Wednesday, February 29, 2012

26 Million Year-Old Penguin Reconstructed From Fossils

Scientists reconstruct long-extinct giant penguin

Feb 29 2012

NICK PERRY, Associated Press

This undated graphic illustration released by University of Otago on Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 shows a giant penguin called a Kairuku. It's taken 26 million years, but scientists say getting the first glimpse at what a long-extinct giant penguin looked like was worth the wait. Experts from New Zealand and the United States have reconstructed the fossil skeleton of one of the giant sea birds for the first time, revealing long wings, a slender build and a spearlike bill that have them describing it as one elegant bird. (AP Photo/University of Otago)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — It was a slender bird, with long wings and a spear-like bill to catch swift ocean prey. And scientists say the first glimpse of the extinct giant penguin species was worth the 26 million-year wait.

Experts from New Zealand and the United States reconstructed a fossil skeleton of one of the giant sea birds to reveal a body shape unique from known penguin species with features that have them describing it as one elegant bird.

The bird they dubbed Kairuku — Maori for "diver who returns with food" — stood about 4 feet 2 inches (1.3 meters) tall and lived in the Oligocene period, about 26 million years ago. The research on Kairuku was published this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The first Kairuku bones were discovered 35 years ago in New Zealand by Ewan Fordyce, a professor of geology at New Zealand's University of Otago. He recently teamed with Dan Ksepka, a research assistant professor at North Carolina State University, to reconstruct a skeleton from multiple sets of fossils, using a king penguin as a model.

"It's pretty exciting," Fordyce told The Associated Press. "We've got enough from three key specimens to get a pretty reliable construction of its body size."

Fordyce said the bird's elongated bill may have been useful in catching swift prey and its large body size likely helped it swim farther and dive deeper than modern-day penguins.

The bird is about a foot (30 centimeters) taller than the largest modern penguin, the emperor. It would have weighed about 132 pounds (60 kilograms), 50 percent more than an emperor.

When Kairuku was alive, most of modern New Zealand was submerged beneath the ocean. The scientists believe the remaining isolated, rocky land masses helped keep the penguins safe from potential predators and provided them with plentiful supplies of food.

Fordyce said there are several reasons why the giant penguins might have become extinct: It could have been from climate change, the arrival of new predators, or increased competition for food from seals and other creatures.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Do Sharks Eat When They're Really Hungry?

Other Sharks: Shark Swallows Shark

Divers on Australia's Great Barrier Reef recently snapped rare pictures of a wobbegong, or carpet shark, swallowing a bamboo shark whole.

Given the relative sizes of the animals, this is the equivalent of an Australian swallowing a Filipino, whole, head first.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Snake Aficionado's Reptile Collection Seized

NC man loses $49k collection of poisonous snakes

Feb 25 2012

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. — A North Carolina man is losing his exotic reptile collection worth $49,000 after police found dozens of venomous lizards and snakes in his home.

Fifty-one-year-old Walter Kidd of Hendersonville pleaded guilty Friday to 30 misdemeanor charges of possessing endangered animals and failing to properly label containers of poisonous snakes.

Police seized the reptiles in August after Kidd was bitten by an exotic venomous snake and rushed to a hospital. Officers said his mobile home was packed with snakes in plastic containers.

Kidd's attorney says the reptiles were not a danger because they were kept inside his home. "Stay out of his house and you're safe," according to his lawyer, a local dimwit.

The reptiles were taken to the state natural sciences museum in Raleigh.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Most Bizarre President Ever

Dead ex President the 'Best,' Harris Poll

06 Feb 2012

By Jimbomax wire

In one of the most bizarre stories in modern U.S. History, the bigoted, war monger, insensitive, mean-spirited, unforgiving and Alzheimer racked Ronald Reagan was selected as the best modern U.S. President.

The man who couldn't even keep track of who the U.S. was attacking militarily at a given time and who relied on his ex movie actor wife, who consulted with clairvoyants, to advise him what to do, outdistanced both Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy in the public's opinion: 25% Reagan, 19% Roosevelt and 15% Kennedy.

Reagan's bumbling, mumbling, misinformed style and his disdain for the poor and disabled; together with his penchant for judging the character of other world leaders by the way they ate jelly beans, apparently swayed the public.

Historians were appalled by the public's selection of the classically dumb Reagan as the best President in modern U.S. history. One scholar almost lost his lunch when informed of the selection.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flying High


Will Kane

February 16, 2012

Ray Pirro was probably hallucinating while flying, a coroner says.

Cessna 172 crashed near Barstow and Garfield.

A Tracy man who stole a single-engine plane from the Concord airport before crashing it in Fresno was so "extraordinarily" high on methamphetamine that he probably couldn't see straight, authorities said Wednesday.

