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• London’s Daily Telegraph reported in June on a new strategy employed by some German nursing homes to prevent residents with Alzheimer’s disease from wandering away in an attempt to return to a former residence. First tested at the Benrath Senior Center in Dusseldorf, the method involves building an exact replica of a bus stop outside the facility. Upon seeing it, a straying patient will tend to stop and wait for a bus to take him home; after some time has passed (and the patient has likely forgotten why he’s there), an employee can approach him, explain that the bus won’t be coming until later, and invite him back inside.
Coaches Gone Wild
• High school soccer coach Sanford Kaplan, 57, was arrested in Lincoln, Neb., in May. Police said a number of teenage boys had come forward with accounts of a “game” Kaplan had convinced them to play in which he dressed them in rubber hip waders, bound them with chains and rope, gagged and blindfolded them, and suspended them from the rafters in his garage. (The game part was apparently that they were supposed to try to escape.) Also in May, 74-year-old Lawrence “Poppy” Vincent, track coach at Bracken Christian School in Bulverde, Texas, was arrested after he allegedly exposed himself to an undercover officer in a public park while wearing floral panties and a bra. And in June, Steve Halpin, 52, resigned as president of the Texas High School Coaches Association, saying he’d made some bad decisions as a result of a gambling addiction. According to police, Halpin, until recently the football coach at Mesquite High in suburban Dallas, solved some of his cash-flow problems by repeatedly pawning and redeeming school-owned audiovisual equipment.
The Continuing Crisis
• Max Motors, a car dealership in Butler, Missouri, announced a promotional giveaway in May: anyone buying a car would receive his choice of either $250 worth of gasoline or a gift certificate for a semiautomatic handgun. As of May 20, as general manager Walter Moore told local TV news, about 80 percent of customers were choosing the gun.
The Frontiers of Science
• Scientists at Switzerland’s University of Lausanne reported in June that a population of flies they’d trained and bred for an increased ability to learn tended not to live as long as flies of ordinary mental capacity: “In other terms,” they said, “the more the fly becomes intelligent, the shorter its lifespan.” The researchers speculated that heightened neural activity overtaxed the flies’ systems.
• In the June issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine, cardiologists in Hartford, Conn., reported on a case in which a 28-year-old male patient with an irregular heartbeat became agitated and threatened hospital staff. After a police officer subdued him with a Taser, it was found that his heartbeat had been restored to a regular 120 beats per minute.
Fetishes on Parade
• Dwight Pannell, 43, was arrested in May at the University of Cincinnati and charged with voyeurism, assault, and criminal trespass. According to campus police, Pannell crawled under a library table, used a syringe to squirt an unidentified liquid on a female student’s feet, then photographed them; he explained that he was simply trying out his new camera. (The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that in 2000 Pannell was accused of a syringe-related attack on a woman at a library at Ohio State University.) And in June, 36-year-old Michael Curtin, who’d been fired in February from the police force in Munhall, Penn., was arraigned on charges including solicitation and corruption of minors; according to prosecutors, he contacted two underage girls via MySpace and offered them $1,000 each to let him suck their toes.
Least Competent Criminals
• In May, police in the Pittsburgh suburb of Stowe, Penn., took 47-year-old Sharon Platt into custody upon learning a warrant for her arrest had been issued in Williston, S.D. Last year, Platt allegedly stole about $5,000 from the Williston car dealership where she used to work; law enforcement caught up to her after she applied for a job in Pittsburgh and listed the dealership as a reference.
Unclear on the Concept
• As a big storm approached Alma, Ark., one evening in May, residents rushed to take cover in the town’s brand-new community tornado shelter. Unfortunately, the shelter was locked. A police officer is supposed to show up and open the door as soon as warning sirens go off, but much of the force had apparently been called away to the scene of a car crash, so about 20 people had to fend for themselves in the heavy rain and wind. By the time a key was located, the storm had passed; officials promised they’d soon install a system to automatically unlock the shelter door in the event of severe weather.
—Chuck Shepherd & Jim Sweeney
Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679-8737, or email@example.com, or visit newsoftheweird.com.