News of the Weird

Lead Story
*Hillsborough County, Florida, sheriff's deputies charged Jeffrey Alan McLeod, age 29, with robbing a Chevron gas station in August. He was caught after a brief chase when his car ran out of gas. Said a sheriff's spokesman: "When you're going to rob a gas station, you're supposed to fill up the tank before you rob the clerk."

Courtroom Antics
*During a Tirana, Albania, divorce hearing in July, in which a man was contending that his wife had beaten him regularly over the course of their two-year union, the wife suddenly leaped at the man and beat him unconscious before she was restrained. The judge quickly granted the divorce.

*In August, Cleveland judge Shirley Strickland Saffold, age 45, attempting to counsel defendant Katie Nemeth to get her life together, recommended in court that she should get a better boyfriend than the one she has: "Men are easy. You can go sit at the bus stop, put on a short skirt, cross your legs, and pick up 25. Ten of them will give you their money. If you don't pick up the first ten, then all you got to do is open your legs a little bit and cross them at the bottom."

*In June a California appeals court ruled against defendant Thomas Keister, who had been charged with attempted lewd acts against two underage girls in San Bernardino County. The court made the ruling even though neither the victims nor the defendant exists. The "victims" were fictional (part of a police sting to entice pedophiles), and Keister died last year.

Well Put
*Self-described "fishing fanatic" Tom Getherall of East Moriches, Long Island, telling a New York Daily News reporter the day after the crash of TWA Flight 800: "I felt bad when I heard about the wreck, real bad, but to be honest with you, the first thing I wondered was how it would affect the fishing."

*Canadian food inspector Pamela Morgan, warning the public in March after the death of a British Columbia man: "We caution the public not to eat seafood that glows in the dark." (Some bacteria in raw seafood are indeed luminescent.)

*Football star Deion Sanders, arrested for trespassing at a fishing hole near Fort Meyers, Florida, in June: "The only defense I have is that I'm sorry, but they were biting."

Thinning the Herd
*In June a heavily suntan-oiled nineteen-year-old man fell ten stories to his death while "crabbing" (climbing from balcony to balcony) on a beachfront building in Panama City Beach. Two weeks later, in Barnstable, Massachusetts, an eighteen-year-old man fell to his death while "car surfing" (standing atop a moving car). Also in June, at least fifteen people dancing on the roofs of two buses en route to an election rally near Dacca, Bangladesh, were killed when the buses passed underneath high-voltage wires.

*In August, Germano Maccari, freshly convicted of the 1978 murder of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro, was released from jail pending his appeal, as is customary under Italian law. In March the man who murdered an American during the Achille Lauro hijacking failed to return to his Italian prison following a twelve-day furlough for good behavior. Last year the Washington Post reported that members of a prisoners' traveling theatrical group in Italy wore their performance disguises to pull off bank robberies while they were at liberty between shows. And last year, a gang of AIDS-stricken bank robbers was released, only to pull off more jobs, because Italian law forbids imprisoning people with AIDS.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd