January, 2008

January 1, 2008

A Most Mirthfully Morbid New Year, everyone! Let's hope this is the year that all of our wildest dreams come true... just like the stars of...

Today's Sadomasochistic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Three men accused of operating what police described as a sadomasochistic "dungeon" that included castrations have been sentenced to jail time. Richard Peter "Master Rick" Sciara, his partner of 20 years Michael Mendez, and the man they called their slave, Danny Carroll Reeves, pleaded guilty to felony castration and maiming. Superior Court Judge Dennis Winner said it was difficult to call the dungeon's willing patients "victims," but he said six castrations performed there were certainly a crime.

"I think this is a type of perversion that cannot be tolerated by society," Winner said during a sentencing hearing. In plea bargains, Sciara, 62, was sentenced to a year in prison, though he has served all but two weeks of that time. Reeves, 50, was sentenced to eight months in prison, and Mendez, 61, received four months. Reeves and Mendez have already served their sentences and will enter four and two months of house arrest, respectively, and three years of supervised probation.

In exchange for the pleas, the state dropped charges of misdemeanor practicing medicine without a license and conspiracy. Prosecutors said the men ran a sadomasochistic "dungeon" fashioned from an enclosed carport in 2004 and 2005 at a house in a quiet neighborhood near Waynesville in western North Carolina. Six men, some from as far away as South America, came to the home for castration, while others went seeking other types of body-modification surgery, prosecutors said. Sciara had worked as a physician's assistant at the Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center in Topeka, Kan., from February 1976 to June 1999.

Culled from: The Associated Press
Generously submitted by: Katchaya


Morbid Lyric Du Jour!

I remember the first time I heard the All-American Jewish Lesbian Folksinger, Phranc. I walked into the local record shop and heard a lovely acoustic guitar and then a sweet woman's voice sang, "And one thing's for sure I won't die like Belushi, I won't have Noguchi cutting on me". It was love at first listen! Here are the full lyrics to Phranc's lovely ode to the former L.A. County Coroner:

"Noguchi" by Phranc

He's got a big mouth, he likes the attention
of seeing his name on the front page
and he's quite a big shot - he's been on Dick Cavett
and for himself he has made quite a name

Cadavers were stacked and jewelry was stolen
a severed hand lost in the county morgue
and all of this seemed to arouse some suspicions
about Thomas Noguchi, ex-Chief Coroner

He worked for the city, he worked for the county
in a room near the morgue in downtown L.A.
He worked for the city, he worked for the county
A-cuttin' on corpses in downtown L.A.

The board was behind him, but the grand jury fired him
'cause more often than not he was not at his job
he was off at the barber or attending a luncheon
not cuttin' on corpses, which was his job

It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it
yes, someone must do it - and that I agree
but I think that someone should do it less like Noguchi
and more like Jack Klugman on Quincy M.E.

He's got a big mouth, he likes the attention
of seeing his name on the front page
and he's quite a big shot - he's been on Dick Cavett
and for himself he has made quite a name

And one thing's for sure, I won't die like Belushi
I won't have Noguchi cuttin' on me!

Robert writes: "... and the best part of the song is where she compairs Noguchi to Quincy, considering that Noguchi was the inspiration FOR Quincy. here is the link....


Morbid Interview Du Jour!

John sends a link to an interview with the head of the University of Tennessee Body Farm, Bill Bass. It's always fun to read about this place. Sigh... what I wouldn't give for a tour...


January 2, 2008

Today's Extremely Cruel Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In Franche-Comté (that's in Eastern France, for we geographically-disadvantaged Americans - DeSpair) during the years 1657-1659, a judge named Boguet sent more than a hundred people to their deaths for witchcraft before his excesses were stopped by papal authorities. Stressing the sexual element, including male homosexuality, he quoted the maxim that the devil is inerested only in those past puberty. Still, he condemned young children, believing that, once possessed, no one could struggle free of the devil's hold. Boguet is best known for his extreme cruelty, insisting on burning some victims alive (that is, rather than strangling them first) and lashing and burning children. One frantic woman, Claude Janguillaume, tore herself free from the stake three times, only to be dragged back each time by the executioner.

Culled from: Witchcraze


This is interesting to me because I never realized they strangled people before they burned them at the stake. It makes me wonder... how much better is a death by strangulation than a death by flame? I mean, it obviously sounds like it would be better, but has anyone really done the research? Yes, these are the thoughts that keep me awake at night!

