Lead Stories

Another radical idea from Canada: In March, British Columbia supreme court judge Glen Parrett overturned Mike Frazier’s November 20 victory in the mayoral election for the village of McBride, ruling in a 28-page decision that Frazier did not deserve the office because he had knowingly passed out false campaign literature attacking opponent Maurice Bonneville.

At press time high school senior Adam Walker of Broward County, Florida, was still on the list of possible admittees to the Air Force Academy in the fall, despite his 1998 no-contest plea to attempting to blow up his high school. Walker told the Sun-Sentinel that the academy solicited him because he is a standout athlete and that he applied “out of curiosity.” His plea covered charges of attempted murder, armed burglary, planting a destructive device, and conspiracy.

The New Drug Problem

Brenda Anne Sorochan, 41, was convicted of assaulting a 79-year-old woman in Edmonton, Alberta, in January; Sorochan had forgotten to take her medication for manic depression. Swiss airline passenger Thomas Dolder, 39, was released from a facility in Halifax, Nova Scotia, after assaulting a flight crew in October; he had left his antipsychotic medication in his checked baggage. Former Detroit police officer Paul Harrington, 53, was charged in October with killing his wife and children; he had run out of his medication for severe depression. Brian Drepaul, 25, was shot by police trying to break into his estranged wife’s home in Brampton, Ontario, in October; he had refused to take medication for schizophrenia.

First Things First

From the confessions of Pakistan’s notorious serial killer Javed Iqbal, who turned himself in to police in December after murdering 100 young men: “I could have killed 500. This was not a problem. Money was not a problem. But the pledge I had taken [when I started the spree] was of 100 children, and I never wanted to violate this.”

Under pressure from the National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a Holiday Inn in downtown Minneapolis agreed in January to pay $8,000 each to nine undocumented immigrants from Mexico whom it had fired for helping with a union-organizing drive. One EEOC official compared the men to Rosa Parks, even though they were unlawfully holding the jobs from which they were fired.

In January a Teamsters union local in Chicago, after having picketed the south-side Donnellan Funeral Home for several months, decided to step up the protests, following a funeral procession and chanting slogans as a woman’s body was taken from the home to a church, where shouts of “Who are we? We are Teamsters!” greeted family members of the deceased. Next time, vowed a union official, picketers would also demonstrate at the graveside ceremony.


In Tampa in January, prosecutors announced that they and Steven and Marlene Aisenberg, who are charged with lying to police in connection with the disappearance of their baby Sabrina in 1997 and suspected by some of being behind it, had different interpretations of an exchange on a police audiotape made at the Aisenbergs’ home shortly after Sabrina disappeared. The prosecutors’ version of Steven’s words: “I wish I hadn’t harmed her” and “That’s the cocaine.” The Aisenbergs’ version: “You know, I’m just saying, honey, because [garbled] feel this way [garbled] people,” followed by Marlene asking, “Do you want some more salad, honey?”

In Tennessee in December, members of a science class at Elizabethton High School created a Nativity scene out of dissected cat cadavers as part of a homeroom-decorating contest. After many protests, a school official told reporters that the teacher was “shocked” that anyone had interpreted the scene as anti-Christian and said she thought most reactions were positive.

At an antidrug ceremony at a dig at a drug trafficker’s farm in Ciudad Juarez in December, Mexican and U.S. officials, including FBI director Louis Freeh, disinterred the remains of the trafficker’s presumed victims. According to a New York Times report, the Mexican government had also provided a dozen local women in black miniskirts, low-cut blouses, and high heels, wearing “Hostess” name tags, to line the routes to the graves.

In November a jury in San Francisco acquitted Albertinah Mkhize, 71, of all charges in the June 1999 traffic death of a ten-month-old boy who was in a crosswalk when Mkhize hit him while making a right turn. A few hours before the collision, Mkhize had flunked her state driver’s test for making an unsafe left turn. According to a police investigation, Mkhize’s brakes were fine, but she convinced a jury that they were, unbeknownst to her, defective.

Least Competent Criminals

Adam Brooks Jr., 17, admitted to a judge in Columbus, Ohio, in March that he had broken into a woman’s home, tied her up, and stolen her car from her garage. According to the victim, a 76-year-old woman, after Brooks tied her up, he came back in from the garage three times, twice to ask how to use the garage-door opener and once to ask how to operate a car with an automatic transmission.

Ambitious Colombian Smugglers

In March police at Bogota’s El Dorado airport arrested a woman with about four pounds of cocaine sewn into her oversize underwear; though the garments were designed to allay suspicion, they made her breasts and buttocks look large and unnaturally shaped. And a week earlier, Tirsa Ruiz, 43, attempted to smuggle a 7.65-millimeter pistol in her rectum to an inmate at a Colombian prison, but she was unable to expel the gun and was rushed to a hospital with severe cramps.

Recurring Themes

Hospitals in developing countries continue to have cash-flow problems, as in Zaire (reported in News of the Weird in 1996) and Iran (1999), where strong-arm tactics have been used on patients who cannot pay their bills. In January friends brought mugging victim Wilson Owuor to a hospital in Nairobi but were turned away because Owuor was unable to make a deposit. The men commandeered a stretcher, put Owuor on it, and took him to his bank to withdraw the money.

In the Last Month

The Humane Society in Charlotte, North Carolina, removed from its adoption list a parrot whose previous owner had taught him to cuss and make a farting noise. In a case of mistaken identity, a dentist in Auburn, California, removed two teeth of an eight-year-old boy who had merely been waiting for his

sister in the reception area. Five teenagers in Waldorf, Maryland, were charged with assaulting another boy, including holding him down and pricking an elaborate tattoo into his arm. In Tocopilla, Chile, four miners dynamited the entrance to their mine to protest sagging ore prices, entombing themselves 900 feet underground. A Houston coroner changed a cause of death from traffic accident to murder after finding a bullet in the deceased’s skull, but later learned the woman had been shot in 1978 and just never bothered to have the bullet removed.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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