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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

In May Dr. Charles G. Moertel of the Mayo Clinic called "unconscionable" what he found from a study of the drug levamisole, the first effective medicine for colon cancer. According to Moertel, Johnson & Johnson, which developed the drug in the 1960s, charges $1,495 for the amount needed to treat a person for one year, while American Cyanamid, which purchased the veterinary rights to the medicine from Johnson & Johnson, charges $14.95 for the amount needed to treat a sheep with worms for a year.

Questionable Judgments

The mother of a 27-year-old man found hacked to death on the grounds of a Toronto mental hospital is suing the Ontario Ministry of Health for giving a patient the opportunity to commit the murder. The patient charged is David Krueger, 52, who murdered three children 35 years ago and has been hospitalized ever since. Police say he committed the murder during his first brief pass last year. Krueger's real name is Woodstock, but he had it legally changed several years ago in honor of Freddy Krueger of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

In April New York City councilman Fred Cerullo called for an investigation into the city's exam for fire fighters, which gives partial credit for certain wrong answers on multiple-choice questions.

In May, because of a misunderstanding about an earlier court order, a county court clerk in Tavares, Florida, authorized sheriff's deputies to carry out a second repossession order against James Scarmardo's ex-girlfriend. Property mentioned in the second order, which supposedly was meant to recover items Scarmardo had bought for the woman and which thus were his property, included 12 pairs of underpants. The underwear was described in such detail that deputies suspected the woman could have been wearing one of the pairs at the time. She removed them in another room and handed them to deputies.

An April issue of the Gaston Gazette of North Carolina, featuring local "People Who Made It" (artists, teachers, business leaders, athletes, etc), included Virgil Griffin for his prominence in the state Ku Klux Klan.

In February Gary Blantz, 29, was arrested for kidnapping a bar owner near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Police later reported that during the kidnapping Blantz shot himself in the foot with his .45-caliber revolver to show the victim what would happen to him if he were disobedient.

Volleyball player Wu Dan of China was barred from the Olympics in August after traces of strychnine were found in her blood. An Olympics medical spokesperson explained, "She said she took it as a tonic because she felt tired."

The U.S. Army reported in July that twice in the past seven months people had broken into warehouses at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and stolen almost 1,500 of the much-maligned "Meals Ready to Eat" rations.

Weird Weapons

Police in Kenner, Louisiana, arrested Lavalle Williams, 20, in July and charged him with robbing a convenience store. Williams was armed only with a can of Off! insect repellent, which he sprayed in the face of the clerk before snatching $50 from the cash register and fleeing.

In retaliation for having just received several traffic citations, Ydsia D. Weinstein allegedly assaulted patrolman Michael Lamb of Glenville, New York, in May by throwing a cheesecake at his cruiser.

Jail officials in Winnipeg, Canada, turned down inmate James Skinner's request in July to keep a Funk & Wagnalls dictionary in his cell because they said a book that large could be used as a weapon. Said Skinner, "I can have as many dirty books as I want, but I can't have a dictionary."

The Weirdo-American Community

In August inmate Jesse Loden, 48, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Illinois Department of Corrections, charging it with stifling his religious freedom by preventing him from ordering books on voodoo and worshiping in the nude.

Least Competent Person

A 16-year-old boy from Freetown, Massachusetts, was arrested in July after attempting to rob the Town Line General Store and being wrestled to the ground by the 60-year-old clerk. According to the local Taunton Daily Gazette, the boy "pointed his index finger at the clerk, and said, 'This is a stickup.' The clerk asked, 'Is this a joke?' and the boy looked down and said, 'Oops.' The boy left and returned minutes later with a revolver."

The Diminishing Value of Life

Titus Howard, 37, was charged with stabbing fellow rooming-house resident Ronnie Jackson to death in Atlanta in July after a quarrel over the grits serced at breakfast.

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

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