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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Samuel Santiago, 18, confined to his home in Chicago through an electronic monitoring device on his ankle as a result of his conviction for auto theft, was charged in November with murder and robbery during a pizza delivery next door.

Got Carried Away

For 732 criminal counts of driving his Volkswagen Beetle across neighbors' yards in Torrance, California, 21-year-old Jonathan Shane Allabaugh was ordered by municipal judge Benjamin Aranda to leave town. Aranda said if he ever returned he'd be put in jail for "up to" 275 years.

In June, three days after their wedding, Milford Jackson (a Detroit Pistons fan) and his wife (a Portland Trailblazers fan) argued during the basketball playoffs. She ordered him out of their house, in Long Beach, California, but he returned a short time later to set their garage on fire, causing 20,000 dollars' worth of damage.

Police in Boynton Beach, Florida, charged 48-year-old Mary Grieco and her daughter with the murder of Mary's 52-year-old husband, Joe, because he was "miserable" and wanted to watch TV all the time. Mary said they had tried to kill Joe several times with poison and had contemplated blowing up his car as well. They planned several times over a month to shoot him while he lay snoring in front of the TV set, but chickened out until the night of August 9. Said Mary, "He was a miserable bastard, but he had his good points, too." Mary originally reported the shooting as a suicide, but police were suspicious because suicidal people don't usually take naps before trying to kill themselves.

In October former Morgan County, Indiana, welfare caseworker Rosemarie Leitzell, 52, was up for sentencing for having embezzled more than $600,000 from the county. She told Judge James Harris that she was sorry and recited him a poem: "So you've heard it all, judge / I'm not slime and not sludge / As I stand before you with my friends / It is true I am living the worst of my fears / But perhaps you agree with these friends here with me / That I shouldn't be sent up for years." (She got 14.)

Julie Longwell, 22, said in September that the baby she conceived in March was fathered by George Gilmore, who was executed in Potosi, Missouri, in August. Longwell said she and Gilmore had had sex in a visiting room just out of guards' sight. A spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections said it is "conceivable there could have been a minute when nobody was watching. It would have to be so quick." She said she didn't publicize the tryst while Gilmore was alive because she didn't want him to get in trouble.

In September Maria Terwin, arguing in a hearing before a magistrate in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, that her apartment was uninhabitable, dumped "thousands" of cockroaches onto the floor of the courtroom.

Adult Behavior

In September Judge Kenneth Leffler of Sanford, Florida, rejected as too harsh a plea bargain in which Mark Edward McCulloch would agree to serve four and a half years in prison for the rape of a 40-year-old woman. Leffler sentenced McCulloch to two years' probation, calling the jail term a "miscarriage of justice," in that the victim was so "pitiful" that McCulloch "deserves some consideration" for being "so stupid [as] to take up with [her]."

In July a 75-year-old man in Henry County, Illinois, was sadistically attacked by two young men after he criticized them for parking in a handicapped zone. The two threw him into a car, pulled down his pants, and inserted an object into his rectum. He sought medical attention several days later in Peoria, and one doctor said a "pretty good-sized potato" was removed from his rectum.

A woman in Norristown, Pennsylvania, reported in July that when she opened a package of disposable diapers she had just purchased she found a handwritten note accusing her of ignoring the message of Earth Day. It read, "You must be punished. Your baby must suffocate and die." Police reported that "many" consumer products in the area had been similarly tampered with.

Misconduct charges against lawyer David Cwik were argued in September before an Illinois commission. Cwik, representing a client who is suing a hospital, responded to a motion filed by the hospital's lawyer, Marilee Clausing, with a letter threatening (humorously, he said later) to "send somebody over to perform a clitorectomy on you."

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Alfred Merhan, 45, completed his second year recently as a resident of Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. He arrived in 1988 on a two-day trip but without a passport or visa. (He said his Iranian passport was confiscated when he took part in a demonstration against the shah in 1975 and that other travel documents were stolen from him.) Airport employees bring him food and newspapers, and he passes the time studying the history of economic analysis.

An employee of the Sands Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, eating in the casino cafeteria last summer, found a piece of flesh in a sandwich and turned it over to medical examiners, who reported later that it was from the penis of either a human or a small animal.

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

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