April, 2002

April 1, 2002
Bhopal was one of the worst industrial/environmental disasters of the 20th century. The Union Carbide Corporation opened its Bhopal plant in 1980. The opening was greatly welcomed locally, as it brought 800 new jobs into the area. The plant, located near to the railway station and surrounded by the densely-packed housing of the Jayaprakashnagar area, was to produce pesticides for agricultural use, one of the principal chemicals in the process being methyl isocyanate (MIC for short). The accident that was to have such devastating consequences happened at night, at about 1 a.m. on December 3, 1984, when there were few staff on duty. The tanks holding the MIC - which is highly volatile - were contaminated by water and pressure built up. When MIC reaches a high temperature it vaporizes. Despite various safety devices, this happened at Bhopal, and about 45 tons of highly toxic gas escaped before the leak was discovered and plugged. The gas spread over the houses as people slept. The pungent, acrid smell woke many up, possibly saving their lives. Others, whose small houses were almost literally turned into gas chambers, died in their sleep. The gas affected their respiratory tracts and their eyes. Hundreds died from pulmonary edema (fluid accumulating in the lungs) and some from poisoning by cyanide, a by-product of the MIC reacting with water and the atmosphere. Still others died from accidents caused by their partial or total blindness as they rushed in panic into the streets trying to escape the deadly fumes. Not surprisingly, in the dark and with choking lungs, there was considerable panic and confusion. Hospitals and rescue services were simply overwhelmed by the numbers affected. Small children and old people had the least resistance to the gas, and many hundreds of each died. The best estimates indicate that at least 2,500 people died and that perhaps as many as 200,000 were affected in some way. (Catastrophes and Disasters)


April 3, 2002

Today's Cutting Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

French King Henry III, embroiled in the French Wars of Religion, enraged Catholics in 1589 by allying himself with the Protestants. During an audience with the king on August 1, a fanatical monk, Jacques Clement, stabbed Henry in the stomach. Henry pulled out the knife, cutting the assassin's face with it before guards arrived and killed the monk. Henry died the next day of his wounds, and the Protestant Henry of Navarre became Henry IV, the first of the Bourbon kings. After a nine-year struggle to secure his kingdom, Henry, obviously an advocate of the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy, converted to Catholicism and brought prosperity and order to France.

Culled from: The Pessimist's Guide To History
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/006095745X/theasylumeclecti/103-2127744-6618214)

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I find something strangely appealing about the thought of the king pulling the knife out of his own stomach and cutting the fanatical monk's face with it. That really ought to be a scene from a movie, don't you think? Maybe it is?

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I was doing some research on a Powder Mill explosion for a Garretdom entry (see below), when I stumbled upon a page that listed the causes of death in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1903. I thought some of the causes were quite fascinating indeed, so I thought I'd share:

http://www.rootsweb.com/~paluzern/mixed/1903alma1.htm

(Scroll down to "Fatal Accidents".)

Here's the Garretdom entry - don't you just love the detail they used to put in their descriptions of the wounded or dead?

http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/death/accident/powder.htm


April 4, 2002

Today's Dark Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Perhaps the darkest stain on the history of the United States - a nation that sanctified itself in the rule of law - was the lynching epidemic of the late nineteenth century. According to the Chicago Tribune, between 1882 and 1903 no less than 3337 people died in these outrages. And it is sobering to consider that many of the victims were totally innocent of any crime; proven guilt was inconsequential when mass hysteria lusted for blood. Two instances epitomize the madness that possessed the lynch mobs. On February 22, 1898, a black man named F. B. Baker was lynched at Lake City, South Carolina, for accepting the office of postmaster. In 1893, in Paris, Texas, a Black kidnapped by lynchers was publicly burned at the stake with extreme torture while women and children helped kindle the flames. State authorities showed criminal neglect in their tacit approval of the lynch law, and in 99 percent of the cases no arrests were made. Despite this, the mass of Americans felt lynching to be the crime of the century.

Culled from: The Good Old Days - They Were Terrible!
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0394709411/theasylumeclecti)

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I recently acquired a book of brutal lynching photographs called Without Sanctuary that gives a face to the suffering mentioned above. I haven't read the book yet (or finished perusing the photos), but it looks to be excellent. Here's a link, if you're interested in checking it out:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0944092691/theasylumeclecti

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It was quite gratifying to see that many of you were as entertained as I was with the 1903 Wilkes-Barre list of "Fatal Accidents" that I stumbled across on the web (http://www.rootsweb.com/~paluzern/mixed/1903alma1.htm). I had a few suggestions for the most interesting cause of the death. In my mind the top three would have to be:

1. Baby "stranged by nursing nipple" (Huh?)
2. 80-year-old man "knocked down by baseball player"
3. 4-year-old "froze in outhouse" (In what position, I wonder?)

Andrew noted: "I still like the fact that Mr. Brainiak (think Brainiac) fell down the stairs to his death." In fact, several of you noted just how many people seemed to die from "falling down stairs" in those days. Also, it's quite interesting that it seems a number of children died from "neglect": drowning in tubs, scalded, etc. It does make me wonder: Do you suppose that a number of these "accidents" were in fact not accidental at all? It certainly doesn't seem that a tremendous amount of investigation went into the claims back in those days. Nowadays, of course, everyone's a suspect - but they seemed to invest a lot of trust into people back then. I mean, check out this 1892 news article:

Poisoned the Wrong Parties

LAKE CITY, Fla., Aug. 15. - Near Benton, in this county, two gentlemen in co-partnership, who planted large fields in watermelons for market, have been greatly troubled this summer by the nocturnal depredations of thieves. Yesterday one of the gentlemen poisoned several melons in the patch for the benefit of the thieves, but neglected to notify his partner of the fact. This morning the latter's wife, two children and a sister-in-law ate the poisoned fruit, and all were killed before medical assistance could be obtained.

So, just because this guy said it was "accidental" and he meant to poison someone else, it's okay? It doesn't say whether he was arrested or not, but it certainly sounds like they considered it to be a "tragic accident".

Or how about this one:

A Little Child's Horrible Death.

CENTRALIA, Aug. 15. - Mary Wrentzel, daughter of Jacob Wrentzel, living near here, was fatally scalded this afternoon. Her mother went out to borrow something from a neighbor, leaving her child, which was but two years old, lying on the floor. The child crept to a tub of hot water which the mother had poured from a boiler before leaving, and fell in. Her screams were heard by a neighbor, who ran to her rescue. The mother is frantic with grief.

Did the mother deliberately leave the water next to the baby, hoping that something like this would happen? Did the mother actually PUT the baby in the water and run out the back door before the neighbor arrived? How would you know?

Okay, okay - call me cynical, if you must.


April 5, 2002

Today's Amusing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The French revolutionary leader Jacques Danton (1759-94) who ordered thousands of guillotinings during the French Revolution, was finally sentenced to a taste of his own medicine. He told the executioner: "Be sure to show the mob my head. It will be a long time before they see its like."

