Clearly Criminal

     This is probably the most ridiculous research project I have ever undertaken. While I was much amused by the results, my hours-long Nexis search became quite a chore. Lucky for me (?), I obsess quite easily, and was driven to skim every article I came across (because the next one might be the really juicy one!). For my money, my fixation paid off.

     Interestingly, the majority of Zima crime stories come from Florida, Texas, and Tennessee. Perhaps the hot South is Zima's consumer stronghold (a reflection of Zima's "crisp, clear taste"?), or maybe the Rebs just commit more alcohol-related crimes. My gut tells me both are true, but the latter may just be Yankee prejudice. For the Northeast, Boston was the clear winner. I found no stories from New York, the city or the state [but wait! One of our readers found one, and it's a doosey]

      I have not included every one, or even most, of the articles I discovered. There were too many standard DWI's to warrant posting all of them. There was also an in-depth out of Florida about a relationship between a 14 year-old girl and a 30 year-old "Registered Class III Sex Offender." It was actually quite fascinating, but far too long and complicated to include, considering the only Zima reference was a quote saying the girl enjoyed staying out on the 30-year old's boat all night with other teens "drinking Zima, Hooch, or. . .Hawaiian Punch with Everclear."  That reminds me: Ladies, be wary of the man who offers you a Zima. Date-rape Zima stories abound. Anyway, let's get to it. Be advised that I expurgated most of the following articles and indicate the same with ellipses (...)

Los Angeles Times, November 28, 1995

     They drank cheap wine, sipped the bottled drink Zima or smoked marijuana with the older guy they met at a Simi Valley video arcade. Then, the teen-age girls told investigators, they were molested or raped.

     Presented with those stories Monday, a judge ordered 27-year-old Victor M. Becerra of Simi Valley to stand trial on 43 felony charges. Police suspect Becerra of sexually assaulting nine Simi Valley girls, ages 12 to 15, over the summer. Four of the teen-agers say they were raped.

     Simi Valley police arrested Becerra last month after a 15-year-old girl reported she had been sexually assaulted. Police monitored a telephone call the teen-ager made to Becerra, in which he apologized for the attack, Simi Valley Detective Gary Galloway testified.

     He quoted Becerra as telling the girl he was sorry for pulling off her clothes and touching her, saying: "I knew it was wrong. I don't know what happened."

     Investigators said they believe the factory worker spent time at teen-age haunts in Simi Valley, where he met many of the girls. Another 15-year-old girl told investigators that she befriended Becerra at the Family Fun Zone the night she ran away from home in June, Ventura County district attorney's investigator Susan Creede testified. Becerra also hung out at 7-Eleven and Circle K stores, playing arcade games with the teen-agers, investigators said...

     Becerra was convicted in 1991 of tying up his girlfriend and threatening her with a machete. He served four months in Ventura County Jail for the offense and was still on probation when he was arrested on suspicion of rape.


The Daily News (New York), June 1, 1997
(Thanks to John McCrory for submitting this article)

     "...Around midnight, they hooked up with him, got more beer and Zima malt liquor and went to the gazebo. According to police sources, McMorrow made advances to Abdela, and Vasquez told him to stop. A struggle followed between the bear of a man and the skinny kid, and Vasquez allegedly pulled his knife..." ( Go to to full article.)


Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA.), July 12, 1997

     A Lunenburg man, convicted in 1990 of drunken driving, pleaded innocent yesterday to charges that he struck and killed a pedestrian while driving drunk on Route 13 Wednesday night...

     Joseph A. Rosa, 41, of 318 New West Townsend Road, was released on $ 1,000 cash bail after the hearing before Judge Elliot Zide ... Rosa admitted to police he had been drinking prior to the accident and had tossed a six-pack of Zima beer from the car just after the accident, according to Assistant District Attorney Harry Johnson in court yesterday.

     Police found a "nip" bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey in Rosa's car, Johnson said...

     [Rosa's attorney] conceded the empty nip bottle was found in the car and his client did throw the Zima from the car, but he said the Zima had not been opened, "which I suggest to the court, doesn't prove anything. "

Chattanooga Free Press, December 23, 1997

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A 40-year-old Cleveland man has been charged with raping a Trewhitt Jr. High School girl who police say had become intoxicated at a party.

John W. Williams of 391 Poindexter Lane was charged with aggravated rape and 12 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor...

Police say the 14-year-old girl left the school last Friday with friends in a car driven by a red-haired man. She said the group went to an "unfamiliar location" where she drank Zimas and listened to music, according to a police report.

"She wasn't feeling good so she lay down in a bedroom," says the report. When she awoke, a man was engaging in sexual activity with her. She told police a friend came into the room and the man left the room.

The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville), June 20, 1998

     DUI MANSLAUGHTER CHARGED: A Jacksonville woman was charged with manslaughter in a drunken driving crash that killed her mother.

     Christy Phillips, 23, of the 12900 block of Staffordshire Drive South was charged Thursday with driving under the influence of alcohol-manslaughter and driving on the wrong side of the road.

     Police said that while driving May 10 in the 8400 block of Beach Boulevard, Phillips swerved her 1995 Honda Passport across the median into the wrong lane then flipped the car when she drove back over the median.

     As the car rolled, she and her mother Donna Cleveland were thrown from it, police said. Both women were taken to University Medical Center where Cleveland died from her injuries.

     An empty bottle of Zima, an alcoholic beverage, was found in the car. Police said blood tests completed shortly after the crash pegged Phillips' blood-alcohol level at .17, twice the limit at which a person is considered drunk under Florida law.

The Boston Globe, August 26, 1998

His world had only one corner; South Boston pals grieve death of one of their own

     The corner. It sits at East Third and O streets, in South Boston's City

     Point section, part of St. Brigid's parish.

     James "Freddie" Furkart, 14 and freckle-faced, once owned this corner, with about 30 of his friends, just like some of their parents used to, back in their day.

     The kids call themselves O3P, the P standing for pride or posse or pimps. Yeah, Freddie was a real pimp, his friends say fondly, meaning the crew-cutted kid was one little ladies man.

     Like a boy outlining initials in fresh concrete, Freddie made his mark on the corner. It's where he pranced on rollerblades, practiced pro-wrestling moves, talked of becoming a pipefitter like his uncle, and professed his desire to marry supermodel Kathy Ireland. [sounds like a winner! - CF Ed.]

     Eleven days ago, Freddie left East Third and O to go with friends. It was his first big night of drinking, friends say. It turned out to be his final Friday night on the corner.

     After downing beers, Freddie fell off a roof, hit his head, and staggered home, looking only intoxicated. He was found dead the next morning, sitting in his bathroom.

     Friends say the 5-foot, 80-pound Southie High freshman-to-be imbibed six Zimas and three Bud Ices that night.

     Apparently testing how drunk he was, Freddie walked the ledge like a tightrope and fell off, landing about 12 feet down.

     Friends say he was knocked out for about 15 minutes. As he arose, they say, he insisted on having them help him return to East Third and O.

     [Apparently I inadvertently deleted the rest of this article, but you can guess the rest: Freddie had gotten a concussion and died in his sleep that night  — Culture Freak Ed.]

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, November 1, 1998

     Parents gave beer to teens, police say Parents of a South Gwinnett High School sophomore provided cases of beer for teenagers at his school homecoming party, Gwinnett police said.

     The parents of a Loganville boy called police after their 16-year-old son came home on Sunday morning with a hangover. The boy admitted drinking at the party and said his host's parents had supplied cases of beer and Zima, another alcoholic beverage, police said.

     The teen told his parents the alcohol was waiting on the kitchen counter when the partygoers came in from homecoming and that the host's parents were home during the party, police said.

