News of the Weird


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.

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.
— “Wrong” Impressions: (1) 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. (2) 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.
— Quite a Disease, That Lyme: (1) 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. (2) 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.

— 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.
— 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.
— In April, officials in the northern Swedish city of Angermanland temporarily shut down the operator of a colonic cleansing service, and issued fines because it was not up to code. It had insufficient restroom facilities, thus requiring some of its clients to cleanse their colons in front of other clients.

I Demand My Rights!
The lawyer for Charles Wilhite expressed shock in a formal motion before the court after his client’s murder trial in Springfield, Mass., in April (in which Wilhite was convicted). How could it be, he asked the judge, that despite having to evaluate 19 witnesses and examine 55 pieces of evidence, the jury could so quickly have decided (three hours total) that Wilhite and his partner Angel Hernandez were guilty? (The lawyer insinuated that the jury had thus been inattentive or biased, but did not mention the possibility that Wilhite and Hernandez were so obviously guilty that no more time was necessary.)

Signs of the Times
“Dog Stylist” Dara Foster (“I show people how to live together with their dogs in a stylish way”) told a TV audience recently that some dog owners are dressing their pooches in “‘80s-inspired punk,” “giving way to a grunge movement in dog fashion — I swear to God.” The ubiquitous TV guest and apparel designer estimates that since Americans already spend $47 billion a year on pets, they need more than ever to know what’s hot — fluorescent styling gel, for example, and precooked meals for dogs, and owners getting matching tattoos with their dogs, and a recently spotted synthetic mullet wig for dogs.

Putting Fannies in the Pews: Two Strategies
(1) 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). (2) 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.

Least Competent Criminals
People Who Didn’t Think It Through: (1) 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. (2) 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.”

The Jesus and Mary World Tour (all-new!)
In December, the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., announced it had received approval to designate a site in Champion, Wis., as the 11th official, Vatican-authorized location of a Virgin Mary apparition (witnessed by a nun in 1859). Meanwhile, these recent bootleg public appearances were reported: Yucca Valley, Calif., in April (Jesus on the petal of a poppy plant). Brisbane, Australia, in March (Jesus on a pie from the Posh Pizza restaurant). Los Angeles in February (Jesus on a rocking chair). Pequabuck, Conn., in February (Mary in an ice formation on a neighbor’s roof). Comal County, Texas, just north of San Antonio, in December (Mary, “floating” on the wall of an apartment building). Elwood, Ind., in December (Jesus on a woman’s chest X-ray).

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.