Weird news of the week 10/23/16
The classic 1986 horror-drama Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is returning to theaters on Friday, October 21.
Dark Sky Films is presenting Henry in a newly restored 4K edition to honor the 30th anniversary of the acclaimed chiller’s initial release.
A harrowing and unrelenting glimpse of human desperation leading to despicable behavior at its most dire, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is loosely inspired by the sordid lives lived and tragic deaths caused by real-life murderers Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole.
Actor Michael Rooker — now most commonly known as Merle Dixon on AMC’s The Walking Dead and Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy — delivers an instantly star-making performance in the title role, playing a deadly drifter who wanders the United States randomly murdering strangers.
The movie focuses on Henry’s time in Chicago, where he hooks up with an old prison cohort named Otis (Tom Toole) and romances Otis’s sister, Becky (Tracy Arnold). It doesn’t end well for anybody (although some get it worse than others).
Director and cowriter John McNaughton shot Henry guerilla-style around Chicago on 16mm film. The production took less than a month and cost about $110,000.
With great hopes for all involved, Henry premiered at the 1986 Chicago International Film Festival.
Studios and distributors immediately expressed interest, but the MPAA subsequently rated the movie X for its overall “tone” — which meant that there were no specific elements that McNaughton could remove in hope of acquiring a commercially crucial R rating.
Further release complications arose after Vestron backed out of distributing Henry, fearing legal issues over the movie’s use of the names of real people.
For several years, McNaughton fought to get his work seen, but Henry looked as though it would be a “lost” film. That changed in 1989 after Chicago critic Roger Ebert caught it at the Telluride Film Festival and raved about his discovery.
From there, Chicago’s still-thriving and influential Music Box Theatre launched Henry as a midnight movie and it played to packed houses. Fellow Chicago critic Gene Siskel then joined his TV partner Ebert in praising the film as an audacious original on their nationally syndicated TV program, Siskel and Ebert.
In January 1990, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer finally received a limited theatrical release, playing arthouse theaters without an official MPAA rating. Reviewers overwhelmingly praised what they saw. The film’s cult grew steadily from there, truly exploding once the movie hit home video.
It is now considered a genuine cinematic milestone.
On October 21, Henry will open in select theaters, including Chicago’s Music Box and the Landmark Sunshine in New York City— and then roll out across North America over the ensuing few weeks.
Tickets for scheduled showings are available here.
Carlos Rodriguez, 31, faces charges of arson and attempted murder after pouring flammable liquid on a mattress in a duplex owned by his mother and lighting it ablaze. What makes this crime remarkable is Rodriguez’s mug shot.
As a result of a car accident that removed much of his brain and severely deformed his skull, Carlos Rodriguez now has only “half a head.” He even openly goes by the nickname “Halfy.”
Police arrested Rodriguez after the mattress fire on Monday night, which seriously endangered two other tenants who reside in the duplex. By Wednesday, Rodriguez’s mug shot had become an Internet sensation. He is presently being held on $20,000 bond.
This incident actually marks the third time that“Halfy” has gone viral.
The first occurred in 2010 when the Miami New Times posted his mugshot after Rodriguez got picked up for soliciting a prostitute.
The Times even had to run a follow-up assuring doubtful readers that, indeed, the photos were real.
In 2012, Rodriguez starred in a viral video wherein he smokes a cigarette of questionable content while explaining that he injured himself while driving under the influence of drugs. The video is titled, “Half-Head Tells Kids Don’t Do Drug While He’s Smoking Weed.”
Allan Menzies of Scotland was just 22 years old when he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Thomas McKendrick, with whom he’d been friends since the age of four. To say that Menzies was a fan of Queen Akasha, a character from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series and a focal character in the 2002 movie Queen of the Damned, would be putting it mildly.
Some reports from the time of his 2003 trial said that Menzies had already seen that film, starring the late Aaliyah as the title character, more than 100 times in the time between its April 2002 release in the U.K. and the December 2002 murder of McKendrick.
Ironically, it was McKendrick who loaned Menzies a video copy of the vampire flick in August 2002, which Menzies reportedly said he had put on constant play after that point. He became so engrossed in the movie that he began to believe he heard Akasha’s voice in his mind, and that voice told him to kill. He even reportedly believed that she visited him in his bedroom. Menzies told the court, “In general terms, she started off having conversations with me and it ended up that I had basically agreed with her that if I murdered people I would be rewarded in the next life.”