     The teen reported that many of the guests got so drunk they became sick and passed out, police said.

     The angry parents, who said they allowed their son to attend the party only after the host's parents signed a "no drinking" waiver, confirmed their son's account with other guests and then confronted the host's parents, police said.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, December 5, 1998

     FORT WORTH - Robert Neville Jr., a self-described sociopath who has laughed about abducting and killing a 19-year-old grocery sacker, was convicted of capital murder yesterday, just two days after testimony began...

     Neville, who had smiled repeatedly during the trial, showed no emotion when visiting District Judge Harry Hopkins read the jury's verdict. Neville's family, as well as relatives of the victim, declined to comment until the trial ends.

     In order for Neville to be convicted of capital murder, prosecutors had to establish that Robinson was murdered after she was kidnapped. Defense attorneys tried to convince jurors that Neville was guilty only of murder, arguing that Robinson was not abducted.

     Prosecutors Alan Levy, Christy Jack and Alfie Owens maintained during the trial that Neville, 24, and his 19-year-old friend Michael Hall targeted Amy Robinson on Feb. 15 and planned to kill her.

     Robinson had worked with the men at one time and was friends with Neville.

     The two men saw her riding her bicycle to work in Arlington, offered her a ride, but instead took her to a field in northeast Fort Worth, where they shot at her with a pellet gun and a pistol-grip crossbow, prosecutors said.

     Robinson screamed as the men shot at her and at one point, she threatened to tell her dad, prosecutors said.

     Neville then shot Robinson in the chest and head with a rifle, and they left her for dead, prosecutors said.

      Earlier in the trial, a letter from Neville was introduced in which he wrote: "We are both sociopaths. We are cold-blooded and ruthless. "

      Neville and Hall fled from Arlington and headed to Mexico. Customs officers arrested them in Eagle Pass as they tried to walk across the border with their backpacks, pellet guns and a six-pack of Zima, according to court testimony.

     Neville told investigators where to find Robinson's body, which was found on March 3.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 1, 1999

     An O' Hara man and a Sharpsburg woman accused of trying to entice a 14-year-old girl into posing nude for pictures to be distributed on the Internet were held for trial yesterday...

     The charges stem from an Aug. 3 incident in which the girl said Walthour, who was supposed to watch over the 14-year-old, and Schlosser plied her with cocaine and Zima, then gave her $50 to pose in her underwear on one of Schlosser's motorcycles in the garage of his O' Hara home.

     County police said the photos were to be distributed on Schlosser's Web site to advertise motorcycles.

The Tennessean (Nashville), October 6, 1999

     A Criminal Court jury convicted a young Hermitage man yesterday of charges stemming from the alcohol poisoning death of a 17-year-old friend who was visiting his home.

     The jury found Steven Steinruck, 22, guilty of providing alcoholic beverages to the victim, Michael Larson, and another minor, and of tampering with evidence by attempting to discard beer and whiskey bottles before emergency personnel responded to his 911 call early last Dec. 20.

     Steinruck told Metro police on Dec. 21 that he bought beer, Zima and whiskey to share with Larson and another boy, who was 16, when they spent the night of Dec. 19 at his apartment. He said he knew the two boys from his old neighborhood in Mt. Juliet.

     Steinruck told police that Larson vomited and then passed out after drinking three large wine glasses filled half with Zima and half with whiskey. He said he tried to call the boy's parents, but then waited several hours before he called 911 for help.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, March 18, 2000

     The man charged with killing a North Port woman in a February car crash is asking the court to reduce his bail...

     Vega had a blood alcohol level of 0.17, police said. That is more than twice the level the state considers a driver intoxicated...

     Police said Vega lost control of his white 1995 Corvette convertible, which he was driving at an estimated 90 mph, and slammed into Lori Norton's 1992 Mercury Topaz...

     He told police he doesn't remember the crash.

