Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 10 Strange and Bizarre Dead Bodies

10. Persian Princess

Persian Princess
On October 19, 2000, authorities in Balochistan, Pakistan received a tip about a man named Ali Aqbar and a videotape that showed an ancient mummy.  The mummy was said to have been placed on the black antiquities market for $20 million.  After interrogation, Aqbar led police to the house of Wali Mohammed Reeki in Kharan near the border of Afghanistan.  Reeki told the officers that he had received the mummy from an Iranian man named Sharif Shah Bakhi who found it after an earthquake near Quetta.  In a press conference on October 26, 2000, archaeologists from Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam University announced that the mummy appeared to be the body of a princess dated circa 600 BC.
The mummy was found in a gilded wooden coffin.  It had cuneiform carvings on the breast plate and a stone sarcophagus (funeral receptacle).  The body was placed atop a mixture of wax and honey.  It had an elegant golden crown, with an inscription that claimed the woman was named Rhodugune, a daughter of King Xerxes I of Persia and a member of the Achaemenid dynasty.  The Persian princess was immediately hailed as a major archaeological discovery.  No other Persian mummy has ever been found and the process of mummification is thought to be unique to ancient Egyptians.  After the discovery, the governments of Iran and Pakistan fought over the ownership of the mummy.
Official Explanation 
The story of the Persian Princess inspired many archeologists to investigate the case.  It was soon discovered that the inscriptions on the mummy’s breastplate had some grammatical errors.  A series of x-rays revealed that several operations common to Egyptian mummifications had been omitted.  Pakistani professor Ahmad Dani studied the item and realized the corpse was not as old as the coffin.  Ibrahim concluded that the Persian Princess was in fact the mummified body of a modern woman about 21–25 years of age, who had died around 1996, possibly killed with a blunt instrument to the neck.  On August 5, 2005, it was announced that the body will be given proper burial rights.  However, as of 2011, it remains unburied due to bureaucratic delays.

9. Chilean Blob

Chilean Blob
In July of 2003, a giant 13-tonne mass of rotting grey tissue was discovered on Pinuno Beach in Los Muermos, Chile.  The carcass was 41 feet (12.5 m) long and 19 feet (5.8 m) wide.  The discovery made international headlines and biologists were initially unable to identify it.  Many articles were written speculating that the gelatinous sea creature was a species of giant octopus that was previously unknown to science.  Other people were convinced that the blob was the remains of a basking shark or sperm whale.  After the discovery, the body was preserved by scientists in Chile, who unfortunately used a formaldehyde solution that destroyed the lab’s ability to maintain certain DNA sequences.
Official Explanation
In June 2004, it was reported that fragments of DNA found in the blob matched that of a sperm whale.  Adult sperm whales can reach the size of 20.5 meters (67 ft) long and weigh up to 57,000 kilograms (63 short tons).  Similar cases of giant globsters have been documented in history.  Often times the remains are interpreted as that of a giant sea creature.  Some examples include a carcass discovered in Tasmania (1960), The Gambia (1983), Nantucket, Mass. (1996), Newfoundland (2001), and two in Bermuda (1995 and 1997).  The pictures of the Chilean Blob are similar in nature to the St. Augustine Monster, which was a large unidentified carcass that washed ashore near St. Augustine, Florida, in 1896.

8. Trunko

On October 25, 1924, people on a beach in KwaZulu-Natal, Margate, South Africa, witnessed a sea battle between a giant, white colored sea creature and two whales.  One of the witnesses, Hugh Balance, said that the animal looked like a “giant polar bear.”  The monster used its lobster-like tail to strike the whales in an attempt to escape.  It jumped out of the water as high as 20 feet (6.1m) and was viewed for over three hours.  Later that night, the bloodless carcass of a sea creature washed ashore.  The body was measured at 47 feet (14.3m) long, 10 feet (3m) wide and 5 feet (1.5m) high.  It had an unusual lobster-like tail that was 10 feet (3m) long and the entire body appeared to be covered in white fur, which was 8 inches long.
The creature didn’t have a distinct head.  In its place, there was an appendage similar to an elephant’s trunk that was 5 feet (1.5m) long and 14 inches in diameter.  The presence of the trunk is what spawned the nickname of Trunko.  Scientists never examined the carcass and it was left on the beach for 10 days, until the tide pulled it back out to sea.  The information regarding the event was published in the December 27, 1924, edition of London’s Daily Mail, under an article titled Fish like a Polar Bear.  In September of 2010, a German cryptozoologist named Markus Hemmler discovered a collection of lost photographs of Trunko.  The discovery provided evidence that a large white colored carcass did wash ashore in the 1920s.
Official Explanation 
Many people have tried to identify the carcass.  Originally, the most common explanation was that Trunko was a large whale, basking shark, or whale shark that got a white texture due to water exposure and decay.  It was also suggested that Trunko was a new species of whale, or an unknown pinniped, or sirenian.  One of the more skeptical explanations was that the carcass is an albino southern elephant seal.  In 2010, after the photographs of Trunko were examined, it was determined that the carcass is probably a globster, or a massive, tough skin-sac of blubber containing collagen that is sometimes left behind when a whale dies and its skull and skeleton have separated from the skin.

7. Kitchenuhmaykoosib Monster

Kitchenuhmaykoosib Monster
On May 8, 2010, two women were taking a walk in the vicinity of Big Trout Lake, in northwestern Ontario, Canada.  The women became alarmed after their dog retrieved the corpse of a small mammal, about 1 foot (0.3 m) in length.  The women decided to photograph the bizarre looking creature and quickly left the area.  After analyzing the pictures, it was determined that the carcass holds some bizarre facial features, which have been compared to a warthog.  It has long fanged-teeth and a rat-like tail.  The body shape of the carcass is similar to an otter.  Several days after the initial encounter, the two women returned to the area to retrieve the body, but it was gone.  In the aftermath of the report, several news agencies picked up the story and published articles on the unidentified body.
Official Explanation 
People have made comparisons between the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Monster and the legendary mammalian cryptid Omajinaakoos (the ugly one).  According to the folklore of certain Native American tribes in central Canada, the Omajinaakoos is a rarely scene creature that lives in the creeks and marshy areas of Canada.  The traditions say that it is an omen of misfortune to witness the carcass of an Omajinaakoos.  Investigations into the photographs have subsequently determined that the body was a decomposed American mink.  The conclusion has been challenged by some, due to the fact that no fur can be seen around the face of the creature, which should be evident on a decomposed mink species.

6. Taman Shud Case

Taman Shud
On December 1, 1948, an unidentified human body was discovered on Somerton beach in Adelaide, Australia.  After an autopsy was performed on the corpse, it was determined that the man was of British heritage and aged 40-45.  He was in top physical condition and was 180 centimeters (5 ft 11in) tall.  The body was dressed in “quality clothing,” including a white shirt, a tie, brown trousers, socks, shoes, and a fashionable European grey and brown double-breasted coat.  All labels on the clothing were removed and the man was clean-shaven.  The corpse had an unlit cigarette behind the ear and a half-smoked cigarette on the right collar of the jacket.
The coroner was unable to determine the man’s identity or cause of death.  His organs displayed intense congestion and his spleen was strikingly large.  During the investigation, a tiny piece of rolled-up paper with the words “Tamam Shud” printed on it was discovered sewn within the dead man’s trousers.  The paper was neatly trimmed.  The phrase Tamam Shud was identified as meaning “ended” or “finished.”  It is found on the last page of a collection of poems called The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  The theme of the poems is that one should live their life to the fullest and have no regrets when it is over.  With pressure to solve the case, the Australian police decided to have the mysterious corpse embalmed on December 10, 1948.  It was the first time in history that such a situation had occurred.
Official Explanation 
The discovery of the note was made public and a man came forward to reveal that he had found a rare first edition copy of Edward FitzGerald’s translation of The Rubaiyat in his unlocked car in Glenelg on the night of November 30, 1948.  The book was missing the words “Tamam Shud” on the last page.  Also found in the book was a telephone number belonging to a former nurse.  The woman was tracked down and denied all knowledge of the man’s identity.  In a TV program on the case, the woman’s name was given as Jestyn (which is an alias used for the show).  The name was apparently obtained from the front of the book.  Researchers investigating the case have attempted to track down the woman named Jestyn and found that she died in 2007.  Evidence recovered in 2009 linked the images of the Somerton Man to the family of Jestyn.

5. Lyuba

In May of 2007, a reindeer breeder and hunter named Yuri Khudi discovered the carcass of a frozen woolly mammoth calf in Russia’s Arctic Yamal Peninsula.  The carcass was named Lyuba and weighed 50 kg (110 lb).  The woolly mammoth is 85 centimeters (2.8 feet) high and measures 130 centimeters (4.3 feet) from trunk to tail.  It was determined that the calf died approximately 42,000 years ago at the age of one month.  She is by far the best preserved mammoth carcass in the world.  The body’s eyes, trunk, fur, skin, and organs were all found intact.
Official Explanation 
Scientists were able to identify milk from the mammoth’s mother in her stomach, and fecal matter in Lyuba’s intestine, including evidence that, like some modern young elephants, the creature ate adult herd members feces.  It was determined that Lyuba died in a healthy state.  The animal’s organs and skin are in perfect condition.  It is believed that she died after getting bogged down in deep mud and suffocating.  The clay-like substance “pickled” the mammoth’s remains and preserved the carcass in a nearly pristine state.
Scientists around the world were stunned by the discovery of the body.  By examining Lyuba’s teeth, researchers hope to gain insight into what caused Ice Age mammals, including the mammoths, to become extinct at the end of the Pleistocene era around 10,000 years ago.  A team of Japanese researchers are currently experimenting with the process of obtaining an intact woolly mammoth DNA sample from Lyuba in hopes of possibly cloning her.  The discovery of the carcass has spawned a wave of modern research into the mystery of what caused the last glacial period and the extinction of the woolly mammoth species.

4. Montauk Monster

Montauk Monster
The Montauk Monster is an unidentified carcass that washed ashore near the business district of Montauk, New York in July 2008.  A woman named Jenna Hewitt, 26, of Montauk, and three friends said they found the creature near the Ditch Plains beach, which is owned by the town of East Hampton.  Hewitt’s story was published by a local newspaper.  The paper speculated that the creature might be a sea turtle or some mutant experiment from the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.  The article quoted Larry Penny, who is the East Hampton Natural Resources Director.  Penny concluded that the carcass was a raccoon with its upper jaw missing.
Official Explanation
After the Montauk Monster was photographed by Jenna Hewitt, the carcass disappeared.  The picture of the creature quickly spread across the Internet and a large collection of media outlets picked up the story.  One newspaper quoted an unidentified woman who said the animal was the size of a house cat.  Initially, people speculated that it was a sea turtle.  However, this is unlikely as a turtle’s body cannot be removed from the shell without damaging skin tissue.  Some have suggested the carcass is a water rat, while others have claimed it is a decomposed dog or coyote that has lost all its hair due to water exposure.  Palaeozoologist Darren Naish studied the photograph and identified the carcass as a raccoon.  On March 14, 2011, National Geographic aired a program that examined the Montauk Monster.  The show concluded that the creature was a raccoon.

3. Zuiyo Maru Carcass

Zuiyo Maru
On April 25, 1977, a Japanese trawler named Zuiy? Maru was sailing east of Christchurch, New Zealand, when a strange, unknown creature became tangled in the vessels trawl at a depth of 300 meters (984 feet).  The crew pulled the massive creature to the surface and discovered a foul-smelling, decomposed carcass that reportedly weighed 1,800 kg (3,960 pounds) and was about 10 m (32 feet) long.  The creature had a 5 foot (1.5 meter) long neck, four large, reddish fins and a 7 foot (2.1 m) long tail.  According to the original reports, it lacked a dorsal fin and had no internal organs.
After the discovery, the crew of the Zuiy? Maru became convinced that the carcass was an unidentified sea creature.  Despite the potential significance of the find, the captain, Akira Tanaka, decided to dump the carcass back into the ocean.  Before the body was lost, a collection of photographs were taken.  The crew removed samples of the creature’s skin for analysis.  After the pictures were developed, several newspapers in Japan published articles on the event.  Japanese citizens became intrigued by the carcass and a “plesiosaur-craze” swept across the country.  Professor Tokio Shimaka from Yokohama University was convinced that the remains were an extinct plesiosaur.
Official Explanation 
On July 25, 1977, the Taiyo Fish Company issued a preliminary report on the creature’s tissue samples.  It indicated that the sample was “similar in nature to the fin ray group of living animals,” which includes the basking shark.  The basking shark is the second largest fish in the sea.  They can grow to a length of more than 30 feet (9.1m) and specimens have been discovered over 40 feet (12.1m).  After death, the carcass of a basking shark loses its lower head, dorsal fin, and caudal fins first, making them resemble a plesiosaur.  Despite the evidence, some have studied the photographs and found oddities, including a symmetrical pair of upper fins on the creature.

2. San Pedro Mountains Mummy

San Pedro Mountains Mummy
In October 1932, two prospectors named Cecil Mayne and Frank Carr discovered a bizarre room while blasting for gold in the San Pedro Mountains, about 60 miles southwest of Casper, Wyoming.  The enclosure was approximately 4 ft. (1.22 m) tall, 4 ft. (1.22 m) wide and 15 ft. (4.57 m) deep.  After entering the room, the miners were surprised to see the mummy of a tiny man.  The carcass was found sitting in an upright position with its arms and legs crossed.  It sat perpendicular to the floor on a small ledge and weighed approximately 12 ounces.  The mummy was around 7 inches (0.17 m) tall sitting and 14 inches (0.35 m) tall standing.  Its skin was brown and wrinkled, the cranium was flattened and the eyes of the carcass were heavy-lidded and bulged.  The mummy displayed a flat nose, a wide mouth, and thin lips.
The body was so well preserved that even the fingernails were visible.  The head was covered in a dark, gelatinous substance and the mummy appeared to have been preserved in a liquid.  Upon its discovery, the carcass was given the name Pedro the Mummy.  Scientists came from all over the country to take a look at the remains.  In 1950, x-rays were performed on the mummy and it was reported that a fully formed “manlike” skeleton was inside.  Some of the bones were broken, including the spine, collarbone and skull. These injuries and congealed blood at the top of the head insinuated a violent death.
Official Explanation 
The carcass was examined by a man named Dr. Henry Shapiro, who was a biological anthropologist from the American Museum of Natural History.  After studying the x-rays, Dr. Shapiro came to believe that the mummy was the body of a 65-year-old man at the time of death.  The mummy contained particularly large canines in comparison with the rest of the body and was reported as almost vampire-like.  In the 1950s, these findings were substantiated by Harvard University.  However, 30 years later, Dr. George Gill, a forensic anthropologist proposed another theory.  He feels the body is an infant of an unknown tribe of Indians.  Years after the mummy was discovered, a second, similar body was found in roughly the same area.  This time it was a female mummy, who was only 4 inches (.10 m) high.
Nearly every Native American culture tells of a race of little people.  Oral traditions from the Arapaho, Sioux, Cheyenne, and Crow, examine a race of “little people” who stand from just 20 inches (.50 m) to three feet (.91 m) tall.  In some tribes they are known as “tiny people eaters.”  The Nimerigar are a legendary race of little people found in the folklore of the Shoshone people.  According to Native American lore, the Nimerigar lived in the San Pedro Mountains in south central Wyoming and fought constantly with the average sized humans using poisoned arrows.  It is said that when one of the Nimerigar became sick or old, they were killed by their own people with a blow to the head.
Most of these claims were considered folklore until the discovery of Pedro the mummy.  The carcass of Pedro ended up in Meeteetse, Wyoming, at a local drug store where it was shown as an attraction for several years.  On July 7, 1979, an article was published in the Casper Star-Tribune that stated the mummy was passed to a man named Leonard Wadler, who was a New York businessman.  The carcass has not been seen since.  Until Pedro the mummy is found, it will be impossible to determine if it is real.  There is currently a $10,000 reward for the recovery of the remains.

1. Panama Creature

Panama Creature
The Panama Creature refers to a carcass that was photographed near the town of Cerro Azul, Panama, in September 2009.  According to a collection of articles published about the event, the rubbery beast was spotted by a group of teenagers crawling out of a cave.  The kids said the creature was hairless and had a leathery body with sharp teeth.  It had “revolting features,” a snub-nose, and long arms.  The teenagers claimed the animal approached them, so they beat it to death with some sticks.  Some accounts of the event say the kids tossed the body into a pool of water and left the area.  They later returned to the site and photographed the carcass.
Official Explanation 
The teenagers sent the pictures of the carcass to a Panamanian television station and the story was picked up by networks around the world.  Many different stations speculated about the identity of the creature, with some suggesting it was a hairless sloth, an alien, or an animal new to science.  Some Panamanian zoologists have said that the carcass appeared to be a fetus of some kind.  Four days after the event was reported, a biopsy was performed by the National Environmental Authority of Panama.  It concluded that the corpse was in fact that of a male Brown-throated Sloth.  The odd appearance of the animal was caused by underwater decomposition.  Once identified, the corpse was buried.
The simple fact that the creature was positively identified as a living carcass is remarkable.  Different accounts of the story have told nothing of the teenagers throwing the body in water.  Some people have become confused over the fact that the children should have recognized a Brown-throated Sloth.  The animals are not threatening and on the ground the maximum speed of the three-toed sloth is 2 m or 6.5 feet per minute.  In order for a sloth to become hairless, it would have to be completely submerged for a long period of time.  In the original photographs, no water is visible around the animal.  Writers for the Huffington Post have said that the head is clearly animal, but the torso is “strange,” and the limbs are reminiscent of thin human arms.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Top 10 Shocking Cases Of Delusional Behavior

