Another weird year in the books. Clockwise from top left: the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay; face-chewing victim Ronald Poppo; a giant eyeball that washed up on a beach; Tampa socialiate Jill Kelley; Jeremie Calo, a man accused of having sex at an Orlando restaurant; photo of a woman seen riding a manatee; a student placed in the "Cone of Shame" during class
TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- In 2012, Florida was a state where a lifeguard got
fired for saving a life, a woman got arrested for riding a manatee and a
man repeatedly used 911 as a phone sex service.
Think that's weird? It gets worse and more tragic.
one of the state's most horrifying stories of the year, a man stripped a
homeless man naked and attacked him in Miami, chewing off most of his face before police fatally shot him. And it wasn't the only story of its
kind. In Manatee County, deputies used multiple Tasers to subdue a naked man who bit off part of another man's arm.
the year a man won a roach-eating contest outside a Deerfield Beach pet store and then dropped dead in front of the store when body parts of the
dozens of roaches he swallowed blocked his airway.
VIDEO: Red light runners year-end recap
tend to be a magnet from every direction for all kinds of sketchery,"
said Billy Corben, a documentary film director whose works include
"Cocaine Cowboys" about Miami's cocaine wars in the 1980s. "It's very
late in the game where we go, `That dude? I guess he seemed kind of
Corben, whose "The Billy Pulpit" website compiles weird Florida news,
said Floridians tend to show up in high numbers on "The Jerry Springer
Show" and "America's Most Wanted."
And odd stories elsewhere always seem
to have a Florida tie - like former CIA director David Petraeus's
extramarital affair being exposed through a Tampa socialite. And when
anti-virus software founder John McAfee ran from Belizean authorities
who wanted to question him about the slaying of a neighbor, he wound up in Miami Beach, where he shopped, ate sushi and posed for photos with
"The state seems to either passively or directly endorse all of this lunacy in some way or another," Corben said.
again, this is the state where Gov. Rick Scott mistakenly gave the media a phone sex number to promote a meningitis hot line. After a
broadcaster posted it, at least one caller was greeted with a recording
of "Hello boys..." from a lusty sounding lady.
Several gaffes involved hunting Floridians.
the two guys in Santa Rosa County who used a bow and arrow to kill a neighbor's pet turkey, which they planned to eat on Thanksgiving. Then
there was a Flagler County man who shot his girlfriend in the legs
because he thought she was a wild hog.
A mother and
daughter were sentenced to two months in jail for using two dogs to kill a farm-raised pig in their backyard. They posted video of the attack on
Facebook, which led to their arrest.
Ah, Facebook! It caused trouble for several other Floridians.
Sarasota County man was kicked off a jury after a judge learned he sent the defendant a Facebook friend request. The juror further infuriated
the judge with a Facebook post bragging about getting dismissed from
jury duty. He was given three days in jail.
County music teacher was issued a verbal warning for a Facebook
conversation in which she described an 8-year-old student as the
"evolutionary link between orangutans and humans." A high school science
teacher also had some explaining to do when she put a cone-shaped dog collar on at least eight students and the "cone of shame" photos
appeared on Facebook.
Those weren't the only strange events in Florida schools.
Plant City teacher was charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill another teacher he suspected was spreading rumors about him.
a man showed up at his kindergartener's school to retrieve a bag of marijuana and a scale he left in the boy's backpack. More evidence that
pot affects short-term memory? An 18-year-old Tampa woman was charged with DUI and marijuana possession three times in less than three weeks,
the last two times on back-to-back days.
charged a man with riding a horse while intoxicated after he led officers on a half-hour chase, while a 52-year-old St. Petersburg woman
was arrested after police found photos of her riding a manatee.
also showed that they'll steal just about anything. An Ocala woman told
police thieves stole her Thanksgiving turkey from a freezer in her
garage; a man was charged in Lakeland after police said he stole two swan eggs from a nest and cooked them; about 150,000 baby clams were
reported stolen in Lee County; and a South Florida woman had hundreds of parrots stolen from her home.
Perhaps the oddest was a Reddick woman who drove home to find someone stole her driveway, carting away 300 square feet of brick pavers.
it's not as if Florida authorities don't take theft seriously. A judge
in Ocala sentenced a homeless man to 180 days in jail and fined him $500
for stealing $2 worth of candy.
Then there was the guy
accused of selling methamphetamine in Polk County who swiped the recorder with his confession and flushed it down a toilet. The suspect
told the detective, "Tighten up on your job, homie."
more embarrassing, a Broward County deputy was fired for repeatedly
visiting strip clubs while he was on duty and wearing his uniform,
sometimes skipping official calls. A West Palm Beach strip-club owner
unsuccessfully sued a competing club to block the appearance of Nadya Suleman, claiming the woman best known as "Octomom" agreed to strip at
his club first.
Speaking of celebrities and sex, former pro
wrestler Hulk Hogan sued a DJ named Bubba the Love Sponge Clem over a
secret tape of Hogan having sex with Clem's wife.
quite sex on tape, 911 audio recordings were released of a Tampa man
who repeatedly called the emergency line and asked the operator to come over for sex.
A Florida legislator suffered some embarrassment after "selfies" that showed him posing in his underwear made the rounds online. In a statement, he said the pics were only meant to show weight loss and how he was in good health while fighting diabetes.
Florida's unique wildlife always finds a way
into the news. An airboat captain near Everglades City was showing an
Indiana family how to feed alligators when a 9-footer bit his left hand off. Authorities later charged him with illegally feeding an alligator.
A South Florida teen also lost an arm in a gator attack, but managed to battle the animal off using knowledge he learned from watching the TV show "Swamp Men."
man strolling along Pompano Beach found a giant blue eyeball and turned
it over to authorities. Wildlife officials said it likely came from a
swordfish. This story ended up topping National Geographic's "10 Weirdest stories of the Year."
A rhesus macaque dubbed "The Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay" was caught after several years on the loose, weeks after the primate attacked a St. Petersburg grandmother. The monkey now has a new home in Dade City.
On another South Florida beach, a lifeguard was
fired for helping save a man from drowning. It turns out the man he
saved was just outside the area that Hallandale Beach hired a private
company to protect. The company said it was at risk once the lifeguard
crossed the boundary.
In miscellaneous Florida weirdness:
A man who won an auction for the contents of a Pensacola storage unit
discovered it contained dozens of preserved human brains, hearts, lungs and other organs that had been collected by a former medical examiner.
- A teenager is recovering after shooting off his penis and testicle while cleaning a gun he just bought.
A Jacksonville man was arrested after he allegedly used enemas and then returned them to pharmacies resealed, claiming they were unused.
18-month-old girl was pulled off a flight in Miami because the airline
thought she was on the U.S. no-fly list of suspected terrorists.
- An Orlando couple was caught having sex in public... on a patio table... at a restaurant... in full view of children.
finally, in what will go down in the first date from hell hall of fame,
Boca Raton police say a 35-year-old woman attacked a man with a knife
and smashed his windows after he refused to say they were boyfriend and
girlfriend at the end of their first date.
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