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News of the Weird



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In January police in East Patchogue, New York, charged Nicholas Lalla, 32, with making a false report after he filed a complaint against his estranged wife for slapping him. Lalla played the police an audiotape he'd made in which slapping sounds are heard as he yells "Don't hit me!" When police informed his wife of the audiotape, she played for them a clandestine videotape she'd made of him making the audiotape. He's shown yelling "Don't hit me" into a tape recorder outside her house after she's inside.

Couldn't Possibly Be True

In December the Internal Revenue Service demanded that John Zwynenberg pay $6.4 million within 90 days, saying he owed it because he stood to collect money from lawsuits filed in connection with the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which his son John was killed. Although no date has been set for the distribution of the money that's been awarded, and the amount he would gain was uncertain, the IRS said Zwynenberg would either have to pay up or hire a lawyer and sue.

After its plans were rejected in October in the town of Bushnell, Florida, Pyramids Unlimited said it would approach several other towns with its idea of building a 50-story, pyramid-shaped tomb that could contain 300,000 crypts and would house a chapel at the top. Said Pyramids spokesman Ben Everidge of the $200 million project, "We're not talking some tacky mall here."

In September a 25-year-old woman was abducted from her home in Carrollton, Ohio, by a man police identified as Donald Eugene Bright, 37. According to police, Bright took her to a motel near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and raped her. She managed to escape, then ran shoeless down the road as Bright pursued her in his car. Periodically she made collect phone calls for help. She also tried to flag down passing cars. But so many motorists refused to help her that when police finally picked her up she had run 15 miles.

In December in Stuart, Florida, Francis Reichert, 58, inadvertently dislodged a cherry pit, one-half inch in diameter, from his nose during a routine visit to his doctor. Reichert said he'd stuffed cherry pits up his nose to impress playmates when he was a kid, but hadn't done that since he was eight. The doctor said Reichert may hold the record for having something stuck in his nose.

In October in Jakarta, Indonesia, authorities discovered one of the largest caches of drugs ever found in a smuggler's stomach. Basudev Parajuli, 26, of Katmandu, was carrying at least 103 tubes containing 2.6 pounds of heroin, valued at $460,000.


After David May resigned in October from the office of the registrar of vital statistics in Buffalo, New York, he asked to be paid the $8,500 in unused annual leave he'd accrued. May resigned because he'd been caught on videotape pocketing cash from people paying for documents such as birth certificates and had allegedly taken more than $200,000. According to the city's labor relations director, May is legally entitled to the $8,500.

According to a November Wall Street Journal story, a traveler telephoned the Hyatt hotel in Dubai saying he'd left behind luggage and asking for it to be sent to him. Hotel employees had already searched the luggage for identification and had found Hyatt towels, Hyatt silverware, a Hyatt clock, and a bathroom scale from the man's room.

In July James Dixon, 29, called police to his home in Syracuse, New York, and complained about massive drug trafficking in the neighborhood around his apartment building. After the visit, on a hunch, one officer stayed behind as the police car pulled away from the building. Almost immediately, the officer reported, a stream of customers knocked on Dixon's door asking to buy drugs. A search turned up 84 bags of crack cocaine.

In December three men were arrested in Russellville, Arkansas, and charged with theft. The men lived in a three-bedroom, two-bath house that, according to the Pope County sheriff, was built and furnished entirely with stolen materials--everything from the plywood to a porch swing to the teapots.

Family Values

Donna Dunik, 63, was arrested in November for trying to smuggle supplies to her incarcerated son in Warren, Ohio. In her sock and bra she stuffed colored balloons that contained marijuana, paste cocaine, flake cocaine, vitamin B (to cut the cocaine), and yeast, (an ingredient for homemade wine). And in Lancaster, Ohio, in October Elsie Sheets, 54, was indicted for helping her son and his friends dispose of the bodies of two schoolmates they allegedly killed. According to prosecutors, Sheets then brought the kids home and made pizza for them.

According to police in Odell, Illinois, in August William Wykes, 57, burst into the home of his bedridden father, Otis Wykes, 85, and pointed a handgun at him, but before he could shoot, the father pulled his own gun and fired four times, wounding his son. Said the prosecutor, "It appears there was a history between the two."

At his sentencing in November in Brattleboro, Vermont, Kevin Record, 28, was asked by the judge if he had any regrets about killing his father with a chain saw. Said Record, "One of the main regrets that I have is that I wasn't able to take the chain saw to the rest of my family."

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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