring read.  But Grisham truly excels with his 2012 novel Calico Joe, inspired by the real-life story of Ray Chapman, the only ball player ever killed by a pitch.  For a National’s fan like myself the novel proved prescient soon after it was released when, in the summer of 2012 rookie Bryce Harper, the team’s boy wonder, and the closest thing we have to Calico Joe, was beaned on purpose by Philly pitcher Cole Hamel for no reason except that Harper was new, young, eager and poised for greatness.  Like the pitcher antagonist in Calico Joe, Hamels self-servingly defended his action as nothing more than a lesson in “old school” baseball.  Former Phillies pitcher Curt Shilling (and, one would suspect, Grisham, as well) had a better word for it – “stupid.”  That lesson is learned in Calico Joe – another great read as we await opening day.

    Time to pack.  I am off to Florida.  Play ball!

(Next week acclaimed mystery writer Terence Faherty joins SleuthSayers, alternating Tuesdays with me.  Terry’s accomplishments – including authorship of both the Owen Keane and Scott Elliot series of mysteries and numerous awards—leave my own scant efforts in a pale cloud of literary dust.  But at least we have this:  Terry and I both love a good pastiche, as anyone who has read Terry's recent  short story A Scandal in Bohemia (EQMM, February 2013) knows full well.  And this we also share:  an understanding that the rules of constrained writing, once mastered, can also be bent.  This extends not just to plot, such as in Terry's re-imagined telling of Conan Doyle’s Bohemian Scandal, but to writing styles as well.  I noted in my last blog Churchill’s admonition that ending a sentence in a preposition was something “up with which he would not put.”  And here is Holmes dismissing the sanctity of the rule in Terry’s Bohemian pastiche: 
The wording of your note is out of character with a true free spirit.  “A matter up with which he can no longer put,” indeed.  Only someone sitting on a particularly rigid stick would go to such lengths to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.”
I am certain we are all looking forward to welcoming Terry to the SleuthSayers ranks!)

18 November 2012

Florida News


Florida postcardFlorida madness continues, not merely in the political arena. It's not the heat, it's the humidity. Read on, MacDuff.



Humans: 352 — Roaches: 1


Man wins roach-eating contest. The rest of the news: won contest, lost life. They said he was the life of the party; and then he wasn't.

Usually kids just carry the ring.

Two weeks before her marriage, 32-year old Destiny Witte had it all… dream wedding planned, three wonderful children, handsome fiancé, sparkling engagement ring, sex with a 14-year-old boy in a public toilet… Oops. (Psst, guys. She's available again.)

Just pay the bill, man!

Orlando police arrested Jeremie Calo not for having sex on a restaurant table but refusing to pay the bill. Meanwhile, off-duty Orlando police drove 115mph to arrive at the scene.

Inspector Javert's kin is alive and well in Sarasota

Sergeant Anthony Frangioni arrested a homeless man for theft of services when the out-of-work man charged his cell phone in a public park. The electrical socket is normally used by picnickers and maintenance. Electricity used? 1¢. Bail? $500. Arresting a homeless man in need? Priceless.

Happens in snowstorms, too.

Dumb and Dumber, two dim-witted teen burglars, got lost, circled back to scene of the crime.

Not cool, man. Didn't you watch Jurassic Park III?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested Eric Prokopi, "commercial paleontologist", for smuggling dinosaurs into the US.

Mother-in-Law loses gambit, wins title.

Murderous MiL is back in the news again, winning the web site mom.me's Mother-in-Law from Hell award, although her entire family plotted the kill. These four linked videos indicate if her son-in-law had accepted her invitation to step inside her parlor, he probably wouldn't be alive.

With a twin, you're never alone.

[We’ve been asked by one of the parties to remove her name. Although we quoted police sources, we remind readers that parties are considered innocent until proven otherwise and it is not the intent of SleuthSayers to cause needless distress. For more information, see take-down request.]

Florida Governor Scott's hot phone sex line

You would think a man who committed the largest Medicare/Medicaid fraud in history would know the difference between meningitis and men in tight places, but not so. Maybe that's where Benjamin Ashauer went wrong. At least he wasn't like the Seattle perv who told police to wait.

Citizens Grand Jury

In Florida, politics is an ugly blood sport. Larry 'Ku Klux' Klayman (that's spelled with a 'y' and not an 'n' and that's an opinion, not his sobriquet) claims to be a former Justice Department prosecutor. He hit the internet with his "citizens grand jury" (a three-way oxymoron), a "true bill", which seeks to indict President Obama in the alternate universe of Ocala, Florida for bat-shit loony stuff like:
  • treason against the US, Israel, and Arizona
  • treason: nurturing the Arab Spring
  • treason: sending foreign aid to Hamas
  • revealing SEAL Team 6 got bin Laden
  • financing the so-called Ground Zero mosque
  • being financed by Iran's Revolutionary Guard
  • falsifying his birth certificate and place of birth
  • treason: a "black Muslim-in-chief" in "devilish whoredom"
He doesn't much like Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts either.

