News of the Weird

Dec. 23, 2009
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Safety First

In July, motorist Charles Diez spotted a bicyclist and 3-year-old boy (also on the bike in a seat outfitted for children) out for a ride on a busy street in Asheville, N.C. Diez pulled over and confronted the cyclist about the dangers of riding his bike with a child during times of high traffic. When the cyclist started to walk away, Diez pulled a gun and shot at the man. A bullet hit the cyclist’s helmet, but did not injure him. Diez, charged with attempted murder, was sentenced to 120 days in jail for his actions.

Least Competent Criminals

Could've Planned Better: (1) In November, Vincent Salters, 46, was arrested in East Knoxville, Tenn., after having shoplifted shoes the day before from the Shoe Show store. Allegedly, Salters dashed out of the store with several shoes in his hands and jacket—but an employee said all the shoes were for the left foot, as the right-foot shoes were on display in a separate part of the store. (2) Travis Himmler, 22, was charged with burglary in November after allegedly stealing the cash register from the Golden Wok restaurant in Bloomington, Minn., and carrying it away on his bicycle. He was found down the street, injured, after taking a bad tumble when the dangling cash register cord got caught in the spokes of his bike.

Smooth Reaction

In October, just as Pennsylvania federal judge Lawrence Stengel was launching into his explanation for the sentence he was about to impose, two-time bank robber Trammel Bledsoe grew impatient. "Can you hurry this up? I don't have time for this," Bledsoe said. ("You'll have all the time in the world," responded Stengel, who gave Bledsoe 41 years.)

Compelling Explanations

  • From a police report in TheNorth Bay (Ontario) Nugget (Nov. 7): An officer in line at a traffic light, realizing that cars had not moved through two light changes, walked up to the lead car to investigate. The driver said she was not able to move on the green lights because she was still on the phone and thus driving off would be illegal. The officer said a brief lecture improved the woman's understanding of the law.
  • Being a Lawyer Is Easy: Jacob Christine, 21, acting as his own lawyer at an October hearing, denied charges that he severely slashed a fellow inmate at a prison in Easton, Pa. Instead, Christine offered his own view of the perpetrator: "Whoever attacked (the victim) had a high regard for life," said Christine, because the cut "isn't deep at all. It's on his neck. It's not on his face."


  • When Minnesota's Riverview Community Bank opened for business in 2004, founder Chuck Ripka claimed divine inspiration. Ripka said that God had told him to "pastor the bank" and that, in exchange, God would "take care of the bottom line." Thus, Ripka often used "prayer" as a theme in the bank's promotions. In October 2009, after failing to meet several minimum capital requirements set by federal regulators, Riverview became only the sixth bank in the state to be shut down by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). Riverview acknowledged that it had invested aggressively in real estate.
  • Dr. Hulda Clark, 80, passed away in September of multiple myeloma, an advanced cancer of the plasma cells. Before she was stricken, she had authored three books touting her eccentric remedies as cures—first, for "all diseases," and then, in particular, for cancer. In her books The Cure for All Cancers and The Cure for All Advanced Cancers, she urged those diagnosed with cancer to immediately stop chemotherapy and embrace her quixotic regimens, to subdue the "parasites" that cause cancer.

Great Expectorations

(1) Charles Hersel, 39, was arrested in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in November after police investigators overheard him offering $31 to a Westlake High School boy in exchange for the boy spitting in Hersel's face. Several boys had complained to police that a man (allegedly Hersel) had approached them and offered money if they would expel saliva and other bodily fluids on him. (2) Also in November, Chris Jackson, a member of the City Council in Plattsburgh, N.Y., was accused of spitting in the face of a constituent at the height of a barroom argument about the Boston Red Sox. Said the constituent, "It got in my eye, on my face, on my jacket."

A News of the Weird Classic

In Las Vegas in November 2000, Nathan McKay, then 24, complained about the difficulty of getting proper medical care—namely, to further modify his body. McKay, who had surgery to create a forked tongue, couldn’t find anyone willing to perform another surgery to prevent his tongue from fusing back together. The original surgeon was a family friend, but he has balked at any follow-up procedures. McKay, who also has 1-inch-stretched holes in his earlobes for holding ebony disks, said: "I want my tongue split…as far back as possible, to the uvula, so I have two separate strands in my mouth. … I'm not trying to turn myself into anything except someone to remember."

2009 Chuck Shepherd


Would white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan pose the same threat they do now if a mainstream Republican were president instead of Donald Trump?

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