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News of the Weird



Lead Story

Reverend Glen Summerford was convicted in February of the attempted murder of his wife in Scottsboro, Alabama. A jury found that he had forced his wife to stick her hand into a cage of rattlesnakes, saying that she had to die because he wanted to marry another woman. (He handles the snakes in his services at his Church of Jesus with Following Signs; he also drinks strychnine and touches live electrical wires.) Much of the trial testimony concerned which of the spouses had sinned, or "backslid," more. (While Summerford was in jail, his inadequately supervised parishioner, Clyde Crossfield, was bitten on both hands by a rattlesnake he was handling.)

The Litigious Society

Scott D. Carpenter, 27, filed a lawsuit in September against the management company of Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh and its chief concessionaire because they allowed him to buy too many beers during a 1989 Steelers game and then failed to warn him about the danger of riding on escalator handrails, on which he was injured in a drunken fall.

Last year in Tacoma, Washington, Christine Lauritzen filed a lawsuit against her husband, Bret, for negligence that subjected her to injury. During a visit to Miami Bret had ignored Christine's driving instructions, and they wound up in a bad section of town, where they were eventually robbed and where she suffered a severe arm injury.

A newspaper in Ireland reported in February that 38 Irish soccer fans had won a lawsuit against two bus companies for causing them to miss the 1990 World Cup games in Italy. They sued because the bus drivers drove too slowly (an average of 20 miles an hour) on two trips, causing them first to miss a game and then to miss a scheduled ferry that would have transported them to another game.

Takashi Nakayama, 25, filed a lawsuit in December in a court in Niigata, Japan, against his mother and grandmother, seeking about $1,548 in damages because his grandmother had thrown out his comic book collection without his consent and his mother had failed to stop her.

In the first known case of its kind, Texas Court of Appeals Justice Michol O'Connor recently filed a lawsuit in the state supreme court against her fellow justices because they told the court clerk not to accept her dissenting opinion to a case. O'Connor says she wants a definitive ruling on conflicting doctor-patient relationship cases and sought to use the dissenting opinion to raise the issue publicly.

Candidates From Hell

Magoo Dorcy, 42, recently announced his candidacy for mayor of Dover, Delaware, despite having pleaded guilty in Columbus, Ohio, three years ago to molesting a five-year-old girl.

Harold W. "Tony" Glacken was charged last year with running a fraudulent auto-inspection scheme. Upon announcing his candidacy for sheriff in Saint Louis recently, Glacken said, "I just decided it was time I get involved and get this community straightened out. I'm tired of all the [county's] bad publicity."

In Salem, Oregon, former Baptist minister Joe Lutz withdrew from the U.S. Senate race in January, saying that his "family values" campaign had lost credibility because he had abandoned his wife to marry another woman and was reportedly $2,000 behind in child-support payments.

Donald L. Traxler, newly installed mayor of Ada, Ohio, and an education professor at Ohio Northern University, declared in December that he would take office later in the month, as scheduled, despite his arrest December 13 after rangers observed him masturbating at a local park.

Sherman T. Miller, running for sheriff in Van Buren County in southeastern Iowa, was jailed in March, suspected by authorities to be part of a burglary ring that has been stealing farm equipment. Said Miller, "It's just a bunch of political nonsense to take me out of the race."

Least Competent Person

On October 12, a clerk on duty at a convenience store in Abilene, Texas, was persuaded by a man to accept a $100 bill that was accurately printed (1950 series) in every detail--except that it was 12 inches long and 5 inches wide.

Creme de la Weird

Last fall, two men holed up in the Maine State Library in Augusta for two months in makeshift living quarters that a security official said included "everything you could think of" before they were discovered. Andrew V. Jatho, 20, was charged with burglary, but the other man had moved out. For sustenance, the two men had looted various state supply rooms (taking an unusually large quantity of pudding).

The Diminishing Value of Life

Retired doctor Garrett O'Brian, 57, was shot and killed by police in Palm Springs, California, after he flew into an uncontrollable rage at guests at a neighborhood party who were parking in front of his home.

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

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