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News of the Weird



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Professor Gary Behan of Glasgow University reported in September that he believes the reason women hold most major records in dolphin fishing is that dolphins, which are noted for their rampant promiscuity, are attracted to the women's hormones.

Questionable Judgments

Virgil H. Smith Jr., 42, was arrested in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, in September on weapons charges after he took a bullet in his side that police said he had arranged himself. They said the motive was either to gain sympathy from his ex-wife or to get drug dealers off his back. The gunman said that when he fired a shot where Smith pointed, Smith flinched and then waved his left arm, indicating that that was enough.

On September 9 in Bossier City, Louisiana, Terry Polk, 26, got into a dispute at a party. He challenged his adversary to settle matters with a head-butting duel, and the two banged each other several times. Polk died shortly afterward from a cerebral hemorrhage.

In September Rodney Chavez, estranged from his wife, Brenda, since July, invited her to his home, where he handcuffed her, hog-tied her (ankles to wrists), and, according to a police officer, "tried to get her to reconcile."

Reporter Wendy Bergen and two other Emmy-winning news employees of Denver station KCNC were indicted in September on charges that they staged an illegal pit bull fight in order to get videotape for a news story last May.

Army sergeant Faagalo Savaiki of the 501st Signal Battalion shipped out for Saudi Arabia in August but left his three children (ages 13, 12, and 9) behind in Clarksville, Tennessee, unattended and without food or clean clothes. He had left a note on the wall telling the kids how to use the automatic bank teller machine and which bills needed to be paid.

Police in Newark, New Jersey, recently arrested Chante Fernandez, 24, who claimed that not being able to find a baby-sitter was the reason she locked her five-year-old daughter in the trunk of her car while she worked weekends as a sales clerk.


A 26-year-old woman undergoing surgery at UCLA Medical Center as a result of an auto accident died in May when, during the operation, the sheets on her gurney burst into flames.

Brazil's president, Fernando Collor de Mello, had hair, an ear, and a forearm singed by an explosion when the wind shifted just as he dropped a lighted torch on a pile of gasoline-soaked cocaine and marijuana at an antidrug rally in western Brazil in June.

Newsweek reported in June that as many as 60 percent of the 347 U.S. soldiers wounded in the Panama invasion (and 9 of the 23 killed) were hit by friendly fire.

A 28-year-old man fell 100 feet to his death at a park near Grand Junction, Colorado, in June. He had told his fellow campers that he would show them "an old Indian trick" that consisted of jumping over the campfire in a certain way. He misjudged the jump, landed with one foot in the fire, leaped out of control because of the pain, and pitched forward over the cliff.

Fetishes on Parade

Police in Topeka, Kansas, had to cope with at least three incidents this year in which a telephone caller, posing as a doctor calling from a hospital, tried to persuade women to cut their hair off so that it could be "tested" as a remedy for some illness he said their husbands had.

Arkansas corrections officers identified inmate Terry Wayne as the one who had written mothers, using a prison post office box but identifying himself as a nurse, asking for photos of their babies. Wayne told the mothers that he had been in the operating room during birth and offered to exchange photos of his own baby.

Charles Rodney Mills, 37, was arrested near Orange, Texas, in July, wandering around an interstate highway at 1:40 AM wearing only a leather harness and a spike-studded dog collar. He told police only that the people he was staying with had forced him out of their car.

Saint Louis police were recently investigating an officer who, based on about ten reported incidents, would stop a female driver on the pretense of giving her a minor traffic ticket, tell her to sit in the back seat of his cruiser, remove her shoe (because, he said, it was a potential hiding place for drugs), place her foot on the front seat, and then either fondle, tickle, or merely look at the foot.

Joseph M. Gazey, 37, a police officer in a town near Pittston, Pennsylvania, was charged in August with offering to fix underage drinking citations for two girls, aged 14 and 17, in exchange for their allowing him to spank them. Police officials said the girls lay across Gazey's lap, fully clothed; one was spanked 45 times, the other 15.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belshwender.

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