Saturday, January 24, 2015

The 10 Most Bizarre Fatalities Ever

Franz Reichelt
Death comes like a thief in the night...
by Robert A. Waters

(10) Rudolph Tyner.  Bill and Myrtie Moon owned a small store near Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.  On March 18, 1978, Rudolph Tyner and a cohort shot-gunned the couple in a daylight robbery.  In court, he laughed about how the couple had begged for their lives.  Tyner was quickly convicted of the murders and received the death penalty.  Tony Cimo, the adopted son of the Moons, figured the eighteen-year-old killer would never be executed.  He hired serial killer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins, also on death row, to murder Tyner.  Cimo smuggled a radio containing bomb components to Gaskins.  The killer rigged the radio with explosives and gave it to Tyner.  When Tyner turned it on, a tremendous explosion shook the prison.  Tyner died, having been blown to bits.  Gaskins was convicted of the murder and once again was sentenced to death.  Cimo was arrested for his part in the murder, convicted, and sentenced to eight years in prison.  He served only three, then was released.  He returned home, unrepentant.  He said: “I think constantly of Tyner laughing while Mama and Daddy begged for their lives.  I did what I did, and that was it.”  Gaskins was executed for the murder of Tyner.

(9) Delvonte Tisdale.  On November 15, 2010, in Milton, Massachusetts, a motorist noticed a body lying on the road.  The remains turned out to be what was left of sixteen-year-old Delvonte Tisdale.  Investigators discovered that the teen had stowed away in the wheel well of a Boeing 737 commercial jet airliner and fallen to his death.  The plane had flown from Charlotte, North Carolina to Logan Airport in Boston.  Somehow, Tisdale breached security and climbed into the wheel well for a free flight up north.  His purported reason was to return to Baltimore where he had family.  Cops told the media that he likely froze to death in the wheel well and fell when the plane lowered its landing wheels.  It was so cold at the altitude flown by the jet that a plastic card Tisdale carried had frozen and broken into tiny pieces.  A good student and member of the ROTC, the teenager’s death seemed senseless to those who knew him.

(8) Christine Chubbuck.  In the middle of her daily newscast, Sarasota, Florida reporter Christine Chubbuck stunned her audience by saying: “In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts, and in living color, you are going to see another first—attempted suicide.”  With that, she pulled a .38-caliber handgun from her purse, stuck it behind her ear, and fired.  As she fell, her body began to twitch.  Before the cameras could stop rolling, thousands of viewers witnessed the entire event.  Ten hours later, Chubbuck was pronounced dead at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.  It turned out that she had even written her suicide into her news script.  According to her wishes, family members scattered Chubbuck’s ashes into the Gulf of Mexico.

(7) Franz Reichelt.  An Austrian who became a French citizen, Reichelt earned his living as a tailor.  His hobby, however, was inventing and designing parachutes.  On February 4, 1912, Reichelt climbed the Eiffel Tower to test one of his inventions.  (Reichelt had permission from the Parisian Prefecture of Police to use a dummy, but all along he intended to act as his own guinea pig.)  Like a giant bird, with his wings flapping, Reichelt leaped.  The parachute did not deploy, and Reichelt dropped like a stone.  He was dead before rescuers could arrive.

(6) General John Sedgwick.  On May 9, 1864, at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Union General John Sedgwick watched his troops ducking as Confederate snipers fired at them from 1,000 yards away.  Sedgwick berated the soldiers, and reportedly asked, “Why are you dodging like this?  They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”  Within seconds, a sniper’s ball smashed into the general’s face, killing him.  Just before dying, Sedgwick agreed that the soldiers should duck.

(5) Clarabelle Lansing.  On April 28, 1988, the fuselage of an Aloha Airlines flight from Hilo to Honolulu, Hawaii was damaged due to an explosive decompression.  Several feet of the top flew off, suctioning out seats and debris.  Flight attendant Clarabelle Lansing was blown out of the airplane at 30,000 feet.  She likely fell into the Pacific Ocean, though her remains were never found.  Of the 95 passengers and crew, 68 were injured.  Was Lansing alive when she exited the fuselage?   If so, would she have been flash-frozen?  If she happened to exit the plane alive, it must have been a terrifying fall.  Investigators blamed metal fatigue for the accident.

(4) Sherwood Anderson.  The celebrated author of Winesburg, Ohio loved martinis.  Before taking a cruise to South America in 1941, Anderson and his wife celebrated their departure at several parties hosted by well-wishers.  As always, the author imbibed until he could barely move.  Once he boarded the cruise liner Santa Lucia, he began to complain of abdominal pain.  The discomfort grew worse, and Anderson disembarked at Colon, Panama where he was taken to the hospital.  After lingering for several days, he died.  An autopsy revealed that a toothpick had pierced the lower part of his colon, causing an infection that eventually developed into peritonitis.  Biographers claimed that Anderson likely swallowed the toothpick while drinking martinis.  Buried at his home in Virginia, the author’s epitaph reads: “Life, Not Death, is the Great Adventure.”