Stephen writes: "I once read the account of the Knights Templar executions, and it seems to me that burning at the stake was a pretty hard way to go. The Templars were NOT strangled... ...I'm not even sure if strangulation was part of the "ritual" of the stake. Many of the Templars were subjected to the "gibbet" (sp?), and many others had parts of their flesh peeled off of them as they lay on the rack, until -- ultimately -- almost all of them "confessed", and were then burned.

"As I wasn't there for the Templar executions, I cannot say how bad it went, but the author of the book I read said some men took "hours" to die, their lower extremities having been burned (and major blood vessels cauterized by the fire?) completely off, and their upper torsos and heads "moaning in agony for a better part of the morning".

"As for strangulation, I have witnessed two inmates being strangled to death: one with hands; one with a garrote. The garrote almost cut the one inmate's head in 1/2, and the loss of blood after about 3 minutes killed him, but he kicked in pain until the last few seconds. The inmate who was strangled by hand went limp so fast from the loss of oxygen and blood to his brain, the medical examiner said he didn't know what was happening to him, after about 10 seconds, and he probably expired after about 20 seconds.

"I'd prefer being strangled by someone who knows how to do a "choke hold"... ...THAT was what only took 20 seconds to kill the one who was choked to death by the other inmate.

"Besides, doesn't someone always die in about 15 seconds, when the pillow is placed over their face in the movies? Or, is that just how long it takes to for the theme music to build up to "suspense"?"

Jenny writes: "I, probably like many others, have been strangled until I passed out, which is probably about the same experience as being strangled to death, since you're unconscious for the death part, anyway, I imagine, and it was really not at all unpleasant. It was kind of like when you stand up too fast and everything goes black. I imagine the executioners might have been a little more rough about it, but still. Probably better than burning to death."

Les writes: "I thought you may like to read a short part from an eye witness account of the burning at the stake of Bishop Hooper, in Gloucester England in 1555, The fire went out 3 times as the reeds and wood were damp


'....but when he was black in the mouth and his tongue swollen that he could not speak,yet his lips went until they were shrunk to the gums,and he knocked his breast with his hands until one of his arms fell off, and then knocked still with the other, what time the fat,water and blood, dropped at his finger ends, until by renewing of the fire his strength was gone and his hand did cleave fast in knocking on the iron upon his breast. So, immediately bowing forwards he yielded up his spirit.'"


Morbid Link Du Jour!

Here's an interesting article about India's bone trade. I have been well aware of this for years from my days as a physical anthropology student in Catatonia - where all of the bones we analyzed were graciously (and unknowingly) donated by the peasants of India. Bookish beast that I am, I always thought it was a dignified way to spend your afterlife.


Thanks to Eleanor for the link.


Morbid Drink Du Jour!

I'm sure most of you are already aware of this delightfully named beer, but Patrick wanted to make absolutely sure of it:

"I was making my own six pack at World Market when I encountered a wonderfully morbidly named beer called 'Dead Guy Ale'. To quote the information found on the [Rogue Brews website]:
'In the early 1990s Dead Guy Ale was created as a private tap sticker to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead (November 1st, All Souls Day) for Casa U Betcha in Portland, Oregon. The Dead Guy design proved popular and was incorporated into a bottled product a few years later with Maierbock as the elixir. Strangely, the association with the Grateful Dead is pure coincidence.'
So there is a drink available to celebrate all our fun morbid happenings."



Kim writes: "A brief Morbid Drink review: I just tried the Dead Guy Ale at a local restaurant while I was on leave at home in Washington state. It's pretty potent but also more bitter than I'd like. I'd think death would taste sweeter than that..."


January 3, 2008

Today's Terminal Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The comedian Stan Laurel (June 16, 1890 – February 23, 1965) stuck up a terminal banter with his nurse shortly before he expired:
"I'd rather be skiing than doing this."
"Do you ski, Mr Laurel?"
"No, but I'd rather be doing that than this."

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


Atrocious Artwork!

E. sends a link to the website for the latest exhibition by everyone's favorite demented genius photographer, Joel-Peter Witkin:



A Revolting Review!

So, I just finished "reading" the book Trauma Code by Sonny Shepherd and, sadly, my losing streak on morbid books continues. This is a collection of black and white photographs of fire and rescue trauma scenes accompanied by some brief text explaining the obvious... very poorly. Here is a book that is positively SCREAMING for an editor! From the first paragraph, it's obvious that Sonny boy has a rather difficult relationship with the English language. His comments are often baffling and frequently laughable. Here's a typical example of his attempts to be profound: "The modern automobile when driven improperly has become one of the most dangerous weapons ever placed in the hands of humans. We often forget that it's the improper use of the motor vehicle that takes us to our final destination on this earth, Our Grave." Huh? Does it always?

