March 1999

March 6, 1999
Jarold Sanchez, 23, shot himself in the face in November in Craig, Colo., after spotting an elk near a railroad track on a hunting trip. Sanchez had lain down, resting the barrel of his rifle on the near track, pointed at the elk, and squeezed the trigger, but managed only to hit the other track two feet away, causing the bullet to bounce back and graze his cheek. Sanchez said he knows now that the barrel is lower than the sight. (News Of The Weird)

March 7, 1999
Ian Clifton, 35, had the grave misfortune of passing out from a tad too much beer and punch at a party in Sheffield, England. Why was this grave? Well, first of all, he suffered the indignity of passing out in the company of friends who thought that shaving his head and photographing him in lewd poses with a blow-up doll was extremely funny. Secondly, his friends were not only playful, they were also so unobservant that they didn't notice for two hours that he was awfully still... and, in fact, his heart was stiller still! Yes, poor Ian had passed completely out - from life to death - while his friends went on celebrating in the presence of his corpse. The Coroner thought this rather disturbing, but I'd prefer to think that Ian went out with a smile on his face - even if his friends did not. Then again, with friends like that... (The Daily Telegraph - rewritten by DeSpair)

March 8, 1999
On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, over 1,500 Irish rebels, taking advantage of Britain's vulnerability during World War I, took to the streets of Dublin, seized several public buildings, and declared Ireland an independent republic. In the six-day Easter Rebellion, separatists held off the Royal Irish Constabulary, city police, and British troops before surrendering. Killed in the crossfire were 52 rebels, 129 of the loyalist forces, and 450 city residents. The uprising failed to arouse the majority of Irishmen, because most considered it treasonous to so distract the home government when at any moment the empire might fall before the German war machine. British patriotism in Ireland no doubt would have continued to war's end -- especially since many Irish boys were fighitng on the Contintent, too -- if Britain had not undertaken reprisals. In 10 days, authorities swept 2,000 Dubliners into jail without trail. The leaders of the rebellion were court-martialed and executed, including James Connolly, who was so severely wounded in the fray that he had to face the firing squad strapped into an upright stretcher. The insurgents, who had been led to prison amid the taunts and jeers of the people, suddenly became heroes in death, their pictures joining those of saints on the walls of Irish Catholic homes. (The People's Almanac #2)

March 10, 1999
For hours Sunday, Duncan Murray played pool with a stranger from Alabama. He and others at Rumors Lounge in Lacombe, Lousiana had just met William T. Brewer that day, but everybody took a liking to him, and he seemed like "a nice, friendly man." It wasn't until Murray and his companion, Betty Latino, did Brewer a favor and drove him to his motel did another side of the Wilmer, Alabama, man emerge. When they arrived at the Star Motel on U.S. 190, Brewer, without warning, became enraged and said they had taken him to the wrong motel, authorities said. He reached over the driver's seat and badly gouged Murray's eyes, and when Murray got out and tried to escape, Brewer attacked him again, biting off and swallowing one of his ears and biting off part of the other, investigators said. The savagery of the attack provoked shock and horror in the tight-knit community of Lacombe, whose residents described Murray as "a good and hard-working citizen who would not hurt a soul." Murray, 60, remained in fair condition Tuesday at Charity Hospital. Doctors said it may be several days before they know the full extent of damage to his eyes. Brewer, 30, has been booked with second-degree battery and aggravated assault. (The New Orleans Times-Picayune, donated by Rita Blaize-Watson)

March 11, 1999
In Germany in 1917, government food rations were cut to levels of 1,000 calories per person per day. Unable to subsist on the turnip-based diet, an estimated 750,000 Germans starved to death. (The People's Almanac #2)

March 12, 1999
Barring S&M practices, where in extremely rare instances people have been flogged to death, strangled, or burned alive by overzealous participants, the most hazardous sexual technique is cunnilingus where one partner -- accidentally or not -- blows into the vagina. Ten fatalities and one near-miss have been reported in the medical literature as of 1983. The air enters the bloodstream via the vein sinuses of the intrauterine wall and from there finds its way to the heart and the brain. Collapse is usually immediate, and death can occur within minutes. (Criminal And Deviant Sexuality)

March 13, 1999
A 17-year-old boy was convicted Friday of killing his half-brother and four others during a drunken rage. Christopher Churchill admitted in a videotaped statement that he killed his half-brother, his brother's girlfriend Debra Smith, and her three children to "relieve stress." Churchill, who was 16 at the time of the February 1998 killings, faces a maximum sentence of life without parole at his sentencing, scheduled for April. "I think it's a just verdict. He's going to suffer for the rest of his life for it," said James Shelton, father of Smith, whose three children were 12, 10 and 6. Churchill said he played cards with the family the night of the killings, then stayed up drinking at their home in Noble, in southern Illinois. He told police he had fantasized about killing his brother and "acted out a little anger" on the others because they teased him. He attacked all five with a hammer, watched some television, then had sex with 12-year-old girl as she lay dying. He was arrested six days later. (APB Online)

