The Weird Week in Review

Woman in Speeding Car Fakes Labor Pains

Police in New Zealand were chasing a car speeding at over 90 miles per hour, and were about to lay spikes in the road to stop it, when the driver stopped near the town of Tauranga. He told officers that he was rushing his passenger, who appeared to be in labor, to the hospital to give birth. An ambulance was summoned to rush the pregnant woman to the emergency room. Later, officers called the hospital and discovered the patient had signed herself out shortly after arriving. The cops, angry at the waste of resources, later found and arrested the 23-year-old driver.

Horse Rescued from Basement

A family in Elbert County, Colorado awoke to find their horse Summer trapped in the home's basement. The horse had fallen into the cellar through a window well.

“We thought of bringing her up the basement stairs,” Heap said. “But the stairs didn’t look safe enough to support her weight.”

A veterinarian sedated Summer, who sustained minor cuts and injuries in the fall, and a coring company was contacted to cut into the foundation of the home. The initial plan was to expose an area around a second window well, remove a portion of the foundation and create enough space to bring the horse out of the basement, Heap said.

When the crew had removed enough material around the window, Summer walked out on her own.

Man Defends Business with Tractor

In Alta, Norway, 66-year-old Harald Mikkelsen stopped a thief who was trying to leave his store. Mikkelsen thwarted a getaway by lifting the perpetrator's car with his tractor! Mikkelson only lowered the car when police arrived, 45 minutes later. The incident was captured on video by tourists, and Mikkelsen has become a national celebrity for his actions last Friday.

21 Tons of Mustard and Ketchup

Thieves in Vienna, Austria made off with 21 tons of mustard and ketchup. A truck driver went to work Monday to find the trailer, which was loaded with the condiments, had been stolen from his truck. Authorities are on the lookout for the missing mustard as well as the $22,000 trailer, which is believed to have been the actual target of the theft.

Boise Hires Weed Eaters

The city of Boise, Idaho is trying a new method for controlling the invasive rush skeletonweed. A herd of 600 goats has been brought in by a company named We Rent Goats to eat the weeds off the 680-acre Polecat Gulch Reserve. City officials say the cost of the goats is comparable to spraying chemicals, but better for the environment. Using goats is also safer as they can reach places in the rocky hills that would be hazardous for humans to roam. The goats are expected to work for about a week, or until the weeds are deemed under control.

"Dumb and Dumber"

Ryan Letchford and Jeffrey Olsen, both of Marlton, New Jersey, thought it would be funny to photograph themselves appearing to get arrested in Radnor, Pennsylvania. They got into a police van belonging to constable Mike Connor and shut the door -and found themselves locked in. A friend tried to free them, but couldn't, and called 911. Responders woke Constable Connor, who unlocked the van.

"I came down and unlocked the doors, and 'Dumb and Dumber' pranced out of the van," Connor said. "They looked a little embarrassed."

Inside the van, officers found cigarette butts and "a large amount of saliva," police said. It's unclear why the men apparently were spitting in the van.

Letchford and Olsen were arrested for real on charges of attempted car theft, criminal mischief, and public drunkenness.

Dachshund Saves Owner and Inspires Recovery

Tom McKinney of Yuba City, California fell off a ladder and couldn't move. His neck was broken. His 10-year-old dachshund Chelse was the one who found him. No one else was around, so McKinney told Chelse to get help -and she did, by waking McKinney's sleeping wife and alerting her to the emergency. Now, Chelse is inspiring McKinney to walk again. After all, the little dachshund learned to walk again after she'd broken her back seven years ago. McKinney said if she could do it, he could, too. Two months after the accident, he is getting around with a walker, and has set his sights on walking without support.

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Karl Walter, Getty Images
When the FBI Investigated the 'Murder' of Nine Inch Nails's Trent Reznor
Karl Walter, Getty Images
Karl Walter, Getty Images

The two people standing over the body, Michigan State Police detective Paul Wood told the Hard Copy cameras, “had a distinctive-type uniform on. As I recall: black pants, some type of leather jacket with a design on it, and one was wearing combat boots. The other was wearing what looked like patent leather shoes. So if it was a homicide, I was thinking it was possibly a gang-type homicide.”

Wood was describing a puzzling case local police, state police, and eventually the FBI had worked hard to solve for over a year. The mystery began in 1989, when farmer Robert Reed spotted a circular group of objects floating over his farm just outside of rural Burr Oak, Michigan; it turned out to be a cluster of weather balloons attached to a Super 8 camera.

When the camera landed on his property, the surprised farmer didn't develop the footage—he turned it over to the police. Some local farmers had recently gotten into trouble for letting wild marijuana grow on the edges of their properties, and Reed thought the balloons and camera were a possible surveillance technique. But no state or local jurisdictions used such rudimentary methods, so the state police in East Lansing decided to develop the film. What they saw shocked them.

A city street at night; a lifeless male body with a mysterious substance strewn across his face; two black-clad men standing over the body as the camera swirled away up into the sky, with a third individual seen at the edge of the frame running away, seemingly as fast as possible. Michigan police immediately began analyzing the footage for clues, and noticed the lights of Chicago’s elevated train system, which was over 100 miles away.

It was the first clue in what would become a year-long investigation into what they believed was either a cult killing or gang murder. When they solved the “crime” of what they believed was a real-life snuff film, they were more shocked than when the investigation began: The footage was from the music video for “Down In It,” the debut single from industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, and the supposed dead body was the group's very-much-alive lead singer, Trent Reznor.

 
 

In 1989, Nine Inch Nails was about to release their debut album, Pretty Hate Machine, which would go on to be certified triple platinum in the United States. The record would define the emerging industrial rock sound that Reznor and his rotating cast of bandmates would experiment with throughout the 1990s and even today on albums like The Downward Spiral and The Slip.

The band chose the song “Down In It”—a track with piercing vocals, pulsing electronic drums, sampled sound effects, and twisted nursery rhyme-inspired lyrics—as Pretty Hate Machine's first single. They began working with H-Gun, a Chicago-based multimedia team led by filmmakers Eric Zimmerman and Benjamin Stokes (who had created videos for such bands as Ministry and Revolting Cocks), and sketched out a rough idea for the music video.

Filmed on location among warehouses and parking garages in Chicago, the video was supposed to culminate in a shot with a leather-jacketed Reznor running to the top of a building, while two then-members of the band followed him wearing studded jumpsuits; the video would fade out with an epic floating zoom shot to imply that Reznor's cornstarch-for-blood-covered character had fallen off the building and died in the street. Because the cash-strapped upstarts didn’t have enough money for a fancy crane to achieve the shot for their video, they opted to tie weather balloons to the camera and let it float up from Reznor, who was lying in the street surrounded by his bandmates. They eventually hoped to play the footage backward to get the shot in the final video.

Instead, the Windy City lived up to its name and quickly whisked the balloons and camera away. With Reznor playing dead and his bandmates looking down at him, only one of the filmmakers noticed. He tried to chase down the runaway camera—which captured his pursuit—but it was lost, forcing them to finish shooting the rest of the video and release it without the planned shot from the missing footage in September of 1989.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the band, a drama involving their lost camera was unfolding in southwest Michigan. Police there eventually involved the Chicago police, whose detectives determined that the footage had been filmed in an alley in the city's Fulton River District. After Chicago authorities found no homicide reports matching the footage for the neighborhood and that particular time frame, they handed the video over to the FBI, whose pathologists reportedly said that, based on the substance on the individual, the body in the video was rotting.

 
 

The "substance" in question was actually the result of the low-quality film and the color of the cornstarch on the singer’s face, which had also been incorporated into the press photos for Pretty Hate Machine. It was a nod to the band's early live shows, in which Reznor would spew cornstarch and chocolate syrup on his band members and the audience. “It looks really great under the lights, grungey, a sort of anti-Bon Jovi and the whole glamour thing,” Reznor said in a 1991 interview.

With no other easy options, and in order to generate any leads that might help them identify the victim seen in the video, the authorities distributed flyers to Chicago schools asking if anyone knew any details behind the strange “killing.”

The tactic worked. A local art student was watching MTV in 1991 and saw the distinctive video for “Down In It,” which reminded him of one of the flyers he had seen at school. He contacted the Chicago police to tip them off to who their supposed "murder victim" really was. Nine Inch Nails’s manager was notified, and he told Reznor and the filmmakers what had really happened to their lost footage.

“It’s interesting that our top federal agency, the Federal Bureau of [Investigation], couldn’t crack the Super 8 code,” co-director Zimmerman said in an interview. As for Wood and any embarrassment law enforcement had after the investigation: “I thought it was our duty, one way or the other, to determine what was on that film,” he said.

“My initial reaction was that it was really funny that something could be that blown out of proportion with this many people worked up about it,” Reznor said, and later told an interviewer, “There was talk that I would have to appear and talk to prove that I was alive.” Even though—in the eyes of state, local, and federal authorities—he was reportedly dead for over a year, Reznor didn’t seem to be bothered by it: “Somebody at the FBI had been watching too much Hitchcock or David Lynch or something,” he reasoned.

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Pierluigi Luceri, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Two Human Toes Were Stolen From an Anatomy Exhibit
Pierluigi Luceri, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Pierluigi Luceri, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A 28-year-old New Zealand man walked into an anatomy exhibition with 10 toes and walked out with 12. We don't know why or how he did it, but the man stole two human toes from a Body Worlds display in Auckland last month, The New Zealand Herald reports.

The unnamed man appeared in court Monday and pleaded guilty to improperly interfering with the corpse "of an unknown person" and purloining two toes, which alone are valued at about $3800. The motivation for the human remains heist wasn't stated. (Fulfilling a dare seems a likely explanation, or maybe he's just a fan of The Big Lebowski.)

Whatever the reason may be, the story has a happy ending, at least: The digits have since been returned to their rightful place in the "Vital" exhibit, which explores the human body in motion. "Vital," which will remain open in Auckland until July 13, is one of several traveling exhibitions curated by Body Worlds. Two other Body Worlds exhibits are currently on view in the U.S., including "RX" (showcasing the effects of disease) in Toledo, Ohio, and "Animal Inside Out" (an "anatomical safari") in Richmond, Virginia.

The bodies, all of which are donated for exhibition purposes, are preserved via plastination, a process that "replaces bodily fluids and soluble fat in specimens with fluid plastics that harden after vacuum-forced impregnation," according to the Body Worlds website. More than 16,000 people around the world have signed up to donate their bodies after their deaths.

[h/t The New Zealand Herald]

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