News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

LEAD STORY -- Home of Your Dreams

The house for sale at 43 Courthouse Drive in Guildhall, Vermont, has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, an updated kitchen and seven jail cells, complete with barred windows, toilets and cots. United Press International reported that the property, listed for $149,000, used to serve as the Essex County jail, with the jailer's quarters attached to the back of the house. Out of use since 1969, the cells are now covered in dust and, according to the listing, just waiting for a creative buyer to "bring ... ideas on what this 28-foot-by-40-foot wing could be!" [United Press International, 12/30/2020]

Names in the News

When the car Jethro Geneus, 30, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, was riding in was pulled over by police in the early morning of Jan. 4, he told the officer the bags of brown and white substances found in his backpack were baking supplies -- "sugar and a bag of cornstarch to bake a cake," according to police. Geneus, who had an outstanding warrant, was taken into custody, WPEC reported, and the contents of both bags tested positive for molly or ecstasy. At the jail, Geneus dropped another bag of white powder, which tested positive for meth. He was charged with trafficking phenethylamines. [WPEC, 1/4/2021]

Unsocial Media

Caleb Burczyk, 29, of Williston, North Dakota, was arrested and charged with burglary and terrorizing on Dec. 26 for kicking in the front door of a former co-worker's home after the man apparently failed to answer Burczyk's Facebook friend requests, according to court documents. "Accept my friend request or I'm going to murder you," read one message, according to the affidavit, and another message said Burczyk would "come at" Thomas if he didn't accept. The Smoking Gun reported Burczyk pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for an April appearance in District Court. [The Smoking Gun, 12/31/2020]

Compelling Explanations

Holly Venderley, 20, of Bloomington, Indiana, told park rangers that she knew Mount Rushmore National Memorial was closed, and she knew she wasn't allowed to climb the South Dakota monument -- which is why she did it at night. The Rapid City Journal reported that a ranger monitoring security cameras saw a flashlight's beam moving along the slope of broken rocks just beneath George Washington on Jan. 3 and ran to the area, where he saw Venderley climbing to the base of Washington's lapel, about 200 feet up. The ranger demanded she get down, which she did. Venderley was sober and cooperative, and the next day she was fined $1,250 after pleading guilty to climbing the monument in federal court. [Rapid City Journal, 1/4/2021]

Government in Action

Massachusetts already has an official fossil, reported NECN-TV, and now state Rep. Jack Lewis, of Framingham, is proposing the selection of a state dinosaur as well. "With so much uncertainty in our world today, can you think of a better way to help kids (and those young at heart) learn about the legislative process than (by) naming an official Massachusetts State Dinosaur?" he wrote on Twitter on Jan. 4. Lewis posted links to an online survey where citizens can choose the species they'd like to represent them and said it got 150 votes in the first two hours. [NECN, 1/4/2021]

Questionable Judgment

Cam Faust and Kevin Joiner weren't sure at first how to react when, during a fishing trip on Jan. 3 near Darwin, Australia, they "heard this faint like 'ahhh ahhh,'" Faust told 9News, and found a naked man clinging to branches in the mangrove forest, filthy and covered with bug bites. Luke Voskresensky, 40, told them he'd gotten lost on his way to a New Year's Eve party a few days earlier and had been eating snails to stay alive. Faust and Joiner offered him a cold beer and a ride back to town where they found out the real reason Voskresensky was stranded in the croc-infested waters: He had been arrested for armed robbery and fitted with an ankle monitor, which he had broken before escaping bail. "I was going to go visit him in hospital," Faust said, but a paramedic said "'he's in hospital with handcuffs on, two cops babysitting him' so ... maybe we'll leave it." [9News, 1/5/2021]

Creme de la Weird

Ending a dispute that began in 2014, Judge Luo Shengli of the Beijing Xicheng District People's Court ruled in late December that a man identified only as Tian and his family must leave the hospital room they had been squatting in for six years. Tian had undergone a medical procedure at the hospital and spent a few days recovering there, accompanied by his family, but at discharge, Tian disputed the hospital's bill and refused to leave, Oddity Central reported. Tian's parents settled in with him, bringing pots and pans, groceries and other personal items from home. Over the years, the hospital took the family to court on multiple occasions and in 2019 even waived its fees in an effort to expel them, but the family countersued. In his ruling, the judge found the family was entitled to compensation of about $73,000, which they accepted, and they were taken home in a hospital ambulance. [Oddity Central, 1/5/2021]

Bright Idea

Thomas Dodd, 30, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, England, got into his cups over the Christmas holiday and was watching Celine Dion concerts on YouTube when he had a brainstorm: He would pay the 89 pounds to officially change his name to Celine Dion. Dodd forgot all about it until the papers arrived in the mail on Dec. 30, Metro News reported. "I wish I knew what happened, but it was a hazy night," Dodd/Dion said. He admits being concerned about the reaction he'll get at work, and says his mother isn't too pleased, but "if it gives people a laugh this year, then I don't care. I think we could all do with a laugh after the year we've just had." [Metro News, 1/1/2021]

Ironies

Twitter users were quick to point out the irony after a picture was posted of an unidentified man arrested in Peshawar, Pakistan, on New Year's Eve for wearing a mask during the pandemic. The man had been terrorizing people by riding through the city on his motorcycle while wearing a werewolf mask and roaring, The Independent reported. At least one commenter saw the silver lining: "People get scared of the dude and don't come out on new year during COVID times, everyone stays safe. Isn't this a good thing?" [The Independent, 1/1/2021]

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