By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
The Lost World
For the third year in a row, someone stole a statue of "Dino," an eight-foot-long, 100-pound green dinosaur mascot of the Sinclair Oil company, from a metro-area filling station.
Officers on Patrol, Part 1
After waiting five years for a new police car, Northglenn detective Mark Forsyth finally got one--and got in a fender bender two hours later.
Straighten Up and Fly Right
A cadet at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs was injured when he tried to rappel off the side of his dormitory.
Men in Blecch
A Thornton couple checked into St. Anthony's Hospital complaining of nausea and rashes and told authorities they had been sprayed with a "white substance" by an alien spacecraft. Police later determined they had driven under a crop duster.
The mayor of Roswell, New Mexico, asked Denver mayor Wellington Webb for advice on security and crowd control when his city held "UFO Encounter '97" to commemorate the supposed crash of an alien spacecraft in 1947.
Five Colorado residents joined former University of Colorado music major Marshall Applewhite and other members of the Heaven's Gate cult in committing mass suicide, in the belief that they would get a spaceship ride to heaven aboard an alien craft that was trailing the Hale-Bopp Comet.
The UFO International Association continued to meet in Federal Heights.
The Colorado Army National Guard continued to operate the "137th Space Warning Squadron" in Greeley.
Keep the Change
A Fort Collins man was struck by a freight train while attempting to put a quarter on the railroad tracks. A police officer later said the man "had the highest blood-alcohol content I've ever seen."
Bear Country Jamboree
Law enforcement officials received reports of a bear busting out car windows in a campground near Jefferson Lake and stealing picnic baskets.
After a bear broke into a Douglas County home and planted himself on the living-room couch, a teenage boy entered the room and said, "Hey, Dad," before realizing the hirsute couch potato wasn't kin and hopping onto the kitchen counter. The bear then grabbed a plum from the fruit bowl and left.
A 175-pound black bear was killed by sheriff's deputies after it broke into another Douglas County residence in search of food. Commented a spokesman for the Department of Wildlife, "If the bear wasn't around human influences, he might still be alive, doing what bears do."
A bear was seen leaving a home south of Denver "with a tortilla in his mouth."
The Really Mod Squad
A mechanic doing repair work on a Durango Police Department cruiser reported finding five bags of cocaine stuffed inside the upholstery under the driver's seat.
You Should Have Seen What They Did With Bullwinkle
A Rocky Mountain News column lampooning people who eat squirrels triggered a flood of letters from angry locals, including a man who fondly reminisced about how, as children, he and his brothers would fight over who got to "crack open the squirrel's head like a walnut" and spoon out the brains.
Waiting to Inhale
Greeley's odor board continued to sniff out offensive smells. Asked why the city should continue funding the stench squad, one boardmember replied, "All I know is, Greeley still stinks."
The town of Avon went blue in the face over a leaky sewage-treatment plant operated by upscale neighbor Beaver Creek. Fumes from the plant sent what locals dubbed "The Schtink" wafting through town and led to allegations that the especially pungent odor stemmed from the diet of foie gras and Brie favored by Beaver Creek's wealthy residents.
Passengers on a Continental Airlines flight from Houston to DIA reported an "absolutely horrible" stench in the cabin. "It was a very pronounced odor of putrefaction, like somebody was dead for six weeks," said one passenger. The airline traced the stink to a load of foul fish put on the plane in Florida.
Rio Grande County officials told local potato farmers to quit dumping excess spuds at the county landfill after a mountain of rotting tubers produced an unbearable reek last summer.
Colorado Springs-based Family News magazine published a letter from a nine-year-old girl listing 31 reasons why "Girls Are More Better Than Boys." Most involved smelliness.
A nine-year-old boy wrote to Family News in his defense, noting, "Boys are proud of their odor."
The Denver Post reported exclusively that "pumpernickel bread" actually means "devil's fart."
