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Dead Pool 28th November 2021

With little over a month to go, I thought I’d clean house by going through the lists for missed deaths. Well, I missed three this year, so I’ve updated the league table accordingly. Congratulations go to the following: Abi scored 66 points for the death of Abdelaziz Bouteflika back in September. Also Paul C scores with the passing of Renée-Jeanne Simonot back in July, 40 points. Julie also correctly guessed that Walter Bernstein would die, way back in January, 49 points. Shall we have a brief conversation about Peppa Pig? Brum brrrrrummm, um, no…. Maybe we should all list that useless lump of lard next year, he’s obviously got something wrong with him! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

BBC Radio 1 presenter Adele Roberts says she is “buzzing to be back” as she returned to the Weekend Breakfast show on Saturday after cancer surgery. Roberts, 42, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in early October, was back on the show a month after surgery. She said: “The good news is, they found the tumour… they’ve taken it away. My body is on the mend and I am here. It’s a huge testament to the skill and knowledge and level of care at the NHS. They’re amazing. I owe them my life. I can’t thank them enough.” Roberts, who took a month off to recuperate, spoke candidly about her diagnosis and recovery as she opened the radio show on Saturday. “I can’t believe it – it’s a month since I had my surgery and I’ve got goosebumps. A month on, it’s incredible what the body is capable of. I feel amazing. I’m lucky, I’m happy, and I’m buzzing to be back.” The former Big Brother star, from Southport, Merseyside, sought medical advice in October after struggling with her digestion “for a while”. On Saturday’s show, she urged listeners to her show not to “suffer in silence” but to seek help if they had any health concerns. “Go and see your GP, that’s what I did and I think that’s why I am here today. And I am just so grateful.” The DJ, who appeared on TV reality show I’m a Celebrity in 2019, has chronicled her convalescence on Instagram, including a selfie of her stoma post surgery, admitting the “rollercoaster” prognosis and subsequent treatment had been “overwhelming at times”. “Never underestimate the power of positivity and well-wishes, it makes a difference, I promise you,” she told listeners on Saturday.     

Richard Madeley has revealed all on the medical emergency which caused him to be taken to hospital and have to leave I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here. The Good Morning Britain presenter, 65, appeared on Friday’s show, which was pre-recorded due to Storm Arwen battering Wales, to discuss his sudden exit from camp. He told hosts Ant and Dec: ‘I feel as fit as a fiddle and I am fit as a fiddle. And you know if it wasn’t for Covid I’d be back there eating rice and beans. I had to leave… it’s a Covid situation. It’s still biting our bums isn’t it? What happened was, I had just a funny little turn quite sort of late in the morning. ITV are so good with duty of care. They were adamant. They said “No, we have to make sure that you’re OK.” I said, “But I am OK.” They said, “We have to make sure.” So I went to the local hospital – I was only in there for about an hour and a half – I was given really thorough checks and I was given a completely clean bill of health, I’m absolutely fine. No matter what you might have read, I’m absolutely fine.’ Due to being in hospital, Richard broke the Covid ‘bubble’ the celebrities had been in and was not allowed to return despite telling his followers he was ‘fine’ after the incident. Making the most of being allowed out of camp, Richard admitted: ‘I did hang on after I was discharged for about 20 minutes because I went to the canteen, seriously, and had a bacon butty. That was my first port of call for a bacon butty. And a huge cup of tea, it was amazing. I ate hospital food, exactly.’ He added: ‘I’m absolutely fine. As I say, if it wasn’t for Covid, I’d still be in the game. I’m gutted. I’m gutted, I really am.’ Earlier in the show, the moment the campmates were told he was not coming back was revealed, leaving them in tears as he sent them a video message to let them know. Richard also revealed that sleeping was the hardest thing about I’m A Celebrity, explaining: ‘It was genuinely cold. ‘Night time, sleeping, because we had very thin mattresses, much thinner than in the top camp and not very warm sleeping bags. Really cheap, frankly, sleeping bags. And covered in straw, on the floor, very thin, it was freezing in there. We were always cold. We had to get all of our clothes out of our bag and put them over us to keep us warm at night.’   

US X-Factor contestant Thomas Wells has died following a workplace accident, the evil monkeys report. He was 46. Wells, a singer who competed on the US version of X Factor in 2011 and has also appeared on shows like The Voice, America’s Got Talent, and the short-lived competition series The Winner Is, was working at his job at a tire manufacturing plant when he suffered an accident with the conveyor belt earlier this month. He reportedly was caught inside the machine, which was unable to be stopped in time to avoid injury. The nature of his injuries have not been revealed. Wells was moved from a hospital in Oklahoma to a bigger hospital in Texas, however, he passed away in the Texas facility on Nov. 13th. Wells, who was married to his wife Jessica for 17 years, told us that her husband “always had a smile on his face and tried to make people laugh,” and that he “sometimes bust out singing and didn’t mind the spotlight.” The performer has more than two dozen videos on his YouTube channel, which features him singing as well as playing instruments. In addition to performing covers from artists like Rascal Flatts, Wells posted original songs, such as his piano ballad “Somebody’s Child.”

On This Day

  • 1814 – The Times of London becomes the first newspaper to be produced on a steam-powered printing press, built by the German team of Koenig & Bauer.
  • 1919 – Lady Astor is elected as a Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. She is the first woman to sit in the House of Commons.
  • 1942 – In Boston, Massachusetts, a fire in the Cocoanut Grove nightclub kills 492 people.
  • 1972 – Last executions in Paris: Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems are guillotined at La Santé Prison.
  • 1990 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher resigns as leader of the Conservative Party and, therefore, as Prime Minister. She is succeeded in both positions by John Major.

Deaths

French Argue Death Penalty Anew as Two Are Guillotined

An article from the New York Times Archives 

PARIS, Nov. 28—Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems were guillotined in the cold, dark blanket of early morning Paris today, the first men executed in France in more than three and a half years. Their deaths at Santé Prison have stirred new debate over capital punishment. “A principle cannot be divided,” wrote Pierre Vians son‐Ponté, editor of Le Monde. “One cannot be against the death penalty, except for certain circumstances, except for certain particularly heinous crimes. “Either one holds blindly to the law of men or one considers that things are not so simple, and that no one has the power or the right to deliberately break the thread of a life.”

Deaths 7 Minutes Apart

The first of the two men beheaded was Roger Bontems, the 36‐year old son of peasants from the Vosges Region of eastern France, a man who had actually never taken an other life.

