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The Odd Truth, Sept. 5, 2003

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

Bordello Gov. Judy

HELENA, Mont - Gov. Judy Martz is keeping her clothes on.

But some say a naked bordello dancer in a sculpted clay mural intended to depict key players in this city's history bears a striking resemblance to Martz.

Martz and her top aides took a state Highway Patrol car Thursday to take a peek. She didn't see any resemblance, calling it a "stretch of the imagination" to see her likeness in the nude dancer who's kicking up her heels with two other naked women.

The Seattle artist who created the work, "The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Helena" agrees.

"It's definitely not her," Kristine Veith said in a phone interview. "I don't think I even know what Judy Martz looks like."

She said the dancer's features were modeled after an aunt.

But some people think the woman in the mural on a wall outside the Great Northern Hotel is a ringer for Martz. One caller left that message at the governor's office, said Chuck Butler, Martz's communications director.

"They didn't think it (nudity) was in good taste," Butler said. "I didn't see the likeness myself."

But he added, "If you looked at it and wanted to see Judy Martz, you could see it."

An Inside Job

WINFIELD, W.Va. - A Putnam County sheriff's deputy's house has become a crime scene.

But the deputy's not to blame. Authorities have arrested a man they say constructed a methamphetamine lab at the deputy's house while the officer was on vacation.

A relative of the deputy, 26-year-old Chad Burks, was charged with operating a clandestine methamphetamine lab. The officer was not identified.

Chief Deputy John Dailey said Wednesday that officers learned that the deputy's relative staying in the house was producing the drug. The deputy, vacationing out of state, allowed authorities to search the house.

"I guess the relative thought `What better place than this to have a meth lab?"' Dailey said. "He made a victim out of one of our officers."

Dailey declined to release the relative's name but said no arrests have been made.

Who You Gonna Call?

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. - Stymied by mysterious sights and sounds in their own headquarters, cops in Shelbyville called in the ghostbusters.

In the still of night, doors rattled and stairwells creaked in the city's police department. In the light of day, a secretary's desk drawer opened on its own. A city worker who toured the building late one night even reported feeling something grab her leg.

So the police took the probe to another dimension.

"The way I treat it is not that there is a ghost, there's just things that I can't explain," said Officer John Wilson, who contacted the Scientific Investigative Ghost Hunting Team, based in Louisville.

The team of professional paranormal investigators gave the brick building a preliminary review and will return this fall for a thorough probe. The group will set up cameras and tape recorders as well as infrared thermometers to capture any temperature variations.

The goal is to try to prove the strange occurrences aren't caused by paranormal forces, said Kay Owen, vice president of the nonprofit ghost hunting team, which doesn't charge for its services.

"We'll go in and try to recreate everything that they are experiencing," she said. "If they can recreate it, it's not paranormal. It can be explained. It's a process of elimination."

Red Flowers Banned At Bangkok Shrine

BANGKOK, Thailand - Worshippers will no longer be allowed to make offerings of red flowers at a Bangkok shrine because of their association with murders and accidents in the area, police said Friday.

Police in the Somdej Chaophraya district have erected a sign forbidding visitors from placing the flowers at the Pu Kaek shrine in hopes that the ban will help reduce the number of violent deaths in the neighborhood, Sgt. Pairoj Thienpitak said.

"We are keeping our eyes on the shrine to keep away the red flowers because every time the red flowers are offered there, police are informed of people being murdered or dying in accidents," he said.

He said dozens of people have died at times when police spotted red flowers at the shrine, leading them to believe that Pu Kaek, or "Indian Grandfather" - the spirit believed to inhabit the shrine - hates the offerings.

The shrine contains various idols and Buddha images, but is not devoted to a particular religion.

Many people in Thailand, a predominantly Buddhist country, are superstitious and believe in spirits and ghosts. Some Thais believe that spirits will become angry if proper respect is not shown and bad luck will follow.

In one case, a police officer was shot dead by his wife soon after authorities saw a bunch of red flowers at the shrine, said Pairoj, who has worked at the Somdej Chaophraya police station for more than a decade.

The large black-and-white sign erected by police reads, "Do not leave red flowers as an offering." It was unclear when they placed the sign at the shrine.

German Brewery Donates Beer To U.S. Troops

NORFOLK, Va. - The Germans didn't back the U.S. war in Iraq, but a German brewery is treating American sailors and soldiers to beer.

Munich-based Spaten, one of the world's oldest breweries, is donating 600 cases of lager to each branch of the U.S. military for personnel who fought in the war.

Navy Capt. Terry McKnight, commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, said Wednesday that his sailors would have no qualms about drinking brew from a country that refused to join coalition forces in the invasion of Iraq.

"A cold beer is a cold beer," McKnight said.

Donald C. Bennett, a selectee for chief petty officer who came to a Norfolk Naval Station loading dock to claim four cases for his crew on the submarine Montpelier, agreed: "We're happy to drink it all."

However, there is one small problem that Louis Sieb, president of Spaten North America, did not consider when he came up with the idea. The average sailor is 20. Legal drinking age is 21.

"They give up everything, right? They put their lives on the line, right? And they can't drink beer? Still, a good thing, I think," Sieb said.

More Trouble For 'Girls Gone Wild'

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Those "Girls Gone Wild" were actually underage girls gone wild. At least according to prosecutors in Panama City, Florida. State Attorney Jim Appleman charges that at least 35 young female flashers filmed by the video crew during spring break were underage. Appleman told a hearing this week that additional charges may be leveled against producer Joe Francis. He's already facing drug and racketeering counts. The defense wants access to videos seized by authorities. But the prosecution says it may be illegal to give the tapes to anyone, because they supposedly show underage girls performing sex acts.

Where's A Stable When You Need One?

COPENHAGEN - Not knowing where to park the pony he bought for his 9-year-old daughter, Palle Brinch brought the animal home to his second-floor apartment.

He and his daughter showered the Shetland pony in the bathroom and locked it in the kitchen for the night, the Fyens Stiftstidende newspaper reported.

Brinch - who bought the pony for $133 on Tuesday - was inspired by the Danish children's movie "Gummi Tarzan," which features a pony that lives in an apartment.

The next night, Wednesday, police rang the doorbell of Brinch's home in Odense, Denmark's third-biggest city. Neighbors had complained about the stench of horse manure and that the ceiling was rumbling.

"It had been noisy all night," Brinch was quoted as telling the newspaper. "I'll never do it again."

The horse is now in the countryside with Brinch's brother-in-law. Police said no charges were filed.