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News of the Weird

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In October a supreme court judge in Massachusetts ordered a 30-day suspension for attorney Donald T. Hachey of Athol. A former divorce client had angered Hachey by testifying that he had sexually assaulted her 21-year-old daughter. After being acquitted of that charge, Hachey returned the client's divorce files severely stained by urine. Hachey said space constraints had forced him to keep the files beside the urinal in his office, so they might have gotten splattered once or twice. But a bar association committee, which sent the papers to the state police lab for testing, said the "linear patterns of the stains" resulted from a "direct hit."

Compelling Explanations

Five teenage boys at the Silverdale Workhouse correctional facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, were charged with attempted escape in November after guards discovered them in an attic. When caught the boys had said they weren't there to escape and had pointed to the loose floorboards that, when removed, provided a clear overhead view of the women's showers.

Mark Spotz, at his trial in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, in September, denying that he killed his brother: "He didn't die until he got to the hospital. In my mind killing someone is taking a life willfully. I didn't do that. I shot my brother and he died. I didn't kill him."

A photo in the third issue of the new magazine Oneworld had black bars over the breasts of one model, while a photo of another topless model appeared without bars. A magazine spokesperson said in December that the decision was dictated by Oneworld's printer, who said the breasts that appeared without bars weren't big enough to be offensive.

Robert A. Jacques, assistant county attorney of Montgomery County, Maryland, admitted in September to having purchased sexual favors from a prostitute but disputed the price: "I paid her $60 a visit. I wouldn't have paid $100 to her for anything. In a contest between lust and frugality, frugality always won with me."

Questioned by local journalists in October about resuming South Pacific nuclear testing, the French ambassador to New Zealand, Jacques Le Blanc, said a 110-kiloton bomb technically was not a bomb because it was exploded underground and didn't produce a mushroom cloud. Rather, Le Blanc said, "It is a device which is exploding."

Gary Wigle, 48, in court in North Bay, Ontario, in July said he left the scene of an accident because the car he hit began to chase him. He was three miles down the road, he said, before he felt safe enough to stop.

In September Baltimore police concluded that Saladin Ishmael Taylor, 34, had murdered a woman whose body was found in a row house with a one-inch piece of tongue nearby. Apparently the woman had bitten it off while struggling with her attacker. Taylor, a tenant in the house, denied any knowledge of the murder, even though a one-inch portion of his own tongue was missing. He claimed that he recently lost a part of his tongue in an accident on the street but had no idea how it could have been transported inside the house.

In October Ray Mitchell III was suspended from 12th grade at a technical school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, after he showed up for carpentry class with his hair in seven-inch spikes. According to the school's director, Lamar Snyder, the hairstyle is dangerous to Mitchell's classmates: "If a student...saw Mitchell walk into the room, they would say, 'Oh, my God,' look up from the tools, and possibly hurt themselves."

At his December trial for shooting at the husband of a West Brookfield, Massachusetts, tax collector, Roderick "Rhoda" Williams, 63, a transvestite, was accused of sending the collector a threatening letter after his requests for tax abatement were denied. He had first requested that tax on his station wagon be reduced because he's disabled and then that he get other unspecified breaks because he's a hermaphrodite.

Uh-oh

A study published last year in an issue of the Journal of Urology estimated that 600,000 men in the United States are impotent from injuries to their crotches, about 40 percent of them from vigorous bicycling. In July the Food and Drug Administration approved Caverject, the first prescription drug to treat impotence, which is injected directly into the penis before intercourse. An FDA warning issued with the approval advises patients to contact their doctors immediately if the erection doesn't subside within six hours.

The Independent in London reported in October that a division of Sony Corporation, Extra-Sensory Perception Excitation Research, claims it has proved the existence of ESP and has developed a working diagnostic machine based on use of the spiritual energy ki to identify health problems by measuring the pulse. So far 400 leading businessmen and politicians in Japan have been hooked up to the machine, and Sony claims a 20 percent to 30 percent success rate in diagnosing serious diseases such as liver cancer.

In January Phoenix radio personality Carla Foxx was ordered to stand trial for a November hit-and-run death. At a probable-cause hearing an investigator testified that he found parts of two human fingers in the grille of Foxx's car.

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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