Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Creep Show

The strange-looking character in the photo is Rodney Alcala, who this week was given a death sentence in a California courtroom, for five murders committed in the 1970s.

While the thought of this guy being a serial killer is disturbing enough, just as disturbing is the news that in 1978 he appeared as one of the bachelors on television’s then-popular "Dating Game." This was in the midst of his killing spree, as some of the murders occurred before and some following his game show appearance.

In 1972 he had been convicted in the rape and beating of an eight-year-old girl, which tells us a great deal about how lax the screening process was at the "Dating Game."

The "Dating Game" was, in many ways, a precursor to today’s popular "reality" shows. Unlike game shows prior to that time, the "Dating Game" did not simply award prizes of cash and merchandise, it awarded actual dates to the winning "bachelorette" and bachelor.

Which causes us to wonder: How much better is the pre-show vetting process for today’s "reality" shows?

Photo courtesy Michael Goulding

Monday, March 29, 2010

Clutch Play

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, earlier this year:

Stick Shift Thwarts FedEx Hijackers

In an apparently ill-conceived caper, several men briefly hijacked a FedEx van yesterday afternoon and tried to navigate it through rush-hour traffic in Center City before abandoning the easily recognizable vehicle and fleeing.

The plan – if there was a plan – did not include an accomplice who could drive a manual transmission, police said.

At least two assailants, one with a firearm, seized the van around 4 p.m. at 16th and Pine Streets and attempted to drive it before forcing one of two FedEx employees to operate the stick shift for them, police said. The other employee was able to get away and call for help.

The hijackers bailed out at 11th and Market Streets and possibly fled in a burgundy sedan, police said. The men may have initially emerged from the sedan to take the van and the sedan then followed the van, but investigators were still trying to sort out witness accounts.

"Our guys are both safe," said FedEx spokesman David Westrick, who thanked police for responding quickly.

Westrick chuckled when he noted that the suspects "had some trouble driving a standard clutch vehicle."

Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said he personally speculated about an inside job, but was more inclined to believe that the perpetrators "weren't the brightest thieves."

Friday, March 26, 2010

What Was She Thinking?

Here in bucolic western New Jersey, police recently arrested a man for failing to register as a sex offender when they found him walking along Route 22 with an 11-year-old boy at one in the morning.

The officers determined that the man was a known sexual offender but that he had failed to register his whereabouts as required by law.

Both the man and the boy told the officers that they were headed back to the man’s room in a nearby motel, to spend the night.

Creepy, right? Well, it gets worse. Police telephoned the boy’s mother, who said that she was aware that her son was going to spend the night with the man, but that she did not know that he had a record as a sex criminal. Well, pardon us for asking, but what was she thinking?

Monday, March 22, 2010


A man in Arizona was convicted recently of impersonating a police officer. Driving a black Ford Crown Victoria with some police equipment installed, including emergency lights and a siren, he pulled over a motorist and advised him to "slow down."

What he did not know that the motorist was an actual police officer, who took note of the man’s license plate. As it turned out, the police officer was not the first motorist stopped by this genius; a member of the state liquor board had been stopped, too.

The best part of this story, we think, is that fact that this guy lived in the town of Surprise, a suburb of Phoenix. We’ll bet he got a surprise when he found out that it was a police officer he stopped.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Nose Knows

In the picture is Monroe Township police officer Thomas Lucasiewicz, who recently uncovered an extensive marijuana-growing operation by sniffing it out.

According to news reports, Officer Lucasiewicz detected the unique odor of burning marijuana while on routine motor patrol. The weed growers, having cleverly established clandestine growing rooms in several suburban houses, stupidly burned unusable plants in the fireplace of one of the homes. This filled the neighborhood not with the pleasant wintertime scent of a wood fire, but with the distinctive scent of burning marijuana. Which Officer Lucasiewicz noticed as it permeated the dashboard vents of his patrol car.

Officer Lucasiewicz tracked the source of the odor to the chimney of a house on Spotswood-Englishtown Road. Ultimately this led to the uncovering of a marijuana-growing enterprise encompassing 3,370 plants in five houses in four adjoining towns.

Oh – that badge that Officer Lucasiewicz is wearing? It is from the Badge Company of New Jersey. Monroe Township is a customer going back more than a decade.

(Photo by Patti Sapone, courtesy of The Star-Ledger)

Thursday, March 4, 2010


In southern New Jersey recently, a woman lost control of her car and ended up in two feet of water. She was rescued from the car by police and fire personnel.

A happy ending, right? Well, the story does not really end there. You see, then there was the matter of retrieving the car. Which is why these two men are wearing odd-looking bright orange suits:

The suits are "Cold Water Immersion Suits," which enabled these two members of the local fire company to enter the frigid waters and attach winch cables to the tow hooks on the car. Just another item of unique equipment that enables public safety workers to do their jobs.

But think about it: Would you like to wade into a pond on a 30-degree March day? Even with one of these specialized suits, you likely would prefer to stay on shore. But it is just another part of the job for police officers and firefighters, and in the case of firefighters, often they are unpaid volunteers.

A reminder that there is waay more to these jobs than typically comes to mind.

(Photos by Lukas K. Murray, courtesy of the Gloucester County Times.)

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Other Actor

We asked readers to identify the actor portraying a cop in the photo accompanying the “Another Nice Mess” entry below this one. We received about as many incorrect answers as correct ones.

It is Edgar Kennedy, one of the most frequently seen actors in the films of Laurel and Hardy. He often played a police officer, but no matter what type of character he was playing, his character was slow to fully anger, instead just getting more and more frustrated and annoyed until he can no longer contain himself. This became known as the "Slow Burn."

He appeared in nearly a dozen Laurel and Hardy films, and twice he was the duo's director. During his career he also appeared with Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers.

Here is another photo of Kennedy as the put-upon police officer: