Vigil Organizers Scrap Plans to Honor Crandall Cop Who Allegedly Killed His Wife

No one who encountered Sergeant Nick Pitofsky while he patrolled the streets of Crandall would have predicted that he'd wind up as the perpetrator of a murder-suicide, fatally shooting his wife, then himself at their home in the Cedars.

Understandable that the first response from his Crandall PD colleagues would be to describe him as an "energetic and jovial person who got along with everyone" and was "well-respected by his peers." It's a hard thing to digest, the prospect that a otherwise decent person might be capable of murder.

But inviting people to the town gazebo to "Come say farewell to the man who served Crandall" at a candlelight vigil? That's a bridge too far.

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Dallas Safari Club's Black Rhino Permit Sold for Much Less Than Expected

The Dallas Safari Club had hoped the permit to shoot a black rhino -- one of a few thousand remaining on the planet -- would have auctioned for close to a million dollars. If scarcity was the quality that drove the price, the ultimate trophy doesn't get much more endangered than this. What's more, it came with a built-in conservation conscience, since the proceeds would go to anti-poaching, research and habitat preservation efforts.

Because who wants to simply donate to the laudable goal of preventing the disappearance from the earth of a 3,000-pound horned tank without at least getting to shoot one in the process? As it happens, the opportunity turned out to be worth a lot less than the club's organizers thought: $350,000.

Though attendance and overall sales were up, they're blaming negative publicity for repelling potential bidders. "It annoys me to tears," Hanns-Louis Lamprecht of Hungers Namibia Safaris told The Dallas Morning News. "I was so angry last night. A million dollars would have lasted years, years in the conservation efforts. ... The fact is it could have been more -- it could have been a lot more."

Even so, it auctioned for $100,000 more than the last one. This year, the bidding drew international criticism over the inherent contradiction in killing the animal to fund conservation efforts to save its species. The club maintains that an old bull, past its reproductive prime, would be the rhino culled in this Namibian hunt.

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Man Inaugurates City's $31-Million Soccer Complex by Going Mudding, Abandoning His Truck

Freese and Nichols
The soccer fields at the city's $31.4 million Elm Fork Athletic Complex, at the western terminus of Walnut Hill Lane, are still several months from being put to use. City crews have been obsessively tending the sod this summer with an eye toward keeping it "in perfect condition" for next spring's Dallas Cup.

Those caretakers must have been apoplectic when they arrived at 6 a.m. to find that, last night, some yokel had driven his red 1999 GMC pickup past the barrier fence to go mudding on the fields. This much they were able to glean by examining the tire tracks cutting through the freshly planted turf, and then by following them to the abandoned truck that had sunk into the ground.

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There Will Be a Running of the Bulls in Ennis, and Organizers Are Pretty Sure No One Will Die

When a half dozen bulls chase hordes of borderline-suicidal pedestrians through the cobblestone streets of Pamplona, Spain, every year, they do so as part of a cultural tradition dating back centuries. The bull run began as a way to goad the animals from corrals to the bull ring. The weeklong celebration that surrounds them originated as a religious festival honoring the town's patron saint.

When a herd of bulls thunders after borderline-suicidal pedestrians at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis next April, they will be doing so in the American tradition of taking incredibly stupid risks because it's entertaining.

The organizers of The Great Bull Run, which is about to launch a 10-city American tour of Pamplona-style encierros are fairly open about the dangers.

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Police: Investigation of Sex-Crazed Woman at Beauty Store Leads to Counterfeit Money Bust

It's not entirely clear exactly what Quintessa Scott hoped to achieve yesterday evening by randomly thrusting herself at/grinding on customers trying to enter K S Beauty Supply at 9191 Forest Lane. If her goal was to scare away business, it was a success. Police say her unsolicited advances sent multiple would-be patrons scurrying back to their cars. If, rather, she was aiming to piss off the store owner, that worked, too. He emerged not long after Scott showed up and told her to leave. Instead, she walked up to store owner and his son and "performed sexual gestures and sounds," the specific nature of which are probably best left to the imagination.

Police showed up at about that time and they, too, told Scott to leave. Again, she refused. She had come to the shopping center to get beauty supplies and no way was she going to leave without them -- unless, of course, the officers would give her a ride to another store in their squad car. They agreed to give her a lift, though their destination -- the Lew Sterrett Justice Center, where she was being taken for disturbing the peace -- probably didn't have quite the range of cosmetics she had in mind.