Tiring of watching the same movie over and over, McKendrick once made the mistake of insulting the vampire queen with a crass, sexual remark to Menzies. Menzies testified that Akasha was there with them and heard the comment, and the look of displeasure on Akasha’s face prompted him to attack McKendrick with a kitchen knife, a bowie knife, and a hammer.
Menzies told the court that after McKendrick was dead, he managed to gather two cups of his victim’s blood and drank them. He even testified to eating a piece of the man’s skull.
He reportedly believed that after this rite, he had become an immortal vampire. He did, however, attempt suicide shortly after the murder in what he said was an attempt to“get to the next life quicker” and reap the rewards that he believed Akasha had promised him.
Menzies was examined by psychiatrists over the course of his imprisonment and trial. He was even held in the State Hospital at Carstairs while he waited on his trial date, about which the told the court that he was disappointed that there were no other vampires there. Three different psychiatrists reportedly diagnosed Menzies as a psychopath. At least one psychiatrist, however, testified at trial that while he had initially thought there was evidence of a psychopathic personality disorder and emotional instability, he said that it had occurred to him that Menzies might have exaggerated his vampire fantasies to get out of being convicted of murder.
If that was the plan, it didn’t work. Menzies was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 18 years in October of 2003. He only served one year of that sentence, however. In November 2004, Menzies was found in his cell in Shotts Prison near Glasgow. Menzies had taken his own life by hanging himself inside his cell.Read more:
BBC News (2)
BBC News (3)
Authorities in Coos Bay, Oregon, are still working to figure out what happened in a local hospital that caused a 78-year-old patient, her caregiver, two sheriff’s deputies, and a hospital worker to suddenly experience hallucinations last week.
Experts presently believe some kind of illness caused by direct contact spread from the caregiver to the other individuals.
Bay Area Hospital was put under quarantine, and Hazmat teams worked to disinfect the emergency room, along with other vehicles, and the patient’s home.
The bizarre incident commenced when the patient’s caregiver, 54, called police to report vandals attacking her car. A responding deputy found no such vandals. The woman called back two hours later with a similar claim, and this time officers realized something was amiss and took her to Bay Area Hospital.
The caregiver was found to be physically fine and returned home. However, the two deputies who took her to Bay Area, along with her client and another hospital employ shortly thereafter exhibited signs of the same type of hallucinations.
Several hours later, the Coos County Sheriff’s Office officially announced that the Hazmat Team completed the check and they found no source of contaminate: “Nothing has been found in blood samples at this time. Repeat: source of contamination has not been identified. Investigation and processing is continuing.”
Experts believe it’s possible that contact with powerful narcotic fetanyl patches, which the elderly patient uses, could have been the source. Although investigators said the patches and all other potential medications in the home have been located and accounted for, and the investigation continues.
The hospital was eventually reopened. The deputies were released and will work desk duty. The elderly woman and the caretaker were held for further evaluation.
Main photo: Pixabay
Sixty-three-year-old grandmother Cheryl Cheatham of Phoenix, Arizona, was arrestedafter flying from Las Vegas Detroit with 17 kilos of cocaine in individually wrapped plastic bags stuffed inside her luggage. The drugs are valued at $595,000.
The Las Vegas to Detroit flight path is well known for being a drug-smuggling route, according to authorities.
Cheatham was spotted behaving suspiciously at the luggage carousel at Detroit’s Metro Airport, appearing to be on the lookout for luggage that did not belong to her. Federal agents trailed Cheatham, believing she was attempting a major drug hand-off. Their suspicion heightened after she went to a hotel, but instead of checking in, was picked up by a chauffeured SUV, still toting her luggage.
After a search during which a drug-sniffing dog named Otto alerted, she was arrested, Cheatham made her one designated phone call to who she said was her daughter, but her phone contact read “Loverboy.” Loverboy’s phone number did not match the number on record for Cheatham’s daughter.
Defense attorneys cite Cheatham’s age and claim she suffers physical and mental-health issues, and thus should be hospitalized. Prosecutors have pointed outCheatham’s long criminal history, which includes shoplifting, selling and possessing drugs, and failing to appear in court seven times. In addition, Cheatham has served more than six years behind bars for theft.
Magistrate Judge David R. Grand sided with the prosecution and ordered Cheatham to remain jailed in Detroit without bond. Her lawyers had requested she be allowed to return to Arizona, where she lives with her daughter and grandchildren.
Andrea Hutting, Assistant U.S. Attorney, told reporters, “This is a significant seizure in this area. We can’t chalk this up to youth and immaturity. These are crimes she committed as an adult.”
