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NEWS OF THE WEIRD: Week of March 31, 2020


Police in Pinellas County, Florida, responded to the Clearwater Mall late on March 22, where witnesses had reported a woman screaming in a parked car. According to an arrest affidavit, the officers discovered the woman and Robert Janisch, 21, “wrestling with each other” in their birthday suits. The couple told police that after they had intercourse, the woman went to urinate outside the car, using a napkin to wipe herself, which she then accidentally threw on Janisch, prompting an argument. The affidavit stated the argument escalated to the point that Janisch choked his girlfriend, but he contended the marks on her neck occurred earlier at the beach. WFLA reported Janisch was arrested for domestic battery. [WFLA, 3/26/2020]


Steward Gatt, also known as Stewy the Snake Catcher, was summoned to a yard in Ardeer, Victoria, Australia, in mid-March, where he bagged up a female tiger snake in order to relocate it in the wild. But when Gatt opened the bag a short time later, he discovered the snake had given birth to several offspring — one of which had two heads. According to United Press International, Gatt took the snakes to Direct Vet Services and had them checked over. The usual one-headed babies were fine, but the two-headed specimen had to be euthanized; “… these animals are not generally viable so it was euthanized on humane grounds,” the clinic posted on its Facebook page. Mom and babies were returned to the wild according to plan. [United Press International, 3/20/2020]


Vicar Simon Beach, 61, of St. Budeaux Parish Church in Plymouth, England, was uncomfortable enough as he launched into his first virtual church service on March 22, calling it “surreal.” But as he leaned into the camera to deliver the final portion of his sermon, he looked to his left and calmly deadpanned, “Oh dear, I’ve just caught fire.” Beach had leaned a bit too close to one of several nearby candles and ignited his sleeve. “I just felt my arm getting a bit hot,” he told Metro News. The flame damaged his sweater and shirt, but did not burn his skin. Beach was teased a bit by fellow vicars, who razzed him for being “on fire for Jesus.” “People have laughed and laughed, really,” Beach said. [Metro News, 3/22/2020]


Steve Walton of Shotley Bridge, England, took a bad spill in 2018 and, after a series of surgeries, had to have the lower part of his leg amputated in January. He was scheduled to be fitted with a prosthetic leg in mid-March, but his appointment was delayed because of the coronavirus crisis. That was when his wife, Atchari, went to work, making a leg for him using a bucket, fiberglass resin and wood. The first attempt kept falling off (“It was more akin to something Long John Silver would wear,” Walton said), but Ms. Walton refined her project using a moon boot, and it worked. “My wife is very practical. She can turn her hand to anything,” Walton told the BBC. “I am not going to use this regularly, but it will be good for getting around the house for the next three to six months. There are people far worse off than me at the minute.” [BBC, 3/24/2020]


Kenneth Braden, 65, filled his shopping cart at a Nashville-area Kroger store with essentials — five cases of beer and two packages of toilet paper — on March 11, then bypassed the checkout lanes, according to court documents. As he attempted to leave the store, he tripped the alarm sensors at the door and the wheels on his cart locked up. After several unsuccessful attempts to move the cart, he fled the store. WZTV reported Metro Police later picked him up and charged him with theft of merchandise and driving on a suspended license. [WZTV, 3/12/2020]


Taiwan has strictly cracked down on its citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic, using GPS on phones to monitor the movement of those in quarantine. One man got a particularly costly lesson when he violated the quarantine to go clubbing, AFP reported. The unnamed man, who was required to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from Southeast Asia, was charged $1 million Taiwanese (about $33,000 US) after he was found at a Taipei nightclub on March 22. Authorities deemed his night out “malicious,” and the New Taipei mayor, Hou Yu-ih, warned, “I will not be soft-handed.” [AFP, 3/23/2020]


In Richfield, Wisconsin, neighbors Eric Trzcinski and Trevor Reinke have missed sharing a beer while they are socially isolating. So Trzcinski came up with a novel idea: He’s a car guy, and happened to have a spare exhaust tip that was the perfect size to hold a bottle of beer. Using zip ties, he strapped the tip to a remote control car, then dropped a bottle of Corona (yes, on purpose) into the pipe. He called Reinke, told him to start videotaping, and Reinke caught the little delivery as it zoomed across a busy street and up his driveway, delivering the cold brew into his hands. Trzcinski’s Facebook post featuring the video racked up more than 5 million views, he told FOX6 News on March 24. [FOX6 News, 3/24/2020]


Joe Fasula, co-owner of Gerrity’s Supermarket in Hanover Township, Pennsylvania, had “a very challenging day” on March 25. A woman who claimed she had the coronavirus, later identified by police as Margaret Chirko, “came into the store and proceeded to purposely cough on our fresh produce, and a small section of our bakery, meat case and grocery,” he wrote on Facebook. While the staff “did the best they could to get the woman out of the store as fast as possible,” he said, the health department had to help disinfect the store, and the “twisted prank” resulted in the loss of $35,000 worth of food. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office has charged Chirko with threatening to use weapons of mass destruction and making terroristic threats. It is not known whether the woman has COVID-19. [The Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/26/2020]

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