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Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

The Weird Week in Review

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Alligator Catches Fleeing Suspect

A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy pulled over a car driven by 20-year-old Bryan Zuniga near Tampa, Florida, when he was observed weaving in traffic around 3AM Thursday. Zuniga stopped the car, then fled by kicking his way through a fence. He was found a few hours later in a hospital. Zuniga had breached the fence of a water treatment plant, and been bitten by an alligator on his run. He suffered injuries on his face and arm. Zuniga was arrested on a variety of charges, but it is not known why he fled from the traffic stop.

Fake Nuns Caught Smuggling Cocaine

Police in San Andres, a Colombian island in the Caribbean, arrested three women posing as nuns. They had $35,000 worth of cocaine underneath their habits as they entered the island at the San Andres airport.

“They weren’t really religious, they weren’t nuns. On the contrary, they were taking advantage of this situation,” San Andres police commissioner Jorge Gomez told RCN TV.

According to the police official, the drugs — 60,000 doses — had a street value of $35,470 and was likely to be distributed locally.

The suspects, ages 20, 32, and 37, were jailed and are awaiting trial.

Mr. and Mrs. Speed in Trouble Over Speed

A case of nominative determinism? Daniel Speed of Nottingham, England, pled guilty to charges of possession with intent to supply amphetamines. Speed was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail. His wife, Abigail Speed, was ordered to perform 180 hours of community labor. The Speeds were arrested following a raid on their home in 2011, during which about a kilogram of amphetamines, scales, and cash were seized. The couple was also found to have made large unexplained cash deposits over the past few years, despite the fact that Daniel Speed is unemployed and Abigail Speed has a low-income job.

105-Year-Old Woman Says Bacon Keeps Her Alive

Pearl Cantrell of Brownwood, Texas, recently celebrated her 105th birthday with a three-day celebration which over 200 guests attended. The local TV station asked her the secret to her longevity, and she said, “I love bacon. I eat it every day.” The quote inspired the Oscar Mayer company to send its Weinermobile to Cantrell's house to deliver a supply of bacon. But Cantrell has other healthier habits, such as staying active years after retirement. For example, she mowed her own lawn until she was 100 years old. Cantrell worked a variety of physically active jobs during her life and raised seven children.

Puppy Survives Month in Locked Car

A vehicle at an impound lot in Kansas City had a surprise inside, but no one knew for almost a month. When an inspector went around to mark cars for auction on Monday, the puppy jumped up on the dashboard! Since the car was locked, lot employees called the police, who freed the puppy.

What is known is that the 1990 Chevy Suburban was towed because it was abandoned April 8 on an eastbound ramp to I-70 from Van Brunt Boulevard and was blocking traffic, Rotert said. Police got the call at 10:08 p.m. and it was towed to the city tow lot at 10:45 p.m. Neither police nor the tow truck driver saw a dog, nor did tow lot employees.

The doors on the car were locked. Typically, when a car arrives at the tow lot with locked doors, employees take pictures of the outside of the vehicle and keep the doors locked. Rotert said they do not try to break into locked cars.

The dog was taken to a veterinarian, who estimated the emaciated pup was 12 weeks old, although the female, now named Kia, was the size of an 8-week-old. She had apparently survived on fast food scraps and cigars, but no one knows if she had anything to drink. The owner of the car came by the lot on May 1st, but did not have a car key and never mentioned a puppy. Kia is expected to recover and will be sent to a foster home before adoption.

Scratch-and-Sniff Cards Still Worked

Energy West in Great Falls, Montana, distributes scratch-and-sniff cards to its customers so they can learn to recognize the smell of a gas leak. When a batch of expired cards was discarded, they were picked up by a garbage truck that compressed them with the other trash, which released the smell to the entire town as the truck traveled its route on Wednesday. Gas customers recognized the smell, all right. Alarms were raised, and several buildings were evacuated due to the smell. The gas company has apologized for the situation.

5 Strange News Stories From This Week

Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.

