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The Odd Truth, Sept. 12, 2003

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.


Dead Spouse, On The Rocks

PHOENIX — A 75-year-old man stored his wife's body for nearly six years in his backyard, twisted and upside down in an old freezer, because he hoped she could someday be brought back to life, authorities said.

When police went to Edwin Rowlette's they discovered the body packed in dry ice and insulation and stored along with the bodies of ten dead cats. Rowlette told police he used the cats for research.

Rowlette was arrested last week on a felony charge of crimes against the dead. Investigators are trying to determine if he legally acquired his wife's body from a funeral home and whether he submitted the proper documents.

One Nutty Protester

LONDON -- A protester rolled a nut to Prime Minister Tony Blair's doorstep with his nose on Friday, completing a 7-mile journey across London aimed at highlighting the issue of student debt.

Mark McGowan, 37, crawled on his hands and knees for 11 days as he pushed the nut from Goldsmiths College in southeast London to Downing Street using his nose.

"I wanted to do something that was particularly difficult, so I think I've proved the point there," said McGowan, who wore a bandage on the tip of his nose. He had spent eight hours a day since Sept. 1 pushing the nut through the capital.

McGowan gave the nut to a member of Blair's office with a letter asking the prime minister to accept it as payment for his $24,000 of student debt.
Asked whether McGowan's debt would be canceled in return for the nut, Blair's office said it was "not for us to be involved in his financial dealings."

The Little Alibi That Couldn't

PITTSBURGH -- A man who thought he had hatched a perfect alibi to charges that he murdered a man in a barroom shooting two years ago had his scheme foiled when a letter asking a friend to lie for him was returned and was read by jail guards.

In the letter, Demetrius Murrell, 24, asked his friend for "a little alibi" during his upcoming trial on charges that he shot and killed a 19-year-old man in a Pittsburgh bar on March 24, 2001.

"Really, I'm home free. Or almost. I need you to come and say you were there and that you know it wasn't me," Murrell wrote in the letter.

But his friend never got the letter. Murrell apparently had an incorrect address and not enough postage, so the letter was returned to the Allegheny County Jail — where it was read by jail guards.

Murrell pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of third-degree murder after prosecutors read the letter in court.

Dumb And Dumber

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Two would-be robbers left an Indiana convenience store empty-handed after getting into an argument about the contents of a note they handed to the clerk.
The two men entered the 7-Eleven store in Mishawaka, just east of South Bend.
They left the store and came back a few minutes later. One of them handed the clerk a note saying, in part, "put it in the bag."
When the clerk said she didn't understand what that meant, the man who handed her the note said he didn't know either because his buddy wrote it.
The two men began to argue and left the store. They are still at large.

Inmate Arachnophobia

DAVISBORO, Ga. -- An inmate is suing the prison where she is serving a 10-year sentence for burglary and aggravated assault because she says the facility is infested with spiders.

Marcia Wall's lawsuit in federal court in Atlanta says she and other inmates at the Washington State Prison in Davisboro have been bitten repeatedly by spiders and that medical officials have denied them proper treatment.

"They live here with us," Wall said. "We've got to share this place with them. But it's getting crazy."

"We don't want anyone to get bit by spiders," Department of Corrections spokeswoman Scheree Lipscomb said. "We're responsible for their health as well as their well-being. Any time they let us know, we try to correct the problem that is happening."

Wall and other inmates want prison officials to seal faulty window screens, clean up webs around the prison grounds and take their medical claims seriously.