January, 2002

January 1, 2002
An open truck packed with passengers has crashed down a steep hill in South Africa killing 48 members of the same family. The driver lost control of the lorry while traveling on along a dirt road in northeast Mpumalanga province. The dead, all members of an extended family, were on their way to visit the graves of relatives at a farm near Roosenekal, about 125 miles northeast of Johannesburg. A further 73 people were injured in the crash, 33 of them seriously. Police spokesman Malculm Mokomene said: "They were going to have a feast and visit the graves of their forefathers. He said witnesses reported that the driver lost control of the truck as he tried to change gears on a downward slope and that the truck overturned twice as it plunged over the side of the road crushing the driver's cab. ( CNN, donated by Bil Corry)

January 3, 2002
An 11-year-old boy was crushed to death in an elevator accident at his apartment building on Tuesday, January 2, 2002. Lui Kam-ho died in a hospital from leg and abdominal injuries a day after he was caught halfway inside the elevator as it continued to move upward even though its doors were not fully shut. The government began a two-week investigation into the cause, said Josephine Wong, spokesman of the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, which inspects the more than 40,000 elevators in the high-rise city. In a statement, the department described the accident as "rare and unfortunate." It said there had only been 100 cases of elevator accidents in Hong Kong last year, none of which resulted in serious injuries. (The Associated Press, donated by glia)

January 4, 2002
A Hong Kong school boy has plunged 20 stories to his death when his heavy bag filled with books pulled him over the railing outside his high-rise flat. A witness to the freak accident yesterday say the nine-year-old was leaning on the railing when his school bag slipped and dragged him over. Newspapers report that the boy's bag weighed about nine kilograms (nearly 20 pounds). Schoolchildren in many parts of Asia are swamped with homework and have to lug heavy bags. Some in Hong Kong even resort to buying bags with wheels, much like the suitcases that travellers pull around. (News.Com.Au, donated by Chris Kench)

January 5, 2002
A 22-year-old policeman was killed by his 3-year-old son when the boy picked up his father's gun off the kitchen table and accidentally fired. Joshua Haffner, who had recently joined the Smyrna, Tennessee Police Department, returned home Thursday from night shift duty, put down his gun, and was struck in the back by a bullet fired by his unidentified son. Haffner was taken by helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he died a short time later. He had graduated recently from the Metro Police Academy. (Reuters, donated by Bruce Townley)

January 6, 2002
A man and his 9-year-old son were trapped on a beach by a swift incoming tide and drowned as searchers, talking to them by cellphone, raced against time to reach them on Saturday, January 5, 2002. Stewart Rushton, 51, and his son Adam had gone fishing Saturday on the beach at Morecambe Bay on the northwest coast of England - an area of channels and treacherous tides near their home in Dalton-in-Furness, 45 miles north of Liverpool. After they had walked out onto the sands for 10 minutes, a heavy fog rolled in suddenly and Rushton, realizing they were lost, made an emergency 999 call at 2:30 p.m. He had already called his wife and asked her to call the coast guard. In a series of increasingly desperate phone calls between Rushton and the police and the coast guard, the emergency services tried to pinpoint the pair's location as the tide began to rush in. Coast guard teams from four locations scoured the coast, aided by two powerful oceangoing lifeboats, two local mountain rescue teams, police and a Royal Air Force helicopter. Thick fog reduced visibility to 25 yards. At 3:07, Rushton said the water was up to his neck. Adam, sitting on his father's shoulders, answered the phone. "My dad is all right," the boy said before passing the phone to his father. "He was shouting. I said, 'Be reassured, we have got units coming to your assistance'," the spokesman said on condition of anonymity. "It became very distressing for both sides. We could hear the sound of water and the father was shouting." Officers standing on the shore could hear his cries but dared not enter the water because of the treacherous tide. "He sounded as though he was a few hundred yards offshore but with the fog and the mist they couldn't tell where he was," said Police Constable Tony Hawson. The search was called off for the night at 8:45 p.m. A dozen of Rushton's relatives joined the search when it resumed early Sunday. Rushton's son-in-law found his body at about 10 a.m. A body believed to be Adam's was found Sunday afternoon, further down the coast. (The Associated Press, donated by Neil Langdon Inglis)