Culled from: Weird Wills & Eccentric Last Wishes

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Okay, how can you possibly resist a mug with the phrase "Always A Pallbearer, Never A Corpse" lovingly printed on its black surface? I know I certainly cannot! From the always quite wonderful Shaddow Domain (see ad below):

http://www.shaddowdomain.com/sdmug.jpg

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It's a well-known fact that 665 out of 666 Undead prefer Shaddow Domain to all other shops.
Filled with Gothic Treasures and Morbid Delights, Shaddow Domain is sure to have something please Difficult Demons, Vacillating Vampires, and Slippery Spirits.
So, why not stop by?
http://www.shaddowdomain.com/
Also of note - the Shaddow Domain Newsletter!
Be the first in your Coven to buy the Latest Horrible Thing, and enjoy the Morbid and Mirthful Commentary of the Incomparable Jools!
Just one simple e-mail is all it takes:
jpedersen@shaddowdomain.com?subject=subscribe


April 6, 2002

Today's Awful Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The world was a howling, smothering white wasteland that fateful night of Friday, December 29, 1876 in Ashtabula, Ohio. A throng was awaiting the arrival of the No. 5 "Pacific Express" due in from Erie, Pennsylvania. There were at least 128 passengers and 19 crewmen about the No. 5 as it roared onto the railway bridge spanning Ashtabula Creek. Daniel McGuire, the engineer of the lead locomotive, was the first to realize there was a problem. As he approached the western abutment of the 154-foot bridge, McGuire suddenly had the terrifying sensation that his engine was "running uphill". Turning his head, he looked back and gaped in horror as he saw the rest of his train - the second locomotive and 11 cars - falling with the collapsing bridge toward the creek, 82 feet below. McGuire managed to pull his locomotive across, and as he hit the brakes he heard a frightful crashing noise behind and below. In the cars, everyone remaining alive was scrambling and struggling to get out. Most of the passengers and sleeping cars had fallen like upended dominos, stacked and smashed atop each other, with the bottom layer impaled on the broken ice of Ashtabula Creek. Within five minutes of the crash one of the cars caught fire and, one by one, the cars began to burn. As the survivors and rescuers labored frantically to extricate the wounded, the flames moved through the cars, setting one person after another on fire, as the rescuers were driven back. At the same time, some passengers were drowning as the melting waters of the creek crept upward. A woman trapped by debris screamed over and over as the flames move toward her, "Take an ax and cut off my legs!" No one got a chance to perform this awful service for her before she went up in flames and was burned to a crisp. A similar fate awaited a little girl who screamed, "Help me, Mother!" repeatedly as the flames claimed her. Her mother, who had already been pulled from a burning car, could do nothing but watch her child incinerated. It is estimated that 89 were killed and 63 wounded, of whom five died later. Nineteen bodies were never identified as contemporary spectators stated that they looked like "charred logs" or "Egyptian mummies."

Culled from: The Corpse In The Cellar & Further Tales Of Cleveland Woe
http://www.grayco.com/cleveland/corpse/sample2.html
Generously donated by: KSHOhio

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Accounts like this one, of 19th century tragedies, are my favorite morbid facts. They may run a bit longer than the norm, but I think the details are well-worth sharing.

Nicole writes: "This morbid fact reminds me so much of Amtrak's 'Sunset Limited' disaster of 1993, in Alabama. You've probably heard of it, but a tugboat operator hit a bridge. The impact misaligned the track on there but the guy kept going... he didn't know... At around midnight, the train came barreling down the tracks (at seventy mph, I do believe), and hit the messed-up track. The whole bridge collapsed as car after car of sleeping passengers stacked upon one another in the river. As if to add insult to injury, the cars caught on fire. All in all, 47 passengers and crew died in Amtrak's deadliest accident ever."

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"My Brush With Morbidity" by Jacob

"About 7 years ago, when I was in grade 5, I was with a whole bunch of my school friends on a bus in Brisbane, Australia. At this time, in Queensland, it was not illegal to drive your car and talk on the phone at the same time without hands-free. Anyways... we were on our way to the rock eistedfod and we pulled up in the bus at a zebra crossing ["crosswalk" - American translation] just as an old lady with a zimmer frame ["walker"] was starting across the road. A friend and I were in the front seat of the bus and we watched as she crossed the road. Our looks of boredom soon turned to that of horror as we realized that a man driving a black Saab was racing towards her at quite a speed and he was talking on his mobile and not paying attention to what he was doing... The old woman didn't have time to get out of the way and he plowed into her at about 80 km/hr. She was thrown about 20 metres and then proceeded to slide on her back, head first, another 15 metres along the bitumen where she slammed into a tree on the side of the road. Upon hitting the tree, she rolled onto her front and we caught a glimpse of what it would look like to be rubbed over with coarse sandpaper. She had lost about 3/4 of an inch off the back of her body. We were able to see the bones in her feet, her shoulderblades and the bloodied mess that was the back of her skull: all of the skin on her back had been taken off and she had lost a lot off of her thighs and calves. The man escaped with no injuries other than the cost of the panel-beating on the bonnet and front grill of his car. Just a plug for how sh!t our Criminal Justice System is: He recieved a hefty fine and the lady spent the next 18 months in hospital and 2 yrs of rehabilitation after that. needless to say the "mobile phones in cars" laws were passed soon after... but as with most governments it was a case of too little too late."

I keep waiting for our government to wise up to that one too, but we haven't had our requisite "heart-tugging tragedy" yet...

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It's a well-known fact that 665 out of 666 Undead prefer Shaddow Domain to all other shops.
Filled with Gothic Treasures and Morbid Delights, Shaddow Domain is sure to have something please Difficult Demons, Vacillating Vampires, and Slippery Spirits.
So, why not stop by?
http://www.shaddowdomain.com/
Also of note - the Shaddow Domain Newsletter!
Be the first in your Coven to buy the Latest Horrible Thing, and enjoy the Morbid and Mirthful Commentary of the Incomparable Jools!
Just one simple e-mail is all it takes:
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April 7, 2002

Today's Tasty Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Henri Blot indulged his necrophiliac perversions on a number of disinterred corpses, including an 18-year-old ballet dancer whom he dug up at Saint-Ouen in 1886. When he was finally brought to trial, he offered a bizarre defence: 'Chacun à son gout, le mien est pour les corps' - 'Everyone to his own taste. Mine is for bodies.'

Culled from: Death: A History of Man's Obsessions and Fears

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Seems like a reasonable enough response to me!

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Allyson has a book recommendation to share:

"After browsing through your Library Eclectica, I got terribly excited thinking about one of my favorite authors, one who is not listed among your recommendations, and I find him to be worthy of a hyperlink. His name is Rodney Davies, and his nonfiction book The Lazarus Syndrome I discovered one day in Borders' clearance bin. As the name implies, it's filled with stories of living burials and Mr. Davies' notes on the fascinating process of death on the cellular level. Having piqued my interest, it proved to reawaken the macabre me and hence, to seek out your website. Please see for yourself!"

