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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

Easter news: In the Philippines Catholics can be voluntarily crucified with real nails on Good Friday. Fourteen people wailed in pain this year, which marked the first time church leaders assured HIV-conscious townspeople that only clean nails were used. And in San Diego an atheist group beat Christians to the permit office this year and won the right to hold a nonreligious Easter sunrise ceremony at a landmark 40-foot cross in a city park.

In Edmonton transit worker Salim Kara, 44, was sentenced to four years in prison in March for a 13-year scheme of stealing coins from fare machines. Using a rod with a magnet on the end, he had patiently amassed more than two million Canadian dollars. No one suspected Kara until he bought an $800,000 house on a salary of $38,000.

Clifford Olson, serving a life sentence in Saskatchewan, announced through his lawyer in March that he had registered with Canada's copyright office to protect his proposed video series offering psychological insights. Olson, who sexually assaulted and murdered eight girls and three boys in 1981, plans to call the video Motivational Sexual Homicide Patterns of Serial Child Killer Clifford Robert Olson.

Dysfunctional Families

In April a jury ruled that Pauline Nichols, 66, couldn't evict her mother, Urene Ray, 87, from her home in Mansfield, Texas. Ray has lived there for 22 years and pays $500 a month rent. Asked why she was so eager to jettison her mom, Nichols said, "Because it's my property."

In Tulsa in April two teenage boys were shot and wounded and Albert Cavanaugh, 21, was killed as gunfire broke out during a family card game.

According to a March police report in the Ohio paper the Lima News, a 25-year-old man grabbed his 37-year-old mother-in-law by her hairpiece, tried to hit her with a broom, and then threw a metal heating register at her as she was fleeing. She returned, grabbed him by the neck, scratched him, then hit him between the legs with a drywall square, lacerating his scrotum.

Government in Action

In March the Postal Rate Commission decided to make an exception and consider an appeal about a post office closing in Sedan, Minnesota, after the November 22 deadline. The appeal arrived November 29, but was postmarked November 20. The commission called the nine-day journey "inexplicable." And pink slips laying off about 100 county employees were given to the Pittsburgh post office to be special delivered during the week after Christmas, but through a post office error they were delivered on Christmas Eve.

Compelling Explanations

The Sex Pistols' 1996 reunion tour was delayed in January for a month so the band members could rehearse. According to a Virgin Records spokesperson, the members have become such accomplished musicians in the 20 years since the band folded that they needed to practice to get down to their old sound.

Jenny Lee Owens, 39, testifying in a London, Ohio, court in May on why it was not her fault that her boyfriend got shot to death: "Something came into the room. It was not a person. It was like a color. Me and it, whatever it was, we both had the gun. Somehow it had passed into me. It was holding the gun; I was standing behind it." The two of them then walked down the hall to the living room, where "it" pointed the gun at the back of her boyfriend's head and pulled the trigger.

Unclear on the Concept

Appliance repairman Glenn Thomas Stooksbury was charged with fraud in January in Knoxville, Tennessee. Police said he billed Maytag for repairing defects that were not covered under warranty.

In January Steven Hicks, 38, and Diana Hicks, 35, were sentenced to six months in jail in Cape May, New Jersey, for child abandonment. While their unruly son, Christopher, 13, was hospitalized last January, the couple surreptitiously packed up and moved to California.

I Don't Think So

David A. Mills, 28, a criminal-justice graduate, to Akron, Ohio, police upon his arrest in April for theft at a shopping mall: "When I get my police job, I won't have to do this [stealing] anymore."

In April Budget Car Sales in Louisville, Kentucky, included a $250-off coupon in its ad in a local shoppers' guide. A very optimistic Keith Gough clipped the coupons out of 140 of the free tabloids and presented them to Budget, expecting to drive away a 1994 Lincoln Continental that cost $35,000. (According to Budget, "one per customer" was accidentally left off the coupons.)

North Korea's Korean Central News Agency reported that concentric rainbows appeared around the sun on February 16 in honor of Kim Jong Il's 54th birthday as if they were "defending and upholding" him. The agency also reported that for the 54th straight year it was "bright and temperate" on Mount Paekdu, where Kim was born, after averaging 40 degrees below zero for the 100 years prior.

Recent Passings

In Buffalo, Minnesota, in April, Hazel B. Posthumus, 96. In DeSoto, Kansas, in February, Demon Self, 61.

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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