Ray Pirro, 52, died when the four-seat Cessna he was flying apparently ran out of gas and crashed in a Fresno field Feb. 5. No one else was injured.

It wasn't the first crash for Pirro, who didn't have a pilot's license and went to prison in 2003 and 2008 for stealing cars. He crashed his own plane in 1988 when he ran out of gas, but he suffered only minor injuries, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

An autopsy conducted after last week's crash showed that Pirro had a methamphetamine concentration of 2,500 nanograms per milliliter of blood, said David Hadden, the Fresno County coroner. A concentration of around 300 is considered toxic, Hadden said.

"This indicates that's he's a heavy user; we feel that this guy has been using for a long time," Hadden said. "But he was still too high to fly an airplane, that's for sure."

Hadden said Pirro would probably have been hallucinating, paranoid and suffering from extreme mood swings when he was flying the plane.

"That's almost certainly what caused him to crash," Hadden said.

Felix Boston, 61, the owner of the stolen plane, said that when emergency crews arrived at the crash site, they found that the cockpit was filled with "Pop-Tarts, energy drinks, chips and Cheez Whiz."

Pirro had to take drug tests as part of his parole for auto theft, authorities said. He passed a test Feb. 2, two days before the plane was stolen, said Luis Patino, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Pirro was not a licensed pilot, although he was listed as the owner of a single-engine, 1959-vintage Cessna plane, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

Pirro crashed that plane just 17 days after he bought it in 1988. The National Transportation Safety Board blamed inadequate training after he ran out of gas and crashed just short of the Tracy airport, records show.

The plane was found nosed over. Pirro fled the scene without notifying authorities, according to records.

Boston, a retired Air Force officer who lives in Walnut Creek, said investigators had told him it appeared his plane ran out of gas before Pirro crashed it in Fresno.

The plane was taken early Feb. 4 from Buchanan Field in Concord. It was spotted in a hangar at the Byron airport later that day, but no one knew then that it was stolen, Boston said.

The Fresno crash happened about 4 p.m. the next day.

Boston said his plane had been locked but that, like most small planes, it could easily be opened with a screwdriver.

"It had a full tank, the headsets were all there, it was ready," Boston said.

He said he had just reupholstered the cockpit.

"I loved that plane, it was my baby - it was the first real plane I ever had," Boston said. "This would make a great movie, wouldn't it?"

Boston was arrested and charged with gross stupidity. Bond was set at $3 billion Euros because Boston was considered a "flight" risk. Ha. ha.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sexy Couple Shot Down By Voyeur Cops

Naked, bound woman in Subaru was part of a sexy romp

Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
Updated 2012-02-15

A little Valentine's Day romantic role-playing went wrong for a Portland, Ore., couple after police found the woman bound and naked in the back of a Subaru driven by her lover, the Portland Police Bureau reports.

By Portland Police Bureau
The woman quickly told the cops that she was playing a role, voluntarily, but the couple was arrested anyway. Nikolas Harbar, 31, and Stephanie Pelzner, 26, were booked on charges of disorderly conduct in the second degree.

After police were tipped that a naked woman was seen bound and
gagged in the back of the blue Subaru Legacy at a supermarket, police went on the lookout. The witness provided police with a license plate number even though the driver reassured him the couple was just fooling around.

The cops were waiting in force -- nine squad cars -- when Harbar and Pelzner pulled their car into the driveway at home. Embarrassed? We suppose.

But nine (9) police cars? A few voyeur cops maybe? Come see the show, fellas.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Would You Want This Man To Be Your Son-In-Law?

Workman charged with bestiality with a Labrador retriever

By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY

A popular building superintendent at an apartment complex in New York state has been arrested on charges of bestiality involving a tenant's Labrador retriever, The Journal News reports.

Kujtim Nicaj, who lived and worked at the Rye Colony apartment complex in Rye, N.Y., until his arrest, is also charged with burglary.

Nicaj's lawyer, Steven Davidson, says his 41-year-old client is "humiliated" by the charges, which he denies, and is worried about providing for his wife and two kids.

The police say Nicaj allegedly broke into the tenant's apartment with a key on Feb. 8 and sodomized the dog.

The newspaper, quoting authorities, says the incident was captured on a "nannycam" set up by the tenant, who had suspected that someone had been entering the apartment.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hypocrisy Flourishes In Arizona

Anti-immigrant, gay sheriff has illegal alien lover

Deirdre Hamill, AP/Arizona Republic)

Conservative Sheriff Admits Being Gay

Sheriff Took Tough Stands on Immigration - Lover Revealed as Mexican Illegal

» Sheriff Faces Voters in Arizona - Prospects Dim

Restaurant's Nightmare - Diner's Heart Attack

By Tiffany Hsu

February 15, 2012

In one of the more unfortunate cases of a company living up to its name, a man dining at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas had exactly what was on the menu: A heart attack.

