The Wendy's "Finger-in-the-Chili" Caper
I first wrote about this case in a gossip post. For while what Anna Ayala did was a true crime, the entire episode had an almost comical feel to it.
Ayala, a life-long scammer who once rented out a mobile home she didn't even own, came up with the idea of putting the severed finger of one of her husband's co-workers into a container of Wendy's chili. She then claimed to have bitten into the digit.
No one at Wendy's had lost a finger much less in a pot of chili. The finger also, was completely raw, i.e., uncooked. It took investigators little time to discover the scheme cooked up by Ayala that would have her suing Wendy's for millions.
Seems the lovely lady had some interesting phone conversations while in the slammer.
Tape: Chili scammer called son `scorpion'
By Dan Reed
San Jose Mercury News
In a profanity-laden call from jail, the woman who created a national sensation by planting a human finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili called her son a `scorpion'' and suggested he ratted her out to police.
Anna Ayala, who's set to be sentenced Wednesday for her role in the attempted shakedown of the fast-food giant, also said in the recorded call that she'd become a jailhouse celebrity, often giving her autograph to other inmates. And Ayala said she expected to pay a fine and get probation for her crimes.
Now as sadly humorous as this ridiculous attempt to defraud the Wendy's chain might seem, there were enormous economic consequences from the crime. Wendy's suffered millions of dollars in lost revenue and many employees at the Wendy's site where the finger was found were laid off from the lack of business after the incident.
And no matter Ayala's bragging in the quote above, the Judge gave both Ayala and her accomplice husband a lot more than a fine with probation. Ayala was sentenced to nine years and her husband, Jaime Plascencie, was sentenced to more than twelve years.
Almost ten years in the slammer for putting a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili. While a serial child molester in Vermont got only 60 days for his crime.
Another Strange "Lost-At-Sea" Incident
One might toss aside the incident as a sad accident. Two lawyers who lived together take a happening trip aboard their yacht on Lake Huron. The yacht was discovered still idling near the planned destination. Only no one was on board.
Again, it the couple's disappearance could be chalked up to a tragic accident. Perhaps the couple decided to take a swim, perhaps they drowned in some weird convergence of events.
Except the female half of the couple, Lana Stempien, was found dead, and nude, when her body washed ashore.
Scuttlebutt has it that there was discord between the couple. Chuck Rutherford's body has not been found. Whispers are that Rutherford might have chosen this method to rid his life of his bothersome house mate then took off to parts unknown.
For now I'm still inclined to consider it a tragic accident. If Rutherford took off for parts unknown he had to leave behind his nice house not to mention his law practice. It's been known to happen, these staged disappearances. The odds are against this being the case in this incident.
So if Rutherford didn't do it, who did? Did persons unknown board the yacht, commit all manner of mayhem to leave the couple dead in the lake?
Lana Stempien and Chuck Rutherford were a laughing, golden couple when they fired up Sea's Life at Presque Isle, pointed their 27-foot cabin cruiser toward Mackinac Island and, on a breezy August afternoon, sailed into mystery.
A day later, the boat was found southeast of Marquette Island in northern Lake Huron with its engine idling. Stempien and Rutherford -- lawyers who shared a Grosse Pointe Farms home -- were not aboard. Two weeks later, Stempien's nude body washed ashore at Hammond Bay.
Five months later, there has still been no sign of Rutherford.
Ever since Stempien's body was found, true crime Web sites and cocktail party whispers in metro Detroit have hummed with hunches and what-ifs.
That Home Alone Dad
For a while it was a "news item" in that a listener would hear a quick story about a couple who left their two young sons, ages 10 and 5, alone while they took off for a New Year's vacation. The couple did, however, arrange for care of the three dogs. The eldest son, Joshua, when asked by somebody what he thought about being left alone while the dogs were cared for, responded with the simplicity only a child could conjure "I thought maybe they loved the dogs more than us."
Joshua was charged with caring for his younger brother, Jason, 5, who is autistic.
Now that the sensationalism of the story is done and left from the headlines, time to re-visit this pathetically sad tale. For there is, like every story of this kind, more to it.
Jacob Calero lost his first wife and mother of his two sons to breast cancer. It was Calero and his brand spanking new wife who left those two boys alone. Even worse, when the authorities managed to contact Calero in Las Vegas the two of them refused to come home until their scheduled departure flight.
Two innocent kids thrown to the wolves, already having lost their mother and now with a father not even worth two cents.
The sister of a San Ramon man arrested for leaving his two sons home alone says that while her brother has admitted he ``screwed up,'' he insists the children's maternal grandmother was supposed to care for them.
