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An Associated Press dispatch from Thailand in January reported that a Bangkok mechanic named Somsong Thanopwattana ingests lube grease--he prefers 20/50 grade--and says it is good for his bowel movements. His doctor, however, has cautioned him against the diet, pointing to grease's combustibility and warning him against passing gas close to an open flame.

The Weirdo-American Community

In April three members of a San Francisco carnivorous plant society pleaded guilty to smuggling more than 200 rare plants into the U.S. from Asia. Said a society member who speculated on their motive: "Carnivorous plants can really give you an obsession. . . . I started out with a Venus's flytrap 35 years ago. . . . You get one and you want another one."

Phoenix police arrested Michael William Wetton, a Christian school headmaster, in March and charged him with child abuse. Police say when a woman and her 15-year-old daughter met with Wetton to discuss enrolling the girl, he forced the girl to strip and submit to a paddling while reciting the Lord's Prayer.

Denver police arrested Milton Edward Anderson, 63, in March and said he was their principal suspect in a wave of about 200 recent brassiere slashings at stores. Anderson denied the charge but admitted he was wearing women's underwear at the time he was arrested.

In March librarians in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties in California were on the lookout for a mystery slasher who'd removed pages from poetry books in several libraries. The editor of a poetry magazine interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle said, "The poetry world attracts people on the fringes. . . . Maybe this person thinks these poems should be in a different style or form, or wants them to rhyme."

In February in East Moline, Illinois, Benjy G. Kremenak, 39, pleaded guilty to stalking a woman for nearly three years. His hearing had been postponed from May 1994 because Kremenak spontaneously broke out singing "Chapel of Love" several times during the hearing.

In December Charles Moody, 34, was arrested in Louisville and charged with killing his mother and brother, wrapping the bodies in plastic, and leaving them at curbside for garbage pickup. He unconvincingly told onlookers that the bodies were fake. Said a local psychologist interviewed by the Louisville Courier-Journal, "[Moody's] is a classic example of denial that will be taught in classrooms for years."

In April in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, police charged Leslie Nelson with the murders of two police officers who'd come to her home to serve a warrant for weapons violations. Nelson resisted arrest and barricaded herself inside for 14 hours. During the standoff the six-foot-two-inch Nelson, who'd recently undergone a sex-change operation, was seen at a window in her home holding a rifle while clad in G-string and halter top.

In January months of investigative work by the Tribune-Chronicle in Warren, Ohio, resulted in murder charges being filed against a man for a 1978 death that had been ruled a suicide by county coroner Joseph A. Sudimack, who retired in 1987. Other cases determined to be suicides by Sudimack are still being investigated, including those of a man who was shot and run over by a bulldozer; another who was found on his knees, hanged, with toilet paper stuffed in his mouth; and another who was supposedly poisoned by carbon monoxide from an inoperable lawn mower.

Danny Strickland, 34, was arrested in Savannah, Georgia, in November after a shoot-out with police and charged with killing his father. Among the evidence against Strickland is a "to do" list he allegedly made in the aftermath of the murder, which included reminders to nail the windows closed, repair the bullet holes, and melt the bullets. Police also confiscated a meat grinder he'd supposedly purchased to dispose of the body.

In January attorney Lawrence Gottfried, 50, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for destroying documents during his tenure with the board of veterans' appeals in Washington, D.C. According to Gottfried's attorney, Gottfried cracked under domestic and work-related stress. He removed or tore up the files of more than 30 veterans so he would not have to continue working on them.

I Don't Think So

In May, the Providence Journal-Bulletin reported on the racial harassment of Lateef Saibu by his neighbors. One neighbor quoted Saibu's chief antagonist as saying he opposed the Saibu family's moving there because "it would bring down [my] property value." According to the Journal-Bulletin, the neighborhood consists of seven houses and three small industries jammed up against a hilly dead end, with bare dirt yards, rusted junk cars and truck tops, cracked windows, and facades with curling shingles.

According to Robert Steinberg, the district attorney in Allentown, Pennsylvania, skinhead brothers Bryan and David Freeman, who are charged with the brutal February murders of their parents, don't really believe the doctrine of racial hatred espoused by many skinheads. Steinberg says they told others they acquired their forehead tattoos "because it was a good way of meeting girls."

In a May letter to a California state senator, the Motion Picture Association of America wrote that Hollywood is not responsible for any increase in violence in society and that "in fact, the opposite may be true." To point out the absurdity of linking movie violence to real violence, MPAA executive Vans Stevenson suggested that the sexual revolution and the civil unrest and rioting on college campuses in the late 1960s and early 1970s must have been produced by kids' watching "healthy" shows like Captain Kangaroo.

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

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More by Chuck Shepherd

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
March 21
Galleries & Museums
June 20

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