News of the Weird

Oct. 22, 2010
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Cheerleading Lessons

Jennifer Tesch's daughter, Kennedy, was kicked off her cheerleading squad, which supported a youth flag-football team in Madison Heights, Mich., after Tesch complained about the language used in one of the cheers in the girls' repertoire. The cheer stated: "Our backs ache! /Our skirts are too tight! /We shake our booties! /From left to right!" Tesch thought the cheer was inappropriate, considering that Kennedy is 6 years old. In September the team was given the chance to renounce the cheer, but instead voted to keep it and punish the Tesch family for taking the dispute public.

Sports Fans Over the Line

Marie Murphy, a fifth-grade teacher in Stratford, N.J., and her husband nearly lost everything in a house fire in April, but when Marie arrived at the burning home, she defied firefighters’ orders and dashed inside to retrieve a single prized possession: her Philadelphia Phillies season tickets. "My husband was so mad at me that I didn’t save the fire insurance instead," Murphy said. (Later, a Phillies representative informed Murphy that the team would have reprinted her tickets for free.)

Least Competent Criminals

Donald Denney and his father (also named Donald Denney) concocted a plan on the telephone for the father to smuggle a ball of black-tar heroin (for resale to prison inmates) to the son, who was being held in a prison in Colorado. The idea, to take place during visiting hours, was for the drugs to be passed through the mouth by a deep kiss from a female visitor. However, the elder Denney could not find a woman with a clean-enough record to be admitted as a visitor. Still enamored of the plan, however, the father decided to be the drug mule, himself, and inserted the packaged heroin into his rectum for later (when the plan called for it to be transferred to his mouth to be passed on to his son). Despite audio warnings, the Denneys were apparently unaware that all of the son's phone calls were being monitored. In September, prison officials were waiting for the father, with a body-cavity search warrant, as he entered the prison.

Rough Crowd

A 23-year-old man on Chicago's South Side is still alive after he reported being shot twice on Sept. 17 by different people in different neighborhoods. He was shot above the armpit just after midnight, was treated at a hospital and released, and then was shot again in the leg about 10 hours later.

Bright Ideas

  • A Breakthrough in Political Campaign Technology: New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, waging a particularly contentious campaign, mailed out a flier in September suggesting that opposing state politicians are corrupt. Furthermore, the flier had photos of seven current and recent officeholders and was made with a special paper that releases a "garbage-scented" smell when exposed to air (and which supposedly grows even more foul over time).

  • Sherin Brown, 23, happened to be walking through a Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood in August at the exact moment that a tractor-trailer accidentally clipped a light pole, sending it crashing to the sidewalk. First responders found Brown pinned under the pole, screaming for help, and had her taken to a hospital. Afterward, investigators discovered a nearby surveillance camera, which revealed that Brown had stepped out of the way of the falling pole. Moments later, she crawled underneath the pole and began wailing in "pain."

  • Gene Cranick, who lives outside the city of South Fulton, Tenn., was offered firefighter service by the city for an annual $75 fee, but he declined to pay. In September, firefighters stood by watching as Cranick's home burned to the ground. (They had been called to the scene by Cranick's neighbor, who had paid the fee and feared Cranick's fire might spread to his property.)

2010 Chuck Shepherd


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