The Odd Truth, March 26, 2004

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


Jeepers Creepers, Hooters

WEST COVINA, Calif. - Digital videos of Hooters job seekers undressing were found on a computer seized from a trailer used by applicants at a new restaurant, police said.

Investigators found 180 videos of women, ages 17 to 25, who were asked to slip into Hooters uniforms, police said Wednesday.

Police were notified of possible video recording in late January, when two young women independently filed police reports saying that they believed they were secretly recorded during their interviews.

"We are dealing with victims who are shocked and feel betrayed," police Lt. Mark Dettor said.

Police also searched the home of Juan Aponte, 32, of Arcadia, a former general manager for the Hooters in Pasadena who no longer works for the company.

Aponte has not been arrested or charged. His attorney, Brian Michaels, declined to comment on the investigation and said his client would plead innocent to any possible charges.

Police said they will present their findings soon to prosecutors.

Hooters attorney Justin Johl said the company was outraged by the discovery and was conducting its own investigation.

Police Chief Frank Wills said Hooters cooperated fully with the investigation.

'Passion' Prompts Confession

HOUSTON - A man who had gotten away with murder confessed to police after seeing "The Passion of the Christ" and talking with a spiritual adviser, authorities said.

Dan R. Leach's viewing of Mel Gibson's cinematic depiction of the last hours of Jesus, along with the discussion with a family friend, led him to walk into the Fort Bend County sheriff's department earlier this month and confess to killing Ashley Nicole Wilson, Detective Mike Kubricht said Thursday.

A coroner had ruled her death by hanging a suicide,

Wilson's body was discovered Jan. 19 in her apartment near Richmond, southwest of Houston. All physical evidence pointed to suicide, Kubricht said, and the 19-year-old had gone off anti-depressant medications because she was pregnant.

The pregnancy apparently was the motive, Kubricht said, because Leach believed he was responsible and did not want to raise a child.

Leach, 21, wore gloves and left none of his own DNA behind, Kubricht said.

"He was very, very meticulous," Kubricht said. "It was very well-planned and well executed."

There was no answer at Leach's residence in Rosenberg on Thursday. He was arrested Tuesday, a day after his indictment for murder, and remained in county jail on $100,000 bond.

He was expected to get a court-appointed attorney, Kubricht said.

"Something (the adviser) said, between that and the movie, he felt in order for him to have redemption he would have to confess his sin and do his time," Kubricht said.

Leach faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Utah City Revokes Topless Maid Service Permit

WEST POINT, Utah - A woman has accused a northern Utah city of trying to sweep her topless maid business out of town.

The West Point City Council has revoked the home business license of Dee Dee Derian, saying she misused it by sometimes running the business from a cell phone outside her home.

The license allowed her to do scheduling and bookkeeping for Black Rose Maids, her topless maid service that also operates in Arizona and California.

Derian, 44, accused the city of discriminating against her because she's not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the dominant religion in Utah.

West Point officials say they are bound by law to prevent Derian from operating the business if it violates her license, and the decision had nothing to do with the nature of her business.

Since January, she has been operating without a license, and she filed a lawsuit this month accusing the city of wrongfully failing to renew it.

Derian received national attention in 2001 when her neighbors complained about her doing yard work in a bikini. Prosecutors declined to press charges after determining she hadn't broken the law.

Cops + Pot = Trouble

MOSCOW, Idaho - Two men may wish they hadn't called police after a burglary at their home.

They reported that their TV and VCR had been destroyed and their video game console was missing on Wednesday, said Latah County Sheriff's spokeswoman Darla Buckley.

But as deputies checked the perimeter of the home for suspects, they allegedly spotted some pot plants growing in a doorless shed.

Jason Wellman, 19, and Matthew Beyer, 18, were each charged with manufacturing marijuana with intent to deliver. They were taken into custody.

Investigators had no leads on the home burglary, Buckley said.

Sure, Blame The Cell Phone

CLARKS FERRY, Pa. - A trucker is recovering after a ringing cell phone apparently caused him to plunge 60 feet into a river.

Pennsylvania state police say the truck drifted off a bridge as the driver tried to answer a phone call.

A driver who was behind the truck when it plunged off the bridge says he was stunned to see the man emerge from the Susquehanna River alive.

The driver climbed out of his submerged cab and was hospitalized in good condition.

State police haven't said if the truck driver will face any charges.

'Now, About That Money ...'

HARTFORD, Conn. - When Rebecca Messier asked for her money back, she drew snickers from the courtroom crowd. The cash she requested was $8,500 from a failed bribe to a prosecutor that got her and her husband arrested.

Messier, of Tolland, appeared in Hartford Superior Court on Wednesday to argue that she is entitled to the money she gave a bagman for a crooked prosecutor six years ago.

The bagman was to give the money to the prosecutor, who was to argue for the early release from prison of Messier's husband, convicted child molester Joseph Messier.

The Messiers got in trouble because the prosecutor wasn't on the take, and the bagman was an undercover investigator with the chief state's attorney's office.

Joseph Messier, 64, pleaded guilty to bribery in December 1998 and was sentenced to four years in prison, concurrent with his sex assault sentence. He was released after serving less than six years behind bars for molesting two children.

Rebecca Messier was also charged with bribery, but she was granted a special form of probation that resulted in the charges being erased from her record.

Rebecca Messier now wants the state to return her money, which was found in a safe at the chief state's attorney's office in Rocky Hill in December. Her lawyer, James Armentano, filed a motion that was heard in court Wednesday.

"You want the money back?" a disbelieving Judge Elliot N. Solomon said.

Armentano said there is "a real basis" for the return of the money, because there was a renunciation of the bribery act by Rebecca Messier. In criminal law, renunciation occurs when a person voluntarily and completely abandons his intent to commit a crime, before the crime occurs.

Solomon agreed to hear arguments on the motion next month.

Still, he cautioned Messier and Armentano: "I wouldn't bring a bankbook with you. I don't think you're going to be bringing it back."

Santa Fe Considers Pet Seat Belts

SANTA FE, New Mexico - Buckle up, Bowser. Fasten your belt, Fluffy. Santa Fe is considering whether to make dogs and cats wear seat belts in the car.

An ordinance endorsed Tuesday by a City Council committee would require any animal in a vehicle to be restrained so it doesn't fall out. An animal in a truck bed would have to be crated or restrained.

Local pet stores already stock devices to restrain animals in vehicles, although managers said they don't sell many.

A "pet safety sitter," which sells for up to $21, has a strap that goes across a dog's chest, and a $27 "pickup tie-out" attaches to a collar so a dog can't jump out of a truck bed. There's even a little booster seat so a dog can see out of the window, with an attachment to keep the animal from jumping around.

Some other U.S. communities already have similar rules, the anti-abuse group American Humane said.

The proposed ordinance would also require leashes for dogs and cats on public property.