Rakhi Desai of Houston didn't think much at first of the gift she brought home from a white elephant party in mid-December — a brown stuffed bear with a stitched-on heart. As she looked it over later, Desai noticed the words "Neptune Society" stitched on its foot "and then I started to feel, and it's almost like little pebbles or rocks" inside, she told KTRK-TV. That's when it hit her: The bear was filled with someone's cremated remains. The friend who brought the bear to the gift exchange got it at an estate sale, so Desai called the Neptune Society, hoping to reunite the bear with the family it belongs to, but the organization doesn't track the bears. However, there is a name on the bear's tag, and Desai is hoping to find the owner through that. "This bear is very special to somebody and belongs in somebody's family," she said.
Vanessa Elizabeth Helfant, 38, of Knoxville, Tenn., floated a "dog bites man" defense at her DWI hearing on Dec. 13, arguing that several parked cars struck her on March 25, 2017. The jury, however, didn't buy her story after hearing evidence: Witnesses at the scene followed Helfant to her destination, and when officers arrived and knocked on the door, Helfant called 911 to report people knocking on her door. WATE reported that she eventually admitted that she had drunk half a pint of vodka and smoked marijuana. Helfant, who had no prior offenses, was convicted and faces at least 48 hours in jail and her license will be suspended for a year.
Tiffany Butch, 33, of Timmins, Ontario, may go down in history not for her psychic gifts, but for being the last person ever charged in Canada with "pretending to practice witchcraft." On Dec. 11, Butch, whose nickname is the White Witch of the North, was charged under Section 365 of the Criminal Code for demanding money in return for lifting a curse. Two days later, that law was repealed. Marc Depatie, spokesperson for the Timmons police force, said Butch gave a customer "a sense of foreboding that a dreadful thing was about to happen to their family." But Butch denies the charge, saying other psychics framed her. "People proclaimed me a witch here and gave me a nickname, but I'm not a witch. I'm a psychic," she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Butch is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 22.
Asparagus is healthy and delicious. But for 63-year-old Jemima Packington of Bath, England, the columnar vegetable is much more: Packington is an asparamancer, a person who can foretell the future by tossing the spears into the air and seeing how they land. "When I cast the asparagus, it creates patterns and it is the patterns I interpret," Packington said. "I am usually about 75 to 90 percent accurate." Out of 13 predictions she made for 2018, 10 of them came true. What's in store for 2019? Packington tells Metro News that England's women's soccer team will win the World Cup; "A Star Is Born" will win an Oscar; and fears over Brexit will be largely unfounded. Oh, and asparagus will see an all-time high in sales.
If super-sharp shears snipping near your ears isn't enough of a rush, you might want to visit Madrid, Spain, and the salon of Alberto Olmedo, who uses ninja swords and blowtorches to cut hair. Claiming his approach is inspired by Renaissance tradition, Olmedo told Euronews that swords allow a hairdresser to cut hair from both sides of the head at once, resulting in a more even finish. He started perfecting the skill when he became "disillusioned with scissors." Olmedo also offers a cut with claws worn on the ends of his fingers.
News of the Weird is compiled by the editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication. Send your weird news items to WeirdNewsTips@amuniversal.com.