Lead Stories

Explaining why he voted against a bill to ban discrimination against gays in June, California assemblyman and rancher Peter Frusetta told his colleagues, “I’ve seen thousands and thousands of [heifers and] three, and maybe at the top, four, that had the hormonal imbalance…that makes them shy away from bulls and take up with other heifers. But they are rare. And it’s a very unnatural thing.” Frusetta’s side won. Also in June a Helena, Montana, sheep researcher said her work over the last ten years reveals that about 10 percent of rams are homosexual and that their sexual orientation appears to be linked to brain structures that regulate hormones.

Minneapolis firefighter Gerald Brown, 55, was fired in 1995 for abuse of sick leave but won a grievance hearing before a state arbitrator and was eventually reinstated with 18 months’ back pay. Brown was scheduled to return to work on June 2, but he called in sick.

In January 1995 alone, according to an April 1997 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, about 1,500 Cuban refugees housed at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo severely mutilated themselves to qualify for speedy entry into the United States. Among the injuries of choice: injecting diesel fuel into the scrotum, applying molten plastic to create second- and third-degree burns, creating blood in the urine by urethral trauma, and severing the Achilles tendon.

Compelling Explanations

At a public meeting of the South Carolina board of education in May, opponents of board member Henry Jordan, 52, who was arguing for students’ right to post the Ten Commandments in public schools, told him that students of other religions might find that offensive. According to a tape recording of the meeting obtained by the Columbia State, Jordan replied, “Screw the Buddhists and kill the Muslims. Put that in the minutes.” Explaining his comments a few days later, Jordan said, “Both of those religions aren’t really religions. They’re cults, if you define a cult as someone who worships someone other than Jesus Christ.”

The Hong Kong Standard reported in March that the 14-year marriage of Pan Oi-lin and Leung Cheung was recently annulled by the Hong Kong high court, five years after the wife had been convicted of bigamy for her relationship with another man. The court discovered that Pan had not presented her in-laws with a cup of tea at the marriage ceremony; the bigamy conviction was overturned on the grounds that the couple were never married because they had not followed the traditional Chinese wedding rites.

In May three young adults were convicted of manslaughter in Tampa, Florida, for removing a stop sign from an intersection, which led to an accident the next day in which three teenagers were killed. The defendants admitted that they had uprooted 19 signs in the area the night before the accident but denied removing that particular sign.

In May Detective Michael D. Kerns of Fairfax County, Virginia, denied charges that he had stolen items from the police property room, admitting only to “absentmindedness.” Police had found five pairs of expensive sunglasses, a Sony radio, a TIE Fighter computer game, a laser pen/pointer system, a radar detector, 21 booklets of postage stamps, a Samsonite luggage cart, a framed poster of Marilyn Monroe, and more than a dozen other items in Kerns’s home, all of which had been seized during police investigations.

In February Sheriff Tony Reeves of Roopville, Georgia, officially exonerated Aubrey Mark Turner, who was briefly a suspect in the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta after deputies found 11 pipe bombs and other explosives in his home. Said Reeves, “He is just a local boy that liked to make bombs.”

Earl Zea, 34, of Johnstown, New York, removed his penis with pruning shears in May. He told the district attorney he thought if he removed the organ a man who was interested in him romantically would leave him alone.

Questionable Judgments

In February a court ordered Lisa Stiller, 47, of Las Vegas, to catch up with her $180-a-month child-support payments for her three teenagers or go to jail. Stiller’s attorney says she earns about $1,000 a month and cannot afford the payments, and that her ex-husband, Steven Scroggin, earns about 13 times that much as an investment manager. Scroggin was originally able to win custody of the kids mainly because he could better provide for them.

Scott Favre, 30, of Kiln, Mississippi, brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, went to prison in May to serve a 15-year sentence for a felony DUI. The judge had originally suspended his sentence to only one year of house arrest, requiring that he stay home except for work, church, or medical treatment, but on Memorial Day Favre decided he really wanted to go fishing.

In March Ray David Talley, 31, was sentenced to six months in jail in Nashville, Tennessee, for placing a 20-foot metal ladder across two sets of railroad tracks. Talley allegedly told police he had stolen the ladder, found it unwieldy, and hoped a passing train would cut it into two ten-foot ladders.

In March Patrick Wayne Manning II, 32, decided to be a conscientious citizen and report for jury duty in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A routine records check turned up an outstanding 1987 murder charge against him, and he was arrested.


In Minneapolis in January Walter Jerome Bradley, 43, pleaded guilty to rape but said he honestly didn’t even remember having sex with the woman. And in October Jason Scheffert told police in Marshalltown, Iowa, that “it was pretty obvious I shot [his friend David Nimmo, 17 times according to prosecutors], but I have no recollection whatsoever.”

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, former New Mexico State University graduate student Eduardo Araiza, 27, was sentenced in February to 59 years in prison for brutalizing and raping one of his students. According to the prosecutor, Araiza invited the woman to his apartment, where he shocked her with a stun gun, taped and handcuffed her, sexually assaulted her for three hours, tried to suffocate her, and stabbed her in the neck with a knife before she escaped. At his sentencing Araiza said he was sorry for the crimes but remembers nothing about the incident and wishes someone would develop a way for him to remember what he did so he can find out what is wrong with him.

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.