January 9, 2002
Dr. William Mallon, director of the emergency residency program at Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Hospital, says his doctors see an adverse reaction to piercing at least once a week. These include allergic reactions to the metals used and infections, especially in hairy areas. Oozing pus from bellybutton piercings is quite common. Infections also occur due to bacteria in the saliva of partners licking or biting a piercing that is healing. "People who pierce nipples or genitalia can be anxious to have their partner start sucking or biting it without waiting for the skin to heal as the piercers will recommend. What happens with these patients is that they will come into the ER with an infection in these areas and we give them an antibiotic to usually the streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria [on skin.] But the antibiotics won’t help because they needed an antibiotic that could fight the [gram negative] bacteria found in the mouth." At that point, they usually need to be hospitalized. An 18-year-old woman who came to the emergency room at LDS Hospital 15 months ago died from overwhelming infection caused by bacteria in a tongue piercing in her own mouth. In another LDS case, a 19-year-old man who had had his penis pierced suffered from his body art when he was in a car accident. The stud extended through the tip of the penis and crossed over his urethra, the tube that allows urine to pass from the body. The trauma of the accident dislodged the stud and now the young man occasionally has to go to the hospital for assistance with a catheter to urinate. John Marx, chairman of the department of emergency medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., says the most dramatic piercing problem he has seen is ripped skin from the jewelry either catching on clothing or from a lover pulling off a nipple ring in a fight. (ABC News, Lynne Rutledge)

January 10, 2002
A suspected criminal who police said tried to fake his own death by killing a look-alike in a Baton Rouge motel room was arrested on October 9, 2001, when police stopped his car on Interstate 12 near Covington. Shawn Thompson, 31, of Denham Springs, who was wanted for violating a restraining order, tried to throw police off his trail Friday night by killing a man who resembled him and leaving the body in a room registered to Thompson at the Plantation Inn, Baton Rouge. To make the body harder to identify, Thompson torched the room and pulled out all the victim's teeth so that detectives couldn't match them to dental records, Cpl. Mary Ann Godawa said. Thompson had told others about his plan to slit his wrists and set himself on fire, leading police initially to conclude the dead man was Thompson. But an autopsy revealed the victim was James Robert Page, 19, of Plano, Texas, who had been beaten and choked to death before the fire, which was quickly extinguished. Page's body was not burned in the fire. Godawa said Thompson was acquainted with Page, who had been staying in another room at the motel. Thompson was arrested Tuesday about 2:30 a.m., shortly after Baton Rouge police received a tip and alerted other law enforcement agencies that he was driving from Alabama to Baton Rouge. Trooper Patrick Dunn of Troop L, based near Mandeville, spotted Thompson's 2000 Ford sport utility vehicle traveling west on I-12 south of Covington. Dunn called for backup and arrested Thompson, who was originally wanted by the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office on a misdemeanor violation of a restraining order. "He's now facing some much more serious charges," Godawa said. Thompson was booked with first-degree murder and aggravated arson at the parish jail in Covington. He was later transferred to Baton Rouge. (The Times-Picayune, donated by Lily Childs)

"I was wondering where you get your information and how you deterime what article to print on this site....This article is about my son in law that was murder by this sick ass hole..... Thompson has since been sentence to life without parole for this murder... The guy who helped him will walk without no more then 5 years.... and you write this article that we as a family have found by mistake......we like the fact that is is out there but this is no where near morbid....It is a horrible thing that happened.... We would like it if you could respect us as a family and remove this from you site.....If you have children would you want them to see this if it were a member of your family...."

January 13, 2002
The monstrous Roman emperor Caligula enjoyed watching prisoners being tortured while he ate. For certain crimes he ordered a treatment not unlike the Chinese 'death of a thousand cuts': small and repeated stabs with a knife were made so that, in Caligula's words, the victim could 'feel himself die'. Roman historian Suetonius reports that Caligula had men sawn in two, that the writer of an insulting satire was burned alive in the Roman circus, and '... the master of his gladiators and wild beasts he caused to be cramped with irons, and beaten for two days together before his eyes, and did not kill him outright till his brain was putrefied, and offended him with the stench." (The History Of Torture)

January 17, 2002
Welfare clerk James Chenault, 54, boarded a lift in the Kingsbridge Welfare Center in the Bronx with four other people. It raced up to the second floor, apparently out of control. When the doors opened, Chenault straddled the doorway to allow the others off. One made it out, but with the doors still open, the lift resumed its climb, decapitating Chenault. His head, wearing stereo headphones, fell into the lift with the three remaining passengers and his body fell down the shaft. (Strange Deaths)

January 19, 2002
The case of the Duke of Suffolk's head is rather bizarre and until quite recently it was on display in a London church. The Duke lost his head for treason in 1554 on Tower Hill, but instead of being buried with the body it was left in the executioner's basket of oak sawdust into which it had fallen and was buried in a nearby church, demolished nearly 300 years later. Tannin from oak is a good preservative, and when the basket was opened there was the Duke's head: "A large gaping gash, which had not divided the subcutaneous structures, shows that the first stroke of the axe was misdirected, too near the occiput, and in a slanting direction. The second blow, a little lower down, separated the head from the trunk below the fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae. The retraction of the skin and the violent convulsive action of the muscles proved that the severance was effected during life, and in cold weather." (Crimes And Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 18)