“His execution is incomprehensible,” said his defense lawyer, Philippe Lemaire, “since the President of the Republic has pardoned even those who have committed double murders.” Seven minutes after Bonterns died, Claude Buffet, a 38‐year‐old former French Legionnaire, was put between the posts of the “machine,” as the device of the 18th century Dr. Guillotin is known. The men, who were condemned in the slaying of two hostages in a prison riot, died with dignity, their defense lawyers said. Buffet, who had been reading Simone Weill and Albert Camus in the death house, said he hoped he would be the last man executed in France.

At 5:45, with dawn still two hours away and a half moon shining over frosty streets, a hearse drove from the prison to the cemetery in the eastern suburb of Thiais. A policeman posted on the prison wall the official bulletin announcing the executions. 

Killings During Revolt

During a revolt at Clairvaux Prison in eastern France last year Buffet cut the throats of two hostages —Nicole Compte, a 35‐year‐ old nurse, and Guy Girardot, a 27‐year‐old guard. Bontems was a fellow prisoner and friend of Buffet. He did not kill. But neither did he move to prevent the killings. “The Buffet problem—there is no problem here, but there is with Bontems,” his defense lawyer, Robert Badinter, said at the trial last June. “The prosecution,” he went on to say, “demands his head. It is the barbarous cry of retribution: ‘An eye for an eye.’ President Pompidou could have pardoned one or both. He has not allowed anyone to be executed in France since he came to office in June, 1969, and has meditated publicly over the “anguish” he feels about his power of life or death over the condemned.

The President did commute the death sentence of a third man, an Algerian named Mohamed Libdirl, who was convicted of murdering a cab driver in the south of France. Mr. Pompidou gave no reasons for his action. But the sympathy for the families of the murdered hostages, strong pleas for the death penalty for both Bontems and Buffet by prison workers and polls that show well over half of the people in favour of capital punishment probably weighed in the decision. “The executions will not give me back my husband,” said Dominique Girardot, the widow of the prison guard. “However—and I say it with out hatred—it is normal that justice he done.”

Buffet Had Life Term

Buffet, who was originally convicted of the murder of the wife of a Paris gynaecologist, was given a life sentence by a Paris court in October, 1970, but cried out that he wanted the death penalty “for reasons that only my conscience knows.” Less than a year later he was at the prison hospital at Clairvaux with Bontems, who had drawn a 20‐year‐sentence for severely injuring a taxi driver in a holdup, had escaped once and was back in prison.

The last man to be executed was a child murderer named Jean Olivier on March 11, 1969. No woman has been guillotined since April 21, 1949. Until 1939 executions were public. There were 11 executions between 1956 and 1961, six between 1962 and 1967 and one between 1968 and 1972. The chief executioner is a 73‐year‐old former mechanic, André Obrecht, who lives in Paris and earns $5,200 a year. When Mr. Obrecht is asked whether he knows the name of his successor, he usually shakes his head and replies, “No, I don’t. But believe me, there will be one.”

Last Week’s Birthdays

Karen Gillan (34), Aimee Garcia (43), Ed Harris (71), Judd Nelson (62), Ellie Taylor (38), Martin Clunes (60), Jon Stewart (59), Armando Iannucci (58), Lashana Lynch (43), Fisher Stevens (58), Sharlto Copley (48), Robin Givens (58), Steve Bannon (68), Bill Nye (66), Kristin Bauer van Straten (55), Rita Ora (31), Mark Margolis (82), Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (33), Tina Turner (82), Christina Applegate (50), John Larroquette (74), Sarah Hyland (31), Stephen Merchant (47), Colin Hanks (44), Billy Connolly (79), Denise Crosby (64), Conleth Hill (57), Kayvan Novak (43), Michelle Gomez (55), Miley Cyrus (29), Ricky Whittle (40), Kelly Brook (42), Scarlett Johansson (37), Mads Mikkelsen (56), Jamie Lee Curtis (63), and Terry Gilliam (81).

Dead Pool 21st November 2021

In the week that saw the death of Clive Jones of the Black Abbots, hands up who’s heard of  him, we’ve also seen the demise of the following celebrities…. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

President Joe Biden underwent his annual physical Friday morning at Walter Reed Medical Center, his first such appointment since he was inaugurated as the oldest first-term president in US history. Afterward, his physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor wrote in a memo Biden “remains fit for duty, and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations.” The doctor, who has been with the President since he served as vice president, singled out two areas of “observation” he set aside for detailed investigation: an “increasing frequency and severity of ‘throat clearing’ and coughing during speaking engagements” and the President’s ambulatory gait, or walking abnormality, which O’Connor said was “perceptibly stiffer and less fluid than it was a year or so ago.” Both have been noticeable elements of Biden’s public appearances since taking office. In a detailed, six-page summary of Biden’s health, O’Connor said X-rays showed Biden has arthritis of his spine and normal wear and tear damage for someone of his age. The doctor characterised that damage as ‘moderate to severe’, but said it was not severe enough to warrant any specific treatment. He wrote it would help account for some of Biden’s recent stiffness and clumsy gait. An “extremely detailed neurologic exam” was “reassuring,” O’Connor wrote, and showed no evidence of a stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s. Biden also has a condition known as hiatal hernia, which causes him to have reflux – something O’Connor said could account for his more frequent throat clearing. The document contained a detailed accounting of the physical exam, including his height of 5 feet 11.65 inches; his weight of 184 pounds; and his blood pressure of 120/70. Biden does not drink or use tobacco and works out five times a week, according to the report. “President Biden remains a healthy, vigorous, 78-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the president, to include those as Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander in Chief,” O’Connor wrote in his summary. Biden received a routine colonoscopy Friday while at Walter Reed. The process, which required anaesthesia, meant that he temporarily transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris, who became the first woman to assume presidential power for 85 minutes Friday morning. As he left Walter Reed, Biden said he “had a great physical and a great House of Representatives vote,” alluding to the House passing his Build Back Better bill on Friday morning. The last extensive update on Biden’s medical state came in December 2019, when the doctor he eventually recruited to serve as White House physician described him as “a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.” Biden, who turned 79 on Saturday, hasn’t released a full report on his health since. Biden is not behind in releasing medical information compared to his recent predecessors, who waited a full year before undergoing a physical and authorising details to be released publicly. The latest update on Biden’s health came after he, then-president-elect, fractured his foot in November while playing with his dog. In February, Biden’s physician said the foot fractures “are completely healed.” Presidents are not required to publicly disclose results of their annual check-ups but have done so to be transparent and assure the American people in the face of questions about their state of health. Presidents, however, have also hidden their illnesses, the severity of their illness, or medical treatments. Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s primary care doctor since 2009 and the White House physician, wrote the three-page medical summary Biden’s presidential campaign released nearly two years ago. The 2019 summary showed Biden was being treated for non-valvular atrial fibrillation, or AFib – an irregular heartbeat that O’Connor said Biden experiences no symptoms of. He was taking Crestor to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as Eliquis to prevent blood clots, Nexium for acid reflux, and Allegra and a nasal spray for seasonal allergies. The most significant medical event in Biden’s history, O’Connor wrote, was when Biden suffered a brain aneurysm in 1988. He was serving in the Senate at the time. During surgery, doctors found a second aneurysm that had not bled, which they also treated. While in the hospital after that surgery, Biden suffered deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism. Doctors at the time inserted an “inferior vena cava filter,” which would prevent future blood clots from reaching the heart and lungs and treated him with an oral anti-coagulant for several months. Biden also had his gallbladder removed in 2003, and according to O’Connor he has had multiple surgeries and physical treatments for orthopaedic injuries and sports medicine. Biden also has had several non-melanoma skin cancer lesions surgically removed. 

