The Odd Side – April 28, 2015

Massachusetts Police Receiving Calls From Australia

NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) – A Massachusetts police department has been receiving some curious calls from people with Australian accents.

Police dispatchers in Northbridge say they have recently received several calls on their business line from people in an Australian community with the same name.

Northbridge, Massachusetts, is about 35 southwest of Boston. Northbridge, Australia, is a suburb of Perth.

Lisa Gaylord, who’s been a dispatcher for 16 years, tells The Telegram & Gazette she got her first call from Australia in March. She thinks people there are probably searching online for “Northbridge police” and calling the first number that pops up.

One disgruntled Australian said the call would “cost a fortune,” and hung up.

Australian callers have also told Gaylord about a fight and to report a missing person.

Woman Who Hit Venezuela Leader With Mango Rewarded With New Home

CARACAS (Reuters) – A woman who bashed President Nicolas Maduro on the head with a mango has been promised a new house for her troubles in a surreal tropical tale.

The president was driving a bus through a crowd last weekend in the central state of Aragua when someone in the crowd tossed the fruit at him.

“It says: ‘If you can, call me,’” Maduro said later , as he displayed the fruit with a name and phone number scrawled on it.

“Marleny Olivo had a problem with her house. (Officials) called her. She was scared. She couldn’t believe it was true. … I’ve approved an apartment for you, Marleny, as part of the ‘Grand Venezuelan Housing Mission,’” he added, vowing to eat the mango.

Maduro collects heaps of petitions during trips, although most are scribbled on paper rather than hurled at him on fruit.

In a habit that delights many poor supporters but irritates critics, Maduro — like his predecessor Hugo Chavez — often personally gives away homes, appliances or pensions to low-income Venezuelans.

Shortages of food and medicine caused by strict currency controls have taken a heavy toll, particularly among the poor.

“A mango shortage is coming, let’s line up to throw them at Maduro and get a new house!” one person joked.

Coyote Roaming Manhattan Triggers Massive Police Hunt

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A coyote spotted on Wednesday in an exclusive Manhattan neighborhood touched off a massive police hunt that shut down Riverside Park, then led to Columbia University and Grants Tomb.

Coyotes have shown up in recent weeks in the Bronx and Queens as well as suburban New Jersey, and wildlife experts says the predators are becoming increasingly comfortable in cities, which offer more opportunities for prey.

After the pre-dawn sighting on Wednesday of a coyote on Manhattan’s West Side, the New York City Police Department scoured Riverside Park with helicopters and ground units for several hours.

By mid-afternoon the search had been called off and the wily beast remained at large.

“He’s in the wind,” said Detective Martin Speechley, a police department spokesman.

The influx of coyotes into urban areas is a sign of their ability to adapt to environments where they are drawn to abundance of food including mice, squirrels, rabbits and, sometimes, pet cats, said Roland Kays, a zoologist at North Carolina State University.

“They are finding the urban areas that have little scraps of habitat that they can making a living in,” Kays said.

Four Decades After Escape, Inmate to Return to Jail

(Reuters) – After almost four decades on the run, an escaped North Carolina inmate is back behind bars in Kentucky, having turned himself in over medical issues, authorities said Wednesday.

Clarence David Moore, 66, called the sheriff’s department earlier this week in Franklin County, Kentucky, where he had been living under an alias for years, Sheriff Pat Melton said.

The detective who received his call initially thought it was a prank, then realized he was telling the truth, Melton said.

Melton and a deputy found Moore lying in a medical bed in his house.

Moore had been convicted on larceny charges, according to North Carolina prison records. Before his disappearance in 1976, he made two prior escapes, the second of which saw him at-large for nearly three years before he was captured in Texas.

He is expected to return to the North Carolina state prison system in the coming days, where a parole commission will review his case to determine what happens next, said a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Moore was also wanted locally in Kentucky for failing to appear in court after a more recent traffic crash, Melton said.

“He was very forthcoming. He was ready,” said Melton in a phone interview, noting that Moore had become paralyzed on his right side after a stroke and suffered other health issues.

He said it appeared that Moore could not afford medical care and could not apply for assistance without identification.

Moore was booked at the Franklin County Regional Jail, but he is expected to return soon to North Carolina, Melton said.

“When I took him into the jail with the ambulance crew, he looked at me and said, ‘Sheriff Melton, thank you for being nice to me,’” said Melton

Cops: Driver Cruised for Miles With Man on Hood After Fight

PITTSBURGH (AP) – State police say a Pittsburgh man drove several miles through seven communities with another man clinging to the hood of his vehicle after an argument.

The driver, 46-year-old Dwayne Harvard, is charged with aggravated assault and other crimes after the incident. He tells local reporters he was just defending himself and called 911 while driving with the man still hanging on.

Harvard says the man had a knife. Harvard also says he was afraid the man might shoot him if he stopped driving.