You know what I always say: Any book that can reawaken the macabre can't be bad!

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0709063040/theasylumeclecti

I've added this link to the ever-growing Morbid Suggestions page:

http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/library/suggest/index.html

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Here's an excellent brush with morbidity... and not a car crash, for a change! (Um, not that car crash stories aren't fascinating as well, but you know...)

"My Brush With Morbidity" by Tina

"When I was in middle school in a small town in South Dakota, I lived kitty-korner from a life-long friend of mine. Another mutual friend was over visiting him, and the two of them were hanging out in a dome-tent in the yard. The tent was not for adventure, but to hide the fact that they were huffing gas. (To this day they claim they were cleaning bike parts, but I know better.) Since it was kind of dark inside the tent, the bright young men decided to light a candle. Needless to say an explosion followed. I was outside in my yard and heard the explosion, as did my mother who was inside the house. I ran over there with my mother not far behind me. One of the guys was engulfed in flames and running around crazily, and the other, who wasn't badly injured, hurt himself further getting him down to the ground to roll around. Once the fire was out the badly burned one jumped up (he was very confused and acting extremely erraticly) and ran inside to jump in the bathtub. My mom had already gone to call 911. He pulled off all articles of clothing that would come off. One thing that was still on was his shoes, and his skin had melted off so that it was hanging in these grusome rings around the tops of the shoes, and around his waist and wrists. The police came before the ambulance and actually said they wanted to make sure it wasn't a crank call before sending an ambulance. The boy jumped in the cop car and said 'I'm not waiting for the ambulance. Just take me to the hospital.' Somehow, with 3rd degree burns over 85% of his body and 2nd degree burns over much of the rest of it, he lived through the incident. He committed suicide shortly after high school leaving behing a child and pregnant girlfriend."

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It's a well-known fact that 665 out of 666 Undead prefer Shaddow Domain to all other shops.
Filled with Gothic Treasures and Morbid Delights, Shaddow Domain is sure to have something please Difficult Demons, Vacillating Vampires, and Slippery Spirits.
So, why not stop by?
http://www.shaddowdomain.com/
Also of note - the Shaddow Domain Newsletter!
Be the first in your Coven to buy the Latest Horrible Thing, and enjoy the Morbid and Mirthful Commentary of the Incomparable Jools!
Just one simple e-mail is all it takes:
jpedersen@shaddowdomain.com?subject=subscribe


April 8, 2002

Today's Bloody Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Each of his 29 stab wounds could have been self-inflicted. There were no traces of entry into his room by another person. And his body showed no signs of injuries that would occur during a struggle. Those were some of the primary factors that led Yolo County coroner's officials to conclude that Andrew Wieman -- a UC Davis student who was found dead in his fraternity house bedroom last year -- committed suicide and was not murdered. "It's difficult to believe that somebody could inflict those types of wounds," Yolo County Sheriff-Coroner Ed Prieto told reporters Monday. "But we just can't support the fact that anyone else was in the room." Prieto detailed much of the physical evidence that led investigators to determine that Wieman, a well-liked third-year UC Davis student, killed himself in a bizarre, multiple-stabbing suicide. Wieman left a four-sentence suicide note. "Dear World, I am only doing this because I have no other choice," the note began. "I can no longer take care of myself and I don't want others to do it for me." Wyly and Jack B. Holder, a private investigator hired by the Wieman family to look into the case, said they still had doubts that Wieman killed himself, despite the release of the evidence in the case. "The thing that stands out is the wounds," Holder said. "You're telling me that someone can inflict those wounds on himself and not make a sound?" [Well, duh! If they really want to die they wouldn't give themselves away by screaming! - Comtesse] Wieman, 20, was found dead in his locked room at Kappa Sigma fraternity house on Jan. 4, 2001. He had deep stab wounds to his head, neck and chest. The young man's fingerprints were found on the knife used in the attack and on the suicide note that was later determined to have been written by Wieman. Three of the stab wounds Wieman suffered were fatal, and the others were less serious wounds on places such as his hands and wrists. The young man was found lying in his bed with a blanket pulled over him. His body showed no signs of restraint. Prieto said the wounds "took some time" to inflict, although officials could not determine how much time.

Culled from: The Sacramento Bee
http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/1622688p-1698870c.html
Generously donated by: Bruce Townley

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You know, you can never assume that something is too painful for someone to have put themselves through. People will kill themselves in some of the most excrutiating ways - like the woman who sat down in a burning fireplace! Now, that's definitely NOT a good way to go!

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Tina has something to add about the brush with morbidity yesterday (the guy who was severely burned while gas huffing - it's the Featured Brush at http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/morbid/brush/ if you missed it): "I recently found out that the burned boy in the story did not kill himself. I do not live there anymore, and had been told that by a friend who thought he was someone else. Anyway, the rest of it is my true firsthand experience."

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Tom is one of those fortunate souls who got to attend several weeks worth of autopsies as part of forensics training. But, fortunately for me, he documented the autopsies in a daily journal - and fortunately for you, I'm here to share his findings. Oh, the names have been changed to protect the deceased!

Atrocious Autopsy Du Jour!

"This was an 85 year old, and it was unclear why he decided to commit suicide. It was thought that maybe he had a stroke, but there was no evidence of that. He did have an abrupt change of personality, though.

"What we found: First of all, the left side of his head was mush, and there wasn't much left of that side of his brain. All the skull bones were fractured, and a lot of pieces were missing. Eyeball was ruptured. He had a violet hue of his right eye from bruising. Lacerations of his lips and mouth from the expanding gases tearing the tissue. Found a piece of the shotgun casing in his head.

"There was no evidence of stroke or Alzheimer's, although one of the major blood vessels for his brain was starting to get occluded (left vertebral). He did have a really tortuous aorta with a lot of atherosclerotic plaques and a lot of calcification. His major coronary vessels were pretty closed down. He had a lot of calcified nodules in his lungs, and a lot of anthracosis indicating a lot of smoking. Some emphysematous changes, also indicating smoking. He had a lot of firm diverticula in his colon, without evidence of inflammation."

More to come!


April 9, 2002

Today's Chewy Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Rats chewed on a dozen bodies in a makeshift storage unit behind the coroner's office, officials said Monday (April 8, 2002). Some of the bodies had been stored since 1995 in the refrigerated, converted garage where 61 corpses were being kept because there was no room in the main lab, coroner's spokesman David Campbell said. He confirmed the rat infestation after KMEX-TV of Los Angeles reported over the weekend that rats had eaten parts of several bodies. Coroner's employees discovered the rodent problem in late February. Damage included disfiguration to the head, face, neck, toes, hands and groin areas of the bodies. Campbell would not provide details on the extent of the trauma, but said in some cases the rats gnawed only on the material in which the corpses were wrapped. The garage is used for long-term storage of bodies that have not been identified, or whose relatives have been unable to afford burial or cremation. Coroner's officials have notified relatives about the damaged corpses. Names were not released. The rats may have flocked to the building after the demolition of earthquake-damaged buildings in the nearby Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. Exterminators were called to eliminate the rats and workers sealed a gap discovered between a wall and the floor. In addition, workers Monday were improving the seal on the garage door. Since the infestation was discovered, "there has been nothing to indicate any new activity," Campbell said. The coroner's office, which investigates about 20,000 deaths a year in a county of 9 million residents, is currently storing about 385 bodies.

Culled from: The Associated Press
Generously donated by: Parrotlady

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Hmmm... why do I feel like a new product line may soon be coming to the L.A. County Coroner's Gift Shop?
(http://www.lacoroner.com/).

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I think we can all relate to this one...

"My Wish With Morbidity" by Colleen

"A few years ago, there was a jerk on a motorcycle who thought it was really cute to come home from the bars early in the morning and spend 10 or so minutes racing his motorcycle up and down the streets and across people's yards at least twice a week. Of course, by the time you called the cops, he would be safely in his house and ready to do it all again in a couple days. During the week, I would go running in the neighborhood and see his tire tracks cutting divots through lawns and cuss. I really grew to hate him. Anyway, he came down the main street around 4:00 one morning; really gunning it just as fast and as loud as he could. It woke me up and I thought "I hope that bast**d kills himself on that damn motorcycle soon, before he kills somebody else". I gave up trying to get back to sleep, and at 5:00 got up to to go for a run. When I got down the street, I could see red lights flashing and went to see what had happened. The street was blocked off with crime scene tape, but I could see the remains of a motorcycle up against a streetlight right where the street began a slow curve; and worse, the rag doll remains of the rider about two houses up. Since riding his bike into the light had caused it to go out, I couldn't see a lot of detail, but his helmet was about 40 feet from his body and I always wondered it the force of the collision snapped his head off. I also wonder if wishing him dead as he rode by that morning had anything to do with the result, but I don't really worry about it. One less idiot in this world to pass on his genes to the next generation."

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Tom's Atrocious Autopsy Du Jour!

"A man was found around 11AM on a concrete slab, about 40 feet below a bridge. He was last seen around 2AM leaving a friend's house. He had been a businessman in the past, but he lost his license and was apparently making a living selling crystal meth. He had been in a car accident a long time ago and didn't have use of his left arm; in fact, it was quite atrophied.

"There were 3 clumps of hair found in a linear fashion away from the victim, and a blood trail of about 10 feet away from the victim. He apparently rolled down the concrete slab, which was on an incline. He had blood running out of his mouth and from several lacerations in his scalp. His head was obviously deformed.

"Autopsy showed lacerations of his right lung, as well as fractures of ribs 2-10 on the right side. Victim had multiple abrasions on the right arm, and in addition was found to have a fractured pelvis. Victim's scalp showed a 4cm stellate laceration with herniation of brain tissue. There were 3 other lacerations consistent with internal tears of the scalp. Other abrasions on the scalp were consistent with a right-to-left sweep across the scalp. The skull had multiple fractures, apparently with an initial stellate crush that extended to the left. The basal skull was fractured in multiple areas, and the orbital plates were also multiply fractured. There was another area of herniation on the opposite side from the apparent site of crush injury. There were small hemorrhages in the cortex on the opposite side, consistent with a countrecoup injury. These injuries are consistent with a fall, most likely from the bridge, with no obvious indications of a prior struggle.

"And on a personal note, the brain looked like mush in several places. Yuck."

More to come!


April 11, 2002

Today's Poverty-Stricken Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In Victorian England, hangmen were often paid per execution and sometimes would make extra money by selling their victims' clothes, which were theirs by rights as a lawful perk. Naturally enough, they had a vested interest in whatever executions were due to take place. One Victorian hangman always scanned the newspapers to see if business was picking up. When it was slack there was bound to be trouble. In one lean period, the hangings were so few that when the hangman was told to whip an offender he refused to do so unless his salary was increased, for, as he explained, "for many months I have had no job but whipping and that puts nothing in a man's pocket... and if it wasn't for a hanging job now and then in the country, when there's few in my line, I should likely have been quite ruined. I used to get clothes; and very often, some gentlemen would tip me a few guineas for civility before he was turned off."

Culled from: Crimes and Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 9

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I feel sad for the poor hangman, don't you? And how tragic would today be for a skilled executioner, in the days of the wimpy and pathetic lethal injection? (As I've said before, the worst thing to happen to morbidity since the invention of the seat belt!) Speaking of which, on the Discussion List they've been discussing an interesting website that lists manners of execution that were utilized prior to the adoption of lethal injection. It's quite interesting to see what was going on "back in the day":

Before The Needles:
http://users.bestweb.net/~rg/execution.htm

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Alf has generously posted some fascinating scans of a Thai homemade guillotine suicide on his website. Now, here's someone who does things RIGHT the first time!

http://www.corkscrew-balloon.com/02/04/1bkk/part2.html

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Tom's Atrocious Autopsy Du Jour!
(A Most Malodorous Entry!)

"A 50-year-old woman was found by her husband, dead in bed. He had moved out on Saturday, which was the last time she was seen. He went back on Monday to retrieve some items, left when she didn't answer the door at 7AM, then came back around 3 and broke in when she didn't answer then. She was found in her bed, decomposing. The apartment was apparently a big mess, and the two dogs and two cats apparently made messes. One of the departments is apparently trying to have the house condemned.

"On external examination the victim was decomposing with obvious bloat. Her skin was greenish with the marbled appearance of broken blood vessels across her skin. There was skin slippage with blisters. She had apparently soiled herself, or possibly the gas that built up in her bowels pushed out the waste. No obvious marks of trauma were evident.

"Opening abdomen was done carefully to prevent the escaping gas from splattering everywhere. The fatty tissue kept releasing gas throughout the autopsy, which caused bubbling of the liquid oils. Adipose (fatty) tissue is normally congealed in cooled corpses, but for some reason the coroner did not put the victim in the refrigerator. Therefore, the body was room temperature, and the adipose tissue is liquid at room temperature. In addition, since the body was at room temperature it was continuing to decompose. The smell was, how shall we say, fragrant.

"The heart showed coronary disease, and the lungs indicated that the victim had smoked. Her aorta had a moderate amount of calcification. There were some healing rib fractures, 2-5 on the left and 2-6 on the right. The patient had some adhesions in the pleural cavity. The liver was grossly enlarged from the decomposition and gas formation of the bacteria, but its weight was on the high side of normal. It had the appearance of pate. The spleen was like a liquid paste due to decomposition. The kidneys were remarkable. The brain was mushlike in consistency and revealed very little.

"On a personal note, this autopsy was quite disgusting. The smell was nearly overwhelming, and the mush-like brains almost caused me to lose it (but it wasn't really that close, it was just really disgusting). The green, bloated, puffy appearance was rather disturbing, and the spongy flesh and liquid fat that got everywhere didn't help. Also, the fecal matter added to the overripe smell. I had to shower as soon as I got home, and I still smell the corpse.

