This Year in Weird

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Most years are packed with odd-news reports, and 2009 was no exception: There were animal exploits aplenty, people disrobing and getting in trouble, cases in which food was used as a weapon and much more. Check out our roundup of weird news of the year as reported by GateHouse newspapers.

Signs from above?

Just in time for the Christmas season, a Connecticut farmer reported that a baby was born in a stable and sported a seemingly divine sign. The baby? A cow born with a cross marking on its head. Norwich dairy farmer Brad Davis noticed that a newborn calf had a near-perfect white cross on his brown forehead. “I almost fell over,” Davis said when he saw the cross. “I felt like I should be on my knees.” Neighborhood children who visited the calf named him Moses. (We would have gone with Mooses.)

Another miracle of sorts occurred in December when a Massachusetts restaurant owner spotted the image of Mother Teresa in a cutting board. The owner, Wendy Golini, initially was hesitant to report the image for fear she would be labeled the “crazy lady who saw something,” but when friends saw the cutting board and also recognized Mother Teresa, Golini went public with the news. Soon newspapers and TV stations were covering the story, and Golini proudly displayed the board in her Melrose restaurant.

Newspapers make the news

The Taunton Daily Gazette made its own news when a man facing charges for aggravated rape and child assault rounded up hundreds of copies of newspapers that featured him on the front page. Police said Roland Hill was trying to quell the story, but he was caught pilfering copies of the Gazette from newspaper boxes. Hill was able to produce receipts for $21 worth of papers, police said, but he had about 400 copies in his van when cops caught up to him.

Twice this year newspaper carriers for GateHouse newspapers saved the day. In Oak Ridge, Tenn., a carrier who hand-delivers papers to front doors (instead of tossing them from the car) spotted something in a driveway. It turned out to be the owner of the house, who was lying unconscious out of sight from street traffic. The carrier called 911 and the homeowner was saved.

And in Manchester, N.Y., a newspaper carrier on his route saw a woman faint in her driveway. He rushed to her, called 911 and even shielded the 71-year-old woman from rain while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Animal antics

There were several tales of animal heroes this year. One was a dog in Cheboygan, Mich., who woke her owners in the middle of the night and alerted them to a carbon monoxide leak. The dog, Heidi, had bumped into furniture after getting woozy, and the noise woke the owners, who were able to recognize what the problem was and move to safety in time. In Macks Creek, Mo., a cat saved his owner after a jacket fell on a room heater in the middle of the night and started smoldering. Tommy the cat jumped on his owner and swatted her about the head until she got up and extinguished the jacket.

Then there were stories of animals making visits to stores. In Natick, Mass., an otter walked into a mattress store called Sleepy’s and decided to take a nap. Employee Ken Cronin saw the little guy trot in and find a good spot to rest. "He was curled up like a puppy under the bed," Cronin said. As soon as animal control was called, the otter left the store. In Bartonville, Ill., a deer crashed into a plate-glass window of Echo Valley Meats but didn’t make it in, instead simply shattering the glass. Owner Dave Alwan said the store processes deer meat and quipped, "We're so good, they're just dying to get in." In Eldon, Mo., a young deer crashed through a plate-glass window of a furniture store. The owner of Eldon Furniture found the injured deer in the store, and as he was trying to figure out what to do, the deer took off and ran into nearby woods. And in Avon, Mass., a deer crashed through the window of Supreme Pizzas and Subs. This animal, however, suffered severe injuries from the crash and had to be put down.

In other deer news, a Canal Fulton, Ohio, family and their unusual pet made national news after winning a video contest. The pet, a 180-pound deer named Dillie, was adopted when she was a sickly fawn. The family nursed the deer back to health and received a permit to keep her. Dillie now has the run of the house and yard and acts like a cross between a dog and a cat, according to her owners, Melanie Butera and Steve Heathman. She even knows how to climb stairs and get ice cubes from the refrigerator’s ice machine. The contest that vaulted the deer to stardom was by GPS maker Zoombak, which wanted videos of unique ways their devices were being used. Dillie has a GPS device on her collar, and as soon as Zoombak officials saw the video of her, she was named the winner. 

There also were several tales of good Samaritan humans lending a hand to animals. In Topsfield, Mass., firefighters received a call that a group of ducklings had fallen into a drain. Don Enos and his wife were watching a mother duck lead her 10 youngsters across a street and saw seven of them fall in a catch basin. Firefighters arrived and were able to rescue the ducklings. In Stuttgart, Ark., homeowners Linda and Johnnie Uhiren found a racing pigeon on their property. The couple captured the bird, found a band on its leg and contacted authorities, who told them the bird should be released, as it would find its way home. Not long after doing so, the couple received a message from the bird’s owner – a Dallas man who said he didn’t think the young bird, named Sahara, could make it all the way home. The Uhirens raced out to find the pigeon, but it wasn’t hard – she was walking up their driveway. "We could not believe our eyes,” Linda Uhiren said. “Johnnie began calling her name and circled around behind her. She came right into the garage.” The couple then shipped her to her appreciative owner.

To wrap up our animal tales, we bring you the story of a pair of donkeys who went for a late-night romp. The Middleboro, Mass., donkeys broke out of their pasture about 1 a.m., and several people reported to police the bizarre scene they witnessed: donkeys running loose around town in the dead of the night. Police eventually were able to corral the animals and returned them to their owners, Anthony M. Ribeiro Jr. and his wife, Rita. The couple said they have had the donkeys for three years to protect their herd of cows from coyotes.

News of the nude

Several people committed crimes this past year while in various states of undress. In Pembroke, Mass., a man was arrested after he stopped to flash his buttocks at another motorist, police said. A driver who called police to report that the man, Scott Smith, was driving erratically, had an extra tale to tell after Smith got out of his car at a stoplight and pulled down his pants to moon the motorist. Police soon thereafter caught up with Smith and later charged him with drunken driving and indecent exposure. In Hull, Mass., a naked man was found sleeping in a woman’s bed. The man, James Charubini, fled when the owner came home, but police caught up to him and charged him with breaking and entering, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. Also in Massachusetts, Cape Cod cop Joseph A. Houston was arrested after he urinated on a fan at a Metallica concert in Boston.

Food crimes

You wouldn’t think that food would be at the center of many crimes, but in 2009, that certainly wasn’t the case. In Quincy, Mass., two McDonald’s customers turned violent after they got the wrong size french fries, police said. The customers started throwing coins and plastic safety cones at cashiers and were arrested not long after leaving the restaurant. In Peoria, Ill., a burglar broke into the garage of a home and stole two turkeys and two hams from a freezer. In Norwell, Mass., a couple irked over the slow delivery of their Kentucky Fried Chicken assaulted a man at the fast-food joint, police say. Witnesses said the couple yelled profanities at the restaurant employees when their food took too long, then beat up a man who asked them to stop for the sake of children in line.

In Rockford, Ill., a 16-year-old was arrested for putting marijuana in his mom’s sandwich, police said. In Lexington, Mass., a police officer was assaulted with a doughnut. The pastry hit the officer in the chest, and no harm was done (except to his uniform). In Nebraska City, Neb., state police found 4 pounds of chocolate candy laced with marijuana after a traffic stop. In Somerville, Mass., a man upset that a gas station wasn’t open so he could get coffee broke in to the shop and tried to fight with the clerk. And in Hingham, Mass., a woman was arrested after she became upset that the Cracker Barrel didn’t have an item she wanted, so she assaulted a clerk with a bottle of apple juice and a Slim Jim snack.

Other bizarre crimes

In Meriden, Conn., a man bit a co-worker after she told him, “Bite me.” The man said he was joking, but police didn’t think it was funny and arrested him. The victim was left with teeth marks and bruising on her arm. In Napoli, N.Y., a scene straight out of a comedic movie led to the arrest of a man: The perpetrator led police on a three-mile slow-speed pursuit in his Amish buggy. The man eventually jumped out of the buggy and tried to flee on foot, but police caught up with him. In Peoria, Ill., a man attacked a 51-year-old with an angel statue while trying to rob him. And in Massillon, Ohio, a woman was charged with arson after she burned down her house because, as she said, it was haunted.

And our No. 1 weird story of the year …

As evidenced above, there are many weird crimes committed every year, but this one takes the cake. In Cambridge, Mass., a women reported to police that a middle-aged man licked her foot. Yes, you read that correctly – he licked her foot. And kissed it. According to the victim, the man stopped her as she was entering a store and fawned over her high-heeled shoes. She brushed him off and went shopping, but when she left the store, the man accosted her again, this time throwing himself to the ground to lick and kiss her right foot.

GateHouse News Service