Weird news of the week 2/19/17
LONDON, UK — Internet dating comes with risks, and most people have had a regrettable hookup or two. But this woman has claimed that she was beaten and kept as an unpaid slave by her Match.com date — and his sister — in a bizarre court case unfolding in the UK.
Colin Leacock, 34 (left), has been cleared of raping the 37-year-old victim, who claimed that he forced her to give him oral sex at his home in London after they met on the popular dating site in 2015.
But Colin’s sister Mandy, 36 (right), has pleaded guilty to assault charges for battering the woman, pouring bleach on her in the bath, and pulling her hair out.
Southwark Crown Court heard that Mandy told the woman, who suffers from anxiety and depression, she “wasn’t good enough” for her brother when they were first dating in early 2015.
Mandy then forced her to move into a home in Maida Vale, and told the victim that she “needed to prove she was capable of cooking and cleaning,” according to lawyers, and used her as an unpaid maid while beginning a series of assaults. She was also made to sleep on the floor.
Mandy made the victim sit in the bath, the court heard, while bleach was poured on her skin. On other occasions, Mandy grabbed the victim by the hair and she was “swung round so that chunks of her hair were pulled out.”
It was claimed that Colin joined in with some of the beatings. Although he has claimed the sex was consensual and denies ever assaulting the alleged victim. The woman told jurors how she was assaulted “every day,” adding:
“I felt humiliated. I didn’t cry, because I got that used to it at the time. I got used to getting hit, that’s why I didn’t cry. I haven’t got proper emotions.”
The victim overdosed twice after living in a “state of fear, of depression, being bullied and controlled.”
Police became involved in May 2016 after the victim walked into a local shop and spoke to staff, who sent her for medical help.
MERIDIAN, ID — Pitbulls. Rottweilers. German Shepherds. Maybe even falcons and other birds of prey. Those are the brave, brazen beasts that come to mind when we think about “guard animals.”
For a burglar that broke into the Idaho home of Adam Pearl, though, Hell hath no fury like the bared teeth and bushy tail of Joey — Pearl’s adorable-on-the-outside, ferocious-when-he-needs-to-be pet squirrel.
Joey is being hailed as a hero after he attacked and scared away the trespassing thief last Tuesday.
Pearl told reporters that, even though Joey greeted him as usual when got home that day, he knew something was amiss.
The homeowner first noticed footprints in the snow through his backyard. Upon walking around, Pearl saw that several previously closed doors were open and partly damaged, indicating someone had been trying to break into his gun safe. A few items appeared to have been taken as well.
Pearl called the incident into the police. Several hours later, an officer returned with some of Pearl’s missing goods and alerted him to Joey’s remarkable feat of rodent nobility.
According to Pearl, the officer told him the suspect had scratches all over his hands. He said, “She asked him, ‘Did you get that from the squirrel?’ and he says, ‘Yeah, the damn thing kept attacking me and wouldn’t stop until I left!’”
For his champion demonstration of courage, loyalty, and how powerful his little claws can be, Pearl rewarded Joey with the pet’s favorite treat: Whoppers malted milk balls.
When it comes to weird crime, we know that Florida never stops giving. As the Sunshine State is also home to no small number of kinkily inclined sexual adventurers, it’s inevitable that, on occasion, such erotic and exotic practices will tip over into the insane and/or illegal. Here are three recent examples.
Mother-Daughter Prostitute Team Busted in Motel 6
KISSIMMEE, FL — Police arrested mother-daughter duo Tanja Gammon, 57, and Darcel Gammon, 31, in a Motel 6 as part of a sting involving prostitute services being advertised on the website Backpage.com.Tanja reportedly placed an ad in which she described herself as a “sexy MILF with an awesome attitude and personality” and that she had a penchant for performing oral sex on men without using a condom. Working undercover, Deputy Ramy Yacoub responded, and Tanja told him she charged $100 for 30 minutes of her company.
At an agreed-upon Motel 6 location, Tanja allegedly greeted Deputy Racoub in lingerie. The officer then reported that Tanja “kept grabbing my underwear until she briefly exposed my penis.”
As a police takedown team stormed the room, Tanja is said to have yelled, “I didn’t take the money yet! I didn’t take the money yet, so it doesn’t really matter!”
Officers then discovered Darcel hiding in the bathroom, also wearing lingerie. Authorities believe Tanja was selling sexual services while Darcel worked as her lookout. The mother and daughter are apparently residents of New Jersey. [The Smoking Gun]
Homeless Woman, 28, Allegedly Made Sex Tape With Young Boys in Public Restroom
OCALA, FL —Maria Lynn Baker, 28, was arrested on Saturday for two counts of lewd and lascivious battery stemming from allegations that she had sex with two boys, ages 12 and 14, in a public restroom. Reportedly, video exists of at least one such incident.Baker is listed as homeless and has been arrested numerous times since 2006. Police said she called Friday night to “report” the boys, fearing that they would turn her in first.
