Lead Story

In March, Florence Schreiber Power, a 44-year-old administrative law judge in Ewing, New Jersey, on trial for shoplifting two watches, had her psychiatrist testify that she was under stress at the time of the incidents. The doctor said Power did not know what she was doing “from one minute to the next,” for the following reasons: a recent auto accident, a traffic ticket, a new-car purchase, overwork, her husband’s kidney stones, his asthma (and the breathing machine that occupies their bedroom), menopausal hot flashes, an “ungodly” vaginal itch, a bad rash, a fear of breast and anal cancer, a fear of dental surgery, her son’s asthma and need for a breathing machine, mother’s and aunt’s illnesses, the process of planning a party for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, the process of planning Thanksgiving dinner for 20 relatives, the purchase of 200 gifts for Christmas and Hanukkah, her attempt to sell her house without a real estate agent, a lawsuit she had against her wallpaper cleaners, the purchase of furniture that had to be returned, and a toilet in her house that was constantly running. She was convicted.

Fetishes on Parade

Wendell Ray Bryant, 35, was arrested on suspicion of burglary in January in Spokane, Washington, after police came to his door with a search warrant and found 100 women’s high-heeled shoes in his apartment. He had been in court several years ago regarding 662 such shoes–162 at home and 500 in a commercial self-storage unit he had rented.

In April, Maryland officials sent a man to a hospital for treatment after he threatened harm to three people unless they would let him sniff their shoes. While he was under observation there was another sniffing incident in the state in which a man asked a woman to hand over her shoe, telling her that it might contain a valuable ticket. When she did, he lifted it to his nose, peeled back the padding, inhaled deeply, and then asked for her other shoe.

Jacqueline R. Edwards was arrested in May in Troy, New York, for burglary after she broke into a bakery and gorged herself with several dozen liquor-flavored cookies from a display case. At her arraignment she clutched her stomach, swayed back and forth, and moaned.

Todd Mason, 23, a former high school football star in Brownsville, Indiana, was convicted of attempted manslaughter in January. He had beaten up the father of his former girlfriend (and set his house on fire) after the father discovered him rummaging through the daughter’s room filling a bag with her underwear.

Authorities in Lonoke County, Arkansas, finally pinned responsibility for toe-sucking incidents in January on the celebrated Michael Wyatt (mentioned in “News of the Weird” August 17, 1990), who was released last year for similar incidents on the condition that he get counseling. Shortly after that, authorities in Conway, Arkansas, named him in yet another incident.

San Francisco State University officials took measures to improve campus security in April after a man who surfaced in two September incidents reappeared on campus, entering dormitories and asking to lick women’s toes and legs. Said one 20-year-old victim: “I’d like to catch him and get inside his head. What is it with this licking thing, anyway?” Another student, who saw the man, said he was a “normal-looking guy, pervert that he is.”

Compelling Explanations

Wanda Eads, 43 (former convicted robber and drug user), taking advantage of a new Florida law permitting death-row inmates to marry, said in December she’d marry convicted killer Frank Valdes because “Frankie satisfies all my emotional needs.”

According to police in Montgomery, Alabama, Samuel R. Miller, 26, shot a woman in February because she had run out of Moon Pies in her apartment and “he wanted one.”

A Montana State University chemistry professor claimed in March that he was wrongfully accused of being drunk after a car accident (which occurred while he was on work-release for a previous drunk-driving sentence). While a state trooper had found him “highly intoxicated,” the professor said a chemical explosion in his lab had caused him to smell and act drunk and that his statement to the trooper about having consumed a six-pack of beer was merely “incoherent babbling” induced by the trauma of the accident.

In March gourmet Howard Schaeffer, 46, received a $1.1 million award from a New York City jury who believed that a traffic accident had caused him to lose his senses of smell and taste. Asked why he continues to weigh over 200 pounds, Schaeffer said he has found other ways to enjoy food: “It’s amazing how quickly you can get into texture.”

Arkansas secretary of state Bill McCuen, questioned in November about the “business trip” to Las Vegas he took with two female employees, said he took both of them to avoid the appearance of impropriety that would have resulted if he had taken only one. (He also pointed out that three could travel as cheaply as one, as evidenced by the fact that the three shared one motel room en route, in Gallup, New Mexico.)

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