Scottish comedian Janey Godley, 60, has shared an update from her hospital bed as she discussed her diagnosis with cancer. The star is known for her Nicola  Sturgeon spoof videos as well as her career as a stand-up comedian. Posting earlier this week, Janey shared an image of herself in her hospital bed. The comedian opened up for the first time about battling ovarian cancer. She wrote to her 233,000 followers: “Sorry but my last weekend of the tour can’t go ahead in Edinburgh and Musselburgh as I am in hospital with ovarian cancer. She then posted a video message to her fans letting them know what had happened. In this, the star shared how she had done “nothing but cry” following her diagnosis. Although, she also explained how she’s ready for the time ahead, where she will rely on “science and technology”. Janey said: “I’m going to try and cope with this next step on my journey.” She began her video by apologising to fans for having to cut her tour short. Janey explained: “Unfortunately, I was doing the tour when I unbeknownst to me had ovarian cancer. “I just got checked out yesterday and that’s what I’m now in this very beautiful but very stormy corner room hospital in Glasgow. But I want to thank everybody for their support and their help in coming out and sharing so much love with me.”  

The Oklahoma’s governor has halted the execution of prisoner Julius Jones hours before he was due to be put to death. Kevin Stitt said he was commuting the sentence to life imprisonment without parole. Hundreds of students earlier walked out of school demanding clemency for Jones. Jones was sentenced to death in 2002 for killing Paul Howell during a carjacking three years earlier. He maintains his innocence. His case has attracted the support of celebrities including reality TV star Kim Kardashian and anti-death penalty activists. Jones’ execution by lethal injection was scheduled for 16:00 local time at the state penitentiary in McAlester. But Gov Stitt, a Republican, said he intervened “after prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case”. The state’s Pardon and Parole Board earlier recommended in a 3-1 majority vote that Jones’ sentence be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The case has attracted widespread attention in recent years, partly due to the 2018 ABC documentary series “The Last Defence”. More than six million people have signed a Justice for Julius petition which states he was put on death row because of “fundamental breakdowns in the system tasked with deciding”. Jones was found guilty of fatally shooting Mr Howell, an insurance executive, during a 1999 carjacking on his driveway. In October, he was among five people who won stays of execution from a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit US Court of Appeal. “I did not kill Mr Howell,” he wrote in a letter to the parole board in April, after exhausting his appeals. “I did not participate in any way in his murder; and the first time I saw him was on television when his death was reported.” But Mr Howell’s relatives have said Jones’ calls for clemency have victimised them further.

On This Day

  • 1877 – Thomas Edison announces his invention of the phonograph, a machine that can record and play sound.
  • 1953 – The Natural History Museum, London announces that the “Piltdown Man” skull, initially believed to be one of the most important fossilised hominid skulls ever found, is a hoax.
  • 1969 – The first permanent ARPANET link is established between UCLA and SRI.
  • 1974 – The Birmingham pub bombings kill 21 people. The Birmingham Six are sentenced to life in prison for the crime but subsequently acquitted.
  • 1980 – A deadly fire breaks out at the MGM Grand Hotel in Paradise, Nevada. Eighty-seven people are killed and more than 650 are injured in the worst disaster in Nevada history.
  • 1998 – Finnish Satanist Jarno Elg kills a 23-year-old man and performs a ritual-like cutting and eating of body parts in Hyvinkää, Finland.

Deaths

  • 1993 – Bill Bixby, American actor (b. 1934).
  • 1999 – Quentin Crisp, English actor, author, and illustrator (b. 1908).
  • 2011 – Anne McCaffrey, American science fiction and fantasy author (b. 1926).
  • 2017 – David Cassidy, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1950).

The Tale of a Spooky Stump

If you think serial killers are a modern phenomena, think again! Peter Stumpp was allegedly a German serial killer and farmer, accused of werewolfery, witchcraft and cannibalism. He was known as ‘the Werewolf of Bedburg’.

As the local church registers were destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), Peter Stumpp’s date and place of birth is unknown, examining sources likely puts it near Bedburg, Germany around 1530.  The name “Stump” or “Stumpf” may have been given him as a reference to the fact that his left hand had been cut off, leaving only a stump, in German “Stumpf”. It was alleged that as the “werewolf” had its left forepaw cut off, then the same injury proved the guilt of the man. He was a wealthy farmer of his rural community. During the 1580s, he seems to have been a widower with two children; a girl called Beele (Sybil), who seems to have been older than 15 years old, and a son of an unknown age.

During 1589, Stumpp had one of the most lurid and famous werewolf trials in history. After being stretched on a rack, and before further torture commenced, he confessed to having practiced black magic since he was 12 years old. He claimed that the Devil had given him a magical belt or girdle, which enabled him to metamorphose into “the likeness of a greedy, devouring wolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharp and cruel teeth, a huge body, and mighty paws.” Removing the belt, he said, made him transform back to his human form. Unsurprisingly, no such belt was ever found after his arrest.

For 25 years, Stumpp had allegedly been an “insatiable bloodsucker” who gorged on the flesh of goats, lambs, and sheep, as well as men, women, and children. Being threatened with torture, he confessed to killing and eating 14 children, 2 pregnant women, whose fetuses he ripped from their wombs and “ate their hearts panting hot and raw,” which he later described as “dainty morsels.” One of the 14 children was his own son, whose brain he was reported to have devoured.

