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The Odd Truth, Sept. 18, 2004

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

Overtime Crime

TEMECULA, Calif. - A robber nicknamed the "9 to 5 bandit" was working late when he held up a Wells Fargo bank branch at about 5:30 p.m., the FBI reported.

The robber shows up at banks wearing a dress shirt and tie, giving the appearance he's dropping by on a free moment from his office. He is believed to have hit a half-dozen banks in Southern California since July 2.

Usually he waits patiently in line for a teller, asks for a deposit slip, then hands over a note that reads, "I have a gun ... I will use it. Give me your hundreds, fifties and twenties," the FBI said.

For Friday's robbery, the bandit wore a blue dress shirt, dark tie and dark dress slacks. This time, however, he displayed a gun in his waistband and threatened to kill the teller and take hostages if she did not comply.

The man is described as about 25 to 38, standing about 6 feet to 6 feet 4 inches tall, with a lean build, light complexion and a goatee. He weighs about 190 to 220 pounds and has green, faded tattoos on his right hand and the right side of his neck.

Aliens Did It!

NAPOLEON, Ohio - Corey Cook didn't heed warnings from his girlfriend not to do anything corny if he proposed to her. In fact, he did just the opposite.

Cook paid a northwest Ohio farmer to carve the words, "Michelle, will you marry me?" into his cornfield. A heart surrounded the message, which covered about seven acres.

It was large enough for Michelle See to spot it from a small plane the couple took from Columbus to a family cabin in northeast Indiana.

She laughed after she said yes.

"She just started giggling like a little girl on Christmas morning," said Cook, who gave her a ring in the air above his cornfield message.

Cook hired Brad Leaders to put the message in his family's cornfield.

Leaders drew the message on graph paper and used it as a guide to hand-pull corn plants to make the design in the field.

Each letter was about 5 feet wide.

"We hoped it looked right," Leaders said. "You don't know until you see it from the air."

I'm Not Dead!

TORONTO - Dane Squires was late for his own funeral. At least it seemed that way after people gathered Thursday at a Toronto funeral home to mourn the retired welder from Newfoundland whom they believed had been hit by a train.

Relatives of Squires were watching the casket being loaded into a hearse when his daughter Trina was told she had an important phone call.

Her father was on the other end.

"She totally, totally lost it," Squires' brother Gilbert said.

"She said, `There's a ghost talking to me on the phone. Please somebody try to make sense out of this because I'm losing my mind.'"

Squires was initially identified as the man who was hit by a commuter train last Friday night. The body was badly mutilated in the accident but still fit Squires' description, police said. Authorities haven't yet identified the victim.

"He went to my sister's house and whoever answered the door fainted," said Gilbert Squires, noting his brother didn't become aware of the confusion until he read his own obituary in the newspaper.

Squire's sister identified the dead man as her brother after viewing the body at the coroner's office this week, police said.

Dastardly Dart Defrauding

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Poison dart tips, a Brazilian woman's keepsakes laced with deadly frog secretions, were stolen from an office at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Authorities said the bizarre theft of tips, a bow, an arrow and a tribal necklace, poses an extreme danger to public safety. When tribesmen hunted tree monkeys and other South American prey they used the poison dart tips. Some of them were 20 years old.

The items were taken late Wednesday or early Thursday from the office of Coal Oil Point Reserve executive director Christina Sandoval.

"It's one of these strange things," university police Sgt. Mark Signa said. "We need to find them to keep anybody from getting hurt."

Sandoval said the purloined items were keepsakes from her time as a master's degree student in her homeland of Brazil. They were gifts from natives she met while she was a student at Universidad de Campinas.

"The were just meant as a decoration piece, a memory," she said. "I hope it's not just a kid that is playing with it. It just would be horrible. Those are not toys."

The 10 to 20 dart tips were kept in a brown pouch.

Native South Americans apply secretions from several species of frogs to poison arrow tips, which then are used to hunt howler monkeys, spider monkeys, capybaras or other medium-sized to large mammals, she said.

Mr. Nurse

LINCOLN, Neb. - More than 65 nurses applied to pose for a calendar to promote the profession. But don't compare any of these pinups to Florence Nightingale.

Twelve men - all nurses - were selected to grace the pages of the "Nebraska Men in Nursing 2005 Calendar."

Adam Hinrikus, a nurse at Grand Island's St. Francis Medical Center, is Mr. April. He works the night shift in the critical intensive care unit.

Mr. January is Todd Weldon - an acute care and emergency nurse at the Community Memorial Hospital in Syracuse. And he's heard it all before.

"You hear, `Oh, that's a girls' job,'" Weldon said. "But that doesn't bother me."
The Nebraska Hospital Association is using the calendars as a recruiting tool and to raise money for nursing scholarships for both sexes.

There's a severe shortage of nurses in the state, the association says. According to the Nebraska Center for Nursing, there are more than 26,000 Nebraska nurses, but only about 1,100 of them are men.

While about 65 of them sought to grace the new calendar, a committee narrowed down the selection to 12 who represent various areas of nursing, such as anesthesia, pediatrics, burn, flight and emergency.

St. Elizabeth Regional Center nurse Todd Miller - the calendar's Mr. October - acknowledges there is a stereotype about men in nursing, but he certainly doesn't fit it. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound former Nebraska linebacker works in the Lincoln hospital's critical care unit.

"We don't like the term `male nurse,'" he said. "But I find myself using it a lot, too."