News of the Weird

Week of May 21, 2000

-- In past years, a favorite summer fund-raising game for some parishes in the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati has involved placing a small rat on a roulette-type wheel, spinning the wheel, and selling bets on which slot the rat will stagger to. This year, however, according to a Scripps Howard News Service report, local animal rights activists have protested, but in early responses, at least one parish has vowed to continue the game anyway. Said one activist, "The Church said it was OK to spin animals. What's to keep someone from going home and putting their cat in a dryer?"

-- Fox Network's Far-Ranging Influence: On April 27, a reporter for Russia's RTR television arrived in the town of Ivanovo to shoot a piece on a housewife merrily feeding her family while her soldier-husband was away serving as a peacekeeper in Kosovo. However, the reporter had received word minutes before that the husband had just been killed on duty. Thus, the reporter shot some "before" scenes, in which the carefree wife earnestly spoke of her husband's imminent return, and then the "after" scene, featuring uncontrollable crying after the reporter broke the news to her.

Latest Hate-Crime News

In January, the general manager of a Ford-Toyota dealership in Lake City, Fla., told reporters that the acid-splashing vandalism on his lot should be punished as a hate crime because only Fords were hit. And in Berlin, Germany, owners of pit bulls and other aggressive breeds planned a May protest against proposed legislation to ban the dogs; organizers planned to dress their dog-victims with yellow Stars of David, which is what Third-Reich-era Jews were forced to wear as identification.

Police Blotter

-- Recent Weapons: In a bar fight, one woman hit another on the head with a toilet lid (Rock Island, Ill., January). A 21-year-old man wielding a small python robbed a convenience store (Oklahoma City, December). A man holding a dildo and wearing a jockstrap over his head robbed a Hungry Howie's of $40 (Toledo, Ohio, February). A man robbed an adult sex shop, menacingly waving a vibrating tongue at the clerk (Pinellas Park, Fla., February).

-- Those Compassionate Canadians: The man who cleaned out the cash register at a Tim Hortons doughnut shop in Hamilton, Ontario, in February came back a few minutes later and returned the portion of the money that had been segregated as employees' tips. And in April, recently released sex-assaulter Jody Robinson, 33, offered one of his kidneys to his 1996 victim, who is awaiting a transplant.

-- Great Detective Work: Suspicious police in Spokane, Wash., after questioning Harold Anthony Mazzei, 32, at a January traffic stop, decided to arrest him: The only way Mazzei could turn off his car's engine was using pliers and a screwdriver (and, indeed, the car was stolen). And in February, suspicious police in Chicago decided to arrest Steven Coleman, 24, for robbing a family sewing-machine shop and provoking a fracas while the owner was heating chicken noodle soup for lunch: Coleman was later spotted nearby with noodles in his hair. And in November, suspicious police in Sydney, Nova Scotia, decided to arrest a 38-year-old man on drug charges after encountering him dazed with syringes hanging from both arms.

-- Police in Dublin, Ohio, arrested alleged veteran thief Rudolf Nyari, 64, in April for taking a diamond bracelet from Leo Alfred Jewelers. Nyari had handled the bracelet, then left the store, after which an employee noticed it missing. Police, aided by a license-plate number, stopped Nyari just outside town, searched his car fruitlessly, and threatened to take him for x-rays. Later, according to a detective, Nyari "drank several glasses of water and smoked cigarettes to build up enough phlegm to cough (the bracelet) up." The bracelet was 7 inches long and contained 39 diamonds.

The Continuing Crisis

-- A court in Lusaka, Zambia, issued a final divorce decree in March to John Sakapenda and Goretti Muyutu, despite Ms. Muyutu's last-second, unsuccessful attempt to persuade the judges that, by custom of her village of Chingola, the couple was obligated for one last round of sexual intercourse.

-- In December, the longtime North Korean ambassador to China issued another of his periodic rants in Beijing denouncing the 150-mile-long, high (16 to 26 feet tall) and thick (33 to 62 feet wide) concrete "wall of division" that South Korea built 20 years ago that "artificially bisects" Korea. Despite the vividness of the description, according to The New York Times and numerous diplomats from many countries who have visited the area, there is no wall there of any kind and never has been.

-- In Englewood, Fla., in February, minutes after Judy Neuhaus had scolded her son Ryan for not taking better care of his 1995 Mercury Cougar, a sputtering, single-engine Cessna cleared some trees and fell nose-first onto the car, doing considerable damage to both vehicles but not seriously injuring the pilot.


Mob informant Tommy Del Giorno, living a new life under the federal witness security program (quoted in a New York Times story in January): "Legitimate people are worse than mob people. All the time I was in the mob, I never really wanted to kill anybody. Out here in the legitimate world, there's 10 people I've met that I would kill."

Recurring Themes

In 1997 News of the Weird reported that a female murder suspect had sued Kiowa County, Okla., after an inmate had sex with her, impregnating her, through the bars of their respective cells in the county lockup. In February 2000, Britain's Prison Service launched an inquiry after Donna Stokes, 19, became pregnant after her boyfriend had sex with her through the bars of their temporary cells in the Swansea Crown Court building while both were awaiting a hearing on burglary and theft charges. Said Stokes of the couple's brief encounter: "We hadn't seen each other for months."

Thinning the Herd

-- In April, a 43-year-old recreational snow-machiner was killed in an avalanche in Alaska's Hoodoo Mountains while "highmarking," or driving to hit ever-higher peaks on the slopes; earlier that day, he had been pulled, in shock, from another avalanche after highmarking and advised by rescuers to quit. And a 30-year-old motorcyclist was crushed to death near Phoenix in December after an apparent road-rage incident in which he sped up quickly to overtake a pickup truck, swerved in front of it, and then deliberately slammed on the brakes.

Also, in the Last Month ...

A 39-year-old man was convicted of selling cocaine, with an enhanced penalty because the deal took place near Rosemary Minor Park, which is named for a deceased community activist, who was the man's mother (New Orleans). A handcuffed stolen-car suspect allegedly took $23 from a state trooper's wallet while in custody in the front seat of a cruiser (Frederick, Md.). A 39-year-old driver, scheduled to report to prison in two weeks for his fourth DUI conviction, drove drunk and collided with another car, killing a 5-year-old boy (Stockton, Calif.). Thieves dug up and stole almost an entire backyard garden (trees, ornaments, shrubbery and cement pond) (Bristol, England). A medical journal reported that large-breasted women are more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome than small-breasted women (Tuscaloosa, Ala.).

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or, or go to

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

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