But hey, this is Florida. Come for the sunshine, stay for the madness.

19 August 2012

Florida News– Mermaids, Murder, and Mayhem


by Leigh Lundin

mermaids in Orlando
Mermaids in Orlando © Orlando Sentinel

On the positive side, Orlando's hosting the Mer-Palooza Mermaid Convention. No matter how I try to prevent it or at least ignore it, Florida madness abounds, sometimes funny, often not. So, grab your coffee and let's check the headlines.

No Good Deed…

Hallandale Beach, FL.  You may have heard about the heroic lifeguard, Tomas Lopez, who saved a life and lost his job. His Orlando employer, Jeff Ellis and Associates, fired him for saving a man outside the area he was paid to oversee. When six fellow guards said they'd do the same thing, Ellis fired them too. After bad publicity, Ellis tentatively offered Lopez his minimum wage job back, which he declined.

You can save a life, but you can't save a company without soul.

Which Way the Wind Blows

Miami, FL  In what's called 'mob seduction', an Eastern European criminal ring imported women from former Soviet Bloc countries, making them collude in fleecing men at the notorious Club Tangia. Victims included a weatherman, taken to the tune of $43,712.25.

The memory forecast is dull to partly cloudy.

Amateur Detective (for Real)

Summerfield, FL  I wish I could say this is a light-hearted story– it isn't– but it's one of possible vindication. In 2008, Rodney Stanger murdered his long-time girlfriend, Chrystal Morrison. Her sister, Bonnie Kiernan, finally arrived a few months ago to clean out her sister's things… and believes she uncovered evidence Stanger kidnapped and killed a teen lifeguard twelve years earlier. Now the pros have arrived and among other things, opened a safety deposit box Ms Kiernan uncovered.

Losing a family member is a horrid event, but I hope Bonnie's investigative work helps others.

Shoot First / Stand Your Ground Law

Sanford, FL  SleuthSayers was one of the first sites to report on the Trayvon Martin case, in particular detailing Florida's senseless Stand Your Ground law. George Zimmerman's attorney will appear at a preliminary hearing, seeking to have charges dismissed, arguing Florida law is clearly on their side. After allegedly lying about finances, Zimmerman and his lawyer purportedly plowed through support and defense funds, some apparently raised via neo-Nazi groups, and is now asking the public to pay for his defense.

To recap, the Shoot First / Stand Your Ground law, reviled by police and prosecutors, supplants the castle doctrine, which meant you have a right to defend your home and your person. But the new law sets a far lower, more aggressive standard, which results in approximately a hundred acquittals and dismissals a year, triple what it was. This law allows people to get away with murder by claiming (like Zimmerman) they were afraid.

We mentioned previous incidents including an unprosecuted case of a double homicide of two unarmed men. Since then, Floridians continue happily shooting one another. Read on.
Sanford, FL  A woman in Sanford– the town where Trayvon was shot– invoked the Stand Your Ground law when she killed her husband. She eventually admitted she self-inflicted a knife wound. Her hearing is being conducted by the same judge assigned to the George Zimmerman case.

Cape Coral, FL  A man reportedly shot an unarmed door-to-door salesman, once in the torso and then in the back of the head. Invoking the Stand Your Ground law, he told officers, "I was in fear."

Port St. Joe, FL  When a Florida Panhandle man knocked on the door of another to complain about racial epithets, the resident shot the complainant in the face, then sat down to dinner. He seemed surprised by all the fuss.

Bithlo, FL  Robert Pascale and Michael Garay weren't able to invoke the new law due to a couple of technicalities. First, they claimed their fear was for neighborhood children. Second, they killed the wrong man, thinking he was a sex offender. Pascale doesn't feel remorseful, apparently believing God is on his side.

Pulling Deadly Strings

Largo, FL  The owner of a children's entertainment business called Puppets Plus was arrested, apparently hungry for children… literally. It may have been a close call, but crime students might remember Albert Fish who had a taste for children. It's been suggested Fish became the inspiration for Hannibal Lector.

Setting the Bar Code Low

Lauderhill, FL  A mother had a nice little eBay business that pulled in more than $30,000 a month. The only problem is that she's accused of effectively stealing the products from Target and WalMart by switching UPC labels.

And you thought those greeters weren't paying attention.

Tit for Tat

Fort McCoy, FL  Police tried to stop a speeding Ford pickup that accelerated, precipitating a high-speed chase. It turns out the speeder was a half-naked teaching assistant on the wedded side of married.

Despite an annoyed husband, boyfriend, and employer, she still managed to update her Facebook status saying it ain't so. (Oops, wedding anniversary next month)

The Internet Cloud

West Palm Beach, FL  And now, a peaceful wrap-up more suitable for a pleasant Sunday. Here's a 'fire rainbow' over Florida, not a true rainbow, but an iridescent cloud.

iridescent cloud
© 2012 Ken Rotberg, WPTV

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!