This week in odd news: Expensive mistake and meatball theft
BY RICHARD A. SOMMA
Mar. 03, 2018
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — Researchers studying invasive Burmese pythons in Florida came upon something they'd never seen before: an 11-foot-long python had consumed an entire deer that weighed more than the snake itself.
The wildlife biologists tracking the slithery creatures stumbled upon bloated snake in Collier Seminole State Park, and when they moved the creature it began regurgitating a white-tailed deer fawn.
Biologist Ian Bartoszek told the Naples Daily News that the fawn weighed 35 pounds; the snake 31.5.
"We were sitting there just trying to process that an animal this size could get its head around what turned out to be a deer," Bartoszek said. "It's surreal to see that in the field."
Bartoszek said it was the largest python-to-prey weight difference he had measured.
Burmese pythons, which can grow nearly 20-feet long, were brought to South Florida as pets in the late 1970s. They were released into the wild, and have become a problematic invasive species.
White-tailed deer are an important food source for Florida's endangered panthers, so the researchers are concerned the pervasive snakes could also impact the health of the big cats.
If the snake had been left in the wild, it would have digested the entire deer, Bartoszek said.
He called the predator-to-prey size ratio stunned his team.
"It showed my team and myself what we were actually dealing with out there, what this python is capable of," he told the newspaper.
OSSIPEE, N.H. (AP) — Police say a New Hampshire man is facing charges for using a front-end loader to push a pickup truck down a highway in the town of Ossipee.
Officials say a family dispute boiled over when 55-year-old Edward Evans used his company's construction equipment to flip the truck on its side and push it 1,000 feet down Route 16.
He deposited it at an auto repair shop.
Ossipee Police Sgt. Anthony Castaldo said the incident started with a report of an assault on Feb. 22. Evans faces charges including assault and reckless operation.
Evans is free on $5,000 personal recognizance bail. He said Saturday from his Wolfeboro home that it "wouldn't be a good idea" to comment on pending criminal charges.
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A tractor-trailer driver transporting privately owned luxury cars may have made an expensive mistake when he got trapped under a Delaware overpass.
The News Journal cites a Wilmington police report that says the driver erroneously thought he could clear the bridge Wednesday, but got stuck. The damage extended to several of the Porsches, Maseratis, Bentleys and other cars that were being transported in an enclosed, climate-controlled environment from Florida to Delaware.
Authorities say the roadway was blocked for nine hours, until police and a towing company were able to partially disassemble the trailer to free it. The overpass did not sustain any damage.
The driver was cited for inattentive driving.
RED FACED: MAN WITH SAUCE ON HIS FACE AND CLOTHES CHARGED WITH MEATBALL THEFT
HAZLE TOWNSHIP, Pa. (AP) — Police say a damning clue led to the arrest of a Pennsylvania man charged with stealing a pot of meatballs — red sauce smeared on his face and clothes.
Authorities in Luzerne County have charged 48-year-old Leahman Glenn Robert Potter with burglary, criminal trespass and theft by unlawful taking for allegedly swiping a pot of meatballs from a man's garage on Monday.
Police say the victim reported his meatballs missing and told officers at around 2:30 p.m. Monday that he saw Potter standing in front of his house with red sauce on his face and clothes. The pot was found on the street.
It's unclear if Potter washed the sauce off before he was arrested a short time later.
Potter's attorney did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment.
GLOUCESTER COUNTY, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man who got drunk in West Virginia and mistakenly ordered a $1,635 Uber ride back to his home state says the experience was "crazy."
Nj.com on Wednesday reported that Kenny Bachman thought he was taking an Uber to where he was staying near West Virginia University's campus.
But when his driver woke him up two hours into the more than 300-mile journey to New Jersey, Bachman says he didn't know what was happening or who the driver was.
The trip was made more expensive because Bachman gave the driver money for tolls and ordered an UberXL, which can hold up to six passengers.
He says he tried to challenge the fare with Uber but ended up paying it.
Bachman gave his driver five stars.
STANDISH, Maine (AP) — A Maine man has been arrested for the second time in a year on charges he led police on a chase in a stolen U-Haul truck.
The Portland Press Herald reports a Cumberland County Sheriff's deputy tried to stop a U-Haul driven at high speeds by 41-year-old William Wyman in Standish Sunday night. Police say Wyman and the stolen truck were later found.
Authorities say the Portland man had minor injuries and the vehicle sustained minor damage.
Wyman faces multiple charges including theft of a motor vehicle and failure to stop for a police officer. He is being held on bail.
He was previously charged with eluding officers and reckless conduct after police say he crashed into two vehicles last Halloween while driving a stolen U-Haul truck before he was apprehended.
GREEN BAY, Va. (AP) — A set of identical twin sisters will fulfill their dream when they marry a set of identical twin brothers in a joint wedding this summer.
The Lynchburg News & Advance reports Jeremy and Josh Salyers proposed to Briana and Brittany Deane on Feb. 2 at Virginia's aptly named Twin Lakes State Park. The engagements came six months after the pairs met at the Twin Days Festival, which bills itself as the world's largest annual gathering of twins and other multiples, in Twinsburg, Ohio.
The 31-year-old Deanes had visited the festival, which Brittany calls "a magical place," since their first year of law school, the first time they had been apart. The Salyers made their first festival visit in 2017 and "lucked out on (their) first attempt," as Josh puts it.
PHOENIX (AP) — Two shoplifting suspects running from police scaled a fence to get away from officers and landed in a secure parking lot of a police station — and in custody.
Officials tell KTAR-FM that officers were called to a gas station for possible shoplifting at 6 p.m. Friday. Authorities say as officers arrived, the suspects, 28-year-old Marwan Al Ebadi and 29-year-old Salma Hourieh, took off running.
The pair ran along the side of a building and jumped a fence, despite a sign for "Peoria Police" above the door.
Security video shows Hourieh trying to hide under a bench before being placed in custody. Al Ebadi climbed back over the fence and was arrested on the street.
Al Ebadi and Hourieh face charges of shoplifting, trespassing in a critical public safety building and drug charges.
It wasn't immediately known if either is represented by a lawyer.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — The judges, deputies and clerks showed up for court, but one key element was missing: No one had invited any jurors.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that North Carolina's fourth-largest county failed to mail notices to the 1,700 or so prospective jurors needed to hear cases this week.
After no one showed up for jury duty Monday, Forsyth County officials made a plea through local television station WXII for any volunteers willing to fulfill their civic duty.
But only 19 people showed up Tuesday. One judge in the county of 370,000 residents even sent deputies to a mall to seek volunteers, but found no other takers.
"We don't have enough jurors," Judge Stuart Albright said in court Tuesday afternoon before dismissing the few who had shown up.
New notices were sent asking hundreds of prospective jurors to be there Thursday, while other trials were postponed until next week.
Normally, a county printing office makes the notices and sends them. That happens after a jury clerk determines how many prospective panelists are needed and uses a system to select them at random, Forsyth County Clerk of Court Susan Frye said in an email.
But this time, the notices weren't mailed because of an error by someone in the county print shop, said Kirby Robinson, the county's property manager.
"It's an unfortunate thing, and we sincerely apologize to the people who were inconvenienced," he told the newspaper.
Frye said this is the only time this kind of error has happened during her eight years as clerk of court. She said she's working with the county to ensure the mistake "does not occur again."
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Elvis Presley is officially running for a congressional seat in Arkansas. But don't confuse him with the rock 'n' roll icon, unless he's performing.
Elvis D. Presley performs shows as the late superstar Elvis A. Presley, but he's also now filed to run as the Libertarian nominee challenging Arkansas Republican Rep. Rick Crawford.
Both men filed paperwork Monday to run for the 1st Congressional District in eastern Arkansas. Crawford has represented the area for four terms.
Presley has previously run for Arkansas governor, land commissioner and the state Legislature. The Libertarian Party selected its nominees at a convention over the weekend.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a drunken man rode his horse onto a California freeway.
Los Angeles news station KABC-TV reports that the California Highway Patrol stopped the man early Saturday on State Route 91 in Long Beach.
Officers administered field sobriety tests, which registered blood-alcohol levels of 0.21 percent and 0.19 percent — more than double the legal limit.
The man was arrested and booked for riding a horse while under the influence. The white horse, Guera, wasn't hurt and was released to the man's mother.
The California Highway Patrol offered a message to the public on Twitter: "No, you may not ride your horse on the freeway, and certainly not while intoxicated."
BUCKSPORT, Maine (AP) — Two Maine friars say they are closing down their iconic bakery to open up a brewery.
