Daily Archives: February 6, 2007

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If It’s Weird, It’s Gotta Be Utah

When you live in Utah, you get used to hearing weird news stories that have some kind of local connection. From Howard Hughes’ “Mormon Mafia” and the tale of Melvin Dummar in the ’70s to the White Salamander bombings and cold fusion kerfuffle in the ’80s to anything related to the polygamist colonies of the Four Corners area in the last ten years, the more bizarre the story, the more likely it either happened here or has some kind of link to my home state.

Today’s weirdest news story is no exception to the rule, but it is really a wild tale: astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak is being charged with attempted murder after she drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando while wearing a diaper (so she wouldn’t have to stop for potty breaks), intending to kidnap or otherwise harm a rival for a fellow astronaut’s affections. Nowak, who is a married mother of three and who flew on shuttle Discovery last summer, accosted Colleen Shipman in an airport parking lot while disguised in a wig and trench coat and carrying pepper spray, a mallet, a BB gun, gloves, a folding knife, rubber tubing, and trash bags. She later told police she only wanted to “scare Ms. Shipman into talking with her.” Um, yeah… you always go loaded for bear when you just want to talk.

According to the Orlando Sentinal, these are likely “the first-ever felony charges filed on an active-duty astronaut.”

Weird indeed. But what’s the Utah connection, you’re wondering? Well, as it happens, Nowak is a cousin of Tony Caputo, the owner of one of Salt Lake’s most popular eateries and a bit of a local celebrity in his own right. I imagine he’s screening his phone calls today…

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