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In February, a court-sanctioned dispute resolution panel in Akron, Ohio, awarded a 37-year-old woman $3,000 to settle her defective-product lawsuit against Doc Johnson Products, maker of "marital aids." The woman had claimed that the tip of the plastic "anal stimulator" her boyfriend bought her broke off the first time she used it, injuring her and impairing her sex life. The Doc Johnson lawyer had argued that the product was not an authentic Doc Johnson product--and that, indeed, many anal stimulators look alike.

Government in Action

In June the Federal Protective Service fired officer Charles M. Ratliff, who provided security for federal installations in Saint Louis, after he confronted and then pursued a man he had caught attempting to break into a van. Ratliff received thanks and praise from Saint Louis police for helping collar the suspect, but was fired because FPS agents are prohibited from pursuing suspects in crimes not occurring on government property.

In January a Toronto newspaper learned that the government of Ontario had recently paid the consulting firm of Deloitte and Touche almost $4 million to count the number of computers the province owns.

According to an account in the San Francisco Chronicle in March, it took the U.S. Postal Service 15 months to pay a $758 automobile damage claim for which it had acknowledged complete responsibility. In December 1992, a postal vehicle rammed Fran Ortiz's car, which was parked in front of his house in Berkeley. Upon submitting his claim, Ortiz was told by a USPS executive to expect "a long wait." Ortiz called ten months later and was told the claim was still on the executive's desk. The check was finally mailed February 24, 1994, and arrived 15 days later after passing through the dead letter office because the check had been placed backward in the window envelope, leaving no visible address.

A 1991 federal regulation requires cities to remove at least 30 percent of "organic waste" from incoming sewage before treating it. According to a Washington Post story in May, the Environmental Protection Agency refused to exempt Anchorage, Alaska, from the regulation even though the city's incoming sewage is cleaner than most cities' outgoing. When it was required to comply anyway, Anchorage started paying fish processors to dump fish by-products into the sewers so the city will have more organic waste to remove.

In May the San Francisco Examiner and KCBS radio reported that a California project to catch welfare cheats by checking fingerprints had turned up one case of cheating in the first 5,000 inquiries. The person was charged with defrauding the government of $345 a month for four months. The government project cost $1 million.

As of mid-July, Minneapolis police officer Kent Warnberg was simultaneously holding two full-time jobs while serving time in a Wisconsin jail just across the border. Warnberg was convicted in Wisconsin for fondling a woman during National Guard exercises in 1993. The Minneapolis police chief tried to fire him, but the state civil service commission reduced the punishment to a suspension. The chief is appealing, but during the appeal Warnberg remains on the payroll. A Wisconsin law allows him to work a full-time paid construction job while in prison provided he returns at night.


In February, Mary and Clyde Kern were preparing to move back into their home in Greensboro, North Carolina, after taking a hiatus of 11 months while it was cleaned. In March 1993, a Bain Oil Company deliveryman had mistaken a basement air vent for the Kerns' oil-drum opening and pumped in 680 gallons before Mary Kern arrived home and stopped him.

In May the Canton (Ohio) Repository reported that Canton police had seized two plastic bags containing 17 rocks of crack cocaine after noticing the tips of the bags jutting out of the body of Starleen Rucker, 19, during a strip search. Rucker had apparently tried to stuff the bags into a body cavity but failed to get them completely inside.

In London in April, John O'Hanlon Smart was apprehended by police for smashing a shop window with a manhole cover after he backed away from the window and fell down the manhole.

Tamara Jo Klemkowsky, 32, of Waldorf, Maryland, was hospitalized with several broken bones in April after she fell out the window of a chartered party bus traveling 55 miles an hour. Klemkowsky had leaned too hard on an emergency window while mooning a passing car, causing the window to give way.

The tailgate of a truck carrying 5,000 pounds of dead rats from a laboratory to a landfill gave way twice during a two-hour period on Mother's Day in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, both times depositing about 500 carcasses and creating a stench described as "nauseating."

Most Dysfunctional Family

In July David Moore, 25, was arrested for burglary in West Haven, Connecticut, after becoming stuck in the chimney of a convenience store. According to local police, Moore's brother Richard had been charged with burglary several years ago after becoming stuck in the ceiling of the same convenience store.

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

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