Strange but True

A year of dysfunctional family values -- and missing panties.

Panty Raid

Grand Marnier bases a national ad campaign on Vail's infamous Panty Tree, which blooms annually with scores of colorful girls' panties. The tagline for the ads, which begin running in Skimagazine, reads: "You Just Recognized a Pair of Panties in the Sun Down Bowl Tree...The Conversation Is Waiting." Just hope that conversation isn't with your daughter.

In March, a Colorado State University freshman is arrested and charged with felony theft for allegedly lifting more than 200 pairs of women's underwear from the laundry facilities at Allison Hall dormitory, where he lives. CSU cops spend weeks trying to track down the coeds who have been wrongly separated from their granny pants and T-backs.

Naked City

In September, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office receives calls regarding a naked man chasing two women out for a morning walk on the mean streets of Littleton, and of a naked man hiding in the bushes. When a cop and his dog find James D. Christner hiding in a nearby back yard, he reportedly jumps out from behind some bushes and states the obvious, shouting, "I'm naked!" Christner, a registered sex offender, is arrested.

In June, an intoxicated woman drives a van the wrong way down a road in Thornton and crashes into a concrete structure. She is naked when the police arrive.

In August, a man who's crashed a party in Curtis Park and held revelers at gunpoint flees the house after police flood it with tear gas. He is naked.

86'd

Governor Bill Owens signs a bill banning buzz-boosting machines called "Alcohol Without Liquid," which send alcohol vapors straight to the brain. Alcohol vapors -- which can take hours to show up in a blood-alcohol test and are definitely less filling than beer -- remain the buzz of choice in calorie-conscious East Coast cities like New York and Miami.

And Don't Even Think About...

: Digging through someone's trash to steal personal information. Colorado is fifth in the nation for identity theft, and it's now a felony to dumpster-dive for digits.

• Dumping a dump on the side of the road. The fine for discarding human waste along state highways has jumped from $40 to $500.

• Having a cell phone smuggled into a Colorado prison. A new law makes this a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to eighteen months of additional time or up to $100,000 in fines.

Family Values

"She told me she wanted us to spend time as a family and that there was somebody she wanted me to meet." That's how a fourteen-year-old Fort Collins girl describes group sex with her mother, her little brother and her mother's boyfriend in a Motel 6. Despite the girl's compelling testimony, the man is found guilty on only two of six counts.

"He's not like those kids. He tells me he loves me and he wants to make love to me, and everything's okay." That's how 35-year-old social studies teacher Nicole Barnhart explains her relationship with a sophomore at Ponderosa High School. Even so, in March, Barnhart -- a married mother of two -- is charged with sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.

Higher and Higher

Katherine Cline, a 25-year-old stripper, is arrested by Boulder County cops in July after smashing into a fence three times and driving on the wrong side of the road. Cline was either wiped out after a long night of pole-dancing at the Bus Stop in Boulder, or she'd had a few too many of the red, homemade hard candies authorities find in a bag in her car. The candies contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana; Cline says she purchased them for $25 a pop.

Between January and June, the Larimer County Drug Task Force busts 25 pot-growing farms. During the same period, the task force seizes forty pounds of high-grade dope, much of it originally bound for international export. The high-dollar weed is blooming in homes, false rooms, basements, crawl spaces and garages around Fort Collins and Loveland.

A Basalt man admits to bilking wine lovers out of $2.5 million as he enters a guilty plea in federal court in Los Angeles to mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, unlawful monetary transactions and criminal forfeiture. Ronald Philip Wallace had actually collected a total of $13 million for the undelivered wines but is prosecuted only for their fair market price.

Brain Drain

In June, Dr. Denise Crute, a Pueblo neurosurgeon, admits she provided substandard care to seventeen patients, including two who underwent brain surgery on the wrong side of their brains. She loses her medical license.

Fuck Face

State Farm puts a huge billboard featuring agent Tammy Booth at Colfax and Fillmore. Vandals strike the billboard again and again, but it's not taken down permanently until one bold soul sprays the words "Fuck Face" directly over Booth's head.

The Bear Necessities

One night in July, a black bear breaks into a home in Colorado Springs and helps himself to hot dog buns, a loaf of bread, tortillas, turkey, pot pies, chicken legs and vanilla ice cream. Terrified family members hide in various bedrooms as the bruin feasts and then departs through the same screen door he destroyed on his way in.

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