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News of the Weird

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Chuck Shepherd is on vacation. The following items are reprinted from the News of the Weird archives.

Lead Story

A police officer's dream: In a police brutality lawsuit that went to trial in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1997, West Haven police officer Ralph Angelo claimed that the plaintiff, Vincent Morrissey, had provoked him by taking a swing at him. When Morrissey's attorney asked Angelo to demonstrate to the jury how hard Morrissey had swung, Angelo popped the lawyer on the chin, sending him staggering and forcing an immediate recess.

Creme de la Weird

In Milwaukee in 1997, Gary Arthur Medrow, 53, was charged with 24 counts of impersonating a police officer in the pursuit of his locally infamous obsession with calling up women and convincing them to physically pick up other women and carry them around. Local police had arrested him for dozens of similar offenses over the previous 30 years.

The 1999 starvation death of a 49-year-old woman in Scotland was the third among the followers of Jasmuheen (nee Ellen Greve), an Australian "holistic educator" who preaches "liberation from the drudgery of food and drink" to Westerners, in part to tap the "spirituality" of third-world hunger. Jasmuheen claims 10,000 disciples and charges more than $2,000 (U.S.) per ticket to her seminars.

Can't Possibly Be True

In 1999 Cathomas Starbird, a member of the school board of Sausalito, California, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching, jumping on, and biting another woman. According to police, Starbird, her husband, and the woman had gone out for dinner to celebrate the husband's birthday. Upon returning to the couple's home, Starbird suggested a threesome and became furious when the other woman refused to perform fellatio on Starbird's husband.

In 1993 India Scott of Detroit dated both Darryl Fletcher and Brandon Ventimeglia, moving in with Fletcher in 1994 after she became pregnant. Neither man knew about the other, and Scott told each he was the father. For two years she managed to juggle the men's visits, but in 1997 she announced she was marrying another man and intended to move out of the area, prompting both Fletcher and Ventimeglia to file for custody of "his" son. Upon learning of each other's existence, Ventimeglia and Fletcher took blood tests to determine which of them was the real father of the boy they had been caring for. The tests revealed that neither was.

Least Competent Criminals

Ronnie Darnell Bell, 30, was arrested in Dallas in 1998 and charged with attempting to rob the Federal Reserve Bank. According to police, because there were no tellers Bell handed a security guard his note, which read, "This is a bank robbery of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, of Dallas, Texas, give me all the money. Thank you, Ronnie Darnell Bell." The guard pushed a silent alarm while Bell chatted with him, mentioning that only minutes earlier he had tried to rob a nearby post office but "they threw me out."

Great Art!

Featured at a contemporary art museum in Sarasota, Florida, in 1996 was Charon Luebbers's Menstrual Hut, a six-by-six-by-five-foot isolation booth symbolizing the loneliness that society has forced upon menstruating women. Accompanying it were 28 paintings Luebbers created by pressing her face into the discharge she collected each day of her cycle.

Obsessions

In 1998 author and guru Sri Chinmoy sponsored an endurance race in New York City won by Istvan Sipos of Hungary, who finished the 3,100-mile course in 47 days, running from 6 AM until midnight. He and four other runners competed on the concrete grounds of a Queens school, circling the facility about 115 times every day. Said one runner, "To me, what the race is all about is the blossoming of the human spirit." According to the wife of another, the runners are "nuts."

In Fort Worth, Texas, murder defendant Robert William Greer Jr. agreed in January 1999 to plead guilty if the judge would agree to keep him in the local jail for two more weeks so that he could be certain to catch the Super Bowl on TV.

According to a 1999 Reuters dispatch, Sigurdur Hjartarson, owner and curator of the Icelandic Phallological Museum in Reykjavik, was closing in on his goal of collecting at least one specimen penis from every mammal native to Iceland. At the time, only a human penis and one from a species of whale were missing, and Hjartarson had solved the first problem with a letter from an 83-year-old former lothario promising his organ upon his death. The museum displays only the tips of certain whale penises, though, because the entire organs are too long (up to ten feet) or too heavy (more than 100 pounds).

Tough Week in Texas for People With Animal Nicknames

Obituaries from the Tyler Morning Telegraph in 1998: August 2, Mr. Charles E. "Catfish" Loving, 69. August 4, Mr. W.S. "Bull" Barber, 79. August 6, Mrs. Ada L. "Turtle" Jowell, 83.

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

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