Lead Stories

In December Texas A&M student Jonathan Culpepper and his fraternity, Kappa Alpha, were indicted in College Station, Texas, on a criminal hazing charge after allegedly giving someone a severe wedgie. The grand jury found that fraternity members had lifted a candidate off his feet by the waistband of his briefs, causing the student to require surgery to remove his testicle.

In November Clarence Mulloy filed a lawsuit against Dr. Lawrence Amato of Round Lake Beach, Illinois. Mulloy claimed that Amato didn’t keep his appointments and said he once canceled because his nurse was away and he didn’t want to hook Mulloy up to a heart monitor all by himself. Mulloy was awarded $10 plus court costs.

In December McDonald’s opened restaurants in Belarus, its 100th country, and Tahiti, its 101st. According to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, no two countries with McDonald’s restaurants have ever gone to war against each other–because, as Friedman theorizes, countries prosperous enough to support a McDonald’s are stable enough to resist most provocations.

Can’t Possibly Be True

According to a December report in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, officials at Yell County Jail in Dardanelle became suspicious after one of their female inmates began getting frequent Federal Express packages. After obtaining a search warrant, they discovered that she had been receiving shipments of methamphetamines.

During the Christmas Handicap race at a track in Melbourne, Australia, the horse Cogitate threw its rider and bumped the horse Hon Kwok Star, sending Hon’s jockey, Andrew Payne, into the air. To break his fall, Payne grabbed Cogitate’s neck and then climbed into the stirrups and rode Cogitate across the finish line (both horses were later disqualified).

The Miami Herald reported in September that David McAllister, a 77-year-old blind nursing-home invalid in North Miami Beach, Florida, receives daily visits from Chris Carrier, 32, who reads the Bible to McAllister. Their only previous contact occurred during December 1974, when McAllister kidnapped young Carrier at a bus stop and left him for dead in the Everglades with cigarette burns on his body, ice-pick holes in one eye, and a gunshot wound that left him blind in the other eye. Said Carrier, “I don’t stare at my…potential murderer. I stare at a man, very old, very alone and scared.”

In November ballroom-dancing champion Michael Keith Withers was convicted in Perth, Australia, of the attempted murder in 1994 of his wife and dance partner, Stacey Larson. He claimed it was an accident, but the jury found that he had doused her with gasoline (which he had planned to use in a Whipper Snapper lawn trimmer he had borrowed from a neighbor) and set her on fire, burning 70 percent of her body. Larson testified that she hadn’t seen Withers since the incident, but under cross-examination she admitted that she’d slept with him 15 times since then. Another witness said that in 1995 Larson had bought Withers Christmas gifts, one of which was a Whipper Snapper.

A 1985 lease fixed the annual rent the U.S. pays for its Moscow embassy at 72,500 rubles, or about $60,000 at the time. Today, with nine years left on the lease, the devaluation of the ruble has reduced the rent to the equivalent of $22.56 a year. In August the Russian government stepped up its demands to renegotiate, but the U.S. continues to resist.


The New York Times reported in December on a Jordanian company that employs Palestinian women, who traditionally wear veils, to sew racy underpants for Victoria’s Secret. The products are sold with a “Made in Israel” label in order to take advantage of Israel’s favorable trade status with the U.S.

At his December court hearing in Akron, Ohio, Frederick Lundy pleaded guilty to violating parole. Before Lundy was led off to jail, police conducted a routine search and discovered 41 rocks of crack cocaine in his pocket.

In November at the Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Anthony Valencia and Fitzgerald Vandever, both 20, were arrested and accused of trying to steal patients’ food off warming carts. Said a hospital spokeswoman, “Actually, we’ve got some pretty good [food] down there.”

The Weirdo-American Community

In January disbarred Parsonburg, Maryland, lawyer Paul Bailey Taylor, 61, took his gun and barricaded himself inside a church for five hours before police persuaded him to surrender. For years Taylor, who has an intestinal disorder, ran his law practice from the bathroom of his unheated rural trailer, where he had set up a desk over the toilet so that he could sit for long periods of time. A social worker once described the place as “clean,” reporting that Taylor’s 12 cats were neatly housed in cardboard boxes and that his legal papers were filed in an orderly fashion in the bathtub.


In 1995 News of the Weird reported on entrepreneurs who had begun businesses to fly couples around for an hour so that they could have sex while airborne. In December 1996 several homeowners near Van Nuys Airport in California complained to the Los Angeles Daily News that Mile High Adventures (whose trips now start at $429) flies so frequently and low that the flights have become extremely irritating. Said one homeowner, “What people do in their own bedroom is their business. What they do over our heads is the community’s business.”

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.