1. The true crime author who faked being an FBI profiler
In October 2018, 59-year-old true crime author Paul Harrison introduced his latest book “Mind Games,” in which he claimed to have personally interviewed over 100 of the most notorious serial killers.
Described as the “master of the true crime genre,” the author of over 30 true crime books claimed he had spent three decades working as a police officer in the UK, “serving as a dog handler, intelligence officer, as a detective and later as a profiler”.
Harrison also claimed he “worked closely” with the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit in Quantico, Virginia, for six months in 1982.
During his live events and press releases, the self-proclaimed “master of true crime” boasted about his encounters with some of the most infamous serial killers, including John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Henry Lee Lucas, Aileen Wuornos, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Peter Sutcliffe, who supposedly told the author, “You seem completely indifferent to me. I’m scared of you.”
However, less than a year later, the book was withdrawn from sale after Harrison’s claims to have interviewed the forementioned serial killers were called into question.
Seven former FBI agents, who Harrison claimed to have worked with, told the reporters they had no idea who the author was.
“Any claim that he conducted interviews of those serial killers is completely false,” now-former FBI profiler Mark Safarik told the press.
When the story surfaced, Peter Sutcliffe also used the opportunity to bash Harrison’s claims.
“Paul Harrison is an absolute charlatan, a conman. He never corresponded with me, nor did he ever visit me. He needs to be exposed for the downright liar he is! What a wazzock,” he added, using British slang for a foolish or annoying person.
After the evidence surfaced, Harrison deleted all of his social media accounts – but not before he posted an apology on Facebook, claiming he felt “weak, vulnerable, and utterly inept at decision-making.”
Harrison also accused promoters of forcing him into sensationalizing the events, claiming it was their idea to circulate misleading information.
2. The world’s stupidest criminal?
On April 15, 2014, in desperate need of money, 27-year-old Dean Smith attempted to rob a local Barclays bank in South Wales.
Wearing a “terrible disguise” of sunglasses and socks over his shoes, and armed with a bread knife, Smith demanded that the cashier give him all the money from the till.
An elderly gentleman in his 70s, standing next to him, offered him £20 of his own money to leave, but Smith persisted.
However, the cashier ignored his request and immediately pressed the panic button, leaving the robber empty-handed.
Once the police arrived at the scene, they identified the criminal in a matter of seconds.
“How is that possible?” you might ask.
Thirty minutes before the incident, the attempted robber had gone to the same bank to change his address and had given the cashier all of his details.
“He was not shouting; he was rushed but not angry or agitated. He sounded desperate,” the prosecutor told the court.
“After the incident, they closed the bank and made a cup of tea for the elderly gentleman.”
Smith was jailed for two and a half years for attempted robbery and carrying a bladed weapon.
3. The farting felon
On September 1, 2017, Kansas City police took 24-year-old Sean Sykes into questioning after finding a backpack containing various drugs and two handguns in his car during a routine traffic stop.
While being questioned, Sykes denied knowing anything about the findings and devised a unique way to end the interview.
When asked for his address, Sykes “leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering.”
The interrogation ended prematurely when the investigator was driven from the room by the suspect’s excessive flatulence.
Charges were not filed at that time. However, Sykes couldn’t stink his way out of trouble.
On November 5, police pulled him over again. This time, they found marijuana, crack, and a .38-caliber revolver that had been reported stolen.
The farting felon pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to sell cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime.
4. A drug-induced delusion nearly costs a man his penis
On December 28, 2013, at 3 AM, 35-year-old Bonita Lynn Vela instructed her daughter to invite her boyfriend to the family’s trailer in Franklin, Indiana.
Vela suspected her daughter’s 18-year-old boyfriend had molested her 2-year-old son.
The man arrived around 3 AM, and Vela, with the help of two unnamed individuals, held him against his will for three and a half hours.
When the 18-year-old adamantly started denying the molestation accusations, Vela became increasingly agitated, “out of control,” and “extremely mad.”
During the torture session, Vela threatened to tie him to a tree, shoot him in the head, and leave his body to be eaten by animals before giving him an ultimatum: choosing “his life or his penis.”
The teenager chose his life, and Vela allegedly “cut him deep” with a box cutter before letting him go.
The police report stated that the victim believed Vela had “wanted to scar him so that he would have to look at it every time that he had sex in the future.”
However, the 18-year-old said he thought the trio would “go to great lengths to hurt or kill him,” and that one of them had filmed the incident.
The woman claimed to have been under the influence of marijuana at the time of the incident and eventually made a deal with the prosecutors to avoid jail time. Nearly a year later, in November 2014, Vela was sentenced to ten months of home detention, six months of probation, and anger management counseling.
5. The unsung hero of the 9/11 terror attacks
Meet Bretagne, one of over 300 rescue dogs that searched for survivors at Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks. It was the first assignment for both her and her owner and trainer, Denise Corliss. The heroic pair worked there for 10 days.
Bretagne worked 12-hour shifts as she searched for survivors and offered comfort to emergency responders, sleeping outdoors with Ms. Corliss.
Cindy Otto, a veterinarian who cared for more than 100 dogs that worked at Ground Zero, said Bretagne brought joy to the 9/11 emergency workers who were dealing with such an unimaginable tragedy.
“You’d see firefighters sitting there, unanimated, stone-faced, no emotion, and then they’d see a dog and break out into a smile. Those dogs brought the power of hope. They removed the gloom for just an instant.”
Bretagne later participated in rescue efforts after Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, and Ivan and retired at the age of 9.
After her retirement, she continued her community service as a reading dog at a local elementary school. First-grade students who were shy about reading aloud were more willing when Bretagne was there, lending a friendly ear.
She is believed to have been the last surviving dog from the 9/11 attacks. Bretagne was euthanized in 2016 at the age of 16, after a battle with kidney failure.
As Bretagne entered the animal hospital in Cypress, Texas, firefighters and search and rescue workers from the fire department
lined the sidewalk and saluted. The four-legged hero was carried out with an American flag draped on her body.
Two decades after 9/11, Bretagne’s handler and best friend, Denise Corliss, is still training dogs, mentoring dog handler teams, and responding to disasters herself. When she does so, she wears a glass pendant containing Bretagne’s ashes.
“I don’t take that pendant off. Bretagne is always with me when we deploy,” said Corliss.