These days, weird news is pretty commonplace

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 17, 2009


John Moseley, my friend and editor of The Herald in Big Spring, Texas, always had a penchant for finding some of the strangest news stories. I always kidded him about it, but I always read them.

Here’s some strange ones I came across this week:

• A man insisted on being arrested after he walked into a western North Carolina bank while on the phone with a 911 operator to report he planned to commit a robbery. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported the man insisted on being arrested after an officer walked in behind him Wednesday at the Wachovia bank branch in Waynesville.

The man wasn’t armed and had a robbery note. He had quit his job as a sandwich maker and given his possessions to a roommate before going to the bank.

It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney.

• A Georgia man spent more than a year behind bars for failing to pay child support for a child that wasn’t his, but was released after DNA tests showed he wasn’t the father.

Frank Hatley, 50, had been jailed since June 2008 for not making payments, but two separate DNA tests in the last nine years showed he was not the father of the boy, who is now 21.

He won his release at a hearing Wednesday and was also relieved of his financial obligation to the Georgia Department of Human Resources.

Although he was freed from making future payments after a 2001 hearing, he had been ordered him to continue making $16,000 in back payments. He paid $6,000 of that before losing his job.

The paternity case is still unresolved.

•  A New Hampshire man says he swiped his debit card at a gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes and was charged over 23 quadrillion dollars.

Josh Muszynski (Moo-SIN’-ski) checked his account online a few hours later and saw the 17-digit number — a stunning $23,148,855,308,184,500 (23 quadrillion, 148 trillion, 855 billion, 308 million, 184 thousand, five hundred dollars).

Muszynski says he spent two hours on the phone with Bank of America trying to sort out the string of numbers and the $15 overdraft fee.

The bank corrected the error the next day.

Bank of America said  only the card issuer, Visa, could answer questions. Visa, in turn, referred questions to the bank.

(John H. Walker is editor and publisher of L’Observateur and may be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at