Not only was Stumpp accused of being a serial murderer and cannibal, but also of having an incestuous relationship with his daughter, who was sentenced to die with him, and that he had coupled with a distant relative, which was also considered to be incestuous according to the law. In addition to this, he confessed to having had intercourse with a succubus sent to him by the Devil.

The execution of Stumpp, on 31st October 1589, alongside his daughter Sybil and mistress, Katherine, is one of the most brutal on record: he was put to a wheel, where “flesh was torn from his body”, in ten places, with red-hot pincers, followed by his arms and legs. Then his limbs were broken with the blunt side of an axehead to prevent him from returning from the grave, before he was beheaded and his body burned on a pyre. His daughter and mistress had already been flayed and strangled, and were burned along with Stumpp’s body. As a warning against similar behaviour, local authorities erected a pole with the torture wheel and the figure of a wolf on it, and at the very top they placed Peter Stumpp’s severed head.

Although there probably is a perfectly rational explanation for the events, like psychosis and hysteria in witch trials, it’s interesting to see how early societies dealt with the unknown. Maybe Peter was an innocent man who was caught up in a weird coincidence of wolf attacks, or maybe he was just a crazed serial killer. Or who knows? Maybe he was a werewolf that ate children in the night.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Goldie Hawn (76), Alexander Siddig (57), Björk (56), Liza Tarbuck (57), Sean Young (62), Ming-Na Wen (58), Bo Derek (65), Joe Biden (79), Adam Driver (38), Terry Farrell (58), Meg Ryan (60), Jodie Foster (59), Kathleen Quinlan (67), Robert Beltran (68), Delroy Lindo (69), Owen Wilson (53), Linda Evans (79), Alan Moore (68), Rachel McAdams (43), Martin Scorsese (79), Tom Ellis (43), Danny DeVito (77), Sophie Marceau (55), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (63), RuPaul (61), Pete Davidson (28), Missi Pyle (49), Maggie Gyllenhaal (44), Martha Plimpton (51), Gigi Edgley (44), Jonny Lee Miller (49), Beverly D’Angelo (70), and Anni-Frid Lyngstad (76).

Dead Pool 14th November 2021

In the week that has every anti-vaxxer boycotting Tesco as they made an advert about Santa being double jabbed, at least we now know which supermarket is the safest to shop in, I suppose we should be more worried about COP26 failing like we all knew it would, we’re all gonna die! Anyhow, as someone said on the Telegram Group, they’ve been dropping like flies this week! Which is good news for Trish, who correctly guessed that Dean Stockwell would pass away this year, 65 points! Well done! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News 

The Queen has sprained her back and will not attend the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in London, Buckingham Palace said, adding she is “disappointed” to miss the event. The central London service was due to be the Queen’s first public appearance in two weeks since a hospital stay last month, after which she was advised by doctors to rest. Buckingham Palace said that “The Queen, having sprained her back, has decided this morning with great regret that she will not be able to attend today’s Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph. “Her Majesty is disappointed that she will miss the service. As in previous years, a wreath will be laid on Her Majesty’s behalf by the Prince of Wales.” The palace previously said it was the Queen’s “firm intention” to attend the annual Remembrance service to honour the country’s war dead. The Queen, who regards the service as one of the most significant engagements of the year, was due to watch the service at the war memorial in central London from the balcony of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office building.  

Engelbert Humperdinck has announced the last-minute cancellation of his UK tour due to illness. The 85-year-old was due to return to the city to perform at De Montfort Hall this month as part of the long-awaited tour across 14 cities. But in a sad announcement to fans, the star revealed he had come down with a “viral bronchial infection” and was unable to perform. He said in a statement: “I am so upset in having to relate to you that we have to cancel our UK tour. I have come down with a viral bronchial infection & am being treated for it now. This has never happened before and I so much wanted to see all of you in the 14 cities. We are going to reschedule the shows for early next year. Stay well and remember……I love you.” The tour cancellation will come as a disappointment to many fans who adore the singer not only for his voice but for his personality. Engelbert has continued to stay in touch with his fans across the world through his YouTube channel and social media. Engelbert received an MBE for his services to music earlier this year. He dedicated this honour to his late wife Patricia, who died in February after contracting Covid-19. She had been suffering Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade. Born Arnold George Dorsey, he is known globally for his chart-topping love songs and as well as his striking stage name. Over a career spanning seven decades, he has crooned his way around the world, attracting a devoted army of fans with ballads including Release Me and The Last Waltz.   

Coronation Street cast member Victoria Ekanoye, 39, has been diagnosed with breast cancer, just months after giving birth to her  “miracle” son. Ekanoye opened up about her shocking diagnosis, revealing that she first discovered a lump when breastfeeding her 11-month-year-old son Theo. The Coronation Street star was told she had DCIS, which is Ductal carcinoma in situ, on October 13th. Victoria described how, in spite of her breast cancer news, she actually feels “lucky” that the doctors had “caught it early”. The actress experienced a traumatic ordeal in January when she gave birth to Theo, who she calls a “miracle” baby.  At the time, Victoria feared her son would die during her three-day labour, due to complications with her sickle cell anaemia. “Back in July I was feeding Theo and I noticed there was a small lump protruding at the top of my left breast. My mum had breast cancer at 41, and her sister at 39 – so many people in my family, in fact. So I don’t really leave any time before I check these things…” she continued “We’re being really optimistic, and positive, and really lucky that we’ve caught it as early as we have. I don’t know if lucky is the right word, but that’s how I feel.”

On This Day

  • 1851 – Moby-Dick, a novel by Herman Melville, is published in the USA.
  • 1889 – Pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly (aka Elizabeth Cochrane) begins a successful attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days. She completes the trip in 72 days.
  • 1922 – The British Broadcasting Company begins radio service in the United Kingdom.
  • 1967 – American physicist Theodore Maiman is given a patent for his ruby laser systems, the world’s first laser.

Deaths

Last rites rights of condemned around the world

Death row inmate John Ramirez does not want to die alone; he wants to be comforted as he passes, by the hands of his pastor.

But that request was denied by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and now his final moments lie in very different hands – the US Supreme Court.

The 37-year-old former Marine, sentenced to death for robbing and fatally wounding a shop worker in 2004, said “prayer, song and human touch” at the point of death was an essential part of his Christian faith.

He felt having his last rites given to him by his Baptist pastor was his right, but Texas officials didn’t buy his claims. They believed he was merely stalling his execution and manipulating the process with a “game of ecclesiastical whack-a-mole”. 

He sued them, claiming a violation of his First Amendment religious freedoms, and justices agreed to take up his objection, postponing Ramirez’s scheduled execution date of 8th September until after Tuesday’s hearing.

