August, 2005

August 4, 2005

Today's Remarkably Well-Preserved Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In 1981 a remarkably well-preserved body was found at St Bees Priory in Cumbria, England. Although buried close to the monks' cemetery, this, the only preserved body among a host of skeletons, was the corpse not of a holy man but of a medieval knight. The nobleman had been wrapped in shrouds over which a wax-and-honey mixture had been poured. The body was then enveloped in a sheet of lead and packed with clay inside a wooden coffin. Inside this micro-environment the normal disintegrative processes had been arrested. When the body was unwrapped, the knight was exposed for the first time in seven centuries, naked except for two pices of string, one around his neck, the other around his penis. The pink hue of the skin quickly faded but the eyes were well preserved and the heart and intestines intact. The liver, when cut, appeared bright pink initially, and the vessels in other organs appeared to contain 'fresh' blood. Experts believe that such an unusual body was produced by a combination of rapid embalming and a unique combination of environmental conditions.

Culled from: Death: A History Of Man's Obsessions and Fears


I was able to find a picture of the St. Bees Man here:


"My Brush With Morbidity" by Venus

"When I was a Junior in High School we had a career day where we were able to spend the day with a person in the profession of our choice. I picked Forensic Pathology. So instead of going to school that day I went to the local morgue. The first thing that the M.E. did was the external examination, examining her closely and taking notes. Then, without warning she pulled out a needle and inserted it into the dead woman's eyeball and then proceeded to suck out all of the eye-juices. The eye deflated like a beachball in the ladies skull. Yummy. Then came the actual autopsy where they started yanking out random organs and taking splices of them to send to toxicology. When they cut the main artery to get the heart out half congealed blood oozed out all over the open chest cavity. I couldn't see the heart real well because it was an old overweight woman and the heart was covered all the way round with a layer of fat. Then they slit her scalp open from ear to ear and peeled the skin away from the skull. They had the front flap peeled down to her eye sockets. And they used a saw to cut off the top of her skull. When they opened the skull a huge subdermal hematoma (blood clot inside the skull) slid out of her head onto the table and started to spread out like an amoebae. It had the consistency of jello that hadn't been all the way frozen. The clot was so big and had put so much pressure on her brain that the whole right side of the brain had collapsed in. Apparently she fell and hit her head. Then they took all of her organs, brain included and put it all together in a trash bag and put the bag in her chest cavity and then they sewed her up. And they unpeeled the scalp back up and sewed that back together (after popping the top of the skull back in place, of course) and then they zipped her back into a bag and it was off to the funeral home for her! All in all it was a rich full day!"

Some kids have all the luck...



Tara sends this lovely link - chock-full of the worst fates that could befall a fetus!

August 7, 2005

Today's Fiery Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The history of fire in Chicago began in August 1812. Two months earlier, the United States declared war on Great Britian. At issue were maritime rights on the high seas and Britain's support of Native American tribes hostile to the settlers. After British troops operating in Canada captured the American military outpost on Mackinac Island, orders were received by the small garrison at Fort Dearborn to evacuate and flee east to the safety of Fort Wayne. On the morning of August 15, 1812, escorted by 500 local Potawatomi, the 148 soldiers and homesteaders of Fort Dearborn moved out led by a captain, three junior officers, and a surgeon, after destroying their stores of whiskey and gunpowder the day before. Almost as soon as the journey began, the Potawatomi, whose allegiance had secretly been with the British, turned hostile, savagely attacking the evacuees at the Lake Michigan sand dunes near what is now 16th Street and Indiana Avenue. The small company of soldiers were quickly overrun and the Indians slaughtered and scalped as many as 86 adults and 12 children. Of those taken prisoner, some died in captivity while others were enslaved and later sold to the British and ransomed. The day after the massacre, the Potwatomi returned to Fort Deraborn and burned in to the ground.

Culled from: Great Chicago Fires


Incidentally, the site of Fort Dearborn is near the famous Michigan Avenue Bridge and there are plaques on the ground marking the outer boundary of the fort.


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Here's an oldie but moldie for you.

Help For The Hopelessly Happy

Thanks to Gena for the link.


Urban Exploration Link Du Jour!

Bill sends a link to a nice English urban exploration site called "Nobody There":

Wish we had as many nice old places to explore here in the states...

August 21, 2005

Today's Unfairly Stereotyped Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Civil War medicine has often been unfairly stereotyped as primitive, painful, and ineffective. But it was advanced for its time and led to significant improvements in trauma surgery. Nearly 75% of amputation patients survived, and virtually all procedures were performed under anesthesia. Surgeons were able to effectively probe for and tie off blood vessels to prevent fatal blood loss. They also experimented with repairing damaged nerves in arms and legs - a medical innovation.

Culled from: National Geographic, April 2005


It's been a couple of weeks since the last Morbid Fact because my job has eaten my life again. The bad news is that I probably won't be able to resume sending regular facts until mid-September (after my last trip to Kansas). The good news is that when I return to Chicago in September, I will be completing the project that has regularly eaten up my life for the last four years, so I will have time to fully indulge in my obsessions again. I know it's frustrating but please be patient and all will be well very soon.


"My Brush With Morbidity" by Meagan

"I was around 17 years old and I was driving through the Mojave desert with my mother and my sister. It was very early in the morning, [and] we had been driving all night. We rounded this bend in the road and saw 2 cars, one on either side of the road. One was very small, like a Dodge Colt or something, and on fire. Some truckers had already stopped and were dousing the car with an extinguisher. The other car was flipped over and also on fire. We stopped to see if we could help since no paramedics were on the scene yet. My mother is a nurse and all of us were CPR and first aid trained. We went over to the small car first. The frame was all smashed up and was actually smashed into the driver. My mother went up to feel for a pulse. There was none. I took my first look at a dead person. His hand was swollen. His skin looked fake. He was grey. He had been driving with a little girl in the car, who was so scared she was completely catatonic. She had glass in her eyes and her femur was broken. Then we went to see what we could do for the people in the other car. The man had a compund fracture in his ankle and his bone was protruding. His pants were all bloody. He was moaning, but pretty alert. The woman was in serious trouble. She had hit her head and it was so swollen, she looked like a depiction of the grey aliens. Big heads with small features. Her skin looked greenish. She was just laying there moaning and bleeding. She was completely out of it. We had used some of our blankets to cover them up. Once the paramedics arrived, we decided to leave and when we got back to the car I noticed there was blood all over my blanket. I drive through the Mojave often since I have family in Nevada. I can still pick out the spot where the accident was. It has been about 7 years. I will never forget it."


Morbid Site Du Jour!

Michael sends a link to "Crime Spider": an exhaustive list of sites covering all manner of criminology. Of course, I'm especially partial to the crime scene photos, myself. Highly recommended!

Crime Spider

Crime Scene Photos