In 1929, when the tyrant Bacha Sachao, having deposed King Amanullah, ruled the mountainous country of Afghanistan with savage cruelty and torture, he dispatched his rivals in many different ways. One method was to tie them over a cannon's muzzle and fire the gun, but a more agonising death he reserved for Ali Ahmed Jan, Amir of Jalalabad, for he crucified his enemy to the ground, and then drove a long nail through his ear and into his brain. ( The Book Of Execution)
On April 9, 1965, actress Linda Darnell was visiting her friend Jeanne in Glenview, Illinois. Darnell, her 16-year-old daughter Patricia, and Jeanne stayed up until 2:30 a.m. watching one of Darnell's old pictures, Star Dust (1940). At about 3:30 a.m. a still-smoldering cigarette ignited on the downstairs sofa, and soon the living room was ablaze. The smoke and heat awoke the three women upstairs. Jeanne and Patricia managed to escape. But Linda, afraid of jumping from a window, tried to make it down the stairs and out the front door. She was caught in the inferno in the living room. A neighbor tried to smash through a downstairs window to rescue the screaming woman, but the flames were too intense. When the volunteer fire brigade broke in, they found Darnell unconscious behind the sofa. She had second and third-degree burns over 80 percent of her upper body. Darnell was taken to Skokie Valley Community Hospital where she underwent four hours of surgery. Her prognosis was grim. A tracheotomy was performed to help her breathe. Darnell's daughter flew in from California to be at her dying mother's side. Linda was barely conscious during their half hour together. However, in her distorted voice (from the tracheotomy), she kept insisting, "Who says I'm going to die? I'm not going to!" She then whispered, "I love you, baby. I love you." At 3:25 p.m., Darnell mercifully died. (The Hollywood Book Of Death)
Freezing/hypothermia experiments were conducted on concentration camp inmates for the Nazi high command. The experiments were conducted on men to simulate the conditions the armies suffered on the Eastern Front. The German forces were ill prepared for the bitter cold and thousands of German soldiers died of freezing or were debilitated by cold injuries. The freezing experiments were divided into two parts. First, to establish how long it would take to lower the body temperature to death and second how to best resuscitate the frozen victim. The two main methods used to freeze the victim were to put the person in a icy vat of water or to put the victim outside naked in sub-zero temperatures. The icy vat method proved to be the fastest way to drop the body temperature. The selections were made of young healthly Jews or Russians. They were usually stripped naked and prepared for the experiment. A insulated probe which measured the drop in the body temperature was inserted into the rectum. The probe was held in place by a expandable metal ring which was adjusted to open inside the rectum to hold the probe firmly in place. The victim was then placed in the vat of cold water and started to freeze. It was learned that most victims lost consciousness and died when the body temperature dropped to 25 C. The second way to freeze a victim was to strap them to a stretcher and place them outside naked. The extreme winters of Auschwitz made a natural place for this experiment. (Medical Experiments of the Holocaust and Nazi Medicine, donated by Ryan Stotesbury)
Fall River, Massachusetts, July 4, 1906:
In the presence of several thousand people, many of whom were unaware of the tragic turn of events until sometime later, Eduardina Menard, a 14 year old girl residing at 138 Columbia Street, was almost instantly killed last evening on the South Park by being struck by an unexploded bomb which fell from a great height in the air. An elaborate display of fireworks was being given during the progress of which this bomb was sent aloft with a whizz. It was supposed to ascend a couple of hundred feet or more and explode harmlessly over the heads of the crowd. For some reasons unknown, it failed to work, and as the first of its flame died away all eyes were turned to the next display. Descending with terrific force, the bomb struck the little girl in the forehead. So sudden was the accident that many of the people in the immediate vicinity did not know what had happened. As soon as possible a telephone message was sent for a doctor and Dr. David Fuller of Bradford Avenue was the first to respond. Patrolman Leather and others carried the girl out of the thickest of the crowd. Upon the arrival of the doctor he pronounced her dead from a fractured skull. Death followed the accident in about five minutes. Medical Examiner Gunnning was called and after viewing the remains ordered them turned over to Undertaker Lariviere. (Fall River Vistas, donated by Katchaya)
