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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

Private-school principal Dick Baker, 52, came under pressure to resign after the St. Petersburg Times revealed he'd taken middle-school-age female students on dozens of overnight trips to Disney World, during which he supplied them with Disney-themed costumes and swimsuits, wore Disney pajamas himself, and sometimes shared hotel rooms (though not beds) with the girls, whom he called his "royal princesses." Baker is also known to frequently hug, tickle, and massage female students. Although a group of parents demanded an independent investigation, the school's board, which is largely composed of Baker's friends and neighbors, remained supportive of the principal. One board member's daughter has accompanied Baker to Disney World 81 times.

In June, Milwaukee police officer Robert Henry, 34, was awarded lifetime disability benefits due to work-related stress, which he claimed was caused by the department's decision to fire him after catching him roughing up a suspect on videotape in 2002. Henry, who joined the force in 1998, was awarded an immediate lump sum of $23,000 and $39,000 a year for the next 29 years--after which he'll be eligible for full pension.

People Different From Us

Police in Westerly, Rhode Island, arrested Robert Brayman, 51, and his disciple, Hobart Livingston, 42, in July, charging Brayman with commissioning Livingston to build a pipe bomb intended to kill a woman Brayman was stalking. According to police, Livingston submitted himself entirely to Brayman, believing that the latter had uncanny spiritual powers. Livingston reportedly paid Brayman nearly $14,000 over the last three years to prevent "alien eggs" implanted in Natalie Portman's body from hatching and killing the actress. Part of Livingston's spiritual training involved dodging shots from Brayman's BB gun in a local cemetery.

Latest Religious Messages

The family of the late Ben Martinez filed a lawsuit in June against the Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, after the priest presiding at Martinez's funeral announced that God "vomited people like Ben out of his mouth to hell." A lifelong Catholic, Martinez stopped attending church while terminally ill....Cheryl Bartges has not yet filed a lawsuit, but she did tell WABC TV in New York City in July that her father suffered grievously in the last hours before his death because the chaplain sent by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, to administer last rites to him refused to do so after the two men argued about the Catholic Church's culpability in the child-molestation scandals....And Tulsa, Oklahoma, evangelist Carlton Pearson, whose "Gospel of Inclusion" theology provides for universal salvation, recently announced that Satan himself would be eligible for admission to heaven if he apologized.

Unclear on the Concept

Darrell Krumnow, 29, of Valley Mills, Texas, pleaded guilty in March to taking "upskirt" photographs of a 19-year-old female clerk at a shopping mall. While successful upskirt photographers try to be discreet, Krumnow used a flash, which led to his detection.

The Classic Middle Name (all new)

Recently arrested for murder: Dale Wayne Eaton, 58, Denver, Colorado (April); Michael Wayne Sears, 54, Charlottesville, Virginia (May); Ricky Wayne Brown, 39, Manassas, Virginia (June). Sentenced for murder: Michael Wayne Fisher, 27, Chester County, Pennsylvania (March). Executed for murder: Allen Wayne Janecka, 53, Huntsville, Texas (July); Bobby Wayne Swisher, 27, Jarratt, Virginia (July).

Undignified Deaths

A 23-year-old man who opened the passenger door of a pickup truck to urinate (even though the truck was zooming along Houston's Southwest Freeway at the time) fell out and was fatally run over (June)....And Sonny Morris El, 32, of Monmouth, Illinois, was sentenced to ten years in prison in connection with the collision that killed his 25-year-old girlfriend, Kristina Valerio. The couple was having sex (with Valerio perched in Morris El's lap as he drove) at the time of the accident.

In the Last Month

A courthouse in Henrietta, Texas, was temporarily closed after lawyers and county officials were attacked by swarms of fleas infesting the building....Two mortuary workers in Harare, Zimbabwe, were charged with renting out corpses to motorists to enable them to go to the head of gas-station lines (the rules governing gasoline rationing give priority to hearses).

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

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