Lead Story

Criminals who accidentally leave ID at the scene of the crime are officially “No Longer Weird” (see below), but it was nevertheless remarkable that in two separate incidents on the night of November 4 in Rapid City, South Dakota, burglary suspects not only left their wallets behind but at some point removed their pants. A couple allegedly discovered Daniel Ader, 25, sleeping naked on the floor of their children’s bedroom; when they woke him, he fled without his clothes, in which they found his ID. And police investigating a break-in at a law office came across a wallet belonging to Brian Crawford, 26, as well as what appeared to be photocopies of the intruder’s penis.

Handsome Offers

Zimbabwe, facing severe shortages of both food and laborers to work farmland seized by the government, is reportedly considering an unlikely program to bring foreign visitors to the country. A November article in a state-controlled newspaper outlined the “Obesity Tourism Strategy,” in which overweight vacationers (in particular Americans, who according to the article spend $6 billion a year on “useless” dieting aids) would be encouraged to come to Zimbabwe and “provide labor for farms in the hope of shedding weight.”

In November the Amazing Kreskin, long billed as “the world’s foremost mentalist,” offered his mind-reading services to help his home state, New Jersey, fight corruption. In a letter to acting governor Richard Codey, Kreskin volunteered to sit in on government meetings and identify any officials that are secretly up to no good.

Latest Religious Messages

On November 17 a Hindu seer (unnamed in an Agence France-Presse report) in the state of Orissa in eastern India drew a crowd of 15,000 to observe his death, which he’d announced would occur naturally and spontaneously that day between 6 AM and noon. When he was still alive at noon the crowd turned ugly and heckled him for not dying, and police had to intervene. The seer later told reporters, “I wanted to leave my mortal body, but I could not. Please forgive me.”

People With Issues

Mount Lee Lacy, 21, was arrested for animal cruelty in December after police in Gainesville, Florida, received a tip that he’d bitten one of his dogs to discipline it. Lacy’s aggressive 200-pound bull mastiff initially kept officers from entering the apartment, but once inside they found a Jack Russell terrier with a bloody paw. Lacy allegedly told them that he routinely bit the dog. According to a police sergeant: “He said that biting the dog was good punishment and that’s how you train them, that dogs bite so that’s what they understand.”

Recurring Themes

As senior citizens continue to lobby against laws requiring road tests for elderly drivers, accidents continue to happen in which elderly drivers apparently mistake the gas pedal for the brake. Among the most recent: a 90-year-old man drove into a pharmacy (Scarborough, Maine, November); an 83-year-old man drove through a wall and off the second story of a parking garage (Las Vegas, October); an 80-year-old man backed into Veterans Day parade marchers, killing one (Whitman, Massachusetts, November); a 74-year-old man drove into a coffee shop (Corvallis, Oregon, December); a 74-year-old man drove onto the sidewalk, killing two pedestrians and injuring seven (Montreal, November). Meanwhile George Weller, 87, was ordered in November to stand trial for vehicular manslaughter in the 2003 incident in which he plowed through a crowded farmers’ market in Santa Monica, California, for about 1,000 feet, killing 10 and injuring 63.


William Glenn Barefoot, 40, escaped from jail in Raeford, North Carolina, in October and eluded capture for more than two weeks, apparently hampered only somewhat by having no shoes for much of that time.

Police Blotter

From the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Daily, December 2: “On Tuesday, University police took a report from a man complaining that the word ‘loser’ was written in the dirt on his car’s rear bumper.”

No Longer Weird

Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: (71) The dedicated or sanctimonious opponent of drunk driving (counselor, law-enforcement officer, etc) who gets stopped for drunk driving (like Lydia Wardell, a prosecutor known for her tough stance on DUI cases, who was arrested in November in Tampa, Florida, with three kids in her car and, allegedly, a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit). (72) Anyone who sells anything, no matter how outlandish, in an online auction (after hearing about the $28,000 fetched by a grilled-cheese sandwich bearing marks resembling the Virgin Mary, Chris Doyle of Sydney, Australia, got about $800 on eBay in November for a piece of breakfast cereal that looks like the movie alien E.T. ).

Readers’ Choice

After Billy Wayne Williams, 53, jumped bail during his trial for aggravated assault in Dallas in November 2003, he was convicted in absentia, but Judge Faith Johnson apparently maintained an interest in the case. When Williams was recaptured in October 2004 and returned for sentencing, Johnson had her courtroom decorated for the occasion with balloons and streamers and gave Williams a cake with his name on it. “We’re so excited to see you, we’re throwing a party for you,” she told him before sentencing him to life in prison.

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