E. coli 0157:H7 is a mutated version of a bacterium found abundantly in the human digestive system. Most E. coli bacteria help us digest food, but E. coli 0157:H7 can release a powerful toxin that attacks the lining of the intestine. Humans can become sickened by this harmful version of the bacteria after eating meat that has been tainted by infected fecal matter in slaughterhouses. Children under the age of five, the elderly, and people with impaired immune systems are the most likely to suffer from illnesses caused by E. coli 0157:H7. The pathogen is now the leading cause of kidney failure among children in the United States. One particularly severe example of the illness occurred to six-year-old Alex Donley who was infected with the bug in July of 1993 after eating a tainted hamburger. His illness began with abdominal cramps that seemed as severe as labor pains. It progressed to diarrhea that filled a hospital toilet with blood. Doctors frantically tried to save Alex's life, drilling holes in his skull to relieve pressure, inserting tubes in his chest to keep him breathing, as the toxins destroyed internal organs. "I would have done anything to save my son's life," his mother Nancy Donley said. "I would have run in front of a bus to save Alex." Instead, she stood and watched helplessly as he called out for her, terrified and in pain. He became ill on a Tuesday night, the night after his mother's birthday, and was dead by Sunday afternoon. Toward the end, Alex suffered hallucinations and dementia, no longer recognizing his parents. Portions of his brain had been liquefied. "The sheer brutality of his death was horrifying," Donley said. (Fast Food Nation)
When Ronald Shanabarger's father was dying, his girlfriend seemed unsympathetic, and didn't want to visit. When his father died, she was on a cruise with her parents and didn't return for the funeral. So Shanabarger decided he'd marry her, have a child with her, give her a few months to become sufficiently attached to the baby, and then murder it -- so she'd understand what it was like to lose somebody she loved. In June of 1999, he smothered 7-month-old Tyler Shanabarger to death. It was originally assumed that the infant had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, until Ronald eventually confessed and revealed his revenge plot. In June, 2002 he was sentenced to 49 years in prison. (About.Com, donated by Kimberly)
Near the very end of World War II in Europe, the British sink the Cap Arcona and the Thielbek, both flying white flags, ending the lives of nearly 7000 concentration camp survivors. In the process of abandoning his ship, the German captain of the Arcona used a machete to hack his way through the masses of prisoners. The incident is the largest single loss of life in the history of sea travel. (Daily Rotten, donated by Nicole)
Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress. In a rare criticism of the kingdom's powerful "mutaween" police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday, March 11, 2002. About 800 pupils were inside the school in the holy city of Mecca when the tragedy occurred. 15 girls died in the blaze and more than 50 others were injured. Firemen confronted police after they tried to keep the girls inside because they were not wearing the headscarves and abayas (black robes) required by the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islam. One witness said he saw three policemen "beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya". The Saudi Gazette quoted witnesses as saying that the police - known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - had stopped men who tried to help the girls and warned "it is a sinful to approach them". The father of one of the dead girls said that the school watchman even refused to open the gates to let the girls out. "Lives could have been saved had they not been stopped by members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," the newspaper concluded. Families of the victims have been incensed over the deaths. Most of the victims were crushed in a stampede as they tried to flee the blaze. The school was locked at the time of the fire - a usual practice to ensure full segregation of the sexes. The religious police are widely feared in Saudi Arabia. They roam the streets enforcing dress codes and sex segregation, and ensuring prayers are performed on time. Those who refuse to obey their orders are often beaten and sometimes put in jail. (The BBC, donated by Stephen O'Rourke)
A teenager has come off second best (dead, in fact) after taking part in a salt-eating contest in India's eastern state of West Bengal. Jiten Bhunia, 19, became ill after consuming a huge quantity of salt in the competition, which was held in Tamluk, 200km south of Calcutta. He was admitted to hospital where he died, a police spokesperson, Sibdas Mukherjee, said. The competition, which attracted hundreds of villagers, was abandoned after Bhunia fell sick, he said. "The villagers are reticent to tell us who organised the contest," Mukherjee said. (World Online, donated by Bruce Townley)
Nazi doctors performed freezing experiments on concentration camp inmates in order to simulate the conditions that German armies suffered on the Easter front. (see MFDJ for July 3, 2002 for more details) The second stage of the experiment was to attempt to revive the frozen victims. The following are some of the demented experiments the Nazis conducted:
Sun Lamp: The victims were placed under sun lamps which were so hot they would burn the skin. One young homosexual victim was repeatedly cooled to unconsciousness then revived with lamps until he was pouring sweat. He died one evening after several test sessions.
