News of the Weird

Lead Stories

Ex-policeman Paul Harrington, 53, was arrested in Detroit in October for killing his wife and son, having reportedly confessed that he was having trouble providing for them and wanted them never to be homeless. In 1975 Harrington killed his first wife and their two kids but was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sentenced to a mental institution, but within two months, he was ruled no longer a danger and was released.

According to an October Philadelphia Inquirer report, several dozen astrologers are making a living dispensing financial advice, and there is even an investors' newsletter, Investing by the Stars, at $300 a year. Appliance repairman Robert Hitt, of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, tracks celestial alignments at $35 a month for the 200 subscribers at his AstroEcon Web site and says the market is headed down and will tank on May 5, 2000. Said one mainstream financial adviser, explaining the astrologers' success, many investors just "want somebody to tell them what to do."

Latest Adventures of Defendants Who Elected to Be Their Own Lawyers

Joe Pietrangelo, 54, on trial in September for assaulting the mayor of Niagara Falls, Ontario, used a strategy of silence to the charge because the "corrupt" judge refused to let him complain about more important issues concerning his father's will. (He was convicted.) And Lawrence Brown, 30, on trial at press time for murder in Toronto, decided he didn't need a lawyer even though he had told a guard, "You guys are always picking on me because I killed some white bitch." And Norman Laurence, 37, set for trial in Warwick, Rhode Island, in January for murder, previewed his lawyerless defense by telling the judge: "I did kill the woman. But that confession isn't right."

Least Competent Criminals

Jesus T. Rodriguez, 34, was arrested in September on drug trafficking charges; he had aroused suspicion when he walked into a Firstar Bank in Strongsville, Ohio, with two grocery bags full of cash totalling $300,000, yet listed himself on a federal form as unemployed. And Drtangyn Sinclair, 33, was arrested in Franklinton, Ohio, in October and charged with robbing a CVS Pharmacy; he had yanked the cash register off the counter and carried it away, unaware that the cash drawer was a separate unit under the counter.

Also, in the Last Month...

The Postal Service abandoned a promotion putting Y2K countdown clocks in post offices because they seemed to remind customers how long they'd been in line (Dallas). A hospital suspended a surgeon after a complaint from a patient that he chatted with a car salesman on a cell phone during the patient's colon operation (Hong Kong). Santa Cruz, California, announced an adult-education class in the value and techniques of screaming and yelling. The Florida Department of Corrections traded death-row inmate William Van Poyck to Virginia for a prisoner to be named later. A coroner ruled that the underwire bras worn by two women contributed to their deaths when lightning struck them while they huddled under a tree (London, England).

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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