Odds & Ends
Dateline: Florida—Does this count as a hate crime? Earlier this month, a man with Britney Spears’ name tattooed on his arm or neck allegedly stole a tiny Chihuahua with pink earrings from a South Florida gay bar. Brian Dortort, 48, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel he has spent the last month searching for 4-month-old Hudson Hayward Hemingway. The dog, described as no bigger than a softball, was last seen lodged safely inside a “specialty pet bag.” Dortort said he let a man hold the Chihuahua for a moment during a friend’s birthday party at Georgie’s Alibi bar in Wilton Manors. When Dortort turned back, both of them had disappeared. Police say a suspect has not been identified, but it’s up to the Broward State Attorney’s Office to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant.
Dateline: Indiana—Last Thursday, a federal appeals court upheld the conviction of what could be America’s most hard-luck pedophile. The case began in August of 2006, when aspiring sexual predator James Daniel started an online conversation with alleged teenage girl Amanda_13. After several highly explicit chat room exchanges, Daniel asked Amanda_13 to meet him at a public park in Valparaiso for sex. Turns out Amanda_13 was actually Sgt. Richard Howard of the Porter County Sheriff’s Department. Daniel was arrested for inducing an individual under 18 to engage in criminal sexual activity. Later, when Secret Service agents searched Daniel’s home computer, they found logs of chats with two other apparent minors—daisy13_Indiana and blonddt—who described themselves as 13 and 15 years old, respectively. It was only after Daniel was convicted that the feds realized one of those girls, daisy13_Indiana, was also an undercover officer working with the Secret Service. Daniel’s lawyers appealed on the grounds that the government improperly withheld evidence of entrapment. Amazingly, when the case went before the three-judge appellate panel, the screen name of Daniel’s third online girlfriend was recognized from an earlier case. “To our surprise, the government was unaware until this panel told it at oral argument that the other screen name, blonddt, was also an officer from the Indiana operation,” wrote Judge Diane Wood in her ruling. So, in the end, there was no evidence on record that James had succeeded in talking to any actual underage girls. Nonetheless, the appellate panel upheld the man’s conviction. The judges ruled that—despite Daniel’s inability to find anyone online other than undercover police officers—the chat logs still showed his intent to commit a crime. James is now serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence in prison.
Dateline: Washington—Police in the Tacoma suburb of Lakewood are looking for a woman who allegedly stole at least $140,000 from clients, claiming she was a “witch doctor” who could cleanse their cash of evil. The woman, known as Señora Monica, scammed people all over the Puget Sound area into handing over large sums of money so she could bless it and chase out any evil sprits. Lt. Heidi Hoffman of the Lakewood Police Department said Señora Monica would often give the money back and then ask for payment for the cleansing. Investigators believe she did this to establish the trust of her mostly Spanish-speaking clientele. Once she stockpiled a sufficiently large amount of evil money, however, she closed up shop and skipped town. Police are currently trying to track down Monica and her husband through the information on their business license for the Centro de Consultas Espirituales, a storefront religious curio shop in Lakewood.
Dateline: Texas—A Texas sheriff was forced to fire one Midland County deputy and suspend three others without pay after the officers convinced a scantily clad waitress to pose for photographs on the hood of a patrol vehicle while holding an assault rifle. Police in Round Rock were dispatched to the Twin Peaks restaurant around 9:30 p.m., Aug. 10, after someone reported seeing a waitress with an AR-15 in the parking lot. According to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, the rifle had been given to the waitress by one of the sheriff’s deputies, who had been attending a training session near Austin earlier that day. The deputies all came to Twin Peaks—famous for its large-chested, barely dressed waitstaff—after the training session and had “about three to five beers each.” Sheriff Gary Painter told the newspaper that he understands those in law enforcement might want to unwind with a drink from time to time, “but in this particular instance, people got stupid real quick. ... It went from not very smart to very stupid in about 30 seconds.”
Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to firstname.lastname@example.org.