Lead Stories

According to a September dispatch from the Associated Press, in the past five years 47-year-old Gregory Goins has made 1,209 trips to the emergency room at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California. Goins, who is homeless, has cost the public about $900,000 in ambulance rides, sometimes twice a day, complaining of chest pains; because he’s in poor health, with very high blood pressure, the hospital is required to treat him.

David Dewhurst, appointed director of homeland security for the state of Texas, is also running for lieutenant governor; a recent ad for his campaign featured a smartly dressed soldier standing before a U.S. flag, but once it had been published in Texas Monthly, observers noted that it showed a German soldier in a Luftwaffe uniform.

Last month Cleveland police arrested 19-year-old Joshua Brissett for fracturing the skull of his five-month-old son; prosecutors say he was probably trying to shape the boy’s head to resemble his own. Questioned by Channel 5 News, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History said that some ancient cultures engaged in head-shaping to help a child grow taller.

More Evidence That Smoking Is Dangerous

In October an 18-year-old student who lived in a smoke-free dorm at the University of Arkansas fell to his death from a fifth-floor ledge, where he’d gone to light up….And last month, about 50 miles south of Phoenix, Arizona, a Greyhound bus traveling 70 miles an hour rolled over, injuring 33 people, after a passenger, frustrated at not being allowed to smoke, fought the driver for control of the steering wheel.

Questionable Judgments

In October jurors in Austin, Texas, sentenced 45-year-old Milton Wayne Somers to life in prison for child molestation, despite the fact that a year earlier he’d stuck a shotgun between his legs and purposely blown off his testicles. Somers claimed that he was no longer dangerous because he no longer has any sexual impulses, but according to his ex-wife, Somers told her his self-mutilation was a ploy to stay out of prison.

Police in Brechin, Ontario, seized 20,000 marijuana plants during an October raid, but only a few were kept as evidence; the rest were hauled away to a landfill in Orillia, where as many as 35 people arrived with shovels and salvaged several hundred pounds of the rotting plants. Police closed off the landfill but caught only six prospectors.

In October, Buffalo Bills running back Travis Henry pleaded guilty to attempted sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old girl; two weeks later he was sentenced to 100 hours’ community service at the Saint Augustine Community Service Corporation in Buffalo, which will consist mostly of counseling young people.

People Different From Us

Tom Leppard, a retired military man in his late 60s, has spent about $9,300 having leopard spots tattooed all over his body and fangs installed in his mouth by his dentist so he’ll resemble a leopard. Living alone on the Isle of Skye in Scotland (about 125 miles from Glasgow), Leppard told Britain’s Daily Record that he “couldn’t mix with ordinary people” and seldom sees anyone except during his periodic canoe trips to pick up supplies.


British avant-garde artist Damien Hirst (who first made News of the Weird by exhibiting a dead sheep skinned and suspended in formaldehyde) lost an installation at London’s Eyestorm gallery in October when a cleaning man mistook his found-object piece, a collection of litter from an artist’s launch party, for the nightly garbage and tossed it out.

Undignified Deaths

In April a 14-year-old girl in Harrogate, England, died after seeing photographs of deformed people in a “lads’ magazine,” fainting, and hitting her head on a concrete piling….In September the father of a high school football player in Trenton, Missouri, was killed by a cannon the team fired to celebrate touchdowns….And that same month a 35-year-old man in Huntington, New York, died when his backyard cesspool collapsed beneath him, creating a cave-in so severe that rescuers couldn’t remove his body for 18 hours.

In the Last Month

In Tampa, radio personality “Dave the Dwarf” Flood filed a federal lawsuit to overturn Florida’s ban on dwarf-tossing exhibitions, calling it an unconstitutional restriction on his freedom….Several female cheerleaders from a Denver high school were suspended from their squad for carrying onto the football field a banner urging their team to “rape” the Eaglecrest Raptors….An eight-year-old boy in Issaquah, Washington, saved his teacher’s life using the Heimlich maneuver, which he’d read about in his mother’s day planner; the boy said that if the maneuver failed he was prepared to do a tracheotomy with a penknife.

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