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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Rodney Thorp Wood, 60, and his wife, Nancy Steffan Wood, 44, pleaded guilty in Eugene, Oregon, to a scheme in which they paid University of Oregon male students to have sex with Nancy in hotel rooms. Rodney, a professor, had told the students they were participating in a study on how mature women perform sexually and would receive an honorarium of $10 per orgasm (the student's and Nancy's). One man said he made $30 in a session but was later ridiculed on campus.

The Continuing Crisis

Contaminated drinking water caused hundreds (possibly thousands) of people in Orivesi, Finland, to become ill in September when dozens of pairs of panty hose clogged the city's sewers.

After residents of Princeton, West Virginia, complained about their water's smell in August, workers at the West Virginia America Water Company found a body in a 100,000-gallon tank. Officials said the water was not dangerous but that for a few days customers should boil it anyway.

Following a centuries-old tradition in Rajasthan, India, parents arranged for the marriages of an estimated 50,000 children (aged 2 to 14) to take place during a full-moon cycle in early May.

According to a correction published in the Gallatin (Tennessee) News-Examiner, the minutes of the election commission's April 14 meeting were changed to reflect that Commissioner Kirby had called Commissioner Emhling a "smartass" instead of an "asshole."

Two jailed drug figures were transferred to maximum security facilities near Mexico City after an investigation revealed that they were living in luxury prison quarters obtained through bribes. Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo lived in dormitory space large enough for 250 people, had quarters fit for several overnight guests (including children), exquisite wardrobes, elaborate communications equipment, and guns. They were charged with the 1985 slaying of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent.

Veterinarian Mel Westoupal had his license suspended for 45 days in a July ruling by an Illinois state agency as a result of the 1987 death of a dog named Finnegan. The dog belonged to Jill Wine-Banks, then deputy attorney general of Illinois; critics called it a scandal when Wine-Banks, distraught, had a state special prosecutor appointed to investigate Westoupal after her dog's death. Finnegan died as a result of eating a tampon.

Lawyer Olivia Howard, part of a marital-counseling team with her police-officer husband, Frank, in Newark, New Jersey, was accused in August of chasing him down a street with her car and running him over after a spat.

Oops!

During a concert last summer in Detroit, Rod Stewart knocked himself out onstage by slamming headfirst into a light fixture, rendering himself motionless for more than a minute while his band played on.

A convention of clairvoyants set to take place in Hutchinson, Kansas, was canceled in August when someone discovered a 1909 city ordinance banning commercial psychics.

British courier John Orchard, 19, was fined 250 pounds and banned from driving for six months in August following an incident in which 50,000 hypodermic needles came loose from his motorcycle, causing 150 tire punctures and blocking two major highways.

Very Close to the Edge

Computer expert Harold Hotchkiss, 45, was charged with 209 counts of torturing ten children (aged 7 to 17) over the last five years in New York City. One of the charges was that Hotchkiss applied electrical shocks and duct tape to the children's genitals, then ripped the tape off while recording their screams.

Miss America 1989, Debbye Turner, a University of Missouri veterinary student, listed her hobby as collecting "surgery souvenirs" such as puppy fetuses.

In September, a 27-year-old former mental patient who had been released from a hospital only a month before bought a circular saw and severed his left hand, calling it "useless." He had cut off the same hand earlier this year but it had been reattached; this time he used a jagged-edged saw to prevent reattachment.

In an apparently separate series of incidents in West Hollywood, California, and Contra Costa County, near San Francisco, dozens of cats have been found mutilated since the beginning of summer. In one Contra Costa neighborhood, 30 cats were found either stabbed or shot through the heart.

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

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