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News of the Weird

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Former U.S. diplomat Felix Bloch, the man suspected by the CIA of espionage while working at the U.S. embassy in Vienna in 1989, was arrested in January and charged with stealing $100 worth of groceries from a Harris Teeter grocery store in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Bloch had embarked on a second career as a cashier and bagger at the store after the State Department dismissed him from his post. Two store employees said they saw Bloch cart unpaid-for groceries to his Mercedes-Benz.

Government in Action

In a recent Canadian government book offering tips to newly arriving immigrants, the authors thought it necessary to give specific advice against being late to school or work and against public displays of affection, breast-feeding, or urination and defecation.

When Long Island, New York, school superintendent Edward J. Murphy retired September 30, he received handsome severance pay at a time of severe financial troubles for New York schools. Under the contract he had negotiated with the local school board in 1985, Murphy was entitled to 90 days paid vacation a year (the normal is 15 to 20), plus paid sick leave--with the option of accumulating it and cashing it in at the rate of $1,000 a day. His total severance package came to more than $900,000.

Pre-Christmas paychecks were delayed for 2,600 Postal Service employees in the Hampton Roads, Virginia, area, making it impossible to deposit them before the holiday. According to postal officials, the checks had been mailed from the Minneapolis check-disbursing facility but were delayed "somewhere in Virginia."

U.S. Department of Agriculture meat inspector Roger W. "Pockets" Halvorson, 56, was indicted in Minneapolis in January for stealing meat from a company he was inspecting. According to prosecutors, Halvorson, whose personalized uniform had extra-large inside pockets, was accused of loading up on prime rib during inspections, intending to resell it.

Compelling Explanations

Eric F. Murillo, charged with shooting his fourth wife to death in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in July said it was an accident. Murillo received probation for the accidental shooting death of his first wife 21 years ago. Wife no. 2 committed suicide, and wife no. 3 divorced Murillo after he put a loaded .357 Magnum in her mouth and threatened to kill her. Murillo acknowledged that the circumstances "look terrible" but said he was just unlucky.

Judge Jerome Paradis of Vancouver found David Alexander Snow guilty of sexual assault in September but not guilty of the attempted murder of his victim, a 53-year-old woman. Wrote Paradis, "I cannot conclude that the placing of the wire around the neck of the victim and/or the placing of the plastic over her head are sufficient to establish a specific intent to kill."

In November the Vermont supreme court ordered to trial a discrimination lawsuit by employee Mary Hodgdon against the Mount Mansfield resort. The resort, which was trying to improve its image in 1987 to four-star status, fired Hodgdon because she refused to wear her false teeth, which she said were painful. Wrote the resort management, "Employees [are] expected to have teeth and wear them daily to work."

Michele Rardin, 36, ticketed in July for driving 80 mph in Hebron, Indiana, told patrolman Randy Komisarcik that when the oil-warning light lit up on her dashboard, she felt she had to race home "before the car blew up."

Delano Brugguier, 23, denied he was attempting to break into Sid's Liquors in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in June when he was discovered stuck in the store's chimney. Rather, he said, he had passed out on the roof and, being a fitful sleeper, had merely rolled into the chimney.

Richard Usher Jr. was arrested in Decatur, Georgia, in June for bigamy when his wife, Evelyn Deloris, found out via an insurance payoff that another Mrs. Richard Usher Jr. (Evelyn Nelms, whom Usher had married in 1985) had just passed away. Wrote Detective C.E. Bolson in his report, "The only explanation [Usher] could offer was that he did not remember marrying [Evelyn Nelms]."

The Weirdo-American Community

Wesley Nunley, 73, recently declared that the $10,000 concrete slab he built on his property near Dallas was open for business as "UFO Landing Base 1." He said it has been a dream of his "for decades" to have aliens land on his property--even though the landing pad is located in a quarry and is surrounded by mud much of the year. Nunley's best friend told the Dallas Morning News that Nunley was "a little off."

Least Competent Person

Former Quik Trip convenience store employee Mark Douglas, 32, was arrested for robbing a store in December in Overland Park, Kansas, after police interviewed him and his girlfriend, whom he had apparently failed to brief. The robber had worn a cap, and when the police asked Douglas whether he had such a cap he said no, but the girlfriend said, "Yes, you do. It's in the closet."

Inexplicable

Part-time security guard Bob Huggins, 86, was notified in November that his share of the Gaston Gazette's pension plan is nearly $1 million. Huggins began working at production jobs in 1926 and became a guard in 1974. He had never earned more than $8,000 a year, and the company had no pension plan at all until 1989. Huggins's award is so large because the 1989 plan was poorly designed and because Huggins outlived all others in his employee category.

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

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