The diner was eating a “Triple Bypass Burger” -- which includes 1.5 pounds of beef and a dozen bacon slices -- this weekend when he began complaining of chest pains, according to a report from FOX5. Paramedics quickly arrived to treat the customer, who is now recovering.

The restaurant opened in the fall and quickly made headlines for its fatty foods, with meals that regularly feature nearly 10,000 calories. Servers are dressed – scantily – as “nurses” who take “prescriptions” from their “patients.”

“Patients” who weigh more than 350 pounds eat for free. “Taste worth dying for!,” the restaurant’s website crows.

The owner, “Doctor” Jon Basso -- who doesn’t actually have a medical background -- said the incident was “horrible."

"It’s not anything to be taken lightly.”

He said the restaurant has warnings about its bad-for-you food on its door and menu but was still a “full house” midday Wednesday.

Basso blasted tourists and others who had mocked the customer, saying they “should be sensitive to the poor guy -- he’s got a mom somewhere.”

“I don’t mind if people demonize me because that’s part of our shtick -- we’re the bad guys of the hamburger industry,” Basso said.

But the eatery is far from the only one that has recently reveled in culinary excess. A number of restaurants have bucked the trend toward healthier food that currently has chains such as McDonald’s boasting of their farm-fresh produce and low-calorie options.

Witness Jack in the Box’s new bacon milkshake, which registers at 1,081 calories for 24 ounces -- or the equivalent of two KFC Double Down sandwiches.

Carl’s Jr. owner CKE is famously unrepentant about its “big fat” burgers, even launching a series of commercials last year highlighting its indulgent menu offerings to its core “young, hungry guy” audience. (But not long after, the chain introduced a line of leaner turkey burgers.)

Even after celebrity chef Paula Deen acknowledged her Type 2 diabetes diagnosis and began repping diabetes drug-maker Novo Nordisk this year, she continued to plug her signature buttery-drenched recipes.

There's a real double standard in the food business. Diners are encouraged to eat healthy but then are faced with menus that are fat and calorie laden.

Man Survives Two Months Without Food In Car Buried In Snow - Yikes.

Feb. 20, 2012
Stockholm, Sweden

Peter Skyllberg, a 44-year-old man from Sweden, survived two months trapped in his snow-covered car due to a "natural igloo" that formed from the air trapped in the vehicle, the Telegraph reports.

In a stroke of luck, passersby found Skyllberg in his car in Umea, a town a little south of the Arctic Circle, where the Telegraph reports authorities say he was in "really bad shape." He was immediately taken to a nearby hospital, where he is expected to be released in a few days after a full recovery. The temperature in the area had reportedly dropped to -30 F.

Doctor Ulf Segerberg, the Chief Medical Officer at Norrland's University Hospital told the paper in a separate report that, combined with the igloo effect, it's not unheard of a human to survive without food for that long.

"Starvation for one month, anyone can tolerate that if they have water to drink," Segerberg told the Telegraph. "If you have body fat, you will survive even longer, although you end up looking like someone coming from a concentration camp."

The BBC reports that one doctor told the Swedish Vasterbotten Courier that Skyllberg survived by going into a "kind of hibernation."

Segerberg recognized that Skyllberg's survival was against the odds, the Telegraph reports.

"This is a case in a lifetime. Every winter we have people who have frozen to death. But a case like this, with someone caught outside for such a long time, is very rare, because it's very rare that you are not missed by anyone, which seems to be the case in this instance."

So far Skyllberg has declined to be interviewed, the paper reports, and only wants everyone to know that he is doing better.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

71 Year-Old Son Delivers 98 Year-Old Mom A Special Gift On Her Birthday, An Eviction Notice

US man trying to evict 98-year-old mom on birthday

Feb 17 2012

Brian A. Pounds, AP/Connecticut Post

Mary Kantorowski of Fairfield, Conn. is seen at home in a Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 photo. Kantorowski, whose son served her with eviction papers on her 98th birthday two months ago, is fighting his efforts to remove her from her home. Her oldest son, 71-year-old Peter Kantorowski of Trumbull, says he's concerned about his/her well-being.

FAIRFIELD, Connecticut (AP) — A woman whose son served her with eviction papers on her 98th birthday is fighting his efforts to remove her from her home.

Mary Kantorowski's oldest son, 71-year-old Peter Kantorowski, says he's concerned about her well-being. When he last saw her eight months ago, she seemed disoriented and was living in poor conditions, he said.

