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The Odd Truth, Aug. 13, 2004

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

Wascally Wabbit Less Wascally After Being Immolated

DEVIZES, England - Investigators in England think a burning bunny caused a fire at a cricket club. The blaze destroyed a tool shed at the Devizes Cricket Club, wiping out more than $100,000 worth of turf mowers and other equipment.

It's being blamed on a rabbit that was hiding in a pile of branches stacked up for a bonfire. Moments after members of the grounds crew lit it, the rabbit ran out with its tail on fire and dashed into the shed.

Within a half-hour, the shed was on fire.

The Devizes fire commander says he's "99-percent confident" the rabbit did it. But he says the bunny may have gotten away. No remains were found, so he says it either got out through a hole in a corner of the shed or was "burnt to a cinder."

Insert Poop Joke Here

HARTFORD, Conn. - A state Senate leader says he has the scoop on the poop in the state Capitol. Senate Republican leader Louis DeLuca told reporters Thursday that he had surveillance videotape proving that Democratic state Sen. Edith Prague's dog left a surprise in the Public Safety Committee room last week.

Prague, who's from Columbia, Conn., initially denied that her dog, Molly the Shih Tzu, was the culprit, and she blamed a seeing eye dog belonging to a worker in DeLuca's office.

After seeing the tape, Prague was stunned.

"I said, 'Oh my God! It is my dog, and I won't bring her in anymore,'" said Prague, who had been asked before to stop bringing her dog into the Capitol.

Then she said DeLuca might have more important things to worry about.

DeLuca, of Woodbury, said he felt he had to make the tape public because Prague was blaming a blind person.

"It's a shameless thing to blame a sightless person with a seeing-eye dog when you know it was your own," he said.

Capitol police watched the videotape, which shows Prague's dog making an unaccompanied visit to the committee room.

"Modern technology is wonderful," DeLuca said. "It shows the dog in the room that day — not doing the deed, but in the room."

Capitol Police Chief Bill Morgan said his office handles such situations diplomatically.

"When we find there are people who violate the rules, we try to correct the problem," he said, without offering any details on the matter.

Baby, Let Me Light Your Fire

LEWISTON, Idaho - A young man's passion ignited a fire this week that only his girlfriend and the Lewiston Fire Department could put out.

Police said that on Wednesday evening, Chihao Wu, a student studying English at Lewis-Clark State College, arranged rolled-up clothes, doused in lamp oil, in a parking lot to spell "Happy Birthday" in his native language. He then summoned his girlfriend and lit the fiery display.

When police and members of the Lewiston Fire Department arrived, they found Wu stomping on the still-burning clothing. The would-be Casanova's conflagration ended when the fire department took an extinguisher to the flames, police said.

Despite a language barrier, police officer Nick Krakalia questioned Wu.

"It was his lady friend's birthday and he lit this fire in celebration," Krakalia wrote in his report.

Wu said there was no tradition of such displays in his country, but he was trying "to show devotion to the female," Krakalia said.

Wu cleaned up the mess and was not ticketed for the incident.

When Krakalia asked if she was impressed with the display, she simply said "No."

Gives Me The 'Wileys'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A mourning family has sued a funeral home, saying it allowed the body of a 71-year-old husband and father to decompose for five days, until the stench of rotting flesh was so strong it sickened the minister at his funeral and dripped fluid from the casket.

The family of Wiley Wilcox sued Lewis-Smith Mortuary on Thursday, claiming the city-contracted indigent funeral home did not properly preserve his body either by refrigeration or embalmment.

Wilcox, of Jacksonville, died in his sleep of natural causes in 2001. After the funeral home held his body for five days, his corpse was too badly decomposed for the open casket burial, according to the suit.

Lewis-Smith Mortuary denied all the allegations, said its attorney, Harris Brown.

The family discovered the rotting corpse when they brought clothes for Wilcox's viewing to the funeral home, said Chris Shakib, the family's attorney.

The body was wrapped in a bag and placed in an unlined casket, according to the lawsuit. Fluid dripped from the casket and stained the rug underneath, and pallbearers said they heard fluid sloshing about as they carried the casket, the lawsuit said.

Bishop John E. Shingles, who presided at the funeral, said the smell made him sick and he left before the graveside services.

The family filed a complaint with state Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which put the funeral home on six months probation and issued about $3,000 in fines. The funeral home owner, Barbara L. Smith, didn't contest the allegations.

The family waited until that investigation was complete before filing the suit, which seeks compensatory damages.

The city terminated its contract with the mortuary after several complaints.

Opera! Get Yer Opera Here!

DETROIT - Charley Marcuse, the Detroit Tigers' operatic hot dog vendor, is taking a trip to the minors.

The Tigers' AAA-affiliate Toledo Mud Hens have invited Marcuse, 22, to sing his "Hoooott Doooogs" this weekend. Marcuse said he'll belt out his song three times an inning.

The Birmingham resident drew worldwide attention when Tigers officials told him in May to stifle his singing. He wound up singing on "Good Morning America" and was interviewed by the BBC.

Fans responded with petitions, a Web site and T-shirts proclaiming, "Let Charley Sing."

In June, the Tigers and the park's concessions service reversed a decision to silence Marcuse. But the team said Marcuse could sing his hot dog serenade only during the Hot Dog Row promotion in the middle of the second inning.

Mud Hens spokesman JaMay Edwards said team general manager Joe Napoli read about Marcuse in Sports Illustrated and declared: "Let's get him down here."