A fairly average week, no points to award but plenty to read, with a big thanks to Nickie for finding a great story for us below. Remember to message a link if you find a newsworthy tale for the newsletter!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Peter Vere-Jones, 81, British-born New Zealand actor (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Shortland Street, Xena: Warrior Princess).
- Freddy, 8, English Great Dane, world’s tallest dog.
- Cloris Leachman, 94, American actress (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Last Picture Show, Young Frankenstein), Oscar winner (1971).
- Cicely Tyson, 96, American actress (Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, The Trip to Bountiful).
- Sophie, 34, Scottish singer-songwriter (“Bipp“, “Lemonade“) and record producer, accidental fall.
- Lai Xiaomin, 58, Chinese businessman and convicted embezzler, Chairman of China Huarong Asset Management (2012–2018), execution.
In Other News
Larry King’s widow Shawn King has shared her husband’s cause of death as well as his final words to her. The veteran TV host died on 23rd January at the age of 87. In a recent interview with Dead Pool Weekly, Shawn King, 61, said her husband died as a result of sepsis, a life-threatening condition that occurs in reaction to an infection. Earlier in January, Larry King was treated for Covid-19, but according to Shawn King, he had recovered from the illness by the time the sepsis occurred. “It was an infection, it was sepsis,” she told us. “Well, he was finally ready to go, I will tell you that. You know, he never wanted to go but his sweet little body was just, it had just been hit so many times with so many things and once we heard the word Covid, all of our hearts just sunk. But he beat it, you know, he beat it, but it did take its toll and then the unrelated infection finally is what took him, but boy, he was not gonna go down easily.” Shawn King said she and her husband were able to speak via FaceTime while he was in the hospital. “It was hard for him to talk, but the one message that he wanted to make sure I heard was, ‘I love you, take care of the boys,’” she said. The pair have two sons: Chance King, 21, and Cannon King, 20.
Rapper Martell Derouen, whose cousin is Beyoncé, has reportedly been shot dead aged 34. Derouen – who raps under the name Kardone – was discovered during a welfare check by police officers on Tuesday. Someone had called the police after not hearing from the musician in several days, with officers visiting his apartment around midday. Maintenance staff helped police access the apartment. Inside, they reportedly found Derouen dead with a gunshot wound. Speaking to local news network, Derouen’s wife said that the musician “didn’t deserve this”. Local police are said to be searching for 21-year-old Sasha Skare as a suspect, with law enforcement encouraging anyone with information to come forward. Born in San Antonio, Derouen spent much of his childhood in Louisiana, and was later signed to Sony-affiliated record label The Orchard. He released a full length album titled Trunk Bag in 2016, while his last single “Magic” came out in 2020.
One of the main suspects in the infamous unsolved hijacking of a flight from Portland to Seattle 50 years ago carried out by the mysterious “DB Cooper” has died in California aged 94. Sheridan Peterson, who passed away on 8th January was thought to possibly be the “Dan Cooper” who hijacked Northwest Orient Flight 305 on Thanksgiving eve 1971. Mr Cooper handed a flight attendant a note saying that he had a bomb and then demanded $200,000 in $20 bills and four parachutes. When the flight landed in Seattle, the hijacker exchanged the flight’s 36 passengers for the money and parachutes and ordered the flight crew to take off and head for Mexico City. Somewhere between Seattle and Reno, Nevada, Mr Cooper jumped from the rear door of the aircraft with a parachute and the ransom money. The pilots landed the plane safely, but the identity of the hijacker and what happened next remains a mystery to this day. Mr Peterson was considered a chief suspect due to his experience as a smokejumper — a firefighter that parachutes into remote areas to tackle wildfires — and love of skydiving. He served as a marine during the Second World War and later worked as a technical editor at Seattle-based Boeing. Indeed he wrote about possibly being DB Cooper in an article for the National Smokejumper Association’s magazine. “Actually, the FBI had good reason to suspect me,” he wrote. “Friends and associates agreed that I was without a doubt DB Cooper. There were too many circumstances involved for it to be a coincidence. At the time of the heist, I was 44 years old. That was the approximate age Cooper was assumed to have been, and I closely resembled sketches of the hijacker.” On another occasion a photo came to light from a Boeing newsletter showing him dressed in exactly the same manner as the hijacker was said to have been during the 1971 flight. Mr Peterson insisted that he was in Nepal at the time of the hijacking, but nevertheless was still considered a prime suspect by the FBI. Eric Ullis, an entrepreneur from Phoenix, spent years trying to establish the real identity of DB Cooper. He concluded that he was “98 per cent” certain that Mr Peterson had carried out the daring heist. DNA collected from a tie Mr Cooper was wearing on the plane has been tested, but no match was found. Mr Peterson is by no means the only person identified as DB Cooper. An HBO documentary released in 2020 called The Mystery of DB Cooper profiled several contenders. Another theory is that Mr Cooper did not survive when he jumped from the aircraft as he would not have been able to steer his parachute and was over a wooded area in unsuitable clothing and footwear. In 1980, a young boy found a rotting package of $20 bills totalling $5,800 with serial numbers that matched those of the ransom money lending credence to the theory.
