By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
*Only the Falcons Were More Disappointed: On Super Bowl Sunday, the St. Petersburg Times profiled local resident Joffre Leggett, age 80, as he prepared for the Publishers Clearing House prize patrol, which he claimed would be arriving at his house later that day with $31 million. He proudly displayed the rooms full of magazines he had bought over the past two years ($5000 worth, though he complained to a reporter about his lack of food and heat and his broken-down car) and pointed to the latest PCH mailings, which Leggett said "[read] like I'm gonna win. They've sent me plenty of [literature] that says I will [win]." He didn't.
*Edward L. Bodkin, age 56, was arrested in February in Huntington, Indiana, and charged with performing surgery without a license. Police said Bodkin removed the testicles of at least five consenting men and was ready to operate again when a patient who got cold feet handed over to police a videotape Bodkin had loaned him, which showed some of the surgeries. Some of the testicles were said to be in jars in Bodkin's apartment. As to the patients' motives, prosecutor John Branham said, "I can't sit here as a reasonable human being and give you an intelligent answer to that."
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
*In December the New York company Joe Boxer set up ten vending machines in the city to sell men's underwear in pop-top cans. Representatives said they hope to roll out 100 more in 1999.
*In December in Overijse, Belgium, horticulturist Luc Mertes introduced a line of skirts and dresses made of live grass that will continue to grow as long as the material stays damp. And in January Heather Joy of Glenpool, Oklahoma, showed an Associated Press reporter her handcrafted bags made from bull scrotums, priced at $110 and up. Also in January a Melbourne, Australia, company called Liquor Pops drew criticism when it announced its intention to market Popsicle-type products, with six percent alcohol, in melon, pineapple, and orange flavors.
Least Competent Criminals
*In January three men broke into a house in St. Paul, Minnesota, and beat a man whom they say owed them money. They left after firing a shot over the man's head to scare him, but on the way out, their gun accidentally discharged, hitting one of the three in the buttocks. The men were arrested when a police officer saw the distinctly wounded man on the street. Three days later in Newark, New Jersey, Andre Gordon, age 27, was arrested after pistol-whipping a 25-year-old man. Gordon's gun accidentally discharged after the assault, firing a bullet through his own arm and into his leg.
*News of the Weird has reported several times on the phenomenon of houses that are inexplicably, almost pathologically, cluttered, but tragedy recently struck twice around Columbus, Ohio. A 70-year-old man in the Clintonville neighborhood shot himself to death in February rather than face the consequences of a health department order to clean up his house and yard. "I'm not a good housekeeper, I grant you that," said the man's wife. Six weeks earlier, a 60-year-old man in nearby Whitehall, Ohio, died of a heart problem after his wife declined to call 911 because she was afraid authorities would discover the couple's messy house and arrest her.
-- By Chuck Shepherd