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News of the Weird



Lead Story

Pennsylvania state police recovered numerous photos of people's feet from the home of Brookville farm worker John Reed, 57, in August. They also found a jar containing six human toes and videotapes of parades in which the camera zooms in on the feet of the marchers. (A judge refused to allow police to exhume a body they thought was the source of the toes because there was no evidence that Reed had committed a crime.)

Odds and Ends (Mostly Odds)

The New York Power Authority recently announced an investigation into the behavior of supervisor James A. FitzPatrick of the nuclear facility in Sciba. He allegedly drank a glass of lemonade into which he had put a small amount of a radioactive substance, but investigators were unable to learn why he did it. On leaving the plant, FitzPatrick tripped a cobalt detector and was given purging laxatives.

In Houston, Ruben Fuentes, 32, was sentenced to 50 years in prison in March for the 1988 burglary of a school. As he was being led away, he frustratedly asked judge Tom Routt for a life sentence, whereupon Routt complied.

Donald Trump estimated the crowd at May's Tour de Trump in Atlantic City at "close to a million," but the Washington Post called it 10,000.

The latest surprise childbirth in the United States occurred in March in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, when Melissa Reeves went to bed with a stomachache and gave birth shortly afterward. "I've tried to look back and think of things [that would have led her to expect pregnancy]," she said, "but I can't think of anything."

In Elmwood, Wisconsin, in March, Jean Bechel, 19, suffered head injuries when her car collided with one driven by her twin sister, Jan. Several months earlier, in St. Clairsville, Ohio, Kenneth Wiggins, 45, was hospitalized when the car he was driving to work crossed a center line and slammed into a car driven by his wife, Nancy, who was on her way home from work.

All spectators were banned from March's basketball game between Siena College and the University of Hartford because of a measles epidemic among Siena players. Fans watched on closed-circuit TV in a Hartford cafeteria, where cheerleaders performed.

Science Fair

According to a University of Idaho entomology professor, large, red harvester ants near nuclear-waste disposal sites in the southwest are building their anthills from radioactive sand they bring up from ten feet in the ground.

A Dutch firm, GenPharm, announced in August that it would begin producing human-type milk from genetically engineered cows "by transferring human genes into bovine eggs) by 1992.

In July doctors in Poolesville Maryland, inserted more than 1,500 maggots into the leg wound of Shannon Dillingham, 17, to eat away decaying skin caused by a massive, blood-borne, life-threatening infection. (Ordinary antibiotics would not have worked fast enough to save her.) After 36 hours, the maggots were washed out with a high-powered water hose.

Sicilian pathologist Francesco Aragona found recently that Mafia gangsters suffer more stress than U.S. businessmen and are as likely to die from it as from a bullet, but that top leaders remain above the stress.

Police Blotter

An 81-year-old man foiled a Columbus, Ohio, bank robbery in March with a karate-type chop after watching the robber hit a female teller. The distracted robber left most of his loot on the floor as he exited quickly. Said the intervenor, "I don't believe in hitting ladies."

Over a three-week period last winter during "Project Wasted," police officers in Gallup, New Mexico, gulped a pint of whiskey each upon reporting for work, then staggered through the town's 42 bars to catch bartenders violating the state law against serving customers who are obviously drunk.

In April a Colgate-Palmolive factory in Anzio, Italy, was robbed of $740,000 worth of soap, toothpaste, bubble bath, and shampoo. One employee described the robbers as "calm and very professional. . . . They looked through the lists of merchandise to decide what they wanted to steal."

James Wayne Taylor, 21, was arrested for grand theft in Gainesville, Florida, in July after he allegedly forced open the mouth of a 27-year-old woman after a party and stole her false teeth.

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

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