February, 2002

February 2, 2002
Jason and Kellie Cosner went to Mount Rainier National Park in November, 2001 to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, to spend time together amid the natural Northwest beauty they had grown to love since moving from Florida a few years ago. They only made it a mile and a half into the park. On a Saturday afternoon, as they drove toward Paradise, the top of an enormous hemlock tree snapped loose in a sudden gust of wind and plunged 75 feet to crush the Bellevue couple's sport-utility vehicle, instantly killing 26-year-old Jason and gravely injuring Kellie, also 26. "We are all just completely devastated; we couldn't believe anything like this could happen," said Sherri Cuffe, a family friend in the couple's hometown of Brooksville, Fla. "It was just such a freaky accident. If they had been five seconds faster or five seconds slower, it wouldn't have happened. It would have missed." The Cosners' fateful drive started at Jasper's, a small bed-and-breakfast lodge in Ashford, west of Mount Rainier, where they had stayed Friday night. Sunday was to have been their first anniversary. The couple were driving their Ford Explorer east on Highway 706 and were only a mile and a half inside the national-park boundary, just west of Longmire, when the treetop fell. The 30-foot section of tree trunk - about 20 inches in diameter at its thickest point - broke off about 75 feet up. (The Seattle Times, donated by Bruce Townley)

February 4, 2002
A man with a machete beheaded another man during a fight Monday (2/4/02), then put the severed head on the hood of a car as neighbors watched. The suspect, Dennis Roache, 34, was ordered held without bail on a first-degree murder charge. Police said Roache has a history of mental illness. A woman called police after Roache, a former boyfriend, allegedly broke into the home of her current boyfriend, Gregory L. Shannon, 18. Police said Roache cut Shannon several times with the machete, then beheaded him. Neighbors watched as Roache put the head on the car hood, then tried to arrange a rearview mirror in front of the decapitated head. "He was adjusting the mirror so the head, if it were alive, could see itself," police spokesman George Kajtsa said. When police arrived, they saw the head on the car and the suspect, a 34-year-old man, had a screwdriver in his hand and was mumbling to himself. The woman was not injured. ( The St. Petersburg Times News Updates and was generously donated by Lily Childs)

February 5, 2002
A Nebraska woman who received an ornate box for Christmas and returned it to Wal-Mart without looking inside discovered later it contained the ashes of her recently deceased sister. Judy Money received the box as a gift from her brother who lives in Iowa. But after unwrapping the package on Christmas Eve she saw the box had a broken knob and decided to return it to Wal-Mart without ever looking at the contents inside. When Money later confessed to her brother that she had returned his gift, he told her the box contained the ashes of their sister, who had died Dec. 11. Marvin Tippery, Money's brother, told the Herald he was shocked when he found out she had returned the box. "No, no, you didn't! Your sister was in there," the Herald quoted him as telling Money. Money told the Herald she made a mad dash back to Wal-Mart, but the box had already been thrown out with the trash. Money and her brother finally found the box on Thursday amid trash piles at an area landfill. "My prayers have been answered," she told the Herald. "Just the thought of having her in the dump was awful." ( Reuters, donated by Greg Schneider)

February 6, 2002
In August 1963, when Edmund Kemper was fifteen years old, he stepped up behind his grandmother and casually shot her in the back of the head. After stabbing her a few times for good measure, he calmly waited for his grandfather to return from work, then gunned him down, too. His motive? "I just wondered how it would feel to shoot Grandma." Kemper was committed to a maximum-security mental hospital in 1963, but he released only six years later. Two years after his discharge, Kemper picked up a pair of hitchhiking co-eds, drove them to an isolated spot, and stabbed them to death. After smuggling their bodies back home, he amused himself for several hours with his "trophies" - photographing them, dissecting them, having sex with their viscera. Eventually, he bagged and buried the body parts and tossed the heads into a ravine. Four months later, he abducted another teenage hitchiker, strangled her, raped her corpse, then took it home for more fun and games. The same pattern would repeat itself with three more female victims. Then, on Easter weekend 1973, Kemper committed matricide, hammering in the skull of his sleeping mother, then cutting off her head. After raping the decapitated body, he ripped out her larynx and jammed it down the garbage disposal. ("That seemed appropriate," he would later tell the police, "as much as she'd bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years.") Afterward, he telephoned his mother's best friend and invited her over for dinner. When she arrived, he crushed her skull with a brick and subjected her corpse to the usual postmortem outrages. On Easter Sunday, Kemper got in a car and headed east. When he reached Colorado, he telephoned his pals on the Santa Cruz police force and confessed. Convicted of eight counts of murder, he was asked what he thought a fitting punishment would be. "Death by torture," was his reasonable reply. Instead, he was sentenced to life in prison. (The A To Z Encyclopedia Of Serial Killers)

