Weird is not in short supply in Sunshine State


Published: Friday, January 6, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 10:51 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE - How weird is Florida? So weird that not one, not two, but three different books have been titled "Weird Florida."
The first, written by Palm Beach Post reporter Eliot Kleinberg, hit stores in 1998 and detailed years of strange news stories. Charlie Carlson published his "Weird Florida" in 2005 documenting unusual sites around the state. Now Kleinberg is coming out with a "Weird Florida II" this month with more true, offbeat stories.
"I'm already putting together a file for book three," Kleinberg said of his works. "If I thought for a second that Florida was going to stop being weird, I'd be worried. There's no signs of abatement."
Florida did indeed have scores of weird stories in 2005, from the woman who concealed a stolen parrot in her bra to a beagle puppy that was trained to sniff out pythons to a Key West man who robbed a bank with a pitchfork.
The beagle, which was put to use in the Everglades, probably wasn't such a bad idea after the number of snake incidents last year. One Burmese python swallowed a Siamese cat, another slithered into a poultry shack and ate a turkey before getting stuck inside because of the bulging bird and yet another tried to devour a 6-foot alligator before the ambitious effort caused the 13-foot snake to burst.
Other animals also met unusual ends. A Collier County woman was afraid her neighbor's Chihuahua was going to attack her, so she shot and killed it. In Flagler County, an off-duty reserve sheriff's deputy saved a cat by fatally shooting the dog that was chasing it.
A Jacksonville man, though, learned it's not a good idea to joke about dead pets. He taunted his wife over the loss of their dog. She took an ornamental sword from above the fireplace and stabbed him through his arm.
In another Jacksonville story, a robber swinging a samurai sword sent condiments flying at a restaurant before stealing $32 from diners.
A few dumb criminals made the news. A man suspected of burglarizing a massage therapy business was arrested after he returned to the scene looking for his missing wallet.
Two thieves stole an employee's car at a Pensacola-area gas station then returned an hour later to fill up. They were arrested.
An Ocala area man didn't think through a scheme to end his marriage. He showed his wife a Utah man's wallet and said it was a hitchhiker he picked up and murdered. After a massive search for the body, police learned that the billfold's owner was fine and the suspect confessed he made up the story to get his wife to leave him.
Now here's a tip for parents: If you ask your teenage son to help you steal a dishwasher and stove from the house next door, don't be surprised if he calls the police the next time you get in an argument. That happened in Palm Beach County.
Three teenagers were charged with kidnapping a 15-year-old boy and demanding $50 ransom be dropped off at a Fort Myers Taco Bell.
And while it may not have been criminal, a high school TV journalist in Estero was suspended for deviating from his script. After reporting that the girls' soccer team kicked some booty, he added, "I love booty."
It was booty that caused Tampa area officials to stop construction on a school for emotionally disturbed students. After thinking about it, they decided the site wasn't such a good one, given the adult book stores and strip clubs that surrounded it.
A homeless man obsessed with tennis star Anna Kournikova swam naked across Biscayne Bay in search of her home and got caught in the buff at her neighbor's pool. As police arrested him, he screamed, "Anna! Save me!"
A drunk Monroe County prosecutor thought it would be funny to streak across a parking lot and hop into a friend's car. The problem was he jumped naked into the wrong car and was arrested.
In Tampa, a 40-foot motor home was converted into a strip club, offering alcohol and lap dances outside Tampa Bay Buccaneers games. In another story involving alcohol, sex and football, two Carolina Panthers cheerleaders were arrested after one punched another woman in a Tampa nightclub's bathroom. Other customers said the women were having sex in a stall, which the cheerleaders denied.
Alcohol was at the root of a Jacksonville Halloween night arrest. A partygoer in a Belligerent Drunk Man costume consisting of a blue sweat suit, a belt made out of beer can pop tops and a Superman-style "BDM" emblem on this chest got a few laughs until he actually became a belligerent drunk man and started a fight with the Green Hornet.
Among 2005's most unusual drug arrests: Police checking to make sure no one was hurt after a tornado ripped the roof off a Palm Bay home said they found 54 marijuana plants growing in a bedroom, 750 pounds of cocaine were hidden in fake plantains being shipped to Miami and a man left a half-gram of marijuana as a tip at a Jacksonville Starbucks and was arrested when he returned the next day.
And how can the state cut down on crime? One Jacksonville church called for a citywide ban on low-hanging pants and gold-capped teeth.
In other church news, an Indialantic a priest admitted stealing $10,520 from his church. In Port Charlotte, a pastor called police to remove 16 congregants who refused to stop singing as he tried to begin his sermon.
More than a dozen Broward County deputies burst onto the scene of a funeral - reportedly with guns draw - and arrested the deceased's grandson. It turned out they had the wrong guy.
Also in Broward, an officer pulled over a doctor speeding to the hospital to deliver a baby and quipped "What are you delivering, pizza?" and "If you're a doctor, I'm Mickey Mouse." The doubting officer took the doctor to the hospital in handcuffs, where a waiting woman was giving birth.
A real pizza delivery man in the Tampa area was shot in the leg during a robbery attempt - and then delivered four other pies before seeking treatment.
And in a rather unusual Tampa area traffic stop, a practical joker put a blue-and-red flashing light on a car dashboard. He stopped laughing, though, after two men he pulled over turned out to be undercover officers. The said they found 7 grams of cocaine alongside the flashing light.
Also in the Tampa area, a man apparently became enraged by a Bush-Cheney sticker on an SUV and chased a woman for miles displaying an anti-Bush sign and allegedly trying to run her off the road.
Love, not rage, was on the mind of state Sen. Gary Siplin when a television news reporter asked the Orlando Democrat about a questionable transfer his campaign account. A smiling Siplin hugged the reporter and said "I love you" three dozen times.
The vice mayor of Eagle Lake wanted to pass a rule banning spitting at city council meetings after accusing a former city manager of doing just that. The former official denied having spit and said the proposed rule was "the most asinine and juvenile thing I have heard."
An Orlando-area high school chemistry teacher was arrested after students said gave a lesson on bomb building. In other school news, St. Petersburg police officers handcuffed an unruly 5-year-old girl after she acted up in her kindergarten class.
Once again, O.J. Simpson couldn't stay out of the news. In July, a neighbor called 911 and reported Simpson was being beaten by his girlfriend. Later that month Simpson was ordered to pay $25,000 for pirating satellite television signals.
And finally, an Orlando area shoe manufacturer sued a supplier, claiming that it delivered the wrong chemical for an insole gel. The mixup caused the shoes to make, well, a farting sound with each step. An officer with the shoe maker called them "whoopie cushions for the feet."

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