Kidnapping Victim Already Dead

It may be part of a new trend — corpse-napping.

Southfield, Mich., police on Wednesday arrested two men accused of stealing a body from a hospital morgue, the Detroit Free Press reported.

"This is the first case in my 35-year history of someone taking a deceased person," Southfield Police Detective John Harris told the newspaper.

The cops say the two, along with a third man still at large, posed as funeral home employees when they picked up the body at Providence Hospital (search) in Southfield late Sunday night.

A tip led police to the suspects, who in turn led the cops to a Dumpster in Detroit where the body of the 86-year-old man had been discarded.

The dead man's name was not released at the request of family members, who were extremely upset, Harris said.

Southfield's police chief, Joseph Thomas, explained that the three suspects probably planned to use the dead man as part of an insurance-fraud scheme, and that they might be part of a larger ring committing similar crimes across Michigan and the rest of the country.

"This can be extremely big," Thomas said.

— Thanks to Out There reader Ray H.

Snake in Grass Leads to Bullet in Leg

PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (AP) — A snake in the grass is to blame for a teenager shooting himself in the leg, police said.

A 16-year-old boy was mowing his lawn Tuesday when he saw a snake slithering toward his dogs, which were chained in the front yard, police said.

Worried about the canines, the boy ran inside and grabbed a .22-caliber pistol, said Port Wentworth police Sgt. Loren Scholes.

The boy came back outside and when he saw the snake at his feet, he hastily aimed and fired. The bullet entered his right calf and exited near his heel, Scholes said.

The boy was taken to an area hospital. Police said the wound was not life-threatening.

Scholes said he did not know what kind of snake it was, but "from what he described, it sounded as big as a freight train."

The sergeant added that the reptile apparently escaped unscathed.

— Thanks to Out There reader Lauren S.

And They Say There's No Social Security Crisis

LINDENWOLD, N.J. (AP) — Police made a surprising discovery when they busted the alleged madam of a prostitution ring called "August Playmates": The woman running the show was an 80-year-old grandmother.

Authorities arrested Vera Tursi last month during a sting operation to crack down on prostitution rings posing as legal escort services. Police say Tursi ran the business from her two-bedroom apartment, taking $60 of every $160 she charged clients for one hour with a call girl.

Law enforcement officials say Tursi admitted her role in the business, saying she took it over a few years ago from her daughter, who had died. Police say Tursi told them she needed money to subsidize her Social Security checks.

Undercover police first began to wonder about the age of their suspect when they called the escort service as part of their sting operation. They said she seemed to have difficulty breathing.

"You get a feel for how old someone is when you talk to them," State Police Detective Sgt. Thomas Cornely told The Sunday Star-Ledger of Newark. "She sounded like an 80-year-old woman."

Although police arrested Tursi when they came to her apartment May 2, they decided not to bring her to the police barracks because of her poor health.

Tursi has been charged with a single count of promoting prostitution. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison. But because of her age and lack of a criminal record, she's more likely to receive probation, Cornely said.

— Thanks to Out There reader Tony L.

Popcorn-Eating Contest Won on Technicality

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas (search) wolfed down 10 boxes of popcorn in 12 minutes, then two more in a playoff to win an MTV-sponsored eating contest at Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Thomas, of Alexandria, Va., and Rich LeFevre, of Henderson, Nev., were tied after 12 boxes, but judges ruled Thomas the winner because LeFevre had spilled a few kernels.

For the win, Thomas received an MTV Movie Awards (search) talent gift basket worth an estimated $10,000.

In August, the 105-pound Thomas downed 38 lobsters in 12 minutes to win the World Lobster Eating Contest (search). She won $500 and a trophy belt for her efforts, consuming 9.76 pounds of lobster meat.

Days before the lobster contest, the speed-eater consumed 8.4 pounds of beans with pork in 2 minutes and 47 seconds. She also holds records for hard-boiled eggs.

Click in the photo box above to see pictures.

Police Ride-Along Becomes Drive-Away

COMPTON, Calif. (AP) — A guest went on a ride-along with a sheriff's deputy, then stole the deputy's patrol car early Wednesday and led police on a chase through three cities, authorities said.

Steven Funderburk, 20, was riding with Los Angeles County Deputy Alexander Miller under a program that allows anyone to accompany an officer if they have no felony convictions and fill out an application, authorities said.

When Miller's shift ended after 1 a.m., Funderburk asked to retrieve his bag from the car in the parking lot. When Miller returned to check on Funderburk, the car was gone, sheriff's Sgt. Don Manumaleuna said.

Miller was able to talk to Funderburk on the patrol car's radio and persuaded him to surrender without incident after a chase through Compton, Long Beach and Westminster, Manumaleuna said.

He was arrested for investigation of possession of a stolen vehicle and evading arrest.

Manumaleuna said Funderburk developed a good rapport with Miller during the ride-along and did nothing to arouse suspicion.

"It's very bizarre," he said. "We're still trying to figure this one out."

Authorities said Funderburk had told Miller that he was part of a youth program at the Long Beach Police Department (search), but the department had no record of his participation.

Cars Customized With Condiments

ENDWELL, N.Y. (AP) — Dozens of cars in an upstate New York high school parking lot were good enough to eat, but their owners weren't exactly sweet on the idea.

Authorities say almost four dozen cars, pickup trucks and SUV's wound up topped with a combination of chocolate syrup, peanut butter, pudding, mayonnaise and ketchup. Some of the vehicles were wrapped in plastic.

The vehicles had been parked at Maine-Endwell Senior High School (search) near Binghamton while students were out of town for a senior class trip.

"You could have made a meal" out of the unusual assortment of ingredients applied to the vehicles, a school administrator said.

Officials believe the weekend parking lot mess may have been in retaliation for an earlier incident in which some "Silly String" was sprayed on a few vehicles belonging to junior high school students.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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