2017-09-14 / News of the Weird


Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate

Criminal’s remorse

An anonymous Australian tourist mailed back a small stone he lifted from the Cwmhir Abbey in Wales, a Cistercian monastery founded in 1176, in August. The thief included a note explaining his remorse: “I have been an avid follower of the Welsh kings and their history, and so I took this rock. Ever since, I have had the most awful luck as if Llewellyn (sic) himself was angry with me.” Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last native prince of Wales, was beheaded and buried at the abbey in 1282, and legend says his ghost haunts the abbey. The trust that manages the abbey put the returned stone and the note on display, presumably to deter future sticky-fingered visitors.


A Turkish homeless man who was sentenced to house arrest in June has had his sentence altered to better reflect his circumstances. Baris Alkan, 31, had been confined to a specific area, an empty spot enclosed by metal plates, near a bus station after being detained for using and selling drugs. “I don’t have a home address, so I have to stay here,” he said. “Even though I don’t have a house, I’m under house arrest.” The court subsequently lifted the house arrest order and now requires Alkan to sign in at a nearby police station once a month.

People different from us

Emily Mueller, 33, of Ohio asked a photographer friend, Kendrah Damis, to take pictures of her pregnant with her fourth child — and covered in 20,000 bees. Mueller, who is a beekeeper, checked with her doctor before the photo session and was stung three times during the shoot. She said she associates bees with life and death: “Bees came into my life in a time that we had just suffered a miscarriage,” Mueller said. “That’s where everything fell into place for me — when honeybees entered my life.” She hopes the maternity photos will highlight the importance of bees.

Least-competent criminals

Steven Gomez-Maya, 20, handed tellers at the TD Bank North in Seymour, Conn., a note on Aug. 19, demanding money. He apparently failed to notice that his note was written on the back of his girlfriend’s pay stub, and when he tried to return to the bank (presumably to retrieve the note), the doors were locked. Seymour police tracked down the owner of the pay stub, and when they arrived at the girlfriend’s home, they caught Gomez-Maya as he was driving away. The hat he wore during the robbery and “a large amount of $10 bills” were found in the car, and he was charged with first-degree robbery.

Animals run amok

A swan on the grounds of Blarney Castle in Ireland suffered a harrowing experience on Aug. 31 when it landed in a field where cattle were grazing. At first, the cattle just looked the swan over, but when the bird hissed at them, they took off after it. The swan tried to fly away, but the cows butted and stamped on it. Garden manager at the castle Adam Whitbourn was finally able to lean over a fence and drag the swan out of harm’s way. “It was an aggressive attack,” Whitbourn said. “I put (the swan) back in the lake and have checked on him twice. He’s sitting there looking bedraggled so I’m hoping it’s a happy ending.” Rather than a swan song.

The classic middle name

Anthony Wayne Sandusky, 26, of Mascotte, was welcomed into the home of a Groveland woman on Aug. 22 because he had nowhere else to go. She went to sleep, and when she woke up, her mother said Sandusky had closed all the blinds, locked the doors and was carrying their possessions out the back door. She found two bags of items in a nearby field, including a stamp collection valued at $250,000. When confronted by police, Sandusky said he took the items because the woman was “being mean to him.”

Compelling explanation

Andrew Shaw, 44, of Lancashire, England, appeared before the Blackpool Magistrates Court on Aug. 29, facing three counts of possessing obscene images of children on his computer. Shaw and his wife arrived at the court with their guide dogs, as both are legally blind (Shaw has a small amount of sight in one eye). His attorney explained: “It may be argued that difficulty with his vision makes it difficult to put an age to images he downloads. He may think he is looking at 16-year-olds.” Shaw was granted bail.


Most news items about sinkholes highlight the large size of the hole. But a man in Brooklyn, N.Y., was trapped by a sinkhole in the middle of the street that was just big enough to swallow his leg. Steven Suarez, 33, was making a delivery with a hand truck on Myrtle Avenue on Aug. 29 when his foot disappeared into the pavement. “I was scared,” Suarez said. “It was my whole entire right leg, up until my tailbone basically.” Suarez was trapped for nearly an hour as bystanders directed traffic around him and rescue workers tried to free him. Co-worker Joe Grunbaum, 32, said Suarez seemed to be in a lot of pain, but the only casualty of the incident turned out to be Suarez’s right sneaker. ¦

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