From animal cruelty, to Christmas coming early and Santa Claus only bringing cocaine, the news in South Florida strives to remain strange.
- A man from Sarasota has been charged with aggravated animal cruelty for intentionally setting a pet bunny on fire. Manasseh Walker, 23, told officials that he burned his girlfriend’s rabbit, Thumper, by accident. A veterinarian who examined Thumper said the rabbit’s injuries weren’t consistent with Walker’s story. Walker was sentenced to a year in jail, and Thumper survived the accident but lost his ears. Click Orlando
- A teenager from Kentucky survived a shark attack after punching the shark in the nose. Caitlyn Taylor, 17, visited Destin, Florida, for a Spring Break softball match. Taylor was swimming with a group of friends by the sandbar, when she was suddenly attacked by a five-foot shark. Taylor said she managed to wiggle free from the shark’s mouth by punching it in the nose. Taylor shared photos on Twitter, showing 140 stiches on both her legs. New York Post
- Two men from South Florida encountered a 15-foot-long, 144-pound python in the Everglades. According to snake wranglers Nick Banos and Leonardo Sanchez, they spotted the snake in the bushes and took control of the python by grabbing it by the neck and tail. The men were working for the South Florida Water Management District, a pilot python elimination program to help remove and control the spread of pythons and protect the species and lands of the Everglades. The python will be euthanized. CBS NEWS
- A high school math teacher from Tampa has been charged with child neglect after she let a 14-year-old boy drive while she was drinking. Terra Virgin, 32, wanted to go to Waffle House but had five drinks and was “too drunk” to drive; she asked the teen to drive her there, according to officials. When Virgin and the teen were pulled over by police, she said the 14 year old was her boyfriend’s son. Virgin was also charged for allowing an unauthorized minor to drive. Palm Beach Post
- A startling discovery was made inside a house in Jupiter – 100 dead ball pythons. The snakes were discovered in the home of Jennifer Morrison, 59, where the floor was covered in animal feces and the air reeked of feces and urine, according to a report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Morrison told officials that she was “overwhelmed” by taking care of the reptiles and other animals and was taken into for psychological evaluation. Morrison was charged for animal abandonment. Palm Beach Post
- A Florida Keys man with a resemblance to Santa Claus was arrested for the sale of cocaine. Fidel Gonzalez Gutierrez, 58, sold cocaine to an undercover detective on six occasions between late February and early March within 1,000 feet of a church or school, according to officials. Gutierrez was being held without bond. While it may look like Gutierrez plays the role of Santa, his occupation is actually listed as a fisherman, according to his arrest affidavit. Click Orlando
— Melissa Burgess, South Florida News Service