Peter Kantorowski, who owns the house, says his mother has rejected his suggestions to live with him or in a nursing home. A trial is set for March 2.

"I didn't think he would do it," Mary Kantorowski said. "My husband worked hard, difficult jobs to buy this house. He built the garage and did a lot of work on the house and he told me never to leave it."

Her husband, John, died in 1997.

"This is just a despicable situation," her lawyer, Richard Bortolot Jr., told the Connecticut Post newspaper. "Mary has been living here happily paying all the expenses for the house and now her son, Peter, comes along and is telling her, 'Get the hell out,' so he can sell it."

Mary Kantorowski's other son, Jack Kantorowski, told WTNH-TV: "There are no other words to call him. He's just a scumbag."

Bortolot said a probate court stopped Peter Kantorowski from trying to sell the house after the eviction papers were served in December.

Peter Kantorowski says he's just looking out for his mother's best interests.

"I'm not throwing her on the street," he said. "At her age, at 98, I'm sure that she should be with people of her peers. She should have her meals on time."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Man Tries To Turn President Obama On - Gets Turned Down and Arrested

An unlucky drug smuggler in a plane filled with marijuana was intercepted by F-16s and later arrested after he wandered into President Obama's airspace on Thursday. The president was in Southern California on a fundraising tour when he traveled from Orange County to Los Angeles on-board the presidential helicopter, Marine One. A single-engine Cessna entered the eight-mile restricted airspace buffer around Marine One and did not respond when contacted by air traffic controllers. This caused the Air Force to scramble military jets. The Cessna landed at Long Beach Airport. When federal agents approached the plane intending to question the pilot, it was discovered that the plane was carrying about 40 pounds of marijuana, presumably being smuggled from south of the border. The pilot was arrested and turned over to local law enforcement, who refused to comment on the investigation. The Secret Service would not say how close the plane got to the president, but did say he was never in any danger of getting some high quality weed fresh from Mejico. There is no evidence Obama has ever smoked marijuana, although his predecessor, George W. Bush, was frequently alleged to have been a user of cocaine as a young air force reserve draft dodger.

Oops, Sorry Guys...I Forgot The Explosives

Terrorism suspect arrested near U.S. Capitol in bomb plot sting

Los Angeles Times | Feb. 17, 2012

An man wearing what he thought was a suicide vest packed with explosives was arrested near the U.S. Capitol in Washington by FBI agents who had been closely monitoring him in an undercover sting operation, officials announced today.

The officials got egg on their faces when the suspect turned out to be an accountant with a sunken chest, wearing a simple, padded vest to make him look more manly.

Paired with the I.C.E. shootout of themselves, it turned out to be an embarrassing week for law enforcement in the hunt for terrorism.

Passenger Accomodates Mother of Screaming Brat - Is Fined For The Effort

Flier near crying child opens emergency exit for mom

Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

Having your child throw a tantrum is probably one of the top fears of any parent flying with his or her kids. And sitting near such a child is likely one of the most dreaded annoyances of other passengers.

But the way passengers chose to handle such a situation on a Vietnam flight probably wasn't the best way to go.

The Associated Press has the report, writing:

A mom with a screaming child wanted a quick getaway from a plane on the tarmac in Vietnam and asked for help. The man next to her obliged by opening the emergency exit and triggering the escape slide.

The man – identified by AP as 29-year-old Le Van Thuan – told local authorities he activated the slide so that the woman and her son could get off the plane faster.

However, neither the mom – nor the man – took advantage of the option for a quick getaway. It wasn't clear if that was because the crew intervened or if it was simply because they had second thoughts.

Either way, the man now faces penalties for the move.

An airport official tells AP that the passenger will be fined up to $950. AP adds it will cost the unnamed airline $10,000 to replace the slide. The report didn't make clear whether the man would be responsible for that charge, as well.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Puff, Puff, Puff Until You Puff Yourself To Death

Electric cigarette explodes in Fla man's mouth

Feb 15 2012

MELISSA NELSON, Associated Press

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — A faulty battery caused an electronic cigarette to explode in a Florida's man's mouth, taking out some of his front teeth and a chunk of his tongue and severely burning his face, fire officials said Wednesday.

Tom Holloway, 57, of Niceville, was trying to quit smoking so he was puffing on the device Monday night when it blew up, fire officials said. Officials have not identified the victim, but a Facebook page under his name was filled with well-wishers commenting on the injury and database searches matched his address with his name.

"The best analogy is like it was trying to hold a bottle rocket in your mouth when it went off," said Joseph Parker, division chief for the North Bay Fire Department. "The battery flew out of the tube and set the closet on fire."

