Fool’s Justice: 8 Dumb Criminals Who Got Busted By Being Stupid
A gallery of criminals who got tricked, trapped, or otherwise fell for something — all the way into jail.
Photo By: Chastity Hopson [Burnet County Jail]
Photo By: Mug shots of Dennis Rader [Kansas Department of Corrections]
Photo By: Mug shot of Dustin McCombs [Jefferson County Sheriff's Office]
Photo By: Mug shot of James Tindell [Multnomah County Sheriff]
Photo By: Mug shot of Scott Simon [Broward County Sheriff's Office]
Photo By: Mack Yearwood [Citrus County Sheriff's Office]
Photo By: Ashley Keast [South Yorkshire Police]
Photo By: Jesse Berube [Citrus Heights Police Department]
Crime: Accused of battery
Foolishness: Responded to fake news alert that local drug supplies contained the Ebola virus.
Back in March 2016, the Granite Shoals Police Department in Texas issued a very special warning on its Facebook page that declared, "If you have recently purchased meth or heroin in Central Texas, please take it to the local police or sheriff department so it can be screened with a special device. DO NOT use it until it has been properly checked for possible Ebola contamination!"
The message, of course, was a ruse. Regardless, “concerned citizen” Chastity Hopson reportedly did her duty by bringing in her sample of an illegal substance to be examined. Hopson was promptly arrested on held on $5,000 bond. [My San Antonio]
Crime: Serial rape, torture, and murder
Foolishness: Asked cops if he could be traced through a floppy disc; they lied and said no — and he believed them.
As the notorious “BTK,” Dennis Rader would “bind, torture, and kill” his victims, and then write taunting letters about it to the police and the news media.
Rader’s reign of violence lasted from 1974 to 1991 and claimed at least 10 lives before he disappeared for more than a decade. He resumed writing letters in 2004, though, and set himself up to get busted.
In January 2005, Rader wrote to the cops, “Can I communicate with Floppy [disk] and not be traced to a computer? Be honest.” The police responded in the affirmative with a newspaper ad, as Rader instructed.
The BTK killer then sent authorities a floppy disk that he didn’t realize contained encrypted metadata that directed them to his exact location.
Rader is currently serving 10 consecutive life sentences in Kansas. [Witchita Eagle]
Crime: Accused of rape
Foolishness: Picked a fight on Facebook with the sheriff’s office that deemed him “Creep of the Week.”
On January 5, 2012, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama issued an arrest warrant for Dustin McCombs, who was accused of “rape by force.” The sheriff also posted McCombs’ photo on Facebook under the banner “Creep of the Week.”
Shortly thereafter, McCombs posted a response on the sheriff’s Facebook page accusing the department of “defamation of character” and noting, “Good thing I moved out of state.”
The sheriff, in turn, pointed out that rape charges don’t vanish when you cross state borders. McCombs responded with an extensive online tirade that ultimately tipped off the cops to his location. Officers arrested McCombs on February 3. [AL.com]
Crimes: Robbery, violating plea agreement
Foolishness: Left drug treatment, fled the state, taunted authorities online by writing “Catch me if you can,” and then continually listed exactly where he was.
In April 2012, convicted robber James Tindell violated the conditions of a plea deal he’d made by quitting rehab and leaving the state of Oregon. Not satisfied with simply being on the run, however, Tindell took to social media to brag about it.
Tindell posted nasty messages on the pages of his probation officer and the judge who sentenced him, bragging about being “the 1 who got away.” On April 20, he even wrote, “Fresh out of another state. Catch me if you can."
That didn’t prove too difficult, as one of Tindell’s typical follow-up messages declared, “I’m in Alabama.” He also posted a sonogram photo of his unborn son that included the name of the Alabama county general hospital where it was taken.
In early May, cops caught up with Tindell and flew him back to Oregon, where he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. [Oregon Live]
Foolishness: Accidently called 911, recorded his murder plan.
On May 5, 2013, Scott Simon inadvertently dialed 911 and was recorded saying he was going to follow Nicholas Walker in his car and kill him.
Just a few minutes after the call came in, somebody followed Nicholas Walker in his car and killed him.
The call led authorities to Simon, who had been captured on video having an argument with Walker that night at a Waffle House. Afterward, police say, Simon’s two friends drove up alongside Walker’s vehicle, with Michael Depre driving and Ronel Desnior firing the shots that killed the victim.
Simon, Depre, and Desinor have all since been convicted of murder. [NBC Miami]
Crime: Accused of battery, possession
Foolishness: Used own Wanted poster as his Facebook profile pic.
As investigators searched in 2016 for Mack Yearwood in connection to an open battery case, the Florida man accidentally assisted them by using his mug shot from a previous incident as his Facebook profile photo — taken directly from the Stuart Police Department’s “Wanted of the Week” poster.
Authorities then easily tracked Yearwood to his brother’s house and picked him up on two outstanding warrants. Afterward, Stuart Police Department Cpl. Brian Bossio wrote online, "Facebook is a great way to communicate and connect with old friends and family. If you are wanted by the police, it's probably not a good idea to use the 'Wanted of the Week' poster of yourself as your profile pic." [ABC News]
Crime: Breaking and entering, burglary, homicidal threats
Foolishness: Took selfie on stolen SIM card, sent photo to victim’s coworkers.
Over in Rotherham, England, Ashley Keast robbed a house in 2014 and, afterward, snapped a selfie using a SIM card he had stolen from the property. Keast then posted the photo on Whatsapp, but also unwittingly sent it to the victim’s workplace colleagues.
The coworkers contacted the cops, who busted Keast with pilfered property the next day. [BBC]
Foolishness: Got stuck in chimney, called 911 to come rescue him.
Just one week before Christmas in 2017, California resident Jesse Berube allegedly attempted an anti-Santa move by trying to sneak down the chimney of a local business to rob it.
Instead, Berube reportedly got stuck and had to dial 911 for help. The Sacramento Fire Department showed up and cut Berube free, after which the Citrus Heights Police slapped him with one count of burglary and snapped a sooty-faced mug shot of the suspect. [New York Post]