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Since 1994, this is the 1255th issue of Randy Cassingham’s...

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1 July 2018: A Freakishly Small WorldCopyright ©2018

Inconspicuous: An unnamed 56-year-old man at ARI Armaturen, a metal fittings company in Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock, Germany, has been arrested after allegedly poisoning a co-worker’s lunch. The co-worker was suspicious of white powder on his food, and asked the company to review security camera footage; it showed the suspect putting something on the food, and they called the police. Tests showed the powder was lead acetate, which is highly toxic, and probed further: they found a numberof odd deaths of employees at the company over the past 18 years — and two others are in comas, and another had to go on dialysis after his kidneys failed. Detectives say the man is suspected of killing as many as 21 of his co-workers. Supervisors said the suspect has been with the company for 38 years, and described him as “conspicuously inconspicuous.” (RC/Deutsche Welle) ...Maybe that’s the German equivalent to “He was such a quiet man.”

Florida Carpool: Daniel Midah was driving on Interstate 95 in Miami, Fla., when he noticed a man on the hood of the car next to him. “All I was thinking,” Midah says, was “this guy is going to slide off and hit me, slide off the other side or, if anything, he is going to slide down and she is going to hit him, and then she is going to crash into somebody else.” There was a woman driving the car at speeds of up to 70 mph, and the man on the hood was talking on the phone — with thepolice. Patresha Isidore, 24, and Junior Francis, 22, both share ownership of the car. According to Francis, both of them needed the car but Isidore beat him to it, so Francis jumped on the hood to keep her from leaving. It didn’t work: she drove off anyway. “That’s when things took a turn,” Francis said — she turned onto the interstate, and Francis held on until Isidore exited and he was able to get the keys out of the ignition. Isidore was arrested and charged with crimes against a personexposing them to harm, but Francis told police he didn’t want to press charges and refused to provide a sworn statement. “This woman is going to kill me,” he said to reporters later. “She’s really out to kill me.” (MS/WPLG Miami) ...They’d go to couple’s therapy, but can’t agree on who should drive.

Golden Anniversary: Fifty years ago, a car ran over Carolee Ashby, 4, in upstate New York — and the driver kept going. For decades, the girl’s family had no closure about who was responsible for her death. Police had a suspect, but the case was never solved. Recently, in Sanford, Maine, a car came blasting through the gate at a baseball park during a 9:00 a.m. game, drove around the bases, and ran over a man who was there to watch his grandson play. He was killed. The driver, a womanwith two drunk-driving convictions, tried to leave, but was caught by police. Five years ago, the man who was killed, Douglas Parkhurst, 68, was contacted by police after a tip and, once he was assured the statute of limitations was expired and he couldn’t be prosecuted, admitted in a signed confession that at age 18, he was the one who killed the little girl when he was drunk, and fled. He was the original suspect in the case. The baseball park driver, Carol Sharrow, 51, has been charged withmanslaughter. (RC/Portland Press Herald) ...Slaughter, yes. Man, not really.

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Career Ending: Charles Byrne was seven feet, seven inches tall. He built his career on it, moving to England from his native Ireland to work as an exhibition in London. Prior to his death in 1793, he made a will stating he wanted his body placed in a lead casket and sunk in the sea, where it would be safe from researchers. Unfortunately, he had made “friends” with John Hunter, a surgeon. Byrne’s body was replaced in his coffin with a weight, and Hunter put Byrne’s skeleton onexhibition — where it remained until recently. Now the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons is being asked to put an end to Byrne’s 200-year postmortem career, and let his skeleton be buried. That might not mean he couldn’t be used for research anymore, though: his DNA has already been taken. (AC/Irish Post) ...Can’t a dead man rest in peace?

When Cops Show Up to confront man for using a stolen credit card, he threw something odd at them: his girlfriend(!?!). A study of Americans finds that most adults can’t tell the difference between fact and opinion in news stories. 19-year-old woman didn’t get over her breakup with her boyfriend of seven years — so she raped him at knifepoint (...yet wasn’t even charged with a sex crime). Florida man released from jail stiffs cabbie on the way home — and was brought right back to jail. Mother of mixed-race kids wants ice cream company to rename their divisive chocolate/vanilla flavor mix. Police respond to see what’s blocking a road: the answer is, a house. Every week you miss at least half the stories, but you don’t have to: the full edition starts at just $9! Check out your options and upgrade today to get the expanded edition every week!

Oh Lardy: As promised, the London “fatberg” — a giant glob of “congealed fat, oil, and wet wipes” found clogging the English city’s sewer (“An Exhibit of Titanic Proportions” from This is True #1228, 24 December 2017) — has gone on display at the Museum of London. At least, a piece of it has: the thing was 250 meters (820 ft) long, and weighed an estimated 130 metric tons. Despite the fact that the museum display is now hatching flies, “begun to sweat,” and is changing colors,the exhibit has prompted a “marked increase” in visitors, says the museum’s curator of social and working history, Vyki Sparkes. So much so that the museum is considering doing something to preserve it beyond its scheduled five-month exhibition. Sparkes says the chunk o’ fatberg is one of the museum’s most popular exhibits and produces an “incredible reaction” from visitors. So much so that the next idea, currently under development, is “Fatberg — the Musical”. Really. (RC/BBC) ...It ain’tover until the fatberg sings.

Needs More Practice
Colorado Springs Man Claims He Shot Himself While Trying to Shoot Raccoon
Colorado Springs Gazette headline

Did You Find an Error? Check the Errata Page for updates.

This Week’s Contributors: MS-Mike Straw, AC-Alexander Cohen, RC-Randy Cassingham.

