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ThinkStock/Erin McCarthy
ThinkStock/Erin McCarthy

10 Weird Crimes That Could Only Happen in Florida

ThinkStock/Erin McCarthy
ThinkStock/Erin McCarthy

Even before a homeless man had his face nearly chewed off by a deranged attacker, Florida had a reputation for bizarre crimes.  Here are 10 odd cases that will make you shake your head and say, “Only in Florida...” 

1. “Don’t tase me, Mom!”

In September of this year, Pasco County police officers were called to a mobile home occupied by 45 year old Cynthia Alexander after a neighbor saw Alexander and her 28 year old daughter, Stephanie, fighting on the front lawn. Cynthia and Stephanie had had a disagreement over how best to keep their mobile home clean, which turned from a shouting match to a wrestling match to Cynthia discharging a stun gun in her daughter’s face. While Stephanie refused to press charges, the deputies charged Cynthia with aggravated domestic battery and told her to clean up her act. 

2. Highlander VI: The Shrimpening

Michael Airhart of Deltona, Florida walked into the kitchen one morning and discovered that a can of shrimp was missing from the cupboard. Annoyed, he confronted his 34 year old stepson, Jayson Laughman, about the absent canned crustaceans. The argument grew heated, so Laughman and Airhart decided to take it outside. On the back patio, Laughman smashed a lawn ornament, and that’s when Airhart realized that things were going too far. He locked himself in the bedroom to let things cool down. Laughman, on the other hand, went “code red,” threatening his mother’s life, and attacking Airhart Shining-style by hacking through the bedroom door with a katana-style sword. Laughman also threw a couple of steak knives at his step-dad for good measure. Airhart called 911 and the police intervened before anyone lost their head. 

3. Pilfered Primates Prefer Hash Browns Scattered, Smothered, Covered

After spending the summer working for Nancy Stephens, a behavioral sciences researcher in Doniphan, Nebraska, 20 year old twins Michael and Jacob Ruehlman took a couple of souvenirs before heading home to Fort Myers, Florida: two Gibbon apes, Caylee and Cody, worth about $25,000 each. Florida police were told to be on the lookout for the young men, but Deborah Misotti, owner of The Talking Monkey Project in Clewiston, Florida, got to them first. Misotti, who knows both Nancy Stephens and Jacob Ruehlman through Facebook, heard about the primate theft and convinced Jacob to turn the animals over to her. They were to meet at a Waffle House off I-75, but before the twins could arrive, police spotted the car and pulled them over, finding the apes caged in the backseat. Caylee and Cody are being held with Misotti as the investigation continues.

4. Facebook Poke to the Face

Whatever you do, don’t poke Jesse Rizzo on Facebook. Or in real life for that matter. After a post on the popular social site, a friend of Rizzo’s started teasing him about it in person. The fight escalated and 18 year old Rizzo allegedly hit the unnamed 34 year old man in the head with a golf club six times. Rizzo claims he only hit the man in the shoulder with the club before punching him in the face 10 times. Either way, the man suffered severe head injuries and had to be transported by helicopter to Jackson Memorial Trauma Center. Rizzo was arrested and probably unfriended.

5. U-Haul Crooks Return to “Move” More Stuff

If you’re moving, it’s not unusual to make two trips in a rented U-Haul to get all of your stuff. It is unusual to make two trips when you’re moving someone else’s stuff without their knowledge, though. After Kenneth Morales, Yanice Ramirez, and Andrea Reyes kicked down the door of a house in Winter Park, Florida, they loaded up a U-Haul with over $10,000 worth of items, like high-end kitchen equipment, furniture, and Swarovski crystal figurines, before leaving. When a neighbor called the absent homeowner to ask why there were movers at the house, the owner came home and called the police to report the robbery. However, the homeowner was surprised when the U-Haul bandits backed up the truck for another round of loot. The crooks fled and the homeowner followed them, allowing police to arrest the greedy trio shortly after.

6. “Stay in the car, kids. Mommy has to make it rain.”

Brandi Jo Roman, 29, just wanted to relax and have a good time at her favorite strip club, Mons Venus in Tampa Bay, on a quiet Tuesday night. As she sat by the stage having a beer (she pre-gamed with a can of malt liquor on the way to the club), her good time was interrupted by a couple of Tampa’s finest. Apparently Roman couldn’t find a babysitter on such short notice, so she left her 3 year old daughter and 5 year old son in the parking lot, watching a movie in her pickup truck. Some concerned citizen ruined Roman’s buzz by contacting the police, who arrested her on child neglect charges. Sadly, Roman’s not the only partying parent who left the kids in the car while mom and dad made it rain in da club.

7. From Naptime to Jail Time

Being a criminal is exhausting—just ask Domonique Pinkard. He and his accomplice, 20 year old Julian Evangelist, broke into a house in Lady Lake, Florida, to see what they could steal. Pinkard stuffed jewelry in his pockets, but then decided that he was so tired from working all day that he needed to sit down on the couch. When the homeowner came back later that morning, he was surprised to find Pinkard asleep in the living room. He quietly backed out of the room to leave the napping bandit in peace, and called police. Evangelist took the TV and other electronics, but once his passed-out partner in crime was in cuffs, it didn’t take long to track down the stolen items.

8. CIA Director Human-Orangutan Hybrid

When police responded to a call about a man with a gun outside of a Wells Fargo Bank in Naples, Florida, they were probably expecting a robbery. What they got was 51 year old Mark Loescher, who claimed to be the half-orangutan director of the CIA, talking on his cell phone with the “Fusion Center” about getting more monkey blood. After police were finally able to get Loescher to hang up and get out of his car, he claimed he was good friends with President Bush, and that his brother was Elvis Presley. Despite his prestigious career and pedigree, Loescher was brought up on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

9. Couponing...With Extreme Prejudice

Walmart might have low prices, but they weren’t low enough for Mary Alday, 61, who tried to use an online coupon to get $1 off her purchase in Crawfordville, Florida. When the blue-vested employee informed Alday that she couldn’t use the coupon, the woman became enraged, barked a few choice words, and intentionally slammed her shopping cart into the worker. Alday was escorted out of the store and reportedly warned the manager, “If you follow me, I have something in my car for you.” That something was a loaded Smith & Wesson .38 Special. After waving the handgun at employees that had gathered outside, she sped off, only to be pulled over by police. Alday twice refused the deputy’s request to get out of the car, repeating, “I have a concealed weapons permit, and you are not taking my gun.” When she reached for something in the center console, the officer tased her and pulled her from the vehicle. She was brought up on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and battery. Here’s hoping her lawyer accepts coupons.

10. Love At First Carjacking

We’ve all heard stories about bad first dates, but Nemeha Millen has them all beat. She met Casanova extraordinaire Donald McGee, Jr. for their first date after the two had exchanged text messages a few times. After a long getting-to-know-you walk in a park in Boynton Beach, Florida, they waited in her car for McGee’s brother to pick him up. Feeling the deep, personal connection between the two of them, ever-romantic McGee made his move—he pulled a pistol from his pocket and told his date to get out of the car. McGee took off and played hard to get, leading police on a brief chase, before losing control of the vehicle. He was charged with carjacking with a firearm, marijuana possession, fleeing police, driving without a valid license, and robbery with a firearm. Next time, just bring flowers, man.

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Big Questions
Why Does Turkey Make You Tired?
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iStock

Why do people have such a hard time staying awake after Thanksgiving dinner? Most people blame tryptophan, but that's not really the main culprit. And what is tryptophan, anyway?

Tryptophan is an amino acid that the body uses in the processes of making vitamin B3 and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. It can't be produced by our bodies, so we need to get it through our diet. From which foods, exactly? Turkey, of course, but also other meats, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, dairy products, eggs, chickpeas, peanuts, and a slew of other foods. Some of these foods, like cheddar cheese, have more tryptophan per gram than turkey. Tryptophan doesn't have much of an impact unless it's taken on an empty stomach and in an amount larger than what we're getting from our drumstick. So why does turkey get the rap as a one-way ticket to a nap?

The urge to snooze is more the fault of the average Thanksgiving meal and all the food and booze that go with it. Here are a few things that play into the nap factor:

Fats: That turkey skin is delicious, but fats take a lot of energy to digest, so the body redirects blood to the digestive system. Reduced blood flow in the rest of the body means reduced energy.

Alcohol: What Homer Simpson called the cause of—and solution to—all of life's problems is also a central nervous system depressant.

Overeating: Same deal as fats. It takes a lot of energy to digest a big feast (the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3000 calories and 229 grams of fat), so blood is sent to the digestive process system, leaving the brain a little tired.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Space
More Details Emerge About 'Oumuamua, Earth's First-Recorded Interstellar Visitor
 NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA/JPL-Caltech

In October, scientists using the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope sighted something extraordinary: Earth's first confirmed interstellar visitor. Originally called A/2017 U1, the once-mysterious object has a new name—'Oumuamua, according to Scientific American—and researchers continue to learn more about its physical properties. Now, a team from the University of Hawaii's Institute of Astronomy has published a detailed report of what they know so far in Nature.

Fittingly, "'Oumuamua" is Hawaiian for "a messenger from afar arriving first." 'Oumuamua's astronomical designation is 1I/2017 U1. The "I" in 1I/2017 stands for "interstellar." Until now, objects similar to 'Oumuamua were always given "C" and "A" names, which stand for either comet or asteroid. New observations have researchers concluding that 'Oumuamua is unusual for more than its far-flung origins.

It's a cigar-shaped object 10 times longer than it is wide, stretching to a half-mile long. It's also reddish in color, and is similar in some ways to some asteroids in own solar system, the BBC reports. But it's much faster, zipping through our system, and has a totally different orbit from any of those objects.

After initial indecision about whether the object was a comet or an asteroid, the researchers now believe it's an asteroid. Long ago, it might have hurtled from an unknown star system into our own.

'Oumuamua may provide astronomers with new insights into how stars and planets form. The 750,000 asteroids we know of are leftovers from the formation of our solar system, trapped by the Sun's gravity. But what if, billions of years ago, other objects escaped? 'Oumuamua shows us that it's possible; perhaps there are bits and pieces from the early years of our solar system currently visiting other stars.

The researchers say it's surprising that 'Oumuamua is an asteroid instead of a comet, given that in the Oort Cloud—an icy bubble of debris thought to surround our solar system—comets are predicted to outnumber asteroids 200 to 1 and perhaps even as high as 10,000 to 1. If our own solar system is any indication, it's more likely that a comet would take off before an asteroid would.

So where did 'Oumuamua come from? That's still unknown. It's possible it could've been bumped into our realm by a close encounter with a planet—either a smaller, nearby one, or a larger, farther one. If that's the case, the planet remains to be discovered. They believe it's more likely that 'Oumuamua was ejected from a young stellar system, location unknown. And yet, they write, "the possibility that 'Oumuamua has been orbiting the galaxy for billions of years cannot be ruled out."

As for where it's headed, The Atlantic's Marina Koren notes, "It will pass the orbit of Jupiter next May, then Neptune in 2022, and Pluto in 2024. By 2025, it will coast beyond the outer edge of the Kuiper Belt, a field of icy and rocky objects."

Last week, University of Wisconsin–Madison astronomer Ralf Kotulla and scientists from UCLA and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) used the WIYN Telescope on Kitt Peak, Arizona, to take some of the first pictures of 'Oumuamua. You can check them out below.

Images of an interloper from beyond the solar system — an asteroid or a comet — were captured on Oct. 27 by the 3.5-meter WIYN Telescope on Kitt Peak, Ariz.
Images of 'Oumuamua—an asteroid or a comet—were captured on October 27.
WIYN OBSERVATORY/RALF KOTULLA

U1 spotted whizzing through the Solar System in images taken with the WIYN telescope. The faint streaks are background stars. The green circles highlight the position of U1 in each image. In these images U1 is about 10 million times fainter than the faint
The green circles highlight the position of U1 in each image against faint streaks of background stars. In these images, U1 is about 10 million times fainter than the faintest visible stars.
R. Kotulla (University of Wisconsin) & WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Color image of U1, compiled from observations taken through filters centered at 4750A, 6250A, and 7500A.
Color image of U1.
R. Kotulla (University of Wisconsin) & WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

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