The Bangor Daily News reports Friar's Bakehouse in Bangor will close Friday after more than 18 years. Franciscan Brothers Donald Paul and Kenneth Leo say they plan to open their new venture, the Friar's Brewhouse Tap Room, this month.
The brew house will be located in Bucksport, much closer to the brothers' monastery. Paul says the 40-minute commute to Bangor was a big strain for the two.
The two began selling their homebrew beer in 2013, and had been considering opening a separate business to highlight their brews for the past six years.
FRANKLIN, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit business is offering a treat for those who have had their driving disrupted by potholes in recent weeks.
The Detroit Free Press reports Farmhouse Coffee & Ice Cream in Franklin is offering a free scoop of Ashby Sterling Ice Cream's "Michigan Pothole" for those who have replaced a tire or fixed other damage due to a pothole.
The newspaper says to get a scoop bring in a receipt from Feb. 1 and beyond detailing the repair. The promotion runs until March 25. The ice cream flavor is described as "thick black tar fudge and chocolate ice cream with chunky chocolate cookie asphalt pieces."
Road crews in Michigan have stepped up efforts to patch potholes that have become damaging and dangerous amid fluctuating winter temperatures.
HUDSON FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — Police in upstate New York say a woman charged with theft took a shower before speaking with authorities in an attempt to make it seem like she hadn't robbed someone.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office says the 29-year-old woman got a ride to her home in Hudson Falls by another woman she did not know Thursday afternoon. Kingsbury police say the woman stole the victim's purse after a struggle and fled to her home on foot.
Responding officers say they followed the suspect's footprints to her home, where police say she had taken a shower to attempt to throw off police. The purse was recovered at the suspect's home and she was arrested.
The woman faces robbery and larceny charges.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Legislature has approved a bill to effectively ban the practice of eyeball tattooing.
The measure comes after a flurry of news reports last fall about a Canadian model who had major complications from getting her eyes tattooed purple.
Under the Indiana proposal, tattooists would be prohibited from coloring the whites of an individual's eyes. An exception would be made for procedures done by licensed health care professionals. The bill imposes a fine of up to $10,000 per violation.
The bill is sponsored by Republican Sen. John Ruckelshaus of Indianapolis. He says he's not aware of any problems in Indiana. Oklahoma is the only other state with a similar law.
The legislation was sent to Gov. Eric Holcomb's desk on Thursday following an 82-11 House vote. It was previously approved by the Senate.
HONOLULU (AP) — A 64-year-old bandit who said during his sentencing that he views robbing banks as "going to work" must spend more than 15 years in federal prison.
Wallace Silva went on a crime spree that included robbing 10 Hawaii banks of about $30,000 in 2016, U.S. prosecutors said Monday.
In a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to four robberies and must pay restitution for all 10 holdups.
Silva was sentenced in 1997 to about nine years for robbing a bank. Five days after completing that sentence, he began robbing more banks and was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison in 2007 for four holdups, prosecutors say.
Four months after completing that sentence, he committed the robberies for which he was sentenced this month.
He said during his hearing that robbing banks was like "going to work."
During some of the 2016 robberies, he gave the teller a note saying he had a weapon and demanded cash. "I don't want to take it out," he told one teller about a weapon, according to his plea agreement.
The court document doesn't indicate if he actually had a weapon.
Tellers told authorities the bandit wore an aloha shirt and walked with a waddle.
BERLIN (AP) — Statistics show pigs are hogging the market in Europe as the largest livestock category and outnumber people in Denmark by more than two-to-one.
European statistical agency Eurostat said Thursday that with a population of about 150 million in the European Union, pigs far outnumber cattle and other bovines, the second-largest livestock category with 89 million head.
Eurostat says 40 percent of the EU's pigs are in Spain and Germany, with significant numbers also in France, Denmark, Netherlands and Poland.
Denmark is the only country where pigs outnumber people , with 215 pigs to every 100 residents. Not coincidentally, it's also a country known in Europe for its quality bacon.
The Netherlands is next with 70 pigs per 100 people, Spain with 63 to 100, and Belgium with 54 to 100.
BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore firefighters probably made record time arriving at the scene of a recent fire. That's because it broke out in the building housing the fire department's headquarters.
Fire department spokeswoman Blair Skinner told The Baltimore Sun that an electrical fire Thursday triggered the evacuation of the 85,000-square-foot downtown building the fire department shares with the city's finance and information technology departments.
Skinner says firefighters responded in a matter of minutes, in addition to the fire chiefs already in the building.
