Jun 18 - 24, 2009 
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Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O’Leary

Dateline: England—The City Council in Worcester has sent a letter to a dead citizen demanding he pay for upkeep on his gravestone or it will be repossessed.

Jennifer Williams, 70, received a letter addressed to her late father George Weaver asking him to renew the lease on his granite memorial plaque. The letter warned that if Mr. Weaver—who died in 1998—failed to pay the £440 ($730) bill in the next three months, the memorial stone would be removed. Mrs. Williams said she was unaware when she purchased the plaque in Astwood Cemetery that it was only good for 10 years. Williams’ husband Ross, 71, blasted the council for “gross insensitivity” and said he would not pay the new bill. “If they had addressed it to me or my wife, it would have been fine. But to see that letter to her dad, who’s been dead 10 years, well it just brought it all back,” Mr. Williams told the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper. “Surely someone must have realized that they were writing to a dead man.” Ian Yates, parks and cemeteries manager for Worcester City Council, said the city is investigating and will “be in touch with Mr. Williams directly.”

Dateline: Florida—In 2006, William Deparvine was sentenced to death for killing Richard and Karla Van Dusen and stealing their cherry 1971 pickup truck. Now Deparvine sits in a cell on death row, still dreaming about that sweet, sweet ride. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Deparvine is currently suing Richard Van Dusen’s estate over custody of the coveted vehicle. The sordid tale began back in 2003 when Richard Van Dusen tried to sell his fully restored 1971 Chevrolet Cheyenne. William Deparvine, a St. Petersburg construction worker just seven months out of prison, responded to Van Dusen’s classified ad. On Nov. 26, 2003, the day after Deparvine met with Richard Van Dusen, 58, and his 49-year-old wife, Karla, to purchase the Chevy, the couple’s bodies were found lying face-down in a dirt driveway in northwest Hillsborough County. Both had been shot in the back of the head. Authorities said Deparvine came up with a calculated plan to prove his innocence, including a forged bill of sale for the Chevy. A jury didn’t buy Deparvine’s defense, found him guilty and recommended death sentences in both murders. For the past two years, Deparvine—serving as his own lawyer—has been suing Van Dusen’s relatives over custody of the pickup truck. Not only can the imprisoned Deparvine not drive the truck, but Mr. Van Dusen’s daughter, 36-year-old Michelle Kroeger, doesn’t even own the vehicle anymore. She sold it after Deparvine’s conviction due to the painful memories. Last summer, Hillsborough Circuit Judge James Arnold granted a summary judgment that deemed Van Dusen’s estate the lawful owner of the vehicle. In boldface type, Arnold even pointed out that a criminal judge had already ruled that Deparvine had murdered the Van Dusens over the truck. Undaunted, Deparvine has since filed an appeal.

Dateline: Florida—Police said a confused motorist who blew a .228 on a Breathalyzer pleaded with officers not to arrest his poor, innocent car. The Bay County Sheriff’s deputy who wrote the report on the incident said the man was driving at high speed at about 2 a.m. and made a U-turn through a median after the deputy began pursuing. Panama City’s News Herald, citing the deputy’s report, said when the motorist was eventually pulled over in a bank parking lot, he smelled strongly of alcohol, had a 12-ounce can of Bud Light in his center console and had to be asked several times to turn down his music. The man admitted to drinking “maybe six beers” and handed the deputy a credit card instead of a driver’s license. The deputy said the man failed several field sobriety tests and objected to his car being towed away after his arrest. “[The suspect] advised me that the vehicle didn’t know what it was doing and he did not understand why it was being arrested,” the deputy wrote. The man was charged with driving under the influence.

Dateline: New Mexico—Employees at an Albuquerque Whataburger stripped to their underwear and began smashing restaurant windows as customers looked on in shock—all because a prank caller told them to. According to police, the phone-in vandalism took place on Monday, June 8, around 11 p.m. Employees said someone called claiming to be from the food chain’s corporate office and ordered them to test the location’s fire suppression system. Two men working at the restaurant did as instructed, pulling a chain in the kitchen and noting a cascade of yellow powder. The person on the phone then told the employees to remove their clothing, which could now be contaminated, and break all the windows in the restaurant for ventilation. As the half-naked employees picked up rocks and started smashing glass, several startled onlookers called 911. Local Whataburger management told police the vandalism will cost them approximately $10,000 to repair. A spokesperson for the Texas-based fast-food chain said the company would work with the Albuquerque Police Department to identify the pranksters and pursue compensation.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

 
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