September, 2002

September 1, 2002
When Timaru man Ted Matthews woke up in Christchurch Hospital 17 days after undergoing heart surgery, his fingers and toes had turned black and he was looking at the prospect of amputation. Twenty months later two of his fingers have rotted and fallen off and he is still waiting for the other two to be amputated. He is crying out for the surgery to relieve the excruciating agony he has put up with for nearly two years. Mr Matthews admits to screaming with the pain at times and that the pain treatment he receives sometimes makes him go off his head. He just wants it over with. His wife June said everyone had thought he would be fine after the heart operation. "You certainly don't expect to go in for a heart operation and end up with your fingers turning black. He used to play the guitar and organ all the time. He loved it. He hasn't done it since the operation and probably will never do that again." Mrs Matthews said her husband could not even dress himself because of the pain, she had to do it for him, and their social life was non-existent. "He just sits there watching his fingers rot. That's all he can do. We can't go out because he can't manage in the toilets and if we do go down the pub for a little while and he needs to use the toilet, I send someone in after him to make sure he's all right," Mrs Matthews said. "I'm past the embarrassment stage. Nothing embarrasses me now, but it's the pain that is bloody terrible," Mr Matthews added. The couple said the smell of the fingers rotting was also terrible, especially in bed at night when it got hot. Mr Matthews had initially been told the problem with his fingers and toes had been caused by his diabetes. But when he got his medical files, following a battle, he found the problem had been caused because medical staff had missed his vein when putting in an intravenous line and cut off a main artery to his fingers and toes. (Stuff and generously donated by Dom)

September 3, 2002
The crime of high treason excited the anger of Judge Lord Jeffreys, appointed to try those involved in the Duke of Monmouth's abortive rebellion against England's King James II in 1685. Jeffreys took particular delight in cursing and abusing the prisoners, tormenting them with detailed descriptions of the tortures he was about to impose upon them. Some were beheaded, but Jeffreys's favorite sentence was to have the prisoner hanged, then taken down while still living and disemboweled with a sword. Throughout the county of Somersetshire, crossroads, village greens, marketplaces, and even churches were decorated with Judge Jeffreys's grisly work, as human heads or the quartered remnants of bodies were mounted on poles. One nobleman who protested such cruelty was silenced when a corpse was suspended by chains on his estate. Some 320 of Monmouth's followers were executed, and hundreds of other prisoners were punished by public floggings or whippings. Later, James II fled the country, and Jeffreys spent his last days in the Tower Of London. (The Pessimist's Guide To History)

Beth has a comment: "Actually, if I remember this story correctly, it was known that Judge Lord Jeffreys was an alcoholic, so the Tower guards gave him all the bourbon he could drink. The man drank himself to death in under a year. So in a way he was given a taste of his own medicine. At least, I think that was him."

September 13, 2002
A knife-wielding man who had apparently sewn his own mouth shut with thick red thread has been transferred to a psychiatric clinic while officials probe the bizarre case, Zurich police said on Tuesday, September 3rd, 2002. Passers-by discovered the 39-year-old man from Iraq sitting on the ground at a central Zurich square on Monday with his lips stitched together. The man, who was foaming from his mouth, pulled a dagger on police officers who confronted him, but dropped the weapon when they threatened to unleash their dog on him. An ambulance crew cut open the thread on the way to hospital. Swiss police did not know why the man's mouth was sewn closed, but did not believe he was making a political protest. "He was so confused that we had to bring him to a clinic," a police spokesman said. "It is possible but not probable in his case (that he was making a political statement)... this action did not seem to have a political background." Earlier this year, dozens of asylum seekers detained in Australia sewed their mouths shut in protest at the length of time it was taking to process their refugee claims. (
Reuters and generously donated by Brita Maia)

September 15, 2002
Giovanni Greco sent himself, literally, to an early grave. Greco, 63, was so keen that his future mausoleum would be a perfect fit that he liked to visit it ensure the builders were making it just right. But his latest visit proved to be his last. According to local media reports, Greco was making his regular trip to the construction site in the small cemetery in his hometown of Lascari, Sicily at the weekend. He climbed a ladder to get a better view of the top of the mausoleum when he slipped, hit his head on a marble step, and fell into his own tomb. (Reuters, donated by Catt Wolf)

September 17, 2002
A woman searching for her missing husband found his severed head on a beach in the strife-torn Solomon Islands (September 5, 2002). Police said it appeared the man, who disappeared on Wednesday, had been beheaded, but they could not say whether it was linked to fighting between rival ethnic militia which has lefts hundreds dead in the past two years. "Details of the incident are sketchy but reports we have received is that the man, a Seventh Day Adventist deacon from Veramogho Village in the Weathercoast area had gone to a nearby village," police spokesman Charles Lemoa told Reuters. "But when he failed to return, his wife went to search for him but only found his head which has been cut off and left without the rest of the body on the beach. At this stage the motive for this cruel killing is not known but we are investigating it." Shootings and robberies are commonplace in the troubled South Pacific nation, with armed ethnic militiamen operating with virtual immunity. (Reuters, donated by Ladyfreud)

September 24, 2002
An Australian man has cut off the little finger on his right hand, his scrotum, his pen!s and also his left hand in a drug-induced act of self-mutilation after arguing with his wife. The man, believed to be high on amphetamines, attacked himself with a carving knife on Tuesday (9/17/02) in the town of Inverell 400 miles north of Sydney. "It is the most bizarre thing I have seen in 16 years in the police force," Inverell inspector Dave Harrington told Reuters. Harrington said the 38-year-old man cut off his little finger while arguing with his wife inside their Inverell house and then chased her outside. "He then proceeded to dismember his member," he said. Police said the man was lucky ambulance officers witnessed the attack and prevented him from bleeding to death, adding that police recovered several body parts and packed them in ice in the hope they could be reattached. The man was flown to Sydney for emergency microsurgery and was now in a stable condition. (Reuters, donated by Ashley Rolfe)

September 25, 2002
A Brazilian school teacher in the state of Santa Catarina confessed to killing her lover and roasting parts of his body to destroy the evidence. Romilda Manske, 48, said on January 11, 2002 her lover, Joel da Silva, 24, threatened her with a knife while he was intoxicated and then raped her. Afterwards, the woman said she hit him on the head with a stool, killing him unintentionally. In trying to hide evidence, Manske chopped up the body into pieces and smashed the bones with a hatchet. She placed the man's head and the feet in her kitchen oven. It took Manske a week to carry out the task before an anonymous caller tipped off police. When officers came to investigate, she confessed to the killing. A counsel for the defense said that despite the gruesome nature of the attempted cover-up, Manske will probably face trial for involuntary manslaughter and hiding a corpse. She could be free within a few months. The school teacher appeared to show no remorse on the murder of her lover. "I did to him what he wanted to do to me," Manske was quoted as saying. (The Associated Press, donated by Chris Kench)