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The Odd Truth, Nov. 25, 2004

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


FREDERICTON, New Brunswick - A New Brunswick man is taking the experience of having a catchy advertising jingle or slogan stuck in your head to a whole new level.

Andy Quinlan of Fredericton has put himself on the eBay auction block, offering his recently shaved head as an advertising billboard to companies.

The starting bid (in U.S. dollars) for the 26-year-old's smooth head is $27,500.

If a company wants to use his entire head, there would be "extra costs involved."

The tattoo will be permanent, but the price tag commits Quinlan to keep his head shaved for only six months.

After that, he would enter further negotiations with the buyer.

Quinlan says he will go to public places at least five times a week to show off his head.

Rare Mozart Fingerprint Found

SALZBURG, Austria - It's a historian's equivalent of stumbling across a long-lost sonata - a fingerprint on an ancient letter that experts say may have been left by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's father.

Researchers in Salzburg, Mozart's birthplace, said Thursday they were trying to determine if the print actually belonged to the composer's father.

The fingerprint was found on a letter dating to the mid-1700s that appeared to have been written by Leopold Mozart, Salzburg historian Christian Moser told Austrian media. He said it appeared to have been left by accident when the writer got ink on a finger by mistake.

"One doesn't find a fingerprint from Leopold Mozart every day," said Erich Marx, director of Salzburg's Carolino Augusteum museum.

The letter alone is significant, since there are only about 20 examples of the elder Mozart's handwriting in existence today, experts said.

Austria has designated 2006 as a year of Mozart celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth. Scientists, meanwhile, are using DNA tests to determine whether a skull kept by the International Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg is part of Mozart's remains.

Masked Robber's Emotional Rollercoster

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A masked robber who beat his victim was remorseful enough to take the man to the hospital for treatment, but his change of heart didn't last long. Within hours, the thief was telephoning threats to the victim, who was an acquaintance, authorities said.

The attack happened Monday, according to a report to the Shelby County Sheriff's Department by victim Hollis Studdard.

Studdard was in his garage when he was struck from behind several times with a tree branch. He then grabbed the limb from his assailant, hit him back and recognized his attacker.

"I know it's you, Michael," he told the robber, who pulled off his ski mask and apologized, according to police reports.

"I didn't mean for this to happen," the attacker said. "You were supposed to get knocked out and I was going to take your wallet and truck."

Studdard declined to give up his pickup keys.

"You're bleeding," the robber said. "I'm going to drive you to the hospital."

He took Studdard to Baptist Memorial Hospital, gave Studdard the truck keys and walked away.

The sheriff's departments in Shelby and Fayette counties are now looking for the robber, who later phoned threats to the victim's home.

Statue Stolen, Sunk In River

THOMASVILLE, Ga. - Police in Thomasville are scratching their heads over the odd case of a man who apparently stole an enormous bronze horse statue on a dare, then sank it in a local river when he realized he couldn't hide it.

Authorities say the culprit would've needed a crane to remove the $4,000 statue from the entrance to a Thomasville subdivision. The crime occurred either late Thursday or early Friday.

Thomas County Sheriff's Department Investigator Jason Shoudel said, "It's the statue for the neighborhood. It makes the neighborhood."

Police asked the public for help, thinking someone must have noticed a bronze horse 8 feet long and 6 feet tall. A few days later, there was a crack in the case.

A tipster said a local man had taken the horse on a dare and plunged in into the Ocklocknee River.

Another investigator, Bob Brettel, said authorities questioned the suspect, James Barden, who "basically admitted" to taking it.

Barden took investigators to where he hid the statue, under a bridge, chest-deep in the middle of the river.

"He didn't want anybody to find it," Brettel told the Thomasville Times-Enterprise newspaper. "I think when he realized what he'd done, he acted out of fear, thinking 'What am I going to do with it? I've got to get rid of it,' and took it down there and hid it."

But that was when more problems surfaced for Barden.

Once he got to the river and tried to dump the horse, Barden realized the statue would not sink. The hollow horse had to fill with water first. Barden said he rode the horse into the middle of the Ochlockonee River before it started sinking.

He's been charged with felony theft. The horse was saved. Police tied a rope around one of the horse's legs and dragged it out with a truck.

The Importance Of Good Penmanship

CARLISLE, Pa. - A man who robbed a bank by handing a teller a note demanding money written on one of his own checks was sentenced to 11 to 23 months in Cumberland County Prison for that and other crimes.

In another crime, Gerald F. Rohrer Jr., 32, handed a teller at another bank a note demanding money, authorities said, but his penmanship was so bad that the teller had to ask him what he wanted.

The two bank robberies netted a total of $800.

Rohrer also stole more than $1,000 from a Plainfield convenience store where he worked, according to court records.

Public Defender Jessica Rhoades said Tuesday that Rohrer committed the crimes to pay for his crack cocaine addiction.

Gun-Toting Granny

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida - A 79-year-old woman was arrested at Fort Lauderdale International Airport when security screeners found an unloaded gun in her carry-on bag, sheriff's officials said.

Margaret Anderson was planning to board a flight on Bahamas Air Tuesday when an X-ray scanner revealed a small handgun inside the bag, and Broward Sheriff's Office deputies took her and her luggage into custody, spokesman Jim Leljedal said in a news release.

Deputies found a single-shot Colt Derringer in a gun case built to resemble a hardcover book, with seven .22-caliber bullets in the case next to the weapon, the sheriff's office said.

Anderson, of Bonita Springs, told deputies and reporters she knew the gun case contained a pistol, but had forgotten it was in the tote bag. She said she had put the gun in the bag when she recently moved and never removed it, the sheriff's office said.

She was booked into Broward County Jail on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon and later released on $1,000 bond. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

"I'm awful sorry. I wouldn't harm a soul," Anderson said after her release.