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10 Bizarre and Tragic News Stories Involving Sandwiches

by Julie Henthorn
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Despite the variety of culinary choices, sandwiches often serve as a symbol of both comfort and convenience. Aside from the typical peanut butter and jelly, ham, and tuna fish sandwiches that have remained a lunchtime staple, there is also a wide variety of breakfast sandwiches to choose from, making them the perfect meal on the go.

However, this article highlights how such an ordinary food has also become the catalyst for extraordinary events. From a couple’s quest to hide nuclear intel in a sandwich to the decision to make a life-saving sandwich to a serial killer requesting a sandwich in exchange for a confession, these peculiar news stories not only defy belief but remind us of the unpredictable nature of sandwich-making and provide a glimpse into the sinister world of sandwich-related news.

Here are ten bizarre and tragic news stories involving sandwiches.

Related: 10 Bitter Conflicts Fought Over Seafood

10 Grilled Cheese Grudge: Bite of Sandwich Leads to Three-Hour Police Standoff

Man charged in connection with barricade that started over a grilled cheese sandwich

Shortly after 4:45 p.m. on January 8, 2017, officers were dispatched to a home in Dundalk, Maryland, for a domestic disturbance involving a gun. Baltimore County PD, Tactical K-9, and Hostage Negotiation teams were also later called to the scene and engaged in a nearly three-hour standoff with 55-year-old Daniel Brian Blackwell, who had barricaded himself inside the home. Blackwell ultimately surrendered, eventually stepping out on the porch, where officers used “pepper balls” to shoot him and take him into custody.

So, what exactly led to the hours-long standoff? Blackwell’s wife told police that her husband shot at her through the basement floor after “he became angry when she took a bite of his grilled cheese sandwich.” At that point, she went down to the basement to check on her husband but found him surrounded by guns and ammunition, so she went back upstairs.

Blackwell later went upstairs for a brief amount of time but quickly returned to the basement. Soon after, Blackwell’s wife heard three more gunshots, and projectiles came through the kitchen floor near where she was standing. This prompted her and three teenage children to call the police and flee the house.

Police found 15 firearms inside the Blackwells’ home. Blackwell, who is not legally allowed to own guns because of prior assault convictions, was taken into custody and charged with attempted first and second-degree murder, first and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and various firearms violations.[1]

9 Secrets in a Sandwich: One Couple’s Quest to Peddle Nuclear Intel

Former U.S. Navy nuclear engineer and wife charged with trying to sell secrets to foreign governm…

In April 2020, Jonathan Toebbe, a Navy engineer, sent a letter to the intelligence service of Brazil that “stated a desire to sell documents containing U.S. Navy information marked CONFIDENTIAL that included printouts, digital media files containing technical details, operation manuals, and performance reports.” Toebbe also included instructions to his supposed contact for how to establish a covert relationship with him. However, Toebbe’s package was obtained by the FBI through its legal attaché office in December 2020, setting off a months-long undercover operation.

Toebbe then allegedly began writing to an individual by encrypted email. While Toebbe assumed the person he was communicating with represented the foreign government, they were actually an undercover FBI agent. After several months of communication, a deal was struck to sell restricted data for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency. On June 8, 2021, the undercover agent sent $10,000 in cryptocurrency to Toebbe as a “good faith” payment.

A few weeks later, Toebbe and his wife, Diana, traveled to a location in West Virginia. There, Toebbe placed an SD card concealed within half a peanut butter sandwich at a pre-scheduled “dead drop” location while Diana acted as a lookout. After retrieving the SD card, the undercover agent sent Toebbe an additional $20,000 cryptocurrency payment. Toebbe then emailed the agent a decryption key for the SD card, which revealed restricted data related to submarine nuclear reactors.

On August 21, 2021, Toebbe dropped off another SD card, which was hidden inside a pack of chewing gum. After the agent made a $70,000 payment, another decryption key was sent, revealing similar restricted data. On October 9, 2021, the couple was arrested during a third dead drop.

In August 2022, the Toebbes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to communicate Restricted Data related to the design of nuclear-powered warships. On November 9, 2022, 44-year-old Jonathan was sentenced to 232 months—over 19 years—in prison. Ten years were added to Diana’s sentence because she tried to smuggle two letters to her husband while in custody, asking him to “fall on the sword” and plead guilty in an attempt to avoid prison time for herself. On November 9, 2022, 46-year-old Diana was sentenced to 262 months, more than 21 years of incarceration.[2]

8 Couple’s Breakfast Sandwich Spat Leads to Tragic Collision

Thirty-six-year-old Angelique Swann, her five-year-old daughter Stella, and their family dog Link were waiting for the school bus in Sydney, Nova Scotia, shortly after 8:15 a.m. on January 11, 2018. However, as Swann was waiting with her daughter, a 2007 Chevy Cobalt coming down the road started to lose control.

