It could be a $6.5 million hat- or not. It seems the crown jewel of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Lincoln's stovepipe hat, one of just three thought to still exist, may just be an old hat. Two reports found insufficient evidence to tie it to Lincoln. One was a 2013 report penned by top curators with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and Chicago History Museum who sought to establish its historical provenance: The Springfield, Ill., museum had maintained that Lincoln gave the hat to an Illinois farmer in 1858, though a century later a descendant said the hat was given in 1861 during a visit to DC. The report found "the current documentation is insufficient" to support either story and suggested the museum "soften its claims" or even try to return the hat. That may be tough to do. It was acquired in 2007 as part of a mammoth $25 million purchase of Lincoln items by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, which runs separately from the museum. The foundation in 2014 asked the FBI to see if DNA analysis could establish a tie to Lincoln. It relied on DNA from Lincoln's hair and blood-spattered items from his assassination but found a "limited quantity of remaining DNA data" in the hat; most of what it recovered "was consistent with being contemporary DNA from an individual who had recently handled the item." (Chicago)
That's a Damn Good Psychic!
In Bethesda, Maryland, 45-year-old Gina Marie Marks operated "Readings by Natalie" out of her home. Basically $100 tarot card readings - but that was only the beginning. From there, she convinced clients to withdraw large amounts of cash and hide it in pillowcases or under mattresses so energy from their bodies could travel to the bills; then the clients were to give Marks the cash-the more they gave, the more committed they were to Marks' "spirit guides"-so she could put it on an altar at her church in order to break evil curses placed on the client or carry out spells for the client. She conned five victims out of $341,000 this way and while clients were told the money and items would be returned, they never were. Victims say if they balked at the amount of money they were told to hand over, Marks would accuse them of not taking the work seriously or warn them that their doubts would anger the spirit guides. She convinced them of her authenticity by using phone spoofing-she would tell a client someone (say, an ex over whom the client was heartbroken) would call on a certain day and time, but warn the client not to answer; phone spoofing allowed Marks to place the call from her own number, but make it appear as if it was coming from the ex's number. Well she reached a plea deal and will now be going away for six years. Marks' lawyer insisted to the judge her work was legitimate and that she cared about her clients. To that, the judge said he felt he was being "scammed." (Newser)
20 Years in Prison - For Stealing Cigarettes!
Certainly stealing $600 worth of cigarettes from a convenience store isn't cool - but does it deserve 20 years in prison? A jury in Pensacola, Florida convicted 48-year-old Robert Spellman of burglary and grand theft in August after he took 10 cartons of cigarettes from a stock room in the store manager's office last December. He was sentenced Friday to 20 years - but before you go all crazy, you should know that Mr. Spellman also has 14 felony and 31 misdemeanor convictions prior to the cigarette theft, which qualified him as a habitual felony offender. That led to the lengthy 20-year prison sentence imposed Friday by an Escambia County judge. Something about not doing the crime if you can't do the time. (Pensacola News Journal)
Maybe Time For a New Boyfriend
Meanwhile over in England, 45-year-old Leigh Ford managed to get himself jailed for 16 weeks and miss the birth of his child, after lying to his pregnant girlfriend that he had been kidnapped, just so he could get drunk with his buddies. The kidnapping-prank-gone-wrong took place in January, when Ford made several frantic phone calls to his pregnant partner Zoe Doyle, telling her that he had been kidnapped and that he was going to be tortured unless she transferred all the money she had into the kidnappers' bank account. At first, the woman thought he was kidding, but he sounded really scared, and there were other men shouting in the background, threatening to cut off Leigh's legs, and pour hot water on him. So she complied, but she also called the police. A helicopter and a trained hostage negotiator were called in for what sounded like a complicated situation, but no one called again until next morning, when Leigh himself came home like nothing had ever happened. Police were waiting for him, and after asking him a few questions, they arrested him for wasting police time and resources. Ford apologized to his girlfriend and she eventually forgave him. Unfortunately for Ford, the judge wasn't that forgiving and sentenced Ford to 16 weeks in jail. (Oddity Central)
Mosquitos to the Rescue
Police in Wisconsin's Fond du Lac County have a swarm of mosquitos to thank after arresting a fleeing suspect who surrendered in a cornfield because he couldn't take the pesky insects any longer! Campbellsport Police Chief Thomas Dornbrook said, "When we handcuffed him he asked us to wipe his forehead because he had 15-20 mosquitoes on his forehead at that time." The suspect, John Wilson, now faces charges including felony eluding. Police say he was the getaway driver after a companion left a liquor store with unpaid alcohol. That led to a high-speed chase before Wilson and the other man each bailed from the car. Wilson might have eluded police-a dog, a drone, and officers could not find him-if not for the mosquitoes. Police say they know the identity of the other man and are still trying to pick him up. (ABC 7 Chicago)
What? Sex with My 12-Year-Old Students is Wrong?
Mary Kay Letourneau now works as a paralegal, but the former Seattle schoolteacher apparently didn't know much about law in the 1990s. In an Australian TV interview this past Sunday, she said that when she had sex with 12-year-old student Vili Fualaau, she had no idea it was a crime! She said, "If someone had told me, if anyone had told me, there is a specific law that says this is a crime. I did not know. I've said this over and over again. Had I'd known, if anyone knows my personality. Just the idea, this would count as a crime." Letourneau, who served more than seven years in prison and married Fualaau after her release in 2005, said she "absolutely felt wrongfully convicted." She is currently trying to get her name removed from the sex offenders' register. After interviewer Matt Doran tried to get her to admit that she "should have known better," the former teacher, who is 22 years older than Fualaau, said he was the one who pursued her and had been "the boss" back then. Letourneau-who was living with her husband and four children when the affair with Fualaau began-has two daughters with her former student, one born after her initial arrest and one born while she was in prison. Fualaau actually filed for legal separation last year, but the filing was later withdrawn. (FOX)
No Bath For You!
Police in Memphis arrested Jamal Staples just moments before he was about to take a bath - in the home he broke into! Upon arrival at the scene, officers were told Staples was still on the scene and that a representative from the property management company was on the way with a key to enter the home. After entering the home, Staples was found in inside of the home with multiple lights on and a bathtub filled with water. Police say, he told them he was about to take a bath. He was immediately taken into custody and told police he got a key to the property from a family member who owns the renovation company that he works for. He was charged with criminal trespass and theft of property. (WREG News)
What the What?
Roger D. Washburn of Indiana is 71-years-old and he now sits in jail after allegedly pistol-whipping his friend of 50 years- over a Bruno Mars song. A witness told police that they were all talking when an argument broke out over a song and its artist. The man said the song they were debating was sung by Bruno Mars, but Washburn said that it wasn't. When the man showed Washburn proof that it was indeed a Bruno Mars song, using the app ShaZam, the argument grew more intense. He told police that they both stood up and continued to argue until Washburn pulled a gun on him. The man said he responded to the brandished weapon by calling Washburn a "chicken (expletive)" and Washburn swung the weapon at him, striking the man in the face and arm. The gun went off when Washburn struck the man. The victim said he took a swing at Washburn and missed, and the gun then went off a second time. No one was shot during the incident. When asked why no one called police, the man said he and his other friend were shocked over what happened. They eventually decided to tell the police a few hours after it happened. Police went to Washburn's home and he admitted to hitting his friend in the face with his .38 revolver, according to a police report. He was taken to the Johnson County Jail on suspicion of battery and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon. (USA Today)