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The Odd Truth, Dec. 16, 2003

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

That's Why They Call It Dope

ADELAIDE, Australia - What a dopey call. Police on Tuesday arrested a man who phoned officers to report thieves breaking into his house to steal his illicit cannabis crop.

Police in the southern city of Adelaide said they arrested four men early Tuesday as they tried to steal the plants, which were being grown in two rooms at the home.

They also nabbed the homeowner who made the call - on charges of illegally cultivating 16 cannabis plants.

Killing Just Got A Little Easier

SHOHAM FIRING RANGE, Israel - Israeli officials have unveiled a rifle that can shoot at targets that are around a corner.

It does so by using a device that swivels at the middle - with the stock, trigger and a small screen at the hand-held end.

The entire firing mechanism, fitted with a pistol that sits over a mini-camera with a zoom lens, is located at the front end.

A lever allows the user to quickly move the firing end to another position to better focus on the target.

The developer of the device says it will be a big help for soldiers in urban combat. He says U.S. forces have already begun training with it, and SWAT and police teams in the U.S. have expressed interest in buying it. He says Israel plans to start using it next week.

The device can be fitted to several different pistols and rifles.
It will cost between three and five thousand dollars.

Massive Liver Spill

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. - What, no onions?

Route 11 was closed for almost six hours Sunday after a tractor-trailer jackknifed, spilling roughly 32,000 pounds of liver onto the highway and a business parking lot.

The driver of the truck told police he thought another vehicle might have bumped his truck's back end. When the truck driver hit the brakes, the vehicle jackknifed and crashed into a ditch in front of the Bloomsburg Carpet plant, spilling its load into the parking lot.

There were no injuries in the crash, which happened at about 2:45 p.m.

Urine'volved In Highway Maintenance

KENNEWICK, Wash. - Forced to clean up an increasing number of jugs and bags of human waste along highways, the Adams County Waste Reduction & Recycling office took out a full-page newspaper advertisement to combat the problem.

The ad features a photo of a plastic milk jug filled with urine, and the message, "Okay, One last time: This is not a urinal."

From March 4 to Nov. 27, 2002, one Adams County highway cleanup crew picked up 2,666 jugs of urine and 67 bags with human excrement in them.

The problem isn't limited to Adams County.

Megan Warfield, litter program coordinator for the state Department of Ecology, had posters similar to the newspaper ad printed and made them available for any county that wanted them. About a dozen counties have ordered copies to deal with the problem, she said.

"All of the cleanup crews encounter it. It's pretty much the same around the state," she said. "Ironically, they're mostly found on interchanges near rest areas. Why can't they stop there?"

Ninety-nine percent of urine is sterile, but could be dangerous if it contains hepatitis or blood, she said.

Warfield said human waste falls under a newly created category that the Legislature created last spring: potentially dangerous litter.

Human waste, dirty diapers, cigarettes, cigars, tobacco or other items that can start a fire, and hypodermic needles or medical instruments designed to cut or pierce, fall into that category.

The fine is $1,025 for anyone caught dumping such waste, but the new penalty doesn't seem to be easing the problem.

'Spicy Curry' Murder

LONDON - A woman dubbed the "Black Widow" was sentenced to life in prison Monday for giving her second husband a fatal dose of anti-depressant, possibly by masking its bitter taste in spicy curry.

A jury at London's Old Bailey court convicted Dena Thompson, 43, of killing Julian Webb on his birthday in June 1994 by feeding him the antidepressant Dothiepin.

The death was initially ruled a suicide, but Webb's body was exhumed in 2001 after Thompson was accused of trying to kill her third husband with a knife and baseball bat during a sexual bondage session. Thompson, acquitted of that crime in 2000, has been dubbed the "Black Widow" by the British press.

"Dothiepin is a drug with a bitter taste and it would be hard to administer it to someone unless it was disguised in some way," prosecution lawyer Michael Birnbaum said. "She may have disguised the bitter taste with spicy food such as curry."

Toxicology tests showed a higher level of drug in Webb's body than had at first been thought.

Judge Michael Hyam said Thompson's actions were "utterly ruthless and without pity."

Thompson married Webb in 1991 while still married to first husband Lee Wyatt, whom she eventually divorced.

She remarried after Webb's death.

"For a decade, she has targeted men sexually, financially and physically. The men of Britain can sleep safe tonight knowing she has been taken off the streets," said Detective Chief Inspector Martyn Underhill.

"Nothing can excuse you for the wickedness of what you did," Hyam told her.

Woman Arrested For Selling Sex Toys

CLEBURNE, Texas - The buzz in Cleburne, Texas, this morning is over Joann Webb's bust for selling sex toys. She's a part-time saleswoman for Passion Parties. The company sells things like massage oil and adult toys at Tupperware-like parties. Webb appeared in court yesterday on a charge of selling obscene devices. A judge ordered the case to a pretrial hearing, but no date was set. The former fifth-grade teacher was busted in a police sting, by two undercover officers posing as a married couple. Webb says, "It's ludicrous to think that the government can step into our bedrooms." She says the adult novelties help couples to stay together.

Move Over Billy Bob

LATROBE, Pennsylvania - Here's a story about a really bad Santa.

Police in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, say a bearded man in a red, fur-lined Santa suit and hat showed a handgun and demanded money from a bank teller yesterday. He made off with an undetermined amount of cash.

The man fled just after noon carrying a red bag in which he had stuffed the cash. Police say the getaway vehicle was a tan car.

No one was hurt during the robbery at the Commercial National Bank, about 35 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Munchies Bite Back

BOCA RATON, Fla. - A bad case of the munchies during finals week has landed four first-year students in handcuffs.

Four 18-year-old women at Florida Atlantic University had been studying into the early morning hours when they decided to take some cereal, fruit and other snacks worth about $25 from the University Center Marketplace kitchen, according to a police report.

Spotted by a maintenance worker who called campus police, the four were handcuffed and taken to the Palm Beach County Jail, where they were held for the rest of the night.

"Burglary is entering and remaining in a place with the intent to commit a crime," campus police spokesman Chuck Aurin said. "They broke the law."

Dean of Students Leslie Bates said the criminal charges for the Nov. 25 cafeteria raid is a first on campus. The state attorney's office has 30 days to decide whether to proceed with the case.

The university is making the four students spend 20 hours helping the food service employees as part of their punishment.

"It will be during the 'prime time' of the cafeteria," said Kaitlin Sjostedt, one of those arrested. "It's cruel and unusual punishment."

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