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News of the Weird



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Adding another entry to a longtime News of the Weird category, Gary Moody, 45, was hosed off and arrested after police pulled him out of the tank underneath a women's public outhouse near Albany, New Hampshire, in June. A 14-year-old girl had reported that when she went to use the rest-stop facility she saw someone staring up at her from the muck below the seat. Moody insisted he'd accidentally dropped his wedding ring down the toilet and climbed in after it; after screening the sewage police reported they'd found no ring.

Compelling Explanations

Accused of holding up a bank in Lowell, Massachusetts, 22-year-old Andre Guthrie argued in June that the charge of armed robbery while masked (which carries a five-year minimum sentence) didn't apply in his case. According to his affidavit, he was wearing women's clothing, a wig, and makeup that day not to disguise himself but because he dresses as a woman (and uses the name Andrea Guthrie) "as much as possible." Guthrie's lawyer said it was "narrow-minded, provincial and puritanical of the commonwealth to assume that just because he was dressed as his female persona, he was hiding his true identity."

Maureen Faibish, 39, of San Francisco was charged in June with felony child endangerment after her two pit bulls attacked and killed her 12-year-old son, Nicholas. Faibish--who before going out had ordered Nicholas to stay in the basement, then propped a shovel against the basement door to keep the dogs out--told the San Francisco Chronicle that it had been "Nicky's time to go. When you're born, you're destined to go, and this was his time."

Pieces of Work

Earlier this year the Florida Highway Patrol and local police were tormented by a motorcyclist who morning after morning raced through Miami-Dade County rush-hour traffic, blowing past troopers at speeds up to 140 miles per hour and at one point outrunning a police helicopter. In late April the patrol posted an arrest team along the biker's regular route. Seemingly trapped, the biker sideswiped a police vehicle, then took off down the highway in the wrong direction, but a surveillance plane tracked the motorcycle to an apartment building. When arresting officers showed up at the residence of David Carpenter, 24, they found not only the bike but Carpenter's application to become a Florida state trooper; his physical was scheduled for later that week.

In February a Pennsylvania judicial conduct board filed a complaint against veteran district judge Ernest Marraccini for a 2004 incident. Apparently irritated at having to fill in at a suburban Pittsburgh traffic court, Marraccini allegedly said, "Well, I'm not spending the day here." After he'd dismissed several cases, a police officer in court protested; Marraccini responded, "Well, then, let's just find everybody not guilty," and went out to the waiting room to tell the 30 remaining defendants they could leave. When some asked to get their rulings in writing, Marraccini said, "I told you you're all not guilty. . . . What are you, a bunch of morons?"

Maybe Not That Difficult

In June an unlicensed 20-year-old man who had apparently been drinking beer allegedly stole a Cessna in Danbury, Connecticut, and landed it in White Plains, New York, after a three-hour joyride. Also in June, a 14-year-old boy allegedly stole a Cessna in Fort Payne, Alabama, took it up, touched down, then took off again before landing hard on a road near the airport. Police said the boy, who spent about 30 minutes in the air, had never flown a plane before.

Things You Probably Didn't Realize

In May the New York Times reported on Laleh Seddigh, 28, who successfully petitioned Iran's auto racing federation for permission to race against men, becoming the first woman allowed to compete against men in any sport since Iran's Islamic revolution, and then won the national championship in March. As had been arranged beforehand, Seddigh put on a scarf and covered her form-fitting racing suit with a coat before receiving her medal; she'd also agreed not to wave to the crowd for fear of overly exciting her fans.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reported in April that its testing lab in Vista, California, had received what appeared to be 17 bricks of cocaine; on closer inspection, however, each brick turned out to consist of an outer layer of cocaine surrounding an inner "mini-brick" of heroin. Officials guessed that the bricks were intended to deceive transporters, who typically charge more to ship heroin than to ship cocaine.

Least Competent Criminals

According to police in Shreveport, Louisiana, 24-year-old Jared Gipson attempted a holdup at Blalock's Beauty College in June; school manager Diane Mitchell, 53, tripped him on his way out, however, and roughly 20 students and employees then beat him with curling irons, chairs, a table leg, and their fists until police arrived.

Seniors Staying Active

Lawrence Brown, 91, was arrested for aggravated assault in June after an armed standoff with Chicago police who had caught him allegedly selling bootleg liquor out of his kitchen. Dorothy Densmore, 86, was arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina, in May for calling 911 20 times in 40 minutes to complain about a pizza place that wouldn't deliver, then biting the officer who came to investigate. And Vera Tursi, 80, was arrested in June for allegedly running a prostitution ring out of her apartment in Lindenwold, New Jersey. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, the officers who conducted the sting operation said Tursi's advanced age became apparent when they called the escort service and spoke to her, noting her seeming difficulty in breathing and the fact that she addressed the caller as "dear."

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

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