News of the Weird

Lead Stories

Patrick J. Murphy, deputy superintendent of schools in Cambridge, Massachusetts, resigned in December after admitting that he solicited two of his staff members to write papers on Shakespeare for his 19-year-old daughter's literature class at Stonehill College in nearby Easton, Massachusetts. The scheme blew up on Murphy when one of the papers received a D, and he tried to get the employee to rewrite it.

Among the new dog designer fashions unveiled at the 12th Pat Pet Friend Festival in November in Bangkok: a red-and-black, Michael Jackson-style military coat; a yellow-and-black bike racing jacket with bike-style helmet; a silver space suitlike cape; and a blue silk gown. According to designer Vasinee Apornpanit, the biggest market by far for dressing up dogs is Japan, where pet owners are now asking for cell phones and other high-tech gadgets to be sewn onto the dogs' outfits.

People Who Should've Held It Until They Got Home

Elderly Margaret Barrs filed a lawsuit in Houston in November against Jack in the Box restaurants because she lost a fingertip when a heavy restroom door slammed on her hand in 1998. And Toronto lawyer Edward Skwarek, 37, filed a $1.5 million lawsuit in November against Starbucks for his restroom injury in one of the chain's New York City restaurants; Skwarek said he was seated on the commode, and when he turned to reach for toilet paper, the seat slipped and trapped his penis between it and the top of the bowl, mangling it.


After arresting Teri Harrington, 31, and Deana Watson, 28, in September, Sacramento, California, police told reporters that the women had apparently stolen large numbers of items from local stores at least 14 times in the previous two weeks, casually walking out each time with 20-gallon bins filled with clothes, videos, CDs, games and cosmetics.

In Windsor, Ontario, in August, the small wheel of a man's wheelchair got stuck on railroad tracks as a train was heard in the distance, and a female passerby in a wheelchair rolled out to help him, but her small wheel got stuck in the same rut. Both suffered minor injuries when the oncoming train could not completely stop.

Ewwww, Gross!

Convicted killer Kenneth D. Williams escaped from prison in Arkansas in October by hiding in a 500-gallon barrel of hog slop being towed to a prison farm; he was apprehended 36 hours later. And two weeks later robbery suspect Roderick King, 19, was found in a Dumpster full of fetid garbage in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he had been hiding.

Insufficient Reasons to Kill Someone

Resisted taking a shower (Joseph Meehan, charged with strangling his son, eight, Toronto, November). Violated chess etiquette by moving a knight to a new square but then moving it back, even though he did not lift his hand (Mr. Buth Ratha, charged with clubbing his opponent to death with a wooden pestle, Prey Veng, Cambodia, July). Got accepted to kindergarten while her playmate did not (Mitsuko Yamada, 35, mother of the rejected, charged with strangling the accepted child, Tokyo, November).

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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