Lead Stories

According to the March issue of Vanity Fair, a Chicago convention of 400 “furries” brought together people (mostly men) who dress as animals, who are sexually attracted to others dressed as animals, who are sexually attracted to stuffed animals (“plushies”), or who otherwise identify intensely, though nonsexually, with animals. Said one, “If a mascot walked into a room surrounded by naked women, I’d be thinking about the mascot.” Furries typically scratch each other gently as a sign of affection and refer to nonfurries as “mundanes.”

After Brian O’Dea, 52, touted his high-level marijuana-smuggling experience in a newspaper ad seeking a legitimate executive job, his phone “started ringing off the hook,” according to a February report in Toronto’s National Post (which ran the ad on February 19). O’Dea, who did a prison stint during the 1990s, emphasized his experience with “security” and international markets, his ability to speak three languages, and his management of a $100 million enterprise employing 120 people.

People Different From Us

Gary A. Wysong, 39, was arrested in January in the electronics department of a Meijer store in Middletown, Ohio, and charged with obscenity. According to police, Wysong popped his own hard-core pornography tape into one of the VCRs and watched it for about five minutes before security officers, seeing that he was making other customers nervous, asked him to stop. When he ignored their request, they summoned the police.

The New Pollution Industries

Richard Rossie, a high priest of the Santeria religion, was arrested in Palm Beach in January after allegedly dumping a box of chicken carcasses into the environmentally protected Intracoastal Waterway, where they were to be received by the ocean god Yemoja….In January, 6,000 gallons of mineral oil leaked through the floor at the Los Alamos National Laboratory near Santa Fe and drenched $2 million worth of lasers in a basement lab….And five days later a field office of the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that an accidental overflow of 300 gallons of home-heating oil at an EPA research facility in Rhode Island caused a minor leak into adjacent Narragansett Bay.

Courtroom Antics

In January the Supreme Court of Canada reinstated child pornography charges against retired city planner John Robin Sharpe, 67. Yet Sharpe was unrepentant. “Do you think God made a mistake in the fact that kids reach puberty about 12?” he asked a radio interviewer. “What is the purpose of that if not for kids to enjoy sex or have sex?”

In February the lawyer for former FBI agent David Farrall said his client was not drunk the night he accidentally killed two people with his car on I-95 in Fort Lauderdale: his .14 blood-alcohol reading was faulty, and Farrall intended to disprove it through a test in which he would eat and drink exactly the same thing he had consumed on the night in question (according to the bar receipt). Farrall needed the judge’s permission to drink alcohol, which is forbidden by the terms of his pretrial release.

In January, Judge Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss of Britain’s high court announced that 18-year-olds Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who have been in juvenile detention since they sadistically murdered 2-year-old James Bulger in 1993, would be released within the year, given new identities, and freed without further penalty (except the penalty vowed by the victim’s father, who said he would hunt them down).

That same month, Judge Peter Leveque of Calgary, Alberta, recused himself from a case in which a teenage boy is accused of sexually assaulting a three-year-old girl; Leveque had described the case to a prosecutor as merely one in which “a young person had raging hormones.”…And attorney Roger B. Reynolds withdrew from a child sexual abuse case in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, after a teenage girl explained her concept of “bad touch” and Reynolds countered, “[N]one of my women [ever] thought it was bad.”

Least Competent People

Emery S. Pluff, 59, of South Saint Paul, Minnesota, was arrested in February for allegedly robbing and molesting his wife (which he did, police said, pretending he was a stranger). For reasons not yet apparent, Pluff allegedly faked going to work on the morning of January 30 and instead donned a black cape and a Halloween mask the family kept in the garage and entered the house, where he surprised his wife and dragged her into a back room. She repeatedly asked her husband why he was doing this, but according to police he replied, “I’m not Emery.” After allegedly taking some money from his wife and fleeing, he was arrested at work.

Thinning the Herd

Just after midnight on January 3, a high school senior was killed in an apparent game of chicken with a San Francisco Municipal Railway streetcar (40 tons)….A 22-year-old man in Aurora, Colorado, was accidentally killed on Christmas Eve after placing a plastic cup on top of his head and consenting to his friend’s request to try to shoot it off….Ending a police chase that reached 105 miles per hour, a 24-year-old man who’d been driving over lawns in a residential neighborhood of Plainview, Texas, at 3 AM smashed through three fences and accidentally went over a cliff.

In the Last Month

A University of Mississippi professor of pharmacology continued to seek drug company funds for trials to test his mild “medicinal marijuana” suppositories….A 37-year-old man in Jefferson, Indiana, was arrested and charged in connection with the ongoing disappearance of more than 100 stepladders….A 38-year-old man was arrested and his warehoused arsenal of guns seized after he was spotted in a Brooklyn city park taking target practice at a photo of his mother-in-law….And two high school teachers in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, were suspended and charged with inflating a student’s grades in exchange for price breaks at a grocery store where he clerks.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611 or to weird@compuserve.com.

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