houston-press-feat-image-huffing-shutterstockShutterstock/Photo Illustration by Monica Fuentes

Ever since he was a kid, Steven Allen liked to take things apart, see how they worked and put them back together again. “He made a computer for his little brother, just by spare parts that people threw out, one year for Christmas,” recalls Nellie Hencerling, his mom. He was a good kid, she says. Sure, he’d had issues with drugs back when he lived in their hometown of Victoria, but after he moved to Houston in 2012, he seemed to put those behind him. He was married, with a young son, a steady job and a home of his own.

Then, over just a few days in February 2014, Allen’s life unraveled completely.

Read on in the Houston Press on how inhalants have torn lives apart.

coronaPhoto by Sarah-Rose / Flickr

Beer theft is a pretty great racket. You steal beer, and then you drink it. It’s simple, it works, and even if you go to jail, your fellow inmates will probably treat you like a hero.

Miami’s most feared cerveza crook saw his reign of terror end today, though. Because the Miami Police Department very clearly has its priorities in order, MPD announced this afternoon that it has arrested a “notorious beer bandit,” just in time to protect South Florida’s very vulnerable stashes of Labor Day booze from getting seized. Here’s to the labor movement!

fiu-student-facebook-stalkingPhoto by Christopher / Flickr

Facebook friend requests from strangers almost always turn out to be bad news. In the best-case scenario, some weird guy from Turkmenistan insults your sister’s prom photos. In the worst-case: Someone creates a fake account, discovers hidden info about your past, and then threatens to release that information or kill you if you don’t pony up thousands of dollars.

That’s exactly what a former FIU student did to an anonymous California college student who had a secret past as a porn star. Now, the FIU student is headed to prison after trying to use that info to extort tens of thousands of dollars.

In June 2015, federal authorities say the California student, listed only as “S.B.” in court records, received a strange friend request from a former U.S. Marine named “Giovani.” But when S.B. accepted Giovani’s friend request, things turned ugly: “Giovani” was actually a 23-year-old Florida International University criminal-justice student named Kassandra Cruz, who’d discovered that S.B. had secretly dabbled in porn years ago.

Cruz immediately began to threaten her: She’d expose that secret to S.B.’s family and employer, she promised — and even threatened to kill her — unless S.B. coughed up $100,000.

stephanie.anderson.jail.footage.c.youtubeBreakfast reading from the Voice Media Empire: Anderson is said to have asked to be taken to the hospital after suffering chest pains but then refusing treatment — a claim her attorney just doesn’t buy. After her return to jail, a guard to whom she’s said to have pleaded for help was quoted as saying “Officer no habla español,” although he insists he was talking to someone else. Westword has the story.

5267408454_4d9b964b3f_z-2_1_H. Michael Karshis/Flickr

He didn’t want to go to sleep, because sleep meant nightmares, and nightmares meant reliving a rape.

Courtney Richardson, incarcerated in the Harris County Jail on charges of vehicular manslaughter, thought he was going crazy, and in many ways, he was. His eyes were so red from lack of sleep that it looked like he had been on drugs. He told the jail’s mental health staff he had been tempted with thoughts of suicide — the nightmares would stop then — and so he was placed in solitary confinement for more than a month, stripped of his clothes and given only a protective suicide blanket. He hated it there but, still, was fearful of leaving his cell, scared he would run into the guard he says sexually assaulted him on March 7.

35th.and.franklin.google.mapsBreakfast reading from the Voice Media Empire: The neighborhood had once been home to rival gangs that had their own territory. But an anti-gang activist says their turf has been compressed by development that’s brought in high income residents and displaced those who can no longer afford the area — and the squeeze has often led to assaults and gunfire. Westword has the story.

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