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Georgia's Headlines


All of the following are authentic news reports,
provided by News of the Wierd & Wired News.

    1991-1994 1995-1998
    1991 -- IRS agent Charles K. Reed, 41, was arrested in April for lying about his state of residence in order to cheat Louisiana out of its 8 percent sales tax on two cars he had purchased. He had claimed to live in Georgia, where the tax is 5 percent.

    1991 -- In February, Tifton, Ga., prosecutors arranged a makeshift witness stand to get testimony about stolen goods from pawnshop owner Sylvanus "Hambone" Smith. Since Smith weighs 900 pounds and cannot move more than eight steps without resting, he was to have been transported to the front of the courthouse on a truck, with the jury listening from the lobby, because he cannot fit into the witness stand.

    1991 -- In March, motorists in Stone Mountain, Ga., reported seeing the image of Christ in a forkful of spaghetti on a Pizza Hut billboard. One woman said the image caused her to abandon plans to quit her church choir.

    1992 -- Georgia state Rep. Henrietta Canty went on a hunger strike in February to protest the arrest of her son, who was jailed for failing to make court-ordered child-support payments.

    1992 -- Georgia authorities apprehended Ray Rodgers and his two sons, aged 22 and 21, in May as they fled Alabama after being released on bond. The three are charged with attempting to kill Rodgers' wife in a 1990 car-bombing. According to the Cullman County (Ala.) sheriff, the car-bombing was the three men's 12th unsuccessful attempt to kill the woman.

    1992 -- In Fulton County Jail in Atlanta in November, inmates were watching one of their favorite shows, "America's Most Wanted," when a photo came on the screen of a man wanted for murder and arson. Several heads turned around to Jessie Lee Baker, 27, and one inmate said, "Hey, that's you!" Inmates notified authorities, who called the show's producers to report Baker's whereabouts and put the inmates' names in for the reward.

    1992 -- Titus Howard, 37, was charged with stabbing a fellow rooming-house resident, Ronnie Jackson, to death in Atlanta in July after a quarrel over the grits served at breakfast.

    1993 -- Richard Usher Jr., was arrested in Decatur, Ga., in June for bigamy when his wife (Evelyn Deloris) found out, via an insurance payoff, that another Mrs. Richard Usher Jr. (Evelyn Nelms, whom he had married in 1985) had just passed away. Wrote Detective C.E. Bolson in his report, "The only explanation [Usher] could offer was that he did not remember marrying [Evelyn Nelms].

    1993 -- Henry County, Ga., jail inmate Mackey Junior Pope, 28, was apprehended in February after an escape attempt. Using a smuggled-in gun, he got the drop on four guards, locked them in a cell, and then crept along a hallway toward the front of the building. However, Pope had neglected to take the guards' walkie-talkies, and the front desk guards were waiting for him.

    1993 -- In Atlanta in December, John Thomas Harmon, 34, who had just been released after serving 10 years of a 20-year sentence for kissing or biting women on the buttocks, was arrested and charged in three similar incidents (two kissing and one licking).

    1994 -- A bill introduced in the Georgia legislature in January by Rep. Doug Teper of Atlanta would require warnings in all hotel rooms that fornication, adultery and sodomy are illegal in the state. The bill also requires that the warnings be in Braille and "internationally recognized symbols," which were not specified.

    1994 -- According to a September issue of American Medical News, physicians at the Medical College of Georgia and engineers at Georgia Tech are working to develop a synthetic finger to enable a person in one site to be touched and a doctor at another site to feel exactly what would be felt if the doctor were touching him in person.

    1994 -- In December the Associated Press reported on research conducted by Dr. James M. Dabbs, a psychology professor at Georgia State University, to determine personality by examining hormones. Dabbs prefers using hormones found in saliva rather than in blood because it is easier to get subjects to spit. "Dr. Spit," as Dabbs is known, said he is a pioneer in the field because other researchers might view working with spit as "unseemly."

    1994 -- In a story on Elvis Week '94 in August in Memphis, The Commercial Appeal newspaper reported its selections as the two most bizarre Elvis collectors' memorabilia, both of which belong to Joni Mabe of Athens, Ga. One is a toenail she claims was Elvis', picked out of a carpet in the Jungle Room during her 1983 visit to Graceland; the other is a wart that was removed from Elvis' right wrist in 1957. She said she purchased the wart, encased in formaldehyde, from the operating surgeon's estate in 1990.

    1994 -- Baldwin, Ga., voters returned ex-mayor Tommy Lee Barrett to office in November; in a 1991 plea bargain to theft and forgery charges, he was forced to resign and to promise never to run for mayor again.

    1994 -- In April in Savannah, Ga., Robert Palmer, 44, was charged with burglary after removing a window pane and entering the home of Joseph Palmer. He denied any motive of mischief and said he broke in only to ascertain whether he was related to Joseph.

    1994 -- Michael Antonio Davis, 24, was arrested in Savannah, Ga., in April while inside a squad car parked in front of the Precinct 1 station house. According to an officer, who discovered the suspect sitting in the back of the car with a "most disgusted look" on his face, Davis had entered the car looking for guns but did not realize that police cars' back doors automatically lock, from inside and out, when closed.

    1994 -- A man who robbed a 25-year-old woman at knifepoint in Sandy Springs, Ga., in May, and took cash and jewelry: "My life sucks; I'll return this stuff back to you."

    1994 -- While the Lorena Bobbitt trial was making news during December and January, at least five instances of assaults on men's genitals were reported. A 55-year-old man in Wooster, Ohio, and a 23-year-old man in Arcadia, Fla., removed their own penises (with a knife and an electric saw, respectively) because of dissatisfaction with their gender. A Toronto woman shredded her husband's with a pair of scissors during a domestic fight. In Los Angeles, a man reconciled with his wife a month after she was charged with cutting off his testicles in a domestic fight. And in Jefferson, Ga., a 35-year-old woman was charged with ripping the skin off her ex-boyfriend's testicles with her bare hands in a domestic brawl.

    1994 -- In December, Atlanta attorney Dennis Scheib stopped by the prosecutor's office on his way to court to represent a new client in a criminal case. Just outside the office, he saw two officers chasing a man down the hall, and he joined in to help. After the three men caught the escapee and handcuffed him, Scheib learned the man was the client he had been on his way to court to represent.

    1994 -- From the Atlanta leather-goods shop B.D. Jeffries, the store's most unusual item: a $65 crocodile-skin tampon holder.

    1994 -- Sharon Church, 24, who lives near Atlanta, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in November for an assault against a 27-year-old male pedestrian. After luring the man into her apartment, she pulled out a butcher knife, stabbed him in the shoulder, screamed at him to have sex with her "or die," ordered him to disrobe, slashed the bed around him with the knife, and repeatedly performed oral sex on him.

    1994 -- The July 1994 floods in Macon County, Ga., drowned 250,000 chickens, creating, according to the Associated Press, "an unfathomably foul, gag-inducing" stench that hung over the area for more than a week.

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    1995 -- In Decatur, Ga., in May, Abbi Taylor had received two $75 tickets for failure to restrain P.D., her three-legged mutt that had cut loose from her restraints and run through the neighborhood during a thunderstorm. Taylor took P.D. to the Georgia Mental Health Institute for evaluation, and forensic director Robert J. Storms who usually evaluates human criminal sanity found that P.D.'s being hit by a car two years earlier, combined with the thunder in May, made P.D. "so overwhelmed by fear that she was unable to distinguish between right and wrong. She should not be held accountable for her actions." Judge Robert Snead dismissed the charges.

    1995 -- Among the unsuccessful candidates for mayor of Augusta, Ga., in November were a man who claimed the coating on utility poles causes brain cancer in children; a man who spent a total of $5 on the campaign but blasted the Coca-Cola Co., which he said had promised him a $50,000 grant; and a man who said he used to be in the broadcasting business until he was shot in the head and fell into a coma for three months.

    1995 -- In a Georgia House judiciary committee meeting in March, Rep. Brian Joyce said he thought marital rape should not be a crime, but that if the wife says, "I don't want to have sex tonight," "[the husband] should take that into consideration."

