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News » News of the Weird

While You Were Sleeping

Perplexing people, kooky crimes and odd headlines from around the globe.



While You Were Sleeping
As the medal ceremony for the men's 1,000-meter speedskating competition concluded on Feb. 23 at the Gangneung Oval in Pyeongchang, South Korea, "serial streaker" Mark Roberts, 55, of Liverpool, England, jumped the wall and took to the ice. Roberts peeled off his tracksuit to reveal a pink tutu, a "penis pouch" with a monkey face on it, and "Peace + Love" scrawled on his torso. Although he might have lost points for an initial fall, he jumped up and continued performing a dance routine. Metro News recounts that Roberts has streaked at Wimbledon, the French Open and soccer matches, along with dog shows and other large events. He "retired" in 2013, saying "gravity's against me," but apparently he couldn't resist the global exposure of the Olympics.

As the 2018 Winter Olympics got underway, and athletes from Russia were forced to compete under the Olympic flag and be designated as "Olympic Athletes from Russia" (OAR) as punishment for systemic doping at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva proudly wore a T-shirt that read "I Don't Do Doping." But on Feb. 23, Sergeeva became the second Russian athlete to fail a doping test. (Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky also failed a drug test earlier in the Games.) Sergeeva was a vocal critic of the Olympic policy toward Russian athletes, telling Yahoo Sports, "If we are here, and we are clean, we should be able to walk under our flag."

Suspicions Confirmed
District Judge Joseph Boeckmann, 72, took a personal interest in the young men who came through his courtrooms in Cross and St. Francis counties (Ark.) from 2009-2015 with traffic citations or misdemeanor criminal charges. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Judge Boeckmann routinely dismissed those charges pending "community service," which Boeckmann would set up through private phone calls with the men, assigning them to provide sexual favors or allow Judge Boeckmann to take pictures of them in "embarrassing positions; positions that he found sexually gratifying," a court document revealed. Boeckmann, of Wynne, Ark., admitted to the charges in October and was sentenced Feb. 21 to five years in prison. Prosecutors had agreed to a lesser sentence in light of Boeckmann's age, but U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ordered the maximum sentence, saying, "he acted corruptly while serving as a judge. That sets his crime apart."

Unclear on the Concept
Washington State University senior Logan Tago, a football linebacker, received WSU's Center for Civic Engagement Fall 2017 Community Involvement award on Feb. 1 for 240 hours of service to the local community, the WSU Daily Evergreen reported—service he was ordered to give as a stipulation of his sentencing in January 2017 for third-degree assault. In June 2016, The Seattle Times reported Tago allegedly hit a man with a six-pack of beer and later agreed to a plea deal that called for 30 days in the Whitman County Jail, $800 in fines—and exactly 240 hours of community service. Tago managed to play the final two games of the 2016 season and in all of 2017's 13 games, despite a WSU athletic department policy that prohibits players who are facing a felony charge from playing.

Compelling Explanations
On Feb. 9, the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals upheld the four-year prison sentence Ralph Alfred Friesenhahn, 65, of San Antonio received after his fourth DWI conviction in 2016, rejecting arguments from his lawyer, Gina Jones of New Braunfels, that the state's legal limit for alcohol concentration discriminates against alcoholics, who have a higher tolerance for liquor. "You're not being punished for being an alcoholic," Sammy McCrary, chief of the felony division for the Comal County criminal district attorney's office told the Austin American-Statesman. "It's the driving that's the problem."

Special Delivery
At the beginning of February, several residents along a block in Marina, Calif., were hit by mail thieves. But the criminals probably didn't know what hit them when they stole Rosalinda Vizina's package. Sfgate.com reported that Vizina, an entomologist, had ordered 500 live cockroaches for a study she's working on. "I feel a little bad for the roaches in case they got smushed or tossed or something like that," Vizina told KSBW. "For the thieves, I hope they went everywhere," she added.

On Feb. 20, little Jameson Proctor was born in St. Louis and a radio audience listened in as he came into the world. Cassiday Proctor, co-host of the "Spencer's Neighborhood" show on The Arch in St. Louis, scheduled her C-section right in the middle of drive time and then invited listeners to share the moment when Jameson was born, at 7:45 a.m., through a broadcast phone call. "Our radio show is all about sharing our personal lives," Proctor, 33, told The Telegraph. She also solicited ideas for names from her fans and received more than 400 submissions. "It was not something I wanted to keep private," Proctor said.

The mining town of Kurri Kurri, Australia, cut loose on Feb. 24 with a new festival to draw visitors: Mullet Fest, a celebration of the infamous hairstyle and those who wear it. Local hairdresser Laura Johnson came up with the idea, which included contests (Junior Mullet and Ladies' Mullet categories, and so forth) and bands (the Stunned Mullets from Karuah). Winner of the junior division prize, Alex Keavy, 12, told The Guardian: "It's not a hairstyle, it's a lifestyle." He pledged to use his $50 prize to buy his girlfriend a pie. More than 180 contestants competed for Best Mullet of Them All. Meryl Swanson, the local Labor MP and a contest judge, said she was "looking for pride, people embracing the mullet, finding self-worth in it."

Can't Possibly Be True
A designer pop-up store in Seattle made news on Feb. 22 for one particular item: a clear plastic, drawstring shopping bag that sells for—wait for it—$590. United Press International reported the bag was first seen on Paris runways in January and sports the Celine Paris label along with warnings in several languages about the suffocation risk posed to babies.

Close Call
Flemington, N.J., cemetery worker Peter Ferencze, 59, was digging a grave at Hanover Cemetery on Feb. 20 when the 800-pound lid of a concrete burial vault fell on top of him, pinning him in the grave. Ferencze was treated and released from Morristown Medical Center after police and other first responders managed to lift the cover with straps, giving Ferencze enough space to squeeze out, the Morristown Daily Record reported.

Bright Ideas
Christina C. Ochoa of Wichita, Kan., and her mom, Christy L. Ochoa, explained to The Wichita Eagle that more than 50 $5 withdrawals Christina made from a Central National Bank ATM during a five-day period in mid-January were for a "money cake" she was making as a gift for someone. But the bank says the faulty ATM was dispensing $100 bills instead of $5 bills, and that Christina received $14,120 instead of $1,485. In a Jan. 22 lawsuit, the bank seeks $11,607.36, plus interest, it says is owed by Christina. The bank is also trying to seize two cars the Ochoas bought during the same period, claiming that the $3,000 down payment for one of them was made up entirely of $100 bills.

• In Boston, trolley driver Thomas Lucey, 46, of Saugus, Mass., was indicted Feb. 21 for paying a man $2,000 to attack him while he was on the job on Oct. 30, 2016, so that Lucey could collect workers' compensation and disability insurance. The "attacker" wore a Halloween mask and carried a plastic pumpkin, from which police obtained fingerprints used to identify him and unravel the scheme, according to The Boston Globe. A grand jury in Suffolk County brought charges of insurance fraud, workers' compensation fraud, misleading a police investigation and perjury.

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