November, 1999

November 1, 1999
A trash hauler who had been joking with three sixth graders was killed on June 8, 1991 when his truck rolled over him as the terrified youngsters watched, police said. Louis A. Rivera, 31, of Whitehall Township, died of multiple injuries after he was dragged to the ground, Lehigh County Coroner Wayne Snyder said. Rivera's partner, Jose Mas, was driving the truck slowly along the route as Rivera talked to the youngsters. Rivera failed to notice the truck approaching from behind. As Rivera pretended to throw a youngster's knapsack into the truck, he failed to notice the truck had approached him from behind. When he turned to face it, his foot got caught in the rear double set of wheels, Snyder said. (Ain't No Way To Go)

November 2, 1999
In the early 1800's the study of anatomy in Edinburgh, Scotland was gaining in popularity. Surgeons like Dr Robert Knox could attract as many as 500 people to their anatomy classes. The students came from all walks of life, young doctors. artists, lawyers and 'men of letters'. Officially each medical school was only allowed the body of one executed criminal per year. This did not meet the demands of the anatomy students, so there arose the sinister trade of the 'body snatchers'. In many graveyards on dark moonless nights, figures could be seen flitting amongst the gravestones, going about their gory business. These suspicious characters were often the medical students themselves trying to ensure a fresh supply to their own classes. This ability to raise the dead gave the body snatchers another nickname popular at the time - 'resurrectionists'. This practice so horrified the general public that watchtowers were constructed in some Edinburgh graveyards to protect those recently buried from exhumation. In addition to the towers, protective walls and iron bars can still be seen around some old Edinburgh graves. (Witchery Tales)

November 3, 1999
William Burke and William Hare were resurrection men (ie. body snatchers) in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1820's who took things a bit too far. At the time, human dissection was illegal but condoned for medical research and the bodies were acquired by robbing the graves of the recently deceased (as we learned in yesterday's Morbid Fact). However, Burke and Hare found murder quicker and more profitable. Their method was to accost some derelict or transient, then suffocate him after plying him with whiskey. The full number of their victims is not known - fourteen were proven, but it could have been twice that number. Burke was hanged in 1829 for his crimes. (The People's Almanac #2)

November 4, 1999
An abbot whose body has not decomposed since his death 11 years ago is now revered as a saint by monks at a small Orthodox monastery in Cyprus who are refusing to bury him, a newspaper reported in September, 1999. Monks at the Panayia Galaktotrophousa monastery in the southern district of Larnaca maintain that the body of their abbot, Chrysostomos, has stayed intact even though he died in 1988, Politis newspaper reported. Photographs printed by the paper showed a body covered with white cloth adorned with crosses sitting upright in a wooden box -- with a withered hand peeping out. The abbot was buried immediately after his death at the age of 79 but his grave was opened in 1991 in order for the remains to be placed in an ossuary. The monks have refused to heed their skeptical superiors and rebury the body. His body, apart from the head, remained virtually intact. It did not have a sweet smell but did not have a stench either. "That means sainthood," the present abbot, Agapios, told the newspaper. (Reuters, donated by Shala)

November 5, 1999
A doctor whose license was suspended 22 years ago for performing shoddy sex-change operations was convicted of second-degree murder Tuesday in the death of a man who had a healthy leg amputated to satisfy a sexual fetish. John Ronald Brown could face life imprisonment. Brown, 77, amputated the leg of Philip Bondy, a New York man who paid Brown $10,000 for the operation in May 1998. Bondy, 79, died of gangrene poisoning in a suburban San Diego hotel two days after the operation. New York psychologist Gregg Furth testified during the two-week trial that he and Bondy contacted Brown as a last resort to fulfill lifelong desires to amputate their legs. They shared a fetish known as apotemnophilia, getting sexual gratification from the removal of a limb. Furth paid Brown to amputate one of his legs last year but changed his mind, in part, because he saw a Mexican doctor who was to assist in the surgery walk into the clinic carrying a butcher knife. Prosecutor Stacy Running said Brown "just chopped off" Bondy's leg below the knee and then dumped him at a hotel recuperate alone while he buried the leg in the desert to hide the evidence from Mexican clinic inspectors. Bondy called Brown the next day, complaining that he was bleeding and oozing from the stump, Running said. Brown returned to the hotel, rewrapped the leg and suggested Bondy take more pain medications. (The Associated Press, donated by Hal N. Brooks)

November 14, 1999
An Italian widow stashed her savings -- 230 million lire ($125,000) in 100,000-lire notes stuffed into two plastic bags -- in an abandoned grave, thinking a cemetery was the safest place for her cash. But gardeners stumbled on the cache and handed it in to police, who said on Friday they at first believed criminals had chosen the tomb as a hiding place for their ill-gotten gains. They were surprised when the middle-aged woman, whom they did not name, arrived at the police station to claim the cash. The woman had kept her savings at home until August, when she decided the cemetery would be a safer bet. Police said they would hand back the cash once they had completed checks. (Reuters, donated by Bruce Townley)

