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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

In an attempt to boost his campaign for mayor of Los Angeles and publicize an environmental program a week before the primary in April, Tom Houston scheduled a news conference 60 feet underwater in Santa Monica Bay. However, only one reporter attended, and he got seasick; the water was too murky for Houston's campaign banner to be visible; and several divers in Houston's party panicked after becoming separated. Houston himself developed breathing problems at a depth of ten feet, had to be rescued, and called the whole thing off. He finished the mayoral race well back in a field of 24.

Schemes

Thomas Clayton Marsteller, 48, a member of a local Masonic temple, was accused of sexual assault in Minneapolis in March by a woman who alleged that he had assaulted her several times in 1992. The woman also said that Marsteller had threatened to block her husband's Masonic membership application if she didn't comply.

In March police at Southeastern Louisiana University arrested the student-body president, Mark Morice, charging that he got his fraternity brothers to steal all the copies of the campus newspaper so that no one could read an article critical of his handling of student-government funds. The managing editor of the paper called Morice's action the "lowest form of censorship."

Police in Bangkok arrested four transsexuals and a woman in December and charged them with a crime spree in which the four, disguised as female prostitutes, smeared a tranquilizer substance on their breasts and enticed customers to suck them. When the customers passed out, the gang would rob them and flee.

In September the South Dakota High School Activities Association cleared basketball coach John Jordan of charges that he committed recruiting violations. Jordan had arranged for three black youths from New York City to come live with him on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and attend school there. Jordan said he was merely being altruistic. Besides, he said, "They were only average basketball players in New York City."

Compelling Explanations

The New York Times quoted a coworker of Joey Buttafuoco in January on why Amy Fisher shot Mrs. Buttafuoco: "It's the [electric] wires. The wires aren't buried underground like in other parts of the country, so with all this electricity in the air, it fries some people's brains."

Arguing against a proposed Texas law that would raise the minimum age for strippers and topless dancers from 17 to 21, Houston dance-club owner Terry Allen told reporters, "We're giving [them] an opportunity to better themselves, rather than working at McDonald's."

In February an undercover District of Columbia police officer testified that he had ostensibly agreed to murder a woman on contract from her husband, but then the husband changed his mind: "He realized he still cares for her. So he said he'd rather have her severely beaten." And in Tampa, Florida, in October Richard G. Hale testified that the fatal shot he fired into his wife's forehead was accidental: "I wanted to shock her without hurting her. If I wanted to kill her, I would have shot her in the heart."

In Louisville in April lawyer Gregory Holmes and two women who both claimed to be his wife were found guilty of fraud in a tangled web of misdeeds. Holmes testified that he was never married to his alleged first wife, and his second wife supported that contention by explaining that Holmes was addicted to the Tennessee soft drink Double Cola and could never travel outside the area in which the drink was available. Therefore he could not have left on a tryst that the alleged first wife testified to. Holmes also testified that he could not have, as the first wife alleged, shared an order of chicken wings with her because he has a policy of eating chicken wings "only" when he is with the second wife.

Creme de la Weird

Teresinha Gomes was charged with fraud in Lisbon, Portugal, in March after allegedly failing to repay loans made to her by friends and neighbors. For 18 years Gomes had pretended to be a man, a highly decorated soldier named General Tito Anibal da Paixao Gomes, and to be married to a woman, who had agreed to keep the secret. Gomes's cover was blown when police, arresting her on the fraud charge, ordered her to undergo a physical exam.

Least Competent People

Johnny Sams, 20, and a 17-year-old male companion were arrested in Union, Kentucky, in April after they botched a burglary of Glenn Doolin's house. After putting the stolen goods in their car, they realized it would not start and went back into the house to beg Doolin, who was by then calling the police, not to call. They offered to put the goods back and to tidy up the mess they had made. According to Doolin, the two first begged, then tried again to start their car, then came back in and begged some more and asked for a jump start. Doolin called the police anyway. The burglars said they attempted the burglary because they needed money to fix their car.

Good News

In March doctors and nurses at Presbyterian-Saint Luke's Medical Center in Denver saved the life of a 30-year-old pregnant woman. A rare disorder caused her liver to burst; she hemorrhaged nearly uncontrollably over a six-day period and was transfused with 116 gallons of blood. Both she and her baby girl are now fine.

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

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