The Odd Side – October 27, 2014

Ebola Plush Toys Fly Off the Shelf For Connecticut Company

(Reuters) – It may be the only time you will find these words in the same sentence: “Ebola” and “Add to Wishlist.”

Giantmicrobes Inc., which makes a line of plush toys based on viruses and other microscopic organisms, has sold out its entire Ebola stock, including the small Ebola doll for $9.95, a Gigantic Ebola doll for $29.95 and an Ebola Petri Dish toy for $14.95, according to the company’s website.

“Since its discovery in 1976, Ebola has become the [monster] of microbes,” writes the Stamford, Connecticut-based maker of the “uniquely contagious toy,” which promotes them as gag gifts that also have educational value.

With the latest Ebola outbreak, which already killed more than 4,500 people, mostly in West Africa, customers have snapped up the toy, which looks like half a pretzel.

“You do not want to get Ebola,” warns their website. “A short incubation period of 2 to 21 days presages symptoms which include fever, aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, and both internal and external bleeding. And then, for between 50-90 percent of victims, death.”

Giantmicrobes lists the World Health Organization as one of its largest customers, along with pharmaceutical companies and the American Red Cross.

Anyone disappointed by the current shortage of the Ebola toys can wait for more stock to arrive, or make a different selection from the company’s array of other plush toys, including Anthrax, Botulism, Cholera and Dengue Fever.

It was not clear how many of the toys have been sold and the company could not be reached for comment.

New Mexico Man’s Typo Costs Him Thousands on Bill

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A New Mexico man says he made an error while paying his electric bill that led him to overpay by thousands of dollars.

The Public Service Company of New Mexico says it could take weeks to get him his money back.

Local media station KOB reports that Rio Rancho attorney Ira Karmiol overpaid a $278 bill online earlier this month when he inadvertently hit a fourth digit. He says he paid $2,787 because of the typo he didn’t catch.

When he noticed the error a few days later, Karmiol says he contacted the utility company, which said its policy required three to four weeks to process a refund request.

A utility spokesman says he can’t discuss problems with specific customers, but that issues like these are ordinarily resolved “as quickly as possible.”

Connecticut Man Accused Of ‘Mopping Aggressively’

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) – A Connecticut man is facing charges after police said he grabbed a mop out of a hotel employee’s hands and was “mopping aggressively” over the worker’s shoes.

Police say 30-year-old John Thornton, of Southington, was arrested Monday night and charged with breach of peace and threatening.

Officers responding to the Bristol hotel were told a man had become “unruly,” grabbed the mop and swept it back and forth over the woman’s shoes. When the employee asked the man to stop, police say he turned his back. Police say the woman was shaken and crying.

Authorities say Thornton insulted officers during the arrest, threatening them with bodily harm.

He was released on $20,000 bond. There was no answer at a phone listing in his name.

Thousands Raised to Buy Car For Pennsylvania Sniper’s lookalike

EAST STROUDSBURG Pa. (Reuters) – Jim Tully’s hours-long walks to and from work in the Pocono Mountains, where he has been repeatedly stopped by police in a case of mistaken identity in the manhunt for a Pennsylvania cop killer, may be coming to an end.

News of the factory worker’s run-ins with authorities searching for fugitive Eric Frein, wanted in the Sept. 12 shooting death of one state trooper and wounding of another, has sparked a crowdfunding campaign to buy him a car.

Donations are pouring in and by Friday the campaign had raised nearly $16,000, more than six times the original goal of $2,500.

“I’m overwhelmed with the support from the community and the area,” Tully said in a telephone interview on Friday.

Tully, 39, who says friends tell him he looks like Frein from a distance, said he had been stopped by police at least 20 times on his four-hour long walks to and from his job at a thermal products factory.

He said he would use the cash contributed by more than 700 people over two days to get a vehicle to get to work.

“And anything left over will be used for maintenance and gasoline,” Tully said.

The crowdfunding idea came from the daughter of a former coworker, Tully said.

“I never asked for this to be done,” he said. “It’s just the community showing its support on its own.”

Meanwhile, a neighbor across the street from where he lives has been offering Tully a ride to work, he said.

A state police spokesman said troopers were aware of Tully and that he had been stopped walking through the search area, but had no further comment.

Hundreds of state and federal law enforcement officers continue to search the Poconos woods where they believe Frein, 31, who is on the FBI Most Wanted list, has been hiding since the shooting that killed Corporal Bryon Dickson and wounded Trooper Alex Douglass outside the state police barracks in Blooming Grove.

Woman Saved From California Chimney, Then Arrested

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) – A woman stuck in the chimney of a Southern California house has been rescued and arrested.

Ventura County fire Capt. Ron Oatman says firefighters responding to neighbors’ reports of a woman crying had to chisel away much of the chimney and lubricate it with dish soap Sunday to free 30-year-old Genoveva Nunez-Figueroa.

The Ventura County Star reports she was arrested on suspicion of illegal entry and giving false information to police.

Police say Nunez-Figueroa knows the owner of the home in Thousand Oaks, who wasn’t there. They wouldn’t elaborate.

She had no clear injuries but was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Oatman says firefighters destroyed the chimney and damaged the roof.