<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Weird News, Strange News, and Odd News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/weird http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usSun, 26 Jun 2016 22:54:04 -0400Sun, 26 Jun 2016 22:54:04 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Llama Enjoys Leaf Blower's Breeze at Houston Zoo]]> Fri, 24 Jun 2016 12:52:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/llama-breeze.jpg Fiesta the llama enjoys the breeze when zookeepers at the Houston Children's Zoo use a leaf blower to clean to clean stalls.]]> <![CDATA[Arrest After Distressed Emu Spotted]]> Tue, 21 Jun 2016 20:32:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/burned+emu.jpg

A man was arrested on Monday evening in Campo, California, after discharging a shotgun when an animal control officer responded to an emu in distress outside his home, sheriff’s officials said.

Sean Michael Shepherd, 31, was taken into custody on suspicion of negligent discharge of a firearm and felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

He was being held on $30,000 bail on Tuesday evening. It wasn't immediately clear if he has an attorney.

Sheriff’s deputies said the bizarre situation surfaced about 6 p.m. Monday in the 28000 block of State Route 94. An animal control officer on patrol spotted an injured emu. As he approached the animal, a man came out of his home and exchanged heated words with the officer, deputies said.

The emu doesn't belong to the suspect, but is his neighbor's animal, officials said.

That’s when the man went inside and returned with a shotgun, firing it into the air, deputies said.

No one was hurt. The emu ran away and disappeared, according to authorities.

The animal’s feathers were apparently burnt. While it wasn't clear what caused the emu's injuries, the incident happened in the area of the Border Fire, which has spanned 7,500 acres near Potrero and caused some injuries to animals.



Photo Credit: San Diego County Animal Services]]>
<![CDATA[Caution: Alligator Crossing]]> Tue, 07 Jun 2016 11:59:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/060616+gator+in+crosswalk.jpg

An alligator was caught on camera using a crosswalk in Flagler County, in northern Florida, Monday morning.

According to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, the gator was spotted in the bushes near the intersection at Cypress Point Parkway and Cypress Edge Drive in Palm Coast.

FCSO Cpl. Kenny Goncalves said the gator was more than 5 feet long. It was sitting by the crosswalk and suddenly scampered across the roadway in the crosswalk.

"He just walked in the crosswalk like it was normal," Cpl. Goncalves said.

Officers stopped traffic to allow the gator to cross, which they said took about 30 seconds.

A trapper from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was called, but before his arrival the gator went to a wooded lot and back to its natural habitat.



Photo Credit: Mark Olson / FCSO Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Firefighters to the Rescue for Dog’s 'Ruff' Morning]]> Fri, 03 Jun 2016 15:26:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Dog+rescue+in+Middletown+1200.jpg

Firefighters come to the rescue on a daily basis, but the rescue of a dog in Middletown was out of the ordinary.

Firefighters responded to Hendley Street around 7:30 a.m. Friday after a resident spotted a Great Dane on a neighbor’s roof.

Firefighters said the dog’s owners were at work, so firefighter Mike Souza climbed a ladder to rescue the dog.

At first, the pup growled, but it soon warmed up to Souza, who guided the dog back through the open window.

“He had to really scooch to get back in because he was really tall,” Souza said. “I think he was happy to be back inside!”

Souza, who has been on the job for 28 years, said this was a first for him.

“A really unique situation, a unique call,” he said.

A woman who identified herself as the dog's owner responded to the Facebook post said the dog was in the basement with her other Great Dane and he is a "Houdini" who apparently pushed his way through a locked door and opened windows to get outside and "say hello to all the new neighbors."



Photo Credit: Middletown Fire Department]]>
<![CDATA[Chill Ride: Bristol Teen Takes Ice Cream Truck to Prom]]> Wed, 01 Jun 2016 21:15:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/b87c89b5-f944-4ea3-89ac-23575cb10170.jpg

A Connecticut teen had a "chill" ride to his prom this year. 

The Bristol teen shocked classmates when he showed up to the senior prom in an ice cream truck. 

Zack Nichparenko said he wanted to take a "non-traditional" approach to prom. 

"I don't think anyone took me seriously at first," the teen said about his idea. 

The 17-year-old said he was outside his house about two weeks before Bristol Eastern High School's prom on May 27 when Daren's Ice Cream Truck stopped by. That's when he got the idea. 

Nichparenko said the ice cream man, Daren Carroll, has been a staple in his neighborhood since he was roughly 4 years old. 

Carroll said he's been asked to plenty of events in the past, like weddings or birthday parties, but never a prom.

"Never has anybody asked me to go the prom in the ice cream truck," Carroll told NBC Connecticut. "Never, ever."

The day of the prom, Carroll met with the high school senior at Slider's Grill and Bar parking lot to take some pictures with family before dropping Nichparenko off at the dance around the corner.

"At first I tried to talk him out of it," Carroll said, noting that at his own prom, no one was outside to see anyone arriving. "But he was right. When we showed up, about 200 people were there."

When Nichparenko and Carroll rolled up in the ice cream truck, they were stopped by security at the gate and asked what they were doing there. 

"I have a delivery!" Carroll told them. "I have a guest!"

No ice cream was sold to students outside the prom at Aqua Surf in Southington because the teens were about to go inside to eat, and Carroll said he didn't want to take away from that. 

"I wanted to do something that not only people will remember, but something that hasn’t been done before," Nichparenko said.

An ice cream truck ride to prom in Connecticut is apparently a first, which comes as no surprise from the aspiring entrepreneur. 

Nichparenko said his plans after high school is to start a dryer vent company in Bristol and has started drafting business ideas with his dad. 



Photo Credit: Zackery Nichparenko
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<![CDATA[Flintstones Car Parked Illegally]]> Thu, 26 May 2016 21:06:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/052616+key+west+flintstones+car.jpg

Authorities in Key West spent Thursday trying to meet the Flintstones, or at least the owner of an illegally parked car that looks like the modern Stone Age family's.

City officials said they found the vintage car in the right of way in the 800 block of Emma Street Thursday.

The city posted a photo of the car on its Facebook page, and the owner was found a short time later.

"Thanks to everyone who helped on this! And thanks for all the funny remarks. This island is awesome!" the city's post read.

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Photo Credit: City of Key West
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<![CDATA[Osprey Nest Causing Hazard for Stratford Firefighters]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 09:52:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/osprey+nest+stratford.jpg

The Stratford Fire Department is plagued with an unusual problem: Two ospreys that built a nest above the station are dropping sticks, fish and even a kitten in the path of unsuspecting firefighters below.

The ospreys, which can grow up to 2 feet long with wingspans over 5 feet, have nested on a communication antenna at the fire station along the Connecticut shoreline.

They often drop large sticks, and in some cases entire fish — their main source of food — in front of the main entrance below.

"We have ospreys that have built a nest up there and basically it's causing a little bit of problems with dropping stuff down on the main entrance of the fire station," said Stratford Fire Chief Robert McGrath.

An air conditioning unit was damaged last week after a dropped bass landed inside. Firefighters said the birds dropped a kitten on Sunday.

The other concern is that the nest could prevent the communication antenna from operating properly, according to the chief.

"It could compromise the signal going back and forth from the two towers," said McGrath.

According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, osprey are no longer endangered. The nest can be moved if there are no eggs inside, which firefighters say is the case with this one.

DEEP officials said April and May are egg-laying months for the birds, so firefighters are working on a plan to get the feathered visitors to leave.

"It's entertaining, I can tell you that, at best. But really, it's a nuisance," McGrath said.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA['School' Misspelled on Diploma ]]> Fri, 20 May 2016 17:24:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/211*120/Diploma+Cover+5.20.16.jpg

Graduates at a Southern California high school are getting one last laugh before saying goodbye after the school distributed diploma covers with a typo.

A graduating senior at Ontario High School posted a photo to Twitter that shows a diploma cover handed out Thursday with the letters "h" and "c" transposed in the word "school."

School officials said the misspelling was a printing error made by the graduation products company.

"The principal has informed all Ontario graduates that the company has been contacted and will mail a corrected diploma cover to each graduate along with an apology letter," Chaffey Joint Union High School District Superintendent Mathew Holton said in a statement.

The diploma covers were distributed to about 550 seniors at a Thursday evening commencement ceremony, school officials said.

Holton added that the Ontario Class of 2016 was the first to graduate in a new stadium on campus with over 5,000 family members and friends in attendance.



Photo Credit: @jacedoooo_ via Twitter
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<![CDATA[Surf and Turf Arrest]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 20:00:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-482996433+%281%29.jpg

A Vermont man accused of stealing beer, lobster and Angus steak from a supermarket faces retail theft charges, authorities say.

State police said they were notified of a retail theft/trespassing incident at Hannaford Supermarket in Rutland on Wednesday.

An investigation found that Anthony Sargent, 53, of Rutland City, had gone into the store in violation of a notice against trespass and stole $105.63 worth of items, police said.

Police say Sargent concealed the products under his shirt.

The beer, lobster and steak were recovered by the store when Sargent was stopped in the parking lot. He fled the scene before authorities arrived, but was later located by probation and parole officers, officials said.

Sargent has a court date set for June 13. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Opossum Found in Toilet]]> Mon, 16 May 2016 14:05:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/opossum+in+toilet.jpg

A woman made a startling discovery earlier this month when she found a baby opossum in her toilet in San Diego.

The Pacific Beach resident had no idea how the little critter got there but alerted San Diego County Animal Services, and an animal control officer responded to “rescue” the animal, authorities said.

Animal control officers said in a Facebook post that they don’t believe the opossum came into the toilet through the plumbing before being found May 1.

After the homeowner found a second opossum in her home, she discovered a broken window, which is likely how the furry creature got inside.

The opossum is doing well after his toilet swim and recovering at Project Wildlife, officers said. The baby opossum will be released back into the wild once he’s old enough to survive on his own.

Finding rodents in the toilet isn't quite as rare in Southern California as you might think — a boa constrictor was found slithering in a toilet last year at a downtown San Diego PR firm.

And just last week, a python was found in a shower in South Park.



Photo Credit: San Diego County Animal Services
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<![CDATA[Turtle OK After Windshield Crash]]> Fri, 13 May 2016 18:15:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/051316+turtle+into+windshield+i-4.jpg

Turtle power!

Nicole Marie Bjanes was driving on I-4 in Deltona on Monday when a turtle came crashing through her windshield.

Florida Highway Patrol officials said another car hit the turtle while it was crossing the highway and propelled it into the air. Bjanes posted photos on Facebook showing her shattered windshield with the turtle upside-down on her dashboard.

"I really can't even believe it!!! Thanks for all your concern. I am a lucky girl," Bjanes wrote on her post. "All the people who stopped and the EMT and trooper were taking pics....unbelievable, and the guy at the hospital was laughing at how he should word the incident!!! Life is good and sometimes a little crazy....someone is keeping my on my toes and entertained."

Bjanes said she was shaken up but otherwise alright. The turtle was checked out and also found to be in good shape and returned to some nearby water.

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Photo Credit: Nicole Marie Bjanes
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<![CDATA[Robot Dino Roasted at Exhibit Fire]]> Fri, 13 May 2016 11:35:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CiSGLNbVEAA1zoH.jpg

A spark from a welding iron ignited a fire Thursday that caused the extinction of a 90-foot-long robotic dinosaur that was set to be part of an exhibit at a New Jersey theme park.

The animatronic Argentinosaurus was reduced to a charred skeleton at Overpeck County Park in Leonia, police said.

The exhibit, called "Field Station: Dinosaurs," is moving to the park this month after operating in Secaucus since 2012.

Exhibit creator Guy Gsell told The Record newspaper that a welder was putting finishing touches on the Argentinosaurus when a spark started the blaze.

The dinosaur was roasted to its skeleton. None of the exhibit's 33 other dinosaurs was damaged. Leonia police tweeted a picture of two of the surviving dinosaurs, saying "they refused to give a witness statement."

The exhibit is still on track to open Memorial Day weekend, Gsell told The Record, and he plans to rebuild the Argentinosaurus robot.

Argentinosaurus fossils were discovered in Argentina in the 1980s.



Photo Credit: Leonia Police Department
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<![CDATA[Officers Finds Gator Foot in Truck]]> Tue, 10 May 2016 04:25:33 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/050916+alligator+foot+dashboard+fwc.jpg

A Florida man was slapped with a citation after Florida Fish and Wildlife officers made an unusual find in his dashboard: an alligator foot.

FWC officers stopped the truck to check for a day-use pass in a wildlife management area near Lake Okeechobee when they found alligator parts scattered inside the cab, the agency wrote in a Facebook post Monday.

Among the parts was a gator foot hanging out of the truck's dashboard.

The driver claimed the parts were from an alligator he had hunted a few years ago, but the smell told officers otherwise, the FWC said.

The man then confessed to killing the gator a few days before without a permit and was cited for the violation, authorities said.



Photo Credit: FWC]]>
<![CDATA[Maine Bus Joyride]]> Mon, 09 May 2016 16:20:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bus34.jpg

Talk about a joyride - a 12-year-old boy stole a school bus and took it for a drive, according to police in Bangor, Maine.

John St. Germain was in the passenger seat when he and his friend, Amanda, saw a bus driving dangerously in front of them. In cell phone video, it can be seen swerving, hitting the sidewalk and signs.

"At first it was comical, because we both thought it was a new driver - like someone being taught how to drive a bus," said St. Germain.

And it was a new driver - a very young one.

"I kind of saw his body structure [when the bus turned] and I was like, 'Oh my gosh - I think that's a kid," said St. Germain. "That's when it got scary."

Police say the child got access to the keys of a bus at the Bangor Cyr bus lines terminal and took it for spin.

As his friend called police, St. Germain decided he had to intervene.

"I was like, 'Alright, I'm going to take over,'" he said.

