Illustration/Drue Wagner

Strangest State: October 2018

Weird news from far-flung Texas.


A version of this story ran in the October 2018 issue.

SAN ANTONIO // Thieves smuggled a shark out of the San Antonio Aquarium by hiding it in a baby stroller. The San Antonio Express-News reports that Miss Helen, a 16-inch female horn shark, went missing for two days. Meanwhile, security footage revealed a man using a net to capture the shark. He plopped the creature into a bucket, which he placed inside the stroller under a blanket. Employees noticed water dripping from the stroller and recorded the license plate of Antone Shannon, 38, as he and two accomplices made their getaway. Shannon has been charged with theft, and Miss Helen is back in her tank.

WICHITA FALLS // After typo-ridden signs popped up across Wichita Falls, residents complained and city officials blamed the errors on an outside company. Among the goofs: “Lomand” for “Lomond,” “Cemetary” for “Cemetery,” “Municipal Airport” for “Regional Airport” and “Research” for “Recovery.” John Burrus, director of aviation, traffic and transportation, told the Times Record News that the city won’t be paying a $73,000 bill to its contractor, Geograph, until the mistakes are fixed.

AMARILLO // A 24-year-old musician announced his bid for City Council with a series of absurdist videos. Hayden Pedigo’s first campaign ad shows him walking around town with a tape measure, recording the width of a drainage ditch and a sidewalk paver. In his second video, Pedigo mows a lawn and weighs a banana at the grocery store. The Voice of Amarillo called it an effort “that would make David Lynch proud.” On Facebook, Pedigo wrote that he’d heard from a few critics, adding, “If you think what I’m doing is bad, you should check out actual politics.”

TARRANT COUNTY // A Tarrant County College astronomy professor was suspended after his strange behavior in class. Daniel Mashburn turned off the lights, covered his face with a cloth and ranted about Islam and astronomy, the Collegian reports. Asked why he was fidgeting with something in his pocket, Mashburn replied, “I was trying to charge my phone so I can see the stars. The stars are always watching.” While some students walked out, Rebekkah Cavazos chose to stay. “I paid for this shit,” she said.

CROCKETT COUNTY // A Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden was on patrol near the Pecos River when he heard a power saw. Following the noise, he found two men in the process of stealing a sign marking the Crockett County line. As the wardens’ Field Notes newsletter later recounted, the man who’d been wielding the saw explained his motive: “My last name is Crockett and I thought it would be cool to have the sign.” Instead, he got six months’ probation.

CORPUS CHRISTI // A woman dressed as a cockroach to make a point at a City Council meeting. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports that Patricia Polastri addressed councilmembers from inside a full-body brown suit, complete with antennae and extra legs. She was upset about palm trees newly planted in the median of Ocean Drive — vegetation the Texas A&M at Kingsville professor believes has brought pests and rodents to the area. “It’s becoming a jungle,” Polastri said. The stunt came a month after she brandished a bag of dead roaches before the council.

GLEN ROSE // Actor Robert Twaddell will star as Jesus in The Promise, a long-running Christian musical, after taking a year off to recover from his previous role as Satan. Playing the devil “just took a toll on me emotionally,” Twaddell told the Glen Rose Reporter. A press release also noted that the amphitheater where the show is staged is “the only one in the nation that boasts a 48,000-gallon moat which transforms into the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee.”

BEAUMONT // “Wow! What a week!” began the August 21 edition of Newton County Sheriff Billy Rowles’ weekly newsletter, featured in the Beaumont Enterprise. “Received a call where two gators were mating under a ladies [sic] house,” he continued. “They were tearing everything up.” Rowles didn’t elaborate on the alligator incident, but went on to boast about three recent drug arrests: “We got some meth and weed off the street. Good job guys.”

Visit for more “Strangest State” and links to original stories. Got a local oddity or some small-town news to share? Tips are welcome at [email protected].