News of the Weird

LEAD STORY -- Traditions

The 72nd annual Yellville (Arkansas) Turkey Trot, which took place on Oct. 14, is famous for its Turkey Drop, in which live turkeys are dropped from a low-flying airplane and then chased by festivalgoers. This year, KY3.com reports, several turkeys were dropped during the afternoon despite animal-rights activists having filed a formal complaint with the sheriff's office, saying the pilot "terrorized" the birds. But pharmacist and past pilot Dana Woods told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: "We treat the turkeys right. That may sound ironic, but we don't abuse those turkeys. We coddle and pet those turkeys. We're good to them." Wild turkeys can fly, but in 2016, about a dozen turkeys were dropped and not all survived the fall. According to The Washington Post, over the past several years, local sponsors and the chamber of commerce have distanced themselves from the Turkey Drop, now more than five decades old. The Federal Aviation Administration is checking to see if any laws or regulations were broken, but said it has not intervened in past years because the turkeys are not considered to be projectiles. [KY3.com, 10/15/2017; Washington Post, 10/13/2017]

'Tis the Season

Could turkeys be sensing the peril of the season? Police in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, tweeted a warning to the town's residents on Oct. 15 about aggressive wild turkeys, WBZ-TV reported. As proof, an accompanying video showed four turkeys chasing a Bridgewater police cruiser, but police were not as amused as their Twitter followers. "Aggressive turkeys are a problem in town," the department tweeted. "State law doesn't allow the police or (animal control) to remove them." [WBZ-TV, 10/17/2017]

Update

In 1990, Marlene Warren, 40, answered her door in Wellington, Florida, and was shot in the face by a clown bearing balloons (one of which read "You're the greatest!") and flowers. On Sept. 26, Palm Beach County Sgt. Richard McAfee announced that Warren's widower's current wife, Sheila Keen Warren, 54, had been arrested for the murder, 27 years after the fact, and taken into custody in Abingdon, Virginia. Sheila Keen married Michael Warren in 2002, NBC News reported. (Warren went to prison in 1994 for odometer tampering, grand theft and racketeering in connection with his car rental agency.) Sheila had worked for him, repossessing cars, and they were reportedly having an affair when the murder took place. While Sheila had always been a suspect, new technology finally allowed prosecutors to retest DNA evidence and build a case against her. [NBC News, 9/27/2017]

Sex Therapy

Zookeepers believe China's 4-year-old giant panda Meng Meng, currently on loan to the Berlin Zoo, displays her displeasure with her surroundings, food or caretakers by walking backward. "Meng Meng is in puberty," zoo director Andreas Knieriem explained to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Oct. 22. "The reverse walk is a protest." To address the situation, zookeepers will introduce Meng Meng to Jiao Qing, a male giant panda three years older, who presumably will ease her frustration by engaging in sexual activity with her. [Reuters, 10/22/2017]

Lucky!

Kenyans Gilbert Kipleting Chumba and David Kiprono Metto were among the favorites to win the Venice Marathon on Oct. 22. Instead, Eyob Ghebrehiwet Faniel, 25, a local running in only his second marathon, took the prize after the lead runners were led several hundred meters off-course by an errant guide motorcycle. Faniel is the first Italian man to win the Venice Marathon in 22 years. "Today's race shows that the work is paying off," Faniel said following his victory. Uh, sure. [NPR, 10/23/2017]

Most Considerate Criminal

Nelly's Taqueria in Hicksville, New York, suffered a break-in on Oct. 3, but the burglar redefined the term "clean getaway." Surveillance video showed a man donning food-service gloves and starting a pot of water to boil before hammering open the cash register. He secured $100 in his pockets, leaving a dollar in the tip jar, then started "cooking up a storm," owner Will Colon told Newsday. Cameras recorded as the thief cooked beans, sauteed shrimp and chicken, and helped himself to a cold soda before enjoying his meal standing up. "The way he handled that pan, man, the dude had some skills," Colon said. Afterward, he carefully stored the leftovers in the refrigerator, cleaned his pans and wiped down all the surfaces he had used. Then he took off through the back window, the same way he had come in. [Newsday, 10/4/2017]

People Different From Us

-- In Lissone, Italy, 40-year-old fitness instructor Laura Mesi made news when she married herself in late September. "I told my relatives and friends that if I had not found my soul mate, I would marry myself by my 40th birthday," Mesi said, according to The Independent. She spent more than 10,000 euros ($11,700) for the occasion, which included a white wedding dress, a three-tiered cake, bridesmaids and 70 guests. Mesi is part of a self-marrying movement dubbed "sologamy" that has followers all over the world. Her marriage holds no legal significance. "If tomorrow I find a man to build a future with, I will be happy, but my happiness will not depend on him," Mesi declared. [The Independent, 9/27/2017]

-- An anonymous collector from Palm Beach, Florida, was the winning bidder in an Oct. 11 online auction for a half-smoked cigar that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill enjoyed during a 1947 trip to Paris. AP reports the 4-inch cigar remnant brought just over $12,000 in the auction managed by Boston-based RR Auction. The company says Churchill smoked the cigar on May 11, 1947, at Le Bourget Airport. A British airman, Cpl. William Alan Turner, kept the cigar after he and his crew flew Churchill and his wife between Paris and London. The label on the Cuban stogie includes Churchill's name. [Associated Press, 10/12/2017]

Least Competent Criminal

Greensburg, Pennsylvania, police made a traffic stop on Oct. 19 and found drug paraphernalia in plain sight on the car's front seat. When police asked where the occupants had obtained the heroin found in the center console, they said they had bought it from someone named Cody in the maternity ward at the Excela Health Westmoreland hospital in Greensburg. Officers arrested Cody R. Hulse, 25, at the hospital after he admitted to possessing and selling heroin just feet away from his newborn daughter. The Tribune-Review reported that police found 34 stamp bags of heroin, four empty bags and multiple hypodermic needles in Hulse's possession. "I have an issue myself with drugs ... heroin," Hulse told them. "I really didn't want to bring it in." Hulse's girlfriend, the mother of the newborn, said she did not know he was selling drugs from the room. [Tribune-Review, 10/20/2017]

Crime Report

Coroner's pathologist Elmo A. Griggs, 75, was arrested Sept. 12 in Morgan County, Indiana, for drunken driving, but it was what was rolling around in the back of his pickup truck that caught officers' attention. Along with a half-empty vodka bottle, Griggs was transporting several labeled totes, according to the Indianapolis Star, containing organic material. Marshal Bradley K. Shaw of the Brooklyn Police Department said early investigations showed the totes contained brain and liver samples. Griggs' wife posted on Facebook that he "had a bad day and had a couple of drinks before driving home," but court documents revealed he failed all field sobriety tests. [Indianapolis Star, 9/13/2017]

It's Good to Have Goals

Alysha Orrok of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, will head to Las Vegas in February to compete for the $10,000 prize in the National Grocers Association 2018 Best Bagger contest, reports The New York Times. Orrok, who recently won the New Hampshire competition, is a teacher who moonlights at a Hannaford Supermarket. Competitors are judged on multiple skills, including speed, weight distribution, appearance and technique. [New York Times, 10/13/2017]

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