To celebrate the 25th anniversary of NOTW weekly distribution by Universal Uclick, Chuck Shepherd recalls a few of his favorite stories (among the more than 25,000 covered).
1989 — In the mid-’80s, convicted South Carolina murderer Michael Godwin won an appeal to avoid the electric chair and serve only a life sentence. In March, while sitting naked on a metal prison toilet, attempting to fix a TV set, the 28-year-old Godwin bit into a wire and was electrocuted.
1991 — Dee Dee Jonrowe, leading the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in January in northern Minnesota, took a wrong turn, going 300 yards before seeing her error, which cost her team only a few minutes, but stopping to calculate her location allowed the dogs an unsupervised rest, and by the time she was ready to go, two of her dogs had begun to copulate. She was forced to wait 25 minutes and lost the lead.
1991 — In March, Florence Schreiber Powers, 44, a Ewing, New Jersey, administrative judge on trial for shoplifting two watches, called her shrink to testify that Powers was under stress at the time of the incidents. The doc said Powers was unaware of her actions “from one minute to the next,” for 20 reasons: recent car accident, traffic ticket, a new
car, overwork, husband’s kidney stones, husband’s asthma (and breathing machine in the bedroom), hot flashes, an “ungodly” vaginal itch, bad rash, fear of breast/anal cancer, fear of dental surgery, son’s need for an asthma breathing machine, sick mother and aunt, organizing her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 20, buying 200 Christmas/Hanukah gifts, selling her house without an agent, lawsuit against wallpaper cleaners, buying furniture that had to be returned, and a toilet constantly running. She was convicted anyway.
1991 and before — Gary Arthur Medrow, 47, was arrested in March in Milwaukee (the latest of then-30-plus arrests in 23 years) for causing mischief by calling a woman, trying to persuade her to physically pick up another person and carry her around a room. In this incident, after repeatedly calling, he told her another woman had been impersonating her, had been in an accident, and had been seen carrying someone away (and that Medrow needed evidence that she could or could not do that). He’d previously talked cheerleaders, motel workers and business executives into lifting and carrying.
1992 — A 38-year-old man, unidentified in reports, was hospitalized in Princeton, W.Va., in October with gunshot wounds. He’d been drinking beer and cleaning three guns — and accidentally shot himself with each one. He said the first shot didn’t hurt, the second “stung a little,” and the third “really hurt,” so he called for help.
1994 — In Toronto in March, Sajid Rhatti, 23, and his 20-year-old wife brawled over whether Katey Sagal, who played Peg Bundy on “Married With Children,” is prettier than Christina Applegate, who plays her daughter. First, wifey slashed Rhatti in the groin with a wine bottle, but she dressed his wounds and they sat down again to watch another episode. Moments later, the brawl erupted again, and Rhatti, who suffered a broken arm and shoulder, stabbed his wife in the chest, back and legs before they begged neighbors to call an ambulance.
1995 — From Riley County police blotter in Kansas State University’s newspaper, Sept. 2: 1:33 p.m., disturbance involving Marcus Miles; 2:14 p.m. (different address), “unwanted subject” (police jargon for acquaintance who wouldn’t leave) in the home, Marcus Miles told to leave; 4:08 p.m. (different address), Marcus Miles accused of harassment; 6:10 p.m., “unwanted subject” call against Marcus Miles. Nov. 14: 6:47 p.m., “unwanted subject” in the home, Marcus Miles told to leave; 7:36 p.m. (different address), “unwanted subject” call against Marcus Miles. Nov. 20: 2:05 a.m. (different address), “unwanted subject” charge against Marcus Miles; 2:55 a.m. (different address), disturbance involving Marcus Miles; 3:07 a.m. (different address), “unwanted subject” charge against Marcus Miles; 4:11 a.m. (different address), “unwanted subject” report made against Marcus Miles.
1996 — A pre-trial hearing was set in Lamar, Missouri, on Joyce Lehr’s lawsuit against the county for injuries from a 1993 fall in the local high school’s icy, unplowed parking lot. The Carthage Press reported Lehr claimed damage to nearly every part of her body. According to her petition: “All the bones, organs, muscles, tendons, tissues, nerves, veins, arteries, ligaments … discs, cartilages … joints … were fractured, broken, ruptured, punctured, compressed, dislocated, separated, bruised, contused, narrowed, abrased, lacerated, burned, cut, torn, wrenched, swollen, strained, sprained, inflamed and infected.”
1999 — From a May police item in The Messenger (Madisonville, Ky.), on two trucks being driven oddly on a rural road: A man would drive a truck 100 yards, stop, walk back to a second truck, drive it 100 yards beyond the first truck, stop, walk to the first truck, drive it 100 yards beyond the second truck, and so on, into the night. He did it, he told cops, because his brother was passed out drunk in one of the trucks, and he was trying to drive both trucks home, at more or less the same time. Not surprisingly, a blood-alcohol test showed the driver was also impaired.
2002 — The Lane brothers of New York, Mr. Winner Lane, 44, and Mr. Loser Lane, 41 (their real birth names), were profiled in a July Newsday report, made interesting by the fact that Loser is successful (a South Bronx police detective) and Winner is not (a history of petty crimes). A sister said she believes her parents selected “Winner” because their late father was a big baseball fan and chose “Loser” just to complete the pairing.
2004 — The New York Times reported in February of a Washington, D.C., man whose love of music led him, in the ’60s, to meticulously hand-make and hand-paint facsimile record album covers of fantasized music, with imagined lyric sheets and liner notes (some even shrink-wrapped), and incredibly, to hand-make cardboard facsimiles of actual grooved discs to put inside. “Mingering Mike,” whom a reporter and two hobbyists tracked down (he declined to be identified in print) also made real music, on tapes, using his and friends’ voices to simulate instruments. His 38 imagined “albums” were found at a flea market after Mike defaulted on storage fees; the hobbyists who found them said they were so exactingly done a major museum would show them.
1988 — And finally, there was ol’ Hal Warden, the Tennessee 16-year-old who was married at 15 and granted a divorce from his wife, 13. Hal had previously been married at age 12 to a 14-year-old (and fathered children with both), but the first wife divorced Hal because, she told the judge, “He was acting like a 10-year-old.”