October, 2002

October 1, 2002
Viktor Ardisson was born in 1872 and, at the age of twenty-eight, after having pursued perverse activities for more than nine years, was caught and convicted when his neighbors complained to the police of a terrible stench emanating from his house. The source of this odor turned out to be the cadaver of a three-and-a-half-year-old girl that Ardisson had brought home from the graveyard a week before and (until the body had reached such an advanced state of decay that he "no longer ventured to touch it") performed cunnilingus on it, believing, in the words of the physician who examined him, that "this sort of caress could wake the dead." (Deviant)

October 2, 2002
A 26-year-old man in Madison, Wisconsin was in critical condition Monday (9/30/02) after he was badly burned while trying to rid himself of head lice. The man rented a room at a motel Saturday night and doused a towel with rubbing alcohol to get rid of the lice. He put the towel on his head, lit a cigarette and immediately became engulfed in flames. Police said the man was being treated at University Hospital for second and third-degree burns over about 50 percent of his body. His name was not released. Bystanders put out the fire. (
The Associated Press and generously donated by Clare L. Martin)

Mary ponders: "Bystanders in a motel room? Hmmm.... The story did check out though. I know what you mean about motel rooms. Either 60 Minutes or 48 Hours once did an 'undercovers' investigation - get it - lol. Sorry. Anyway, after interviewing a number of maids - anonymously - they discovered that maids don't always change the sheets at all. Sometimes they just brush 'em off if they think they can get away with it. They are required to get so many rooms done in a certain time frame and if they get behind they start cutting corners. I can't help but think of that everytime I have to stay in a motel. Who knows, that poor guy may have gotten lice in a motel room in the 1st place. Next time, byopc - bring your own pillow case. 'Shudder' is right!!!"

October 3, 2002
Indonesian maid Kusmirah Mujadi knew that life with Jennicia Chow Yen Ping was going to be tough when she suffered her first beating just three days into the job. But the 19-year-old never expected to be running away seven months later with a bloody trail on her T-shirt marking where Chow had bitten her excruciatingly hard on the nipple the night before. Miss Kusmirah also left the Woodlands Circle flat on that pre-dawn morning with angry keloid scars on her arms and a host of other permanent reminders of the cuts, burns and beatings meted out by Chow during the seven unhappy months spent in her employment. A more humiliating reminder would come days later when her nipple fell off because it was so damaged from Chow's repeated bitings. Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, Miss Kusmirah, now 20, recalled how her nightmare started soon after she began work on March 11, 2001. 'She scolded and beat me from the start. I didn't know why she did it, even though I kept saying sorry. I thought maybe she was insane,' Miss Kusmirah said, in a mixture of Malay and English. Chow, who lived in the flat with her insurance agent husband and three-year-old daughter, would frequently abuse Miss Kusmirah for not doing her work properly. The 30-year-old used a cane, a knife, a hot oven rack, boiling water, scissors and the back of a chopper to carry out her cruelty. She could not escape because Chow locked her inside the flat when she went to work. During the Mooncake Festival in September, Chow got angry when Miss Kusmirah did not cut the mooncake properly. Said Miss Kusmirah, who is well-endowed in spite of her slight frame: 'She told me that since I had cut the mooncake wrongly, she could not eat the mooncake and she had better eat my breast.' She dared not fight back as Chow was brandishing a knife, threatening to cut her nipple off. That was the first time Chow bit Miss Kusmirah's breasts. After that, it happened regularly. Chow would sometimes bite Miss Kusmirah's breasts through her T-shirt; sometimes she would lift up her shirt and bra so she could bite her bare skin. Chow's husband was never around to witness this bizarre behaviour. She took her solitary chance to flee at 5.50 am on Oct 18, 2001 when she saw the house key lying on the table. The family was sleeping. Chow, said to have been chronically depressed, was on Monday sentenced to five years in jail, for what was described as the worst case of maid abuse seen here. (
The Straits Times and generously donated by N Fleury)

October 9, 2002
Days after embarking on a desperate 1,000-mile bus journey to find his father, a 62-pound teen-ager who was found wandering a Florida town has died. Chester Lee Miller, 18, died Wednesday, four days after he walked up to a woman's door in a Florida town and asked for help. Authorities said he was being starved by his mother and stepfather. Miller's mother and stepfather, Lyda Miller, 37, and Paul Hoffman Sr., 38, were charged Tuesday with aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person. Investigators plan to upgrade the charges to homicide within a week. Prosecutors said the boy's mother and stepfather confined him to one room, beat him every day, fed him only scraps and didn't let him out of the house to go to school or see friends. The 5-foot-3 teen told police his stepfather in Hazleton, Pa., had put him on a bus to Florida and told him to go look for his real dad. Janice Goodman said the boy arrived Saturday on her doorstep in Milton, Fla. He was barely able to stand and had sunken eyes, she said. She said he had been turned away from the home of an uncle in the nearby town of Bagdad. "He looked like a Holocaust victim," she said. "I felt worried for his safety. I felt as though he was going to die right there." (The Associated Press, donated by Katchaya)