January 22, 2002
Before the Christian missions established shelters in the 1860s and 1870s, Cooper Alley in San Francisco's Chinatown was the site of a "hospital," in which elderly women and diseased prostitutes too sick to be of further service were brought and left to die. A SF Chronicle reporter visited the scene in December, 1869 and described the "hospital" as a foul, windowless basement where the "patients" were placed on rice mat covered shelves attached to the wall. There they were left to die either by starvation or their own hands. After a few days a watchman would return and smother or strangle anyone still living. (Historic Walks In San Francisco)

January 25, 2002
One of the greatest news stories ever - and it's all true:
FULDA, Germany, Dec 8, 1993 - An American soldier cut off the head of his pregnant wife's lover and put it on her bedside table in the hospital here where she was about to give birth. The angry husband struck on Tuesday when his rival, a fellow GI in the American 11th cavalry regiment, was phoning the woman from nearby Sickels military airfield. The first soldier cut off the second one's head with a knife, then drove to the hospital and showed it to his wife and left it there. The victim just had time to call down the telephone, "Your husband is coming." An American army spokesman confirmed a decapitated body had been found in a telephone box at the military airfield. After checking into a German hospital in Fulda that day, she had been obliged to confess to her husband that she was pregnant by another man. A few hours later she was speaking by phone with that other man, Glover, a personable 21-year-old soldier who was a friend to both the Schaps. The line suddenly went dead. Now, around a half-hour later, she heard footsteps coming quickly down the hospital hallway. She recognized them as her husband's. The door burst open, and there stood Stephen Schap, his chest heaving, clothes speckled with blood. He was carrying a Head gym bag. "He had the sports bag over his shoulder, and it looked like it was full," she said. It was. Her husband reached into the bag and pulled out Glover's head. "He grasped the head in both hands and he tried to push it in my face. I kept screaming and screaming," she said. "Look, Diane -- Glover's here! He'll sleep with you every night now. Only you won't sleep -- because all you'll see is this," Stephen Schap told her. Doctors who had heard the terrified screams ran to the room. There they found Diane Schap, her face pale with shock, bedclothes spattered with blood. Stephen Schap sat at the foot of the bed, across his wife's legs. And on the night stand, facing Diane Schap, was Glover's head. (
Associated Press, donated by quackerhacker01)

January 27, 2002
A Peruvian man who last year sliced off his penis to draw attention to his jobless plight chopped off one of his testicles in front of the parliament building in August, 2001. "I'm doing all this to protest my lousy situation," Eduardo Veliz, 36, told doctors after his dramatic stunt. Veliz, now a poorly paid laborer, hacked off his penis last September outside parliament after failing to meet the Congress head to ask for work. It was successfully reimplanted. Witnesses said Veliz shouted at the door of Congress that he wanted to see Congress President Carlos Ferrero. "When he couldn't see him, he got out a sharp knife and cut off his testicle," a policeman, who asked not to be named, told Reuters. Firefighters rushed over to Veliz, who was bleeding heavily, and he was taken to a hospital where doctors said he suffered a "traumatic castration" of the right testicle. "He's a laborer. Last year he was asking for work ... this time he wanted a pay rise because he says he earns a paltry wage," said Carlos Viera, spokesman at the Dos de Mayo hospital which treated Veliz on both occasions. (Reuters, donated by Tracy)

January 28, 2002
It was unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon (1/27/02), so while many Rams fans were indoors watching the NFC championsip game on TV, little Cody Miller-Cockrell was outside enjoying the 68-degree weather with the neighborhood children in a modest, older subdivision in St. Peters. One minute he was laughing and running and jumping, and the next, he was motionless, lifeless. The 3-year-old St. Peters boy accidentally hanged himself from a tree in his yard just before 5 p.m. Police are continuing their investigation of the case. They say that Cody was alone when he started playing with the rope and that there are no witnesses. A five-foot rope with a noose on the end of it had been hanging from the tree branch for months. The neighborhood kids had used it as a swing, putting their foot in the noose. Police don't know how it happened, but somehow, the noose got around the little boy's neck, and he couldn't get free. A 6-year-old girl who lives nearby discovered Cody and alerted his grandfather, who also lives nearby. He cut Cody down and started CPR. Police and paramedics also tried to revive the boy, but he was pronounced dead a short time later at St. Peters Barnes Hospital. (
STL Today, donated by Chris Kench)