Pull Up to the Bumper
Denver-area police apprehended a bank robber after tracking his car by its "Mean People Suck" bumper sticker.
Bumper-sticker slogans successfully marketed by former stand-up comic Paul Rosa of Colorado Springs:
* "DARE to keep cops off donuts."
* "My kid beat up your honor student."
* "I'd rather be spanking the monkey."
* "Discourage inbreeding. Ban country music."
* "Careful! I'm not wearing clean underwear."
Praise the Lord and Pass the Phone
A Northglenn woman who suffered a head injury in a buzz-saw accident reported being kicked out of her church because her preacher got tired of having to stop his sermon and call 911 every time she suffered a seizure.
A man fell to his death while "surfing" atop a moving gondola at the Keystone ski resort.
A 21-year-old Arvada man died when he fell out of a moving pickup truck while "surfing" in the truckbed.
Officers on Patrol, Part 2
After all three of its police officers quit, the town of Holly arranged for an armed maintenance worker to patrol the streets.
Actual Lawn Ornaments for Sale in Denver in 1997:
* $2,800 water heater painted to look like native totem.
* $875 "spitting gargoyle of Notre Dame."
* $400 sphere made of metal bristles taken from street sweeper.
* $240 bumblebee made from large coiled spring.
* $95 "Fu dog."
* $66 cast-concrete artichoke.
The Boy George Next Door
A high-school honors student in Longmont was arrested after a hidden camera recorded him pilfering thirteen pairs of panties, twelve bras, a pair of tights, a black slip and a camisole from the home of a middle-aged female neighbor.
The Denver Post scored big in October with the mega-scoop that "Jews fast, seek forgiveness on Yom Kippur." The Rocky Mountain News countered with its own revelation in December: "Hanukkah begins with a candle and continues for eight days."
Well, Excuuuse Me!
An accused murderer in Denver cited as part of his defense that he lived in a trailer as a child and was forced to use a coffee can for a toilet.
More revelations from the 1997 Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News:
* "Study finds women in a lot of pain"
* "Study: estrogen could help men"
* "Study finds move feasible"
* "Preliminary study reveals flaws in the study process"
Taking a Powder
Number of Colorado skiers who died on the slopes in 1997: 17.
Number who skied into trees: 10.
Number of skiers killed in collisions with resort workers: 1.
Channel 2 reporter Jann Tracey had the tip of a finger bitten off while filming a taped segment with a caged bear that was allegedly tame.
Channel 4 reporter Sari Padorr fell off a horse and suffered minor head injuries while doing a live story about a fundraiser for the Denver Police Department's mounted patrol.
The Abundant Life Christian Center in Arvada included a live-action date-rape scene in its Halloween "Hell House" in which a boy told a screaming girl, "Shut up and lay down!" Commented Reverend Keenan Roberts, "It's awesome!"
The Accidental Tourists
A van packed with Korean tourists hit a pickup truck in Del Norte and crashed through the wall of the town's municipal courtroom, sending shards of wood paneling flying through the air and leaving an eight-foot-square hole in the wall.
Twenty-three illegal immigrants were taken into custody by the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service after their van went off a road near Craig and overturned.
Another Case of Sour Gropes
A woman sued her "Feldenkrais" method therapist, accusing her of "deeply rubbing" her breasts during a treatment session. Responded an indignant advocate for the new-age therapy, "We don't rub!"
With Friends Like These...
Researchers at Colorado State University announced plans to capture male prairie dogs in the wild and "surgically castrate" them in an attempt to "sustain healthy populations."
His Numbers Were Up
After a nineteen-year-old Longmont man won $3 million in the state lottery, police who recognized him arrested him on an outstanding warrant. He reportedly made bail immediately.
Officers on Patrol, Part 3
A Fort Collins canine officer accidentally left her police dog locked in her patrol car last summer, and the $10,000 animal died of heatstroke.
An inmate serving a life sentence escaped from a prison van, stole a horse and literally rode off into the sunset.
Denver was the number-one market nationally for Hoof Manicure, an equine product said to work wonders on human cuticles.
Participants at a benefit seminar for the Boulder County Safehouse were told that people experiencing stress, anger or guilt could resolve their problems by "thinking like a horse."
He Was Charged Under Murphy's Law
A Summit County man was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after workers repossessing his car saw the drugs in the vehicle and reported them to police.
Slice of Life
A City Market employee in Summit County was accused of assault after attacking a bakery worker in a dispute over the freshness of a loaf of bread.
Darkness on the Edge of Town
A 69-year-old Highlands Ranch woman was sued by her homeowners' association after she spent money on her daughter's medical bills instead of using the funds to repaint her garage door.
Three female high-school students in Highlands Ranch conducted a survey that revealed that one of four romantic relationships at the school involved "abuse"--a definition that included making such comments as "You need to lose weight."
Sheriff's deputies in Highlands Ranch busted a Ritalin-peddling ring being operated by nine middle-school students. As part of their investigation, police found a middle-schooler in possession of alfalfa he intended to sell as marijuana.
He Had a Lack of Structure in His Life
After an unidentified thief made off with a Watkins man's dismantled "dream barn," the criminal called to apologize, saying, "Dude, I'm sorry I stole your building."
Coloradans for Family Values
A Denver man was arrested for investigation of second-degree assault after attacking his brother for finishing off a twelve-pack of beer.
A man with a tattoo of Jesus on his right calf was arrested for killing his father.
It Takes a Thief
A man accused of breaking into cars in Arapahoe County was caught after he couldn't remember where he'd parked his own vehicle.
A group of unknown suspects broke into a railroad boxcar in Denver and stole 73 Fisher-Price Power Wheel toys before leaving the loot behind when their stolen U-Haul truck got stuck in the mud.
A man and woman who stole a tow truck and led police on a chase down icy county roads north of Denver were apprehended by a state Division of Wildlife officer who was in the area counting ducks and geese.
Thirty-four-year-old James Dumm confessed to committing 181 burglaries in Denver-area strip malls, telling police, "I am a career criminal, but not career-criminal smart."
Officers on Patrol, Part 4
Arapahoe County sheriff's deputies went to a home in an attempt to serve a warrant on a man who had died in their jail a month before.
Cookies 'n' Crime
A twelve-year-old Lakewood girl was arrested for "suspicion of criminal impersonation" after posing as a Girl Scout and selling candy door-to-door without delivering the goods.
There Goes the Judge
A city judge in Eads pled guilty to three felonies after being charged with threatening people at gunpoint, possessing an illegal machine gun, running drivers off the road, and stealing the license plates off a vehicle and demanding $25 for their safe return.
The Carat and the Stick
A Louisville jeweler confessed to stealing $300,000 worth of his customers' diamonds by taking them off ring mounts and replacing them with cubic zirconium. He switched stones on one victim while she waited, distracting her by talking about how glad he was that he had gotten a Catholic-school education.
Cash 'n' Carry
Thieves unbolted an ATM machine from a food store in Bayfield, carried it out of the store on a dolly and drove off with it.
The Cat's Meow
Denver animal-control officers were sent to "investigate" after rock-and-roll radio station KBPI aired an alleged recording of a cat inside a running dishwasher. They concluded it was a prank.
A Denver woman reported that her cat's head had been shaved by an unknown assailant.
Thought for the Day
Haiku sandblasted into a sidewalk by the City of Denver: "Do you have those days when you feel melancholy? Is it infinite?"
The Stock Show's in Town
National Western Stock Show spokesman Guy Elliott defended public-address announcer Hadley Barrett's telling a story about a stock buyer "Jewing the price down" by explaining that Barrett had used the word "Jew" as a verb.
The stock show canned African-American rodeo clown Leon Coffee for what it deemed racially insensitive jokes, such as standing in a pile of dark-colored manure and saying, "I'm melting."
