News of the Weird
Scotland Yard detectives said they overestimated the number of dead in a fiery London commuter-train crash in October because some survivors had walked away quickly and left town, spontaneously deciding to start new lives. (Detectives know this because several changed their minds and returned home.) After an announcement that some bodies were burned beyond recognition, other people called investigators to say falsely that their estranged spouses were on the train, hoping for official death rulings so they could inherit marital property.
After questioning Stephanie Loudermilk at length following 28-year-old husband Bryan's death in June, police in Okeechobee, Florida, said in October that they believe he died accidentally in a sexual stunt gone wrong. Bryan's body was found in a specially constructed pit, beneath a board, which was underneath a rear wheel of his sport utility vehicle, and police believe Bryan enjoyed erotic thrills from being driven over. Stephanie also had videotapes of herself stomping rabbits and mice ("crush videos"), which Bryan had been selling on the Internet.
Silicon Valley Babylon
Michael David Rostoker, 41, an electronics firm CEO, was arrested in San Francisco in September, allegedly on his way to meet his 13-year-old Vietnamese paramour whom customs agents say he intended to bring home as his wife. According to the agents, Rostoker had spent $150,000 on the girl and her family, and e-mail messages to her mentioned Rostoker's "needs" to have her stay thin, learn English and have sex with him "often." Rostoker's arrest was underreported, perhaps because of ongoing media interest in Patrick J. Naughton, 34, an executive with the high-profile Infoseek, who had been arrested a week earlier in Santa Monica, California, and charged with arranging on the Internet to have sex with a 13-year-old girl who was really an undercover officer.
Crème de la Weird
Computer programmer Lloyd L. Albright, 47, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in early August in a cave near Caldwell, Ohio, where he had gone to prepare for the destruction of Earth by a meteor at 4 p.m. on August 11. The sheriff had pursued Albright to the cave after hearing of a car loaded with survivalist supplies, including 16 guns and loads of ammunition. According to the sheriff: "[Albright] very sincerely thought there was a meteor that was going to come and hit the Atlantic Ocean and cause a tidal wave 200 feet high."
The No. 1 Test
In July, San Antonio, Texas, probation officers caught Micah Sheehan, 37, using a fake penis and tubing to lend authenticity to the dispensing of purchased urine in his mandatory drug test. Among the schemes athletes use in such tests, according to a September Washington Post story, are hiding pouches of clean urine in the vagina or anus and squeezing it through tubes obscured by pubic hair, or in extreme cases, injecting clean urine directly into the bladder.
-- By Chuck Shepherd
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.