Creme de la Weird | News of the Weird | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » News of the Weird

Creme de la Weird

A weekly roundup of international news oddities.



Creme de la Weird
It started out innocently enough. A road-tripping couple stopped in Grosse Tete, La., on Sept. 18 to let their deaf pup relieve himself. As they stretched their legs, they wandered over to the Tiger Truck Stop petting zoo and an enclosure that's home to Caspar the Camel, and the man started throwing treats inside. But when their dog breached the fence to get at the treats, the woman, ignoring "No Trespassing" signs, followed. As she chased the dog, her husband shoved the camel and swatted him with his hat. That's when Caspar lost his cool, settling his 600-pound camel booty right on top of the woman; she told officers from the Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office that she did the only thing she could do: "I bit his balls to get him off of me." Deputy Louis Hamilton Jr. cited the couple for leash law violations and criminal trespassing, siding with Caspar: "The camel did nothing wrong," Hamilton told The Advocate. "The camel has never been aggressive." A veterinarian treated the camel with antibiotics after the incident.

Can't Possibly Be True
A Trumbull County (Ohio) sheriff's deputy pulled over an Amish buggy on Donley Road early on the morning of Sept. 15 after the officer noticed a few oddities about the vehicle. For one, there were two Amish men inside who were drinking, and on the buggy's roof rode a 12-pack of beer. And, according to Fox 8, the old-fashioned conveyance sported an unlikely modern convenience: a stereo system with large speakers. As soon as the buggy came to a stop, the two men jumped out and escaped into heavy woods near the road. Meanwhile, the horse, trailing the buggy, took off. The officer was able to catch up with the horse and have the buggy towed; the drivers were still at large. The buggy "is a vehicle, it's on the roadway and the ... laws do apply," said Chief Deputy Joe Dragovich. "You're not allowed to drink and drive or operate a buggy."

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
The Tennessee Titans were all fired up for their NFL home opener on Sept. 15 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Accordingly, so was some of their pyrotechnic equipment—which caught fire during player introductions, spreading flames and thick, black smoke near one end zone. According to Bleacher Report, no one was hurt, and flames were extinguished quickly. But the NFL, taking its usual proactive stance, placed a ban on "all flame effects and pyrotechnics used on its playing fields" until an investigation can be completed.

Police arrived at the home of Vernelle Jackson, 83, in Norway, Maine, on Sept. 17, inquiring about the whereabouts of another unnamed woman in her 80s who had reportedly lived with Jackson. As police excavated the back yard and the story unfolded, Jackson admitted to authorities and WMTW News 8 that she was the one who buried the woman, about 18 months ago. "She begged me when she passed away that she didn't have enough insurance to bury her, and I don't have it. And she said, 'Will you promise me to bury me in your yard so I'll be close?' ... I finally agreed to do it to satisfy her," Jackson explained. "I put her in a tarp. I didn't carry her. I have COPD. I couldn't breathe that good." She was surprised to learn that she would have needed a permit to legally bury her friend in her yard, and she's still unclear whether she's in trouble with the law. The State Medical Examiner's office is working to ID the body and determine the cause of death.

Least Competent Criminals
Two football-crazed fans of Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes couldn't quite pull off a heist in Lawrence, Kan., on Sept. 16. Pulling up to a McDonald's, the two ran inside, grabbed a life-size cardboard cutout of Mahomes and ran out, stuffing the promotional piece into their car. Lawrence Police spokesman Patrick Compton told the Lawrence Journal-World that as they received the call about the theft, they were working a car crash nearby—in which one of the vehicles just happened to have a Mahomes cutout in the back seat. Officers questioned the suspects and ordered them to appear for alleged theft. Flat Pat was returned to the McDonald's.

Bright Idea
Paul Nixon, 51, is sought in Harris County, Texas, on charges of felony aggravated perjury after taking a novel approach to divorce. Nixon filed for divorce in February but forged his wife's signature and the name of a notary on the legal papers, the New York Post reported. A judge declared the divorce final in April—but the wife didn't find out until May, when she noticed strange spending habits of his. "She started finding things showing that he was spending money on jewelry, so she confronted him and he told her that they were actually divorced," Constable Mark Herman said. "They are still married. The fraudulent divorce papers have been retracted." However, Nixon, who could face 10 years in prison, had so far eluded police.

Compelling Explanation
Kristine, 45, and Michael, 43, Barnett of Lafayette, Ind., adopted a 6-year-old Ukrainian-born girl, Natalia Grace, with dwarfism in 2010. Nine years later, much to their confusion, they are charged with abandoning her. Within their first few weeks as a family, the Barnetts noticed that Natalia seemed to be older than they had been told, with a sophisticated vocabulary, pubic hair and menstrual periods. A doctor ordered bone density tests to check her age, and results suggested she was at least 14. So they began to treat her like a teenager. Then, the Barnetts claim, Natalia began making death threats against them. At a psychiatric hospital where she was treated, she told doctors she was much older and wanted to kill her family. "She was standing over people in the middle of the night. We had to hide all the sharp objects," Kristine Barnett told The Daily Mail. In 2012, they legally changed her age (from 8 to 22) and helped her get benefits so she could continue to receive psychiatric care, and in 2013, with Natalia living independently in an apartment, the Barnetts and their son moved to Canada. Soon after, they lost touch with the girl. But inexplicably, a second set of bone density tests, performed in 2010, surfaced, arguing that Natalia was at that time just 8 years old, and she told police herself in 2014 that she had been "left alone" when her parents moved to Canada. Michael and Kristine Barnett surrendered to the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department on Sept. 18 and 19, charged with abandonment of Natalia.

Wait, What?
Paramedics responded to a home in Detroit on the evening of Sept. 21 where a man was suffering from a heart attack. But as they worked on the victim, another man took a woman into a bedroom in the home and stabbed her. Then he ran out of the house and, according to Fox2, is still on the loose. The woman died at the scene, and the heart attack victim did not survive. Police are still trying to figure out the relationships between the three people.

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