A case of brazen cheek 


Mark Wayne Toon, 24, was arrested in Sept-ember and charged with breaking into the Van Alma Tire Center in Fort Smith, Ark., where he allegedly stole some things. He left some things, too. Police investigators learned that Toon not only dropped his wallet at the scene but also -- in the course of urinating against a front window -- had occasion to rest his buttocks against the pane. His action left two sets of what police described as identifiable buttocks-shaped prints.

'Til death do us parts

Jack Wilke has filed a lawsuit against the police in Reedsburg, Wis., because, when he asked for his wife's "personal effects" back after her suicide, they gave him only a container holding some actual internal organs. Meanwhile, the parts (nose, scalp, teeth) that startled a Mohegan Lake, N.Y., woman when she found them in her attic in September were revealed to be her late husband's souvenirs of his 1981 plastic surgery. And, as part of wrongful firing lawsuit in Charleston, W.Va., it was revealed that the box of remains of murder victim David Allen Williams, which the medical examiner sent to his sister in 1998, actually contained deer bones. The sister already had had the bones cremated.

A trip to seers

The FBI has been paying calls on several psychics to ask their help in predicting future terrorist attacks. Most of those whose skills are being solicited have worked with U.S. intelligence in the past as "remote viewers." According to a report in The Times of London, the federal government had a long-running remote-viewing program, run by California's Stanford Research Institute, until it was shut down in 1995.

Gentleman's seas

Among the diversionary shipboard classes serving U.S. Marine combat-expeditionary units on the USS Peleliu warship in the Arabian Sea are an anger-management class taught by a chaplain, and an English literature class taught by intelligence officer Chris Picado. The literature class delves into poetry from World War I. In an interview with Reuters, one admiring student in Captain Picado's class explained why he loved his studies: "Just by what (the poet wrote), you can actually feel (the war), or you can get a mental picture of (death)."

What, me blurry?

Emma Ness of Fargo, N.D., passed the eye test for her driver's license-renewal in September despite the fact that she is so severely vision-impaired that her nurse must drive her around. Ness, 79, now admits she has 75 percent blockage in one eye, 25 percent in the other; and she sees spots in the middle of road signs, according to a report in the Fargo Forum. But she had bet her nurse that clerks would renew her license, anyway, and they did. "We're only human," said a state transportation official. Meanwhile, in Lenoir, N.C., a 34-year-old legally blind man, who did not have a license, died when he accidentally smashed his car into the back of a tractor-trailer.

An I.D. that got out of hand

Commissioners of the Port of Oakland in California have ordered a full scale inquiry into the matter of why 1,000 secure-area access badges to Oakland International Airport are missing. The Federal Aviation Agency has come down hard on the airport, but only because 1,000 badges were too many to lose. Its regulations permit that airports have no more than 500 access badges unaccounted-for at any time.

Mixed message

During the summer, cell-phone users who dialed the 911 emergency number in Northern California and were placed on hold for the next available operator did not receive the traditional, calming recorded messages of reassurance. Rather, the often-panicked callers had to listen to tapes of energy-saving tips or job-recruiting notices for the California Highway Patrol. After the San Francisco Chronicle publicized the messages, the traditional calming tapes were returned to the emergency line.

Alpha mail

A recent San Francisco Chronicle profile highlighted several victories postal-customer advocate Doug Carlson has had in getting sluggish or recalcitrant postal supervisers to do their jobs better. It turns out that Carlson has had a lifelong fascination with the post office: As a kid, he followed the postman around. He got his first post-office box when he was 15. He toured mail-processing facilities. "It's fun to watch," he said. A law-school graduate and university administrator, Carlson reads the postal manual as a "hobby," so he can cite instances in which the USPS doesn't follow its own procedures.

It had to be ewe

British researchers found that a sheep can distinguish and recognize the faces of as many as 50 other sheep, even in silhouette, for up to two years. ... A San Francisco motorcycle cop ordered a Fire Department's Toys for Tots van, which was actively collecting donations for the holidays, towed for having expired license plates. ... According to police in Brockton, Mass., among suspected DUI driver Edward T. Petit's first words to officers after fatally hitting a woman in June were that he had just been bragging to his buddy that he could "drink him under the table any day." ... A 49-year-old computer programmer in Maroochy Shire, Australia, was sentenced to two years in prison for hacking into his town's waste-disposal system to divert millions of gallons of raw sewage onto land. He was frustrated because the town wouldn't hire him.


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