More anal-retentive suspects: In July in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Charinassa Fairley was charged with killing her husband after police found a checklist that included the notations "Make a prank call to him; offer food and love; make him take a bath with you. Put on gloves" and "Make love like never before for the last time. Lay down after he falls asleep. Pop him." In September former navy ensign Dana R. Collins, 35, was convicted of the murder of a colleague after police found a to-do list that included the instructions "Take him out," "Cut him up/take head/fingers and toes," "Put him in 2 bags," and "Drive body to Pennsylvania. Keep head and fingers and toes--scatter on way back." And after Gary Lynn Davis, 43, was arrested in July and charged with sexually assaulting several children near Adrian, Pennsylvania, police searched his home and found a neatly printed, three-page list of 125 "Boys and Girls I've Been With," which included abbreviations for the acts committed with each.
In September a branch of the financially troubled Czech Republic bank Agrobanka was robbed of about $8,000. The next day Agrobanka head Jiri Klumpar praised the robbery as a sign of public confidence that the bank actually has money.
The New York attorney general's office announced in September that a new state law banning prison inmates from throwing bodily fluids at guards did not cover one pressing problem: some inmates recently mailed their semen in plastic pouches to their wives or girlfriends as an expression of love, and the envelopes squished open when run through mail-sorting machines, splattering workers. But since the inmates did not intend to splatter them, the law does not apply.
The Litigious Society
In July Victoria Baldwin won her lawsuit against the Sydney, Australia, salon Synergy over a bad haircut she got last year. She was awarded $750, plus $234 as compensation for the hats she had to buy to disguise the cut, which she described as so bad that she looked like Hillary Clinton.
In September three people filed a lawsuit in Lufkin, Texas, against the Walt Disney Company, objecting to three recent films marketed to family audiences that they say contain subliminal sexual messages. Their claims: a scene in The Little Mermaid shows a minister with an erection; a voice-over in one scene in Aladdin whispers "Take off your clothes"; and The Lion King contains a scene in which the word "sex" is formed with clouds, grass, and flower petals.
Scott Byron Morrison, 47, in jail awaiting trial for the 1995 murder of his ex-wife, filed a $500,000 lawsuit against Calgary General Hospital in August. Morrison claims that if the hospital had properly treated him for a mental illness, he wouldn't have been released and, four days later, killed the woman with a shotgun blast.
Earlier this year unsuccessful Puyallup, Washington, school-board candidate Dale Washam filed a lawsuit against, among others, House speaker Newt Gingrich and the state Republican Party, claiming the Republicans stole the 1994 "Contract With America" idea from him. Washam said he originated the concept of holding political candidates to their promises when he ran in 1991, 1992, and 1993.
Jerry Merich filed a lawsuit against the Starbucks Corporation in July over a 1995 injury that he claims occurred in the company's Littleton, Colorado, shop. Merich says a Starbucks employee greeted him with a high five and caused a shoulder injury that left him unable to work for six months.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
In August, Chris Bowdish's Chevron gas station in Lake Oswego, Oregon, offered free mammograms administered by local hospital personnel. Said Bowdish, "You can tune up your body while you're having your car tuned up."
A Minneapolis firm is marketing an electronic device that allows people to see whether they have the proper temperament to become parents. The product "cries" at random intervals (more often on the "cranky" setting than on the "easy" setting) and stops only when the "parent" reacts properly. To stop the crying, a probe must be held in place for up to 35 minutes to simulate the time required to feed, bathe, and comfort a real infant. Shaking or tilting the device causes it to register an "abuse" signal.
At a trade fair in Vienna, Austria, in August, body-paint artist Karl Machhamer demonstrated his design for a skin-tight latex condom--custom-painted onto a penis. He plans to market bottles at $8 each with enough paint for three applications. The main drawback is the seven-minute wait while the paint dries.
In July, Philadelphia inventor Bill Killian introduced the Lawn Buddy message machine, in which a five-inch-tall mechanical animal rises from a flowerpot placed by the front door, announces that the resident is away, and invites the visitor to leave a message. Killian says it will be on the market in early 1997 for about $30.
No Longer Weird
Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: (7) the person missing and believed to be dead who attends his own funeral and shocks the mourners, as did Dulal Chandra Das, who turned up in October after having gone off from his home in Calcutta, India, to pray for a while; and (8) the episodes of just-deserts shootings during hunting season, as when Clifford Shellman allegedly shot to death another hunter in May near Blooming Grove, New York, after the two inadvertently coaxed each other closer together by sounding their turkey calls.
In August a 60-year-old stray-dog caretaker was killed in Los Angeles when four large sacks of dog food fell on top of her in her home. During the same month, the Ontario Labour Ministry issued a warning after two professional divers drowned in ponds while searching for golf balls for Sports Quest Incorporated, which earns $500,000 a year reselling "experienced golf balls." And in July Basilio Re died in Italy during a party to celebrate his 100th birthday when a gust of wind blew off his hat and he suffered a heart attack chasing it.
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): Shawn Belshwender.