What is it about an empty stomach that leads to so much crime in the Sunshine State? Regular readers of Riptide already know that Florida is well known for its bizarre, sometimes incomprehensible news stories about bungled robberies, bizarre murders, and drug deals gone bad. But a bizarre number of those seem to center on food and restaurants. Just about every week, we post at least one story about a fight at a fast-food place or over a meal that makes you wonder why people are so up in arms about dinner.
As part of our look back at 2012, we wanted to highlight some of this year's strangest, funniest, and most baffling news stories regarding crime and food. So sit back, (legally) grab a burger and a beer, and enjoy the year's best of "WTF Florida: Let's Get A Snack."
Jan. 4, 2012: "Homeless Florida Man Decapitates Another Over Spilled Food."
We've all been there before: At a barbeque, plate of meat and potato salad balanced precariously in one hand as we cradle a beer in the other, when suddenly, a collision sends everything flying to the ground. Most of us would shake it off, grab a new plate and get a fresh meal. Not Sarasota resident Ricky Leer. Just four days into 2012, he got into a tussle with a fellow homeless person after the man knocked over a grill that Leer and another man had been using. Leer, who had been drinking, escalated things quickly: He pinned his victim to the ground, then began to hack at his neck with a machete-like knife. When cops arrived, they found the headless body, then Leer, leaning against a tree and drinking rum. Suffice to say that guards will probably keep a close eye on him at the next prison barbecue.
Mar. 8, 2012: "Florida Man Headlocks His Mom Because She Used His Taco Sauce."
Manatee County resident Christopher Phillips didn't take well to his mother, Rebecca, using the last of his taco salsa for her dinner. But instead of going out to the store and getting more, Phillips decided that the best course of action would be to put his mother in a headlock over the missing sauce.
To make matters worse, he called over his live-in girlfriend, Lisa Tyre, who proceeded to slap Rebecca about the face. After Rebecca called the cops, Christopher and Lisa were arrested on misdemeanor battery charges.
Apr. 3, 2012: "Florida Woman Offers Sex In Exchange For Two McDonald's Dollar Menu Cheeseburgers."
There's a Dollar Menu joke here we don't want to make. Christine Baker, also of Manatee County, gave a whole new meaning to "I'm lovin' it" when she propositioned an undercover detective for sex. Her price? Two McDonald's double cheeseburgers. After the detective took Baker through the drive-thru for her payment, she also asked him to toss $40 into the deal. Why she didn't just ask for $40 and then buy the cheeseburgers later remains a mystery. Regardless, the cops arrested her on prostitution charges after the burgers were bought.
May 24, 2012: "Florida Man Arrested For Pulling A Gun To Cut In McDonald's Drive-Thru Line."
McDonald's is apparently the food of choice for crazy Floridians everywhere. For West Palm Beach resident James Lee Cruz, the allure of the Golden Arches was too much to wait for. So when he pulled into the drive-thru at the same time as another car, he wasn't about to let his craving go unsatisfied: he pulled a gun on the car. They wisely let him go, then called the cops to report him. He was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. It's unlikely the police cruiser took him through the drive-thru before heading to lockup.
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July 17, 2012: "Pork Rinds Argument Leads To Neck Stabbing In North Florida Nightclub."
Any time your story features a man whose nicknames are "Cowboy" and "Wyatt Earp," you know you have something good. In this case, "Cowboy"--whose real name is Will Traywick--got upset with another man, Edward Hooks, over the ownership of a bag of pork rinds at a Fort Walton Beach nightclub. One thing led to another, and eventually, Traywick smashed a beer bottle, then used it to slash Hooks in the neck. Traywick fled the scene before cops showed up, but they tracked him down to--surprise surprise--a fast-food restaurant's bathroom, where he was arrested on charges of aggravated assault. Hopefully Hooks got to keep the pork rinds.