*Coincidental middle names: Conan Wayne Hale, age twenty, a triple-homicide suspect who allegedly confessed to a priest in Portland, Oregon, has been fighting for three months now to have the confession ruled inadmissible in court on the grounds of freedom of religion. And escaped murderer Michael Wayne Thompson was recaptured in July near Farmersburg, Indiana. And a few days later, Danny Wayne Owens, age 38, was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, for allegedly murdering a neighbor. (Among other prominent middle-name Waynes: serial killers John Wayne Gacy of Illinois and Elmer Wayne Henley of Texas; recently executed Arizona murderer Jimmy Wayne Jeffers; sadistic Louisiana murderer Robert Wayne Sawyer; the Ohio Aryan Nations member caught last year with freeze-dried bubonic plague bacteria, Larry Wayne Harris; the Oklahoma rapist recently sentenced to 21,000 years in prison, Allan Wayne McLaurin; and of course John Wayne Bobbitt.)
*Monika and Mark Skinner filed a $35 million lawsuit in July in Newport News, Virginia, in connection with the 1994 death of their sixteen-year-old son, who was riding in a car that went off the road and plunged into a lake. Among the defendants: Kmart, which sold a computer-cleaning product to the car's driver, which he and the Skinner boy used to get high by "huffing"; two engineering consulting firms that designed the lake that the car fell into; and the company that designed the road the car was traveling on because it should have been farther away from the lake.
The Continuing Crisis
*According to a May report in the New York Times, one of Argentina's most popular radio programs is Loony Radio, produced by and featuring patients at the Borda Psychiatric Hospital in Buenos Aires. One host presents The Bolivian Minute show but usually giggles uncontrollably until the producer reminds him that he is on the air. Another man delivers philosophy lectures, claims to be "more schizophrenic than anyone," and says he is anxious about every incoming patient because he fears losing his title. One of Argentina's best-known talk radio hosts says the patients are often more insightful than his callers are.
*The Broome, Australia, town council recently required that the camels carrying tourists on commercial nighttime rides along Cable Beach be outfitted with flashing battery-operated taillights, according to a July Associated Press story.
Cliches Come to Life
*The entire 86-member jury pool for a criminal case in Centerville, Tennessee (population 16,000), had to be dismissed in July because too many people were related to each other.
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*In Sri Lanka, where monogamy is the law, Mr. Pavulupitiyage Gunapala, age 35, was jailed in May on the complaint of the newest of his fifteen wives. (Police also found love letters to another 54 women.) The basis of the complaint was that the man was not faithful.
Least Justifiable Homicide
*In July college president John Upton was arrested in Allegan, Michigan, for murdering his wife, allegedly because, he said, "she was demanding a great number of things that weren't feasible." And in June, Ross Horton admitted at his trial in Honolulu that he killed his business partner in 1993 after the man criticized his ability to lay tile, which Horton takes seriously as "an art form." On the same day, according to police in Minneapolis, Paul Crawford shot four neighbors and himself to death, culminating a feud over a five-foot strip of land that separates their properties.
-- By Chuck Shepherd