Detective Melissa Buetti tracked Baker down to a park, where she found the suspect arguing with another woman. The other woman reportedly showed the detective video of Baker having sex with one of the boys in the bathroom at Ocala’s War Memorial.
Baker is presently being held as police search for more victims. [Northwest Florida Daily News]
Newlywed, 76, Shoots Wife in Buttocks for Refusing to Consummate Marriage
LEHIGH, FL — Donald Royce, 76, has been charged with aggravated battery after shooting his unidentified 62-year-old wife in the buttocks — twice.
Royce said his motivation for pulling the gun is that, since their August 2016 wedding, his wife has refused to have sex with him.
During the incident, the couple’s roommate heard them fighting, followed by two gunshots. When the roommate looked in on them, she said, Royce pointed the gun at her. She then called the police.
Royce reportedly told the arriving deputies: “I shot her, and the gun is in my room.” He later said his actual intention was just to scare his wife by shooting a mattress. He maintains that his wife being struck by two bullets was accidental.
April Bailey, Royce’s neighbor, said, “Holy cow! That’s ridiculous — a grown adult having a temper tantrum about sex!”
Bailey also added that she visited Royce’s wife, who is recovering at home from her wounds. Royce said that the victim told her, “A woman should have a right to her own body, regardless of age or marriage status.”
Mexican Smuggler Says Trump’s Wall Won’t Stop Him — Here’s Why
Everything from dogs and blimps to Gamma-ray imaging systems and video surveillance is used to prevent people from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, making the prospect of a wall seem obsolete.
He grew up poor in Nogales, Mexico, just across the border from Arizona. His dad died when he was a teen, his mother worked as a cook. He couldn’t afford the things he wanted. There weren’t many jobs for a guy like Pancho, as he calls himself.
But there was a steady gig that paid $2,000 a week — smuggling marijuana across the U.S.-Mexico border — and Pancho took it. He’s 29 now, a father of five, and he says he works long hours to support his family, “so that they won’t be in need.” It’s a risky life, but he’s done it for 12 years, and he doesn’t think anything President Donald Trump does about a border wall will stop the illegal narcotics trade.
“No matter what you do here, we can still get through,” said Pancho, while sitting in the dim light of an abandoned tenement just a few minutes south of the border. It was cold and damp, and he sat hunched in a chair in a musty room with a dirty old mattress and newspapers scattered across the floor. The fence along the border used to be shorter, he recalled. It’s higher now, but that’s no impediment.
Smugglers always seem to find a way around such obstacles — over, under or around. US law enforcement agents know this.
“Drugs will come in through every direction,” said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada in Nogales, Ariz., located just across the border. “They’ll throw the drugs over the fence. They’ll push them through.” That or they will tunnel beneath or send people deep into the mountains, where the fence is less obtrusive.
“These cartels, they’re a 24/7 business, thinking of ways to bring drugs across,” Estrada continued. “They’ll do it through the ports of entry, the Mariposa commercial port. You know, they’ll get a ton, two tons of marijuana come in on some of those trailers.”
The drug smuggling is unrelenting.
“Illegal immigration pales compared to the drug problem that we have,” Estrada said. He started in law enforcement 50 years ago. Back then, “they told me it was going to take three generations to wean people off of drugs. We’re worse off than we were then, and it’s not getting any better.”
On a typical day, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) nabs an average of 7,910 pounds of drugs. Last year, U.S. border agents seized 5,473 pounds of cocaine, 8,224 pounds of methamphetamine, 9,062 ounces of heroin and 1.29 million pounds of marijuana.
Pancho says he has been smuggling for 12 years and always finds a way across the US-Mexico border. Credit: Karen CoatesCBP employs 60,000 people to enforce the law along the country’s borders, using everything from dogs and blimps to large-scale X-rays and Gamma-ray imaging systems and remote video surveillance systems. According to Ralph DeSio, a CBP public affairs officer in San Diego, border security operations involve the use of thermal imaging devices for night vision, aircraft equipped “with radar and other technologies,” and “a specialized radar for slow-moving signatures.”
In addition to all of this, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deploys special “tunnel task forces” to combat underground activity. Yet the smugglers still get through.
Regarding Trump’s proposed wall, DeSio said, “we cannot speculate on that in any way.” But he pointed out that San Diego currently has 46 miles of primary fence and about 13 miles of secondary fence, noting that because “tunnels go very deep and long distances, they still pose a threat.”
Estrada remembers when the first drug tunnel was discovered in Nogales in 1995, “two blocks away from the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry at an old abandoned church right next to what is now the Burger King.” That was around the same time federal authorities built a bigger fence, which he refers to as “a wall.” Since then, at least 110 more tunnels have been found.
“Why? Because it’s practical — we’re back-to-back,” he said, referring to the fact that the American Nogales and the Mexican Nogales are virtually contiguous, despite the border. There’s no river to separate the towns, “no buffer zone.”
