Check back here daily for the latest oddball stories that just may give you a chuckle or leave you scratching your head.
Florida city warns residents of power outage, zombies
LAKE WORTH, Fla. — Residents of a Florida city who received alerts about a power outage were also warned to look out for zombies. That's right — zombies.
The Palm Beach Post reports that Lake Worth residents received the message during a power outage Sunday.
The alert warned that more than 7,000 customers lost power "due to extreme zombie activity."
City spokesman Ben Kerr later posted a Facebook message saying officials were investigating the bogus alert and that he wanted to "reiterate that Lake Worth does not have any zombie activity currently."
Kerr says 7,880 customers lost power, but it was restored within 30 minutes. He did not mention what really caused the outage.
Bone recovered from shipwreck not from notorious pirate
YARMOUTH, Mass. — A bone fragment recovered from a Cape Cod shipwreck is not from infamous pirate Samuel "Black Sam" Bellamy after all.
The Whydah Pirate Museum in Yarmouth announced Thursday that DNA testing determined the bone was from a male with general ties to the Eastern Mediterranean area, but was not Bellamy.
The museum had enlisted forensic scientists to extract DNA from the bone fragment and compare it with DNA from a living Bellamy descendant.
The Whydah sank in 1717, taking 102 lives. Bellamy's body was among 40 never found or identified.
The wreck was discovered in 1984. Most of its treasure is thought to remain on the ocean floor.
Forbes has listed Bellamy as the highest-earning pirate ever, plundering about $120 million worth of treasure.
Homeowner trying to kill weeds ends up burning down garage
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Authorities say a homeowner trying to kill troublesome weeds with a torch has burned down his garage.
The Springfield News-Sun reports Springfield Township firefighters in central Ohio were called to a home around 4 a.m. Thursday for a detached garage engulfed in flames.
No one was injured.
Fire officials learned the man had been trying to eliminate weeds around the garage. They're calling the blaze an accident.
The destroyed garage held tools and appliances. Fire officials estimate the loss at between $10,000 and $15,000.
Information from: Springfield News-Sun, http://www.springfieldnewssun.com
'Nut rage' Korean Air heiress questioned over housekeepers
SEOUL, South Korea — A Korean Air heiress whose tantrum over nuts delayed a flight nearly four years ago is being investigated by South Korean immigration officials on suspicion she unlawfully hired housekeepers from the Philippines.
Cho Hyun-ah on Thursday bowed and apologized for "causing troubles" before entering a Korea Immigration Service office in Seoul for questioning.
Cho and her sister resigned from their executive positions at Korean Air in April following public criticism over their behavior and allegations their family mistreated and abused employees. Investigators are also looking into suspicions that the Cho family, including the company's chairman Cho Yang-ho, evaded taxes and used airline services to smuggle luxury goods.
Cho's sister, Cho Hyun-min, is currently under investigation for allegedly hurling a cup of water during a business meeting.
In December 2014, Cho got angry after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a dish and her tantrum forced the Korean Air plane to return to a boarding gate at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. She was released from jail in South Korea in May 2015 after the top court suspended her sentence over the case.
Immigration officials suspect Cho and her mother, Lee Myeong-hee, unlawfully recruited and hired about 10 to 20 housekeepers from the Philippines by documenting them as Korean Air trainees. Under South Korean law, foreign nationals must obtain visas given to marriage migrants or people of Korean heritage to work as housekeepers.
Legend of Loch Ness Monster will be tested with DNA samples
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The stories seem as tall as the lake is deep. For hundreds of years, visitors to Scotland's Loch Ness have described seeing a monster that some believe lurks in the depths.
But now the legend of "Nessie" may have no place left to hide. A New Zealand scientist is leading an international team to the lake next month, where they will take samples of the murky waters and conduct DNA tests to determine what species live there.
University of Otago professor Neil Gemmell says he's no believer in Nessie, but he wants to take people on an adventure and communicate some science along the way. Besides, he says, his kids think it's one of the coolest things he's ever done.
One of the more far-fetched theories is that Nessie is a long-necked plesiosaur that somehow survived the period when dinosaurs became extinct. Another theory is that the monster is actually a sturgeon or giant catfish. Many believe the sightings are hoaxes or can be explained by floating logs or strong winds.
Gemmell said that when creatures move about in water, they leave behind tiny fragments of DNA. It comes from their skin, feathers, scales and urine.
He said his team will take 300 samples of water from different points around the lake and at different depths. They will filter the organic material and extract the DNA, he said, sequencing it by using technology originally created for the human genome project.
He said the DNA results will then be compared against a database of known species. He said they should have answers by the end of the year.
"I'm going into this thinking it's unlikely there is a monster, but I want to test that hypothesis," Gemmell said. "What we'll get is a really nice survey of the biodiversity of the Loch Ness."
He said the real discoveries may come in determining things like the prevalence of invasive species.
Gemmell, 51, said he first visited Loch Ness in his late 20s while on vacation. Like thousands of tourists before him, he gazed out over the lake trying to catch sight of a monster. He said he first came up with the idea of testing DNA from the lake a couple of years ago and it resonated with many, including his children, aged 7 and 10.
Graeme Matheson, chief of the Scottish Society of New Zealand, said he, too, has visited Loch Ness and gazed out over the water, and that he wishes Gemmell all the best.
"I hope he and his cohorts find something, although I think they'll be battling," Matheson said. "Still, it's a good way to get a trip to Scotland."
Gemmell said that even if they don't find any monster DNA, it won't deter some Nessie believers. He said they've already been offering him theories, like that Nessie might be on vacation after swimming to the sea via hidden underwater caves, or that the creature might be extraterrestrial and not leave behind any DNA.
"In our lives we want there still to be mysteries, some of which we will ultimately solve," Gemmell said. "That's part of the spirit of discovery. And sometimes, what you find may not be what you were expecting."
Man serving 660 years for money laundering wants gold back
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Rhode Island man serving a 660-year prison sentence for laundering money for a Colombian drug cartel wants the federal government to give back millions of dollar's worth of gold bars, jewelry and cash it had seized during his arrest in 1991.
The Providence Journal reports Stephen Saccoccia and his wife, Donna are challenging the federal order that forced them to pay nearly $140 million for their crimes.
Stephen Saccoccia argues he legally obtained certain assets the government seized to pay back the debt, including dozens of gold bars buried in the couple's backyard and valuables stowed in safe deposit boxes in Europe.
Saccoccia is now 60 years old. His release from prison would be in 2567. Donna Saccoccia was sentenced to 14 years and was released in 2004.
Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com
Truck dumps 40,000 pounds of chicken feathers on highway
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — A tractor-trailer made a fowl mess when it rolled over in Washington state. It dumped about 40,000 pounds (18,145 kilograms) of chicken feathers across Interstate 5.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Rick Johnson says the driver told investigators he fell asleep at about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday north of Tacoma and lost control of the truck, which hit a guardrail and overturned.
The truck was hauling the feathers from a poultry facility to a rendering company in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Canadian company recycles animal byproducts into ingredients for items including pet feed and soap.
The News Tribune newspaper of Tacoma reports traffic backed up for 11 miles (18 kilometers) as crews scooped up the feathers.
Johnson said the driver would be cited for negligent driving.
Foam rubber gold bars fool man who burglarized Michigan shop
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Fake promotional gold bars apparently appeared so much like the real thing that someone broke into a western Michigan flooring shop to take them.
WXMI-TV reports Old to Gold Hardwood Floors owner Rowdy Lapham arrived at work Monday to find his store in Grand Rapids burglarized. Foam rubber gold bars featuring the company's logo were strewn about.
A rock was used to break through a window around 2 a.m. Sunday. The burglar was seen on surveillance video roaming through the shop.
Employee Nick Butler tells WZZM-TV that the thief may have walked past a window and saw the stack of bars and "thought, wow, someone forgot to put these gold bars away."
The squeezable bars are for stress relief. Butler says the company's motto is stress-free flooring.
Missing 14-foot-long pet python sought in Indianapolis-area
INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis-area police are warning people to be on the lookout for a 14-foot-long (4-meter-long) pet Burmese python that's on the loose.
