May, 2000

May 1, 2000
A Colombian nun has been arrested in connection with the murder of another nun, whose burned and mutilated body was found by the side of a road outside the capital, Bogota. Sister Leticia Lopez was arrested by agents of the attorney-general's office over the murder of a colleague in the same order, who worked with her in a foundation caring for drug addicts and the elderly in a poor district of the city. The dead woman, Sister Luz Amparo Granada, was found last November, her corpse covered in cardboard boxes on the main eastern thoroughfare from Bogota. She had been shot in the head, her legs severed and parts of her body badly burned. Investigators found cardboard matching that found with the corpse in the house of Sister Lopez. They would not speculate as to the motive for the killing. This is not the first violent incident involving nuns. Last August two sisters were patrolling their convent in Tunja, just north of Bogota, when they heard a noise and fired several shots from a 38 Smith and Wesson pistol, killing a male intruder. They were cleared of murder as they had a gun license and were deemed to have acted in self-defense. (BBC News, generously donated by Bruce Townley)

May 2, 2000
On August 31, 1983, a Korean Airlines Boeing 747 jumbo jet was targeted and destroyed by a Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 fighter plane when it strayed off-course and into Soviet airspace. At 18:25:46 hours, the Soviet interceptor pilot sent a brief message, "805.ZG". That meant his twin ANAB missiles were locked onto target and firing... and life was about to end for 269 humans. In just two seconds the missiles ripped into Flight 007 and blew it apart in a holocaust that combined the massive explosive powers of the missiles, the inrushing decompression of the airliner's shell, and the fireball of thousands of gallons of fuel. Maybe, in those appalling moments, the front end of the aircraft was thrown clear and weirdly intact, because the last message from Flight 007 was 38 seconds later than the Soviet pilot's claim of a kill. To the professional listeners on the ground, East and West, the garbled words that emerged from the cockpit would haunt them forever: "Radio... Korean Air007... All engines... Rapid decompression... 101... two... Delta." (Crimes And Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 3)
Nugneant writes: Err, I guess you took some creative liberties with this one - in the US official report on the aftermath of the accident (trust me, I know) it was clearly stated that the plane remained in the air, slowly spiraling downward, for up to (iirc) a minute. No giant explosion, just depressurization and subsequent loss of control. The missle hit, according to the flight recorder, at 18.26:02. [sound of exposion] The last message from cockpit to ground was at 18.27:21 - "KOREAN AIR ZERO ZERO SEVEN unreadble unreadable RADIO CHECK ON ONE ZERO ZERO FOUR EIGHT." The last recorded internal message was at 18.27:43 - "Put the mask over your nose and mouth and adjust ... [END OF RECORDING]"
Well, as I always say, I'm only as accurate at my source!

May 3, 2000
A teenage Czech athlete has died after being hit by a hammer in a freak accident at a local meeting, her club said Wednesday (May 3, 2000). Zuzana Krejcova was struck in the head and neck by the hammer which broke while being thrown by Czech number one Vladimir Maska in Turnov Monday, Mirko Graef, an official at the Slovan Liberec athletic club, told Reuters. The 18-year-old middle distance runner was hit as she sat about 10 meters outside the throwing zone. The athlete, who finished fifth in the Czech junior indoor 800 meters championship earlier this year, died of her injuries in hospital Tuesday. Graef said standard precautions were taken for throwing the seven kilogram (14.4 pound) hammer. (Reuters, donated by Amos Quito)

May 4, 2000
In ancient Greece, religious festivals were an important social outlet for women. They gave women an opportunity to leave their households and enter the public sphere. One festival that was of particular importance to Greek women was the Thesmophoria, a fertility festival in honor of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. The central act of the Thesmophoria consisted of women called "antleriai" or "bailers" going into trenches to bring back the putrified remains of piglets which had been sacrificed to the goddess Demeter and cast into pits months before. Once the decaying piglets were retrieved from the underground caverns, they were spread with seeds on the Thesmophorion, altars of Demeter and Persephone. This mixture was later spread on the fields to promote fertility of the crops. (National Geographic)

May 5, 2000
Nicolae Ceausescu was chosen to head Romania's ruling communist party in 1965, and thus began the horrors of an iron-fisted dictatorship. Ceausescu's minions investigated all aspects of people's lives. He decreed that all women must bear 5 children. His "birth squads" visited women at home and work, administering monthly pregnancy tests. Those who didn't conceive were interrogated regarding their sex lives. Due to terrible food shortages, many women were unable to support their "decree babies". They turned them over to state-run orphanages. More than 150,000 children, Ceausescu's "Workers Of Tomorrow," were crowded into these institutions. Many died of malnutrition and disease. Others ran away, becoming homeless beggars. Still others were victims of Ceausescu's blind indifference to reality. Believing AIDS to be solely a disease of the "decadent West," he forbade testing of the nation's blood supply. Through transfusions and shared vaccination needles, thousands of orphans contracted the disease. Eventually, Romania had over half of Europe's cases of childhood AIDS. In December, 1989, the Romanian people finally reached the breaking point and revolted. Ceausescu and his wife Elena were captured, convicted of crimes against the people, and sentenced to immediate execution. Hundreds volunteered for the firing squad. The 3 who were selected didn't wait for orders -- they started shooting as soon as they saw the hated pair: a bloody Christmas present to the people of Romania. (The Big Book Of Bad)

May 6, 2000
Around the middle of the 19th century, new technologies made sea travel faster, more predictable and safer. Iron, and later steel, permitted the construction of larger, stronger ships which were less susceptible to damage. Between 1850 and 1900, the average passenger ship tripled in length and increased many times in tonnage. The advent of the steam engine, in particular, freed ships from the vagaries of the wind, giving them greater flexibility to stay out of harm's way. However, early steam engines were driven by primitive boilers which exploded frequently, causing large losses of life. In 1823 alone, 14 percent of all steam vessels in the United States were destroyed by explosions, resulting in more than 1,000 fatalities. In 1824, Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to investigate the causes of the large number of disasters involving boiler explosions. Then in 1838, Congress passed laws providing for the inspection of ship hulls and boilers, the installation of firefighting and lifesaving equipment, and the creation of the Steamboat Inspection Service. In spite of the legislation, the number of ship disasters involving boiler explosions increased. During the first eight months of 1852, seven disasters alone cost 700 lives. Later that year, Congress mandated licensing of engineers and pilots on steam vessels carrying passengers, tightened many safety requirements, and reorganized the Steamboat Inspection Service. Still, the disasters continued. On April 27, 1865, the worst maritime disaster in United States history took place. The Civil War was a recent memory when the paddle-wheel steamer SULTANA embarked with 2,000 Union veterans and 376 regular passengers from Memphis, Tennessee, up the Mississippi River to Cairo, Illinois. A boiler exploded and the vessel caught fire. The entire ship was soon engulfed in flames and burned to the waterline. More than 1,450 people perished from smoke inhalation, drowning or exposure. (An Historical Overview Of Passenger Ship Disasters And Casualties, donated by Freya Harris)

May 7, 2000
In those ever-enlightened Medieval times, a frequently used method of proving innocence was the Trial By Ordeal of Boiling Water. In the case of the 'single' ordeal, for minor offences, the person seeking to clear himself was either required simply to plunge his hand into boiling water up to his wrist and withdraw it again or he might be made to retrieve a stone or a ring from an appropriately measured depth; but, where the seriousness of the crime called for the 'triple' ordeal, the whole forearm had to be thrust into the water, whether there was something to be picked up from the bottom of the cauldron or not, right up to the elbow. After immersion, the hand or arm was bound up in a cloth, and sealed with the signet of the judge, so that, in theory at least, the wound could not be tampered with during the three days which must elapse before the bandage was removed and the accused's guilt or innocence decided by whether or not he still showed visible signs of having been scalded. (The Medieval Underworld)

May 8, 2000
An English rugby fan dressed his dead father-in-law and tried to smuggle the body back home from Scotland on a tour bus, police said Sunday (May 7, 2000). The bizarre incident happened last weekend after the two men watched a rugby league final in Edinburgh on the Saturday and then only the son-in-law woke up in their hotel room in Glasgow on the Sunday morning. "For reasons known only to himself, he decided to dress the man -- I believe in a shirt and tie and a suit and also a baseball cap -- and he got him onto the bus," a Glasgow police spokeswoman said. "Apparently, he pulled the cap down over the man's eyes and the rest of the coach were unaware that the man was dead." Once on the bus, the man phoned his wife to tell her that her 77-year-old father had died, prompting police in England to stop the bus en route and remove the body. The son-in-law was not charged. (Yahoo News, donated by Bruce Townley)

May 9, 2000
On May 2, 1998, Hideto 'Hide' Matsumoto, the 33-year-old guitarist of XJapan, a popular Japanese rock group, hanged himself from a towel hooked to a doorknob. Several distraught fans attempted copycat suicides but, due to the difficulty of this method, only one actually succeeded. (Bizarre, April 2000)

May 10, 2000
It started out like a scene from The Brady Bunch. Andrew and his fiancée were living together with his three children and her three children in Dover Township, when an argument over chocolate cake icing erupted. Andrew accused his 10-year-old son of taking the missing container, and the two became embroiled in a heated disagreement. Andrew took the boy out to the garage for a more private discussion, and there the conversation became even more emotional. Then the man made his fatal mistake. He handed a 5-inch kitchen knife to his angry son, and challenged the boy to stab him if he hated him so much. The boy put the knife down, but Andrew picked it up and placed it in his hand again. In the heat of the moment, the outraged boy took him up on the offer and plunged the knife into his chest. The deadly blow happened so fast that Andrew's watching fiancée was unable to stop it. Andrew was pronounced dead at Community Medical Center. The fourth-grader was charged with manslaughter and illegal possession of a weapon, and held in the county's juvenile detention center. Although he faces up to three years imprisonment, Ocean County prosecutor E. David Millard said it was unlikely that he would serve jail time, as the boy had been provoked. He added that there had been a buildup of emotional turmoil between the boy and his father. The dead man's last words were, "Would you believe the kid did that?" (The Darwin Awards)

May 11, 2000
Drug smugglers stuffed their stash in the corpse of a young girl whom they had apparently killed, in a foiled attempt to bring narcotics into the Gulf Arab region, a senior UAE policeman was quoted Tuesday as saying. The Gulf News quoted Abdul Rahman Naser al-Fardan, head of the police drug squad in Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, as saying a woman carrying the dead girl was arrested on arrival at the unnamed Gulf state. An airport official became suspicious when he tried to play with the apparently sleeping child, Fardan said. He said the girl had been kidnapped and murdered so that the smugglers could fill her body with codeine, an addictive painkiller not freely available in the Gulf. The Gulf lies along traditional drug smuggling routes from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Europe. Officials say drug traffickers use the region's long coastlines as a transit point. (Reuters, donated by bloodandivory and gopherbroke)
Is this fact or urban legend? See for more discussion on this. However, I can attest that in one of my forensics textbooks, I have seen a picture of a hollowed-out baby with a packet of drugs that were removed from the corpse... so I know that in at least some instances, this is more than just urban legend.

May 12, 2000
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo suffered an incredibly gruesome accident. On the afternoon of September 17, 1925, the teenage Kahlo was travelling on a bus which collided with a tramcar. The force of the crash unleashed a hellish series of events, painting a grotesque, surreal tableau: Kahlo's right leg was fractured in 11 places, her right foot was dislocated and crushed, her spine was broken, as was her collarbone. Moreover, she later recalled, "the crash bounced us forward and a handrail pierced me the way a sword pierces a bull". She was skewered by the handrail's steel shaft which entered her abdomen on the left, passed through her midriff and exited through her vagina ("I lost my virginity," she sanguinely observed). The force of the crash also tore most of the clothes from her body. Still more bizarrely, a fellow passenger had been carrying a pot of gold powder paint which exploded during the crash, so that immediately after the accident, Kahlo was naked, suffering a "tremendous hemorrhage" and covered in gold paint (rendering her a true 'Santa Sangre'). Although she would not remember crying, witnesses claimed her screams were loud enough to drown out the siren of the ambulance. Kahlo would go on to become one of Mexico's greatest artists, but the pain of the crash haunted her for the rest of her life. Her last diary entry read, "I hope that the end is joyful - and I hope never to come back." (Bizarre, April 2000)

