News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

LEAD STORIES

-- The Classic Middle Name: Conan Wayne Hale, 20, a triple-homicide suspect who allegedly confessed to a priest in Portland, Ore., has been fighting for three months now to have the confession ruled inadmissible in court on freedom of religion grounds. And escaped murderer Michael Wayne Thompson was recaptured in July near Farmersburg, Ind. And a few days later, Danny Wayne Owens, 38, was arrested in Birmingham, Ala., for allegedly murdering a neighbor. (Among other prominent middle-name Waynes: serial killers John Wayne Gacy of Illinois and Elmer Wayne Henley of Texas; recently executed Arizona murderer Jimmy Wayne Jeffers; sadistic Louisiana murderer Robert Wayne Sawyer; the Ohio Aryan Nations member caught last year with freeze-dried bubonic plague bacteria, Larry Wayne Harris; the Oklahoma rapist recently sentenced to 21,000 years in prison, Allan Wayne McLaurin; and of course John Wayne Bobbitt.)

-- Monika and Mark Skinner filed a $35 million lawsuit in July in Newport News, Va., in connection with the 1994 death of their son, age 16, who was riding in a car that drove off a road and plunged into a lake. Among the defendants: Kmart, which sold a computer cleaning product to the car's driver, which he and the Skinner boy used to get high by "huffing"; two engineering consulting firms that designed the lake that the car fell into; and the company that designed the road the car was traveling on because it should have been farther away from the lake.

-- In August, the St. Louis Art Museum filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against the Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and other parties, because a Whitney guard damaged a Roy Lichtenstein painting while it was on loan to the Whitney. According to the lawsuit, guard Reginald Walker, 21 at the time, drew a heart and "Reggie + Crystal 1/26/91" on the painting with a felt-tip marker and wrote, "I love you Tushee, Love, Buns."

THE CONTINUING CRISIS

-- The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman reported that writer-actor Stephen Grant, who starred in a film based on gunman Charles Whitman's 1966 assault from the University of Texas tower (and who bears an uncanny physical resemblance to Whitman) was himself shot by a stray bullet on a street near the tower in March on his first visit to Austin.

-- According to a May report in The New York Times, one of Argentina's most popular radio programs is "Loony Radio," produced by and featuring patients at the Borda Psychiatric Hospital in Buenos Aires. One presents "The Bolivian Minute" show but usually giggles uncontrollably until the producer reminds him that he is on the air. Another man delivers philosophy lectures claiming to be "more schizophrenic than anyone" and says he is anxious with every incoming patient because he fears losing his title. One of Argentina's best-known talk radio hosts says the patients are often more insightful than his callers are.

-- In May, Harlan County (Ky.) prosecutor Alan Wagers said his office would help Denise Rush, 27, appeal a trial court's denial of her lawsuit to get the father of her child to pay support. The father was 14 at the time, making Rush apparently guilty of statutory rape, but she was never prosecuted.

-- The Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal reported in April that private security officer David Anderson Jones, 51, who is fully certified by the state to be capable of physical work such as breaking through barriers and crawling in confined spaces, among other physical tasks, was granted a handicapped parking permit by another state office because of a sinus problem.

-- The Broome, Australia, town council recently required that the camels that carry tourists on commercial nighttime rides along Cable Beach be outfitted with flashing, battery-operated taillights, according to a July Associated Press story.

CLICHES COME TO LIFE

-- An entire 86-member jury pool for a criminal case in Centerville, Tenn. (population 16,000), in July had to be dismissed because, according to prosecutor Ron Davis, too many members of the pool were related to each other.

-- Jim Baen, publisher of Newt Gingrich's novel "1945," told reporters in August that almost 100,000 copies are stockpiled in a warehouse in Bristol, Pa., and that if they are not bought soon, they will suffer the usual fate of surplus books -- to be converted to pulp and used for such things as toilet paper.

-- Davenport, Iowa, police arrested a 34-year-old man in April and charged him with indecent exposure along a busy city street. The police were alerted by two women in a car who said they first spotted the man, then drove by again to confirm what they had seen.

-- In the Journal of Abnormal Psychology released in August, a University of Georgia researcher concluded that a group of homophobic men (men who feared and hated homosexuals and dreaded being close to them) contained twice as many men who were sexually aroused by erotic photos of men as did an equal group of nonhomophobic men.

-- In Sri Lanka, where monogamy is the law, Mr. Pavulupitiyage Gunapala, 35, was jailed in May on the complaint of the latest of his 15 current wives. (Police also found love letters to another 54 women.) The basis of the complaint was that the man was not faithful.

LEAST JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDES

In July, college president John Upton was arrested in Allegan, Mich., for murdering his wife, allegedly because, he said, "She was demanding a great number of things that weren't feasible." And in June, Ross Horton admitted at his trial in Honolulu that he killed his business partner in 1993 after the man criticized his ability to lay tile, which Horton takes seriously as "an art form." On the same day, according to police in Sauk Centre, Minn., Paul Crawford shot four neighbors and himself to death to culminate a feud over a 5-foot strip of land that separates their properties.

UPDATE

The virtually semi-annual student cheating riots in Bangladesh were first reported in News of the Weird in September 1988. Then, students so adamant and blatant about the right to receive outside help when taking national placement exams sparked a rampage in which more than 500 people were injured. This year, in March, in Kanpur, India, all high school final exams had to be taken barefoot to discourage students from carrying notes in their shoes. And in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in July, hundreds of children scaled walls to pass notes to their friends taking high school entrance exams despite the presence of more than 100 police officers who ringed the school in anticipation of the cheating.

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

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