    1995 -- Among recent child criminal phenoms: a boy, age 10, turned in by his 9-year-old brother after allegedly robbing a convenience store in Grand Junction, Colo., last summer; and a boy, age 11, arrested in Sandersville, Ga., in January, for robbing a bank with a .38-caliber pistol and making his getaway on a bicycle.

    1995 -- Danny Strickland, 34, was arrested in Savannah, Ga., in November after a shoot-out with police, and charged with killing his father. Among the evidence against Strickland was a to-do list he had made for disposing of the body (e.g., nail windows closed, repair bullet holes, melt bullets) and some equipment he had purchased to dispose of the body (e.g., a meat grinder).

    1995 -- In Decatur, Ga., in September, Adei Grenpastures-Doty and Tim Doty appeared at the First Christian Church five years after their marriage to get a divorce in a ceremony presided over by the minister who married them. The former Mrs. Doty is a minister, herself; Mr. Doty is working on a master's degree in divinity. Scripture readings and prayers of thanksgiving and forgiveness highlighted the ceremony.

    1995 -- In December a student at Georgia Tech was hospitalized in serious condition after he ran down a long dormitory hallway at full speed and jumped through a window. According to campus police, the man might have panicked when a very small fire broke out among papers in his room at 3 p.m.

    1995 -- In October Michael Jones, age 8, of Lawrenceville, Ga., arrived at Dr. Robert Zaworski's office for outpatient surgery on a facial mole but was clutching his handwritten last will and testament. (Had the surgery been unsuccessful, Mom would have gotten his bed and Dad his picture and toys, and Tedy would have been buried with Michael.)

    1995 -- A July Associated Press story described the work of Ellie Jenkins, a counter for the Mosquito Control Commission in Savannah, Ga. Jenkins drives around to 38 specified locations, stands with her arms and legs spread, and ascertains whether she receives five bites a minute which is the threshold to summon county spraying trucks.

    1995 -- Among the victims of New Year's celebrations this year were people in Phoenix, Atlanta and New Orleans, killed when bullets fell back to earth after celebratory gunshots (along with two similar deaths each in Angola and Italy), and six people in Japan, who choked to death on sticky rice cakes that are traditional New Year's Eve dishes.

    1995 -- Although accused murderer Lewis Elwood Jordan was feuding with his lawyer, Jake Waldrop, Waldrop stood before Atlanta federal judge Robert Vining Jr. in December and argued for Jordan. However, during the argument, Jordan, who was half-dressed as the result of a jailhouse protest, turned and urinated on Waldrop's leg. After Judge Vining instructed the lawyer to resume his argument, Waldrop said, "I have made my point, Judge, in writing. I guess Mr. Jordan has made his point, not verbally, by urinating on my leg."

    1995 -- In May, researchers at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory proposed to the nuclear weapons plant in nearby Aiken, S.C., that certain bantam chickens could be raised in radiation-contaminated areas without harm to later human consumption because the chickens' bodies metabolize out the dangerous levels of radiation in about 10 days. Said one researcher, "If ... you call it radioactively cleaned meat and you put it on the [grocery] shelf for half-price, I bet people in this country would eat it."

    1995 -- A July Associated Press story described the work of Ellie Jenkins, a counter for the Mosquito Control Commission in Savannah, Ga. Jenkins drives around to 38 specified locations, stands with her arms and legs spread, and ascertains whether she receives five bites a minute which is the threshold to summon county spraying trucks.

    1996 -- The owner of MIT Tank Wash Inc. of Savannah, Ga., pleaded guilty in June to willful violation of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation in the death of an employee. The company cleans truck-based tanks of their chemical or food cargo residues, and apparently the company's normal procedure for using one poisonous cleaning substance was merely that the employee would enter the tank, swab the insides with the poisonous cleaner while holding his breath, climb a ladder to the top of the tank, and take a gulp of fresh air before descending again for more cleaning.

    1996 -- If Only They Put Their Minds to It: In the 10-week period before the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, federal, state and local police arrested 765 career criminals (including 14 wanted for murder and 57 for bail violations in violent felonies) in that city and the Olympic venues of Macon, Ga., and Birmingham, Ala., and thus created one of the most drastic short-term reductions in crime rate ever reported for major cities.

    1996 -- Retiring U.S. Rep. Wes Cooley of Oregon, was accused of serial lying, was indicted in December for falsely claiming on his official state voter's guide biography that he had fought in Korea during the Korean War. Cooley apparently was done in when he offered as verification the name of his Army supervisor who he thought was dead but who turned up alive and revealed that Cooley spent the war in Georgia.

    1996 -- Arrested for murder in central Georgia in 1992 and briefly left unsupervised in a police car, Melissa Leslie Burgeson discussed the crime with her boyfriend, including how they should have done some aspects of the murder differently. A hidden tape recorder captured the discussion, which was introduced against Burgeson in her trial. She challenged its use, claiming that an arrestee has a constitutional expectation of privacy sitting in the back seat of the police car. In September 1996, the Georgia Supreme Court said no. (The boyfriend is on death row for the murder.)

    1996 -- In November, Georgia executed Ellis Wayne Felker for the 1981 murder of a college student.

    1996 -- In the Journal of Abnormal Psychology released in August, a University of Georgia researcher concluded that a group of homophobic men (men who feared and hated homosexuals and dreaded being close to them) contained twice as many men who were sexually aroused by erotic photos of men as did an equal group of nonhomophobic men.

    1996 -- In August, a 9-year-old boy was crushed to death when a granite tombstone fell over on him at a Bible school in Summerville, Ga.

    1996 -- Quality Time: In July, a 33-year-old woman in Stone Mountain, Ga., was arrested and charged with hitting her 15-year-old son on the wrists with a meat cleaver after he broke the TV remote control unit.

    1996 -- Productive Lunch Hour: Ollie King, 38, was arrested as he allegedly sought to buy drugs in a suburb of Atlanta in June during his lunch-hour break from serving on a jury.

    1996 -- In his recent book, "Cosmic Voyage," Courtney Brown, a young, tenured political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, claims he has used the technique of "remote viewing" to travel visually through space and time, to observe another galaxy, and to talk with Jesus. Brown, pointing to his impressive resume (which includes a stint at the Jimmy Carter Center), defends his work against skeptics: "I'd be crazy if I went public with something like this without being certain about what's going on." Since he believes there is a Martian civilization in New Mexico, he admits that if NASA's probe of Mars next year contradicts him, "I'd be dead as an academic."

    1997 -- According to police in Dahlonega, Ga., ROTC cadet Nick Berrena, 20, was stabbed to death in January by fellow cadet Jeffrey Hoffman, 23, who was trying to prove that a knife could not penetrate the flak vest Berrena was wearing.

    1997 -- At a September meeting of Christian Coalition leaders in Atlanta, founder Pat Robertson said the religious group should raise its political intensity by looking to the notorious machine politics of Chicago and New York's Tammany Hall as models and that it would be God who would personally select the Republican best suited to advance the Coalition's agenda in the next Presidential campaign. Robertson had begun his remarks by noting that he assumed he was talking only "in the family" and that if any members of the press were present, "would you please shoot yourself?" (The speech was recorded without his permission and leaked to the press.)

    1997 -- In December, the Georgia Court of Appeals turned down, irrevocably, an appeal by the state in a $2.7 million personal-injury case because the state's paperwork was submitted in New Times Roman typeface instead of the required Courier.

    Get-Out-of-Jail Fax
    6:03pm 23.Jul.97.PDT A phony fax sent from a Georgia supermarket to South Carolina sheriff's office freed a man facing assault charges. A warrant check on Richard Foster, 23, brought back a blurry fax saying Georgia police - who wanted Foster in connection with a nightclub confrontation - were not seeking him. After Foster was freed, a jailer spotted a Kroger supermarket imprint at the top of the fax.