March 15, 1999
Charles Whitman was born in 1941 and his life began to fall apart in the spring of 1966. The 25 year old ex-Marine, devoted to his family, was devastated when his parents decided to divorce. He began to act oddly, breaking into fits of violence and complaining of severe headaches. He sought psychiatric counseling, but his mother and his wife attributed his behavior change to the stress of his heavy class load at the University of Texas at Austin. On July 31, Whitman wrote a note which read: "I am prepared to die. After my death, I wish an autopsy on me to be performed to see if there is any mental disorder." That night he stabbed and shot his mother to death at her house. Returning home, he stabbed his wife to death and wrote a diatribe against his abusive father that closed with the words. "Life is not worth living." The next morning he packed sandwiches, toilet paper, a transistor radio, several pistols and ammunition and headed for the campus. Entering the observation tower he killed a receptionist with a blow to the head. Two people he encountered on the stairwell were shot dead at point-blank range. Whitman settled himself on the top of the tower, and, after several minutes of contemplation opened fire on the unsuspecting students below. Within an hour and a half, during which the expert marksman picked off anything that moved, 16 people were dead and 30 wounded. Police were unable to reach him, and finally decided to charge. In the gun battle that ensued, Whitman was mowed down. His requested autopsy revealed a tumor in the hypothalamus region of the brain. an area directly connected with violent behaviour and judgement. (Charles Whitman)

March 16, 1999
On September 1, 1923, an earthquake leveled Tokyo. Accompanying landslides, tidal waves, and fires killed 106,000 persons, injured 502,000, and destroyed 694,000 dwellings. Mass hysteria broke out in the city when unfounded rumors spread that Koreans were setting fires, looting, and preparing to attack the people of Tokyo. As a result, many Korean nationals living in the city were brutally assaulted, and some were killed. (The People's Almanac #2)

March 17, 1999
An Egyptian society supposedly raising abandoned illegitimate children is under investigation after a parliamentary complaint that it had been killing them to sell body parts to hospitals, police sources in Cairo said Tuesday. Ten members of parliament filed a complaint to the general prosecutor Monday alleging that a children's organization in Minufiya, 37 miles northwest of Cairo, was selling body parts of children under 13 years of age to privately-run hospitals, police said. They said the parliamentarians became suspicious when 25 out of a total 32 children in the society died over the last three months. The members of parliament alleged that these illegal deals, involving large sums of money, occur with the knowledge and collaboration of certain powerful figures. (Reuters, donated by Terri)

March 19, 1999
Convicted of income tax evasion, Chicago gangster Al Capone, 32, listened to Federal Judge Wilkerson hand down the stiffest penalty ever conferred on a tax evader on October 24, 1931 - 11 years in jail, $80,000 in fines and court costs; request for bail pending appeal was denied. The Naples-born underworld boss, who had parlayed a fourth-grade education into a $6.5 million-a-week empire of gambling, bootlegging, prostitution, dance halls, and other rackets, served eight years. By the time of his release, however, he had been driven daffy by the effects of syphilis. He died in 1947. (The People's Almanac #2)

March 20, 1999
15,000-20,000 people die each year in alcohol-related car crashes. (The Big Book Of Vice)

March 21, 1999
Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the earth in 1961, died when his jet fighter crashed in 1968. Years later, Soviet officials denied rumors that the true facts of his death had been covered up and that he had died while doing unauthorised stunts after a drunken lunch. (Bizarre)

March 23, 1999
A motorist was killed near Vacaville, CA in March, 1999 when an airborne cow smashed through the windshield of his pickup truck, striking him in the head. The California Highway Patrol said the 750-pound heifer wandered onto a road during stormy weather in Solano County about 50 miles northeast of San Francisco. A 1983 Mercedes-Benz traveling north on the road hit the animal, sending it hurtling into the air and into the path of the Toyota pickup, which was traveling south. The cow fell through the windshield and killed the driver. After hitting the pickup, the heifer was thrown onto the southbound lane and was hit by another pickup. Poor cow! (Someone Whose Name I've Lost Much To My Infinite Regret)

March 24, 1999
For a young girl in ancient China, the day her mother took long strips of cloth and began wrapping them around her feet was the day she started to become a woman. Most mothers began the process at the age of five or six, some as early as three, rebinding their daughters' feet daily to press the toes in under the instep and push the big toe up towards the heel. Sometimes the toes were broken straight away, otherwise they would be pushed out of joint gradually by the bindings. Bones in the top of the foot were snapped as the foot was pulled down and tied in place. Often the bound-under toes would turn gangrenous and drop off due to lack of circulation. This was regarded as fortunate as it would allow even further compression. With luck (and very tight figure-of eight bindings) the child would achieve the Golden Lotus - feet that would never grow more than three inches long. Of course the girl would never be able to stand again without pain, and running and playing like her brothers would be out of the question. But that was considered a small price to pay to have the most beautiful feet imaginable. What a world, huh? (Bizarre)

March 25, 1999
On May 30, 1937, Chicago police attacked striking Republic Steel workers and their families, killing 10 and wounding hundreds. This became known as the Memorial Day Massacre. (The People's Almanac #2)

March 26, 1999
In August, the family of the late Russell U. Shell filed a wrongful- death lawsuit against The Other Side nightclub in Fitchburg, Mass., charging that Mr. Shell choked to death on a miniature plastic penis that allegedly had been placed into his drink glass as a prank by an employee. (The club owner said Mr. Shell merely suffered a seizure and that the charm was found on the floor beside Mr. Shell's body.) (News Of The Weird)

March 29, 1999
Lucy Gaston was a staunch anti-tobacco activist who rose to infamy in the late 1800's. Her "Anti-Cigarette League", with its memorable slogan "Ban The Coffin Nail!", even managed to get cigarettes banned in eleven states. However, the bans were loosely enforced and Lucy's gallant crusade ultimately failed. The public tired of her stridency and she was forced out of two anti-smoking leagues she had founded. In 1924, leaving a Chicago rally, she was hit by a street car. Though not badly hurt, she failed to improve. Doctors found she had throat cancer - ironically, a disease usually linked to smoking. She died a few months later. (The Big Book Of Vice)

March 30, 1999
In 1938, 32,000 people in the U.S. died in traffic accidents. The automobile had truly arrived! (The People's Almanac #2)