Parker said fire investigators do not know the brand of cigarette, type of battery or age of the device. It appears the battery was rechargeable lithium because a recharging station and other batteries were in the room, he said.

Parker said he has forwarded information about the blaze to the Fire Marshall's Office to include in any databases on the devices. But Parker said he has yet to hear of any similar instances.

Fire Chief Joseph Miller said the victim contacted the department on Wednesday to thank firefighters and told them he was recovering at a hospital in Mobile, Ala.

Thomas Kiklas, co-founder of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, said the industry knows of no problems with the cigarettes or batteries exploding.

Kicklas said the cigarettes include a small battery and cartridge. The battery is designed to generate an electric charge when the device is inhaled. The charge sets off the vapor in the cigarette tube.

Kiklas cited a federal report that found 2.5 million Americans used electronic cigarettes last year.

"There have been billions and billions of puffs on the cigarettes and we have not heard of this happening before," he said.

Holloway and his family members didn't immediately answer The Associated Press' requests for interviews.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dumb Crook No. 6,425,387 in 2012

Fugitive runs out of gas, calls sheriff for help

Feb 14 2012

Associated Press

EVANSTON, Wyo. (AP) — A 59-year-old fugitive is back behind bars after he ran out of gas in Wyoming and called the local sheriff's office for roadside assistance.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol said Tuesday that Richard Vincent of Prineville, Ore., was wanted in Georgia for violating parole on a murder and escape conviction.

Vincent called the Uinta (YOO'-ihn-tah) County Sheriff's Office which sent state troopers to help him out. When they learned that Vincent had an outstanding felony warrant from Atlanta, he was taken into custody.

Vincent is now being held for Georgia authorities pending extradition.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dad's Unlikely Story For Showing Porn At Kids' Party

Dad plays porn instead of 'Smurfs' at kid's party

Feb 13 2012


TREMONTON, Utah (AP) Police Chief Dave Nance tells the Standard-Examiner of Ogden ( ) the man rented a copy of "The Smurfs" from a Redbox kiosk and loaded the disc into his laptop. But when he turned the projector on for the children, pornographic images flashed on the screen.

Authorities got involved when the father complained somebody had tampered with the DVD. Police found nothing wrong, saying the porn was probably already on Dad's laptop.

Nance says officials aren't pursuing charges because the incident was apparently an accident.

"The Smurfs" was released in 2011 and features animated blue creatures that are chased into New York City by an evil wizard.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ouch. Cost Saving Endodontistry

Dentist admits using paper clips in root canals

Jan. 24, 2012
Associated Press

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. -- An ex-dentist has pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud for using sections of paper clips instead of stainless steel posts in root canals to save money.

Michael Clair, who had a practice in Fall River, is scheduled to be sentenced next week. He pleaded guilty Friday to defrauding Medicaid of $130,000, assault and battery, illegally prescribing prescription drugs and witness intimidation charges.

Some of Clair's patients reported infections after he performed root canals on them, said Grant Woodman, a spokesman for state Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office prosecuted Clair.

Prosecutors say Clair was suspended by Medicaid in 2002 but continued filing by using the names of other dentists in his practice.

Clair's license to practice dentistry was suspended in Massachusetts in July 2006. Woodman said Clair is no longer licensed to practice dentistry in any state.

Clair's lawyer, John Dingee, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday. The 53-year-old Clair now lives in Crofton, Md.

James Kulild, a professor of endodontics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, said there are very limited circumstances under which a paper clip could be used during dental procedures. He said a paper clip should never be left in permanently.

"Paper clips do not satisfy the requirements for posts, not only because they aren't made of stainless steel but because their shape and consistency will not allow them to be functionally acceptable to use," Kulild said.

Read more:

The Sights, Sounds and Odors of Love

NYC sewage plant to offer Valentine's Day tours

Feb 10 2012

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — It may not smell like a rose but a New York City sewage plant is offering tours for lovers on Valentine's Day.

The tour host and superintendent of the Newtown Creek Wastewater treatment plant in Brooklyn tells the Daily News ( ) it'll be a unique date, and one that special someone will never forget.

Jim Pynn says the highlight of the tour will be the plant's giant egg-shaped digesters, which break down the noxious waste into harmless sludge and gas.

Pynn says each Valentine's Day visitor will get a Hershey kiss — and at least something to talk about.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Better Late Than Never

Funeral for man entombed for 27 years in chimney

Aug 12 2011

(AP Photo/Abbeville Police Department)

The chimney of an Abbeville bank building where the remains of Robert Schexnider were found 27 years after his disappearance is seen in Abbeville, La. Described as laid back by the few who remember him, Schexnider left a big question behind: how did he end up in the bank's narrow brick chimney? Was it a robbery attempt gone awry, an accident or a sinister way for someone to get rid of him? All police can say with certainty is Schexnider became trapped in the chimney and apparently died there in 1984. The chimney was his tomb for 27 years.

