News & Politics » News of the Weird

News of the Weird



Lead Stories

Among the men's fashions introduced in Paris in July were a crocheted face mask and a flower-print jacket and matching head scarf from Belgian designer Walter Van Bierendonck; a full white skirt to wear over blue jeans, from Dutch designer Dries Van Noten; and, also to be worn with blue jeans and a white shirt, a formal black "dorsal wing" extending five feet on each side.

For an August feature on Rhonda Lenair, a "medical intuitive" in Newbury, Massachusetts, a Boston Globe editor confirmed that Lenair had discerned the editor's various health problems with "75-80 percent" accuracy on the basis of a telephone call. Lenair (who charges $275 per session) said she can mentally scan the body and tap into the patient's energy field, and sometimes can even feel the patient's pain. Said one Harvard psychiatrist, "Sitting in front of her is like being in front of an X-ray machine," and it was "almost embarrassing" how well she could read him.

God, the Micromanager

In August, debtors Norman and Melissa Cameron of Hartford, Connecticut, said in court documents that God told them they didn't have to pay their mortgage. In January in Baltimore, Dean William Trammel, 22, charged with assaulting a flight attendant, said in court that God told him he didn't have to remain seated during the landing. And in Aurora, Colorado, in June, Priscilla Lee Jansma, 44, arrested for killing her husband, told police, "Jesus told me it was OK to do it."

Police Blotter

Lamarn Williams, 27, and his three passengers were arrested in August near Washington, Pennsylvania, by a state trooper who intended to give Williams a warning for driving too fast. However, when the trooper asked the obligatory question about whether the car contained any guns or drugs, one passenger fainted. About ten kilograms of cocaine (worth about $1 million) was found in the trunk.

In July in Peoria, Arizona, Karen Marie Tribby, 33, reportedly confessed to 12 robberies in which police bulletins had described the robber as a "very ugly woman." A police spokesman pointed out that "every victim who has seen her" has described her as "very ugly."

A July item in the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Illinois, reported that a 41-year-old man claimed his roommate might have stolen his glass eye. Both men have glass eyes; the alleged victim said he kept his in his pocket and that another one was left in its place. The victim admitted he "did not see the exchange."

Ex-marine Stanley Heiserman, 41, pleaded guilty in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in May to six convenience-store robberies, four of which he pulled off naked. Heiserman told police that after a previous robbery he had been identified by his clothing and that he was determined not to let that happen again.

Milestone in ambisexual achievement: Patricia McGrath, 65, was arrested in Philadelphia in July and charged with robbing a bank. Suspected in at least five other bank robberies, McGrath was dressed as a man during the job but fled the scene in women's clothing. During a strip search at the police station, it was discovered that McGrath possesses physical characteristics of both sexes. Classified as male, McGrath insisted on being called Patricia and being confined in the women's section. Said the arresting detective, "I definitely have to commend his professionalism. He's pretty good at [bank robbery]."


The United States and Canada recently squared off in a dispute about rights to the popular walleyes that roam rivers and lakes near the Manitoba-Minnesota border. Canada bars U.S. anglers from its side of the lakes unless they stay at Canadian resorts; President Clinton says that violates the North American Free Trade Agreement. Minnesotans on a U.S. peninsula attached to Manitoba have threatened to secede and join Canada in order to get better access to the fish, but in retaliation Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura threatened to block the Canadian National railroad, whose track makes a short dip into Minnesota to get around one of the lakes.

In August the city commission of Pikeville, Kentucky, granted permission to the McCoy family to hold a three-day reunion in June, to which members of the Hatfield family have been invited for a softball game.

Recent Moonlighting Cops

In April, Clinton Lien, a Nashville police officer, was fired after superiors found out he was running a sex club for swingers in his spare time. And in May officer Shayne Simmons was fired from the police force of Carl Junction, Missouri, after superiors found out he and his wife were the main event at a strip club just north of town.

Recurring Themes

Latest episode of someone stopping on the shoulder of a highway to urinate and then accidentally falling down an embankment to his death: Orlando Aros, 26, in June on Interstate 10 near Phoenix. And the latest instance of someone's emerging from a long coma because of an inspirational presence in his hospital room: in Gloucester, England, Tom Bendall, 19, was brought out of a six-month coma in April when his rugby team held its winning trophy in front of him.

Least Competent Criminals

People who should have kept a lower profile: In July, Bobby Lee Allison, 26, who habitually carries a live snake around his neck, escaped from police in Tennessee, where he'd been held on suspicion of DUI. He was arrested six hours later in Athens, Alabama, after people reported seeing a guy with a snake around his neck. And Dorothy Joyner, 57, who evaded a warrant for burglary in Baltimore, was spotted by a police officer as she was being interviewed on TV in connection with her candidacy for mayor of Baltimore. The subject of the interview was crime prevention.

In the Last Month

A 30-year-old woman faced assault charges for kicking a catcalling man in the crotch in Toronto. Cleaning ladies in Bologna and at Dulles International Airport in Virginia returned lost handbags containing $30,000 and $20,000 (in jewels) respectively. In Saint Catharines, Ontario, a 26-year-old woman heading home from a bar fell off a rooftop and was wedged between two buildings for five hours. In New Haven, Connecticut, airport authorities confiscated a mysterious canister from a Yale researcher that turned out to be the semen of a 91-year-old professor, packed in dry ice and headed for an experiment in Wisconsin. In Ajax, Ontario, two men stole a safe from a restaurant and spent a half hour in the parking lot driving back and forth over it trying to get it open until police arrived.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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

Add a comment