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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Three days apart in November a 40-year-old man in Taylor, Michigan, dropped dead of a heart attack minutes after bowling his first-ever perfect "300" game (12 strikes in a row), and a 33-year-old man in Fremont, California, had his bid for 300 interrupted by a fatal heart attack after bowling his 11th straight strike.

Police Blotter

James Macdonald and William Shoesmith, both 26, were sentenced to five years in prison in London in December for bank robbery. According to his lawyer, Macdonald hated his robbery work and had to drink before each job. For what was to be the pair's last job, he got so drunk that he had to be carried into the bank by Shoesmith to pull off the heist.

Richard Shane Collins, 22, escaped from a police holding cell in Manassas, Virginia, in November by squeezing through a ten-by-ten-inch opening used to pass food and papers to prisoners.

Police in Key West, Florida, were called to a house in September to quell a loud argument in which a 28-year-old woman was accusing her 29-year-old female friend of attempting to steal her strap-on deluxe model vibrator, which she said was valued at $90.

An attempt to rob the Household Federal Savings Bank in Reston, Virginia, in September ended when a teller, after reading the robber's holdup note, reached across the counter and punched the man in the face, sending him fleeing from the building.

An extensive survey of home burglars published in Whittle Communications' Special Report magazine in September revealed that 32 percent like to browse through family photographs while on the job, 27 percent like to raid the refrigerator, and 7 percent watch TV. Seventy percent of the 191 imprisoned burglars reported they like to limit their jobs to a 20-minute maximum, 17 percent wondered what their victims were like, and 59 percent said a dog in the home was the most effective burglary deterrent.

Names From Hell

The vice president of the chamber of commerce in Clinton, Missouri, announced in October she was voting Republican this year. The veep, Georgianna Bush, goes by "George."

Sentenced in December to 41 months in prison in Alexandria, Virginia, for defrauding the federal government of $150,000 on a contract: Mr. Yassa Yassa, age 60.

A sampling of legal name changes from Broward County, Florida, in November included chiropractor Joseph Smith, who changed his first name to "Dr.," and the newly named Joseph Wier, who was formerly Joseph Wierdo.

Arrested for sex offenses recently: In October in Halfmoon, New York, Joel David Slutsky, age 30; and in August in Nelsonville, Ohio, Roy A. Comesrunningbuck, 51.

The Associated Press reported in September that the village of Sodom, Connecticut, near North Canaan, disappeared, just like its biblical namesake. Though it still appears on maps, the AP writer interviewed residents of Sodom Road and the Sodom Corner intersection, both landmarks of the village of Sodom, and discovered that everyone now claims to live in North Canaan.

Charged in Saint Louis recently with operating a church as a front for organized crime was the grand sheikh of the Moorish Science Temple--Jerry Lewis-Bey.

In September Hollywood screenwriter Jerico Stone, smarting after losing an arbitration proceeding over a writing credit for the film Matinee, attempted to thumb his nose at the Writers Guild by changing his professional name to Fuck, pointing out that the word is now commonplace in movies anyway.

The Weirdo-American Community

Steven Szekely, 25, was arrested in Rockville, Maryland, in September and charged with a string of burglaries. He had called attention to himself in the course of a conversation with the cabbie who at the time was training Szekely to be a taxi driver. According to the trainer, Szekely changed the subject from casual chitchat and began writing down the license numbers of cars he thought belonged to drug dealers, telling the trainer he intended to find out where they lived so he could rob them later. Then he began talking of dressing as a police officer and kidnapping a woman to hold her for ransom and as a sex slave; about the techniques for mutilating a body; and about how easy it is to bury a body so dogs won't find it. Grossed out, the trainer stopped the cab and hailed a passing police officer, and on further investigation police charged Szekely with the burglaries.

Least Competent Person

Police in Raleigh, North Carolina, charged Vernon Edsel Brooks, 34, with robbing a Radio Shack in July, despite his having disabled a video-surveillance recorder by taking the camera with him as he fled. Because he forgot to take the recorder to which the camera was connected, police found a tape containing a full facial shot of Brooks reaching for the camera.

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

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