The Weird Week in Review

Dog Shoots Man

A man in Brigham City, Utah was shot by his own dog during a duck hunt. The unnamed man and a friend were hunting Sunday using a boat. The man laid his 12-gauge shotgun across the bow while getting out. That's when the dog jumped up on the bow and stepped on the gun. The gun fired and sent 27 pellets of buckshot into the hunter's buttocks. The injuries were not life-threatening because the man was about ten feet away from the gun and wearing waders. He is expected to fully recover, except for the embarrassment.

Pepper-spraying Shopper Released

Remember the woman who pepper-sprayed Walmart shoppers on Black Friday? She turned herself in to authorities on Saturday. Los Angeles police interviewed witnesses and watched security camera footage of the incident and decided to let the unnamed 32-year-old woman go. Although it was first reported that she sprayed other shoppers in order to get to a discounted Xbox, video evidence suggests that she may have sprayed in defense, in fear of being crushed by the crowd. No charges have been filed in the incident.

Sheriff Held in Jail Named After Him

Former Arapahoe County (Colorado) Sheriff Patrick Sullivan was named the national "Sheriff of the Year" in 2001. He retired in 2002. Tuesday, Sullivan was arrested on charges of trading methamphetamine for sex. The investigation started on November 17th. The 68-year-old Sullivan was lodged in the Patrick J. Sullivan, Jr. Detention Facility, which was named in his honor. A hearing is set for December 5th.

Gigantic Baby Born in Berlin

A 13-pound (6 kg) baby boy set a new record for the largest baby born by natural delivery in Germany. The unidentified 528-pound mother had gestational diabetes, but opted for a vaginal delivery at Berlin’s Charité hospital instead of a caesarian section. The woman claimed she did not know of her diabetes. She had previously delivered nine baby boys and four baby girls, four of which were born at over eleven pounds. The woman named her 14th child Jihad.

Trail of Pine Needles Led to Christmas Tree Thieves

Three men were arrested for theft from the Notcutt Garden Centre in Pembury, Kent, England. They broke two CCTV cameras, but did not see others that caught their movements. Police cars cut off the garden center's exits, then moved in to catch one thief making an escape and two hiding among the shrubs. A trail of pine needles let to a van, where the men had stashed 138 cut trees and 48 boxes of Christmas lights, worth about £7,000. The three Grinches who tried to steal Christmas later pleaded guilty to theft charges.

Man Sues Couple He Kidnapped

In 2009, Jesse Dimmick entered the home of Jared and Lindsay Rowley in Topeka, Kansas, and held them at knifepoint for a couple of hours. The three watched the movie Patch Adams and had snacks. When Dimmick fell asleep, the couple escaped and police, who had been in pursuit of Dimmick over a murder and a car theft, arrested him. Dimmick was shot during the arrest.

Various lawsuits followed. Dimmick sued the city of Topeka over the shooting, and (possibly because of the prospect that he might get money from that suit) the Rowleys sued Dimmick last September for trespass, intrusion and negligent infliction of emotional distress. That seems to have given Dimmick the idea to sue the Rowleys, and he brought a counterclaim against them for breach of contract.

You see, Dimmick alleges that, after breaking into the Rowleys' home with a knife and gun, they all then sat down and hashed out a deal under which they would hide him from police (the police who were right outside) for an unspecified amount of money. "Later," he complained, "the Rowleys reneged on said oral contract, resulting in my being shot in the back by authorities." Ergo, breach of contract.

An attorney for the Rowleys says, of course, that any contract with Dimmick is not valid.

1,068 Meter Yule Log Cake

It's a new world record for a Christmas yule log cake, measuring in at 3,503.94 feet. The cake was a team effort, requiring the talents of 80 chefs from the Pudong Shangri-La Hotel in Shanghai, China. The cake contains 904 eggs, 2,304 pounds of flour, 461 pounds of sugar, 884 pounds of chocolate, and 75 pounds of vanilla. The previous record for a yule log cake was set just last year at 681 feet. The original plan in Shanghai was to make a 2,913-foot cake, but the extra length may help ensure that this record stands for some time.

12-hour Cat Rescue Attempt Fails

A pregnant cat named Puss Puss had been missing for three days in the village of Moelfre in North Wales. She had escaped while being transported to a foster home by an animal charity worker. Then someone heard a meowing sound coming from a donation bin for used clothing! But the lock on the bin had been damaged, and it wouldn't open. The fire brigade was called, and they, too, failed to open the bin. Finally, the entire bin was loaded up and taken 20 miles to an engineering company. Engineers used steel saws to dismantle the bin, and the source of the meowing was found. The sounds came from a talking plush toy! The stuffed kitten resembled the character Marie from the Disney movie The Aristocats. Rescuers had a good laugh at the 12-hour effort to save the toy. Puss Puss is still missing, but may have been taken in by someone unaware of the search.

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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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