Whether it’s because of the heat, proximity to water or simply because it’s the third most populous state in the U.S., Florida has become known for its bizarre news stories.
A new oddity seems to flood our social media feeds every week. Headlines in the Tampa Bay Times from just last month included: Oldsmar man sexually assaulted his dog and posted it online, say Pinellas deputies and Florida Woman cradles baby alligator in maternity photo shoot.
On Thursday, a Miami-based website came up with a method to the madness, creating an algorithm that scores stories on their level of Florida Man-ness. Known as the “F.L.O.R.I.D.A. method," – Firearms (or other weapons), Locations, Objects, Reasons for arrest, Injuries, Drugs and alcohol, and Animals — the site used a point-scale to rank stories posted by the Twitter account @_FloridaMan since 2013.
Here is its top 10.
An alligator isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a deadly weapon. Except, this is Florida, and it happened in West Palm Beach in October 2015. Joshua James, 24, was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill after officials say he threw a 3 1/2-foot alligator through a Wendys’ drive-thru window. James was also charged with illegally possessing an alligator and petty theft. Officials said James found the alligator on the side of the road on his way to Wendys, and he is now banned from contact with animals as part of his punishment. Probably best, right?
Forty-year-old Benjamin Herman Siegel was arrested in January 2015 after he was accused of hitting employees with a bearded dragon multiple times and threw — fittingly — Gatorade on them. Making the story a little less striking, by Florida standards: Siegel was the owner of a Deerfield Beach reptile shop (it wasn’t just a reptile off the side of the road, much like the guy at No. 1 on the list). Siegel also put the lizard in his mouth, police said. As crazy as this is, maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised — a man died after consuming dozens of insects and worms during a roach-eating contest at the same shop in 2012.
A 46-year-old man went to Honda of Ocala in 2015, took two large screen television sets and put them in a SUV on the showroom floor, police said. He then drove the SUV through double glass doors, driving into another vehicle before abandoning it at the entrance of a subdivision. Oh, and he told police he didn’t remember doing any of it. Vantice L. Beshears, you are a Florida Man.
“Authorities are looking for the person, or people, who thought it was a good idea to tie up an approximately 12-foot alligator behind an apartment complex along the Hillsborough River," a Times’ article from 2013 read. "The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received a call Wednesday afternoon about children feeding and harassing an alligator in the river behind Rivertree Landing Apartments, 6909 Indian River Drive, just north of E Sligh Avenue near Temple Terrace.” Who would think this is a good idea?
Some stories you just can’t make up. In 2013, a Florida man was accused of biting off his girlfriend’s left thumb during a fight while he was driving her to work at Taco Bell in Palm Bay. Reports at the time say 35-year-old Ricardo Marquis Davis confessed to biting off the thumb and spitting it onto the floorboard. He told police she had pushed his head while they were in the car. Doctors were not able to reattach the woman’s thumb. Oh, Florida.
I’ll let the headline speak for itself on this one. Though, it’s worth adding, 27-year-old Cape Coral native John Hennessey was also holding a knife in his hand when police arrived to his house at 1:30 in the morning last June. Oh, and he also threw a rock and busted his neighbor’s window. And tried to hit officers with a wooden stick. He was electrically subdued, police said, and was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, four counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and one count of criminal mischief.
Hours before his Northdale rental went up in flames, investigators said 53-year-old Patrick O’Brien, lead guitarist for the death metal band Cannibal Corpse, called relatives to warn about “the rapture” and that “aliens have landed.” He was wrong, of course. And he is from Florida, of course. After the fire subdued, police found a stash of about 50 shotguns, 10 semiautomatic rifles, two Uzi-style rifles, 20 handguns and two flame throwers, according to a warrant. If the aliens really had landed, this Florida Man was ready.
8. Pasco Sheriff: New Port Richey man gets out of jail, tries to steal deputy’s car in the parking lot
Second time’s a charm, right? Not exactly for Klaid Karpuzi. Having just been freed from jail for an auto theft charge, the 41-year-old tried to break into a car on his way through the jail parking lot, deputies said. He might’ve had a better chance of getting away with it this time, but the car he tried to steal had a Pasco County deputy behind the wheel. He was then marched right back into the lobby of the jail.
A 20-year-old man was accused of committing a sex act with a stuffed toy horse while shopping at a Brooksville Walmart in 2015. Sean Johnson, of Lake Panasoffkee, acted suspiciously “by constantly looking around” after entering the store, loss prevention workers told Brooksville police. Workers saw Johnson remove the toy from a shelf and take it to the bedding department, police said. Then, when Johnson returned the toy to the shelf, it was, uh, “contaminated” and could not be sold. He was arrested.
A Florida man dressed in a pirate costume and fired blank rounds from a musket at drivers in the Florida Keys in July 2015, Monroe County deputies said. They also said the man — Jaime Spering — was taken into custody, charged with disorderly conduct and booked into jail. No, we cannot say if he was ever spotted at Gasparilla.