Now Joseph Schexnider will be laid to rest Sunday in a proper grave with a proper farewell by his family. Still, his brother Robert wonders, how did he wind up in that chimney? Didn't anyone hear any cries for help? Was it a robbery attempt gone awry, an accident or something more sinister?

"At least we know where he is now," Schexnider, 48, said, tears welling in his eyes ahead of his brother's weekend funeral and burial. "At least he's home."

Nearly three decades after he disappeared, much mystery lingers about the case of Joseph Schexnider and involving a small town bank in the southern Louisiana city of Abbeville. Police say Schexnider became trapped and apparently died in the bank's chimney in 1984. But beyond that, they know little more.

"Everybody has an opinion," said Lt. David Hardy, chief of investigations for the Abbeville Police Department. "But no one has evidence to say one way or another."

If Joseph Schexnider did cry out for help, no one heard his pleas. The stench of death was never detected which is hard to believe.

The decades rolled on until last May when a construction worker helping turn the bank's vacant second floor into offices tugged some fabric out of the chimney and was showered with old clothes and human bones.

Described as sweet-natured and relaxed by the few who remember him, Joseph Schexnider was 22 when his family last saw him in January 1984. He had no criminal record, but was wanted for possessing a stolen car.

A lanky, rambling man, Schexnider was prone to wandering at an early age.

In the years after they last saw them, his family, his mother, and two brothers and a sister, had not reported him missing _ and no one searched for him.

"My mother worried about him, but I just said, 'Mom, that's just Joseph being Joseph,'" Robert Schexnider said. "He was always taking off for somewhere."

Joseph first ran off around the age of 9 or 10, Robert recalled, adding his brother had dropped out of high school in the ninth grade.

He worked now and then at this and that, quitting jobs when he became tired and moving on. He was briefly in the Louisiana National Guard, leaving with a medical discharge. One of the few pictures of him shows him in uniform, his dark eyes looking off into the distance.

"He was always going off somewhere," Robert Schexnider said. "He told me he'd seen every state in the country."

Schexnider followed carnivals and once traveled with a circus. He told his brother he hawked cotton candy and peanuts with the shows, traveling with the circus to New York where he was stranded when it left to go overseas.

"He didn't have enough money to get home, so the church helped him out," recalled Francis Plaisance, a city councilman and the pastor of the church the Schexniders attended. "I remember him as being a nice kid."

Plaisance also remembers Joseph as a somewhat simple person. When the church sent a plane ticket to New York for him to come home, Schexnider was unable to navigate the airport.

"We ended up having a pastor up there walking him through it and put him on the plane," Plaisance said.

Jason Hebert, now a detective with Abbeville Police, went to elementary school with Joseph Schexnider. He described him as quiet kid, on the fringe of a group of young boys that made mischief in the town.

"He was just another kid," Hebert said. "Nothing really stood out about him."

With the remains found in the chimney were a yellow long-sleeve shirt, a pair of jeans, blue tennis shoes, and jockey shorts with Schexnider's name printed in the waistband. There also was a magazine and gloves.

He had a wallet with a copy of his birth certificate, a Social Security card and a few pictures.

"There was no sign of foul play," Hardy said. But, he said, there is no way to determine the cause of death.

A DNA test confirmed his identity.

From the way the skeleton was recovered, Hardy said it appeared Schexnider went into the 14-inch-by-14-inch chimney feet first. Because the chimney narrowed sharply at the bottom, he then was apparently unable to maneuver his way back out.

There was no way out at the bottom of the chute, which ended in a 3-inch opening to a narrow fireplace on the second floor of the bank building.

"He was stuck with nowhere to go," Hardy said. If he had called for help _ Hardy points out _ he would have been 20 feet above the street, and encased in bricks.

"His voice would have been carried up and away from the street," Hardy added.

None of the people working on the floor below reported any strange sounds. No one ever went into the seldom-used second floor and reported any strange smells.

Abbeville is home to 12,000 people. Its picturesque downtown is a collection of late 19th-century one- and two-story buildings that have been carefully restored. The flat rooftops are well known to the town children. The two-story brick Abbeville Bank stands on a corner, its roof offering a view across the courthouse and beyond.

Access to the one- and two-story roofs was always an easy climb, Hebert said. He scampered on them as a kid; now as a police officer, he's chased children off the rooftops.

"We played up there a lot," Hebert said. "But I don't remember anyone ever going around the chimneys."

The chimneys on the downtown roofs were capped in 1987, but Schexnider went unnoticed.

