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News of the Weird



Lead Story

In May the city council in Columbus, Ohio, approved a building permit allowing the Faith Christian Center ("On Fire for God!") to construct a 52,000-square-foot indoor skateboard park (featuring a restaurant, arcade, and pro shop) to be called Godz Xtreme Power Park.

Above-Average Kids

Last month two child prodigies made the news in India: Bharanidharan, a 13-year-old boy who has become a swami and founded an ashram in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, was abducted by a group of men hired by his parents, who believe he's being exploited by his grown-up followers. At his insistence he was returned to his ashram with an around-the-clock police guard to await a custody trial. And 11-year-old genius Akrit Jaswal reportedly finished a two-month stint assisting cancer and AIDS researchers in Mumbai and is now continuing his work in a laboratory in Delhi (financed by the sale of most of his parents' property).

Bright Ideas

Construction worker Kenneth Borger, 25, survived unharmed after crashing his truck into a tree in upstate New York in May, but his passenger was killed. According to investigators, Borger told them that rather than call the police he decided to wrap her body in tarps and drive it back to his home in Hamilton, New Jersey. The next day he stole a backhoe from a former employer's lot, loaded the body into its front shovel, and drove five miles in broad daylight to a field just off I-195 (and not far from a state police barracks), where he dug a 13-foot-deep ditch and buried the body in it. Said Mercer County (New Jersey) prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr., "I couldn't make this stuff up."

Can't Possibly Be True

Lorraine Stanton was fired in May from her job as a police dispatcher in Clermont, Florida, for repeated mistakes. In one incident a woman called 911 to report the whereabouts of two men who were wanted by police, but according to a tape of the call Stanton told her, "OK, that person would have to come to the police station, and we would have to check. When they come in, they'd have to bring ID." When the caller suggested that that would be unlikely to happen, Stanton replied, "Ma'am, that's the only way we can check."

According to a May report by Reuters, inmates at Villa Hermosa prison--part of Colombia's notoriously anarchic penal system--were "fooling around" with a grenade when it went off, killing 5 inmates and wounding 20 more. Authorities concluded that the grenade had been smuggled into the prison in the vagina of a female visitor.

Unclear on the Concept

In May at Martin Luther King Middle School in Denver, a 13-year-old girl who was frequently picked on by classmates because she has cerebral palsy allegedly was threatened with a knife and had her hair set on fire by a seventh-grade boy. After she reported the incident, administrators sent her home for the rest of the school year (for her protection, they said) while the boy (who was found to be in possession of a knife) remained in class. The school's interim principal admitted several days later that her staff had botched the investigation.

Creme de la Weird

China Daily reported in May that businessman Hu Xilin, of Zhejiang province, is recruiting a team of volunteers to aid him in his war on flies. Hu claims that ten years ago a client backed out of an important deal after a fly turned up in the food at lunch, and that he's since killed eight million flies (or roughly 90 pounds of them) in retaliation.

Self-described white supremacist Karelena Zuber, 50, was arrested in May near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, after she spit in a state trooper's face. She was isolated from other prisoners to protect her from harassment, authorities say, because before surgery she'd been a male white supremacist.

Second Thoughts

Serena Prasad, 22, of Stockton, California, got into a fight with her boyfriend in May, in the course of which she allegedly stabbed him in the chest with a steak knife. Seeing the extent of his injuries, she put him in her car and headed for the emergency room. According to a police account, however, the couple resumed arguing en route; Prasad pulled over, walked around to the passenger side, stabbed the boyfriend in the shoulder, and kicked him in the head.

Readers' Choice

The Oklahoma attorney general petitioned the state supreme court in June to remove District Judge Donald D. Thompson from office, charging that on numerous occasions the judge masturbated using a penis pump during trials and hearings. Court personnel attested to seeing him operate the pump and hearing the "swooshing" noise it made. (His longtime court reporter says she also saw him shave his pubic hair while on the bench.) Also in June, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, a 43-year-old woman was charged with first-degree assault after allegedly biting off about an inch and a half of her boyfriend's tongue while they were kissing. She explained to police that she had had bad experiences with men in the past and thus panicked when he squeezed her. Officers couldn't find the piece of tongue at the scene; it's believed the woman may have swallowed it.

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

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