Ramirez’s is the third execution halted in three years by the Supreme Court over how, if at all, religious advisers are allowed to attend to condemned prisoners as they die.

In 2019 there was public criticism after a Muslim inmate’s plea to have his imam with him was rejected but a similar request from a Buddhist prisoner just a month later was allowed.

But the battle over religious – and other rights – at the point of death is not exclusive to the US.

Across the world, in countries where the death penalty is allowed, delicate negotiations have taken place over what is considered acceptable – and authorities don’t always get it right.

In Japan, two death row inmates last week took legal action after being told they face same-day executions.

There, prisoners are notified only hours before they are put to death by hanging, but now rights groups are saying the short notice is “extremely inhumane” and materially affects mental health.

The men filed a suit in the district court in the city of Osaka last Thursday, in what is believed to be a first, arguing the rapid turnaround does not give them time to mentally prepare and contemplate the end of their lives.

It is secret executions that are causing international blowback against Iran.

In Iranian murder cases, where the defendant is sentenced to qisas (executions), family members of the victim are encouraged to carry out the actual execution themselves.

They can also grant a reprieve to an offender on death row – and it is this, that led to the extraordinary story of a grieving mother who, when faced with the man who killed her son standing before her with a noose around his neck, decided to forgive him and removed the rope.

The woman and the murderer’s mother then hugged in front of the crowds who had gathered to witness an execution.

According to Iranian law, a defendant’s legal representative must be informed 48 hours before any execution, but campaigners say this is not always happening, especially in political and security-related cases. 

Further, it is claimed by Iran Human Rights, a non-profit campaign group, that standard practice throughout the country is to take prisoners to solitary confinement several days before death and leave them with hands permanently cuffed.

Meanwhile, in Singapore concerns are being raised about the execution of a man with an IQ of 69, a level widely recognised as indicating an intellectual disability.

Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was arrested in 2009 for bringing 42.7g (1.5 ounces) of heroin into Singapore and was due to be hanged on Wednesday morning, but his case has sparked rare disquiet in the island nation where support remains high for the death penalty.

Dharmalingam’s lawyers and rights groups fighting to save him say Singapore is violating international law by executing a person with a mental impairment. They have exhausted all other legal appeals and a petition to the president for clemency was unsuccessful.

But the Singapore government remains steadfast, saying the 33-year-old “clearly understood the nature of his acts and did not lose his sense of judgment of the rightness or wrongness of what he was doing”.

Anger is also brewing over Egyptian capital punishment procedures.

Although the country’s Child Law provides that all children under the age of 18 who have infringed the Penal Code shall not be “sentenced to death, life imprisonment, or forced labour”, a report by Reprieve (a global campaign group led by international lawyers) says that at least 17 children have received death sentences there since 2011.

Prosecutors, say Reprieve, are using a loophole to put children before adult courts for trial, as the law allows for those over 15 where a co-defendant is an adult, to be tried jointly.

When the US Supreme Court this week rules on the case of Ramirez, it will be asked to focus on how to execute someone in a way that doesn’t violate religious rights. But the tension between the principle of human dignity and the practice of capital punishment is inextricably entangled with that – and is one that applies throughout the world.

It is sure to turn into a larger debate around the rights of all men and women who face execution.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Olga Kurylenko (42), Russell Tovey (40), Paul McGann (62), Sandahl Bergman (70), Gerard Butler (52), Rahul Kohli (36), Whoopi Goldberg (66), John de Lancie (73), Anne Hathaway (39), Ryan Gosling (41), Wallace Shawn (78), Max Grodénchik (69), Neil Young (76), Leonardo DiCaprio (47), Stanley Tucci (61), Demi Moore (59), Calista Flockhart (57), Taron Egerton (32), Hugh Bonneville (58), Tracy Morgan (53), Neil Gaiman (61), Robert Duncan McNeill (57), Lou Ferrigno (79), Parker Posey (53), Tara Reid (46), Gretchen Mol (49), Alfre Woodard (69), Matthew Rhys (47), Richard Curtis (65), Gordon Ramsay (55), and Jack Osbourne (36).

Dead Pool 7th November 2021

Welcome all, another week flies by and another bunch of celebrities of various renown depart unto the great unknown. With the passing of Lionel Blair, we also have points do distribute! Well done to Paul G and Chrissy who correctly guessed he’d pop his clogs this year, 58 points each! Also it was very sad to see Welsh writer and actor Mei Jones passing away, quite possibly one of the most funny Welshmen to have graced out TV screens. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

There have been more than 30 serious security breaches at NHS hospital mortuaries in the past five years, The Flying Monkeys can reveal. The figures emerge as MPs demand a public inquiry into the crimes of NHS electrician David Fuller, who sexually abused 100 corpses, including three children, over a period of 12 years. Fuller, aged 67, pleaded guilty on Thursday to the murders of two women, Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in two separate attacks in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in 1987. Detectives searching Fuller’s home found four million images of sexual abuse he had downloaded from the internet on computer hard drives. They also found footage he had filmed of himself carrying out attacks on the bodies of women at the now-closed Kent and Sussex Hospital and the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, where he had worked since 1989. Now it has emerged there have been 30 separate investigations into serious security breaches at NHS hospital mortuaries since 2018. These include unauthorised people gaining entry to the mortuaries where dead bodies are being stored. According to the Human Tissue Authority, unauthorised people were found in the mortuaries at Colchester General Hospital, Essex; St Peter’s Hospital, in Surrey and at UCL Hospital in London during the 12 months to March this year. There was also a security breach at the Royal Stoke Hospital in Staffordshire. Earlier this year, The Flying Monkeys reported on more than 530 serious incidents in NHS mortuaries including dozens of cases where the wrong bodies were released or organs lost. The professional body for mortuary staff, the Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology, warned NHS trusts were often recruiting unqualified cheaper staff to work in mortuaries and has called for staff to be properly regulated. John Pitchers, told The Independent in August: “The fact that the mortuary profession is not a profession regulated by statute – as other professions such as laboratory staff and paramedics are – makes the maintenance of these quality standards more difficult than it needs to be. “For instance, there is no legal bar to hospital trusts or local authorities employing unqualified staff to work within mortuaries, alongside or in place of qualified staff, and we have seen a large increase of these staff being employed – often as a cost-saving exercise by underfunded organisations.” In the wake of the Fuller case, hospitals have been ordered to urgently check their mortuary security and ensure they have CCTV coverage and access points controlled by swipe card systems.  

