The Odd Truth, Feb. 27, 2004

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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.

Man Calls 911 On Police

MARYVILLE, Tenn. - It may be right to call 911 to report someone's chasing you on the highway - but not if it's a sheriff's deputy in pursuit.

Kevin Richard Vowell, 31, of Maryville placed such a call to emergency dispatchers during a high-speed chase on U.S. 411 early Sunday morning, Blount County sheriff's spokeswoman Marian O'Briant said.

The incident began when a deputy noticed Vowell driving erratically and signaled for him to stop. Vowell pulled over but then spun his pickup truck around and fled down the highway, with three patrol cars in pursuit.

Vowell then dialed 911 and reported he was being chased but would not stop until he got to Vonore.

"The dispatcher advised him to stop, telling him, 'You're only making it worse,"' O'Briant said.

Police said that after Vowell struck a mailbox and then rammed a cruiser. With a supervisor's permission, one deputy ended the chase by bumping the truck and sending it off the highway. Vowell was treated for minor injuries at the University of Tennessee Medical Center before he was taken to the Blount jail.

Vowell was charged with vehicular assault, drunken driving, felony reckless endangerment and felony evading arrest.

Bank Robber, Big Tipper

WILMINGTON, N.C. - A North Carolina man was arrested for bank robbery after reports that he was drinking and buying drinks for others at a nearby bar and then that he had broken into a couple's home.

Arthur Jay Goulette, 35, of Burgaw, was being held under $100,000 bond at the New Hanover County Jail, charged with armed robbery and first-degree burglary.

He's accused of robbing a branch of the Bank of America shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The robber presented a teller with a note saying he had a weapon and demanded money, police officials said.

Police later received reports that a man fitting the bank robber's description was at Barbary Coast spending $100 bills, police department spokeswoman Linda Rawley said.

A bartender said Wednesday a man who called himself "A.J." came into the business shortly after 4 p.m. with a duffel bag and a bus ticket to Florida. She said A.J. was buying patrons drinks and "tipping well," and stayed there drinking for several hours.

By the time police responded to the bar, Goulette had left, Rawley said.

As police scanned the area, they received another report of the suspect's location. Shortly after 11 p.m., officers received a report of a break-in at a home.

Jerome Lewis said he and his wife were in bed when someone entered their home, according to a police report. When the man encountered Lewis, he shouted, "I've got money" and ran toward Lewis.

Lewis, 39, ran out of the home. Goulette fled as police arrived, and he was arrested after a foot chase.

Lost Gets Lost

LONDON - Lost: several road signs and one village's identity.

Exasperated at losing its name signs to souvenir hunters, the Scottish hamlet of Lost (population: less than two dozen) has changed its name to Lost Farm, which it hopes will prove less appealing.

At least five of the signs have disappeared in recent years; the longest any sign lasted was three months, and one disappeared after just a day, said Mark Skilling, principal engineer for Aberdeenshire Council.

"It's infuriating," he said Friday. "The hamlet is very popular because of its name and we suspect souvenir hunters of taking the signs."

Skilling said it costs around 100 pounds ($185) to replace the sign.

"Apart from making it, we have to take it to Lost, which is quite far away," he said. "We hope that the name change means in future the sign will last."

The hamlet lies 40 miles west of Aberdeen in the Cairngorm mountains of northeast Scotland, near the village of Bellabeg where the Water of Nochty feeds into the River Don.

Lost has been found by thousands of tourists every summer since it got a mention in guidebooks several years ago. During the rare periods when there has been a sign, visitors love to pose for photographs with it.

"The situation has caused great annoyance," said local council member Bruce Luffman. "The majority of the time there hasn't even been a sign so people don't even know if they are in the village."

The name comes from a Celtic word meaning "inn"; today the hamlet has a few houses, a war memorial and a farm.

Schoolgirls Chase, Kick Flasher

PHILADELPHIA - Call it a case of schoolgirl justice. Rudy Susanto was convicted yesterday for repeatedly exposing himself to Roman Catholic schoolgirls. He was captured October 30 after more than a dozen girls chased him down and held him for the cops. When he resisted, police say the girls kicked the flasher over and over. He was taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries. Investigators say Susanto had been exposing himself to the girls for about six weeks, but he always ran away. He'll be sentenced in April.

Making Police Work Easy

WINNIPEG - Perhaps the sign wasn't big enough.

Police officers in a Winnipeg training class earlier this week saw a man trying to break into cars in the police academy's parking lot.

It's not like the place could have been mistaken for a normal parking lot, there's a huge Winnipeg Police Service Academy sign above the building.

Cops made the arrest without incident.

Constable Shelly Glover says "This makes police work very easy."

In fact, the two officers who made the arrest are taking a bit of ribbing simply because it's one of the easiest arrests they've ever had to make.

An Alberta man, 27-year-old Michael Joseph Cornejo faces theft related charges.

Smith And Wesson Boss Revealed As Armed Robber

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Smith and Wesson's new chairman has quit - after it was revealed he was an armed robber. James Joseph Minder submitted his resignation to the board of directors this week, saying it was the best the thing for the company. The Arizona Republic reported that Minder had spent more than ten years in Michigan prisons in the 1950's and 1960's for a string of armed robberies. Minder says he never revealed his criminal record to the other directors of the venerable gun company, because nobody asked. Minder says he's gone straight, turning his life around in the 30 years since being released from prison.

Germany To Build Toad And Frog Tunnels

BERLIN - Germany's government is scrounging to save money, but it's spending $300,000 for toad and frog tunnels under a road, an effort to win approval for building a new diplomatic school in Berlin.

The Foreign Ministry - run by Germany's most prominent Greens party member, Joschka Fischer - said Thursday that Berlin authorities insisted the government compensate for building the center in a conservation area by investing in environmental protection at another location.

Under the deal, five 33-foot tunnels for frogs and toads are to be built by July under roads in the suburb of Luebars. The project will offer safe passage to an estimated 4,000 amphibians each year, ministry officials said.

Germany is trying to trim spending and social programs to shrink a budget deficit that has exceeded a European Union limit for the past two years.

The Foreign Ministry said it will make up the money spent on toad tunnels with budget savings elsewhere.