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9/7/2006

Columns > News of the Weird

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

 

Sensitive types

Los Angeles psychologist Michael Cohn filed a lawsuit in May against the Los Angeles Angels baseball team because he didn’t get a red nylon bag that the team was giving to women for “Family Sunday” on Mothers’ Day last year.

“Carlos the Jackal,” who is perhaps the world’s most notorious terrorist and who is serving life in prison in France, filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the head of French intelligence for illegally capturing him while he was sedated in a liposuction clinic in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1994.

And during the Santa Ana, Calif., murder-conspiracy trial of Aryan Brotherhood prison leaders in July, the lawyer for defendant Barry “The Baron” Mills (who was convicted along with colleague Tyler “The Hulk” Bingham) made the point that the Aryan Brotherhood is more of a social club than a criminal gang and mostly enjoys just “playing cards, reading and crocheting,” according to a New York Times report.

Heated discussion

University of Central Florida student Matthew Damsky was arrested in July and charged with starting a fire in his dormitory, just so that, he said, he could meet women during the evacuation.

Head-on collision

Garrett Sapp filed a lawsuit in July seeking compensation for injuries from a 2004 auto accident in West Des Moines, Iowa, in which Christopher Garton’s car, turning, hit Sapp’s because Garton’s attention was diverted by (according to a police report) the oral sex he was receiving from his wife.

Justice is blind

James Filson was fired as a Big 10 conference football referee in 2005, following a reporter’s disclosure that, after a bad accident and the installment of a prosthetic, Filson had been officiating games with one eye. Filson filed a lawsuit in July, pointing out that he had been refereeing well enough for the previous four years that no one noticed his condition, but the conference said that, now that the word is out, he would be a magnet for criticism on close calls.

They See Dead People

A campaign worker for unsuccessful Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Dennis Michaud was charged in July with falsifying election records, in that he allegedly made a sworn statement that 57 voters had signed Michaud’s nominating petition “in (his) presence,” including two people who had long been dead. Said the worker, “I did nothing wrong.”

And the signers this summer of a nominating petition for James T. Finnell for an office in Smithtown, N.Y., were all living, but the problem there was that Finnell himself had died in 2004, and according to a July report in Newsday, no one knows who circulated the petition.

Hot pants

The robber of a Bank of America branch in Tampa, Fla., in August is actually still at large, but according to witnesses, the chemical dye pack inside the bag of cash he took and stuffed down his pants as he fled exploded, creating a temperature of about 425 degrees. Said a police spokesperson, “There’s no way that he was not injured.” (In his spirited post-ignition dash, the man jettisoned almost all the money.)

Rest in pieces

About 1,000 animals were scheduled to be dug up from Pet’s Rest cemetery in Colma, Calif., after owners realized that their lease had run out in June.

And in July, the Green River Cemetery in Greenfield, Mass., began hurriedly moving and re-burying bodies, which had begun sliding down a muddy slope into the river.

Also in July, about 100 skeletons were unearthed from an old graveyard beneath the St. Joseph’s Church, which the Archdiocese of Boston demolished in 2004 and sold.

Finally, in July the city of London, England, began selling used burial sites (for the equivalent of about $5,600), offering to inter bodies on top of previous burials and to re-mark gravestones with new names.

Can you dig it?

In 2001, News of the Weird mentioned William Lyttle, then age 71, of North London, England, who was notorious for obsessively digging tunnels underneath his 20-room home. That year, he had dug past the property line for the first time and created a 15-foot hole in the street. Earlier in 2006, Lyttle was temporarily evicted when his tunneling threatened the integrity of the entire street, and building inspectors feared that his accumulation of junk would cause the house itself to sink into the ground already weakened by 40 years’ worth of burrowing. Engineers are considering cementing in all the tunnels.

The children are our future

Amarillo, Texas, officials, welcomed home eighth-place national spelling bee finisher Caitlin Campbell in June with a billboard, but misspelled her name as “Cambell.”

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