Lead Story

Johnny Harrington, 29, was arrested in Thida, Arkansas, in April and charged with abusing a corpse after he and eight friends had a late-night party at which his mother’s body, in the casket, was on display with a beer in one hand and cigarette in the other (as he said she would have wanted it). Harrington had taken the body home after embalming earlier in the day. Police said one partier might have taken the body out of the casket to dance. Said a neighbor, “They were a real hardworking farming family.”

Latest Testosterone Surges

Last year scientists for the Ethyl Corporation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (known for producing gasoline additives that increase octane), developed “Zeolite A,” a substance that makes roosters more sexually aggressive. They tested it by counting the number of times the roosters jumped on graduate student volunteers from Louisiana State University.

A 13-year-old Salt Lake City boy was referred to juvenile court in October after he was seen speaking to his genitals during an eighth-grade class. His teacher had just passed out tests when she noticed him rubbing himself and saying, “Wake up down there.”

In January fundamentalist pastor Roy Alan Yanke, 37, confessed to robbing 14 Detroit banks of a total of $50,000 to raise money for prostitutes to satisfy his “tremendous appetite for sex.” A female parishioner called Yanke “a wonderful man” and said, “The devil’s busy; I’m sure that’s what’s behind it.”

Baltimore police arrested longshoreman Victor Herbert Gardner, 46, in January after staking out a pay phone that was the source of obscene calls to coed dormitories. Police say Gardner had phoned women to say that he had kidnapped their relatives and would harm them unless the women undressed and fondled themselves. Police suspect Gardner made as many as 3,000 calls over a 24-year period.

Peter K.L. Chan, a former Bank of America executive in Hong Kong, was sentenced to 27 months in jail in December for embezzling over $2 million into the account of adult-film star Amy Yip (“the Asian Jane Russell”), with whom he had become obsessed. Chan had sold his home and moved his mother into low-income housing in order to support Yip in style.

In the course of arresting retired grocer Donald James Brown, 59, on various charges in January, Colorado Springs police found pornographic photos in his home “workshop.” They later accused Brown of having harassed as many as 200 victims (aged 10 to 78), people whose pictures he’d seen in the newspaper, by making obscene phone calls to them and mailing them pornographic photos of models with their own faces pasted over the models’.

Cliches Come to Life

An Alaska Airlines flight from Phoenix to Seattle in February was delayed so a male passenger could get off and take a later plane after he found out, as the plane was taxiing, that the pilot was a woman.

In West Valley City, Utah, a 43-year-old man was charged in December with assaulting his wife’s 28-year-old lover. The husband had come home prepared to take the family out, but the wife asked him to entertain the kids for a few minutes while she got ready. The husband wondered aloud to his kids why their mother was acting strange, and one kid said it was because her boyfriend was hiding in the closet. The husband then dragged the man out of the closet and beat him.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last year that it took two state employees and a $9,400 machine to change a light bulb in the capitol complex in Harrisburg. Light fixtures in a two-year-old building had been placed too far from the walls to use a ladder, requiring a device to lift an employee to the ceiling to change the bulb.

Federal agents in April had no leads as to who lobbed pipe bombs at an IRS building in Fresno, California, two weeks before April 15 this year. Said agent William Vizzard, “What we’re looking at is someone possibly who doesn’t like the IRS.”

The Bureau of Indian Affairs jail in Fort Totten, North Dakota–so understaffed (it only has one employee) that the prisoners had been performing essential functions, including supervising themselves–was closed in September as “unfit for human habitation.”

Some students at Governors State University in University Park took exams last fall via a telephone message system that enabled students with push-button phones to call in their answers to a psychology quiz.

In March, federal inmates at a detention center in Eden, Texas, took over a wing of the building, briefly holding authorities off with kitchen utensils, to dramatize their formal complaint that they don’t get enough green vegetables in their food.

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