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NEWS OF THE WEIRD: Week of February 4, 2020


Matthew Davies, 47, of Dunfermline, Scotland, pleaded guilty on Jan. 17 to assault and robbery in the case of a bumbling Bank of Scotland holdup in September, the Daily Record reported. On that day, Davies charged into the bank with a meat cleaver in hand and a pillowcase over his head. Unfortunately, he had neglected to cut eyeholes in the pillowcase and therefore couldn’t see — so he had to take it off. Undeterred, Davies used the cleaver to batter a glass partition on the counter and eventually took off with almost 2,000 pounds, casually wandering toward home, even stopping to pet a dog along the way. One brave customer of the bank followed Davies to his home and alerted police; there they found cash and the pillowcase, along with a stun gun. He’ll be sentenced in February. [Daily Record, 1/18/2020]


Antoine McDonald, 21, of Altamonte Springs, Florida, became famous last year for dressing up as the Easter Bunny in Orlando, but he found his costume unhelpful on Jan. 16 after ramming his motorcycle into a carport, which collapsed on a car parked there, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The motorcycle then hit a fence and flipped over, and a neighbor observed the Easter Bunny limping away from the scene. When officers caught up with McDonald, lying in the back ßseat of a car, he denied involvement in the crash: “I wasn’t in any crash. I’m the Orlando Easter Bunny. Google it,” he claimed. “The bunny appeared to be alive,” officers reported, according to the Orlando Sentinel, and they asked him to remove the costume before arresting him and transporting him to the hospital for rib and leg injuries sustained in the crash. [Orlando Sentinel, 1/24/2020]


A mystery was solved on Jan. 22 in Natick, Massachusetts, when police arrested Andrea F. Grocer, 51, of Ashland, on suspicion of defecating in front of the Natick Outdoor Store eight times over the last four months. Henry Kanner, the store’s owner, had reported the incidents to police in December, and officers first thought an animal might be the culprit — until they found “toilet paper and other wipes,” Natick police spokesperson Lt. Cara Rossi told The MetroWest Daily News. Some of the incidents had been recorded by surveillance video, but police hadn’t been able to identify a license plate. During extra patrols of the parking lot, they spotted Grocer at 6:51 a.m. as she prepared to leave her mark again, police said. “I have no idea who she is,” Kanner said, adding that he knows of no connection she has with the store. Grocer’s lawyer described her as a “pillar of the community.” [MetroWest Daily News, 1/22/2020]

Now-retired high school English teacher Jeffrey S. Churchwell, 60, of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, apologized to Walworth County Sheriff’s deputies in October and admitted that he had been defecating, sometimes several times a day, since 2017 outside and on a building in the rural Natureland Park in Whitewater. The Milton Courier reported Brent Brooks of the Walworth County Highway Shop met with deputies in October about the repeated offenses, which required parks department workers to power-wash and sometimes repaint facilities, on top of picking up used toilet paper. Trail cameras recorded the man relieving himself, and deputies caught up with Churchwell on Oct. 8. When asked why, he replied, “Stupidity,” according to sheriff’s office reports. Churchwell was charged with disorderly conduct and was ordered to pay more than $6,000 in fines and restitution. He was put on leave from the Milton School District on Nov. 25; his retirement took effect Jan. 16. [Milton Courier, 1/2/2020]

Unclear on the Concept

United Press International reported that an unnamed man in Orlando, Florida, got a little mixed up as he tried to fill his boat’s gas tank before a fishing trip on Jan. 27. Rather than putting the gas nozzle into the fuel tank, the man inserted it into a fishing pole holder and pumped 30 gallons of gas directly into the cockpit. Orange County Fire Rescue was called to the 7-Eleven, and a hazmat team siphoned most of the errant gas from the boat before the fisherman filled up the actual tank and went on his way. [UPI, 1/28/2020]




In June 2019, the city of Roubaix, France, proudly announced it had installed 187 solar panels to generate electricity for the city’s library, and paid a local company about $113,000 for the “green” equipment. But during the installation of a wind turbine to supplement the clean energy effort in December, workers noticed the solar panels had never been connected to the library’s electrical network. Oddity Central reported the panels were intended to supply about a quarter of the library’s needed power, but “we realized this was not the case,” admitted Alexandre Garcin, the city’s deputy mayor, who did not elaborate on why it took six months to figure out the oversight. [Oddity Central, 1/29/2020]


Houston mother Emily Madonia’s nightmare began in 2015, when the Elsa (from “Frozen”) doll her daughter received for Christmas 2013 began reciting lines from the movie in both English and Spanish; originally it had only spoken English. Next, the doll began speaking and singing randomly, even when her on/off switch was in the OFF position. In December 2019, Madonia threw the doll out, Click2Houston reported, but she and her husband later found the doll in a bench inside their home. So they double wrapped the doll in plastic bags and “put it in the bottom of our garbage can,” Madonia wrote on Facebook. Days later, her daughter found the doll again in the backyard. Finally, Madonia sent the doll to a friend who lives in Minnesota, where it remained at press time. In the meantime, Madonia has been contacted by paranormal investigators and the Travel Channel. [Click2Houston, 1/18/2020]


Ben Lilly, 40, on his way to Halifax in West Yorkshire, England, on Jan. 25 passed an object in the road that looked like a dead animal — a leopard, to be specific. Lilly stopped and turned around, carefully approaching the large cat. He told Metro News his heart was racing and he was afraid his face might be “ripped off” by the beast. “I saw the markings on it. It had the tail bit on it, too,” Lilly said. “But as soon as I looked at it from the other angle, I started laughing.” It turned out to be a leopard-print jumpsuit, complete with tail. Lilly speculated on Facebook it might be “some tart’s coat from last night. … It was Saturday morning and Halifax is a bit of a drinking town.” [Metro News, 1/30/2020]

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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