News of the Weird

Week of April 22, 2001


-- The Cleveland Plain Dealer revealed in April that 12 Ohio government agencies have spent more than $50,000 in the last three years on humor consultants to help them do their work more effectively. The Department of Job and Family Services, recently criticized for misspending money on faulty computer programs, shelled out nearly $25,000 (for the purpose of "contribut(ing) to positive attitudinal perceptions of workplace transitions," according to its contract with Humor Consultants Inc.).

-- Case Western Reserve (Cleveland, Ohio) medical school professor Robert White, interviewed on a British TV program in April, said his monkey-to-monkey head transplant was a partial success (in that the patient lived for a while) and that, with improvements, the procedure could one day be used on humans. However, a critic, Dr. Stephen Rose, disputed that the recipient monkey was functional, contending that the brain's only connection to the body it was serving was a shared blood supply: "All you're doing is keeping a severed head alive."

-- In March, a federal judge in Alabama ruled in favor of the owners of the Eastwood Texaco station on Montclair Road in Birmingham in their lawsuit against the 11-nation oil cartel OPEC for price-fixing violations of U.S. antitrust law. The organization was forbidden by Judge Charles Weiner from reducing its oil production for one year, which is its favorite method of raising prices.

People Different From Us

John Webb, 53, was ticketed by Janesville, Wis., police for disorderly conduct in March for an incident in a grocery store's express line. According to the police report, Webb three times confronted a woman ahead of him who had 11 items (limit is 10), finally bellowing that he had served his country in two wars and "did not have to serve any more time behind people who could not (expletive deleted in a Janesville Gazette story) count." After the two drove off, Webb allegedly deliberately swerved in front of her on the street.

The Classic Middle Name (All-New)

Charged with murder: Rocky Wayne McGowan, 20 (Russell Springs, Ky., February); Mark Wayne Jennings, 30 (Charles County, Va., March); Derrick Wayne Kualapai Sr., 51 (Oakland, Calif., February); Michael Wayne Eggers, 33 (Walker County, Ala., January); David Wayne Smith, 39 (Virginia Beach, Va., April); Timothy Wayne Border, 38 (Fort Worth, Texas, April). Mistrial declared in murder trial: David Wayne Kunze, 50 (Vancouver, Wash., March). Held for questioning in the murder of his wife: John Wayne Boggs Jr., 35 (Cedar City, Utah, February).

Police Blotter

-- Louisville, Ky., police, in the midst of a project to clear out backlogged cases, took Leanndra Taylor, 14, into custody in the middle of classes on March 26, according to a WLKY-TV report, and booked her on a 1995 warrant accusing her of shoplifting a 59-cent candy bar.

-- An Alachua County (Fla.) sheriff's deputy and a law-enforcement intern were reprimanded in March because they were not acting professionally during a drug bust in Gainesville in which 16 marijuana plants were recovered, along with 160 grams of dope and various drug paraphernalia. Superiors caught the two, in the middle of the raid, seated at a table in the apartment, playing Scrabble with the suspect's game.

-- More Stories for the Immature Reader: In March, the district attorney in Beaver County, Pa., after several months' consultation with banks, finally deposited $2,150 it had seized from arrestee Regina Griffin in November; a hygiene problem had been created because Griffin had been storing the roll of bills in her genitals. And Indiana State Police arrested John L. Hester, 51, in February and charged him in connection with a scheme to smuggle tobacco to inmates at the prison in Pendleton, Ind.; Hester was in charge of bringing cattle to the prison farm for slaughter and allegedly stored contraband cigarettes in plastic bags inside cows' rectums.

The Laws of Irony Are Strictly Enforced

-- In February, Robert Valle, 58, a Catholic parishioner at the St. Thomas the Apostle Church, filed a lawsuit against the Joliet (Ill.) Diocese because the namesake statue in front of the church fell over on him while he was doing volunteer repair work on it in 1999; St. Thomas the Apostle is the patron saint of builders and construction workers. And two weeks later, schoolteacher Anthony Farrell, 50, was charged with pointing a loaded .357 Magnum at another man in a case of road rage in St. Charles, Mo.; part of Farrell's course load for the last five years was teaching driver education.

-- The New Fire Crisis: Earlier this year, fire stations in Columbia, Tenn., and Tampa, Fla., were found in violation of local fire codes (lacking smoke detectors and other equipment). And in March, careless cigarette-smoking in a fire engine on the way to fight a fire in Kushima, Japan, set the vehicle's seats ablaze. And the Bethells Beach fire station in Auckland, New Zealand, burned to the ground in March, caused by defective wiring, as firefighters watched helplessly (in that all their equipment was inside).

Least Competent People in Albuquerque

Jeffrey Thomas Anaya, 35, was arrested on March 4 for allegedly robbing a Chevron station; he was arrested in the parking lot, where he was soliciting help because he couldn't find the keys to his getaway car. Three days later, Timothy E. Beach, 23, a former manager of a Taco Bell, was arrested for allegedly robbing his store of about $2,000; according to police, Beach could not resist identifying himself during the heist to a former colleague and so briefly lifted his ski mask and said, "It's me, Tim."

Least Justifiable Homicides

-- A 17-year-old boy was charged with beating his father to death with a baseball bat because he was tired of Dad's admonishing him to turn down the music (Syracuse, N.Y., March). And a sheriff's deputy and a police officer were shot to death, allegedly by the 41-year-old man to whose home the officers were called on a complaint about a loud stereo (Centreville, Md., February). And a 48-year-old man was sentenced to 99 years in prison for killing a street musician, allegedly because the victim did not know the killer's favorite songs ("El Guajolote" and "The Turkey") (Corpus Christi, Texas, March).

Also, in the Last Month ...

A 27-year-old woman received two speeding tickets (one for going about 100 mph) in 20 minutes in her quest to race to the Land Rover dealership because her lease was set to expire in just a few minutes (Windsor, Ontario). A judge OK'd charging a 50-year-old man with rape even though the man had never met the victim (but merely tricked her on the phone into penetrating herself) (Passaic County, N.J.). Twenty-two poised skydivers had to stay with their troubled single-engine plane until it emergency-landed in an airfield (result: injuries but no fatalities) (Decatur, Texas). Police in Berkeley, Calif., arrested a man for running a parking-ticket scam, featuring his own authentic-looking, highly detailed citations placed on illegally parked cars, with envelopes for mailing fines to his post office box.

(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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