Lead Stories

On July 31 two women undergoing C-section births at Evanston Hospital contracted necrotizing fasciitis (the “flesh-eating” bacteria) in the operating room, apparently from a surgeon passing gas. The two women, their babies, and the surgeon have been treated and are out of danger.

Oscar Ray Bolin has been convicted six times in the 1986 murder of a restaurant manager in Tampa, Florida, but in August the state supreme court granted him a seventh trial, ruling that a videotaped interview with his late ex-wife, Cheryl Jo, was inadmissible evidence. A six-page letter Bolin wrote to police reads in part, “If there’s anything that you really want to know about, then you’ll haft [sic] to ask Cheryl Jo, because she knew just about everything that I was ever a part of [and] she knew about all 3 of these homicide [sic] which I’m charged with,” but the court said Bolin was still protected from having his spouse testify against him.

According to an August report from the Associated Press, several insurance companies in France now offer policies to compensate parents of bullying victims, covering eyeglasses that might get slapped off a kid’s face and trendy designer clothes that might inspire beatings.

One Born Every Minute

In May, 90-year-old fortune teller Sole Mio Balaam Nicola settled out of court with a former Atlantic City man who had sued for damages, claiming that over a 13-year period he had given her $200,000, closed his real estate business, left his wife, and moved from the area to escape various curses that were supposedly heading his way.

Not My Fault

In June, U.S. district judge Marsha J. Pechman ordered another trial for William Bergen Greene, who attacked his mental health counselor in Seattle seven years ago but argued that the true perpetrator was one of his multiple personalities, a four-year-old boy called Tyrone. A Washington state judge rejected the argument, but Greene, who handled his own appeal, convinced Judge Pechman that the trial judge had not been sufficiently respectful of the science of multiple-personality disorders.

High Court judge Griffith Williams ruled in July that although 21-year-old Christina Coles of Kent, England, was 75 percent at fault for a 1995 collision in which her car was hit by another driver, the driver was obliged to help raise Coles’s three-year-old daughter, Rebecca. Coles apparently demonstrated that she would never have conceived the child if the memory loss she suffered in the accident hadn’t prevented her from taking her birth-control pills.

I Don’t Think So

Actor Bethany Halliday sued the British opera company D’Oyly Carte in May for allegedly bumping her from the cast of The Pirates of Penzance. Halliday was to play a teenage virgin so sheltered that she screams in fright whenever she sees a man, but the company discovered later that by opening night Halliday would be six months pregnant.

In June the Arizona Game and Fish Department declined to compensate Marana resident Wallace Burford for the $328.21 he incurred cremating his cat, a victim of one of the state’s 250,000 wild coyotes. The commission also rejected Burford’s suggestion that the state feed its coyotes so they wouldn’t be hungry enough to kill a cat.

People With Issues

In July a surveillance camera at Lowe’s Home Improvement in Plainville, Connecticut, allegedly caught 39-year-old Stephen T. Harris unzipping his pants, sneaking up behind a stranger, and slightly wetting the back of his pants leg. A police report gave no motive for the act and said that, because the victim had failed to notice it, Harris did it twice more. He was finally arrested for public indecency.

Least Competent Criminals

Last month in Edmonton, Alberta, 35-year-old Trevor Blair Roszell pleaded guilty to impersonating a police officer after he approached a prostitute for sex, flashed his credentials, and, after learning that she was a plainclothes cop, asked her for a freebie since he was on the job.


Earlier this year News of the Weird reported that federal lawsuits filed in San Francisco accused at least three business executives who’d died in the Alaska Air 261 crash in January 2000 of having fathered children with secret mistresses in rural Mexico or Guatemala. However, in court-ordered mediation in July, a judge found the claims to be bogus and ordered the plaintiffs’ Miami lawyers, Edgar Miller and David Russell, to pay the estate of one executive $225,000. Miller and Russell claim they were duped by their clients, though one of the defendants is seeking to have them disbarred.

In the Last Month

Adesmeytos of Athens, Greece, reported on August 13 that, because so many people had left town for a national holiday, it had no news worthy of putting on the front page….Jim Schmitt, a high school physics teacher in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is undergoing treatment for rabies after a bat flew into his mouth during an early-morning run….A California prisoner on highway work detail was using a portable toilet when a truck driver drove off with it, oblivious to the inmate’s screams as he drove to another site at 40 miles per hour….In Saint Johnsbury, Vermont, folk artist Stephen Huneck opened a dog-themed church (“all creeds, all breeds, no dogma”) to honor canines’ spiritual and utilitarian service to humanity.

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