The Odd Truth, Aug. 23, 2004

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

Soldiers On Ice

PEIO, Italy - An amateur Italian historian has found the preserved bodies of three Austro-Hungarian soldiers in an Alpine glacier, 86 years after they were killed in World War One.

Maurizio Vincenzi, president of a local war museum and an amateur historian, said Monday that the three were shot dead in a battle to retake the peak of San Matteo on Sept. 3, 1918, when Austro-Hungarian troops were repelled by Italian fire as they left their mountaintop trenches.

War relics are frequently found in the area, but no bodies had been discovered since 1927, Vincenzi said. On Friday, he came across the corpses protruding from a glacier near Peio, 15 miles from the Swiss border.

"To find them in that state was almost impossible," he said. "The hands and faces were well defined, the fingernails, teeth, and skin on the face were all still there."

The bodies have not been identified, Vincenzi said, adding they would be buried along with other war victims near the village. A funeral was planned for Tuesday.

Wal-Mart Wedding

BOISE, Idaho - Somewhere between the junk food aisle and the automotive department, Pat Byrd and Bill Hughes fell in love.

So it was only natural that they should marry where the magic happened - Wal-Mart.

"It never dawned on me to have it anyplace else," said the 55-year-old bride.

Neither bride nor groom work at the discount store. Still, they spend more time there than many employees do, wandering the aisles and visiting friends for up to six hours a day, nearly every day since the store opened two years ago.

"I talk to people and walk around for exercise, and we always buy a soda or a sandwich or something," 51-year-old Hughes said. "If we're not here, the store people worry about us. They're our family."

Both Pat Byrd and Bill Hughes are disabled. They met nine years ago, when Bill was a patient at a North Idaho hospital and so was Pat's sister.

"He became a good friend, and when my sister died, we kept him in the family," she said. "He doesn't drive, and any time he went to Wal-Mart, I'd take him."

They celebrated their blooming love with a ceremony Friday in Wal-Mart's garden center. The store manager was a groomsman, and a fabric department employee was matron of honor.

A garden center employee, Chuck Foruria, walked alongside Pat as she rode her motorized shopping cart down the makeshift aisle, her oxygen tank in the basket.

"Who gives this woman in marriage?" asked Stacey Garza of the Free Will Church.

"Her friends and family at Wal-Mart," Foruria replied.

Isabel Baby Boom

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Hurricane Isabel may have left a happy legacy.

Martha Jefferson Hospital is reporting record numbers of births for June and July, and Isabel can take the credit.

"The math works," said Ann Nickels, Martha Jefferson's spokeswoman.

Isabel slammed into Virginia Sept. 18, 2003.

There were 168 births in June, and 163 in July - about 20 more than usual for each month.

When Isabel struck, Martha Jefferson nurses said they knew they'd be facing a storm of their own nine months later.

"Historically, when we have power outages or snowstorms, we'll see a burst of babies," nurse Kim Smith said. "With Isabel, the power was out for a long time."

While many of the new mothers acknowledged they were having hurricane babies, nurses said Isabel wasn't a big topic of conversation.

"The mothers just want to get the babies out," said nurse manager Mary Ann Lucia. "They don't talk about how they got the babies in."

Hookers Fight The Power

CLAYTON, Mo. - Hookers are using the Internet to keep tabs on undercover cops. Police departments have used computers for years, but now the oldest profession is going high-tech. St. Louis County vice-squad commander Rick Battelle says he was shocked to find his cell-phone number listed on a hookers-only Web site. Undercover police use mobile phones to set up sting operations. But some of those phone numbers were listed in the database. The hookers' computer files also included the names used by undercover officers and details about their unmarked cars. St. Louis area officers discovered the hookers' Internet database on the laptop of a woman busted for prostitution.

Woman To Live with 6,000 Scorpions

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A Malaysian woman will have some pretty nasty roommates for the next month and a-half. Nur Malena Hassan is trying to reclaim the record for living in a room full of scorpions. Over the weekend she moved into a glass box at a mall, where she plans to stay for 36 days. The room contains more than 6,000 scorpions. The last time she set such a record, Nur Malena was stung seven times and fell unconscious. The current mark is held by a Thai woman, who spent 32 days with 3,400 scorpions.

And Down Will Come Babies, Cradle And All

LOS ANGELES - Two toddlers fell three stories from a Los Angeles apartment window but apparently suffered only cuts and bruises.

The L.A. Fire Department says the one-and-a-half-year-old boy and his two-and-a-half-year-old sister hit a concrete abutment on their way down.

Spokesman Bob Collis says: "These little folks are pretty resilient," adding he's amazed they weren't badly hurt.

Their mother was at home at the time of Saturday night's incident. Collis says the kids may have climbed onto furniture and pushed an unsecured screen out the window. Collis says if the screen had been secured, the children wouldn't have known how to open it.

The children were checked at a hospital for internal injuries.

Bad News Burglars

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - A pair of Dutch burglars' bad luck shifted into high gear when they were caught fleeing the scene of an attempted break-in on bicycles belonging to the very policeman who arrested them.

Police in a suburb of the eastern Dutch city of Nijmegen said the hapless burglars were trying to break into a house Sunday when neighbors alerted the police.

When policemen arrived at the scene a witness pointed them in the direction in which the pair rode away on bicycles. The suspects were soon chased down and arrested separately.

One arresting officer was surprised to recognize his own bicycle. The other thief was found with his other bike.

"Apparently they happened to steal these bicycles from the officer's back garden during their flight," police said in a statement.

The men, aged 26 and 32, were taken into custody and charged with bike theft.

"We're investigating whether it's possible they have committed other burglaries," police said.