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The Weird Week in Review

Girl Lost in Tsunami Found 7 Years Later

When a tsunami swept over Indonesia on December 26, 2004, one of the victims was an 8-year-old girl named Wati. She was swept away in the waters and although her body was never found, her family eventually faced the fact that she had died. However, the now-15-year-old turned up in her hometown of Ujong Baroh in West Aceh! She told workers in a cafe that she was looking for her family, but couldn't remember their names, except that her grandfather was named Ibrahim. Wati was reunited with her grandfather and her overjoyed parents, who confirmed the girl's identity by a scar she received when she was six. It is believed that Wati spent the past seven years wandering Indonesia trying to find her way home.

Man Wins, Crashes Lamborghini

David Dopp of Santaquin, Utah entered a contest and won a 640-horsepower Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster valued at $380,000 last month. He picked the car up on Saturday, and took a few spins to show it off to family and friends. Dopp said he was only going 40 or 50 miles an hour when he hit ice or gravel on a curve and lost control of the car. It crashed through fence posts and into a field. The car sustained front-end damage, scratches, and a punctured wheel. No one was injured. The good news? The Lamborghini is insured.

Corn Stolen from Moving Train

Thieves made off with 50 tonnes of corn taken from a moving train as it was traveling through an area 300 miles from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Police reports state that the thieves greased the train track beforehand, causing the 54-wagon vehicle to slow down due to uneasy controls. The criminals then proceeded to use a tow truck to remove the containers of corn.

The a-maizing highjacking went smooth as silk, so the kernel of truth is that the thieves stalked the train ahead of time.

Taxidermy Artist Used Endangered Species Parts

Enrique Gomez De Molina creates fantastic animals by splicing together parts of unrelated species as an art form. He was arrested in November for illegally importing some parts of endangered species, namely a dead mouse deer and slow loris, plus the skins of several birds, all from Indonesia. Police said he knew the imports were illegal because he asked that the parts be wrapped in carbon paper. De Molina pleaded guilty this week and will be sentenced in March. The penalty could be as high as five years in jail and a $250,000 fine. The fine should be no problem, as De Molina's works go for high dollars.

Man Eats Cocaine from Bother's Butt and Dies

Two brothers, Deangelo Mitchell and Wayne Mitchell, were detained in a police car while officers searched their vehicle in Charleston, South Carolina. Deangelo had cocaine hidden up his backside, and was afraid of being caught with it. He convinced his younger brother Wayne to ingest the cocaine to destroy the evidence. Soon after, Wayne began having difficulty breathing and died within an hour. He had eaten about an ounce of cocaine. Deangelo Mitchell has now been charged with cocaine distribution and involuntary manslaughter in the death of his brother.

Space Ball Falls from Sky

In a story reminiscent of the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, a large metal ball dropped out of the sky onto a remote area of Namibia. The 14-inch-diameter ball left a crater almost four meters wide and 33 centimeters deep when it fell into a grassy field. It was retrieved about 18 meters away from the crater. Residents reported hearing several explosions in the days before the object was found. Local police inspector Vilho Hifindaka determined the object was not explosive. Authorities have contacted NASA and the European Space Agency to identify the object, believed to be a piece of space junk.

Letter to Santa Found in Chimney is 100 Years Old

John Byrne was installing a new central heating unit in his home in Dublin in 1992 when he found a letter in the fireplace. It was a little scorched, but still readable.

On Christmas Eve 1911, a brother and sister, who signed their names, “A or H Howard”, penned their personally designed letter to Santa with their requests for gifts and a good luck message at their home in Oaklands Terrace, Terenure (or Terurnure, as the children spelled it) in Dublin.

They placed it in the chimney of the fireplace in the front bedroom so that Santa would see it as he made his way into the Howard household in the early hours of the morning.

A check of the 1911 census lead Byrne to believe the children were 10-year-old Hannah Howard and her seven-year-old brother Fred, who lived at the address with their parents and older sister.

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Kevin Burkett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
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Restaurant Seeks Donations to Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center
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Kevin Burkett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’ve ever wondered where all those Big Mouth Billy Bass singing fish that flew off shelves in the early 2000s have gone, take a look inside a Flying Fish restaurant. Each location of the southern seafood chain is home to its own Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center, and they’re always accepting new additions to the collection.

According to Atlas Obscura, the gimmick was the idea of Dallas-based restaurateur Shannon Wynne. He opened his flagship Flying Fish in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2002 when the Big Mouth Billy Bass craze was just starting to wind down. As people grew tired of hearing the first 30 seconds of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” for the thousandth time, he offered them a place to bring their wall ornaments once the novelty wore off. The Flying Fish promises to “house, shelter, love, and protect” each Billy Bass they adopt. On top of that, donors get a free basket of catfish in exchange for the contribution and get their name on the wall. The Little Rock location now displays hundreds of the retired fish.

Today there are nine Flying Fish restaurants in Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee, each with its own Adoption Center. There’s still space for new members of the family, so now may be the time to break out any Billy Basses that have been collecting dust in your attic since 2004.

And if you’re interested in stopping into Flying Fish for a bite to eat, don’t let the wall of rubber nostalgia scare you off: The batteries from all the fish have been removed, so you can enjoy your meal in peace.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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The Long, Strange Story of Buffalo Bill's Corpse
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You probably know William Frederick Cody, a.k.a. Buffalo Bill, as the long-haired Wild West icon who turned the frontier experience into rip-roarin’ entertainment. But the story of Buffalo Bill’s body and its many burials is almost as outrageous as the man himself.

When Cody died of kidney failure in January 1917, his body ended up on a mountain outside of Denver, Colorado—a counterintuitive choice given his close ties to the town in Wyoming that bore his last name. Cody, Wyoming was founded in the 1890s with help from Buffalo Bill, who employed many of its residents and was responsible for its tourism business. It might seem natural that he’d be buried in the place he’d invested so much in, but he wasn’t. And that’s where the controversy began.

Though Cody spent much of his time in the town named after him, he also loved Colorado. After leaving his family in Kansas when he was just 11 to work with wagon trains throughout the West, he headed to Colorado for the first time as a 13-year-old wannabe gold prospector. During his short time in the area, he chased the glittery fortunes promised by Colorado’s 1859 gold rush. Even after leaving the territory, his traveling vaudeville show, which brought a glamorous taste of Wild West life to people all over the United States, took him back often. Later in life, he frequently visited Denver, where his sister lived. He died there, too—after telling his wife he wanted to be buried on Lookout Mountain.

The mountain, located in Golden, Colorado, has a commanding view of the Great Plains, where Buffalo Bill experienced many of his Wild West adventures. It was also a place to contemplate the giant herds of buffalo that once roamed the West, and from whom Cody took his nickname. (Denver still maintains a small herd of buffalo—direct descendants of original American bison—near the mountain.)

But weather almost thwarted Cody’s burial plans. Since he died in January, the road to Lookout Mountain was impassable and his preferred burial site frozen solid. For a while, his body lay in state in the Colorado Capitol building. Governors and famous friends eulogized Cody in an elaborate funeral service. Then his body was placed in a carriage that moved solemnly through the streets of Denver, where thousands showed up to say goodbye. Afterwards, his body was kept in cold storage at a Denver mortuary while his family waited for the weather to change.

Meanwhile, Colorado and Wyoming started a heated feud over one of America’s most famous men. Wyoming claimed that Cody should be buried there, citing an early draft of his will that said he intended to be buried near Cody. Colorado cried foul, since Cody’s last will left the burial location up to his widow, who chose Lookout Mountain. Rumors even began to circulate that a delegation from Wyoming had stolen Cody’s body from the mortuary and replaced it with that of a local vagrant.

In part to stop the rumor mill, Cody was finally buried in an open casket on Lookout Mountain in June 1917. Twenty-five thousand people went to the mountaintop to bid him farewell before he was interred. To prevent theft, the bronze casket was sealed in another, tamper-proof case, then enclosed in concrete and iron.

Pennies on Buffalo Bill's grave
V.T. Polywoda, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Yet his rocky grave was anything but safe. In the 1920s, Cody’s niece, Mary Jester Allen, began to claim that Denver had conspired to tamper with Cody’s will. In response, Cody’s foster son, Johnny Baker, disinterred the body and had it reburied at the same site under tons of concrete to prevent potential theft [PDF]. (Allen also founded a museum in Wyoming to compete with a Colorado-based museum founded by Baker.)

The saga wasn’t over yet. In 1948, the Cody, Wyoming American Legion offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could disinter the body and return it to Wyoming. In response, the Colorado National Guard stationed officers to keep watch over the grave.

Since then, the tussle over the remains has calmed down. Despite a few ripples—like a jokey debate in the Wyoming legislature about stealing the body in 2006—Buffalo Bill still remains in the grave. If you believe the official story, that is. In Cody, Wyoming, rumor has it that he never made it into that cement-covered tomb after all—proponents claim he was buried on Cedar Mountain, where he originally asked to be interred.

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