Lead Story

In April in Low Moor, Iowa, the body of a 16-year-old boy who had been suspected by his parents of running away to join the circus more than four years earlier was found hanged in their farmhouse basement; the body had not been discovered sooner because of the clutter. Since December, the bodies of three people have been found in their apartments by officials in Vienna, Austria. Mail in the apartments suggested that one man had died in 1989 and that two sisters had died in 1985. And in Roubaix, France, the body of Eloi Herbaux, 55, was found in March by health officials investigating the smell from his apartment. It had apparently been ten months since he had passed away; the body was found on the sofa in front of a television set that was still on.


In April in Monmouth, Illinois, Clifford West told a judge that his wife, Cora, could come back to live with him and cook for him while she’s out on bail awaiting her trial for trying to kill him by poisoning his food.

In March, Cleveland judge Terrence O’Donnell found Dr. Demetrius Pawlyszyn not guilty of 39 counts of drug trafficking and writing false prescriptions. Prosecutors presented evidence that over a seven-month period Pawlyszyn had prescribed, among other things, more than 60 gallons of narcotic cough syrup, 53,000 Valiums, and 35,000 Vicodins.

The class president of third-year graduate students at Duke University Divinity School was expelled in April for faking terminal cancer, to the point of keeping his head shaved to mimic the effects of chemotherapy.

The trial of Ismael Rodriguez in Trenton, New Jersey, in April revealed the unusual rehabilitation program of a halfway house to which Rodriguez had been sent after serving time for heroin possession. Rodriguez said he wanted to escape from the halfway house because he objected to being forced to don dresses and high heels–a practice that officials say breaks down inmates’ self-images as tough guys.

In March South Carolina state senator Glenn McConnell protested to the mayor of Charleston the city’s February decision to relocate 13 bodies from a Confederate graveyard underneath the Citadel’s football field and parking lot, but to leave 23 other bodies there.

In September New York City police charged a Wall Street investment banker and an honors student at Yale Law School with tossing huge chunks of concrete off a 45-story apartment building. One woman was partly paralyzed after being hit with a 75-pound slab. According to police, one of the men said, “We had so much fun throwing that [stuff]. This is better than a bank robbery.”


In January a Dallas recording company sent the wrong CD to about three dozen of the 1,000 radio stations that were to receive religious programming sponsored by the Southern Baptist Radio-TV Commission. Instead, the company had sent the Dead Kennedys’ album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, which includes the song “I Kill Children.”

In February the British journal Nature reported that in Russia radioactivity from nuclear plant waste, atomic testing, and nuclear accidents is so prevalent that it is now being detected at significant levels in snakes’ venom. And last August officials in the Ukraine said at least 193 cases of poisoning (including 23 deaths) had been reported from toxic, “possibly mutant” mushrooms that have been growing near the site of a nuclear power plant in the Voronezh region of Russia, about 350 miles from Moscow.

In December in Marianna, Florida, Brandon Hatcher filed a lawsuit against the Pepsi distributor in Dothan, Alabama, which services Marianna, after tests revealed that the Mountain Dew he had started to drink contained urine. The Panama City News Herald quoted an executive of the distributing company as saying, “There are a variety of reasons why this could happen.”

Least Competent Person

A 24-year-old salesman from Hialeah, Florida, was killed near Lantana one afternoon in March when his car smashed into a pole in the median strip of Interstate 95. Police said the man had been traveling at 80 miles per hour at the time and, judging by the sales manual that was found open and clutched to his chest, had been busy reading.

Good News

The Associated Press reported in April that the Red Belle Saloon in Salt Lake City is prospering under its new owners. Last year bikers in a motorcycle gang called the Barons, whose clubhouse is near the bar, became angry at the drug dealing, prostitution, and violent crimes taking place at the bar, so they bought it, rehabilitated it, and set the clientele straight.

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