Sonny is especially vexed by the mystery of the comma. From the blurb on the back of the book: "Trauma Code, takes a sobering look at the horrors Fire and Rescue workers face everyday - Violent Death. Rescue workers experience first hand, the tragic impact violent death has on victims and their families." This sort, of writing, drives me insane!

However, let's be honest: we don't purchase books like Trauma Code for the poetry. We buy them so we can take a peek into Violent Death... and the book does offer a few good images for the money. Sadly, however, many of the images are out of focus to the point where you can't really tell what you're looking at (though, I suspect, even if they were in focus some of them would be rather difficult to fathom), and all are in dull black and white. Although there were a few images that made me wince, most of the images are on the tame side, and they are hardly worth the $24.95 cover price.

Sadly, I'd have to give Trauma Code an amateurish 2 skulls out of 5.

January 4, 2008

Today's Reclusive Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A man cut off his own head with a chainsaw after stabbing his 70-year-old father to death in their apartment in the German city of Cologne. The body of the offender, 24, was found headless when police raced to the apartment after an emergency call, apparently from the dying father, had been broken off in mid-sentence. Alf Willwacher, a senior prosecutor, said an electric chainsaw was next to the son's body. "We do not believe any third party was involved,'' he said. Neighbours said the father and son had been reclusive since the death of the mother, allegedly by suicide, several years ago.

Culled from: The Sydney Morning Herald
Generously submitted by: Bruce T.


I know it's a little early to be breaking resolutions, but... I'm going to be out of town for a couple of days, so the facts will be on hiatus until Monday. Stay morbid in my absence!


New Revulsions!

Although I myself do not read fiction very often, I thought I'd give you fiction readers a heads-up on a new French novel that sounds quite intriguing.

The Power Of Flies
by Lydie Salvayre

Here's the review from Publisher's Weekly:

"Salvayre's fifth novel to be translated into English is a tightly introspective series of first-person confessions by an arrogant murder convict whose life was transformed by reading Blaise Pascal. By turns angry, tricky and despairing, the narrator offers a disjointed narrative about his life leading up to the murder of his father. He begins by recalling the absurdities of his work as a guide at Pascal's abbey at Port-Royal, and how his reading of Pascal began to unlock memories of the horrific dynamic between his parents. His parents met at the Argèles camp for Spanish Civil War refugees; his mother, at 16, a half-starved rebel from Catalonia, was seduced by his father, a Communist under General Lister, and she became pregnant. Life under her tyrannical husband robbed the narrator's now-dead mother of her joie de vivre, and the narrator concludes that his mother's death actually began the moment she met her husband. Gradually, the narrator's hatred for his father takes on an all-devouring power of flies. The novel seethes in a classically dark, French way."

Anything that seethes in a classically dark, French way can't be bad!


Morbid Sightseeing!

For those of you heading to Vermont, don't forget to pay Timothy Clark Smith a visit. Seems Mr. Smith had a bit of a phobia about being buried alive, so he arranged to be buried with his face beneath a six foot tube that led up to plate glass window. He also had a bell in his hand so he could ring to let people know that he was alive. Of course, he didn't think it out very well - I mean, who could hear a bell under six feet of dirt anyway? - but at least he'd have some light while he died a slow, suffering death. If you'd like to visit Timothy, he's been at the Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Vermont since 1893.


Thanks To Amos Quito for the link.

January 7, 2008

Today's Fiery Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The British warship Queen Charlotte was engulfed in flames on March 17, 1800 soon after some hay stored on the deck caught fire. The 700-man crew was unable to extinguish the fire, which soon spread to the rigging and burned through the decks. Nearly all of the crew drowned when the frigate finally sank.

Culled from: The Pessimist's Guide To History


Wretched Recommendations!

Aimee has a book recommendation for us that sounds like my cup o' tea!

"Just read your underwhelmed review of the book on Great Lakes tragedies and the book sounds like a waste of time and money. But here's a book that's packed witha lot more morbid info: 'Mighty Fitz' by Michael Schumacher. It's the true story of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, made famous by the Gordon Lightfoot song. The book not only goes into a lot of detail about that one particular wreck, it also touches on several other Lake Superior shipwrecks and the brutal conditions you can expect if your boat ever goes down on the lake. Excellent read."


Morbid Sightseeing!

