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News of the Weird



Lead Story

In June in Van Nuys, California, Raphael Dale Rodriguez, 24, was charged with beating his girlfriend (maximum fine: $1,000) and strangling her pet rabbit (maximum fine: $20,000). In December an Oklahoma police officer faced charges of beating his girlfriend so badly he ruptured her eardrum (maximum jail time in Oklahoma: 90 days), and another officer faced charges of kicking a cat at the Oklahoma City airport (maximum prison time: five years). And in Tallahassee, Florida, in May, sheriff's deputies charged Aaron Moore with bludgeoning his mother to death and were set to charge his friend, David Baity, with having sex with her corpse when they discovered that there is no state law prohibiting sex with a dead body.

Police Blotter

In May state police in Tennessee arrested Jack Allan Iles and charged him with telephone harassment after he called in a bomb threat to the state attorney general's office in Nashville. According to the employee who received the call, Iles threatened to deliver an Oklahoma City-style bomb and then asked for the address of the office.

A man brandishing a road flare that he called a bomb robbed a First National Bank branch in Farmington, New Mexico, in March and escaped in a white Dodge Caravan that he'd just taken out for a test drive from a local dealer. He was caught when he returned the car immediately after pulling off the robbery.

In March in Bristol, Indiana, someone burglarized an apartment and stole a video game. The burglar used the toilet, but did not flush. The victim's daughter solved the crime by leading police to a 13-year-old boy who was well-known around the apartment complex for not flushing.

In July Jeffrey F. Mull, 32, reported to the police in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, that someone broke into his trailer home while he was sleeping and stole dentures out of his mouth. Said police sergeant George Fausnaught, when questioned by reporters, "It could be any number of things."

In Boston in July 78-year-old Nick George Montos, the first person to make the FBI's "ten most wanted" list twice, was arrested in an unsuccessful antique-store robbery. Owner Sonia Paine, 73, grabbed an aluminum bat and smacked Montos three times, knocking him to his knees. When police arrived a short time later, Paine slugged him again to knock a gun out of his hand.

Ricky Rose, 34, was charged with armed robbery in Raleigh, North Carolina, in May after holding a stapler to a man's ribs and taking his wallet. Questioned by a Raleigh News & Observer reporter, police said they didn't know whether the stapler was loaded.

Jay Stanton Liebenow, 37, was arrested in Bethesda, Maryland, in July and charged with robbing a pharmacy. According to police, Liebenow successfully stole drugs, but was caught a few minutes later when he came back to steal syringes.

People Unclear on the Concept

Grocery store owner John A. Tavlian was placed under citizen's arrest in March after a confrontation with a Frito-Lay delivery man, who'd removed non-Frito-Lay products that Tavlian had displayed on a Frito-Lay rack. Allegedly, Tavlian threatened to kill the man by pummeling him over and over with packages of potato chips.

In May a New Jersey judge sentenced Karen Dobrzelecki, 20, to 13 years in prison for strangling her newborn baby. According to the judge, the woman's Catholic beliefs had prevented her from aborting the fetus.

In May a woman filed a missing-person report in Durham, North Carolina, regarding her son, Darryl Wayne Byrd, 38. The woman described him as six feet tall and 180 pounds, last residing in the 500 block of Holloway Street. She said she'd last heard from him in May 1977.

In February, on the day after New York governor George Pataki proposed that convicted rapists be forced to take AIDS tests, Brooklyn assemblyman Joseph Lentol accused Pataki of trying to "demean" sex criminals.

Eleven days after the Oklahoma City bombing, promoters of the Suncoast Gun Show in Tampa, Florida, told dealers not to display military manuals and books containing recipes for napalm and Molotov cocktails. Said one dealer, to the Saint Petersburg Times, "We're totally surrounded by guns, but they don't want me to sell a book?"

According to an April Gannett News Service story, some TV stations have issued official documents assuring the Federal Communications Commission that they've met their legal obligation to serve "children's educational and informational needs." WLWT in Cincinnati listed two Donahue shows as examples: "Teenage Strippers and Their Moms" and "Parents Who Allow Teenagers to Have Sex at Home."

I Don't Think So

In Waukesha, Wisconsin, in May, James Oswald, 50, was convicted of murdering a police officer and kidnapping hostages during an escape from a bank robbery. He was sentenced to two life terms in prison plus 625 years. Oswald, who acted as his own attorney, suggested an alternative sentence--what he called an ancient-Roman-style sentence--in which he and one of the officer's sons would fight it out with guns and let the more divinely blessed person prevail.

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

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