More to come!


April 15, 2002

Today's Photographic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On November 8, 1876, two children playing on the banks of the Seine noticed a bundle caught against some piles and called passers-by to drag it to land. It contained the head and parts of the body of a woman. The head was photographed, and the photographs sold cheaply in the streets of Paris. One day, a man in a café recognized it as the wife of a soldier named Billoir. Billoir at first declared that his wife had left him, but a search of his room revealed bloodstains and some human hair. He now changed his story and asserted that his wife had died when he kicked her during a quarrel, and that he had decided to get rid of the body when he discovered she was dead. The doctors replied that was impossible. A corpse bleeds far less than a living body because the heart has stopped; the amount of blood proved that Mme Billoir had been stabbed to death. Moreover, there was no bruise on her. Billoir was guillotined.

Culled from: The Mammoth Book Of The History Of Murder
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0786707143/theasylumeclecti

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I've added a travelogue on Savannah's "Ghost Talk, Ghost Walk" tour to The Morbid Sightseer. It's actually not particularly ghostly, but hopefully you'll find it interesting all the same:

http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/sightseer/us/ga/savannah/ghost.htm

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By popular request, I've added a new section to The Library Eclectica that features many of the films that I've discussed on the list. If you're interested, the Captivating Celluloid can be found at:

http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/library/film/

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"My Brush With Morbidity" by Sharon

"When I was in the first grade my class went on a field trip to a local bank. The whole class of 30 or so students walked the four blocks to the bank with five teacher's aides and the teacher. It was a wonderful spring day and we were going to be shown the vault. They lined us up at the front door of the bank, which is situated on a highway. The bank had a small side road that ran along side and sitting on that side street at a stop sign was a Dolly Madison bakery truck with a sliding side door that was open. We could see racks and racks of cakes. We were all looking at the Dolly Madison truck as it pulled out onto the highway and in an instant a man on a motorcycle went right into it. The truck must not have seen him! The motorcycle and the rider's body went into the snack cakes and the man's head and helmet went skittling over the top of the truck and down the highway. I thought it was just his helmet until the truck driver jumped out and began to scream. They hurried us into the bank. We never did get to see the vault but it was a day I've never forgotten. To this day I don't ride motorcycles or eat Dolly Madison snack cakes...or any other snack cake for that matter."

Now, why didn't we ever have field trips like that when I was a kid???


April 16, 2002

Today's Unappreciative Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

When William III became king of England, he required the Highland chieftains, under penalty of death, to take an oath of submission to him and his rule by January 1, 1692. The chieftain of the Macdonalds of Glencoe, however, was delayed by a blizzard, and did not take the oath until January 5. The king was informed of the missed deadline and he ordered the Macdonald clan eliminated. On February 1 the king's loyal Captain Campbell of Slenlyon and 120 of his men arrived at clan Macdonald, where they were hospitably entertained for twelve days. At 5:00 a.m. on February 13, however, Campbell ordered his men to slaughter everyone under seventy years of age. During the vicious early morning bloodbath, most of the Macdonalds managed to escape into the wilderness, where they were forced to remain in hiding for many months. Of the 150 adult men in the clan, 38 were slain.

Culled from: The Pessimist's Guide To History
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/006095745X/theasylumeclecti

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"... and many years later, the descendants of the Macdonald clan, having altered their names to Mcdonald to avoid detection, escaped from the wilderness on boats to the New World, where they settled in bitterness and vowed revenge on the world. Their weapon? Two all-beef patties, 'special' sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, and a sesame seed bun. Their victory? Subjecting their oppressors to a lifetime of obesity and heart disease. Muahahahahahahahahaaaaaa!!!"

To the clueless: that's a lame attempt at humor. It's not factual. At least, I don't think so...

Oh well, back to my day job...

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I've been obsessing over a fabulous website called "The Official Donnelly Home Page" that was generously sent to me by Dwayne. Here's a snippet of what it's all about:

"On February 14, 1880, in the township of Biddulph, Ontario, Canada, five lives were snuffed out in a heartbeat. James and Johannah, their sons, John and Tom, and a niece, Bridget, all met their deaths violently in what would come to be known as, 'The Biddulph Horror'. As they lay in the throes of dying, a little boy, huddled beneath a bed, watched in terror as the massacre took place. He survived to tell the tale of what happened that tragic, grisly night in Canadian history when death came knocking."

If that piques your interest (as you can imagine it did mine), I'm sure you won't be disappointed with this excellently designed site:

http://www.donnellys.com/


April 17, 2002

Today's Evil Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

From June 1984 to August 1985, Richard Ramirez, a vagrant from El Paso, Texas, terrorized middle-class Los Angeles. He entered homes in the middle of the night (thus earning the name "Night Stalker") to shoot or strangle the males present so he could rape and murder females and children. One of Ramirez's favorite acts of sadism was to kidnap a child from a home he had just robbed, and in which he had killed all the occupants, and let the dazed child loose some distance away to wander back with tales of terror. At his trial, the killer (he may have murdered as many as 25 persons) played to the press. He flashed the palm of his hand where he had drawn a livid sign of the pentagram. On other occasions as he sat listening to the prosecutors condemn him for his crimes, he placed two upturned fingers on either side of his temples to indicate horns and intoned: "Evil ... Evil ... Evil ..." Ramirez was convicted of 12 separate counts of first-degree murder, one second-degree murder count and 30 other offenses ranging from burglary to rape. When hearing his conviction, the killer sneered his disdain to the jury, shouting: "You maggots make me sick. I will be avenged! Lucifer dwells within us all!" When he was later brought back into court to hear his death sentence, Ramirez was flippant, saying, "Big deal... Death comes with the territory... See you in Disneyland."

Culled from: Bloodletters And Badmen
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/087131777X/theasylumeclecti

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Of course, if this were Texas, Ramirez would have been dead for over 10 years now... but as it stands, he still sits on Death Row in San Quentin. Speaking of which, has anyone ever been to the gift shop at San Quentin? Do they still have a museum there? I've been meaning to go, but you know, you never get around to visiting the morbid places (relatively) close to you...

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Tom's Atrocious Autopsy Du Jour!

"A young man (30) took a friend up in a parasail or ultralight glider instead of waiting for his instructor. He was not licensed yet, and the glider belonged to the instructor. Eyewitnesses stated that he made a very sharp bank, almost hit the ground, regained altitude, then made a second sharp bank but hit the ground at a high rate of speed. The friend was placed behind the victim and survived the impact (probably had his fall broken by the victim) and is in critical condition in a local hospital but is expected to survive.

"There were multiple fractures: skull fracture from frontal to the left occipital. Mandible (jaw), multiple ribs (2-7 on left, 2-5 on right). 4th thoracic vertebra was fractured through the body and disarticulated. Neck was hypermobile, suggesting a fracture, but one could not be appreciated on examination. Both forearms were broken. Right tibia/fibula broken off at the end with the foot attached only by some muscle and tendons. The tibia protruded from a large laceration in the right foot. Left tibia/fibula. There were multiple lacerations all over his body, including a scalp laceration, multiple chest lacerations, and lacerations all over his limbs, exposing bone.

