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News of the Weird

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A Montreal woman filed a lawsuit in February against the Alfred Dellaire funeral home and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. According to her, the hospital had informed her the previous March that she had skin cancer, and three and a half hours later she received a call from the funeral home, which somehow had access to her records, offering its services.

Questionable Judgments

In October Houston computer enthusiast Shawn Kevin Quinn, 17, pleaded no contest to putting out a murder contract on the boyfriend of a girl he had eyes for. According to the man Quinn contacted, Quinn offered to pay $5.30 plus seven Atari game cartridges. After a psychological exam showed Quinn to be merely socially retarded by his computer obsession, a judge sentenced him to ten years' probation.

In January in Riverside, California, the fiancee of Frank Cisco Bridges, 43, bailed him out of jail, where he was being held on burglary charges, the morning of their scheduled wedding. They had the ceremony, and later that evening Bridges, who was reported to have AIDS, was arrested and charged with raping a seven-year-old girl at the reception. Bridges's new wife is a San Bernardino County, California, probation officer.

In July in Grasse, France, two men who'd taken $10 million in jewels at gunpoint on the Riviera three days earlier were captured when a traffic cop ticketed them for not wearing their seat belts. The same month, the number-two person in the Colombia Medellin drug cartel, Victor Hugo Polo, was arrested in Orlando, Florida, when he tried to shoplift several items from a store at Universal Studios.

Joel P. Matlock, 29, and Timothy L. Muhammed, 32, were arrested in Topeka, Kansas, in December after allegedly engaging in a drug deal in front of the Topeka police station. According to an officer, the men said they'd decided to do the deal there so neither would kill the other after the deal was over.

In Bay City, Michigan, in December, according to prosecutor John Keuvelaar, a man who'd initially pleaded not guilty to theft changed his plea to guilty after being informed that his girlfriend was out in the hallway showing her friends the four rings he was charged with stealing.

In September a Baltimore county judge released Daniel O'Toole Jr. from a state hospital for violent criminals, where he'd been confined since 1986 despite numerous petitions for his freedom. Instead of pleading guilty to a drunken-driving charge in 1986, O'Toole had chosen to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. He was sent to the hospital to be examined, was found to be a "danger to the community," and had been there ever since.

To transport a 65-foot spruce Christmas tree from California's San Bernardino National Forest to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol last November, workers had to saw off dozens of limbs so the tree would fit into a truck for the journey. The limbs were numbered and then reattached to the tree once it was installed.

In February Chattanooga, Tennessee, criminal-court judge Doug Meyer released accused rapist Vincent L. Cousin, who told the arresting officer that "voices" told him to rape, pending a hearing a month later. Rejecting requests that Cousin be released only with supervision, Judge Meyer said, "I don't think he needs it, really. I think what he needs--he needs a girlfriend [so] he won't have bad dreams again." Turning to Cousin's lawyer, he said, "We'll let you arrange a dating service or something." Three days later, after Cousin failed to attend a required counseling session, Judge Meyer had him taken into custody again.

People in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

In August Kenneth McLaughlin, 29, was planting flowers on his mother's grave in Newtown, Pennsylvania, when the soft ground gave way, trapping his knees under the headstone. He was stuck for over two hours.

Mireya Funair, 30, was hospitalized in February in Austin, Texas, after being trapped in her car, buried up to her neck in concrete, for 40 minutes. A cement truck had tipped over, and the truck's funnel had punctured the top of Funair's car, pouring concrete directly into it.

In February Gloria Rowell was hospitalized in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont, after being hit by a falling tree. She'd been videotaping her husband chopping down the 80-foot balsam and misjudged the tree's trajectory.

Police arrested James Mullin, 17, in Schaumburg, Illinois, in February after he tried to buy beer at Cove Liquor using a stolen ID card that belonged to Douglas Sharbaugh. The man behind the counter knew the ID was stolen because he's Douglas Sharbaugh; the card had been stolen two months earlier. Mullin fled, but left behind his wallet, which contained his real driver's license.

The Weirdo-American Community

In February pediatric orthopedist William Zink of Orlando, Florida, was detained by authorities pending investigation of charges that he'd fondled young boys who were his patients. According to authorities, one mother complained that in the course of 35 office visits for his foot problems, her son was given gloveless rectal exams 15 times; another said her son received a rectal exam before surgery on an ingrown toenail. Zink's attorney, Kirk Kirkconnell, said the charges reflect differences in "interpretation of the way he practices medicine. You are going to have a difference of opinion."

Undignified Deaths

In October a man in Deerfield Beach, Florida, drowned during a round of golf at the Hillsboro Golf Club while trying to retrieve a ball he'd hit into a canal.

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

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