Actual stock-show headlines in the Denver Post:
* "Sheep thrill in Big Apple?"
* "FFA members ready to inherit the earth"
* "Show's high on horses"
* "Cowbelles boost beef"
* "The heat is on at Hawaiian flower booth"
Actual Post correction from last year's stock show: "A cutline in Tuesday's Denver Post identified an animal as an Angus heifer. It was not."
A group of high-school teens in the farming hamlet of Eaton were suspended after they lobbied for a "Safe Sex Day," during which students would wear condoms pinned to their shirts, and a "Gothic Appreciation Day," during which students would all wear black.
Five third-graders in Eaton were suspended after being caught smoking a joint on the school playground.
Hold the Phone
A Commerce City gas-station attendant foiled an attempted robbery by hitting a screwdriver-toting crook over the head with a telephone receiver.
A 79-year-old Denver woman was arrested after hitting her 85-year-old husband over the head with a telephone receiver.
Officers on Patrol, Part 5
Greenwood Village officer Steve Nelson was nicknamed "Duck Boy" by colleagues after rescuing four ducklings whose mother was flattened by a car on I-225.
The Babysitters' Club
A Jefferson County mother sued a local daycare center after a staffer admitted to forcing her three-year-old son to drink vinegar because the boy bit another child.
You Make the Call
Pueblo's 911 dispatchers reported receiving calls asking them when to change clocks to daylight saving time, how to order a dozen roses and what the phone number is for Pizza Hut.
A Westminster man called 911 when his horse got stuck in the mud.
911 dispatchers in Denver's southern suburbs reported that their busiest shift came in the early-morning hours, when elderly people attempting their first bowel movements of the day suffered heart attacks.
The Heat of the Moment
A 32-year-old Evans man suffered severe burns after a business he was attempting to burglarize went up in flames.
A burglar started a fire at Vail's Ore House Restaurant by attempting to cook food on the grill during the break-in.
Punch, Pass and Kick
Denver radio station KS/107.5 staged a "Bronco Slapping Contest," in which two women took turns smacking each other until one of them cried uncle. "It got so ugly, we had to stop it and give them both Broncos tickets," said a station deejay.
Big Swinging Dorks
Shortly after a Department of Corrections guard won a $362,000 sex-harassment suit over her treatment at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility, the prison staff held a going-away party for Deputy Warden Joe Paolino at which he was given a pair of enormous plastic testicles and a pair of pantyhose with a sheath for a male member sewn in the crotch.
Making the Grade
A Denver Public Schools "Stay in School Jam" and rap concert to reward students with good grades was cut short when numerous fistfights broke out in the parking lot.
Officials at DPS rented out the parking lot at South High School for a local auto dealer's giant used-car sale but had to cancel the event when neighbors pointed out that it would violate city zoning.
As part of a grant from the Mayor's Office of Art, Culture and Film, students at DPS's Smiley Middle School created a scale model of a city that came complete with a $2-a-night hotel that offered "adult escorts" to its clientele. "Basically, they can build whatever they want," said their teacher. "We don't want to hinder their creativity."
Actual Correction in the Rocky Mountain News:
"A story on page 70A Sunday regarding a girl killed in Sherman, Texas, when her Halloween wig and costume caught fire incorrectly said she was outfitted as 'Lady Godiva.' The girl was wearing a homemade 'Cousin Itt' costume."
The Young and the Restless
An elementary-school principal in Edgewater summoned police after a school secretary reported seeing a teacher dragging a nine-year-old boy through the lunchroom by his ankles.
A teacher in Meeker was suspended after waving a butcher knife at a student to show how her "sharp" comments were hurting other students.
A Gilpin County science teacher was charged with false imprisonment after hog-tying an unruly seventh-grader, taping his mouth shut and "piling chairs on him."
