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News of the Weird



Lead Story

New London, Wisconsin, alderman Lyle Craig Bain was convicted in June on gigolo charges. The evidence against him included a contract and sales brochure featuring a money-back guarantee and a price list of the various services he would perform. (Intercourse was $65.) One service was described as a "treatment program" offering things "most women only dream about." He had hired two women to recruit customers, but one of them was an undercover police officer.

Cliches Come to Life

In March a Rite-Aid drugstore in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, agreed to move a shelf of African American-targeted hair products away from the checkout area in the front of the store. According to what a store clerk allegedly told a customer, those products had been in front because they were more likely to be shoplifted than other products, which embarrassed the store enough to move them.

Letty Catchings mounted a challenge last winter to a determination by San Francisco city officials that she was not entitled to her late husband's municipal pension. Mr. Catchings, who'd worked 37 years for the city's rail system, died of a heart attack on October 1, 1985--eight days after he had agreed to cooperate with a company bookkeeping change and move his retirement date from September 30 to October 2. (The city has offered to compromise at 50 percent of benefits.)

In a muddy Thailand farmyard in April, Yooket Paen, 57, slipped and grabbed a live power line to brace her fall, whereupon she was electrocuted. Later in the day, her 52-year-old sister, Pan, demonstrating to neighbors how the accident occurred, grabbed the same wire and met the same fate.

A recent study of the U.S. Postal Service by the Cato Institute revealed that an internal USPS audit found properly addressed mail dumped in the trash at 76 percent of the post offices visited.

Khaled Kamadan, an Egyptian injured in Kuwait during the gulf war, was operated on twice in two weeks in Kuwait City--the second time to remove the surgical scissors left inside him during the first operation.

Passengers on the Greek cruise ship Oceanos, which sank in August in the Indian Ocean, accused Captain Yiannis Avranas and his crew of taking the first lifeboat and credited the ship's catering and entertainment staff, including comedian Robin Boltman, with coordinating the rescue. Avranas admitted that "quite a few" people were still on board when he left but that he had "to coordinate the rescue efforts from shore."

Police in Mesquite, Texas, quoted Professor Bill Robert Cathey, 49, arrested for kidnapping a 22-year-old woman, as saying he was really only conducting an "experiment" to turn the victim into a "model woman." The woman said Cathey held her prisoner for two weeks, chained her inside a closet, and often forced her to kneel in front of him for 45 minutes at a time chanting, "I will obey."

Seven high school students in Syracuse, New York, were arrested in April after they got caught trying to dismantle, piece by piece, their school building. Police said they had unscrewed light switch plates, taken apart desks and shelves, and stuffed lockers with fliers reading, "Liberate your life! Smash your school!"

James Allen Manuel, 23, was arrested in Baltimore in June after walking into a police station and asking for help getting his money back from a drug dealer so he could go hire a prostitute. Cocaine residue around Manuel's nose provoked police to search his pockets, where they found more.

The Internal Revenue Service announced in June that it would purchase health club memberships for 125 employees who work in its L'Enfant Plaza building in Washington, D.C., because it would be too difficult for them to walk the seven-tenths of a mile to the agency's gym on Constitution Avenue.


Police in Shreveport, Louisiana, arrested city employee and part-time coach Jeff Norbury in May for persuading three teenage boys to allow him to measure their penises and to give him semen samples. Norbury allegedly had showed the boys a letter from a California university lauding an athletic program that would increase their chances of making the U.S. Olympic team and saying they needed to supply various fluid samples and body measurements directly to their coach, for forwarding to California.

In June a 30-year-old mother of three in Livingston, Montana, and her boyfriend, Ronald Lee Smith, were charged with the rape of her 11-year-old daughter. Police say the woman wanted more children but could no longer conceive and had planned for the daughter to act as her surrogate. Smith and the daughter conceived a baby in February.

Police in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, said in June that two men in wetsuits paddled a camouflage-painted rowboat across Lake Coeur d'Alene and stole 2,100 golf balls (worth $1,575) that were floating near a waterfront golf course. Course employees watched but could not prevent the theft because of floating barriers in the lake.

In April Sheriff William Wheat of Washington County, Alabama, said that Linda Riddell fatally shot her husband, Larry, after he'd tried to ambush and attack her as she was driving near their home. In Larry's car police found a tombstone with Linda's name engraved on it.

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

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