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Former pro wrestler accused in nursing home death

Vern Gagne was a college wrestling champion in the 1940s and wrestled as a professional until 1981.

Associated Press

Vern Gagne was a college wrestling champion in the 1940s and wrestled as a professional until 1981.

Ex-wrestler loses control, man dies

During his glory days as a pro wrestler, Verne Gagne shared the spotlight with other burly men in trunks, guys with names like Killer Kowalski, Mad Dog Vachon, the Crusher and Baron Von Raschke. But all of that seemed well in the past until just weeks ago, when authorities say Gagne, 82 and suffering from Alzheimer's disease, apparently body-slammed a 97-year-old fellow patient at a suburban Minneapolis nursing home where they both lived, causing the man's death. Police are investigating, but not even the victim's widow wants to see the dementia-stricken Gagne (GAHN-yuh) prosecuted. "It's been so hard on both families," said Greg Gagne, Gagne's son and a former wrestler himself. Helmut Gutmann, a former cancer researcher who also suffered from dementia, died Feb. 14, about three weeks after breaking his hip in the confrontation. Authorities ruled his death a homicide. Police said there was no clear indication of what set Gagne off, and neither man could remember the incident afterward. Behavior and personality changes are common as Alzheimer's progresses, and victims of the mind-robbing disease can become agitated.

Gandhi gear goes for $1.8 million

Mohandas Gandhi's eyeglasses and other items have been sold at auction for $1.8 million to an Indian freight company that says it wants to donate the possessions to the Indian government. The auction had raised an outcry in India and seller James Otis said he would withdraw the items. But bidding had started at that point. The auctioneer will wait two weeks before finalizing the sale. The lot included Gandhi's round eyeglasses, worn leather sandals, a pocket watch and a brass bowl and plate.

Border agent called rude, then proves it

Desiderio Fortunato of Canada says he got a face full of pepper spray after repeatedly asking a U.S. border inspector in Blaine, Wash., to say please. The 54-year-old British Columbia resident told the Bellingham Herald that the inspector repeatedly ordered him to turn the car off and then said he would spray him if he didn't. Officials are reviewing the use of force.

Joe the Plumber sues Ohio officials

"Joe the Plumber" is suing three former state officials in Ohio, saying they violated his privacy when they gathered his personal information in a records search. Samuel J. Wurzelbacher says in the federal lawsuit filed Thursday that he suffered emotional distress, harassment, humiliation and embarrassment as a result of their actions. He's seeking unspecified punitive damages. Wurzelbacher, a Toledo-area man, rose to fame during the presidential campaign after asking Barack Obama about his tax plan.

Former pro wrestler accused in nursing home death 03/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 5, 2009 9:39pm]
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