It is an inherent fact that mankind has been committing criminal acts since before there were even words for the crimes themselves. Whether the behavior is a product of genetic disposition or environmental factors, humans are capable of horrendous feats that defy logical comprehension. It is often rather shocking to learn just how depraved humanity can be and how easily these misdeeds seem to be perpetrated towards children. It is disturbing to see photos of crime scenes where you can clearly see images of children’s toys or clothes, making you cringe at the thought of just how those objects got there in the first place. Here is a list of the most heinous crimes committed that involved a child’s toy in some way.
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10 Gonzalo Carreno Nieto
There is an old saying that if you really want something you should go out and get it. A 43-year-old man named Gonzalo Carreno Nieto put that axiom to the test when he used a toy hand grenade to commandeer a Boeing 727 during a Colombian flight from Medellín to Bogotá. Nieto claimed that he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and needed $100,000 in order settle down in Cuba to live out his remaining days. Showing the passengers and pilot the hand grenade, Nieto claimed he would blow up the plane if they did not listen to his demands. The pilot, Luis Eduardo Gutierrez, who probably deals with grenade-toting madmen all the time, was extremely calm and even gave Nieto advice on what to do next.
After freeing the 130 passengers, Nieto commanded the pilot to fly to Panama and Aruba to collect the money. Gutierrez told Nieto that Cartagena would be more likely to have the money he sought and Nieto agreed to finally allow the plane to land after a 12-hour flight. Once the plane landed, Nieto jumped out a rear exit and disappeared into the night. In the early hours of the next morning, Colombian navy personnel found Nieto hiding in a swamp near the airport. It is uncertain how Nieto intended to get away with the act; however, officials have noted that he suffered from drug addiction and mental anguish after spending time in prison.
9 Andri Lynn Jeffers
It is one thing to convince people that a toy grenade is an actual weapon, it is quite another to convince them that a stuffed animal is one. That minor hurdle did not deter Andri Lynn Jeffers from attempting to rob a gas station with one in Yavapai County, Arizona. In recanting the story to the police, the clerk stated that Jeffers strolled into the station, claiming she had a bomb under her sweater and wanted money. The clerk, noticing the lumpy object under Jeffers garment, refused her request by stating the safe could not be opened just before closing time.
Jeffers grew angry and stated she would blow up the gas station if the clerk did not comply. Grabbing a bag from behind the counter, Jeffers commanded the clerk to fill the bag with money. The clerk, like a stone guardian, stood his ground and remained completely indifferent to the crazed woman’s demands. Accepting defeat, Jeffers evacuated the premise but was apprehended shortly after at her home thanks to the quick thinking of the clerk who saw Jeffer’s license plate as she fled. While in police custody, Jeffers admitted to the robbery-as if they needed a confession-and revealed that the bomb she carried was actually a stuffed toy penguin.
8 Brown-Haired Gunman
While in most cases of toy gun crimes, the suspect is attempting to fool others in to believing they have the real thing and intend on using it. In certain cases, it is not the toy itself that is the danger but rather how the individual has modified it. On Forth Road Bridge, a 35-year-old toll booth operator named Lynda McArthur was attacked by a brow-haired man wielding a water gun filled with an unknown solvent during a routine transaction. The suspect was in a blue van that was driven by an unidentified blond-haired man who was receiving change from McArthur at the time of the incident.
According to McArthur, the brown-haired man leaned over the driver and shot a blast of solvent from a water gun that hit her directly in the eyes. As the van rolled away, McArthur was left dazed as her eyes began burning from the unknown liquid. She hastily called for help from the bridge operator and was immediately taken to the hospital. The responding police officer believed that the incident was an isolated prank gone wrong; however, due to the incident the security on the bridge has been significantly tightened to prevent future attacks. Although the incident frightened Lynda McArthur to her core, she did not suffer any permanent damage to her eye sight.
7 Jose Vaszquez
In what appears to be rather disturbing trend, several costumed characters have been conducting inappropriate behavior in New York City’s Times Square. Not wanting to break the cycle, 44 year-old Jose Vaszquez, dressed as Woody from the movie “Toy Story”, decided his costume gave him special privileges than most. As the lone sheriff in his own perverted mind, Vaszquez began groping and assaulting multiple women during his numerous outings.
Police were tipped off by the victims and sent a pair of undercover detectives to apprehend Vaszquez. The detectives found Vaszquez parading around in his standard Woody attire and despite his status as “sheriff”, he was promptly arrested. He was charged with multiple counts of sexual misconduct and is most assuredly banned from participating in any further Woody public appearances.
6 Raquel & Martin Barreras
As discussed in the introduction, humanity is capable of deplorable behavior and it’s even more unacceptable when there are children involved. Despite how heinous child related crimes, people still commit severely disturbing acts against our most vulnerable societal members. Raquel and Martin Barreras could easily win the worst parents award for their deadly inconsistent method of raising children. While the couple treated their other four children in a seemingly appropriate manner, they did not care much for their fifth child, 3-year-old Roman Barreras. Raquel, who had a history of drug related crimes, had her children taken away at one point; however, the court deemed her husband, Martin Barreras, capable of raising them.
