News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Overcoming disabilities: In September wheelchair-using men in Frankfurt, Germany (no legs), and Pompano Beach (missing part of a leg and one eye) attempted bank robberies but were thwarted when a customer and a cop, respectively, rushed in and tipped over the wheelchairs. Also in September, police in East Providence, Rhode Island, arrested Bronna-Jo Carmody for drug trafficking. She is confined to her apartment because she uses crutches and an oxygen machine.

*On October 3, self-described virgin Doreen Lioy, age 41, exchanged vows in San Quentin prison's waiting room with thirteen-time murderer and death row resident Richard Ramirez (California's notorious Night Stalker). It is the first marriage for both. Lioy said Ramirez proposed in 1988 but she didn't think he was ready to settle down until recently (presumably because he just got out of several years' solitary confinement). Said one observer: "Doreen brings out the best in Richard."

The Weirdo-American Community
*Stock-car racing legend Richard Petty, running for North Carolina secretary of state, paid a $65 fine in September for improperly bumping a car that wouldn't let him pass in the left lane of Interstate 85. According to a state trooper, Petty said if the driver got in front of him again he was going to knock his "rear end" off the road. Petty told a reporter: "If it had been a NASCAR showdown, [the driver] would have been in the ditch."

*Robert Dorton barricaded himself in his residential motel room in Billings, Montana, in August and held off police for more than 30 hours, firing dozens of shots at them, because he feared authorities were about to take away his fifteen pet rats, some of which were reported to be the size of cats. Before the siege, according to animal-control officer Mary Locke, Dorton kissed one of the rats and referred to them as "my brothers."

*Mr. Esyededeea Aesfyza, age 46, was sentenced to six months in jail in Washington, D.C., in June for having painted swastikas at more than 100 public places in town in the previous three years. In court Aesfyza, dressed in a long white robe with a green sash, proclaimed his love of swastikas and said he prayed to them. He believes they are a symbolic protest against circumcision.

Government in Action
*In August the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that hundreds of former pro athletes -- some of whom, like Joe Montana and Bo Jackson, earned millions of dollars a year -- were paid worker's compensation benefits under California's lenient law that makes such payments for injured workers an absolute entitlement.

*In June the government of Saskatchewan said it was unsuccessful in its attempts to return to the manufacturer almost 1000 five-inch-long "wooden demonstrators" designed for school condom-education classes. Schools refused to use them; opponents of the program called for disposal via a "weenie roast."

First Things First
*Jimmy Hogg, age 77, collapsed and died of a heart attack in September on the first hole of a Fife, Scotland, golf course. His four partners paused briefly as an ambulance took the body away, then resumed their round, with one making the required statement, "I'm sure Jimmy would have wanted us to do that." And earlier in the month Arthur Mooney, age 67, died in the Spirit Mountain Casino in Grande Ronde, Oregon; customers continued to play slot machines while the body lay nearby on the floor for an hour.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd