After the war, Vallandingham became a lawyer. In his last appearance in the courtroom, he represented a client on trial for murder. The accused man's defense was that the victim had drawn his own gun in a fashion that caused it to fire, killing himself. To prove the defense argument, Vallandigham demonstrated the victim's method of drawing a gun--using the loaded evidence gun as his prop. The firearm went off, and he lost his life--but proved his case.
(December 1997, Pennsylvania) A prisoner in the new Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh attempted to evade his punishment by engineering an escape from his confinement. Jerome constructed a hundred-foot rope of bedsheets, broke through a supposedly shatter-proof cell window, began to climb to freedom down his makeshift ladder.
It is not known whether his plan took into account the curiosity of drivers on the busy street and Liberty Bridge below. It certainly did not take into account the sharp edges of the glass, the worn nature of the bedsheet, nor the great distance to the pavement. The bottom of the knotted bedsheet was 86 feet short of the ground. But our hero did not reach the end of the rope. The window pane sliced through the weak cloth and dropped him to his untidy demise 150 feet below.
But wait there's more!
(3 November 1998) Apparently the prison rumor of the previous death did not reach a prisoner who was awating transfer to federal penitentary one year later. He tied eight bedsheets together and rappelled from his seventh-floor window, only to find the rope fell 25 feet short of the ground. Luckier than Jerome, he merely fractured his ankle and scraped his face.
Kentucky: Two men tried to pull the front off a cash machine by running a chain from the machine to the bumper of their pickup truck. Instead of pulling the front panel off the machine, though, they pulled the bumper off their truck. Scared, they left the scene and drove home. With the chain still attached to the machine. With their bumper still attached to the chain. With their vehicle's license plate still attached to the bumper.
A man in Orange County Municipal Court had been ticketed for driving alone in the carpool lane. He claimed that the four frozen cadavers in the mortuary van he was driving should be counted. The judged ruled that passengers must be alive to qualify.
A man was arrested for stealing a car. When he was taken to court for his arraignment the judge asked, how do you plead? Instead of saying guilty or not guilty the man said: "Before we go any further, judge, let me explain why I stole the car." The judge ruled in record time.
After drinking a little too much, Stewart Butcher went to sleep on a West Virginia railroad track. A while later, something woke him-- a 15 car coal train. "I raised up," said Stewart, "and it knocked me out..."
An Australian man accused of murdering his wife can't seem to get his story straight. June Mathew, John Rushton's second wife, testified that Rushton told her his first wife died of a heart attack, ran off with a Baptist minister after committing 55 acts of adultery, and drowned after being washed overboard. Rushton also claimed he was a nuclear physicist, a naval commander, and had been knighted for saving the Queen's life. Mathew, who was married to Rushton for five years, believed him because he was a "good talker..." but those pesky microtremors finally gave him away...
An unidentified man in Buenos Aires pushed his wife out of an eighth-floor window but his plan to kill her failed when she became entangled in some power cables below. Seeing she was still alive, the man jumped and tried to land on top of her. He missed...
Ann Arbor: The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 7:50am, flashed a gun and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.
Arizona: A company called "Guns For Hire" stages gunfights for Western movies, etc. One day, they received a call from a 47-year-old woman, who wanted to have her husband killed. She got 4-1/2 years in jail.
Arkansas: Seems this guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. Seems the liquor store window was made of Plexi-Glass. The whole event was caught on videotape.
Baggy clothes may save your life: a 13-year-old boy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia fell 130 feet from his hi-rise apartment and survived with only minor injuries. Witnesses said Daniel Gurgus' baggy sweater caught tree branches on the way down... remember, kids, just say no to Spandex...
Burglars in Larch Barrens, Md., tried to cut through a safe using a Laser Tag gun.
Carlos Diaz of New York got 18 years to life for committing a series of robberies by pretending a zucchini hidden under his jacket was a gun...
England: A German "tourist," supposedly on a golf holiday, shows up at customs with his golf bag. While making idle chatter about golf, the customs official realizes that the tourist does not know what a "handicap" is. The customs official asks the tourist to demonstrate his swing, which he does--backward! A substantial amount of narcotics was found in the golf bag.
Germany: Oil of Olay no longer turning the trick for her, a woman decided that she would bathe in the milk of a camel (a modern-day Cleopatra). So she stole a camel from the local zoo (where *else* can you find a camel when you need one?) and transported it back to her house--where she realized that the camel's name was "Otto." (Editor's Note 2: She might not have gotten much milk from Otto, but she probably made a friend for life while trying to ...)
(11 March 2003, Spain) Early one morning, police received a call. Three robbers had invaded a Madrid brothel! Officers surrounded the building, and used a bullhorn to coax the offenders from the premises.
The robbers were understandably frightened to be surrounded by dozens of policemen. But Instead of surrendering, they decided to go out in a blaze of glory, and fled the building while shooting at everything in sight. The policemen ducked, covered, and shot back. Two running robbers were fatally injured, and the third was wounded.
Why was the gunfight over so quickly? The three robbers were carrying REAL guns loaded with FAKE ammunition. They were firing blanks, making enough flash and thunder to fool the police into shooting back, but not enough to actually help them escape. (From Darwinawards.com)
(28 July 2007, Czech Republic) A pack of thieves attempted to steal scrap metal from an abandoned factory in Kladno. Unfortunately for them, they selected the steel girders that supported the factory roof. When the roof supports were dismantled, the roof fell, fatally crushing two thieves and injuring three others. (From Darwinawards.com)
(21 June 2007, Philippines) Three entrepreneurs planned to profit from stolen scrap metal. They entered a former US military complex and approached the prize: an abandoned water tank. Bedazzled by the potential upside, the three threw logic to the wind, and began to cut the metal legs out from under the tank. Guess where it fell? Straight onto the thieves. Their flattened bodies have not yet been identified. (From Darwinawards.com)
Missouri- A Kansas City police officer was in a bar called The Flamingo, looking forward to a musical performance by his friends. He had only just arrived when a man ran into the bar and announced that he'd been robbed in the parking lot, as had a second man!
The officer elicited the details of the crime, called for backup, and ran outside, assuming the villian would be long gone. To his surprise, the suspect was still sitting in the pickup truck he had recently car-jacked. The officer approached the man with his gun and his shield drawn for identification.
It turned out that the suspect, Torin, had stolen a vehicle with a manual transmission, but he was unable to drive a stick shift. When he saw the officer, he tried to flee, but had trouble putting the truck into reverse. Only the sound of grinding gears disturbed the quiet night, until the officer hauled the incompetent criminal from the immobile car.
At that point, Torin challenged the officer to a gun fight -- and was quickly dispatched by the startled officer. A check of the perpetrator's gun revealed it was fully loaded, except for the most important round -- the one in the chamber.
There are two morals to this story: if you steal a car, learn how to drive a stick shift FIRST; and if you challenge a police officer to a duel, make sure to load your weapon. (From Darwinawards.com)
Chicago: A man was wanted for throwing bricks through jewelry store windows and making off with the loot. He was arrested last night after throwing a brick into a Plexiglas window...the brick bounced back, hit him in the head and knocked him cold until the police got there.
Portsmouth, RI: Police charged Gregory Rosa, 25, with a string of vending machine robberies in January when he: 1. fled from police inexplicably when they spotted him loitering around a vending machine and 2. later tried to post his $400 bail in coins.
When Stan Caddell wanted to wash his Chevrolet, he backed the car into a foot of water in the Mississippi River at Hannibal, Missouri. When he got out to clean the car, it floated away. Police were able to retrieve the vehicle some distance downstream. According to an officer on the scene, no action would be taken against the driver because "you can't ticket a guy for being stupid..."
A lawyer defending a man accused of burglary tried this creative defense: "My client merely inserted his arm into the window and removed a few trifling articles. His arm is not himself, and I fail to see how you can punish the whole individual for an offense committed by his limb." "Well put," the judge replied. "Using your logic, I sentence the defendant's arm to one year's imprisonment. He can accompany it or not, as he chooses." The defendant smiled. With his lawyer's assistance he detached his artificial limb, laid it on the bench, and walked out.
Washington D.C.: A convict broke out of jail in Washington D.C., then a few days later accompanied his girlfriend to her trial for robbery. At lunch, he went out for a sandwich. She needed to see him, and thus had him paged. Police officers recognized his name and arrested him as he returned to the courthouse in a car he had stolen over the lunch hour.
Radnor, Pennsylvania: Police interrogated a suspect by placing a metal colander on his head and connecting it with wires to a photocopy machine. The message "He's lying" was placed in the copier, and police pressed the copy button each time they thought the suspect wasn't telling the truth. Believing the "lie detector" was working, the suspect confessed.
Ionia, Michigan: When two service station attendants refused to hand over the cash to an intoxicated robber, the man threatened to call the police. They still refused, so the robber called the police and was arrested.
Seattle Washington: When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find an ill man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline and plugged his hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges, saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.
Bumpus, Tenn., A bank robber handed a teller the following note: "Watch out. This is a rubbery. I hav an oozy traned on your but. Dump the in a sack, this one. No die packkets or other triks or I will tare you a new naval. No kwarter with red stuff on them, too." Dr. Creon V.B. Smyk of the Ohio Valley Educational Council says such notes are, lamentably, the rule. "Right across the board, we see poor pre-writing skills, problems with omissions, tense, agreement, spelling and clarity," he moaned. Smyk believes that the quality of robbery notes could be improved if criminals could be taught to plan before writing. "We have to stress organization: Make an outline of your robbery note before you write it," he said. "Some of the notes get totally sidetracked on issues like the make, model and caliber of the gun, number of bullets, etc., until one loses sight of the main idea -- the robbery."
Michigan: Two robbers entered a record shop nervously waving revolvers. The first one shouted, "Nobody move!" When his partner moved, the startled first bandit shot him.
San Francisco: A man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America, walked into the branch and wrote "this iz a stikkup. Put all your muny in this bag." While standing in line, waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller window. So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to Wells Fargo. After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and, surmising from his spelling errors that he was not the brightest light in the harbor, told him that she could not accept his stickup note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America. Looking somewhat defeated, the man said "OK" and left. The Wells Fargo teller then called the police who arrested the man a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at Bank of America.
From England: A motorist was unknowingly caught in an automated speed trap that measured his speed using radar and photographed his car. He later received in the mail a ticket for 40 Pounds and a photo of his car. Instead of payment, he sent the police department a photograph of 40 Pounds. Several days later, he received a letter from the police that contained another picture...of handcuffs. The motorist promptly sent the money for the fine.
Newark, NJ: An off duty police officer had a pistol-shaped cigarette lighter, which he had been using all night while drinking at a local tavern. After many hours and drinks, he apparently mistook his 32 revolver for the lighter. When he went to light his cigarette, he shot and killed John Fazzola, who was seated 5 stools away at the bar...
In Bent Forks, Ill., kidnapers of ice-cube magnate Worth Bohnke sent a photograph of their captive to Bohnke's family. Bohnke was seen holding up a newspaper. It was not that day's edition and, in fact, bore a prominent headline relating to Nixon's trip to China. This was pointed out to the kidnapers in a subsequent phone call. They responded by sending a new photograph showing an up-to-date newspaper. Bohnke, however, did not appear in the picture. When this, too, was refused, the kidnapers became peevish and insisted that a photograph be sent to them showing all the people over at Bohnke's house holding different issues of _Success_ magazine. They provided a mailing address and were immediately apprehended. They later admitted to FBI agents they did not understand the principle involved in the photograph/newspaper concept. "We thought it was just some kind of tradition," said one. Educators agree that such mix-ups point to poor reasoning and comprehension skills, ignorance of current events, and failure to complete work in the time allotted.