Defense attorney Todd Shanker stressed that his client is bipolar and schizophrenic and that she was “off her meds” at the time of the smuggling stunt. He stated, “I can only say that I will do everything possible to represent her to the fullest, and to try to learn how this kind yet mentally ill woman ended up in this situation.”
“Loverboy” remains at large.
From reports of clowns snatching babies and carrying chainsaws to riding mobility scooters, the creepy clown crime wave of 2016 continues to circle the globe. Here are the most recent reports making headlines in what we call #Clownpocalypse2016:
Knife- And Bat-Wielding Clowns Terrify Children In Plymouth
In England, reports of clowns armed with knives and baseball bats terrifying childrenaround Plymouth have gone viral on social media. Police say that there have also been claims that “silent” clowns have been approaching children on streets and of school being “locked down” in Plymouth — but add that many of the reports are unconfirmed. Many of the social-media postings involve clowns at bus stops, in the woods, and even on mobility scooters. Police continue to investigate the authenticity of the reports. [Plymouth Herald]
Insane Clown Posse: “There Are No Killer Clowns”
Insane Clown Posse members have weighed in on the clown sightings on their social-media pages. “OK, Juggalos, we’ve received like 40 emails and even more postings on pages asking about our opinion on these so-called ‘killer clown’ reports that keep popping up,” read one message on the band’s Facebook page. “One reporter even called and asked me if this was an “ICP promotional tactic!” Needless to say, I shut his ass down VERY quickly. So there ARE no ‘killer clowns” — it’s just jackasses being jackasses. So everyone relax!” [Insane Clown Posse/Facebook]
Clown In California Tries To Kidnap Baby
Police in California city are searching for a clown accused of attempting to snatch a one-year-old girl out of her mother’s arms. Police said Tiffany Martin was waiting at a bus stop in Concord, at about 1:15 P.M. on Wednesday when a man in a clown outfit walked up to them. She told police that the man said “hi” to her baby, then began to pull the baby’s arm. She claimed that she kicked the clown in the shin, and he ran off. Martin says she’s afraid he will go after someone else. [11 Alive]
Kate Middleton’s Mom Sells “Killer Clown” Outfits
“Killer Clown” costumes are being sold on Party Pieces, the costume website owned by Kate Middleton’s mother Carole Middleton. The site sells a Deluxe Sinister Clown with “a bloodied jumpsuit and terrifying mask with open brain,” as well as other outfits for sale that range in cost from £18.99 to £43.99 ($23 to $55). The Berkshire-based firm has been criticized by victims of the creepy clown craze, which has seen people dressing up as scary clowns across the U.K. [DailyMail.com]
D.C. Teen Arrested For Making Clown-Related Threat Against Middle School
D.C. police have arrested a 14-year-old girl for making a clown-related threat against a middle school. Police said the girl called McKinley Middle School several times to warn that armed clowns were coming to the school and that it needed to be evacuated before she hung up without providing any other details.The teenager has been charged with false report of a weapon of mass destruction. [Fox 5 DC]
Hatchet-Wielding Clown Terrorizes Gas Station
A clown who carried a hatchet into a North Carolina gas station is facing charges after frightening several customers. Police say Travis Pressley, 20 (main photo), was found near the Indian Trail Wilco/Hess station with marijuana and the hatchet in his backpack, and his face was painted with clown makeup. Pressley’s makeup is visible in his police mug shot. Detectives said that the suspect told them that he was merely trying to frighten people. [WPTV/YouTube]
California Man Arrested After He Claimed Clown Threatened Him
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a homeowner in Santa Clarita on suspicion of possessing weapons and narcotics after he claimed to have been threatened by a man in a clown costume carrying a knife. The 24-year-old homeowner told police that he was smoking a cigarette in front of his house at around 6 A.M. Sunday when a six-foot man dressed as a clown approached him and brandished a knife. The homeowner then said he fired a warning shot and called 911. When police arrived on the scene, they found no clown — but did find weapons and drugs. Police found a man wearing a clown costume a few blocks away, but said the homeowner could not positively identify him as the same one who menaced him. [MSN]
London Police Arrest Clown Carrying Chainsaw
A 19-year-old has been arrested after students at a university in London noticed a clown who appeared to be carrying a chainsaw on Sunday. The clown was seen at Brunel University by a number of students, who shared photos and videos on Twitter. Charlotte Hulme, a 21-year-old English student, told BuzzFeed News that they went and hid in their rooms. The BBC reported that a 19-year-old man had been arrested following the incident. [Buzzfeed News]
Main photo: Travis Pressley [Union County Sheriff’s Office]
These are the crime stories making headlines today, October 12, 2016 …
