News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In Chicago transportation analyst Steve Lewins, using the stationery of his employer, the investment firm Gruntal & Company, said he had information on alleged federal government complicity in the crash of TWA Flight 800 and the explosion of the Challenger. He said he deals with death threats against him by having a "killer parrot" guard his home.

*The Des Moines Register reported in July that among the treasures turned up at the excavation site of the steamboat Bertrand, which sank on the Missouri River near Omaha, Nebraska, in 1865, were four pocketknives with glass rivets containing explicit pornographic photos.

*A coroner's inquest in Bexley, England, in September revealed the dominance that the late Karen Morgan, age 29, apparently held over her parents and younger brother. Morgan was long bedridden with a brain tumor and pneumonia but so thoroughly dictated the family's eating, bathing, and television-viewing habits that the survivors did not think they could function without her. Police found notes showing all three intended to kill themselves as soon as they had enough money to buy sleeping pills.

Police Blotters
*According to police in Toronto, Ontario, in August, two men who had just executed a well-planned jewelry store robbery had to steal a car in front of the store in order to drive to their getaway car, which was parked half a block away.

*Six Edmonton, Alberta, police cruisers chased and stopped a Loomis armored car in May after a report that it was weaving erratically on the road and that a guard appeared to be signaling by repeatedly swinging open a door. There was no holdup, according to police spokesman Kelly Gordon; rather, one of the guards had passed gas and the other guard was attempting to air out the cab.

*Steve Tsoukalis, age 59, manager of the Raintree Super Foodtown in Freehold Township, New Jersey, was charged with a hunting law violation in March when he fired his .410-gauge shotgun at some sparrows, which were inside his store at the time. Foodtown employees said wild birds flying into the store had been a problem for a while and that this was Tsoukalis's solution.

Bottom of the Gene Pool
*Marine Cpl. Corban Backstrand, age 24, stationed near Hiroshima, Japan, won a dare in June while out with friends. He stuck his head in front of a moving cargo train and was knocked unconscious.

*In July, according to Gardner, Kansas, Sheriff's Lt. Bill Garrett, a woman was treated at Olathe Medical Center for a scalp wound after her husband shot her while the two were playing hide-and-seek in the woods. According to Garrett, the husband said the couple had played hide-and-seek with handguns before.

*In July, Owensboro, Kentucky, road department driver Sam Holinde, driving his twenty-ton dump truck across a bridge with a Limit Three Tons sign, got about halfway across before the bridge collapsed. The fall was short, and Holinde suffered only minor injuries.

Recent Passings
*In May in Australia, identical twins John and William Bloomfield died of heart attacks at age 61, just minutes apart; in Madisonville, Kentucky, in June, twins Welbert and Wesley Cannon, age 20, were both hit by a freight train just two miles from the spot where their father was fatally hit by a freight train in 1987.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd