News of the Weird
Bizarre but true stories about real people collected by syndicated columnist Chuck Shepherd.
Fake police officers have graced News of the Weird (most recently in 2006) for pulling motorists over for officious scoldings on traffic safety, but a March 20 stop in Boca Raton, Fla., by an imitation, off-duty sheriff’s deputy was special. He was riding with his girlfriend when he decided to stop a discourteous motorist, and when a real cop later showed up, the deputy was revealed to be not a cop and also not a “he.” Rachel Otto, 21, wore her hair short on top and shaved on the sides, and her outing as a woman apparently shocked the girlfriend, who had been living with Otto for a week. Police said Otto’s rap sheet included nine arrests for impersonating police officers.
Jewelry store thieves sometimes swallow their stash at the scene to facilitate their getaway, but police now routinely wait out such suspects, monitoring the toilets until the evidence passes naturally (most recently reported in News of the Weird in 2001). Police in Canton, Ohio, arrested four men in March 2007, reasonably certain that one of them had swallowed a 2-carat ring worth about $30,000. After sifting through the toilets, police recovered the ring the next day, with the store’s price tag still on it.
Medical literature reports, from time to time, patients with spiders nesting in their ears, and in May in Albany, Ore., Dr. David Irvine said that he chased a spider the size of a pencil eraser from the ear of 9-year-old Jesse Courtney (and then recovered a dead spider from his other ear.) Jesse thought the whole thing was cool and showed off the spiders in school. In a 1993 News of the Weird story, a British machinist with bad earaches was found to have a pregnant spider living in his ear, but he told a reporter afterward that he had grown fond of the spider and intended to keep her as a pet.
In February in Bethlehem, Pa., middle school principal John Acerra was arrested and charged with selling crystal meth from his office (but not to students) (and when arrested in his office, after hours, he was reportedly nude). And in April, in Lorain, Ohio, principal Robert Holloway resigned after apparently too eagerly delivering on a wager. He had bet with some boys on a student-staff volleyball game and lost, and then paid off as agreed by kissing the boys’ feet (but he was too much into it, the boys thought).