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Newsquirks | 2007’s Oddest


The surging war, sagging economy and early-bird presidential races dominated headlines this year, but plenty of news fell between the headlines. In the world of fashion, for instance, the big stories were pants judge L. Roy Pearson and diaper astronaut Lisa Nowack. In case you missed these or other odd-news dispatches, here are 2007’s oddest.

Curses, Foiled Again
Four men surrounded a man in a parking lot in Sumter, S.C., and threatened him with a poisonous snake. They fled before harming the victim, however, after the snake bit one of them.

• After burglarizing the home of a deputy sheriff in Merced County, Calif., Marcus Schulze, 30, and Tasha Silva, 30, stole his pickup truck to haul the loot. While fleeing, they pulled over to have sex. They were unable to resume their getaway before the law caught up to them, however, because they left the truck idling during sex, and it ran out of gas.

• Vincent Carl Schettner, 63, became the prime suspect in the theft of thousands of dollars from parking meters in St. Paul, Minn., after arousing bank tellers’ suspicions by making weekly deposits of $1,000 to $1,200—always in quarters and dollar coins.

• When a man demanded $5,000 from a bank teller in Peterborough, Ontario, she informed him she could give him only $200 and that he’d have to pay a $5 transaction fee because he wasn’t a regular customer. The teller filled out the paperwork and handed him $195.

Ultimate Fans
The Milwaukee Brewers offered two free tickets to any man who underwent a rectal exam for prostate cancer before a May 8 game. One Website reported that 420 fans showed up for the “free and confidential” exams at a mobile clinic outside Miller Park.

When Guns Are Outlawed
A 27-year-old man broke into a home in Uniondale, N.Y., and beat the homeowner with a karaoke machine, while the 64-year-old victim tried to defend himself with a vacuum cleaner hose.

My Bad
Amanda Lee McDaniel, 23, told sheriff’s investigators she broke into a neighboring home in Lane County, Ore., and set fire to it because she thought one of the neighbors had stolen her keys. While McDaniel hid in bushes across the street watching the fire, she found the keys in the pocket of the pants she was wearing.

Mistaken Identity
After receiving a call from a 39-year-old man saying he had just tried to perform CPR on a dead woman, sheriff’s deputies in Hilton Head Island, S.C., discovered that the woman was actually a large bale of pine straw.

Anger Mismanagement
When a scheduling conflict resulted in judges Jerry Patterson and Rhonda K. Wood showing up to use the same courtroom in Marshall, Ark., the two began shouting at each other, then threatened each other with contempt citations, arrest and possible jail time. A state trooper was dispatched to restore order.

• An unidentified man who ordered goat at a butcher shop in Fairfax County, Va., but was given chicken became so upset that he stepped behind the counter and cut off his own hand.

• Alicia Vigil, 33, of East Rockaway, N.Y., was arrested after slamming a metal folding chair across the face of her daughter’s soccer coach. The woman reportedly became angry because the coach e-mailed what she felt were bad driving directions to a game.

How About Noxious Exhaust Fumes They Can Smell?
Pointing out that the quiet electric motors of hybrid motor vehicles pose a threat to blind pedestrians, who rely on sound to cross streets safely, the National Federation of the Blind proposed requiring all hybrids to make a sound loud enough to be heard over other ambient noise.

Homeland Insecurity
Officials detained an Iraqi national who tried to pass through security at Los Angeles International Airport with a half-inch magnet hidden inside his rectum. New Jersey resident Fadhel al-Maliki, 35, explained that the magnet, which was wrapped with a piece of gum in a napkin and then coiled with wire, and a round, polished stone also found in his rectum have therapeutic properties.

• After conducting a six-month investigation, three lawmakers in Dover, N.J., warned of a serious threat from the town’s more than 100 unlicensed coin-operated machines filled with gumballs, jawbreakers and other candies. Aldermen Frank Poolas, Jack Delaney and Michael Picciallo insisted the sweets are perfect weapons for potential terrorists, who could poison them to target the town’s children. The concerned trio proposed gumball-machine registration to identify the source of the candy.

Space-Age Medicine
Brent and Stacey Finley admitted bilking friends and family out of $873,786.94 by convincing them that she was a government agent who could arrange to have their medical problems diagnosed by satellite imaging. The couple assured their victims that if any problems did show up, secret agents would administer medicine to them while they slept.

Compiled from the nation’s press by Roland Sweet. Submit items, citing date and source, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.