1. MAN PAYS FINE WITH FIVE WHEELBARROWS OF PENNIES

On January 11, Nick Stafford of Cedar Bluff, Virginia, carted 1600 pounds of pennies into the Lebanon Department of Motor Vehicles to pay taxes on two of his vehicles. It was the end of a saga that began in September, when Stafford tried to find out which of his homes (which are located in two counties) he should use to register his son's new car. When he tried to call his local DMV, he was routed to a larger call center—and so, to get the local number he wanted, he submitted a successful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Then he went one step further, filing three lawsuits to get the direct numbers for nine other local DMVs. “If they were going to inconvenience me then I was going to inconvenience them,” Stafford told The Herald Courier.

A judge ultimately dismissed the lawsuits when the state's Attorney General physically handed Stafford the phone numbers in the courtroom. But Stafford still had to pay sales tax on his vehicles, and he got in one last dig at the DMV while doing so: First, he bought five new wheelbarrows. Then, he bought a bunch of rolls of pennies. He hired 11 people to help him unroll the pennies—300,000 in total—and drove them to the DMV, where he put them in the wheelbarrows and, with the help of people he had hired, rolled them in. (“I’m not used to lifting,” Stafford said. “These are heavy.”) The lawsuits, wheelbarrow, and hired help cost Stafford more than $1000 above the amount of the vehicle tax.

2. MOTORIST JAILED OVER KITTY LITTER

When he was pulled over in early December 2016, Ross Lebeau thought it was a routine traffic stop—but Houston sheriff's deputies arrested him on drug charges. In his car, the officers had found a substance in a sock, which, when field tested, was positive for meth. A press release stated that Lebeau had been found with a half pound of meth in his vehicle; the release contained both Lebeau's mugshot and a picture of the substance seized.

Lebeau spent three days in jail, but he was released when lab tests revealed that the substance was not meth after all—it was kitty litter! As WMC Action News 5 reported on January 7:

Lebeau said the substance was cat litter inside a sock.

His father left one in his car and gave the other to his sister for her car. It's supposed to keep the windows from fogging up.

The problem was that two field tests done by deputies came back positive for meth.

The county's forensic lab tested the substance as well, and no drugs were found. The case was then dismissed, but the damage was already done to Lebeau's reputation. "People have been calling me a kingpin or drug lord," Lebeau said, adding that he's lost out on work because of the accusation. “I was wrongly accused, and I'm going to do everything in my power to clear my name."

3. SWISS TOWN DENIES PASSPORT TO "ANNOYING" DUTCH VEGAN

Nancy Holten was born in the Netherlands, but she's lived in Switzerland since she was a child. The outspoken vegan and animal rights activist has campaigned against the cowbells that local livestock wear, saying the tradition is animal abuse, and has complained about loud church bells, hunting, and pig races. Holten, who is seeking Swiss citizenship, as been denied twice. Local residents can approve or deny villagers' requests, and they have deemed Holten too annoying. As Yahoo News UK reported on January 11:

"Tanja Suter, the president of the local Swiss People’s Party, claimed Ms Holten has a 'big mouth' and that residents did not want to grant her citizenship 'if she annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions.'"

Holten's citizenship case has been transferred to the Cantonal (regional) government body, which can overturn the local decision.

4. MAN FOUND STUCK IN KITCHEN VENT

Gjyste (Julie) Margilaj heard a crashing sound in her first-floor Manhattan apartment kitchen just after midnight on January 10. “I freaked ... out for a couple of minutes, and then I went over to the kitchen and I heard someone panting and breathing like they were in obvious pain. They were freaking out," she told the New York Daily News. “I opened the kitchen vent so he could breathe.” The man, a new resident of the seven-story building, had been on the roof hanging with some friends when, according to the FDNY, he removed the cover of an exhaust fan and slid down into the ductwork. "The shaft was so small that his body took up the entire vent," FDNY Chief Patrick Tansey told Pix 11 News. "So, using power tools was out of the question. We had to expose him by hand." The man—who was wearing just his underwear—only had minor injuries after the ordeal. "He had told the occupant who called us something about a pool in the basement," Tansey said, "but I don't know."

5. GOLFER RUN OVER BY TOILET

This week, Brian Berg filed a lawsuit over an incident that occurred last summer at Fox Run Golf Links in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The golfer was enjoying a day on the green when he was run over by a portable toilet. An employee of the course was using a forklift to move the toilet but couldn't see where he was going because the toilet obscured his vision. According to CBS Chicago,

"After he was knocked to the ground by the porta-potty’s “initial blow,” it did not stop, hitting him in the face and knocking him unconscious, the suit says. It injured his shoulder, cut his chin, cracked a rib, bruised a bicep and caused 'a large, deep bruise to his leg.'"

Berg is asking $50,000 in damages from the Elk Grove Park District, which runs the golf course, and the forklift driver.

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5 Strange News Stories From This Week
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Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.

1. CALF GETS LASSOED FROM THE HOOD OF A POLICE CAR

When authorities got a call about a calf that was loose on Tennessee's Highway 79N, David Bevill of Paris, Tennessee, volunteered to help local police capture it. Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew drove down the highway with Bevill on the hood, ready to rope in the calf. According to a Facebook post,

Belew said the calf became loose when a man was driving through town and his cattle trailer door broke. “There were actually two that got loose, but Dr. Lyons at Mineral Wells Animal Clinic and his crew were able to get the other one,” Belew said.

“So everybody is happy—we roped one calf, Dr. Lyons got the other one and the guy who was hauling them through town is happy, too,” Belew said.

It's always handy to know a cowboy when you've got a job to do.

2. CAT STUCK IN SUPPORTS OF DOUBLE-DECKER HIGHWAY FOR NINE DAYS

Erin McCutcheon's cat Juno escaped a zippered cat carrier and jumped out of a moving car on the upper deck of I-93 in Boston on Christmas Day. McCutcheon couldn't find her cat, and so distributed posters and put out a call for help on Facebook. On Tuesday, a Local 103 crew of electricians doing maintenance work spotted Juno high above the lower deck, perched on the support girders under the upper deck. Juno had been stuck 80 feet above the highway for nine days! The crew couldn't catch the frightened feline, but eventually lured her out with cans of cat food. Juno, hungry and thirsty, went home with electrician Jay Frazier, and was later reunited with the McCutcheons.

3. MAN CARRIES SCISSORS IN BODY FOR 18 YEARS

Ma Van Nhat underwent surgery at Bac Kan Hospital in Vietnam in 1998 after suffering injuries in a traffic accident. Recently, he complained of pain in his abdomen, which doctors dismissed as a stomachache. But on December 27, during a routine checkup, a doctor determined there was a foreign object there. Last Saturday, surgeons removed a pair of surgical scissors, which had apparently been inside Nhat for 18 years. The scissors had broken and adhered to Nhat's abdominal organs. According to The Huffington Post,

The hospital’s director, Trinh Thi Luong, is now taking great pains to find out who may have left the scissors inside Nhat.

“Even if they are already retired, we will still inform them,” Luong said, according to Reuters. “This is a lesson to all doctors.”

4. MAN OPENS DOOR TO BRICK WALL

An unnamed man in Mainhausen, Germany, woke up Monday morning and got ready for work as usual—but when he opened his front door, he couldn't leave: Someone had built a brick wall over the door opening. The perpetrators had built the wall quickly and quietly during the night. He had to tear out the bricks to leave his house. Police don't know whether the wall was a prank or an act of revenge.

5. NEW SHERIFF GETS ARRESTED

The citizens of Roane County, West Virginia, elected a new sheriff in November. Bo Williams began his new job last Sunday, but on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News, he was was arrested on charges of grand larceny for stealing meth from an evidence locker at his previous job with the Spencer, West Virginia, police department. Bags of meth with evidence numbers were found in his desk and in his car. Williams had resigned from that job after admitting to drug addiction in December. The Roane County commission removed Williams from office that same day, and asked a former sheriff to step in to run the department. Williams is out of jail on bond and may face up to 10 years in prison.

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