    Warhead Whereabouts
    6:02pm 26.Aug.97.PDT Where are America's 12,500 nuclear warheads? Almost half of them are in Georgia and New Mexico and the rest are scattered in 13 other states, according to a report by two private nuclear arms experts who pieced together a warhead map by poring over public documents. Washington, Nevada, and North Dakota followed on the most-nuked list.

    Frozen Eggs
    9:47am 17.Oct.97.PDT Doctors did it in Australia in 1986, in Germany in 1987: managed the successful conception of human embryos from frozen ova. Now an Atlanta clinic has brought the technique to the United States, and the first beneficiary is a 39-year-old Georgia woman who bore twin boys in August conceived from donated frozen eggs and her husband's sperm. Some point to the increasing ability to store and manipulate reproductive material as allowing more choice in birth-timing decisions.

    Sam Turner, Fugitive
    3:10pm 9.Dec.97.PST Some fugitives run. Sam Turner, he went about his business. Convicted of manslaughter and burglary, he walked away from a prison camp in 1951 and never looked back. He used his real name to get a Social Security card and a Georgia driver's license and nobody connected this Sam Turner with that Sam Turner - not until last week, when his name came up in a routine database search. Monday night, police arrested Turner, now 75, as he sat watching TV in the den of his Lincolnton home.

    1998 -- In December of 1997, nationally known Emory University business school professor Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, 43, abruptly resigned, and according to several news reports, it was because the school had discovered him on a video surveillance tape vandalizing a wall in a school corridor and suspected him to be the one who previously had gouged doors, woodwork, and furniture in the building. Sonnenfeld had recently been passed over for the position of business-school dean at Emory. Following that setback, Georgia Tech offered him a deanship but withdrew it after reports of the videotape emerged.

    1998 -- Erection-measuring research by a University of Georgia professor indicates that as many as 80 percent of gay-hating men become aroused at gay erotic videos.

    1998 -- Social Security Administration investigators revealed in January that they had uncovered massive fraud involving members of a single extended Georgia family. 300 relatives over four generations were on the rolls, including 181 collecting from the Supplemental Security Income program for people unable to work because of disability, with a large number claiming some form of mental impairment, many through the recommendations of a single local doctor. So far, 90 of the original claims have been found to be fraudulent, but in the course of the investigation, more relatives turned up, running the number under suspicion up to around 500.

    1998 -- In May 1997, Dalton, Ga., juror Jim Thomas, 69, voted with his colleagues to convict Wayne Cservak of child molesting, but he soon had second thoughts and spent his own money for a lawyer to handle Cservak's appeal. The victim then admitted he had lied about Cservak, and in December the case against him was dismissed. Cservak's lawyer said Thomas's deed was "unheard of, not only in Georgia legal history but in the entire American legal history." Not quite. In January, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments on the appeal of convicted murderer Adrian Santiago, funded by $12,000 so far from the life savings of regretful juror June Briere.

    1998 -- Henry Ingram Jr. told the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News in February that he intends to bar all northerners from ever setting foot on any part of his recently-acquired 1,600 acres along U.S. 17 near Hardeeville, S.C., and he recently recorded a deed restriction making that official. The ban applies to members of the "Yankee race" (through birth or at least a year's residence), to anyone named Sherman (after the Union general), and to anyone with a last name that is an anagram of Sherman. Ingram is upset at the recent development of Hilton Head Island and other picturesque vistas in the area.

    Atlanta Cold Snap
    9:29am 12.Mar.98.PST Mother Nature cast an icy spell on Georgia, freezing flowers and fruit trees in full bloom. Peach growers used field heaters and wind blowers to try to protect the state's US$27 million crop as the temperature in Atlanta plunged to 19 degrees. In the southern half of Georgia, locals stayed in shelters as the chill complicated efforts to recover from flooding caused by a weekend deluge that sent the Flint River raging through the city of Albany, Georgia. Earlier this week, President Clinton declared six south Georgia counties federal disaster areas.

    A Newt Vision
    8:50am 9.Jun.98.PDT House Speaker Gingrich on the future of education, at the Supercomm Trade Show in Georgia Monday: "One of the goals should be to replace all textbooks with a PC. I would hope within five years they would have no more textbooks.

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