10. Craig D. Button

Something strange happened to Craig D. Button on April 2, 1997. On the day in question, Captain Button was participating in a training mission. He was operating a fully loaded single-seat A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft. His jet was armed with four Mk-82 bombs, 60 magnesium flares, 120 metal chaff canisters and 575 rounds of 30-millimeter ammunition. Craig D. Button unexpectedly broke formation near Gila Bend, Arizona. He flew in a northeasterly direction towards the Four Corners area of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. During the flight, Button’s jet was spotted numerous times by observers on the ground.
Delusional Behavior
Captain Button turned off his transponder, which made the aircraft difficult to track. His jet was last spotted in the air about 100 miles (160 km) west of Denver. It zig-zagged in the air before impacting the mountainous terrain about 15 miles (24 km) SW of Vail, Colorado, on Gold Dust Peak in a remote part of Eagle County. The crash occurred at 13,200 feet (4,000 m) of elevation. It took months for a search party to recover the aircraft and Craig D. Button’s remains. The four 500-pound Mk-82 bombs that were on the aircraft were never found despite an exhaustive search involving metal detectors and ground-penetrating radar.
Adding fuel to the fire, hundreds of people reported hearing loud explosions in Northern Arizona, Telluride and Aspen. No evidence was found to support the idea that Craig D. Button released the weapons before crashing the jet. It is a mysterious situation that will never be explained. As you would expect, conspiracy theorists have latched on to the bizarre events. One theory claims that Captain Button was attempting to bomb a major U.S. city and was stopped. The second conspiracy involves a large collection of alien species in the Four Corners area of the United States. The theory claims Button was attacking a secret U.S. underground base.

9. The Murder of Tim McLean

Vince Weiguang Li is a man that was born in Dandong, China on April 30, 1968. On June 11, 2001, Li immigrated to Canada, becoming a citizen on November 7, 2006. Tim McLean was a 22-year-old Canadian man from Winnipeg, Manitoba. On July 30, 2008, Tim departed Edmonton, Alberta on-board a Greyhound bus to Winnipeg. Vince Weiguang Li was on the same bus. Li was described as a tall man with a shaved head and sunglasses. He originally sat near the front of the bus, but moved next to Tim McLean following a scheduled rest stop.
Delusional Behavior
At some point during the journey, Vince Weiguang Li pulled out a large knife and began to brutally stab Tim McLean. A passenger named Garnet Caton described the situation. “I heard a blood-curdling scream. I turned around and the guy sitting right (behind) me was standing up and stabbing another guy with a big Rambo knife, right in the throat, repeatedly.”  Li eventually decapitated Tim McLean and displayed his severed head to the passengers. The people fled the bus. Li then began to remove Tim McLean’s body parts and eat his flesh. After arriving at the scene, the local Canadian police summoned a tactical unit.
The suspect taunted the officers and carried around Tim McLean’s head. Five hours after the police were called, the suspect attempted to escape from the bus. At that time, the RCMP arrested him. Inside of Li’s pockets the police found McLean’s ears, nose and tongue. The victim’s eyes and part of his heart were never recovered and are presumed to have been eaten by the accused. Vince Weiguang Li’s trial started on March 3, 2009.
Despite Li having no documented history of mental illness, a psychiatrist diagnosed him with schizophrenia. The psychiatrist said that Li performed the attack because God’s voice told him that Tim McLean was evil. The presiding judge accepted the diagnosis, and ruled that Li was not criminally responsible for the murder. Vince Weiguang Li was sent to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, where he remains today. Had the murder occurred on a public transport vehicle in a different part of the world, like China, the circumstances and punishment for Vince Weiguang Li would be different.

8. Collyer Brothers

Homer and Langley Collyer were two American brothers that became famous for their eccentric behavior. During the early 1900s, the Collyer brothers settled in their family home located at 2078 Fifth Avenue (at the corner of 128th Street), which is in the middle of Harlem, New York. During World War I, Harlem saw a major rise of black residents from the Southern United States, leading to the Harlem Renaissance. During this time, the two white brothers remained in the neighborhood, becoming a local curiosity. The situation was escalated by the fact that the Collyer brothers lived as hermits.
Delusional Behavior
The brothers became famous for their snobbish behavior, dirty property, and compulsive hoarding. They obsessively collected newspapers, books, furniture, musical instruments and many other items. During the 1920s, Harlem teenagers developed the habit of breaking into the Collyer residence. In response, they boarded up their property and Langley used his engineering skills to create booby traps. In 1928, the Collyer brother’s lost all electricity, water and gas. The men took to warming their large house using only a small kerosene heater. They had money to pay the bills, but chose not to. In the 1920s, Homer became handicapped with rheumatism.
On March 21, 1947, an anonymous caller phoned the 122nd Police Precinct and insisted there was a dead body in the house. Upon arrival, the police found 130 tons of waste. They had to throw garbage into the street to enter the premises. An officer squeezed into a second story window and crawled on the floor for two hours to locate Homer Collyer’s body. On April 8, 1947, Langley’s corpse was found. It took 18 days to discover Langley’s body, which was only 10 feet away from Homer. Langley was killed by one of his own booby traps. The cumulative estate of the Collyer brothers was valued at $91,000 (about $1.2M in 2011 dollars). Items removed from the house include a collection of guns, glass chandeliers, camera equipment, painted portraits, eight live cats, and 34 bank account passbooks.

