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Good-Natured Weirdos

The latest on quirky criminals, strange trends and odd events.



Good-Natured Weirdos
Three teenagers from Rahway, N.J., who call themselves the Rahway Bushmen, have been discouraged from their signature prank: dressing up as bushes and popping up in Rahway River Park to say "Hi!" to unsuspecting passersby. reported in October that the Union County Police Department warned the Bushmen that they would be arrested if caught in action. The high school students started by jumping out to scare people, but decided to soften their approach with a gentler greeting. "We were trying to be harmless," one of the Bushmen said. "It's more or less an idea to try to make people smile." But Union County Public Information Officer (and fun sucker) Sebastian D'Elia deadpanned: "It's great until the first person falls and sues the county." Or puts an eye out.

Animal Troublemakers
Pilots were warned of "low sealings" at Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport in Utqiagvik, Alaska, on Oct. 23 because of an obstruction on the runway: a 450-pound bearded seal. Meadow Bailey of the Alaska Department of Transportation told KTVA-TV that the city, also known as Barrow, was hit by heavy storms that day, and airport staff discovered the seal while clearing the runway. However, staff are not authorized to handle marine animals, so North Slope Animal Control stepped in, using a sled to remove the seal. Bailey said animals such as musk ox, caribou and polar bears are common on the runway, but the seal was a first.

• About two dozen car owners in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Snellville, Ga., were perturbed in late October by what they thought was vandalism: Their cars' side mirrors were being shattered, even in broad daylight. Finally, according to WSB-TV, one resident caught the real perpetrator: a pileated woodpecker who apparently believes his reflection in the mirrors is a rival. Because pileated woodpeckers are a protected species, neighbors had to get creative with their solution. They are now placing plastic bags over their side mirrors while the cars are parked.

Undignified Death
Nathan William Parris, 72, met his unfortunate end when a cow he was trying to move turned against him at his farm in Floyd County, Ga., on Oct. 25. Parris was pinned against a fence by the recalcitrant cow, reported the Rome News-Tribune, which caused him severe chest trauma. First responders tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at the Redmond Regional Medical Center emergency room.

Workers at a Carl's Jr. in Santa Rosa, Calif., were busy filling an order for 165 Super Star burgers for first responders to the Fountaingrove area wildfires on Oct. 26 when a grease fire broke out in the restaurant. The fire started in the char broiler and then jumped to the exhaust system. Franchise co-owner Greg Funkhouser told The Press-Democrat the building was "completely torn up. ... We made it through the big one, only to get taken out by this." When the person who placed the order arrived to pick it up, he saw six Santa Rosa Fire Department trucks in the parking lot and left, so Funkhouser handed out free burgers to "anyone around."

• A Henrietta, N.Y., gifts and oddities store earned its name on Oct. 24 when a garbage truck rolled between two gas pumps and across a road to crash into the 200-year-old building where the store had opened in June. Jeri Flack, owner of A Beautiful Mess, told WHAM-TV that her building is "wrecked in the front so bad that I can't open back up." Witnesses say the truck driver pulled into a spot at a Sunoco station across the street and got out to use the restroom. That's when the truck rolled away and barreled into the business. Sunoco employee T.J. Rauber said, "I see a lot of crazy stuff up here, but I ain't never seen nothing like that."

Least Competent Criminal
Burglary suspect and career criminal Shane Paul Owen, 46, of South Salt Lake, Utah, was on the run from police on Oct. 24 when he dashed into a vacant church. A Salt Lake City SWAT team held a standoff at the church for more than six hours—until Owen called 911 to say that he was locked in the church's boiler room and couldn't get out. "Can you hurry?" he asked the dispatcher. "I need to talk to them first so they don't ... shoot me," Owen pleaded. The Deseret News reported he was booked on outstanding warrants for retaliation against a witness, drug distribution and identity fraud.

Two doctors from the University of Florence in Italy have documented the case of a woman who has been sweating blood from her face and the palms of her hands for about three years. Roberto Maglie and Marzia Caproni wrote in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that the unnamed Italian woman couldn't identify a trigger for the bleeding, but said times of stress would intensify it for periods of from one to five minutes. After ruling out the possibility that she was faking it, the doctors diagnosed her with hematohidrosis, a rare disease that causes blood to be excreted through the pores. They were able to treat her, but couldn't completely stop the bleeding. The cause remains a mystery.

Thinning the Herd
In Paris, a 21-year-old "train surfer" was killed on Oct. 24 when he fell to the train tracks after hitting an overhead obstacle. His two friends, who were riding atop a train on Metro Line 6 with him, ran away from the scene, according to The Sun. The three had been attempting the stunt at the Bir-Hakeim Bridge during rush hour. The unnamed victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anger Management?
Katarian Marshall, 24, of New Orleans, La., apparently hit her limit of "fun" at a Chuck E. Cheese in Metairie on Oct. 29 and began "indiscriminately" spraying pepper spray on nearby patrons during an altercation that got out of hand. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office told The Times-Picayune that five adults and two children were treated for exposure to the spray at the scene. Marshall was charged with disturbing the peace by fighting.

Model Parent
Amber L. Schmunk, 28, of Fredonia, Wis., put all her resources to work in concocting a way to get a plastic kiddie pool from one house to another on Sept. 9. Her solution: She had her 9-year-old son climb on top of her minivan and hold down the pool as she drove through Saukville. She must have had second thoughts, though, because according to the Ozaukee Press, she told police the boy was up there for only 20 to 30 seconds before she pulled over and wedged the pool into the back of the minivan. Schmunk said she thought it would be OK for her son to ride atop the car because her father had allowed her to do similar things when she was a child. But officers disagreed, charging her with second-degree recklessly endangering safety.

Justice With a Side of Vocabulary
Daren Young, 30, of Kahului, Hawaii, will need a good dictionary and thesaurus for the task ahead of him. On Oct. 27, Second Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo sentenced Young, who violated a protection order taken out by his ex-girlfriend to the tune of 144 calls and texts, to write down 144 nice things about his ex—without repeating any words. "For every nasty thing you said about her, you're going to say a nice thing," Loo commanded. The Maui News reported that Loo also meted out two years' probation, a $2,400 fine and 200 hours of community service.

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