Lead Story

New York governor Mario Cuomo demanded in early May that Oklahoma return Thomas Grasso to New York so that he can serve a 20-year-to-life sentence for a 1991 murder. Grasso is on death row in Oklahoma for a 1990 murder and has waived all appeals so that he can speed up his date with destiny. He told the Daily Oklahoman that he is “perplexed” that New York still wants him, especially since Cuomo’s decision will cost New York taxpayers at least half a million dollars if he serves the minimum sentence before being returned to Oklahoma to be executed.


In France a high-speed train was halted for several hours en route from Paris to Toulouse in February when the emergency-stop mechanism jammed. An unidentified man had yanked on it to stop the train because his wallet had fallen into a toilet and when he reached in to get it, his hand got stuck.

Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, North Carolina, when, awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but instead grabbed a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear.

In April a senior investigator with the San Francisco coroner’s office, who was at the site of a downtown traffic fatality, got into his van, put it in reverse, and accidentally drove over the dead man’s body. Apparently bewildered by the screams of bystanders, he then drove forward over the body.

Jane Bryne, 42, was arrested in Clayton, Missouri, in March and charged with possession of cocaine. She had been in the second row of a courtroom attending the robbery trial of her boyfriend when her purse fell out of her lap, sending the contents rolling underneath the seats to the front row. A police officer sitting in front of her was gathering up the cosmetics to return them when he noticed that one of the items was a vial of cocaine.

According to a lawsuit filed by Jack Darcangelo of Littleton, Colorado, exotic dancer Robin Nicholson, aka Autumn, tried one night in December to demonstrate her athletic prowess by leaping over him while he was standing near the stage. She failed to clear the hurdle and, according to Darcangelo, caused him a neck injury that forced him to miss two months’ work.

In April, when Steve Morrow scored the winning goal that gave the Arsenal team England’s League Cup soccer championship, his teammates tossed him into the air in ritual celebration of their victory. However, they failed to catch him when he came down, and Morrow was carried of the field with a broken arm.

In Grants Pass, Oregon, Michael Kennedy tried to shoot a beer can off Anthony Roberts’s head with a bow and arrow in May as part of what Roberts later said was an initiation rite for Mountain Men Anonymous. Kennedy missed, and the arrow went through Roberts’s right eye, penetrating eight inches of his brain and coming within a millimeter of severing major blood vessels, which would have caused instant death. Roberts never lost consciousness, was later fitted with a glass eye, and suffered no brain damage.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

New York state police recovered nearly $5 million in suspected drug money from the home of Orlando Jaramillo, 44, in January after he was stopped going the wrong way on a one-way street. Police found a satchel containing $300,000 in his car, and when Jaramillo couldn’t give a good explanation of why he had it, police obtained a search warrant and found $4.7 million more behind a false wall in his home.

In September in Irvington Township, New Jersey, Joseph Frajkor, 45, was trapped for 20 minutes after a person attempting suicide leapt from an overpass on the Garden State Parkway and landed on his car.

The Weirdo-American Community

Jeffery Ham was convicted in New Orleans in April of fatally shooting his girlfriend. One police officer testified that Ham said he had shot her after watching a presidential debate on TV because “she chose the wrong side” and because she wanted to watch a sex tape right after the debate, which Ham said would be disrespectful.

Least Competent People

A Reading, Pennsylvania, kidnappee was freed in Philadelphia in April after two suspects, attempting to get $200 from the victim’s daughter, told her to call back when she had the money and gave her their home telephone number. Police matched the phone number to an address, went to the house, arrested Claude Smith, and freed the victim. Smith’s partner fled.

Good News

In March, three weeks into the David Koresh standoff in Waco, a SWAT team in Tucson drove Mark Allen Anderson, 35, from his armed, barricaded position in a metal house trailer by hurling so many bricks at it that he soon gave up because of the noise.

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