As the car barrelled toward them, Swann was able to push Stella out of the way, but she was struck by the car, which tossed her into the air. Swann’s body bounced off the car’s windshield, and she was sent airborne again, striking a house and landing on the ground adjacent to the home before the car finally came to a stop.

Swann was taken to Cape Breton Regional Hospital for treatment of a multitude of injuries—a broken neck, a fractured collarbone and ribs, a skull fracture, along with muscle and tissue damage in her legs. Swann survived the horrific ordeal, but sadly, Link died after being hit by the car.

It was later discovered that the tragic collision stemmed from a couple’s argument over a breakfast sandwich. Ayslynn Kaiser was driving the car, and her boyfriend, 24-year-old Zachery David MacKenzie, was in the passenger’s seat. However, MacKenzie became upset because the breakfast sandwich he ordered from Tim Hortons was not made properly. MacKenzie began to berate Kaiser and, out of rage, grabbed the steering wheel, causing Kaiser to lose control and hit the curb and Swann before crashing into a house. MacKenzie told Kaiser to call the police, and he fled the scene. MacKenzie turned himself in later that day.

MacKenzie pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing bodily harm and leaving the scene of an accident. On September 20, 2018, MacKenzie was ordered to serve five months and three weeks in a provincial jail, followed by a one-year probation period and a two-year driving ban.[3]

7 Visine Vendetta: Uncle Taints Nephew’s Meatball Sandwich with Eye Drops

Uncle’s Disturbing Poisoning Revenge Foiled by Police

Forty-five-year-old James Paul Leach of Pinellas Park, Florida, purchased food at an unnamed business on December 13, 2023. While Leach was at the business, he also asked to buy Visine eyedrops. Unfortunately, Leach had no intention of using the eyedrops himself but, instead, had hatched a sinister plan to get revenge on his nephew.

Leach told the employee that he was having issues with his nephew and that he “hated him” that day. After Leach was given the eyedrops, he opened the bottle and “proceeded to pour the eyedrop solution all over the meatball sandwich” intended for his nephew. While the employee voiced concern that Leach’s nephew could become ill from ingesting the eyedrops, Leach responded by saying that it would only make his nephew “sh*t himself and puke his brains out.”

Once Leach left the business, the employee called the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. They were able to review security footage, which showed Leach dumping eyedrops onto the sandwich. Thanks to Leach’s prior purchases and deliveries from the business, police were also able to obtain Leach’s address. When police arrived at the home, Leach’s nephew had eaten part of the sandwich. The nephew, however, declined medical treatment.

When questioned by police, Leach asked for a lawyer and was arrested. He was charged with one count of felony poisoning of food or water. He was also ordered to have no contact with his nephew.[4]

6 Last-Minute Decision to Make a Sandwich Saves Woman’s Life

Saved by a sandwich: Car crashes into Tarentum woman’s yard at lunchtime

Ellen Meharey of Tarentum, Pennsylvania, typically spends her Sundays attending church and then walking her two dogs. However, on April 30, 2017, Meharey skipped breakfast on her way to church. Just as she was about to take her pups, Joey and Bella, out for a walk, she felt her stomach rumble, so Meharey decided to make half a sandwich before going out on the walk, a decision she credits with saving her life.

While Meharey was making that sandwich, she heard a screech and then a bang. When she looked outside, Meharey saw a truck lying on its side in her front yard. Meharey called 911 but quickly realized that she could have been standing in that same spot with her dogs had it not been for the impromptu decision to make a sandwich.

The driver, 68-year-old Jackie Sabatini, had lost control of the truck after the brakes failed. As Sabatini tried to navigate a left-hand turn, she hit Meharey’s car, striking the wheelchair-bound woman’s ramp and knocking off the railing. First responders were able to free Sabatini within 15 minutes. Sabatini was then treated by EMS on scene and deemed healthy enough to abstain from a trip to the hospital.

Meharey, however, remains thankful that she chose to switch up her Sunday routine.[5]

5 Serial Killer’s Bargain for Confession: Subway Ham Sandwich with Double Meat

Serial killer wanted Subway sandwich to confess, sources say

On October 3, 1996, the body of 29-year-old Sharon Hammack, a pregnant mother of two, was found by a passing delivery driver along the side of a road in Caledonia Township, Michigan. Hammack had been raped, stabbed, strangled, hogtied, and left in a blanket bound with electrical cords. Unfortunately, it would take investigators approximately 26 years to arrest a suspect in the case.

In 2022, DNA from the case was sent to a third-party genetic genealogy company—Identifinders. The company then narrowed the suspect down to one of four Artman siblings. In August 2022, 64-year-old Garry Artman, whose DNA was under Hammack’s fingernails and on the blanket she was wrapped in, was arrested and charged with open murder, homicide, felony murder, and first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Artman was also subsequently charged with the 2006 murder of 24-year-old Dusty Shuck, whose body was found near a truck stop in Frederick County, Maryland.

