Lead Stories

Edward L. Bodkin, 56, was arrested in February in Huntington, Indiana, and charged with performing surgery without a license. Police said he had removed the testicles of at least five consenting men and was ready to do it to another when the “patient” got cold feet and gave police a videotape of some of the surgeries that Bodkin had loaned him. Bodkin allegedly kept some of the testicles in jars in his apartment. As to the patients’ motives, prosecutor John Branham said, “I can’t sit here as a reasonable human being and give you an intelligent answer to that.”

The Japanese firm Matsushita announced in December that the government would soon begin distributing the company’s new robotic cats to elderly people to relieve loneliness. Sensors cause the cat to purr when petted and to jump when startled by a noise. The cats are expected to sell in stores for about $300.

Photography, Not Golf, Is Doctors’ Favorite Pastime

In January the Toronto Sun published photos from the office of surgeon William G. Middleton showing his nurse straddling an unconscious female patient. The patient subsequently filed a complaint against the doctor. On the same day in Tulsa, Oklahoma, dentist Donald C. Johnson pleaded guilty to sexually molesting several young patients after lewd Polaroid photos of apparently anesthetized girls were discovered in his office. And in December a woman in Waynesboro, Virginia, sought damages of $350,000 from physician Dale A. Stinespring for allegedly tricking her into posing topless for photographs under the guise of producing evidence for her wrongful-injury lawsuit.

Can’t Possibly Be True

German retiree Jost-Burkhard Anderhub, 59, who spent several days in jail in Newport, Kentucky, last year before pleading guilty to a federal gun-possession charge, was so impressed with the service that he sent the jailer (elected official Greg Buckler) a $200 tip in October. Wrote Anderhub, “The treatment by the officers was absolutely flawless.”

Sports news: In November Japanese billiards player Junuske Inoue, 58, was suspended from competition for two years after testing positive for a muscle-building hormone. And in September lawn bowler Griff Sanders, 25, of Torquay, England, was banned from outdoor competition for ten years for excessive obscene language. Sanders reportedly considers himself “the John McEnroe of lawn bowling.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

According to a September San Francisco Chronicle report, New Orleans T-shirt printer Ricky Lewis, 42, says 95 percent of his business comes from people who want to commemorate men slain in gang violence by putting the victims’ faces on shirts. The city has such a high homicide rate, Lewis says, that he’s memorialized several former customers.

New product delivery systems: In December in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Wendy Cashaback opened what she believed was Canada’s first drive-through shop selling sex toys and lingerie. Also in December the New York company Joe Boxer installed ten vending machines in the city to dispense men’s underwear in pop-top cans and said it hoped to roll out 100 more in 1999.

New products: In December in Overijse, Belgium, horticulturalist Luc Mertes introduced a line of skirts and dresses made of live grass. In January Heather Joy of Glenpool, Oklahoma, showed an Associated Press reporter her handcrafted bags made from bull scrota, priced at $110 and up. Also in January a company in Melbourne, Australia, called Liquor Pops drew criticism when it announced its intention to market alcoholic Popsicle-type products in flavors like melon, pineapple, and orange.

Kenneth Adams, 37, was arrested in Peoria in November and charged with soliciting an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute. The officer said Adams offered her a stolen showerhead and a stolen water purifier to have sex with him.

Least Competent Criminals

In January three young men broke into a house in Saint Paul, Minnesota, with a shotgun and beat a man they say owed them money. They left after firing a shot to scare the man, but on their way out the gun accidentally discharged again, hitting one of the men in the buttocks. All were arrested when a police officer saw the wounded man later on the street. Three days later in Newark, New Jersey, Andre Gordon, 27, was arrested when his gun accidentally discharged after he’d pistol-whipped a 25-year-old man, firing a bullet through his own arm and into his leg.

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird has reported several times on pathologically messy houses but recently the phenomenon took a tragic turn twice in Ohio. A 70-year-old man in Columbus shot himself to death in February rather than face a health-department order to clean up his house and yard. Said the man’s wife, “I’m not a good housekeeper, I grant you that.” Six weeks earlier a 60-year-old man in nearby Whitehall died of a heart problem after his wife declined to call 911 because she was afraid authorities would discover the couple’s dirty house and arrest her.

No Longer Weird

Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but which now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: The bank robber who hails a cab as a getaway car, as police say Mary Barrera did after robbing a bank in Kansas City, Missouri, in November.

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/Shawn Belschwender.