A man came home for Christmas to find a nasty present — someone had stolen his parents' house.
Jon Thomas came back to Shaker Heights (search), Ohio, in Dec. 2003 to bury his mother, who had just died after three years in a retirement home. Thomas' father died in 2000.
But when he drove over to his parents' house, which had been shuttered, he found it inhabited, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The lights were on, cars were in the driveway and Santa and his reindeer stood on the lawn.
After a year of investigating, police arrested Richard Lenard, 26, who used to live across the street.
They say Lenard had a "Helen Thomas," who claimed to be the daughter of the elder Thomases, sell him the house at the country recorder's office for $25,000 in 2002.
Jon Thomas says he's an only child — and that the house, in upscale Shaker Heights, is worth $300,000.
"There's no question that a fraud occurred," said Lenard's lawyer. "The question is whether Mr. Lenard was a willful participant or an unknowing victim of the fraud."
To make things even messier, Lenard recently sold the house for $50,000 to its tenant, despite knowing that its ownership was in question.
Police say it could take years to sort out all the conflicting claims. In the meantime, Thomas is tallying his losses. Lenard sold off most of the Thomases' possessions — furniture, a grand piano, a Cadillac — in estate sales.
JAY, Okla. (AP) — A Delaware County man who prosecutors say was killed by his father-in-law was called for jury duty in his alleged killer's murder trial.
A court clerk says Scott Borton's name was listed in the jury pool for the first-degree murder trial of Roger Lee Lawrence.
Jury pools are taken from a list of people with drivers licenses and court officials say Borton's name was drawn at random.
Lawrence is accused of killing Borton last Easter as Borton was helping Lawrence's wife move out of the home she shared with Lawrence.
— Thanks to Out There reader Alan C.
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) — The city's tax superintendent has been suspended without pay for a week for trying to inject some humor in the city income tax filing instructions.
The attempt at humor by Linda Stubbs was called "misguided" by city Finance Director John Lyons.
The forms — with such lines as, "If we can tax it, we will," — were sent last week to all Middletown businesses and residents who pay city income tax.
Lyons said revised forms were sent out immediately at a cost to taxpayers of about $5,500.
Among the lines that city officials didn't think were very funny was this one:
"Free advice: if you don't have a profit in a five-year period, you might want to consider another line of work."
Middletown is about 25 miles northeast of Cincinnati.
— Thanks to Out There reader Nancy B.
MONROE, La. (AP) — Jerry Wayne Till managed to get away from sheriff's deputies and elude them briefly — until he called them for help after he got lost in the woods.
A sheriff's deputy tried to pull over Till on Wednesday evening for speeding, but Till drove away, exceeding 100 mph at times, before eventually abandoning his vehicle and running into the woods, according to the arrest affidavit.
Deputies brought in search dogs, but couldn't locate Till until he called the sheriff's office from his cell phone asking for help because he was lost.
Deputies still couldn't find him, until a nearby resident heard Till crying for help and called the authorities.
Maj. Jay Russell said deputies believe Till was heading to his home, but got misdirected in the woods. Deputies took him into custody about a quarter mile from the house of the deputy who tried to pull him over.
Till, who was charged with aggravated flight and driving with an expired license, told deputies that he didn't pull over because he wasn't thinking straight.
— Thanks to Out There reader Greg M.
LONDON (AP) — A British military pilot who used an army helicopter to deliver a pizza to his girlfriend has been disciplined, the Ministry of Defense said Tuesday.
The Lynx helicopter (search) was on a map-reading training exercise in eastern England on Jan. 25 when it made a landing in the Stanford area, a Ministry of Defense spokesman said.
"The pilot took it upon himself to basically deliver this pizza," the spokesman said. "He has been made aware that the chain of command doesn't condone his actions and has been disciplined."
Ministry officials did not give release details of the punishment.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Some Wisconsin quarters issued last year are turning out to be worth considerably more than 25 cents.
Coin collectors say quarters with two variations in the design of a cornstalk on the back of the coin have been spotted at Tucson, Ariz., and San Antonio, Texas.
Rick Snow, who owns Eagle Eye Rare Coins Inc. (search) in Tucson, said he started paying $50 each for the quarters when he learned of them.
"As soon as word got out about that, the prices escalated," Snow said.
On Monday, he was offering a set of three Wisconsin quarters — the normal one, one with a leaf marking pointed up and a third with the marking pointed down — for as much as $1,099. Individual coins with the variations were selling for $500 to $600, depending on condition, he said.
The U.S. Mint, which produced 453 million Wisconsin quarters for its state coin series, is trying to determine how the differences came about.
Compiled by FOXNews.com's Paul Wagenseil.
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