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Needles in meat arrest of man, 68: Customers pricked by needles eating meat

Several times throughout the year a 68-year-old Illinois man put needles in packages of meat at his neighborhood grocery store. Ronald Avers inserted sewing needles into the packages of meat and people who purchased the needle-laced meat have gotten hurt, according to ABC News on July 31.

Needles in meat: Man caught who was doing this in an Illinois grocery store.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Why would anyone do such a thing? When Avers was asked this question he answered, “Just for the hell of it.” Federal prosecutors say that Avers did this at least seven times at the Shop n’ Save in Belleville, which is outside of St. Louis.

The complaint against Avers states that one boneless chuck roast purchaser went to eat the meat and bit down on a needle. Another shopper got stuck with a sewing needle when they went to eat the steak they purchased at the store.

Stop n’ Save released a statement saying that the needle incidents did not seriously injure anyone and that it was isolated to the meat department at one store. “We have no reason to believe any tampering occurred outside of that one store,” the company also announced, according to the Huffington Post.

Avery is facing 10-years in prison for each of the seven counts of tampering he is accused of. He is also facing a $250,000 fine. He was ordered to jail to be detained until his detention hearing on Monday.

The tampering of the meat was discovered in May of last year when a customer’s ground beef purchase contained a needle. Then four months later a store employee found another needle sticking out of a package of pork chops.

The needles were then reported in all types of meat packages. FBI Special Agent Daniel Cook was alerted of the tampering of the meat in this store on July 9th, according to an affidavit filed along with the criminal complaint.

The case was solved by using the store’s security cameras to identify a man that store employees saw overly handling meat that he never purchased. Once the man came back into the store he was apprehended. Avery, who came into the store on a scooter and hooked up to an oxygen tank, let the investigators search his truck.

In the center consul they found an opened package of sewing needles. He wouldn’t confess to the meat tampering, he told the investigators those pins were for mending his pants when he goes camping. After a while he admitted to using the needles in the meat department.

Saying it was “stupid” and he really had no reason to justify his meat tampering, he finally said he did it “just for the hell of it.” He said that he would “every now and then stick one [needle] in a hamburger.” He went on to explain his crime as doing “mostly hamburger, a couple of times I did it to a roast, maybe a pork chop every now and then.”

The man with the needle has no prior criminal record with law enforcement, but he has an abundance of traffic offenses. He did say that “I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”