Despite very little sleep between ringing in the New Year and a late-morning decision to head for home, Billy Patrick Hutto Jr. was still drunk when he got behind the wheel on Jan. 1, 2012. Not just a little drunk, either, but pickled, smashed, three-sheets-to-the-wind drunk.
Around the same time, inside a Chrysler Town & Country minivan, David Longstreet, his wife Karen and their four children were dressed in their Sunday best and on their way to church in Lexington, SC.
A short time later, Hutto, who had pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2009, slammed into the side of the Longstreets’ minivan. David Longstreet was badly injured and his daughter, 6-year-old Emma, sustained massive injuries that would take her life just hours later.
Hutto’s blood-alcohol count was more than .20, despite having ended his drinking binge several hours earlier.
David and Karen would later tell a reporter that their daughter, their only girl and youngest child, was a genuine light in their family.
“Both a princess and a tomboy, Emma loved girly things – her Barbies, her Littlest Pet Shop toys – but was just as happy being with her dad on the riding mower, shooting the last fireworks on New Year’s eve, and riding herd over her doting older brothers,” Karen told a local publication shortly after the tragedy.
Hutto would eventually be sentenced to nine years in prison, but for David, Karen and their family the pain continues.
One way the family has sought to cope with Emma’s loss is to try to effect positive change amid the heartbreak.
They’ve pushed for more than a year for the passage of Emma’s Law, which would require all repeat and first-time offenders with a blood-alcohol concentration of .12 or higher to use an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.
Yet even this common sense measure, a means by which this family can try to gain a small bit of peace from a heartbreaking loss, is meeting resistance from South Carolina lawmakers.
How cold is it in the Canadian province of Manitoba? One news outlet compared the conditions to that of distant planet.
The Manitoba Museum reported temperatures in the capital city of Winnipeg were actually as bitter as the surface of Mars, according to the CBC.
According to the Curiosity Rover, the robotic rover exploring Mars as part of a NASA mission, the Red Planet reached a maximum temperature of -20 Fahrenheit on Tuesday, somewhat “warmer” than Winnipeg’s “high” of -24. With wind chill, the prairie capital felt more like -40 to -58, the CBC reported.
Those conditions can leave exposed skin frozen in less than five minutes.
And in the northern half of the province, in places like Thompson, Nelson House, Lynn Lake, Leaf Rapids and Churchill, the wind chill on Tuesday made it feel like -54 to -63.
It was so cold earlier this week that nine United Airlines flights, operating as United Express, flying both in and out of Winnipeg were cancelled on Monday. Three flights scheduled to leave Winnipeg Tuesday were also cancelled, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
At just 5-foot-1 and 90 pounds, George Stinney is said to have had to use the Bible he carried to the execution chamber at the South Carolina State Penitentiary in Columbia, SC, as a booster seat when he was positioned in the electric chair on the evening of June 16, 1944.
Stinney had been found guilty by an all-white jury in the death of Betty June Binnicker, who, along with Mary Emma Thames, 7, had been killed in Clarendon County, SC. Both had been beaten with a railroad spike and left in a ditch in a rural part of the county.
The girls were killed in late March 1944; Stinney was tried and convicted of Binnicker’s death a month later. He would have the ignominious fate of being the youngest individual executed in the US in the 20th century.
Next month, however, attorneys representing relatives of Stinney will take the first step in what they hope will result in a new trial for George Stinney, according to The State newspaper.
At a hearing in Sumter, SC, Stinney family attorney Steven McKenzie is expected to present witnesses who will give evidence that he hopes will convince the judge to grant a new trial.
“In a legal brief, McKenzie has said his new evidence includes affidavits by surviving Stinney siblings who didn’t testify at his 1944 trial,” according to The State.
It didn’t take much sleuthing to discover the identity of the thief who made off with pig ears, beef bones and dog food from a Dollar General store in Clinton, SC.
Twice within a few minutes earlier this week, items were pilfered from the store, located in South Carolina’s Upstate region.
Store manager Anastasia Polson was at a loss as to how the items could have been lifted so she turned to store surveillance cameras.
The video showed the culprit in action – a local resident well known to area customers: Cato, a husky that apparently has learned that crime does indeed pay.
The video shows the canine walking up to the doors at 9:38 a.m. this past Wednesday, but they closed before he could get into the store. However, the clever canine waited and then tagged along when a customer entered. He came back out less than a minute later.
A quick learner, Cato made another trip inside a short time later, spending about three minutes inside before leaving, according to Charleston, SC, television station WCSC.
“We had to lock the door to keep him from coming back in,” Polson said.
Nearly three years after a Stradivarius was stolen while its owner dined on a $4.50 sandwich in a London train station, the $1.9 million violin has been recovered.
