2003, the year in review:
The weird, the macabre, the downright silly
¶ A 16-year-old Minnesota boy is accused of running down a jogger so he could have sex with her corpse. Investigators subsequently discover a macabre “to-do” list he had compiled, which included tasting human flesh and shooting someone while on a camping trip.
¶ New York City firefighters are forced to rip down the paneling covering a chimney shaft in a Queens restaurant, and smash through a layer of bricks to free a hapless burglar who had gotten stuck inside the opening. The rescue effort includes a clash between elite police and fire units, and the arrest of a firefighter for “obstructing governmental administration” by being in the restaurant, which had been sealed as a crime scene.
¶ A workers’ compensation claim filed by the mother of a man who shot and killed three co-workers and wounded five others at the Modine Manufacturing Co. plant in Jefferson City, Mo., is rejected by the company and its insurance carrier. Nina Tichelkamp-Russell had claimed that her son, Jonathon Russell, suffered injuries and died on company time after the July 1 incident. Russell fatally shot himself following an exchange of gunfire with police. The .40-caliber Glock handgun used in the shooting spree was a former state Highway Patrol service weapon that Russell had obtained legally.
¶ West Springfield, Mass., Police Officer Thomas Allen is taken for a ride when his wife takes off with him hanging out of the car window following an argument at an Enfield, Conn., shopping mall.
¶ On trial for felony child abuse, a West Virginia man tells investigators that his children must have sewn their own fingers together after watching him do it to himself. He also denies allegations that he burned their fingertips with a lighter and hit their hands with a ruler.
¶ After police try to stop her for breastfeeding while driving, Catherine Nicole Donkers of Ohio, does not pull over for another three miles. Donkers, a member of the First Christian Fellowship for Eternal Sovereignty, explains that her faith requires her to obey her husband, and he told her, via cell phone, not to pull over until she came to an exit. Donkers was found guilty of non-compliance, among other charges.
¶ In a scene worthy of a Hollywood action movie, Idaho State Police Cpl. Duane Prescott leaps from his motorcycle to board a runaway locomotive as it rolls past at 20 miles per hour. He then pulls and pushes every control he can find, finally bringing the 200-ton engine to a halt before it can crash into another train further down the line.
¶ At the agreed rate of $500 a month, it will take 30,000 years for Steven Frazier, a convicted satellite television pirate, to pay back the $180 million a judge ordered in restitution to DirectTV and EchoStar, the intended victims of a scheme to steal the TV signals.
¶ A Lafayette, Colo., bar owner is jailed on charges of suspicion of felony menacing, reckless endangerment and the prohibited use of weapons after shooting his laptop four times, and hanging it on the wall of his Sportsmen’s Bar. It had apparently crashed one too many times.
¶ Figuring that it would be difficult to get a driver’s license in Connecticut with a record that included four drunken driving arrests in Florida, James Perry steals the identity of his neighbor, Robert Kowalski. The only problem is, Kowalski is a convicted sex offender. Perry is arrested for not registering under the state’s Megan’s Law, but is subsequently released when a check of his fingerprints reveals that he is not, in fact, Kowalski.
¶ Instead of pulling out her non-lethal Taser stun gun, Madera, Calif., Police Officer Marcy Noriega draws her service handgun, fatally shooting a handcuffed suspect sitting in the back of her squad car. No criminal charges are filed against Noriega, but officers no longer carry their Tasers and their firearms on the same side.
¶ The female jurors in an aggravated robbery trial are so impressed with Memphis Police Officer John Chevalier that they send a note to the judge asking him to mark Chevalier as an exhibit so they could have him in the deliberation room with them.
¶ Gainesville, Fla., Police Officer Jaime Hope is mistaken for a male stripper when he responded to a noise complaint at a bachelorette party. Nobody realizes their mistake until the bride-to-be was put in the back of the squad car for violating her probation on an open-container charge.
¶ A federal jury in Brownsville, Tex., orders a man arrested for selling cocaine to give up a $5.5-million winning lottery ticket because it was purchased with drug money. The defendant claims it was bought with money he made selling old clothes.
¶ Chicago police officers go beyond the call of duty in volunteering to poke through the bowel movements of a thief who swallowed a 3-carat diamond worth $37,500.