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The Odd Truth: July 8, 2005

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

Sheep Jump To Their Deaths

ISTANBUL, Turkey - First one sheep jumped to its death. Then stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 others followed, each leaping off the same cliff, Turkish media reported.

In the end, 450 dead animals lay on top of one another in a billowy white pile, the Aksam newspaper said. Those who jumped later were saved as the pile got higher and the fall more cushioned, Aksam reported.

"There's nothing we can do. They're all wasted," Nevzat Bayhan, a member of one of 26 families whose sheep were grazing together in the herd, was quoted as saying by Aksam.

The estimated loss to families in the town of Gevas, located in Van province in eastern Turkey, tops $100,000, a significant amount of money in a country where average GDP per head is around $2,700.

"Every family had an average of 20 sheep," Aksam quoted another villager, Abdullah Hazar as saying. "But now only a few families have sheep left. It's going to be hard for us."

Man Sues For Right To Be Drunk

BOSTON - A man arrested when police showed up to break up a New Year's Eve party at a friend's house has filed a lawsuit, arguing he had a constitutional right to get drunk on private property as long as he didn't cause a public disturbance.

Eric Laverriere, 25, of Portland, Maine, was taken into protective custody by Waltham police and locked in a cell for nine hours until the effects of the alcohol wore off.

Legal experts said his lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Boston, is the first to challenge a state law allowing police to lock up drunk people against their will for their own protection.

Laverriere argues that the Massachusetts Protective Custody Law was written to combat public drunkenness and that the police had no right to use it to take him from a private residence. He also says he had planned to spend the night at his friend's and wasn't going to be driving anywhere.

"One thing people should be able to do is drink in their own house," Laverriere told The Boston Globe. "That's the beauty of the land of the free."

Alligator Found In Home

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Police responding to a fight this week ended up finding a three-foot alligator in the bedroom of an apartment where a toddler was sleeping in a nearby room.

Animal control officers captured the alligator and released it into the wild.

Even though it is illegal to keep American alligators as pets, the owner of the animal was not charged.

Charleston police were called to the apartment complex after neighbors said they had been beaten by 10 people who then went inside the unit where the alligator was found.

The roommate of the owner of the alligator gave police permission to search the apartment.

Along with the alligator, officers found two 4-inch ceramic pipes commonly used for smoking marijuana. The roommate, 28-year-old Justin N. Collins, was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, police said.

Parents Celebrate Son's 16th Birthday With Stripper

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A couple pleaded guilty to hiring a stripper for their son's 16th birthday party and were sentenced to two years probation.

Landon and Anette Pharris, who were charged with contributing the delinquency of a minor, also were ordered to take parenting classes.

The parents hired the stripper to perform at a September party attended by about a dozen young people.

Cassandra Joyce Park, 29, who police say used the stage name "Sassy," danced for a few hours before partygoers took up a collection and paid her $150 more to fully disrobe, Anette Pharris said.

The stripper and the man she was with were also granted probation.

Police were tipped off to the party by a photo developer at a drug store who saw pictures of the occasion.

Man Jailed For Sailboat Joyride

RALEIGH, N.C. - Ten days on the open sea has led to two years in a locked cell for Philip Charles Mesure.

He was sentenced to two years in federal prison for stealing a $200,000 sailboat and taking it on a 10-day joy ride last year.

Mesure told investigators that during his voyage, he sailed 190 miles in one day and weathered storms alone, federal prosecutor John Stuart Bruce said.

Mesure claimed he was given permission to stay on the boat one night but set sail because he was threatened by bikers, Bruce said.

The boat, named the Leah Ward, had been docked on a marina in St. Augustine, Fla., last year when it was stolen. Mesure was arrested in April 2004 when he docked in Beaufort.

Bee-Deviled Church

KNOX, Pa. - Parishioners at one Pennsylvania church are buzzing -- about their bee problem. It's estimated that a million bees are living inside the walls of St. Mark United Church of Christ in Clarion County. Now the problem is so bad honey is oozing through the walls. After extermination failed, the church hired Eric McCool to get rid of the bees. He's a wildlife relocation expert who's finding the bees don't like the idea of moving. He says he's been stung 100 times this week while removing the bees. He ended up in a hospital ER. The bees are being turned over to a local bee keeper. Bees or no bees, the congregation plans to hold services as usual Sunday.

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