     After the crash, police found an unopened Zima, a malt liquor beverage, on the passenger seat of Vega's car, the report said.

Police Blotter — Corpus Christi, TX

     May 12, 2001 - Burglary at 3000 Monmouth Street - Missing: Two barrel pistols in non-working condition, six Zima beers [ahem, um. . . Clearmalt! - CF Ed.], half gallon of Vodka, quart of Crown Royal, Parrot Bay Spiced rum, half gallon of Bailey's Irish Cream, cigarette carton, valued at $278. [Wow, alcohol, tobacco, and firearms! - CF Ed.]

The Florida Times-Union (hmmm, again?) May 23, 2000

     ST. MARYS, Ga. — Police found the body of Ashley Nicole Neeves Sunday morning ... said Sgt. T.J. Sievers, a detective with the St. Marys Police Department.

     Neeves, a St. Marys Middle School eighth-grader, had not been seen by family members since about 1 p.m. Saturday, Sievers said. Authorities think she was killed about 6 p.m. Saturday.

     Officers found the body after responding to a complaint about vultures in a wooded area near the Shadowlawn subdivision off Georgia 40, Sievers said

     The victim's face and neck were so mutilated a family member could not positively identify her for police, Sievers said. Dental records were used to confirm the identity.

     A sharp jagged object, possibly a broken bottle, was used during the attack, Sievers said. And the victim's skull was crushed with a blunt object, he said.

     "She put a hell of a fight up," Sievers said.

     The Florida Times-Union, July 3, 2000
(Three's a charmMan, what the Hell is up with Jacksonville?)

     Sheree Merritt, whose driver's license had been repeatedly suspended, fumbled with a gasoline nozzle as a store clerk watched her attempt to put gas into a sky-blue Camaro that was about to become property of the Clay County Sheriff's Office...

     A deputy was dispatched to the Blanding Boulevard service station, and Merritt, 46, who has multiple drunken driving convictions, soon was under arrest.

     On June 21, the night of the arrest, the woman was seen crashing her car into a guard pole at the service station and tossing a bottle of Zima into the trash, police said. Her speech was slurred and she dropped the nozzle twice, police said.

St. Petersburg Times, July 04, 2000

     The four are accused of throwing rocks and bottles at an alligator in a Tarpon Springs pond. They face up to five years in prison and a $ 5,000 fine...

     Flanders, 18, said Monday that he dangled a Zima bottle tied to speaker wire over the alligator Saturday afternoon and that three of his friends threw rocks and bottles to encourage the reptile to come out of a pond. Just a little innocent fun, he said...

     Police said two of the teens admitted throwing rocks and bottles, but one would not say whether he threw anything. Flanders told the Times Monday he held the Zima bottle that was attached to the wire, but he never threw anything at the alligator.

     Flanders said he was shocked that throwing rocks at an alligator is a felony.

The Boston Herald, July 27, 2000

     A limousine driver with three prior drunken-driving convictions was a no-show in court this week following his latest arrest for allegedly getting drunk while waiting for a group of teenage girls who hired him to drive to an 'N Sync concert...

     Police said Gilbert arranged to meet the girls after the concert in a parking lot of a defunct restaurant called Spaghetti Eddy's on Route 1 in Foxboro. "When the girls walked back to the parking lot after the concert, they noticed he looked drunk, and he was drinking a bottle of Zima," said state police Sgt. Timothy White.

     The girls refused to get in the limo with Gilbert, and he reportedly argued with them until they said they would call the police. "The girls did the right thing," White said.

The Associated Press State & Local Wire August 26, 2000 [South Carolina]

     A prosecutor has ordered the state Highway Patrol to charge three Fairfield County Sheriff's Department employees with having open containers of alcohol in their car in a fatal Richland County accident last October...

     The Highway Patrol report said all but one of four occupants in the car had an open container of beer in the vehicle. Pictures of the 1998 white Honda at the accident scene show containers of Zima malt liquor and Bud Light beer in the car.

