June, 2000

June 1, 2000
A woman suspected of shoplifting was crushed to death in Detroit Wednesday when she tried to hide in a garbage compactor after fleeing security. Guards at a Value Village store had detained her after suspecting her of shoplifting, but the woman ran, Officer Glen Woods said. "I guess the first place she ran to hide was the compactor," he said. "Once she jumped in, she triggered the machine." The compactor starts automatically when it senses a certain weight, he said. No information on the woman was available. (The Associated Press, donated by Walter, Snort, and Zatoichi Jones)
Reader Cassie clarifies: Concerning your fact about the trash compactor, you made a slight factual error. The compactor was not, in fact, tripped by a certain weight, but turned on by a Value Village employee who was not aware that the woman was hiding in there! I read it in the Detroit News a week or so ago!"

June 2, 2000
A woman released after serving four years for murdering her son with an ax has been arrested for using an ax to kill again - this time, police say hacking her husband to death in a pig sty. Police said Sotiria Loutriotis, 61, was arrested Friday for the killing of 68-year-old Giorgos Loutriotis on their farm just outside this central town 220 miles north of Athens. She was jailed under guard at a psychiatric facility. Police said they will file murder charges after she undergoes a psychiatric evaluation. Mrs. Loutriotis had walked to a nearby farm and told her neighbors she killed her husband at dawn as he was feeding the livestock, police said. They found her husband's remains in one of the sties. Mrs. Loutriotis had received a life sentence after being convicted of using an ax to kill her son, Dimitris Loutriotis, 29. She was released eight months ago from a prison psychiatric ward. Police said they did not know why prison authorities released her so early. Her other son, Christos Loutriotis, died in a traffic accident on the way to his brother's funeral. (The Associated Press, donated by Neil Langdon Inglis)

June 3, 2000
The death of an 86-year-old woman in western France - ripped to pieces by five dogs - has underlined the failure of efforts by the government to control and ultimately abolish pitbull terriers and other "attack dogs". The woman was attacked on Thursday on an isolated road near her home in Tonnay Charente, near Rochefort, by four Staffordshire terriers and a pitbull. A motorist found the body and called the gendarmerie and emergency services. A gendarme said: "It's impossible to describe the state of her body. It was difficult at first to know whether it was a man or a woman." The dogs had escaped from the enclosed garden of a 36-year-old woman and her 20-year-old-son. Both were arrested and held in custody. Under a law that took effect last year, all dogs from breeds that are considered dangerous must be chained or kept on a leash and registered with the authorities. Pitbulls must be sterilised or neutered; breeding is forbidden. The gendarmerie said none of the dogs that attacked the woman had been registered. The animals had made a hole in the fence surrounding their owner's property on the edge of an industrial estate. Gendarmes believe that the attack lasted only seconds. Despite the draconian nature of the new law, there have been a number of attacks on people - mostly children - by dangerous dogs in France this year. Last month a four-year-old boy was savaged by a pitbull on the streets of a housing estate at Villepinte, in the northern Paris suburbs. The dog was walking with its owner but was not on a leash. Pitbulls are a status symbol - and sometimes protection - for residents of sink housing estates. Surveys by local authorities and newspapers suggest the dangerous-dog law is being widely ignored and not enforced by police. (The Independent, donated by Neil Langdon Inglis)

June 4, 2000
A dog turned up at a Mamelodi high school in South Africa at the weekend with the head of a new born baby between its jaws. According to Pretoria police spokesman, Captain Morné van Wyk, the dog was seen with its gruesome find at the J. Tekana High School on Saturday afternoon. A murder investigation was opened but detectives have thus far not been able to establish the identity or sex of the infant. On Sunday morning the baby's body was still missing. (DigiNews, donated by Francoise)

June 5, 2000
The most frequent instances of people buried alive might have occurred during epidemics of plague, cholera or smallpox, when, for the sake of the living, the infectious dead, or nearly-dead, had to be speedily interred. A case quoted by Tebb and Vollum in Premature Burial and How It May Be Prevented (1905) graphically illustrates the dangers:
A solicitor, living in Gloucester, recently informed the editor that, when first in practice, he had as caretaker of his offices an old woman who, with her husaband, had been in charge of the cholera wards, erected just outside the city, at the the time of the severe epidemic of 1849, when, in Gloucester alone, there were 119 fatal cases. She told him that as soon as the patients were dead they put them in shells and screwed them down, so as to get them out of the way as quickly as possible, as the small sheds were so crowded. 'Sometimes,' she callously remarked, 'they come to afterwards, and we did hear 'em kicking in their coffins, but we never unscrewed 'em 'cause we knew they'd got to die!' (Death: A History of Man's Obsessions and Fears)

June 6, 2000
A British schoolboy impaled himself on a snooker cue which pierced his scrotum and emerged through his stomach. Surgeons at a the Diana, Princess of Wales hospital in Grimsby, northern England, worked for an hour to remove the cue. A spokesman said Monday the boy, Porl French, 11, was recovering at home. "Other children say he was stood on a chair pretending the cue was a pogo stick. He was apparently holding it between his legs when he slipped off," the manager of the snooker club, Tony Graham, told a Grimsby newspaper. (Reuters, donated by gopherbroke)

June 7, 2000
Schoolchildren as young as five went on a "drunken" rampage, looting shops, burning a vehicle and consuming the contents of a beer wagon after one of their friends was killed in a traffic accident. Hundreds of students barricaded roads and pelted traders and vehicles with rocks on Monday (June 5, 2000) after a nine-year-old pupil at James Gichuru School in Nairobi was killed by a speeding public minibus -- or "matatu" -- when he bent over to pick up a pencil. "One of our children was hit by a speeding matatu," the school's headmaster told Reuters. "After this, there was rioting involving children from all the schools around." A teacher at another primary school in the area said James Gichuru pupils had come round to all the schools to gather support. "They just ran out of the classroom like crazy demons," she said. "We managed to hold back some of the little ones but the others, they went hitting people, pah! hitting cars, pah!" The children set fire to the matatu and then embarked on a spree of violence that lasted for eight hours, effectively taking over the suburb of Dandora. "They really, really want speed bumps," the teacher said. "That is why they got drunk and smashed things, to make a point. But nonetheless they are serious hooligans. They are like English football fans." The driver and conductor of the matatu escaped. Thieves later stole the engine of the burned-out minibus. No details on injuries were available. (Reuters, donated by The Ravenite.

June 8, 2000
Vlad the Impaler was immortalised by Bram Stoker as Dracula, which means "son of the devil" (or of a dragon); in his brief reign - a mere six years - he is estimated to have killed 100,000 people, many by his favourite method of impaling on a sharp pole. Dracula became a prince in 1456 and started laying down his vile version of the law. He was aware that Moslem women were expected to keep their faces covered, and to guard their virtue. Possibly he was shocked to find that Christian women allowed themselves far more freedom. At all events, he announced that unfaithful wives were to have their sexual organs cut out, then they were to be skinned alive and exposed in a public square. Girls who lost their virginitiy before marriage were to meet the same fate. Lesser sexual offences were punished by cutting off a nipple. Another chronicler mentions that, in extreme cases of unchastity, he had a red hot iron stake inserted into the vagina and forced in until it came out of her mouth. (The Mammoth Book Of The History Of Murder)

June 9, 2000
A Kenyan woman who caught her grandson eating her fish doused the boy in gasoline, set fire to him and then chopped off his fingers. The Kenya Times said the 46-year-old woman had returned home to find the boy eating the fish she had prepared for lunch. In a fury, she began to cane the boy and then tied his hands together with dry grass before setting fire to him. "(The boy) writhed in pain as tongues of fire licked his flesh," the paper said. "The enraged woman stood by shouting obscenities. As if not satisfied with her bestial act, the woman took up a panga (machete) and chopped off the victim's four fingers." The woman was later arrested and the boy, whose age is unknown, was admitted to hospital in a serious condition. (Reuters, donated by The Ravenite and Michael)

June 13, 2000
On succeeding to the Sultanate in 1640, Turkish ruler Ibrahim I became obsessed with sex. Admiring the shape of a young cow's genitalia, he had a gold impression made and paraded throughout his empire, urging his emissaries to find a woman whose equipment matched his bovine ideal. An Armenian woman named Sechir Para ("Sugar Cube") was discovered and became his Cinderalla: on her say-so he had the rest of his 280-strong harem drowned in the Bosphorus. (Bizarre)

June 14, 2000
A pack of dogs attacked and killed a 71-year-old Census Bureau worker who apparently walked past warning signs in an attempt to count the occupants of an isolated, rural home. An autopsy showed that Dorothy Stewart died from injuries sustained during the attack, Brown County prosecutor Jim Oliver said Monday. "This really is terrible," Oliver said. "That as a way to die is just unthinkable." When sheriff's deputies arrived at the home Saturday afternoon, they found Stewart's body about 3 feet from the front door of the one-story log cabin, surrounded by dogs. The dogs were chewing on Stewart's arms and legs, Brown County Sheriff Dan Huesman said. Deputies counted more than 20 dogs. The home is about a mile from Stewart's home along a winding, gravel road just within the boundaries of the state forest. The driveway is posted with "Beware of Dog" and "No Trespassing" signs. "Some were on chains, some were loose and some were in the house," Huesman said. "We were able to capture at least 12 dogs. We captured as many as we could." One dog was shot because it attacked an officer, Huesman said. Investigators were not sure how many of the dogs belonged to the homeowner, Wayne Newton, and how many were strays. "They have denied that the dogs were theirs," Oliver said. "We have reason to disbelieve that. Mostly because the complaints indicate there were always many more dogs there than the few that they claim to have." Oliver said the investigation into Stewart's death will continue and he hasn't ruled out criminal charges. He said Newton had been fined in 1994 for violating the leash law and numerous other complaints had been filed regarding dogs running loose around the house. (Associated Press, donated by One Free Heretic)

June 15, 2000
German sex-murderer Rudolph Pleil used his trial as a platform for establishing his lethal pre-eminence. Pleil was charged with the rape-murder of nine women. Possessed of a perverse vanity, Pleil was indignant at these accusations, insisting that he was actually responsible for twenty-eight homicides. At his trial, he demanded that the official transcript refer to him as "der beste Totmacher" - "the best death-maker". (The A To Z Encyclopedia Of Serial Killers)

June 16, 2000
In April, a 43-year-old recreational snow-machiner was killed in an avalanche in Alaska's Hoodoo Mountains while 'highmarking,' or driving to hit ever-higher peaks on the slopes; earlier that day, he had been pulled, in shock, from another avalanche after highmarking and advised by rescuers to quit. (The Richmond Times-Dispatch, donated by Tuirsekayt)

June 17, 2000
A 30-year-old motorcyclist was crushed to death near Phoenix in December after an apparent road-rage incident in which he sped up quickly to overtake a pickup truck, swerved in front of it, and then deliberately slammed on the brakes. (The Richmond Times-Dispatch, donated by Tuirsekayt)

June 18, 2000
In England, boy chimney sweeps -- often sold by their parents to master sweeps -- started working as young as age five and were washed up by age sixteen. Small boys were better suited to climb inside narrow soot-filled chimneys where they had to learn to perch themselves as they scrubbed the walls. A Nottingham master sweep testified in 1864: "No one knows the cruelty a boy must undergo in learning. The flesh must be hardened. This must be done by rubbing it, chiefly on the elbows and knees, with the strongest brine close by a hot fire. You must stand over them with a cane, or coax them by a promise of a halfpenny if they stand a few more rubs. At first they will come back from their work streaming with blood, and the knees looking as if the caps had been pulled off. Then they must be rubbed with brine again." One eight-year-old forced into the chimney over a just extinguished brewery stove became stuck and roasted to death in 1813. Laws were passed but none had any real impact till the Chimney Sweepers Act of 1875. (An Underground Education)

