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News of the Weird



Lead Story

Northwest Missouri Community College basketball coach Ed Corporal resigned in June after the Saint Joseph News-Press reported that almost all of the breathtaking athletic credentials on his resume were false, most of them easily disproved by checking sports-record books. Among the honors he had claimed were an NBA career with the New Jersey Nets, three straight years on the Southeastern Conference all-star basketball team (with Charles Barkley), and the University of Florida's "all-decade" team of the 1980s. When informed that none of the institutions had ever heard of him, Corporal was at first defiant: "Why they wouldn't have records of it, I don't know. I don't have any reason to make things up."

Least Competent Criminals

Four people were arrested in Sacramento, California, in January after they kidnapped a woman and threatened to kill her unless she entered her bank and withdrew money for them while they waited outside. Once inside the bank, the woman notified the security guard, who called police.

In June police in Hawthorne, California, arrested Joseph Thomas Harper, 18, for robbing a Lawndale convenience store; he had called them to report that his wallet, which police had found after he dropped it while fleeing the store, had been stolen. And in July, police found the wallet of George L. Klipola, 20, after he dropped it while allegedly rappelling down from a skylight to burglarize a Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, jewelry store.

In June a sheriff's bomb squad in Madison, Wisconsin, alerted by a Valley Bank branch burglar alarm, found a bottle containing nitroglycerin, which would explode when connected to an electronic detonator. Deputies concluded that the burglar had fled because the extension cord he had bought for the detonator had come up about three feet short of the nearest outlet.

Police in Boynton Beach, Florida, believe that it was a drug-addicted burglar who broke into Nathan Radlich's house in May and stole a tackle box that contained the ashes of Radlich's late sister, Gertrude. Because more valuable items were not taken, police believe the burglar thought he had stumbled upon a cache of cocaine.

Christopher White, 22, was arrested in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, in July and charged with burglary after police were summoned to the offices of a housing development in the middle of the night by a 911 operator. Police said White had attempted to dial a 900-number sex line but had inadvertently dialed 911, whose equipment automatically records the number of the calling telephone.

Columbia, Missouri, inmate Barry Rhodes, 35, escaped from the grounds of the Boone County Jail in June by jumping onto a John Deere tractor and driving past security guards at 15 mph. He was quickly captured.

Ray Douglas Thomas Jr., 37, was arrested in July in San Antonio and charged with the theft of 13 bags of potting soil from a builders' supply store. During the ensuing police chase Thomas tried to leap from the driver's seat of his moving car, got his sleeve caught in the door, was dragged 60 feet, fell free, and was run over by the car's rear wheel, at which point police nabbed him.

Toronto police in June were trying to trace a thumbprint they thought would identify the person who burglarized the offices of Hayden Communications. The burglar made off with $75, but apparently had taken some time to play with Leslie Hayden's container of Silly Putty, in which the thumbprint was left.

William Gerald Fedorka, 44, was arrested in Fountain Valley, California, in July, shortly after he allegedly robbed a Bank of America branch. Fedorka dropped the bag of money when the chemical dye pack exploded; he then tried to escape by driving his pickup truck onto the Riverside Freeway, which rush-hour traffic had turned into what the arresting police officer called a "parking lot." Fedorka was easily spotted and apprehended.

The Rigors of Burglary

Recently several men were arrested after they fell asleep while allegedly committing burglaries. In June police in Green Forest, Arkansas, found Eddie Leon Spencer, 24, and Michael Shannon Bradley, 24, asleep in a car in the parking lot of the restaurant they had reportedly just burglarized. In March Brian Main, who was holed up in a house in Anaheim, California, after a bungled burglary attempt, fell asleep during a standoff with police and was arrested. In January Daniel Marcos Sanchez, 26, was arrested in Glendale, California, after he was discovered asleep, surrounded by tools, in a car in a home owner's garage at 6 AM. Chad Eric Phillips, 18, was arrested in Bradner, Ohio, in March and charged with burglary after he fell asleep in a pickup truck he was reportedly trying to steal.

The Weirdo-American Community

Alexander Abraham Anderson, 41, was arrested for smashing large plate-glass windows with a sledgehammer at the Tampa studios of WTVT TV in June. Anderson said he was angry at the station for invading his privacy by entering his living room every day via the television set.

I Don't Think So

In a July report on lawsuits brought against the Hooters bar and restaurant chain by waitresses charging sexual harassment by management, an Associated Press writer quoted Hooters "attorneys and company officials" as saying the name Hooters has nothing to do with women's breasts but refers to owls.

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

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