Our year-in-review special looks back at the wacky, weird, and wondrous stories of 2013.
A 45-year-old man received a life sentence for the first-degree murder of a 70-year-old woman three decades ago, when he was a 15-year-old high-school student in Petrolia, Ontario. Christopher Ellacott’s thumbprint was lifted off a floor tile at the crime scene, and a cop who had been checking for a match for years stumbled upon an old print—taken when Ellacott was arrested for a minor offence in college—at a fingerprint convention.
“Over years in the criminal courts, I have learned that sometimes, people cry, and sometimes, they merely appear to be crying. It’s why I usually have binoculars with me.”—Postmedia News columnist Christie Blatchford, “covering” the preliminary hearing for Luka Magnotta, the porn actor charged with the murder and dismemberment of a Chinese student in Montreal
A 20-year-old man caught masturbating openly in a library in Racine, Wisconsin, was ordered to “stay out of all the libraries on the face of the Earth” as a condition of his bond while he awaits trial on misdemeanour counts of lewd behaviour and disorderly conduct.
FAST, THEN FURIOUS
After a man in the southern Indian state of Kerala allowed his nine-year-old son to drive his Ferrari on the boy’s birthday—with his wife filming the act and posting it on YouTube, where it went viral and caused a public outcry—police charged him with endangering the life of a child.
For the first time, cat DNA was used in a criminal trial in the U.K., helping to convict David Hilder of manslaughter in the death of a neighbour whose dismembered torso—with accompanying cat hairs—was found on a British beach in 2012.
YOU DIRTY RAT
Dutch police have turned rodents into squealers by teaching 10 brown rats—which have an acute sense of smell and are cheaper to train than dogs—to sniff at samples from suspects’ hands and indicate if there is any gunpowder residue present. Positive results are then shipped to a lab for legal confirmation.
THIS IS NOT AMERICA
“This would not happen in America, would it?”—Cheerleading coach David Lee Tracey on the case of Mackenzie Gow, a 22-year-old cheerleading captain at the University of Western Ontario who received a $140 ticket from London, Ontario, police for leading a cheer in a student neighbourhood before a big homecoming football game. The ticket cited Gow for “causing nuisance in street by conducting a cheerleading performance”
Police in Northhampton, England, issued a warning to the public after several appearances by someone dressed like Pennywise, the child-murdering clown from Stephen King’s novel It, were reported by citizens there in mid-September. A Facebook page was set up to report clown sightings, and a local man in a Superman costume announced that he would patrol for the whitefaced prowler.