Lead Story

A pretrial hearing will take place this month in Lamar, Missouri, on Joyce Lehr’s lawsuit against the county. Injured in 1993 after falling on the icy, unplowed parking lot of a local high school, Lehr claimed damage to nearly everything in her body. The Carthage Press reported that her petition claims that “all the bones, organs, muscles, tendons, tissues, nerves, veins, arteries, ligaments…discs, cartilages, and joints of her body were fractured, broken, ruptured, punctured, compressed, dislocated, separated, bruised, contused, narrowed, abrased, lacerated, burned, cut, torn, wrenched, swollen, strained, sprained, inflamed, and infected.”


Johnny Lee Nichols, 25, was arrested in Rogers, Arkansas, in October and accused of knocking on the doors of several homes around 3 AM, asking if anyone wanted to exchange drugs or sex for some dynamite he had in his car.

A Russian parliamentary committee announced in November that the country could not yet comply with the world’s ozone-protecting chlorofluorocarbon ban treaty (which took effect in January 1996). Russian scientists proposed an alternative, however: a ten-year, $100 billion program in which 30 to 50 satellites would bombard the atmosphere with lasers to stimulate production of ozone, thus compensating for the Russian CFCs.

A bomb threat that forced a Royal Jordanian Airlines plane en route to Chicago to land in Iceland in November was discovered to have been made by a Chicago woman who was merely trying to prevent her mother-in-law, a passenger on the plane, from visiting her. And a former USAir flight attendant was sentenced to eight months in prison in May for making a bomb threat to force a landing so she could rest her ailing knee.

In August doughnut shop owner Harjeet Singh pleaded guilty to insurance fraud in Salinas, California. After an employee was shot during a holdup, Singh dragged the wounded man’s body out to the sidewalk and pretended he was a customer since Singh didn’t have workmen’s compensation insurance.

Under pressure from town officials in Darien, New York, because he was keeping an unregistered car on his property in violation of a zoning law, artist Charles Flagg dug a hole in his backyard in July, buried the front end of the car, and called it a sculpture.

In Little Rock, Arkansas, in August, Donterio Beasley, 19, called the police to ask for a ride downtown. The dispatcher told him that transporting him would be against policy. Beasley called back a few minutes later to report a suspicious person loitering around a phone booth. He gave a description of himself, hoping that police would pick him up, give him a ride downtown for questioning, and then release him. He was charged with making a false alarm.

Therisa Frasure, 22, and a 16-year-old accomplice were indicted in July for murdering an elderly woman in Cincinnati. According to a sheriff’s detective, they robbed the woman to get money for bus tickets to Nashville, where they intended to take hostages at the Grand Ole Opry and demand a personal meeting with singer Reba McEntire. (According to a McEntire representative, the women had never requested a meeting in the conventional way.)

Least Competent Criminals

Police in Fort Worth, Texas, arrested a man in December just after he robbed a bank. They were tipped off by a customer who’d walked next door to police headquarters and told them that a man waiting in line at the bank was wearing a ski mask.

Juan Morales, 18, and Juan Mendoza, 18, were arrested as they robbed a Coastal Mart convenience store in Weslaco, Texas, in November. Police had been tipped off to the crime because the cashier on duty the day before reported that the two men had threatened to come back and rob him the next day.

Mark Mays, 30, was arrested and charged with attempted robbery in Toledo, Ohio, in July, after walking into a restaurant at 12:40 AM with a Rambo-style knife and demanding money from the cashier. Mays was subdued by the only three customers there at the time–on-duty police officers (who were in plain clothes but whose service radios blared out police calls throughout the episode).

In January in Fremont, California, a carjacker yanked Cecilia Laus, 54, out of her car and drove off, leaving the woman shaken but also bewildered, since the car was a 1976 AMC Pacer.


In October Richard S. King, 36, pleaded guilty to making threatening and obscene phone calls to two boys who were on his son’s Little League team in Blue Springs, Missouri. To get the boys to reconsider their plans to quit the team, King allegedly called them several times during a business trip to China, threatening to kill one kid and his parents and to sodomize the whole family.

In October Gerald Finneran, one of the world’s leading authorities on Latin American debt, was arrested at JFK airport in New York as he disembarked from a plane that had arrived from Buenos Aires. According to passengers and crew members, he’d assaulted flight attendants after they refused to continue serving him liquor, defecated on a serving cart, and cleaned himself with the airline’s linens, leaving an odor that lingered in the cabin for the remaining four hours of the flight. (The flight couldn’t be rerouted to land sooner because the president of Portugal was on the plane, and flights containing heads of state are hard to divert.)

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.