I've finally put together a travelogue on my brief visit to the rather odd Davis Memorial at the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Hiawatha, Kansas back in 2005. I hope you find it interesting.


January 8, 2008

Today's Alarming Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Mary Ann Leneghan (January 1989 - May 7, 2005) was a sixteen-year-old English girl from Reading who was raped and murdered by a six-strong gang of drug-dealers and thieves in May 2005. Five of the gang were native-born blacks, while the other was an Albanian Muslim who had remained illegally in Britain after a failed claim for asylum. Leneghan and an unidentified eighteen-year-old female friend were abducted by the gang outside a pub in Reading on the night of 6th May 2005 after its leader, Adrian Thomas, 20, decided Leneghan had set him up to be robbed. The two young women were taken to room 19 of the Abbey House Hotel and subjected to three hours of sexual assault and torture with an iron bar, knives and boiling water mixed with sugar. They were also forced to smoke heroin and crack cocaine and told repeatedly that they were going to be murdered. During the early morning of 7th May the gang took the two young women to Prospect Park in Reading, where Leneghan was stabbed to death as her friend watched. Her friend was then shot in the forehead at point blank range. However, the bullet fragmented and although knocked unconscious she was not fatally injured. When she regained consciousness she raised the alarm. The judge sentenced the gang to 23-27 years in prison before being considered for parole.

Culled from: Wikipedia
Generously submitted by: wirehead


Boiling water mixed with sugar??? Is there something special about putting the sugar in the water that makes it even more torturous? I think I'm missing something here...

Barry writes: "By adding a disolvable crystal (table salt would have worked as well), you can heat the liquid beyond the normal boiling point. It's called the 'boiling point elevation.' The opposite process works for frozen substances, called 'freezing point depression' and is why we salt roads here in Chicagoland in the winter time."

Constance writes: "Yes, it does make it worse. Depending on the concentration of sugar, it will raise the boiling temperature from 20 to 160 degrees (think candy making). It will also be stickier, so it will burn more since it won't just roll off. Being burned with sugared water really does suck. Evil lads. 23 years is not nearly enough. Hopefully the little shits didn't breed before they were sentenced; those genes just need to go away."

Spanky writes: "I am speculating here, but I think that if they used enough sugar in the boiling water, it would become sugar syrup - which is like being burnt with toffee. Hotter than regular boiling water and sticky, so it wouldn't just pour off and stop causing damage. It's actually quite clever - and you can mix cocktails with it too. What more could one want from a tool of torture?!"

Chef Beth writes: "Boiling water with sugar dissolved in it makes a syrup that is extremely hot and hard to remove from your skin."

Leann writes: "I think mixing the sugar would make it thick and sticky so instead of splashing off it would stay on and burn longer. Not sure, just a theory."

Ket writes: "Boiling sugar in water is how you caramelize sugar. Pouring boiling water over her would just burn. Pouring caramelized sugar over her body would coat her skin and probably trap the heat in after it cooled."

Bill writes: "Adding sugar raises the boiling point of water and makes it stickier."

Dan writes: "Adding sugar to hot water to the point the liquid is 'supersaturated' would give you a solution that was essentially caramel suspended in water. It would burn AND stick AND stay hot longer. Home experiment for adults: take a couple of Jolly Rancher candies and melt them in a pyrex cup in your microwave. Pour them out onto a thermal-resistant surface and watch them flow and solidify. But don't touch them! You'll have a big ugly sticky burn that is nasty."

Email4DJ writes: "Assuming there's enough sugar, it would stick to the skin and burn more (of course if there's enough sugar, it would then harden to a protective, crunchy and delicious dressing."

Dana writes: "The sugar would make the hot water stick to the skin better and not roll off. That way the burns could be more centralised and controlled."

J. Bo writes: "I'm sure MANY have already responded, BUT, as a cook, I can tell you that sugar gets really, REALLY hot, and, when it's hot, it sticks-- plain boiling water is bad enough, but adding sugar (making syrup, essentially) creates an even hotter, more painful, more adherent torture material. Fun, huh?"

Lil writes: "Mixing sugar with boiling water would make a kind of 'napalm' which would take chunks of skin off, not just scald."

Irmasue writes: "Working with boiled sugar syrup can be dangerous because it is extremely hot and it burns. Sugar melts at 320 degrees, and can be heated up to 350 degrees F !! By comparison, water boils at 212 degrees F, and we all know how hot that is."

Sarah writes: "In regards to 01.08.08 morbid fact...sugar and water mixed and brought to a boil could make a syrup like substance that at boiling temp would not just roll of the skin but would stick to it all the while being boiling hot. Pretty tortuous indeed."


