Odds & Ends
Dateline: Ghana—A 72-year-old grandmother suffered a horrific death when she was burned alive by a mob after being accused of witchcraft. As reported in Ghana’s Daily Graphic, a group of five people allegedly tortured Ama Hemmah in order to extract a confession of witchcraft before dousing her in kerosene and setting her on fire. The suspects, including the preacher of a local evangelical church, denied the charges. According to Pastor Samuel Fletcher Sagoe, 55, he and his compatriots were simply praying to exorcise an evil spirit from the woman when the anointing oil they had applied to her body accidentally caught fire. The incident occurred at Site 15, a suburb of Tema Community 1 near the capital city of Accra. A student nurse, who happened upon the scene, attempted to rescue the woman, but the victim died of her burns within 24 hours of arrival at the Tema General Hospital. So far, no arrests have been made, but the case has been turned over to the Attorney General’s Department for possible prosecution.
Dateline: England—As an arctic blizzard swept across England, leaving much of the southeast in whiteout conditions, a resident in Kent managed to tie up emergency lines calling in her report of a stolen snowman. “I haven’t been out to check on him for five hours,” said the caller of her frozen lawn decoration. “But I went outside for a fag [cigarette] and he’s gone.” When the emergency operator asked the caller to clarify who, exactly, was gone, the woman replied, “My snowman. I thought that with it being icy and there not being anybody about he’d be safe.” Incredulous, the operator asked, “Do you mean an ornament?” “No,” The female caller explained. “A snowman made of snow. I made him myself. It ain’t a nice road, but you don’t expect anybody to nick your snowman.” Kent police, who did not send out inspectors to locate the woman’s missing snowman, were not amused by the call. “This call could have cost someone’s life if there was a genuine emergency and they couldn’t get through. It was completely irresponsible,” Chief Inspector Simon Black said in a statement to reporters. “We have spoken to her and advised her what is a 999 call, and this clearly was not.” A recording of the call was made available for listening at the www.kent.police.uk website to help warn people about inappropriate use of the city’s emergency services number.
Dateline: Pennsylvania—A man in New Sewickley Township told police he attacked his 68-year-old mother because a vending machine “made him.” The Beaver County Times reports David L. Huffman, 33, has been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and harassment for the incident. New Sewickley police were called to Huffman’s home at about 2 p.m. on Nov. 30 for a conflict involving Huffman and his mother, Ethel Huffman. Huffman’s father told police officer Gregory Carney that his son was “flipping out” and had attacked his mother, according to a criminal complaint filed in Freedom District Judge Edward Howe’s office. In the complaint, Officer Carney wrote that he and Police Chief Ron Leindecker found David Huffman in the kitchen. Ethel Huffman was lying in bed, suffering from an apparent broken wrist. Huffman told police she was arguing with her son when he threw her to the ground. In his report, Carney said he spoke to David Huffman, who claimed “that the Pepsi machine at Costco made him hurt his mother.”
Dateline: Ohio—A towering metal grain silo in the town of Norwalk collapsed, releasing what the local fire chief described as a “sea of corn.” No one was hurt when the building broke apart, sending more than 100,000 bushels of corn cascading through the streets. The tidal wave of corn knocked over a fire hydrant, buried cars up to 12 feet deep and created a “one-block mess” in the community 50 miles southwest of Cleveland. The grain even knocked a nearby house off its foundation. Neighbors reported hearing an explosion, but experts believe the sound was just the metal on the building failing. The cause of the failure has yet to be determined.
Dateline: New Mexico—A clerk at a Mexican restaurant has been branded the “Empanada Hero” by national media after chasing off a robber with a bag of Mexican pastries. According to an account given by the owners to police, a slender male wearing a mask, jeans and a sky-blue T-shirt entered Amigo’s Mexican Food the day before Thanksgiving. The would-be robber tried to grab the store’s cash register and flee out the front door. The cord on the register got snagged, however. Co-owner Barbara Orquiz, who was working behind the counter at the time, responded quickly. “She saw him, and screamed and grabbed a package of empanadas,” Orquiz’ husband Arnold told the Las Cruces Sun-Times. Mrs. Orquiz hurled the package of fruit pastries at the robber, striking him in the back of the head. He dropped the register and fled from the scene, jumping into a primer-colored car with several other people. Since then, the Orquizes have been interviewed by several radio and television stations around the country, including the Associated Press.