Now in their father’s custody, the couple resumed their abusive ways which eventually lead to the death of their youngest son. According to court records, Roman was forced to stay in a separate building behind the house and was not allowed to eat with the other children. Despite Martin claiming he stood up to his wife about the abuse, little Roman eventually died of starvation. Instead of alerting authorities and holding a funeral, the couple simply dumped their son’s body into a toy chest and left it in the backyard. After the family was evicted from the home, the landlord came across the toy chest with the boys remains and alerted police. Raquel was charged with first-degree murder and child abuse, while Martin was only charged with child abuse.
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5 Amy Zielinski
While it may be idiotic to rob even a single store using a toy gun, some people take it to the next level of stupidity by going on a robbing spree with one. 34-year-old Amy Zielinski began her pointless endeavor at a BP Amoco station one particular Sunday. Police stated Zielinski walked in with what appeared to be a handgun and successfully robbed the station before fleeing in a red Pontiac. Feeling confident from her latest crime, Zielinski wanted to tempt fate a second time and fifteen minutes later she was at it again. The victim this time, a humble pecan vendor stationed outside a barber shop. Zielinski ran up to the vendor and postured that she had a gun in her pants by grabbing her waistband. Demanding money, Zielinski took the wallet of the vendor only to throw it back once she realized it was empty. Zielinski again fled the scene in the red Pontiac.
Before the police could even finish interviewing the second victim, there was a report of a woman attempting to rob a Variety Store. According to reports, Zielinski walked into the store and asked for cigarettes. Just as the clerk reached for the packs, Zielinski lifted her shirt to reveal her waistband and demanded all the cash. The clerk, who did not see a gun, refused her requests until Zielinski fled the scene. An officer on patrol spotted the Pontiac later the very same day and pulled Zielinski over. In the car, officers found the toy gun that she had used and ushered her off to jail. Amy Zielinski was charged with armed robbery and two counts of attempted robbery.
4 Edwin Tobergta
Sexual crimes fall under a sickeningly number of varieties, from assault to molestation to rape, with each case more heinous than the last. While we have an ordered system for labeling these offenders, there is simply no class that can hold the sexual misconduct of Edwin Tobergta. The 35-year-old has been caught committing sexual acts with inflatable items not once, not twice but four separate times. The first incident recorded was in 2002 when Tobergta was caught performing what appeared to be intercourse with an inflatable pumpkin. In 2011, Tobergta began an odd relationship with a neighbors small pink pool raft and was later caught pleasuring himself with the raft in an alley.
In 2013, Tobergta was caught yet again with the same pink raft only this time he was charged with public indecency due to the presence of children during the offense. His latest sexual escapade occurred in 2014, when he was found in a moment of passion with a pool raft-possibly the same one-by the side of a public road. When Tobergta was arrested, the police went through normal procedure and took a standard mug shot. In the photo one can clearly see the print on Tobergta’s shirt which appropriately states, “I’m out of my mind. Please leave a message.”
3 William “Bill” Philippi
The owner of a toy shop, 85-year-old William “Bill” Philippi, may have used his status as a toy peddler to seduce a young girl while she was within his shop. The girl, an 11-year-old resident of Hermiston, held on to the devastating secret for more than a year before reporting the incident. According to reports, the event occurred late 2009 at Philippi’s store, Toys ‘N More, where he allegedly had intercourse with the victim. When news broke to the community, there were mixed emotions about the supposedly “nice” Bill Philippi.
A few residents claimed he was wrongly accused and that the incident was simply a misinterpretation of events. While others, who worked in the stores near the toy store, claim that Philippi had committed similar acts before this specific incident and were not at all surprised he had been arrested. Regardless of the truth, residents in the area state they will not be visiting the store anytime in the future. Philippi was charged with five counts of sexual abuse and two counts of penetration.
2 David Rennie
It takes a special type of person to want to prey on others, but it is an entirely different kind of horrible when the victims are children. 51-year old, David Rennie, was the executive director for a Salvation Army warehouse in Toronto where they housed a number of donated goods. Over the course of two years, Rennie was able to steal over 100,000 items from the warehouse. During the investigation, the police located a warehouse north of Toronto that was filled with nearly 150 pallets that contained toys and baby furniture.
Immediately following the incident, the spokesman for the Salvation Army stated that Rennie was fired and the goods had been recovered just in time for the holidays. Rennie had stolen over $2 million in toys and used his status to keep the thefts hidden during the entire two-year robbery. It was later revealed that Rennie’s girlfriend, Xiao “Diane” Wang was also involved in the heinous act and was arrested. Pending a court hearing, Rennie was charged with possession of stolen merchandise, breach in confidence, and outright theft. While Wang was charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and possession of money used in a crime.
1 Jason Lee Vickery
Florida has become known as a place with rather bizarre news stories and cases of human beings behaving well beyond the realm of normality. For Jason Lee Vickery, it was just another day when he decided to break into a random house in St. Augustine to masturbate. While inside the home, Vickery became distracted from his quest when he found a remote control helicopter that he played with for a long period of time. Apparently all that playing made Vickery hungry as he proceeded to eat a salad that he had evidently brought with him.
With a full belly, Vickery decided it was time to do the deed and proceeded to the second floor bathroom. In the midst of self exploration, Vickery heard the sound of voices coming from outside of the house. Waiting in the backyard were deputies who had been called in on a disturbance in the area. Vickery had apparently brought more than just a salad, as the deputies found marijuana, chewing tobacco, a towel, and a wig within his possession. Jason Lee Vickery was charged with the crime of theft, as well as larceny.
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About The Author: Robert Butler is an aspiring writer with a penchant for toy related stories.