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Alas, it's too late for the holidays, but Elizabeth sends a very entertaining version of the Twelve Days Of Christmas sent by an employee for the NYC Department Of Health. Everybody sing!

12 Candied Condoms
11 Rats with Plague
10 Tainted Burgers
9 Leaping Lepers
8 TB Sputums
7 Moms with Measles
6 Daycare Outbreaks
5 Rectal Swabs
4 Kids with Flu
3 Lyme Ticks
2 Rabid Dogs,
My First Case of STD!


Morbid Sightseeing!

The next time you rich morbids are staying in Boston, why not stay at the Liberty Hotel - which used to be an infamous jail? I would if I could!


Here's an article about it from the Associated Press, sent to me by Katchaya:

The elegant iron-railing balconies were once catwalks where guards stood watch over the inmates to make sure they didn't try to break out. If you look closely, you can still see the outline of the holes from the iron bars on the windows.

At the newly opened Liberty Hotel, it's hard to escape what this building once was: a decrepit jail where Boston locked up its most notorious prisoners.

But that's just the point.

After a five-year, $150 million renovation, the old Charles Street jail is now a luxury hotel for guests who can afford to pay anywhere from $319 a night for the lowest-priced room to $5,500 for the presidential suite. The hotel, at the foot of Boston's stately Beacon Hill neighborhood, opened in September.

Architects took pains to preserve many features of the 156-year-old stone building and its history.

The old sally port, where guards once brought prisoners from paddy wagons to their cells, is being converted into the entrance to a new restaurant, Scampo, which is Italian for "escape."

In another restaurant, named Clink, diners can look through original bars from cell doors and windows as they order smoked lobster bisque or citrus poached prawns from waiters and waitresses wearing shirts with prison numbers. The hotel bar, Alibi, is built in the jail's former drunk tank.

Instead of con men, counterfeiters and cat burglars, the guests now include Mick Jagger, Annette Bening, Meg Ryan and Eva Mendes.

The old clientele included Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, who served time for fraud in 1904 after he took a civil service exam for a friend; Frank Abagnale Jr., a 1960s con artist played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie "Catch Me If You Can;" a group of thieves who pulled off the Great Brinks Robbery in Boston in 1950; and a German U- boat captain who was captured in 1945 and killed himself with shards from his sunglasses.

Boston also has a luxury hotel called Jurys in the former Boston police headquarters building in fashionable Back Bay. The hotel bar is called Cuffs.

The transformation of the Charles Street Jail is stunning to some of those who spent time in the notorious lockup.

"It's a magnificent place," said Bill Baird, an activist locked up for 37 days in 1967 for breaking a Massachusetts law prohibiting the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people. His arrest led to a landmark 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing birth control for unmarried people.

"How you could take something that was so horrible and turn it into something of tremendous beauty, I don't know," said Baird, who visited the new hotel in October, on the 40th anniversary of his conviction.

When the jail opened in 1851, it was hailed as an international model for prison architecture. Built in the shape of a cross, the granite jail had a 90-foot-high central rotunda and four wings of cells.
Large arched windows provided lots of natural light and good ventilation. Each of the 220 cells housed just one inmate.

But over the years, the jail fell into disrepair and became filthy, overcrowded and prone to riots.

Joseph Salvati, who spent 10 months in the jail in 1967 and 1968 after he was charged in a gangland slaying, said everything was covered with pigeon droppings.

"They had a crew every morning that would come down with hot water hoses and brushes to scrape it off the floor and seats," he said.
"You had to rush down for breakfast to get a seat that was clean."

Salvati, who was exonerated after spending 30 years in various prisons, said he gets a kick out of seeing the jail turned into a luxury hotel. It is now "very classy-looking," he said.

In the 1970s, the inmates sued over the squalid conditions. After spending a night at the jail to see things for himself, a federal judge in 1973 ordered the place closed. But it took until 1990 for a new jail to be built and the last inmates to be moved.

The property was bought by Massachusetts General Hospital, next door, which invited proposals for preserving the building's historical character.

Cambridge developer Richard Friedman said the architects tried to retain some original elements while not reminding people too much of its dark past.

"How do you transform that into a joyous place where people have fun and a good time?" Friedman said. "We tried to use a sense of humor."

Charlene Swauger of Albuquerque, N.M., who stayed at the hotel for a long weekend in October, said the designers preserved elements of the old jail without crossing the line into bad taste.

