-- At press time for this issue of News of the Weird, Broward County (Fla.) high school senior Adam (A.J.) Walker is still on the list of possible admittees to the Air Force Academy in the fall, despite his 1998 no-contest plea to attempting to blow up his high school. Walker told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper that the academy solicited him because he is a standout athlete (golf) and that he applied "out of curiosity." His 1998 plea covered charges of attempted murder, armed burglary, placing a destructive device and conspiracy.
Brenda Anne Sorochan, 41, convicted after assaulting a 79-year-old woman, Edmonton, Alberta, January (explanation: Sorochan is a manic-depressive who forgot her medication). Swiss airline passenger Thomas Dolder, 39, released from a facility in Halifax, Nova Scotia, after assaulting a flight crew in October (explanation: psychotic who forgot his medication in his checked baggage). Former Detroit police officer Paul Harrington, 53, charged in October with killing his wife and children (explanation: severe depressive who ran out of medication). Brian Drepaul, 25, shot by police trying to break into his estranged wife's home, Brampton, Ontario, October (explanation: schizophrenic who refused his medication).
-- From the confessions of Pakistan's notorious serial killer Javed Iqbal, whom police were unable to catch but who surrendered in December after having murdered 100 young men: "I could have killed 500. This was not a problem. Money was not a problem. But the pledge I had taken (when I started the spree) was of 100 children, and I never wanted to violate this."
-- Under pressure from the National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a Holiday Inn in downtown Minneapolis agreed in January to pay $8,000 each to nine undocumented immigrants from Mexico whom it had fired for helping with a union organizing drive. One EEOC official compared the men to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks for fighting their dismissals, even though they were unlawfully holding the jobs from which they were fired.
-- In January, a Teamsters union local in Chicago, having picketed Donnellan Funeral Home for several months, decided to step up the protests during a funeral and began to yell chants as a woman's body was taken from Donnellan to a church, where shouts of "Who are we? We are Teamsters!" greeted family members' solemn arrivals. Next time, vowed a union official, picketers would proceed on to the graveside ceremony with their chanting.
-- Tampa, Fla., prosecutors, and defendants Steven and Marlene Aisenberg (charged with lying to police in connection with the disappearance of their baby Sabrina in 1997, and suspected by some of causing the disappearance), announced in January 2000 that they had different interpretations of a conversation on a police audio tape from the Aisenbergs' home shortly after Sabrina disappeared. The prosecutors' version of Steven's words: "I wish I hadn't harmed her" and "That's the cocaine." The Aisenbergs' version of the very same moments: "You know, I'm just saying, honey, because (garbled) feel this way (garbled) people," followed by Marlene asking, "Do you want some more salad, honey?"
-- In December, members of a science class at Elizabethton (Tenn.) High School created a Nativity scene out of dissected cadavers of cats as part of a homeroom decorating contest. After many protests, a school official told reporters that the teacher was "shocked" that anyone had interpreted the scene as anti-Nativity and said she thought most reactions to the display were positive.
-- At an anti-drug ceremony under the protection of Mexican army personnel at a dig on a hillside in Ciudad Juarez, in December, Mexican and U.S. officials, including FBI Director Louis Freeh, unearthed the remains of murdered victims at a drug trafficker's farm. According to a New York Times report of the ceremony, the Mexican government had also provided a dozen local women in black miniskirts, low-cut blouses and high heels, wearing "Hostess" nametags, to line the routes to the graves.
-- In November a jury in San Francisco acquitted Albertinah Mkhize, 71, of all charges in the June 1999 traffic death of a 10-month-old boy in a crosswalk during a right turn by Mkhize. A few hours before the collision, Mkhize had flunked her state driver's test for making an unsafe left turn. According to a police investigation, Mkhize's brakes were fine, but she convinced a jury that they were, unknown to her, defective.
Adam Brooks Jr., 17, admitted to a judge in Columbus, Ohio, in March that he was the one who broke into a woman's home, tied her up, and stole the car out of her garage. According to the victim, a 76-year-old woman, after Brooks tied her up, he came back in from the garage three times before finally leaving, twice to get her to teach him how to use the garage-door opener and once to tell him how to operate a car with automatic transmission.
In March, police at Bogota's El Dorado airport arrested a woman with about 4 pounds of cocaine sewn into her oversized, flesh-colored underwear; though the garments were designed to allay suspicion, they made her breasts and buttocks look large and unnaturally shaped. And a week earlier, Tirsa Ruiz, 43, attempted to smuggle a 7.65mm pistol in her rectum to a leftist-rebel inmate at Colombia's La Picota prison; inside the prison, she was unable to expel the gun and was rushed to a hospital with severe cramps.
Hospitals in developing countries continue to have cash-flow problems, as reported in News of the Weird in 1996 (Zaire) and 1999 (Iran), where strong-arm tactics have been used on patients who cannot pay their bills. In January 2000, friends brought mugging victim Wilson Owuor to a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, but were turned away when Owuor was unable to make a deposit. The men commandeered a stretcher, put Owuor on it, and took him to his branch of the Kenya Commercial Bank to withdraw money so that he could be admitted to the hospital.
The Humane Society removed from the adoption list a parrot whose previous owner had taught him to cuss and make a noise like a human passing gas (Charlotte, N.C.). In a case of mistaken identity, a dentist removed two teeth of an 8-year-old boy who was merely waiting for his sister in the reception area (Auburn, Calif.). Five teen-agers were charged with assaulting another, including holding him down and pricking an elaborate tattoo into his arm (Waldorf, Md.). Four miners dynamited the entrance to their mine to protest sagging ore prices, thus entombing themselves 900 feet underground (Tocopilla, Chile). A coroner changed a cause of death from traffic accident to murder after finding a bullet in the deceased's skull, but later learned the woman had been shot in 1978 and just never bothered to have the bullet removed (Houston).
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or Weird@compuserve.com, or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com/.)