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Ohio resident tells 1987 story of being robbed with a cicada


CINCINNATI – The story has haunted her for nearly 35 years. Robbery while threatened by a cicada. Marquisa Kellogg just can’t shake it.

Kellogg’s name was in papers and magazines all over the country in 1987. A brief police account of her story spread just as quickly as Brood X did that year.

Dateline Cincinnati: Two men armed with a cicada are suspected of stealing $24 from a restaurant’s cash register after using the winged insect to briefly scare away the cashier, police say. The two men walked into the Grand Slam Restaurant brandishing a cicada. They thrust the bug at the cashier, Marquisa Kellogg, 22, who then fled from her post, police said. Later, after Ms. Kellogg had recovered and returned to the register, she found that it was missing $25.

If it had happened today, we would say the story went viral. At least 60 newspapers picked up the story.

“One magazine had a cicada with a little gun saying, ‘Stick ’em up!'” Kellogg said.

She now works for a doctor. She was raised in Madisonville, a neighborhood in Cincinnati, where the restaurant used to sit. She moved to California, then South Carolina, then back home. She now lives in her childhood home.

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“Today, I’m the girl who gets the cicadas off people,” she said.

She finds humor in the story now, at 56, but she didn’t always. 

“You want the truth? Or do you want the lie?” Kellogg told The Enquirer, a part of USA TODAY Network. “I remember the entire thing.”

The problem, she said, is the story that everyone laughed about isn’t what it seemed.

Not long before the incident, Kellogg said, she was sitting outside the restaurant with a friend when she decided to play a prank on him. She grabbed a fist full of cicadas and put them on his back. He screamed.

“He went crazy, like any ordinary human would,” Kellogg said.

Still laughing, she went back inside the restaurant to wait on two customers, men she knew, friends (or so she thought) from the neighborhood.

She served them their cheese coneys and was cashing them out when her friend returned to exact his revenge.

Boom. He throws a handful of cicadas straight into her face and runs off.

“I took off running like OJ in the airport,” Kellogg said referring to the 1978 rental car commercial. “I completely forgot the register was open. “I ran like a bat out of hell.”

When she returned, she noticed the bills were not straight in her drawer. She asked the two men at the counter if they had taken anything, but they denied it.

She counted out the money in front of them and came up $25 short. When they still wouldn’t own up to what happened, she called the police and reported a robbery.

And here the story turned into what it became. At best it was a cicada-assisted robbery, but what came out in the police report and, later, in news coverage was an image of two masked bandits wielding red-eyed, buzzing, six-legged insects instead of six-shooters.

“That officer put two stories into one and the joke was on me,” Kellogg said. “He heard, but he wasn’t listening. It was a joke to him.”

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She said she thinks the officer was paid for the story and said if she could track him down she ought to sue him for half his pension “for putting me through all this embarrassment all these years.”

She said her friend, who goes by Squeaky, even made shirts. The shirts have a picture of a cicada, but instead of the cicada’s face, it’s Squeaky’s face.

“I’m the butt of the joke,” she said, but as time has passed her mood about the situation has lightened. She says she even tells the story to her patients now to get them laughing. They’ll often look it up on their phones right then and they can’t believe it, she said.

She’s been enjoying this summer seeing the grandchildren of the insects that once brought her national attention.

But she wants everyone to know, she is not afraid of cicadas, especially just one of them. A face full of any bug is enough to freak someone out.

“The only thing I’m scared of is something with eight legs,” Kellogg said. “You can have the whole restaurant if you have eight legs.”

Follow Cameron Knight on Twitter: @ckpj99.

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