News of the Weird

Feb. 3, 2010
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Redneck Crime

(1) In December, Daniel Gable, 61, was arrested for breaking and entering a neighbor's apartment in Fargo, N.D. Gable allegedly triggered the resident's "burglar alarm," which consists of a stack of empty beer cans the resident places just inside his front door every night. (2) In Morehead, Ky., in December, two men, ages 44 and 18, were charged with theft for allegedly swiping an 18-inch-long bearded dragon lizard from the Eagles Landing Pet Hospital and attempting, in two beverage stores, to exchange it for liquor. (3) Lawyer Christopher Carroll was charged with misdemeanor battery in December for forcefully belly-bumping lawyer Jonathan Carbary during an argument in a courthouse hallway in St. Charles Township, Ill. Carroll said it was an accident: "We're both obese, middle-aged men."

Compelling Explanations

  • In a January interview for Details magazine, a man going by the name “Markus” explained that becoming the first legal male prostitute in Nevada (and thus the United States) is "a civil rights thing. … It's just the same as when Rosa Parks decided to sit at the front (of the bus) instead of the back," he said.
  • Lame: (1) Ex-convict John Stephens told a Floyd County (Ind.) judge in December that he had a full-time job and intended to turn his life around, but slipped up when television coverage of local bank robberies convinced him to try to rob the Your Community Bank. He said that he wouldn’t have been tempted to rob the bank if he "hadn't been watching the news and seeing (other successful) bank robberies." Stephens said he was especially impressed by coverage of a robber who had made it look easy by jumping over the counters of multiple banks in a string of successful robberies. (2) In Kansas City, Mo., in December, the mother of Charles Irving tried to protect her 27-year-old son from a charge of being a felon in possession of a gun. She told police (without success) that he had the gun to protect her from vampires.
  • Republican Rod Jetton, a former speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives and creator of Common Sense Conservative Consulting, was charged with felony assault in December after visiting a woman in her home in Sikeston, Mo., apparently for a sexual encounter. The woman later charged that Jetton punched her in the head and choked her into unconsciousness as his idea of foreplay, but Jetton said the "assault" was consensual. Allegedly, Jetton said that the woman was supposed to utter a prearranged "safe word" if things got too rough, and that he would have stopped immediately. Jetton told police that the woman never spoke the agreed-upon phrase "green balloons."


A central purpose of the California Milk Advisory Board is to convince consumers to buy local dairy products as a way to help California farmers by keeping more money in the state. But the board acknowledged in November that part of an upcoming promotional campaign would be filmed in New Zealand, which offers low production costs. Said a board official: "We have a…responsibility to spend (taxpayers') hard-earned dollars as efficiently as we can."

Fine Points of the Law

In November, Powhatan County, Va., prosecutors dismissed charges against five corrections officers despite evidence that they were involved in inappropriately fondling a K-9 service dog. Officers are expected to "bond" with their dogs during training, but one of the men allegedly was seen "touching the dog's penis with his hand," according to a prosecutor. However, Virginia law requires that the state prove "cruelty" to the dog, and the prosecutor, after consulting with veterinarians, concluded that he could not win the case.

Creme de la Weird

Russell Vanderwerf, 44, an agent of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was arrested in Metairie, La., in December and charged with damaging property while staying at the Residence Inn hotel. According to police, Vanderwerf had removed the bedroom door to his suite and in its place installed a plywood plank that contained a hole at about pelvis level. The arresting deputy said the hole had been rimmed in duct tape and appeared to be used "in some sort of sexual act." Another guest told police that numerous young men had been entering and exiting Vanderwerf's room.

A News of the Weird Classic (September 1993)

In August 1993, Pentecostal preacher Sammy Rodriguez, 29, and 19 relatives from Floydada, Texas, set out in one vehicle on a pilgrimage, but as they passed through Vinton, La., Rodriguez sped away from police trying to make a traffic stop. When the chase ended, police discovered that all 20 people in the vehicle were naked. Rodriguez explained that the Holy Spirit had ordered him and his family on a journey and that they were to leave behind all possessions (supposedly to confuse Satan), which Rodriguez took to mean clothing as well. He pleaded guilty to the traffic charge and, with donated clothing, the group went on their way.

2010 Chuck Shepherd


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