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News of the Weird



Lead Stories

After questioning Stephanie Loudermilk about the death of her 28-year-old husband, Bryan, in June, police in Okeechobee, Florida, said in October that they believe he died accidentally in a sexual stunt gone wrong. Bryan's body was found in a specially constructed pit covered with a board underneath a rear wheel of his sport utility vehicle; police believe Bryan received erotic thrills from being run over. Bryan had also been selling videotapes of Stephanie stomping rabbits and mice ("crush videos") on the Internet.

Scotland Yard detectives said they overestimated the number of dead in a fiery London commuter-train crash in October because some survivors had walked away uninjured and spontaneously decided to assume new identities. (Several changed their minds and returned home.) After an announcement that some bodies were burned beyond recognition, investigators received calls from people claiming their estranged spouses were on the train, hoping to inherit property.

Silicon Valley Babylon

Michael David Rostoker, 41, an electronics-firm CEO, was arrested in San Francisco in September, allegedly on his way to meet a 13-year-old Vietnamese girl whom customs agents say he intended to marry. According to the agents, Rostoker had spent $150,000 on the girl and her family, and his E-mail messages to her exhorted her to stay thin, learn English, and have sex with him "often." A week earlier Patrick J. Naughton, 34, an executive with Infoseek, was arrested in Santa Monica and charged with arranging to have sex with an undercover officer posing as a 13-year-old girl over the Internet.

Government in Action

After analyzing public records, the on-line news service Capitol Hill Blue revealed in September that 29 current members of Congress have been accused of spousal abuse and 19 of writing bad checks, 71 have bad credit reports, and 117 have been involved in two or more bankrupt businesses. Mentioned also were 7 arrests for fraud, 14 for drug-related charges, 8 for shoplifting, and 3 for assault. Also, last year alone 84 members were stopped on suspicion of drunk driving but were released when they claimed constitutional immunity.

A special assessor for the British government offered Eddie Browning, 46, about $125,000 as compensation for the six years he spent in prison for a murder he did not commit, but told him that about $8,000 would be subtracted for Browning's room and board during his incarceration, which the assessor called a "lodging fee."

Legislative oversight: In August police in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, told citizens outraged about Richard Lee Marshall's private burial of his three-year-old daughter that no state law requires people to report their relatives' deaths to authorities. And in June, the Pennsylvania legislature restored the state law against bestiality, which was accidentally repealed in 1995 when "deviate sexual intercourse" was decriminalized to legalize gay sex.

Creme de la Weird

Computer programmer Lloyd L. Albright, 47, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in early August in a cave near Caldwell, Ohio, where he had gone to prepare for the destruction of the earth by a meteor on August 11 at 4 PM. The sheriff had pursued Albright to the cave after hearing reports of a car loaded with 16 guns and lots of ammunition. The sheriff said Albright "very sincerely thought there was a meteor that was going to come and hit the Atlantic Ocean and cause a tidal wave 200 feet high."

In an August profile, the Wall Street Journal estimated that Las Vegas hotel magnate Robert T. Bigelow may have spent $10 million of his $600-900 million fortune on UFO research, including the endowment of a university chair in "consciousness studies" and a science institute that investigates sightings. Bigelow vows to spend $500 million to build the first space hotel.

In August in Saint Paul, mortgage broker John David Searle was sentenced to seven months in jail for what one Minneapolis officer guessed was only the latest of "hundreds" of episodes of late-night peeping through women's windows. Said another officer of Searle, who arrives at his crime scenes in luxury cars with a stool and video camera, "This is almost this man's lifestyle and avocation."

Latest fetishes: Police in London announced in August they were searching for a man in his mid-20s who for nearly two years has been approaching women, grasping their hands, complimenting them on their fingers, and then attempting to chew off one or more of their nails. And in May in Milwaukee, Chad J. Hammond pleaded no contest to swiping a woman's underpants off her body at gunpoint in a convenience store.

The Number One Test

In July probation officers in San Antonio caught Micah Sheehan, 37, using a fake penis and tubing to pass a mandatory drug test. Among the schemes athletes use for such tests, according to a September Washington Post story, are hiding pouches of clean urine in the vagina or anus and squeezing it through tubes obscured by pubic hair, or, in extreme cases, injecting clean urine directly into the bladder. In another September Washington Post story, South Carolina urine seller Kenneth Curtis said he now only urinates professionally: "I don't waste any of my assets. It's literally liquid gold."

Recurring Themes

The classic middle name, continued: Executed for murder in Huntsville, Texas, in May and October, respectively: Richard Wayne Smith and Alvin Wayne Crane. Sentenced for murder in Dallas in May: David Wayne McCall. Charged with murder in Alexandria, Virginia, in September: Daniel Wayne Warfield. Charged with murder in Murray, Kentucky, in June: Jerry Wayne Walker. On the lam for murder in North Carolina in October: Christopher Wayne Lippard. Recaptured in Kettering, Ohio, in July: escaped Oklahoma murderer Michael Wayne Brown. Death sentence upheld in Montgomery, Alabama, in October: Steven Wayne Hall.

Least Justifiable Homicides

Things apparently more precious than human life: dirty clothes (34-year-old woman was shot to death by a man who wanted them, New York City, April); toilet paper (33-year-old man was shot to death after chastizing a man for being stingy with it, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, July); a shoe (a woman was shot to death after snatching it when a man took it off to remove a pebble, Columbus, Ohio, March).

In the Last Month

In New York City, Matthew Daly, 27, was arrested for pretending to be a cop after he stopped a driver who happened to be a real one. Nicholas G. Sober was ticketed for DUI in Allegheny Township, Pennsylvania. The mayor of Lanjaron, Spain, whose town cemetery is full, told his people "to take utmost care of their health" until additional land is found. After being convicted on a gun charge in Wichita, Kansas, Charles Hankerson bolted to the jury box and punched a female juror in the face.

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.

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