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The Odd Truth, April 16, 2004

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum.

Wrong Pants, Wrong Time

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A funeral home admitted it accidentally switched the bodies of two deceased women, a family member said.

Tracey Meeks said officials from the M.J. Edwards Funeral Home informed her on Wednesday they had mistakenly buried her mother somewhere in West Tennessee the day before. But not without some prodding.

Meeks and her sister-in-law got tired of waiting to view the body Wednesday afternoon before a wake. After complaining, the funeral director pulled them aside.

"I joked, saying, 'What could be the problem, you buried the wrong body?"' Meeks said. "He turned to me and said, 'Exactly.'

The funeral home refused to comment.

Robert Gribble, executive director of the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, said his office rarely gets complaints about mixed-up bodies.

A funeral home found guilty of mixing up bodies could lose its license, be fined up to $1,000 or receive a letter of reprimand.

Kill My Mom, But Leave The TV Alone

FORT MYERS, Fla. - A 17-year-old boy was arrested on charges he hired an undercover police officer to kill his mother.

Police say Carlos Marcelo Chereza made a $2,000 deal with the officer to stage a burglary at their home and shoot 50-year-old Dreama Chereza while Carlos was locked in another bedroom.

Chereza gave the detective a key to the apartment, a drawing of its layout and a photograph of Dreama, but he also gave specific instructions "that he didn't want anything to happen to the television," according to police reports.

Chereza was arrested late Tuesday night on one charge of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. He was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center. Police did not release a motive.

Police said the Cypress Lake High School junior first approached a police informant, offering to pay him $10,500 to kill Dreama Chereza. After the informant refused the job, the boy asked the informant to help him get a gun so he could kill her himself, according to the arrest report.

Instead, the informant introduced Chereza to the undercover detective who would "get the job done."

Dreama Chereza said Wednesday that her son "is a good young man" who was upset by a recent fire and other problems.

"He's been through a lot of trauma," she said. "He just snapped."

Irate Cyclist Slashes Hundreds Of Car Tires

BOURNEMOUTH, England - An irate cyclist who slashed hundreds of car tires after unpleasant run-ins with automobiles was sentenced Friday to 16 months in jail.

Judge Stephen Lennard said Ashley Carpenter had been driven by "frustration and anger at what you considered to be the inconsiderate manner of motorists as experienced by you as a cyclist and a pedestrian."

Prosecutors said Carpenter slashed tires on 548 cars, vans and trucks with a sharpened screwdriver during a 10-day spree last December in the English south coast city of Bournemouth. Lennard said the attacks had cost the vehicles' owners $173,000 in tire repair costs, as well as the expense and inconvenience of finding alternative transport.

Unemployed Carpenter, 37, pleaded guilty to charges of criminal damage. Defense lawyer Robert Grey said Carpenter was a loner whose frustration had built to breaking point after he was splashed, verbally abused and almost knocked down by cars.

"He had not been able to discuss his frustration with others. This man is socially inadequate," Grey said.

Passing sentence at Bournemouth Magistrates' Court, Lennard said Carpenter had acted "in your own words to the police, to send out a message to motorists and to immobilize and inconvenience as many as possible."

Lennard said five weeks Carpenter has already spent in custody would be deducted from his sentence and that he would be eligible for release after serving half the 16-month term.

Flasher Beaten By Schoolgirls Sentenced

PHILADELPHIA - A man who was tackled and beaten by a group of Roman Catholic schoolgirls after he flashed them outside their high school was sentenced Wednesday to 10 months to two years in prison.

Rudy Susando, 25, also was sentenced to 5 years probation after his release, Assistant District Attorney Noel Ann DeSantis said. Susando, a native of Indonesia, also might face deportation after his sentence is served, DeSantis said.

Susando was arrested Oct. 30 when more than a dozen girls from St. Maria Goretti High School for Girls, with the help of a bystander, chased him and wrestled him to the ground and held him for police. When he resisted, the girls kicked him repeatedly. He was taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries to his mouth.

The South Philadelphia schoolgirls said the man had been exposing himself outside their school for about a month and a half. He typically hid behind a van, waited for girls to arrive at school and then jumped out and exposed himself before running away, police said.

In a February bench trial, Susando was convicted of 13 counts each of indecent exposure, open lewdness, corrupting minors and stalking. Family Court Judge Joseph C. Bruno handed down a lighter sentence than the term prosecutors sought - one to five years in prison and 10 years probation.

"There was a consistent pattern; he showed up when the girls were arriving at school in the morning. He targeted them." DeSantis said. "These are the kinds of crimes that escalate to touching, and then to rape."

Public defender David Cross asked for a stay of sentencing, saying he plans to appeal the conviction.

Dogs Ordered To Stay Off Courthouse Grass

AUSTIN - Dog owners in the state capital are under federal orders to stay off the grass downtown.

Two federal judges say there's no relief for dogs at the U.S. Courthouse - at least, not on the St. Augustine.

The judges' order was delivered Thursday to managers of the Brown Building condominiums, promising a "citation, fine and/or arrest" for anyone allowing "their pets to relieve themselves on the grass and grounds of the United States Courthouse" across the street.

The order was signed Wednesday.

"Is this about the doggy doo?" a woman who answered the phone at the Brown Building sales office around the corner in the Norwood Tower asked the Austin American-Statesman.

The order by Judges Sam Sparks and Lee Yeakel contained two paragraphs under the letterhead of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division. It suggests courthouse officials had discussed the matter with occupants of the 90-unit condo development.

But the order stated that condo residents, and whoever else the document is directed at, "failed to live up to their representations and legal obligation to remove their pets' deposits."

Baby Delivered On Sidewalk Outside Hospital

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A pregnant woman who couldn't make it to a hospital in time gave birth to her son on the sidewalk outside the medical center.

Janet Schlump's husband, Brian, set off for the hospital around 8 a.m. Wednesday and had to drive on the shoulder to avoid rush hour traffic on Interstate 97.

She said if they had waited, she would have had the baby in the car.

Janet Schlump says when she stepped out of the car at Anne Arundel Medical Center, gravity took over and Tristan Schlump was born on the sidewalk.

A spokeswoman called Tristan's birth the most exciting one at the hospital.

Teen Burglar Tracked By Police Dog

NEWARK, Delaware - One Delaware teen may doubt that this dog is a kid's best friend.

A police dog is getting credit for leading county police to a juvenile burglar in Newark, Delaware.

Police arrested a 13-year-old boy for breaking into a home and stealing money earlier this week.

Police canine Tessa and her handler were called in for help. Despite rainy weather, Tessa managed to lead police from the crime scene to a home a block away where officers found muddy footprints and their suspect sleeping inside.

Police say the boy admitted to the break-in and the theft. He's being held in detention pending nearly $4,000 bail.