"There were aspirated gastric contents in the lungs, and there were lacerations of the right lung. The liver also had multiple lacerations. The thoracic aorta was completely transected, most likely causing death through exsanguination into the left pleural cavity. Other organs were mostly unremarkable."

Ouch!!


April 18, 2002

Today's Greedy Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A convoy of twelve ships laden with gold and silver, as well as cocoa and other merchandise from Spain's New World colonies, sailed into a fierce hurricane off the Florida coast on July 30, 1715. Bound for Spain from Havana, Cuba, the ships were relentlessly battered by the towering waves and raging winds. Officers and crew alike fought valiantly to keep their ships afloat, but to no avail. Eleven of the twelve ships sank or were totally wrecked in the storm-tossed waters, and some one thousand passengers, officers, and crewmen were killed. Miraculously, almost fifteen hundred survivors managed to reach the shores of Florida by swimming or hanging on to floating pieces of wreckage. Some time passed before rescuers from Saint Augustine and Havana reached them all, however, and a number who survived the storm died of exposure, thirst, and hunger.

Culled from: The Pessimist's Guide To History
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/006095745X/theasylumeclecti

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It may have been a tragedy for the sailors at the time ... but I'm sure that tragedy has been a boon to the modern-day scuba diving industry in Florida, eh?

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Phil has a book recommendation for us: "Spitz and Fisher's Medicolegal Investigation Of Death: Guidelines For The Application Of Pathology To Crime Investigation". It's apparently the forensics "bible" (according to the Amazon.Com comments) and, as such, I suspect it probably contains some perfectly gruesome images. I've never seen it myself, and the $95.95 price tag is definitely a bit steep, but I figure some of you just might be interested.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0398058180/theasylumeclecti

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Tom's Atrocious Autopsy Du Jour!

"Homicide on the south side of Boston. Young (25) black man was found in a yard surrounded by spent bullets and casings after another young black man was taken to Boston Memorial Hospital after a GSW (gunshot wound) and the area was being searched routinely. He was found to have multiple bullet holes. It was later determined that he was a drug dealer. And had 5 children. 24 bullet holes, 3 bullets were left in him, most were through and through wounds. We started with the internal examination. First we tried to find all the bullet tracks. The majority of the tracks were in the legs and were relatively easy to follow. There were several in the trunk that were only tracked after opening the torso. One bullet entered in the right axilla, passed through the right lung, through the dome of the liver (and the diaphragm), through portions of the heart, through the left lung, and then out into the left shoulder. The bullet went through the 6th rib on the right, out the 2nd rib on the left, and through the left scapula. Another bullet passed through the left abdomen, through the small bowel and omentum, through the liver, the diaphragm, and exited below the 7th rib. A third bullet passed in the right flank just above the kidney, through the liver (leaving a huge path), through the diaphragm, through portions of the heart, and out the manubrium. The heart had lesions through the right atrium, the pulmonary artery, the root of the aorta, and the left atrium. His urinary bladder also had a lesion from a lower bullet. His liver had 3 major tracks through it. We were unable to get to the brain due to time constraints."

Now, that's what a call a "hit"!! It sounds like organ target practice or something...


April 19, 2002

Today's Furious Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In 1880 a 4-year-old child named Louise Dreux vanished from her home near the Tuileries, Paris. The following day neighbours reported to the police the foul black smoke that was issuing from the chimney of a retarded 20-year-old youth named Louis Menesclou, who lived on the top floor of the same house. The police burst in and searched Menesclou; they found the child's forearms in his pockets, and parts of her body half burned in the stove. He admitted luring the child to his room with sweets, where he violated her, then killed her. In his pocket the police found a poem by Menesclou that ended: "In my blind fury, I don't know what I'm doing." He admitted sleeping on the corpse the previous night. He was executed.

Culled from: Crimes and Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 19

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Didn't Alanis write a song about this? You know the one: "I've got one hand in my pocket... " <groan>

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I had a couple of comments on the book "Medicolegal Investigations Of Death" that Phil recommended to us yesterday. Here's one from Julee: "I bought the Medicolegal Investigation of Death textbook a couple years ago. The $95 pricetag seems steep, but the science of forensic pathogy is so cool....and the pictures were to die for (nyuck nyuck). The only drawback was that all the pics are black and white. When it comes to man's inhumanity to man....full color is the only way to go. :-) I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to feed their curiosity with death...and have great nightmares for weeks!"

Tom (of the "Atrocious Autopsy Du Jour" fame) has a comment as well: "The Spitz and Fisher's book is excellent, with some fascinating photos. I used it while I was on forensics. However, the price tag, while in line with all other medical textbooks, is steep. I was thinking of buying myself a copy when I have money for such things."

Here's the link again, for those who are interested. I might pick it up myself one of these days...

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0398058180/theasylumeclecti

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Alf has sent another of those fascinatingly horrid Bangkok newspaper articles - this one regarding a particularly atrocious suicidal fall. Fans of the disturbing can check in at:

http://www.corkscrew-balloon.com/02/04/1bkk/part3.html

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Tom's Atrocious Autopsy Du Jour!

"This was a 54-year-old man whose wife died a year and a half ago from cancer. He was very despondent ever since. In addition, the victim suffered from multiple sclerosis. He apparently got into his van (specially prepared to accomodate his wheelchair) very late last night and hit the side of a silo at a very high rate of speed. There were no skid marks and the front end of the van was apparently compressed to a very small fraction of its original size. Estimates of speed are about 80 mph. He was found only wearing a shirt and underwear, no shoes, no pants.

"This man had multiple fractures. His skull had an "X" shape on the frontal bone, which is unusual as a second fracture generally stops when it meets the first, forming a "Y" shape. He had a transverse fracture of the basal skull. His nasal bones were fractured. Most of his ribs were fractured. Both forearms were fractured, and his left radius/ulna had a Colles' fracture but apparently with the hand plantar flexed. Both bones protruded from a large laceration in the forearm. His left femur was
fractured, and both his tibia/fibula were broken. All 5 of his left metatarsals were fractured.

"There were many lacerations all over his body, including a scalp laceration, a laceration on the bridge of his nose which exposed bone, the limb lacerations previously mentioned, bilateral lacerations beneath the knees indicative of a sharp deceleration when the knees likely hit the dashboard. There was a laceration on the abdomen exposing the underlying fascia and muscle. Multiple abrasions were also present.

