News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*The Nashville Tennessean reported in February about state government engineer Ken Robichaux's lonely, ten-year crusade to wipe out both the U.S. system of measurement and the metric system, in favor of one that combines weight, length, and volume into a single set of measures denominated as (not surprisingly) "robies." (For example, 25 robies could stand for eight ounces, 250 milliliters, 250 grams, or 250 cubic centimeters.) He said Al Gore, when he was a senator, called his ideas "intriguing."

*In March four strippers at the Scene Karaoke and Coconut Karaoke bars in Pattaya, Thailand, were fined a total of about $80 for indecency for an act in which live ducklings were placed inside plastic eggs (with air holes) and inserted into the women's bodies; they would "lay" the eggs, which would then "hatch."

*In February in Redwood City, California, Rachel Landa, age 48, got out of her van to pump gas. When she realized the hose wouldn't reach, she instructed her fourteen-year-old daughter to get behind the wheel and back up. By the time the girl wrestled the van to a stop, the mother had been run over three times (broken ankle, foot, and finger) and the van had crashed into a traffic signal box next to the station.

*John O'Neill, age 73, had to be rescued by firefighters in Huntington, New York, in February after he wandered out of a bar late at night and somehow got wedged between two buildings. He was stuck so tight that he had to be pulled out from above.

Well Put
*Honduran legislator Julio Villatoro, reacting in February to the bigamy charge filed by his wife: "[I] have problems with my wife, even though she knows a handsome man is not for one woman but for several. God gave me a physique attractive to women, and I take advantage of it."

*King Letsie III, age 33, king of Lesotho, imploring other southern African monarchs and dignitaries in December to help him find a wife: "The pressure on me to find a wife soon is heavy, especially [from] my mother. [I] sometimes feel jealous when I see other leaders getting partners with such remarkable ease."

Recent Criminal Motives
*Kevin Carter, age 21, and Michael Harrison, age 26, were charged with murder and armed robbery in Boynton Beach, Florida, in December. Motive: to raise money to attend the police academy.

*Darrel Voeks, age 38, was sentenced to ten years in prison in Appleton, Wisconsin, in December for stealing $100,000 worth of pigs from his employer. Motive: to pay for breast implants for a stripper at a club he patronized.

*The famously dysfunctional Sexton family, headed by Eddie and Estella, of Canton, Ohio, and Tampa, Florida, made "News of the Weird" in 1994 and 1996 based on almost unimaginable charges of incest, child molestation, and murder. In March 1997 son Willie, age 26, was found to be competent after two years in a Florida state mental hospital and will stand trial for killing his sister's husband (as allegedly ordered by Eddie, who feared the husband would turn him in for killing the man's baby, whose crying was annoying Eddie). The dead baby was ostensibly Eddie's grandson, but according to trial testimony in a case against Estella, the baby was actually Eddie's own son, the result of a father-daughter coupling.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd