About four months ago (on June 3, 2007) this brief article appeared in the London Sunday Times:
Police moved swiftly to foil a child kidnapping when a witness spotted a boy being locked in a car boot. Officers set up road blocks, flagged down a Mercedes that fitted the description, and opened the boot -where they found mechanic Klaus "Shorty" Mueller, 27, who had climbed in to find the source of a rattling noise. A spokesman for police in Bremen, north Germany, said: "It seems the driver had been worried by inexplicable rattling noises in or near his boot. He called a mechanic, who was very small, and who climbed in the boot to get to the bottom of the problem."
Similar versions of the article appeared in other papers, all with the same vague details. To Peter Kenter of CanWest News Service
, the story sounded like an urban legend that had made its way into the news. For instance, Kenter cited old stories of stoned teenagers tossing "leprechauns" into the trunk of their car, only to discover later that the leprechaun was actually a frightened child. Kenter also thought it was strange that Klaus Mueller would have an English nickname, "Shorty." And why was no one but Mueller identified by name?
I think Kenter was absolutely right to be suspicious of the story, but what he did next was even smarter. Instead of just figuring his hunch was correct, he did some more research. He emailed the press officer of the Bremen police, and to his surprise received this reply:
Dear Mr. Kenter:
The story is true. Have a nice day.
So unless the press officer was pulling his leg, that means the tale of the dwarf in the trunk was true. But the tale of the dwarf eaten by the hippo