News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication



The Ohio High School Athletic Association apologized to football player Bobby Martin of Colonel White High in Dayton after the referees barred him from a September game because he was not wearing the required shoes and knee pads. Martin was born without legs and plays on the punt return team, moving quickly around the field with his arms. An OHSAA official said the referees were just being overly cautious, but Martin said, "That's the first time in 17 years" that someone had made him feel disabled. (At halftime, Martin briefly considered tying some shoes around his chest and attempting again to play.)

Can't Possibly Be True

-- Inmate Scott Bolton filed a lawsuit in September against the Luzerne County, Pa., prison and a slew of corrections officials, blaming them for the severe injuries he suffered in a 2003 alleged escape attempt, claiming that tighter security would have foiled his breakout. Bolton suffered spinal cord injuries (which have permanently confined him to a wheelchair) when fellow inmate-conspirator Hugo Selenski pushed Bolton out of a window, several floors up, apparently to speed their leaping exit. Asked a corrections commissioner, incredulously, "(An inmate) is dumb enough to act as a human mattress for Hugo, and (we're) responsible?"

-- Reba Schappell, of Reading, Pa., a professional country music singer who is also a conjoined twin with sister Lori, was profiled in a September segment of the BBC radio series "Who Runs Your World." Said Reba, "When I am singing, Lori is like any other fan, except she's up on the stage with me (covered in a blanket to reduce the distraction)." Said Lori: "I do not ask for anything from Reba. I don't get in to her concerts free just because she's a conjoined twin. I have to pay, just like every other fan that comes to the concert."

Questionable Judgments

-- (1) Stephen Sodones, 62, was hospitalized in critical condition in August but ultimately recovered after being bitten three times on the hand by a copperhead snake, which he was helpfully carrying to safety across Route 23 near Jefferson, N.J.; according to a neighbor interviewed by the Newark Star-Ledger, animal-lover Sodones stops traffic to let ducks cross roads and once tried to revive a bumblebee by warming it in his hands. (2) Delshawn Prejean, 35, was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla., in June after a Starbuck's waitress squealed on him for leaving a small pile of marijuana as a tip.

-- At the Weavers School in Wellingborough, England, teachers were told in August to tolerate 15- and 16-year-old students' cussing, even the "f word," at least up to five times per class. According to London's Daily Mail, the teachers were to merely keep a count of the words on the board, which the school believes shows tolerance for occasional bad language, but which more cynical teachers and parents believe will encourage the students to max out usage in each class.

Signs of the Times

(1) Ismael Velasquez, 47, was convicted of drug possession in Round Rock, Texas, in September because he failed at flushing his baggie of cocaine down the toilet of a Shell station; police attributed their evidence-recovery success to the station's new, low-flow toilet, which caused the baggie just to swirl around. (2) Among the latest citizens to (as per the First Amendment) "peaceably assemble" and "petition government for a redress of grievances" were "hundreds" of sex offenders who gathered in September in Palm Bay, Fla., to protest the town's severe restrictions on where they can live and travel.


(1) Hungry Howie's Pizza deliveryman Thomas Stefanelli, 37, was shot in the leg during a June robbery in Tampa, Fla., as he made his rounds, but he fought the robbers off and, not really aware that the pain in his leg was from a gunshot, dutifully delivered his other four pizzas before returning to the store and examining his wound. (2) In London, in July, an unnamed teenager was rescued from a construction site at 4 a.m., about 10 stories up on the arm of a crane, which she had climbed during an apparent sleepwalking episode; she had to be brought down on a hydraulic lift.

Family Values

(1) Pastor Marshall Wedderburn was given a "conditional" sentence and probation by a court in Kitchener, Ontario, in June after he admitted that he had whipped his 11-year-old daughter in church with a microphone cord because she appeared not to be paying attention to his sermon. (2) Elaine Walker became the latest parent to decide to relocate without letting her child know about it. She moved out of their home in Redmire, England, in July, leaving the equivalent of about $40 to her 15-year-old daughter, along with a note announcing that she and an older daughter had moved to Turkey (where she had recently met a man).

Fetishes on Parade

(1) Toru Nagasawa, 29, a construction worker in Kawasaki, Japan, was arrested in July after allegedly forcing a man to give up his contact lenses; at his home, police later recovered 124 pairs of eyeglasses and 30 pairs of contacts, stored in plastic bags. (2) Stephen Schroeder, 60, was arrested in Wilmington, N.C., in August, as the man who has been stealing teenage boys' clothes for 25 years, with an inventory of 137 pairs of shoes and enough other items to fill a van and a truck. According to police, Schroeder said he had a need to "hold" and "possess" the clothes.

Least Competent Criminals

Kim Bedwell, 52, and Gladys Bedwell, 50, were arrested for alleged marijuana manufacturing in Clarkston, Wash., in September, discovered when police happened to chase a black bear through their neighborhood and into the Bedwells' back yard. Apparently, frightened that the commotion was a drug raid, Kim tried to toss a marijuana plant over a high fence, but it landed on one of the officers. And in San Jacinto, Texas, in May, William Bluder, 21, was arrested for armed robbery but attempted to escape by diving head-first through some bushes outside a convenience store. However, unknown to Bluder, the bushes obscured a brick wall, which he hit with full force.

Cultural Diversity

-- Royalty by Opportunistic Encounter: After a lifelong search, Marty Johnson, a Minnesota mortgage broker, finally located and visited his birth father this year, according to an ABC News report. Dad is John Ogike, who was an exchange student from Nigeria when he had a brief affair with Marty's mother, who gave Marty up for adoption, but today John Ogike is chief of the Aboh village in Nigeria, and Marty will be accepted as the new chief upon his dad's death (but Marty is unsure whether to accept).

-- Human Rights in Action: The Sri Lankan Daily News reported in September that the government's cabinet has decided to lower the age of consent for sex from 16 to 13 because, according to Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, too many men were being arrested under the old law. Also in September, Nepal's Supreme Court ordered the government to ban the traditional practice of confining women to cow sheds during their menstrual periods.

Undignified Deaths

A 49-year-old woman and her 30-year-old daughter were accidentally run over and killed in August in Indianapolis as they scuffled with each other just after midnight and rolled into the street, in front of an oncoming car. And a 38-year-old man whose family owns the Catacombs Extreme Scream Halloween attraction in Kansas City, Mo., was killed while working on the exhibit when the horror house's elevator malfunctioned.

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