So the 17-year-old called Thomas Chrysler Jeep in Cuyahoga Falls, claiming that he worked for Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic. He said the mayor needed to borrow a car to drive around a visiting community-development specialist. "He said we'd helped him out in the past," says dealership manager Erika Thomas. "I thought, 'Yeah, okay, I have.' I didn't even think to check the number he gave me or anything."
Thomas agreed to lend the kid a fully-loaded, $42,000 Jeep Commander. The kid's mother, Katherine Beard, picked up the car on October 6; then she and her son headed for Detroit, where the kid claimed he had a meeting with "someone who could further his music career," says Cuyahoga Falls Police Sergeant Gary Merton.
The following Monday, Thomas called Plusquellic's office to see how the car was working out. Plusquellic was puzzled.
"When I told him this had happened, he said, 'You mean someone in the Falls actually gave someone property using my name?'" says the mayor's spokesman, Mark Williamson. "He was pretty amazed. It's no secret that the relationship [between Plusquellic and Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart] has been so tenuous for so many years."
It's uncommon for the mayor's office to borrow cars from dealerships, says Williamson. "When we need a car, for a parade or something, we put out an offer for bids and buy it -- it's a rather lengthy process. That kid must have been a good salesman."
Thomas figured that her car was gone for good. "I was thinking they were halfway to Florida, or the car was in a Tijuana chop shop or something," she says.
But when she called Beard and asked for the car back, the 50-year-old was cooperative. After thoughtfully wiping down the car's interior, Beard and her son were greeted at the dealership by Cuyahoga Falls cops. They've both been charged with theft.
"The funny part was that this kid had been calling around to other dealerships telling them it was his church ministry that needed the car," Sergeant Merton says. "When that didn't work, he turned to the mayor thing. Pretty clever."
Very friendly bus driver
Nordonia Hills Superintendent Wayne Blankenship didn't feel like working. So he did what millions of Americans do every day -- he killed time by surfing MySpace.
As Blankenship sifted through names of Nordonia Hills students, he stumbled across a particularly troubling profile. It belonged to Heather Boettner, a 26-year-old bus driver with the district.
The shaggy blonde's profile didn't simply boast nude photos of herself; it also featured comments from Nordonia Hills students. "It immediately sent up a flag," says Laurie Cramer, a spokeswoman for the Summit County Prosecutor's Office. "So he called the police."
When the police interviewed Boettner, she admitted that she'd slept with two students she'd met on her bus. She had bought the 15- and 17-year-olds beer and drugs, and partied with them.
On October 10, Boettner pleaded guilty to sexual battery and unlawful sexual conduct. She faces up to eight years in prison.
Who says dicking around on MySpace is a waste of time?
Safety, Notre Dame-style
Poor Notre Dame College. Last spring, the South Euclid school was crucified by county prosecutors after failing to report two sexual assaults on campus ("Hush," May 17). Because a dean hid the information from police, investigators believe, Carl Wolfe was allowed to assault at least three more women.
Notre Dame responded to the outcry by firing most of its police force, a move the school curiously argued would make the campus safer.
Now, administrators seem intent on proving the adage that those who can, do, and those who can't, teach.
In September, several female students reported being assaulted by a male student. According to the warning letter administrators sent out, the "male was intoxicated" and "made several unwanted advances towards female students."
The case seemed similar to Wolfe's. The only difference: "In a few days, this guy accomplished what it took Carl Wolfe all semester to accomplish," says Lieutenant Todd Mitchell.
Then, on September 16, another female student reported that she'd been physically assaulted in her dorm room by two men and two women. Not to worry. Using the handy Notre Dame-speak they perfected during the Wolfe case, when administrators tried to downplay his assaults as "acquaintance rapes," officials told students they shouldn't worry about this incident either, since the assailants were "all nonstudents."
Punch feels a lot safer now, don't you?
Sucks to be you
Clarence Elkins was released from prison last December after DNA evidence proved that he didn't kill his elderly mother-in-law or rape his six-year-old niece. Unfortunately, that tidbit of information didn't surface until Elkins had already served seven years. Whoops!
Since his release, Elkins has struggled to find work. His marriage to his wife, Melinda, who fought by his side as he languished in prison, fell apart.
So it's hard to fault the man for getting hammered last July. Unfortunately, he was nabbed for DUI on his way home. Last week, a jury found him guilty, and he'll have to serve three days of a six-month sentence. Call it the curse of the Unluckiest Man in Ohio.
"I just can't imagine that Clarence is having to go through this all over again," says his lawyer, Jana DeLoach. "It is just real uncanny how this crap just keeps happening to him."
Scene staff writer Denise Grollmus makes an appearance in the recently released Best American Crime Writing 2006. Her story, "Sex Thief" [September 14, 2005], the tale of an Akron man who invented the perfect crime by raping strippers, was chosen by editor Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo, for this year's installment of the HarperCollins anthology.
The book also includes work by such notables as Jimmy Breslin and Jeffrey Toobin, and 14 sordid tales from publications like The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times.
Not bad for a 70-pound woman with Raggedy Ann tattoos, eh?