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News » News of the Weird


A weekly roundup of international news oddities.



Officers of the North Wales (England) Police believe they have solved, with help from the government Animal and Plant Health Agency, the mystery of why more than 200 starlings were found dead in a road in Bodedern on Dec. 10. Rob Taylor of the police force's rural crime team revealed that the birds suffered severe internal trauma, "support(ing) the case that the birds died from impact with the road," he told Sky News. "It's highly likely the murmuration took avoiding action whilst airborne, from possibly a bird of prey, with the rear of the group not pulling up in time and striking the ground."

• In the western German city of Kleve, a regional court in mid-January overruled a lower court and awarded the owner of a chicken mauled by a dog higher restitution because the chicken had TV experience. Sieglinde the chicken, who died in the attack, had completed 10 hours of acting training and had appeared in at least one German movie, for which she received a three-figure daily fee. The court ordered the dog's owner to pay 615 euros (about $680) in damages, the Associated Press reported. A regular chicken is worth about 15 euros.

Weird Science
On Jan. 22, the National Weather Service expanded its cold-weather warnings in South Florida to include falling iguanas along with falling temperatures. According to the Associated Press, the NWS alerted folks that the reptiles can become stunned by the cold and fall from their perches in trees. As temperatures rise during the day, they wake up, unharmed. Males can grow to 5 feet long and weigh 20 pounds. They aren't considered to be dangerous to humans (unless they land on your head).

Animal Farm
A Polish pig farmer in his 70s who had been missing since Dec. 31 is believed to have been eaten by his livestock, Fox News reported. Lubin District Prosecutor Magdalena Serafin told local media the farmer's remains, consisting of bones and skull fragments, were found by a neighbor, who called police after spotting the bones while fetching water from a nearby well on Jan. 8. The farmer's animals were roaming freely in the yard, and officials indicated it was clear that the pigs had feasted on him. They suspect he died of a fall or heart attack.

Extreme Measures
An unnamed 55-year-old man from the town of Pitalito, Colombia, got cold feet before his scheduled marriage over the weekend of Jan. 18, but lacked the courage to tell his fiancee. Instead, with the help of his best friends, he faked his own kidnapping, reported Oddity Central. The groom's pals told authorities they had seen a group of armed men on motorcycles abduct their friend, and because kidnappings for extortion are not unknown in Colombia, the local police responded in force. Police Commander Nestor Vargas ordered roads closed, sealing off the town, and began a search. That's when the friends got nervous and admitted they'd made the whole thing up. Authorities kept the groom's identity a secret to protect him from other townspeople, who've been down this road before: This is the second time the groom has left a bride waiting at the altar. He and his cohorts will likely face jail time of up to six years.

In Toronto, the streetcar tunnel into Queen Quay Station is protected by an automatic gate, rumble strips, flashing lights and signs warning automobile drivers not to enter. But at 2 a.m. on Jan. 22, one driver managed to ignore or overlook all the warnings, driving his car about 600 meters through the tunnel before arriving at Union Station and becoming stuck on a concrete block, the CBC reported. "We're sort of hard-pressed to think of any other measures we can take at this point" to deter drivers, a spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission said, "short of closing the tunnel, and that's not an option."

• It's been unseasonably cold in Florida (see Falling Iguanas item earlier), and one St. Petersburg man apparently became so desperate for warmth on Jan. 21 he set fire to a stack of paperwork in his apartment around 3 a.m. WFLA reported that the flames Mark Okrent, 66, ignited were significant enough to trigger smoke detectors, which summoned the fire department, but no one in the 30-unit building was hurt in the incident. Except Okrent, who was charged with first-degree arson.

News That Sounds Like a Joke
If you've always thought those nail clippers in your kitchen drawer were a harmless tool, think again. Kathleen Ayala, 30, has been charged with murder in Cumberland County, N.J., following an altercation with her husband on Jan. 12, the Associated Press reported. Authorities said Ayala, of Millville, and 35-year-old Axel Torres got into an argument in their home that became physical, and Torres left the premises. Ayala chased after him and stabbed him numerous times with the nail file tool on the clippers, causing wounds to his feet, hands, shoulders and left leg. When police arrived, they found Torres unresponsive and transported him to the hospital, where he died the next morning.

The Last Straw
After numerous complaints going back six months, according to a neighbor, Robert Wayne Miller, 57, was arrested at his home in Zephyrhills, Fla., on Dec. 22 for disturbing the peace with his lawn mower. Body-camera footage obtained by WFLA shows Pasco County Deputy Michael O'Donnell arriving at Miller's property and calling out to him, followed by a revving of the mower's engine. "I've had four people come out and tell me that they can't take it anymore," O'Donnell told Miller, who responded, "Whatever," before turning on the mower again. Dwaine White, who lives across the street, told The Washington Post the mower isn't even capable of cutting grass. "He'll run that tractor all night, and it echoes all over the neighborhood," White said. Miller was ultimately arrested for disturbing the peace and not complying with a law enforcement officer's command. If convicted, he could spend 18 months in jail and pay a $1,500 fine.

Downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., is a little safer these days, thanks to the efforts of Night Watch, a helpful vigilante dressed in all black, with his face partially covered and wearing reflective goggles, WGHP reported on Jan. 22. "I'm not looking to be a Batman and go around beating up criminals," he told a reporter. Instead, he's an anonymous superhero who's been patrolling the nighttime streets for about a month, hauling around a bag filled with food, clothing and toiletries for those in need. "There is no prerequisite for being a good person," Night Watch said. On that night, he helped out about a dozen homeless people in the community. "It's just nice that people aren't totally freaked out," he said. "Now they know who I am and that I'm trying to help."

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