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News / Nation & World

These are some of the strangest crime stories of 2023

By Brian Niemietz, New York Daily News
Published: December 30, 2023, 6:00am

From absent-minded drunks to a not-so-great dime heist and criminal acts of footsie, 2023 was packed with strange criminal allegations from coast to coast — and beyond.

  • Dad forgets his “missing” child is at home

Booze is said to have been a factor when Connecticut dad Colby Parker filed a missing persons report for the child he forgot at home while making an evening run to Price Chopper in October. Security video reportedly showed Parker had made two trips to the grocery store that night, but brought his son only the first time. The 30-year-old dad showed signs of “possible impairment.” His child was found safe at home.

  • Alabama woman reports mystery toddler on highway

Another child who turned out to be fine is an Alabama toddler who never existed. In July, nursing student Carlee Russell reported seeing an unaccompanied toddler strolling along Interstate 459 near Hoover. A short time later, she told her family she’d been forced into a car and abducted. Neither claim appears to have been true and Russell was charged later that month for false reporting to law enforcement authorities and falsely reporting an incident.

  • Sleeping woman’s socks stolen

An Iowa woman got cold feet when a 23-year-old man broke into her apartment, watched her while she slept, then absconded with a pair of socks after hanging around for roughly 30 minutes on April Fools’ Day. Law & Order identified the alleged culprit as Dan Abimana, who also fixed himself a drink and used the victim’s bathroom during his visit, cops said.

  • Sleeping woman gets unwanted foot massage

Mark Anthony Gonzales wasn’t accused of stealing stockings when he allegedly entered two Lake Tahoe, Nevada, condominiums in August and rubbed the feet of a pair of sleeping women over the Fourth of July weekend, but police say he is suspected of stealing women’s shoes in his hometown of Atwater, California.

  • Dime heist defies sense

Four men were charged with stealing millions of dimes from a tractor-trailer parked outside a Philadelphia Walmart in April. USA Today said the quartet made off with nearly $235,000 worth of 10-cent pieces — some of which they later tried to deposit. The truck reportedly contained 75 million dimes moving from Philadelphia to Florida. The driver had reportedly parked his vehicle to take a short rest before making that long haul. It doesn’t appear the alleged thieves initially knew what they were stealing.

  • Pilot gets high, tries to bring others down

While flying is generally safer than driving, that’s not the case when a man high on mushrooms tries to shut-off a plane’s engine in mid-flight. That’s what off-duty pilot Joseph Emerson allegedly did during a West Coast flight in October where he was a guest traveling in a cockpit jump seat. The 44-year-old airman told investigators he’d experienced an emotional breakdown and had not slept.

  • Colosseum vandal gets an F in history

Some people shouldn’t go anywhere. A 27-year-old tourist confessed to carving his and his girlfriend’s names into the ancient Colosseum in Rome while visiting the nearly 2,000-year-old structure. The man identified by his lawyer as Ivan Danailov Dimitrov apologized, claiming he was unaware of “the antiquity of the monument.”

  • Teen “terrorist” shuts down Ford plant

Other people — like Zachariah A. Peterson — are fine staying local. The 19-year-old Missouri man is accused swatting Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo so his friend wouldn’t have to go to work. Peterson, who allegedly said he was barricaded in a bathroom on the second floor with an AK-47 and C4 explosives strapped to his chest, is charged with making a terroristic threat.

  • Jack in the Bang

Some people shouldn’t go to work. Video released September as part of a lawsuit against Jack and the Box shows a fast food worker opening fire through a drive-thru window following an argument that reportedly involved curly fries. No one was injured.

  • Punishment fits the crime

An angry Ohio woman was sentenced to work in a fast food joint after throwing a burrito bowl at a Chipotle manager. A judge gave defendant Rosemary Hayne that bizarre offer to shorten her criminal sentence and she took it, according to Cleveland.com.