The instrument belonged to internationally acclaimed violinist Min-Jin Kym.
The violin was recovered with minor damage from a property in Central England late last month after British Transport Police “acted on a line of enquiry.” Further details about the investigation were not disclosed.
Kym was eating at a train station with her boyfriend on Nov. 29, 2010, and had placed the black case holding the Stradivarius and two bows valued at more than $100,000 on the floor next to her. A couple of minutes later, it was gone.
A 32-year-old man and two teens were arrested in 2011 in connection with the theft, but the Stradivarius was not recovered at that time.
However, English officials believed that it had not been taken from the country and focused their search within the UK, according to a press release issued by British Transport Police.
“Kym bought the violin in 2000 for $1.14 million, her life savings,” according to The History Blog. “She had been playing the Stradivarius since it was first loaned to her when she was a teenager (her international debut was with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra when she was just 13 years old).
Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, a campaign has been inaugurated in Germany to track down the final remaining Nazi war criminals and bring them to trial.
Some 2,000 posters featuring the entrance to the Auschwitz death camp are being displayed in Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne.
They ask individuals with information to contact the Simon Wiesenthal Center, according to the BBC.
The US-based Wiesenthal Center estimates there are five dozen war criminals – ranging from death camp guards to members of Einsatzgruppen, mobile death squads responsible for mass killings – still alive in Germany and fit to stand trial.
“Unfortunately, very few people who committed the crimes had to pay for them,” according to Efraim Zuroff, a leading international Nazi hunter and the center’s Jerusalem branch director. “The passage of time in no way diminishes the crimes.”
As part of its “Operation Last Chance II” project,” the center is offering rewards of as much as $33,000 for information which helps in the prosecution of war criminals in Germany.
The hippopotamus is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, inhabiting rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps. It can be found from Sudan and Ethiopia in the North, to South Africa in the South, to Gambia in the west.
Oh, and a single herd of wild hippos can also be found in the South American nation of Colombia.
While hippos, which can weigh up to 6,000 pounds, enjoy the water, this particular group of 40 beasts didn’t swim across the Atlantic Ocean and colonize the New World on its own.
They are actually the handiwork of the late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, who was gunned down in 1993.
Escobar once lived in a sprawling estate known as Hacienda Nápoles, which included many lakes.
Among myriad items he spent his ill-gotten gains on were exotic animals, including four hippos he had imported, according to Slate magazine.
Two Georgia men – one nicknamed “Bubba” – have been charged in a recent grave-robbing incident in which the corpses of five Confederate and Revolutionary War soldiers were dug up.
Jerry Atkinson and Ralph Hillis Jr., both of Waynesboro, Ga., could get up to five years in the hoosegow if convicted of “malicious removal of the dead from a grave.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Hillis goes by the nickname “Bubba.” He was arrested last week, but Atkinson remained at large, according to the Burke County Sheriff’s Office
However, Burke County deputies did a search Atkinson’s home and discovered a methamphetamine lab, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
The cemetery is in a secluded location and has been a burial site since the 1700s.
It is believed the suspects were searching for relics such as buttons off the uniforms the soldiers may have buried in.
There remain a handful of actions that are generally accepted as off-limits by society today. These include: guzzling the communion wine during mass, sending your kids off on Halloween dressed in white robes and a hood, and messing with the dead.
Someone in Burke County, Georgia, apparently missed the memo on the last item, as authorities there reported that grave robbers broke into caskets in an isolated cemetery and removed clothes from the bodies of Confederate and Revolutionary War veterans.
Investigators said grave robbers turned over head stones at Old Church Cemetery in Waynesboro, Ga., pulled caskets from the ground and removed the clothes from the deceased, leaving their bones exposed.
The robbers also disturbed graves containing children’s bodies, according to the Waynesboro True Citizen.
The cemetery is in a secluded location and has been a burial site since the 1700s.
An official with the Burke County Sheriff’s Office said he believes the grave robbers were searching for relics, The Telegraph reported.
In what may have been one of the more slippery cases in state history, the Maine Marine Patrol last week nabbed a New Hampshire man with 41 pounds of elvers – young eels – worth more than $80,000.
Phillip Parker, 41, of Candia, N.H., was caught with the brood – the largest such case in the history of the Maine Marine Patrol – without a state “elver-harvesting license,” according to the Bangor Daily News.
Lest one think harvesting baby eels is a penny-ante business, elvers sell for $2,000 per pound, the paper added.
Demand for American elvers has skyrocketed since Japan’s devastating 2011 tsunami and after restrictions were placed on European elver exports, according to the Manchester (NH) Union Leader.
“They are often sold to Chinese or South Korean buyers, who rear them to adulthood and sell them for food,” the publication reported.
The American Eel, which is found along the East Coast of North America, has a fascinating life cycle.