Odd News Roundup
August 14, 2013 01:35 PM | 518 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
California man finds, turns in $6,900 in cash

VISALIA, Calif. (AP) — A California man is being praised for his honesty after he turned in $6,900 in cash he found near a Department of Motor Vehicles office in the Central Valley.

The money eventually was returned to its rightful owner.

Forty-six-year-old Breck Reeves told the Fresno Bee he spotted an envelope on the ground Aug. 6 while going to the Visalia DMV. Inside was a stack of $100 bills totaling $6,900.

Reeves says he might have kept the money if it had been $20 or so, but this was too much. He turned in the money at the DMV, and Visalia police eventually tracked down its rightful owner, 69-year-old retired farmworker Guadalupe Salazar.

Salazar had taken the money out of the bank to buy his son a new car. The envelope apparently fell out of Salazar's car when he opened the door.

Salazar plans to take the Reeves to dinner.

Information from: The Fresno Bee, http://www.fresnobee.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Massachussetts officials search for fugitive snake

KINGSTON, Mass. (AP) — The hunt is on for a slithering fugitive in Kingston.

State wildlife officials say they are investigating several reports of a snake seen near the Independence Mall.

Fisheries and Wildlife assistant director Tom French says based on descriptions, they're probably looking for a Burmese python, a legal species, or possibly a reticulated python, which is illegal in Massachusetts.

If it's found and is a reticulated python, the incident will become a law enforcement investigation.

French tells The Patriot Ledger it's possible the snake is as long as 16 feet. He said eyewitnesses reported seeing a snake extend across a narrow road behind the mall area, but didn't measure it.

He said the python most likely escaped when the owner set its cage outside in the sun.

Information from: The (Quincy, Mass.) Patriot Ledger, http://www.patriotledger.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Montana kids helping scoop up invasive snails

BELT, Mont. (AP) — Children in central Montana are helping to make a dent in the population of an invasive snail species while trying to win prizes.

The Department of Agriculture's Pest Management Program is offering two $1,000 gift certificates and two $500 gift certificates to a Great Falls bicycle shop to the Belt-area kids who bring in the most eastern Heath snails this week.

Ian Foley with the pest management program tells the Great Falls Tribune the weeklong program won't eradicate the snails, which seem to be everywhere in the Belt area. But he says it will cut into the population and make people aware of the invasive species so any new infestations are reported quickly.

Brothers Hunter and Bridger Vogl brought in a bag with 12.5 pounds of snails on Monday, while 9-year-old Gavin Olson brought in a pound.

Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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British cat DNA database helps convict killer

By Raphael Satter, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Fingerprints are not the only thing that killers can leave behind — add cat hair to that list.

A British university said Wednesday that its DNA database of British felines helped convict a man of manslaughter, illustrating how the genetic material of pets can be used by crime scene investigators.

"This is the first time cat DNA has been used in a criminal trial in the U.K.," said Jon Wetton from the University of Leicester. "This could be a real boon for forensic science, as the 10 million cats in the U.K. are unwittingly tagging the clothes and furnishings in more than a quarter of households."

Although drawing DNA from human hair, saliva, or blood samples has long been a part of crime scene investigations, animal material has also provided invaluable clues. The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California, Davis, has used animal DNA to catch criminals for more than a decade — including one case in London in which blood left at the scene of a nightclub stabbing was matched to a murder suspect's bull terrier.

In the latest case in Britain, investigators tapped the same lab to identify the cat hair discovered around the dismembered torso of David Guy, 30, who was found hidden in a trash bag on a British beach in July 2012. Detectives matched the hair to a cat belonging to the man's friend, David Hilder, but because the genetic material was mitochondrial DNA — which can be shared among large number of animals — the strength of the match couldn't be known.

That's where the cat DNA database came in.

Wetton — who had previously helped to set up a similar database for dogs — worked with doctoral student Barbara Ottolini to create a repository of cat DNA for the Hilder case. They gathered samples of mitochondrial DNA from 152 felines across England over a six-week period.

"Only three of the samples obtained matched the hairs from the crime scene," Wetton said, suggesting that while the match wasn't perfect, it was still a pretty good indication the hairs on the torso came from Hilder's cat.

"No one's going to be convicted on this alone, but if it's helping to reinforce other sorts of evidence then you can paint a picture in the jury's mind," Wetton said.

In this case there was a host of additional evidence — including traces of Guy's blood discovered at Hilder's residence in Southsea, in southern England — and it was enough to secure the 47-year-old's conviction.

On July 30, Hilder was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 12 years before he is eligible for parole.

Authorities said in statements after the trial that Hilder and Guy's relationship — and the motive for the latter's killing — remain unclear. The two were neighbors, but prosecutors described their relationship as "love/hate." They said the violence may have even been spurred by an argument over the cat.

Wetton said he hoped the cat DNA database could serve in future cases.

As for the cat itself — Tinker — police said it was alive and well and living with new owners.

Online: Raphael Satter can be reached at: http://raphae.li/twitter

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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