Patsy Black told the Mercury News on Thursday that in phone conversations with Jacob Calero, he acknowledged he made a mistake in leaving sons Joshua, 10, and Jason, 5, sleeping in their beds as he and his newlywed wife left for their Las Vegas vacation at 5 a.m. Dec. 30. They brought their three dogs -- Popo, Pumpkin and Snow White -- to his wife's mother, who took the couple to the airport.
Calero told his sister that Liberata Holden of Manteca -- the boys' maternal grandmother and mother of Calero's deceased first wife -- had agreed to come over later in the morning to watch his sons.
But Calero said Holden left a voicemail message on his cell phone the night of Dec. 29 saying she could not babysit the boys, according to Black. By that time, he said he had his voicemail forwarded to his brother-in-law in Santa Clara and never heard Holden's message.
Black then called Holden to get her side of the story. She said Holden said she never agreed to babysit in the first place because she had to work.
Holden could not be reached for comment Wednesday. She is trying to get custody of the boys, or at least see if other relatives might take care of them instead of their father, Black said.
``I don't know who to believe here,'' Black said in an interview from North Carolina. ``My brother is a good person, but he's irresponsible. He's a newlywed. He had more on his plate than he could handle.''
Peeing In Public Now Cheaper
In a bid, I must surmise, to bring the tourists to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, local politicos are seeking to reduce the penalties for public urination.
The only logic with this, as I see it, is the city trying to assuage the worries of travelers regarding that town’s lack of hotels/motels and/or public facilities. Because if you can’t get a room for the night, well at least you can pee in public and not be heavily fined.
Lawmaker aims to lower urination penalties
1/16/2006, 6:40 a.m. ET
The Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Ken Ortmann, an alderman who owns a local tavern wants to lower the penalties for public urination before the Feb. 25 Mardi Gras Parade.
Ortmann said his bill would allow police to issue different citations for public urinators who try to be discreet than they might for those who are more open about it.
"There's a difference between going in the middle of the street, in front of God and country, and somebody who is behind a Dumpster," Ortmann said.
Public urination is now classified as lewd and lascivious conduct, which carries a penalty of 90 days in jail, a $100 to $500 fine, or both. Ortmann's proposal doesn't change the maximum penalties, but he hopes the actual penalty would be much less.
But public urination remains plenty offensive to residents of Soulard, where some homeowners leave their sprinklers on to discourage Marti Gras partygoers from relieving themselves on their lawns.
"That's what portable toilets are for," resident Mary Linden said. "We don't appreciate going out and seeing it - the people are often belligerent."
This Time the Sea Yields a Body
Human remains packed into a suitcase. Does it get any more gruesome than that?
Stay tuned for more on this story.
Suitcase packed with human remains is found in bay
Yachters sighted floating luggage; DNA analysis to try to make ID
Jaxon Van Derbeken,
San Francisco Chronicle
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Boaters made a gruesome discovery Friday when they found human body parts inside a suitcase that they fished out of the bay, according to the San Francisco Police Department.
"It appears to be a dismembered body," said homicide Lt. John Hennessey.
Police said a group of people on a rented yacht had spotted the suitcase floating in the water east of the Golden Gate Bridge at about 1 p.m. and pulled it on board.
After opening it and finding the remains, they placed the suitcase back in the water and immediately contacted Coast Guard officials, who then alerted the police.
"It had a pretty bad smell," said Sgt. Neville Gittens, a spokesman for the Police Department. "They threw the suitcase back in and tied something onto it so it wouldn't float away."
"We're happy they maintained possession of it," Gittens said.
There was no immediate indication from police of how long the body had been in the water, the age or even the sex of the victim.
The medical examiner's office will try to identify the remains through DNA analysis, police said.
Immortalizing Big Brave Boys
Sometimes the most effective punishment is the blatant expose of names and faces of those who commit the most heinous and pathetic crimes.
Seems at least two, perhaps more, big brave adolescent youths decided to beat a homeless and defenseless man with a baseball bat. The crime was captured on surveillance video tape and had been shown widely on the cable networks.
The sad image of a weak man kneeling on the floor, futilely trying to ward off blows from the brave adolescent’s swings of the bat, was heart-breaking.
One of their victims died as a result of this brave action by these brave boys.
Who are these icons of heroism? Below is their picture. May that tape and their pictures displayed across the world wide web haunt them forever.
Two South Florida teens suspected in the beatings of three homeless men turned themselves in to police Sunday, authorities said.
Family attorneys negotiated the surrender of Brian Hooks, 18, and Thomas S. Daugherty, 17.
They will face murder charges in the death of Norris Gaynor and aggravated battery charges in the videotaped beating of Jacques Pierre, said Capt. Michael Gregory of the Fort Lauderdale police.
They also are suspects in the beating of a third man, Raymond Perez, 49, whose case remains under investigation, Gregory said.
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