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October 2005


11 October 2005

Due to what the Iowa Interstate Railroad Company described as a breakdown in communication, later runners in the 2005 Quad Cities Marathon kept having to stop at railroad tracks along the route and wait for freight trains to pass. When the third train of the race approached, race organiser Joe Moreno parked his truck on the tracks. The train stopped, and Moreno remained in his vehicle for nearly 1 1/2 hours as several hundred runners crossed the tracks. ' With every minute, I was buying time for the runners,' he said. When the police arrived, former mayor Moreno agreed to move his truck.

Florida police said Christopher M. Cooper, 26, approached a newspaper carrier in Jacksonville with another man, then one of the men said his morning paper hadn't been delivered. According to the police report, the carrier asked what address was involved, whereupon the man pointed a gun at the 56-year-old carrier and demanded: 'Give me a paper'. The carrier complied, surrendering a Times-Union, which sells at 50 cents a copy. The police found Cooper hiding in the cooler at the petrol station where he works. The gun was found in his car and some marijuana in his pockets.

The Australian reports that Julie-Anne Austin decided to give Dimetapp cold medicine to six-year-old daughter Rose Marie Villanueva-Austin. Later, the mother found that the girl had stopped breathing. In the two days following the death, two of Austin's new boyfriend's children were taken to hospital. After one of them complained that the Dimetapp tasted bitter, Austin says, she tasted it and realised that it was in fact part of her methadone supply. A listening device placed in the home after the poisonings captured Austin saying to King: 'How could you put methadone in a Dimetapp bottle? They look the same, you dumb shit.' Police prosecutor Terry James, who described the family's home as a 'supermarket of drugs', including two litres of methadone, claimed that Austin's story is a fabrication to cover up murder.

Defense attorney Laurence Harmelin told Pennsylvania judge Phyllis Streitel that the connotations of his client's nickname would prejudice jurors against him. Harmelin asked Streitel to bar any references to Demetrius Fiorentino, 31, as 'Scuz' in his upcoming trial for a 2004 murder at a crack house. He read out dictionary definitions of 'scuzzball' as ' 'an unpleasant, dirty, or dangerous person; creep" and 'scuzzy' as 'dirty, shabby, or foul in condition or nature'. Assistant District Attorney Lorraine Finnegan responded by saying that witnesses are going to refer to the defendant by the name under which they know him and that 'we're not calling him a scuzzball or scuzzy'.

Florida petrol station employee Pam Pease, 49, was sweeping the parking area when she noticed her car pull up to pump 7. She had reported the vehicle stolen less than an hour before. Fellow attendant Vince Nguyen recognised those in the car, Artemio Castillo and Ernesto Garcia, as the people who had asked him for a ride to Mississippi shortly before Pease noticed that her car was missing. Nguyen went to fetch water for the men, while another employee rang the authorities. The two men ran from the scene, with Nguyen in pursuit. They were arrested a short while later.
Pease said she was glad her Ford Escort was low on gasoline.

A 41-year-old woman from Long Island, New York, pleaded guilty to second-degree rape and other charges after being accused of helping two older teenagers to have sex with her 13-year-old daughter and the girl's 14-year-old friend at a hotel. She is also accused of buying beer and alcoholic lemonade for the group. On her arrest, the mother said she had been hoping her actions would curtail the girls' obsession with sex.

Utah's Deseret Morning News reports on an apparent road rage incident in which a 25-year-old man was apparently passed aggressively on an on-ramp by a woman who left traffic cones scattered in her wake. According to South Salt Lake Police Captain Chris Snyder, the woman rolled down her car window to yell at the man. He displayed an obscene hand gesture in response, so the woman allegedly fired four shots in his general direction. One of the bullets severed the tip of the man's middle finger and injured his index finger before entering the windscreen. The man sought medical attention, while the woman crashed into a concrete barrier and then abandoned the car, which had been stolen. One witness said a woman matching the suspect's description knocked on his door and said she'd been in an accident and that the police were pursuing her. He said he remained speechless and the woman ran off.

The Toronto Sun reports on medical engineering intern Rafael Reyes and his attempts to obtain a pass for Wheel-Trans, a door-to-door transport service for the disabled. Reyes, who was born with stumps for limbs, scored 0 points out of 90 for the interviewer's key question of whether he needs an assistive device to get around. The list includes guide dogs, walkers, and stretchers but not a skateboard or roommates' backs. The assessment form noted: 'Uses no assistive device. (Cannot hold on to a cane or walker).' A week after the interview, Reyes was informed that his application had been denied.
The 23-year-old Reyes says his journey to his studies via accessible metro stations and buses takes up to two hours. From Mexico, he is not sure how he'll cope when winter arrives.

Nebraska's Lincoln Journal Star reports that a local man was trying to escape sheriff's officers when he jumped from a balcony on the second level of a block of flats. After the man broke a leg, he was arrested on outstanding theft warrants and on suspicion of giving false statements to authorities. The Lancaster County deputies say they weren't looking for the man at all but for a burglary suspect. They had turned away from the building and were leaving when they heard the thud of his body hitting the ground.

Juventino Vallejo-Camerena boarded a freight train in California and took it over, threatening the engineer and conductor. Police captain Keith Jones said the two-person crew escaped and contacted the police. When officers arrived, Vallejo-Camerena strung his bow and pointed an arrow at officers. Officers opened fire, leaving the hijacker with bullet wounds in the arms.

New York police investigator Mark Nell said James Durney, 40: 'didn't feel like paying child support'. So, after he was summoned for a court-ordered paternity test, he sent Neil Simon, 34, instead. When the test result came back negative, the child's mother became suspicious, and Madison County officials showed her a photograph of the man who was tested. She contacted the authorities, and both men were arrested on felony charges.

Karen Tenney, a former employee at New York's Horace Nye Nursing Home, describes a supervisor feeling her back in search of a bra strap, in response to a complaint that she was in violation of a rule that makes it mandatory for female employees to wear a bra for work. Tenney said she pulled her jumper up to show that she had on a black sports bra. Other workers responded by showing off their own undergarments. Tenney said the incident involved sexual harassment and has left her in need of anti-anxiety medicine. She is suing Essex County to the tune of $9 million.

Authorities in Muncie, Indiana, said they were contacted by a petrol station manager who had noticed a white van with a hose running from it to the station's underground tank. On arrival, officers found a man asleep in the van, which held a 200-litre tank. If full, the tank would have held about $150 worth of fuel. Police Chief Joe Winkel said the man has been charged with theft and that officers are working to confirm his identity.

Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Police Detective Donti Rosciti said a mother rang the police because she wanted documentation of a fist fight between her six-year-old son and another boy the same age. She explained that she was worried that she could be accused of abuse, as her son's face had been scratched. The police report states that the altercation began when one of the boys dropped a dummy and the other picked it up, refusing to return it. Rosciti said that the incident is resolved, as far as the police are concerned.

Wisconsin authorities said they believed 17-year-old Seth Hammes had simply dropped dead in the woods, where he had been bow hunting and then videotaping nature. But right next to him was the video he had been shooting, said Monroe County Sheriff Pete Quirin. The camera recorded the cracking of gunfire and the voice of the shooter, who promised to go to an area where his mobile telephone could receive a signal, then fetch help. Police tracked down Russell Schroeder, 24, who appeared in frame on the tape. Schroeder told officers that he thought he was shooting at a squirrel with his .22-calibre rifle until he heard Hammes scream. Afraid he would get in trouble if he told anyone what happened, he simply went to a birthday party, home to spend some time playing video games, and then work, he said.


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© 2005 Anna Shefl