MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27 This week of imaginative retaliation, overexposed celebrity, and criminally horny hobos kicks off in grand old Last Days style with something absolutely horrible happening to a baby. The place: Dayton, Ohio, where today 26-year-old China Arnold was jailed on charges of aggravated murder after allegedly microwaving her 1-month-old daughter. According to the Associated Press, Arnold has been under investigation since bringing her dead baby to a hospital over a year ago. Authorities have since collected ever-more-upsetting forensic evidence "consistent with our belief that a microwave oven was used in this death," said Ken Betz, director of the Montgomery County coroner's office. Among the evidence: "high-heat internal injuries" and the absence of external burn marks. With the baby's death ruled a "homicide by hyperthermia," Arnold remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail. (To help place this horrific story in some sort of context, please see this week's column-ending blurb.)
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28 In lighter news, today brings the story of Drew Gagnon, the 37-year-old man in Mahopac, New Jersey, who was arrested after breaking into a neighbor's barn, where he allegedly spray-painted the genitals of three goats and scattered pages from pornographic magazines around the floor. The motive for Gagnon's pornographic vandalization: garden-variety neighborly harassment, according to the AP, to which Mahopac police confirmed Gagnon's ill will toward the barn's owner, as well as his subsequent arrest on charges of burglary, criminal trespassing, and animal cruelty. As for the victims: New York's Journal News reports the goats' genitals were tagged with orange paint while their stomachs were upset from eating the porn, but all are expected to survive.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29 Following Monday's item about allegations of horrific child abuse and Tuesday's item about bizarre harassment comes today's item about allegations of horrific child abuse AND bizarre harassment. At the center of the saga: a web ad placed on the Pensacola, Florida, chapter of Craigslist, listing a 5-year-old boy "free to a good home." Details come from the AP, which reports the ad was written to suggest the author was the boy's mother: "I've had [my son] now for five years. I've somewhat abused him, but I cannot control myself or him. I have mental problems. [The Department of Children & Families] won't remove him." But as investigators soon discovered, the author of the ad was not Mom but Dad—50-year-old Raymond Lee, a soon-to-be ex-husband driven by an ongoing custody dispute to place the phony "free son" ad to "make his wife look bad." The case of the father has been referred to the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, while the boy remains safe in the custody of his mother (who has never been the subject of a DCF complaint or investigation).
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30 "Okay," writes Hot Tipper Jessie. "I am so grossed out by what happened to me this morning on the bus. I caught a number 11 Metro from Capitol Hill to downtown. The bus was so crowded I had to stand at the very front. To the left of me was a stinky bum, and as the bus started to move, I kept feeling something or someone touch my ass. I totally suspected the bum, but any time I tried to turn and see, it would stop. So I shifted multiple times to try to avoid being groped, but the bus was packed and I had nowhere to go. Finally, there was just enough room to maneuver my butt away. Then the bum moved in front of me, with his back to me. When I looked down, he had two fingers barely brushing my crotch area! I shoved him as hard as I could and he stumbled off the bus and ran away. Ladies beware of crowded buses. Eeeeewwwww!" Dear Jessie: Thank you for surviving and sharing your tale of the gropey bum. However, the next time you're sexually assaulted on a bus, please tell the driver and call the cops. Thank you.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1 The week continues with the breakout star of the week: Britney Spears's vagina, which was flashed to at least four camera-wielding bystanders on at least four separate occasions since Sunday. There was something morbidly fascinating in watching a superstar who once made public business of her virginity repeatedly flash her lap yam to the masses. Nevertheless, the ultimate effect was depressing, both for Britney and the nation that made her a star. (She may be so trashy she "accidentally" exposed her vagina in public four times in one week, but we're so trashy we couldn't resist gawking at her exposed hole all over the internet.) And yet, in the end, morbid fascination reigned, thanks to the wealth of media coverage devoted to Britney's netherlips. (Someone's gotta cover 'em—budum-ching!). "From the medical community to the internet's social networks, people are buzzing about what's going on in Spears's head," proclaimed ABC News, which solicited input from "psychoanalyst and relationship specialist" Bethany Marshall, who speculatively attributed Spears's exhibitionism to post-Federline revenge. "It is inappropriate," said Dr. Marshall, "but it's sort of her saying, 'I'm back on the market.'" Sort of? Meanwhile, E! put forward another theory: "Is Britney Spears allergic to underpants?" drawing professional input from allergists, image consultants, and underwear historians. Whether Britney's panty-free preference stems from vaginitis, postwaxing tenderness, or a desire to land a new man, one thing is sure: Her once-private parts now belong, like apple pie and Abu Ghraib, to the nation. And that's weird.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2 Last Days had intended to write "nothing happened today" here when the news arrived that King County sheriff's deputy Steve Cox was murdered by 23-year-old gang member/convicted felon/current parolee Raymond Porter. Porter shot Cox in a White Center home this morning before being fatally shot himself. Almost as disturbing: Steve Cox is the third Seattle law enforcement officer to die at the hands of a convicted felon on parole since August.
SUNDAY DECEMBER 3 The week ends as it began: with infant-related horror. Today's traumatized tot is the 2-month-old girl taken this morning to a hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where doctors determined she was shit-faced drunk, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.364—more than four times the legal limit for adult drivers. "I can't fathom how that can happen," said police Sergeant Steve Ward to the AP. "There have been some accidental ingestions, but... I would have to think the alcohol was somehow made available to the baby." The baby's mother is being investigated by police, while the baby girl is "expected to be okay."
As you may have noticed, this column frequently features stories involving the horrible abuse of children. Recently I met a local group actively devoted to minimizing the horrors that beset kids: Washington State CASA, whose mission you can read about at www.washingtonstatecasa.org. In the meantime, I'm raising money and awareness for CASA the only way I know how: by hosting an annotated screening of Showgirls, Thursday, January 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the glamorous Triple Door. As for the sketchiness of raising awareness for abused and neglected kids by screening one of the most offensive movies ever made: Yeah, it's weird, but the postmodern, frequently childless freaks who flock to things like Showgirls screenings make a great volunteer pool. For tickets, call 838-4333. (And send Hot Tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.)