News of the Weird

Apr. 13, 2010
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Fun in Ohio

Ralph Conone, 68, was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, in March after surveillance video identified him as the person involved in multiple incidents in which a man walked up behind young children, punched them in the head when their parents weren't looking and then walked away as if nothing had happened. According to police, Conone confessed that he had been punching children in public since January because he liked the "excitement" of getting away with something.

The Continuing Crisis

  • After being called to a house in Charleroi, Pa., in February, police arrested Linda Newstrom, 49, for allegedly swinging a baseball bat at her 21-year-old son, Jeffrey, on Valentine’s Day. Allegedly, she whiffed on the first two swings but connected on the third. In regards to the attack on her son, Newstrom reportedly told police, "I brought him into this world, and I'll take him out of this world." It’s thought that alcohol was involved.
  • In February, a one-armed man swiped a single cuff link from the CJ Vinten shop in Leigh-on-Sea, England, and in March a one-legged man swiped a single Nike trainer shoe from a store in Barnsley, England. Both men were later arrested.

Bright Ideas

  • Supervisors at the Department for Work and Pensions in Carlisle, England, issued a directive in March to short-handed staff members on how to ease their telephone workload during a particularly busy midday period (due to a worker strike). Workers were told to pick up the ringing phone, recite a message as if they were an answering machine ("Due to the high volume of inquiries we are currently experiencing, we are unable to take your call. Please call back later.") and immediately hang up.
  • The city health office in London, Ontario, created an online sex-education game that officials hope will appeal to teenagers in that its messages are delivered by a cast of iconic superheroes. According to a February report by Canwest News Service, the players are Captain Condom (who wears a "cap"), Wonder Vag (a virgin girl), Power Pap ("sexually active") and Willy the Kid. The heroes fight a villain named Sperminator, who wears a red wrestling mask and has phalluses for arms. Players attempt to answer questions about sex. With correct answers, characters obtain "protection" and the Sperminator loses power. With wrong answers, the characters are squirted with sperm. At press time, the game was still accessible at

More Texas Justice

Despite Texas’ conviction-happy history, one man actually received a full pardon in March. Tim Cole had been convicted of rape in 1986. He relentlessly proclaimed his innocence, and in 1995 another man confessed to the crime, but officials declined to reopen the investigation. When a DNA result (ordered in 2008) confirmed the 1995 confession, Cole's innocence could no longer be ignored. In March 2010, Gov. Rick Perry issued a full pardon. Cole, however, could not enjoy it: He had died in prison in 1999 after wrongfully serving 13 years, the last four despite the fact that the actual rapist had confessed.

Least Competent Criminals

Not Much of a Challenge for Cops: (1) William Edmunds, 32, was charged with DUI in March when he drove his car up to the guard gate at the loading dock for the Montgomery County, N.Y., jail and asked if it was the Canadian border crossing at Niagara Falls (more than 250 miles away). (2) Travis Neeley, 19, was arrested in Lake City, Fla., in March for burglarizing a car. Neeley was caught red-handed by the owner, who used the remote control to lock Neeley inside. Neeley tried several times to unlock a door and exit, but each time the owner relocked it before Neeley could get out. He finally stopped trying to get out and just waited for police.

Tastes Like Chicken

A popular TV chef in Italy was fired in February after musing on the air about the historical popularity of gourmet cat meat. According to Beppe Bigazzi, 77, cat stew is best cooked after soaking the meat in spring water for three days to tenderize it. "I've eaten it…many times," he said. Bigazzi later explained that he was referring to a tradition in Tuscany in the 1930s and 1940s and never intended to encourage people to eat cats today, but apparently his bosses could not endure the public outcry.

2010 Chuck Shepherd


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