Church Used as Meth Lab

Parishioners of a rural North Dakota church showed up for services last Wednesday, only to find sheriff's deputies inside with guns drawn.

Turns out someone had been using the church's kitchen as a meth lab, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

"Who would have thought somebody would turn an active church into an active amphetamine lab?" said Cass County, N.D., Sheriff's Lt. Rick Majerus.

A trustee of the Bethel Moravian Church (search) near the town of Leonard, about 40 miles southwest of Fargo, came by at about 6 p.m. to drop off some towels.

Thinking it strange that the church was locked, he began rattling the doors, and then, through a crack, saw a man inside running out another door.

The trustee called sheriff's deputies, who soon caught a suspect fleeing on foot.

"I'd prefer that our kitchen be used for bake sales, but in addition to being pastor, I'm also the fire chief," said Pastor Dave Sobek.

The ingredients for making methamphetamine are easy to get, but highly volatile, and several people are killed nationwide each year in related explosions and fires.

Ted Brewer, 22, of Leonard, was charged with attempting to manufacture a controlled substance, burglary and two counts of possessing drug paraphernalia.

"There have been active methamphetamine labs in the back seats of cars, bathtubs and abandoned barns," Majerus told the Star-Tribune, "but nobody I've talked to has ever heard of a meth lab in a church."

Terror Drill a Tad Too Realistic

A Tennessee county's emergency-management agency's director is in a bit of hot water after a mock drill he conducted seemed all too real.

Carter County commissioners had just sat down to a meeting in the county courthouse in Elizabethton at 7 p.m. Monday night when three men and a woman rushed in carrying guns, reports the Elizabethton Star.

One man said there was a bomb in the building, and brandished what he said was a timer while declaring "No more wheel tax! I am in control today! No more wheel tax!"

On the agenda for that night's meeting was a proposal to impose a county auto-registration fee of $25 per wheel.

Another man and the woman held two sheriff's deputies at gunpoint at the back of the room, also shouting "No wheel tax! No wheel tax!"

The third man guarded the exit, keeping commissioners and meeting observers from leaving the room. He fired a shot into the air as some people tried to run into locked jury rooms.

As some hostages started to cry, and law-enforcement officers in the audience began to reach for their weapons, up to the podium strolled Elizabethton-Carter County Emergency Management Agency Director Ernest Jackson.

It was all just a drill, he told the angry crowd.

"We conducted a scenario," Jackson explained. "We are required to have two drills per year and this exercise is what we tried to do this evening."

Sheriff John Henson had been told there would be a drill just before the meeting, Jackson said, but hadn't been given details, while the commissioners were left intentionally in the dark.

Had he not been told, Henson, who had a direct line of fire to the man wielding the "bomb" timer, said "I would have dropped him where he stood."

"This should have never happened," Henson added. "I have called the [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (search)] in. ... I am not sure of charges being placed, but there will be an investigation."

The drill could have "turned bad real quick," said county commissioner Jack Buckles.

Jackson defended the mock takeover.

"I am carrying out a job I was hired to do," he said.

— Thanks to Out There reader T.A.

Strange Sighting Makes Believers Out of Skeptics

CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. (AP) — Five vacationers from Maryland claim they've seen Champ, the mythical Lake Champlain monster.

Bob Gload and four of his grandchildren said they saw a dark, black, snakelike creature while bass fishing Wednesday afternoon.

Gload said there was an "explosion" in the water, and then he saw three humps, two to three feet tall, four to five feet apart.

"I was born in Champlain. I never believed in Champ or the Loch Ness monster," Gload told the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh. "I believe now."

Last year, the Skeptical Inquirer (search), a publication that routinely challenges such things as UFOs, Bigfoot and other mysterious claims, disputed the existence of Champ.

The story by Joseph Nickell and Benjamin Radford was based on a visit they made to the lake as part of a Discovery Channel production.

They swept the water with sonar and watched — unsuccessfully — at locations alleged to be particularly good for Champ sightings. In reviewing eyewitness accounts, the team noted "widely inconsistent" descriptions.

Lake Champlain is home to lake sturgeon that can grow to 7 feet in length and in some cases weigh up to 300 pounds.

But Gload is convinced that what he saw was a creature like no other.

"All I know is I've been fishing for a long time, and I've never seen anything like that," he said.

Druid Gets Right to Carry Hard-to-Conceal Weapon

PORTSMOUTH, England (AP) — Prosecutors dropped charges Tuesday against a man who explained that he carried a sword into a shop because he is a druid.

At a brief appearance in court last month, Merlin Michael Williams, 26, said previous cases heard by the court had allowed druids the right to carry ceremonial swords, which are used to cast spells and create circles of safety.

Williams, of Westbourne, southern England, was arrested July 9 after carrying his weapon while shopping at a store in Portsmouth. The sword was confiscated as evidence.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the matter had been considered and "it was deemed not to be in the public interest to continue with the case."

Williams, who wore his green and blue druid's robes at last month's court appearance, said his sword, which he calls Talisen, had been returned.

"I am just happy to have got my sword back so I can continue with my duties as sword-bearer," he said.

"I can understand how the misunderstanding happened with the police but it was all a bit heavy-handed and they should have listened to my explanation."

Williams is a member of Insular Order of the Druids (search), which was founded in 1993 at Stonehenge and is one of at least eight self-styled druid groups in Britain.

Unexploded Ordnance Not Destroyed, Just Swept Under Leaves

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An Army contractor charged with cleaning up an abandoned military base left unexploded shells beneath leaves and dirt instead of removing and destroying them, state and military officials said Tuesday.

Cleanup work at Fort McClellan (search) in Anniston was halted Friday after the discovery.

State regulators said a July 21 inspection of a wooded area on the property uncovered 13 mortar rounds that were supposed to have been removed for disposal by Tetra Tech FW Inc.

Instead, the rounds appeared to have been concealed behind trees, and some were covered with leaves and soil.

Clint Niemeyer, a spokesman with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (search), said the discovery raised questions about whether more old shells were hidden. The state ordered the Army to inspect land within 100 feet of previously cleaned areas to determine whether additional rounds were present.

Gary Harvey, manager of the Army office in charge of the cleanup, said the workers felt pressed for time and left the shells in an area where they thought they would be located and destroyed later. But rules require the immediate destruction of any shell that is found, he said.

The military is investigating, said Tim White, a spokesman with the Army Corps of Engineers (search).

Company officials did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Man Likes Giving Bodily Fluids to Public Officials

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A man who refused to go to court got a jailhouse hearing Friday and then spat at the judge and threw a container of urine at him, officials said.

District Judge Stewart Stadler was not hit as he stood outside a solid jail door with a sliding window at about chest height.

The man, who refuses to identify himself and made an obscene gesture throughout the hearing, was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation at the state hospital in Warm Springs and remained in custody on $20,000 bail.

Authorities believe he is Robert Kilarjian, 52, of North Port, N.Y., but he denied that is his name.

The man was arrested July 21 in Bad Rock Canyon (search) after people reported him acting strangely. At the time, he allegedly threw a piece of firewood that hit a deputy in the head, but did not seriously injure him.

He also allegedly spat on another deputy, resulting in charges of assaulting an officer and assault with a bodily fluid.

Throughout an initial hearing on those charges before a justice of the peace, the man extended his middle finger and uttered a profanity at the judge.

If convicted, the man faces up from two to 10 years for assaulting an officer and a year in jail for assault with a bodily fluid.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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