November 15, 1999
Sergei Ryakhovsky, a necrophilic killer known as "The Hippopotamus" because of his size, is believed to have slain up to 19 people in the suburbs of Moscow. Six more survived his attacks. In July, 1995 he was sentenced to death for his crimes "I will be back," Ryakhovsky said after being sentenced. Local television reported that the killer intended to file an appeal. Ryakhovsky, 32, thick-necked, heavy-handed and pasty-faced, earned his nickname because he is almost six feet six inches tall and weight of 280 pounds. When the trial started in April, the prosecution accused him of killing 19 men and women aged between 14 and 78 up to his arrest in April 1993. Allegedly Ryakhovsky carried out necrophilic acts on his victims and stole their belongings. In true Eastern European serial killer fashion Sergei first confessed to most of the charges, but later admitted only three murder attempts on elderly women -- despite the fact that he had led investigators to the naked and headless body of a young boy he killed. One of the more bizarre cases outlined by the prosecution was in January 1993, when they say Ryakhovsky killed a 78-year-old man, cut off his head with his hunting knife and returned a day later to saw off his leg. In another act of lethal bizarreness, in March of that year he strangled a woman, committed necrophilia, and blew her up with a bomb he put inside her. (Internet Crime Archives)

November 16, 1999
From 1882 to 1903, Southern mobs lynched no less than 1,985 African-Americans, often only on a suspicion of wrongdoing. (Crimes And Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Vol. 16)

November 17, 1999
An Elizabeth, Indiana man who left his mother's remains in the chair where she died for more than five years was released from a Jeffersonville mental-health center on October 10, 1999. Arthur Petrie Jr. intends to return to his family's property and to live there in a camper, because his home has been condemned, Harrison County Prosecutor Ron Simpson said. Authorities took Petrie into custody Monday after finding his mother's bones inside the run-down, garbage-filled shack she and her son called home. The bones had been on a chair, covered by a blanket, since Myrtle Petrie was found dead in February 1994. She would have been 75 years old at the time. Petrie, who is about 50, told investigators he was so distraught over the prospect of arranging his mother's funeral that he left her body in the chair after discovering her dead one morning. Authorities believe Myrtle Petrie died of natural causes but are continuing to investigate. (The Kentucky Messenger-Inquirer, donated by Z.C.)

November 18, 1999
In 1909, when she was 40 years old, a nurse-midwife named Susi Olah arrived in the small Hungarian village of Nagzrev and began a campaign of poisoning. She claimed at least 100 victims. She built a reputation for predicting the deaths of unwanted people. These included newborn or handicapped children, invalids, elderly persons, and husbands whose return from World War I was unwelcome. All were poisoned with arsenic at the request of their kinsfolk, as were those who openly doubted Olah's supernatural powers. When she was denounced anonymously in 1929, she committed suicide. Three of her many women accomplices were convicted and hanged. (The People's Almanac #2)

November 20, 1999
An Argentine man accidentally shot and killed his mother while playing with a pen that turned out to be a disguised miniature pistol. The 29-year old man was sitting in the kitchen of his Buenos Aires home trying to work out why the weapon would not write when it went off and killed his mother, La Matanza police district said, according to the state-run Telam news agency. The man's eight-year-old step-brother had found the pen-shaped gun, a model illegal in Argentina, lying in the street. The man was held only briefly in police custody. (Reuters, donated by Bruce Townley)

November 21, 1999
Born on May 27, 1837, James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok was an Indian Fighter and frontier marshall famous for his deadly shooting. On Aug. 2, 1876, he was shot from behind and killed while playing poker in Saloon #10 in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. Jack McCall believed Wild Bill to be the killer of his brother, Lew McCall (which he may have been). Wild Bill Hickok died holding two pairs - aces and eights - a hand which was to be known thereafter as the "dead man's hand." (The American West: Legends)

November 22, 1999
While East Timor has recently dominated foreign news, another struggle has been taking place in nearby Borneo, another part of Indonesia: the gruesome mini-genocide by Christian and pagan Dayaks of Muslim immigrants from the neighboring island of Madura. These two groups have a history of enmity and in March of this year the bloodletting erupted again. In the coastal towns of Borneo's west Kalimantan, groups of Kayak 'warriors' from the interior attacked and hacked to bits any Madurans they could find, killing hundreds and forcing at least 13,000 others to flee as their homes were burnt to the ground. Troops and police have refused to intervene, for fear of becoming targets themselves. Reports of Dayaks taking trophies of hands, heads, and limbs are widespread and expose the full horrors of ethnic hatred. Cannibalism has also been reported. (Bizarre)

November 23, 1999
In 1916, the Hungarian tax authorities noted that it had been a long time since rates had been paid on a house at 17 Rakoczi Street in the village of Cinkota, ten miles northwest of Budapest. The house had been empty for two years, and since it seemed impossible to trace the owner, or the man who rented it, the district court of Pest-Pilis decided to sell it. A blacksmith named Istvan Molnar purchased it for a modest sum, and moved in with his wife and family. When tidying up the workshop, Molnar came upon a number of sealed oil drums behind a mess of rusty pipes and corrugated iron. When his wife asked him what was in the drums, the blacksmith - thinking they may contain petrol - settled down to removing the top of one of the drums with various tools. When Molnar finally raised the lid, he clutched his stomach and rushed outside. His wife came in to see what had upset him, and when she peered into the drum she screamed and fainted. It contained the naked body of a woman, in a crouching position. The practically airless drum had preserved the body like canned meat. Six more drums proved to contain female corpses and an excavation of the garden turned up 5 more. Eventually, Hungarian police were able to link the murders (23 women and 1 man in all) to Bela Kiss, a shy and well-liked Hungarian tinsmith who disappeared during World War I. His first two victims were his wife and her lover. After that, using a false name, he advertised for a new wife and strangled one applicant after another in his Budapest apartment. He removed the bodies by car to the village of Cinkota. Although his disappearance proved to be faked, he was never caught. (The People's Almanac #2 and Serial Killers Chamber)

November 24, 1999
A Melbourne, Australia man was playing basketball with his brother and 16-year-old cousin, using a hoop affixed to his garage. After slam-dunking the ball, he hung on the rim for a triumphant moment. The bricks gave way and the wall collapsed on the 20-year-old man, fatally crushing him. His name was withheld by authorities, at the request of his family. (The Darwin Awards)

November 26, 1999
The first major deployment of napalm occurred on the night of March 9-10, 1945 when 279 U.S. B-29 bombers dropped approximately 1,900 tons of M-69 napalm bombs on Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo's crowded wooden buildings erupted into flames, and strong winds spread the conflagration through central Tokyo out toward the suburbs. The firestorm lasted for days, reaching temperatures of 1,800 degrees (F) and totally destroying 15 square miles of Tokyo. A quarter of the city was burned to the ground, a million people were left homeless, and more than 80,000 charred corpses littered the ruins. (The People's Almanac #2)

November 27, 1999
A former Khmer Rouge guerrilla shot and killed a witch doctor and ate his liver after blaming him for the death of his two children, an army officer in Phnom Penh said in November, 1999. "He killed the magic doctor and cut out and cooked his liver because he was very angry after his two children died and his sister got sick," senior military official in western Battambang province, General Bun Seng, told Reuters. "He believed the magic doctor was to blame," he said. The former guerrilla, who had recently been inducted into the government army, had been charged with murder. Three other villagers involved in the attack on the traditional healer were charged with conspiracy to murder, Bun Seng said. "The soldier had been on a human rights course but he still didn't understand the concept," he said. (Reuters, donated by Bruce Townley)

November 28, 1999
On March 23, 1994, a Russian International Airways jet carrying 75 people crashed after a captain allowed his child to manipulate the controls of the plane. The pilot's 11 year old daughter and 16 year old son were taking turns in the pilot's seat. While the boy was flying, he inadvertently disengaged the auto-pilot linkage to the ailerons and put the airliner in a bank of 90 degrees which caused the nose to drop sharply. The co-pilot pulled back on the yoke to obtain level flight but the plane stalled. With his seat pulled all the way back, the co-pilot in the right hand seat could not properly control the aircraft. After several stalls and rapid pull-ups the plane went into a spiral descent. In the end the co-pilot initiated a 4.8g pull-up and nearly regained a stable flight path but the aircraft struck the ground in an almost level attitude killing all aboard. The aircraft was named Glinka, after Mikhail Glinka, the father of Russian music. (The Aviation Accident Database)

November 29, 1999
In 1939, America swooned over Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick, who led the Iowa Hawkeyes to a 6-1-1 record after consecutive one-win seasons. In a nationwide AP poll, sportswriters named him the top male athlete of 1939, ahead of Joe DiMaggio and Joe Louis. A Phi Beta Kappa, Kinnick eschewed pro football for law school. But after only one year, with the U.S. on the verge of entering World War II, he joined the Naval Air Corps Reserve. On June 2, 1943, Kinnick's plane malfunctioned during a training flight. Rather than endanger deck personnel on the U.S.S. Lexington, he valiantly landed the aircraft in the water off the coast of Venezuala. His body was never recovered. (Entertainment Weekly)

November 30, 1999
On a British Airways flight from Birmingham, England to Malaga, Spain on June 10, 1990, a large section of windshield fell away from the aircraft. The decompression pulled the captain out from under his seatbelt. Despite trying to hold onto the yoke, the captain was sucked out into the opening. A steward in the cockpit was able to grab hold of his legs. Another steward was able to strap himself into the vacant seat and aid in holding onto the captain's legs. The copilot wearing full restraints made an emergency landing at Southampton. The captain remained half way out of the aircraft for 15 minutes and suffered only frostbite and some fractures. Improper bolts had been used to replace the windshield two days earlier. (The Aviation Accident Database)