Drunken yobs post hamster

David Jordan and James Cole, undergraduates at Cambridge University in the U.K., have been fined for posting a live hamster.

The pair put the hamster in a standard A5 envelope and posted it in Market Street, Cambridge, on 22 June.

Michael Taylor, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said: “The hamster had been posted in a sealed, addressed envelope which contained no food and no source of fluid.

“The postman who emptied the box made the discovery because it was trying to chew its way out of the envelope. A veterinary surgeon who examined the hamster said, had it ended up in the sorting office and its mechanical sorting drum, the creature could have been killed.’ — Cambridge Evening News

Jordan was fined £750 and Cole £500, and both become today’s Stupid People of the Day.

(More information available from Daily Telegraph and from BBC: What can’t you send through the post?)

Man kills self, fails to burn down house after death

David Moore, 47, of Belmont, N.H., committed suicide sometime after Thanksgiving using a homemade guillotine. But his plans for his death went far beyond that. He had placed homemade Molotov cocktails in the walls of his home, and wired them up to electric power on a timer, set to go off shortly after he killed himself, to burn down his house.

The two bomb squad officers who came determined that they weren’t exactly bombs – they were Molotov cocktails made out of 12-oz. Aquafina water bottles that each contained about two ounces of gasoline. Whereas a bomb would cause an explosion, Molotov cocktails are simply incendiary, [state police bomb squad Sgt. Andy] Parsons said. Instead of blowing up, they would ignite with a loud pop or boom and start a fire, probably destroying the man’s house but not endangering any neighbors. . . .

“He had literally punched holes in the Sheetrock walls of his house and stuffed the bottles in there, but he had also punched holes in the bottom portion of the walls and stuffed them with newspaper,’ he said.

The bottles were connected to wires that were plugged into an electric device timer, Parsons said. The timer was plugged into a power strip, like many people use for their computers. The power strip was plugged into an outlet, but the devices never ignited because the power strip was switched off. — Concord Monitor

That’s right, Moore’s plan for a posthumous house fire, which I can only speculate would be to cover up his suicide, failed, all due to not checking one simple little detail. And for that, Moore posthumously becomes today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

If you have regular thoughts of committing suicide, please call someone first. Even if you think they can’t understand what you’re going through. There is someone out there who does understand because they’ve been through something like it before. Everybody has problems, and suicide doesn’t make the problems go away; it makes you go away, which — even if you can’t see it — is going to hurt someone very much.

Reports of death greatly exaggerated

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier ran an obituary last week for Daniel “D.J.’ Reddout, 17, saying that he had died from complications from surgery Dec. 24, after receiving the information from a man who said he was the teenager’s father. The only problem is, D.J. was quite alive and well.

His mother, Mary Jo Jensen, had “jokingly’ told her boyfriend, James Snyder, that Reddout had died.

She said it was a case of bad communication.

“I had let my boyfriend know he was doing very, very badly at the hospital, and jokingly I said that he had passed away, and he took upon himself to put the obituary in,’ Jensen said.

“It was a mistake, and I apologize for that,’ she said. — Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

There’s humor, and then there’s stupidity. Mary Jo Jensen doesn’t seem to have figured out the difference, and thus becomes today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

Couple raised kids in garbage, animal feces, pornography

Wendy and Byron Ruff, of Warner, N.H., were convicted Monday of 10 counts of child endangerment, for keeping their five children in a home filled with animal feces, rotting garbage, loose insulation, and pornography on the walls.

“It is not a difficult matter to keep a home free of non-domesticated and non-house-trained animals,’ [Henniker District Court Judge Brackett] Scheffy wrote in his ruling Monday. “It does not require even an ordinary level of intelligence to know that the waste products of a variety of animals, many of which were in poor and diseased condition, are dangerous to the well-being of children and adults.

“The display of pornography on the walls of a home in which young children, one of them a pre-teen girl, reside, shows a callousness to their welfare that fails to meet any rational standard of behavior,’ Scheffy added.

The Ruffs are scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday. They face up to a year in jail or a $2,000 fine for each count.

The couple plan to appeal. They were charged in August after the town’s health inspector condemned their home, finding it full of garbage and animal waste, with no food for the children. The state veterinarian seized 37 animals, including pigs, chickens, goats, geese, rabbits, dogs and cats from the property. — WMUR

When the judge calls you stupid, then there’s a good chance you, like Byron and Wendy Ruff, will become the Stupid People of the Day.

Coroner rules death caused by gambling addiction

Andre Baril, 62, of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, liked playing the lottery. He was a big fan of Loto-Quebec’s Banco game, from which he won $25,000 a few years ago. But since then he spent his entire life savings, over $50,000, trying to hit the jackpot again.

Last summer, Baril fatally shot himself. But he’s not the Stupid Person of the Day.

The coroner announced this week that Baril’s death was caused by gambling addiction, and called for new laws regulating the sale of lottery tickets.

Coroner Jean-Francois Dorval says people who sell lottery tickets have to take some responsibility, “like someone who sells alcohol.’

He says lotto retailers should be licensed and should be trained to recognize gambling addicts. Those who sell tickets to addicts should lose their licenses, he says.

Loto-Quebec spokesman Jean-Pierre Roy says the agency will consider the idea, but that it may be difficult to implement. — CBC News

I suspect that he died from a bullet wound, rather than a gambling addiction. And for that, Jean-Francois Dorval becomes today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

If you have a gambling addiction, help is available. Call +1-800-522-4700 in the U.S.

Robber caught by hole in bag

Sharife Doorah, 23, of Indianapolis, Ind., allegedly robbed a bar late Friday night, and put the money in a bag. He ran off, and police took off after him. So far, about normal. But Doorah couldn’t possibly have gotten away that night.

