May, 2002

May 1 , 2002
In the United States, violent crimes against women account for more injuries and deaths than do auto accidents and household accidents combined. Thirty percent of women murdered in this country are killed by their husbands or boyfriends. Four women a day are murdered as a result of domestic disputes. Murder is the second leading cause of death among young women in the United States.
(Crimes of Gender: Violence Against Women by Gary E. McCuen)

May 2, 2002
A landscaper took his own life with a gas-powered chain saw on the top deck of the Esperante Building garage in West Palm Beach, Florida late Monday night (4/29/02). A maintenance employee beginning work found Vidal Meneses, 33, dead in the bed of his pickup truck shortly before 6 a.m. A Stihl chain saw that had cut halfway through his neck from behind was still in his hands, the switch locked open, according to police. Police do not suspect anyone else was involved in Meneses' death. Meneses, of Lake Worth, had a history of arrests that began when he was 17, on charges that included kidnapping, sex offense against a child and battery.
(The Palm Beach Post , donated by Chris Kench)

May 3, 2002
A man allegedly drag racing on a highway at over 100 mph slammed into the back of another car, killing two people - one of them his own mother, who was taking an elderly friend for a drive to look at Christmas lights. When 21-year-old Dwight Samples realized it was his mother's car he hit on the night of December 19, 2001, he asked emergency workers to tend to her first. Diane Samples, 45, and her passenger, 72-year-old Vivian Green, died at the scene. "It's bizarre. His mom was doing an act of kindness taking this lady around to see Christmas lights," said Lt. Chuck Williams, a Florida Highway Patrol spokesman. "You think the probabilities for a phenomenon like this are, wow." Samples was in stable condition after surgery. His head went through the windshield of his Ford Mustang. No immediate charges were filed as authorities continued to investigate the crash. Authorities said there was no indication that Samples was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Police said Samples was driving on a two-lane road when he rear-ended his mother's car. Witnesses said he appeared to be drag racing with another car. He was believed to be going 100 mph to 120 mph. Highway Patrol records show Samples had been stopped for speeding four times in the past four years, including once for driving 85 mph in a 55 mph zone. He had owned his car for less than two weeks. A neighbor at the trailer park where mother and son lived in separate trailers said the two were very close. "This poor kid is probably going through hell right now," Susan Schmidt said. "It was a one-in-a-trillion thing." (
Fox News, donated by Pinklefish)

May 4, 2002
The Roman Emperor Nero claimed that he himself was not responsible for the burning of Rome in AD 64, asserting that Christians and Jews were the culprits, based on information obtained from them by torture. His favourite place of torture was the gardens of his palace. Some victims were sewn into the skins of wolves, and so torn to pieces by savage dogs; others were daubed with pitch and set alight, 'to act as torches in the night'. The free woman Epicharis, who was accused of conspiracy against the emperor, held out for a whole day of toruture while refusing to name her accomplices, before hanging herself with her bodice. (
The History Of Torture)

May 6, 2002
In the early part of the 18th century it was not unusual in Eastern Europe to dig up the bodies of the dead to check if they had become vampires. In 1725 Peter Plogojowitz died in Kisilova, in Serbia. Within a week nine others went to their graves, each claiming on their death-beds to have been visited by Plogojowitz. Hysteria soon resulted in a clamour to open his coffin. This accomplished, the tell-tale signs of a vampire were not hard to find: the hair, beard and nails had continued to grow since burial; the skin had peeled away and a fresh layer had grown to replace it; his erection testified to his post-mortem sexual desires; the body showed no signs of decomposition; and, as final proof to persuade the sceptics, there was fresh blood trickling from the corner of the mouth, sucked from his victims in his nocturnal feasting. Plogojowitz was staked through the heart and burned, and his ashes were scattered. These so-called signs of a vampire are natural post-mortem phenomena: growth of hair and nails; the peeling off of the upper layer of skin to expose a 'new' skin underneath. The pressure of gases formed as a consequence of putrefaction would explain the erection, the oozing of blood from the mouth, and the bloated, well-fed appearance of the corpse. (Death: A History Of Man's Obsessions and Fears)

May 7, 2002
Carol Bundy took romantic devotion to hideous lengths. In the early 1980s, Bundy was the live-in lover of Douglas Clark, a psychopathic killer of prostitutes and necrophiliac dubbed the "Sunset Strip Slayer". Among his various pleasures, Clark liked to lure young women into his car, shoot them in the temple while they were fellating him, then carry their decapitated heads home for further fun and games. On at least one occasion, Bundy helped out by playing beautician -- applying lipstick and makeup to one of the heads and giving it a pretty hairdo. As soon as she was done, her boyfriend took the head into the bathroom and used it for oral sex. "We had a lot of fun with her," Bundy later confessed. "I made her up like a Barbie." (
The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers)

May 8, 2002
In 1738, a hangman was so drunk that he put the nooses not only on the two housebreakers who were to die but tried to fit a third around the neck of the parson who was praying with them. In his befuddled state he thought that he had been given a third victim that he had not been told about, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that the jailer stopped him from turning the parson off. (Crimes and Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 9)

May 10, 2002
A big-mouthed, bully foreman who lorded over a construction site was found dead on April 23, 2002 with a pickax buried in his skull. Officials tentatively identified the victim as a 45-year-old man from Ridgefield, N.J., who was supervising the renovation of a building at 102 Fulton St. in lower Manhattan. His body was discovered just after 7 a.m., buried beneath sandbags and metal as if someone was trying to hide him. When the body was finally removed mid-afternoon, the ax was still stuck in the skull. People who had business on the bustling street said they often heard the man's booming voice, swearing at his men at the top of his lungs. "You could hear him from Gold Street [a block away]," noted a salesman, who said he walked the block every day to catch the subway. "He yelled and screamed and used all sorts of profane language. He had a big mouth. I guess he won't be screaming anymore." The only tears flowing for him yesterday at the site were of the crocodile variety. "I miss him, I'm gonna cry," said one burly construction worker, while flashing a huge smile. (
The New York Post, donated by Tetsubo)

May 12, 2002
Back in 1985, Karen Greenlee was working in a California mortuary when she fell in love -- with a dead guy. She was driving the body of the young gentleman to the cemetery for burial, when she took a detour -- and had a two-day love fest with her passenger. Police found her in the next county, overdosed on Tylenol 3, but fine. In the casket Karen left a four-page note confessing to between 20 and 40 affairs with dead men. Since no laws against necrophilia exist in California, she was charged only with stealing a body and a hearse. She got 11 days in jail and a $225 fine. The mother of the runaway boyfriend was awarded $117,000 when she sued for emotional distress. (Bizarre Magazine)

May 13, 2002
Throughout the eighteenth century and almost to the middle of the nineteenth century a woman's pregnancy usually meant that her execution was postponed. Even then a postponement was not guaranteed. It was normal for the court to invite 12 women to examine her and if they could not detect any sign of the baby moving the woman was hanged straight away -- because, it was said, the baby was not yet truly alive. (Crimes and Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 14)

May 14, 2002
In 1911, a policeman in Clerkenwell noticed a finger stuck on a spike on top of a gate to a warehouse yard. A man had obviously been climbing over the gate when he had slipped and fallen backwards into the yard. A ring on his finger caught on a spike, and its top drove into the finger, so the man was left hanging, until his struggles tore the finger off his hand. The finger was taken to Scotland Yard and identified through the recently developed science of fingerprinting as belonging to a thief who was proved to be missing from his haunts. A few weeks later, a policeman who arrested a suspected pickpocket observed the bandage on his right hand. The man's finger proved to be missing and the constable recalled the story of the finger from Clerkenwell. The man was accused of attempted robbery, and convicted on the purely circumstantial but very damning evidence. He received a year in prison.
( The Mammoth Book Of The History Of Murder)

May 15, 2002
Dr. Henry Cotton (1886-1933), acting on his theory that a physical "focal" infection caused mental illness, surgically removed potentially "infected" body parts. Dr. Cotton -- riding the wave of his successful 1921 lecture series at Princeton University -- claimed an 87% cure rate and was hailed by media and scientist alike as a pioneer on the verge of a major breakthrough. Dr. Cotton ordered 11,000 teeth removed from 1919-1921 from his patients at Trenton State Hospital in New Jersey. When the patient wasn't cured by the dental work, the doctor surgically removed parts of the stomach, bowels, or genitals. Four of five female mental patients needed their cervix "enucleated," i.e., scooped out whole. "It was awful to work there," recalled one hospital employee. "There was a young girl who worked in the office right by the door where they had to roll the baskets past that carried the bodies and organs and stuff ... one day she ran out screaming she couldn't take it any longer." Almost all the patients walking the halls were toothless, since the state budget didn't include any dentures. After mounting criticism, an investigation revealed a success rate closer to 20% and a mortality rate of 43% among those treated. The doctor perservered, cutting and lecturing around the world, until his death in 1933. (
An Underground Education)

