Landlord Woes | News of the Weird | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » News of the Weird

Landlord Woes

Perplexing people, kooky crimes and odd headlines from around the globe.



Landlord Woes
On Martha's Vineyard, Mass., a home-rental agreement took an X-rated turn when Leah Bassett, artist and longtime resident of Aquinnah, unknowingly leased her home to an employee of Mile High Distribution Inc., a pornography production company. In September 2014, The Boston Globe reported, Joshua Spafford approached Bassett about renting her home from October through May 2015. In March 2015, Spafford informed Bassett he had left the house because he was fired, prompting Bassett to ask her parents to stop by and check it out. They were "shocked by the deplorable state of condition in which they found their daughter's personal residence," according to court documents. As "circumstances evolved," Bassett began reviewing internet sites maintained by Mile High, which "publicly boasted about their porn shoots on chic and tony Martha's Vineyard." Bassett filed suit in late March in U.S. District Court, alleging the sites featured photos showing her home, artwork and furnishings, "utilizing nearly every room of her home" including scenes on top of her dining room table, sofas and in her laundry room. Defense lawyer Stephen A. Roach said the suit "arose out of a basic landlord-tenant dispute."

Compelling Explanation
Fort Pierce, Fla., police pulled over a car on March 21 after observing it swerving down the roadway. As they approached, they smelled marijuana, and during the ensuing search, passenger Kennecia Posey, 26, was shocked—shocked!—when police found two bags in her purse: one containing marijuana, the other cocaine. WPLG TV reported that Posey admitted the marijuana was hers, but told officers: "I don't know anything about any cocaine. It's a windy day. It must have flown through the window and into my purse." Posey was charged with felony possession of cocaine and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Questionable Judgment
On March 20, the U.S. Marine Corps fired Navy Cpt. Loften Thornton, serving as a chaplain for the Marine Forces Reserve in New Orleans, after Thornton was captured on video having sex with a woman on the street in front of the Crown & Anchor Pub, according to USA Today. Marine Reserve spokesman Lt. Col. Ted Wong said only that Thornton had been fired for "loss of trust and confidence." According to the Navy's strategic plan for religious ministry, chaplains "provide a source of comfort and refuge" to service members, which Thornton had apparently extended to members of the general public.

Dangerous Food
Some people don't like ham. When Beverly Burrough Harrison, 62, received a gift of ham from her family on Feb. 12, she waited until they left, then set it on fire and threw it in a trash can at the Bomar Inn in Athens, Ala., where she was living. As smoke filled the room, reported, Harrison took her dog and left without alerting anyone to the fire. As a result, she was spared from being a victim of the ham bomb that blew out the front wall of the room when a can of butane fuel ignited. Harrison was held at the Limestone County Jail on a felony arson charge and could face life in prison if convicted.

Failure to Communicate
Things went from bad to worse for soccer player Sanchez Watt during a match in Hertfordshire, England, on March 6. Awarded a yellow card, Watt was asked his name by referee Dean Hulme, who mistook "Watt" for "What." As Watt repeated his name over and over, the referee became perturbed and changed the yellow card to red for dissent, BBC Sport reported. Hulme rescinded the card when someone explained the mixup. "I think everybody found it amusing afterwards, including the referee," said team chairman Dave Boggins. "He was very apologetic."

Our Weird Addiction
On March 6, Royal Canadian Mounted Police participating in an awareness campaign set up several large electronic signs in North Vancouver, British Columbia, that warned drivers: "POLICE AHEAD—STAY OFF YOUR PHONE." Despite that, within just two hours, officers ticketed 89 drivers, 74 of them for distracted driving, which results in a $368 fine, plus a $175 penalty payment on a first offense. "It is evident there is still more education and enforcement needed to make our roads safer," remarked Cpl. Richard De Jong to CTV News.

Organizers of the Big Cheese Festival in Brighton, England, on March 3 were forced to offer refunds to patrons after the event failed on several levels: 1. The festival ran out of cheese. 2. The promised "craft" beer was Bud Light and Stella Artois. 3. The wet weather prompted some to call the event #BigMudFestival and prevented some cheese-mongers and entertainment acts from making it to the site. "Sadly, due to this, a few compromises had to be made," festival organizers said. The BBC reported the festival has offered half-price tickets to next year's event for anyone who bought a ticket this year.

Unclear on the Concept
• Jonathan Rivera, 25, of Hartford, Conn., dutifully appeared in Hartford Superior Court March 7 to answer charges of stealing a car on Feb. 17. While he waited his turn, the Hartford Courant reported, parking authority agents outside the courthouse spotted a 2014 Subaru Legacy with license plates that had been reported as stolen. The car itself had also been stolen from Newington, Conn. Police waited for the driver to return and arrested Rivera as he started to drive away in the Subaru. He was charged with second-degree larceny and taking a car without the owner's permission.

• Phoenix mom Sharron Dobbins, 40, was determined to get her two teenage sons out of bed for Easter services on April 1. When one of them sassed her back, she grabbed a Taser and "I said, 'Get up! It's Jesus' Day!'" she told KNXV TV. Dobbins said she "sparked" the weapon just to make noise, but the 16-year-old called police, who found two small bumps on the boy's leg and arrested Dobbins for child abuse. Dobbins told KNXV, "I did not tase my son ... all I was trying to do is tell my kids to put God first."

Redneck Chronicles
Last September, a celebration at a recreational lake in Wichita, Kan., caught the eye of someone who reported seeing people "dressed in Muslim garb" with an American flag "desecrated with ISIS symbols," reported The Kansas City Star. Shortly thereafter, Munir Zanial, an engineer for Spirit Aerosystems, was notified by Facebook that authorities were seeking information about his account, and soon a call came from the FBI, saying it had determined that the flag reported to them was a Malaysian flag and its investigation would be closed. Zanial, a Muslim from Malaysia, had rented the lake to celebrate a Muslim holiday with friends and commemorate the 60th anniversary of Malaysia's independence. In March, Zanial filed a discrimination lawsuit in U.S. District Court after he was barred from renting the lake again.

Crime Report
A 23-year-old Salina, Kan., woman arrived at her home around 9:30 p.m. on March 29 to find that the door had been locked and chained from the inside. She called police, who searched the home and found no one inside, but about two hours later, her ex-boyfriend's legs punched through the ceiling in her living room, the Salina Journal reported. Tyler J. Bergkamp, 25, of Salina had been hiding in the attic. Police arrested him and took him to Salina Regional Health Center to recover from his fall. Five days later, he left the hospital and broke into another woman's house, where he left his hospital gown, exchanging it for one of her T-shirts and a pair of sneakers. Bergkamp was rearrested a short time later and faces a number of charges.

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