Field Report | News of the Weird | Salt Lake City Weekly

Field Report 

A weekly roundup of international news oddities

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Field Report
Groundskeepers at the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison were tasked with removing some invasive plants from a tulip bed on May 16, the Associated Press reported. It seems someone planted cannabis amongst the blooms, according to Shelby Ellison, a botanist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "It was just a large number of plants for it to be anything accidental," she said. She was unable to determine whether the plants were marijuana or hemp; marijuana is still illegal in Wisconsin.

News You Can Use
• Are tacos sandwiches? Martin Quintana, 53, has hoped to open a second The Famous Taco location in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for a few years. However, businesses in the development he was eyeing are limited to "sandwich bar-style restaurants whose primary business is to sell 'made-to-order' or 'subway-style' sandwiches"—so Quintana was shut out. He sued, the Associated Press reported, and on May 15, Superior Court Judge Craig Bobay laid down the law: "(T)acos and burritos are Mexican-style sandwiches." Quintana said the new location should be open in two to three months.

Inexplicable
— Police in Pasadena, California, arrested Art Leon Berian, 63, on May 16 after an investigation revealed he had been setting off explosions in his neighborhood, KABC-TV reported. Berian is believed to be responsible for more than 150 unidentified booms over nearly two years, police said. Most happened in the middle of the night, but while collecting evidence, police heard a loud explosion and saw a white BMW drive through the resulting cloud of smoke. Evidence from that explosion was found in Berian's car. No injuries have resulted from the bombs; Berian is charged with three felonies, and bond was set at $1.5 million.

• A 45-year-old man identified as Omar B. was located in a neighbor's house in Djelfa, Algeria, after being missing for 26 years, Gulf News reported. Omar disappeared in 1998 during the Algerian Civil War; his family assumed he had been kidnapped or killed. His captor, a 61-year-old doorman, was taken into custody after he tried to flee; Omar told officials on May 14 that he couldn't call out for help "because of a spell that his captor had cast on him." Omar is receiving medical and psychological help.

Police Report
The Escambia County (Florida) Sheriff's Office, on the lookout for David Jerome Jackson, 31, found him in a heated situation on May 17, the New York Post reported. Jackson was wanted for a March 15 shooting in Pensacola. "After an extensive search," police said, "deputies ... finally discovered Jackson, folded, not so neatly inside a remarkably small dryer drum. He was pulled from the dryer one limb at a time." Jackson is being held on $120,000 bail at the Escambia County Jail.

Recent Alarming Headline
"Priest Accused of Biting Woman During Communion," Click Orlando announced on May 23. On May 19, an unnamed woman attended Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Cloud, Florida, where she attempted to take Communion. Father Fidel, however, allegedly refused to give her Communion bread because he said she had not confessed her sins. The priest said the woman pushed him and grabbed the tray of Communion bread, which is a no-no, and "the only way he thought to extract her from it was to bite her arm," according to police. The priest has not yet been charged.

The Passing Parade
Have plans for June 8? If you're free, head on down to Ocala, Florida, for the fourth annual Great Florida Bigfoot Conference. Click Orlando reported that the gathering will include "an all-star lineup of Bigfoot researchers, investigators and authors ready to interact with fans," along with exclusive merch for sale. You might even want to get in on the "Share Your Experience" forum, where you can relate your personal Bigfoot encounter stories. Organizers recommend buying tickets in advance.

Awesome!
• Cicadas are definitely in the news this summer, but the one Kelly Simkins discovered on May 20 in the Orland Grassland near Chicago is literally one in a million, People reported. Simkins, the owner of Merlin's Rocking Pet Show, was hunting cicadas to feed to her reptiles when she came across one with blue eyes. Most of the vociferous bugs have red eyes. "I just thought it was unique," she said—and she was right. Dr. Gene Kritsky, dean of Behavioral and Natural Sciences at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, said the picture of the blue-eyed insect from Orland Grassland is one of only two he has seen this year so far. He said the cause of the different-colored eyes is unclear.

• Winemaker Andreas Pernerstorfer of Gobelsburg, Austria, was renovating his wine cellar in early May when he came across an unexpected find: a number of huge bones, which were later identified as being from at least three Stone Age mammoths. "I thought it was just a piece of wood left by my grandfather," Pernerstorfer told the BBC. "Then I remembered that in the past my grandfather said he had found teeth." Researchers from the Austrian Archaeological Institute have been excavating since the discovery. The bones are believed to be between 30,000 and 40,000 years old. Eventually, they'll end up at the Vienna Museum of Natural History.

Oops!
Charlotte Russ of Fresno, California, and her kids visited Pismo Beach late last year, where the children collected seashells—72 of them, ABC7-TV reported on May 23. "My kids thought they were collecting seashells, but they were actually collecting clams," Russ said. Sounds like the makings of a big party, but instead Russ got a ticket on the spot and later got a notice of a fine: $88,000. "It kind of ruined our trip," she said. Lucky for her, a San Luis Obispo County judge understood the confusion and reduced her fine to $500. "It was definitely one expensive trip to Pismo," Russ said.

What's in a Name?
Sandra Rogers, 80, of Dunedin, Florida, lives on Peaceful Lane, but it may be time to rename the street. On May 17, The Smoking Gun reported, Rogers left her home and walked over to a neighbor's house, where John Faraone, 72, was washing his motorcycle. Police said Rogers first "engaged in a verbal argument regarding his water usage" and took pictures of Faraone with her phone. Then things escalated: Rogers allegedly spit on Faraone and "pulled on the victim's beard." A witness confirmed that Rogers was the "primary aggressor." Rogers was arrested on May 20 with a third-degree felony charge. She was freed on a $100 bond and ordered to have no contact with Faraone.

Unclear on the Concept
Joel Solorzano Villeda, 33, of Little Rock, Iowa, was pulled over on May 12 after being "all over the road" in Rock Rapids. The Smoking Gun reported that Villeda showed signs of intoxication, had an open beer can and also had methamphetamine. When asked for ID, Villeda produced a Minnesota driver's license, which described him as 8 feet tall. Villeda is actually 5 feet, 8 inches tall; he was charged with narcotics possession, operating a vehicle while intoxicated and providing a false ID. Cops also learned he had an outstanding warrant in another Iowa county.

Send your weird news items to WeirdNewsTips@amuniversal.com

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