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News of the Weird



Lead Story

In Naples, Italy, in November masked men attacked four members of the Napoli soccer team with iron bars, sending one of them to the hospital. A group of fans later claimed responsibility for the attack, declaring that it punished the players for a 5-1 loss to the AC Milan team. "[The Napoli players] earn billions of lire and do not play hard," declared the group. "We will attack them again if they do not improve."

The Continuing Crisis

In September a high school senior in Waianae, Hawaii, who was allowed to run for homecoming queen after she became a female in a sex change operation finished last in a field of seven.

In June FBI and Florida authorities finally arrested Paul E. Flasher, 45, who had been sentenced to five years in prison in 1980 for grand theft but had never been jailed. Flasher said, truthfully, that he had gone home from the sentencing hearing in Tampa in 1980 and "sat tight," just as his lawyer had instructed, waiting for notification to report to prison. The authorities forgot about him for 12 years.

In November a chest pain apparently caused Anne Shapiro, 79, to snap out of a comalike trance that had prevented her from caring for herself and speaking for 30 years. The pain struck while she was visiting her son in Dundas, Ontario. Among her first requests was to see I Love Lucy, but she became frightened by the TV because the programs were in color.

Powell, Alabama, police chief James Bryan finally quit his job in August when the mayor, his friend, lost his bid for re-election. Over the years Bryan had been fired 12 times by the city council for various indiscretions but had been rehired by the mayor each time. (The city council had fired Bryan's predecessor 14 times, but he too had been rehired by the mayor each time.)

When Larry Bojarski failed to come up with the $384 balance due on his father's cremation in October in Richmond, Texas, Evans Mortuary placed the body on his doorstep. In an interview with Houston's KRIV TV, mortuary owner Newell Evans quarreled with the news report: "Who says I dumped him there?" he asked. "I [merely] left him there."

Just Can't Stop

Jaekun An of Anchorage, Alaska, was arraigned in August for violating a freshwater-fishing limit of three catches per day. A trooper who found him with 169 fish on July 22 said An told him the fishing "was just so good that he couldn't stop himself."

Los Angeles jail inmate Leslie White earlier last year blew the whistle on alleged conspiracies between government prosecutors and inmates who would pretend to have heard cell-block "confessions," which the prosecutors could then use at trial. However when White took the stand in May to testify to other inmates' perjury, he himself was convicted of the same offense. At various points in his testimony White said he had committed perjury five times, then only once, then never, and finally only once.

Dennis Payne, 30, was arrested in September for pickpocketing at a train station in Jersey City, New Jersey. It was his 135th arrest in New Jersey and New York City since 1978. Police knew they had someone special when it took their computer more than half an hour to print out Payne's arrest record.

In October in Denver Joan Kallinen, 56, pleaded guilty to attempting to hire an undercover police officer to murder her husband. Kallinen had maintained that the "contract" was all part of a Dungeons & Dragons game, but friends and coworkers testified that she was an out-of-control shopper who needed her husband's estate to cover her debts. A coworker said Kallinen was "obsessed" with dressing well, and her husband said she owned 150 dresses, 40 golf outfits, 100 blouses, and 150 pairs of shoes.

The Weirdo-American Community

In October prominent lawyer George Goldsborough of Easton, Maryland, was found to have lied under oath to a state Bar Association examiner. Goldsborough thus faces disciplinary action concerning charges that he spanked an employee and two clients in his office in incidents dating back to the early 1980s. One of Goldsborough's ex-partners said he had discovered a copy of the book Spanking and the Single Girl in Goldsborough's desk drawer, and the female complainants said Goldsborough often told them they had been "bad girls" and needed spankings. (Present and former lawyers in Goldsborough's firm came under criticism as well for failing to move against him sooner; rumors of such incidents had been circulating for years--so much so that the firm was referred to around town as Spanky and the Gang.)

Least Competent Person

Raymond Moyher, 30, was arrested in West Haven, Connecticut, in November after a police officer stopped him near a Wawa convenience store that had just been robbed. According to the arresting officer, who asked Moyher what he had been doing, Moyher said, "I just left the Wawa store that I robbed."


Last spring the Alabama medicaid office in Birmingham began requiring Polaroid photographs of the breasts of women who wanted breast-reduction surgery. A spokesperson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the photos were necessary to prove that the surgery was for medical rather than cosmetic reasons, which Medicaid would not pay for. A University of Alabama sociologist criticized the policy, pointing out that the photos did not prove the medical need for the surgery and that Medicaid officials take the physician's word for it anyway.

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

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