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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

In July police in Brooklyn accused Gail Murphy, 47, bedridden on her stomach while recovering from hemorrhoid surgery, of shooting her husband to death because he had gone on a six-hour fishing trip. Said a police investigator, "She felt that her husband didn't demonstrate that he cared for her on that particular day."

In Hillsborough County, Florida, Jeffrey Alan McLeod, 29, was charged with robbing a gas station in August. McLeod had fled and after a brief chase was caught when his car ran out of gas. Said a spokesman for the sheriff's department, "When you're going to rob a gas station, you're supposed to fill up the tank before you rob the clerk."

Courtroom Antics

During a Tirane, Albania, divorce hearing in July, in which a man was contending that his wife beat him regularly over the course of their two-year marriage, the wife suddenly leaped at the man and beat him unconscious before she was restrained. The judge quickly granted the divorce.

In August, Cleveland judge Shirley Strickland Saffold attempted to give advice to defendant Katie Nemeth by recommending that she get a new boyfriend. Said Saffold: "Men are easy. You can go sit in the bus stop, put on a short skirt, cross your legs, and pick up 25. Ten of them will give you their money. If you don't pick up the first ten, then all you got to do is open your legs a little bit and cross them at the bottom."

Detroit lawyer Leonard Jaques, 68, was fined $11,000 for a May courtroom outburst in which he verbally abused an opposing attorney, yanked his hair, and threw him to the floor. (In a widely reported courtroom outburst in Cleveland in 1983, Jaques achieved notoriety by telling a federal judge that he had missed a court date because he had "screaming itches in the crotch.")

Well Put

X-rated film actress Nina Hartley, speaking at a June news conference in Sacramento about the important service her movies provide--promoting romance by warming up the viewers: "It's no different than Hamburger Helper."

Self-described "fishing fanatic" Tom Getherall of Long Island, talking to a New York Daily News reporter the day after the crash of TWA Flight 800: "I felt bad when I heard about the wreck, real bad, but to be honest with you, the first thing I wondered was how it would affect the fishing."

John P. Royster, 47, serving a life sentence for murder, waxing nostalgic to a New York Times reporter in June about the joyous childhood of his son, John J. Royster, 22, who had just been charged with the vicious killing of a New York City dry cleaner: "He's a chip off the old block."

Canadian food inspector Pamela Morgan, warning the public in March after the death of a British Columbia man: "We caution the public not to eat seafood that glows in the dark." (Some bacteria in raw seafood are indeed luminescent, she said.)

Football star Deion Sanders, arrested for trespassing at a fishing hole near Fort Myers, Florida, in June: "The only defense I have is that I'm sorry but they were biting."

Thinning the Herd

In June a heavily suntan-oiled 19-year-old man fell ten stories to his death while "crabbing"--climbing from balcony to balcony--on a beachfront condominium in Panama City Beach, Florida. Two weeks later in Barnstable, Massachusetts, an 18-year-old man fell to his death while "car surfing"--standing atop a moving car. Also in June at least 15 people dancing on the roofs of two buses en route to an election rally near Dacca, Bangladesh, were killed when the buses passed underneath high-voltage wires.

Update

More Italian justice: In August, Germano Maccari, freshly convicted of the 1978 murder of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro, was released from jail pending his appeal--as is customary under Italian law. In March the man who murdered an American during the Achille Lauro hijacking failed to return to his Italian prison following a 12-day furlough for good behavior. Last year the Washington Post reported that members of a traveling prisoners' theatrical group in Italy used their performance disguises to pull off bank robberies between shows. And also last year a gang of AIDS-stricken bank robbers were released because Italian law forbids imprisoning people with AIDS.

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 by Shawn Belshwender.

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