"I thought it was very clever. I didn't discover any ghosts or anything," she said.

Eighteen of the hotel's 298 rooms are built in the original jail.
Those rooms feature the original brick walls of the jail but also have high-definition TVs. The remaining rooms are in a new 16-story tower.

Max Stern, the chief lawyer for the inmates whose lawsuit led to the jail's closing, said some aspects of the project - such as calling the restaurant Clink - are too lighthearted.

"I thought they could have been a little more objective about what it really was like," he said.

January 10, 2008

Today's Yellow Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The only electric chair not nicknamed "Old Sparky" is the one in Alabama, which is affectionately known as "Yellow Mama". First installed at the now-demolished Kilby State Prison in Montgomery, Alabama, Yellow Mama acquired its yellow color when painted using highway-line paint from the adjacent State Highway Department lab. The chair was built by a British inmate in 1927 and was first used to execute Horace DeVauhan that same year. (Previous executions in Alabama had been by hanging.) Yellow Mama is now stored in an attic above the newly reconstructed execution chamber at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. The last execution to occur using it was that of Lynda Lyon Block on May 10, 2002. Following her execution, a bill was passed that would allow for execution by either lethal injection or electrocution.

Culled from: Wikipedia and Last Suppers: Famous Final Meals from Death Row


Thank you to everyone who wrote to explain to an easily confused old Comtesse exactly why those torturing creeps from the other day's fact would have boiled sugar and water and used it as a torture device. Apparently, sugar and water boil at a much higher temperature than just plain old water, thus increasing the torture - and sealing it in with sticky caramelized goodness too! Good to know...


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Now, HERE is some stylish vandalism! I always say, if you're going to deface public property, why not at least do something artistic? The Decapitator does just that... with a delightfully morbid flourish. Enjoy!


Thanks to Shifter for the link.


Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Delight your psychotic, Jeffrey Dahmer-to-be nephew with some plush, lovable road kill plush toys!


Thanks to twistedprincess69 for the link.

January 11, 2008

Today's Crushing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Crushing by elephant was for thousands of years a common method of execution for those condemned to death in south and southeast Asia, and particularly in India. Elephants employed in this manner were used to crush, dismember, or torture captives in public executions. The use of elephants to execute captives often attracted the horrified interest of European travellers, and was recorded in numerous contemporary journals and accounts of life in Asia. The practice was eventually suppressed by the European empires that colonised the region in the 18th and 19th centuries. Elephants could be trained to execute prisoners in a variety of ways, prolonging the agony by subjecting captives to a slow death by torture or killing the victim quickly by stepping on his or her head. Most importantly, they were under the constant control of a driver or mahout, enabling a ruler to grant a last-minute reprieve and thus display his or her merciful qualities.

Culled from: Wikipedia
Generously submitted by: Ben Z.


I'm not sure how the elephants felt about being used in this way, but it sure beats kicking beach balls into a crowd of idiot tourists!


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

During an interview years ago, recently deceased talk show host and media mogul Merv Griffin was asked what he would like on his gravestone. "I will NOT be right back after this message," was his witty reply. Although I don't believe that has actually come to pass (from what I could in some preliminary research anyway), someone mocked up a nice facsimile! We need more humor and wit on gravestones, dammit!

Thanks to Amos Quito for the link.

Fro writes: "I can't confirm absolutely, but I was huge fan of The Merv Griffin Show and he said on a regular basis that this was going to be his epitaph. Made my day when I heard that he'd really done it, so I hope it's true."

Stephen O' writes: "The picture you have appears NOT to be a mock-up - unless Find A Grave got fooled: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=20909851 "


Morbid Link Du Jour!

Well, it's about time that they (ie. the University of Michigan and the University of Sheffield) created Death Maps: world maps that are colored and morphed based on the number of different types of deaths in each continent. Oh, poor Mother Africa...

Death Maps

Thanks to J. Current for the link.

January 12, 2008

Today's Cannibalistic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

An aspiring horror novelist was arrested after police discovered his girlfriend's torso in his closet, a leg in the refrigerator and bones in a cereal box. Jose Luis Calva told police he had boiled some of his girlfriend's flesh but that he hadn't eaten it. Calva told police he was a writer and poet - officers found the draft of a novel titled "Cannibalistic Instincts". Investigators were trying to determine if chunks of fried meat found in a pan in the apartment were human. Police came to Calva's apartment in October, 2007 after neighbors reported a fetid smell. They discovered the dismembered body of his girlfriend Alejandra Galeana in a closet. A leg and pieces of an arm were in a refrigerator and there were bones inside a cereal box. Calva is being investigated in the killings of two other women, including an ex-girlfriend, also a pharmacy worker, whose dismembered body was found in 2004, and an unidentified prostitute who was killed earlier this year. Calva tried to run from police to avoid arrest, but was struck by a car and is still hospitalized.

