Lead Stories

Technology to make golf less laborious: Two Fremont, California, men recently obtained a patent for a golf club. An explosive charge in the club’s head fires a ball up to 250 yards. (The club is not expected to be approved for tournament play.)

Two men who broke out of jail in Rutland, Vermont, in May were captured a week later when police recovered a “things to do” list they had made to guide them in a postescape robbery. In Dallas in May, Travis Crabtree, 15, was indicted for murder, done in by a list of instructions he’d written to himself for a robbery, including a reminder to kill the victim, which he allegedly did. In January in San Antonio, Texas, Jonathan Blaine Downey, 26, was sentenced to ten years in prison for assembling fertilizer bombs to kill his enemies. Police had found his list of 17 targets.

Two girls at the Mount Saint Mary Academy in Little Rock were not allowed to attend their graduation ceremony in May because of a school ruling barring pregnant students. Girls who have had abortions are not barred from the ceremony.

The Litigious Society

In March in Sunrise, Florida, police sergeant Mark Byers filed a lawsuit against Jane Liberatore, a woman he’d rescued in the line of duty from an abusive husband. Byers permanently injured his hand by smashing through a door after the husband had killed Liberatore’s boyfriend and was about to attack her. Byers says he wants compensation because Liberatore’s immorality put him in jeopardy. Said Byers’s lawyer, “When you cheat on your husband and create the potential for murder, [and] a police officer is injured as a result, you make your own bed, and you have to sleep in it.”

In January Jacquelynne Stafford filed a $300,000 lawsuit against the White Marsh YMCA in Maryland. During a league softball game, another player crashed into Stafford at second base, breaking her collarbone. League rules require players to slide. In response to Stafford’s lawsuit the YMCA sued the runner, his manager, the umpire, and the company that paid for the team’s T-shirts, claiming they were negligent for not assuring that the sliding rule was adhered to.

Diana J. Nagy filed a lawsuit in Charleston, West Virginia, against the manufacturer of the golf cart from which her husband, who had been drinking during a tournament at the Berry Hills Country Club, fell to his death. Nagy claimed the cart ought to have had seat belts and doors. Nagy also sued her son, who was driving the cart.

In May the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the claim made in 1992 by Bobby June Griggs that South Carolina Electric and Gas Company owes her for a nervous breakdown she suffered. Griggs, who had entered a rice-cooking contest, had to seek psychiatric help when the company, against her wishes, published the recipes of all contest entrants.

In March a woman in Israel filed a lawsuit against a TV channel and its weatherman Danny Rup for about $1,000 because of an erroneous forecast. The woman said she caught the flu, which resulted in four days’ missed work and $38 in medication, in a rainstorm. Rup had predicted sun.

In January Kevin McGuinness, who flunked out of the University of New Mexico medical school, filed a lawsuit accusing the school of failing to accommodate him under the Americans With Disabilities Act. McGuinness claims his disability is that he gets anxious when he takes exams and consequently doesn’t do very well on them.

David Earl Dempsey, 37, filed a lawsuit against Pima County and Arizona officials in February for injuries suffered while attempting to hang himself. He tied a sheet around his neck and jumped out a jail window; the sheet came loose, and he fell to the concrete. Dempsey succeeded in a second suicide attempt shortly after filing the lawsuit.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

In June Bob Ringewold, 43, was driving with a friend in Holland, Michigan, when a five-pound fish fell from the sky, denting the roof of his car. (It had been dropped by an eagle.)

In April convicted murderer Gene Travis escaped from the maximum-security prison in Cranston, Rhode Island, by hiding in a garbage truck. He failed to escape from the truck and was compacted with the driver’s first load. (He survived and was reincarcerated.)

On May 6 in Escondido, California, a wrecking ball came loose from a crane traveling on an overpass and dropped to the freeway below. A van drove over the cable connecting the ball to the crane. The cable wrapped itself around the van’s rear axle, and in a few seconds became taut, causing the van to spin around like a top and into the bottom of the overpass. (The van’s driver was hospitalized.)


Artist Todd Alden made News of the Weird in October 1993 after he asked 400 art collectors to deliver to him canned samples of their feces for a display. Last May Alden’s show featuring 81 such cans was scheduled to open in Manhattan, but the New York Observer revealed Alden’s claim to be a hoax in that only one collector had actually contributed as instructed. (It was not revealed what was in the other 80 cans.) Said Alden, “There is a whole subtext to this that is between me and my therapist.”

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 entitled “Ka-Slice!” by Shawn Belschwender.