June 1997

June 1, 1997
A fifteenth century French war hero, Gilles de Rais was also one of medieval Europe's worst killers. An ally of Joan of Arc during the Hundred Year War, de Rais was instrumental in driving the English out of France. In his later years, after he was named Marshal of France by King Charles VII, he settled in his estates in Brittany where he turned his heroic impulses towards torture and murder. He enjoyed killing mostly young boys, who he would sodomize before and after decapitation. When he wasn't feeling up to the task he enjoyed watching his servants butcher the boys and masturbated over their entrails. His reign of terror came to an end when the Duke of Brittany dug up the mutilated remains of 50 boys in his castle. He confessed to 140 killings but it is believed that the body count could have been as high as 300. On October 26, 1440, Gilles was simultaneously burned and hanged. His two servant accomplices were simply burned alive.

June 2, 1997
During a Sabena flight from Brussels to London in November 1992, a woman passenger suddenly became violently ill. Cabin staff applied their first aid training to make her as comfortable as possible, while the aircraft requested priority clearance to land. On arrival, the by now comatose passenger - a housewife from Nigeria - was rushed to the hospital, where she later died. During her treatment, doctors removed over a hundred condoms containing 17 ounces of cocaine with a street value around $75,000 from her stomach. The cause of death was from a massive overdose following the rupture of one or more of the 'parcels'. Mrs. Ehirobo was the third Nigerian woman in a month to die in this way while trying to smuggle drugs into the United Kingdom.

June 3, 1997
Because his throat cancer had already cost him his vocal cords, a Florida smoker died when his attempt to light a cigar engulfed his throat bandages and then his pajamas in flame, and he could not call for help to his sister sleeping nearby. Too feeble from his bout with cancer to use matches or a lighter, he apparently ignited strips of paper on a stove burner in the kitchen where he slept, despite the grave danger from fire because he could neither call for help nor escape from this bed.

June 5, 1997
A patient in a Florida hospital had such an overwhelming desire to smoke that he lit up a cigarette while he was in an oxygen tent. The resulting instantaneous explosion and fire killed him, and finally persuaded the hospital to stop selling cigarettes.

June 6, 1997
Bloodthirsty bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow terrorized the southwest during the early 1930's, committing countless robberies and murders, while somehow managing to evade the police. However, on the morning of May 23, 1934 their reign of terror came to an end when the car they were driving was ambushed by six police officers who were waiting in the bushes by the side of a road near Gibsland, Louisiana. The police fired at least 167 shots; at least 50 of them struck Bonnie and Clyde directly and they died almost immediately. "We just shot the hell out of them, that's all... they were just a smear of wet rags," said one policeman.

June 7, 1997
In April, 1947, an explosion of the ammunitions ship, the Grandcamp, occurred in the harbor at Texas City, Texas. The first blast sent a 100-pound metal fragment throught the windshield of Hollie O. Youngman's auto, and both he and his wife were decapitated. A baby was blown out of its mother's grasp and disappeared forever. Another baby in the arms of its mother was dead, a splinter of glass driven into its brain. Refusing to give up her infant the dazed mother wandered down Sixth Street with the baby still in her arms. One dock worker thought he had been stumbling over hunks of meat on the wharf where the Grandcamp had been; he thought it was part of the cargo. He was falling over dismembered bodies of the ship's crew.

June 8, 1997
On April 26, 1986 at 1:23 am technicians at the Chernobyl Power Plant in the Ukraine (former Soviet Union) allowed the power in the fourth reactor to fall to low levels as part of a controlled experiment which went wrong. The reactor overheated causing a meltdown of the core. Two explosions blew the top off the reactor building releasing clouds of deadly radioactive material in the atmosphere for over 10 days. The people of Chernobyl were exposed to radioactivity 100 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb. The people of the world and Northern Europe were greeted with clouds of radioactive material being blown northward through the sky. Seventy percent of the radiation is estimated to have fallen on Belarus and 10 years later babies are sill being born with no arms, no eyes, or only stumps for limbs. It is estimated that over 15 million people have been victimized by the disaster in some way and that it will cost over 60 Billion dollars to make these people healthy. More than 600,000 people were involved with the cleanup many who are now dead or sick.

