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Alphonso Johnson Quinn, 36, was arrested near Bowie, Maryland, in September and accused by police of being the "crossbow rapist" who'd terrorized several women in their homes. According to Police Chief David Mitchell, Quinn, who sold home-security systems, committed the crimes to improve his business; his sales literature referred to the need for protection from the crossbow rapist.

The Halls of Justice

Twice this year Reinero Torres Jr., 53, successfully defended himself in court in Sebring, Florida, first on a worthless-check charge and then on an assault charge. However, when he acted as his own lawyer a third time, facing theft charges, he lost. In August a jury convicted him of stealing from the courthouse library the books he'd used preparing his defense on the first two charges.

A judge in Riverside, California, ruled in September that David Reese, 39, must pay his ex-wife $982 a month in child support for their two children, age nine and five, even though he learned during the heated divorce proceeding that the children were really fathered by a "family friend."

During the San Diego trial of Cleophus "Little Pie" Prince Jr., 26, accused of murdering six women, one of the prosecutor's tactics was to show the jury a videotape of one of the victims, an aspiring actress, at work and play, to emphasize the tragedy of her death. There was much crying in the courtroom during the playing of the tape, and among those sobbing was Prince's own lawyer. The judge ordered a hasty recess, but in August the jury recommended that Prince be given the death penalty.

In April Baltimore circuit judge Thomas J. Bollinger sentenced a man who'd been convicted of rape to probation, though a 20-year prison sentence had been recommended. Bollinger's rationale was that since the woman and the man were friends and he penetrated her only after she voluntarily lay down on his bed fully clothed to sleep off a drinking binge, it was not really rape. Drawing an analogy to a property crime, the judge said, if "I grab your purse" it's "robbery," but "if you . . . leave your pocketbook on the bench, and I take it" it's merely "larceny." Two months earlier in Newport, Wales, a judge said he would sentence a 15-year-old boy only to probation for raping a girl of the same age--provided he pay her about $700 so she could take a vacation and get over the incident.

In July in Bristol, Connecticut, Kathleen Driscoll filed a formal complaint accusing her ex-lover Richard LaMothe of being the person who made a series of harassing phone calls to her. Telephone-company records tended to support her charge. In addition Driscoll said that one call consisted only of silence punctuated by a very loud belch, which Driscoll positively identified as LaMothe's.

Cries for Help

In September Leona Vanatta, 66, was charged with robbing the San Fernando, California, Trans World Bank, of which she's a regular customer. She had arrived at the bank expecting that her monthly social-security check for $242 had been deposited directly into her account. When informed the funds were not yet available, she pulled out a gun and said, "Now can I have my money?" She had taken the $242, hopped on her bicycle, and started to pedal home when she was apprehended.

A federal appeals court upheld the conviction of Rodney Hamrick on mail-bombing charges in June. The first piece of evidence that led investigators to Hamrick, who ultimately confessed to the crime, was his return address on the bomb package.

In September Gwen Laymon said that her recently arrested son, Eric, accused in a drive-by shooting of a 12-year-old girl in New Orleans, couldn't possibly have participated in the incident. Laymon told reporters that at the time of that shooting Eric was at a nearby housing project participating in another shooting.

When police arrived at the Clearwater, Florida, home of Vincent J. Branciforte, 39, in September, they intended only to question him about taking photographs on a public beach of little girls showering nude--though possession of such photos is not illegal in Florida. But Branciforte immediately said, "I know why you are here," went outside, fished around in his garbage can, and then handed police photographs that were illegal. He was promptly arrested. "Had he not given us those pictures," said Captain Frank Palombo, "we'd have nothing."

In a case report in a 1993 issue of the Journal of Forensic Sciences, an Aberdeen, Washington, coroner described the death of a depressed 28-year-old man, who killed himself by tying a thick nylon rope from his neck to a tree stump in a rural area, getting into his truck, fastening his seat belt, and accelerating until he decapitated himself.

The Weirdo-American Community

In September light-bulb eater Jim Rose was forced to postpone a 33-city tour for one month because he was still recuperating from his last show in the Netherlands. To satisfy TV and radio stations there, Rose had ingested five bulbs in one day (his usual limit is no more than one every 24 hours) and had to be treated for stomach cramps and bleeding bowels.

I Don't Think So

Timothy Ray Anderson filed a lawsuit in May against a McDonald's restaurant in Milwaukee for injuries he suffered when a security guard shot him in the stomach as he attempted a robbery. In the complaint Anderson's lawyer wrote, "The mere fact that you're holding up McDonald's with a gun doesn't mean you give up your right to be protected from somebody who wants to shoot you."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Slug Signorino.

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