May 13, 2000
Today we return to another sordid tale from the horrid life of Italian feudal lord Ezzelino da Romano (see the MFDJ from April 13, 2000 to refresh your memory):
When Ezzelino took the city of Brescia, he instituted a reign of terror, ordering that all the prisoners who had been taken in battle could be either beheaded or tortured. Those who escaped with their lives had their eyes gouged out or limbs hacked off, while pregnant women had their bellies slit open. Families were tortured to death in one another's presence, priests were burned alive and disembowelled; most of the men who were killed were castrated, and their testicles thrown into a deep well, which he swore he would fill to the top. Shortly after this, in 1259, Ezzelino was finally captured in battle and taken to a castle in the small town of Somcino. The opposing army went wild with joy, but Ezzelino had no intention of giving them the pleasure of showing weakness or fear. When a man spat in his face, he stared grimly straight in front of him. In the castle of Somcino, he refused food and drink, and finally succeeded in killing himself by ripping off the bandages from his wounds, and bleeding to death. He was seventy-five years old, and had been torturing and murdering for twenty-two years. (The Mammoth Book Of The History Of Murder)

May 18, 2000
Colombia's Marxist guerrillas rigged a bomb around the neck of a woman who rebelled against their systematic campaign of extortion on Monday (5/15/00), killing her and a policeman hours later as he struggled to pry it loose from her flesh. Three security force members were maimed by the so-called "necklace bomb," which police and military spokesmen said marked an unprecedented act of terror in a conflict that has claimed more than 35,000 lives over the last decade. They said rebels used a silicone adhesive and glue to attach the bomb to the body of Elvira Cortes Gil, 52, after breaking into her home in central Boyaca province at dawn. The pressure-release device exploded more than six hours later, while police and army bomb squad technicians were struggling to deactivate it and remove it from her body. An army statement said Cortes Gil, a dairy farmer, was singled out for the "atrocious experiment" that took her life because she had recently decided to stop paying Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels extortion money. The FARC, Latin America's largest surviving 1960s-era rebel army, has a long history of using kidnapping, extortion and links to the drug trade to help finance its war effort. A police anti-explosives technician, identified as Yair Lopez, and an unidentified soldier both lost their left arms while trying to rescue Cortes Gil. Lopez bled to death before he could be treated for his injury in a local hospital. (Reuters, donated by gopherbroke, James T. Matson, Snort, and Neil Langdon Inglis)

May 19, 2000
Four people were arrested after a 10-year-old girl suffocated while undergoing therapy intended to simulate birth. Candace Newmaker was rolled up in a flannel sheet during the treatment at Connell Watkins and Associates in Evergreen and died of asphyxiation. Both ends of the sheet were twisted above the girl's head and large pillows were placed around her head. It was supposed to represent the womb. Connell Watkins, the center's owner, told authorities she and three others pressed on the pillows to simulate labor contractions and encouraged Candace to push her way out. Candace and her mother, Jeane Newmaker, came from Durham, N.C., to the counseling center for the April 18 session. The therapy is intended to enable troubled children to heal from past trauma by struggling out of the covering and being "reborn." Julie Ponder, 39, a therapist who was leading the session, and the others called paramedics after they unrolled the blanket and found that Candace wasn't breathing. She died at a hospital the next day. Ponder, along with Brita St. Clair, 41, the center's business manager; and Jack McDaniel 47, an intern, were charged Thursday (May 18, 2000) with child abuse resulting in death. Watkins, 53, was arrested on the same charge Friday at Denver International Airport as she returned from out of state. Each was jailed on $250,000 bond. Ponder said she didn't know Candace was having problems during the session. McDaniel and St. Clair were helping her while the girl's mother talked to her daughter and Watkins videotaped the session. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said the videotape shows that Candace complained several times that she couldn't breathe and told them she had to vomit, authorities said. (The Associated Press, donated by Amos Quito and Bruce Townley)

May 20, 2000
A man apparently committed suicide Friday afternoon when he dived into a wood chipper at a Glendale apartment complex. "He took his wallet out of his pants pocket, and then, just like you would dive into a swimming pool, he dove into it," Glendale police spokesman Matt Brown said. The death happened shortly before 2 p.m. at the Newport Landings apartment complex in the 5200 block of West Thunderbird Road. The 44-year-old man watched landscapers use the machinery to shred 8-inch-thick tree limbs before he dived in, Brown said. (Azcentral.Com, donated by Brian)

May 21, 2000
Zahida Perveen's head is shrouded in a white cotton veil, which she self-consciously tightens every few moments. But when she reaches down to pick up her baby daughter, the veil falls away to reveal the face of one of Pakistan's most horrific social ills, broadly known as "honor" crimes. Perveen's eyes are empty sockets of unseeing flesh, her earlobes have been sliced off, and her nose is a gaping, reddened stump of bone. Sixteen months ago, her husband, in a fit of rage over her alleged affair with a brother-in-law, bound her hands and feet and slashed her with a razor and knife. She was three months' pregnant at the time. "He came home from the mosque and accused me of having a bad character," the tiny, 32-year-old woman murmured as she awaited a court hearing last month. "I told him it was not true, but he didn't believe me. He caught me and tied me up, and then he started cutting my face. He never said a word except, 'This is your last night.'" Perveen's disfigurement is extreme, but her case is standard in its basic elements. Thousands of Pakistani women and girls are stabbed, burned or maimed every year by husbands, fathers or brothers who believe they have brought them dishonor by being unfaithful, seeking a divorce, eloping with a boyfriend or refusing to marry a man chosen by the family. If a victim dies, the crime becomes an "honor killing," a term that has come to symbolize the cruel irony of a conservative Islamic society that purports to shelter women, yet often condones savage violence against them in the name of male and family honor. (The Washington Post, donated by Neil Langdon Inglis)

May 22, 2000
Englishman George Joseph Smith became known as the "Brides in the Bath" murderer for his habit of drowning his wives in the tub in order to collect on their life insurance. Smith vehemently proclaimed his innocence, leaping up during his trial and shouting, "I am not a murderer, though I may be a bit peculiar!" The jury didn't buy it, at least the first part. He was hanged on Friday, August 13, 1915. (The A To Z Encyclopedia Of Serial Killers)
Reader George Wagner adds: "As you probably already know, the "Brides in the Bath" case was personally solved by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, at his Sherlock Holmes best. He'd collected newsclippings of a number of "accidental" bathtub drownings across England, over several years, eventually realizing that there was a connection between them."

May 23, 2000
When Moktaria Chaib’s body was found in December 1997, the 19-year-old’s head was face down in the ground and both her breasts were removed with surgical precision. The murder of Marie-Helene Gonzalez six months later was no less macabre. The 22-year-old’s torso was brutalized, her sexual organs placed in a box and her head and hands were missing. Both were last seen alive near the Perpignan railway station in the south of France. Now the brutal murders of these two women and the disappearance of a third, Tatiana Andujar, a 17-year-old student who was also last seen near the Perpignan station, have led to a startling theory: that a serial killer is using Salvador Dalí’s art as disturbed inspiration. The French press was the first to report the possible association between Dalí’s paintings and the corpses, suggesting the possibility of a serial killer trying to bring the artist’s work to life. "The Spectre of Sex Appeal," for example, features a nude woman, her head and a hand missing and cloth bags placed where her breasts should be. The disfigured woman reclines as a boy looks on. Similarly, Gonzalez’s head and hands were missing and her breasts removed. Though Stephen Bourgoin, France’s leading expert on multiple murder, discounts any link between a serial murderer and Dalí’s art, he says, "Dalí has done his work of art." Now, "the serial killer of Perpignan is doing his gruesome work of art." (20/20, donated by Nina)

May 24, 2000
Timur Lenk, Timur the Lame - better known in the west as Tamerlane - was a descendant of the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, who had spread terror from China to the Mediterranean a century earlier. From 1362 to 1380, Tamerlane made himself master of what is now Russian Turkestan, fighting invading nomads. Then he spent another seven years conquering Persia. Unfortunately for the people he conquered, he was an obsessive killer, who felt that a conqueror's chief business was to murder on a massive scale. His violence was pointlessly sadistic; when he took Sabwazar in 1383 he had 2,000 prisoners built into a living mound, then bricked in. Later the same year, he had 5,000 captives beheaded at Zirih, and their heads made into an enormous pyramid. In 1386 he had all his prisoners at Luri hurled over a cliff. In Delhi, he massacred 100,000 prisoners. This extraordinary man invaded Anatolia (Turkey) in 1400, took the garrison of Sivas, and had its 4,000 Christian defenders buried alive. Yet since he lacked political good sense, and was more interested in conquest and murder than in consolidating his gains, his empire collapsed with half a century of his death in 1405. (The Mammoth Book Of The History Of Murder)

May 25, 2000
A Brazilian stonemason who claimed to be possessed by the devil severed his own penis after stabbing himself in the chest and stomach with a borrowed knife in February, 2000. The mason, who has not been identified by authorities, ran into the house of a neighbor, asked for a kitchen knife and proceeded to stab himself. When police arrived and tried to arrest him, the 32-year-old man sliced off his penis. The man, who also suffered wounds to his liver and scrotal sack, was taken to a local hospital in Goiania, some 130 miles (210 km) southwest of the capital Brasilia. His organ was transported separately. A hospital spokeswoman said a seven-hour operation to reattach the mason's penis was successful. (Reuters, donated by Gopherbroke)

May 26, 2000
The body of a man who hijacked a Philippines passenger jet was found Friday buried deep in mud after his homemade parachute fell off when he jumped from the plane. "The body was embedded in the ground with only the hands protruding," national police chief Panfilo Lacson told reporters after the body was discovered near a reservoir at Liabac, east of Manila. A homemade, lavender-colored parachute was found nearby. Liabac village chief Basilio Gesmundo told local radio he saw a parachute open after a person jumped from the Philippine Airlines Airbus A330 as it flew over his village Thursday. "I saw the parachute separate from the person," he said. The pilot of the hijacked airliner described the hijacker as a jilted husband. He wore a blue bonnet and threatened passengers and crew with a grenade and a gun after he hijacked the domestic flight en route from Davao city to Manila on Thursday. After robbing the passengers and crew, he forced the pilot to take the plane down to 6,000 feet before jumping out. The plane later landed safely in Manila. It was the country's first hijacking since 1982. Senior superintendent Marcelo Ele, from the air force aviation security agency, said the man had never sky-dived before. "I would say he's an adventurer or a man fantasizing about being a skydiver," he said. "Using that kind of parachute would be plain and simple suicide." (Reuters, donated by Michael Carroll)

May 27, 2000
Is it possible to eat yourself to death? A Frenchman named E. Revilloid attempted in 1885 to discover how much food it would take before the stomach would explode from the strain. He filled up a stomach (removed from its deceased gentilhomme owner) until it burst. The rupture threshold was determined to be 4,000 cc, or about four quarts. Of course, some stomachs, by way of heredity or prolonged daily gourmandism, are roomier than average. The all-time record holder would appear to be a 23-year-old London fashion model whose case was described in the April 1985 issue of Lancet. At one fateful meal, the young woman managed to put away 19 pounds of food: one pound of liver, two pounds of kidney, a half pound steak, one pound of cheese, two eggs, two thick slices of bread, one cauliflower, 10 peaches, four pears, two apples, four bananas, two pounds each of plums, carrots and grapes, and two glasses of milk. Whereupon her stomach blew up and she died. Runner-up goes to a 31-year-old Florida psychologist who was found collapsed in her kitchen surrounded by "an abundance of foodstuffs, broken soft drink bottles and an empty grocery bag," to quote a lavishly if repellently illustrated article in a 1986 American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology. In her purse was a hospital form from several hours earlier, indicating that she had consumed five pounds of hot dogs, three boxes of crackers and two quarts of milk before driving herself to the emergency room and complaining of abdominal pain. The staff dutifully pumped nearly two quarts of material from her stomach, whereupon she returned home, only to start all over again -- this time with lethal results. The Dade County medical examiner's report itemized the fatal last meal: "8700 cc of poorly masticated, undigested hot dogs, broccoli and cereal suspended in a green liquid that contained numerous small bubbles." The green liquid remains a mystery, as does the apparent widespread appeal of hot dogs among modern-day gorgers. (Salon, donated by Vickie Woods)

May 28, 2000
Doctors Clark, Ellis and Shaw attended the hanging of a 28-year-old man in Boston at 10 a.m. in 1858. The unfortunate man dropped seven or eight feet. Seven minutes afterwards the heart was heard to beat at a rate of a hundred per minute. Two minutes later it was ninety-eight, and three minutes later still it had diminished to only sixty beats per minute. In a further two minutes the heart sounds disappeared, the heart had stopped beating and the man was considered to be dead. He was taken down for burial at 10:25 a.m. The heart was stopped, the face was purple and the pupils of the eyes were dilated (generally considered a sign of death). At 10:40 a.m. the rope was loosened, as well as the pinions which bound the arms to the sides. At 11:30 a.m. (1 1/2 hours after the hanging) a pulse was detected - distinctly and regularly at eighty beats per minute. The chest was then opened! The heart was observed directly and seen to be contracting with 'force and regularity'. By midday the exposed heart was beating at forty per minute; contractions finally ceased at 3:18 p.m., five hours after the hanging. The chronicler of this event, Dr. Brouardel, said wryly, 'I must point out, in passing, the strange, cool manner in which these Boston physicians performed their experiments on a living man.' Indeed. (Reuters, donated by Gopherbroke)

May 29, 2000
The death of a pensioner who was scorched by boiling gel from an exploding heat pad has prompted a coroner to issue a warning to other users before the inquest is held. It is feared that up to 100,000 of the devices, filled with a heat-retaining gel that can be microwaved and that is used in the same way as a hot water bottle, have not been traced. Florence Sutton, 90, died after suffering 25 per cent burns when the pad burst after being warmed in a microwave oven. There have been at least 36 other incidents, some involving serious injury. An inquest will be held later but Peter Dean, the Southend Coroner, said that it would be irresponsible not to issue a warning immediately. Tom Stott, the coroner's officer, said: "It is unprecedented for us to make such a warning before an inquest but we would not be doing our duty if we did not highlight the danger." He said the gel clung to skin and continued to burn. "Because it is sticky it does not fall off as water would. It is like glue." Mrs Sutton, of Benfleet, Essex, set off a panic alarm after she was burnt in November, 1999, and died six days after being airlifted to a burns unit at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex. She bought the pad, sold under the name Microwarmer at a branch of Boots, which issued a recall notice after problems with the warmers became apparent. According to Mrs Sutton's family, she had become so attached to the device that she refused to part with it, despite being contacted by Boots. (The Times, donated by Mark Rock)

May 30, 2000
A San Diego County jury has convicted a man of molesting three sheep, two of them fatally, in an open-air pen last summer. James Donald Ray, 39, was found guilty Monday of felony animal cruelty and misdemeanor animal sexual assault after a weeklong trial, prosecutors said. The brown-haired, blue-eyed man broke down repeatedly while testifying about his predilection for animals, also known as zoophilism or bestiality. "It was always a deep, dark secret that he had," public defender Deborah Kirkwood told "He really wants help. He's begging for help now that it's out in the open. He knows what he did was wrong." Ray, a single San Diego County man who has no children, is scheduled to undergo a third psychiatric evaluation before District Court Judge Patricia Cookson sentences him July 10, authorities said. Ray, who is unemployed, has been in custody since last August, when investigators from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department caught him trying to have sex with a ewe outside El Capitan High School in Lakeside. Two other sheep, part of the school's agricultural program, had died of sexual assault a few weeks earlier, prompting a stakeout. Ray "conceded" the sexual assault, but his attorney added that she didn't believe his actions fell within the state's definition of animal cruelty, which specifies intending to maim, mutilate, torture, wound or kill. "His intent was to complete a sexual act with the sheep rather than harm or kill the sheep," Kirkwood said. The Humane Society, which has targeted animal sexual abuse as part of its campaign against animal cruelty, disagrees with this defense. Like child sexual abuse, animal sexual abuse is an activity in which one party cannot consent or refuse, the agency said. (APBNews.Com)

May 31, 2000
In a paper presented to the International Association of Forensic Sciences in 1984, FBI Special Agent Robert K. Ressler and several of his colleagues presented the following "general characteristics" of serial sex-murderers. How many of them can you check off?
1. Over 90 percent of them are white males.
2. They tend to be intelligent, with IQs in the "bright normal" range.
3. In spite of their high IQs, they do poorly in school, have a hard time holding down jobs, and often work as unskilled laborers.
4. They tend to come from markely unstable families. Typically, they are abandoned as children by their fathers and raised by domineering mothers.
5. Their family histories often have criminal, psychiatric, and alcoholic histories.
6. They hate their fathers. They hate their mothers.
7. They are commonly abused as children -- psychologically, physically, and sexually. Sometimes, the abuser is a stranger. Sometimes, it is a friend. Often, it is a family member.
8. Many of them end up spending time in institutions as children and have records of early psychiatric problems.
9. They have a high rate of suicide attempts.
10. They are intensely interested from an early age in voyeurism, fetishism, and sadomasochistic pornography.
(The A-Z Encyclopedia Of Serial Killers)