News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication



The unassuming town of Greensburg, Pa. (pop. 16,000, just east of Pittsburgh), was the site of two high-profile arrests recently. In July, James Kilpatrick, 21, was suspected as the man responsible for several toe-kissing incidents, including one underneath a public library table, when he allegedly kissed the feet of a 12-year-old girl and asked if he could kiss her liver. In September, Robert Domasky, 48, who cross-dresses as "Kelly," was charged with trespassing (and suspected of identity theft) after "Kelly" was found outside the girls' locker room at Greensburg Salem High School looking for the cheerleading coach. The 200-pound Domasky said he merely wanted her to teach him some cheers. In Domasky's apartment, police found cheerleader magazines and uniforms, pompoms, and photos of "Kelly" in cheerleader garb.

Nuanced Family Values

Self-described conservative Republican Larry Schwarz, formerly a legislator and parole board member in Colorado, was profiled in the Rocky Mountain News in August for his successful new career as warehouse manager and bookkeeper for his stepdaughter's pornography business. The stepdaughter had retired as a porn actress (name: "Jewel DeNyle") and formed Platinum X Pictures, Canoga Park, Calif., also employing her mother. Schwarz said he still believes in the Republican ideals of self-reliance, lower taxes and individual freedom, and believes also that he is perfectly well demonstrating "family values."

Throwing the Book at Them

Under Manitoba courts' interpretation of Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act, no part of a youth's sentence can be for the purpose of "deterrence." Consequently, Judge Ronald Meyers in August sentenced two teenagers (with 22 prior convictions between them) for three armed robberies, sending them away for eight and six months, respectively, plus some community service. Judge Meyers made the news in 2003 when he sentenced a 15-year-old who had admitted repeatedly, fatally beating a boy in the head with a sock containing a billiards ball to one day in jail (plus probation).

People Who Believe

(1) Statues at the Vietnamese Catholic Community Church in Brisbane, Australia, mysteriously began to "bleed" on May 21, bringing pilgrims from around the world to see the "miracle." Even after the Brisbane Archdiocese declared the bleeding a hoax, worshippers defiantly continued to arrive. (2) And in July, a group of 52 breast cancer patients filed a lawsuit against the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago for the school's having discontinued an experimental vaccine program. Even though the school cut the program because it had shown no clinical benefit, patients continue to demand their "vaccine."

Police Blotter

-- Acting on a drug informant's tip in 2003, detectives in Waterloo, Iowa, had a police dog "search" a car. The dog started to sniff, and then abandoned his post, but police took the car to the station anyway, where another dog sniffed it and signaled drugs. A search warrant was obtained, and owner Kirk Sallis was arrested for cocaine possession. However, in June 2004, a judge dismissed the charge, ruling that the impound was illegal, in that the first dog never "completed" the initial search, since the dog, part-way through the search, had run off to chase a cat.

-- From the police column of The Union (Grass Valley, Calif.), June 25, 2004: "A (caller) reported that he heard someone screaming and went outside to find a woman lying in the street. When he asked her if she was all right, the man reported, she started yelling at him, ran inside a residence and appeared to be smashing things inside. Police contacted the woman, who said she was just having an argument with herself."

The Litigious Society

-- LaTonya Finney and her boyfriend, Adrian Howard, somehow managed to become intimate while they were jailed, separately, in 2002 on robbery charges in Crawford County, Ga., with the result being the birth of a daughter, Adrianna. Raising the child has fallen to LaTonya's parents, Ronnie and Patricia Finney, who petitioned the county in July 2004 for financial support for Adrianna because they say the sheriff should have kept Finney and Howard far enough apart to prevent their mating.

-- In July 2003, Russell Weller, 88, made national news when he froze, with his foot on the accelerator, in Santa Monica, Calif., and plowed through a farmer's market, killing 10 people and injuring 63, in the worst of a recent spate of incidents in which senior citizens momentarily confuse the gas and brake pedals. In July 2004, families of two of the dead and nine of the injured beat the statute of limitations by filing lawsuits. Weller is named, but the main targets are the farmer's market, a local farmers' association, the Los Angeles County agriculture commissioner, the city of Santa Monica, and the state of California, all of whom were supposedly careless in allowing Weller to crash into the victims.

People With Issues

Neil Middlehurst, 49, who is blind, was ordered in June by the Kingston (England) Crown Court to refrain from behavior that had provoked numerous complaints from females who had recently helped him cross streets. Middlehurst's apparent modus operandi is to touch women affectionately as they walk, while involved in a short conversation he initiates about sore throats and "phlegm" (and the judge specifically forbade him from using that word).

Least Competent Criminals

During the recent trial in Brooklyn, N.Y., at which mob boss Joseph Massino was convicted of various charges, several tales emerged in testimony showing a less-than-efficient crime family. "Good Looking Sal" Vitale, who turned on Massino in the trial (perhaps balancing out "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, who remained loyal), admitted that Massino once got angry just before a hit when a nervous Vitale accidentally fired his submachine gun in their closet hiding place while waiting for the victims. Vitale sheepishly acknowledged that Massino immediately took the gun away from him and told him to go just monitor the door.

Almost All True

Three of these four things really happened, just recently. Are you cynical enough to figure out the made-up story? (a) A South Carolina man robbed a bank armed only with a long pitchfork. (b) Thailand, attempting to acquire fighter jets from Russia, offered to pay for them with chickens. (c) Former weapons inspector Hans Blix, in an interview, said he accepted high-profile, dangerous U.N. missions primarily so he could meet women. (d) A Navy recruiter signed up a rural Alabama woman but then, on a visit to her home, also talked her brother, father and mother into the Reserves. (Answers at end of column.)

Recurring Themes

In New York City in July, Albert Salcedo became the most recent person to shake a stubborn vending machine, have it fall over on top of him, and then file a claim blaming the machine's owner. (Salcedo had received $30,000 in a previous lawsuit after he fell through a broken fence; both the vending machine and the fence are located at public schools.) And the parents of a 15-year-old boy who died after falling into the Crooked River Gorge in Oregon (because, said rescuers, he was jumping daringly from rock to rock when one broke loose) became the most recent plaintiffs to file a lawsuit blaming the death on those who attempted a rescue.

Readers' Choice

Emergency medical technicians summoned to the home of a grossly overweight woman in Stuart, Fla., in August had the usual problems removing her (inadequate stretcher, doorways too small), but there was a more serious concern for the 480-pound woman: She had not budged from her couch in several years, and its covering had become grafted onto her skin, requiring her to be transported while on the couch (and the couch surgically removed at Martin Memorial Hospital). (She died in the hospital, of breathing complications.)

Answer to Almost All True: (c) is false (as far as I know).

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