In May, Sr. Jose Maria Lopez, 33, had a foot amputated at Whittier (Calif.) Hospital Medical Center. He still has two feet; what was taken was a 6-inch footlike growth inside his left ankle that has always hampered his walking and limited his shoe choices. And a few days earlier, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, surgeons removed a miniature bottle from the rectum of a Sr. Jose Lopez, 43. He said he got drunk, passed out and has no idea how the bottle got there.
In May, controversial Phoenix tough-guy sheriff Joe Arpaio announced he would institute bedtime stories at the Maricopa County jails, consisting of audiotapes of classic novels (e.g., "Little Women") played at lights-out each night. The novels replace the previous bedtime fare, which ran for four years: a videotaped lecture series by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
According to an April Tampa Tribune story, the following fates have befallen young men who in recent years have recovered the submerged, religiously blessed cross in annual diving competitions during the Epiphany festival in Tarpon Springs, Fla.: One died in a car accident; one suffered a severe spinal injury; one was arrested on burglary charges; and, this year, according to police, two former winners and a third diver were charged with attempted murder for bashing two people's skulls with shovels because their car was going too slow.
In Montreal, Quebec, in December, convicted serial killer Allan Legere announced through his lawyer that he had increased the amount of his 1994 lawsuit against the prison for its failure to stop inmates from beating him up. Legere is serving life for five murders, including the rape and torture killings of three women and the beating death of a priest. One witness against Legere said she once remarked to him, "You like to torture," and Legere allegedly responded, "Yes, I do."
The plate divide
In the election campaign of 1998, Fred Morgan, the new Republican leader in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, embraced the party's proposal for reforming motor-vehicle regulation, including cracking down on residents who drive with out-of-state license plates; in December, Morgan admitted that the car in his parking space at the capitol, with the Arkansas tag, was his (but that he would register it in Oklahoma as soon as his late mother's probate got taken care of). And in February, Katrina Clark, the director of housing-code enforcement for Boston, was evicted from her apartment for failure to pay more than $3,500 in rent and for reneging on her repayment plan.
In a brawl at a recreation league softball game in Granada Hills, Calif., in March, which started after an umpire changed a call from safe to out, four off-duty Los Angeles police officers were roughed up with softball bats. Things went so bad for the officers that one ran to his car, got his weapon and held the other team at bay until on-duty officers arrived.
Ester Maria Pena, 58, was convicted and fined $100 in Frederick County, Md., in March for a 1998 traffic incident in which police chased her at high speeds for four miles and arrested her at gunpoint. According to police, Pena had sped off after they tried to pull her over for driving too slow.
In March, London's second-largest newspaper, the Sun, reported that 70 pages of medical records of Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family were found in a folder, lying on the side of a road near the southwest Scotland town of Ayr.
Prominent New York City chef (and TV cooking-show star) David Ruggerio pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny in March for inflating at least 26 credit-card transactions at his Manhattan restaurant. According to the prosecutor, Ruggerio apparently thought he could add tips of $221,000 to credit-card dinner tabs totaling $4,000 (including one $30,000 tip on a $1,000 check) and not have the cardholders notice it.