June 9, 1997
A 28-year-old expert mountain climber fell to his death near Redding, Calif., as he was demonstrating safety techniques to a group of teenagers. He had severed his main line to demonstrate the security of the second line, but the second line failed.

June 10, 1997
When the price on the head of outlaw Jesse james rose to $10,000, gunslinger Bob Ford became interested. Ford was a new member of the James Gang, who snuck off to make a deal with the law. He crept up behind James while he was straightening a picture on the wall, and shot him in the back of the head. Ford tried to make a living off this act, but people were not interested in hearing his tale of 'How I Shot Jesse James' - people considered James a hero and Ford an assassin. Ten years after shooting James, Ford himself was shot to death by Ed Kelly, who he had accused of stealing jewelry from him.

June 11, 1997
Anne Bonny was the rarest of creatures in the 18th century - a female pirate. She was a violent, sexually aggressive woman who thrilled at the adventurous pirate lifestyle. Once, when it was decided that a pirate should be killed for betrayal, Anne Bonny insisted that she be allowed to carry out the execution. Since he was a "gentle man," she did not wish to see him tortured or in pain when he died. Another pirate mocked, "What are you going to do - kiss him to death?" That night Anne sought out Collins and invited him to be with her. According to an account of the time, "Anne removed certain garments and revealed her rich flesh, then lay on the bed, and Collins flung himself upon her in a frenzy. At the very point of love's climax, she held a pistol to his side and shot him dead." When she reported this to her colleagues, she said "He died happy".

June 12, 1997
In Japan, a 4-year-old boy drowned while frolicking unattended as his mother played Pachinko, a pinball/slot-machine craze sweeping the country. More than two dozen toddler deaths have been attributed to parents' obsession with the game.

June 13, 1997
On April 30, 1945 Adolph Hitler and his wife Eva Braun committed suicide. Their bodies were then wrapped up in blankets, carried to the garden, and burned. A kind of hysteria gripped most of the hangers-on left in the bunker, as though they were relieved to be free at last of their tyrannical lord. Some hastily changed out of their uniforms into civilian escape clothes amid falsely shrill laughter and empty banter. Two generals sat down to drain all the bottles of wines and spirits they could lay their hands upon, and then shot themselves with their own pistols.

June 14, 1997
A 48-year-old woman from Mill Valley, California, survived a suicide plunge in her car off of a seaside cliff in Sonoma County. Witnesses said she was traveling 45 mph and fell 350 feet but emerged with only minor injuries, probably because she had neglected to unfasten her seatbelt before hitting the accelerator.

June 15, 1997
In the past four decades, more than a million people in Rwanda and Burundi have died and millions more have been driven from thier homes. To help stop the violence, Rwanda is putting 90,000 suspected killers on trial.

June 16, 1997
The Principe de Asturias was a 2,000 passenger capacity ship that went into service in August, 1914, making regular trips between Spain and South America. On March 3, 1916, she was off the coast of Brazil in thick fog, and during the night she ran aground on rocks near Sebastiao Point. The ship's bottom was torn open, and the inrush of water caused several of her boilers to explode. A fire spread rapidly and within a few minutes the Principe de Asturias had broken in two and sunk. Of her complement of 395 passengers and 173 crew, 415 were lost. It was said that the captain was keeping close to the Brazilian coast because many of the passengers were German and he feared interception from British warships in the area.

June 17, 1997
In the 1850's, when most women stayed home to become wives and mothers, one woman, nicknamed Sadie the Goat, rose to leadership in a tough New York street gang. Sadie become known as "The Goat" because of the way she would charge headfirst, full-speed along the sidewalk at some poor sap. She'd butt into her prey like a billy goat, right into the stomach, leaving her victim breathless and helpless on the ground. Then she'd go through his pockets at her leisure, relieving him of any and all valuables.

June 18, 1997
In February, anesthesiologist Frank Ruhl Peterson, 45, was sentenced in Hazelton, Pa., to 10-23 months in prison for severely diluting the narcotics for 12 surgery patients, thus exposing them to virtually anesthesia-free operations. According to police, Peterson stole the drugs to feed his own habit and said he actually shorted more than 200 patients.

June 19, 1997
Hawaii's Big Island closed out its 1996 highway death toll at 35 (compared to 23 in 1995) on December 26 with the one-vehicle crash in Hamakua of motorcyclist Hy Hoe Silva, 41.

June 20, 1997
Indian armed forces have let loose a reign of terror and are pursuing with the policy of unabated killings, torture and brutal methods of killings in Kashmir State for the last five years. Among the horrifying methods of torture are the insertion of a wire through the penis of young boys, which results in their impotence, insertion of kerosene oil/petrol through the anus and pumping air into the anus by using a hand pump, smearing of chili powder into the eyes, and the application of electric shocks causing burning wounds on different parts of the body including the private organs. The shocks are repeated each time the victim regains consciousness. If the victim should make the mistake of asking for water, he or she is given boiling water that causes burn injuries to the mouth and alimentary canal.

June 21, 1997
Toby L. Sanders, 34, was charged with aggravated battery in Carmi, Ill., in January for chopping off the right middle finger of Lester E. Massey, 35. According to police, each man agreed to let the other chop off a finger, but apparently Sanders reneged after he saw how bad Massey's hand looked. (Police said alcohol was involved in the original agreement.)

June 22, 1997
Elvis Presley died alone in the master bathroom of Graceland, his Memphis mansion, tottering off the toilet in a drug- induced stupor while trying to focus on a book about sex and astrology. The cause of his death was congestive heart failure; an autopsy revealed advanced arteriosclerosis, enlarged liver, and evidence of drug abuse. He did not follow the James Dean edict of "live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse".

June 23, 1997
Father Urbain Grandier (b.1590) was a Jesuit priest whose downfall was an insatiable appetite for seduction. He seduced his prettiest parishioners and he made the mistake of impregnating the daughter of the Public Prosecutor, who became his bitterest enemy. Grandier's time ran out when he became a priest at a convent in which the nuns began to brood unhealthily on the lecherous priest and play practical jokes, dressed in white haunting sheets and groaning horribly. The story went around that the convent was full of devils. The nuns began to have strange fits in which they writhed on the floor, shrieked obscenities, and kicked their naked legs in the air. Grandier was ordered to exorcise them, and the nuns accused him of bewitching them. Then Grandier was tortured and put on trial. The torture was so severe that the marrow oozed out of his bones through the lacerations in his skin, but he refused to confess guilt. Finally, his body broken, he was burned alive in the square at Loudon. They had promised to allow him to make a final statement, and then to strangle him before he was burned. But the monks who dragged him to the stake hated him so much that they threw water in his face when he tried to speak. Then the fire was started before the executioner could get close enough to strangle him. His last words were: "Forgive my enemies."

June 24, 1997
An October Associated Press story reported on the formaldehyde-saturated museum housing works of Mr. Honore Fragonard, an 18th-century French anatomist who sculpted in cadavers, carefully skinned, preserved, and posed. Visitors to the Maisons-Alfort, France, structure (just down the river from the Charenton insane asylum, which is where some say Fragonard belonged) nowadays are struck by how much his works resemble the "Alien" and other creatures from modern horror films.

June 25, 1997
Twenty-seven men died during the construction of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, nearly three times as many as were killed during the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

June 26, 1997
In July, in Denver, Colo., a machine that packs explosive devices into car air-bag detonators blew up in the face of Nicolas Villarruel, 29, leaving one explosive lodged in his nose, sending him to the hospital. The device was removed by surgeons in lead-lined gowns and with Villarruel's head under water because the explosive is activated by air.

June 30, 1997
The number of executions per year in the United States is rising steadily. In the years from 1977 to 1982 there were 2 executions nationwide. Between 1985 and 1992 the number of people executed ranged between 11 and 31 per year, in 1993 and 1994 there were 38 and 31 people executed, respectively, and 56 people were executed in 1995.