Thomas Dodd, 30, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, England, had a bit too much to drink over the holidays and while watching Celine Dion concerts on YouTube he had a brainstorm: He would pay the 89 pounds to officially change his name to Celine Dion. Dodd forgot all about it until the papers arrived in the mail on Dec. 30, Metro News reported. "I wish I knew what happened, but it was a hazy night," Dodd/Dion said. He admits being concerned about the reaction he'll get at work, and says his mother isn't too pleased, but "if it gives people a laugh this year, then I don't care. I think we could all do with a laugh after the year we've just had."
All the ingredients of a crime
When the car that Jethro Geneus, 30, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., was riding in was pulled over by police in the early morning of Jan. 4, he told the officer that the bags of brown and white substances found in his backpack were baking supplies — "sugar and a bag of cornstarch to bake a cake," according to police. Geneus, who already had a warrant, was arrested, WPEC reported, and the contents of both bags tested positive for ecstasy. He was charged with trafficking phenethylamines.
Caleb Burczyk, 29, of Williston, N.D., was arrested and charged with burglary and terrorizing on Dec. 26 for kicking in the front door of a former co-worker's home after the man apparently failed to answer Burczyk's Facebook friend requests, according to court documents. "Accept my friend request or I'm going to murder you," read one message, according to the affidavit, and another message said Burczyk would "come at" Thomas if he didn't accept. The Smoking Gun reported Burczyk pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear in court in April.
Scaling George Washington
Holly Venderley, 20, of Bloomington, Ind., told park rangers that she knew Mount Rushmore National Memorial was closed, and she knew she wasn't allowed to climb the South Dakota monument — which is why she did it at night. The Rapid City Journal reported that a ranger monitoring security cameras saw a flashlight's beam moving just beneath George Washington on Jan. 3 and ran to the area, where he saw Venderley climbing to the base of Washington's lapel, about 200 feet up. The ranger demanded that she get down, which she did. Venderley was sober and cooperative, and the next day was fined $1,250 after pleading guilty in federal court to climbing the monument.
Make yourself at home
Ending a dispute that began in 2014, a judge in Beijing Xicheng District People's Court ruled in late December that a man identified as Tian and his family must leave the hospital room they had been squatting in for six years. Tian had undergone a procedure at the hospital and spent a few days recovering there, accompanied by his family, but at discharge, Tian disputed the hospital's bill and refused to leave, Oddity Central reported. Tian's parents settled in with him, bringing pots and pans, groceries and other personal items. Over the years, the hospital took the family to court repeatedly and in 2019 even waived its fees in an effort to expel them, but the family countersued. In his ruling, the judge found the family was entitled to compensation of about $73,000, which they accepted, and they were taken home in a hospital ambulance.
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