Internal Irrigation: The frozen victim would have water heated to a near blistering temperature forcefully irrigated into the stomach, bladder, and intestines. All victims appeared to have died from the treatment.
Hot Bath: The victim was placed in warm water and the temperature was slowly increased. This method proved to be the best. Many victims died do to shock if they were warmed up too quickly.
Warming by Body Heat: Heinrich Himmler sugested to Dr. Rascher that he try to use women to warm the frozen men. He suggested that the victim and a women copulate. This perverted experiment occurred with some success. However it was not as successful as the Warm Bath. (Medical Experiments Of The Holocaust and Nazi Medicine, generously donated by Ryan)
A Bastrop County (Texas) woman has been charged with killing her mother by sitting on her. Linda Akin, 28, is accused of sitting on Catherine Akin's back and smothering her into the floor. Linda Akin weighs nearly 350 pounds and has a history of psychological problems. The incident happened July 8, apparently during an argument in the Akins' house in Cedar Creek. Linda Akin called 911 twice that day about 1 p.m. "She said something to the effect that she was with the CIA and had got the person who kidnapped her," Bastrop County sheriff's Chief Deputy Ronnie Duncan said. When deputies arrived, the woman showed them the body of her 48-year-old mother on the back porch. She told deputies that her mother had been holding her hostage. Linda Akin has been a mental health patient in the past, he said, but the sheriff's department had never been called to the house for a disturbance. "Apparently, she had been hallucinating and for some reason thought her mother was trying to hurt her," Duncan said. "It's kind of an unusual situation when a family member kills another," Duncan said. (The Austin American Statesman)
A German man lived in an apartment with his dead father for at least a year to avoid eviction. "The father was skeletal, just skin and bones, completely dried up," said Petra Volk, spokeswoman for Wiesbaden police. Firemen found the decomposed body sitting on the couch after neighbors reported a smell of burning. The unemployed son, 42, had not notified authorities of the death because he feared he would be kicked out of the apartment, which was rented in his father's name. "The son appears to be alcoholic although he was quite lucid when we interviewed him," Volk said. "The flat was in a mess, with rubbish and empty bottles everywhere... It's incredible to think of them together like that." Police believe the father died of natural causes. Germany has seen several cases in recent years in which the bodies of people who had died alone in their homes lay undiscovered for weeks, months or even years. "We haven't arrested the son because we have no indication yet that a crime was committed," said Volk. "You get some strange people." (Reuters, donated by Ladyfreud)
In June, 1918, at 4 a.m., the crew of a train carrying the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus stopped near Ivanhoe, Indiana, to fix a hotbox. The engineer pulled most of the train on a siding, but the last five cars, including four sleepers, were still sitting on the main line. Miles away, an empty troop train blew through stop signals, its driver asleep at the wheel from a dose of kidney pills. In the old wooden sleepers, the circus workers and performers slept in their cramped berths, kerosene lanterns burning dimly above the aisles. The crew of the circus train heard a distant churffing and turned from their work to see the headlamp of the troop train bearing down on them. The driver had finally woken up, but it was too late for the brakes. The engine tore through the sleepers, driving them together, pitching them in a heap. The injured were trapped in the splintered wreckage, and as rescuers clambered in to help them, the pile of cards caught fire. The Gary and Hammond fire departments came as fast as they could, but the only water available at the scene was from a shallow marsh. Realizing the fire would not be put out, people climbed into the wreckage to pull out friends and loved ones. Some did; others died trying. The Ivanhoe fire killed more than 85 circus folks. In the end, 56 of the victims were buried in a large plot in Chicago's Woodlawn Cemetery, more than forty of them unidentified. A stone elephant marks the plot, its trunk drooping, indicating sorrow. (The Circus Fire)
