Lead Story

On July 12 the Monroe County sheriff’s department and U.S. Coast Guard were called to a sandbar off Whale Harbor in the Florida Keys town of Islamorada, where they discovered a young woman dangling by her shoulders from meat hooks that were suspended from a makeshift bamboo tripod. A coast guard officer said a young man, one of five tattooed and heavily pierced young people at the scene, told him the group was “just enjoying the afternoon.” There are no laws against sticking meat hooks into yourself and hanging from a tripod on a sandbar, the officer added.

Annals of White-Collar Crime

Former CEO Andrew Wiederhorn began serving an 18-month prison term at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon, in August, but he’ll continue to draw his $350,000 annual salary–and receive a $2 million “leave of absence payment”–while doing time. Wiederhorn pleaded guilty to two felonies, including a charge of filing a false tax return, but his company, Fog Cutter Capital Group, apparently believes his services are worth retaining, even though federal prisons forbid inmates from conducting business. Fog Cutter said it was considering adding a bonus.

People Who Take Their Sleep Seriously

A 911 operator in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, is under investigation for falling asleep in the middle of a call to report a break-in on July 29 after a tape recording captured the operator’s snores. And in Alexandria, Virginia, the following week, police responding to a 911 call found all three staff members on duty at the Sunrise Senior Living facility asleep. They had dozed through the buzzing of calls from residents in need of assistance, several telephone calls, the police siren, and a blaring burglar alarm.

Scenes of the Surreal

Those in rush-hour traffic in the Boston neighborhood of lower Dorchester were treated to a luxury-car demolition derby on August 5, when Yvesnane Gethers, driving a white limousine, chased her husband, Wayne Gethers, driving a second white limo, for several minutes at speeds up to 50 miles per hour, ramming him more than five times and causing extensive damage to both cars. Wayne Gethers said he was having a beer and watching TV with a female friend in the back of his limo when his wife arrived and became enraged. The couple uses the limos as personal vehicles, he said.

People Different From Us

London’s Daily Telegraph reported this month on British collectors who buy and sell aborted fetuses and stillborn babies, with one seller saying he has heard of prices over 5,000 pounds for a two-headed fetus. The major suppliers are labs and medical schools disposing of specimens. Said one dealer of the trade in “curiosities,” “it’s a very small market, but a very keen market.”

Great Art!

The Old Town House museum in Cape Town, South Africa, has scheduled an exhibit for September featuring paintings by 17th-century Dutch masters–all turned to face the wall. Curator Andrew Lamprecht said the show will be a “conceptual art intervention” that turns the pieces “into something new and unexpected” and forces gallerygoers to reconsider their preconceptions about art. “These are fascinating things to see from behind,” he said.

Government in Action

An AFSCME union local recently filed a grievance against mayor Joe Maturo of East Haven, Connecticut, for violating the city’s labor contract. Maturo jumped down into a storm drain and repositioned its cover, which had become dislodged. According to the union, the city was required by its contract to call out four union employees, three of whom would get time and a half and be guaranteed four hours’ pay since the problem occurred after hours. Said union president John Longley, “It’s not about the money, it’s about our work.” (Maturo, a licensed electrician, was a longtime union member himself.)

Canadian officials now require immigrants seeking work as strippers to submit photos of themselves performing, lest nonpros falsely claim to be strippers in order to get Canadian work permits, according to a July Toronto Sun report. Said one immigration lawyer, “If they don’t have pictures in the nude, they are not going to wiggle their butts in Canada.” It’s more of an issue than you might think: Canadian club owners are so desperate for strippers they typically pay headliners about $5,000 Canadian, or $3,700 in U.S. dollars, a week.

Least Competent Criminals

In July Merle Hatch, 42, was arrested six minutes after robbing a Compass Bank in Denver. Hatch’s plan had been to leave the bank, then strip down to running shorts and jog off with the money. However, he changed his clothes in front of the bank, in full view of the employees, who updated the description they’d given authorities. According to a police spokesman, Hatch expressed surprise at being caught so quickly.

Recurring Themes

Games Floridians Play: In March in Jacksonville, Florida, Shannon Kramer, 35, was hospitalized with serious burns after trying to toss a bottle rocket at his girlfriend’s house from his car; the firework went off in his hands, then ricocheted around inside his car. And in June in Melbourne, Florida, Aravis Walker, 23, was killed when his car exploded during a spree in which he and a friend were tossing lit fireworks out the windows at passersby; an ember fell into the backseat, where it ignited several explosives. The friend was critically injured, with burns on more than 90 percent of his body.

Readers’ Choice

In July a transit system police officer in Washington, D.C., frisked, handcuffed, and arrested Stephanie Willett, a scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency, detaining her at a police station for several hours because she’d finished the last bite of a PayDay candy bar inside a Metro rail station, in violation of the no-eating rule. Transit officials pointed out that Willett had been warned by the officer not to enter the station while eating; Willett says she thought that since the morsel was completely in her mouth, she was safe. “If anything, I was chewing in the Metro,” she said.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.