It's crazy, but it just might work

In March, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that Russell Weston, the paranoid schizophrenic charged with killing two U.S. Capitol police officers in 1998, could be forcibly medicated to attempt to stabilize his illness so that he might assist in his defense. Until the judge's decision, Weston's lawyers resisted the medication because once he goes to trial and is convicted, he is a good candidate for the death penalty, whereas if he continued to reject medication, he would likely deteriorate and never be well enough to stand trial (though ethically, physicians say, a doctor should never purposely make a patient worse). Weston is not the first person recently so conflicted; News of the Weird reported on an accused murderer housed since 1996 at Bridgewater State Hospital in Massachusetts for the same reason.

Animal urges

In a dispatch from a Chicago convention of "furries" (people, mostly men, obsessed with animals or animal characters), Vanity Fair magazine (March issue) profiled several people as typical of the 400 attendees: some who dress as animals (so passionately as to "become" the animal), or are sexually attracted to those who dress as animals, or are sexually attracted to stuffed animals ("plushies"), or who otherwise identify intensely, though nonsexually, with animals. Said one, "If a `high-school animal` mascot walked into a room surrounded by naked women, I'd be thinking about the mascot." Furries gently scratch each other as a sign of affection and refer to nonfurries as "mundanes."

The straight dope

When Brian O'Dea, 52, touted his high-level marijuana-smuggling experience in his newspaper ad seeking a legitimate executive job, his phone "started ringing off the hook," according to a February report in Toronto's National Post (which ran O'Dea's ad on Feb. 19). O'Dea, who did a prison stint during the 1990s, emphasized his experience with "security" and international markets (and his ability to speak three languages) and his management of a $100 million enterprise employing 120 people.

Taking it for a test run

Gary A. Wysong, 39, was arrested on an obscenity charge at the electronics department of a Meijer store in Middleton, Ohio, in January. According to police, Wysong popped his own hard-core pornography tape into one of the VCRs on sale and watched it for about five minutes before security officers, seeing that it was making other customers nervous, asked him to stop. Officers detained him for police when he ignored their request.

Identity crisis

Emery S. Pluff, 59, of South St. Paul, Minn., was arrested in February for allegedly robbing and molesting his wife (which he did, police said, pretending he was a stranger). For reasons not yet apparent, Pluff allegedly faked going to work on the morning of Jan. 30 and instead donned a black cape and a Halloween mask the family kept in the garage and entered the house, where he surprised his wife and dragged her into a back room. She apparently was not the least bit puzzled by her perpetrator's identity and asked Emery repeatedly why he was doing this. According to police, Emery replied, "I'm not Emery." Police said Emery then took some money from his wife and fled, winding up at work, where he was arrested.

Impure sacrifice

High priest of the Santeria religion Richard Rossie was arrested in Palm Beach, Fla., in January after he allegedly dumped a box of chicken carcasses (recently used in Santeria ceremonies) into the environmentally protected Intracoastal Waterway, where they were to be received by the ocean god Yemoja. And in January, a leak of 6,000 gallons of mineral oil at the Los Alamos National Laboratory seeped through the floor and drenched $2 million worth of lasers in a basement lab (Santa Fe, N.M.). And five days later, an Environmental Protection Agency field office revealed that an accidental overflow of 300 gallons of home-heating oil at an EPA research facility caused a minor leak into adjacent Narragansett Bay (Narragansett, R.I.).

Thank heaven for little girls

The Supreme Court of Canada reinstated child pornography charges in January against retired city planner John Robin Sharpe, 67, forcing a new trial on two counts of possession (one of which involves his own writings, "Flogging, Fun, and Fortitude: A Collection of Kiddie Classics"). Sharpe was unrepentant, however, demanding that kids be able to control their own bodies: "Do you think God made a mistake in the fact that kids reach puberty about `age` 12?" he asked a radio interviewer. "What is the purpose of that if not for kids to enjoy sex or have sex?"

Repeat performance

In February, the lawyer for former FBI agent David Farrall said Farrall was not drunk the night he accidentally killed two people with his car on I-95 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that the .14 blood-alcohol reading was faulty, and that Farrall intended to prove that in a test in which he would drink and eat exactly the same thing he had consumed on the night in question (according to the bar receipt). In order to conduct the test, Farrall needed his judge's permission to drink alcohol, which is forbidden by the terms of his pre-trial release.

A higher purpose

In February, a 37-year-old man was arrested and charged in connection with the recent disappearance, one at a time, of more than 100 stepladders in the small town of Jeffersonville, Ind.

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