Original Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Kristy Swanson has been taken to hospital with Covid-19 after previously questioning vaccine mandates online. The 51-year-old actress, who starred in the 1992 film, revealed her diagnosis on Tuesday as she shared a tweet asking fans for their prayers. Revealing she was battling Covid-related pneumonia, the 80s icon stated: ‘Prayers for me please. Yesterday I took an ambulance ride to the hospital. ‘I’m still here with pneumonia, I’m on oxygen etc, all covid related of course. I’m in good spirits and in great hands.’ She continued: ‘I was just at the tail end of my Covid diagnosis when it jumped into my lungs. So they are treating me with baricitinib & blood thinners so I don’t clot. I’m ok.’ Swanson has since denied being anti-vaccines, though she has been outspoken about coronavirus protocols and mandates on social media amid the pandemic. The actress is best known for portraying the titular character in the 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer, written by Joss Whedon and directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui. On Twitter, Swanson has been critical of Dr Anthony Fauci, the current Chief Medical Advisor to the President. Before Joe Biden took office, Dr Fauci served as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force under Donald Trump. Swanson has been a vocal support of Trump and met with the former president at the White House last year and wrote on Twitter: ‘An honour to meet you Mr President.’ Poor deluded woman! 

Big Brother ‘star’ Chanelle Hayes has opened up about how she is suffering from a mystery illness which has left her with ‘horrific pain’ all over her body. The 33 year old posted an  Instagram where she asked followers to help her diagnose the problem. The photos were of Chanelle laid in bed when she wrote: “So lately I’ve been undergoing lots of medical stuff, ruling out certain conditions etc. “At the minute, what I’m presenting to docs (after ruling out all other things via bloods, scans etc) is pointing towards fibromyalgia. Symptoms I’m having are: Total exhaustion, horrific pain all over, bone aches, muscle aches, headaches. Feeling ‘out of it’ and unable to properly process information.” She also asked fans: “Does anybody suffer from this and have any tips on how to manage it? Any tips would be greatly appreciated…” Chanelle recently lost an impressive 9.5 stone due to having gastric sleeve surgery after hitting 17 stone. She posted a photo showing off her incredible weight loss as she stood inside one of the sides of a pair of her old grey joggers that she wore on the day of her surgery. The star captioned the Instagram post: “These are the joggers I wore the day I went in for my gastric sleeve surgery.” Obviously there is no correlation between losing 9.5 stone in a year and her illness. 

On This Day

  • 1918 – The 1918 influenza epidemic spreads to Western Samoa, killing 7,542 (about 20% of the population) by the end of the year.
  • 1941 – World War II: Soviet hospital ship Armenia is sunk by German planes while evacuating refugees and wounded military and staff of several Crimean hospitals. It is estimated that over 5,000 people died in the sinking.
  • 1972 – United States presidential election: U.S. President Richard Nixon is re-elected in the largest landslide victory at the time.
  • 1991 – Magic Johnson announces that he is HIV-positive and retires from the NBA.

Deaths

  • 1962 – Eleanor Roosevelt, U.S. humanitarian, 39th First Lady of the United States (b. 1884)
  • 1980 – Steve McQueen, American actor and producer (b. 1930)
  • 2011 – Joe Frazier, American boxer (b. 1944)
  • 2016 – Leonard Cohen, Canadian singer-songwriter and poet (b. 1934)
  • 2016 – Jimmy Young, British singer and radio personality (b. 1921)
  • 2020 – Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth (b. 1948)

Last Week’s Birthdays

Adam Devine (38), Emma Stone (33), Ethan Hawke (51), Rebecca Romijn (49), Thandiwe Newton (49), Sally Field (75), Lori Singer (64), Maria Shriver (66), Nigel Havers (70), Famke Janssen (57), Tilda Swinton (61), Sam Rockwell (53), Robert Patrick (63), Tatum O’Neal (58), Tamzin Outhwaite (51), Armin Shimerman (72), Elke Sommer (81), Art Garfunkel (80), Matthew McConaughey (52), Olivia Taylor Dudley (36), Ralph Macchio (60), Loretta Swit (84), Dolph Lundgren (64), Kate Capshaw (68), Roseanne Barr (69), Dylan Moran (50), Lulu (73), David Schwimmer (55), Stefanie Powers (79), Toni Collette (49), Natalia Tena (37), Jenny McCarthy (49), and Anthony Kiedis (59).

Dead Pool 31st October 2021

Welcome everyone, to the special Halloween edition of the Dead Pool Newsletter. I have really pushed out the boat this year by including one, yes one, Halloween related article. So whilst you drink your cup of tea, enjoy the massive effort I made. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

 In Other News

The Queen has been advised by her doctors to rest for at least the next two weeks and to undertake only “desk-based duties”, Buckingham Palace has announced. But the head of state has the “firm intention” of leading the nation in honouring the country’s war dead on Remembrance Sunday on 14 November, the palace said. The Queen underwent tests in hospital last week, where she spent a night, and then “reluctantly” accepted medical advice to rest, cancelling a planned two-day trip to Northern Ireland. On Sunday, the 95-year-old missed a church service at Windsor, then on Tuesday cancelled her planned evening reception for world leaders at the UN climate conference in Glasgow. The monarch is said to be in good spirits, and during Friday afternoon recorded her speech for the Cop26 summit, which will be played to delegates. The statement from the palace said: “Following on from their recent advice that the Queen should rest for a few days, Her Majesty’s doctors have advised that she should continue to rest for at least the next two weeks. The doctors have advised that Her Majesty can continue to undertake light, desk-based duties during this time, including some virtual audiences, but not to undertake any official visits. Her Majesty regrets that this means she will be unable to attend the Festival of Remembrance on Saturday, November 13th. However, it remains the Queen’s firm intention to be present for the National Service of Remembrance on Remembrance Sunday, on November 14th.” There will be concern for the Queen given her advanced years, but further rest was a “sensible precaution”, a palace source said. The Queen, who next year celebrates 70 years on the throne, has been known for her robust health. She appeared cheerful and in good humour when she hosted a virtual presentation ceremony on Thursday, awarding the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2020 to poet David Constantine. Speaking from Windsor Castle during a video call, she joked with the writer at Buckingham Palace, asking of his award: “Do you put it in a cupboard?” She was also seen greeting foreign ambassadors via video link. The Queen spent one night at King Edward VII’s Hospital earlier this month, her first overnight hospital stay in eight years. During the coronavirus pandemic, she retreated to Windsor Castle for her safety, where she was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh in lockdown. She was recently seen using a walking stick at a Westminster Abbey service, the first time she has done so at a major event.  

