Lead Story

Terry Anderson, who was kidnapped by terrorists in Beirut in 1985 and held for nearly seven years, filed a lawsuit against 13 federal agencies in September because they refused to release U.S. government documents pertaining to his kidnapping. Among the letters he received from the agencies was one from the Drug Enforcement Administration that said it would not release the requested records unless Anderson provided an “original notarized authorization” from his captors waiving their privacy rights.

Police Blotter

As part of an ongoing feud, according to police in Fairfield, Iowa, Ronald Warren Switzer, 39, flew a small paraplane over the home of Mike Parsons in July and fired several rifle shots–perhaps the nation’s first fly-by shooting. And in March the FBI charged that James A. McClelland, 48, of Spokane hired a man to murder his wife with a poisonous needle in a skate-by pricking.

Saundra Lewis, a convenience-store clerk in Durham, North Carolina, who was held up by a man in February, says the robber almost couldn’t stop apologizing. He said he was sorry when he began the holdup, again when he rejected her plea to think about what he was doing, and again as he fled. A few seconds later he returned and said, “I’m sorry–really, I’m sorry.” Nevertheless he kept the money. But the man who robbed a tobacco shop in Mesa, Arizona, in March not only returned the next night to rob the clerk again, but chastised her for having been rude to him the night before.

Reuters news service reported last fall that a bank robbery in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, was thwarted when three men–ages 69, 70, and 85–pinned the 18-year-old robber to the ground and held him until police arrived.

In August Cindy Hartman, 26, discovered a burglar in her home in Conway, Arkansas, and dropped to her knees and began to pray for him. The man apologized and called to his partner outside, “We’ve got to [give back] all of this. This is a Christian home. We can’t do this.” The two burglars brought back the items they’d stolen and even left their gun with her.

Florida’s Leesburg Daily Commercial reported in December that when shoplifting suspect Darlene Oar, 25, was asked by officer Scott Gray at the station house what color her hair was, she allegedly stood up, pulled her pants down to her knees, and said, “Why don’t you look?” Oar was warned she would face additional charges if she continued to expose herself.

Paul Bivens, 28, was charged with attempted burglary of a liquor store in Greenville, Mississippi, in May after police matched the prints on his fingers and the print on a severed finger police found on the floor of the store, the result of the burglar’s having slammed a door on his hand.

A 45-year-old Leesport, Pennsylvania, man fled a street robbery attempt in September and was shot in the buttocks by the person who’d tried to rob him. The .22-caliber bullet lodged in his penis, but he was in satisfactory condition after surgery.

A 27-year-old man in Salt Lake City reported in September that a burglar had taken $50 and a bottle of Rogaine, and that the thief had probably entered through an open bathroom window in his apartment. The victim said he usually leaves the bathroom window open so that when he’s dressed as a woman he can come and go freely, without his neighbors’ knowledge.

Food used as a weapon: Laurie Remillard was pelted with doughnuts in a May drive-by attack in Biddeford, Maine. Gary Boyington, 23, was charged last winter with a robbery in Olathe, Kansas; he claimed he had a gun, but was armed only with a chili dog he’d just purchased. McDonald’s restaurant employee Greg Dean stopped a robber in Oklahoma City in August by hitting the man in the chest with a Quarter Pounder, which startled the man and caused him to flee. Teresa Ann Johnson, 27, was arrested in Wilmington, North Carolina, in August and charged with tossing a vat of hot crabs on the police officer who’d come to break up a fight at her home. Film producer Donald P. Borchers claimed in July that one of his actors, Hunter Von Leer, had hurled a bowl of green Jell-O at him in Goldfield, Nevada, during a break in making the movie The Stranger.

Live animals used as weapons: In August two people in Camden, New Jersey, and in May the owner of a store in Columbia, South Carolina, said they were robbed by men brandishing only large black snakes. Roland Wood, 31, said in July that he was assaulted by a man in Austin, Texas, who threw a Mexican freetail bat at him. A woman in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, decided not to press charges against her former boyfriend, whom she’d accused in June of chasing her with a snapping turtle in a fight over their breakup.

I Don’t Think So

South Carolina’s Sumter Item newspaper reported in September that on at least seven occasions this year state representative Grady Brown paid constituents’ utility bills out of his campaign treasury. Brown said he saw nothing wrong with the practice, which he called “common,” adding, “A person is not going to vote for you for that reason.”

Least Justifiable Homicide

In September, when the world population conference was going on in Cairo, the newspaper Al-Wajd reported that in the Egyptian town of Qena a man who’d been discussing the conference with his wife stabbed her to death because she wouldn’t go to bed with him.

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