St. Germain stopped recording the video, jumped out of his car, and run up to the bus. The doors were slightly ajar, so he managed to get inside the slowly-moving vehicle. Then, he came face-to-face with the child driver.

"He didn't realize I was there for about 10 seconds or so, and then he looked at me and said 'I know what I'm doing,'" said St. Germain.

And then the kid kept driving.

"Then I kind of took the wheel, and put my foot on the brake, and then stopped the bus," St. Germain said. "I looked at him and said 'Alright, you need to get in the back now.'"

But the boy hopped off the bus and walked away. Police eventually caught him and charged him with operating without a license and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Authorities called St. Germain to the police station.

"I thought 'I'm going to get in trouble for this. I'm going to go to jail or something, because I just high-jacked a bus,'" he said.

St. Germain was relieved, and honored, to learn the Bangor Police Department wanted to give him a challenge coin as an award.

"The term 'hero' is thrown around a lot, but this guy is a hero," said Bangor Police Sgt. Tim Cotton. "He stopped something from happening, he stopped injuries to the 12-year-old boy, he may have stopped other damage."

On the Bangor Police Department's Facebook page, Cotton writes that St. Germain very likely saved lives by taking action. The post has gone viral, and St. Germain isn't sure what to make of all the attention.

"I just did what anyone would have done," St. Germain said.

The boy was taken into custody.



Photo Credit: Bangor Police
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<![CDATA[Stray Cats Using Zoo Facilities as Litter Box]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 15:36:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/stray-cats.jpg Stray cats are sneaking into the Miami Zoo at night and relieving themselves, using sand in exhibits as litter boxes. But their feces can contain a deadly parasite, which causes a disease called toxoplasmosis. It's blamed for the deaths of three squirrel monkeys and a red kangaroo at the zoo. The crafty cats are sneaking in from an adjacent park. Now the zoo is trapping them, putting the healthy ones up for adoption. That doesn't sit well with the people of Cat Network, who say the best solution is for the zoo to keep all other land species "out."]]> <![CDATA[Lost Alligator Tries to Ring Doorbell at SC Home]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 11:50:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Alligator-Doorbell.jpg A large alligator crawled to the front door of a home in South Carolina and appeared to ring the doorbell on May 2. "I was out walking the dog and we kind of went around the corner from my daughter's house [when we saw the alligator]," said Gary Rogers, who began to record video of the startling scene.

Photo Credit: WCBD]]>
<![CDATA[Black Cat Slips Onto NHL Rink]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 12:02:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/IMG_9617.jpg

The San Jose Sharks got an unexpected visit Friday.

Before the NHL team beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 at the SAP Center, a black cat crept out of the player bench area and scurried onto the ice.

As the Sharks warmed up for the first game of their best-of-seven playoff series, fans watched the small feline making a beeline for an oversized, fiberglass shark head, only to escape under the seats at "the Shark Tank," as the arena is known.

The venue’s staff was able to safely rescue the cat and dubbed it Joe Paw-velski, after Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the team announced Sunday.

"The amount of interest generated by Joe's appearance and those wishing to adopt him has been overwhelming," said Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora in a statement.

Joe has been taken to a local animal shelter to undergo a health examination, the team said. Staff will also investigate whether the cat has a microchip, in the hopes of reuniting it with its owner.

"If he is indeed a stray, our goal is to find the best home for him with the support of our local animal shelters," Tortora said. "If families are interested in adopting Joe but unsuccessful, we strongly encourage you to consider adopting another animal in need of a good home from one of our terrific local animal shelters."



Photo Credit: San Jose Sharks
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<![CDATA[Woman Lured by Singles Ad Dies After Weeks in Captivity]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 13:05:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/German_Ambulance-550668973.jpg

A 41-year-old woman who responded to a singles ad was held captive for several weeks by a man and his ex-wife — and later died at a hospital of injuries she suffered while in captivity, NBC News reported.

The woman, from Lower Saxony, Germany, contacted a man "who was looking for a steady partnership" and later moved in to her assailant's house.

Once there, she was physically abused by the man and his live-in ex-wife, authorities said. The suspects allegedly tried to take their "severely battered" victim back to her apartment, but when their car broke down, they called an ambulance. The woman died about two hours later of "blunt force trauma to the head," German officials said.

German paper Bild reported that the victim had been kept in a cellar and labeled the incident "The Horror House of Hoexter."



Photo Credit: ullstein bild via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bags of Air From Kobe's Last Game Hit eBay]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 16:00:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/KOBE_2_AP_16105199283157.jpg

Victory was in the air when Kobe Bryant closed out his 20-year career with the Lakers last week, and though his 60-point game is now history, you can still get a whiff of the triumph, so claim some eBay sellers.

A puffy, re-sealable bag of air labeled "Kobe Last Game" was up for auction on eBay over the weekend. The bid history indicates the starting price on Saturday was $500, and more than 50 bids later, the leading bid had climbed to $17,500 as of Monday afternoon.

"A bag of air from his final game. Me and my son went and was amazing (sic) experience," the description from seller jacobtrevo said before it was removed from the site.

He isn't the only eBay seller who claims to have bagged a breeze at Staples Center. A search on eBay turned up dozens of listings for bags filled with air claiming to be from the Black Mamba's memorable farewell game.

One such listing said the bag "Comes with a string I found on the floor after the game. Filled with the air of screaming fans. Almost like you can feel the excitement inside the bag!"

eBay has been removing the items from its site on grounds they are in violation of the company's policies, spokeswoman Kari Ramirez said.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Great Dane Gets Stuck in Tree]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 13:40:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/DaneinTree.jpg Kora, a 120-pound Great Dane who was stuck 20 feet up a tree in Louisville, Nebraska, was rescued Saturday night by the local fire department.

Photo Credit: WOWT]]>
<![CDATA[Chimp Leads Police on Chase Through Japanese Town]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 12:58:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/chimp-escaped-zoo.jpg

A chimpanzee fled from a zoo in northern Japan and tried desperately to avoid being captured by climbing an electric pole.

Not for long.

Chacha, the male chimp, was on the loose nearly two hours Thursday after disappearing from the Yagiyama Zoological Park in Sendai, the city that's hosting finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations in May.

TV footage showed Chacha perched atop the pole, agitated and screaming at zoo workers below. Even after being hit by a sedative arrow in the back, Chacha desperately tried to escape, dangling from a power line.

He finally gave up and fell head down into a blanket held by a dozen workers on the ground. It's not immediately clear if he survived.

Zoo officials are investigating how he escaped.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Burger Shop Break-In]]> Mon, 11 Apr 2016 18:48:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/five+guys+burglary+cooking+burglar.jpg

Police in Washington, D.C., are searching for a man seen in surveillance video who apparently grilled himself a hamburger as the restaurant was closed before allegedly swiping some water.

Police said the burglary happened between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. March 18 at the Five Guys Burgers and Fries location in Columbia Heights, in the 1400 block of Irving Street NW.

Investigators said the man followed a delivery man into the restaurant and waited until he left. The man then rummaged through the restaurant, cooked food and stole bottled water before leaving.

Surveillance video shows a man appearing to put food on a grill in the restaurant while talking on a cell phone.

Anyone who has information regarding this case is asked to call police at 202-727-9099. Additionally, information may be submitted by sending a text message to 50411.



Photo Credit: DC Metropolitan Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Man Throws Octopus Onto Ice Rink During Bruins Game]]> Fri, 08 Apr 2016 21:47:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/211*120/Octopus_TD_Garden.jpg

A man was arrested Thursday night after allegedly throwing an octopus into the TD Garden ice rink during a game between the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins.

Boston Police said the suspect, Jeffrey Farrugia, was charged with disturbing a public assembly.

Farrugia has since been released from police custody and his arraignment has been set to June 8.

According to police, the suspect, a Detroit Red Wings fan from Cumberland, Massachusetts, came down to the front rows to throw the octopus around 9:30 p.m.

Throwing octopi during games is a tradition during Red Wings games that started in April 15, 1952. The NHL formerly required eight wins to covet the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup the year this tradition started, and since then, the eight-legged cephalopod remains a good luck charm.



Photo Credit: NESN]]>
<![CDATA[Gold-Flecked Meteorite Legal Fracas]]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 11:41:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/METEORITEcrop.jpg

A gold-flecked meteorite that has traveled from the asteroid belt near Mars to the mountains of Fukang, China, and finally Marin County, California, is at the center of a vicious ownership battle being waged in federal court.

The 227-pound iron "pallasite" meteorite is estimated to be 4.5 billion years old. First discovered in Fukang, China about 15 years ago, it could be worth as much as $1 million, according to Stephen Settgast, an asteroid collecter who claims he's the rightful owner.

He sued a museum in Maine and a New York meteorite expert in February alleging breach of contract over the sale of the meteorite. But they have now filed a counterclaim, alleging that Settgast, who is staying in Marin County, is behind a "blatant theft of a unique and precious meteorite."

The countersuit alleges Settgast sold the meteorite for $425,000, then engaged in an "outrageous act of seller’s remorse" by stealing back the space rock for himself.

"This isn't a typical theft," said Wayne Minckley, undersheriff in Miami County, Kansas, in a Skype interview with NBC Bay Area.

A sheriff is involved in the out-of-this-world case because authorities aren’t yet ready to decide who stole the meteorite until the suit is settled.

"It’s a complicated case in the mere fact that the individual who sold it to the folks in Maine is our suspect in the theft," Minckley said.

Settgast would not speak on the record. But his attorney, Curt Edmonson of the Oregon firm, Slinde Nelson Stanford, said this is a simple business dispute gone awry.

"Civil suits don’t use terms like ‘steal.' That’s a criminal term," he said. "We didn’t go over the top in our complaint, but they certainly went over the top in their counterclaims."

But Settgast's story is full of holes, according to the founders of the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum — Lawrence Stifler and Mary McFadden of Brookline, Massachusetts — and meteorite expert Darryl Pitt, of New York. All three filed the counterclaim on March 29.

In the suit, Jeff Valle, the trio's Los Angeles attorney, laid out his clients’ argument like this: Noted for his ability to spot beauty and value in meteorites, Pitt suggested to the museum founders that they buy the meteorite in question. Stifler and McFadden agreed to pay Settgast $425,000 to feature the "Fukang meteorite" in their museum, which is not yet open.

In August 2014, Pitt brokered the deal with Settgast. The final of three payments was made in February 2015, the counterclaim contends. According to his website biography, Pitt is the purveyor of the "world's foremost collection of aesthetic iron meteorites," which he describes as "extraterrestrial objects d'art."

Valle and Pitt have declined to be interviewed.

After the money was paid, Pitt and the museum founders waited for the meteorite to be cleaned up and prepared by Kansas duo Keith and Dana Jenkerson, of KD Meteorites. The couple's website twinkles with brightly lit stars and boasts they've been "chasing meteorites since 1990s."

The Jenkersons took almost two years to stabilize, restore and prepare the "Fukang meteorite," the countersuit alleges, and on Jan. 10, Keith Jenkerson told Pitt this was "one of the most awesome meteorites to ever be displayed." He guessed the spiffed-up space rock to now be worth $1 million. But Pitt and the museum founders said this higher price is wildly inflated, the counterclaim states.

Less than two weeks later, the meteorite was reported stolen.

Pitt and the museum founders allege that Settgast, whose lawyer described him as a "world-renowned" fossil hunter who also has a ranch in Montana, went into the Jenkersons' lab on Jan. 23 and stole back the meteorite. Settgast's attorneys claim a condition of the sale was that the meteorite couldn't be shown in a public museum, a point the museum founders' say is simply not true, the counterclaim contends.

How Settgast would have gotten the meteorite out of the lab, at the Jenkersons' home in Osawatomie, Kansas, without detection, and then to Marin County, where Settgast has been living with a relative, has not been clearly explained.

Minckley, from the sheriff’s office, reiterated that it’s his understanding Settgast stole the meteorite from the lab. He said there was no surveillance video to document what might have happened. His office, however, is reserving a final determination on whether a crime was committed, and by whom, until a federal judge makes a ruling on who really owns the meteorite.

As for why the sheriff’s department is letting the civil case play out first, Edmonson said: "That tells you a little bit about how they feel about the criminal action. If they don’t feel there is enough evidence for the claim of theft, then it’s not there."

A hearing is set for June to be heard by Oakland-based U.S District Court Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong.



Photo Credit: Maine Mineral and Gem Museum
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<![CDATA[Police Investigating After Woman’s Thumb Bitten Off in New Haven]]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 06:58:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/westvillesubstation10212014.jpg

New Haven police are investigating after part of a woman’s thumb was bitten off.

Police responded to Warren Street at 11:20 p.m. on Tuesday after receiving the report and found a 44-year-old woman who appeared to be drunk and missing part of her left thumb, police said.

Police obtained the detached portion of her thumb and the woman was taken to the hospital.

Police said it’s not clear who bit off the finger and the woman is not cooperating with police.

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<![CDATA[Alligator Tries to Get in Fla. Home]]> Fri, 08 Apr 2016 10:54:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/040516+plant+city+gator.jpg

An alligator was removed from a mobile home community in Central Florida Tuesday after it approached a resident's front door.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the gator was 9 feet 5 inches long. Authorities said the animal "was attempting to gain entry into a residential mobile home."

Officials said a licensed trapper and HCSO deputy were able to capture and remove the gator before it could harm anyone.

Plant City is about 30 miles east of Tampa.

 



Photo Credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
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<![CDATA[Falling Tree Barely Misses Cop Car]]> Tue, 05 Apr 2016 19:03:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/boonton+dashcam+tree.jpg

A New Jersey police car came dangerously close to being crushed by a large tree when the tree snapped and fell onto the road amid powerful winds Sunday, dashcam footage from the patrol car shows. 