His brother won't guess why Joseph went into the chimney, but acknowledged in his final days in town that Joseph had gotten in "with a bad crowd." He was carrying no burglary tools when found or anything to carry away money if he had planned to rob the bank.

Plaisance said he could see it as a misconceived burglary plan on Schexnider's part, however.

"He was the kind of guy who would do things without really thinking them through," Plaisance said.

After so many decades and so few clues, Abbeville Police have declared the case closed.

The Death of Chivalry, Literally

Man drowns in rescue attempt; girlfriend was already safe

Comments 1


By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY
Updated 19h 14m ago

A 25-year-old man who drowned while trying to rescue his girlfriend may not have realized she had already escaped from her car sinking in the Tennessee River, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

Authorities say Christopher Heaton of Jasper, Tenn., had driven to the spot near Bridgeport, Ala., on Tuesday to meet his unidentified girlfriend at a boat ramp.

Witnesses told police that Heaton spotted her vehicle being swept down the river and immediately dove into the water, the paper says.

But the woman had already escaped and was being helped from the water by a fisherman at a ramp only 20 yards away, according to Jackson County Chief Deputy Rock Harnen.

"He may not have seen her," Harnen says, the newspaper reports.

The newspaper reports that family members, in an obituary notice, said Heaton, a father of two, apparently believed that a small child was trapped in the car.

The Times Free Press says investigators did not immediately know why the woman had driven her car so close to the river.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Motorsickle Maniac On Loose In Iowa

Iowa Motorsickle Maniac Clocked At 188 MPH Convicted

By Nicole Paseka, The Des Moines Register

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – A motorcyclist whose speeds reached 188 mph during a chase by troopers may spend two years in prison after he is sentenced March 8.

James Foldenauer of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was found guilty Wednesday of traveling at excessive speed and eluding a police officer as he drove Aug. 5, 2009, on Interstate 29 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. The speed limit was 70 mph, and he and another motorcyclist were clocked at 89 mph in a construction zone.

The other motorcyclist, a woman, stopped, said Sgt. Bryan Michelsen of the Iowa State Patrol. Foldenauer accelerated his 2003 Suzuki Hayabusa and reached 188 mph near Honey Creek, Iowa.

But that's not the fastest motorcycle chase: Michelsen said he found records from the Minnesota Highway Patrol clocking a motorcycle at 205 mph. Two Iowa State Patrol officers on the ground and one in the air pursued Foldenauer although the police cars couldn't keep up with the motorcycle.

"I don't think he knew we had a plane over him. If he had known that, he probably would have stopped," Michelsen said.

Pilot Scott Pigsley said he was concerned on that day about the safety of not only the motorcyclist, who was wearing a helmet, but also everyone else traveling on I-29 in his path.

"I not only watched him pass on the shoulders at high rates of speed, but I saw him go on the centerline between semis and cars," Pigsley said.

Pigsley followed the motorcyclist across the Missouri River to an Omaha, Neb., residence, where Omaha police officers arrested him.

Michael Murphy, Foldenauer's lawyer, says that the motorcyclist whom the Iowa State Patrol tracked that day was not Foldenauer.

"His motorcycle was an orange motorcycle, kind of a bright orange. Everybody identified a red motorcycle, so that was our problem we had," Murphy said. The Pottawattamie County jury didn't buy it.

Dena Gray-Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Transportation, said Foldenauer's license will be revoked one year, and he can request a work permit.

Foldenauer has been cited previously for less serious traffic offenses, online court records show.

Michelsen said no one knows for sure why Foldenauer didn't stop.

"I guess we'll never know 100 percent because he never did confess," Michelsen said.

Man Foreclosed By Bank of America

Feb 9, 2012

Abandoned homes have become an increasingly common sight amidst a national foreclosure crisis. Yet what may lurk forgotten behind closed doors may be much worse than nothing at all.

Might not be the actual skull of David Carter - a facsimile

A Milwaukee real estate agent entered one such house last month after it was repossessed due to tax foreclosure -- the government can foreclose on a home if taxes and subsequent fees are not paid off within a designated time period -- to find a sight he's not likely to forget soon. The body of the owner David Carter was found on the stairs in a "nearly skeletonized" state after being left there undiscovered for what investigators believe to be up to four years, The Daily Mail reports.

Carter, whose friends and acquaintances described as "smart and generous," even "funny," quit his job as a nuisance control officer for the City of Milwaukee in 2007, telling co-workers that he planned to move to New Mexico, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Instead, it appears that Carter committed suicide. He was found with a bullet wound through his head and a handgun on his chest the day that he would have turned 45 years old.