Shirley Ballas has revealed she will undergo an “urgent scan” on all her organs after a doctor found her to have “concerning” levels of testosterone. In an interview with a flying monkey, the 61-year-old said that she was told by a doctor that her levels of testosterone were “the highest she’s seen in a female”. Ballas added: “My NHS doctor is very good, so the fact that she is concerned makes me concerned – and she was mortified by my results. She said I have the highest testosterone levels she’s ever seen in a woman, and testosterone can wreak havoc on the female organs. So she’s requested an urgent scan of all of my organs at King’s College, London.” Ballas continued to say that her doctor “won’t speculate on what the cause is”, stating: “She just says, ‘We need to deal with this. Let’s deal with the hormones and then see what else is there. So I’ll have the scans and then I’ll be able to let everyone know what’s going on.” The news comes after Ballas gave fans an update on her health following a doctor’s appointment that was prompted by concerns raised by Strictly viewers who apparently noticed “lumps” in her armpit. Earlier this month, she explained that a doctor had examined her underarm and breasts but “couldn’t feel anything”. The professional dancer went on to say, however, that the doctor had discovered her hormone levels to be “all over the place” and added that she will be having “full blood work done”. Ballas has previously spoken about her family history of cancer. She recently had a scare in June when she found a lump in her shoulder but said her doctor “seems to think it will be fine”. In 2019, she had her breast implants removed in order to reduce the risk of developing the disease, as implants can block early signs of it being detected.

Will Smith has revealed he once considered suicide. The Fresh Prince can be seen discussing his mental health with his family in a new trailer for Will Smith: The Best Shape  of My Life, his new YouTube docuseries. The series follows Smith as he attempts to lose one and a half stone in 20 weeks, but he quickly realises that his journey involves work on his inner self far more than his outer self. “When I started this show, I thought I was getting into the best shape of my life, physically,” he says in the trailer. “But, mentally, I was somewhere else. I ended up discovering a whole lot of hidden things about myself.” In one clip in the trailer, Smith can be seen bursting into tears while sat with his family. He also tells them about a moment in his history – which we do not yet know the details of – that particularly haunted him. “That was the only time in my life that I ever considered suicide,” Smith says, while his daughter Willow can be seen looking anguished. In recent months, Smith has made a number of surprise revelations about his marriage to wife Jada and his mental health. In September, Smith confirmed that he and Jada had opened up their marriage to other sexual partners after both realised that they were “miserable”. Smith also revealed that, during a mental health crisis, he made plans to date a “harem” of women that included Halle Berry. He also rented a house in Utah and sat in solitude for 14 days, before flying to Peru to take part in a number of ayahuasca rituals. I’m sure Halle Berry was as horrified as a horrific thing on a horror trip to horror land! 

On This Day

  • 1941 – After 14 years of work, Mount Rushmore is completed. 
  • 1963 – A propane tank explosion at the Indiana State Fair Coliseum in Indianapolis kills 74 people and injures another 400 during an ice skating show.
  • 1984 – Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two Sikh security guards. Riots break out in New Delhi and other cities and around 3,000 Sikhs are killed.
  • 2011 – The global population of humans reaches seven billion. This day is now recognised by the United Nations as the Day of Seven Billion.

Deaths

  • 1926 – Harry Houdini, American magician and stuntman (b. 1874)
  • 1984 – Indira Gandhi, Indian politician, Prime Minister of India (b. 1917)
  • 1993 – Federico Fellini, Italian director and screenwriter (b. 1920)
  • 1993 – River Phoenix, American actor and singer (b. 1970)
  • 2006 – P. W. Botha, South African politician, President of South Africa (b. 1916)
  • 2020 – Sean Connery, Scottish actor (b. 1930)

Last Meals 

Ronald Clark O’Bryan nicknamed The Candy Man and The Man Who Killed Halloween, was an American man convicted of killing his eight-year-old son on Halloween 1974 with a potassium cyanide-laced Pixy Stix that was ostensibly collected during a trick or treat outing. O’Bryan poisoned his son in order to claim life insurance money to ease his own financial troubles, as he was $100,000 in debt. O’Bryan also distributed poisoned candy to his daughter and three other children in an attempt to cover up his crime; however, neither his daughter nor the other children ate the poisoned candy. He was convicted of capital murder in June 1975 and sentenced to death. He was executed by lethal injection in March 1984.

On October 31, 1974, O’Bryan took his two children trick-or-treating in a Pasadena, Texas, neighbourhood. O’Bryan’s neighbour and his two children accompanied them. After visiting a home where the occupant failed to answer the door, the children grew impatient and ran ahead to the next home while O’Bryan stayed behind. He eventually caught up with the group and produced five 21-inch Pixy Stix, which he would later claim he was given from the occupant of the house that had not answered the door. At the end of the evening, O’Bryan gave each of his neighbour’s two children a Pixy Stix and one each to Timothy and Elizabeth. Upon returning home, O’Bryan gave the fifth Pixy Stix to a 10-year-old boy whom he recognised from his church.

Before bed, Timothy asked to eat some of the candy he collected, and according to Ronald, he chose the Pixy Stix. Timothy had trouble getting the powdered candy out of the straw so O’Bryan helped him loosen the powder. After tasting the candy, Timothy complained that it tasted bitter. O’Bryan then gave his son Kool-Aid to wash away the taste. Timothy immediately began to complain that his stomach hurt and ran to the bathroom where he began vomiting and convulsing. O’Bryan later claimed he held Timothy while he was vomiting and the child went limp in his arms. Timothy O’Bryan died en-route to the hospital less than an hour after consuming the candy.

Timothy’s death from poisoned Halloween candy raised fear in the community. Numerous parents in Deer Park and the surrounding area turned in candy their children got from trick or treating to the police, fearing it was laced with poison. The police did not initially suspect O’Bryan of any wrongdoing until Timothy’s autopsy revealed that the Pixy Stix he had consumed was laced with a fatal dose of potassium cyanide. Four of the five Pixy Stix O’Bryan claimed to have received were recovered by authorities from the other children, none of whom had consumed the candy. The parents of the fifth child became hysterical when they could not locate the candy after being notified by the police. The parents rushed upstairs to find their son asleep, holding the unconsumed candy. The boy had been unable to open the staples that sealed the wrapper shut. All five of the Pixy Stix had been opened, with the top two inches refilled with cyanide powder and resealed with a staple. According to a pathologist who tested the Pixy Stix, the candy consumed by Timothy contained enough cyanide to kill two adults, while the other four candies contained enough to kill three to four adults.

