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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

I was listening to WUFT-FM a couple weeks ago and the program that was on (“On Point” from WBUR) was discussing the setting of Florida for crime stories. This isn’t new. Reporters and writers like Carl Hiaasen have made entire careers using Florida as their bizarre backdrop.

Criminals and strange characters of all kinds flock to Florida. In an interview on “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” Hiaasen credited the migration of retirees from the North; the retirees flocked to Florida, and the criminals followed their prey.

Due to the frequency of strange occurrences in The Sunshine State, Florida has gained recent media attention. Maybe it’s driven by the frequency of people trying to ride manatees, or maybe it’s the looming threat of a zombie outbreak, but Florida is on the world’s radar.

"Florida Man" has also become some strange sort of superhero and sparked a parody Twitter account.

In reverse chronological order here’s some highlights from Florida’s news of the weird.

1. Police: Thomas Elliot Huggins kills, then cooks family dog - A Tampa man allegedly butchers and cooks his pit bull.

The weirdest part: this may not have been the first time.

2. Naked man in police parking lot charged with indecent exposure - Why wasn’t Marcus Aaron Taylor wearing clothes? Allegedly Taylor lacked clothing because he had committed the crime of “lewdness."

The weirdest part: he wanted to be taken to jail.

3. Florida man beaten, left naked in cow pasture on first date - It was not a good plan for Shaun Paul Williams to go on a date with a woman named Tree. He was stripped, robbed and abandoned.

The weirdest part: as of June 18 the suspects have not been identified.

4. Florida Man Rides Whale Shark – A Florida teen saw a rare whale shark and decided to ride it.

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There isn’t a weirdest part, it’s weird just in itself.

5. Javier Alvarado Esquivel charges at neighbor with machete, deputies say: An Okeechobee man was arrested after he allegedly charged his neighbor with a machete for stealing a chicken.

The weirdest part: it was not just any chicken, it was his favorite chicken. 

6. Florida man stabbed brother in fight over macaroni and cheese, beer, Volusia deputies say - A Florida man allegedly stabbed his brother over missing macaroni and cheese and spilled beer.

The weirdest part: he still wants to beat up his brother when he gets out of jail.

7. Alligator found in backpack of man trying to get high, FWC officials say- Four men and a juvenile were arrested after they allegedly tried to gather hallucinogenic mushrooms.

The weirdest part: officials found a 2-foot gator in one of the men’s backpacks. 

8. Dead-rat-by-the-beer-cooler trick in Fort Pierce? - A new trick to shoplift beer: tell the cashier that there’s a dead rat in the store and then run out the door.

The weirdest part: it worked. 

9. Man arrested for throwing concrete, blames zombies - It must be true, the zombie apocalypse has started in Florida. This Florida man was allegedly trying to escape the zombies by breaking into the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront hotel.

The weirdest part:  he faces charges of throwing a deadly missile into a building. Is that a real charge?

10. Florida Man Builds Mini Car for His Pet Parrot - An oldie but goodie, this story broke in January. For once the story isn’t about a terrible crime. Instead University of Florida graduate student Andrew Gray built his parrot a vehicle.

The weirdest part: this was only the most successful in a series of inventions to get the bird to shut up.

BONUS: Free Attack Pelican to Good Home: A bizarre story close to home, this Craigslist ad appeared on June 27. Stevie the pelican has killed four men. Gainesville residents better keep an eye out for suspicious pelicans.

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