Sadly, Carter's isn't the first body to be discovered after a seemingly unfathomable amount of time. In England, creditors looking for unpaid bills found the body of a 38-year-old London woman in her rented room in 2006 nearly three years after she's believed to have died. The episode is the subject of a forthcoming film, Dreams of Life, the research for which revealed that the woman was acquaintances with many influential members of London's 80s and 90s pop music scene.

In addition, police last year found an elderly woman's body in a home in Sydney, Australia after she was believed to have died sometime around 2003.

Though Carter and others were found in their homes years after their deaths, the opposite situation -- declaring someone dead prematurely -- has also occurred. A Florida woman is currently suing her lender, JPMorgan Chase, after the bank mistakenly declared her deceased in 2010, which she claimed ruined her credit score. Similarly, a veteran has had to prove his existence four times over in the past two years after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stopped paying him his pension benefits on the grounds that he's no longer living.

One in every 627 Wisconsin housing units received a foreclosure filing in December 2011, according to RealtyTrac. In total, the state had the tenth most foreclosure activity of any state.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Take It To The Limit - Road Rage

Trooper: Irate driver hits man with sledge hammer

Feb 08 2012
Associated Press

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The Washington State Patrol says an irate driver apparently whacked a man with a small sledge hammer in a road rage dispute.

Trooper Julie Startup, whose father was a Washington State motorists assistance patrolmen who had his name legally changed, says authorities responded early Tuesday to a report of a two-car collision on State Route 167 in the Renton area. They found a 33-year-old Renton man rubbing his left shoulder.

The man, who was driving a Nissan 300ZX, said he'd been hit by the driver of a minivan with a sledge hammer.

Startup says the Nissan and minivan drivers described a lane change and some aggressive driving that ended with their vehicles colliding.

Brett Carter of Bothell was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon. The unidentified Nissan driver was cited with negligent driving.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Space Cadet Returns Cocaine Stash To Store

Feb. 2, 2012
Helena, MT

Employees at a local retailer found an illegal surprise in a pocket of a pair of returned jeans on Tuesday.

Photos of two possible suspects identified by police are shown above.

Apparently, the person who brought back the Ariat jeans forgot about the vial of cocaine in the pocket.

Helena Police Chief Troy McGee said police received a call from Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply on Tuesday morning reporting that a small glass vial of cocaine was located within a plastic bag in the jeans.

The pants had been returned the previous day. The discovery was made when employees were restocking the jeans, McGee said.

Police are tracking who returned the jeans with the narcotic addition.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chicken Wing Eating Champ - Barf

Kobayashi downs record 337 wings at Pa. Wing Bowl

Feb 03 2012

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Competitive-eating champ Takeru Kobayashi (tah-kah-roo koh-bee-yah-shee) conquered Philadelphia's annual gustatory gorge-fest by eating 337 chicken wings in a half-hour before a crowd of nearly 20,000 at Wing Bowl XX.

The Wing Bowl is considered by some to be a tune up for the Super Bowl, to be played Sunday, February 5. Kobayashi will not compete in the Super Bowl.

The Japanese phenom demolished the record of 255 wings set last year by Jonathan "Super" Squibb, a possible heir to the Squibb family fortune.

The Friday morning extravaganza drew thousands to the Wells Fargo Center before sunrise to watch competitors stuff themselves with chicken wings.

Kobayashi claimed a $20,000 cash prize for his victory. It was the six-time Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest champ's first time competing at Wing Bowl, though he consumed a cheese steak in 24 seconds as part of an eating exhibition last year.

Squibb had been trying to win his fourth consecutive Wing Bowl crown, but the Berlin, N.J., man finished a distant second with 271 wings.

No video of the wing fest was available but the video below shows Kobayashi eating an entire pizza in less than a minute.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Vermont Police Pigs

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A prison inmate who makes stationery and license plates pulled a fast one on state police by adding the image of a pig to the state decal on their cruisers.

On the 16-inch car door decals, made by prisoners in Windsor, one of the spots on a cow in a scene with mountains and a pine tree has been changed to the shape of a pig, a derogatory term for police.

A Vermont state trooper discovered the pig while inspecting his vehicle on Wednesday. State police say they believe the decals have been added to about 30 cruisers in the past year.

About 60 altered decals were made over the last couple of years, said Andy Pallito, commissioner of the Department of Corrections, which is looking into who made the modification and when.

New decals will be made by Monday at a cost of $780. The expense will be covered by a surplus in the revolving fund that supports the offender work program, Pallito said.

State police Maj. Bill Sheets wasn't amused by the prank.

"While some may find humor in the decal modifications, the joke unfortunately comes at the expense of the taxpayers," he said Thursday.

The Burlington Free Press newspaper first reported the pig decals.

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