O’Bryan initially told police that he could not remember which house he got the Pixy Stix from. Police became suspicious because O’Bryan and his neighbour  had only taken their children to homes on two streets because it had been raining. Their suspicions increased after learning that none of the homes they visited had given out Pixy Stix. After walking the neighbourhood with police three times, O’Bryan led them to the home where no one had answered the door. O’Bryan claimed that he went back there before catching up with the group. He said the owner of the home did not turn the lights on, but did crack the door open and hand him five Pixy Stix. He claimed to have only seen the man’s arm, which he described as “hairy”. The home was owned by a man named Courtney Melvin. Melvin was an air traffic controller at William P. Hobby Airport and did not get home from work until 11 p.m. on Halloween night. Police ruled Melvin out as a suspect when nearly 200 people confirmed that he had been at work.

As their investigation progressed, police learned that Ronald O’Bryan was over $100,000 in debt and had a history of being unable to hold a job. At the time of his arrest, he was suspected of theft at his job at Texas State Optical and was close to being fired. His car was about to be repossessed, he had defaulted on several bank loans, and the family home had been foreclosed on. Police discovered that O’Bryan had taken out life insurance policies on his children in the months preceding Timothy’s death. In January 1974, he had taken out $10,000 life insurance policies on both of his children. One month before Timothy’s death, O’Bryan took out additional $20,000 policies on both children, despite the objections of his life insurance agency. In the days preceding Timothy’s death, O’Bryan had taken out yet another $20,000 policy on each child. The various policies totalled approximately $60,000. O’Bryan’s wife maintained that she did not know about the insurance policies on her children’s lives. Police also learned that on the morning after Timothy’s death, O’Bryan had called his insurance company to inquire about collecting the policies he had taken out on his son. After learning that O’Bryan had visited a chemical supply store in Houston to buy cyanide shortly before Halloween 1974 (he left without purchasing anything after learning the smallest amount available to purchase was five pounds), police began to suspect that Ronald O’Bryan had laced the candies with poison in an effort to kill his children to collect on their life insurance policies. They believed he gave the other children poisoned candy in an effort to cover up his crime. Police repeatedly questioned O’Bryan but he maintained his innocence.

Although police never discovered when or where O’Bryan bought the poison, he was arrested for Timothy’s murder on November 5th 1974. He was indicted on one count of capital murder and four counts of attempted murder. O’Bryan entered a plea of not guilty to all five counts. O’Bryan’s trial began in Houston on May 5th 1975. During the trial, a chemist who was acquainted with O’Bryan testified that in summer 1973, O’Bryan contacted him asking about cyanide and how much would be fatal. A chemical supply salesman also testified that O’Bryan had asked him how to purchase cyanide. Friends and co-workers testified that in the months before Timothy’s death, O’Bryan showed an “unusual interest” in cyanide and spoke about how much it would take to kill a person. O’Bryan’s sister-in-law and brother-in-law testified that on the day of Timothy’s funeral, he spoke of using the money from Timothy’s insurance policy to take a long vacation and buy other items. As well, his wife rejected the claim that Timothy chose the Pixy Stix, stating that O’Bryan had, in fact, forced him to choose the Stix. O’Bryan continued to maintain his innocence. His defense mainly drew upon the decades-old urban legend concerning a “mad poisoner” who hands out Halloween candy laced with poison or needles or candy apples with razor blades inserted. These stories have persisted despite the fact that there are no documented instances of strangers poisoning Halloween candy.

The case and subsequent trial garnered national attention and the press dubbed O’Bryan “The Candyman”.

On June 3rd 1975, a jury took 46 minutes to find O’Bryan guilty of capital murder and four counts of attempted murder. The jury took 71 minutes to sentence him to death by electrocution. Shortly after he was convicted, his wife filed for divorce. She later remarried and her new husband adopted her daughter Elizabeth.

At the time, men sentenced to death under Texas law were confined to the Ellis I Unit near Huntsville, Texas. According to Reverend Carroll Pickett, a former chaplain who worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, O’Bryan was shunned and despised by his fellow death row inmates for killing his child and was “absolutely friendless”. The inmates reportedly petitioned to hold an organised demonstration on O’Bryan’s execution date to express their hatred of him. 

O’Bryan’s first execution date was set for August 8th 1980. His attorney successfully petitioned for a stay of execution. A second date was scheduled for May 25th 1982. That date was also postponed. Judge Michael McSpadden scheduled a third execution date for October 31st 1982, the eighth anniversary of the crime, and he offered to personally drive O’Bryan to the death chamber. It was to have been the first time Texas executed an inmate by lethal injection. The Supreme Court delayed the date yet again to give O’Bryan a chance to pursue an appeal to seek a new trial. A fourth date was scheduled for March 31st 1984. O’Bryan’s lawyer sought a fourth stay on the basis that lethal injection was a “cruel and unusual punishment”. On March 28th a federal judge rejected the request. Before heading to the execution chamber, O’Bryan chose a T-bone steak with fries, salad and French dressing, peas, corn and bread rolls, followed by iced tea and a Boston cream pie for his last meal. Then shortly after midnight, O’Bryan was executed by lethal injection at the Huntsville Unit. In his final statement, O’Bryan maintained his innocence, stating that he felt the death penalty was “wrong”. He added, “…I forgive all—and I do mean all—those who have been involved in my death. God bless you all, and may God’s best blessings be always yours.” During the execution, a crowd of 300 demonstrators gathered outside the prison cheered while some yelled “Trick or treat!” Others showered anti-death penalty demonstrators with candy.

Ronald O’Bryan is buried in Forest Park East Cemetery in Webster, Texas. Timothy is buried in Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery in Houston.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Peter Jackson (60), Erica Cerra (42), Willow Smith (21), Stephen Rea (75), Sanjeev Bhaskar (58), Vanilla Ice (54), Fiona Dourif (40), Clémence Poésy (39), Henry Winkler (76), Jessica Hynes (49), Juliet Stevenson (65), Winona Ryder (50), Rufus Sewell (54), Ben Foster (41), Richard Dreyfuss (74), Dan Castellaneta (64), Joaquin Phoenix (47), Julia Roberts (54), Annie Potts (69), Matt Smith (39), Gwendoline Christie (43), Caitlyn Jenner (72), John Cleese (82), Robert Picardo (68), Kelly Osbourne (37), Cary Elwes (59), Seth MacFarlane (48), Jon Heder (44), Anthony Rapp (50), Jaclyn Smith (76), Tom Cavanagh (58), Roger Allam (68), Keith Urban (54), Glynis Barber (66), Nancy Cartwright (64), and Katy Perry (37).