A high-school wrestling coach in Meeker was acquitted of charges that he picked up a seventeen-year-old wrestler by the genitals during practice.
A Denver man was arrested after police at Denver International Airport found cocaine stuffed inside a deodorant can in his carry-on bag.
For the Benefit of Mr. Kite
Two snowboarders in Clear Creek County accused a man flying a kite of "buzzing" them with the toy, then shooting at them with a gun when they responded by yelling obscenities at him.
An agent from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was dispatched to Fort Collins after a pipe bomb destroyed a portable toilet at a new housing development.
An inmate at the Arapahoe County Jail hanged himself by standing on his cell toilet, tying a sheet to an air vent and then jumping off.
A device with "more explosive force than an M-80" destroyed a toilet in the boys' restroom at Grand Junction's Central High School.
Officials at Rocky Mountain National Park announced that mountain goats were no longer welcome in the park because they were a "non-indigenous species."
Officials at the Aurora Animal Shelter announced plans to send an orphan squirrel they found to a "state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator."
A Union Pacific freight train plowed into a herd of elk near Hayden, killing eighteen.
An Aurora man hospitalized after being bitten on the arm by an African lion at the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center southeast of Hudson told police he "never should have stuck his arm into the cage."
Eighty rabbits were treated for smoke inhalation after a fire at a private animal sanctuary near Durango.
The same day Golden held its annual Wildlife Information Seminar, a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy struck and killed a mountain lion crossing the road.
Actual written comments submitted by campers to the U.S. Forest Service, as reported in the Boulder Daily Camera:
* "Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests."
* "A McDonald's would be nice at trail head."
* "The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals."
Take Me Out to the Brawl Game
A Platteville Little League baseball coach faced disorderly-conduct charges after yelling obscenities and head-butting an umpire following a loss.
A Rockies fan, irate when a fourteen-year-old boy stepped on his tote bag in the west stands at Coors Field, threw the youth across three rows of seats.
Keep Your Panties On
Lakewood police arrested a 32-year-old man for hiding a camera in a duffel bag and pointing it up women's skirts at the Villa Italia Mall.
Officers on Patrol, Part 6
A Jefferson County sheriff's deputy won a $110,000 settlement after successfully claiming he had been fired because he was too fat and was subjected to "degrading remarks" about his weight while on the job.
They Talked Their Way Out of It
A state audit revealed that the president and vice president of Aims Community College in Greeley had used state funds to attend a five-day magic convention in Las Vegas. The men claimed that they went to the conference in order to help improve their public-speaking skills.
After a Lakewood woman told her two grade-school-age daughters to "go ahead and leave if the grass is greener," the girls left the house in a rainstorm wearing their pajamas, robes and slippers.
Taken for Granted
The U.S. Justice Department gave $85,000 to the Colorado Springs Police Department to study an experimental treatment in which patients recall traumatic events and therapists "waggle their fingers in the patients' faces" to help relieve stress.
A $400,000 federal grant given to a group of Colorado State University professors produced the finding that adolescent boys like watching beer advertisements on TV.
"Hi, I'm Gus, and I've Been a Very Naughty Boy"
A Silverthorne snowplow driver was charged with fourteen counts of second-degree burglary after allegedly breaking into private homes and using the telephones to call 1-900 sex numbers.
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Officials in the Boulder Valley School District asked girls on a high-school athletic team to cool it after they threw bras and pantyhose out the window of their school bus and held up their thumbs and forefingers to indicate the physical shortcomings of "Mr. Pervert," a man who allegedly drove alongside their bus while masturbating.
Don't Get Locked Into a Deal
Officials in Douglas County announced plans to put the county jail up for sale because the 19-bedroom, 24-bath facility was "about the last downtown location available for development."
He Musta Been Chillin' in His Crib
Police were on the lookout for alleged Denver bank robber "Baby Dip" Gray.
