September 1997

September 1, 1997
Contrary to the legend of James Dean as a speed demon on the highways, a computer simulation of the crash which took his life has shown that he was probably not exceeding 60 mph at the time of the fatal impact. The crash was not Dean's fault at all, but occurred when another car turned directly into his path. "Live fast, die young, and leave a good looking corpse" may have been Dean's motto, but speed was not a factor in his death... and I doubt that he left a good looking corpse - he was nearly beheaded in the fury of the accident.

September 2, 1997
Jules Deitsch was a carpenter who met a man called Dr. Deschamps in 1888, when Deschamps had told him that he was an adept in the occult. He possessed hypnotic powers, and he intended to use them to discover the lost treasure of the pirate Jean Lafitte. All he needed, he said, was the help of a pure young girl to act as a medium. Deitsch was so impressed by the doctor that he had no hesitation in entrusting his 12-year-old daughter Juliette to his care. Later, Juliette's younger sister Laurence would describe the "experiments" - Juliette would be told to undress and to climb into bed. The doctor would undress and climb into bed beside her. He would soak a clean handkerchief in choloroform, and place it over her face. Then he would proceed to carnally abuse her while she was unconscious. The doctor always made them promise not to tell their father what had happened. So things continued until the afternoon of January 30, 1889, when Deschamps accidentally killed Juliette with the chloroform. The doctor inflicted stab wounds on his own chest but they were superficial and he did not die. Dr. Deschamps was eventually hanged for his crime.

September 3, 1997
Galveston, Texas is built on an island, thirty miles long by three miles wide. At the turn of the twentieth century, no part of the town was at an elevation higher than fifteen feet above sea level. Also, in 1900, there were no weather satellites to track the path of hurricanes. The combination of these facts resulted in a horrible disaster in Galveston on September 8, 1900 when one of the most severe hurricanes ever to strike the United States came aground at Galveston. Residents of Galveston had no way to escape the winds and rising waters; 8,000 people died in the storm. In the years following the hurricane, sand was pumped from the ocean floor to raise the level of Galveston, houses were raised to the new level, and a protective sea wall was built.

September 4, 1997
The 16th-century composer Lully, who wrote music for the king of France, died in a most tragic manner. While rehearsing the musicians, he got too serious beating time with his staff, and drove it right through his foot. He died of infection.

September 5, 1997
British tourist Stephen John Pepperell, 39, lost his balance as he was tossing a melon off a second-floor balcony into a trash can in Nicosia, Cyprus, and fell to his death last October.

September 7, 1997
In a May San Jose Mercury News story, local death-scene cleanup professional Neal Smither recalled his most trying cases: (1) the April 1997 case of an 82-year-old hermit whose house contained 16 dead chickens, 2,000 dead rats, two inches of rat feces in all kitchen cabinets, and a bathtub and toilet filled and rock-hard with human feces and (2) the September 1996 case of a man dead for a week in his unventilated apartment and whose body had essentially oozed into the sofa.

September 8, 1997
Parent of the Year Nominee: In May, a 7-year-old girl was murdered in a restroom stall at a Primm, Nev., casino at 4 a.m. while her father, Leroy Iverson, gambled; security guards had already asked him twice to take custody of the girl, who had been roaming the casino for hours.

Parent of the Year Nominee, #2: In June, authorities in Cincinnati, Ohio, removed three toddlers from the feces-strewn bedroom they were locked into for up to 12 hours a day; their mother, Sandra Hacker, allegedly did not want them disturbing her while she was on the Internet.

September 10, 1997
Parent of the Year Nominee, #3: In Chicago in May, Dianna Meeks, 25, was charged with manslaughter for ignoring a doctor's order to take her 2-month-old, severely malnourished son straight to a hospital; instead, Meeks went shopping and then had a manicure at the Sunny Nails shop, where the boy died.

September 11, 1997
Tony Marino was a depression-era bar owner in New York City. He murdered his wife to collect the insurance money and then he decided he'd do the same to an old homeless drunk named Mike Malloy. Together with a couple of buddies they plotted to get him a phoney insurance policy, murder him with spiked drinks, and collect. However, Malloy was less than cooperative. They told him he would get free drinks for the night and served him drinks spiked with anti-freeze, horse linament, rat-poison, and turpentine. But Malloy survived it all. They tried feeding him sandwiches made of ancient sardines reinforced with carpet tacks, but Malloy actually enjoyed them and asked for more. One night when Malloy had passed out, they took him out into the ice cold night, poured water on him, and left him in a park to freeze to death. The next morning, Malloy appeared at the bar complaining of a cold. They tried hiring a thug to throw him in front of a taxi (twice) and he survived. Finally, it took a gas jet attached to his mouth to persuade him to leave this world. However, the gas induced death turned his body a lovely cherry red, which resulted in the conviction of the gang, who died in the electric chair.

September 12, 1997
Thirteen passengers and twenty-two crew members were killed in the explosion of the Hindenburg airship.

September 13, 1997
The Mexican revolutionary general Rodolfo Fierro met a tragic end in 1917 while he was marching toward Sonora with Pancho Villa's troops and he decided to take a shortcut. Unfortunately, his horse became entrapped in quicksand, and Fierro was so loaded down with gold that he sank to his death.

September 14, 1997
A 21 year old male was killed when he was thrown from the bed of a pickup truck. The gentleman got out of the cab of the pickup truck and acted like he was "surfing the waves" in the back. The driver took a turn and threw the surfer out of the bed, apparently unaware that he had been thrown out. The surfer was pronounced dead at the scene.

September 15, 1997
Jeane Weber was a poor, homely woman who was born in France in 1875 . When her two daughters died from natural causes, she became mentally unstable and began to strangle babies to death. Since there was a high infant mortality rate in France in the late nineteenth-century, family members were at first unsuspicious when infants began to die under Jeane's care. However, eventually, after several deaths, marks were found on the throat of one of the victims, which resulted in Jeane's arrest on murder charges. The public were horrified and began to call her the Ogresse. She was nearly lynched by an angry mob at one point. However, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, Jeane was acquitted of murder charges due to incompetent forensic examiners. Upon release, she murdered again and this time was sentenced to spend the rest of her years in an asylum, where she died two years later, foaming at the mouth and screaming, clutching her own throat in a suicidal grip.

September 16, 1997
As late as the Victorian era in England, hanging, drawing and quartering was still an accepted method of capital punishment for treason. In this form of punishment, a fire was lit as the man was hanging, and while still barely alive he was cut down, his head severed with a cleaver, disembowelled, and the head and entrails cast into the fire. Paints a pretty picture, don't it?
Kat Daley adds: "Oh, you left out the best parts! After being hung, the traitor was revived, his genitals were cut off and burned before his eyes, then his entrails were drawn from a hole in his stomach and burned, THEN his head was cut off. It's no fun if he loses consciousness too quickly! Actually, he might have been cut (or torn by horses) into four pieces before being beheaded, but I'm not quite clear on the order."
Ben Granby also writes: According to The Encyclopedia of Execution, (a book with many fine contemporary eye-witness accounts) you were initially correct about later methods of hanging, drawing and quartering. People often confuse drawing and quartering with torn apart by horses which was the French method of executing assassins (or would be assassins) and was only done twice - officially. But severing the limbs for English traitors occurred after death.

September 17, 1997
In Turkey it is required to have a body bag in every car, household over 6 persons or firm with more than 5 employees, as well as every public building. Whoever disregards this faces between 3 to 6 months jail. the body bag has to meet the following requirements: length 220 cm, width 95 cm, weight 900 grams, must be washable and has to be able to carry 120 kg without ripping. Each day about 25 to 30 people die in Turkey in traffic accidents, and that the corpses often lie for hours on end next to the road, till some ambulance or undertaker picks them up.

September 18, 1997
Jack Gilbert Graham, a petty criminal, was always annoyed by his doting mother. In 1955, when she came to visit him in Denver, Jack gave her a Christmas present to take back home with her on the plane. The present, fourteen pounds of dynamite with a timer in a box, blew up shortly after takeoff, killing 44 people. This, he said, made him feel freer than he had ever felt before. It also got him gassed in 1957.

September 20, 1997
Charles Guiteau shot President James Garfield on July 2, 1881. The President died two months later from his wounds and Guiteau was convicted of murder and sentenced to hanging. On the scaffold just before being hung, Guiteau recited from a poem he had written with the refrain: "I'm going to the Lord, I am so glad, Glory Hallelujah!" As the executioner placed the black cap over his head and fixed the rope round his neck, the muffled words "Glory! Glory!" continued to be heard until the lever was pulled and the trap door fell open.

September 22, 1997
On October 16, 1991, George Jo Hennard crashed his blue Ford pickup truck through the plate glass window of Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. As he stepped out of the truck he screamed, "This is what Bell County has done to me! I hope all this is worth it, Texas!" Then he systematically opened fire throughout the cafeteria killing twenty-three and wounding twenty. As he was running out of munitions he went to the rest room and put his last bullet in his brain. One surviving employee hid in the freezer. Another crawled into the dishwasher where he stayed hidden for almost a day.

September 23, 1997
In January 1995 alone, according to an April 1997 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, about 1,500 Cuban refugees housed at the U. S. Naval base at Guantanamo mutilated themselves severely in order to qualify for speedy entry to the mainland United States. (Four months later, President Clinton declared all refugees eligible for immigration.) Among the self-injuries of choice: injecting diesel fuel into the scrotum, applying molten plastic to create second- and third-degree burns, creating blood in the urine by urethral trauma, and severing the Achilles tendon.

September 24, 1997
Arthur Ford was a 44-year-old married man who, in 1954, committed one of the more embarrassing cases of manslaughter on record. He administered candy laced with cantharidin (otherwise known as "Spanish Fly") to two female co-workers. He had heard several years prior that Spanish Fly was an aphrodisiac, and he had wished to inspire desire in Betty Grant, whom he had fallen in love with. (The other woman who took the concoction was apparently given it by accident.) However, he ignored the pharmacist's warning that cantharidin can be a deadly poison unless taken in extremely small doses, and his warped folly resulted in the hideously painful deaths of the two women - their internal organs seared away by the poison. He confessed to the crimes and the judge, realizing that he was extremely sorrowful and had not intended to kill anyone, sentenced Ford to 5 years in prison for manslaughter.

September 25, 1997
Teenage circumcision - without the benefit of even a local anaesthetic - is widespread among S African blacks. It is usually done under less than ideal conditions by a village elder. Two youths died and 49 were hospitalized in serious condition after a circumcision initiation at Stinkwater near Hammanskraal, South Africa. Eighty boys - some aged about 10 - had been staying unwashed and naked in the veld for close to three months. Cedrick Baloyi, 18, died due to a septic penis. A second youth, Bushy Mabusela, 19, died as well. Inspection of the other boys revealed that 49 needed urgent medical attention and that only five were showing signs of proper healing.

September 26, 1997
It is possible to trace the origin of witch hunting to an incident that occurred in 1242. Two of the Pope's Inquisitors were staying in a house in Avignonet, in the south of France. They were staying there to root out heretics. In the middle of the night, a dozen men with axes who belonged to a sect called the Cathars, who believed that the Old Testament God was a demon, were admitted to the house. They slaughtered the two monks and their servants, hacking their bodies until they were almost unrecognizable. After this murder, the Pope was determined to stamp out heretics at all costs. A bloody crusade followed. Cathars were dragged from their homes and burned. In 1244, two hundred of them were burned on a gigantic bonfire at Montsegur. Those that survived were no longer accused of heresy - they were accused of a new and strange crime: conspiring with the devil or, as it came to be known, witchcraft.

September 27, 1997
Reuters News Service reported in April that, increasingly, Chinese families along the border with North Korea are refusing to bury their recently-dead relatives until the bodies seriously decompose. The families fear that famine-plagued North Koreans who cross the border foraging for food will dig up fresh bodies and eat them.

September 28, 1997
Notorious sadomasochist, child murderer, cannibal, and all-around dirty old man from Hell Albert Fish was sentenced to die in Sing Sing in 1936. He said, "What a thrill that will be if I have to die in the electric chair. It will be the supreme thrill, the only one I haven't tried." He happily helped his executioners with the electrodes and died a happy man.
Rumour had it that Fish's electrocution was made more difficult because of the numerous sewing needles he had inserted in his genital area. Source: (Probably) The Murderer's Who's Who. --kat daley

September 29, 1997
Orange County Register, California May 27th,1997: Three men robbed a store in Santa Ana and, on leaving, fired shots into the air. As they spotted an approaching Police car, one robber tried to thrust his gun into his waist band, shooting himself in the genitals. He was quickly apprehended.

September 30, 1997
Jim Fixx, author of the best selling "Complete Book of Running," which started the jogging craze of the 1970s, was visiting Greensboro, Vermont when he walked out of his house and began jogging. He'd only gone a short distance when he had a massive coronary. His autopsy revealed that one of his coronary arteries was 99% clogged, another was 80% obstructed, and a third was 70% blocked....and that Fixx had had three other attacks in the weeks prior to his death.