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The Odd Truth, June 25, 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.

Let's Play Stick 'Em Up!

NEILLSVILLE, Wisconsin - Police in Neillsville, Wisconsin, say he wasn't the brightest robbery suspect they've ever captured.

A masked man tried to rob a pharmacy armed only with his fingers.

Police say the man formed his gloved hand into the shape of a gun during the alleged stickup.

A witness says the suspect didn't bother to hide his pointed finger under a jacket or anything.

A pharmacy owner wasn't going to stand for it and wrestled with the suspect and ripped off his mask.

The would-be robber ran away and was arrested a short time later at a friend's house.

Slobodan Milosevic In Pa.

HARRISBURG, Pa. - He's a sewing machine operator at a Lebanon boot factory, not the notorious former Yugoslav president of the same name, but the federal government still wants to deport Slobodan Milosevic.

There is no relation between the two Serbs, said York lawyer Daniel Pell, who filed suit in federal court in Harrisburg last week in an attempt to forestall deportation proceedings against his client, now being held in the York County Prison.

The 45-year-old Milosevic entered the United States in 1992 in an attempt to avoid service with the Yugoslav army in Kosovo, according to court records. His claim that he could face persecution for dodging the military has previously been rejected by immigration officials.

His wife of nine months, American citizen Robin Milosevic, said someone involved in his case — she believes it was a government official — suggested his case might fare better if he changed his name.

"My husband is not guilty by association with his name," said Robin Milosevic, who described her husband as a staunch anti-communist and politically opposed to the former Yugoslav president, who is on trial for war crimes.

Escaped Monkeys Attack Woman, Child In China

BEIJING - Four monkeys escaped from a zoo in northeastern China and attacked a woman and her baby before three of the animals were shot to death by police, the official Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday.

The three adult monkeys and one baby escaped Monday from a zoo in Changtu county in Liaoning province, Xinhua said. It did not say what species they were.

The monkeys took refuge in a grove of trees and resisted attempts to recapture them, the report said.

"One of the monkeys pounced on a woman holding a child, biting her arm before leaping back into the tree," Xinhua said. It said police shot the adult monkeys "to prevent further attacks."

The baby monkey escaped and is still at large, Xinhua said.

As If Having A Stroke Wasn't Bad Enough ...

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A Swedish police officer convicted of assaulting a motorist, reckless driving and handcuffing a man he thought was drunk but was actually suffering a stroke, has returned to the force.

The officer, who wasn't identified in line with Swedish privacy rules, was convicted in 2000 of assaulting the rider of a mo-ped after he ran into the scooter with his police cruiser.

He was also arrested and convicted for breach of duty after he handcuffed a man he said was drunk, but was actually in the midst of suffering from a stroke. In each case, he was fined and given a suspended sentence.

Instead of being dismissed, he was transferred to Sweden's police academy to teach recruits how to handle personal conflict and fire guns.

But he's expected to be back on the force with the police in western Stockholm later this month.

Per Sandell, a member of the Swedish police disciplinary board, said the officer won't be fired because his convictions haven't run counter to the rules.

"To have a police officer fired, he must have grossly neglected his commitments to his employer, which is not the case," Sandell told The Associated Press Wednesday.

He added that just because the policeman had been sentenced for several different crimes, it wasn't enough to merit his dismissal.

The Lord's Perk

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey - It's not just pennies from heaven.

A former nun has hit the jackpot at a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Catherine Foy of Philadelphia won $1.5 million playing a slot machine. She had played just nine quarters when the bells started ringing on Sunday.

Foy says, "I always knew that the Lord was going to help me pay my bills, I just didn't know that it would be so soon."

The 56-year-old former nun took home a check for $78,000 and will receive an equal amount for the next 19 years.

Foy told the Press of Atlantic City that she'll pay off her debts and share the winnings with her family and her former order — the Sister Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary.

Hubby Wants To Stand For Wife's Feeding Fine

RAVENNA, Ohio - A husband thinks he should be prosecuted for his wife's failure to stop driving while she breastfed their baby on the Ohio Turnpike.

Catherine Nicole Donkers, 29, of suburban Pittsburgh, is to go on trial Aug. 6 on misdemeanor charges of child endangering, failure to comply with the order of a police officer and several other driving infractions.

Her husband, Brad L. Barnhill, said he wants to be tried instead, citing religious beliefs.

"I'm responsible for what she does, and no one can punish her except me," said Barnhill, 46, a minister in the First Christian Fellowship for Eternal Sovereignty, an organization founded by Christopher Hansen of Henderson, Nev., in the late 1990s.

"That's a fantasy," prosecutor Victor V. Vigluicci said Tuesday. "I've never heard such a thing."

The couple has not yet hired an attorney, according to court records.

A truck driver called 911 on May 8 to report that he had seen a woman driving her car with a baby in her lap.

Asked why his wife did not stop to nurse the child, Barnhill said she didn't want to turn "a five-hour trip to Michigan into a seven-hour trip."

A conviction for misdemeanor child endangering carries maximum penalties of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Holy Hospital!

MILTON, Mass. - Two weeks after people began flocking to Milton Hospital to look at an image in a window that they say looks like the Virgin Mary, some are seeing another image on the building's chimney.

Some see a cross, others say it's a second image of the Madonna.

"It's another sign ... there is hope for all of us, with all that is going on in the world," Soraya Rentas told The Boston Globe.

Believers say the image can be seen in the bright red brick, surrounded by soot, about five feet from the top of the chimney. The chimney is about 30 yards from the third-floor window where the Madonna was first spotted in condensation caused by a broken seal.

Tens of thousands of people have swarmed to the hospital in recent weeks, prompting hospital officials to request people visit only between 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Timing Is Everything

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Prosecutors want a judge to add 24 more hours to a drug convict's sentence.

The extra day would mean that Terry Dale Owen, 37, of State College, would have to serve his time in a state prison rather than in a county lockup.

Owen was sentenced to spend between three years and four years and 364 days in Centre County Prison after his April conviction for manufacturing and possessing marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Sentencing guidelines call for a three- to five-year prison term, but under Pennsylvania law anyone receiving a five-year sentence must serve it in a state correctional facility. Prosecutor Karen Kuebler said that Judge David Grine erred when he gave Owen a shorter sentence than called for by the guidelines.

Owen's attorney, Leslie Dutchcot, said the judge was right to deviate from the sentencing guidelines because Owen was never "a target of an investigation or a violent criminal."

Owen, who has Crohn's disease, said he was growing and using the marijuana for medicinal purposes. He is free on bail while he appeals his conviction.