In fact, the decades-old drainage system that underlies Nogales on the Mexican side offers a big, dark causeway leading straight to the United States. You can enter through the street, slosh through the runoff from recent rains wearing a headlamp, and follow the tunnel to a floodlit vestibule between two gates, which at that point is all that separates the U.S. from Mexico.
Immigrants, vagrants, laborers, and criminals have all used these tunnels for sanctuary and passage. When it rains hard, the force of water shoves the gates open, washing debris and sometimes people through to the other side.
“The flood water comes in and takes them by surprise after a rain, and that’s how they drown,” explained a Nogales law enforcement agent named Gilberto. Officers on either side of the border regularly patrol the tunnels for suspicious activity. When motion sensors detect movement, U.S. Border Patrol notifies the Mexican authorities.
Tunnels beneath Nogales, Mexico, lead straight into Nogales, Ariz. Credit: Karen Coates“We do rounds together,” said Roberto Contreras of the Sonora Fire Department. “But we make sure to identify each other so we don’t shoot each other.”
Pancho doesn’t smuggle his goods underground — he goes over, through the desert. The journey he describes involves a group of eight, including a communications director to guide the group and two people to carry food, with the rest working as “mules” hauling handmade backpacks: 20- to 40-pound squares of drugs covered in tape and wrapped in blankets.
It takes “about two days walking in Mexican land,” he said. On the third morning, the group enters U.S. soil, where lookouts watch for them. They communicate by radio, noting when the route is clear and when it isn’t. Sometimes the smugglers stay high in the mountains until it’s safe to move. After five or so more days of walking, the group reaches a ranch and eventually a road, where two vehicles arrive to fetch the group and its valuable cargo. Then it’s on to Tucson, where they arrive at an apartment, shower, retrieve their pay, and are soon on their way back home across the border.
Video footage from private ranch lands in Arizona verify what Pancho describes: men lugging rectangular backpacks, wearing carpet booties on their feet that leave no tracks. Smugglers scramble over the border fence. They fling bundles with catapults. Lookouts stand watch on hilltops. The groups quietly hike north, day after day.
“Things are becoming more complicated,” Pancho conceded. “There is a lot of surveillance… more vigilance, more cameras.”
This has forced the smugglers to take longer routes through rugged terrain.
“There are areas here in Santa Cruz County that you can’t get into,” Sheriff Estrada said. “You have to be dropped down by helicopter.” And that’s exactly where smugglers go. “They will travel to those areas for days in order to get their product across. So it’s always going to be a challenge.”
In the 1990s, when the wall went up in Nogales and the tunnels went under, local authorities started getting more calls for help in the hinterlands.
“People were dying out there — because of the weather, pre-existing conditions, too cold, too hot,” Estrada said. “Some of them obviously were being victimized. Women were being assaulted, sexually assaulted. People were dying.”
When someone dies in Santa Cruz County, “we are responsible for the recovery and the proper identification,” explained Sheriff’s Deputy Sergeant Omar Rodriguez. He patrols the desolate areas near the border through Operation Stonegarden, a federal program that partners local law enforcement agencies with the Department of Homeland Security.
Sheriff’s Deputy Sergeant Omar Rodriguez says there isn’t enough law enforcement to stop smugglers. Credit: Karen Coates“This is the Coronado National Forest,” he said, indicating a stretch of land. “You have a few ranches in the area, open cattle range,” with steep mountains to the east and not much else.
But 10 to 15 times a year, the department is called to retrieve human remains.
“And that’s only reported cases. Who knows how many are out there that no one has found,” Rodriguez added. “It’s unfortunate.” About 20 percent of the time, he estimates, identification is never made. “Most of the people we’ve found as deceased are probably Mexican.”
Rodriguez doesn’t think a barrier will keep people from crossing the border.
“They continue coming and they climb the fence like it was nothing,” he said. “We don’t have the manpower to stop everything.”
Meanwhile, the urge to sneak across remains strong in Mexico and in much of Central America, with scores of migrants coming up through the south of Mexico to make their way to the U.S.
“Nowadays it’s really kids under 20 who are taking over the business,” Pancho observed, just as he joined the trade at the age of 17. “They’re all looking for the easiest way to get a gig because it’s very difficult to make a living here.”
But at 29, Pancho is ready to retire. “I want to be another person,” he sighed. “I don’t want to be doing this anymore.”
He dreams of settling in New York for a while, working like anyone else, and returning home after saving money to start his own business in Mexico. He’s thankful for the job he’s had — “having the money in your hands, it’s worth it” — but he does have one regret.
“A person died in the desert,” he said. “It was a person who worked for us. A heart attack… it was extremely cold. He could not endure.” The man was 32 or 33.
His remains “never appeared and will never appear,” Pancho went on. “We couldn’t carry the corpse, and so it got lost there. Every time we pass by, we light a candle.”
A small flame for the bones of an unidentified man in the desert.