News of the Weird: Feb. 25, 2021

It’s a Dog’s Life

Bill Dorris, a successful Nashville, Tennessee, businessman, was 84 years old when he passed away late last year, WTVF-TV reported, leaving $5 million to his beloved 8-year-old border collie, Lulu. Dorris, who was unmarried and traveled frequently, often left Lulu in the care of his friend Martha Burton, 88, who will continue to keep the dog and will be reimbursed for reasonable monthly expenses from the trust established for Lulu by the will. Burton was chill about the whole thing: “I don’t really know what to think about it to tell you the truth,” she said. “He just really loved that dog.”

Annals of Education

Concordia University student Aaron Asuini wanted to ask a question in the online art history class he was taking, but when he tried to reach out to the lecturer, Francois-Marc Gagnon, he couldn’t find any contact information in the school’s portal. So he Googled the professor’s name — and found an obituary. The Verge reported Gagnon passed away in March 2019, and although the course syllabus listed someone else as the class’s official instructor, it also noted that Gagnon would be the lecturer. A Concordia spokesperson expressed regret at the misunderstanding, but Asuini is still unsettled about it: “I don’t really even want to watch the lectures anymore. … I think it lacked tact and respect for this teacher’s life.”


Appalachian Bear Rescue is on the lookout for a wild mother bear to foster three newborn cubs found in the crawl space under a home in Sevier County, Tennessee, according to United Press International. Utility workers called to the home on Feb. 13 to repair a gas leak found the “ample caboose of a very large snoozing bear” when they entered the crawl space under the house, the wildlife agency said. “There was no way to safely repair the gas line while the bear was in residence,” so wildlife officials tempted the bear out of her den but found three babies had been left behind. They will remain with Appalachian Bear Rescue until a foster mom is found.

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Neighborhood Watch

Homeowners in the Quail Hollow neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina, have been frustrated by a mail thief since late 2020, so when Lacy Hayes spotted a car lurking near his mailbox on Feb. 11 and saw the driver, who appeared to be an elderly woman, reach inside it, he took action. Hayes reached through the driver’s window and removed the keys from the ignition. The woman hit him with her cellphone, so he took that too, called 911, then took a picture of the driver and the tags, The Charlotte Observer reported. The driver got away, but neighbor Nicole Kern got online and, using Hayes’ photo and facial recognition software, soon found a match — a man, wanted in Greenville, South Carolina. Neighbors rejoiced when a man with the same name was booked into the Mecklenburg County jail on Feb. 13 on a fugitive extradition warrant and a charge of resisting a law enforcement officer. Police declined to comment on whether the man is also a suspect in the mail thefts. The unnamed criminal was held on $2 million bail.

Desperate Times

Police in the Ukrainian village of Hrybova Rudnya determined that the unnamed man who called them Feb. 13 and confessed to seriously injuring his stepfather, made the call in order to get the road in front of his house cleared of snow. Police spokeswoman Yulia Kovtun told the BBC the man insisted that officers would need special equipment to get to him because of the snow, but when police arrived, they found no assault or murder, and the road had already been cleared by a tractor. The man was charged with filing a false report and fined.

Least Competent Criminal

Robert Joseph Hallick of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was arrested Feb. 11 and charged with perjury, forgery and identity theft after applying for a handgun permit using former President Barack Obama’s name, according to court documents. The arrest report also said his application included a letter with a United States of America seal and U.S. Department of State letterhead, along with a $50 check, WTVC-TV reported. In November, Hallick had been denied a handgun permit under his own name due to an active warrant for his arrest in Michigan.

Weird History

In an auction in Chesapeake City, Maryland, that closed on Feb. 8, a white wooden toilet seat pilfered from Adolf Hitler’s retreat in the Bavarian Alps sold for about $18,750, The Sun reported. Ragnvald C. Borch, a U.S. soldier who spoke German and French, was one of the first to arrive at the Berghof at the end of World War II. His senior officers told him to “get what you want” from the damaged property, so Borch grabbed a toilet seat and shipped it home to New Jersey, where he displayed it in his basement. Bill Panagopulos of Alexander Auctions said, “This was as close to a ‘throne’ as the dictator would ever get.” Borch’s son put the “trophy” up for auction; the buyer was not identified.

Family Values

Joanna Zielinski, 62, of Naples, Florida, was arrested Feb. 11 after stabbing her sister, Laura, 64, multiple times with an EpiPen, according to authorities. Investigators said the two had spent the evening drinking and taking drugs, and Laura fell asleep on the couch. “At some point,” said police, “Joanna went crazy and attacked Laura with an EpiPen,” because “I’m allergic to drunks,” she told officers, and she wanted to sober her sister up. The Smoking Gun reported the EpiPen was prescribed to Joanna, but Laura wasn’t affected by the medicine because it wasn’t actually injected. Joanna was charged with domestic battery.

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What’s Old Is New Again

The Boston Globe reported on Feb. 15 about the newest hipster craze: typewriters. Manual, heavy, clunky “typers.” Tom Furrier, the owner of Cambridge Typewriter, Boston’s only remaining typewriter repair shop, first noticed the upward sales trend in April 2020. “I was busy beforehand, but COVID raised my business by 40%.” While typewriters can’t take the place of digital communications devices, they’re attractive to young people for creative endeavors that have become popular during the lockdowns: “My customers use it for journaling, poetry, creative writing,” Furrier said. “It’s all about writing without internet distractions, about getting into a zone.” With pandemic restrictions in place, Furrier brings typewriters out onto the sidewalk for customers to inspect, then disinfects them and returns them to the window. Customers “instantly get the typewriter bug,” he said.

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