7. Carl Tanzler

In 1926, a German man named Carl Tanzler immigrated to the United States. Tanzler was a talented radiologist and in 1927 he took a job at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Key West, Florida. On April 22, 1930, Carl Tanzler met Elena de Hoyos. Upon meeting Elena, Carl became infatuated with her. He attempted to cure her tuberculosis with a variety of medicines. Tanzler showered Elena de Hoyos with gifts and professed his relentless love. Elena de Hoyos died of terminal tuberculosis in Key West on October 25, 1931. Carl Tanzler was heartbroken by the event. With the permission of her family, he paid for Elena’s funeral and had an above ground mausoleum constructed. Tanzler visited the cemetery almost every night.
Delusional Behavior
In April of 1933, Carl Tanzler removed Elena’s body from the Key West Cemetery. He used a toy wagon to transport the corpse back to his house. Upon arrival, Tanzler attached Elena’s bones together with a collection of wires and coat hangers. He fitted her face with glass eyes and replaced her decomposed skin with silk cloth soaked in wax and plaster. Tanzler fashioned a wig from Hoyos’s hair. He dressed her remains in stockings, jewelry and gloves. Carl kept the body in his bed. He used a large amount of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents to mask the odor. Elena’s sister heard rumors of Tanzler sleeping with the disinterred body of her sister and had her body exhumed seven years later in October 1940.
Carl Tanzler was charged with “maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorization.” The case was later dismissed. In the 1940s, the public mood surrounding the incident was generally sympathetic towards Carl Tanzler. In the media he was portrayed as an eccentric romantic. In 1972, two physicians who attended the 1940 autopsy recalled that a paper tube had been inserted into Elena’s vaginal area that allowed for intercourse. The claim has been called unsubstantiated by some. After the incident, Carl Tanzler used a death mask to create a life-sized effigy of Elena de Hoyos. He lived with the effigy until his death on July 23, 1952.

6. Death of Philip Gale

The smartest people in the world can be susceptible to mental illness and delusions. Humans can form incorrect inferences about external reality, which causes suicidal tendencies. At the age of 8, Philip Gale began his education at The Delphian School in Sheridan, Oregon. The Delphian School is a private boarding school based on the ideas of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. By the age of 15, Gale was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is a private research university. He worked at EarthLink Network Inc as the director of research and development. At the age of 16, Philip Gale developed a software program called Total Access.
Delusional Behavior
The software allowed EarthLink’s Internet servers to reach more customers on the Internet. Total Access gave the firm a competitive advantage and enabled EarthLink to ascend to the top ranks among ISPs. Before his 17th birthday, Philip Gale earned stock options worth a million dollars. At this time in his life, Gale abandoned the principles of Scientology and became interested in the Church of the SubGenius, which specializes in debunking cults. In 1998, Philip Gale began to display erratic behavior. On March 13, he committed suicide by jumping from a classroom window on the fifteenth floor of a building on the MIT campus. Philip Gale was only 19-years-old.
In the weeks before his death, Philip had been inquiring about how to gain access to the roof of MIT’s tallest structure, the Green Building. In the classroom he jumped from, Gale wrote out Isaac Newton’s equation for how an object accelerates as it falls. He also sketched a stick figure of someone tossing a chair. He signed the message, “Phil was here.” Gale then picked up a chair, hurled it through a window and jumped out. In part, Philip Gale’s suicide note read “Presumably I have jumped from a tall building. I am not crazy, albeit driven to suicide. It is not about any single event, or person. It is about stubborn sadness, and a detached view of the world.” Gale’s death has led to the speculation that his upbringing as a Scientologist contributed to his delusions.

5. Martin Bryant

Psychopathy is a disorder that is largely connected with delusions. The word psychopath brings images of danger, insanity and murder. Martin Bryant was born in Tasmania, Australia. He was a disruptive and sometimes violent child. After Bryant was suspended from New Town Primary School in 1977, psychological assessments noted that he had tortured animals. It was discovered that Bryant had an I.Q. of 66, equivalent to an 11-year-old and in the bottom 1% of the Australian population. On April 28, 1996, Martin Bryant carried out the Port Arthur massacre. He traveled to the Port Arthur prison colony in south-eastern Tasmania and brought an arsenal of weapons, including an AR-15 rifle.
Delusional Behavior
The shooting started in the Broad Arrow Cafe of the Port Arthur prison colony, where Martin Bryant killed 12 people and injured 10 in a span of 15 seconds. He then moved into the gift shop. In the two minutes that Martin Bryant was shooting in the cafe and gift shop, 29 rounds were fired and 20 people were killed, 19 by head shot. Most people did not see Martin Bryant during the attack. It wasn’t clear what direction he was shooting from. The 28-year-old continued to fire on people as he fled the scene. By the end of the massacre, Martin Bryant killed 35 people and seriously wounded 21 others.
Martin Bryant escaped and was later located at a house with hostages. A standoff ensued, which ended with Bryant setting the house ablaze. He was captured alive, charged, and convicted of all 35 murders. Martin Bryant initially plead innocent and famously laughed when he was charged with the crimes. He later changed his plea to guilty, but never gave a detailed confession. Bryant’s AR-15 was found at the scene with an exploded cartridge in the chamber. Within a matter of weeks, Australia passed a major gun control law. Legislation was passed to remove semi-automatic weapons, including the use of self-loading rifles and pump-action shotguns.

4. Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic

Mass hysteria is a phenomenon in which bizarre symptoms are recorded by a large collection of people. It typically begins when an individual becomes ill or delusional during a period of stress. In April of 1954, mass hysteria hit the area surrounding Bellingham and Seattle, Washington. The event is characterized by the widespread observation of previously unnoticed windshield holes, pits and dings. The pitting was so great that residents began to attribute it to everything from sand flea eggs to nuclear bomb testing. In March of 1954, the news of the “pitting epidemic” reached metropolitan Seattle. Local newspapers began to feature the story. Car lots and parking garages were susceptible to attacks.
Delusional Behavior
By April 15, 1954, approximately 3,000 windshields had been damaged. Some people reporting seeing the glass bubbling right before their eyes, believing it was sand fleas. Other news articles stated the pitting was caused by a Navy radio transmitter, cosmic rays, or a shift in the Earth’s magnetic field. Several supernatural causes were suggested, including gremlins. By April 17, 1954, the pitting suddenly stopped. The Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic has become a textbook case of collective delusion. Looking back on the hysteria, it is not hard to find a nuclear link.
In March of 1954, the United States began Operation Castle, which was a series of high-energy (high-yield) nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The operation involved Castle Bravo, which was the first U.S. test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device. It occurred on March 1, 1954. The detonation of Castle Bravo caused the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever released by the United States. Operation Castle lasted from March, 1954 to the middle of April. This is the exact same time that the windshield pitting epidemic was hitting Washington State. Washington is located along the Pacific Ocean and in a position that could receive nuclear fallout from the Marshall Islands.

3. Woo Bum-kon

Woo Bum-kon was a South Korean police officer who is responsible for the second most deadly shooting spree in modern history. On April 27, 1982, Woo Bum-kon had an argument with his girlfriend and became enraged. He was a mentally unstable individual with homicidal impulses. After the argument, Woo traveled to the police armory and gathered an arsenal of weapons, including two M2 carbines, 180 rounds of ammunition, and seven hand grenades. He got drunk in the police armory and then attacked the citizens of South Korea. Woo began by shooting at people who were walking in the village of Torongni.
Delusional Behavior
He then traveled to the nearby village of Kungryu. At the Kungryu Post Office, Woo killed three telephone operators. This prevented people from contacting the authorities. He then walked from village to village, killing people. Woo Bum-kon used his public status as a police officer to gain entry into homes. He shot most of his victims, but in one case killed an entire family with a grenade. Woo Bum-kon continued his killing spree for a grueling eight hours. He traveled through five different villages in Uiryeong County and murdered a total of 57 people, injuring 35. Woo eventually committed suicide by exploding two grenades. The Interior Minister of South Korea, a man named Suh Chung-hwa, resigned following the event.

2. Boyd Massacre

The Boyd Massacre documents one of the bloodiest cases of cannibalism on record. In October of 1809, a 395 ton brigantine convict ship named The Boyd sailed from Sydney Cove to Whangaroa, New Zealand. The vessel was under the command of Captain John Thompson and carried about 70 people. A man named Te Ara, who was the son of a Maori chief from Whangaroa, asked to work his passage on the ship. The Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. During the voyage, Te Ara was flogged (beaten with a whip) for disciplinary action. Upon returning to Whangaroa, he reported the events to his tribe. In accordance with their customs, the Maori formed a plan for utu (revenge).
Delusional Behavior
Three days after The Boyd’s arrival, the Maori invited Captain Thompson to follow their canoes to find suitable kauri trees. After Thompson was lured away from the vessel, the Maori people attacked the European foreigners on land. They killed everyone with clubs and axes. They stripped the victims of clothing and took their bodies to be eaten. Using items taken from the deceased, the Maori organized an attack against The Boyd. They deceived the crew and massacred everyone. Only five people were left alive.
When news of the massacre reached European settlements, Captain Alexander Berry undertook a rescue mission and recovered four survivors. In a terrifying scene, Berry’s crew reported large piles of human bones on the shoreline. In March of 1810, a revenge attack was organized by sailors from five whaling vessels. The target was a village belonging to Chief Te Pahi, who was not involved with the original crimes. In the revenge attack, 60 Maori and one sailor died. From 1810 to 1814, shipping to New Zealand fell to practically nothing. A notice was printed and circulated in Europe advising against visiting “the cursed shore” at the risk of being eaten by cannibals.

1. Anders Behring Breivik

Anders Behring Breivik is a Norwegian right-wing extremist who has claimed responsibility for the two terrorist attacks that occurred in Norway on July 22, 2011. Breivik was born in London, on February 13, 1979. Before the attack, Breivik compiled a 1,516-page manifesto entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, which he e-mailed to 1,003 addresses. He claims to belong to an international anti-Islam network. On July 22, Anders Behring Breivik conducted the most deadly shooting spree in world history. He performed two sequential attacks against the civilian population, the government, and a political summer camp in Norway.
Delusional Behavior
The first attack was a car bomb explosion in Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter of Oslo. The explosion killed eight people and wounded several others, with more than 10 people critically injured. After detonating the bomb, the attacker moved to a youth camp organized by the organization (AUF) of the Norwegian Labour Party (AP) on the island of Utøya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud. The camp is put together every summer and is attended by approximately 600 teenagers. When Breivik arrived on the island, he presented himself as a police officer who had come over for a routine check following the bombing in Oslo.
He first shot people on the island of Utøya and then started to fire on individuals who were trying to escape by swimming across the lake. A spokesman for the National Police Directorate under the Ministry of Justice and the Police reported that most of the 68 casualties were youths about 15 or 16 years old. The mass shooting reportedly lasted for around an hour and a half, ending when a police special task force arrived and the gunman surrendered. Initially, as the besieged people from Utøya tried to call the emergency services, they were told to keep off the line because of the Oslo bombing. When the police finally arrived at the scene, they were met by survivors begging the officers to throw away their weapons. They were afraid that the men in uniforms would again open fire on them.
In all, 76 people were killed in the terrorist activity. Many people survived by playing dead. After the attacks, Anders Behring Breivik confessed to the crimes and stated that the purpose of the murder was to save Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover. Ian Stephen, a retired forensic clinical psychologist, said Breivik understood exactly what he was doing, but is clearly a psychopath. Everything he says should be taken as nonsense. On July 25, 2011, Breivik was charged with destroying basic functions of society, creating serious fear in the population, and acts of terrorism. Prosecutors are considering charging him with crimes against humanity.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Horrifying Premature Burials

Virginia Macdonald
Virginia Macdonald lived with her father in New York City and became ill, died, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn. After the burial, her mother declared her belief that the daughter was not dead when buried and persistently asserted her belief. The family tried in vain to assure the mother of the death of her daughter. Finally the mother insisted so strenuously that her daughter was buried alive the family consented to have the body taken up. To their horror, they discovered the body lying on the side, the hands badly bitten, and every indication of a premature burial.
Interesting Fact: When the Les Innocents cemetery in Paris, France was moved from the center of the city to the suburbs the number of skeletons found face down convinced many people and several doctors that premature burial was very common.

