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News Quirks


Published October 4, 2007 at 2:26 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Mario Orlikoff, 49, was sitting in a car outside a bank, police in Gloucester, Va., said, when Christina Finney drove by with her family and thought he looked suspicious. "He had on a hat, a tweed jacket and big sunglasses. It was too hot for what he had on," she told the Newport News Daily Press. "I thought, 'That's a disguise. He looks like he's going to rob the bank.'" Moments later, she spotted him through the drive-up window holding up a teller.

Finney called police while she, her husband and three children followed Orlikoff's getaway car. At one point, she said, he "slowed down to 25 miles an hour to obey the speed limit." Police took up the chase, which ended after Orlikoff abandoned his car when his pursuers spotted his head bobbing up and down in the York River behind a crab pot marker buoy. "When we had him out," Gloucester Sheriff Robin P. Stanaway related, "he said, 'You got me.'"

Photoshop the Bodies

When a China Airlines passenger jet exploded in flames at Okinawa's Naha Airport, and photographs and video footage of the jet began appearing on news reports, the airline hastily painted over the name "China Airlines" on the left-hand side of the fuselage and over the company's logo on the tail fin to limit further damage to its image. "We followed international procedures," an official from the Taiwan-based airline told Mainichi Daily News.


After serving 20 years for shooting a police officer while committing a burglary in 1966, William Barnes, 71, was charged with murder when the victim died in August. Philadelphia's deputy medical examiner labeled the death a homicide, blaming a fatal infection on the gunshot wound that left Officer Walden T. Barclay paralyzed for 41 years. "I turned my life around," Barnes wrote in a letter to the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer from his "hot, humid, dingy cell here at Graterford Prison," pointing out, "This time, I feel that I am a victim of circumstance."

Friend or Foe?

When the power went out while doctors were operating on Leonardo Molina, 29, in Argentina's San Luis province, the emergency surgery continued with light from cell phone screens. "The generator, which should have been working correctly, didn't work," a hospital official told La Nacion newspaper. "A family member got some cell phones together from people in the hallway and took them to provide light."

* Emergency physicians report a jump in patients needing treatment for burns from freak accidents while using personal electronic devices, such as beepers, Walkman players and laptop computers, outdoors during storms. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine cited three examples of iPod listeners suffering severe burns where lightning traveled through the music players' wires, as well as ruptured eardrums and broken jaws. "It's going to hit where it's going to hit, but once it contacts metal, the metal conducts the electricity," Dr. Mary Ann Cooper of the American College of Emergency Physicians told the Associated Press. Michael Utley, a former stockbroker from West Yarmouth, Mass., who survived being struck by lightning while golfing, has tracked 13 cases since 2004 of people hit while talking on cell phones (http://www.struckby

Rage of the Week

Angry at being mocked as a "nerd" over the Internet, Navy Fire Controlman 2nd Class Petty Officer Russell Tavares drove 1300 miles from Virginia to Texas to confront his taunter and burned down the other man's trailer. The feud began when John G. Anderson, who runs a haunted house outside Waco, posted online views that irked Tavares, whose screen name was "PyroDice." The two argued back and forth until Tavares obtained Anderson's name and address from the Museum of Horrors Haunted House website and headed for Texas. Authorities said he threw a piece of gasoline-soaked plastic foam into the back of Anderson's mobile home and lit a flare. "I didn't think anybody was stupid enough to try to kill somebody over an Internet fight," said Anderson, who the Associated Press reported planned to spend $30,000 to surround his home with fencing topped with barbed wire. "Before this happened," he pointed out, "the rule was: Nobody messes with the haunted house guy."

Fun Fetishes

Florida authorities charged Brenda Marie Farrell, 40, with animal cruelty after they said the nurse killed small animals for sexual gratification. Bradford County sheriff's Sgt. Robert Smith cited separate incidents involving a toad, two lizards and a parakeet. He added that confiscated videotape shows the animals being nailed to a wooden board, stabbed repeatedly and decapitated while Farrell and her 42-year-old husband engaged in sex acts. Farrell did not give any other motivation besides what was obvious on the video, Smith said, adding, "She said they were sexual fantasies."

* Verle Peter Dills, 60, was arrested in Sioux Falls, S.D., with evidence indicating that his hobby is setting up a camera in public places and having sex with road signs. "We don't know how long he's been doing this," Police official Loren McManus said.

Aggravated Surrender

Authorities arrested Amber Renee Helton, 21, when she arrived at the Clarendon County, S.C., courthouse to pay a traffic ticket in a stolen car. Helton had just been acquitted the week before of possessing a stolen license plate, although she was convicted of driving without a license. "I guess she thought, 'Hey, I got away with having a stolen tag. I might get away with the entire car,'" Chief Deputy Joe Bradham said.

* When sheriff's deputies in Ontario County, N.Y., stopped a car they recognized as stolen, driver Vincent Estrada Jr., 29, explained he was wanted on a family court warrant and had tried to surrender in Canandaigua but left after waiting in the sheriff's department lobby for 10 minutes. He said he stole the car so he could drive to nearby Geneva to turn himself in there.

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