Culled from: The Associated Press
Generously submitted by: Bruce T.


Man, if they really put human bones in cereal boxes, I would still - even at MY age - open up the box as soon as I got home and stick my hand in there, fishing around the sugary goodness for the toy! "Oooh, I hope I get the skull this time! Damn it... a phalange again..."

Lili sends an update: "Calva recently hung himself with his belt in his jail cell."


Update Du Jour!

Hmmmm... I'm still not positive if Merv Griffin really has a gravestone that says, "I will NOT be right back after this message" but evidence is mounting that it is legit. John wrote to let me know that Find-A-Grave has been updated with an image of the tombstone. I had read that he had been cremated and interred in the mortuary, which is one of the reasons I didn't think the gravestone was legit, but perhaps it is after all. I hope so. Does anyone have concrete proof?


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

A friend recently kindly introduced me to this site and now I'd like to return the favor. Welcome to the wonderful world of Monkey Fluids. Quite simply one of the Greatest Things In The World. Josh Addison takes vintage illustrations and supplies brilliant new captions to them. You simply must check them out!

Monkey Fluids

January 15, 2008

Today's Innocent Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

For discussing Protestantism with a friend, Jane Bohorquia of Seville was put to the rack during the Spanish inquisition. She was pregnant at the time, and a week later she died. The Inquisition reported: 'Jane Bohorquia was found dead in prison; after which, upon reviewing her prosecution, the Inquisition discovered her innocent. Be it therefore known that no further prosecution shall be carried on against her...'

Culled from: The History Of Torture


Ah, those old inquisitors - such forgiving hearts!

I've been quite busy lately, hence the sporadic facts. So much for that resolution...


Update Du Jour!

Okay, I guess the Merv Griffin grave is real after all. Bravo, Merv! Thanks to everyone who wrote to confirm the gravestone's validity.

Also, several of you wrote to let me know that the cannibal novelist mentioned in the previous MFDJ hung himself in his cell about a month ago. The world of literature may never recover...


Morbid Art Du Jour!

Peter Callesen creates amazing works of art out of paper. His paper skeletons and coffins are especially lovely morbid delicacies!


Thanks to Ruty Bear for the link.


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Barbie Massacre is a brilliant collection of post-mortem photos of everyone's favorite plastic bimbo. And Ken too!


Thanks to Danny for the link.

January 16, 2008

Today's Random Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Axeman of New Orleans was a serial killer active in New Orleans, Louisiana (and surrounding communities), from May 1918 to October 1919. As the killer's pseudonym implies, the victims were attacked with an axe. In some of the crimes, the doors to the victim's homes were first bashed open with the same tool. Not all of the Axeman's victims died, but the savagery and utter randomness of his attacks terrorized much of the populace. His victims included a pregnant woman and even a baby killed in the arms of its mother. The Axeman also seemed to draw direct inspiration from Jack the Ripper: he (or someone claiming to be the Axeman) wrote taunting letters to city newspapers hinting at his future crimes and claiming to be a supernatural demon "from Hell." "The Axeman" was not caught or identified at the time, although his crime spree stopped as mysteriously as it started. The murderer's identity remains unknown to this day, although various possible identifications of varying plausibility have been proposed.

Culled from: Wikipedia
Generously submitted by: Y


Hmmmm... my theory: Jack The Ripper moved to N'Awlins! I think I have a true crime book to write!


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Here's an excellent quiz to find out what your chances are of surviving a Zombie Holocaust. The Comtesse has only a 22% chance, sad to say... Hopefully you'll do better?


Thanks to Anna for the link.


Morbid Trinkets Galore!

Where, oh where, has Dapper Cadaver been all my life? From coffins and morgue equipment to freak show props and torture implements, if you want it and it's grim, chances are you can find it here! A fun browse guaranteed for all!


January 24, 2008

Today's Famous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Austrian Hans Steininger was famous for having the world’s longest beard (it was 4.5 feet or nearly 1.4 m long) and for dying because of it. One day in 1567, there was a fire in town and in his haste Hans forgot to roll up his beard. He accidentally stepped on his beard, lost balance, stumbled, broke his neck and died!

Culled from: Neatorama
Generously submitted by: Bex


I apologize for my absence of late. For the most part I've just been very busy... but I do have a semi-morbid excuse for my absence over the weekend. I took part in an all-night ghost hunt at the "haunted" Lincoln Theatre in Decatur, Illinois hosted by Troy Taylor of Ghosts Of The Prairie (http://www.prairieghosts.com/). Of course, nothing as exciting as an actual apparition occurred while I was there (to me or anyone else), although I did have one semi-creepy moment at the top of the spiral staircase backstage where it felt like something was touching my back (probably just a breeze or vibrations from the hand rail though). After awhile, I decided to start conjuring my own ghosts using my camera, so at least I got some nice photographs out of the occasion. Here are the best of the pictures I took - hope you enjoy them!


Our next ghost hunt will be at the Mansfield Reformatory in Ohio - the abandoned prison where they filmed The Shawshank Redemption. I am REALLY looking forward to this one!




Rotten.Com has long been one of the greatest sites on the web, and they have come up with another historic gem: a digitized collection of steroscopic images of ghastly skin conditions from 1911. Absolutely brilliant!


Thanks to Libby for the link.


Morbid Link Du Jour!

Thank goodness for the internet. Without it we would miss out on wonderful treats such as the Skull-A-Day Blog. Yes, a wonderful artist is creating a skull image every day for a year... and what lovely works of art they are!


Thanks to Steve O' for the link.

January 27, 2008

Today's Unusually Cool Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The evening of July 26, 1805 was unusually cool in Naples, Italy. Then large waves suddenly appeared on the sea. People walking in the surf and on the beach felt the odd sensation of the ground falling away beneath their feet, while fish rose to the water's surface and splashed wildly. All at once the first of several mighty tremors struck the city, ringing church bells and stopping the town clocks at precisely 9:57 p.m. Anxious residents noticed an enormous column of smoke rising above the nearby volcano Mount Vesuvius and could hear two weak explosions within the crater. Several more shocks jolted Naples, Calabria, and surrounding towns that night, knocking down or damaging thousands of buildings. In Naples, where 4,000 homes and buildings were demolished, frightened survivors spent the night on the streets or in open fields. Many inland towns and villages were completely destroyed, their inhabitants crushed beneath their collapsing homes. Some 26,000 people lost their lives.

Culled from: The Pessimist's Guide To History


Morbid Art Du Jour!

John Santerineross creates intricate, faintly morbid, works of photographic art. Well worth a browse.


Thanks to Annushka for the link.


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Here's another excellent installment of The Chopping Block:


Thanks to Paradox for the link.

January 30, 2008

Today's Fried Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A Brazilian housewife was convicted and sentenced to 19 years in prison Friday, March 23, 2007 for killing her husband, chopping his body into small pieces and frying it. Rosanita Nery dos Santos, 52, drugged her husband in his sleep, then stabbed him to death two years previously in Salvador, about 900 miles northeast of Sao Paulo, said police spokesman Idmar Bonfim. She then hacked Jose Raimundo Soares dos Santos' body into more than 100 pieces, which she boiled and fried before hiding in plastic bags beneath a staircase in her house, Bonfim said. He said police discovered the body parts after receiving an anonymous phone call. Bonfim said the killing was either part of a black magic ritual or an attempt by the wife to collect life insurance worth about $34,000. Citing testimony from the woman's relatives, he said she may also have committed the crime "to avenge many years of humiliation from her husband." He did not provide further details. Santos denied killing her husband but said she chopped up his body, Bonfim said. "She claims masked assailants entered her house, killed her husband and then forced her to cut up the body and fry it because that would prevent the stench of a decomposing body from alerting neighbors," he said.

Culled from: The Associated Press
Generously donated by: Nadja


Now, why would you go to all the trouble of chopping up and cooking your husband, then leave the bags on the premises? If you weren't going to dispose of him properly, why not just roll him up in plastic bags and toss him in the basement? I tell you - I just don't understand people...


Morbid Link Du Jour!

Morbid Anatomy is a wonderful blog which claims to "Survey the Interstices of Art and Medicine, Death and Culture." Sounds like a worthy endeavor to me! One of the recent articles concerns a collection of photographs from the archives of the National Museum of Health and Medicine that can be found on Flickr. Definitely a fascinating browse!


Thanks to Eleanor for the link.


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Recently we discussed Merv Griffin's gravestone with it's classic "I will NOT be right back after this message" epitaph. Joe writes to remind us of another Hollywood gravestone that is, perhaps, even better - Jack Lemmon.

Jack Lemmon's Grave