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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

In January the U.S. government declined to allow Scotland's "national dish"--haggis--into the country for celebrations of poet Robert Burns's birthday (January 23) because the food, said officials, is unfit for human consumption. Haggis is minced sheep's heart, lungs, and liver mixed with oatmeal, onions, and black pepper, boiled in a sheep's stomach, and served with mashed turnips.

Police Blotter

Rabbi Shea Hecht, a community activist in Brooklyn, New York, was mugged in August in a telephone booth while being interviewed on the air by WABC radio host Bob Grant. In November Larry Edwards, a convenience store clerk in Asheville, North Carolina, was on the phone to the 911 operator reporting a robbery when he was robbed a second time. The second robber, who became angry when he saw that the cash register was empty and did not believe Edwards's explanation that he had already been robbed, slashed Edwards's arm on his way out. The 911 tape recorded Edwards dropping the phone and screaming.

Two men and a juvenile were arrested in Margate, Florida, in June after the manager of the United Artists movie theater found them munching out of a large plastic bag containing $72 worth of candy stolen from the snack bar.

John David Lancaster, 20, was sentenced in July to 12 months' probation in Wytheville, Virginia, for theft. He had previously been charged with DUI, and he'd tried to break into a magistrate's office to steal the DUI arrest warrant.

Randall Yeager, 32, of Milpitas, California, was arrested in July after being chased by passersby while fleeing from a bank in Fremont he had allegedly just robbed. Yeager, five-foot-six and more than 300 pounds, had tired after running a few dozen yards from the bank and had slowed to a walk by the time pursuers caught up to him.

Thomas Alan Bevan, 33, was charged in December with between 7 and 15 restaurant robberies in the Oklahoma City area. Various witnesses identified him based on his unusually foul body odor and dirty teeth. In August the FBI reported that another "B.O. Bandit" had robbed his 11th southern California bank, in Oceanside. Several witnesses to the robberies have told the FBI that the suspect "smelled like he really needed a bath, he reeked of cigarettes--things like that."

Kao Khae Saephan, 26, was arrested in December for assaulting his wife after a domestic altercation, using frozen squirrels that had been stored in the couple's freezer. Police could not answer reporters' questions about why the couple had squirrels in their freezer.

Three men robbed the Rodeway Inn in North Austin, Texas, in December, and one fired a shot at desk clerk Arthur Assadourian, 69, for his reluctance to give them money. According to police, "[The robber] fired point blank right at his forehead. The bullet hit his forehead and ricocheted off. At that time [Assadourian] decided to open the register."

Authorities in Bangkok arrested Brazilian Julio Cesar de Monraes Barros in December for shoplifting diamonds from a jewelry store. Barros had had a suction tube surgically implanted in the little finger of his left hand, running along his arm to a collection device under his armpit, from which $12,000 worth of diamonds were recovered.

From the Telluride (Colorado) Times Journal, December 19, 1991: "A Telluride man said that he was assaulted . . . by his girlfriend's younger son, who threw a carabiner (a metal rope hook) that grazed the tip of his head. The boy said that he did it because he thought his mother's boyfriend was a yuppie. No charges have been pressed."

Least Competent People

In November in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, three teenagers were arrested when they botched stealing the wheels from a Corvette at three in the morning. As they were removing the wheels, the car fell on top of one boy. After struggling unsuccessfully to free their comrade and doing what police called "major damage" to the car, the two woke the owner of the car, seeking help and confessing what they had done. The owner called police, causing the two boys to flee, leaving their buddy trapped. Police found the two shortly afterward sitting in the pickup truck of the boy who was trapped. He was the only one who knew how to drive a stick shift.

Creme de la Weird

A New Mexico group called Ministry of the Children has been battling authorities in Williamsburg, Virginia, for the right to dig through the Bruton Parish churchyard for a 17th-century vault that contains religious artifacts belonging to Sir Francis Bacon and disciples of Jesus Christ and, the group says, "the key to world peace." The parish obtained an injunction against the group's digging in September, but the group dug another hole in November. Several days later, it faxed an apology to the parish, pointing out in its defense that the dig was necessary in order to avoid global destruction.

The Diminishing Value of Life

In Ada, Oklahoma, Ut Van Ho, 29, was charged with shooting at a 22-year-old man because the man was "harassing" his pet fish by shining a flashlight into the fish tank during an afternoon card game in December.

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

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