- Police have arrested a man who they say committed a lewd act on a woman at a Dollar General store in Thomasville, North Carolina. They’ve hit him with a string of sex charges, according to a news release. Police say that Lee Curtis McNeill, Jr. (above), 25, allegedly brushed up against his 28-year-old victim while she was standing at the checkout line on Tuesday with her children, who are ages six and seven. After the suspect left the store, the victim realized that he had ejaculated on her — and store surveillance video captured the crime on camera. McNeill has been charged with two counts of felonious indecent liberties with a minor, two counts felonious indecent exposure, and sexual battery. His court date is set for November 30. [Fox 8]
- The 24-year-old man who police say robbed a McDonald’s in North Syracuse, New York, with a pellet gun and two pipe bombs has said he was desperate for drug money. Brandon Sobotka (above) was arraigned Monday on charges including first-degree robbery and criminal possession of a weapon after police say he walked into the fast-food chain armed with a pellet gun and demanded that clerks hand over money. He left with about $200 in cash, but police stopped him and found two pipe bombs in his car. Some nearby residents were evacuated for several hours while experts from the FBI; the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and Syracuse Police Bomb Squad removed the bombs. “I never had any intention of hurting anyone,” Sobotka said in his statement, adding that he has had issues with drugs including painkillers and heroin since he was 16. [Syracuse.com]
- A few days after video surfaced of Donald Trump’s offensive language, which he dismissed as “locker room talk,” a GoFundMe page has launched with the goal of raising $5.1 million to encourage people with potentially damning Trump tapes to come forward. The Trump Sunlight Campaign was created by Aaron Holman, a 34-year-old consultant based in Boston, on Sunday, and has raised over $33,000 so far. He chose $5 million as his goal due to the fact that this is the amount for which the Trump organizations will sue parties who break nondisclosure aggreements. “Recent developments have lead [sic] many to believe that video footage of Donald Trump exists which proves that the person we have all come to know over the past year is not the person that he truly is,” the campaign’s mission statement reads. [NBC News]
- The NYPD wants to talk to hotelier Vikram Chatwal about an incident in which he allegedly set two dogs on fire in front of his SoHo home. Police say Chatwal, 44, used an aerosol can and a lighter to burn the dogs at roughly 1:30 P.M. on Friday afternoon at 21 Wooster Street. Chatwal, who owns the NYC Dream hotel and has a well-documented history of drug problems, was seen yelling at a dog walker prior to the attack. The animal’s singed fur is visible in video footage obtained by TMZ, and Chatwal can also be seen apologizing to multiple people and inviting them to come inside. “No one’s coming into your house, man,” one witness says. “You’re crazy.” [TMZ/Gothamist]
- A suspect in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was able to give police the slip by pretending to be the sleepy homeowner. Officers say they were responding to a call from witnesses who saw two people roaming the neighborhood at 3 A.M. and looking through cars. As police approached the home near Ventura Ranch, the suspect came out of the garage — wearing only shorts — and told them that the vehicles in the driveway and garage belonged to his father. Police then asked the suspect to look through the truck to see if anything was missing. After one officer asked him for identification, he offered to go retrieve it, and then never returned. When the real homeowner emerged minutes later, police realized their mistake. The suspect came back later that night and stole the truck that was in the driveway, according to police. [KRQE]
- A personal trainer from the northern suburbs of Chicago has been charged with three counts of criminal transmission of HIV after he allegedly knowingly transmitted the virus to three women he dated. Prosecutors say that Jimmy Amutavi, 46, was diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, as early as 2001. Despite this, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday that Amutavi, who is from Wilmette, repeatedly had unprotected sex with the women and then denied he had the virus when confronted. Prosecutors claim that Amutavi began relationships with each of the women while working as their personal trainer. His lawyer argued that Amutavi had been taking retroviral medication that would make it virtually impossible to transmit the virus. [AP]
The FBI is exhuming the body of a man who they say bears a “strong resemblance” to William Bradford “Brad” Bishop, Jr., who has been on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitive’s list for decades. Bishop is a former state department employee accused of killing his wife, mother, and three sons with a hammer at their Bethesda, Maryland, home in 1976. Investigators will reportedly test Bishop’s DNA to see if it matches that of an unidentified man who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 1981, but have not announced a target date for the results. Bishop’s trail went cold two weeks after the murders after his station wagon was found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. [ColdCaseUSA]
Main photo: Lee Curtis McNeill, Jr. [Davidson County Jail]