The Beech Grove Police Department says the constrictor is missing from a home in the community on the southeast side of Indianapolis. Benny Tarplee says he thinks the python, named "Vine," escaped through his back door late last week and he suspects she's just hiding somewhere.
Tarplee says he spent three days searching his house before reporting her escape to police.
He describes the snake as a "big baby" who presents no threat to humans. Nevertheless, the Indianapolis Zoo says the constrictor could pose a threat to cats, dogs and small children. Police say anyone who spots Vine should leave her alone and call 911.
Loose horses tie up rush-hour traffic in Massachusetts
ACTON, Mass. — Two horses that got loose on a Massachusetts highway and tied up rush-hour traffic have been safely corralled and returned to their owners.
State police found the horses on Route 2 in Acton after receiving 911 calls from drivers shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The Boston Globe reports that state police worked with local police to locate the owners, who walked the horses to safety in the breakdown lane.
State police Sgt. Paul Sullivan joked that the horses were warned to stay off the road in the future.
Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com
Hall of fame to redo soccer star Brandi Chastain plaque
SAN FRANCISCO — A bronze plaque honoring soccer star Brandi Chastain got a red card Tuesday after a social media outcry over its unflattering portrayal of the athlete.
The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in San Francisco said Tuesday it will redo the plaque, which was unveiled a day earlier and quickly panned by the public.
Fans on Twitter compared the likeness to former President Jimmy Carter, actors Gary Busey and Mickey Rooney, baseball player Babe Ruth, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and movie character Mrs. Doubtfire, played by Robin Williams.
Chastain is often remembered for ripping off her jersey in celebration of her game-winning penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup.
Chastain attended the unveiling of her plaque at a San Francisco hotel Monday night and graciously commented, "It's not the most flattering. But it's nice," according to The Mercury News of San Jose.
Hall of Fame president Kevin O'Brien told KTVU-TV that he spoke with Chastain on Tuesday and offered to redo the plaque if she sent in a new photograph of herself. She agreed and a new plaque will be made, O'Brien said.
"It's expensive," he said. "But it's the right thing to do."
Message in a bottle washes ashore in Canada 18 years later
GLOUCESTER, Mass. — A message in a bottle that a woman tossed off the coast of Massachusetts has been found nearly two decades later in Nova Scotia.
Eighty-year-old Rita Ganim tells the Gloucester Times she dropped the bottle into Ipswich Bay in August 2000 with a short message asking the person who found it to contact her.
The bottle was all but forgotten until Ganim received a call from the Buffalo News saying someone found it.
Dallas Goreham had been looking for sea glass in the Canadian province last Wednesday when he came across the bottle. The 11-year-old's mother tracked Ganim down through the newspaper and sent a photo of her son holding the message.
While there are no plans set, Ganim says she would love to meet the finders of her bottle.
Information from: Gloucester (Mass.) Daily Times, http://www.gloucestertimes.com
Bear trashes interior of Connecticut woman's car
CANTON, Conn. — What might be the world's hairiest vandal has destroyed the interior of a Connecticut woman's car.
Linda Morad tells WFSB-TV she was house-sitting in Canton last Friday when she noticed her car lights on and heard strange noises. She called police.
Officers found a full-grown bear that had somehow gotten into Morad's car and could not get out.
Police opened a door, ran to the other side of the vehicle, and the bear scampered into the woods.
The car's exterior was almost untouched, but the car's interior was torn to shreds. Morad says her insurance company tells her the vehicle is totaled.
There was no food in the car, but Morad had taken some garbage to the dump earlier that day. She thinks the smell attracted the bear.
Information from: WFSB-TV, http://www.wfsb.com
Video captures bus driver counting cash while driving
SECAUCUS, N.J. — Transit officials will investigate a New Jersey bus driver who was seen on video allegedly counting cash while driving.
A passenger captured the incident and posted it Saturday on Twitter, saying the New York-bound bus was traveling through Secaucus that evening when the driver started sorting money.
NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder says the agency is investigating. She says NJ Transit has explicit rules that prohibit drivers from counting money or tickets while driving.
The name of the driver has not been released.