November 1997

November 1, 1997
In July of 64 A.D., the tenth year of the reign of Emperor Nero, a terrible fire struck Rome. By the time it was extinguished, it had burned two-thirds of the city. Emperor Nero seemed very jovial about the fire and this raised suspicions among citizens that he had in fact ordered that the fire be set. In order to dispel such suspicions, Nero claimed that Christians had set the fire in order to destroy Roman religious idols. Christians were rounded up and tortured to death. One of the favored execution methods was to smear the Christians with wax and pitch and impale them with stakes under their chins, then set them alight to provide torches for the evenings entertainment.

November 3, 1997
Another favored and highly inventive method of torture and execution of Christians by the Romans was to sew the Christians into the skins of wild beasts and set hungry dogs upon them.

November 4, 1997
Albert Anastasia was the Lord High Executioner of Murder Incorporated, a branch of the New York Mafia. He ordered the killing of scores of men from the 1930's until October 25, 1957 when one of his higher-ups ordered his own execution. While he was sitting in a barber's chair, two gunmen walked up behind him. The first bullets ploughed into the back of Anastasia's head with such force that he was blasted forward from the chair, his feet breaking the footrest. He crashed into the counter and was struck with more bullets. He spun around, gasped, and fell face down on the floor. The killers continued to drill bullets into their victim until their guns were empty and then they calmly strode out into the anonymity of the pedestrians on 7th Avenue.

November 5, 1997
Sculptor Anthony-Noel Kelly, who works in the medium of corpses and severed body parts, was arrested in London in April on suspicion of illegal possession of cadavers that he received through an associate in the Royal College of Surgeons. Kelly is a cousin of the Duke of Norfolk, and some of the 30 human body parts police seized were found at his family's ancestral castle in Kent. Kelly formerly worked as a butcher.

November 6, 1997
In March 1649, colonists and Christian missionaries Jean De Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant were attacked by Iroquois Indians. Their horrifying deaths are two of the worst records of torture in the history of martyrdom. Brebeuf was gagged and had his nose and lips cut off. Then, in a parody of baptism, the Iroquois poured boiling water over the two priests. They hacked off large pieces of their flesh while they were still alive and roasted them over campfires. Brebeuf died within a few hours. The Iroquois cut out his heart and drank his blood while it was still warm. Lalemant, whose eye sockets had burning embers forced into them, lasted until morning. He was finished off with a blow from a tomahawk.

November 8, 1997
When she was 13 years old, Joan of Arc had visions telling her that she was to lead the French army to victory. She managed to convince the dauphin (son of the former king) to allow her to lead the troops. In April 1429, she led her troops to victory over the English. However, in May of 1430, she was captured by the English and sentenced to die as a heretic. On May 30th, 1431, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. She was not yet 20 years old.

November 10, 1997
In Chicago in early 1866, labor unions were beginning a movement for an eight-hour day. Serious trouble was anticipated and on May 1 many workers struck for shorter hours. An active group of radicals and anarchists became involved in the campaign. Two days later shooting and one death occurred during a riot at the McCormick Harvester plant when police tangled with the rioters. On May 4 events reached a tragic climax at Haymarket Square where a protest meeting was called to denounce the events of the preceding day. At this meeting, while police were undertaking to disperse the crowd, a bomb was exploded. Policeman Mathias J. Degan died almost instantly and seven other officers died later. Eight men were finally brought to trial and Judge Joseph E. Gary imposed the death sentence on seven of them and the eighth was given fifteen years in prison. Four were hanged, one committed suicide and the sentences of two were commuted from death to imprisonment for life. On June 26, 1893, Governor John P. Altgeld pardoned the three who were in the penitentiary.

November 11, 1997
In London on May 11, 1922, an offensive stench was noticed to be emanating from a trunk which had been dropped off at Charing Cross cloakroom five days earlier. When the attendants opened the trunk, they found brown paper parcels. One of the attendants opened a round parcel and found that it contained a woman's severed head. The other parcels contained the torso and limbs of the victim. Although the victim was quickly identified as Mrs. Minnie Bonati, the search for the killer seemed to be at a dead end until a taxi driver reported that he had picked up a man and helped him move a heavy trunk at around the time of the murder. Police went to the house and arrested Mr. John Robinson, who later confessed to the murder. He was executed on August 27, 1922.

November 13, 1997
Monday, September 29, Australia: While the owner of a workshop was out, two tree loppers turned mechanics were working on their high performance car. Trying to get the vehicle started they opened up the carburettor and one of them started pouring petrol from a cup into the float chamber. The other then turned the engine over. The engine backfired and ignited the fuel in the cup. The cupholder then threw the cup away (but unfortunately upwards). The now fully ignited fuel went into the air and onto his head and back. His friend now rushes from the car to give assistance. The plastic bottle that was used to store the petrol was on the floor without a lid. The friend kicked the bottle spilling more petrol onto the floor, his friend and himself and of course this too ignites. The adjacent motor vehicle is also was engulfed in flames. Fortunately a third person had the prescence of mind to use a fire extinguisher. The two are now in the burns unit of Cairns Base Hospital.

November 14, 1997
For 40 years after William the Conqueror took over England in 1066 the gallows were never used due to a royal decree banning hanging as a method of execution. William ordered that, instead, male criminals were to be castrated and have their eyes pulled out. His second son, William Rufus, brought back hanging for one crime only - stealing royal deer. But the Conqueror's fourth son, Henry I, was made of far tougher material nd he commanded that hanging be reintroduced for a wide spectrum of crimes including arson.

November 15, 1997
In August, it took a recovery team two days finally to pull out the body of a 23-year-old tourist who slipped and fell over a scenic waterfall at Waterton National Park in Alberta, Canada. During the two days, visitors expecting to take in a remarkably beautiful site were forced to gaze also at the dead body lodged in the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall.

November 19, 1997
ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Two hearses collided in Ivory Coast killing one of the drivers and injuring nine other people. One hearse was carrying a deceased tax collector and members of his family to his village, the second was travelling with mourners to the commercial capital Abidjan to collect a body. The accident happened in the middle of Saturday night near the western town of Divo. The driver, who died later of his injuries, told police his steering wheel had locked.

November 19, 1997
A worker was in an aqueduct with a student who was unfamiliar with the surroundings, untrained, and afraid of water. The two were working in hip-deep water. There were no permanent markers on the walls to identify the locations of drain holes, or crate covers over these holes to prevent someone from getting trapped. Suddenly the worker was pulled down into a drain by the water pressure. The aqueduct's underground location made access to it difficult, hampering rescue efforts. The young assistant was not able to save his supervisor.

November 19, 1997
In a June Associated Press feature, Dr. Charles Emerick, 67, a retired ear, nose, and throat specialist in Portland, Ore., described his 450-item collection of things that he has personally removed from patients. Among the most prominent: a bag of decomposed bees (a kid ran into a swarm of them); an eraser that a kid put up his nose that stayed for 15 years until the boy, then in the Navy, had trouble breathing; and a plastic whistle from a boy ("His parents said he whistled every time he took a breath"). And Dr. James A. Downing's collection of 300 similarly-gathered items remains on exhibit through October 27 in Des Moines, Iowa.

November 21, 1997
Witch hunting was officially banned in England in 1736 when the Witchcraft Act was passed.

November 23, 1997
Abting Bangat, a fifteen-year-old Filipino boy, was swallowed whole by a python he disturbed as he was exploring a mountain cave near his home in 1983. Other members of his tribe killed and sliced open the snake but the boy was already dead.

November 24, 1997
When eighty-four-year-old Hilda Diggden, who had spent a lifetime caring for cats and had taken dozens of strays into her house, died in Stoneham, Massachusetts, in November 1982 her remains were eaten by her pets. Cats living in the house attacked police officers who tried to recover the body. "The body was in a semi-skeletal state," one officer reported. "It was one of the roughest things I've ever seen. They were literally feeding off her."

November 25, 1997
A New York mugger tried to hide from his pursuers in July 1985 by climbing into a rubbish compressor. The machine was switched on while he was still inside. The police later reported that he had been 'crushed into a little ball'.

November 26, 1997
An eighteen-stone man trying to hang himself from an aqueduct over the river Ouse in Buckinghamshire in February 1986 apparently drowned when the rope broke.

November 27, 1997
Dr Wang Cheung, a Chinese doctor living in London, climbed onto the roof of the Chinese embassy in December 1981 in order to commit suicide. Having got there, he changed his mind and started to make his way back down, but slipped and fell 40ft to his death.

November 28, 1997
Dempr Cevic, a Turkish villager, won a $15 bet in 1974 by eating a whole barbecued lamb. Ten minutes later he dropped dead.

November 30, 1997
A young man died when he dived off a Weymouth jetty in September 1982. The tide was out.