News of the Weird | News of the Weird | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » News of the Weird

News of the Weird


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Ivy League Crime

In March 28-year-old Michael Lohman, a graduate student in Princeton University's math department, was arrested on charges including theft, harassment, and reckless endangerment. Police believe that Lohman surreptitiously cut locks of hair from female Asian students and slipped amounts of his urine and semen into the drinks of Asian women in a campus dining hall in more than 50 incidents since 2002. According to police a search of Lohman's home turned up allegedly stolen mittens (stuffed with human hair) and panties; they also suggested that he may have used a spray bottle to squirt Asian women with his bodily fluids.

In April Martin Weitzman, a Harvard University economics professor, was arrested after allegedly trying to steal a truckload of manure from a farm in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Things People Believe

Mamadou Obotimbe Diabikile was unsuccessful in his alleged attempt to rob a bank in Bamako, Mali, in March; he may have been hindered by the 33 pounds of talismans he was wearing to make himself invisible. And Edna Chizema went on trial in March in Harare, Zimbabwe, for theft by deception. Magrate Mapfumo testified that she gave Chizema the equivalent of $5,000; in return Chizema said she would fly five invisible mermaids (thought by the Shona people to be goddesses of revenge) from London to Harare to help recover Mapfumo's stolen car.

Kim Chan, 40, of Kampot Province, Cambodia, announced in March that his cow was possessed by a healing spirit and that its urine and dung could cure diseases. Local official Khun Somnang quickly warned the public not to believe these claims, saying, "We had a holy cow here a year and a half ago. You don't get two that close together."

Unconventional Weapons

In March Fred Simunovic allegedly robbed a credit union in Key West, Florida, by threatening the teller with a pitchfork. And in an unsuccessful January robbery attempt in Jacksonville, Illinois, a man fled after trying to intimidate a shopkeeper with a flyswatter.

Least Continent Criminals

William Woodard, 39, suspected by police of more than 50 burglaries in the area of Trenton, New Jersey, was arrested in March. A prosecutor told reporters that feces, presumably the burglar's, had been found at several of the crime scenes and would be tested for a DNA match against the stool sample inadvertently provided by Woodard during his arrest.

How Drummer Jokes Start

The Des Moines Register reported in March on Christopher Garcia, who was denied unemployment benefits after being fired from a gas station in Cedar Rapids because he refused to stop air drumming on the job. The store's owner testified at an administrative law hearing that shoplifting increased while the "very inattentive" Garcia, 46, stood behind the register wearing headphones and flailing away with drumsticks and that customers complained they were afraid of getting hit. Garcia said he planned to appeal.

Officials in the southern Indian city of Rajahmundry announced in March that they had recovered roughly $900,000 in lost tax revenue through a new collection program: teams of traditional drummers stand outside the houses and shops of tax evaders and play loudly until the occupants are shamed into paying up.

The Important Things in Life

Tony Young of Flint, Michigan, made the news in January when he foiled the theft of his beloved 2003 Ford Mustang. When Young, 35, saw his car pull up to a stop sign he confronted the driver, who peeled out, but Young leaped onto the trunk and clung to the rear spoiler as the thief drove around at speeds up to 80 miles per hour trying to shake him off. Hanging onto the spoiler with one hand, Young called 911 on his cell phone and provided updates on his location for 20 minutes until police intercepted the car; the driver ultimately fled on foot and was captured. (About two weeks later Young--whose real name turned out to be Anthony Barry--was himself arrested after allegedly breaking into a house.)

Least Competent People

According to a March article in the New York Daily News, Wayne Brightly, who had despite tutoring repeatedly failed the certification exam that would let him continue to teach in New York City public schools, allegedly paid his tutor, Rubin Leitner, to take the test for him. When state officials, made suspicious by Brightly's greatly improved score, requested a meeting, Leitner went, claiming to be Brightly. The ruse quickly fell apart--perhaps unsurprisingly, as Brightly is a thin 38-year-old black man and Leitner is an overweight 58-year-old white man who suffers from Asperger's syndrome (a condition related to autism).

Unclear on the Concept

Montana State University student Jeffrey Pumo, 21, arrested in February for allegedly injuring several people by firing marbles with a slingshot, was quoted in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle as saying, "I'm looking forward to proving my innocence on the majority of these counts."

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →