February, 2000

February 1, 2000
In most parts of the world, the switch away from Daylight Savings Time proceeds smoothly. But the time change raised havoc with Palestinian terrorists in 1999. Israel insisted on making a premature switch from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time to accommodate a week of pre-sunrise prayers. Palestinians unequivocally refused to "live on Zionist Time." Two weeks of scheduling havoc ensued. Nobody knew the "correct" time. At precisely 5:30 Israel time on Sunday, two coordinated car bombs exploded in different cities, killing three terrorists who were transporting the bombs. It was initially believed that the devices had been detonated prematurely by klutzy amateurs. A closer look revealed the truth behind the untimely explosions. The bombs had been prepared in a Palestine-controlled area, and set on Daylight Savings time. The confused drivers had already switched to standard time. When they picked up the bombs, they neglected to enquire whose watch was used to set the timing mechanism. As a result, the cars were still en-route when the explosives detonated, delivering to the terrorists their well-deserved demise. (The Darwin Awards)

February 5, 2000
A decomposing body found hanging from a tree at the Hollywood Park race track was identified as an injured jockey who committed suicide, a coroner's investigator said. John Suarez, 49, was found by track security guards hanging from a tree by a noose in a secluded area of the track grounds. Suarez was wearing only long underwear pants. Jockeys and trainers had been complaining for more than three weeks about a foul odor on the east side of the practice track. Suarez, who was injured and lived at the track, had been dead about a month. Family members said he was depressed about a worker's compensation claim he had trouble collecting. Suarez was last seen alive by his family at Christmas. Concerned relatives had gone to the track in the past month but had been unable to locate him. (The Associated Press, donated by Monty Kelley)

February 6, 2000
The Chair of Spikes was a medieval torture device which, as the name implies, consisted of sharp spikes along the seat, back, and legs of the chair. Victims would be made to sit on the chair while straps were tightened to drive the spikes into his or her flesh. Weights could also be used as well as blows with mallets to further the damage. While quite painful, the chair itself was not always immediately fatal. However, infection and tetanus claimed many victims days or weeks after their ordeal. (The Torture Museum)

Jennifer writes: "I am writing in regard to the morbid fact of February 6, 2000. The "Chair of Spikes" was the highlighted subject, but the other half of that torture should also be celebrated. There was also a space underneath the chair, inside which a fire was lit and the victim's flesh would be s-l-o-w-l-y cooked."

February 7, 2000
In 1624 Richard Cornish became the first man to be convicted of a homosexual offense in America. Despite extremely flimsy evidence, he was hanged for forcing a young man into "unnatural sexual relations". Two men were later pilloried and had their ears sliced off for protesting that Cornish "was put to death through a scurvie boys meanes & no other came against him." (The People's Almanac #2)

February 8, 2000
A village dispute in Papua New Guinea ended with a man tearing out the eyes, testicles and heart of another and eating them, police said on Tuesday. Villagers watched in horror as Moropia Silkapi, 35, attacked the body of Yakamup Makatu, 55. "He gouged out the eyes, balls and heart and just ate them," Police Superintendent Ben Simanjon said from the town of Madang. The attack happened on January 31 at Ono Works camp east of Madang. Police said an argument between Silkapi and Makatu earlier in the day left Makatu's house burnt to the ground. After a fight, "Silkapi caught Makatu and smashed his head with a rock, killing him. He then ate him," Simanjon said. Silkapi was chased into the bush by villagers and tied to a tree to await police. But Makatu's relatives killed him before police arrived. Three of the relatives were arrested. (Reuters, donated by Steve Sharp and pammyrocks)

February 9, 2000
Putrefaction of a body commences within about two days after death. The abdomen begins to distend and change color as the body begins to fill with gases produced by bacteria. (During autopsy, many of these gases are released as the surgeon's tools cut into the organs: this means that the body will be less likely to be swollen and hence easier to fit into a coffin). The body smells of decaying fleshy tissue. Pressure from gases inside the cadaver forces fluid substances out from the body's orifices. Insects such as Blow Flies and Flesh Flies - attracted by the rank smell they love so much - feed and lay their eggs on the nutrient-rich, moist openings to the body: the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, anus, vagina or penis and - of course - any wounds. (Bizarre)

February 10, 2000
Part Two of "How To Be A Rotter":
When Blow Fly and Flesh Fly eggs hatch on a corpse, the maggots tunnel into their food source en masse. Such is the activity within the cadaver that the temperature increases to an estimated 68 - 72 degrees F. Ants and cockroaches feed on the skin. Predators such as spiders and beetles arrive to feed on the maggots. The cadaver has now become a small ecosystem. The body enters a stage of black putrefaction, as any exposed flesh - now cream-like in texture - becomes blackened. As more gas is forced from the body it begins to collapse. The stench is overpowering. (Bizarre)

February 12, 2000
A particularly disgusting and sadistic form of execution used in Medieval times was The Cauldron. In this method, an iron container, mouth down, is placed on the victim's stomach. The container is lifted a bit and some mice or rats slipped inside. Then the container is heated up from the outside with a flame. As it begins to get hot, the mice want to escape, but there is no way out except through the mouth of the cauldron. So they begin to gnaw through the person's stomach and do so until the person dies. (TheElectricChair.Com (http://www.theelectricchair.com/)

February 13, 2000
A cook called Richard Roose was found guilty of having poisoned two guests at his master's house, and Henry VIII decided that, in view of the man's occupation, it would be splendid sport to have him cooked to death. A gigantic cauldron was erected over blazing logs in the heart of London and the man was boiled like a lobster. The vast crowds who had thronged to the area to watch this spectacular free entertainment were delighted that the entire performance -- with the man's screams slowly subsiding into silent mouthings of agonized despair -- lasted for more than two hours. An average of 2000 people a year were "done to death" in one way or another during Henry's 38 years on the throne. (Crimes And Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 14)

February 15, 2000
On July 9, 1980 a twenty-six year old man was killed at an amusement park in Missouri when the ride operator of a rollercoaster mistakenly assumed that the train in which the victim was riding was empty, and switched the track to direct the train into a service area. The area in which the service track ran through was of low clearance, and the victim's head got jammed between the back of his seat and an overhead wooden beam. At least one other person was injured in the accident. (RollerCoaster.Com)

February 16, 2000
A disgruntled mortuary worker has left five decomposing bodies outside a town hall in central Kenya to protest against being declared a "ghost worker" by the council. Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reported that Simon Munyiri Muriithi said he "wanted to prove to the council authorities that I am a genuine worker and to prove the kind of work that I do". The Kenya Times said the angry council driver drove the corpses from the mortuary to Nakuru town hall and lined them up on the steps of the mayor's office. "Curious onlookers who wanted to have a glimpse of the bodies were kept away by the horrendous smell from the rotten and maggot-infested bodies," the newspaper said. "Not even the mayor could go near the bodies which had been unclaimed from the mortuary for several months." The stench forced council employees and members of the public from nearby offices, and large crowds blocked the road. Eventually he was persuaded to take the bodies to a cemetery to be disposed of. Nakuru Mayor Herman Nderi said that Mr Mureithi had been immediately suspended pending further action. Incredibly this is the second such protest from Mr Mureithi. In 1994 he had dumped some bodies outside the town hall to complain about delays in receiving his salary. (BBC World News - Africa, donated by Bruce Townley)

February 17, 2000
Sadistic Roman emperor Tiberius was fond of devising particularly cruel and imaginative forms of torture. One of his most ingenious methods was to trick men into drinking huge quantities of wine, and then suddenly to knot a cord tightly around their genitals which not only cut into the flesh, but also prevented them from urinating. (The History Of Murder)

February 18, 2000
The ninth President of the United States, William Henry Harrison, became the first president to die in office. He caught pneumonia during his inaugural celebration when he spoke for 3 hours in the rain and died 32 days later. (The History Channel Daily Calendar, special thanks to Chardon).

February 20, 2000
Given the depths of the horrors he inflicted upon his public, it's surprising that tyrannical Roman emperor Caligula lived as long as he did. One reason that he survived was because he surrounded himself with a specially picked bodyguard of German troops. One day at the arena, he took a brief stroll to the hallway under the grandstand, and one of his officers seized the opportunity to cut him down and then stabbed him, appropriately, in the genitals. While he continued the murderous assault on Caligula, other guards went to the palace, killed Caligula's wife and dashed out the brains of his baby daughter against the wall. (The History Of Murder)

February 21, 2000
Chicago temperatures fell to 11 below on the night of February 1, 1951, and by the time the police discovered Dorothy Mae Stevens Anderson - who had passed out from drinking and had slept all night unprotected in an alley - the woman's body temperature had plunged to 64.4 degrees (F), her blood and legs had long since frozen solid, and her eyeballs had all but turned to ice. Her pulse rate was barely 12 beats a minute, breaths came three to the minute, and there was no measurable blood pressure. Doctors at Michael Reese Hospital saw little chance that she would survive; still they did what they could. They administered cortisone and swaddled her arms and legs in gauze to keep the flesh from chipping off. Within 24 hours, Mrs. Anderson was conscious and taking liquid nourishment; a week later she was eating solid food, her body temperature at 100.2 degrees. No one had ever before survived such a catastrophic loss of body heat. Ultimately both of Mrs. Anderson's legs and all but one finger had to be amputated. But she was able to leave the hospital after six months and lived until 1974. (The People's Almanac #2)

February 22, 2000
The Khmer Rouge, led by infamous tyrant Pol Pot, entered the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh in 1975 after defeating the Cambodian military. The people actually cheered their arrival, hoping for better things than what the government had provided. However, Pol Pot had an unexpected surprise in store. Pol claimed that U.S. bombers were about to attack and declared that the city must be evacuated immediately. Citizens were given only minutes to gather what they could carry. Even hospitals were emptied. Doctors were forced to abandon patients in the middle of operations. Soon, the roads leading out of Phnom Penh were choked with hundreds of thousands of people. Food and water were scarce. Those too weak to keep up were executed on the spot. An estimated 20,000 people died in the evacuation. Soon, the Cambodian people were to learn the true nature of Pol Pot's plans. He wanted to eliminate all traces of the "corrupting" influence of the outside world. Members of the old government were executed, along with doctors and teachers and their families. In countryside camps, the population was put to work - building their own crude shelters, clearing forests, digging canals, planting rice. Working conditions were brutal, living quarters squalid, food scarce, and, with 85% of the country's doctors now dead, medical care was nonexistent. Disease and malnutrition were rampant. Those who complained or resisted were taken to the so-called "Killing Fields" and executed, usually clubbed to death with a pick or hoe, and they were buried in mass graves. By 1978, Pol Pot was defeated and the reign of the Khmer Rouge was over... but the scars still remain. (The Big Book Of Bad)

February 23, 2000
A smoker since his teens, Charles Nicholas Roberts' last cigarette cost him his life. The 91-year-old Fort Worth man set his Hutchinson Street home on fire early Tuesday when his lit cigarette accidentally brushed against the plastic tubing on his portable oxygen tank. Within minutes, the oxygen-fed fire engulfed the small frame house where Mr. Nichols and his wife Helen, 81, had lived for 47 years. "We tried to get him to stop smoking, but he wouldn't," said Lydia Sanders, one of the couple's five children. Ms. Sanders said she had given her parents a Doberman to make them feel safer, but the greatest threat turned out to be her father's smoking. "We said, 'If you're going to use your oxygen, don't smoke,'" she said, choking back tears. Beatrice Crabtree said her father suffered from emphysema. "For years and years we tried to get him to quit," Ms. Crabtree said. "Trying to get him to quit smoking was like talking to the wind." The fire started about 5 a.m. in the living room of the couple's North Side home. Mr. Roberts, a retired carpenter, yelled to his wife to get out through the back door. Mrs. Roberts' hair was singed, but she managed to escape with no other injuries. The couple's dog also survived. (The Dallas Morning News, donated by Bruce Townley)

February 24, 2000
A doctor delivered a baby by Caesarean section, then used his scalpel to carve his initials into the mother's abdomen. Dr. Allan Zarkin -- later dubbed "Dr. Zorro" by hospital staff members -- "felt very close to this woman, but something clicked on and off in his brain," his lawyer, Kenneth Platzer, said. Liana Gedz is now suing the 61-year-old obstetrician for $5 million, saying the 3-by-1 1/2-inch "A" and "Z" "makes me feel like a branded animal." According to the Daily News, witnesses in the operating room said that after delivering Gedz's daughter on Sept. 7, 1999, Zarkin announced: "I did such a beautiful job, I'll initial it." Zarkin's lawyer said the doctor suffers from a "frontal lobe disorder" called Pick's disease -- a progressive form of Alzheimer's-like dementia characterized by personality changes and inappropriate behavior. Platzer said his client is being treated by a psychiatrist and a neurologist. Gedz, a 31-year-old dentist, said the initials "were carved in such a manner as to be permanent," according to her lawsuit. "I felt like I was raped," she told the Daily News. And now, with the scar that has turned into a welt, "I'm so embarrassed to get undressed in front of my husband because I have another man's initials on my stomach." The couple are also suing Beth Israel Medical Center, where the child was delivered. The hospital suspended Zarkin' s right to practice immediately after the incident and reported him to health authorities. (The Associated Press, donated by Addie Pattern)

February 25, 2000
Lee Spark from Sheffield, a fit 23-year-old not on any kind of medication, went to bed complaining of a toothache and was found dead three days later by his brother. A post-mortem showed that his tooth decay led to the "flesh-eating" necrotising fasciitis ("galloping gangrene") which spread to his neck and chest and killed him. (The Fortean Times, donated by James Nicholls)

February 26, 2000
Anatomy of a most-repulsive Australian car crash: The blue holden was the victim in this tragedy. The other two cars had been racing. One of them, the Brougham, was on the wrong side of the road, approaching a crest. The blue holden came over the hill and hit both the Torana and the Brougham. On Police arrival at this scene, they were confronted with scenes that they will never forget. Not because of the number of dead bodies, but because of the sickening tragedy of a young girl who was still alive (at the time). She had been scalped from just above the eyes. The scalp was peeled back all the way down to her neck and was just hanging there. She was trying to scratch her head because it was itchy. Police had to hold her hands away until the Ambulances and Rescue arrived. She was trapped inside the Torana. (Crash Site)

February 28, 2000
An ostrich killed a 90-year-old farmer and critically injured his 86-year-old wife. The male ostrich attacked the couple Thursday night when they entered its pen, where their son also kept three female ostriches, said Detective Sgt. Trey Fulton of the Union Parish sheriff's office. Male ostriches are protective of females, and more so when mating. Kicks from an ostrich's long, powerful legs can be deadly. Sheriff's deputies shot and killed the male ostrich. (The Associated Press, donated by The Mind Orbitor)

February 29, 2000
A dead man found on Long Island may have been a stowaway who fell from a jetliner arriving at Kennedy Airport. A woman walking her dog found the body Saturday night behind Long Beach Hospital. The condition of the body suggested the man had fallen several thousand feet, said Nassau County Detective Sgt. William Cocks. The Federal Aviation Administration examined flight patterns and schedules and said the body most likely fell from an American Airlines flight from the Dominican Republic. Police speculated the victim had hidden in the landing gear and fell when the gear was lowered. The wheel well is not pressurized, and police believe the man could not have survived the flight. The identity of the man and cause of death had not been determined Monday. Police said he carried British coins and cigarettes bought in Spain. (The Associated Press, donated by JoAnn Elliott)