Lead Stories

Claiming that Virginia is inadequately prepared for extraterrestrial invasions, Larry W. Bryant and two others filed a lawsuit in June in Alexandria seeking to force Governor James Gilmore to convene a grand jury to investigate alien abductions, to train the National Guard to handle attacks from outer space, and to cover abductees under civil rights laws meant for rape victims. Bryant told the APB news service that he was especially worried about the “dark, silently floating flying triangles” that observers have noticed and that Gilmore has neither explained nor put a stop to.

As was widely reported in 1986, a freighter left Philadelphia with 14,000 tons of incinerator ash for burial in the Bahamas, but that country refused to accept it, and the ship drifted at sea while officials looked for a new site. Two thousand tons were unloaded in Haiti before that country refused any more. After more attempts to find a country that would accept the debris, the captain finally dumped the remainder at sea, but in 1998 Haiti ordered the Philadelphia contractor (Waste Management Inc.) to remove the original 2,000 tons. Waste Management agreed to bury the ash in one of its U.S. landfills, but so far this year several states have denied it permits for fear that the ash was contaminated in Haiti. At press time, no one knew where it would wind up.

Orderly Murderers

In February Baltimore prosecutors said Alpna Patel, awaiting a retrial for murdering her husband, killed him because he had ignored her written list of 39 specific complaints about their marriage. Pierre Navelot, 21, convicted of murder in France in February, told the court that his professional aspiration in high school was to “kill people,” recalling that he had once written out a 13-page “career plan” that included the names of his pending victims. And the best evidence against Sante Kimes, convicted of murder in New York City in May, were her numerous notebooks filled with memos to herself, such as “When [does the victim go] to sleep,” “Any exits in her apt?,” and “Is there a burglar alarm?”


The New Mexico attorney general announced in March that he would open an investigation of TD’s Showclub North in Albuquerque for billing a customer’s credit card $26,974.50 over four days. The customer said he was drunk most of the time and didn’t consent to the charges, but the card company said it called the man at the club twice to ask if he knew what he was doing and that he had said yes both times.

Recent implants gone bad: Milwaukee dancer Doddie L. Smith sued her plastic surgeon in January, claiming her operation left her breasts too high on her chest for any club to hire her. A dancer in Sarnia, Ontario, sued Dr. Gilles Lauzon in February because her implants made one breast look like a “banana.” Dancer Mary Gale was awarded $30,000 by a jury in New York City in June, claiming that Dr. Elliot Jacobs used breast implants for her buttock-augmentation surgery, making her posterior painful and unsightly.

In May the city of Pineville, Louisiana, admitted that about 60 homes had been receiving a mixture of drinking and sewer water for the previous three months. The city said chlorine treatment had probably killed any bacteria, but residents reported that filters in washing machines, icemakers, and other appliances had become clogged with specks of feces and strands of toilet paper.

Robert Richardson, 20, and Lakrisha Nash, 18, were arrested in May after allegedly walking out of a store in Chula Vista, California, without paying for $600 worth of DVDs. As they were leaving, Richardson lost control of the baby carriage that held both the DVDs and the couple’s six-month-old daughter, sending the baby tumbling to the ground. Richardson picked up the infant and tossed her over to Nash, who dropped her. The baby was not seriously hurt, but the delay allowed police to catch the couple.


Pamela Oliver, 39, was arrested in April in Des Moines and charged with assault for convincing three complete strangers to beat up her husband, which they did. She said she was surprised to find out that what she did was illegal, since she hadn’t offered to pay the men anything.

The Food and Drug Administration announced in May that it was considering several plans to get more doctors to read the labels of the drugs they prescribe, which many say they are too busy to do. In five previous instances, when dozens of patients died after taking misprescribed drugs, the FDA chose to ban the drugs rather than try to change doctors’ habits.

In April Philadelphia police told reporters that Officer Margo Grady, who took several hours to transport a crime victim from one station house to another three miles away, had inadvertently gotten on the New Jersey Turnpike and was almost to Newark (75 miles away) before she pulled over a car to ask for directions.

In Their Own Words

Douglas Holmes, 30, explaining in February why he had fled in the middle of his robbery trial in Kansas City, Missouri, after grabbing cash from the evidence table: “I saw the evidence piling up on me [and] I thought it would be in my best interest if I left for a little bit.” He was found guilty in absentia, sentenced to 55 years in prison, and captured two weeks later.

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird reported last year that certain Canadian transport aircraft were undergoing expensive structural repairs because beams had been corroded by urine accidentally splashed when men used the toilets.

In April of this year a landlord in a Radeberg, Germany, apartment house, facing a similar problem with bathroom radiators and pipes, ordered male tenants, “as a condition of the rental agreement…to use the toilet like women: in the sitting position.”

Thinning the Herd

A 38-year-old man was electrocuted in Okolona, Kentucky, in May while digging in his backyard; according to a deputy coroner, he had received a mild shock while using a tiller and grabbed a spade to find out exactly what had shocked him (an unshielded electric cable). And a 34-year-old man was electrocuted in Lakewood, Colorado, in April by the fence he had installed to keep dogs out; he had rigged it at ten times the recommended voltage.

In the Last Month

In Brighton, Colorado, a 52-year-old man whose neck was broken in a truck crash wiggled out of the wreckage and walked three miles to get help. An Australian physician in Queensland announced plans to open an assisted-suicide facility on an offshore boat in order to circumvent national laws. A 16-year-old boy in Vernon Township, New Jersey, was sent to jail for 60 days for extorting lunch money ($3 per day) from fellow students. In Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, a 50-year-old man who accidentally dropped his keys into a park’s portable toilet got stuck at the hips when he tried to retrieve them, requiring a rescue by firefighters.

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.