News of the Weird

Week of August 4, 1996

-- At Thailand's national games in June, to select those who would represent the country in the Olympic games, the men's volleyball gold medal was won by a squad of 12 transsexuals from Northern Lampang province who have grown breasts and who dress as women but who have not yet had genital surgery. Despite the gold medal, none of the players was selected for the Olympic team.

-- In June, firefighters in El Cajon, Calif., had to rescue Heather Jaehn, 25, who had locked herself out of her house and then had gotten stuck in the chimney trying to climb in. Four days later, Felix Rivera, 33, got stuck in a rooftop vent while allegedly burglarizing a San Antonio convenience store to get a beer and had to be rescued by firefighters before police could arrest him.

-- Latest Dysfunctional Family: In May, the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Hixson, Tenn., Baptist preacher Don McCary, who had been sentenced to 72 years in prison for 13 sex offenses against four teen-age boys. His twin brother, Ron, had been serving time with him at the prison in Pikeville, Tenn., for raping a 6-year-old boy, and their older brother, Richard, a former pastor, is still wanted by authorities after pleading guilty to molesting four boys in the 1980s.

POLICE BLOTTER

-- From a May crime report in the Huntington, W.Va., Herald-Dispatch: A 17-year-old pizzeria employee was arrested for DUI at night after the store closed, and his boss was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. According to the boss, "[I]t is hard to pay people and I let him drink beer at [the pizzeria], so that he will work for free."

-- In May, Domenico Germano, 32, was sentenced to four years probation and ordered to reimburse a bank more than $5,000 in repairs. Six months earlier, after becoming frustrated that the bank's ATM would not give him any money, he pulled a gun and put four shots into it.

-- In June a judge in Anderson, Ind., first set bail at $10,000 for Virldeen Redmon, 67, who had been arrested for public intoxication and driving with a suspended license. However, he raised the bail to $100,000 when he saw Redmon's record: He has been arrested nearly 400 times on alcohol charges since 1947, had his driver's license suspended 33 times between 1947 and 1976, and had his license suspended "for life" in 1977.

-- Life Imitates Magazine Ads: In March, David Lee Smith, 41, was charged with burglary in North Knoxville, Tenn., after he broke into a home and demanded milk to drink. The occupant complied with the request and then discreetly called the police from another room. A few minutes later, officers arrived and easily distinguished Smith from the occupant, they later said, because of the ring of milk around Smith's mouth.

-- In June, according to La Vergne, Tenn., police Sgt. Carl McMillen, a man called 911 to summon officers to his home to stop his wife from pouring out all of his beer following a domestic dispute.

THE WEIRDO-AMERICAN COMMUNITY

-- In May, Stanford University won the right, over the University of California at Berkeley, to house the literary legacy of the late Pulitzer- and Oscar-winning writer William Saroyan, apparently because it also agreed to take custody of Saroyan's nonliterary property. Because Saroyan was a compulsive collector, his nonliterary archives include, among other things, hundreds of boxes of rocks, matchbook covers, old newspapers (numbering in the thousands), labels peeled off cans, and a plastic bag filled with about 10,000 rubber bands.

-- In June, a grand jury on Long Island, N.Y., returned indictments against three men who allegedly plotted to poison Suffolk County officials with radioactive substances in their food. The three men, John J. Ford, Joseph Mazzuchelli and Edward Zabo, believe that a UFO crashed on Long Island in 1995 and was being covered up by the government, and eliminating the officials would make it easier for the three men to gain power and expose the crash. Said district attorney James M. Catterson, "This all convinces me that there is a side to humanity that defies definition."

-- In June, the man who has stalked singer Barbara Mandrell for 15 years, Ed Carlson, was convicted of trespassing at Mandrell's home in Nashville, Tenn., and was given a suspended sentence provided he returns home to Minnesota. According to Mandrell's husband, Carlson has sent the singer such things over the years as a case of corn flakes, dirty clothes, four bicycles and a rusty wrench.

-- In his recent book, "Cosmic Voyage," Courtney Brown, a young, tenured political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, claims he has used the technique of "remote viewing" to travel visually through space and time, to observe another galaxy, and to talk with Jesus. Brown, pointing to his impressive resume (which includes a stint at the Jimmy Carter Center), defends his work against skeptics: "I'd be crazy if I went public with something like this without being certain about what's going on." Since he believes there is a Martian civilization in New Mexico, he admits that if NASA's probe of Mars next year contradicts him, "I'd be dead as an academic."

-- In May, a Portuguese-American, Dr. Manuel Luciano da Silva, spoke at the Newport (R.I.) Public Library, delivering his 327th largely unpersuasive lecture on the reasons why he believes Portugal discovered America even before Columbus was born.

-- In June a judge in Burbank, Calif., ordered Vincent Paul Fanelli II to stand trial for raping six prostitutes. According to the police, each attack began with Fanelli scolding the woman for being a prostitute and then spanking her.

UPDATE

Recent Afghanistan immigrant Mohammad Kargar made News of the Weird in November 1994 when he was charged in Portland, Maine, with sexual abuse for kissing the penis of his 18-month-old son, an event that was reported to authorities by neighborhood kids. Kargar and many Afghani-Americans testified that such affection is common in Afghanistan until the boy is 3 or 4 years old, but Kargar was convicted, anyway. In June 1996, the Maine Supreme Court accepted the cultural argument and overturned the conviction.

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 8306, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33738, or 74777.3206@compuserve.com.)

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