February 7, 2002
Pierre-François Lacenaire, the "Manfred of the gutter," was one of France's most notorious 19th century criminals. He and an accomplice named Avril called on an acquaintance of Lacenaire's named Chardon on December 14, 1834. As soon as they got into Chardon's apartment, Avril seized him by the throat and Lacenaire stabbed him in the back. Then Avril finished him off with a hatchet, while Lacenaire went into the bedroom and quickly killed the old woman with a shoemaker's awl. Eventually, Avril, who was imprisoned for another offence, came forward with information that led to Lacenaire's arrest for the murders. Lacenaire in turn gave a full confession which implicated Avril. Their executions were carried out quietly and unannounced, on a cold and foggy morning in January 1836, just over a year after the murder of the Chardons. Lacenaire remained calm and polite and watched Avril's execution without flinching. The men had made up at the end. The night before the execution, Lacenaire called to his old accomplice: "The earth will be pretty cold tomorrow." "Ask to be buried in a fur coat," shouted Avril. When Lacenaire's head was on the block, there was an accident that would have broken another man's nerve. The blade of the guillotine dropped, then stuck halfway. As it was hauled up again, Lacenaire twisted his head to look up at the triangular blade. A moment later, it fell again. Lacenaire was thirty-six years old when he died. (The Mammoth Book Of The History Of Murder)

February 11, 2002
Dr. Edward William Pritchard, the 'Glasgow poisoner,' looked the part of a respectable family man, but he was, in fact, an utterly weak character, a joke among his colleagues because of his incredible boasting and lying. He also regarded himself as a great lover and seduced servant girls and anyone else who would have him. In 1863, when he was 38, a fire broke out in the room of the servant girl in his house; she was found dead, and it seemed clear that she had made no attempt to leave her bed during the fire. Pritchard was widely suspected, but he nevertheless won a claim from an insurance company. In 1864, he made another servant girl - aged 15 - pregnant, but performed an abortion. And it may have been desire to marry her that led him to start poisoning his wife Mary, to whom he had been married for nearly 20 years. In November, 1864, she became ill, vomiting and dizzy. A doctor called in by Pritchard suspected she was being poisoned, and wrote to Mary Pritchard's brother, suggesting she should be moved into hsopital. The result was that Mary Pritchard's mother, Mrs. Taylor, decided to come and nurse her daughter. Soon, Mrs. Taylor was suffering from the same symptoms. She died on February 24, 1865, and Mrs. Pritchard followed her a month later. Pritchard provided both death certificates, stating that Mrs. Taylor died of apoplexy, and his wife of gastric fever. Someone wrote an anonymous letter to the police, and Pritchard was arrested. When the bodies were exumed, both were found to be saturated with antimony, which Pritchard was proved to have bought. Pritchard was hanged in 1865, the last man to be executed in public in Scotland. A crowd of 100,000 watched the execution. (Crimes And Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Vol. 8)

February 13, 2002

A Texas man, leaning out of a car smashing mailboxes with a baseball bat, caught his head on one and was jerked out of the car and killed. (The Big Book Of Losers)

February 14, 2002
A motorist has been accused of biting off a cyclist's finger during a road rage row in Italy. The cyclist, who hasn't been named, allegedly scratched the motorist's car as he was passing him in the centre of Bologna. According to police reports, the two started insulting each other before parking their vehicles and continuing their row on the pavement. Tgcom website reports the 61-year-old motorist bit the cyclist's left hand and did not let go until he managed to wrench his little finger off. The two were taken to hospital by police, who have charged them with assault. Doctors at the Bologna hospital say they couldn't reattach the cyclist's finger because it was too badly damaged. (Ananova.Com, donated by Thespn)

