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The Odd Truth, Sept. 22, 2004

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

Crushed By A Crucifix

ROME - A woman was killed Wednesday when a 6.6-foot high metal crucifix fell on her head in a small town in southern Italy, police said.

Maddalena Camillo, 72, was walking in the main square in the village of Sant'Onofrio when the crucifix toppled from a monument that was being restored for a religious celebration, police said.

Sant'Onofrio is in the region of Calabria, the toe of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula, about 370 miles south of Rome.

'Spider-Man' - Without The Web

PARIS - A French urban climber who calls himself "Spider-Man" scaled a 59-story Paris office building Wednesday with his bare hands and without using any ropes.

Alain Robert took less than 45 minutes to climb the nearly 700-foot-tall Montparnasse Tower building, gripping the metal girders on his way up. At the top, he waved to a small crowd that gathered on the ground, some shouting "Allez, Alain!", or "Go, Alain!"

"This is a bit long," Robert, 42, said of his climb. "There are some metallic rails which are a bit slippery. It's difficult to stick the feet inside so it's a bit uncomfortable. I mean, I have to climb quite quickly. I have to be able to keep the rhythm. And today it's windy, it's a bit cold."

Robert, renowned for climbing without ropes or other equipment, has scaled the Eiffel Tower and more than 30 skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building in 1994 and Malaysia's Petronas Twin Towers in 1997.

In April 2003, Robert donned a shirt with the message, "No war," and scaled the 47-story headquarters of oil giant TotalFina Elf outside Paris to protest the war in Iraq.

Nazi Bullet Found In Man's Knee

LEADINGTON, Mo. - Ralph Heine figured his knee was shot. At age 86, he thought his balky joint was just a sign of old age.

Turns out he was carrying a souvenir from World War II for nearly six decades: A bullet to the knee.

During a recent medical exam of a problematic hip and knee, X-rays revealed a bullet that had eluded detection since Heine was shot by Nazi troops in early 1945.

Heine was serving with the 42nd Rainbow Division in the Alsace region of France. He recalled his story during a weekend event in the eastern Missouri town Leadington to honor prisoners of war and those missing in action.

"I got shot in the shoulder, and when I went down they shot me again in the leg. I thought that bullet only grazed me," he said. "I didn't think it went in."

After being wounded, Heine was taken prisoner by German troops and spent several weeks in a hospital. He was transferred from one prisoner of war camp to another over four months, and was in a stalag near Munich, Germany, when finally liberated by Allied troops.

Police Nail The Mad Tacker

DALTON, Ga. - Authorities say they've nailed The Mad Tacker.

Robert Holcomb had a sharp grudge against local police, and now he's accused of criminal damage for allegedly throwing nails on the roads in front of the police station and jail for more than six months.

Holcomb, dubbed The Mad Tacker by police, is blamed for flattening tires of at least seven sheriff's patrol cars and seven personal vehicles of Whitfield County 911 Center employees.

"Sooner or later he got just about everybody coming and going," said sheriff's Maj. John Gibson.

Holcomb, 35, was arrested after an officer spotted him dumping nails on a street near the county jail.

The officer pulled over Holcomb's car. During a search, authorities found two boxes of galvanized roofing nails, one box of aluminum siding nails and a bowl containing roofing nails.

Holcomb was charged with first-degree criminal damage to property, damaging government property, first-degree criminal trespass, littering and interference with government property. He was jailed Monday on $35,000 bail.

Actors Arrested During Bank Robbery Scene

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro - A group of Serbian actors filming a bank robbery scene played their parts so well that police mistook them for the real thing and hauled them off to a police station, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

The crew was filming the robbery scene Tuesday on a street in Novi Sad, 30 miles north of Belgrade, as part of a project to be shown in a multimedia performance at the nearby Serbian National Theater.

"We had just put black stockings on our heads and were carrying plastic handguns needed for the scene, when about 30 policemen surrounded us with pistols pointed at us," actor Aleksandar Gajin told the Vecernje Novosti newspaper.

No amount of explaining could immediately persuade the officers that it was not an actual heist.

Police confiscated the actors' toy weapons and the purported loot - black plastic bags stuffed with newspapers - and briefly interrogated the actors at a nearby police station, Gajin said.

Police released the crew shortly thereafter, Gajin said, adding that the "police used no brutality ... they just warned us that we should have informed them in advance."

Four Police Cars Collide During Training Exercise

LONDON - Don't give up the training.

Traffic snarled for miles on a highway in northern England on Wednesday after four police cars collided with each other and blocked the road, apparently during a training exercise.

Three officers suffered whiplash while another - who had to be cut out of his vehicle - was more seriously injured, although there were no immediate details.

No other vehicles were involved, and the police cars did not appear to have been on their way to help out at another accident.

"As far as we are aware only police vehicles are involved, no members of the public," a spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said. "At this stage we think the vehicles were involved in some sort of training exercise but we have yet to have that clarified."

The vehicles collided on the northbound lane of the M61 highway near Chorley in Lancashire, forcing the closure of two lanes of traffic.

Bad Moon Rising

MILFORD, Conn. - A man who mooned the judge will be spending an extra year in his prison jumpsuit.

Three months after dropping his pants in front of Superior Court Judge Patrick Carroll, Richard Brown was back in court Monday for a plea agreement on a robbery.

Brown's June 23 pants dropping cost him a year in prison. He got six months for contempt of court and an extra six months that the prosecutor added to the sentence offered in a plea deal for robbery.

Brown's bottomless outburst began when Carroll told him to say "yes, sir" when addressing the court.

"Sir? Kiss my (expletive), sir!" Brown shouted, dropping the pants of his two-piece prison jumpsuit as he turned to expose his rear end to the bench.

According to terms of the plea agreement, Brown will be sentenced in December to 10-and-a-half years in prison for holding up the Krauszer's market in West Haven, on Dec. 11, 2003.

Brown will begin serving that sentence when he finishes his six months for contempt for the mooning the judge.