Roanoke Times & World News, September 26, 2000


     Lying in a puddle of his own blood, John Collins played dead.

     Around him, turmoil reigned. Bullets flew through the air. People were screaming, crying, diving for cover.

     He felt the arms of his good friend, Danny Overstreet, wrapped tightly around his legs. But suddenly, the grip loosened ever so slightly.

     "I realized Danny was already gone," Collins said. "There was nothing I could do for him."

     Collins was lucky. One of the most seriously injured in the Friday night shooting at the Backstreet Cafe, he lived to tell the tale of losing his friend of 25 years and to tell the horror that filled the Salem Avenue bar that night...

     Speaking Monday afternoon from his room in Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, the 39-year-old Northwest Roanoke man recounted the minutes when a man opened fire in the crowded bar, killing one and wounding six.

     A drifter named Ronald Edward Gay was later arrested and charged with murder in connection with the shooting.

     Less than a half-hour earlier, Gay had told an employee at another bar he wanted to "go waste some faggots," police said.

     Collins was at the bar, known to cater to gays and lesbians, at the invitation of Overstreet. It was a place he periodically went to hang out with friends and play a few rounds of pool.

     The night started uneventfully. Collins saw some buddies at the bar and grabbed a stool. He ordered a Zima and went to the bathroom. When he returned, he saw Overstreet at a table with another friend.

     Collins grabbed his Zima and went to say hello. He knelt down and chatted for a few minutes. As he got up, he leaned over and gave Overstreet a hug. Collins is always hugging people, his mother says.

     Then it began.

     The bearded man sitting across the table stood up. He pulled a gun from beneath a black trench coat and looked Collins in the eye.

     The man fired. A bullet pierced Collins' stomach.

     "It was so fast," Collins said. "I said to myself, 'This isn't happening.' I looked down and saw the blood, and it started burning. It was a terrible, terrible burn. I went down to the floor. I was crawling toward the door. The pain was so intense, and there was so much blood."

     While crawling, Collins felt Overstreet latch onto his legs. The man was still shooting, so Collins stopped, thinking that if he wanted to survive, he had better play dead. Then the pop-pop-pop that sounded more like firecrackers than bullets stopped...

     National gay and lesbian activist groups have called the shooting one of the worst anti-gay attacks in U.S. history...


     So there you have it, the Zima police blotter. The clearmalt also made an interesting appearance in the August 2, 1998 edition of The Indianapolis Star.

In his feature, "Rumspringa, A Rite of Passage", Will Higgins interviews local Amish teenagers and their parents on the subject of the Amish tradition of the "rumspringa" period. Rumpspringa means "running around" in English, and is the period where Amish teenagers are allowed and even encouraged to experiment with the ways of "the English" (non-Amish).

After this 'wild' period, Amish youth enter adulthood in one of two ways. They either join the Amish church and follow its tenets regarding the rejection of 20th century technology, or they join the English and, ultimately, face banishment from their families. I would like to post the entire article here but it would just be too much of a copyright violation, even for me. It is available from the Indianapolis Star archives for two dolllars, ut you can probably find plenty of free material on the subject via a simple internet search.

It is quite an interesting read: Amish kids doing drugs, drinking, cruising and drag racing their horse-drawn buggies while blaring hip-hop from boom boxes. (Amish teens are even arrested for drinking and driving their buggies, a felony in Indiana.)

So where does Zima fit in? Here is the excerpt:

"[Rumspringa is] not all roses, I'll tell you that," says one LaGrange County Amish man who is on his fourth teen-ager. The boy is 19 years old. He dresses English. He owns a car...The night before, he and an Amish pal - whom he describes as "the best Amish basketball player ever! " - went cruising. In a buggy. In with their beer they had some bottles of Zima, a beverage invented a few years ago that packs more of a wallop than beer. "Zima, that's some good shit! " he says.

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