She says the smoke appeared to have originated on one of the floors above the fire department's offices.
No one was injured. The exact origin is still under investigation.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Be on the lookout for a wraparound tuba: Someone has stolen the signature sousaphone belonging to Preservation Hall in New Orleans.
Creative director and musician Ben Jaffe wrote about it on the traditional jazz venue's Facebook page, saying he bought it after Hurricane Katrina to replace one lost to the 2005 storm.
A photo shows him playing the brass sousaphone, which has "Preservation Hall, New Orleans" painted on the bell.
He says it was taken Saturday, after a performance at New Orleans Airlift .
Jeanette Jaffe said Thursday they've received multiple calls since the message was posted Wednesday, but none led to recovery of the instrument. She says some callers even offered their own instruments.
There's a reward.
Sousaphones can cost up to $13,000.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The zoo in New Orleans is taking votes whether to name its baby giraffe T'Challa, the given name of the comic book and movie superhero Black Panther, or Zulu, a southern African ethnic group and popular Mardi Gras parade krewe.
The Audubon Nature Institute created the poll Monday on Facebook. By Tuesday morning, nearly 2,000 people had voted.
Those who also posted comments seemed to favor Zulu.
Some of those for T'Challa noted that the Audubon Zoo had already named an animal Zulu. King Zulu the white Bengal tiger was euthanized last year at age 20.
The giraffe was born Jan. 9 at the Audubon Species Survival Center on New Orleans' west bank. The zoo says he's doing well and has joined the rest of the herd of reticulated giraffes.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Hump day had a more tangible meaning for the Washington Nationals.
New manager Dave Martinez had a trio of camels brought to spring training camp Wednesday, four-legged visual aids to help players launch a journey aimed at getting over the franchise's playoff hump.
"I don't know if it's so much as embrace it, but just not worry about it because so much as been made about it," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "It's fair for people to write about it, but making the playoffs every year, winning divisions every year to me is already over the hump. We used to lose 90 games every year. People forget that."
The Nationals have reached the playoffs in four of the last six seasons but have not won a postseason series since relocating to Washington ahead of the 2005 season.
Martinez joined players for the team's daily "Circle of Trust" meeting on the turf infield outside the clubhouse at 9:30 a.m. Not long into the meeting, first base coach Tim Bogar and third base coach Bob Henley rode camels onto the field.
"I thought it was a great idea," said Bogar, who's first foray into camel riding came on a cow named Blondie. "I thought it was something just to make sure they cleared their minds and they had fun with it. We embraced it. I thought the guys reacted to it real well. From what I could see everybody was having a good time with it."
Wearing a Washington Nationals floppy hat with a red and white checkered towel flowing from underneath, Henley repeatedly yelled "Hump Day!" — a reference both to a famous television commercial and a common nickname for Wednesday — while atop a camel named Lawrence. Bogar and Henley parked their camels on each side of the walkway that leads from the meeting area to the practice fields, and players walked between.
"It was fun," reliever Ryan Madsen said. "It's fun. It's nice to have a camp loose. It's nice to have the courtesy to have a loose camp when you have a good team."
Unlike many of his teammates, Madsen has some familiarity with camels. A camel named Hoover lives near his Arizona home, and Madsen frequently takes his daughters on bike rides to visit the camel.
"He got a little overweight, so he just lays down a lot now," Madsen said. "They've got him on a diet."
There was some concern that the Florida camels might have smelled Hoover on Madsen.
"The one was looking at me funny," Madsen said, sticking out his lower jaw for emphasis. "It was showing its tooth at me and he had that kind of crazy look in his eye, so maybe it was his long lost cousin."
After the players walked the camel gauntlet, Bogar and Henley rode Blondie and Lawrence to the practice field. No one rode the third camel, named Brown. He only made the trip, according to Bogar, because Blondie refuses to go anywhere without Brown.
When not motivating professional baseball team, the camels reside at a petting zoo in nearby Jupiter.
In his first season as the Nationals manager, Martinez spent 10 years as Joe Maddon's bench coach with the Chicago Cubs and Tampa. Maddon is well known for his spring training stunts designed to keep players loose.
The camels exited the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches well before the Nationals returned to the clubhouse following the workout. Washington played Miami in Jupiter later Wednesday.
"All I've got to ask you guys is, Can you still smell me?" said Bogar before boarding the bus.