The Week in Review
MONDAY, JULY 11This week of assorted things evoking varying levels of horror (but nowhere near the levels of last week's terror parade; sorry about that) kicks off in California's Orange County, where this evening an estranged husband and wife got into an argument that ended with the man's penis in the garbage disposal. Details come from KTLA News, which identifies the wife as 48-year-old Catherine Becker, who married her unnamed 60-year-old husband in late 2009, with the troubled couple separating in April 2011 and the husband filing for divorce in May. Which brings us to tonight, when the couple allegedly had an argumentative dinner at their formerly shared home. As KTLA reports, "[Mrs. Becker] had put an unknown type of poison and/or drug into her husband's food to make him sleepy, according to Lt. Jeff Nightengale. She then tied him to the bed. When he woke up, she cut off his penis with a knife, investigators said. She then tossed the penis in the garbage disposal and turned it on." Afterward, Becker "called 911 and told responding officers that he 'deserved it.' When officers arrived, they found a man bleeding from the crotch area." The day after tomorrow, Becker will appear in court to face charges of felony torture and aggravated mayhem. "If convicted on all counts, she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole," reports KTLA. "The 60-year-old man is said to be in 'good spirits' despite the ordeal."
TUESDAY, JULY 12 Speaking of insane sagas, today brings one from the wilds of Blaine, Minnesota, where a 46-year-old man planted a kiss on the lips of a 4-year-old boy and instigated a life-ruining poopstorm. Details come from the Pioneer Press, which identifies the creepy kid-kisser as Barry Ardolf, who welcomed the just-arrived Kostolnik family to the neighborhood by picking up their 4-year-old son and kissing him on the mouth. In response, the Kostolniks called the police. After which, Ardolf retaliated with "a bizarre and calculated campaign of terror"—hacking into the Kostolniks' wireless router, opening e-mail accounts in Mr. Kostolnik's name, and sending child pornography to Mr. Kostolnik's coworkers and bosses at a Minneapolis law firm along with threats to the vice president in Washington, DC. Last December, Ardolf pleaded guilty to unauthorized access to a protected computer, aggravated identity theft, possession and transmission of child pornography, and making threats to the vice president, for which he was today fined $10,000 and sentenced to 18 years in federal prison. (And when he gets out, he'll have to register as a sex offender.)
WEDNESDAY, JULY 13 In much better news, today brings word of the $20 million federal grant awarded to Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to "study whether HIV could be cured by modifying an infected person's stem cells," reports the Seattle Times. As HIV-news followers will recall, stem cells burst into the HIV conversation thanks to Timothy Brown, aka "the Berlin patient," an HIV-positive man who developed leukemia, which was treated with a stem-cell transplant from a bone-marrow donor blessed with natural HIV resistance. "As the HIV-resistant cells took over the man's immune system, each new immune cell produced in the bone was resistant to the virus," reports the Times. "Four years later, after countless blood tests and biopsies, Brown appears free of leukemia and HIV infection." Now, Fred Hutch has $20 million and five years to research what such stem-cell manipulation might mean to HIV in the world at large. "The field is now addressing the possibility of developing a cure," said Hans-Peter Kiem, one of the project's principal investigators, to the Times. "To receive the resources to move this work forward is very exciting."
THURSDAY, JULY 14 From God so loving the world that He allowed His only son to die of blood loss and heatstroke to Casey Anthony celebrating her dead daughter with a new tattoo, history is filled with parents responding inappropriately to injured children. So it is with some relief that Last Days reports today's story of a notably appropriate parental response to offspring injury in White Center, where this afternoon mom Oneida Garcia returned from a shopping trip with her 2-year-old son Yoskar when "the curious kid climbed on the family's couch in their fifth-floor apartment," reports Seattlepi.com. "The couch was next to a window left open because of the heat, and Yoskar leaned on the screen. He then disappeared out of sight." Upon seeing her son go out the fifth-floor window, Garcia did what any sane mother would do: jumped after him. Lucky for all, both mother and son landed on a fourth-floor balcony below, with the 15-foot fall breaking Garcia's ankle and leaving young Yoskar with a few facial scrapes.
•• Meanwhile in Florida, 21-year-old mother Jaren Hare and her 34-year-old live-in boyfriend, Charles Darnell, were today found guilty of manslaughter, third-degree murder, and child neglect in the death of Hare's 2-year-old daughter, Shaianna, who died after the couple's eight-foot pet Burmese python wrapped itself around her head. "Testimony revealed the snake had not been fed for a month before the attack," reports Florida's WFTV. Hare and Darnell each face 35 years in prison.
FRIDAY, JULY 15 From actual child killers we progress to people who just look like people who look like child killers. Our setting: Chouteau, Oklahoma, where tonight 26-year-old Sammay Blackwell was working her shift at a convenience store when she noticed a female customer staring at her. As Oklahoma's News on 6 reports, the staring customer told Blackwell, "You look like Casey Anthony," referencing the Florida mother found not guilty of the murder of her daughter earlier this month, after which the staring likeness-noter left the store. Things got weird when Blackwell finished her shift and began driving home, at which point she noticed that she was being followed by a minivan driven by the staring lady, who eventually allegedly rammed into her. "I said, 'Oh my God, help me,'" Blackwell told News on 6. "She hit me again, causing my vehicle to flip two and a half times, landing on the driver's side, and I just laid there playing dead." Police soon apprehended the smashy driver, identified as Shireen Nalley, who reportedly told police she was "trying to save the children." ("Police say Nalley seemed to be on drugs," reports News on 6.) Nalley stands charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon.
SATURDAY, JULY 16 Nothing happened today, unless you count the continued explosion of the Rupert Murdoch/News of the World/News International/Scotland Yard phone-hacking scandal, a humongous mess we'll deal with next week.
SUNDAY, JULY 17 The week ends with another unfair occurrence for another Casey Anthony look-alike: Casey Anthony, who was tonight released from prison after being found not guilty of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. She now proceeds to a suitably awful life of lucrative interviews, voluminous porn offers, and crazy ladies ramming her with minivans.
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