News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Conspicuous getaways: Armed with descriptions of the perpetrators, police made arrests fairly quickly in robberies in Chicago and Oshawa, Ontario, because thieves were unable to blend in with the crowd as they walked away with their loot. According to police, Jude Bradshaw was still wearing the green hat and purple pants he wore to rob a Chicago bank; the man who robbed the Oshawa Discount Centre hadn't disguised the metal hook he uses as a hand prosthesis.

*Productive lunch hours: Ollie King was arrested as he allegedly sought to buy drugs in a suburb of Atlanta in June during his lunch break from jury duty. And in July, Li Baolun was arrested in Beijing, China, and charged with being the thief who, during his lunch hour over a four-year period, walked into more than 1000 government offices and stole money from workers' desks and belongings.

News from the Job Market
*The government of Zimbabwe announced in June that it was pessimistic about filling the vacant position of hangman after the resignation of Tommy Griffith, an Englishman who had held the part-time post since the Fifties. Though dozens of men are on death row, no local will take the job because of a widespread superstition about taking someone's life without personal motive.

*A San Francisco Chronicle Labor Day story described several local jobs that might have made its readers appreciate their own. University of California at Davis scientist Francine Bradley was interviewed because she trains workers to perform artificial insemination of turkeys, from collecting the semen to inserting it (turkeys genetically bred for gigantic breast sections cannot comfortably mate without help). Recommended Bradley: "You have to develop a relationship with your tom."

*Also in that issue of the Chronicle was a report about Martha Huerta, who pulls an eight-hour shift at ABC Diaper Service in Berkeley, California, where she feeds soiled diapers through an electronic counting machine and on to the washer. Her tools are gloves and an electric fan. Said her supervisor: "It helps that her sense of smell isn't very good."

*Fishing on Junior Lake in July, Phil Cram, police chief of Madway, Maine, lost part of his hand when an explosive he was illegally using to stun fish blew up prematurely.

*In Tampa, Antonio Valiente Valdez, Jr., on his way to respond to a traffic citation for driving without his prescription glasses, accidentally hit a car that had already crashed on the side of the road. According to police, he wasn't wearing his glasses then, either.

*In April, Christopher J. Kerins, a Trenton, New Jersey, undercover police officer, was arrested and charged with robbing the Kenwood Savings Bank in Cincinnati during a break while attending the Middle Atlantic Law Enforcement convention. (Kerins, unfamiliar with the city, reportedly paused after collecting the money from the teller to ask directions to I-71 and was spotted on his way there by a police officer.)

The Only Way Out
*A 63-year-old man died in May in West Plains, Missouri; he had set himself on fire in a suicide attempt, but the pain was so great that he ran into a pond to douse the flames and drowned. Also in May, seven losing candidates in state and parliamentary elections in India committed suicide after their party was trounced. And in June in Exklistuna, Sweden, Leif Borg, age 50, mired in divorce proceedings, blew himself up in the courtroom with dynamite, injuring four others.

-- By Chuck Shepherd