“Upon arrival, they were told the suspect just went out the backdoor. In fact, he was getting into a vehicle carrying a bag of money with him,’ said Indianapolis police Sgt. Don Weilhammer.

Police chased Doorah around the neighborhood before he bailed out of his vehicle and took off on foot.

A police canine chased Doorah and that’s when police said the chase took a peculiar turn.

“As he was running, the bag had a hole in it. So there was money going everywhere in the neighborhood as he was running,’ Weilhammer said. — WMAQ

That’s right, he stuffed the money into a bag with a hole in it. Police eventually recovered nearly all of it, maybe missing some loose change. And Sharife Doorah becomes today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

Town supervisor signs hundreds of payroll checks

Satish B. Mohan has hardly been on the job as an Amherst, N.Y., town supervisor for a week, and already he’s made hundreds of enemies.

One of Mohan’s campaign promises was that he would personally review and sign all checks pertaining to town business, and that included payroll checks. So, when he did, the payroll wasn’t available on time last Friday, as Mohan spent “hours’ reviewing each and every check.

In a letter attached to each payroll check Friday, Mohan reiterated his pledge from his election campaign in which he promised “to personally review and sign all checks pertaining to Town of Amherst business.’

“If this has created any unanticipated inconvenience, I apologize,’ the letter continued. “I am sure you understand the critical importance of the Chief Fiscal Officer taking an active role in managing Town finances.’

[Amherst Police Club president Edward] Guzdek said there are other ways for the supervisor to cross-reference payroll checks with payroll records. “I don’t have a problem if he wants to sign all those checks. If he thinks that’s an effective utilization of his time, that’s up to him,’ Guzdek said. “But there’s a detailed report issued to every department that details every employee’s pay, line-by-line.’

“If Dr. Mohan wanted to find and check, he could have checked and audited it that way with no disruption to employees,’ he added. — Buffalo News

On rare occasions, breaking a campaign promise might actually be a good thing. For not using a quite obvious and better way of reviewing the town’s expenditures, Satish Mohan is today’s Stupid Person of the Day. Hopefully he’ll not do this again in two weeks…

Counterfeiters try to flush the evidence

It turns out you can’t always flush the evidence down the toilet.

Selina Jean Valdez, 28, and Daniel Marquez, 41, of Pueblo, Colo., are suspected of being responsible for almost all of the city’s counterfeit money cases. Police started looking for them on December 26, and that’s when they think the couple flushed “wads of counterfeit $50 and $100 bills’ down the toilet.

A week and a half later, on Thursday, when police came back with warrants, they found raw sewage all over the duplex.

By the time police arrived at the duplex Thursday, standing water and sewage covered its floors and the toilets weren’t functional. Detectives said Marquez and Valdez had been relieving themselves in plastic shopping bags for at least a week because of the inoperable plumbing.

Police said Marquez and Valdez refused to allow their landlord inside the duplex since Dec. 26. Damage to the unit caused by cramming the plumbing will cost thousands of dollars to remedy, police said.

Video of the duplex’s plumbing shot by plumbers using a “snake camera’ on Thursday showed hunks of suspected counterfeit bills packed into the pipes. The clogs span from just a few feet beyond the toilet to almost 100 feet along the lines. The volume of bills flushed down the toilet was so great that the money was visible when police and sheriff’s deputies lifted a manhole cover on the street outside the duplex.

Detectives characterized the suspected counterfeit operation run by Marquez and Valdez as “low-tech.’ Using a combination printer-scanner-copier run through a personal computer, the bills were printed on heavy-bond paper. — Pueblo Chieftain

Doesn’t everybody know that you’re supposed to use a cross-cut shredder on the evidence before you flush it down the toilet? For not paying sufficient attention to the Enron scandal, Selina Valdez and Daniel Marquez become the Stupid People of the Day.

Artist chains self, loses key

Trevor Corneliusien, 26, an artist, went camping in an abandoned mineshaft about five miles north of Baker, Calif., on Tuesday, wrapped a chain around his bare ankles and locked it, and proceeded to draw it. Then he realized he didn’t have the key.

So he hopped across the desert for 12 hours before finding help.

“It took him over 12 hours because he had to hop through boulders and sand,’ [San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan] Ford said. “He did put on his shoes before hopping.’

The artist, who is from the area, often sketched images inside mines in the Southwest. He had finished his drawing Tuesday when he realized he didn’t have the key.

Corneliusien finally made it to a gas station and called the sheriff’s department, which sent paramedics and deputies with bolt cutters. His legs were bruised but he was otherwise in good health, Ford said. — Associated Press

Ford also said that the artist’s drawing of the chain around his legs was “pretty good.’ But that doesn’t excuse Trevor Corneliusien, who is today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

Home alone: Parents leave children for Vegas weekend

Jacob Calero and Michelle De La Vega, of San Ramon, Calif., on Friday left Calero’s two children, Joshua, 9, and Jason, 5, alone at home unsupervised so they could take a New Year’s Eve trip to Las Vegas.

San Ramon Police Sgt. Brian Kalinowski said that the parents could be facing child endangerment charges once information about the incident is presented to the district attorney.

During the day the boys were alone, they ate cold cereal for breakfast and heated up microwave meals for dinner. The boys’ grandmother called police New Year’s Eve when she realized they might have been left home unsupervised. . . .

When police found the boys, they were physically unharmed. The boys were placed in Child Protective Services and later turned over to their grandmother, who they are currently staying with. — KRXI

This wasn’t the first time they had left the kids alone, either. For that, Jacob Calero and Michelle de la Vega become today’s Stupid People of the Day. As of Wednesday morning, they had not yet arrived back from their trip and were expected to be arrested upon arrival.