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News Quirks 

Published February 23, 2011 at 10:47 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Even though arson-for-hire suspect Ismael Ortiz, 24, wore latex gloves when he started a house fire in Titusville, Fla., police found his fingerprint, plus the finger that left it. While fleeing the scene, Ortiz “slammed his finger in the door,” Detective Jessica Edens said, “and cut the tip of his finger.” (Orlando Sentinel)

Police identified Cody Wilkins, 25, as their suspect in a house burglary in Silver Spring, Md., because he left his cellphone at the scene, charging in an electrical outlet. Police learned that Wilkins, who lives nearby, had lost power during a snowstorm, prompting him to charge his phone while looting the house. He had to flee abruptly, however, when the homeowner interrupted him. (The Washington Post)

Overseas Homeland Insecurity

U.S. service members and their families stationed at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa are accepting money from local companies to bring tourists onto the base, despite warnings that this activity is against the rules and poses a security threat. Companies such as American Pro and Friends Abroad International Cultural Exchange sell trips that offer American cultural experiences to students on mainland Japan, Kadena military officials said. The companies recruit mostly military spouses to host the visiting students for a day and sponsor tours of military facilities. “When sponsors sign somebody onto the installation without knowing their intentions or motivations, it puts the whole of Kadena at risk,” Air Force official Ed Gulick said. (Stars and Stripes)

Snow Daze

Police investigating a disturbance at a housing project in Norwalk, Conn., reported that Clara Nelson, 53, and her daughter, Cristalle Nelson, 31, had just finished digging out their car, when Sheryl Rogers, 35, and her 16-year-old son began shoveling and tossing snow where the Nelsons already cleared. As the two families argued, Cristalle Nelson hit Rogers over the head with her shovel. Rogers’ son tried to hit Cristalle but missed and struck Clara Nelson instead. Police charged Cristalle Nelson and the son with assault. (Stamford Advocate)

Authorities accused Leo J. Powers, 23, of making bombs at his former residence in Abington, Mass., and using them to clear snow so he wouldn’t have to shovel. Noting that Powers had been blowing up snowbanks for some time, Police Chief David Majenski said investigators who searched the home discovered a container filled with “military-grade ammunition and other stuff, including powders of some sort.” (Quincy’s Patriot Ledger)

Veteran alpine skier Roland Fleck, 78, was arrested for skiing uphill at Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. After informing Fleck that skiing uphill was against Wyoming law and repeatedly ordering him to “ski properly,” seven ski patrollers and two deputies spent 3.5 hours trying to stop Fleck before finally handcuffing him and tobogganing him off the slopes. (Jackson Hole News & Guide)

Leave Ill Enough Alone

When an unrecognizable woman became an Internet sensation after surveillance video at a shopping mall in Berks County, Pa., showed her falling into a fountain while texting, Cathy A. Cruz Marrero, 49, willingly identified herself to news reporters as the klutz. She also demanded an apology from mall security officers for releasing the video. Reporters recognized Marrero when she showed up days later in Berks County Court on an earlier criminal charge for unauthorized credit-card use. They checked court records and learned Marrero has multiple charges for retail theft and one for hit-and-run. After her rap sheet became public, Marrero insisted she only came forward in the first place to remind the public of the dangers of texting while walking. (Reading Eagle)

Odd Endings

British tree surgeon Adam Baldock, 27, died while trimming a tree that turned on him in Mitcham, Surrey. “It seems he was trying to cut a branch,” a police official said, “and it pushed the chain saw back at him.” The industrial saw cut into his neck and shoulder. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Provocative Proposals

Utah Rep. Carl Wimmer introduced a bill to designate a semiautomatic pistol as the state’s official gun, joining the state’s official cooking pot and 23 other state symbols. Wimmer told the House Political Subdivisions Committee that the Browning M1911 would honor its inventor, Utah native John Browning. He explained he chose the M1911 instead of another Browning gun because it’s widely used by the military, police officers and private citizens and “has defended American values and the traditions of this country for 100 years.” (Associated Press)

A cash-strapped British council proposed heating a community swimming pool by using furnaces at a nearby crematorium. Instead of heat from the incinerators at the Borough of Redditch Cemeteries & Crematorium going up the chimney, Carole Gandy, head of the Redditch Borough Council, declared that the measure “will save the authority money and, in the long term, save energy, which is what we’re all being told we should do.” (Britain’s Telegraph)

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet was the author of a syndicated column called "News Quirks," which appeared weekly in Seven Days.


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