News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication


-- Italian Justice (Continued): Italy's highest appeals court ruled in September that "occasional episodes of wife-beating," "interspersed with moments of [marital] harmony," did not amount to illegal domestic violence, which it said requires "systematic and deliberate" overpowering. The lucky husband got a new trial.

-- Overcoming Disabilities: In September, wheelchair-using men in Frankfurt, Germany (no legs), and Pompano Beach, Fla. (missing part of a leg and one eye), attempted bank robberies but were thwarted when a customer and a cop, respectively, rushed in and tipped over the wheelchairs. Also in September, police in East Providence, R.I., arrested Bronna-Jo Carmody for drug trafficking out of her apartment, where she is confined because of her use of crutches and an oxygen machine.

-- On Oct. 3, self-described virgin Doreen Lioy, 41, exchanged vows in San Quentin prison's waiting room with 13-time murderer Richard Ramirez (California's notorious "Night Stalker"). It is the first marriage for both. She wore white; he wore blue. She was raised a Roman Catholic; he is a Satanist.

His side of the aisle was crowded with three relatives; her family refused to attend. After the ceremony, she returned to her houseboat in San Rafael; he returned to death row. Lioy said Ramirez proposed in 1988 but that it wasn't until recently that she thought he was ready to settle down (presumably because he just got out of several years' solitary confinement). Said one observer, "Doreen brings out the best in Richard. They complement each other."


-- Nancy Ho Belli, who wed lawyer Melvin Belli three months before his July death, filed a lawsuit in August in San Francisco against another Belli relative for improperly keeping the skeletal remains of a man named Elmer, which Mr. Belli purchased in the 1940s. A spokesman said the relative would "go to jail before revealing Elmer's whereabouts."

-- Lynne Plaskett, 46, running for re-election as a county councilwoman in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., said on TV's "Maury Povich Show" in September that she was cured of the often-fatal T-cell lymphoma 20 years ago by a small UFO disk that hovered over her bed and scanned her body before disappearing.

-- Stock-car racing legend Richard Petty, running for North Carolina secretary of state, paid a $65 fine in September for improperly bumping a car that wouldn't let him pass in the left lane on Interstate 85. According to a state trooper, Petty said if the driver got in front of him again, he was going to knock his "rear end" off the road. Petty told a reporter, "Now if it had been a NASCAR showdown, [the driver] would have been over in the ditch somewhere."

-- Robert Dorton barricaded himself in his residential motel room in Billings, Mont., in August and held police off for more than 30 hours, firing dozens of shots at them, because he feared authorities were about to take away his 15 pet rats, some of which were reported to be the size of cats. Before the siege, according to animal-control officer Mary Locke, Dorton kissed one of the rats and referred to them as "my brothers." Right then, she said, "I knew what I was up against."

-- An unidentified woman who refused to give her name was plucked from the Atlantic Ocean, about two miles out, near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in September, dressed in street clothes. She told one of the rescuers, "I'm fine, my family is here," and said she had been eating seaweed for the three days she had been in the water. She said she was "in transition," that she had just come up to get some air. She was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital.

-- School bus driver Kerri Lynn Patavino, 28, was convicted of statutory rape in Bridgeport, Conn., in August for having sex with a 14-year-old passenger, who said she put a spell on him and made him lick her blood. According to the boy, the two had sex more than a dozen times, and she sent him love letters signed in blood. Patavino admitted that she is a follower of Wicca, an ancient, witchcraft-practicing religion.

-- Mr. Esyededeea Aesfyza, 46, was sentenced to six months in jail in Washington, D.C., in June for having painted swastikas at more than 100 public places in town in the previous three years. In court, Aesfyza, dressed in a long white robe with a green sash, expounded on his love of swastikas, said he prayed to them and said they are a symbol against circumcision.


-- According to documents obtained by a Canadian magazine in August, Canada's military representative in the United States, Maj. Gen. Donald Williams, billed taxpayers improperly to have his house cleaned and for ordinary civilian clothing and golf course green fees, and Mrs. Williams charged off about $100 for armpit-waxing.

-- In August, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that hundreds of former pro athletes, some of whom, like Joe Montana and Bo Jackson, earned millions of dollars a year, were also paid worker compensation benefits under California's lenient law that makes such payments for injured workers an absolute entitlement. Some other states, by contrast, restrict pro athletes' claims.

-- In June, the government of Saskatchewan said it was unsuccessful in trying to return to the manufacturer almost 1,000 5-inch-long "wooden demonstrators" designed for school condom-education classes. Schools refused to use them, and opponents of the program called for disposal via a "weenie roast."


Wayne Dumond made News of the Weird in 1988 when he won $110,000 in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against an Arkansas sheriff. Vigilantes had castrated Dumond as an alleged rapist, and the sheriff had displayed Dumond's privates in a jar on his desk as a souvenir, which a jury said was unnecessary ridicule. In 1990, the Parole Board recommended Dumond be freed based on DNA evidence that showed it unlikely he had committed the rape, but then-Gov. Bill Clinton, who was a friend of the rape victim's mother, rejected the recommendation. In September 1996, Gov. Mike Huckabee ordered Dumond released, based on that DNA evidence.


Jimmy Hogg, 77, collapsed and died of a heart attack in September on the first hole of a Fife, Scotland, golf course. His four partners paused briefly as an ambulance took the body away, then resumed their round, with one making the required statement, "I'm sure Jimmy would have wanted us to do that." And earlier in the month, Arthur Mooney, 67, similarly died in the Spirit Mountain Casino in Grande Ronde, Ore., but customers continued to play slot machines while the body lay nearby on the floor for an hour.

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 8306, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33738, or Chuck Shepherd's latest paperback, "The Concrete Enema and Other News of the Weird Classics," is now available at bookstores everywhere.)

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