Lead Stories

Michael Guilbault, 19, pleaded guilty in December to robbing a convenience store two months earlier in Raleigh, North Carolina. According to the prosecutor, a delayed getaway aided police in their capture. Guilbault and his accomplice were to meet their friends Heather Beckwith, 18, and Curtis Johnson, 19, at the getaway car nearby, but when the robbers arrived, they found the doors locked and the couple engaged “in the act,” as the prosecutor put it. Guilbault and his colleague were forced to wait until the couple had finished before they could get in the car, but by that time passersby had noticed the two men pacing and yelling at the couple.

In December nationally known business-school professor Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, 43, of Emory University, abruptly resigned. According to several news reports, it was because he had been caught on a surveillance tape

vandalizing a wall in a school corridor, causing the school to suspect him of being the person who previously had gouged doors, woodwork, and furniture in the building. Sonnenfeld had recently been passed over for the position of dean of Emory’s business school. Georgia Tech subsequently offered him a deanship but reneged after the videotape’s contents became known.

Mayors out of control: In December Mayor Daniel F. Devlin, 51, of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, who had been defeated for reelection the month before, was charged with robbing a local bank of $1,500 by claiming to have a bomb. Three days earlier, Mayor Craig Johnson, 41, of Snow Hill, Maryland, was arrested and charged with malfeasance in office for permitting one of the town’s police cars to be used in pornographic photos that were distributed on the Internet. According to police investigators, Johnson had also promised the pornographers access to a NASA facility on nearby Wallops Island, Virginia, but no photos from that site were found.

Can’t Possibly Be True

In August the Oregon supreme court ruled unanimously that Perry A. Lang, a white man, was entitled to worker-compensation damages despite the fact that his on-the-job injury came from being punched in the face by a black coworker whom Lang had just racially insulted. The court said a sensitive colleague is just one of the “myriad of risks” workers face. And in July the Hawaii supreme court upheld a law defining on-the-job illness to include stress that is caused by being disciplined for poor work.

In September Brother Eric Metivier, 28, was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly stabbing Brother Fernard Bremaud, 71, several times in a dispute at the Trappist Fathers monastery near Holland, Manitoba.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the last words of tavern owner Anthony J. Golembiewski, 83, before he died in August were “one, six, nine, five.” Family members were puzzled, but one decided to buy a lottery ticket with the numbers. The ticket won $23,500. Said Golembiewski’s widow, “You son of a bitch, you even paid for your own funeral.”

During a televised visit to a nursing home in Tokyo in September, Japan’s Emperor Akihito lost to resident Toshiko Arai in a game of rock-paper-scissors, which the emperor was just learning. By house custom the emperor was obliged to give the woman a shoulder massage.

In November the University of Nebraska, whose football team was on its way to becoming national cochampion, announced it was awarding its first-ever full athletic scholarship to Jennifer Daugherty of Bloomington, Illinois, a member of the university’s women’s bowling team.

Well Put

The president of Poland’s baseball industry association reacted in June to calls that baseball bats be made illegal since they were being used in so many street muggings: “No baseball player in Poland would use a bat for any purpose other than playing the game. The relationship between a baseball player and his bat is something sacred.”

George Shea of Nathan’s Famous, a hot-dog chain in New York, acknowledged in July the continuing Japanese superiority in hot-dog-eating contests, but pointed to American hopeful Joey Serrano of Philadelphia, who had just eaten 17 in 12 minutes: “This kid has the excitement you see only in a young athlete who is just becoming aware of the miracles his body can perform on the field of combat.”

Awni Hasham, 58, a furniture company owner in Gaza, explained to the Washington Post in July why he believes the rumors that Israel had introduced chewing gum laced with hormones to make people so horny that Palestinian society would be disrupted: “If they can put a spaceship on Mars, they can make sex chewing gum.”

Serge Engambe, a previously unemployed college graduate, explained in July why he accepted a job with former Congolese military dictator Denis Sassou-Nguesso: “This is a unique chance in my life in a country where young [college] graduates are not a priority of the government.”

New mother Shellie Lee, 20, of Porterville, California, who claimed she was unaware she was pregnant, described the birth of her son in July: “I was sitting there [on a toilet] when all of a sudden, a head came out. It just came out, bam! It slid right out and was hanging on my leg.”

Our Animal Friends

In Ingrid Visser’s two-year study of killer whales, released in October in New Scientist, the researcher revealed that orcas eat stingrays only after tossing them around among themselves, Frisbee-like, apparently so they can position them in such a way as to avoid the stingers when they bite down. She said she once witnessed two whales eat 18 stingrays in a six-hour period.

At the zoo in Santiago, Chile, in September, it took four hours’ work with a crane to lift Protea, 9, a three-ton female elephant, out of a moat following an accident during an attempt to mate with a frisky but incompetent male named Jumbo, 10.

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 Belshwender.