The Odd Truth, March 29, 2004

SUV hero
The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum.

The Odd Truth is moving. Beginning Monday, April 5, the Odd Truth will be located in our new Features section. You can find the Features section in the lower right-hand corner of the home page and in the upper right-hand corner of each news section, national, world, health, etc.

Hot Shot

SAN ANTONIO - A woman was shot in the hip Friday morning while cooking a meal after the heat of the oven discharged a .357 revolver that she didn't know was hidden inside.

Roxanne Perez, 29, was in good condition at Wilford Hall Medical Center.

An acquaintance stored the gun for safekeeping in the bottom drawer of Perez's oven about two weeks ago, then "completely forgot about it" according to a police report.

Perez, who said had no idea a gun was in the oven, said she heard several shots then felt a sharp pain in her left hip.

Police have ruled the shooting an accident, and said they do not expect to file criminal charges.

More Dud Than Stud

PHILADELPHIA - It's a celebrity divorce in Philadelphia - and the guy is being sent packing. In this case, Chaka the male gorilla has been more dud than stud. After five years with no baby gorillas, zookeepers have decided to send Demba and Chaka their separate ways. Demba, the female, will stay at the Philadelphia Zoo. But Chaka will go to Columbia, South Carolina, in May. It's hoped he'll find a pair of young females there a little more interesting than Demba. The two never hit it off, and zookeepers don't know if they ever mated. Chaka had quite a reputation as a stud before his arrival Philadelphia.

Polaroid Flasher

VILLA RICA, Ga. - Police charge Kenneth James Stokes with leaving more than a business card. According to officers in Villa Rica, Georgia, Stokes took Polaroid pictures of himself from the waist down - showing everything. Officers accuse Stokes of leaving these nude pictures under the windshield wipers of women's cars. Police say Stokes wanted to see their reactions when they saw the photos. But according officers, a security camera in a Wal-Mart parking lot captured Stokes leaving his nude pictures on at least two cars. Police are asking for help from other women who might have been victims of the Polaroid flasher. Stokes has been charged with distributing obscene material and released on bond.

Vermont Buddhist Lives With 300 Goats

CORINTH, Vermont - State officials are investigating a man whose goats and his religious convictions against killing them have collided in a possibly inhumane and definitely stinky way.

There were three goats on the farm Chris Weathersbee's mother bought seven years ago. Now there are 300 - including 70 living in his house, much of which is covered with a mix of goat droppings and hay.

Authorities last month raided the farm in Corinth, about 20 miles southeast of Montpelier, and seized 44 deemed unhealthy by a veterinarian. State police and the Central Vermont Humane Society are weighing whether to pursue animal cruelty or neglect charges.

"He has more goats than he can care for," said Sherry LeMay, the humane society's director of operations.

Weathersbee, 63, admits he cannot afford to give the herd sufficient care, but he refuses to get rid of the animals. He said his Buddhist religious views prohibit him from slaughtering any of the goats.

Weathersbee said he brought dozens of invalid goats and nursing mothers with babies inside his home last December because of cold temperatures.

His only income is from monthly disability checks, which, he said, he spends mostly on hay at a cost of $150 a day in the winter. He's in debt $15,000 to his neighbors for hay.

Weathersbee said he wants time to find a group that does not believe in slaughtering animals to take the 30-acre farm and house. In exchange, he wants to remain with the goats, living in the barns and fields.

Drug Testers Trade Urine Stories

PHILADELPHIA - Sherri Vogler says she's seen it all. Vogler runs a Houston company that tests urine samples for drugs. She and other drug testing professionals shared their war stories at a recent Philadelphia conference. Vogler says people trying to beat drug tests try everything from adding chemicals to their urine to using a fake organ called a Whizzinator. But Vogler says most of the scams don't work. She says the testers are able to keep a step ahead of the drug users. Urine, of course, is body temperature. Vogler says when someone turns in a cold sample - or one that's been obviously heated with a lighter - you know something is wrong.

Forget Four-Leaf Clovers, Try 11

SEATTLE - Four-leaf clovers are no big deal to Ed Zumbuhl. Good luck to him would be finding a 12-leaf clover. The retired dairy supply salesman has a collection of about 2,300 clover plants. He doesn't bother counting the four-leaf ones. But he's got 185 six-leafers and even an eleven-leaf clover. Zumbuhl tells the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the hobby found him when he was eleven. He says walking through a field, he found so many four-leaf clovers he could have filled a quart jar. Zumbuhl doesn't read too much into the myth that clover is lucky. He points out it's a weed that grows just about everywhere.

Thai PM's Daughter Flips Burgers

BANGKOK, Thailand - If Paetongtarn Shinawatra thought she could keep a low profile Monday on her first day working at McDonald's, her hopes were dashed when her father, Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, dropped by for a takeaway.

Thaksin, who became one of Thailand's richest men by investing in telecommunications, let the phalanx of reporters trailing him know that even in the family of a billionaire, the younger generation must learn the value of money and hard work.

"Thai kids, when they finish school, they don't know how to work," said Thaksin, as his giggly daughter stood by. Paetongtarn, 17, will be earning 23.75 baht ($0.60) per hour in her part-time job.

"I just want her to have the experience and to know about life, because she is the youngest child and when she was born her parents already had status," he said. "Money isn't the main issue. We want her to find experience."

Thaksin didn't say how long he expected his daughter to work at the fast-food restaurant.

Paetongtarn's older sister and brother are among the country's richest shareholders, thanks to a law forcing Cabinet ministers and their wives to give up their shares in most public companies. Thaksin transferred his holdings to his two oldest children in exchange for token payments.

But Paetongtarn will have the satisfaction of knowing she is following in her parents' footsteps.

When Thaksin studied for his undergraduate degree in criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University in the United States, he worked at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. And when he pursued a doctorate at Sam Houston State University in Texas in the late 1970s, his wife Potjaman helped pay the bills with a job at Burger King.