Alibi V.21 No.42 • Oct 18-24, 2012 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: France

A woman in southwest France received a telephone bill for more than 15 quadrillion dollars, but the phone company refused to admit its mistake, offering instead to take the woman’s money in installments. Solenne San Jose, from Pessac in Bordeaux, requested her account be closed after losing her job as a teaching assistant last month. Bouygues Telecom sent her a final bill, which—according to the paperwork—totaled 11,721,000,000,000,000 euros. San Jose told reporters she “almost had a heart attack. There were so many zeroes I couldn’t even work out how much it was.” Despite the fact that the bill amounted to some 6,000 times France’s entire annual economic output, Bouygues initially told her there was nothing they could do to fix the computer-generated statement. San Jose said the company rep she talked to threatened to withdraw the money directly from her bank account. Later, after “a series of frantic phone calls,” the company offered to set up an installment plan so San Jose could pay off the bill. Eventually, the phone company admitted the customer only owed them 117.21 euros. That amount was waived after some prodding from the local media.

Dateline: Florida

The good news is Edward Archbold easily beat the other contestants in a “Midnight Madness” roach-eating contest at Ben Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach. The bad news is he collapsed and died as soon as the contest was over. Archbold, of West Palm Beach, was one of 30 contestants vying to win the top prize, an $850 ivory ball python. The contest proved so popular that the pet store decided to have a worm-eating preliminary. Over the course of the evening, Archbold gobbled down 60 grams of meal worms, 35 three-inch-long “super worms” and partial bucketful of giant discoid cockroaches. “I guess if you really want a snake you can eat a hell of a lot of bugs,” 26-year-old Matthew Karwacki, who won the store’s cricket-eating contest earlier in the evening, was quoted as saying in The Miami Herald. After the contest, Archbold started vomiting and collapsed in front of the store. It will be several weeks before an autopsy reveals the exact cause of Archbold’s death. Though most health experts agree that eating insects isn’t particularly dangerous, it could lead to a severe allergic reaction—particularly among those with a sensitivity to shellfish. An attorney for Ben Siegel said the roaches were raised in a sterile environment and were perfectly safe to eat. None of the other people in the bug-eating contest reported getting sick. Archbold, 32, leaves behind two daughters, ages 6 and 9.

Dateline: California

An alleged burglar made it extremely easy for police to catch him. Wilbert Matheney, 48, a registered sex offender, allegedly broke into a home wearing a global tracking device that told police his exact whereabouts. According to police, the 48-year-old convict entered the property in Sylmar, Los Angeles, while a 90-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman were at home. The woman told police she saw the suspect and his distinctive salt-and-pepper hair running out of the house with a laptop computer. Officers investigating the crime were told the suspect’s description matched a man who routinely walked a small white dog around the neighborhood. A little more digging led them to a group home for sex offenders. Most of the residents are required by law to wear GPS tracking bracelets on their ankles. Police checked the data and, “Lo and behold, the GPS tracker put Matheney in the victim’s home on the date and at the time of the burglary,” Lt. Paul Vernon told the Contra Costa Times. When detectives went to the group home, Matheney opened the door and a little white dog ran out. “The detectives just looked at each other and smiled,” Vernon said. Due to his status as a registered sex offender, Matheney was booked on charges of residential burglary without bail.

Dateline: Michigan

Fire officials in Holland Township can’t be entirely sure, but they suspect an apartment complex blaze that displaced dozens of people might have been started by someone trying to cook a rodent with a blowtorch. Fire Chief Jim Kohsel told that a resident had planned to eat a squirrel, and was burning its fur off on a third-floor deck of the building. Somehow, flames spread to the complex’s roof. In all, eight apartments were destroyed. According to Kohsel, a firefighter broke a toe fighting the blaze, but no residents were injured.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. Email your weird news to