Just Try Getting "The Job" With "The Degree"
Metropolitan State College of Denver proposed changing its name to "The Met."
The Welcome Wagon
The federal Immigration and Naturalization Service reported that smugglers are now offering illegal immigrants stretch-limousine rides from the Mexican border to Denver that include such amenities as a VCR and bottled spring water.
The Rat Pack
The "Pocket Pets" show in Denver featured star rodents from the Rat and Mouse Club of America, including "Gizmo, the Yankee Doodle Rat," who appeared dressed in patriotic garb, and "Telly Savalas," a hairless rat with one red eye and one black eye.
The Bat Pack
Bat panic gripped the state after an eleven-year-old Greeley girl found a rabid bat in her driveway and her fifteen-year-old brother dissected it.
A Weld County environmental specialist confirmed several sightings of "bats flying around bedrooms at night."
A Greeley bat was seen "dive-bombing a pair of dogs at 3 o'clock in the afternoon."
A woman in La Plata County received rabies shots after being bitten by a bat she found hanging on her pant leg.
A Routt County woman woke to find a rabid bat in her hair but beat the creature to death with her shoe before it could bite her.
As for Liver and Onions...
Jefferson County Coroner Wilbur Richie reported losing his sense of smell after years of working with strong chemicals: "It makes my job easier, but steak just doesn't taste the same anymore."
Officers on Patrol, Part 7
The Boulder County Sheriff's Department awarded its "Citizen Recognition Plaque" to two men who saved a goat from a dog attack.
The Denver Public Library reported a surge of new customers after Oprah Winfrey initiated her own book-of-the month club.
The National Examiner ran a story about the DPL's good fortune between an article headlined "Skunk Ape: The Incredible Swamp Monster" and one titled "Mobsters Battle Over Giant Clams."
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Coco the yellow-headed parrot was stolen from his northwest Denver home and held for a $1,500 ransom.
What's in a Name?
* "Gully" Cano-Vega was found dead in a ditch near Haxtun.
* Thomas J. Blackbear was arrested for allegedly mauling his siblings in a family fight and then scratching an employee at Denver Health Medical Center on the arm.
* Aurora City Council candidate Carrie Cross listed Jesus Christ as the person who most influenced her life.
* Skinhead supremacist Nathan Thill's Cub Scout troop leaders? The Whites (Tom and Kathy).
* Curtiss Copp was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder.
* Claudia Dulude ran the Colorado Speakers Bureau.
* Bonnie McNutt represented Denver at Dove Soap's "Singing in the Shower Contest" in Hollywood.
* A pre-release facility for prison inmates in Weld County operated under the name "Villa at Greeley."
According to a lawsuit filed by a female Denver Police Department dispatcher, women on duty sometimes received computer messages from male co-workers about the "BVD Bandit," who allegedly intended to steal their underwear.
The Police Got a Tip
The getaway of a man accused of kidnapping his fifteen-month-old son was foiled when a babysitter watching the child bit off part of the man's finger.
What a Way to Go
* A Texas man drowned after falling off a raft on the Colorado River near "Sidel's suckhole."
* A front-loader operator in Clear Creek County died when his vehicle tumbled down an embankment off what locals refer to as "Oh My God Road."
* A mountain biker died after missing a jump in an out-of-bounds area at the Colorado National Monument and riding off a 250-foot cliff.
* A nursery worker in Arapahoe County was crushed to death by a vat of liquid fertilizer.
* A Johnstown woman died in a single-car accident after swerving to miss a large metal dogsled that had fallen into the road.
* A city employee in Woodland Park died after falling into the "aerobic sludge" holding tank at the city's wastewater plant.
* An eighty-year-old Denver woman died after a truck full of teenagers crashed through her bedroom wall.
* A Boulder County woman died after driving her car into a horse.
What a Way to Almost Go
A female employee at the Coors brewery in Golden filed a lawsuit alleging that co-workers had attempted to drown her in a vat of beer.