Madam Blunden
Premature Burial 08
When Madam Blunden was thought to be dead, she was buried in the Blunden family vault at Holy Ghost Chapel in Basingstoke, England. The vault was situated beneath a boys’ school. The day after the funeral when the boys were playing they heard a noise from the vault below. After one of the boys ran and told his teacher about the noises the sexton was summoned. The vault and the coffin were opened just in time to witness her final breath. All possible means were used to resuscitate her but it was unsuccessful. In her agony she had torn frantically at her face and had bitten the nails off her fingers.
Interesting Fact: A large number of designs for safety coffins were patented during the 18th and 19th centuries. Safety coffin were fitted with a mechanism to allow the occupant to signal that he or she has been buried alive. You can see one of the variations here.

New York Times article
“WOODSTOCK, Ontario, Jan. 18- Recently a girl named Collins died here, as it was supposed, very suddenly. A day or two ago the body was exhumed, prior to its removal to another burial place, when the discovery was made that the girl had been buried alive. Her shroud was torn into shreds, her knees were drawn up to her chin, one of her arms was twisted under her head, and her features bore evidence of dreadful torture.”
Interesting Fact: In the 19th century, Dr. Timothy Clark Smith of Vermont was so concerned about the possibility of being buried alive that he arranged to be buried in a special crypt that included a breathing tube and a glass window in his grave marker that would permit him to peer out to the living world six feet above. You can see his grave here.

Daily Telegraph article
“GRENOBLE, Jan. 18- A gendarme was buried alive the other day in a village near Grenoble. The man had become intoxicated on potato brandy, and fell into a profound sleep. After twenty hours passed in slumber, his friends considered him to be dead, particularly as his body assumed the usual rigidity of a corpse. When the sexton, however, was lowering the remains of the ill-fated gendarme into the grave, he heard moans and knocks proceeding from the interior of the ‘four-boards.’ He immediately bored holes in the sides of the coffin, to let in air, and then knocked off the lid. The gendarme had, however, ceased to live, having horribly mutilated his head in his frantic but futile efforts to burst his coffin open.
Interesting Fact: The Fear of being buried alive is called taphephobia. The word “taphephobia” comes from the Greek “taphos” meaning “grave” + “phobia” from the Greek “phobos” meaning “fear” = literally, fear of the grave, or fear of being put in the grave while still alive.

The Sunday Times article
“TONNEINS, Dec. 30- A frightful case of premature interment occurred not long since, at Tonneins, in the Lower Garonne. The victim, a man in the prime of life, had only a few shovelfuls of earth thrown into his grave when an indistinct noise was heard to proceed from his coffin. The grave-digger, terrified beyond description, instantly fled to seek assistance, and some time elapsed before his return, when the crowd, which had by this time collected in considerable numbers round the grave, insisted on the coffin being opened. As soon as the first boards had been removed, it was ascertained beyond a doubt, that the occupant had been interred alive. His countenance was frightfully contracted with the agony he had undergone, and, in his struggles, the unhappy man had forced his arms completely out of the winding sheet, in which they had been securely enveloped. A physician, who was on the spot, opened a vein, but no blood flowed. The sufferer was beyond the reach of art.”
Interesting Fact: In The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, one of the worst case scenarios listed in the book is how to survive if you are buried alive in a coffin. If anyone finds themselves in the same predicament as the people on this list you can read some life saving information here.

British Medical Journal
Catriona From Within The Coffin
“December 8- It appeared from the evidence that some time ago a woman was interred with all the usual formalities, it being believed that she was dead, while she was only in a trance. Some days afterwards, the grave in which she had been placed being opened for the reception of another body, it was found that the clothes which covered the unfortunate woman were torn to pieces, and that she had even broken her limbs in attempting to extricate herself from the living tomb. The Court, after hearing the case, sentenced the doctor who had signed the certificate of
decease, and the mayor who had authorized the interment, each to three months’ imprisonment for involuntary manslaughter.”
Interesting Fact: Today, when a definition of death is required, doctors usually turn to “brain death” to define a person as being clinically dead. People are considered dead when the electrical activity in their brain ceases.

New York Times article
“DAYTON, Feb. 8.-A sensation has been created here by the discovery of the fact that Miss Hockwalt, a young lady of high social connections, who was supposed to have died suddenly on Jan. 10, was buried alive. The terrible truth was discovered a few days ago, and since then it has been the talk of the city. The circumstance of Miss Hockwail’s death was peculiar. It occurred on the morning of the marriage of her brother to Miss Emma Schwind at Emannel’s Church. Shortly before 6 o’clock the young lady was dressing for the nuptials and had gone into the kitchen. A few moments afterward she was found sitting on a chair with her head leaning against a wall and apparently lifeless. Medical aid was summoned in, Dr. Jewett who, after examination, pronounced her dead. Mass was being read at the time in Emannel’s Church and it was thought best to continue, and the marriage was performed in gloom. The examination showed that Anna was of excitable temperament, nervous, and affected with sympathetic palpitation of the heart. Dr. Jewett thought this was the cause of her supposed death. On the following day, the lady was interred in the Woodland. The friends of Miss Hockwalt were unable to forget the terrible impression and several ladies observe that her eyes bore a remarkably natural color and could not dispel an idea that she was not dead. They conveyed their opinion to Annie’s parents and the thought preyed upon them so that the body was taken from the grave. It was stated that when the coffin was opened it was discovered that the supposed inanimate body had turned upon its right side. The hair had been torn out in handfuls and the flesh had been bitten from the fingers. The body was reinterred and efforts made to suppress the facts, but there are those who state they saw the body and know the facts to be as narrated.”
Interesting Fact: In 1822 Dr Adolf Gutsmuth was buried alive several times to demonstrate a safety coffin he had designed. Once he stayed underground for several hours and ate a meal of soup, sausages and beer delivered to him through the coffin’s feeding tube.

