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The Odd Truth, Sept. 14, 2004

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

Right Kid, Wrong Womb

NEW YORK - A black couple whose embryo was mistakenly implanted into a white surrogate mother has settled a lawsuit against the fertility clinic doctor who made the mistake.

Robert and Deborah Perry-Rogers accepted the settlement just as jury selection was to begin in New York. Court papers indicate the doctor, Michael Obasaju, admitted the mistake.

The surrogate mother gave birth to two boys, one white and one black. Perry-Rogers was implanted only with her own fertilized eggs; none of those produced a fetus.

The Rogers sought and won custody of their baby. Attempts by the surrogate mother to secure visitation rights were rejected by a court.

Wheelchair Bandit Strikes!

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - A 34-year-old man in a wheelchair was arrested Tuesday after attacking and attempting to rob a man who had tried to help him, police said.

The would-be Good Samaritan came across the man in a wheelchair with two flat rubber tires in front of his house in the center of Amsterdam. He invited the wheelchair-bound man inside for a cup of coffee, whereupon the man grabbed his host and demanded money, police said.

When the host refused, the wheelchair-bound man stabbed him with a knife.

"The two fell to the floor wrestling," said police spokesman Leo Dortland. Neighbors heard the struggle and alerted police, who arrived while the pair were still grappling.

Dortland said a strange detail was that the man who was attacked had also spent years in a wheelchair before being fitted with prosthetic legs.

"They were total strangers. It's a bizarre case," Dortland said.

The host was treated for minor injuries and released.

Hair-Raising Prank

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A man was sentenced to probation Monday for snatching the hairpiece off the head of another man at a restaurant.

Paul J. Goudy, 25, of Lemoyne, pleaded guilty Monday to theft by unlawful taking. He was sentenced to 23 months' probation, fined $500 and ordered to write a letter of apology.

The victim, Edward Floyd, was sitting in the Fisaga restaurant in Harrisburg on Jan. 1 when Goudy ripped the hairpiece off his head, taking with it a gold chain that hung from his neck, according to court documents.

"Don't these guys have anything better to do than to rob and humiliate someone for absolutely no reason in the world? It's just outrageous," said Floyd, 60, of Harrisburg. "I'm a nice guy. I don't bother anybody."

Goudy said another man, Matthew G. Flinchbaugh, 26, of Wormleysburg, had offered him $100 to do it as a dare. Flinchbaugh is scheduled to be arraigned next month on charges of soliciting Goudy to steal the hairpiece.

Flinchbaugh's lawyer, William Fetterhoff, said the prank was "an exercise in very poor judgment."

"It's the sort of prank that when you're on the other end - as Mr. Floyd was - it's not funny at all," he said.

Flinchbaugh is expected to request entry into a first-time offender's program.

Floyd said he is examining the possibility of a lawsuit against Flinchbaugh, although he said he might drop the idea if Flinchbaugh apologizes.

"It has literally affected my entire life, and for what? What did I do?" Floyd said.

The World's Most Confusing World Record Bid

VIENNA, Austria - You do the math: Can 1,000 firefighters pump 27,000 gallons of water from one alpine lake over a 2,625-foot-high mountain into another lake 15 miles away?

Helmut Auerbach isn't sure, either - but he and other organizers of the stunt hope to pull it off and secure a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

Their Sept. 26 attempt, which has never been tried before, will involve linking Lake Attersee in Upper Austria province with Lake Traunsee to the east by laying a seemingly endless line of fire hoses across mountainous terrain and then pumping dyed water through it all.

"We hope that 54 pumps will do the trick, monitored by a notary public who has to certify that the colored water comes out at the other end" in the town of Altmuenster, Auerbach told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

"Another problem is the flow and pressure of the water through hoses measuring 10 centimeters in diameter," he said, speaking from Steinbach on Lake Attersee.

Auerbach said the water will be dyed as it enters the pumps so the official will be able to certify that the firefighters didn't add water from other sources to make their feat easier.

If that's not offbeat enough, here's another: In a parallel record attempt, runners of all ages plan to try to beat the speed of the water by covering the same distance on a road parallel with the water course.

Their race will begin the moment the first pump goes into action.

Donald Rumsfeld Couldn't Have Said It Better Himself

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - It's a public event that's not so public after all.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was scheduled to visit Fort Campbell on Tuesday, and a press release issued by the Army base said, "The public event is closed to the public."

A corrected release went out about an hour later Friday saying the event was closed to the general public.

"It was just an honest mistake," said Cathy Gramling, a Fort Campbell spokeswoman.

During his visit, Rumsfeld was scheduled to speak to troops at the parade field, tour a museum and have a news conference. Soldiers, retirees and family members were allowed to attend.

One Man's Sex Offense Is Another Man's Art

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The "naked photographer" is pleading guilty. Stephen Linnen was accused of flashing with his camera. Authorities in Columbus, Ohio, charge that the nude Linnen would surprise unsuspecting women then take pictures of their shocked expressions. Yesterday, he entered guilty pleas to 53 counts as part of a deal with prosecutors. He faces up to a year and-a-half in jail. The original counts carried a possible 15-year prison sentence. Sentencing will be in a couple of weeks. A judge will decide then if the "naked photographer" has to register as a sex offender, too.

A Big Charge For Just A Little Phlegm

LUFKIN, Texas - Two young men face felony charges after one of them allegedly spat in a drink he was serving to an East Texas police officer.

Brian Strban, 19, and Nathaniel Allen Baker, 22, were workers at a Lufkin Sonic Drive-In where the incident allegedly happened Sept. 3, according to a police affidavit.

Both were arrested last week and charged with second-degree felony tampering with a consumer product. If convicted, both could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined up to $10,000, The Lufkin Daily News reported in its online editions Monday.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City-based Sonic hamburger chain said both workers were fired.

According to the affidavit, the officer ordered a soft drink, but when he received the beverage he noticed several workers inside the kitchen laughing. The police officer, who was not identified, opened the drink and noticed what appeared to be phlegm floating on the surface.

The affidavit says lab tests confirmed his suspicions. It alleged that Strban planned the prank after recognizing the officer as one who had interrupted him and his girlfriend having a romantic interlude at a local parking spot. According to the affidavit, Strban has acknowledged encouraging Baker to spit in the drink.

Police say both suspects have given DNA samples, but no test results have been disclosed.