Boonton Township police said a sergeant was driving a patrol car eastbound on Rockaway Valley Road just before 8 a.m. Sunday when winds brought a large tree down directly in front of the car.

The sergeant was able to steer his car away from the trunk, narrowly avoiding a collision. But footage shows a pickup truck driven by Alex Conklin coming from the opposite direction slamming into the tree and briefly going airborne before resting on top of it.

Incredibly, the driver did not suffer any injuries, according to police. The sergeant in the patrol car was also OK. 

"(It was) the worst amusement park ride you've ever been on," Conklin said Tuesday. 

Tow truck driver Mike Corigliano came to the scene after the crash and took photos after the crash, and noted that a bent bumper appeared to be the only visible sign of damage to Conklin's truck.

"It's something you would see in 'Dukes of Hazzard'," Corigliano said.

Gusts of 60 mph were reported in the tri-state area early Sunday morning, and subsided by the afternoon. But torn-offs roofs, uprooted trees and knocked-down power lines were left in their wake. 

Winds knocked out electric power to as many as 63,000 customers in New Jersey and New York, utility officials said.



Photo Credit: Boonton Township Police
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<![CDATA[LA's 'Murder House' Up for Sale]]> Mon, 04 Apr 2016 20:35:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/4-4-16-Murde_House.jpg

The ad on realtor.com for the four-bedroom home in Los Feliz tells only part of the story. The beautiful Los Angeles home nestled on a hill has a grand entrance, step-down living room, ballroom, library and serene views.

The 5,050-square-foot Spanish Revival is "waiting for that special person looking for a wonderful opportunity to remodel or develop."

But the $2.75 million home at 2475 Glendower Place has a dark history.

The house is where Dr. Harold N. Perelson bludgeoned his wife to death with a hammer and attacked his 18-year-old daughter before killing himself "in a frenzy that he himself likened to a nightmare," the Los Angeles Times wrote on Dec. 7, 1959.

Since then, the so-called "Murder House" has become the center of morbid fascination, sparking ghost hunters to endlessly ruminate about it online.

"People into weird, creepy stuff would know about it," LA history blogger Kim Cooper said. "There's no justice. That's what makes it so weird and mysterious."

A Los Angeles Times article documents the killing under the headline, "Doctor Kills Wife and Self in Frenzy of 'Nightmare.'"

Perelson, 50, killed his wife while she slept, then attacked his daughter, the article said. She survived. Two other children, Debbie, 11 and Joel, 13, were not hurt.

When Debbie woke to the sounds and confronted her father, Perelson told her, "Go back to bed; this is a nightmare," The Times wrote, citing police.

Nobody knows what set Perelson off, but detectives at the time said they found paperwork suggesting he was having financial problems.

The dark history of the house took on a life of its own.

After the Perelsons, another family bought the home in probate in the early 1960s. When they died, the son inherited it from his parents but he didn't live there. The last owner died last year and the home went to probate again. The house went up for sale last week, said real estate agent Susan Nancy Sanborn, of Berkshire Hathaway.

So far there have been no takers. She said the urban legends of paranormal activity are not helping the cause.

"It's a very beautiful house," she said. "I don't have any ghoulish details to share."

There's the myth that there was another family who moved in after the Perelsons who reportedly left in a hurry because something happened and they didn't have time to take their Christmas tree and gifts, said Jeff Maysh, an LA-based journalist who wrote a history of the house on Medium.com.

There is another myth of visits by the ghost of Dr. Perelson.

"The house is a sinister character in my story," said Maysh, who sold the story to an LA production company that plans to make a horror film. "It's a building that has secrets which kind of gives it a personality. LA is a town based on secrets. Everyone wants to know what's behind closed doors."



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Berkshire Hathaway]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Calls 911 Over Pizza Order Mistake]]> Wed, 30 Mar 2016 04:47:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Food+Phillies+2012+Preview+Seasons+Pizza+Generic.jpg

A woman called 911 to complain that a Hartford, Connecticut, pizza shop made a mistake with her order and wouldn’t return her money, so she wanted police officers to get it back for her.

The woman said she ordered a small half-cheese, half-bacon pizza from Empire Pizza on New Britain Avenue, but they gave her one that had hamburger on half of it.

The pizza shop said the incident happened a couple weeks ago and they would have been happy to replace the order, but the woman said she'd already eaten half of the pizza.

Here's how the call went down:

“If I order a pizza and they don’t want to give me my money back, can you guys do something,” the caller asked the 911 dispatcher.

The dispatcher calmly told her to take it up with the pizza shop.

“That’s not something you would dial 911 for – 911 is for life-threatening emergencies only,” the dispatcher said.

“OK, can you call the pizzeria or something?” the caller then asked.

