News of the Weird

Lead Story
*In September in Columbus, Ohio, Peter "Commander Pedro" Langan was convicted of federal assault and gun charges for a 1996 shootout with police. Langan has also been convicted of two bank robberies and faces trial in four others as leader of a neo-Nazi white supremacist gang that used the robberies to fund its activities. At Langan's September trial, to show his kinder, gentler side, his lawyer brought in a man and a woman to describe their romances with him. Both witnesses were preoperation transsexuals; around the time of the robberies, Langan was dating both while dressing exclusively as a woman. The lovers were known as Langan's "business partners" because neo-Nazis are not known to condone such sexual proclivities.

Not My Fault
*Wendell Williamson filed a lawsuit in June in Hillsborough, North Carolina, against his former psychiatrist, Dr. Myron Liptzin, blaming him for a 1995 shooting rampage in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in which Williamson killed two people and for which he is now confined to a state mental hospital. Williamson claims he was impelled to commit the murders because Liptzin had just retired, leaving him without counseling.

*According to a Boston police detective testifying at the April murder trial of Anthony P. Clemente, Clemente refused to accept blame for the murders of four members of a rival mob and instead accused the police: "[The police] should have stopped [the feud] a long time ago. You guys got snitches. The [police] department's partly responsible."

*According to police in Portland, Oregon, in July, Duane J. Babcock, age 33, took a taxi to a Bank of America branch, which he robbed. The driver, oblivious of the robbery, then drove Babcock away. The cabbie was questioned by the FBI after witnesses identified the taxi, but he could give no other information on the crook. That evening Babcock again needed a taxi and for some reason telephoned the same company. The same driver showed up. After taking Babcock to his destination, he called the FBI; agents soon arrived to question Babcock, who still had the hold-up note in his pocket.

*In an August quarrel in Dallas, the wife of Abel Alaniz pulled a .380 semiautomatic and fired at her husband, but nothing happened except a click. According to police, Alaniz then took the gun from his wife, released the safety, and handed it back to her, admonishing, "If you're gonna shoot me, you've got to do it right." She fired and missed, but the next one hit him in the back, sending him to the hospital.

*Gary Arthur Medrow, then age 47, made "News of the Weird" in 1991 when he was arrested in Milwaukee for impersonating a police officer over the telephone as he carried out his locally well-known obsession of calling up a female and persuading her to physically pick up another female in the room and carry her around. By 1991 he had been arrested more than 30 times in the previous 23 years. He was charged with 24 more counts in Milwaukee County last month. In a typical ruse, said police, Medrow would tell a woman that she had been spotted at an accident scene heroically carrying a victim to safety; when the woman denied that she was the heroic woman, Medrow talked her into role-playing the accident scene.

-- By Chuck Shepherd