News of the Weird 

Lead Story

Shortly after moving into a Vancouver condominium apartment in June, Miles Nurse and Jennifer Plomt discovered that (a) the unit was infested with bats and (b) British Columbia law prohibits disturbing the animals during their breeding period, meaning they likely couldn't be relocated until the end of August. According to a Vancouver Sun report, the downsides of rooming with roughly 80 bats include multiple rounds of rabies shots, lost sleep due to high-pitched nocturnal squealing, the chore of removing accumulated bat feces from inside the walls, and the surprise of finding the occasional bat pup in one's bed.

Cultural Diversity

The UK's Department of Work and Pensions acknowledged in April that it had a system in place for providing benefits to members of polygamous households that are formed legally in other countries but later settle in Britain, where polygamy is illegal. For instance, a polygamous husband and one wife can qualify for roughly $184 per week in joint unemployment benefits, then claim additional wives as adult dependents, each of whom receives an extra $67. While Conservative politicians expressed outrage that the government was "rewarding" polygamy, a Work and Pensions official maintained this wasn't so, as a single woman can claim nearly $120 per week in such benefits, far more than she would receive as a polygamous wife.

Just like a fender bender, except you're naked: Police were called to a brothel in Braunschweig, Germany, in June to mediate a dispute. After a condom broke during sex, a prostitute requested her client's contact information in case of any future medical ramifications, but he was reluctant to provide it; according to a Reuters account, officers ultimately persuaded both parties to turn over the necessary details.

Love Triangles

Reportedly furious that his estranged wife, Jacqueline, had possibly endangered their young daughters by becoming involved with a registered sex offender, 46-year-old Willie Tarpley allegedly stabbed the new boyfriend, Lee Alexander, to death in Brandon, Florida, in May; newspaper accounts pointed out that both adult Tarpleys are also registered sex offenders, having served time after kidnapping and sexually torturing a woman in 1987. Also in May, a 79-year-old man died of injuries suffered when he was allegedly kicked by a 69-year-old man at the Toronto nursing home where both lived. Police said the victim, who had Alzheimer's, had loudly accused his attacker, who also had Alzheimer's, of paying too much attention to his wife, yelling "Get your own wife!" The woman in question, who also had Alzheimer's, was not in fact the victim's wife. No charges were filed.

Government in Action

A New Jersey appeals court ruled in February against the town of Voorhees in a three-year battle over the shade of beige local businessperson James Yanucil had painted his Friendly's restaurant. Contending that Yanucil had failed to match the color of shopping-center buildings nearby, the town spent $20,000 trying to force him to repaint or shut down, and he spent $70,000 fighting back. Ultimately the appellate judges affirmed the trial court's finding that the color of the restaurant, while containing "a bit more yellow" than that of the other buildings, was nonetheless "reasonably comparable."

Inexplicable

In May police in Manchester, New Hampshire, arrested 49-year-old James Coldwell, who they said had robbed a local bank several days earlier while dressed as a tree. Investigators said Coldwell's features were easily discernible on security video despite his disguise, which consisted of branches duct-taped to his shirt and head.

Zero-Tolerance Policing

Prosecutors in Orange County, Vermont, dropped animal cruelty charges against 33-year-old Jayna Hutchinson in June, saying they would be too difficult to prove at trial. State police officer Todd Protzman had arrested Hutchinson after she allegedly stared at his patrol dog in a "taunting/harassing manner."

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird has reported several times over the years on people whose personalities have changed dramatically following trauma to the brain. In March a judge in London awarded about $2.4 million in damages to 28-year-old Kunal Lindsay, who suffered a head injury in a 2002 highway collision. In addition to a newfound obsession with sex that led him to pester his wife in uncharacteristically graphic terms, Lindsay developed an overwhelming interest in cell phones: he began spending hours each day playing with his phone (he had accessed his favorite phone-based game 8,000 times in the previous 12 months) and, according to the Telegraph, became unusually likely "to enter into unwise phone contracts."

Least Competent Scrap Metal Collectors

Damion Mosher, 18, of Lake Luzerne, New York, was hospitalized in May after he was struck in the abdomen by a .223-caliber bullet he'd secured in a vise and set off using a hammer and screwdriver. According to authorities, he'd already discharged dozens of rounds this way in hopes of selling the brass casings for scrap. And in July two men and a woman allegedly tried to salvage copper pipes and wiring from an abandoned nursing home in Gainesville, Georgia, having overlooked or disregarded signs posted outside warning that the building was in use as a police K-9 training facility. Upon being discovered the alleged burglars ran but were overtaken by a pack of trainees; following their capture one suspect was treated for a bite wound to the buttocks.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration by Shawn Belshwender.

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