Lead Story

In October the grandson of Reverend Fred Phelps, the Topeka, Kansas, preacher who routinely shows up at AIDS victims’ funerals holding antigay signs, asked the Topeka school district to be allowed to participate in its public service program, which is designed to encourage high school students to volunteer to improve the community. The grandson said his public service would be to picket alongside Phelps to help rid the community of homosexual behavior. As of mid-March the district hadn’t decided whether to accept his proposal.

Just Can’t Stop Myself

Richard Panzella, 32, was arrested in Plainview, New York, in November and charged with two counts of stealing shoes off women’s feet. According to a police spokesperson, Panzella built his large collection of women’s shoes by buying them at stores, then by buying them on the spot from women on the street, and then by stealing them.

Dr. Robert J. Cosgrove’s reappointment as staff anesthesiologist at Granville Medical Center in Oxford, North Carolina, was delayed briefly in December. According to a sheriff’s report, three female YMCA employees reported that a man who was dressed as a woman entered on Cosgrove’s membership card, went into the women’s locker room, and left in Cosgrove’s car. Further arousing suspicion was Cosgrove’s decision to shave his beard, which he’d worn for a long time, right around the time of the incident. Cosgrove denied the YMCA’s claims and was reappointed.

The city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, agreed to a settlement in September with its most notorious parking-ticket scofflaw. Details were not revealed, but Thomas D. Scott presumably owed $52,000 (including late fees) for 990 parking tickets acquired over the last five years. Initially Scott’s reaction was: “That’s not even real, man. How could anybody get that many parking tickets?”

Police in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, arrested April Lynn Bostic, 28, and her husband in January after neighbors complained of numerous episodes in which the couple were indecently exposed in front of their window. According to a police officer, “There was nothing this girl wouldn’t do as far as an exhibitionist.” While under police surveillance, Bostic allegedly performed various acts using common household items.

Larry W. Russell, 32, was charged with damaging telephone equipment belonging to the Bob Friederich Insurance Company in Belleville, Illinois, in March. Police had seen wire running from the Friederich building into a car one night and found Russell inside with his pants down. Police said he had tapped into an outside telephone box to call 900-number sex-talk operations.

In February the mayor of Friendsville, Maryland, Spencer Schlosnagle, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of exposing himself in his car along Interstate 68. He had already served 30 days of work release stemming from a November conviction for a similar incident on the same highway. Schlosnagle was first elected mayor at age 21 and, despite the widespread knowledge of his “problem,” was overwhelmingly reelected in February 1994.

In February two boys, ages 15 and 14, were released from court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after a hearing for stealing a car, which police said was the 25th car theft committed by the boys in two years. According to police, the boys walked out of the courthouse, realized they had no bus fare, and promptly swiped car 26, which they crashed into a fence 45 minutes later.


In December scientists for an environmental group reported that a new plant species and three new insect species were found on the grounds of the Hanford nuclear reservation near Richland, Washington.

The San Francisco Health Department ordered fumigation of the San Francisco Opera House in December after musicians complained of scabies. Some violinists reportedly had to put down their bows during performances in order to scratch.

In August Nancy Bell, 46, was arrested on a DUI charge in East Moline, Illinois. Bell, who wanted to become a member of the Zion Lutheran Church and was serving a probationary period while members evaluated her application, accidentally crashed into the church at 1:15 AM.

In August shopkeepers whose kiosks are on the ground level of the National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh, threatened a lawsuit if the National Sports Council wouldn’t deal with their most pressing concern. According to a spokesperson for the shopkeepers, when the 80,000-capacity stadium is full it often appears “as if it’s raining” down below because the stadium was built without public restrooms.

In January the New York Health Department revealed that someone had stolen a dismantled, four-feet-deep, aboveground pool from an industrial site in Tonawanda, perhaps with the intent to install it in a backyard. The department announced that the pool had been used to store the radioactive substance americium. Said a spokesperson, “We believe the pool should not be used for swimming.”

Least Competent Criminal

Daniel Robert Shodean, 24, pleaded guilty in February to the attempted robbery of a convenience store in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, in November. According to the prosecutor, Shodean told a man he was going to rob the store, gave the man a dollar, and asked him to go into the store and buy Shodean a scarf that would conceal his identity during the crime. The man took the dollar, walked inside, and informed the clerk, who called police.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration/Shawn Belschwender.