The Odd Truth, March 1, 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.

Strapping Young Lad

SCOTTSBLUFF, Nebraska - For a guy who just turned 25, Jacob Foos doesn't look a day over 100. He was born on Leap Day 1904. So, yesterday the 100-year-old Foos celebrated his birthday for only the 25th time. Foos is a retired farmer, who now lives in a Scottsbluff, Nebraska, nursing home. He says he never expected to make it to 100. He credits his longevity to clean living. Foos says he never smoked or drank much. It also could be due to a lot of hard work. Foos says in his younger days he used to shovel 50 tons of beets a day on the farm.

'Passion' Of The Antichrist?

ROME, Ga. - Tickets at one movie theater screening Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" are being deemed decidedly unholy.

The number 666, which many Christians recognize as the "mark of the beast," is appearing on movie tickets for Gibson's film at a Georgia theater, drawing complaints from some moviegoers.

The machine that prints tickets assigned the number 666 as a prefix on all the tickets for the film, said Gary Smith, owner of the Movies at Berry Square in northwest Georgia. The 666 begins a series of numbers that are listed below the name of the movie, the date, time and price.

"It's from our computer and it's absolutely a coincidence," Smith said. "It has nothing to do with the film company or any vendor. It's completely in our computer."

In the Bible, the book of Revelation says 666 is the "number of the beast," usually interpreted as Satan or the Antichrist.

Several patrons have made comments about the numbers, and one person who was uncomfortable having 666 on her ticket asked for a pass to be substituted for a ticket.

"A lot of people have asked what the numbers mean, some said it seemed odd, some said it was inappropriate," said theater employee Erica Diaz.

The movie, which opened Wednesday, is a bloody depiction of Christ's final hours and crucifixion.

Hong Kong Couple Robbed, Tied To Tree

HONG KONG - Thieves robbed a Hong Kong couple and tied them to a tree in a park, but they were rescued more than 10 hours later after their family rang their mobile phone and a thief answered and explained where they were, police said Monday.

The man's mother became worried when her son and daughter-in-law failed to show up for a family meal Saturday night. She finally was able to get through to his mobile phone early Sunday, police said.

A male stranger answered and explained that a gang had robbed the couple on Saturday afternoon and left them "tied to a tree in Repulse Bay Country Park," according to police spokeswoman Seiko Ho.

Police soon were able to free the couple. They had been tied up for more than 10 hours and suffered rope burns to their wrists and legs but no other injuries, police said.

The 37-year-old man, surnamed Tang, and his 34-year-old wife, surnamed Tam, were robbed of $36 but the thieves also made off with their bank cards and PIN numbers, Ho said. It was not clear how much money the thieves might have withdrawn from the couple's bank.

Police said the four robbers probably entered Hong Kong illegally from mainland China. No suspects were immediately caught.

Elderly Man Dies In Yard After Refusing Doctor

ORLANDO, Florida - An 83-year-old man who lay injured in his yard for three days, ordering his wife not to call doctors, died after being exposed to rain and temperatures that dropped to 55 degrees, authorities said.

Glen Schibley was found dead Thursday with his wife by his side. He had been working in his yard Monday when he fell and could not get up, said Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jim Solomons.

Schibley told his 79-year-old wife, Harriet, not to call authorities because of previous bad experiences with doctors, Solomons said.

Harriet Schibley was also injured as she brought her husband food, water and medicine and covered him with a tarp during rainstorms, Solomons said. She slept beside him at least once.

The couple was found by their son-in-law when he came by to check up on them. Neighbors never saw them because of a fence around the junk-strewn yard.

During the three days, the temperature once dropped to 55. Nearly 2.5 inches of rain fell in Orlando on Tuesday.

"I don't know what was on Harriet's mind. She loved the man deeply," neighbor Tim Elfman said Friday. "If he said don't call anybody, I guess she figured he would get up."

Harriet Schibley was in fair condition at a hospital Friday.

Missing Body Parts, Minor Detail

LONDON - A British couple who unwittingly bought a house where a teenage girl was murdered and dismembered are suing because the sellers did not tell them about the crime.

Alan and Susan Sykes say they discovered their house's history by watching a TV documentary about Samson Perera, who killed his 13-year-old adopted daughter and hid her body parts around the house and garden in 1984. He was sentenced to life in prison.

A judge already rejected the Sykes' lawsuit seeking damages from the sellers, and the couple went Friday to the Court of Appeals.

Their lawyer said the Sykes could no longer bear living in the house near Wakefield in northern England, which they bought for the equivalent of $156,000 in December 2000 and sold at a loss of $14,000.

"Knowing there were still undiscovered body parts in the house was particularly horrific," lawyer Clive Freedman told the appeals court.

Police Fired After Ticket-Writing Contest Exposed

PORTERDALE, Ga. - A Porterdale police officer accused of having a traffic ticket-writing contest with another officer has been fired after refusing to hand in his resignation.

Part-time officer Frank Jackson told officials Friday that he and Erin Cox, also a part-time officer, were just "doing their jobs" and refused to surrender his job, City Manager Tom Fox said.

Meanwhile, Cox turned in her resignation, The Rockdale Citizen reported Saturday.

The contest was revealed when City Court Judge C. David Strickland overheard the officers talking about it recently.

Strickland was faced with an unusually large court docket of 240 tickets for January - more than double the monthly average of 100. Jackson and Cox were responsible for about 150 of them, said Mayor Paul Oeland.

Some tickets were for minor offenses including not reporting an address change to the state or having defective equipment on a vehicle, it was first reported in The Covington News.

Oeland said he checked into the matter and determined that although the tickets were legitimate, many were "petty in nature." Strickland threw out a majority of the cases, he said.

Singapore Cracks Down On Student Hair Styles

SINGAPORE - Singapore schools have barred some students from collecting their exam results because their long or dyed hair breaks school rules, a head teacher and a newspaper said Saturday.

About a dozen male students - some of whom may have already finished their careers at school - were blocked from entering Hong Kah Secondary School on Friday to pick up their O-level grades because they sported long or dyed hair - and in some cases sideburns and earrings - all of which are banned under state school rules, principal Mary Bay told The Associated Press.

"It's all about self discipline and it's the same practice as in any other school," Bay said.

Similar scenes played out at secondary schools across the tightly controlled city-state as school authorities cracked down on 16- and 17-year-old students who had adopted a trendier look since taking their exams in October, the New Paper reported.

No students at Singapore secondary schools are allowed to dye their hair, Bay said.

Boys must have short hair and girls must tie back their long hair, she said, adding that the rules have existed for as long as she can remember.

Students at Bay's school were told they would only receive their exam results once they cut their hair. Some complied, but others remained defiant.

"No way will I cut my hair or color it black again, " The New paper quoted Hong Kah student Muhd Hilmi as saying. "That's the way my hair was before the exams and I don't see any reason why I should change it now."

In the 1960s and 70s, at the height of the hippie era, visitors to Singapore with long hair could not enter the country until they got it trimmed. Signs in the post office warned in four languages: "Males with long hair will be attended to last."