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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

Jan. 13, 2011
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A Little Birdie Told Me

Gloria Clark, 62, was charged in the death of her 98-year-old mother in St. George, S.C., in December after the mother's body was found among squalid conditions at her home. Though Clark denied she had been neglectful, the mother's pet parrot appeared to say otherwise. According to the police report, the parrot, in the mother's bedroom, continually squawked, mimicking "Help me! Help me!"—followed by the sound of laughter.

Suspicions Confirmed

The Green Party is occasionally criticized for its overrepresentation of whites and upper-income individuals. In October, the Green Party candidate for governor of Illinois, Rich Whitney, was shocked to see that the sample ballot for the November election mistakenly displayed his name as "Rich Whitey."

Not Just a Game

Darren Suchon, 42, was charged in October with reckless driving and assault, among other things, for allegedly attempting to run his girlfriend off the road in his zeal to catch her after she drove away with his Sony PlayStation console. When she left for work, Suchon followed her in a separate vehicle. He weaved through traffic in Palmerton, Pa., and bumped her car when he caught up with her at a traffic light. A short time later, she pulled off the road. According to witnesses, Suchon rushed the car, "clawing" at it, screaming that he would "break the (expletive) window" if he didn't get his game back.

Clichés Come to Life

Ricardo West, a professional Michael Jackson impersonator (who staged "Michael Lives! The Michael Jackson Tribute Concert"), was charged in August in Allen Park, Mich., with 12 counts of sexual misconduct with a juvenile.

Least Competent Criminals

Thank Goodness for Narcissists: (1) Murder suspect Earle Barranco, 24, was arrested in Charlotte, N.C., in November, three weeks after allegedly killing a man in a New York City diner. Barranco was spotted at a Charlotte Bobcats basketball game—on the arena's JumboTron, no less—while decked out in the distinctive jewelry he reportedly wore during the alleged murder. At the next Bobcats game a few days later, with police monitoring that same seat, Barranco was arrested. (2) In October in Britain's Staines Magistrates' Court, Dennis Davis, 40, and his wife were convicted of manufacturing a line of pirated music CDs. Davis initially denied ownership of the pirated stash, but he was unable to explain why the CDs bore his company's label, which has a photo of Davis on it.

The Continuing Crisis

Best Not to Ask Why: Fredrik Hjelmqvist, 45, owner of an audio shop in Stockholm, Sweden, demonstrated in November his system of broadcasting music from his stomach. He swallowed a plastic capsule containing a battery-operated audio setup, then connected an amplifier to a stethoscope, held it against his belly and began playing recorded music, including the Village People's "Y.M.C.A.," until the battery died three hours later. Hjelmqvist admitted that the audio quality was poor, but said he still hopes to sell the system for the equivalent of about $17,000.   

A News of the Weird Classic

In August 2001, Naples (Fla.) City Councilman Fred Tarrant demanded that local artist Ted Lay's "Famous Tongue Mona, Al, Monica" painting (side-by-side impressions of Mona Lisa, Albert Einstein and Monica Lewinsky sticking out their tongues) be removed from its place at a Naples municipal art center because he thought Lewinsky's "tongue" too much resembled a penis (Lay denied this accusation). According to a Naples Daily News report, Tarrant is, in fact, blind, but said various "advisers" had assured him that the tongue resembled a penis.

2010 Chuck Shepherd


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