News of the Weird 

Lead Story

Ronald Shawn Ryan, 22, was arrested in January and charged with twice breaking into a funeral home in Edmonds, Washington. Prosecutors believe Ryan broke in for the purpose of having sex with corpses, since molestation occurred both times, but the state has no law against such activity. (A week after Ryan's arrest, a bill making sex with corpses illegal was introduced into the legislature.)

Police Blotter

In December in Troy, New York, Todd W. Bariteau Sr., 32, pleaded guilty to robbing a store, called Deja Vu, for the second time. In the second burglary he broke through the same window and stole some of the same kinds of merchandise that he had taken in the earlier theft.

David Bridges, 24, was arrested in Grapevine, Texas, in January and charged with stealing a television set from a home. His getaway had been successful, but he was caught and arrested when he returned to the home to get the remote control.

In separate incidents on the same evening in December in Springfield, Illinois, one pedestrian and one person in a wheelchair were hit by cars, sent to local hospitals, and then ticketed by police for "being in a roadway."

Church employee Rene Cantu, 26, was sentenced to eight years in prison in Dallas in January after he confessed to having stolen $240,000 from collection plates over a three-year period.

Smooth Reactions

Upset with the recent proposal of Connecticut governor Lowell Weicker to reduce state assistance to parochial schools, the principal of one of them, in Derby, Sister Linda Joseph, said in February, "I would pray that he burns forever in the fires of hell."

A 36-year-old man in Chesterfield Township, Michigan, was charged in January with assault and battery after brandishing a rifle and barricading himself in his home with his wife and son and a family friend. Police said the incident started when the son, age ten, became flatulent while watching TV. The father got angry at the boy and then at the wife and friend when they defended him.

In October Kurt Allensworth, 29, led LA police on a 100-mph chase on the San Diego Freeway before they stopped him. Police began the chase when they saw him make an illegal U-turn in Van Nuys; when they finally stopped Allensworth, according to the tape of a radio reporter who happened to be at the scene, he blurted out that he had recently committed a drug-related murder.

Darren Katryen, 18, was sentenced to probation in Toronto in October for arming himself with five butcher knives and a baseball bat and stalking his 16-year-old sister at her school after threatening to kill her. She had made the mistake of wearing his socks without his permission.

In response to a complaint from students, a 37-year-old substitute teacher in Saint Louis admitted to authorities in November that he had held an 11-year-old boy out of a fourth-floor window as punishment for spilling the teacher's coffee. The teacher said the whole thing was a joke but was later dismissed.

In March Italian art school director Rupert Hodson, ending a hotel stay in Lille, France, found himself momentarily short of cash to pay the bill. He left the key to his Bentley as collateral while he took a taxi to a bank to get money. When the bank couldn't get his money quickly, Hodson was forced by the taxi driver into the car and taken to the police station. Furious, Hodson later returned to the hotel and attempted to buy it so that he could fire the manager who had demanded the cash in the first place. When he was unsuccessful, Hodson drove the Bentley through the front door of the hotel's restaurant, causing $7,500 in damage.

The Weirdo-American Community

Police in Chandler, Arizona, said that Wilputte Alanson Sherwood, a priest who was recently arrested and charged with sex crimes against teenage boys, kept videotapes and meticulous logs of his adventures. The documents seized by officers reveal that since 1984 Sherwood had picked up exactly 3,908 men and boys along local freeways (an average of more than one per day) and taken 1,840 of them to his home.

Least Competent Person

In January Jackie T. Stipes was arrested in Johnson City, Tennessee, and charged with burglary. His plans were thwarted when, attempting to enter a house, he got stuck in the dog door and was discovered by the home owner.

Inexplicable

Psychology professor Russell Carney of Southwest Missouri State University told the Associated Press in August that he had developed a method for improving memory and told the reporter how he could recall, say, that a particular painting was done by Degas in 1865. First, think of an object that sounds like "Degas" (day-GAH), for example, "dagger," and then memorize the last two digits of the year by learning the sentence "Twin new moons rose low, just clearing four pine saplings" in which the first word begins with a T and stands for "1," the second, "new," stands for "2," and so on. Thus, 1865 becomes "65," which becomes "just" and "low," which could translate to J-L, which could be "jelly." This produces "jelly dagger," to which the subject tries to find a resemblance, somewhere, in the Degas painting. Simple as that.

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

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