Mary Norah Best
Buried Alive-1
Seventeen year old Mary Norah Best was the adopted daughter of Mrs. Moore Chew. Mary was pronounced dead from cholera and entombed in the Chew’s vault in an old French cemetery in Calcutta. The surgeon that pronounced her dead was a man who would have benefited by her death and had tried to kill her adopted mother. Before Mary “died” her adoptive mother fled to England after the second attempt on her life and left Mary behind. Mary was put into a pine coffin and it was nailed shut. Ten years later, in 1881 the vault was unsealed to admit the body of Mrs. Moore’s brother. On entering the vault, the undertaker’s assistant found the lid off of Mary’s coffin on the floor. The position of her skeleton was half in and half out of the coffin. Apparently after being entombed Mary awoke from the trance and struggled violently till she was able to force the lid off of her coffin. It is surmised that after bursting open her casket she fainted from the strain and while falling forward over the edge of her coffin she struck her head against the masonry shelf killing her. It is believed the surgeon poisoned the girl and then certified her death.
Interesting Fact: Some believe Thomas A Kempis, a German Augustinian monk who wrote The Imitation of Christ in the 1400’s was denied canonization because splinters were found embedded under his nails. Canonization authorities determined that anyone aspiring to be a saint would not fight death if he found himself buried alive.

New York Times Article
Buried Alivecrop
“ASHEVILLE, N.C., Feb. 20.–A gentleman from Flat Creek Township in this (Buncombe) County, furnishes the information that about the 20th of last month a young man by the name of Jenkins, who had been sick with fever for several weeks, was thought to have died. He became speechless, his flesh was cold and clammy, and he could not be aroused, and there appeared to be no action of the pulse and heart. He was thought to be dead and was prepared for burial, and was noticed at the time that there was no stiffness in any of the limbs. He was buried after his supposed death, and when put in the coffin it was remarked that he was as limber as a live man. There was much talk in the neighborhood about the case and the opinion was frequently expressed that Jenkins had been buried alive. Nothing was done about the matter until the 10th inst., when the coffin was taken up for the purpose of removal and internment in the family burying ground in Henderson County. The coffin being wood, it was suggested that it be opened in order to see if the body was in such condition that it could be hauled 20 miles without being put in a metallic casket. The coffin was opened, and to the great astonishment and horror of his relatives the body was lying face downward, and the hair had been pulled from the head in great quantities, and there was scratches of the finger nails on the inside of the lid and sides of the coffin. These facts caused great excitement and all acquainted personally with the facts believe Jenkins was in a trance, or that animation was apparently suspended, and that he was not really dead when buried and that he returned to consciousness only to find himself buried and beyond help. The body was then taken to Henderson County and reinterred. The relatives are distressed beyond measure at what they term criminal carelessness in not being absolutely sure Jenkins was dead before he was buried.”
Interesting Fact: Because of the concern of premature burials a Society was formed called Society for the Prevention of People Being Buried Alive. They encouraged the slow process of burials.

Madame Bobin
In 1901 a pregnant Madame Bobin arrived on board a steamer from Western Africa and appeared to be suffering from yellow fever. She was then transferred to a hospital for those affected with contagious diseases. There she became worse and apparently died and was buried. A nurse later said she noticed that the body was not cold and that there was tremulousness of the muscles of the abdomen and expressed the opinion that she could have been prematurely buried. After this was reported to Madame Bobin’s father, he had the body exhumed. They were horrified to find that a baby had been born and died with Madame Bobin in the coffin. An autopsy showed that Madame Bobin had not contracted yellow fever and had died from asphyxiation in the coffin. A suit against the health officials resulted in £8,000 ($13,000) damages against them.
Interesting Fact: Historical records indicate that during the 17th century when plague victims often collapsed seemingly dead, there were 149 actual cases of people being buried alive.

Margorie McCall
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This is a bonus because this event might be more folklore than fact. In researching premature burials this story came up many times with different names and locations as this Wikipedia article explains. However does give a story similar to this a “True” rating. My guess is that something like this probably did occur somewhere at sometime but the story has been embellished over the years. Margorie McCall’s story seems to be the most popular and goes something like this: Margorie McCall from Northern Ireland fell ill and was pronounced dead. After her wake which lasted for a few days she was interred in Shankill Graveyard. That night her body was exhumed by grave robbers. The robbers tried in vain to remove a ring from her finger and then attempted to cut her finger off to remove the ring. When they were cutting into her finger Margorie suddenly came to and the robbers fled the cemetery never looking back. Margorie then climbed out of her coffin and walked home. Meanwhile her family was gathered at home when they heard a knock at the door. Margorie’s husband still in grief said “if your mother were still alive, I’d swear that was her knock.” and sure enough when he opened the door there she was dressed in her burial clothes, very much alive. Her husband fainted immediately.
Interesting Fact: Many believe the terms “Saved by the bell” and “Dead ringer” has to do with safety coffins with the notion that a recently buried person could pull a rope attached to a bell outside the coffin to alert people that he or she is not deceased. Both of these have been proven false. Saved by the bell is a boxing term dating from the 1930s. Ringer is from horse racing and is a horse substituted for another of similar appearance in order to defraud the bookies. Dead was then added to the term later like ‘dead on’, ‘dead center’ etc.