Ogre112276 adds: "It was just reported that the boys step-father went and had his bail reduced from $500,000 to $100,000. Guess he's gonna get off *lite* on this one. I didn't hear anything about the boys mother, so maybe she's the *heavy*. The only morbid place that I could think of, is the house in Pittston that was possesed by ghosts. I know they made a movie about it, but I just can't think of it right now. I know of an old slaughterhouse in Exeter (about 10 minutes away) but it's really nothing, now. A few years ago we found some cow bones, and an old slug gun, but the kids basically raped it of everything good. "

October 13, 2002
After the English courtier Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) was beheaded, his wife, Elizabeth Throgmorton, had his body buried but his head embalmed and placed in a red leather bag which she kept by her side for the remaining 29 years of her life. Their son, Carew, took great care of his father's head until he died in 1666, when it was buried with him in his father's grave. In 1680, Raleigh's head was again parted from his body when Carew was exhumed and reburied - with his father's head - in West Horsley, Surrey. (The Book Of Lists)

James begs to differ :
Sorry, but shouldn't it be Throckmorton? I live just down the road from Coughton Court, the Throckmorton family home, which has a fairly bloody history as this extract from a UK tourism webpage details (admittedly in not a very exciting manner...):
"Coughton Court has had a troubled history. The Throckmorton family have always been strongly Roman Catholic and they paid a high price for their faith during the reign of Elizabeth I and in the years that followed. Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, who had been Ambassador to France, was imprisoned by the queen because of his friendship with Mary, Queen of Scots.
"In 1583 his nephew was executed for his part in the 'Throckmorton Plot' to murder Elizabeth and replace her with her cousin. Throughout Elizabeth's reign, although they suffered fines and imprisonment, the Throckmortons continued to hold secret masses and to harbour priests and recusants at Coughton Court.
"A canvas in the Tower Room displays the arms of all the Catholic gentry who suffered imprisonment for recusancy during Elizabeth's reign.The "Throckmorton family were not directly involved in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 but, according to tradition, the wives of some of the plotters gathered in the gatehouse at Coughton, in what is now the Drawing Room, to await the outcome of the affair. The arms of Catesby and others concerned in the Plot are displayed in this room in heraldic glass.
"During the Civil War the Throckmortons were staunchly Royalist. In 1643 the house was besieged and occupied by Parliamentarian troops. They were in turn bombarded by Royalist forces. The damage was later repaired but in 1688 when King James II fled the country a Protestant mob from Alcester destroyed the entire east wing."
Taken from http://www.touruk.co.uk/houses/housewarw_coug.htm

October 14, 2002
In Pennsylvania in July 1991, the press reported a case of a very determined gent who, having failed to kill himself by crashing his car, climbed out of the wreck and went door to door around the local houses asking for matches. He then returned to his vehicle, set fire to it, and died as a result of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning. (
Car Crash Culture)

October 15, 2002
For millions of teens, summer is about more than making tracks to the beach. It's when they flood the job market, exposing themselves to the rewards of the workplace - and its dangers. The first thing on their mind is money. The last thing may be safety. More than 500 teenagers are injured at work every day on average. About one is killed every five days. And some companies are not doing enough to tell teens how to stay safe or to keep them out of harm's way. Brad Hurtig, a 17-year-old football star, was a few hours into his first shift at an Ohio metal stamping company last month when he got his hands caught in a power press. Both had to be amputated. Adam Carey had worked at a country club north of Boston for barely a month when the golf cart he was driving slammed into a wooden deck, crushing his chest. At 16, too young to be driving even a golf cart under Massachusetts law, Carey was one of 73 teens killed on the job in 2000. At a fast-food restaurant near Youngstown, Ohio, a teen was burned after the boss insisted he dump the contents of a deep fryer into a plastic bucket, a state official said. The bucket melted, releasing hot grease that melted the boy's shoes and caused him to fall into it. (The Associated Press, donated by: Jeremy M.)

October 17, 2002
Kelli Pratt wanted her feeble 65-year-old husband to have sex with her the night of Oct. 7. When Arthur Pratt refused police said, his 45-year-old wife held him down and bit him repeatedly during a savage attack that ultimately killed him. Arthur, whose skin was riddled with more than 20 deep tooth marks, died Sunday (10/13/02) at Doctors Memorial Center in Modesto -- six days after the attack. Dr. Jennifer Rulon, a Stanislaus County forensic pathologist, believes that the case will be ruled a homicide and that the bites are the likely cause of death. "He was able to dial 911 that night," Carter said. "We have a tape recording of him screaming while she was biting him. When officers arrived, he was screaming that he'd been assaulted. She fought with the officers and tried to bite them, too." Arthur Pratt, who had been released from a hospital several days before the attack, suffered from diabetes, heart and circulation problems, and other health issues. While those ailments weakened his system, apparently they are not what killed him. An official ruling will have to await toxicology tests. Those tests, which are not expected back for at least several weeks, could reveal additional details about Pratt's death, such as whether the bites caused an infection that proved fatal. Kelli Pratt was booked the night of the attack on charges of elder abuse, domestic violence and assault on a police officer. A homicide charge is pending the toxicology results. (
The Modesto Bee, donated by: Bruce Townley)
DB adds additional details: "Your source likely missed some interesting points about the woman who bit her husband to death. This from todays (10/18) SF Chronicle, online at SFGATE.COM: 'The attack was all the more remarkable considering that Kelli Pratt has multiple sclerosis and sometimes uses a wheelchair, the sergeant added. 'We made a videotape of her afterward, because it was a domestic violence case, and she refused to wash up, so she basically looks like a vampire with blood all over her face and teeth,' Carter said. 'She still had other things in her teeth, too -- flesh, chunks of it, while we filmed.'

October 20, 2002
A Noblesville, Indiana man -- mistaken for a Halloween decoration by motorists after he apparently hanged himself from a tree -- has died. Bryon Tharp, 42, died Wednesday at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis when doctors unhooked a life-support machine. Noblesville police said he apparently hung himself about 7 p.m. Tuesday from a tree in the front yard of his home at 1241 Cherry St. There were no signs of foul play. A neighbor walking by the yard discovered Tharp with a television cable wrapped around his neck. Passing motorists apparently did not realize he was hanging from the tree. "Hanging in a tree like that, people thought it was a Halloween prank and didn't think anything about it," said Cpl. Edie Kesee. "(The passer-by) thought it looked too real and saw some movement." When police arrived, Tharp had a heartbeat, but was not breathing. Police tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation to revive Tharp before emergency workers took him to the hospital. Authorities said Tharp had tried to kill himself earlier Tuesday, but a relative stopped him. Family members said Tharp had not worked in several years because he suffered neck and back injuries in a work-related accident. He had worked as a handyman and painter. His mother, Rosemary Davis of Noblesville, said her son had been "happy-go-lucky" until the injury. His wife later died of lung cancer. (
The Indy Star, generously donated by Saaxton)

October 22, 2002
On November 28, 1992, Greg Austin Gingrich, age 38, visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon with his family and friends. They strolled along the Rim Trail between the Visitor Center and El Tovar. The group separated here with plans to meet back at their cars in the parking lot. Gingrich and his young daughter ended up walking back last. Playing around to tease his daughter, Gingrich jumped atop the rock wall separating terra firma from the abyss. He paused precariously and dramatically atop the wall. Then, facing his daughter on the path, he wind-milled his arms comically and said, "Help, I'm falling..." Then he jumped off backwards, toward the Canyon. His daughter said something like, "Oh, Dad," in impatience at her father's clowning. She continued back to the parking lot, expecting her father to pop up somewhere along the path, but he was the only member of the party who never appeared. Search and rescue workers were able to locate his body after nightfall, about 400 feet below where he had been clowning on the wall. The morning after Gingrich's disappearance, rangers inspected the section of wall where he had vanished. The Canyon side of the wall was not an immediate drop-off but instead a ledge and then a talus slope that one could walk on, if one were very careful. Scuff signs on the slope revealed that when Greg Gingrich had dropped off the wall backwards while facing his daughter, he had tried to land on that 3-4' wide ledge below the base of the wall. The scuff marks suggested that he had immediately lost his footing on contact here and had somersaulted backwards and out of control down the talus before launching off the 400-foot cliff. (Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon)

October 23, 2002
In the 18th century, infanticide was practiced frequently as a way of the poor ridding themselves of children they could not afford to support. Most cases of what the law might have considered negligent or deliberate infanticide were passed off as accidents (such as druggings or starvation). In the 18th century it was not uncommon to see the corpses of infants lying in the streets or on the dunghills of London and other large cities. Eventually Parliament decided to intervene and set up foundling hospitals with various systems for collecting unwanted infants without risk to the donor. On the Continent, infants were passed through revolving boxes set in the walls of foundling hospitals. However, government was not capable of sustaining the cost of rearing children to adulthood, and foundling hospitals became de facto slaughterhouses whose prime function was to authenticate the state's claim to a monopoly over the right to kill. Between 1753 and 1760 there were 15,000 admissions to London's first foundling hospital; of those admitted, only 4,400 survived to adolescence. Additional thousands of foundlings continued to be destroyed by wet nurses employed by parish workhouses. In order to economize, parish officers assigned the infants to women who were nicknamed "killing nurses" or "she-butchers" because "no child ever escaped their care alive." Between 80 and 90 percent of the children in these institutions died during their first year of life. (Cannibals And Kings: The Origins Of Cultures, donated by: Dan S.)

October 25, 2002
It began as a mere flicker of light at disc jockey Mervyn Reyes's feet around 11:35 p.m. Alexander Taguibao, who happened to be watching the DJ's booth, assumed the flash was part of the Ozone Disco Pub's light show of strobes and twirling spots. But in the next instant, the spark climbed to the ceiling -- and the structure was suddenly ablaze. "A girl shouted 'Fire!'," recalls Mike Planas, another patron. "There was pandemonium. Everyone was pushing and shouting." An explosion ripped through the room, the lights went out and the ceiling collapsed. Before the last embers stopped smoldering, at least 150 people -- many teenagers celebrating graduation from high school -- had died. More than 100 others were badly burned. Scores were missing. The March 18, 1996 tragedy was the Philippines' deadliest fire in 50 years. How did so many die so quickly? The popular Ozone, with its 50-square meter dance floor, had a permit for 50 patrons. But it had about 40 employees, and its logbook showed 350 people had gone in and out the night of the fire. The customers rushed for the lone, wooden front door, which would not open -- some witnesses later claimed the guard had locked it. The crush of bodies tore the door off its hinges. "It fell on me," recounts patron Arnold Tadero. He may have been lucky. Recalls Planas, who is a member of Quezon City's local council: "When the door was opened, there was a backdraft, creating a fireball that burned everyone in its path." Firefighters arrived at 12:05 a.m., a full half hour after the blaze started, and fought the fire for 52 minutes. They were met by bodies piled three and four deep near the door. Investigators say faulty or overloaded wiring may have caused the blaze, which spread quickly because the inside walls of the disco were made of combustible soundproofing materials. (
Asia Week.Com and was generously donated by -Z-)

Chris adds: "That wasn't the first time an incident like this has happened. It's pretty typical for an amputee of the local native population (the Maori) to request the return of a limb after its removal for religious reasons. After an operation like this there's a ceremony to be performed by a tribal elder and the amputee, in order to lift a tapu (sacred prohibition). Only afterwards can the limb be disposed of appropriately.

"A number of years back (more than a decade, if I'm remembering it correctly) one amputee decided that 'appropriate' disposal meant abandoning her leg on a river bank for some local kids to find! The leg wasn't preserved in any way, so by that point it was decidedly less than fresh. It was investigated as a possible murder until the owner of the appendage read about it in the newspapers and stepped forward to reassure the police she was still alive.

"Improper disposal of a body is a crime in this country. I like to imagine a police sergeant struggling to keep a straight face while informing the woman that she was being charged with improper disposal of her OWN body, although I'm not certain she was actually charged with anything.

"I wish I could find an article or reference to back up my story, but this was before newspapers started archiving their stories on the internet, so you have only my good word as evidence."

October 27, 2002
On October 8, 1871, the most devastating forest fire in American history swept through Northeast Wisconsin, claiming 1200 lives. The anniversary of the Peshtigo Fire usually receives little note outside the region because another horrific fire the same night -- the great Chicago Fire -- still seems to hog the headlines. The story of the Peshtigo Fire, gleaned from survivor accounts and conjecture, is that railroad workers clearing land for tracks that Sunday evening started a brush fire which, somehow, became an inferno. It had been an unusually dry summer, and the fire moved fast. Some survivors said it moved so fast it was "like a tornado." The sudden, convulsive speed of the flames consumed available oxygen. Some trying to flee burst into flames. It scorched 1.2 million acres, although it skipped over Green Bay to burn parts of Door and Kewaunee counties. The damage estimate was at $169 million, about the same as for the Chicago Fire. The fire also burned 16 other towns, but the damage in Peshtigo was the worst. The city was gone in an hour. In Peshtigo alone, 800 lives were lost. "What most researchers find so fascinating is the effect it (the Peshtigo Fire) had on people's lives. It was so horrific," Anderson said. "Some people thought it was the end of the world." There's a story of a man carrying a woman to safety he thought was his wife. When he found out it wasn't her, he went crazy. People said the Peshtigo River was the only haven from the fire, and one 13 year-old German immigrant girl said she held onto the horn of a cow all night in the river to survive. (The National Weather Service Forecast Office , generously donated by Elizabeth)

Follow-Up from Tim (10/28/02):
There also was a major fire in my home town that day. Holland Michigan.
This site tells of more. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/oct08.html