A British teenager described as being obsessed with vampires is accused of butchering a 90-year-old woman, cutting out her heart and drinking her blood. Prosecutors told a court in Mold, north Wales, the 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, stabbed Mabel Leyshon at her home before ripping out her heart and wrapping it in newspaper. "This was a murder carried out to satisfy the defendant's own sadistic selfish ends," prosecution lawyer Roger Thomas said. "What may have started out as a bizarre interest became an obsession and led ultimately to murder." The deaf pensioner was attacked as she sat watching television and ferociously stabbed 22 times. Her dead body, found in November, 2001, was then perched on an armchair where the killer made deep gashes in her legs and drank her blood after draining it into a saucepan. Fire pokers were found at her feet in the shape of a cross. Thomas told the court the accused was fascinated by vampires and devoted himself to studying books and magazines on how to become one. In a separate case which attracted widespread attention in Britain, a German couple were sentenced to lengthy jail sentences in January after they killed a friend by stabbing him 66 times in a Satanic ritual. One of the killers, 23-year-old Manula Ruda, said she had acquired a taste for vampirism during a visit to London, where she attended "bite parties" at which people voluntarily had blood sucked from their veins. (Reuters, donated by Ladyfreud)
A crazed attacker who bit off a man's eyebrow in an unprovoked, late night attack outside a kebab van almost certainly ate it. Officers were horrified by the savagery of the attack on the man in is 30s in Trowbridge, England on Sunday night. "In all my years I have not come across somebody with such a facial injury," said Detective Constable Paul Clifford of Wiltshire Police. "It was a completely and absolutely unprovoked attack. The attacker was clearly spoiling for a fight. The man had tried to walk away and this man had clamped his jaw onto his face and he couldn't get him off. He then bit his left eyebrow completely off. We firmly believe that he then consumed the bit he had bitten off because we carried out a very extensive search of the area and couldn't find anything. He has either held the part in his mouth and spat it out later or consumed it - which is pretty gruesome." The victim needed hospital treatment after the attack and is expected to need plastic surgery. The victim's friend also was attacked when he tried to help him. (Sydney Morning Herald, donated by lvassarotti)
A candy factory worker died after being submerged in a 1,200-gallon (4,542 liters) vat of liquefied chocolate. Yoni Cordon, 19, of Philadelphia, was discovered in the vat by co-workers at the Kargher Corp. in Hatfield, PA on Tuesday. Police said they believe Cordon had been working on a platform near the opening of the vat, which is used for mixing and melting chocolate. Nobody saw Cordon fall and it was unknown how long he was submerged before he was found. Foul play was not suspected and the death was being investigated as an accident. (Associated Press, MaidenFate)
A mentally ill man who was jailed after wandering into traffic and knocking on doors late at night gouged his eyes out in his cell. Jailers discovered 49-year-old Alvin Kent Smith in his cell with his eyes plucked out April 4, 2002. Doctors saved one eye, but it is unlikely Smith will regain his sight. Smith's family thought he was attacked by his cellmate, but a Georgia Bureau of Investigation report concluded Smith's injuries were self-inflicted. Smith had no injuries to his eyelids or face, which almost certainly would have occurred if someone attacked him. Also, there was no trace of Smith's blood or tissue under his cellmate's fingernails. Smith would not tell investigators how he lost his eyes. "The only thing he said was that somebody put ink in his head and it was clouding up his thinking," Boatright said. Smith was picked up late April 3 after several people reported he was walking in traffic and knocking on people's doors. Boatright said no charges were filed because the department knew of Smith's mental illness. The sheriff said that before he could decide whether Smith should be hospitalized, he plucked his eyes out. ( The Associated Press, donated by Glia)