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The Odd Truth, Nov. 19, 2004

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

Ming Dish Nabs $5.7 Million

SAN FRANCISCO - If you think the price of crab is too high, imagine paying $5.7 million just for the dish it comes in.

The hand-me-down dish in question is a flowery, copper-red plate, 18 inches in diameter, made of extremely rare Ming dynasty porcelain. It fetched that price at auction this week.

Experts say it was made during the reign of the first Ming emperor, 1368 to 1398.

Around 1900, the plate came into the hands of Elinor Majors Carlisle, a California businesswoman, public education crusader and suffragette, during a visit to China. She used it to serve crab at family dinners.

The plate remained in the family home for about a century, until experts told Carlisle's great-grandchildren what they had.

The new owner is art dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi of London.

Snaggletooth Makeover

PHOENIX - A man released from prison after DNA tests proved him innocent of murder will be getting something to smile about.

A television show is giving cosmetic surgery and major dental work to a man once known as the "Snaggletooth Killer." A key piece of evidence against Ray Krone was his crooked smile.

The former postal worker was arrested in 1991 in connection with the killing of a Phoenix bartender. His first conviction was overturned. He was convicted again, but his death sentence was reduced to life in prison. Then DNA tests linked the crime to another man already in prison for another crime, and Krone was released two years ago.

Krone said then that he didn't expect to find a wife or have children because he had spent most of his 30's in prison. Now at 47, he hopes a makeover will give him a new start.

He'll be on the ABC reality show "Extreme Makeover."

Buzzing Luggage Lawsuit

ATLANTA - The case of the airline passenger and the sex toy will be heard today in federal appeals court in Atlanta. Renee Koutsouradis was on a Delta Air Lines jet awaiting takeoff in Dallas, when she was taken off the plane because something was buzzing in her luggage. She told a Delta security agent it was likely a sex toy, which she and her husband had just bought during a trip to Las Vegas. The woman says she was ordered to take the vibrator out of the bag, hold it up and remove the batteries in full view of some of the other passengers. She also claims a Delta baggage handler licked his lips and made sexually inappropriate comments. Her lawsuit against the Atlanta-based airline claims she has suffered nightmares and panic attacks because of Delta's handling of the vibrator incident.

A lower court judge dismissed the case.

Librarians Seek Jailtime For Overdue Offenders

BAY CITY, Mich. - Keeping library books too long could soon land some readers in jail.

Frustrated librarians want the worst offenders to face criminal charges and up to 90 days behind bars.

"We want to go after some of the people who owe us a lot of money," said Frederick J. Paffhausen, the library's system director. "We want to set an example."

Paffhausen, who took over as director in October, is asking the Bay County Library Board for permission to seek arrest warrants for offenders who ignore repeated notices. The board plans to consider the crackdown next month.

One patron from Bad Axe owes $1,190 for 73 items - mainly science-fiction books - hoarded for more than a year, Paffhausen said.

Patrons keep an average of $25,000 in overdue materials out of the library system each year, officials said.

That costs taxpayers money, because the library often must buy copies to replace unreturned materials, leaving less for new books, CDs and DVDs, Paffhausen said.

Currently, the library cuts off an offending patron's privileges and sends overdue notices. Daily fines of 5 to 10 cents per item are assessed. If the material is worth $75 or more, the patron receives a form letter from the prosecutor's office warning that it's a crime to keep library items.

Legible Prescription Note Draws Suspicion

THUNDER BAY, Ontario - A man convicted of forging a prescription has learned an unusual lesson - fine penmanship can get you into trouble with the law.

Garry Arnould pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of uttering a forged document.

Arnould's neat handwriting drew the suspicion of staff at a pharmacy when he handed over a prescription on June 7th.

Crown attorney Carl Busque told court the pharmacists' eyebrows were raised because the prescription appeared to be "pretty legible."

A call to the physician in question determined the prescription for a potentially addictive narcotic was not legitimate.

Police arrested Arnould a block from the drug store.

Arnould received a 30-day intermittent sentence, which he'll serve on weekends.

His lawyer and the judge both jokingly suggested he might want to practice scribbling.

Purse-Snatcher Meets His Match

OSLO, Norway - A purse-snatcher in a small Norwegian town picked the wrong 88-year-old woman to rob, since she was with a tough younger man at the time.

And her 78-year-old friend end up sending the thief to the hospital, and then to jail this week, the local newspaper Moss Avisen reported Friday.

The report said the thief was on a bicycle when he snatched the purse in Raade, a small town about 30 miles south of Oslo.

The 78-year-old man reacted instantly, grabbing hold of the purse and struggling with the 30-year-old thief.

During the struggle, the senior citizen dragged the young man off his bike and onto the asphalt.

The stunned thief got up - bleeding profusely from a cut on his head - and staggered off, still clutching the woman's wallet, which he had pulled from the purse.

Police quickly located him and took him to a hospital, where he needed seven stitches.

The suspect was detained pending indictment on the purse snatching, police said.

Neither the woman, her defender or the would-be purse-snatcher were identified.

Deathbed Confession: Mom Killed Dad

SOMERVILLE, Mass. - A woman dying of cancer confessed to her daughter that she killed her husband years earlier and hid the body, authorities said this week after finding the remains inside a storage unit.

Authorities did not release the names, but a sister identified the woman as Geraldine DiMarzio Kelley, who died Nov. 12 at 54.

On her deathbed, the woman allegedly told her daughter that she had killed her husband, John Kelley, when they lived in California.

About 14 years ago, the woman had apparently begun telling her children that their father had been killed in a car accident, according to Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley and Geraldine Kelley's sister, Tami DiMarzio.

"She told me he took off in the car and last she heard he had an accident, that he was hit by a truck or something," DiMarzio told WBZ-TV.

The woman's daughter told police about the confession, and they found the man's remains Thursday at a Somerville storage facility inside an unplugged freezer that was locked and sealed with duct tape, Coakley said.

The woman had shipped the freezer, with the body inside, from California six years ago, when she moved to Massachusetts, Coakley said.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause and approximate date of death.

"She believes she was a victim of domestic violence," Coakley said. "Whether that is accurate, we just have no idea at this time."

Ventura, Calif., police said they've been contacted by Massachusetts investigators about assisting with the investigation.