*Willie King, age 37, was arrested moments after he had allegedly mugged a 94-year-old woman in a housecoat just outside her front door in New York's Greenwich Village in July. He picked the wrong prey: The woman is the mother of Vincent "Chin" Gigante, reputed godfather of the Genovese crime family.
*Kids lacking quality time: Brian Smith was charged in Cassville, Missouri, in July with locking his three kids inside 55-gallon drums during the day while he was at work. And Jeffrey Hoveland pleaded guilty in St. Paul, Minnesota, in July to using an electrified dog collar to punish his two sons, ages nine and eleven. And Jan and Joyce Duplantis were arrested in New Orleans in June and charged with forcing their two female wards, ages eight and nine, to live outside in a crude playhouse so as to keep their apartment tidy.
The Continuing Crisis
*In March, after the parents of Huang Pin-Jen, age 27, and Chang Shu-Mei, age 26, of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, refused to bless their wedding, the couple opted for suicide. They drove a car off a cliff (but survived), tried to hang themselves (survived), and leaped from atop a twelve-story building (survived again, but suffered multiple fractures). In April the parents reconsidered.
Least Competent People
*Oslo, Norway, police inspector Leif Ole Topnes admitted in July that "our body-search techniques aren't good enough." He was commenting on a male prisoner's having been locked up for two weeks in the women's jail despite having been "body-searched" at the Sola Airport and then "strip-searched" at the jail. The man was wearing makeup and had breasts (from hormone treatments), but Topnes admitted that otherwise he was obviously a man and should have been detected.
*Jeffrey Pyrcioch, age nineteen, was arrested in West Lafayette, Indiana, in May on theft and fraud charges. Pyrcioch allegedly cashed checks that he had written with disappearing ink, apparently believing the checks would be blank by the time they were presented to the bank for collection. Traces of ink remained, however; police said Pyrcioch would have had a better chance of success had he not used checks preprinted with his name and account number.
*In April, Edward Lopez, age nineteen, and Eric Harb, age eighteen, were arrested in Lincolnwood, Illinois, after police were called to a department store. According to a clerk, the two men approached him and asked politely if he would permit them to pay for clothes with a stolen credit card.
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*Columbus, Ohio, police arrested Timothy E. Lebo, age 39, and Charles J. Kinser, age 32, around 5:00 a.m. on June 5 and charged them with ripping an ATM out of a bank's wall and attempting to carry it away in the trunk of their car. The pair tried to convince officers that the ATM was a washing machine.
*In March in Clawson, Michigan, and in January in Federal Way, Washington, parents mistakenly packed cans of Bud Ice beer in their elementary schoolchildren's lunch boxes. They said they confused the Bud Ice with a Hawaiian Punch can (Clawson) and a holiday can of Pepsi (Federal Way).
The Weirdo-American Community
*Terry Klemann, age 42, received several traffic citations and was ticketed for filing a false report after her car rammed two pick-up trucks in Belleville, Illinois, in July. An apparently serious Klemann steadfastly maintained that her cocker spaniel, Mutzie 2, had gotten behind the wheel and crashed the car into the trucks. She later told the Belleville News-Democrat that several years ago the original Mutzie drove Klemann's friend's car into a tree in New York City.
-- By Chuck Shepherd