(3) David Carradine.  The actor is best known for his television show, “Kung Fu.”  Carradine, scion of a famous Hollywood family, made numerous movies in several genres, including martial arts flicks, westerns, and science fiction films.  In 2009, ABC News reported that Carradine “was found by a chamber maid at Bangkok’s Park Nai Lert Hotel naked and dead, slumped in a closet with cords bound and connecting his neck and his genitals.”  Reports stated that he died wearing women’s stockings and a wig.  Police ruled the death an accident, the result of “auto-erotic asphyxiation, the practice of cutting off one’s air supply to heighten sexual pleasure.”  Two of Carradine’s former wives told reporters that he was addicted to “deviant sexual behavior.”  Carradine’s acting legacy likely will be overshadowed by the weird circumstances of his death.

(2) Sidney Reso.  The CEO of Exxon, Reso was kidnapped from the driveway of his home in Morris Township, New Jersey.  He put up a struggle and his captors, Arthur and Irene Seale, shot him in the arm.  Two wannabe Yuppies, the couple hoped to collect 18.5 million dollars from Exxon.  Arthur and Irene forced Reso into a wooden box and nailed down the lid.  The box had only a few holes for air, some candy, and water.  Reso, still in the wooden box, was placed inside a storage unit as his kidnappers attempted to collect the ransom.  A diabetic who needed daily shots of insulin, Reso could not last long.  In addition to his medical issues, the summer’s heat made the box unbearable.  By the end of his third day in his tomb, he died from heat and exhaustion.  The Seales then moved his body, dumping it into Bass River State Park.  A few days later, the FBI captured the duo.  They were both convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

(1) Jeffrey Bush.  Central Florida is the sinkhole capital of the world.  These cavernous chasms have been known to swallow cattle and horses, cars and trucks, streets and homes.  It’s rare that they take a human life, but Jeff Bush not only fell into a one hundred foot sinkhole, his body was never recovered.  Bush was asleep in his Seffner, Florida home when the floor beneath him suddenly collapsed.  He screamed, and his brother, Jeremy, ran into the room and watched as Jeff disappeared into the abyss.  Jeremy clambered into the hole in an attempt to save his brother, but Jeff was gone.  Rescuers soon arrived, but could do little.  A few days later, officials demolished the home and covered the place where Jeff Bush vanished.  Several neighboring homes were also demolished, and a fence placed around the site.  How did Jeff Bush die?  Did falling debris kill him?  Did he fall all the way to the aquifer 100 feet below and drown?  No one knows. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Maine’s Unsolved Homicides

Pamela J. Webb
From the Maine State Police files…

Baby Jane Doe – “A woman drove into a gravel pit in Frenchville, Maine in 1985, got out of her vehicle and proceeded to give birth to a baby girl. She then carried the living baby into the woods and left her there. It was extremely cold, and bootprints were observed frozen into the blood left on the ground. A Siberian Husky later found the infant and carried it home to it’s owner. The infant died of exposure, and was not harmed by the Husky. The mother has never been located, and it is suspected she is from Canada.”

Pamela J. Webb – “On July 2, 1989, Pamela Webb’s 1981 Chevrolet pickup truck was found abandoned on the Maine Turnpike at mile 30.4 southbound in Biddeford. The passenger side rear tire was flat and a spare tire was leaning against the tailgate. There were blood stains on the pavement on the passenger side of the truck and earrings near one of the blood stains. Webb’s dog was in the front of the truck. A turnpike ticket was found inside the truck indicating Webb entered the turnpike in Augusta at 2152 hours on 07/01/89. Webb was headed to Mason, NH, to visit her boyfriend. The boyfriend reported Webb missing on 07/02/89 at 1009 hours. 75 to 100 people called the State Police to report seeing Webb’s truck broken down, but no one was able to provide descriptions of vehicles or persons near the truck.

“On July 18, 1989, human remains were found in Franconia, New Hampshire, which were subsequently identified as Webb’s. The body was severely decomposed with only a small patch of soft tissue left on the skull. Webb was identified through dental records. No bones below the pelvis were found with the remains. A skirt, blouse and bra were recovered with the remains.”

Joyce McLain – “McLain was 16 years old when she left her home and went jogging in East Millinocket on the evening of August 8, 1980. Her body was found two days later, partially naked, on a powerline behind the Schenck High School soccer field, with blunt trauma to her head and neck. At the time of her death, there were several hundred construction workers at the local mill and the town was hosting a softball tournament.”

