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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

The Washington Post reported in January on Jennalee Ryan and her company in San Antonio, Texas, which recruits healthy, well-educated egg and sperm donors, creates embryos, and sells them to would-be parents at a cost well below that of typical in vitro fertilization or adoption. Prospective clients can review profiles and photographs of the donors before buying. Some bioethicists expressed serious reservations about the scheme, calling it another step toward eugenics, but Ryan dismissed such concerns: "People can say, 'Oh, this is the new Hitler.' That's not the case." Though one doctor she had hoped to work with balked after learning more about the project, Ryan said she'd found another to begin creating her second batch of embryos, using eggs and sperm provided by two blond, blue-eyed donors.

Family Values

Already on probation for a 2005 child-endangerment conviction, 20-year-old Shawn Mohan was arrested in January near Saint Peters, Missouri, for allegedly shooting his 12-day-old son at least five times with a BB gun. According to police, Mohan said it was an accident. And in December drivers in Indianapolis stopped to rescue a three-year-old boy they'd seen wandering down the right lane of I-465 wearing only a T-shirt and a diaper. Police said that when they located the child's mother--in a filthy apartment where a two-year-old was eating spaghetti off the floor--woke her up, and told her what had happened, her response was "Oh, he got out again."

Can't Possibly Be True

Following intervention by Britain's lord chancellor, photographs of two convicted murderers were made public in January, two months after the men escaped from Sudbury prison in Derbyshire, England. Derbyshire police had refused to release the photos, saying that according to their understanding of the UK's Human Rights Act, since the fugitives were believed to have left the area there was no "positive policing purpose" to violate confidentiality by providing their photographs to the local press.

Unclear on the Concept

In December in Hagerstown, Maryland, a five-year-old boy was reprimanded for sexual harassment after he pinched a girl in his kindergarten class on the buttocks. The boy's father told the local Herald-Mail that he had no idea how to explain the offense to his son, who he said "knows nothing about sex." In the same month in Bellmead, Texas, a four-year-old boy was accused of sticking his face in a female aide's chest while hugging her after prekindergarten one day; this too was judged to be sexual harassment and he was suspended.

Chutzpah!

At a hearing in January an Iowa judge denied unemployment benefits to 25-year-old Emmalee Bauer, formerly a sales coordinator for the Sheraton hotel chain in Des Moines. She was fired last year after a supervisor discovered a 300-page single-spaced journal Bauer had allegedly written on company time in which she describes in detail her efforts to avoid doing any work. Excerpts: "This typing thing seems to be doing the trick. It just looks like I am hard at work on something very important. . . . I am going to sit right here and play Elf Bowling or some other nonsense. Once lunch is over, I will come right back to writing to piddle away the rest of the afternoon. . . . I just have to get through the next seven hours and forty-six minutes and then I will be free. . . . I have almost 100 pages here! I wonder how long that's going to take to print?"

The Continuing Crisis

Thomas Montgomery of suburban Buffalo, New York, was charged with second-degree murder in November. Investigators said that since May 2005 the 47-year-old Montgomery had conducted an e-mail correspondence with an 18-year-old woman in West Virginia in which he claimed to be a much younger man who'd served with the Marines in Iraq. In September, after he discovered that his 22-year-old coworker Brian Barrett had begun e-mailing the same woman (police weren't sure how this happened), Montgomery allegedly ambushed Barrett near work and shot him with a .30-caliber rifle. As it turned out, the woman they were writing to was actually 45 and using the identity of her 18-year-old daughter.

Least Competent Criminals

After police arrived at a bar in Annapolis, Maryland, in December to break up a reported fight, 19-year-old Nicholas Raber allegedly punched one officer, yelled "You'll never catch me," and ran up a flight of stairs. Aware that all upstairs exits were locked, the officers simply waited at the bottom until Raber came back down. Also in December, 22-year-old Mitchell Sigman was arrested for the robbery of a convenience store in Elkhart, Indiana; according to police the clerk on duty had no problem identifying Sigman, who was a regular customer at the store and had recently filled out an application to work there.

In January in Athens, Georgia, college student Cory Shapiro hailed a police car, complained that a nearby bar had made him pay for drinks he hadn't ordered, and insisted the officer do something. After being asked for ID, the 19-year-old Shapiro was arrested for underage drinking; drug possession charges were added later, after jail personnel searched him. In the same month, Edgar Selavka, a 49-year-old Sunday school teacher in Northampton, Massachusetts, reported to police that his backpack had been stolen from church. While searching a men's room stall only minutes later, officers found the backpack's contents, which included Selavka's checkbook and, allegedly, numerous images of child pornography.

The Classic Middle Name

Arrested recently and awaiting trial for murder: Timothy Wayne Widman, 51 (Pittsburgh, September); Bradley Wayne Hamrick, 21 (Ferry County, Washington, September); Christopher Wayne Luttrell, 23 (Godfrey, Illinois, October); John Wayne Peck, 27 (Woodford, Virginia, October); Michael Wayne Poe, 30 (Dayton, Tennessee, October). To be resentenced for a 1997 murder conviction following a new Kansas Supreme Court ruling: Gary Wayne Kleypas, 51 (Crawford County, Kansas, December). Arrested 33 years after escaping from a work-release program in Tennessee while serving a sentence for murder: Billy Wayne Hayes, 57 (Dothan, Alabama, December).

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

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