A Solid First Issue for Volume 25, if I may say so. But I have more to say on one of the stories. Darlene Ashby McCann was holding her little sister’s hand when the girl was hit back in 1968, and thrown 133 feet. After Parkhurst was killed in much the same way as her little sister, McCann commented, “He left us all these years with nothing, not even an ‘I’m sorry’” — Parkhurst never gave the family an apology, just the police, saying in hisconfession he was “so sorry” for killing the girl. It’s not that Parkhurst was afraid to speak to the family: he did call McCann, but only to say “I am not sure that I did it” — after signing the four-page confession describing how he did hit the girl.

The case was broken by the police investigator in the case, Russ Johnson — after his retirement. He had inherited the case years after the incident, and couldn’t explain why the original investigator had not followed up on the lead on Parkhurst. When originally interviewed, Parkhurst explained away the dent in his car by saying he had run into a pole. I find it hard to believe that in the decades since killing the girl, he never looked up the law to see when the statute of limitations hadsaved him from prosecution; he had to be assured by police that he would not be prosecuted before he would confess.

The unsolved case haunted Johnson, and in 2012, after he had retired, he made a post on Facebook asking for leads. He got them, and cracked the case. But a reporter who reviewed all the police documents found a disturbing item: police were told in 1974 — six years after the death — that Parkhurst was drunk at a party and bragged that he had killed the girl, “and got away with it.” Why didn’t police follow up on the lead in 1968? Why didn’t they follow up on the tip in 1974? Unclear: thoseinvestigators are long retired, perhaps even dead. McCann, the older sister, summed it up this way: “It feels it has made a full circle. Now I am relieved. I truly am. The same thing that happened to my sister happened to him. It made a complete circle. Now it is time to move on.”

I feel sorry for the grandson, who probably watched his grandfather run down by a drunk driver, and now has to contend with the facts of his grandfather’s actions as a teen — and well beyond. But, at least, he has the closure Parkhurst consciously denied the Ashby family for so long.

Comments on This? The story and these additional details are on my blog, along with the last (fatberg) story to lighten things up. Comments are open there: Cosmic Comeuppance. You don’t have to register to comment; while your email address is required, that’s only for me to see: addresses are never published.

It’s a Small Small Small Small World: I quietly announced last week that Kit and I are selling our house (and have already sold the small house next door, which we used as an office). Nope, not moving away from gorgeous Ouray County, Colorado, but rather we’re looking for a house big enough for both of us to office and live in. You know, together! We “could” add on to the existing house, but we’ve livedthrough construction twice before (one remodel, and then the current house, which we designed and had built by a real craftsman).

On the last auction of NASA stuff, I noticed a few things. Tom in Colorado wanted the one-of-a-kind space mission mug: he topped the highest bid by a good percentage, which basically says “I want that, and if you outbid me I’ll come back harder” (and no one did). Two, that he is not only in Colorado, but his “screen name” on the bid had a very local allusion. I looked up his address in the data base: it showed him in a ski town, not local.

But then the small world bit hit: after paying for the mug, Tom dropped me a note to say that he could come pick it up, because he now lives a few miles from us, on our mesa. But here’s what really got my attention: “Or,” he said, I could leave it in the just-sold office house, because it was a house-warming gift for Joe — the buyer (and, by the way, a new True subscriber).

Wait, what? I checked: Tom has been a Premium subscriber since 2012. Well, I wasn’t just going to leave the mug: I wanted to talk to Tom and get the story! When he came over, I learned that he and Joe have been friends for decades, and both were attracted to this area. Joe’s brother has moved here too. I mentioned that Colorado real estate is “hot” — well, you get the idea! It’s truly a beautiful place to live, and those who have built a lot of equity in their homes in more expensive placeshave found their money buys a lot more house here. Welcome to the neighborhood, Tom — and Joe!

Ten Years Ago in True: Yet another Doom & Gloom preacher: Welcome to the 21st Century — Another in a Continuing Series.

Today on Randy’s Random: in the Mac vs Windows religious wars, There’s Support, and Then There’s Support.

This Week’s Honorary Unsubscribe goes to Constance Adams. After studying sociology at Harvard, and then getting a master’s in architecture at Yale University, Adams apprenticed with an architecture firm for two years before settling on her calling: she was a space architect, and got her dream job in the late 1990s working on NASA projects. It’s a weird environment for designers, since there’s no “up” or “down” in space. “You takegravity out of the equation and everything goes kablooey,” Adams said. “We have to help our astronauts force themselves to act as if things were normal, so in fact we don’t have that many options, and one of the biggest struggles is to figure out how to keep a complex life form that evolved in a particular environment functional, when essential components of that environment are gone.” Adams worked on modules for the International Space Station, crew cabins, Mars habitats, and was considered oneof the first experts in spaceport planning: she helped design the the Spaceport America Terminal Facility for the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (and its initial tenant, Virgin Galactic) — the world’s first commercial spaceport terminal.

But in the middle of all that, Adams never lost sight of home. “What I’m trying to do is to do this in as good a way as possible,” she said. “To do it gently, to do it well, and to take the things that we’re learning while figuring out how to do it... sustainably and apply them to the way we’re living here,” on Earth. “How could I not want to design for space?” she asked later. She didn’t get to go into space herself, but did experience weightlessness in a specially equipped airplane (photo,in archive). Adams died June 24, from cancer. She was 53.

  • This Entry in the Archive: Constance Adams (OK to share link)
  • And So Long to science fiction master Harlan Ellison, who wrote the story for one of the best episodes of the original Star Trek series (“The City on the Edge of Forever” — and he hated it), dead June 28, at 84.
  • Honorary Unsubscribe Archive

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