On October 12, 2023, Artman was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. While Artman initially denied being a killer, as he lay near death from lung cancer in December 2023, he made two requests in exchange for a confession—a ham sandwich from Subway with double meat and his own prison cell. Artman then confessed to killing 11 women in total, including Hammack and Shuck. On December 28, 2023, Artman died of lung cancer.[6]

4 Pit Bull Eats Chicken Sandwich, but One-Year-Old Niece Pays the Price

Woman admits to stabbing 1-year-old niece by mistake while trying to stab dog that ate her sandwich

On September 19, 2023, 32-year-old Sharon Key, her sister, niece, and nephew went to Burger King to pick up food and then returned to a hotel room at the Days Inn in Indianapolis, Indiana. However, the family pit bull stole and ate Key’s chicken sandwich, causing her to become so angry that she began chasing the dog around the hotel room with a knife.

From there, the pit bull jumped on the bed where Key’s one-year-old niece was resting. Key then tried to stab the dog but missed and stabbed her niece in the neck by mistake. Key’s sister, who was in an adjacent bathroom giving her son a bath, heard a “commotion” and came out of the bathroom to see the child bloodied and screaming. Key, who stood there with a knife in her hand, told the mother what happened and then fled the scene.

The one-year-old was taken to Riley Children’s Hospital, where she received several stitches to her ear and neck. Although she was initially listed in critical condition, thankfully, the little girl was able to be stabilized.

A short time later, police found Key hiding near a bush outside the hotel, and she “tearfully confessed” that the stabbing was an accident. Key, who has been in and out of jail more than 20 times over the last decade, was arrested and charged with a criminal act using a deadly weapon and neglecting a dependent. On May 8, 2024, Key was sentenced to two years in prison, followed by two years on home detention and another two years on probation.[7]

3 Sandwich Snare: Cocaine Dealers Caught Thanks to Ham Sandwich Picture

Hundreds arrested as police crack phone messaging service used by organised criminals

EncroChat was one of the largest providers of encrypted communications across Europe for several years and was used exclusively by criminals. EncroChat phones were presented as a way to guarantee perfect anonymity, discretion, and no traceability to anyone who used them. These phones also had functions that ensured the automatic deletion of messages and even a specific PIN code to delete all data on the device should the user be arrested. However, the network was cracked by police in 2020, and the servers were taken down under Operation Venetic.

On June 28, 2023, as part of the ongoing Operation Venetic investigation, 36-year-old Richard Wylie of Lancashire, England, was sentenced to six years in jail for conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to transfer and conceal criminal property, and supplying a Class A controlled drug to others. In addition to Wylie’s arrest, 55-year-old Richard Whiteside of Blackpool, England, was sentenced to four years in jail for conspiracy to transfer and conceal criminal property and possession of criminal property. So, how exactly were these EncroChat users caught? (Link 40)

After the EncroChat servers were taken down, police were able to access data that allowed them to not only identify EncroChat users but also piece together their movements. Wylie and Whiteside were discovered as drug dealers and owners of the EncroChat handles Somesnail and Peppershirt. Thanks to pictures of a ham sandwich and a can of Stella Artois shared on the EncroChat phones, officers were able to further evaluate the background surroundings in the photo—a distinctive table and documents that were a match to those at Whiteside’s home.[8]

2 Too Many PB&Js Lead to Sandwich Strife Between Brothers

Brother Charged Over PB&J Sandwich

On January 3, 2014, police were called to a Des Moines, Iowa, home after two brothers got into a heated dispute over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Jerome Davis was said to have made and consumed three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and went on to make three more within the next hour. Davis’s unnamed brother became angry with Davis’s behavior, leading to a confrontation about laziness and overeating. Davis then pulled out a pocketknife and held it to his brother’s face, threatening to cut him.

Davis was arrested and charged with domestic abuse with a weapon.[9]

1 Peanut Butter Sandwich Leads to Fatal Kiss

Man Give Girlfriend KISS OF DEATH! After Eating A Peanut Butter Sandwich!

In October 2012, 20-year-old Myriam Ducré-Lemay attended a party in Montreal, Quebec, with her new boyfriend. Unfortunately, given that the relationship was so new, Ducré-Lemay hadn’t told her boyfriend that she was severely allergic to peanuts.

At the end of the party, Ducré-Lemay went back to her boyfriend’s house. However, as she was getting ready for bed, her boyfriend went on to eat a peanut butter sandwich and brush his teeth. The couple kissed afterward, and it proved fatal for Ducré-Lemay.

Within minutes of the kiss, Ducré-Lemay began suffering from shortness of breath. To make matters worse, her asthma inhaler didn’t work, she didn’t have her EpiPen, and she wasn’t wearing her Medic Alert bracelet. Ducré-Lemay’s boyfriend called for an ambulance, and they arrived within just eight minutes. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of first responders, Ducré-Lemay died from severe cerebral anoxia due to a lack of oxygen to the brain.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen