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News of the Weird 6-11-2011

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Ellenbeth Wachs, 48, was arrested in Lakeland, Fla., in May on a complaint that she "simulated" a sex act in front of a minor. In a March incident, Wachs, after receiving medication for her multiple sclerosis, was awakened at 8:30 a.m., by her 10-year-old neighbor boy's clamorous basketball game, near Wachs' window. After unsuccessfully beseeching the boy for quiet, Wachs -- hoping, perhaps, to make a point about noisy neighbors -- began moaning out the window (while remaining out of sight), "Oh, John! Oh! John!" over and over at increased shrillness, as if in the throes of orgasm. The basketball-playing stopped, but the incident was not a teaching moment. The boy's father, Otto Lehman, called the police and filed for an order of protection against Wachs. [The Ledger (Lakeland), 5-6-2011]

Compelling Explanations

Dalia Dippolito, 30, of Boynton Beach, Fla., was convicted in May of hiring a hit man to kill her husband, but not before offering an ultra-modern defense: Her lawyer told the jury that it was all a fake scheme to pitch a reality-TV show about one spouse's ordering a hit on the other (and that her husband, Michael, had originally come up with the idea). As Dippolito's plan unfolded, her boyfriend alerted police, who set up a sting and witnessed Dippolito dictating exactly what she wanted done. (In fact, the sting itself was captured on video for the "Cops" TV show.) Michael denied any involvement, and the jury appeared not to give her story any credence. [ABC News, 4-27-2011; CBS News, 5-16-2011]

"Wrong" Impressions:

The Sergeants Benevolent Association, fighting back in April against corruption charges (that its NYPD officers often "fix" traffic tickets for celebrities, high officials and selected "friends") claimed in a recorded message reported in The New York Times that such fixes are merely "courtesy," not corruption. [New York Times, 4-19-2011]

A 20-year-old Jersey City, N.J., gym member claimed "criminal sexual contact" in March, acknowledging that while she had given a male club therapist permission to massage her breasts and buttocks, she had been under the impression that he is gay. When another gym member told her that the therapist has a girlfriend, she called the police. [Jersey Journal, 3-24-2011]

Quite a Disease, That Lyme:

Marilyn Michose, 46, was referred for medical evaluation in May after she was spotted roaming the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City wearing neon-pink panties on top of her street clothes, with a .25-caliber Beretta visible in her jacket pocket, and speaking gibberish. According to Michose's mother, Marilyn had overmedicated for her Lyme disease. [New York Times, 5-7-2011]

A restraining order, to keep away from Sarah Palin and her family, was extended in May against Shawn Christy, 19, of McAdoo, Pa., by a magistrate in Anchorage, Alaska. Christy has admitted to traveling to Alaska to meet Palin, to making numerous telephone calls to her, and to once threatening to sexually assault her. According to a 2009 psychiatric evaluation ordered by the Secret Service, Christy appeared to suffer from "latent onset" Lyme disease. [Reuters, 5-9-2011]


Erie County (N.Y.) jail officials suspended guards Lawrence Mule, a 26-year veteran, and James Conlin, a 29-year veteran, after they scuffled at the County Correctional Facility on April 21, reportedly over a bag of chips. An inmate had to break up the fight. [WIVB-TV (Buffalo)-AP, 4-29-2011]

An anti-terrorism drill scheduled for Pottawattamie County, Iowa, in March, which was to practice community co-ordination after an attack by a hypothetical white supremacist group angry about illegal immigration, had to be canceled. The sheriff said callers claiming to be white supremacists were angry at being picked on as "terrorists" and had threatened a school in Treynor, Iowa, with an attack that closely resembled the kind of imagined attack that would have preceded the simulated drill. [Des Moines Register, 3-26-2011]

Putting Fannies in the Pews: Two Strategies

To hype attendance for Easter services this year, Lindenwald Baptist Church in Hamilton, Ohio, raffled off $1,000 on Easter Sunday. As a result, attendance more than doubled, to 1,137 (including 1,135 raffle losers). [Hamilton Journal-News, 3-21-2011]

A month earlier, Pastor John Goodman of the Houston Unity Baptist Church tried a different approach, calling on parishioners to cede their income-tax refunds to the church and warning that anyone who failed to come to the aid of the church is a "devil" and could be refused communion. [KRIV-TV (Houston), 3-15-2011]

People Who Didn't Think It Through:

Joseph Price, 61, left the PNC Bank in Okeechobee, Fla., empty-handed on May 6, despite having passed the teller a note demanding a "sack full of cash." However, he hadn't brought a sack with him, and the teller said she didn't have one, either. He was arrested seven minutes after leaving the bank. [United Press International, 5-10-2011]

Joseph Brice, 21, of Clarkston, Wash., was indicted in May on one count of having manufactured a bomb in 2010. Brice inadvertently called attention to himself by ordering his bomb components under the name of (Oklahoma City bomber) "Timothy McVeigh." [Tacoma News-Tribune, 5-13-2011]

A News of the Weird Classic (March 1990)

On Halloween day (1989), Tallahassee, Fla., K-Mart employee Jeff Sablom was taking a break in the back of the store to try on the Batman costume he had planned to wear to a party that night when a security guard asked for his help to apprehend a shoplifter. Said the guard later, "You should have seen that man's eyes when he looked back and saw Batman chasing him." Sablom recovered four cartons of cigarettes and two videocassettes. [Gainesville Sun, 11-2-1989]