Lead Story

According to a notice in a July U.S. News & World Report, a new book by San Diego researcher Thomas T. Samaras criticizes the negative environmental effect of the increasing height of Americans. Taller people require significantly more of the earth’s resources, writes Samaras, who recommends controlling children’s diets to make them shorter. He says the ideal adult would be five feet tall and weigh 110 pounds.

What Goes Around Comes Around

In December Marcus Melton, author of the book Nice Guys Don’t Get Laid, which encourages mild, virtuous men to act like rowdy, macho hell-raisers, confronted two men who were harassing a patron in a bar in Traverse City, Michigan. The men beat Melton up, leaving him with a black eye and a cut that required four stitches.

In August a television station in Jacksonville, Florida, that had been carrying Reverend Jerry Falwell’s Old Time Gospel Hour suspended the show and threatened to cancel it altogether because of Falwell’s sexually explicit descriptions of the alleged foibles of President Clinton.

The French newspaper Le Parisien reported in November that a black man who was the object of racist remarks made by an elderly woman in a Vienna train station snatched the woman’s train ticket and ate it. Transit-authority rules specify that a passenger without a ticket must pay a hefty fine.

Union City, California, police arrested Gardner Forster, 32, in January after he fled, nude, from a burglary scene after hiding in the home owner’s closet. Forster leaped over a fence but landed in a neighbor’s cactus garden. He was easily subdued.

In August Edward Musgrove, 32, attacked his estranged wife, a Los Angeles bus driver, as she began an evening route. He grabbed the steering wheel, causing the bus to veer off the road, hit a tree, and crash into a brick wall. The wife was not injured, but Musgrove was hurled full force through the windshield into the wall and decapitated.

Compelling Explanations

In April in Savannah, Georgia, Robert Palmer, 44, was charged with burglary after removing a windowpane and entering the home of Joseph Palmer. He insisted he broke in only to ascertain whether he was related to Joseph.

In April Dr. Jian-Yun Dong was convicted of 12 counts of sexual misconduct against a female baby-sitter and two female lab assistants in his office at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In the course of denying the charges, Dong’s attorney pointed out that one of the allegations was that Dong had forced sex on one of the women while both parties were standing up. “It couldn’t have taken place,” the lawyer said. “It’s physically impossible.”

In Dallas in June lawyer Brian Loncar defended himself against an indictment for bigamy by saying he didn’t believe his second marriage was valid because the wedding was performed in Las Vegas by an Elvis Presley look-alike and was a “phony deal.” Countered the prosecutor, “Not necessarily. Not in Las Vegas.”

To deter crime, five Florida counties recently removed all television sets used by jailed inmates. Said a Clay County sheriff’s deputy, “Knowing there’s no television here, maybe they’ll think twice before committing a crime.” Said the Jacksonville sheriff, “If people want to watch football on TV this fall they better not get arrested.”

Clint Johnston, 69 and blind, told authorities in Mountain Home, Idaho, in August that the charges against him for having consensual sex with two 12-year-old girls should be dismissed. Johnston said that since he couldn’t see the girls, he didn’t know how young they were.

Ray Von “Poochie” Everette Jr., arrested in June for sexual assault, told a sheriff’s investigator in Gloucester, Virginia, that he crawled into bed with three sleeping women and had sex with one of them “to prove a point.” He said he wanted “to show her she could be had,” because he suspected the woman was a lesbian. Said the investigator, “He thought it would bring her back right and make her act right.”

In July Dan Ivy, an often unsuccessful Arkansas political candidate who’d just switched from Democrat to Republican, denied the accusation in divorce papers filed by his wife, Sarah, that he’d beaten her. He countercharged that Sarah, who like her husband weighs more than 200 pounds, had recently beaten him because he was switching parties. Dan’s attorney explained that Sarah was angry at her husband’s decision because a Republican “has increased pressure” to have a good family life.

The Weirdo-American Community

In June the County Medical Examiner in Knoxville, Tennessee, Randall E. Pedigo, was shot after he pulled a loaded gun on law enforcement officers who confronted him at his home on a charge that he’d molested a teenage boy the night before. A search of Pedigo’s apartment turned up 97 guns along with photos of nude, underage boys, some of which, the police allege, were taken after Pedigo had drugged them or convinced them the photos were for medical research.

Least Competent Criminal

In February Memphis police arrested a 21-year-old man for burglarizing a home. The man had left a pair of sneakers behind and returned several hours later, knocked on the door, and asked the home owner, “I was wondering, have you all seen my shoes? They’re red and white Nikes.”

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