Fun_People Archive
4 Apr
WhiteBoardness - 4/3/96

Date: Thu, 4 Apr 96 00:04:46 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: WhiteBoardness - 4/3/96

Excerpted-from: WhiteBoard News for Wednesday, April 03, 1996

This item comes by way of John DeVere:

Pawtucket, Rhode Island:

A man punctured his mother-in-law's esophagus when he jammed two crucifixes
down her throat during an exorcism, police said.

Mario Garcia was screaming, "The devil is inside her!" when police arrived
to find the woman on the front porch, blood pouring from her mouth.

The woman, whose name was not released, was in critical condition Tuesday.

Garcia, 31, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, although
police do not believe he intended to harm the woman, Capt. John Haberle
said. Garcia was ordered held for psychiatric observation.

Garcia's wife, father-in-law, brother-in-law and three children under 10
had gathered around and prayed while he attempted to chase a demon from his
47-year-old mother-in-law with 8-inch steel crosses, police said.

"I've seen suspects who thought they had psychic powers, but never one that
had a family who believed it, too," Haberle said. "This was a bizarre one."

The family told police that Garcia's mother-in-law had been released Sunday
from a hospital, where they had taken her because she was behaving
strangely. The hospital recommended psychiatric care.

After she returned to her home, Garcia performed an exorcism on her son,
who was depressed about his mother, Haberle said.

"The family said the devil flew out of the son and into the mother," Haberle
said. "Then she began talking strangely."

Late Sunday, Garcia took the woman to his Pawtucket apartment and had her
lie on a bed. He told police that she struggled and began screaming when he
put the crucifixes into her mouth, and that she was accidentally hurt.

"There was blood everywhere, on floors and walls in the bedroom, kitchen
and hallway," Haberle said.

Los Angeles, California:

A former Playboy Mansion animal keeper convicted of helping run a $1 million
bird smuggling ring was sentenced Monday to 37 months in prison.

Theodora Swanson, 36, was convicted in July of helping a group of high
school buddies steal rare cockatoo eggs from the birds' nest in the isolated
Australian outback.  The thieves then sneaked the eggs under their shirts
into this country.

Hatched in Los Angeles by bird sellers masquerading as breeders, the
parrot-like birds fetched prices of more than $10,000 from collectors.

But details of how bungling birdnappers struggled to fill "egg vest"
underwear -- and then sweated it out when chirping cockatoos hatched in
front of puzzled customs agents -- left a federal court jury agog.

The eight-year operation, masterminded by Swanson's boyfriend, came to an
end when Australian national park rangers noticed several young cockatoo
hunters whacking sticks against eucalyptus tree trunks during an
egg-snatching expedition.

One inept smuggler was even wearing his vest backward when he was caught,
meaning his loot would have been crushed if he sat down, according to

The egg thefts are galling to Australians, who consider wild cockatoos an
endangered species and prohibit their removal from the country for
commercial purposes.  An international treaty also limits their importation
to other countries.

During Swanson's trial, several other bird smugglers in Wegner's ring sang
like canaries, opening an unusual door to the world of animal thievery.

They testified that Wegner recruited a group of former New Paltz, New York,
high school friends to work for him as tree-climbing nest robbers and egg
couriers.  Eventually, so many people from the town wanted to get in on the
lucrative business that competing smuggling groups were organized.
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