Raynald Levesque – “Levesque was found dead in his residence on 04-06-94 [in Madison, Maine] at 1220 hours by a soft drink delivery man. Levesque owned and operated a bottle redemption center in a building behind his residence. Levesque’s wife last saw her husband alive at 0815 hours, prior to leaving for work in Madison that same day. Levesque’s business office was located inside his residence. His residence was on the same grounds as the redemption center. It is theorized that the murderer entered Levesque’s residence to steal money. Levesque surprised the suspect, the suspect then killed Levesque.”

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The 1870 Marias Massacre

Unpunished war crimes of the United States
by Robert A. Waters

The United States government’s war machine was not content to just invade the Confederate States of America.  Soon after decimating the Confederacy, Union generals such as Phillip Sheridan and William Tecumseh Sherman led blood-thirsty raids into Indian Territory to exterminate the natives who had roamed these lands for centuries.

Sheridan manifested his contempt for Native Americans when he quipped, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.”  After professional hunters slaughtered millions of buffalo (a major source of the Indian diet), Sheridan said: “Let them kill, skin and sell until the buffalo is exterminated.”  General Sherman, whose atrocities in the Civil War were condemned even by northern newspapers, held a hatred for Native Americans (and African-Americans) that bordered on the pathological.

The Marias Massacre was typical of war crimes committed by the heroes of the Union army.  On January 23, 1870, in northern Montana, the Second U. S. Regiment came upon a sleeping village of peaceful Piegan Blackfoot Indians and murdered 173 women, children, and old men.  When Americans learned that many of the executed Indians were already dying of smallpox, the public was incensed.  But even outrage couldn’t stop the war machine that the late President Abraham Lincoln had created.

The genesis for the Marias Massacre began over a minor incident.

In the fall of 1869, Montana rancher Malcolm Clarke accused a Blackfoot warrior named Owl Child of stealing horses.  Clarke and his cattlemen administered a public beating to Owl Child, humiliating him in front of other Indians.  In revenge, Owl Child led a group of warriors to Clarke’s home and murdered him and his son.  Owl Child then fled, joining Mountain Chief, a Blackfoot chieftain who was rebelling against the continued encroachments of white settlers.

Enter Major Eugene Baker, another Union veteran.  General Sherman ordered Baker, who was stationed at Fort Ellis near Bozeman, to lead his cavalry of 400 men out into the minus-thirty-degree weather to hunt down Owl Child and Mountain Chief.  Baker, a drunkard of the worst sort, imbibed almost continually from the time he left the fort until he reached the Marias River.  On the morning of January 23, 1870, Baker’s army stumbled onto a small village containing mostly women and children (all the able-bodied males were out hunting).

The leader of this band of Piegan Blackfoot Indians was Heavy Runner, known to be friendly to white settlers.  Baker’s Indian scouts recognized the paintings on the teepees as belonging to this peaceful group and informed Major Baker.  But the major, in a drunken stupor, ordered his men to kill any scout who attempted to alert the village of their presence.  Then the cavalry charged into the camp.

As the army began shooting into the undefended teepees, Heavy Runner raced outside waving government-issued papers and medals showing that his band was peaceful.  He was quickly riddled with bullets and killed.

Of the approximately three hundred inhabitants of the village, only 15 were warriors.  These were quickly slain.  Then cavalrymen rode up to the teepees and pumped round after round into the flimsy skins, killing scores of women, children, and old men.  The surviving villagers suffered a worse fate when soldiers burned the teepees down.  Natives still inside smoke-filled tents suffocated or burned to death.

When the massacre was over, bodies littered the ground around still-smoldering teepees, and charred corpses lay smoking in the ashes.

In addition to the dead, Baker’s army captured about 140 women and children.  But as he began herding them to Fort Ellis, Baker learned that many were sick with smallpox.  He quickly decided to abandon them, and, with his 400 soldiers, simply rode away.  Without food or shelter, few of the women and children survived in the sub-zero weather.

When word of Major Baker’s atrocities reached the media, many Americans were dismayed.  One soldier reported that during the massacre, Baker “had been too long in conference with John Barleycorn.”  Others stated that all the officers were “in the spirits.”  While newspapers published editorials condemning the raid, General Sherman stonewalled the affair until it was eventually forgotten.  In the end, no one was ever held accountable.

In 1873, three years after the Marias Massacre, Major Baker almost got his cavalry wiped out near Pryor’s Creek when they were attacked by Sioux warriors.  As usual, Baker had been too drunk to effectively command his troops, but he suffered few consequences.  Later, he was court-martialed for arresting an officer while he (Baker) was drunk.  Scheduled to be dishonorably discharged, General Sherman again intervened, merely suspending the beleaguered major for six months at half-pay.