At that point, the dispatcher asked the woman what happened.

“I ordered a small pizza – half cheese and half bacon – and they bring me half hamburger, so I call them back and they don’t want to give my money back,” she said, adding the pizza shop was hanging up on her.

“That’s not a police matter, ma’am,” the dispatcher said. “You’ll have to work that out with the pizza shop.”

The caller again asked the dispatcher to call the pizza shop.

“No, we cannot call the pizza shop,” the dispatcher said.

The woman then asked the dispatcher why the pizza shop could call the police if she went over there and started arguing with them.

“If you go over there, you can call and have an officer meet you, but an officer’s not just going to call them and ask them to give you your money back,” the dispatcher explained.

The dispatcher then offered to have an officer meet her and urged her not to go into the pizza shop and say anything until she spoke with an officer.

NBC Connecticut reached out to the woman who called 911, but she did not want to comment.



Photo Credit: NBC10 - Dan Stamm]]>
<![CDATA[Mystery Meat Found on Several New Hampshire Roads]]> Tue, 29 Mar 2016 11:40:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/179*120/GettyImages-462467813.jpg

A trail of mystery meat has hit the road in New Hampshire.

Chicken, drumsticks, sausage, Angus steaks, pork chops and wild game meats were found alongside several roads in Epping last weekend, according to the Union Leader.

Police Capt. Jason Newman said an estimated 30 to 40 packages of meat were discarded on Red Oak Hill, Rocky Lane, Old Nottingham Road and Route 87, the paper reported.

The meat appeared to have been dropped out of a moving vehicle about every 200 feet. Much of it was partially frozen, and police said the label on one package left a clue that it came from a local store, according to the paper.

Residents notified authorities about the discoveries on Sunday.

No arrests have been made at this time, and the motive remains unknown. Anyone with information is asked to call: (603) 679-5122.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Seal Pup Found in Calif. Yard]]> Thu, 24 Mar 2016 22:28:44 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/sealion16.jpg

A 9-month-old, tagged California fur seal found its way to a home in Fremont Thursday morning, puzzling cops and neighbors over how the small mammal waddled its way there.

Police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques made a video, which she tweeted out about 9:30 a.m., showing the seal, which rescuers nicknamed “Ozzie,” likely for where it was found: In the 42300 block of Osgood Road.

“We have no idea how it made it to Osgood, far from any body of water,” Bosques said.

The block is about four miles from the nearest body of sea water.

“It’s possible,” said Marine Mammal Center veterinarian Sophie Whoriskey. “These animals do haul out and spend some time on land sometimes, so they can certainly walk that far.”

Police also showed a picture of smiling residents standing around the seal, which is in a cage and wrapped in a black blanket with white paw prints. Later, Fremont police updated the status of "Ozzie," stating its real name was "Kumofur."  She was apparently supposed to head north, but ended up south. Police initially stated incorrectly that the seal was a sea lion.

Homeowner Cathy Carpentier said Kumofur looked wet and fairly healthy, but scared.

“It was moving around quite a bit. It was looking at you with big brown eyes – gorgeous,” Carpentier said, explaining police knocked on her door about 8:30 Thursday morning asking if she and her husband knew how the seal got here.

“There’s a seal in your driveway. A seal. How do you comprehend that?” Carpentier said. “Occasionally we get raccoons, skunks, bobcats, but a marine animal? This is a first for us.”

Kumofur was originally rescued in November 2015 at New Brighton State Beach in Capitola, California, according to Giancarlo Rulli from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, where the seal was taken. After the malnourished pup was treated at the center, Rulli said she was released at Scotty Creek Beach in Bodega Bay, California, earlier in March.

Rulli said veterinarians will exam her to try to figure out why she might have made her way to Fremont, 100 miles away.

A record number of mammals were found and rescued at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito last year, most likely, experts say, because of the Pacific Ocean weather phenomena called "The Blob" and El Niño.

A total of 107 fur seals were rescued by the center in 2015, three times the average. Dr. Whoriskey says usually during March, they are treating 15 to 20.

“We think that’s because of warmer water conditions so these animals are having a harder time finding food,” Dr. Whoriskey said.

Throughout California, other rescue centers are busy feeding high numbers of hungry mammals before sending them back into the ocean.

Overall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that from January to May 2015, California sea lion strandings were occurring 10 times more than average.

A similar phenomenon occurred during California’s last El Niño in 1997, when the death rate of seals hovered about 70 percent, compared to a normal rate of 45 percent. 

As for 2016, Rulli said the number of strandings have not yet been tabulated. But he didn't expect them to be too high, because stranded seals usually happen shortly after birth, which would mean they would occur in the fall.



Photo Credit: Fremont Police Department
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