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News of the Weird



Lead Story

In May, according to the New York Times, Andre Balazs, owner of Hollywood's Chateau Marmont Hotel, and Katie Ford, copresident of the Ford modeling agency, were asked by the doctor who delivered their baby at Mount Sinai Hospital whether they wanted to eat the baby's placenta. Stunned, Balazs and Ford declined. The doctor said, "I've had a few couples who wanted to do that."


In December in Los Angeles Patrice Lavann Haslip was charged with shooting her husband in the head because he was making too many errors filling out entry forms for the $10 million grand prize in the Publishers Clearing House and American Family Publishers sweepstakes.

A 22-year-old, formerly long-haired man was arrested and charged with vandalism in Hengelo, the Netherlands, in December after he allegedly caused $50,000 damage to a barbershop. The man said he'd grown increasingly upset because two weeks before a barber had gone overboard in response to his request for a "slight trim."

Beatings in the news and their provocations: Larry Dean Weaver, 27, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, punched his mother in frustration in February because he couldn't connect his VCR to his TV set; Jose Archuleta, 32, of San Antonio attacked the driver of an ice cream truck in March because it repeatedly played "Pop! Goes the Weasel" over the loudspeaker; Tracy and John O'Donnell of Westport, Connecticut, brawled on their wedding day in August after Tracy thought John was pushing cake into her mouth too hard.

Shootings in the news and their provocations: William Bronson, 33, of Birmingham, Alabama, allegedly shot two Hardee's employees last August because they wouldn't let him use the men's room before the restaurant opened; a 14-year-old boy from Metairie, Louisiana, shot his teacher in January because she assigned him a classroom seat in the front row; Marlene Lenick, 60, of Sewall's Point, Florida, allegedly shot her husband in October after he announced he wanted to watch yet another football game on TV.

Recent stabbings in the news and their provocations: Margaret Armstrong, 64, of Toronto allegedly stabbed her husband, 60, repeatedly in December because he talked too much while she was watching TV; Jimmy Durante, 56, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, was stabbed in the neck in April when his putter broke off during a club-to-club duel with another golfer about courtesy on the green.

Compelling Explanations

Victor Shaw, 56, was arrested near White River Junction, Vermont, in April after trying to break through a police "rolling roadblock" on Interstate 89. Shaw, who was charged with DUI and other offenses, said, "I saw it so many times in the movies I had to try it."

In April John Patrick Murphy was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for ten counts of making terroristic threats to various judges and prosecutors in the Saint Paul, Minnesota, area, including slashing their tires and leaving dead animals outside their homes. When his victims complained Murphy said, "I think they're consumed by hate, anger and revenge. . . . [They]'ve got to let the anger go."

After it was revealed in May that South Carolina state senator Robert Ford had mailed advertisements for his Charleston car dealership at taxpayer expense, he said, "I don't know every damned thing in that ethics law."

At the February trial of former office manager Carol Reinbold, who was charged with misuse of more than $600,000, an accountant testified that Reinbold told him she took the money and spent much of it on clothes. The accountant added that she said she bought them only to sell them to make money to lend her former husband, who needed to pay protection money because his girlfriend is the wife of one of General Manuel Noriega's lieutenants.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported in May that George Puzak, a member of the city's park and recreation board, had requested reimbursement for official travel at 29 cents a mile despite the fact that he travels by bicycle. State representative Phyllis Kahn said she's billed the state for official travel by bicycle since 1979, but not at the maximum rate. She said she always requests a per-mile rate that covers the cost of the bananas and yogurt she eats for "fuel," plus a penny a mile for bicycle depreciation.

In October Deptford, New Jersey, politician Mike Mostovlyan told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he hadn't intended to mail two large dead fish to his political foe deputy mayor Bea Cerkez. Actually, said Mostovlyan, he'd intended to mail the fish to a friend in Puerto Rico and a book to Cerkez and simply mislabeled the packages.

A jury in San Mateo, California, was unable to reach a verdict in February in the case of Dr. Eric Southwood, 66, who was on trial for sexual battery for fondling the breasts of several female patients. His lawyer told the court that Southwood simply lacks an appropriate bedside manner and is overly concerned with potential breast cancers. But according to the arresting officer, Southwood said the women were attractive and he just "likes breasts."

Michael Stokes, 37, of Elsmore, Kansas, was charged in April with threatening President Clinton's life because Clinton refused to support prayer in public schools.

Least Competent Person

Timothy Sprous, 18, was arrested for vandalism in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in May and charged with painting graffiti on cars. Instead of spray paint Sprous had used ordinary brush-on paint, and police were able to follow a trail of paint drippings from a car to the front door of a house on Second Avenue, down the stairs, and into a storage closet, where they found the paint-speckled Sprous hiding.

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

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