MONDAY, APRIL 26 Hello and welcome to another installment of Last Days, America's premier source for last week's news. We begin with the week's first and least horrifying Craigslist crime story, in which a disgruntled Connecticut man allegedly attempted to avenge himself against his annoying next-door neighbor by inviting strangers to her house for an orgy. Details come from ABC News, which identifies the disgruntled man as Philip James Conran, a 42-year-old resident of West Hartford who was arrested in early April after allegedly creating a fraudulent Craigslist ad entitled "Looking for lust," written from the POV of a horny soccer mom looking to fulfill her "group sex" fantasies. "I want to please as many as I can before going to work!" crowed the ad, which was posted on April 5 and included the home address of Conran's next-door neighbor. Police say the ad drew a surprising number of men to the woman's home, some of whom knocked, others of whom idled their cars in front. Worse, police report that one man responding to the ad—29-year-old Richard Zeh—ended up at the wrong house, where he allegedly sexually assaulted an 18-year-old female. Zeh stands charged with sexual assault and burglary, while Conran—whom police tracked through his IP address—faces a cornucopia of charges for creating the ad that started it all, including harassment, reckless endangerment, breach of peace, accessory to burglary, accessory to sexual assault, accessory to disorderly conduct, accessory to criminal trespass, and risk of injury to a child. Released on $75,000 bond, Conran is due again in court on June 10.
TUESDAY, APRIL 27 The week continues in Seattle, where early this morning firefighters were called to a blaze near Seattle Center, where they discovered that some crazy fool had set fire to the offices of Ride the Ducks. For those unfamiliar with the Ducks, they are amphibious World War II motor craft now used to transport quacking tourists around Seattle by land and water. As KIRO reports, today's saga commenced soon after midnight, when police got a call about a possible burglary at Ride the Ducks' Fifth Avenue headquarters. Cops arrived to find a fire burning in a second-floor office and a 50-year-old male employee of the Ducks standing nearby. While firefighters got control of the flames, police questioned the man. "After hours of questioning, the man told authorities three men were chasing him from his nearby apartment to the building, so he went inside and locked the door," reports KIRO. "The man said he wanted to call police, but the men cut the phone lines and broke windows, police said. The man told detectives he set a fire in the office so the fire department would come and call police. When firefighters didn't come, he jumped out a second-floor window." And oh yeah: "After hours of questioning, the man admitted he had been using methamphetamines." The man has been charged with second-degree arson; the Ducks are fine and fully operational.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28 Last year, Washington State was introduced to Referendum 71, the ballot initiative designed to repeal the new state law extending "everything but marriage" domestic-partnership rights to same-sex couples. As you may recall, while R-71 supporters were gathering signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, gay-rights supporters sought access to the signed petitions, with the resulting skirmish adding up to Doe v. Reed, the "Washington-centric case that will decide whether signing a public petition is protected political speech—like voting—or if those signatures should be considered public documents under the Washington Public Records Act," as The Stranger's Jake Blumgart reported from Washington, D.C., where today Doe v. Reed was taken up by the Supreme Court. "No person should suffer harassment for participating in our political system, and the First Amendment protects citizens from intimidation resulting from compelled disclosure of their identity and beliefs and their private associations," said lawyer James Bopp Jr. in defense of keeping anti-gay signers' names private, inspiring an impressive blast of eloquence from Justice Antonin Scalia: "You can't run a democracy this way, with everybody being afraid of having his political positions known... The fact is that running a democracy takes a certain amount of civic courage, and the First Amendment does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate or to take part in the legislative process." Further arguments for disclosure came from Washington attorney general Rob McKenna, who denied there was evidence of threats of violence against petition signers and pointed out the safeguards already in place to legally quash threat-makers. The case will be decided by the end of summer. (For an in-depth report on Doe v. Reed, see Jake Blumgart's news story here.)
THURSDAY, APRIL 29 We continue with the week's second and much more horrible Craigslist crime story, which unfolded yesterday in Edgewood, Washington, where a man attempted to sell a diamond ring on Craigslist and wound up murdered. Details come from KING 5: "Before heading off to a family reunion, the [man] posted an ad on Craigslist to sell the diamond ring. According to relatives, a man and a woman came to the house posing as potential buyers. Shortly after, two masked men showed up... Authorities say the four came to the house armed with guns and zip ties with the intent to rob the family." As relatives told police, the four intruders tied up the man's wife, pistol-whipped his 14-year-old son, ransacked the house, and fatally shot him. The slain husband/father/would-be-ring-seller will be identified as 43-year-old James Sanders. The murderous burglars—described as three men and one woman—remain on the loose. "Pierce County detectives believe the robbery was committed by the same people involved in a similar crime last weekend in Lake Stevens," adds KING 5. Condolences to the family, and beware, Craigslist sellers.
FRIDAY, APRIL 30 Speaking of horror: Today we turn to the ongoing tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon, the semisubmersible offshore-drilling rig that exploded last week off the coast of Louisiana, causing a humongous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that continues to grow larger as you read this. By next week, news outlets will estimate that the spill covers a surface area of at least 2,500 square miles. Nevertheless, it remains impossible to say anything conclusive about damage and potential cleanup of the mess because the fucking oil hasn't stopped gushing yet, with an estimated 5,000 to 25,000 barrels of crude being added to the spill daily. Whatever the damage, oil company BP will be held responsible for its cleanup. Stay tuned.
SATURDAY, MAY 1 The week continues with an unusually dramatic Saturday, featuring hundreds of thousands of Americans taking to the streets (including the thousands of Seattleites who marched from Judkins Park to Seattle Center) to call for immigration reform/protest Arizona's draconian new anti-immigration laws, and one very scary semidetonated bomb found in an abandoned Nissan Pathfinder tonight in New York City's Times Square. "The S.U.V. was parked near the headquarters of Viacom, fueling suspicions that the attack was related to a controversy surrounding 'South Park,' the Comedy Central cartoon program that recently censored an episode that portrayed the Prophet Muhammad," reports the New York Times. "Viacom owns Comedy Central, and police have not ruled out the connection." By early next week, police will have apprehended a suspect: Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani American who'll be taken into custody at JFK International Airport while attempting to board a flight to Dubai.
SUNDAY, MAY 2 Nothing happened today (unless you count the continued gushing of Deepwater Horizon).
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