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Thursday, April 03, 2008

I BELIEVE IN MAGIC

I would say that William Foster’s first mistake was that he called the Des Moines Police Department and asked for help. Just after 7pm on the Wednesday after New Years, he reported a domestic disturbance, and when officers arrived at his home on Crestview they found poor old Bill (he was 54) surrounded by several loudly arguing females. Through the shouting the police eventually discovered that the women were Bill’s in-laws who had been invited to stay in the house while Bill’s wife was in the hospital. The police explained to Bill that since they were invited guests there was nothing the cops could do, even though Bill threatened to kill one of them. So the police left, leaving behind an “extremely upset” Bill. Over the next hours Bill called 911 two more times, the second time reporting that he had been hit over the head 12 times with a frying pan, and 6 or 8 times with a flashlight. And that was Bill’s second mistake. When the police returned to 1865 Crestview they found Bill home alone. He claimed the assailants (his female in-laws) had left after the alleged assault. So the police took Bill’s statement and told him that detectives would contact him the next day. And that, they figured, would be the end of that evening. They were wrong.
*
Bill called 911 again…and again…and again…and yet again. And that seventh call to 911 was Bill’s third and final mistake. The police were again dispatched to Bill’s house on Creston Avenue, where they arrested Bill. And on their way to the Polk County jail they stopped off at the Broadlawns Medical Center to treat Bill’s physical injuries. And then they locked him up, charging him with assault on a police officer and filing a false report. He was released the next day after posting a $1,500 bond. And a week later Bill celebrated his 55th birthday. I could find no information on the condition of Bill’s wife, nor any word on why, on the morning of January 28th, Bill was arrested once again, this time charged with driving with a suspended license and assault on a police officer with intent to commit serious injury. But January had been a bad month for Bill. This time there was no bond and as of this date (April 1, 2008) poor old William Foster remains in the Polk County Jail. And none of this would have happened if he had just not called for help.
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In March of this year a bearded “Indian” looking man about 40 years old and dressed in a suit, walked up to the cashier in the Famila supermarket in Anocona, Italy with a carton of milk. He handed the woman a 50 dollar Euro bill as payment and she began to make change. As she did so the gentleman leaned forward and said to her, “Look into my eyes.” Then, magically, the man disappeared. The milk was gone and the register was closed. The woman quickly forgot the incident until the end of the day when she was balancing out the cash register and came up $1,370 short. No matter how she worked it out, the money was missing. And then she remembered the bearded man. She called the police and they examined the surveillance camera recording. There was the dark, bearded man, leaning in to whisper to the cashier. On the tape the cashier began to move slowly, and appeared to be following the man’s instructions as she handed him money from the register. The man pocketed the money and walked out of the store, with his milk. And a moment later the cashier shook her head and returned to normal behavior. Italian police have notified Interpol that they are seeking information on a criminal hypnotist, who may have done this before, but if he has no one can recall it. In other words, not spotting the surveillance camera may have been his first mistake. Ever.
*
In early 2007, 46 year old Jodi Lynn Holmes, of Hampden, Maine, a small community just south of Bangor, made one tiny mistake. She waited until her husband and four children were asleep and then, wearing latex gloves to avoid leaving any fingerprints, she hand wrote a letter to the Hampden Academy, a public high school servicing three small towns. The letter told school officials that she had planted a number of bombs in and about the school. She also advised them that the portable classrooms were “safe”, and warned, “The first bomb will go off at 1:45 pm on March 28”. She signed the letter, “Radar” and sealed the envelope with a wet cloth (to avoid leaving any DNA behind). She then completed two nearly identical letters to the Bangor Christian School and the John Bapst Memorial High School, both in Bangor. She mailed all three letters on Friday, March 23, and assumed she had thus committed the perfect victimless crime.
*
At about 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 27, the principle of the Hampden Academy opened the letter and immediately notified the police. The students were dismissed as usual at 2:45 pm, and the school then went into lock down. Bomb sniffing dogs from the State Police and the Penobscot Sheriff’s office searched the property. Needless to say, no bomb was found, but monitors kept the classrooms, hallways, offices, restrooms and gymnasium, auditorium and maintenance rooms under observation all night long. The same procedures were used at the two other other schools. And classes for all three were cancelled for Wednesday, the 28th.
*
The list of possible suspects was actually not that long. Experience told the F.B.I. that all they had to do was cross index a list of the parents of students at the three schools against a list of bankruptcy and/or divorce filings, and a list of those who had applied for public assisted mental health care. Jodi Holmes named popped out like an ace of spades in a game of hearts. Her first and primary mistake was that she was nuts. She had a “long history” of mental health treatments, her family was in dire financial straits, and her children attended the Academy: three for three. A little over a month after she mailed the threats, Jodi was arrested. She would later tell the court that during her nine months awaiting trial she had apologized to the other parents who were inmates in the Penobscot County Jail. "I figured I’d get my frustration out and they (the students) would get a free day.” (In fact school officials plan to extend classes to make up the lost day.) Jodi told the judge, “I’ll be honest ...It made me feel more in control and powerful." A federal judge sentenced Jodi to 24 months with 3 years supervised probation and a $100 fine. The fine wasn’t larger because, honestly, there is not chance in hell she will ever be able to pay it.
*
Last November, Mr. Thanos Savvides, a 37 year old delivery man living on the divided island of Cyprus, met an old woman on the street, when she asked if she could share one of the cookies he was eating for lunch. Having a good heart, Thanos obliged. As they munched, they chatted, and Thanos unburdened himself. He was miserable. His wife had recently left him. Thanos was certain he could convince his wife to come home if he could just separate her from her mother, who, Thanos was convinced, was poisoning his wife’s mind against him. Shyly, the old woman, 69 year old Hayriye Rezvaoglu, suggested that she might be able to help. By using a few mystical spells she had learned as a young girl, Hayriye said she could predict if Thanos’s wife would ever return to his home. The old woman would require a dinner plate, a spoon, an egg, a pair of his underwear and a bottle of his urine…oh, and 500 Cyprus Pounds (US $1,200). Desperate and miserable, Thanos collected the required items and money and a few days later met Hayriye at her home. There she placed the underwear on the plate, placed the egg inside the underwear, cracked the egg with the spoon and then poured the urine on top. After waiting a few moments she squeezed the contents of the underwear onto the plate and ‘read’ the results.
*
It was not good news for Thanos. His mother-in-law was plotting to kill him with a magic potion. In 22 days, Hayriye told Thanos, he would die in his sleep, murdered by a spell cast by his mother-in-law. Needless to say, Thanos was frightened. But not to worry, added Hayriye, she could protect him. It would merely require the payment of another 5,000 Cyprus Pounds (US $12,000). And the mere mention of a sum that large snapped Thanos out of his trance. He reported Hayriye to the police and they arrested her. In early December of 2007 she pled not guilty to fraud and witchcraft. She was convicted and given a 20 day sentence and ordered to repay Thanos the 500 Pounds. And Hayriye’s first mistake was that she lived long enough that people stopped believing in magic.
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