Strangest State: Pet Bison, the Yeti Bandit, and a Selfie Statue

KILGORE // After dozens of cooler thefts, police believe they have finally caught East Texas’ elusive Yeti bandit. Tanner Beattie, 24, was arrested after police matched his truck, which had been spotted in security footage from one recent theft, to photos in Craigslist ads where he was reselling the premium coolers. The Austin-born coolers have become a popular lifestyle brand as well as hot targets for shoplifters in recent years. Beattie allegedly built his operation on secondhand merchandise, heisted from oil field workers’ pickup trucks parked overnight at motels. KLTV in Tyler reports that when he was arrested, Beattie was carrying bolt cutters, $900 in cash and a Yeti cooler.

ANGLETON // Bishop Shane Hawkins of Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, No. 119, is in trouble with Harris County prosecutors who say the Miracle Mineral Solution he sells at seminars is actually “a powerful bleaching agent.” Courthouse News reports that the solution is purported to cure “cancer, diabetes, autism, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, hepatitis, and, of course, the common cold.” Hawkins requires a $500 donation to attend his training at Houston hotels, in exchange for which his acolytes receive a “Reverend Certificate” and a promise that they can “legally” append the title “Dr.” to their name.

PLAINVIEW // An estate sale on Quincy Street ended abruptly, reports KCBD in Lubbock, after the owner came home to find a man selling the owner’s belongings and strangers carrying them out the front door. The unauthorized sale, which had been advertised in advance in the Facebook group “Plainview Buy Sale Trade,” landed its organizer in the Hale County Jail facing charges of possession of stolen property and burglary of a habitation. Local resident Maria Cornett told the station she was shocked by the news. “The audacity to go into somebody else’s house and pretend it was his and selling their things that don’t belong to him,” she said. “Now that is a no-no.”

July 2016 strangest state
The City of Sugar Land erected a statue to selfies.

SUGAR LAND // In a stunning blow to public art everywhere, the city’s new Selfie Statue — a bronze cast of teenage girls taking a photo together — has drawn swift mockery from the social media it honors. The statue is one in a series of donated works placed downtown to “show activities common in the plaza,” according to the city. “I’m embarrassed for everyone,” wrote Gabby Vera in a tweet posted by KXAN in Austin.

FRISCO // For just pennies, Brett Sanders paid off his $223 speeding ticket. The Bitcoin enthusiast had been caught driving 39 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone, and was evidently frustrated after a judge ruled that even Sanders was subject to the city’s traffic laws. On the day of his great protest — which he preserved for future generations on YouTube — Sanders donned a T-shirt with the face of 19th century anarchist Lysander Spooner, took a number and waited his turn in line, and then poured 22,000 pennies out of buckets labeled “extortion money” onto the counter before a disappointed-looking clerk. Wearing his sunglasses indoors for further effect, he cemented his place in the stories they’ll tell someday about how the revolution began with his parting words: “Y’all can mail me the receipt, too.”

ARGYLE // Bullet, a half-ton, 6-year-old American bison, is at home by the range, near the fridge, or even sauntering past the fish tank in Karen Schoeve’s house. “When she’s hot and sweaty, she’ll come in and relax,” Schoeve told WFAA in Dallas. But after deciding that her housebroken bison deserves more room to roam, Schoeve put Bullet up for sale on Craigslist. Until she sells, the station said, “Karen, Bullet, and the rest of the family are spending some final warm, Texas evenings together both inside and outside of the home.”

Strangest State is a recurring feature on local news you might have missed from around Texas. From profiles of small-town doctors to monstrous swamp creatures found by local kids, they’re stories that don’t fit… anywhere, really, but we want to be sure don’t go unnoticed. Got a local oddity or some small-town news to share? Tips are welcome at [email protected]

Staff writer Patrick Michels covers school reform and crime for the Observer.

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