February 15, 2002
A jilted lover gave his ex-girlfriend the finger yesterday (2/14/02), wrapping up his severed middle digit and sending it to her at work in Manhattan. Then he called and asked her, "How did you like your Valentine's Day gift?". Cops arrested Forest Simon, 24, his left hand wrapped in a fresh bandage, and took him to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. The heartsick Romeo, still pining for the hair stylist he dated before their breakup a year ago, used a messenger to deliver the black jewelry box containing the finger to House of Field, a boutique and hair salon in the East Village, about 12:50 p.m. The shop is owned by Patricia Field, costume designer for HBO's "Sex and the City," but she wasn't the recipient of the bloody Valentine. The hair stylist "opens the box and there's three-quarters of a finger inside it and it's all bloody," a police source said. "She was quite startled." The 27-year-old hair cutter called the cops. While officers were there, Simon phoned repeatedly and cops tracked him down on nearby St. Marks Place. After chopping off his finger, Simon went to Beth Israel Medical Center, where doctors treated his wound. Simon, who lives in the East Village on First Ave., faces charges of aggravated harassment. (The NY Daily News, donated by KSHOhio)

February 19, 2002
A motorist has been accused of biting off a cyclist's finger during a road rage row in Italy. The cyclist, who hasn't been named, allegedly scratched the motorist's car as he was passing him in the centre of Bologna. According to police reports, the two started insulting each other before parking their vehicles and continuing their row on the pavement. Tgcom website reports the 61-year-old motorist bit the cyclist's left hand and did not let go until he managed to wrench his little finger off. The two were taken to hospital by police, who have charged them with assault. Doctors at the Bologna hospital say they couldn't reattach the cyclist's finger because it was too badly damaged. (Ananova.Com and was generously donated by Thespn)

February 20, 2002
A Nigerian man who confessed to killing his boss and making pepper soup with her body parts was arrested Wednesday (2/20/02). Salifu Ojo, a 23-year-old farm laborer in southwest Ondo state, killed Christiana Elijah, a 40-year-old mother of four, after a dispute over his pay. He chopped off her head, hands and legs, then removed her internal organs which he used as ingredients for his soup. "Ojo macheted the woman after they disagreed over payment," Paul Ochonu, Ondo state commissioner of police said. "He severed her parts, made pepper soup and ate it -- all on the farm." Ojo confessed to other laborers after the soup made him vomit. "We recovered the trunk of the woman's body and some uncooked parts on the farm," Ochonu said. He said the man would be charged to court as soon as police completed investigations. In Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation of more than 110 million people, many believe witchcraft involving the use of human genitals, eyes, tongues and skulls can make them instant millionaires. Although Ojo did not kill his boss for ritual purposes, police said they suspected he might have wanted to sell some body parts to ritualists. (Reuters, donated by: Jason Thomson)

February 21, 2002
A crazed Queens man bit and tore at his girlfriend's face in a bloody attack straight out of a horror movie on February 18, 2002. After receiving 911 calls reporting terrible screams, cops say they found Felix Rondon, 31, of 122nd Street in Ozone Park, on top of his 21-year-old girlfriend, Jessica Mencia, ripping at the area around her eyes with his teeth. Police think that Rondon may have devoured hunks of flesh during the sadistic attack. Semi-conscious, Mencia told cops Rondon punched and bit her. She was in stable condition last night at Jamaica Hospital after undergoing surgery on her mangled face. It isn't known what triggered the bloody rampage, but police were looking into whether Rondon had recently been hospitalized. Police said the attack occurred between 1 and 2 a.m., when 911 operators got a call from a man who said he was hearing a woman's "bloodcurdling" screams from a nearby apartment. "He hears the screams and thinks that a man is strangling a woman to death," a police source told The Post. When the landlord let police into the building and pointed out the apartment, they knocked, but there was no answer. The victim's chilling screams continued to echo through the building. Cops then used a battering ram to knock down the apartment door and followed the harrowing shrieks to the bedroom - but the door there was locked, too. After crashing through the bedroom door, they were shocked by the sickening sight that greeted them. The attacker was on top of the woman, biting and tearing her face with his teeth as cops pulled him off. She was bleeding heavily from her face, nose and eye areas. There were also bite marks on her arms. Rondon's face and mouth were allegedly covered in blood as well. Cops said the bottom portion of one of her earlobes was nearly torn off, and chunks of the young woman's ears and pieces of flesh around her eyes were also missing. Last night, little was known about the couple's history. Rondon was described as 5-foot-7, 170 pounds, with short, dark hair. He has no criminal record. He was taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital and then to Bellevue for psychiatric observation. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Rondon has been charged with assault and harassment. The couple has a 4-year-old daughter, who is staying with her grandmother. (The New York Post , donated by Pinkle)

February 24, 2002
"In every autopsy there will be something unique. Inside stomachs I've seen ears bitten off and worse. Once a man cut off his own penis and swallowed it, bleeding to death." (Dead Reckoning, August, 2001 issue of Maxim magazine)

February 25, 2002
Few can be unfamiliar with the hideous punishment of crucifixion. In this punishment, the victim was stripped down to a loin cloth. He was then either nailed to the cross through his palms and the insteps of his feet, or tied by cord. His feet rested on a wedge of wood to prevent the weight of the body pulling the victim from the cross. The cross was then erected into a previously prepared fixing in the earth. Sometimes the limbs of the crucified man were broken in order to hasten his death. His torment was enduring if his physical constitution was strong. There was the relentless sun beating on his unprotected skin, the flies feasting on his sweat and often a choking desert dust in the air. Compassionate judges ordered that the men be put out of their misery if they had not died by sundown. Some refinements emerged during the history of crucifixion. The victim might be attached upside-down to the cross. While this might appear even more callous it in fact was a blessing as the sufferer swiftly lapsed into a state of unconsciousness. (The History Of Punishment & Torture)
Julie has a few words to say about this one: "I was browsing through your Morbid Fact du Jour archives and ran across the description of death by crucifixion (item Feb. 25, 2002). The author wasn't quite up on the details. Victims were nailed just below the wrists, not through the palms - otherwise the weight of the body would cause the hand to tear away from the nail. The wrist-bone complex is sturdier. This is one of the bits of
trivia often used to argue the validity of the Shroud of Turin, since by the time that came along religious imagery commonly showed Christ with nails through the hands; the inaccuracy of that detail wasn't commonly known. T
he piece of wood for the feet wasn't to prevent the body from falling. (Not a very logical theory anyway, as it would mean that people would tend to fall off the crosses upon death or loss of consciousness, rather than having to be taken down.) The wood was to keep the victim alive longer. The cause of death in crucifixion is suffocation. With the arms forcibly outstretched and the body pulled downward by gravity, the ribcage is expanded abnormally and the subject is unable to inhale. The wood allows him to push up a bit with the toes and get some air. Death occurs when the person is too exhausted to lift himself any more to continue breathing. The breaking of legs was considered a mercy because the person would be unable to push up at all, ensuring death within a few
minutes rather than hours or days.

February 26, 2002
One of the earliest documented cases of "joy-murder" is that of Gesina Gottfried, who was executed in Bremen in 1828. Gesina was born in a small town in North Germany. She was attractive and had several suitors. From these, she chose a businessman named Milten- berg. By the age of 20, she had two children, but her husband was a drunkard and a wife beater and his business was on the verge of bankruptcy. One day, Gesina saw her mother using a white powder to mix bait for mice and rats. She took some of it and dropped it into a glass of her husband's beer. He was dead by the next morning. She now pursued a young friend of her husband's named Gottfried, who was shy and cautious. She began to slip small quantities of the white powder into his drink. When her parents got wind of her intimacy with Gottfried, they opposed it. Gesina did not hesitate for a moment: she dropped arsenic in their beer. Then, carried away with her newfound power, she went on to poison her own two children. Gottfried finally agreed to marry her a day before he died, thus giving his property (her goal all along) to Gesina. Gesina moved on to begin poisoning a new suitor. When her brother showed up one day, she disposed of him quickly with a glass of poisoned beer. Her lover was persuaded to make a will in her favor, and then he died. After that, she moved about and is supposed to have killed a female lover, a female acquaintance who borrowed money, the wife of her employer and his five children. When her employer began to feel ill after Gesina's meals, he investigated and found a leg of pork sprinkled with white powder. He took this to the police who quickly identified the powder as arsenic. When arrested, Gesina made no attempt to deny her guilt; on the contrary she confessed to her various crimes with relish. (
The Mammoth Book Of The History Of Murder)

February 27, 2002
On February 21, 1872, officers were summoned to a weatherbeaten little house occupied by a family named Hayden. Mr. Hayden told the officers how his little son, Tracy, had been lured to an abandoned outhouse by an older boy and savagely attacked. When the officers asked to see the boy, the were summoned into the bedroom where he was laying face down on the bed, whimpering as he was comforted by his mother. He had raised welts all along his back and the sight of the seven-year-old's face made the officers wince. He looked like a fighter who had just suffered a terrible beating in the ring: eyes swollen and badly discolored, nose broken, upper lip split. Two of his front teeth had been knocked out. Officer McNeil asked him to describe exactly what the older boy had done. "He stripped me and put a handerkerchief in my mouth. Then he tied up my feet and hands and tied me to a beam. Then he whipped me with a hard stick and said he would cut my penis off." (Fiend)