, Salem, MA

Local News

December 30, 2007

Odd stories

News can be disturbing, heartwarming or sad, but some days it's just plain weird. Following are some of our favorite oddball stories of 2007, in no particular order.

Most bizarre crime

In maybe the most bizarre crime of the year, a self-proclaimed high priestess and her housemate were arrested in August after allegedly leaving the beheaded and mutilated remains of two raccoons in the doorways of two downtown psychic shops in Salem.

The arrests of Sharon Graham and Frederick Purtz highlighted growing tension within the city's witch and psychic community.

The bloody remains were left in front of Angelica of the Angels on Central Street and The Goddess' Treasure Chest on Essex Street. Both owners had taken public stands on the need to regulate fortunetellers and psychic fairs.

Days later, the city issued a health alert over concerns that the raccoons may have been rabid.

A few days after the arrests, one of the lead witnesses in the case returned home to find his apartment ransacked and a number of valuables, including his crystal ball, stolen. The witness, Richard Watson, said he believed it was retaliation for going to the police.

The case is still winding its way through the courts.

Best secret revealed

Beverly's biggest political scandal in years originated in a 3-inch-long computer device.

In June, Ward 3 City Councilor John Burke inadvertently left his flash drive in City Hall. Turns out the little piece of hardware contained a big bombshell | a letter that Burke had written, anonymously, to himself and his fellow councilors, accusing the Police Department of treating politically connected people with leniency and urging them to vote against police chief nominee Mark Ray.

The discovery of the letter led to two dramatic nights of hearings in packed council chambers as councilors, stung by the deception, demanded Burke's resignation. Burke refused -- then easily won re-election in November.

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