Lead Stories

The New York Times, in a May story on the commercial usefulness of cow parts, reported that among the parts exported are gallstones (at $600 an ounce to the Far East, as aphrodisiacs and jewelry), hearts (27 cents a pound to Russia, for sausage), and cow lips (58 cents a pound to Mexico, where they are shredded, spiced, and grilled for taco filling).

In April the Iowa Supreme Court prohibited inmate Kirk Livingood from suing Phillip Negrete under the state’s domestic-abuse law. Negrete is Livingood’s cell mate and, according to Livingood, beats and torments him.

In April Gabriella Villa was discovered dead of natural causes in Monza, Italy, approximately seven years after her death at the age of 47. She had passed away in her home, but neighbors and her estranged husband had assumed that she had simply moved to another town.

Can’t Possibly Be True

The Italian Justice Ministry admitted in March that a notorious prisoner had escaped: Palestinian terrorist Youssef Magied Molqi, 34, who was convicted in 1986 for the Achille Lauro hijacking, during which he shot American Leon Klinghoffer and pushed him overboard in his wheelchair. Molqi, who’d been allowed a 12-day leave for good behavior, failed to return.

In February in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the first hearing was held in former attorney Reginald Frazier’s lawsuit against the state bar association for disbarring and imprisoning him. Frazier’s choice of an attorney to represent him was C.C. “Buddy” Malone of Durham, North Carolina, whose own license had been recently suspended for five years by the state bar.

Reuters news service reported in February that Brazilian farmer Mariano Jose da Silva, of the northern town of Encanto, had been kept prisoner by his wife and her lover since 1983, when he’d caught them together. They’d reportedly kept him in a back room, feeding him sparingly, until he was freed by inquiring relatives. Da Silva said he would not prosecute the two and has “no hard feelings.”

In March the Sunday Oklahoman profiled Oklahoma City homemaker Mary Clamser, 44, whose deterioration from multiple sclerosis was abruptly halted in 1994 when lightning struck her house while she was grasping metal objects with each hand and wearing her metal leg brace. Suddenly she began walking easily, and though doctors told her the condition was probably only temporary, she still walks easily today. As if that weren’t enough good luck, Clamser, scheduled for a TV interview in California in April 1995, was forced to cancel a local appointment at the Oklahoma City federal building for 9 AM on April 19.

Impatient Spouses

In a Calgary courtroom in April business executive Earl Joudrie testified that his wife, Dorothy, had shot him six times and then ridiculed his failure to die immediately. After Earl, who was bleeding badly, asked Dorothy to sit by him, she replied, “Well, how long is it going to take you to die?” and “You haven’t changed your will, so I’ll get everything.” Joudrie said that a few minutes later, Dorothy changed her mind and called an ambulance.

According to a 911 tape played at his preliminary hearing in Las Vegas in March, Roy Holloway called the emergency number because he was frustrated at his inability to kill his wife. He said to the operator, “I’ve tried to strangle her about four different ways. She won’t die.” The operator asked why he was trying to kill her. “Because I don’t like her,” said Holloway. The operator then asked why he didn’t divorce her. “Isn’t it a lot easier just to kill her? But she won’t die. God, she keeps breathing.”

The Continuing Crisis

Almost 600 delegates from 17 countries attended the first world conference on auto-urine therapy in Goa, India, in February. Adherents of the 5,000-year-old therapy claim that urine is so rich in hormones, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals it can cure diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer. A widely recommended treatment combines a glass of fresh urine a day with body massages using urine at least four days old.

In February in Little Rock Heather Sherrard threatened to file a criminal complaint against KATV consumer reporter Dewayne Graham for harassing her. With Sherrard’s help, Graham filed a TV report on how to change the code on garage door openers. He then allegedly went back twice to Sherrard’s house on his own and opened the door using the old code. Afterward he reportedly left a message on Sherrard’s answering machine, scolding her for not taking his professional consumer advice.

In December the Wall Street Journal reported on Poland’s “method” of destroying the 48,000 tanks, each weighing up to 34 tons, that remained in Eastern Europe. Under a 1990 treaty they must be turned to scrap. Since it’s impractical to blow them up or melt them, Poland flattens them with nine-ton balls, which are lifted with hoists containing electromagnets and then dropped. An American diplomat said of the process, “Wow, that must be really satisfying.”

The Weirdo-American Community

In April the president of the California senate revealed that Republican senator Don Rogers, facing bankruptcy four years ago, filed a declaration denying that he owed $150,000 in federal taxes. The reason, he wrote, was that he was not a citizen under the 14th Amendment, which he said applies only to former slaves; rather, Rogers said he possessed a “white man’s citizenship.” Rogers renounced the declaration this year, claiming he’d received bad tax advice.


In May Minneapolis artist Judy Olausen’s hardcover photographic essay, Mother, finally hit the bookstores. Olausen’s project, which made News of the Weird in June 1993 as a work in progress, features her mother, then 70, as a series of passive, subordinate characters. Included are images of her mother kneeling on all fours with a pane of glass on her back, Mother as Coffee Table, and lying alongside a highway, Mother as Road Kill. Said Olausen in 1992, “My brothers think I’m torturing my mother,” but actually “I’m immortalizing her.”

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.