May 18, 2002
In 1664 London was a bustling city of some 500,000 citizens. But by September of 1665, one could walk down deserted streets at midday and see house after house boarded up, marked by red crosses and the prayer "Lord have Mercy on us." Such was the devastation of the plague. By royal order, houses suspected of being infected by the plague were locked and the occupants were virtually held prisoner within. Some of these unfortunate souls resorted to desperate measures to escape, and the watchman posted outside the door of a locked house was sometimes attacked with a swrod or pistol. At night once could hear the sound of a handbell, and a man shouting, "Bring out your dead," as the "dead carts" roamed the city, gathering corpses. The bodies were dumped into huge pits outside the city, and one contained over 1100 bodies before it was covered over. By the time the plague abated the following winter, about 100,000 people had died. The good news is that, although this was the worst plague, it was also the last. (
The Pessimist's Guide To History)

May 19, 2002
A New Zealand hospital at the centre of a baby hearts scandal discovered a forgotten collection of body parts and amputated limbs in March, 2002. The body parts and slices of tissue were found in a locked room in a disused laboratory at Green Lane Hospital in Auckland. Health officials had ordered a search of hospital buildings following publicity over a collection of baby hearts taken without parental consent. Auckland District Health Board did not think the hospital had any other body part collections. Spokeswoman Brenda Saunders says the forgotten collection of 310 surgical specimens included whole organs and samples of tissue. She said: "It is likely they were all taken during surgery, and very likely with consent. But we have to check. We know who they belong to." Ms Saunders says a number of amputated limbs were also found. She says people had asked for them to be kept and had never collected them. (
Ananova, donated by kelly beth harbert)

May 21, 2002
William Wycherley, author of The Country Wife and other plays, lived from 1640 to 1715. At 75, he married a young woman, but died only eleven days after his wedding. His last words to his wife were, "Promise me you will never again marry an old man." (
Weird Wills & Eccentric Last Wishes)

May 22, 2002
The first step in the Egyptian mummification process was the removal of the brain. Herodotus tells us how this was done: 'They [the embalmers] drew out the brain through the nostrils with an iron hook, taking part of it out this way, and the rest by pouring in drugs.' Archaeological examination of a mummy's skull usually reveals a hole in the delicate bones which form the base of the nose, through which the brain substance was scooped out. It is believed the hook, after breaking through into the cranial cavity, was moved in numerous lacerating sweeps in order to liquefy the brain and facilitate its flow down the nostrils in a face-down position. Sometimes the operation was bungled, resulting in gross mutilation of the nose - such a lack of expertise accounts for the noseless face of Tausert, priestess of Amun in the 22nd Dynasty. Another method of removal of the brain was to decapitate the body and spoon out the tissue through the natural hold in the base of the skull through which the spinal cord exits. The brain was never preserved, even in its liquid state, since the Egyptians considered it an unimportant organ - the heart, not the brain, was considered the seat of the soul. (Death: A History of Man's Obsessions and Fears)

May 23, 2002
On August 16, 1943, Mr. and Mrs. Kiger and their two children - sixteen-year-old Jo Ann and six-year-old Jerry -- went to bed early. Soon after midnight Jo Ann, who had a history of sleep-walking, had a vivid nightmare: a huge madman with wild eyes was easing his way into the house. She saw him creeping up the stairs and she was convinced he was going to murder the rest of the family. It was up to her to save them. She took two loaded revolvers belonging to her father and first went to the "rescue" of her little brother; one bullet went into his head, two more went into his body. He never woke. But the "nightmare madman" was still in the house. Jo Ann chased him into her parents' bedroom and blazed away with both guns. Her father died almost immediately. Her mother was shot in the hip. Suddenly Jo Ann woke up -- still holding the guns and with the nightmare still lingering in her mind. She stared in horror at the body of her father and said: "There's a crazy man here who's going to kill all of us." She was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder but, because of the sleepwalking defense, was acquitted.
(Crimes and Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 23)

May 24, 2002
A Nigerian man has been arrested after he killed a woman and ate her stewed intestines in a bid to cure an abnormally persistent erection. A spokesperson for Osun state police said 50-year-old Folorunso Olukotun had led officers to his victim's disembowelled body in the bush near his home village in south-west Nigeria. "According to the man's story, his private organ always has an erection and it doesn't go down," Oluwole Ayodeji said. "Someone advised him to kill a woman and eat her intestines." Olukotun ambushed his victim, a woman in her forties unknown to her attacker, on a path near her village. He attacked her with a machete, killed her, and took her intestines home, Ayodeji said. "He cooked them like a sort of stew and ate them with pounded yam," he said. "When the police arrived he was very open, we have his whole confession on tape and he has been remanded in custody." The spokesperson said that police believe that someone had jokingly suggested cannibalism as a cure for Olukotun's problem, in the belief that he would never carry out such a killing. "He seems to have believed them," he said. Police could not say whether the erection has now subsided. (Independent Online, donated by Bruce Townley)

