Lead Stories

In Milwaukee the family of Robert Senz demanded that Borgwardt Funeral Home dig up his body shortly after burial last July because his wallet was missing. Sure enough, the wallet, containing $64 and credit cards, was still in Senz’s pocket. In February of this year, Borgwardt sent the family a reburial bill for $2,149 but subsequently decided the whole thing was the county medical examiner’s fault and sent the bill there. The examiner’s office has denied responsibility.

The Nashville Tennessean reported in February on state government engineer Ken Robichaux’s lonely ten-year crusade to wipe out both the English system of measurement and the metric system in favor of one that combines weight, length, and volume into a single set of measures designated as “robies.” For example, measurements of 8 ounces, 1 cup, 250 milliliters, 250 grams, and 250 cubic centimeters would all be equal to 25 robies. He said that as a senator Al Gore once called his ideas “intriguing.”

In March four strippers at the Scene Karaoke and Coconut Karaoke bars in Pattaya, Thailand, received $80 in indecency fines for an act in which live ducklings were placed inside plastic “eggs” (with air holes) and inserted into the women’s bodies. In the course of their routines they would “lay” the eggs, which would then “hatch.”


In February in Redwood City, California, Rachel Landa, 48, got out of her van to pump gas, but instructed her 14-year-old daughter to get behind the wheel and back the vehicle up when she realized the hose wouldn’t reach the tank. By the time the girl wrestled it to a stop, Landa had been run over three times, resulting in a broken ankle, foot, and finger, and the van had crashed into a traffic signal box adjacent to the station.

Latest highway truck spills: Several hundred thousand apples spilled near Brighton, Michigan, in November; a tractor-trailer dumped its load of Hills Brothers ground coffee in downtown Louisville in December; a truck hauling spaghetti sauce and ranch dressing collided with a truckful of computers on I-35 in Austin, Texas, in January; and in an accident kept secret for a month by the federal government, a tractor-trailer full of nuclear weapons overturned near Brownlee, Nebraska, during a November ice storm.

In February John O’Neill, 73, somehow got wedged between two buildings after he wandered out of a bar late at night in Huntington, New York. He was stuck so tight that firefighters had to pull him out from above the next day.

Well Put

In Knoxville, Tennessee, a Breathalyzer company executive testifying in a DUI trial in September disputed the defendant’s contention that an untimely belch yielded a false positive reading, declaring, “I frankly have never seen a belch that brought alcohol up into the oral cavity.”

In February Honduran congressman Julio Villatoro reacted to a bigamy charge filed by his wife. “I have problems with my wife, even though she knows a handsome man is not for one woman but for several,” Villatoro said. “God gave me a physique attractive to women, and I take advantage of it.”

In January lawyer Michael V. Kelley filed a class-action lawsuit in Cleveland on behalf of employees in asbestos-laden workplaces who are perfectly healthy, in case they someday become ill. Said Kelley, “It’s very proactive.”

King Letsie III of Lesotho, 33, implored other southern African monarchs and dignitaries in December to help him find a wife, saying, “The pressure on me to find a wife soon is heavy, especially [from] my mother. I sometimes feel jealous when I see other leaders getting partners with such remarkable ease.”

Recent Criminal Motives

Kevin Carter, 21, and Michael Harrison, 26, were charged with murder and armed robbery in Boynton Beach, Florida, in December. The two said they were trying to raise money to attend the police academy.

In December Darrel Voeks, 38, was sentenced to ten years in prison in Appleton, Wisconsin, for stealing $100,000 worth of pigs from the farmer who was his employer. Voeks wanted the money to pay for breast implants for a stripper at a club he patronized.

In Chicago Michael Pollina, 26, pleaded guilty in February to three bank robberies. Police said Pollina held up the banks in order to pay for a lavish reception that he and his fiancee had planned for their upcoming wedding.

In November while awaiting trial on rubber check charges in Roanoke, Virginia, Jack Swint, 42, pleaded guilty to additional charges of passing bad checks. Swint claimed he needed to pay for counseling sessions to help him kick his bad-check habit.


The famously dysfunctional Sexton family, headed by Eddie and Estella of Canton, Ohio, and Tampa, Florida, made News of the Weird in 1994 and 1996 based on charges of incest, child molestation, and murder. In March 1997, after two years in a Florida state mental hospital, son Willie, 26, was found competent to stand trial for killing his sister’s husband. Eddie allegedly ordered the killing because he feared the husband would turn him in for killing the man’s baby. Ostensibly, the dead baby was Eddie’s grandson, but according to trial testimony in a case against Estella, the baby was actually Eddie’s son, the result of a coupling between father and daughter.

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.