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News of the Weird

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Jack Wright of Kingston, Ontario, the Guinness record holder for owning the most cats at one time (689), quoted in the Toronto Star in April: "You can visualize a hundred cats. Beyond that, you can't. Two hundred, five hundred--it all looks the same."

Couldn't Possibly Be True

A 34-year-old man somehow convinced a 19-year-old Central Bible College student to submit to a gynecological exam in his motel room so she could be cleared for a "scholarship offer," but prosecutors in Springfield, Missouri, said in January that the man's only apparent crime was deceptive business practice, a misdemeanor. And police in Nashville, Tennessee, were in a quandary last month about whether to charge Raymond Mitchell, 45, with a crime. Six women reported that he telephoned them, convinced them to wait for him blindfolded, and then had sex with them. Each of the women said she assumed the caller was a boyfriend. One woman said she had sex with Mitchell several times without realizing he was a stranger.

Bright Ideas

The New York Times reported in January that among the suggestions made by secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali for getting greater recognition for the United Nations in 1995--its 50th anniversary--were advertisements featuring a beautiful woman in an expensive car driving by the UN building and exclaiming, "Ah, the United Nations!"

In December two avid Beethoven fans at a Sotheby's auction in London acquired a four-inch lock of the composer's hair for $7,300. They plan to use it to test speculations that the composer had African ancestors and syphilis. The hair allegedly was snipped by Beethoven's father.

After police in Binghamton, New York, finally were able to fingerprint Lane L. Fontes on December 13, they learned he was wanted for parole violations in Virginia. Fontes, who'd been arrested two weeks earlier for leaving the scene of a car accident, had deliberately chewed off the skin of all his fingertips just after he was arrested, making it impossible to fingerprint him until it grew back.

James R. Scott of Fowler, Illinois, was convicted in November of removing sandbags from a Mississippi River levee during the 1993 floods, causing millions of dollars in damage and closing the only bridge within 100 miles that connected Missouri and Illinois. According to a witness at the trial, Scott did it to strand his wife in Missouri "so he could have a party at his house."

In June the U.S. Army revealed to Congress that in 1964 and 1965 army scientists had sneaked into stockyards in six cities and sprayed cattle with deodorant. The army wanted to see how easily the Soviets could sneak into stockyards and spread hoof-and-mouth virus.

Last spring New Jersey officials stopped a rash of purse snatchings in rest rooms along the Garden State Parkway by removing hooks from ladies' room stall doors. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer story, the theft rate rose again after thieves reinstalled the hooks.

Feuds

As part of a long-standing feud in Sumter, South Carolina, James Helton petitioned the city council in August to change the name of Goodson Road to Helton Road. Ten years ago the city government paved the road, which runs by his property, and named it for the Goodson family after asking residents which name they preferred. Helton's petition pointed out that his family had lived on the road since 1907 (the Goodsons had lived there since 1935) and that on the day of the survey the Heltons weren't home.

An employee of the Myers Construction Company was convicted in September of misdemeanor assault against Herbert M. Miller, the owner of a competing company. While Miller was in his bulldozer working on the Stewartstown Station development in York, Pennsylvania, in June 1993, three Myers employees, also in bulldozers, blocked his way. When Miller tried to go over a curb around them, one caught up to him and used his bulldozer's bucket to lift Miller's bulldozer off the ground and tip it over.

In September Saint Louis police accused Joseph Monti, 87, of shooting to death former mob figure Frank Parrino outside Parrino's tavern in July. According to police, the reason Monti gave for the killing was that Parrino beat up Monti once in the mid-1960s when Monti told Parrino to leave his club because he was making too much noise.

Uh-oh

In January anesthesiologist Channagirie Manjanatha pleaded guilty to criminal negligence in Regina, Saskatchewan. During surgery he walked out of the operating room to make a phone call, leaving an oxygen machine unmonitored for 15 minutes, which resulted in brain damage to the patient. And in November the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners suspended neurosurgeon Raymond Sattler for nine incidents, including one in which he took a lunch break in the middle of aneurysm surgery, leaving the patient's brain exposed with no other physician in the room.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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

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