We’ve all heard the saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction,” and, often, it’s true. Mark Twain explains further by pointing out that “…fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t. And, real life has a way of proving Mr. Twain’s point over and over again. Today, I’m sharing some true crime stories with you that will illustrate just how much stranger than fiction truth can be.
Criminals too Dumb for Fiction
Some perpetrators are just too dumb to use as a model for a crime novel. The cops didn’t need sophisticated software and tactics to catch these criminals via social media. Over-sharing on social media can be more than just annoying to others; it could land you in jail – if you’re a dumb criminal, that is.
Check out these true crime stories and you’ll shake your head in disbelief:
- Taraq and Michaele Salahi – not the sharpest knives at the dinner table. This star-chasing couple was hoping to star in Real Housewives of D.C., when they crashed the state dinner at the White House. In case you didn’t know: It’s a crime to “crash” any gathering at the White House. These two promptly posted photos of their evening with Obama and other government bigwigs right on Facebook. Oops!
- Bonnie & Clyde of ID theft – I think Bonnie & Clyde would feel insulted if they knew they were being compared to these two dolts. The couple, Nathaniel Troy Maye and Twanna Tenise Thomason had stolen upwards of 700,000 identities and eluded police and the IRS for the better part of a year. They stopped at a restaurant for a juicy steak dinner and posted a photo of their meals to Maye’s Instagram account, @troymaye. That gave cops the break they needed. The post contained location information for the couple and they were nabbed in Florida soon afterwards. Hope they enjoyed that steak dinner. Last I heard they don’t serve them in the penitentiary.
- Dumb and Dumber – Two men, Benjamin Rutkowski and Kai Christensen, set medieval-style “booby traps” along a hiking trail in Utah. A forest ranger with a military background noticed the traps and disarmed them. They were specifically designed to ensnare and kill humans said the ranger. When the two men posted about and discussed their traps on Facebook, cops tracked them down and arrested them. They claimed they set the traps to catch animals. Really? Tripwire traps complete with a giant rock and wooden spikes set up to swing at a person’s head? I’m not buying it and law enforcement didn’t either.
- Capturing cleavage – Higinio Ochoa hacked into four law enforcement websites and bragged that he had personal information on police officials via his Twitter handle, @Anonw0rmer. He also tweeted a racy photo of his girlfriend’s ample cleavage with a sign meant to taunt the cops. The photo had embedded data showing it came from an iPhone in Australia and was posted to a Facebook page – Ochoa’s. The cleavage belonged to Ochoa’s girlfriend. Soon after the big breast reveal, cops arrested Ochoa in his Galveston, Texas apartment.
- Gas fumes not good for the brain – Michael Baker came up with the bright idea of photographing himself as he siphoned gas from a cop car and held up his middle finger. He posted the photo on Facebook, which went viral. He was promptly arrested on misdemeanor theft and put in jail. After his release, he posted this status update on Facebook: “Lol I went too jail over Facebook.” I’ve always heard that breathing in too many gas fumes can cause brain damage. Now I know it’s true.
- Maxi stupidity – Maxi Sopo fled to Cancun after defrauding several banks in Seattle out of $200,000. Proud of his heist, Sopo documented his Cancun vacation via Facebook for all his friends and family to see. It’s normal for people to post about their vacations on Facebook right? The margaritas, hot sun, and senoritas must have clouded Sopo’s thinking because he added a former Justice Department official as a Facebook friend. No more hot senioritas and cold margaritas for Maxi. He’s in the clink for 33 months.
Far from being smooth, these criminals are just too dumb for fiction. No reader would buy into the belief that a criminal could be that stupid. I assure you that the bad guys in my crime novels are much more believable and thrilling and, so far, none of them brag about their crimes on social media. Grab a copy of First Blood and see for yourself. You won’t be able to put it down!
Photo from morguefile [dot] com