Lead Stories

Michael McLean began serving time in New York in September for a string of burglaries of posh residences in Brooklyn and Staten Island, including the homes of several crime-family leaders. The daughter of the late Gambino family boss Paul Castellano was at one time so alarmed about the burglaries that she hosted a neighborhood crime-watch meeting in the Castellano home. McLean was arrested shortly after the families had pieced together his identity through informants and had notified him that they wanted their stuff back. McLean claims he’s not worried about being killed in prison.

In October officials at Calgary Correctional Centre in Alberta discovered that a 20-year-old man due to be released in mid-November had used newspapers to compile a list of more than 150 homes he intended to burglarize once he got out. And in November, the Minnesota Department of Corrections discovered demographic data on girls aged 3 to 12 in the computer of a convicted pedophile. The inmate works in a prison-sponsored telemarketing business inside the Lino Lakes correctional facility and had gathered the information from hometown newspapers.

In October the CBS Evening News aired a confidential videotape of an Iraqi wedding reception in which members of a cult of Sunni Muslims mutilated themselves to demonstrate their devotion to Saddam Hussein. While Hussein’s sons Odai and Qusai looked on approvingly, the men stabbed themselves in the abdomen with swords and impaled themselves on long skewers. One man tore a hole in his stomach with a gunshot.

Election Recap

Republican Mark Althouse, 24, lost his bid for the state legislature in Pennsylvania despite promising voters that he would regard a victory as a mandate to end his virginity and marry his girlfriend, Michelle Taylor. And Michael Gubash lost his state senate bid in Minnesota; his campaign had included ads stating that he was “also seeking a faithful, devoted, obedient, God-fearing woman to be my wife.”

In September, Frederico the Goat, who as a protest candidate had been leading in public-opinion polls in the race for mayor of the northern Brazilian town of Pilar, was poisoned–according to his owner, by a political opponent.

In October in Stuttgart, Germany, shortly before a televised mayoral debate, candidate Udo Bausch, who had not been invited because he had no realistic chance of winning, walked into the auditorium and severed the television cable with an ax.

Voter apathy registered 100 percent for a ballot question in northern Florida to determine whether Dutton Island would be annexed to the city of Atlantic Beach: only one person was eligible to vote, and he stayed home.

In September, Mickey Kalinay, 43, was defeated in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming despite his proposal to make the space program more efficient by constructing a 22,000-mile-high tower so that space stations could be accessed by electromagnetic rail cars.

Colorado senate candidate Laurie Bower, after weeks of bashing her opponent, incumbent Dave Wattenberg, abruptly changed her mind during a radio program on the Saturday before election day, quit the race, and endorsed Wattenberg, saying he would do a better job than she would.

Democrat Teresa Obermeyer lost a U.S. Senate race in Alaska to incumbent Ted Stevens with a campaign performance that some journalists likened more to stalking than to running for office. Obermeyer, whose platform focused on the role Stevens allegedly played in keeping her husband from becoming a lawyer, blamed Stevens for her husband’s failing the bar exam 22 times.

The Only Way Out

In October world-peace activist Kathleen Chang, 46, died in Philadelphia of self-immolation; Chang hoped her death would spread her message to a larger audience. In November Suresh Kumar, 25, died similarly in Madurai, India; he was protesting his country’s hosting the Miss World beauty pageant. And Clinton Warner, 22, shot himself to death in Fullerton, California, in October after wrongly predicting a lengthy prison term under the state’s three-strikes law. Because Warner had been arrested on only a misdemeanor drug charge–and didn’t have the required number of prior felony convictions for three strikes anyway–he would most likely have received a short sentence.


Michael E. Marcum, the Missouri man who made News of the Weird in 1995 after he stole six power-company transformers that he said were necessary to make his time machine (so he could find out the winning lottery number and come back and buy a ticket), called a radio show from Nevada in October and said he was only 30 days away from finishing his invention. His Missouri landlord had evicted him for various electrical misadventures in his apartment.

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.