At 48 years of age, Baker died drunk and penniless.  The cause of death, not surprisingly, was said to be cirrhosis of the liver.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Maryland Governor Commutes All Death Sentences

Heath William Burch won’t be executed

In Maryland, killers can rest easy.  No matter how heinous their crimes, they won’t face execution.  In 2013, Maryland legislators abolished the death penalty for future murderers.  So Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley decided that the abolition should extend to those already on death row.  Just before leaving office a few days ago, he commuted the death sentences of Heath William Burch, Jody Lee Miles, Vernon Evans, and Anthony Grandison.

The following excerpt from court documents describe the crimes of Burch: “In the early morning hours of March 19, 1995, Burch burglarized the home of Robert and Cleo Davis in Capitol Heights, Maryland, intending to steal property that could be sold to support his cocaine habit.  [NOTE: Robert Davis was a World War II hero and winner of the Purple Heart.] When confronted by the Davises, an elderly couple in their 70’s, Burch savagely attacked them. Following the assaults, Burch stole their guns, their money, and Mr. Davis’s truck. A family friend discovered the Davises the next day, and by that time Mr. Davis had died. Mrs. Davis, who was alive when found on a couch with blood splattered over her, was hospitalized and died eight days after being attacked by Burch. The medical examiner determined that Mrs. Davis died of blunt force injuries and resulting complications.

“An autopsy performed on Mr. Davis revealed that he had died from thirty-three wounds, of which eleven were stab wounds from the blade of a pair of scissors. There was overwhelming evidence in Burch’s state court trial linking him to the murders of Mr. and Mrs. Davis. Indeed, Burch confessed to the Maryland authorities that he had entered the Davis home and killed its occupants. A boot found in Burch’s home matched a bloody footprint in the Davises home, and traces of the victims’ blood were found on clothing in Burch’s home. Additionally, Burch’s brother testified that on March 19, 1995, the day of the attacks, Burch came to the brother’s home with blood on his neck and hands and acknowledged that he had killed two people.”

Sentenced to death, Burch won the lottery.  He gets to live out the rest of his life and die of old age while the good people of Maryland support him.

Mary Francis Moore, daughter of Cleo and step-daughter of Robert, reacted to the news: “I’m very devastated,” she said. “I’m not disappointed.  I’m devastated.”

She and other family members pleaded with O’Malley not to commute the sentences.  “I knew this [the death penalty] was hanging over him, and that he didn’t have much of a life up in Cumberland,” Moore said. “Now, I believe they’ll bring him down to another prison and he’ll have a life, a social life with other inmates, which I don’t appreciate.”

While some will applaud the governor for his actions, it seems cruel to ignore the family’s wishes—especially since a jury thought the murders were brutal enough to warrant execution.

Burch’s victims lie in their graves, still awaiting justice that will never come.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Boston Bomber Trial

Feds to Seek Death Penalty
by Robert A. Waters

The explosions that blasted Boylston Street on April 15, 2013 claimed three lives and maimed more than 200 people.  Three nights later, as police and FBI agents searched for the bombing suspects, a police officer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was murdered in a sneak ambush.

On January 5, 2015, Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is scheduled to go on trial for the carnage.  If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

These innocent victims—both the dead and wounded—deserve justice.  The courtroom will likely be crowded with prosthetic-wearing men, women, and children.  If Tsarnaev is found guilty, every survivor of the deadly attack should be paraded in front him and each should be allowed to address him.

There are few crimes more evil or cowardly than bombings designed to mutilate and disfigure random people.

When the pressure cookers exploded, they launched hundreds of nails and steel pellets into the crowds, killing Krystle Campbell, 29, Lingzi Lu, and eight-year-old Martin Richard (pictured above).  Dozens more had limbs blown off, so much so that blood pooled in the streets hours after the attack.  Victims lay injured as police officers, medical workers, and passersby attempted to help.  It seemed a miracle that more people weren’t killed.

Then, three nights later, according to FBI sources, the perpetrators of this attack stole up to a police cruiser in Cambridge.  They pumped five rounds into the lone officer, Sean Collier, 27, who died at the scene.
Sean Collier
A few hours later, the suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, allegedly engaged police in a fierce battle, hurling home-made bombs and firing semi-automatic weapons.  Tamerlan died at the scene, but Dzhokhar survived and was captured.

Massachusetts no longer has a death penalty, so the case will be tried under Federal jurisdiction.  If convicted, Tsarnaev faces execution.

If he’s guilty, that’s exactly what he deserves.
Lingzi Lu
Krystle Campbell