"The biggest surprise was when we opened the abdomen. The liver was mostly cancer, with very little normal tissue left. This liver was 4000+g, about 3x normal. The right lung had two large tumors near the hila, one of which was about 13cm (most likely the primary). Both lungs were emphysematous, and the right lung had lacerations. The liver also had lacerations, most likely secondary to increased fragility of the neoplastic tissue. The thoracic aorta was 90% transected with hemorrhage into the mediastinum. The aortic root was also 50% transected, and the pericardium was also lacerated. The heart showed an old MI with a small focus of fibrosis. In addition, a very unusual finding was noted: the anterior papillary muscle of the left ventricle had ruptured secondary to trauma. No ischemic change was noted by the papillary muscle. There were multiple metastatic foci in the peritoneum, some of which were up to 8cm in size. There was no colon neoplasm appreciated, and no prostate neoplasm appreciated. The brain showed the plaques common in MS, but no metastatic disease was noted, nor any trauma."

Unfortunately, that's the last of Tom's excellent autopsies. Bravo, Tom!


April 21-22, 2002

Today's Tasty Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A Phoenix, Arizona man who told police he bit off his 2-year-old son's thumb, and apparently held it in his mouth for about six hours, was arrested for child abuse and aggravated assault on Sunday, April 21, 2002. Police responding to a 911 call Saturday night found Raymond Jones running on a street naked. Jones, 39, told detectives he had taken several hits of the hallucinogen PCP and had swallowed his son's thumb because he wanted to mix their DNA. However, Jones apparently had the thumb in his mouth rather than swallowing it, and coughed it out while he was being interviewed by police. The child was found alone, several blocks away at the entrance of the trailer park where they lived. Doctors were not able to reattach the thumb.

Culled from: The Associated Press
Generously donated by: merna minkoff

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Okay, do we need any more evidence that taking PCP is bad for you... and those around you? I'm reminded of the man who sliced his face off and fed it to his dogs while under the influence of this frightening drug. In fact, why don't we revisit that...

Classic Morbid Fact Du Jour! (January 12, 2001)

In his masterpiece of forensic science, Practical Homicide Investigation, Vernon J. Geberth relates a startling tale of self-mutilation. A young man under the influence of PCP ("angel dust") peeled his face from his skull with pieces of a mirror and fed the flesh to his pet dogs. He survived due to the large amount of drugs anesthetizing his system. The dogs were removed by police to the animal shelter and Geberth directed veterinarians at the shelter to pump the dogs' stomachs. This procedure resulted in the recovery of pieces of the man's face, lips, and nose.

If you've a strong stomach, here's the image of the man's face:
http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/morbid/archives/facepeel.jpg

Culled from: Practical Homicide Investigation
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0849381568/theasylumeclecti/

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Yesterday's Pharmaceutical Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In times of plague in ancient Greece, lunatics - forced to live on the outskirts of town - would be stoned to death as part of ritual purification for the city, called "pharmakos." (Hence our modern words pharmacy, pharmaceutical, etc.)

Culled from: An Underground Education
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385483767/theasylumeclecti

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Talk about coming full-circle: now we mentally ill people go to the pharmacy to be ritually purified!

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I've had an outpouring of sadness regarding my announcement that there will be no more "Tom's Atrocious Autopsy Du Jour" features. I guess I should have explained that Tom was a medical student who only attended a limited number of autopsies, so that's why they can't continue indefinitely. If he stumbles upon any good stories from his friends, he'll be sure to send them our way, however. And he was gracious enough to share the following story he heard from a colleague:

"A family of 5 (father, mother, son, and two daughters) was found in their minivan in a river on Saturday morning around 5AM. They were last seen about 5 hours prior. They were initally taken to a local hospital south of here, but that hospital didn't have the facilities to treat them, so the father and son were taken to one hospital and the mother and daughter were brought to another. They couldn't be pronounced dead, because they were extremely hypothermic (low temperature -- you can't really be
sure they're dead until they're at least room temperature), so all four of them were put onto cardiopulmonary bypass (the same kind of CPB used during open-heart surgery) and warmed up. None of them survived, although the son apparently lasted the longest. The speculation is, did the father commit suicide and take his family with him, or was it really an accident?"

I vote for suicide. It's much more interesting that way!


April 23, 2002

Today's Amusing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The last words of poisoner William Palmer (1824-56), when mounting the gallows, were, "Are you sure it's safe?"

Culled from: Weird Wills & Eccentric Last Wishes

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Ha ha... that one cracks me up. It's like that George Carlin comment about, "why do they sterilize needles used for lethal injection?" Why, indeed...

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ColdLazarus has a movie recommendation for us: Donnie Darko. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm definitely going to try to pick it up the next time I'm renting:

"I picked up another gem of an indie flick recently released called DONNIE DARKO over a week ago now and have watched it several times since. It's a wonderfully dark ride thru the mind of a 16 year old schizophrenic boy who speaks with a 6 foot tall bunny rabbit named Frank.... Yep, a 6 foot bunny rabbit named Frank. The film is an instant cult classic. During an hallucinogenic episode, Donnie is lured out of his bedroom and into the local golf course by Frank. While he is out of the house a jet engine crashes thru his bedroom. I'll say no more. This movie is beautiful. It is creepy, dark, funny, satirical, happy, sad, hopeful etc etc all in one movie. It defies categorization - it's all of the above with splashes of fantasy and science fiction. The film score by Michael Andrews is incredible and the music picks are just right ("Mad World" by Tears for Fears factors quite a bit into the premise of the movie). This is a first time feature by 26 yr old Director hopeful Richard Kelly."

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005V3Z4/theasylumeclecti

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Finally, here's a truly disturbing website that's been making the rounds. Visit at your own risk ... especially for those among us possessing the 'Y' chromosome. This website may cause nightmares.

http://emasculation.net.kg/


April 25, 2002

Today's Loving Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Ariès, in his "The Hour of Our Death," retells a story first attributed to the surgeon Antoine Louis in 1740. A monk was asked to keep vigil over the recently dead body of a beautiful young girl. Indeed, so lovely was she that the monk quite forgot his vows of chastity. 'The monk made love to the corpse.' Only she was not a corpse. The dead girl revived after the monk's departure and gave birth to a baby nine months later.

Culled from: Death: A History of Man's Obsessions and Fears

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I scarcely even know what to say with this one...

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New Garretdom Additions (all stolen from Alf's website):

Assaulted In His Pulpit
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/crime/pulpit.htm

The Elmira Murderer Hanged
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/death/homicide/elmira.htm

The Impending Massacre
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/racism/impending.htm

Missed His Brother But Killed His Father
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/death/homicide/missed.htm

Threatened Lynching
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/crime/lynching.htm

Two Women Badly Cut
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/death/homicide/badlycut.htm

A Terrific Fight With Knives
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/death/homicide/terrific.htm

A Fatal Piece Of Sport
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/death/accident/sport.htm

Two Boys Shot For Stealing Fruit
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/death/homicide/fruit.htm

Shot In A Drunken Row
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/death/homicide/drunken.htm

A Boy's Hand Blown To Pieces
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/death/accident/blown.htm

Was Thrown Overboard
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/death/accident/overboard.htm

A Bridal Party Badly Mangled
http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/garretdom/death/accident/bridal.htm