May 25, 2002
Two men accused of eating human body parts, washed down with a bottle of wine, were freed by a Cambodian provincial court Saturday, May 4, 2002 because there was no law against cannibalism. The two men, both crematorium workers, were arrested last week for eating fingers and toes of a body they were cremating. "I ordered the military police to release them late Friday because there is no law to charge them with," Nhou Thol, a public prosecutor, said. Military police chief Rath Sreang said police in Banteay Meanchey province, 140 miles northwest of Phnom Penh, were alerted to the case by villagers, who said the men often ate human parts after relatives of deceased had left the crematorium. "The villagers told us they were afraid that when there is nobody to be cremated, the two men will kill their children to eat," Rath Sreang said. Eating human parts was common during the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge "killing fields" rule, when an estimated 1.7 million people died from torture, overwork, disease, execution and widespread famine.
( Reuters and was generously donated by Clare L. Martin)

May 26, 2002
In February 1821, the Nantucket whaleship Dauphin was sailing up the Chilean coast when it pulled up alongside a derelict whaleboat. Two men crouched on its deck, their beards caked with blood, each sucking marrow from the bones of their dead shipmates. After their rescue, the two survivors recounted the story of the most famous maritime disaster of the 19th century, a horrific tale of murder and cannibalism. The rescued men were from the whaleship Essex, which had sailed from Nantucket in August 1820 with plans to round Cape Horn and hunt sperm whales near the South American coast. On November 20, Captain George Pollard and most of the crew were out hunting in small boats west of the Galapagos Islands when an 85-foot-long sperm whale repeatedly rammed the Essex on the port side, destroying the ship. All aboard swore that the attack was malicious. After retrieving the navigational equipment from the wreck, the men split into the three 25-foot whaleboats, and determined a course. Bad weather blew the men far off course. Their meager food and water supply soon ran out, and men began to weaken and die. Before long, the desperate sailors resorted to consuming their dead crewmates. Later, straws were drawn to see who would be shot to feed the others. In one of the boats, Captain Pollard took part in shooting and eating his own cousin, first promising to deliver a message to the dead boy's mother. By the time they were rescued off the coast of Chile, the eight survivors of the 21-man crew had sailed nearly 4,500 nautical miles across the Pacific. The first mate of the Essex published an account of the journey, which eventually fell into the hands of a young New Bedford sailor named Herman Melville. Chase's harrowing narrative inspired Melville to write Moby Dick, the epic tale of a murderous sperm whale and a vengeful sea captain gone mad.
(Zooba.Com and was generously donated by Lynne Rutledge)

May 28, 2002
When infamous serial killer Edmund Kemper was interviewed by a magazine he was asked, "What do you think when you see a pretty girl walking down the street?" His reply? "One side of me says, 'I'd like to talk to her, date her.' The other side of me says, 'I wonder how her head would look on a stick?'"
(The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers)

May 30, 2002
A San Jose man who hadn't used his hot tub in months made a grisly discovery Thursday (5/23/02) when he pulled off the cover and found the decomposing body of a woman floating face down. Fingerprints confirmed the dead woman was Blythe Alana Verstrepen, 21, of Morgan Hill, who had been missing since March 22 when she fled on foot after a California Highway Patrol officer stopped her nearby driving a stolen car. Police theorize she may have hidden in the hot tub and become trapped. "We find no evidence of trauma and it appears that she did drown," Dr. Gregory Schmunk, Santa Clara County's chief medical examiner-coroner, said. Schmunk hopes pending toxicology tests will show if drugs or alcohol contributed to the woman's death. He said the hot tub had a standard two-inch, vinyl and Styrofoam cover, which wouldn't appear to be a death trap. "Those things are heavy, but if you get to the edge of them you should be able to push it up," he said. A homeowner in the 500 block of Hobie Lane discovered the body around 8:30 p.m. Thursday after a contractor he hired to work on the hot tub reported something was wrong with it. "The contractor had just lifted up the lid partially and saw the water was murky and there appeared to be a lot of debris," Dixon said. "He left the homeowner a note saying, 'You need to check your water.' Even the homeowner at first didn't see the body. Then he looked further and said, 'Oh my god!'" (SF Gate, donated by Timothy Davis)



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