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News Of The Weird

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Lead Story

In December in Bartow, Florida, a spurned and distraught lover, Edward Leonard Hand, 33, confronted his girlfriend and her husband, stuck a gun to his own chin, and fired. The bullet glanced off a bone in Hand's face, and hit and killed the husband. Hand survived. Police filed only gun-use charges against him, saying they believed Hand hadn't intended to harm the husband.

First Things First

In November firefighters near Portland, Oregon, rescued a woman and her two children from an Alfa Romeo that had flipped over as a result of a one-car crash. The woman interrupted the extrication by the "jaws of life" tool to take a call on her car phone. Said a rescuer, "It was unbelievable. She's hanging partially out of her vehicle, and she proceeds to have an argument with her husband about where she is."

Kay Mounsey, the widow of one of the servicemen killed by "friendly fire" in the F-15/Black Hawk helicopter incident in northern Iraq, complained to reporters in September that the federal government offered her a survivor benefit of only $6,000 but gave the families of 11 foreign citizens who died in the incident $100,000 each.

Testifying at her murder trial in November in Arlington, Virginia, Monique Mullen said she endured her three-year marriage to Kenneth Mullen despite his having struck her, choked her, raped her, stalked her, and threatened to shoot her. In March 1994 she stabbed him to death with a butcher knife after he threatened to kill the family dachshund.

In December, according to police in Circleville, Ohio, Elaine Pope shot her ex-husband Charles R. Pope in the chest as he slept, and would have fired the gun several more times if it hadn't jammed. A detective said Charles woke up unaware that he had been shot, and tried to get Elaine to have sex with him. She declined, saying, "I just shot you."

Last spring two Canadian prisoners had time added to their sentences for brief escapes. Robert Lavergne got 60 more days behind bars in Kingston, Ontario, because he sneaked out to get a bottle of whiskey, and Donald Snow had 15 days added because he ran out to a convenience store in New Brunswick to buy a lottery ticket.

In August Judge Newman Brock brought hair clippers into the Seminole County Jail in Florida for his biweekly haircut. His longtime hairstylist Rick Thrower was serving 45 days for DUI violations. "[The judge is] a very loyal customer," said Thrower.

Eh-Uuuh, Gross!

In December customs agents in Miami found 200 baby tarantulas, 300 thumb-sized frogs, and several sacks of tarantula eggs in luggage belonging to Manuel Frade, of Venezuela. Agents opened his luggage after finding 14 baby boa constrictors in bags tucked in his trouser legs. In January customs officials in Stockholm, Sweden, found 65 baby grass snakes that a 42-year-old woman had concealed in her brassiere and six lizards that she'd stuffed in her blouse.

The opening of the West Woods Elementary School in Hamden, Connecticut, was delayed in August when officials discovered that a massive, green, woolly fungus covering walls, furniture, and books had sprung up virtually overnight. The bill for the cleanup was expected to be about $100,000. In November about 20 students at Central High School in Erie, Pennsylvania, were suspended for walking out of class to protest an infestation of cockroaches.

Recent overpowering stenches in the news: in January in Hamilton, Ontario, dermatologist Peter Bolton was charged with repeatedly depositing an unidentified but extremely foul-smelling substance outside the office of another doctor, with whom he'd been feuding; in California in February about 100 gallons of deodorizer were needed to neutralize the smell from cats that had been living underneath Burbank High School. The July 1994 floods in Macon County, Georgia, drowned 250,000 chickens, creating, according to the Associated Press, "an unfathomably foul, gag-inducing" stench that hung over the area for more than a week.

Things You Thought Didn't Happen Anymore

Michael E. Marcum, 21, was arrested for stealing six 350-pound power-company transformers in Stanberry, Missouri, in January. Marcum said he needed the transformers for the "time machine" he was building. He said he wanted to transport himself into the future a few days, find out the winning lottery numbers, and then return to buy a ticket.

In January Pamela Baker asked a judge in Beaufort, South Carolina, to excuse her from jury duty in a murder trial because her husband, Baptist pastor Karl Baker, forbids her from speaking in public.

In January in Ludlow, England, town crier Barry McQueen complained to a reporter that he'd been shut out of news on town events since 1990, when he began having an affair with Pat Middleton, the wife of the mayor.

Compelling Explanation

In Warwick, New York, in December traffic court judge Daniel Coleman imposed a light sentence on a man who brought his soiled underpants to court to lend credence to his claim that he had needed to speed home to deal with his diarrhea. However, Coleman said he feared that if people learned about the successful defense, everybody would "start walking into court with [soiled] drawers."

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

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