April 26, 2002

Today's Suffocating Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The young man was intoxicated but on his feet when he left a Moscow billiards hall early on January 9, 2002. But he later awoke to find himself tumbling inside a moving garbage truck, dodging massive blades slowly grinding collected refuse into pulp. For 23 minutes, according to a transcript of a series of calls made on his cell phone to Moscow's 911 rescue service operators, 25-year-old Taras Shugayev pleaded and cried, saying he was being squeezed and begging for help. But the operators only advised him to alert the driver by banging from inside the truck, and no discernible action was taken by Moscow's various police forces--which, according to one rescue service spokesman, dismissed the report as a prank. "Are you in a joking mood to be calling us like this at 6 o'clock in the morning?" a police dispatcher reportedly said. By his fourth call, during which the rescue service appeared focused mainly on trying to learn who might have put him into the truck, Shugayev was desperate. "This is it, I think, I am suffocating. This is it," were the last words recorded. Police didn't respond until more than 24 hours later, when the man was reported missing by his family. They retrieved his phone records and--with the help of the rescue service recordings--pieced together what might have happened. Now, in a grisly denouement to the drama, they are sifting through a suburban dump, looking for possible remains. "This horrendous story demonstrates once again that life is stranger than fiction, especially in Russia," said police expert and crime-fiction writer Marina Alexeyeva, who uses the pen name Alexandra Marinina. "Only in Russia could they hire complete lunatics and plain idiots to work in such a critically responsible agency as the rescue service, just because they pay their operators peanuts. The man is dying. He is calling the only people who can and should save him, and in return he is bombarded with the most stupid and immediately irrelevant questions -- like who put him there and how can they get in touch with them."

Culled from: The Los Angeles Times
Generously donated by: Traci Oppelt

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Do you ever find yourself pondering what manner of death will befall you? I do quite frequently. My usual thought is that it will be something entirely common - like a car crash, heart attack, cancer, stroke, drowning, or alcoholic asphyxiation. Sometimes I imagine a more dramatic fate - like death in a plane crash, police shooting, terrorist attack, serial killing, or bizarre gardening accident. But I must confess that not once in my life have I ever pondered what it would be like to be killed in a garbage truck. Now, thanks to this article, my morbid perspective has been significantly broadened. And how could I not pass this gift on to you as well? You can thank me later... :-)

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I updated the "Morbid Read Of The (Semi) Month" with a review of a book I just finished reading entitled "Prisoners". It's really quite fascinating, if you're into old photographs and crime stories, and you can read all about it at:

http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/library/morbread.htm

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"My Brush With Morbidity" by Robert

"I used to work at a medical waste incinerator... which was morbid enough with a lot of daily routine stuff. If a hospital threw it away, we burned it. Anything from sheets and files to body parts and 'sharps'. It was typical for some things to go thru and not burn. We took turns sifting thru the ash to reburn 'raw material'. Most of the time it was either gall bladders or feet that didn't burn, but once I was sifting and a baby slid down the ash chute. We stopped everything and called in a coroner. They traced the shipment to a hospital and found out that it was a 'partial birth abortion'. Most things didn't bother me... but the sight of the baby coming at me will stick in my mind forever."

I thought this one fit in quite nicely with the morbid theme of the day...


April 27, 2002

You've heard of Mrs. O'Leary's Cow? Well, allow me to introduce you to the Cursed Kimono in...

Today's Inflammable Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Thousands of highly inflammable wooden structures and a year of drought in 1657 created ideal conditions for a massive fire in Tokyo, capital of Japan's ruling shoguns. Legend has it that the fire started when a priest attempted to burn a kimono cursed with bad luck. Whatever its cause, the small fire that began in February was whipped into a massive wall of flames by gale-force winds. Flames swept from house to house and across Tokyo's narrow streets, raging south and east for two days, while consuming houses, temples, places, and shops. Then a sudden wind shift drove the flames back toward the center of the city and the shogun's castle. Thousands of people perished in the flames, either trapped by the advancing fires or trampled by stampeding crowds. After three days the flames died out, but smoke still darkened the ruined city. Snow began to fall, and homeless survivors then faced cold and famine, which would kill many of them. Overall, some 100,000 people perished in the calamity.

Culled from: The Pessimist's Guide To History
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/006095745X/theasylumeclecti/

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You may be interested in learning that I've uploaded a wee travelogue on The Underground Tour in Seattle to The Morbid Sightseer. It's not really a morbid tour, but it definitely appeals to those of us who like to scamper about underground looking at moldy old things. And, hey, don't we all?

http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/sightseer/us/wa/underground.htm


April 28, 2002

Today's Schizophrenic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Randolph Maddix, a schizophrenic who lived at a private home for the mentally ill in Brooklyn, was often left alone to suffer seizures, his body crumpling to the floor of his squalid room. The home, Seaport Manor, is responsible for 325 starkly ill people, yet many of its workers could barely qualify for fast-food jobs. So it was no surprise that Mr. Maddix, 51, was dead for more than 12 hours before an aide finally checked on him. His back, curled and stiff with rigor mortis, had to be broken to fit him into a body bag.

Culled from: The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/28/nyregion/28HOME.html
Generously donated by: andi m

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The full article (linked above) goes into more detail on the mistreatment of the mentally ill. Pretty sad stuff...

And speaking of the mentally ill, I rented a movie called Session 9 the other day, which I didn't think was a particularly stellar horror flick, but which features excellent footage of the magnificent, sadly abandoned old asylum Danvers State Hospital. It's worth the a look simply for the excellent footage of the hospital, if you're into that sort of thing...

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005UQ9F/theasylumeclecti


April 30, 2002

Today's Horrible Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Rebels fleeing the Ugandan army in southern Sudan forced 60 mourners in a funeral procession to eat the corpse they were carrying before gunning them down. The army has been chasing Ugandan rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from their bases over the border in Sudan in the past month to try and stamp out a 15-year insurgency led by self-proclaimed prophet Joseph Kony. "Kony attacked a funeral procession of about 60 people, forced them to cook the corpse in sorghum and eat it," army spokesman major Shaban Bantariza told Reuters. "They thought that they would survive if they obeyed but the rebels shot and killed all of them after they had eaten the corpse." The attack happened Friday in the Agoro hills near the Sudanese border with Uganda where the rebels have taken refuge from the army's operation "Iron Fist." The massacres happened about a week after Kony ordered a rebel escapee to be tied to a tree and burned to ashes in front of his troops. "You cannot begin to make sense of what Kony does, you will just go mad," Bantariza said. The LRA rebels have been fighting a low-intensity war against government troops in northern Uganda from rear bases in southern Sudan since 1987, aiming to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni to rule a fundamentalist Christian state. As a result of the war about 12,000 children have been abducted and hundreds of thousands of people displaced.

Culled from: Reuters
Generously donated by: Todd Engle

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Now, this guy sounds like an old skool psychopath! He's apparently trying to live up to the impossibly high standards of demented forebears like Ivan The Terrible and Caligula. And, I must say, he's doing a pretty good job so far... It will be "interesting" to see how his "career" progresses from here... In a very horrible way, of course...



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