Lead Story

A New Hampshire district court considering a worker compensation claim ruled in July that a man’s long bout with depression had been caused by job stress. His former employer, trying to show that personal problems had caused the stress, pointed out that the man had endured the following over the previous 13 years: three divorces, two auto accidents that resulted in chronic back pain and ruptured vertebral discs, asthmatic bronchitis and allergies, arthritis, hypertension, headaches, facial swelling, obesity, nosebleeds, dermatitis, breast enlargement, and a sexual dysfunction.

Creme de la Weird

The parents of 39-year-old Rudolf Sulzberger were charged in May with having locked him for 33 years in a small, partially furnished smokehouse room in Berg Attergau, Austria. Rudolf’s mom, apparently ashamed of Rudolf because he was mentally retarded, defended her actions by saying she wouldn’t mind living in that room herself.

Thomas N. Eichler and his wife were arrested in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in May and charged with burglary and other crimes related to their stalking a Middletown, Pennsylvania, woman for more than two years. Allegedly Eichler had stolen a key to the woman’s apartment and had taken various belongings, including items of her underwear, and then neatly packaged them in plastic and labeled them with the date taken. Eichler also had more than 1,000 photographs of the woman.

A recent issue of the journal Psychosomatics chronicled a woman who, after having been jilted by her fiance, feigned terminal breast cancer for two years to gain sympathy. She shaved her head, dieted to appear gaunt, and led a cancer support group.

Twenty-four-year-old Peggy Herzog of Stillwater, Minnesota, was charged in March with purposely infecting her two-year-old son with injections of bacteria just so she could care for him. Doctors said she suffers from Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, which causes a person to harm someone and then display great concern about his welfare in front of doctors. Herzog’s son has been hospitalized at least 20 times.

From the “Police Beat” of the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Illinois (June 29, 1991): The Sangamon County sheriff, investigating a report that two people were using illegal drugs, arrived to find only legal activity: a man and a woman were inhaling, through a specially constructed can, heated dog manure.

Vietnam veteran Dennis Alvez, 43, surrendered to police in Baltimore in July after a standoff in which he defended the “Viet Cong” village he had built in his backyard. Alvez, married with three young children, had built underground tunnels, booby traps, sniper nests, cages, and a command bunker. He apparently got carried away after learning he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Gary Arthur Medrow, 47, was arrested in March in Milwaukee (the latest of his more than 30 arrests over 23 years) after he repeatedly telephoned a woman, identified himself as a police officer, and tried to persuade her to physically pick up another person and carry him or her around a room. He had previously talked cheerleaders, motel workers, and business executives into carrying each other. In the latest incident, he had told the woman that another woman had been impersonating her, had been in an accident, and had been seen carrying someone away. Medrow asked the woman whether she could in fact carry someone away from an accident. The only explanation he offered for the calls was that he was lonely.

A discipline committee at the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons cleared a Canadian doctor of impropriety last year. A female patient had claimed that, after ten months of treatment for insomnia and other problems, the doctor told her he wanted to try something different. He had her lie on the floor on a mattress, administered acupuncture, and then removed his pants and lowered his pelvis onto her face. She said he then expressed annoyance that the treatment did not work. The doctor told the committee that the treatment was not unusual and that he encouraged “bonding” to overcome childhood traumas. The committee found for the doctor because the patient was too inconsistent about the details of the incident to be believed.


After an armed man robbed a convenience store in Amarillo, Texas, in May, he walked back to the cooler and started drinking a beer. Then he brought the money back to the clerk and told him to call the police. He finished the beer and submitted to arriving officers.

In August a 40-ish woman aboard a flight from Berlin to Tel Aviv tore off her dress in an aisle and shouted, “Bring me Shamir [Israeli prime minister Yitzak Shamir, age 75]. I want Shamir.” She bit a crew member as she was led off the plane with her only luggage–a plastic bag containing about $30,000 in cash.

Authorities at the San Francisco County Jail reported this summer that an average of ten visitors a week come to see convicted serial killer Richard Ramirez, the “night stalker,” and that most are young females who profess to be in love with him.

Lawrence Blough, 49, told police in Edison, New Jersey, in July that he had been severely beaten and forced to watch the gangster movie GoodFellas with two men who, he said, had mob connections.

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