Susan Vaughan here. Because this is a crime writers’ site, crime being one of the key words, I thought I’d check out interesting crimes during the month of December.
According to FBI statistics of crimes reported to law enforcement agencies, violent crime increases during the summer months and decreases through the colder months, although thefts and robberies increase slightly in December. Due to Christmas shopping, maybe. My research didn’t turn up any weird or fascinating or humorous December crimes in Maine, but here are ones in other states.
FOOD HEIST #1… Just this December, a man in Albuquerque, New Mexico, craved his mother’s posole, a traditional Mexican stew so much that he stole it. The twenty-three-year-old ignored his mother’s refusal to give him the dish, so he broke in and ran off with the entire pot. Posole is traditionally made with pork, peppers, beans, and sometimes beef tripe. This recipe for Posole omits the tripe. The son was arrested on a residential burglary charge. No gift for him from mama this year, and nada from Santa.
FOOD HEIST #2… Also this December, in Syracuse, New York, a father and son stole more than $40,000 worth of chicken wings from the restaurant where they worked as cooks. The sheriff’s office said the men placed large chicken wing orders with the restaurant’s wholesaler over eight months time. Apparently the two sold their loot on the street and to other businesses. They’ve been charged with grand larceny and falsifying business records. I can’t imagine how the restaurant owner or bookkeeper didn’t pick up on this boom in chicken wings! Hmm, I wonder if they’re a “flight” risk.
THE CHIP HEIST (not food)… Now for a crime that yielded a much bigger haul, in Las Vegas. In December 2010, a man wearing a motorcycle helmet strolled into the Bellagio Hotel and Casino and held up a craps dealer at gunpoint. The robber ran back through the casino and sped off on his motorcycle, which he’d left parked just outside. His take? $1.5 million, but in chips that would have to be cashed in at the Bellagio or sold to a third party. Weeks later, when the brazen Biker Bandit then offered to sell some of the chips online, undercover police nabbed him. Facts emerged that after the theft, the Biker Bandit returned to the Bellagio to gamble and drink. While casing his target, he stayed at that hotel. Three weeks before, he’d robbed another casino. In an ironic twist, he was the son of a local judge. He received a sentence of three to eleven years for his crimes. And Santa repossessed the bike.
CRYPTIC CLUE MURDER… Finally, here’s a murder with an unusual coincidence. In December 1983, in Hialeah, Florida, a Hispanic man was found strangled to death in a vacant lot. This murder baffled police at first because of cryptic notes discovered at the scene. A plastic bag taped behind a nearby “no dumping” sign contained a poem: “Now the motive is clear and the victim is too. You’ve got all the answers. Just follow the clues.” There was also a riddle that led police to the next clue taped behind a speed limit sign. This poem was equally strange and also gruesome: “Yes, Matthew is dead, but his body not felt. Those brains were not Matt’s because his body did melt…” Eventually the police found an innocent explanation for this confusing mystery. On Halloween, four churches had set up a murder mystery game in which participants created fictitious crimes that involved hiding rhyming clues around the area. The night of the game, a rainstorm forced them to cancel, but the clues were left in place. The real death was a macabre coincidence. Later, the victim was identified and his murder appeared to be related to drug smuggling. Does anyone else think it strange that church groups would organize a murder mystery game, even on Halloween? What would Santa do?
My latest release is ALWAYS A SUSPECT, the prequel to my Task Force Eagle series. Not a Christmas story, but it does take place during the holidays. You can find more information about my books at my website.
The clues found all around a murder victim’s body being the work of a Halloween scavenger type hunt – what a great idea for a story! Truth is stranger than fiction, as we well know. Happy holidays, Susan!
Brenda, I think the cops were scratching their heads over that one. Yes, definitely story material. Happy Holidays to you too!
Sad to say, the holidays do often put one in the mind for crime, which is why I avoid malls. The parking lot alone can make me homicidal!
I too avoid malls and not just during the holidays. Happy ones to you!
I love the idea of a real body found in the midst of clues for a scavenger hunt!
Barb, me too! I keep trying to picture the cops working on the clues and following the trail thinking it was real.
Some very strange crimes. But I have to say the last crime with the churches had me chuckling. Who would think a group of churches would think to do a murder mystery game.
Emily, exactly what I thought too. Thanks for commenting.
Great post, Susan. I shared. Truth is for sure stranger than fiction!
Marsha, that is certainly true. If I’d put some of those incidents in a story, readers would say they were too weird to be believable. Thanks for commenting.
A dead body at the scene of an abandoned scavenger hunt. That sounds like a Castle episode! 🙂 Great article.
Loved this blog, Susan – what fun! I have actually been to a church murder mystery fundraiser – but it was more like dinner theater where they acted out a rather funny murder scenario (written by the minister’s wife and directed by the choral leader) and then we all had to vote who we thought was the villain. We heard the verdict during dessert.
As for the first one – #1 I copied off the recipe. #2 had to wonder the back story of the mother and son and the dynamics of their relationship that made a son steal from his mom. Definitely fodder for character and plot building. As others said – fact stranger than fiction, for sure!
I would hope that no larceny lurks in my heart and that I could always manage to pay for my posole. But should I find myself on the jury I could not convict so strong is my compulsion for posole. Lots Does Molinos, Mesa, Arizona..as soon as I get off the plane. Very interesting post.