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Lead Story

In Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in October, Myron C. Ragan filed a lawsuit against the estate of his late psychologist, John M. Farley, who committed suicide in 1989. Ragan said that Dr. Farley let him down by killing himself while Ragan still needed help, or at least by not showing the professionalism to refer Ragan to another psychologist before doing it.

Police Blotter

Ex-con Arthur Lee Dunbar, 20, of Centerville, Texas, angry at the grades he had received while taking classes at Lee College’s program for prisoners, kidnapped a school secretary and held her hostage for five hours in a rural cabin to try to persuade her to adjust his transcript.

In Tampa, Florida, in July, Michael Riley asked a 16-year-old girl several times when she would be finished with her call at a pay phone. Finally, exasperated, the girl grabbed a bottle, broke it off at the neck, and slashed Riley three times on the arm. Riley clutched his wound and calmly responded, “Now we have an assault here,” whereupon the girl grabbed the bottle again and stabbed him in the stomach. When police arrived, the girl was still talking on the phone.

Thomas E. Napper, 33, a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, resigned in July after being accused of repeatedly stealing newspapers off a neighbor’s lawn and finally being caught in the neighbor’s sting operation.

Agence France Presse reported a story in June about a middle-aged woman in Lausanne, Switzerland, who fainted in a supermarket. A nurse who was summoned decided to unhook the woman’s bra so she could breathe better, discovered a shoplifted frozen chicken in the bra, and concluded the woman had fainted from the cold.

A 20-year-old Seattle man was arrested in June after a guard at a Safeway store noticed powdered sugar around his lips as he walked away from the doughnut bin.

From the Seattle Times “Police Beat” column, June 21: A scuffle broke out between a man and a woman at a high school graduation in which the woman swung her fist, missed the man, and hit a bystander with her elbow. As the man moved his arm reflexively to protect himself, his hand got “caught” in her mouth, and she suffered a cut lip as he tried to remove it.

Two teenage boys faced as many as 20 years in prison after being arrested last spring for an armed robbery in Florence, Oregon. They’d been after money, but the victim didn’t have any, so they’d settled for a cigarette.

A 39-year-old man was arrested in Potomac, Maryland, in April shortly after burglarizing a house. The man dashed out the door with only a box of Popsicles, and was noticed by police a few minutes later sitting in a car near the crime scene eating Popsicles, with many Popsicle sticks littering the ground outside the car.

Betty Goodgame, 29, was arrested in Elgin, Texas, in August for allegedly shoplifting a jar of pickled pigs’ feet, which she had taken off the shelf and from which she had been eating while walking around the grocery store.

Creme de la Weird

Florida State Prison inmate Mark DeFriest pleaded guilty in May to possession of contraband when a strip search turned up an ingenious homemade key that could open doors throughout the prison. Authorities later discovered the key wasn’t the half of it. Searching through DeFriest’s secret hiding places throughout the prison, guards found several dozen weapons and survival devices. There was also a plastic bag he stored in his rectum–containing $2,000 in cash, six homemade handcuff keys, seven hacksaw blades, and 34 razor blades. He is now housed in a special cell that authorities would not describe “for security reasons.”

Least Competent People

By the time Earl F. Laughton’s trial for bank robbery rolled around in July 1991 in Wilmington, Delaware, prosecutors were no longer sure he had done it, and in fact later learned that Laughton had arranged to take the rap for a friend. They figured it out when Laughton volunteered to testify against himself at trial and then proceeded to answer almost all of the prosecutors’ questions about the crime incorrectly. Laughton then said he had gotten confused on the stand because the prosecutor had accidentally knocked over his folder of papers, which included two of the four cheat sheets prepared by the real culprit so that Laughton could refer to them on the witness stand.

Least Justifiable Homicide

Filiberto Lopez Perez, mayor of Chanal, a town in southeastern Mexico, was beaten to death by a mob of 50 people in June after signing a proclamation banning the sale of liquor there.

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