Stranger than fiction 

Curses, foiled again

Dallas police said Dwayne Lamont Moten, 20, hired a friend, Jacob Wheeler, 20, to shoot him, intending to blame the crime on his wife's boyfriend so he could gain custody of his 3-year-old son. Wheeler was only supposed to wound Moten, who "drove a short distance before he realized he was shot a little worse than he had planned and got out of his car and was screaming for help," then died, according to Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, who noted, "There's legal ways to get custody of a child, and taking a bullet and ultimately dying is definitely not one of those ways." (KDFW-TV)

Shawn Martines, 25, flagged down a sheriff's deputy in Pasco County, Fla., and explained that he let a woman put handcuffs on him, thinking they were fake, but they were real, and the woman didn't have a key. Martines managed to pick one cuff and wanted the deputy to unlock the other. First, though, the deputy patted down Martines for weapons. When he found a hypodermic needle and nine Xanax pills, he locked the loose cuff on Martines' free wrist and arrested him on drug charges. (Associated Press)

Sperm wannabes

A Los Angeles sperm bank has launched a service that lets its clients choose donors who resemble Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Russell Crowe, Justin Timberlake, Tiger Woods and other entertainment and sports celebrities. Pointing out that state law requires sperm donors to be anonymous, Scott Brown, the communications director for California Cryobank, said the clinic's "Donor Look-A-Like" service is "a way of connecting the client to the donor" by suggesting which celebrity the donor most resembles and showing pictures of those celebrities to give clients a "general idea." Acknowledging that there's no guarantee the offspring will actually resemble the celebrities, Brown said that since introducing "Donor Look-A-Like," the clinic has seen a 400 percent increase in visitors to its website. (The Washington Times)

Signs of recovery

Millions of dollars earmarked to create jobs under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act have created jobs making posted signs reminding people that the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act has created jobs. Claiming that states have spent at least $20 million of federal funds on the signs, Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., introduced a bill "to prevent further funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 from being used for physical signage indicating that a project is funded by such Act." (ABC News)

Accounting follies

Alabama's Birmingham-Southern College must cut 20 percent of its operating budget, about $10 million, in part because it erroneously awarded millions of dollars in financial aid by adding Pell grant money to students' financial-aid packages instead of subtracting it. "This was not just a one-year thing," college President David Pollick admitted. "Our finance operation was dealing with systems that go back 20 years. They'd just been doing things certain ways. It's almost like you have an infection that you don't see; nobody knows about it." Pollick added that besides cutting 51 staff and 29 faculty positions, the school is eliminating five student majors, including accounting. (The Birmingham News)

Webs we weave

After receiving reports of a naked man walking along a New Mexico highway with his leg on fire, sheriff's deputies in Dona Ana County said Randy Malone, 47, told them he let friends set fire to his prosthetic left leg because he lost a drinking bet to them. Malone said the fire spread to his buttocks and lower back, causing such pain that he disrobed. His friends decided to take him to the hospital but became nervous and dropped Malone off on the highway, where deputies found him. After Malone's story made the news, a witness told investigators that Malone had asked him for a ride, but when Malone pulled out a crack pipe and lit up, the upset driver forced Malone from the vehicle. Malone put the pipe in his pocket, where it apparently caught his pants and plastic leg on fire. Authorities charged Malone with making a false report. (Las Cruces Sun-News)

Sara Blasse, 23, told authorities in Camden County, N.J., that she broke her arm during a carjacking that resulted in the crash of her Kia Sorrento. She then changed her story and claimed that she had picked up a male prostitute and was performing oral sex on him when the Kia crashed. After investigators disputed both stories, Blasse confessed that she and Henry Goode Jr., 27, had stolen a laptop computer from a parked car in Chesilhurst, but the owner spotted them and called 911. The couple escaped but crashed the Kia. Blasse made her way home, only to have her parents take her to the hospital, where she told the carjacking tale. Making a false report was the least of many charges filed against her. (Philadelphia Daily News)

Doctrinal matters

When an Austrian church undergoing renovations listed its old confessional on eBay, it noted the box-like structure was ideal for conversion to a one-person sauna, a small bar or a children's playhouse. Vienna's archdiocese quickly intervened to end the bidding, declaring that auctioning "objects that were used for dispensing the sacraments is not acceptable." The daily newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten reported that the highest bid received was 666.66 euros. (Associated Press)

Four months after Indonesia's highest Islamic authority instructed the nation's Muslims to face west to pray toward Mecca, it admitted that its directive actually had the faithful "facing Somalia or Kenya" instead of Saudi Arabia. "We are now suggesting people shift the direction slightly to the northwest," Cholil Ridwan, the head of the Indonesian Ulema Council said, adding, "There's no need to knock down mosques, just shift your direction slightly during prayer." Ridwan said that even though Muslims had been facing the wrong way, "their prayers will still be heard by Allah." (Reuters)

Filial commotion

Authorities in Carroll County, Ga., said Robert Edward Tyrrell Jr., 29, held his 51-year-old mother hostage at gunpoint for at least six hours after they got into an argument because she wouldn't iron his clothes. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

No sale

Police in Gainesville, Fla., charged Jennifer B. Elder, 25, with "robbery by sudden snatching" after she grabbed money from Dan Alford's shirt pocket. Alford explained that negotiations over sex for money broke down when Elder smiled, and, according to Cpl. Tscharna Senn, he was turned off by "the extent of her dental issues." (The Gainesville Sun)


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