News of the Weird

Week of August 18, 1996

-- Willie King, 37, was arrested moments after he had allegedly mugged a 94-year-old woman in a housecoat just outside her front door in New York's Greenwich Village in July. The woman is the mother of Vincent "Chin" Gigante, the reputed godfather of the Genovese crime family. (As this issue of "News of the Weird" goes to press, King is still alive.)

-- According to a report in The People newspaper in London in July, British spies who set up high-tech clandestine cameras to gain intelligence on the Irish Republican Army discovered that the cameras also recorded much kinky sex. The newspaper said the British government is planning to use some sex scenes, including episodes in which IRA leaders have sex with the wives of their jailed comrades, in an upcoming propaganda campaign.

-- Kids Lacking "Quality Time": Brian Smith, 42, was charged in Cassville, Mo., in July with locking his three kids in 55-gallon drums during the day while he was at work. And Jeffrey Hoveland, 50, pleaded guilty in St. Paul, Minn., in July to using an electrified dog collar to punish his two sons, ages 9 and 11. And Jan and Joyce Duplantis were arrested in New Orleans in June and charged with forcing their two female wards, ages 8 and 9, to live outside in a crude playhouse so as not to mess up their apartment.


-- In June, the Houston Health and Human Services Department warned of a local diarrhea outbreak caused by cyclospora. The department said two clusters of cases had been reported, the first among a group of executives of the natural gas industry meeting at a local club.

-- In June, the Arkansas State Medical Board ordered Waldo, Ark., family physician Jewel Byron Grimmett Jr. to start keeping written records. At a hearing, Grimmett told board members that he has kept all patient histories, including prescription records, only in his head for the 35 years he has been practicing medicine. Grimmett avoided license revocation because he is Waldo's only doctor and because, according to him, he treats about half his patients for free.

-- In March, after the parents of Huang Pin-jen, 27, and Chang Shu-mei, 26, of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, refused to bless their wedding, the couple opted for suicide. They drove a car off a cliff (but survived), tried to hang themselves (but survived), and leaped from atop a 12-story building (but survived, landing on an adjacent roof, suffering multiple fractures). In April, the parents reconsidered.

-- On May 23, the bodies of two Dominican Republic nationals were discovered, one near JFK Airport in Long Beach, N.Y., and the other about 10 miles from Miami (Fla.) International Airport. Both had grease marks, and after investigations, police in both places said they believed the men had fallen from the wheel wells of airliners, where they had stowed away hoping for illegal entry into the United States.


-- Fifteen New York City police officers were indicted in July and as many as 700 other city employees are under investigation for not paying federal taxes. The cops had bought fake-legal-gibberish documents (for $900 to $2,000 each) from scam artists who had convinced them that, despite the fact that they were police officers, they could legally claim not to be subject to government jurisdiction. (In the document, the officers were "nonimmigrant nonresidents" who are "alien to the United States.") In each case, the city payroll office unquestioningly accepted the form and did not withhold federal tax, in some cases for up to four years.

-- Oslo, Norway, police inspector Leif Ole Topnes admitted in July that "our body-search techniques aren't good enough." He was commenting on a male prisoner's having been locked up for two weeks in the women's jail despite having been "body-searched" at the Sola Airport and then "strip-searched" at the jail. The man was wearing female makeup and had hormone-treatment breasts, but Topnes admitted that otherwise he was obviously a man and should have been detected as such.

-- Jeffrey J. Pyrcioch, 19, and an alleged accomplice were arrested in West Lafayette, Ind., in May on theft and fraud charges. Pyrcioch allegedly cashed checks that he had written with disappearing ink, apparently believing the checks would be blank by the time they were presented to the bank for collection. However, traces of ink remained, and police said Pyrcioch would have a better chance of getting away with it if he had not used checks pre-printed with his name and account number on them.

-- In April, Edward Lopez, 19, and Eric Harb, 18, were arrested in Lincolnwood, Ill., after police were called to a Summit department store. According to a clerk, the two men had approached him and asked politely if he would permit them to pay for clothes with a stolen credit card.

-- Columbus, Ohio, police arrested Timothy E. Lebo, 39, and Charles J. Kinser, 32, around 5 a.m. on June 5 and charged them with ripping an ATM out of a bank's wall and attempting to carry it away in the trunk of their car. When questioned by police, the pair tried to convince officers that the ATM was a washing machine.

-- In March, in Clawson, Mich., and in January, in Federal Way, Wash., parents mistakenly packed cans of Bud Ice beer in their elementary schoolchildren's lunchboxes. They said they confused the Bud Ice with a Hawaiian Punch can (Clawson) and a holiday can of Pepsi (Federal Way).


-- Ms. Terry Klemann, 42, received several traffic citations and was ticketed for filing a false report after her car rammed two pickup trucks in Belleville, Ill., in July. An apparently serious Klemann steadfastly maintained that her cocker spaniel, Mutzie 2, had gotten behind the wheel and maneuvered the car into the trucks. Later, she told the Belleville News-Democrat that several years ago the original Mutzie had driven Klemann's friend's car into a tree in New York City.


-- Although Los Angeles police-beating victim Rodney King was convicted in Alhambra, Calif., in July of misdemeanor hit-and-run for injuring his estranged wife by driving away while her arm was still reaching into his car, he was acquitted of more serious charges, including assault with a deadly weapon. Outside the courtroom, a triumphant King told reporters, "I'm going to Disneyland."

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 8306, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33738, or

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600

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