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Lead Story

Two Serbian designers announced in Belgrade in May that they would soon begin manufacturing a cologne called Serb, to be sold in a canister that resembles a hand grenade. In a press release the two said, “We don’t have to be ashamed, because everything vile has already been blamed on the Serbs.”

Police Blotter

In April the Kansas Bureau of Investigation used laser technology to identify a suspected hit-and-run driver in rural Johnson County. Witnesses said only that the vehicle involved was a black hatchback, but the collision was so hard that bureau investigators found the first two numbers of the license plate and the expiration month imprinted on the victim’s pants. The only black hatchback with those numbers belonged to a 51-year-old man, who was arrested.

William James Silva, 44, was arrested in San Jose, California, in February after he allegedly robbed a police decoy who was posing as a street-corner drunk. It was the 550th time Silva had been arrested; his record covers 127 feet of computer paper. (According to police, before robbing the decoy Silva had argued with a friend about whether or not the man was a police officer, with Silva insisting he wasn’t.)

Assault and indecent exposure charges were filed against Shakespearean actress Barbara Kinghorn in Saint Joseph, Missouri, in April after she, while naked, allegedly attacked a 52-year-old woman on the indoor track at Northwest Missouri State University. Kinghorn allegedly had thrown herself at the woman’s husband, asking him, “Can I give it to you?” and when the woman objected Kinghorn attacked her. Kinghorn was in town to play Lady Macbeth in a local production.

In February customs officials in Taiwan seized 11 tons of chicken testicles, which they said had been smuggled in from Hong Kong. The Chinese delicacy, said to be an aphrodisiac, was disguised as frozen shrimp.

According to a police affidavit (obtained by the Oregonian) supporting two prostitution arrests in Portland last summer, a confidential informant was given enough police department money to procure masturbation services six times from the A-1 Massage Studio, which was operated by two sisters, ages 73 and 70.

In November in Enumclaw, Washington, a woman summoned police to her home because she thought she’d found a mysterious supply of drugs, but police determined that the substance was some kind of caulking material. And in December in Oakland, California, Louis C. Clark filed a lawsuit against the city for the roughhouse behavior of police who arrested him for possessing what they assumed was cocaine, but that turned out to be denture adhesive.

Malaysia’s New Straits Times reported in February that a man in Perak, Malaysia, was arrested after several incidents in which he climbed on roofs at night and, using fishing line and a hook, lifted the sarongs of sleeping women so he could look at their bodies.


Last July Hidekazu Watanabe, 36, was arrested in Kawasaki, Japan, by a store security guard as he was attempting to shoplift a handbag and 16 other items. A search of his home turned up about 1,700 more stolen items. According to a police officer, Watanabe said he’d hoped to steal enough goods to open a discount shop.

In October in Orlando, Florida, James Zimmerman, 39, was charged with grand theft of gasoline. According to police, he used a hose to suck gasoline from service-station storage tanks into containers in his van. He would then empty the gasoline into a 600-gallon drum in his backyard and sell it at about 80 cents a gallon.

At least a dozen Hungarians have committed suicide since 1989 as a result of a widespread earthworm pyramid scheme that grew as the country’s economic fortunes diminished. Typically a family would purchase several hundred thousand earthworms with their life’s savings or money borrowed at 30 percent interest. Earthworms eat manure and excrete their own nutrient-rich dung, and promoters, with the help of government agencies and banks, fraudulently convinced the investors that such rich fertilizer could easily be sold abroad.

Most Dysfunctional Family

In January Colin Wood, who’s spent 17 of his 35 years behind bars, escaped from prison in Guelph, Ontario. Colin, his twin brother Douglas, his brothers David, 40, and Philip, 37, and the wife of another brother have between them more than 140 criminal convictions (yet another brother has a long criminal record but recently went straight). When Douglas was deported to England in 1985, he had to be flown on a military airplane because commercial airlines wouldn’t take anyone so violent. The other brothers will be deported at the end of their prison sentences. At Douglas’s deportation hearing his mother, Patricia Wood, described her sons as “a family of young gentlemen.”

Cries for Help

Roberto Carlos da Silva, 21, confessed to police in Sorocaba, Brazil, in February that he was so consumed with grief over the death of his fiancee that three months after her burial he dug up her body, which still had her wedding dress on, and had sex with it. He told the Estado news agency, “I was desperate and needed her.”

Least Competent Person

Fort Worth, Texas, police arrested Philip G. Rojo, 24, in April after stopping his car at a roadblock because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. The police said they were backing away from the car when they spied three silver pipelike packages on the floor. They told Rojo they thought the packages were part of a pipe bomb. Rojo reportedly tried to reassure them and blurted out, “Man, that ain’t no pipe bomb. That’s cocaine.”

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