News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In March two Missouri legislators proposed a law to have the state give $1000 to any married couples over age 21 who do not have sexually transmitted diseases, who had no children before marriage, who have not aborted a fetus, and who were not previously married. The law would establish official state policies of chastity and faithfulness.

*In March in Rogers, Arkansas, software developer Rick Bray introduced his TVGuardian sound monitor, which silences offensive words in television dialogue and prints tamer substitutes as captions on-screen. Bray expanded George Carlin's "seven words you can't say" to about 100, and says his device can analyze surrounding dialogue; for example, "God" will be muted only when used irreverently. (An earlier version of the software captioned "Dick Van Dyke" as "Jerk Van Gay.")

*Serious grudges: In March in Sissonville, West Virginia, Darrell Carpenter drove a front-end loader through his two-story house and flattened it rather than obeying a court order to sell the house and split the profits with his estranged wife. The next day in Sayville, New York, Richard Hellenschmidt, age 45, who had given the title to his 35-foot boat to a bail-bond company, blew the boat up by igniting propane fumes rather than surrendering it.

Absolutely the Worst Defense Ever
*In March three men in Ogden, Utah, were arrested for rape and, according to police, two admitted their roles in the crime. The police said that Alberto Salgado, age eighteen, gave a different story: While his buddies held the woman down, an unknown person pushed Salgado on top of her, and he "accidentally" penetrated her because his fly was open since he had just returned from bathroom. As he kept trying to get up, according to the police report, the unknown person pushed him back down again and again until he ejaculated.

Those Darn Cats
*Two more houses were revealed in March to be public health problems because owners had allowed cat reproduction to get out of hand. Fifty-four cats were found in a house in a neighborhood of semiluxury homes in Tarpon Springs, Florida, and 34 were found in an Edmonton, Alberta, house whose owner insisted, "There is no smell. The neighbors are simply neurotic." Meanwhile, authorities in Vietnam said they are being overrun with rats (despite having exterminated 55 million last year) and blame the problem on the number of cats being sold to China for food.

Spare Change?
*In February police in Corpus Christi, Texas, said they planned to charge a 34-year-old man in a spree of gumball machine thefts. They were tipped by the suspect's landlord, who said the man paid his weekly rent in quarters. When he went to collect one week, he saw a huge pile of jawbreakers on the floor. And Charles James Harding, age 31, was arrested in January in Bountiful, Utah, and charged with stealing as much as $250,000 a year from vending machines (including some in the lobbies of police departments).

Why Didn't O.J. Think of This?
*Phoenix inventor Scott Louis Falater said he was sound asleep when he stabbed his wife 44 times and held her head underwater in a swimming pool. Falater put on gloves, killed the woman, bandaged a cut, and disposed of his bloody clothes, all ostensibly while asleep. Not impossible, said an expert on sleep disorders.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd