The Odd Truth, April 23, 2004

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

Tree-Bound Lovers

NEW YORK - Two gay lovers - a man in a black dress and a boy in only a pair of shorts - protested their families' lack of understanding for their relationship by climbing a Central Park tree on Thursday, stripping, performing lewd acts in front of onlookers and refusing to come down for hours.

The lovers, ages 32 and 17, scaled the 55-foot larch tree next to the Chess and Checkers House around 4 p.m., said Detective John Sweeney, a police department spokesman.

The couple had told the boy's parents about their relationship and been rebuked, police said.

The man played on branches near the top of the tree and waved at onlookers while the boy sat quietly a few feet below him. Police said the man later performed oral sex on the boy and stripped down to a thong to taunt them.

Police were alerted to the mischief when an onlooker flagged down a bicycle officer. When Emergency Services Unit officers responded, "the two individuals began to shout obscenities to the approaching officers, threatening to push the officers down and throw branches at them in an effort to ward the officers off," police Inspector William Callahan said.

The two were in danger of falling because the tree's largest branches were only 4 inches thick and couldn't support their weight for long, said police, who set up an inflatable safety mat on the ground.

Police negotiators who went up the tree to talk the couple down gave them soft drinks and water. A crowd of about 100 onlookers stood nearby.

After about five hours, police put harnesses on the lovers and began to lure them down. The names of the lovers were not immediately released.

The couple were taken to a hospital for evaluation, and Callahan said arrests and criminal charges depended on the outcomes of those evaluations.

No one was injured in the bizarre Earth Day stunt, Callahan said.

"When I heard they were in a tree," he said, "I figured it was very fitting."

Yoda The Lab Mouse Dies

ANN ARBOR - Yoda the mouse has died after a long and distinguished career in science.

Yoda was a genetically modified dwarf mouse that lived to be the oldest of his kind.

He lived for four years and 12 days, which is the equivalent of more than 136 human years. The exact cause of death is unknown, but thought to be related to his old age.

An average lab mouse lives slightly more than two years.

Yoda was an important part of ongoing life span research at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

He died at his cage there yesterday.

Researchers hope what they learned from Yoda will help them figure out how altered hormone levels can slow the aging process in humans.

Phone Mistaken For Gun

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Put your hands in the air, and put down ... your phone?

Derek W. Laubach, a Penn State University student, faces criminal charges for allegedly threatening partygoers with his cell phone.

Laubach, 18, pulled the phone from his belt and waved it in the air after another man at the off-campus party punched Bradley W. Laubach Jr., 20, also a Penn State student. The Laubachs are related, but are not brothers.

Someone at the party called police to report that a man was waving a gun, said Sgt. Dana Leonard.

"It was an outdoor party, and it was night so the lighting wasn't very good," Leonard said. "It was a huge party, and it caused a great deal of concern among those at the party, as well as among the officers, because we responded as though it were a gun."

Laubach faces charges of disorderly conduct and making terroristic threats.

The man who allegedly hit Bradley Laubach is also in trouble. Joshua M. Fennell, 20, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania student, is charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct.

'Don't Blame Me, Blame My Rooster!'

MANAGUA, Nicaragua - A defense attorney whose client is facing cocaine charges in Managua, Nicaragua, has argued that the narcotics were actually in the possession of the suspect's rooster and two hens. Prosecutors dismissed the claim as "absurd and impertinent."

On Saturday, police found 148 pounds of cocaine and a revolver hidden in a cage housing a fighting rooster and two hens in the parking lot of a cockfighting den.

The operator of the den was arrested and charged with cocaine possession, but his lawyer says his client was never in possession. He says since the birds were in possession, they should be the ones accused.

The human suspect remains in jail while the judge mulls the case against him.

'Idiot' And 'President' In The Same Sentence? Nahh

SEATTLE - The tag doesn't specify which president - but urban-bag designer Tom Bihn says when you use the word "idiot" and "president" in the same sentence, people jump to conclusions.

A label containing bilingual washing instructions on hundreds of Bihn's bags has a French-language presidential insult, that translates to "We are sorry that our president is an idiot. We didn't vote for him."

Bihn says he doesn't know where the label came from, and he's sticking with the idea that it's a joke about him - as president of the Seattle-based company. He says sales have doubled since word spread, and the company has rolled out a line of t-shirts with an enlarged label silk-screened on the front.

None of Bihn's employees has claimed responsibility for the tag. Bihn says whoever does will probably get a raise.

Bank Robber Stops For A Beer

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - Minutes after a bank heist, the alleged robber walked into bar and ordered a beer.

"One Budweiser draft," Ronald Langdale told bartender Martin Jimenez on Thursday after slapping a $5 bill on the bar at Mario's Restaurant, which shares the same strip mall property as the Bank of America.

Langdale, 58, of Los Angeles only got to drink half of the beer.

Police arrested him for allegedly robbing the Bank of America. He had the loot with him in a white plastic bag, Sgt. Mike Mello said.

"In all my years, we've never had one of these," said Mello, a 21-year department veteran.

Langdale was identified by witnesses as the man who told a teller he had a weapon and wanted cash. He fled on foot with the money, although authorities wouldn't say how much.

"He was just silent. Very pensive," Jimenez said, adding it didn't appear to him that Langdale was hiding from anyone. When police officers approached, the bartender said Langdale turned pale.

He was arrested without a struggle, Jimenez said.

Identity Theft Bites Back

LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Frankfort man made a mistake by using a fake driver's license with the name of a person wanted for attempted murder.

Theodord Partida Ceja, 36, spent several hours in jail after he gave a state trooper who stopped him for speeding south of Lafayette an Indiana driver's license with the name Jose A. Fabela. A check of the license found that Fabela, 39, was wanted in Texas for attempted murder, police said.

Investigators suspected Ceja might not be the wanted man and had officials in Hidalgo County, Texas, where Fabela is wanted, fax them a photograph of Fabela.

"Right away, when we saw the photo, we knew it wasn't our guy," Trooper Troy Fischer said.

Ceja later gave investigators an Indiana state identification card and Mexican credentials in his own name.

Ceja was arrested on charges of suspicion of identity deception and false informing. Identity deception is a felony punishable by six months to three years in jail.

Ceja could not be reached for comment as no home telephone number was listed in his name.

State police 1st Sgt. Brent Bible said the incident showed another risk of identity theft.

"The suspect can just as easily become a victim of his or her own crime," he said. "What this does is highlight the importance of people abiding by the laws that are in place for obtaining and maintaining proper identification."