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An Irving Man's Disastrous Attempt to Cook K2 Burned Down His Apartment Complex. Now, His Neighbors Are Suing.

Judging from some pretty spectacular video clips and photos, it's little short of a miracle no one was killed in the December 3 fire that destroyed The Arbors of Las Colinas apartment complex in Irving. As it was, only one resident was taken to the hospital after falling from a third-story window, while 56 people lost their homes and everything in them. Total losses were estimated at $1.2 million.

It didn't take investigators all that long to determine that the fire had started in Apartment 1024, nor did it take them long to get a confession from Mohsin Zia, the 24-year-old man who lived there. He'd been trying to make K2, he told them, an illegal type of synthetic marijuana. Problem was, he wasn't a very skilled cook.

Zia, according to court documents, looked up instructions on the Internet and began mixing the marshmallow leaf, acetone, and watermelon-flavor concentrate. He'd only just begun when, apparently due to carelessness and general stupidity, a lit piece of quick-igniting coal landed in the mixture.

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Police Say This Dallas Man Stole a Little Debbies Truck and Sold the Snack Cakes Inside

Anthony Thompson, left, and a Little Debbie Truck.
It's an urge that all but the most upright among us have fought at one time or another. The unoccupied snack-cake delivery truck idling in front of the store, its unprotected cargo beckoning. Surely no one would miss a box or two, you tell yourself before dismissing the thought, deciding that, however delicious those oatmeal cakes may be, they're not worth a felony theft charge.

Police say that Anthony Thompson, 48, had no such compunction when he came upon the Little Debbie truck parked next to the Kroger at Maple Avenue and Medical District Drive early Thursday afternoon. He decided to help himself to the snack cakes, and he probably would have gotten away with it had he not gotten greedy and decided to take the entire truck.

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There's a Helicopter Gun Range Outside Denton, Because Texas

Because special forces training is hard. Because ground-based gunfire just isn't sufficiently soaked in testosterone. Because helicopters. Because this is Texas, goddammit.

There have always been plenty of reasons for your average (non-G.I.) Joe to shoot assault weapons from a moving aircraft. What North Texas males have lacked is a place to properly unleash their inner Rambo.

Until now. An outfit called Sniper Helicopter Adventures recently opened up a helicopter gun range outside of Denton, which bills itself as "the ultimate opportunity to test and challenge your marksmanship skills as you fly through various obstacles while shooting from a Helicopter!"

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Psychic Who Said a Texas Couple Was Hiding a Mass Grave Now Owes Them $6.8 Million

presley rhonda gridley being served.jpg
Presley "Rhonda" Gridley
It's our sad duty this morning to bring you the last installment in the Case of the Psychic Who Couldn't See Shit, aka Presley "Rhonda" Gridley. Just about a year ago, a Liberty County, Texas, couple, Joe Bankson and Gena Charlton, sued Gridley and a whole bunch of media outlets in Dallas County court for falsely claiming they had a mass grave on their property. Gridley, who liked to go by the psychic nom de plume "Angel" at the time, called the Hays County Sheriff's Office, some 200 miles away from Liberty County, and chattily told the operator that if the cops paid a visit to a certain farmhouse, they'd find not just a mass grave, but the bones of missing children in the walls and "stuff written all over the walls in blood."

It all sounded very upsetting, and also great for ratings, which is what sent both the Liberty County Sheriff's Office and a whole bunch of TV cameras out there. As a Liberty County blogger named Allen Youngblood later discovered when he dug up the call Gridley made to Hays County, Gridley made it clear to the cops that her claims stemmed from the fact that she was a "psychic and a reverend."

She's now also very deeply in debt. Last month, a judge ordered that Gridley pay the couple a whopping $6.8 million for the "mental anguish and damage suffered to reputation" that they both experienced.

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Police Say Steven Gordon Paid to Have His Wife Killed. He Says He Just Wanted Her Deported.

Steven Gordon, left, and Robert Bass
There are any number of ways to get out of an unhappy marriage. Divorce is the obvious option, but there are others. If your wife happens to be, say, Malaysian, you can frame her for a crime and get her deported. Hiring a hit man is also an option, although who wants to do all that planning in the middle of the NBA playoffs?

Steve Gordon, apparently. Gordon, 49, was booked into the Collin County Jail this week, along with Robert Bass, the man Allen police say Gordon wanted to pay to off his wife.

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