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News Quirks 

Published February 11, 2009 at 7:15 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again When a man waving a knife and demanding money walked into a convenience store near Ormand Beach, Fla., the clerk greeted him with his own knife and stabbed him in the chest. Brandon Haught of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office told the Orlando Sentinel the startled robber ran for the door, stopping long enough to grab a bottle of suntan lotion and throw it at the clerk.

• A man wearing a motorcycle helmet walked into a supper club in Muskego, Wis., grabbed an employee by the arm and, according to witnesses, shouted, “Give me the money, or I will shoot you.” Chef Erik Minor responded by bopping the robber on the head with a large aluminum spoon. The helmet broke the spoon in two, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but the blow distracted the robber long enough for Minor to grab him, put him in a headlock, dislodge the helmet, and wrestle him to the floor. Police arrived and arrested Joey N. Geraci, 39.

• A masked man tried to rob a carwash in Portland, Ore., but he dropped his gun, which fell apart. Employee Chris Truax told KGW News that as soon as the gun broke, he “knew it wasn’t a real gun.” Truax opened the cash register anyway, but as the robber reached for the money, Truax grabbed a power washer and sprayed the robber in the face. The unidentified robber fled.

Buttheads of the Week Two college football coaches were hospitalized after they crashed through a hotel window at 4 a.m. and fell four stories to the sidewalk below while attending the American Football Coaches Association’s annual convention in Nashville, Tenn. Police said Scott Coy, 29, and Darren DeMeio, 24, were wrestling with each other at the time.


Blame the Name A man’s first name can predict his criminal tendencies, according to a study comparing crime statistics with a roster of more than 15,000 first names that the authors said reveals a distinct “name-crime link.” Reporting in the academic journal Social Science Quarterly, David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee of Pennsylvania’s Shippensburg University said the more unpopular or uncommon the name, the greater the chance the man will wind up in jail. Michael, for example, was the least likely name to be associated with crime, whereas Alec, Ernest, Ivan, Malcom and Tyrell were the most likely. “While the names are likely not the cause of crime, they are connected to factors that increase the tendency to commit crime,” Kalist said.

Chuck Shepherd, compiler of the syndicated column “News of the Weird,” has long chronicled the recurrence of the middle name “Wayne” among men arrested for murder. His latest list includes 224 with that middle name. “I suspect that aggressive-personality fathers during the 1950s and 1960s did in fact hopefully and disproportionately name their boys after that era’s icon of ruggedness, John Wayne,” Shepherd says on his website ( “Beyond that, I dare not venture.”


Uneasy Riders Citizens are skirting Nigeria’s new law requiring motorcycle taxi passengers to wear helmets by donning calabashes (dried shells of pumpkin-sized fruit), pots, pans and pieces of rubber tires tied to their heads with string. “We will not tolerate this,” Yusuf Garba, commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission in the town of Kano, told Reuters after authorities made 28 arrests in the first six days since the law’s enactment. “We gave them enough time to purchase helmets.”

The owners of the motorcycle taxis complain that the helmets cost too much ($5), and some passengers refuse to wear them because they fear they will catch skin diseases or fall victim to a black-magic spell. Newspapers quoted passengers as saying the helmets might be laced with magic spells so as to knock wearers unconscious and make them easier to rob.


Shop ’n’ Swap Walter U. Tessier brought a lobster to a supermarket in Amsterdam, N.Y., saying he wanted to return it because “it was bad,” Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies said. Store workers offered to let Tessier trade the lobster for a bag of king crab legs, but then they discovered Tessier had already eaten the lobster and put the shell parts back together. When confronted, Tessier grabbed the crab legs and ran. The Albany Times Union reported that by the time deputies caught up with him at his home, Tessier had already eaten the crab legs.

• After a $20,000 diagnostic computer went missing from a garage in Long Branch, N.J., suspicion fell on a 29-year-old worker who had resigned and traveled to Trinidad. The Asbury Park Press reported that when the suspect returned, he went to the garage to visit his former coworkers, bringing coffee and doughnuts. After he left, police said, employees noticed the old computer was back and a new diagnostic computer was missing.


Loophole of the Week A British judge released a defendant accused of robbing a driving instructor because he found the victim was “too believable.” The Daily Mail reported that Bristol Crown Court Judge Jamie Tabor, 58, praised victim Denise Dawson as “honest, utterly decent and brave” when she gave evidence against Liam Perks, 20, but moments later stopped the trial and ordered a not guilty verdict. “Denise Dawson was a particularly impressive witness because she showed courage, clarity of thought and was undoubtedly honest,” Tabor explained. “The jury may lend more weight to her evidence than the facts allow.”

This wasn’t Tabor’s first controversial case. Last year, he spared a wife from jail, even after she admitted trying to poison her husband, because she said she only wanted to stop him from seeing his mistress.

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Roland Sweet

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


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