June 19, 2000
An Egyptian accused of hanging his wife on a washing line from which she plunged to her death has committed suicide, a newspaper reported on Monday. Al-Akhbar said the man, who had been released from prison 10 months earlier, had beaten his wife for refusing to visit him in jail. He then tied her hands and legs and suspended her from a balcony washing line, from which she fell to her death. Investigators said the man was found lying dead in a public garden after swallowing poison. (Reuters, donated by KSHOhio)

June 20, 2000
A Vancouver woman was undergoing psychological examination after it was discovered she had been living with the body of her dead father, possibly for as long as two years, police say. The 45-year-old mentally handicapped woman apparently believed that her father, with whom she shared a house in an east Vancouver neighborhood, was ill but would recover, according to Vancouver Police. "She was of a state where she believed her father was okay, and that she was still taking care of him. In fact, it was found the elderly gentleman had died quite a long time ago, possibly as much as two years earlier," spokeswoman Anne Drennan told reporters Monday. The woman's name was not released. Drennan said other residents of neighborhood had not noticed anything was wrong at the house. Police discovered the body late on Friday after being alerted by an acquaintance of the woman. Police do not believe the man's death was the result of foul play. (Reuters, donated by gopherbroke and Greg)

June 21, 2000
At the request of British authorities, Dutch police arrested a man on Tuesday (6/20/2000) in connection with the deaths of 58 Chinese who suffocated in the back of a sealed produce truck as it ferried across the English Channel to England. The truck, registered in the Netherlands, got on the ferry in Zeebrugge, Belgium, for a five-hour crossing to Dover. Customs officials at Dover inspected the vehicle late Sunday, making the grim discovery among a shipment of tomatoes. Two people were found alive in the back of the truck. Police said all 60 people crammed into the back of the truck were in their 20s and apparently came from Fujian province in southern China, notorious for "snakeheads" -- smugglers who charge would-be immigrants high fees for an insecure passage to the West. British police said they were working with officials in Beijing to trace an immigrant smuggling ring that was likely responsible for the human shipment. "To have 60 young people in the back of a truck, there would have to have been some organization to get these people over from China," Kent Detective Superintendent Dennis McGookin told a news conference. "In liaising with the Chinese police, hopefully we will know more on this soon." McGookin, heading up the investigation, said 54 men and four women died of "some form of respiratory failure" during the ferry ride in 30-degree Celsius (86-degree Fahrenheit) temperatures. The two survivors are under police protection. News reports quoting unidentified hospital sources said the two survivors had related a grisly, frightening tale of banging on the walls of the truck and shouting as breathable air rapidly dwindled. (CNN.Com)

June 25, 2000
A woman accused of failing to arrange the routine replacement of her daughter's heart pacemaker is facing a manslaughter charge. The device failed in February, resulting in the 13-year-old girl's death, police said. Lorie Marie Simonis remained in Lane County Jail Saturday in lieu of $100,000 bail. The manslaughter charge carries a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison. Lacey Michelle Rossini had told her mother she could feel the effects of the pacemaker's battery running down, but no attempt was made to arrange for its replacement, police Capt. Richard Harrison said. He described the allegations of neglect as "clear-cut." Rossini had been outfitted with a pacemaker since a congenital heart defect was discovered when she was an infant. The pacemaker or its battery required replacement every two years, as well as periodic checkups, but the girl had not had medical attention on schedule. Leslie Harris, a University of Oregon Law School professor,said parents have a legal duty to provide essential care to their children. "Parents do have choices about medical care, but they can't let their children die," Harris said. (ApbNews.Com, donated by Kat)

June 26, 2000
Is it the intense summer heat, or a symptom of a chronic disorder in a society collapsing from within? Murders have been occurring at the rate of one every 17 hours in Israel in the last few days. But Israelis have been shocked less by the statistics than the pettiness of the apparent motives. The country was yesterday digesting details of the latest homicide, that of Michael Baram, a 46-year-old medical equipment salesman and father of three, who was beaten to death in a parking lot brawl. The police say his killer was a motorist with no previous criminal record with whom he had earlier had an argument over the right of way at a road junction. Before him, there was Alon Michaeli, who was fatally stabbed in an argument over a deckchair on a beach in Tel Aviv, (a crime for which six people are now being questioned). On the same day, last Friday, Uri Macroya, 33, was carted off by the police on suspicion of beating his lover's 30-month-old child to death with a belt. The toddler's mistake? Interfering with his viewing of the Euro 2000 match between France and the Czech Republic. The apparently trivial causes for these killings - combined with three other murders in Israel within four days - have been greeted with genuine horror. The Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, has appealed to Israelis to be especially vigilant, and to stop this "terrible chain of events." (Independent, donated by Bruce Townley)

June 27, 2000
The most celebrated werewolf trial took place at Cologne in 1589. The accused was a multiple sadistic murderer named Peter Stube. For 28 years, Stube committed his attacks. Occasionally he killed livestock, or even men. But -- significantly -- most of the victims were women and girls, and these he invariably raped. Obviously, Stube was a sex maniac -- even though he claimed that the devil had given him a magic belt by which he changed himself into a wolf. According to the trial evidence, he had had incestuous relations with his sister and daughter, and had attacked two of his daughters-in-law while in the form of a wolf. The horror -- and universal interest -- excited by the case was reflected in the penalty. Stube was sentenced to have his skin torn off with red hot pincers, before being beheaded. (Crimes And Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 28)

June 28, 2000
Russian tyrant Ivan the Terrible, born in 1530, was always a rather brutal child. One of his favourite games was "splattering dogs", dropping them from the top of a high tower into the courtyard two hundred feet below. He also enjoyed riding out with his friends and bodyguards into the streets of Moscow, then allowing the horses to ride at full gallop into crowds, trampling underfoot anyone who was too slow to get out of the way. (The Mammoth Book of the History of Murder)

June 29, 2000
A policeman in Bangkok, Thailand has confessed to shooting one man and attempting to kill another because they booed his karaoke performance. Police Lieutenant Corporal Jirawat Sangworn, 25, admitted both charges related to Wednesday's (6/28/00) shooting. He claimed he was provoked when two men at the next table began calling him names as he started to launch into a song - a sentimental Thai ballad - for the fourth time in a row. Enraged by the jeering, Jirawat pulled out his service pistol and shot them. "The suspect confessed that he just could not stand for their teasing," a police spokesman told AFP. The spokesman said the man who died was shot twice, while the other man was seriously injured with four gunshot wounds. Jirawat fled on his motorcycle and turned up a few hours later at the National Police Office headquarters, where he worked as a clerk. Police who found a wallet belonging to Jirawat's friend at the scene tracked him down to the building and arrested him. The officer had been singing karaoke in Bangkok's Huay Kwang district, a major nightlife area filled with massive karaoke clubs. (BBC News, donated by Bruce Townley and Ian Anderson)

June 30, 2000
Madam Blunden was buried prematurely in the eighteenth century in the Holy Ghost Chapel, Basingstoke. As it happened, the Blunden family vault was situated beneath a boys' school. The day after the funeral the pupils heard noises. One boy ran off to tell a master but received only a thick ear for his trouble. When the noises continued unabated, the sexton was summoned and the vault was opened just in time to witness her final breath. Resuscitation was unsuccessful. In her agonies the poor lady had torn frantically at her face and had bitten the nails off her fingers. (Death: A Hisotry of Man's Obsessions and Fears)