Lead Story

In February the Houston Chronicle reported on 22-year-old Dallas artist James Sooy and his solution to the problem of glasses slipping down one’s nose: he had a piercing inserted through the bridge of his nose and attached his prescription lenses directly to it. Sooy hoped to market the idea, but an optometrist interviewed for the article speculated that the lenses would be difficult to adjust, and a piercing-shop owner said putting any stress on such a piercing during the long healing process (up to a year) might be dangerous.

The Unruly Mob

On Thika Road near Nairobi, Kenya, in February, villagers brawled over meat from a road-killed baby hippopotamus weighing about 1,700 pounds; amidst the kicking and punching, two people were stabbed. Also in February 6,000 shoppers stampeded, then rioted, at the opening of a new Ikea in a north London suburb. The event, scheduled to last 24 hours, was called off after 40 minutes of frenzied, often violent bargain hunting, and at least 20 participants were taken to the hospital. One customer described “people tugging at two different sides of the same sofa and shouting ‘mine, mine.'” About a week later 35 Greenpeace activists tried to use loud noises to disrupt proceedings at London’s International Petroleum Exchange, but angry traders allegedly began hitting and kicking them, driving them off the trading floor and into the lobby. The one-sided beating reportedly continued until the protesters were forced out of the building; two wound up in the hospital.

Education in Florida

Natalie Whalen, 58, an elementary school teacher in Perry, Florida, was suspended in January after she was accused of biting a 10-year-old student on the back. (According to the sheriff’s office, the girl bit Whalen on the arm first.) In February David Pieski, 42, a high school chemistry teacher in Orlando, was arrested for allegedly teaching his class how to make a bomb. And in a March deposition in the trial of Carol Flannigan–a 50-year-old elementary school music teacher in Boynton Beach who was charged last year with sexually assaulting a former student, beginning when the boy was 11–the student’s father said that not only was his son having sex with Flannigan in 2002, so was he.


In February a Transportation Security Administration screener was removed from duty at Newark Liberty International Airport and scheduled for retraining after passenger Katrina Bell, 27, realized she’d inadvertently passed through security while carrying a butcher knife and told airport personnel about it. Bell, who wasn’t charged with a crime, said she’d put the knife in her purse before going on a blind date earlier in the week and subsequently forgot all about it.

Least Competent Criminals

Matthew Porter, 25, and another man, 24, were arrested on drug-related charges at the Bear Creek Park Frisbee Golf Course in suburban Dallas in February. A police officer had stopped them, saying he smelled marijuana; while he was checking for outstanding warrants against them, Porter’s Labrador retriever, J.D., emerged from a nearby pond and ran up to Porter carrying a plastic bag containing about four grams.

Two 19-year-olds, apparently unfamiliar with banking subtleties, were arrested in January for allegedly stealing a safe from a house in Ramsey, New Jersey. According to police, they made off with $100,000 in cash but left behind $900,000 in bearer bonds, which are anonymous and can be redeemed by anyone.

Family Values

Beverly Fisher, 48, was arrested in Smyrna, Georgia, in February for allegedly throwing cans of beer and a knife at one son and beating another because he’d refused to roll joints for her. And in a March arraignment, prosecutors charged that when 23-year-old Christopher DiMeo allegedly robbed a jewelry store in Glen Head, New York, and shot the manager, his mom, 40-year-old Maryann Taylor-Casey, drove the getaway car.

Recurring Themes

Another fan sued a baseball team after being hit by a foul ball that he’d tried to catch (this time it was dentist Neil Pakett of Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, who in February appealed the dismissal of his suit against the Philadelphia Phillies). And the U.S. Forest Service again exercised its right to recover firefighting costs from a person who started a forest fire (this time it was Jason Hoskey, 26, who last fall pleaded no contest to leaving a campfire unattended in California’s Mendocino National Forest in 2003 and who was ordered in February to pay restitution of $18.2 million).

Testicles in the News

In February Amanda Monti, 24, of Birkenhead, England, was sentenced to two and a half years in jail for ripping off her ex-boyfriend’s left testicle with her bare hands after he refused to have sex with her. (According to a Reuters report, Monti briefly hid the testicle in her mouth, but a friend retrieved it and handed it back to the man, saying, “That’s yours.”) Also in February London’s Daily Mirror reported that Welsh rugby fan Geoff Huish, 26, was so pessimistic about the national team’s upcoming match against England that he told fellow patrons of a club in Caerphilly he’d “cut [his] balls off” if Wales won. Following an 11-9 Wales victory, Huish went home and castrated himself, then walked back to the club with the evidence.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.