On This Day
- 1606 – Gunpowder Plot: Four of the conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, are executed for treason by hanging, drawing and quartering, for plotting against Parliament and King James.
- 1953 – A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands and over 300 in the United Kingdom.
- 1961 – Project Mercury: Ham the Chimp becomes the first hominid to travel into outer space.
- 1606 – Guy Fawkes, English conspirator, leader of the Gunpowder Plot (b. 1570).
- 1956 – A. A. Milne, English author, poet, and playwright, created Winnie-the-Pooh (b. 1882).
- 2016 – Terry Wogan, Irish-British radio and television host (b. 1938)
The Hotel of Death
If you ever decide to stay in Los Angeles, perhaps to hang about the infamous Cedars-Sinai Hospital to see all the celebrities who are dying, you might want to stay at The Cecil Hotel. The Cecil’s a budget hotel in Downtown Los Angeles which opened in 1927. It has 700 guest rooms which were refurbished in 2017, sounds lovely! However the has a checkered history.
Almost immediately after it was built, the area where the Cecil Hotel is located began to decline, suicides and other violent deaths on the premises became more frequent. The first documented suicide at the Cecil was reported in 1931, when a guest named W.K. Norton died in his room after taking poison capsules. Throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s, more suicides at the Cecil occurred. By the 1960’s, longtime residents had begun to call the Cecil “The Suicide.”
In addition to suicides, the Cecil’s history includes other kinds of violence and disturbing happenings. It also became a notorious rendezvous spot for adulterous couples, drug activity, and a common ground for sex workers.
In 1964, a retired telephone operator named “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, who had been a well-known and well-liked long-term resident at the hotel, was found dead in her room. She had been raped, stabbed, and beaten, and her room ransacked. A man named Jacques B. Ehlinger was charged with Osgood’s murder but was later cleared. Her death remains unsolved.
Perhaps most infamously, in the 1980s the hotel was rumoured to be the residence of serial killer Richard Ramirez, nicknamed the “Night Stalker”. Ramirez had been a regular presence on the skid row area of Los Angeles, and according to a hotel clerk who claims to have spoken to him, Ramirez is rumoured to have stayed at the Cecil for a few weeks. Ramirez may have engaged in part of his killing spree while staying there. Another serial killer, Austrian Jack Unterweger, stayed at the Cecil in 1991, possibly because he sought to copy Ramirez’s crimes. While there, he strangled and killed at least three sex workers, for which he was convicted in Austria. He hanged himself shortly after his conviction.
In 2013, the Cecil (by then re-branded as the “Stay on Main”) became the focus of renewed attention when surveillance footage of a young Canadian student, Elisa Lam, behaving erratically in the hotel’s elevator, went viral. The video depicts Lam repeatedly pressing the elevator’s buttons, walking in and out of the elevator, and possibly attempting to hide from someone. Her naked body was subsequently discovered in a water supply cistern on the hotel roof, following complaints from residents of odd-tasting water and low pressure. How she got into the cistern remains a mystery. The Los Angeles County Coroner ruled her death accidental due to drowning, with bipolar disorder being a “significant” factor. Tasty!
If you fancy reading through the whole list of suicides and murders at The Cecil, follow this link.
You might think you’ve never heard of the place before, but back in 1987, U2 performed an impromptu live concert on the rooftop of a one-story building on the corner of 7th and Main in Downtown Los Angeles, next door to the Cecil Hotel. The performance, with the hotel featured as a backdrop, was filmed and commercially released as a music video for the release of the band’s song “Where the Streets Have No Name”. The hotel was also the inspiration for Barton Fink, which should give you a good idea of the atmosphere of the place.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jonathan Banks (74), Justin Timberlake (40), Minnie Driver (51), Dexter Fletcher (55), Marcus Mumford (34), Christian Bale (47), Olivia Colman (47), Gene Hackman (91), Vanessa Redgrave (84), Phil Collins (70), Heather Graham (51), Tom Selleck (76), Katharine Ross (81), Sam Trammell (52), Marc Singer (73), Oprah Winfrey (67), Adam Lambert (39), Tim Healy (69), Ariel Winter (23), Elijah Wood (40), Tom Hopper (36), Alan Alda (85), Frank Darabont (62), Frank Skinner (64), Rosamund Pike (42), Patton Oswalt (52), James Cromwell (81), Alan Cumming (56), Bridget Fonda (57), Frank Miller (64), Sara Rue (42), Scott Glenn (82), Deep Roy (72), and Ellen DeGeneres (63).